Exposing The Christian Church (Part 2)
By: Brian A. Yeager
In our previous article on the Christian Church, we saw their admission that they started from a movement of men (“The Restoration Movement”) rather than from the death of Christ. We then discussed their error of adding the mechanical instrument into their song worship to God. These errors are clear and evident. Sadly, some of our so-called “brethren” have adopted both of these errors. Yes, even the error of mechanical instruments of music has been added to the practices of some so-called “churches of Christ” (i.e. The Richland Hills church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX). Much like the two aforementioned errors, we are going to discuss another practice that exists in the Christian Church without God’s authority. This issue might hit home for some in error among so-called “churches of Christ” also, because many have adapted the denominational concept we’ll expose in this article. The practice we will be discussing now is the existence of human institutions among religious bodies.
What Do I Mean When Saying “Human Institutions Among Religious Bodies”?
There are three different organized bodies mentioned in the Scriptures, which have authority to exist today. These three organized bodies are separate from each other and have their own designed works. The first began in the beginning of this world. That organization is the family. The family began with Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:18-25). The husband is the head of this organization (Ephesians 5:22-24). The family begins with a husband and a wife (Matthew 19:4-6). The family grows when children are conceived (Genesis 4:1). Once those children are grown, they may create new families through scriptural marriages and the process mentioned above repeating itself (Ephesians 5:31). The family is funded through the hard work of the individuals that make up those families (Proverbs 31:10-31, II Thessalonians 3:10, and I Timothy 5:8).
Civil government is another organization that is authorized to exist through the Scriptures (Romans 13:1-5). Civil government is separate from the family. God’s people are expected to submit to civil government (I Peter 2:13-16). The only time Christians may disobey civil government is when obedience to the laws of men conflict with obedience to the law of God (Acts 5:17-29). Civil government is funded through taxation (Matthew 22:15-21 and Romans 13:6-7).
The third organization that exists with authority from God is the church of Christ. The church of Christ was established by Jesus (Matthew 16:18). The purchase price was His blood (Acts 20:28 and Ephesians 5:25). Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:20-23). Jesus makes all the rules and they are never to be changed (Matthew 28:18-20 and Revelation 22:18-19). Jesus decided to have qualified men called elders to oversee His church according to His rules (Acts 20:28-31, I Timothy 3:1-7, and Titus 1:5-9). Each congregation (or local church) is individually overseen (I Peter 5:1-4), funded, etc. The local church receives her funds through the freewill offering of the saints upon the first day of the week (I Corinthians 16:1-2).
There is more that can be said about all three of the points above, but we are going to move on in discussing what is meant when talking about human institutions among religious bodies. The three above organized bodies are all divine. That simply means that they began by God’s design and according to His authority. As you see above, you can find the family, government, and church in the Scriptures. You can find out how God wants them working, overseen, funded, etc. When discussing human institutions, these are organizations that have been started by man. You cannot read about them in God’s word. You cannot find out how God wants them working, overseen, funded, etc. You cannot find out those things because they exist not under the authority of God, but by the authority of man. When we are talking about human religious institutions, these are organizations that exist to carry out spiritual works by the design of man, not of God. This is what we are going to discuss in this article.
Why Are Human Religious Institutions Wrong?
If we believe, as the Scriptures say, that God fully equips us to all good works we have answered the question of this section of this article. Notice these passages: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (II Timothy 3:16-17). If God wanted us to form human institutions to carry out His work, He would have said so. He has equipped us, through His word, to do all good works. By not mentioning anything about the many religious organizations in existence today, He shows these are not good works. As we’ve seen several times throughout this series on denominationalism, God does not want His word added to or taken from (Deuteronomy 4:2, Deuteronomy 12:32, Proverbs 30:5-6, Matthew 15:1-9, I Corinthians 4:6, and Revelation 22:18-19).
The Lord has shown us how He wants the church to work. Paul told Timothy: “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Timothy 3:15). If Timothy was supposed to start some human institution to help the church do her work, Paul would have written that. He did not! The church is truly all-sufficient in carrying out her work. The very existence of religious human institutions is an addition to the Scriptures, a slap in the face of our Lord, and a denial of the sufficiency of the local church. Yet, the Christian Church has many religious human institutions!
