Vol.I No.VII Pg.3
July 1964

"Second Century"? Or Today?

Robert F. Turner

"During a great part of this (2nd) century all the churches continued to be, as at first, independent of each other, or were connected by no consociations or confederations. Each church was a kind of small independent republic, governing itself by its own laws, enacted or at least sanctioned by the people.

But in process of time it became customary for all the Christian churches within the same province to unite and form a sort of larger society or commonwealth, and, in the manner of confederated republics, to hold their conventions at stated times, and there deliberate for the common advantage of the whole confederation.

The custom first arose among the Greeks, with whom a (political) confederation of cities and the consequent conventions of their several delegates had been long known; but afterwards, the utility of the thing being seen, the custom extended through all countries where there were Christian churches. Such conventions of delegates from several churches assembled for deliberation were called by the Greeks Synods and by the Latins Councils; and the laws agreed upon in them were called canons --- that is, rules.

These councils, of which no vestige appears before the middle of this century, changed nearly the whole form of the church. For by then, in the first place, the ancient rights and privileges of the people were very much abridged; and, on the other hand, the influence and authority of the bishops were not a little augmented. At first the bishops did not deny that they were merely the representatives of their churches and that they acted in the name of the people; but by little and little they made higher pretensions, and maintained that power was given them by Christ himself to dictate rules of faith an conduct to the people. +++++

In the next place, the perfect equality and parity of all bishops, which existed in the early times, these councils gradually subverted. For it was necessary that one of the confederated bishops of a province should in those conventions be in- trusted with some authority and power over the others, and hence originated the prerogatives of Metropolitans.

And, lastly, when the custom of holding these councils had extended over the Christian world and the universal church had acquired the form of a vast republic composed of many lesser ones, certain head men were to be placed over it in different parts of the world as central points in their respective countries; hence, came the Patriarchs and ultimately a Prince of Patriarchs, the Roman pontiff.''


Thus the historian Mosheim. in his "Ecclesiastical History'' Century 2, Chapter 2, Sections 2, 3; spells out the apostasy in church polity and organizational structure. In collective action of churches local bishops be- come regional or brotherhood bishops; and both structure and polity are without divine authority.