Vol.XVI No.VI Pg.5
August 1979

Binding And Loosing

Robert F. Turner

Objectors to anything — from hard pornography to Bible preaching — have been accused of "restraining liberties," or "taking away our rights," or "binding your standards upon me". Those who try to keep local churches out of multi-church combines should not be surprised, therefore, if they are charged with "binding where God has not bound."

Some of this is purely prejudicial baiting — seeking to classify those who oppose the "pet" project with the "one-cuppers" etc., without giving attention to the actual issue. The sincere "one-cupper" is due more consideration than that. And sometimes "binding where God has not bound" is simply a phrase, borrowed from others, by which those ignorant of the true issue involved may salve their own conscience while seeming to reply.

This is not to say that there are none who "bind where God has not bound," or "loose where God has not loosed." I am saying that such a reply, of itself, does not address the problem. Alone, it is a by-pass. Before that charge can be legitimately applied to opposers of the multi-church arrangements of our day one must show either God has not bound congregational independence, or, current arrangements do not violate the true meaning of independence as established by Scriptures.

If God's word teaches that each church should have its own overseers and operate in keeping with its own ability or resources; and authorizes no other scope of oversight or support; then God has bound.

Since practically all of our brethren claim to believe in congregational independence — making the issue one of definition and application — we ask them to consider: 1) the true meaning of independence (not dependent); and, 2) the Scriptural proof for this (viz., oversight and treasury ONLY on a local basis). If this approach is rejected we ask, how do you prove congregational independence?

Sending alms to a dependent congregation in order to make them once again independent (Acts 24:17; 2 Cor. 8:14) is certainly no authority for pooling funds in the treasury of an independently endowed church, so that it may act as the medium through which many churches operate.

On the other hand, if the N.T. does authorize a pooling of funds of many churches — a "church-hood" fund that is controlled and dispensed by an executive board of some sort — we then have the means of operation for a team of churches. Believing this, how can one contend that each church should be "independent and autonomous" in its operation?

This "issue" is not the quirk of a few nitpickers, nor is it based on customs that will change in time. It was a fundamental issue in the first great apostasy, whether recognized and debated or not. It was prominent in Reformation and Restoration efforts. It is the very heart of the functional local church, encompassing its organizational structure and government. What God has bound we must not loose; and if we do, no amount of name-calling and ignoring will help.