Vol.II No.VII Pg.4
August 1965

--With Our Comments.

Robert F. Turner

(note from Webmaster: this article continued from a previous article in this number)

mailing lists so that Christians may be solicited directly to make regular gifts and pledges to other congregations and works, by-passing the local church and the oversight of the local eldership.

We speak much of the scripturalness of our congregational autonomy; however, let a congregation try to exercise it and see what happens. Watch how quickly it is labeled and gets into trouble. Several congregations have revealed the pressures put on them to include at least token contributions to various cooperative works or else. They must do such in order that the "brotherhood" (actually, certain powerful brotherhood planners and leaders) may know where they stand! Some who resisted the pressure suffered rather tragic consequences.

When one digs beneath some surface superficiality, he wonders if the average church among us enjoys any greater independence than the average congregation within some of the denominations, which are admittedly episcopal in government. Pressures upon and control of the local church are pressure and control whether exercised "officially" through some type of organizational super-structure or unofficially through various other avenues. What was it that Mr. Shakespeare said about something smelling the same even though its name is changed?

It is reported that Alexander Campbell significantly and accurately said once, "The New Testament church moved in its congregational capacity alone." In our restoration of the original pattern, we long adhered to that point of view. Who can question that we are presently allowing ambitious men to use an abuse of scriptural cooperation **(footnote, rft) to lead us into another day of political control, brotherhood-wide in its scope? Why can't we remember what happened in the third and fourth centuries? How can we close our eyes to what happened within the ranks of our disinherited kin, the Christian Church?"


If the local congregation is God's plan for organization (as bro. Stevens is convinced) then there is "vital work" too big for God's plan to handle. God's way is complete. With this "too big" fallacy, and the obvious truth that preaching to the world is a "vital work," Campbell and others "cooperated" a missionary society into existence.

Scriptural cooperation (sending "alms" by concurrent independent action to a dependent church) does not require collective action. (Send for free booklet on Church Organization.)

We do not "abuse" scriptural cooperation when churches operate collectively -- we leave the scriptural plan for one which has no divine authority. Intercongregational collective action has no more place in scriptural organization, than has piano playing in scriptural worship.

Bro. Stevens' courageous article is sincerely appreciated. Identity of the N.T. church is at stake. May our practice match our brave preaching!