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Liberal Churches of Christ ( “Institutional” ) ? Conservative Churches of Christ ( “Non-institutional” ). What is the difference?. What do these terms mean?. These terms have been used since the 1950’s

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liberal churches of christ institutional conservative churches of christ non institutional

Liberal Churches of Christ( “Institutional” )?Conservative Churches of Christ( “Non-institutional” )

What is the difference?

what do these terms mean
What do these terms mean?
  • These terms have been used since the 1950’s
  • “Liberal” is in reference to how some brethren use the scriptures; not strictly following the pattern of the Bible; allowing unauthorized changes to be made (“progressives”)
  • “Institutional” refers to human institutions (businesses) built and maintained by some local churches to do the work of the local church
what do these terms mean1
What do these terms mean?
  • “Liberal brethren” appeal to scripture but they…
    • misuse the scriptures
    • misunderstand expediency
    • apply passages concerning individuals to local churches
    • invent “good works” without authority
what do these terms mean2
What do these terms mean?
  • “Conservative” refers to the commitment of some brethren to strictly follow, protect and preserve the Bible pattern without changing its instructions (Col. 3:17; 2 Tim. 1:13; Heb. 8:5; 2 Jn. 9-11; Rev. 22:18-19) (“non-progressives”)
  • “Non-institutional” refers to the refusal to build and maintain human institutions (businesses) through which the local church will do its work
  • “Anti” is the term “liberal” brethren use to describe “conservative” brethren. We are not “anti” in the way they use it (like “anti-cooperation” or “anti-orphan”). We are against (“anti”) acting without Bible authority!
local church organization
Liberal brethren

$$ send funds $$

from the

local church

Human Institutions

Missionary Society (evangelism)

College (edification)

Orphan Home (benevolence)

to do work

Conservative brethren

$$ use funds $$

from the

local church

to do work

Acts 11:26 (edification)

Acts 11:29-30 (benevolence)

Acts 13:1-3 (evangelism)

Local Church Organization

A human institution

is added to the

NT pattern

local church organization a search for authority
Local Church Organizationa search for authority
  • “Liberal” brethren appeal to…
    • Expediency: the Bible does not say “how”… we are not given the exact method of how to do local church work
  • Answer
    • We are not told exactly how, but we are told who (the local church) is to do the work; we are told the organization which is to do the work (the local church) - it’s who, not how
    • The local church, not a human institution, does its own work and uses expediencies to do it’s work
local church organization a search for authority1
Local Church Organizationa search for authority
  • “Liberal” brethren appeal to…
    • In loco parentis (the orphan home is “in place of the parents,” a restored home)
  • Answer
    • a family is a home
    • a human institution (board of directors) is not a “home”
    • a facility or dwelling place is not a “home”
local church organization a search for authority2
Local Church Organizationa search for authority
  • “Liberal” brethren appeal to James 1:27 and brand the conservative brethren as “anti-orphan” or “anti pure religion”
    • the church can do what individuals can do
    • the church is not excluded
    • the church can practice pure religion
local church organization a search for authority3
Local Church Organizationa search for authority
  • Answer (James 1:27)
    • the immediate context applies to the individual, not the local church collectively (begin in verse 23 and note the singular nouns and pronouns)
    • liberal brethren are not consistent … may churches own a business (1 Thess. 4:11-12)?
    • the local church is excluded if the passage is silent about the church
    • the local church (collectively) must first be given authority to care for orphans
local church benevolence
Liberal brethren

$give church funds $

to needy saints

and to

non-saints

2 Corinthians 9:13

Galatians 6:10

Conservative brethren

$ give church funds $

to needy saints

only

Acts 2:44; 4:32; 6:1ff; 11:29

Romans 15:26

1 Corinthians 16:1-2

2 Corinthians 9:1ff

1 Timothy 5:16

Local Church Benevolence

General benevolence

to all people is

added to

the NT pattern

local church benevolence a search for authority
Local Church Benevolencea search for authority
  • “Liberal” brethren appeal to 2 Corinthians 9:13
  • Answer
    • the word “men” is italicized and added
    • the context refers to “all” Christians (8:2-4; 9:1,12; Rom. 15:26)
  • “Liberal” brethren appeal to Galatians 6:10
  • Answer
    • the immediate context refers to individuals
    • was Paul a church?
    • “good” is defined by God’s word (Eph. 2:10)
local church cooperation
Liberal brethren

$$ send funds $$

from many local churches

to one sponsoring

church eldership

Herald of Truth, Foreign Evan.

