On Church Organization

Wm. E. Wallace
Indianapolis, Indiana

The World Council of Churches is an organization of Protestant denominations. The organization functions in behalf of the church bodies.

The Baptists of the Southern Baptist Convention are not affiliated with the World Council of Churches. They say the WCC is the wrong kind of organism. They are afraid that membership in the WCC would endanger the freedom of local Baptist congregations. But the membership of denominations in WCC is based on the same kind of principles as membership of Baptist congregations in the Southern Baptist Convention and the Baptist World Alliance.

The National Association of Evangelicals is an organization of churches that opposes membership in the WCC because of fear that the WCC may become a "super-church," a Protestant Vatican. Yet the principles of membership, in the NAF, are similar to those of the WCC.

Liberal brethren among churches of Christ are opposed to the organizations mentioned above. Yet our liberal brethren have created organizational arrangements that operate on similar principles to those underlying denominational organisms.

Church organizations, including those of our liberal brethren, exist as "organizational strategy" for co-operation on regional, national, or international scales. They differ in name, in work they seek to accomplish, in personnel and control, but they are alike in their reasons for existence and in their strategic purposes. They all claim to respect the autonomy and independence of local or denominational bodies.

The literature of the WCC officials claims independence and autonomy for participating bodies. The literature of the Southern Baptist Convention claims independence and autonomy for represented congregations. The literature of the NAE claims autonomy and independence for member churches. The literature of sponsoring elderships and institutional boards among us claim that congregational autonomy and independence are not affected by their centralized power arrangements.

The "independence" and "autonomy" of these organisms are not of the same kind as that advanced in the New Testament for local churches. The independence and autonomy of New Testament congregations do not involve ties with regional, national, or international organization. True or real New Testament congregations are free from entangling alliances with other churches, free from the encroachments of institutions, free from infringing sponsoring church arrangements.

The concentration of administrative control and institutional authority in present day arrangements among our brethren are quite parallel to denominational organization. The officials of the denominational bodies contend that centralized control is not involved in the various organizations. But take centralization and control away from the organizations and they would die from hunger for power or reason to function. Our brethren claim that centralized control is not involved in the church supported institutions and sponsoring churches. But take the centralization and control away from them and there would be no sponsoring church and no church supported institutions.

The things that make or create sponsoring churches are the pooling of congregational funds under one central eldership and the exercising of administrative control over the co-operative effort by one eldership. The same things are true of the institutional boards which receive congregational funds. In all of these organizational arrangements you have unscriptural and non-biblical associations that go against the authority of the one who reigns as head over all things to the church.

TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 7, p. 21 April 1966