Vol.V No.X Pg.4
December 1968


Robert F. Turner

Church Divides?

On page 375, of some church history (I failed to jot down the book) I read While many of the congregations divided., the church did not divide. (The book is unimportant, as this is an erroneous conception of church that is repeated every day by conservative and liberal brethren.) We persist in making the church some kind of corporate body of churches, functional or otherwise. which can remain united (?) or divide.

This is a purely denominational concept, without Bible precedent; and encourages further errors, such as churchhood organization and work.

Re-read the quotation in the first paragraph. and ask yourself, Which or what church did not divide? The universal body of Christ — the church which is his bride, and for which He died, is made up of all saints, it is a brother-hood, not a church-hood; i.e., the units or parts of this one body are individuals, not congregations. (1 Cor. 12:12-f. Jn .15:1-6) If one person leaves the truth, denies the faith, he separates himself from the faithful, and in this sense the church divided.

If one is thinking of the one universal church splitting into two or more parts, each equally acceptable before God as a church, I can only say this is completely contrary to Bible teaching concerning the ONE CHURCH. As illustrated by the human body, 1 Cor. 12:20, Now are they many members (individuals, rft) yet but one body. Great segments of members may cease to walk in the light, but the so-called mystical body of the Lord remains ONE— consisting of all those who faithfully follow the Master, whether great or few in number. In what building they worship, or with whom they sever or retain social ties, has nothing to do (per se) with their being His church.

We have often said (I plead guilty) the church divided over missionary societies, and instrumental music, to form the Church of Christ and the Christian church, Such statements are poorly framed. There have been times when great issues arose among brethren, and wholesale numbers left the truth, enamored with the ways of the world. Congregations divided — what was once a single team, with members agreed to work and worship as one; became two or more teams, each now an independent group. But there existed no churchhood amalgamation in the first place, with divine right, hence there could be no church (in this larger sense) division.

A Church of Christ denomination and a Christian Church denomination may result from some sort of party division; but the church that belongs to Jesus Christ has never, and will never come into existence in that way.

The non-denominational concept of the Lords church is not an easy thing to maintain. Even with a clear understanding of the matter, one lives in an environment that constantly threatens this pure truth. Add to this the fact that thousands of folk neither understand, nor are seriously concerned, and it is little wonder we have divisions. My hope is in the Lord, not in our party.