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Understanding institutionalism

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Presentation on theme: "Understanding institutionalism"— Presentation transcript:

1 Understanding institutionalism
What does the term mean? Are all “non-institutional” churches the same? Why do “non-institutional” churches believe in limited benevolence? Why do “non-institutional” churches believe in the Lord’s church as the only authorized means of doing God’s work? Why is there a divide between “non-institutional” and “institutional” groups – can’t we still have fellowship? Why do “non-institutional” churches often refuse to partake of things that are not covered in scripture?

2 Are we an “NI” church of Christ?
“What would it take to prove that Vegas Drive is not an “anti” congregation? Take the original members, have them write a short statement that says ‘We repudiate anti-ism and non-institutionalism, we have stopped believing and practicing that,’ and then have each one of those members sign that piece of paper, and then do works meet for repentance.” Local Las Vegas preacher, May 16, 2010

3 The premise of this statement
Non-institutionalism (“anti-ism”) is a sin It “teaches for doctrine the commandments of men” It is comparable to “Corban” (Mark 7:5-13) and involves ignoring a direct command from God for purposes of doing what man wants to do instead An “anti” violates God’s command to “do good to all men” because he is against certain methods of “doing good” An “anti” does not believe multiple churches can contribute to the same work Also brought up “crossroads” doctrine and accompanying actions in worship such as “hand-clapping”, “gymnastics”, etc… Why do we need to know this? This is how the discussion is framed!

4 What is an “anti”? Wayne Goforth, “Why I Left the Denominational Church of Christ” “They only mentioned ‘anti's though in prejudiced ways. Various instructors stated repeatedly ‘an anti will lie, cheat and steal to prove a point. Don't ever believe an anti on anything.’ One said that anti's usually meet in houses because they are generally too small and poor to afford a building, and that they were usually just a bunch of old cranks who didn't want to do anything anyway, so this doctrine gave them the excuse for which they were looking. They said anti-ism was the answer the Pharisees were looking for when they said "it is Corban" and therefore could not help their parents. They talked about one cup, no Bible class, no church supported orphan homes, etc., and lumped them all together as "anti." Few of us knew what an "anti" was exactly, but we knew we did not want to be one because that was bad.” Note: A person who believes in institutionalism but not in sponsoring churches will eventually be an “anti” to someone else.”

5 What does it mean to be a “non-institutional” Christian
“Are you an ‘anti’?” What does it mean to be a “non-institutional” Christian

6 The one church has one architect
Matt 16:18-19 –”I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church;” Eph 1:22-23 – “And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Eph 4:3-6 – “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” If God intended one church for Jew and Gentile (Col. 1:21-22) did he design two churches for those who couldn’t agree on doctrine?

7 The one church has three missions
Support the preaching of the gospel (Phil. 4:15-18, I Cor. 9:7-14) Edify the brethren spiritually (I Cor. 14:26) Provide benevolence for the saints in need (Rom. 15:25-27, I Tim. 5:16) 1 Tim 3:15 – “but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.”

8 The one church has three missions
Eph 3:7-12 – “To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord.” So why the talks of different “types” of church?

9 What is “institutionalism”
If “institutionalism” was part of the First Century Church, we wouldn’t have needed to name it Vegas preacher: “believes it is sinful to give money to widows and orphans, doesn’t believe in institutions” “A very simplistic definition of institutionalism is the doctrine or practice of a church sending money to an institution of some kind in order to carry out some work that the church has deemed worthy of support.” ( Opinions may vary on what those institutions may be

10 What is “institutionalism”
“Is a man's relationship to God a direct and immediate relationship; or is his direct relationship with an institution which, in turn, has the direct relationship with God? Think about it! In current brotherhood discussions the purely institutional issue may be buried beneath arguments about the organizational structure or polity of independent congregations of saints, and their legitimate work and purpose as independent institutions. Is the local church the individual's link with God, or is it a God-given tool for the use of saints whose link with God remains direct and immediate?” (Robert Turner, “Plain Talk”) Scripturally it cannot be the first (Acts 9:26); if the second, then who decides how that tool should be used? Ultimately: Who is authorized to do God’s work other than the church?

11 What is an “anti”? This is not a designation, it is a pejorative!
Vegas preacher: “Not every anti believes every thing. … I would go to different churches and I would have to ask them “what kind of anti are you?” If one is not an “anti”, are they against nothing? II Tim. 3:5 – “Avoid such men as these” I Tim. 5:20 – “Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all” Eph. 5:11 – “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead expose them” A Christian had better be anti-SOMETHING!

12 What is an “anti”? The Paul Hammons definition of “Anti-ism” An “anti” is someone who doesn’t agree with how I want to do things.

13 The Pharasees’ answer to Corban
Mark 7:5-13 – “The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, ‘Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?’ And He said to them, ‘Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”

14 “Teaching for doctrine…”
Mark 7:9-13 – “He was also saying to them, ‘You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. For Moses said, 'HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER'; and, 'HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH'; but you say, 'If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),' you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”

15 “Teaching for doctrine…”
What were the Pharisees doing? Taking what they wanted to teach, and elevating it to the status of doctrine Doing so to the point that they were neglecting or nullifying God’s direct commands in favor of their own plan 2 Thess 2:14-15 – “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.” When traditions are from God or from the disciples, they are traditions we need to be keeping Traditions (doctrines) that violate God’s law or go contrary to God’s pattern are those that fit this description!

16 Next Sunday morning Does “saints only” benevolence override God’s commandment to “do good to all”? Why doesn’t the Vegas Drive church of Christ fund secular institutions? Why does Vegas Drive expect its members to fulfill benevolent responsibilities outside the church? Does the Vegas Drive church REALLY believe that it can never support widows or orphans?


18 “Let us do good to all…” Does teaching of “saints only” benevolence invalidate God’s command? Gal 6:10 – “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” – individual or collective? “you who are spiritual, looking to yourself”, v. 1 “bear one another’s burdens”, v. 2 “each must examine his own work”, v. 3 V. 8 – “the one who sows to his own flesh” V. 9 – “we will reap if we do not grow weary” Can the church do my good work for me? 1 Peter 2:12 – “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.”

19 “Let us do good to all…” Let’s assume the church can support secular groups Let’s assume that Gal. 6:10 is a commandment to the church as a collective Does a church’s failure to contribute to EVERY “good work” mean that they are in sin? What if we chose to send our available funds to help Christians only – are we in sin? What if we chose to help an orphan or widow individual instead of from the church’s coffers – are we in sin? The false teacher’s credo – “You are in sin if you don’t select MY specific work, and do it the way I think it should be done.” Is that not “teaching for doctrine the commandments of men?

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