Spanish Restoration Movement
J. F. Dancer
In the February 19, 1965 issue of the CHRISTIAN CHRONICLE I read with great interest a story about the discovery of a movement in Spain to restore New Testament Christianity. The CHRONICLE revealed that seven congregations in Spain and Northern Morocco, w i t h an estimated membership of 300 to 400 Christians are now worshipping very close to the New Testament pattern. It was good to read that here were a group of people who teach baptism as set forth in the New Testament and who were not tied together in any form of denominational organization. But then came the sad part. These groups of people who are seeking to follow the simple New Testament pattern have been taken under the oversight of a church in Texas! The following is a direct quote from the article in the CHRONICLE: "A rapid chain of events has caused the current encouraging status in this new Spanish work; (1) The Highland Church of Christ in Abilene, Tex., has agreed to take the oversight of the work and to support six native preachers and the American couple.... (2) The Russell Avenue Church of Christ in Abilene, has agreed to supervise a program of publications work directed by Juan Monroy" (one of the Spanish preachers, jfd).
More is said in the article but this is enough.
When will the brethren learn that one church cannot scripturally oversee another (much less seven others)? It looks like we need a "restoration movement" in Texas! If, as stated in this article, "their (the Spanish people involved, jfd) ideal is to conform wholly to the teaching of the New Testament" they will have to find the courage to break loose from this "Texas Oversight." It is altogether possible the Spanish need help, but let's help them in the right direction!
This brings to mind one of the condemnations Jesus pronounced against the Pharisees in Matthew 23:15: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him two fold more the child of hell than yourselves." Here we find folks who are breaking away from denominational influences and are being "helped" by zealous brethren who have led right back into sectarianism. Yes, that's what it is! New Testament Christianity does not find one church "overseeing" another, regardless of the good intentions. Elders are to be found in "every church" (Acts 14:23). There (the local church) they are to oversee and feed (1 Pet. 5:1-3; Acts 20:28). Elders have no authority across the country or across the world! Granted the Spanish brethren may need help, but they do not need to be led BACK INTO DENOMlNATIONALISM!
This "SPANISH RESTORATION MOVEMENT (TEXAS STYLE)" presents a sad picture indeed. But we simply see in it another step by liberal thinking brethren in an effort to bring the whole brotherhood under the thinking of one eldership. The desire for power has driven out the desire to follow the "New Testament pattern." The article further states "at one time there were 20 congregations in Spain and Morocco in this movement, but for lack of trained preachers all but eight have fallen under denominational control." NOW THESE EIGHT HAVE FALLEN! May the Lord bless them with the courage to deny this "aid'' offered via the "oversight" of the Abilene church and may they have the faith to go forward to a complete restoration of New Testament Christianity even in congregational autonomy.
Truth Magazine IX: 9, pp. 19-20