Organizations Have Limitations: Exceeding Them Brings Disaster
Wallace H. Little
Ft. Walton Beach, Florida
The Jews allowed the Sabbath to be the end itself, rather than as Mark records Christ in saying, it was to serve man (Mk. 2:27 - "the Sabbath was made for men, not man for the Sabbath").
J.C. Briney was the major figure saving the Missionary Society from extinction. At the 1906 convention, he wanted to speak in support of the missionary society, but opposing any other organizations like it, or extensions from it. The "Young Turks" who controlled the program, and who were promoting a "going onward," refused him the platform. His protected and nourished "pet," the missionary society, devoured him. Watching, others saw the horror as recognition of that spread across his face.
Organizations built by men have often so enthralled their builders and joiners that they will ever permit themselves to be sacrificed for the welfare of that organization, believing this is right. Many early Russian communist leaders were "eaten up" by the monster they created when Stalin came into full control. In their last writings/speakings, they stated they believed their sacrifice (death) was right and appropriate so that the organization could live and function.
In any organization, watch for the subordination of men (and women also, obviously) to the organization itself. This includes local churches. If that happens, either the system itself is basically wrong, or that man is applying it improperly. This latter is always true in the case of God's institutions (marriage and family; government; the church).
". . . One generic evil of an organization of any kind is that people who have identified themselves with it are prone to make an idol of it. The true purpose of an institution is to serve as a means of promoting the welfare of human beings. In truth, it is not sacrosanct but is 'expendable.' (*) Yet in the hearts of its devotees, it is apt to become and end in itself, to which the welfare of human beings is subordinated and even sacrificed if this is necessary for the welfare of the institution. The responsible administrators of any institution are particularly prone to fall into the moral error of feeling it to be their paramount duty to preserve the existence of this institution of which they are trustees (and the functions they perceive as right and proper for it - whl) . . . " (Historian Arnold Toynbee, from "An Historian's Approach to Religion," Essentials and Non-Essentials in Religion, p. 268).
(*Toynbee was writing from the standpoint of man-made religious organizations, not God's church. It is doubtful he even knew that New Testament Christianity existed. So he saw the evils in man-made religious organization as if they applied universally, as with any secular organization.)
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 9, p. 277