hugh’s news & Views — For over fifty years I have been a preacher of the gospel. During all these years I have believed in, preached, and urged the unity of all believers in Christ upon the basis of the Bible alone. I read in my New Testament where Jesus prayed for His followers “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You have sent Me” (John 17:21).
I further read where the inspired apostle Paul said to the divided church in Corinth: “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (I Corinthians 1:10).
I also read where the apostle said: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).
Three chapters earlier I had read that the one body is the church (1:22-23).
Down through the centuries, as Christianity ebbed and waned, it became divided into many factions. Today, according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, there are approximately 41,000 denominations in the world. This statistic takes into consideration cultural distinctions of denominations in different countries, so there is overlapping of many denominations. How can all of these different denominations be restored to the unity for which Christ prayed? How can there again be just one body/one church as there was in the New Testament era of Christianity? Following is my wild proposal for such.
Let all denominational hierarchies—Catholic and Protestant—be dismantled and every local church/congregation of any kind be returned to the control of the members who comprise it. Let the Pope be permanently retired. Let the old gentleman be treated with respect and dignity, and let him be given the best of care throughout the remaining days of his earthly life, but let the papacy be dissolved. Let the College of the Cardinals be disbanded. Let the Archbishops and Bishops go home and find membership in a local congregation. Let the Vatican return its vast wealth to the local churches for the relief of the poor and the preaching of the pure gospel of Christ. Let the Episcopal Church, the Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian, the Baptist, the Methodist, the Pentecostal, the Disciples of Christ, the Mormon and every other church of every stripe and kind also dismantle its denominational machinery, dispose of its creed, catechism, or church manual, and do away with its distinctive, identifying name. Let each local church resolve to be just that—the church!
Let each local church begin a diligent search of the Scriptures to find out what God would have His people to be. Let them learn from God’s word what one must do to be saved from sin, added to the church, and entitled to wear the name Christian. Let those who have never done what the Bible says about this matter promptly comply with the biblical conditions for becoming a Christian. If the instructions of the Bible were followed, all would become a Christian in one and the self-same way.
Let each local church begin an in-depth study of the New Testament to learn how God Himself wants to be worshiped, not how the worshipers think He wants to be worshiped!Then begin to worship God as He desires. If such were done all would worship in the same way. Let each congregation study the Bible to see how the congregations in New Testament days were organized (the organization was quite simple, and never extended beyond the boundaries of one congregation), and then determine to organize itself in that same simple way. Every church would be an autonomous (self-governing) congregation.
Then let each congregation devote itself to a study of the Bible to learn how God wants His people to live and function in society (at home, at work, at play, in all the relationships and affairs of life), as well as to know the moral and ethical standards that should govern them. Let every individual Christian—man, woman, and young person—commit themselves to living that kind of life.
What might be the results of such? We would find ourselves in harmony with the will of God as expressed in His inspired word. Divisions and denominations would be a thing of the past. The proclamation of the gospel to the non-Christian world would be met with amazing success. God would be glorified. And Christ would be honored for who He truly is!
What chance do you think my proposal has of being accepted?
November 13, 2012