Vol.III No.III Pg.6
April 1966

The Great "Church-Hood" Myth

Robert F. Turner

From 1889 to1900 the Gospel Advocate sparkled with the editorials of bro. F. D. Srygley, a peer among peers in the fight for congregational independence. We reproduce a portion of his review of an address by a liberal preacher - beginning with a quotation from that address.


"If the extreme views of church independency held by some, who regard the local congregation as the only organ through which divine work of any kind can be carried on, are correct, it would be exceedingly difficult to account for the fact of this convention at Jerusalem, or tell why the church at Antioch where the trouble arose, did not settle it."

"These passages from the address mean, if they mean anything at all, that there is a general ecclesiastical organization of the whole spiritual body of Christ, and that in this general ecclesiasticism elders are answerable to preachers" and conventions have ecclesiastic jurisdiction and disciplinary authority over local congregations. This may shed a few flickering rays of borrowed light upon bro. Growden's enigmatical exclamation in his sermon before the late convention in this city: 'I would to God we had the method of the Methodist!' This does look very much like something of that sort, sure enough.

It is unfortunate that bro. Roulhac made no effort to clearly define this general ecclesiastical organization of the whole spiritual body of Christ. For one, I am curious to know what it takes to constitute it. I should like to know, especially) what official positions and prerogatives are in it, what the general officers are called, how they are placed in their respective offices, what are their qualifications and official duties, to whom they are amenable, and how they are held to the performance of their duties. All these things are clear enough in the Methodist Discipline as to the "great general organism' of the Methodist Epis. Church, South, North, or any other direction.

But how is it in the New Testament as to the ecclesiastical 'great general organism' of the spiritual body of Christ, which bro. Roulhac is so sure 'is known to the Scriptures?' When I began to look for these things in the New Testament, to use bro. Roulhac's words in another part of this address, 'I felt like I was groping in chaos, and the further I went, the more chaotic and confusing things appeared, until at last I discovered I was engaged in a vain quest for that which had no existence.' The thing is a myth."


Above taken from The New Testament Church, by F. B. Srygley; G.A.,'55. In other portions of the review Srygley shows the fallacy of the "Jerusalem convention" argument, etc.

Current "area-wide" church projects (as the Austin campaign) lead directly into more permanent area wide projects (as Greater-Pittsburgh plan) and other "brotherhood" organizations. We are blind, to the point of pity, not to see the repetition of history that is taking place.