Vol.XIII No.VI Pg.5
August 1976

To Heresy, Sectarianism, And Ruin

Robert F. Turner

(continued from preceding page)

DENOMINATIONALISM refers to the spirit or policy of grouping churches under various distinctive names; making what is commonly called brotherhoods — although in reality they may more accurately be called church-hoods. In the early stages of the forming of a denomination the party spirit is strong, so that the first indications of a move toward denominational status is the organizing of local parties (congregations) into some form of functional entity — that they may act as one. The brotherhood of churches (churchhood) concept is encouraged — and some may adopt the Catholic view of a universal body of churches, having work responsibility. The church should do thus and so, and a means must be devised so that every part (congregation) may contribute resources and function as one.

Denominational history indicates that later the party spirit wanes, and denominationalism views the one body of Christ as consisting of many bodies or denominations. Compromise of conviction is now encouraged, for the sake of unity, and the masses of the movement (now three or more generations removed from the original heretics) are ready for the fourth stage — discussed below. The fatal step to denominationalism is collective action on the part of churches; for in such cooperation funds are pooled, a common oversight is accepted, and churchhood action begins.

Upon reflection it becomes apparent that the heretic allows selfish (human) interests to overcome trusting faith in God, and that this lack of faith produces all that follows. HUMANISM is not so apparent at the first, for heretics are usually zealous, and place great emphasis upon their adherence to Gods word The emphasis upon distinctively human interests or ideals comes later, as the sect or denomination becomes "respectable and affluent. So called Evangelical groups have a built-in road to humanism, in their reliance upon the Holy Spirit within to guide them. Matters are determinedly feelings or conscience — subjectively determined — and human desires assert themselves here. Those who reject the evangelical concept seem to approach humanism via social welfare. Surely Christianity must do good for the people, in this life; and so they too allow their ideas of what is good to rule. Situation ethics is a bad phrase, reserved for modernists; but when human reason judges or makes choice of Gods commands (Jas. 2:l0-12; 4:11-12), we are on our way to ruin.

The fatal step to Humanism is the acceptance of subjective, rather than objective authority; looking inside ourselves, rather than outside, to Gods revelation of His will. What is at first barely perceptible — hidden beneath doctrinal concepts of how one receives communication from God, or sincere desires to serve our fellow men — later becomes a full-grown human philosophy. Gods word is redefined — is no longer a verbally inspired message, but is only the witness or pointer to revelation, whose validity is determined subjectively. Finally, as Barth wrote, God is identical with his revelation and is no longer the eternal personality of the Bible. Beware those fatal steps!!