“The Brotherhood”

By John McCort

Sectarian and denominational terminology should have no part in the language of Christians. In the last few years I have noticed a definite increase in denominational shibboleth among brethren. If we are going to effectively teach the world about the undenominational nature of the Lord’s church we are going to have to clean up our sectarian language.

Recently I heard a gospel preacher say, “We have even got that in the conservative church.” There is not such a thing as the “conservative church.” The Lord’s church is one body (Eph. 4:4-5). To fragment the Lord’s body into the “conservative church” and the “liberal church” and the “one cup church” is to make the Lord’s church fragmented into various denominations of which the conservative church” is one faction. (I am not trying to imply that the liberals are in the Lord’s church.) All I am saying is that the Bible teaches there is only one body. We are either in the body or out. Let us not confuse people in our preaching and writing by using denominational phrases.

I also heard the statement made, “Mon of our leaden in the conservative brotherhood are sick or are fading out of the picture. Some new leaders are going to have to fill the void.” Where in the New Testament do we read of having leaders in the conservative brotherhood? The New Testament church had inspired apostles but the only authority they had way in relation to what the Holy Spirit inspired them to say. The New Testament authorizes elders, deacons, evangelists, and teachers (Eph. 4:11-12) but it nowhere authorizes “leaders of the conservative brotherhood.” In reality no such office exists. It exists only in the sectarian minds of some politically minded brethren.

One brother said, “We only have big preachers for our meetings.” Several years ago we had an evangelist hold a meeting that was in great demand to hold meetings. When the subject of pay was brought up one of the elders said, “We have got to pay Brother ____ more than we normally do because he is a big preacher.” 1 know that most evangelists do not expect more pay just because they are more in demand for meetings than other evangelists, but this kind of mentality is just another example of sectarian thinking. 1 recognize that because of ability and experience some men are going to be more influential than others. This is only natural. But the idea that we have got to pay a man more for a meeting because he is a “big” preacher is creating distinctions that the Lord did not create. I feel we should judge a man on the basis of faithfulness and dedication to the Lord’s cause. We need to get away from this “big preacher” and “big church” syndrome. This caste system has a negative effect on the Lord’s work because it tends toward sectarianism.

There are some terms that are less than expedient. For example, “Brotherhood papers, brotherhood colleges, preacher training schools, church of Christ preachers, church of Christ colleges.” The scope of some church sponsored, “Schools of Preaching” go far beyond the scope of the local church that oversees the work. I know of one church that cancelled its “preacher school” because they could not get anybody but their own members interested in it. Because of a lack of national interest in the; program it was cancelled. The original intent of the special training courses was to edify the “church universal.” (I use that phrase rather loosely.) It is not tile responsibility of a local church to edify the brotherhood but rather to edify its own members.

We all need to confine our emphasis to the local church of which we are members. File local church is the functional unit that God organized, not the brotherhood.

Truth Magazine XXIII: 50, p. 802
December 20, 1979