A Growing Ecclesiasticism

Cecil Willis
Akron, Ohio

We have tried to tell the brethren that the sponsoring church type of congregational cooperation is just one part of a growing ecclesiasticism among the churches of Christ. There was a time when I was naive enough to think that maybe some of the brethren would awaken and some of the silent preachers would become vocal when the digression had grown. But it is growing daily and many are no nearer enlightenment and the silent preachers remain silent still.

When the Catholic digression began, there evolved first a sort of super bishop among the bishops within a single congregation. Then among these super-bishops, there evolved an archbishop. Among the archbishops a super archbishop until finally there was one called the pope who claimed to be the universal bishop.

Among the churches of Christ that claim to be autonomous and equal, there has evolved a generation of super-churches that the brethren call sponsoring churches. I never have read of any such creature in the Bible, but you frequently hear the brethren talk about these nondescript entities.

Now among these super-churches, there are arising super-sponsoring churches. In the institutional field there are being created super-institutions. The board of directors at Boles Home in Quinlan, Texas now oversees two institutions. The charter of the Schults-Lewis Home at Valparaiso, Indiana authorizes it to establish other institutions under the same board. There is plenty of leeway in this charter for expansion of the great digression. In Birmingham a few years back, Guy N. Woods said that if one board of directors should oversee two homes, it would then be parallel to the United Christian Missionary Society. But have you heard a peep out of him or any other institution defender since the Boles board took over its second institution?

In the July, 1965 issue of the KOREAN' REPORTER, we are introduced to a super-sponsoring church arrangement. Instead of several hundred churches functioning through a sponsoring church, which many of the brethren have chewed on and attempted to swallow until it finally has gone on down, now seven sponsoring churches are going to function through one super-sponsoring church.

In addition to $259,000 that Jimmy Lovell is trying to raise through his paper called ACTION for the Korean work, seven sponsoring churches are making an appeal through the Otter Creek church in Nashville for $198,980 more. The bulletin plainly declares: "Seven sponsoring churches makes (sic) an appeal through Otter Creek for seven missionary families for a 3 year budget."

So another unscriptural entity has emerged. We now not only have evolved super-churches called sponsoring churches, we now have a super-sponsoring church. The next step is for some church to become the sponsor of sponsors of sponsoring churches. This process can continue, on the same unscriptural principles, until all the churches of Christ are going to function through one church, just as the Church of Rome now does.

And some of our gullible brethren will chuckle over the fact that while it took the Catholic several hundred years to make such a transition, we are so "progressive" that we could make it in a quarter of a century' It would not surprise me if I should live to see all of the churches of Christ functioning through one eldership. Even now influential brethren like Guy N. Woods and Thomas B. Warren assert there would be nothing wrong with it, except it might be inexpedient.

The seeds of a full-grown ecclesiasticisn1 have been sown among us and shall certainly bear fruit unless such seeds are plucked up.

TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 8, p. 2 May 1966