“One Nation Under God”

disaster relief

start other churches

to do work

Conservative brethren

$$ send funds $$

from one

local church

directly to do work

Local Church Cooperation

C

C

C

C

A sponsoring church

organization is added

to the NT pattern

Benevolence

Acts 11:29

Rom. 15:25

Acts 24:17

Evangelism

2 Cor. 11:8

Phil. 4:15ff

local church cooperation a search for authority
Local Church Cooperationa search for authority
  • “Liberal” brethren appeal to the one sponsoring church eldership; i.e. the elders are in control, not a board of directors (human institution)
  • Answer
    • Yes, but the sponsoring church elders have been placed in an unscriptural role; i.e. overseeing the money and work of many churches instead of one (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2) – this is centralized control
local church cooperation a search for authority1
Local Church Cooperationa search for authority
  • “Liberal” brethren appeal to the need for cooperation; they brand the conservative brethren as “anti-cooperation” (“anti” brethren don’t want to cooperate; against cooperating in preaching)
  • Answer
    • We “cooperate,” but the NT pattern is concurrent cooperation (each church sending directly to the need), not collective cooperation (many churches sending to one church who then sends out money to the need)
local church cooperation a search for authority2
Local Church Cooperationa search for authority
  • “Liberal” brethren appeal to the great commission of Matthew 28:19-20; without some sort of cooperative effort this cannot be carried out
  • Answer
    • Yes, we preach the gospel to every creation, but we must follow the pattern
    • No sponsoring church is found in the NT… did those Christians carry out the great commission? Yes, without a sponsoring church
local church cooperation a search for authority3
Local Church Cooperationa search for authority
  • “Liberal” brethren appeal to 2 Corinthians 8:19-23
  • Answer
    • The “messengers” took the money from the churches directly to the need
    • The “messengers” exercised no centralized control as the sponsoring church elders do
local church cooperation a search for authority4
Local Church Cooperationa search for authority
  • “Liberal” brethren appeal to Acts 11:29-30; money was sent to the elders who then forwarded it to the needy brethren (from one church, to another church, then distributed to the needy individuals)
  • Answer
    • The elders that received the money were the elders among the needy brethren
local church cooperation a search for authority5
Local Church Cooperationa search for authority
  • “Liberal” brethren appeal to no specific directive (an exclusive pattern) for how preachers are to be supported
  • Answer
    • The specific pattern of sending directly to the preacher is found in scripture; all other arrangements are excluded
local church cooperation a search for authority6
Local Church Cooperationa search for authority
  • “Liberal” brethren say that they are still in control when they voluntarily turn the money over to the sponsoring church elders
  • Answer
    • Oversight and autonomy is lost
    • Voluntarily turning over control does not make the new arrangement authorized (consider parents turning over their children to another, or husband turning over his wife to another)
local church fellowship
Liberal brethren

$$use church funds $$

to build and maintain

“Fellowship Halls”

