Vol.IV No.IV Pg.6
May 1967

Srygley's Analysis

Robert F. Turner

On the New Testament basis of individual activity and personal consecration in and through independent churches, the development of individual Christian character and the growth of an independent church are unhampered by the restraints of general denominational institutions or ecclesiastic organizations. But when local congregations are massed in denominational sisterhoods of churches "of the same faith and order," the divine standard and model are lost sight of, and the energies of both churches and individual Christians are bent to the attainments of the denominational standard.

In such cases the standard is erected and the model is set for both the individual Christian and the congregation of worshippers by the predominant sentiment of the denomination. The effect is the same, no matter whether that sentiment is codified in a written creed, as in "the method of the Methodists," or left unwritten, as in the authoritative restraints of "Baptist usage" among the Baptist, and the inviolate limitations of "our plea" among the Disciples. In either case individual character and conduct, as well as congregational organization and procedure, is measured by denominational standards.

The predominant sentiment of a denomination is the general average of the individual convictions of its constituency. This gives all the errors in doctrine and corruptions in conduct to be found in the constituency of the entire denomination their full force and effect in grading down the denominational standard of doctrine and practice. Every denomination begins in an outgush of individual consecration from some decayed institution. In the beginning, therefore, every member of the new denomination pitches his zeal on a high key of spirituality. This necessarily gives each denomination a high standard of faith and practice to begin with. The standard will never be elevated, for the reason that no future converts to the party will be lifted above the spiritual plane of those who take their their lives and their reputation to lead the spiritual protest against the doctrinal errors and the moral corruptions of the old institution. A stream never rises above its fountain.

On the contrary, will soon begin future converts to fall below the high standard of the new party in both doctrine and practice, and as the general avererage of sentiment is graded from time to time in the denomination, it will be found on a lower plane each time than before.** This gradual lowering of the denominational standards sets the whole drift of denominational institutionism toward the religious Dead Sea of eternal spiritual stagnation. This is the logical course of the ever-recurring religious reformations, each of which is but a protest against man's effort to maintain the spirit of Christianity in unscriptural institutions.

There is nothing of this kind in the N.T.** N.T. churches, as well as individual Christians, were measured by the divine standard and graded according to their individual merits.