Metropolitan Bishops Suggested

Cecil Willis

Everyone who has made any study at all of Church History knows that organizationally the evolvement of metropolitan bishops was the first major step in the digression that resulted in the formation of the Roman Catholic Church. Under this arrangement, the elders in one big city became the overseers of many congregations.

Discerning brethren have long recognized that our liberal brethren today have already committed themselves in principle to the metropolitan bishop concept. When arrangements like the "Herald of Truth" (with 3,000 churches working through one eldership) were foisted upon the brotherhood, it became obvious that some brethren could not stop short of the metropolitan bishop concept.

Well, it has NOW been proposed! Brother Thomas H. Olbricht (Associate Professor of Bible at Abilene Christian College) proposed such an arrangement in the October, 1968 issue of the very liberal paper called MISSION. Brother Olbricht wrote concerning city churches. He said: "The Jerusalem eldership therefore was not over a group of people who met together in one location, but over a group of people who met in various locations. Information about the church in Ephesus in the second century indicates that the church there likewise had various groups under one eldership. If we had a church like the Jerusalem church in the inner city today, we would have meetings in various places, but one eldership residing in the inner city Being of some number under one eldership it could have a more united effort in working for justice."

There you have it. This brother is arguing that several groups of Christians should be under one metropolitan eldership. We knew these brethren had become committed to this position in principle, but it is a little surprising to hear them so soon overtly arguing for such. After metropolitan elderships, it was not long until Arch-bishops had evolved in the Catholic digression. Our brethren are only a few steps behind. Anybody for a Pope? It's a little strange that as a considerable block of Catholics are beginning to rebel at Papal authority; our brethren are deliberately walking in the steps followed in bygone years in the making of the first Pope.

Brother Olbricht's proposal obliterates every vestige of congregational autonomy, and is in diametric opposition to every passage (Such as Acts 14:23) which indicates that each church should have its own elders and deacons. Brother Olbricht would put many congregations under one eldership.

April 1969