Vol.XVII No.XII Pg.2
February 1981

Reap The Whirlwind

Robert F. Turner

When a guest writer to ENSIGN advocated less reliance upon "institutions" and more upon "one-on-one" individual efforts in evangelism, the editor thought this an "idealism" wholly unattainable. He says, "God is pleased with whatever the best method may be, which is left to 'human wisdom' to determine...." If that isn't enough, what does "human wisdom" say?

"Surely it becomes the responsibility of the universal church to step in where the one-on-one idea fails. And how can the church universal do it except through its institutions, through organized missionary efforts and its mass media programs etc.?"

(ENSIGN; V.8, N.9, P.14; Jan. '81) The universal church as a functional entity, was one of the earliest fallacies of Catholicism. The concept necessitates oversight and treasury on a universal scale, "restructuring" the congregational independence seen in the inspired word. Many reformers saw only the "abuse" of Catholicism, and substituted councils, conference, etc., to correct (?) abuses — leaving the basic fallacy intact. Alexander Campbell thought congregations were units of the universal church, and that "the church" (universal) had certain obligations as a functional entity — hence, devised ways and means for it to carry out its functions. (Millennial Harbinger, V.6, p.167-f.)

Units of the universal church are individual saints (members of the one body, runners in the Race, soldiers in the Army, citizens of the Kingdom, etc.). These saints have an assigned function, to be sure; some done distributively and some collectively. But nowhere in Scripture is any of this work assigned to the universal church as a single organized entity. The absence of instructions for such a functional institution further emphasizes that such is not in God's divine plan for us. But men assume a work for the organized universal body, and then assume we must devise some "expedient" means of doing that work.

Some have even decided that the plan God did give for the local congregation, was the divine plan for organizing the universal church work they assumed in the first place. And now, "God is pleased" with whatever we work out. Dear God, have mercy! Churchhood projects opened the door for this revival of "restructuring" and now "good men" who see the trend can't check it, for they will not swallow their pride and abandon their pet projects. When we sow to the wind, we reap the whirlwind.