kitchens

used for social

and recreational use

Conservative brethren

$$ use church funds $$

to build and maintain

a place to assemble

for worship

Acts 20:7

1 Cor. 11:33

Hebrews 10:25

Local Church Fellowship

Social and

recreational uses of

the building are added to

the NT pattern

local church fellowship a search for authority
Local Church Fellowshipa search for authority
  • “Liberal” brethren appeal to Acts 20:7-11; Paul ate a “fellowship meal”
  • Answer
    • Paul ate, but we are not told anything else
    • Where is the “Fellowship Hall” built and maintained by the church treasury in this passage?
local church fellowship a search for authority1
Local Church Fellowshipa search for authority
  • “Liberal” brethren appeal to 1 Corinthians 11:22ff and say the problem was selfishness and worldliness during the Lord’s supper; keeping the worship spiritual
  • Answer
    • Liberal brethren do not eat a common meal during the Lord’s supper; this is not the issue
    • The assembly in the building is for spiritual worship purposes; this excludes social purposes
local church fellowship a search for authority2
Local Church Fellowshipa search for authority
  • “Liberal” brethren appeal to “love feasts” (2 Pet. 2:13; Jude 12); these “love feasts” are the same as “fellowship meals” today
  • Answer
    • The “love feasts” were meals, but there is no evidence concerning (1) what the meals were, (2) who ate the meals, or (3) whether a church, from its treasury, planned and purchased the meal and the place to eat it
local church fellowship a search for authority3
Local Church Fellowshipa search for authority
  • “Liberal” brethren appeal to “fellowship;” meals are one way Christians have “fellowship” together
  • Answer
    • The word “fellowship” (Gr. koinonia), when used of churches, always refers to spiritual communion or join-participation in spiritual activities
    • If Christians want to eat together fine; they do it at home (Acts 2:46; 1 Cor. 11:22,34)
    • The “fellowship meal” is the Lord’s supper (1 Cor. 10:16), and the “fellowship hall” is the auditorium where we worship (1 John 1:6-7)
local church fellowship a search for authority4
Local Church Fellowshipa search for authority
  • “Liberal” brethren appeal to early Christians meeting in homes; they also ate in those homes
  • Answer
    • There is no evidence that these early Christians took money from the church treasury to buy a social meal for the church or build a “fellowship hall” onto the house that they were meeting in
local church fellowship a search for authority5
Local Church Fellowshipa search for authority
  • “Liberal” brethren appeal to the church building not being holy or “sacred”
  • Answer
    • Yes, the building is not holy or sacred (the materials), but its use must be limited to the purpose authorized in the NT (Col. 3:17)
    • The time spent in the assembly for spiritual purposes is a sacred occasion
local church fellowship a search for authority6
Local Church Fellowshipa search for authority
  • “Liberal” brethren appeal to the water fountain; if you can’t eat in the building, you can’t drink in it either
  • Answer
    • The building may contain anything necessary to carry out the command to assemble for spiritual worship (water fountain, restrooms, heating/cooling, lights, etc.)
local church fellowship a search for authority7
Local Church Fellowshipa search for authority
  • “Liberal” brethren appeal to the preacher’s house; anti brethren say you can eat in the preacher’s house bought by the church, but not the building; anti brethren are “silly” and “ridiculous”
  • Answer
    • the preacher, supported by the church, may do what is right to do in his own home including eating
local church work
Liberal brethren

$$use church funds $$

to do social and

recreational works

social reform

recreational activities

business operations

secular education

domestic services

Conservative brethren

$$ use church funds $$

for authorized

works only

* * *

Evangelism

(Matthew 28:19-20)

Edification

(Ephesians 4:11-16)

Benevolence

(Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-35; 6:1-6)

Local Church Work

Social and

recreational works

are added to

the NT pattern

local church work a search for authority
Local Church Worka search for authority
  • “Liberal” brethren appeal to individual action; what the individual Christian can do, the local church can do
  • Answer
    • the individual and the local church can do only what each one is authorized to do
    • the individual and the local church do not always do the same things (1 Tim. 5:16)
    • may churches vote, start a business?
local church work a search for authority1
Local Church Worka search for authority
  • “Liberal” brethren social and recreational activities are used to reach people for evangelism and edification
  • Answer
    • the gospel is used for evangelism (2 Tim. 4:2,5)
    • the gospel is used to edify people (Acts 20:32)
    • Jesus did not use social and recreational activities to draw people (Jn. 6:27,44-45); neither did the first NT church (Acts 2:14ff); neither should we!
local church work a search for authority2
Local Church Worka search for authority
  • “Liberal” brethren appeal to the “good works” they are doing
  • Answer
    • “good works” are defined by God in His word, not by man (Eph. 2:10)
    • a work can be “good,” but not authorized for the local church
what is next
What is next?

Mid-1800’s to Present Day (digression)

Mid-1800’s to

early 1900’s

1950’s and 60’s

1960’s and 70’s

1980’s and 90’s

Missionary

Society

Colleges

Orphan

Homes

General

Benevolence

and

Sponsoring

Church

Fellowship

Halls

Social

Recreational

Activities

Instrumental

Music

Baptism Not E.

Unity with

Denominations

“Some shall fall away from the faith” … 1 Timothy 4:1-2

Acting without Bible authority leads to further digression…

What’s next? How far will you go?

what do we need today
A Plea For Honest Study

Respect Bible Authority

Handle Aright the Bible

Keep an Open Mind

Resolve to Follow Truth

Stand for Truth without Carnal Fighting & Bitterness

Teach on Authority

Generic and Specific Authority

Proper use of Expediencies

Respect the Silence of the Scriptures

NT Commands, Approved Examples and Inferences

Follow the Pattern

What do we need today?
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