Vol.II No.VI Pg.2
July 1965

Words Are Not Enough....

Robert F. Turner

Does anyone really doubt that each congregation should be independent? Well, not many knowledgeable members of the church of Christ doubt this. But many of these members can not give an accurate definition of "independent". If you doubt me, first read a good unabridged dictionary, then check a few.

A great many can not cite scriptures and give a logical reason "why" each congregation should be independent (What are your scriptural reasons?).

And a great, great, great many are unwilling to apply logical scriptural tests to inter-congregational projects. Some will praise the collective action of churches (mistakenly calling it Bible cooperation") even saying it is "independent churches acting collectively". Any good dictionary will show that independent or distributive action is opposed to collective action.

We are wedded to a nomenclature -- words, slogans, cliches -- but we don't get around to understanding them or applying them.

The Jews of Christ's time expected a King, and a Kingdom. But they did not understand their nature, and so rejected both -- while declaring their willingness to accept both. Sometimes I ask a class to give me a scripture that proves congregational autonomy. Usually I get ACT.14:23; PHI.1:1; and/or 1PE.5:2-3. If I am insistent someone will finally explain that these passages show there should be elders in each church. Then I say, "So what?. Presbyterian congregations each have elders, Methodist, Baptist, and other churches have them in each congregation. Do they all practice congregational autonomy?. One gets into some awful arguments this way.

We sorely need a lot of teaching on the very meaning of "self-rule" and "independence,". We need to know that one can give away independence -- and is more likely to do so, than to have it taken from them.

A church in need (state of want) is dependent -- and may receive alms (2CO.8:). But an in(not) dependent church has no need for alms, nor have we authority for sending them.

We will gladly send, without cost, a tract "Organizational Structure of the Church" to all who wish to study this matter further. Brethren must understand -- and apply -- God's truth to be acceptable in His sight.