Human Institutions Among The Christian Church
Here is the institutional mindset of the Christian Church: “The General Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) are established or recognized by the General Assembly, upon recommendation of the General Board. These ministries address broad areas of work, central administrative functions and specialized study and services to meet responsibilities of the Church in its mission of witness and service to the world. General ministries strengthen congregational life for the church’s mission” (http://www.disciples.org/GeneralMinistries/tabid/55/Default.aspx). “Higher Education. For two centuries, Disciples theological institutions, colleges and universities have trained Disciples leaders to think clearly and rationally and to minister to the world around them. While those first instructors and students might not recognize modern campuses, those classic values live on in the 21st Century. Undergraduate Institutions. Fourteen Disciples undergraduate institutions serve nearly 27,000 students in a wide variety of settings - from rural college towns with several hundred students to a metropolitan setting with almost 9,000 students. Despite those differences, these schools all share a commitment to the church, emphasize spiritual faith and values, and cherish a commitment to a liberal-arts education (http://www.disciples.org/HigherEducation/tabid/60/Default.aspx).
If you begin with the general ministries of the Christian Church concept you can see that they reject the Lord as the head of their church. The real body of Christ accepts Christ as her head and will not allow a council of men and women to take the role that belongs to Christ (Colossians 1:18). Another erring concept you read in the quotes above is the idea that there are broad areas of work within the church. The church of Christ is authorized to do the work of and to support the work of evangelism (I Thessalonians 1:1; 7-8 and Philippians 4:15-16), the aiding of truly needy saints (I Corinthians 16:1-4 and II Corinthians 8-9), and the work of spiritual edification (Ephesians 4:16). There are no “broad” works that the church is authorized to carry out. The church does not need a human institution to strengthen her. The strengthening of the local church is accomplished by the working together of the members (I Corinthians 12:14-27). Missionary Societies (i.e.: http://globalministries.org/) are unscriptural. If God, wanted them He would have told us to start them, how to do so, and how to support them.
Then we arrive at the error relative to “higher education”. The building and maintaining of “Christian Colleges” seems to be a very contagious error. Many think that it is necessary to have human institutions, like colleges, to help Christians learn. The local church is the only organization, outside of the family (Ephesians 6:4), that is authorized to teach God’s word and accomplish spiritual instruction. As we saw earlier in this article, the church is the pillar and ground of the truth (I Timothy 3:15). We are instructed to follow the direction and example of elders (Hebrews 13:7; 17), gospel preachers (I Corinthians 4:16, I Timothy 4:15-16, and Titus 2:7-8), and other faithful Christians (Philippians 3:16-17 and Titus 2:2-5). We are not instructed to learn from college professors or any other instructor associated with a human organization. If God wanted Christians to organize institutions of higher learning He would have told us to do so.
The training of preachers in the Christian Church falls under the work of colleges as we see in the quotes supplied above. However, in the Scriptures, we see no such thing. The pattern for the training of preachers and teachers of the Gospel of Christ is described here: “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (II Timothy 2:1-4). You’ll notice that Paul did not tell Timothy to train others to preach by starting a college or preachers training school. If God wanted Christians to organize institutions to train teachers and preachers He would have said so.
This issue is often diverted to the support of human institutions. Many, even of our own “brethren, believe this is only an issue if the church is supporting missionary societies, colleges, foundations, etc. Brethren, THIS IS NOT AN ISSUE CONCERNING THE CHURCH TREASURY! If we believe, as the Scriptures teach, that we need God’s authority for all that we say and do (Colossians 3:17), we will understand this is an issue of Bible Authority. Regardless of who supports human institutions doing spiritual works, they are not in existence with God’s authority! This issue is that simple. If God wanted any organization to be formed to carry out His works, He would have said so!
Sadly, this article could equally be written about MOST churches of Christ today. Truly, apostasy is present on every side. We are in a time when, like Israel of the past, the church of our Lord wants to be like the denominations surrounding them (cf. I Samuel 8:1-20). Our next article is going to deal with the unity in diversity doctrine of the Christian Church (again, another sad statement that can be made of many so-called “churches of Christ”). We will also work on exposing the role of women erringly leading the Christian Church of today.
Volume 10 – Issue 17 - January 17th, 2010