Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Clarification

Well, there are already some things being said to me that indicate people haven't been listening. So let's run through this one more time.

I am not saying "brethren" teach what is wrong. I am saying they have developed a system that is collapsing under its own weight. I am in complete agreement with "exclusive brethren" as far as things like church order and inter-assembly relationships. That is, I think what they say about those topics is correct. If they would only do what they say, I would have no problems with them. If they really would allow the Holy Spirit to lead in the meetings, if they really did act in unity instead of descending into schism at every crisis, then I'd be onboard.

I'm not looking for "open reception." I completely buy the whole "guarded fellowship" idea. I'm not in any way suggesting we ought to allow strangers to break bread, nor am I advocating a freelance model of fellowship wherein people just sort of drift from assembly to assembly as they feel inclined that day. What I am saying is, our tests of fellowship are all wrong: we receive based solely on whether someone's a member of the group.

I'm not saying we ought to have clergy, elders, or anything of the sort. I'm saying we're hypocrites when we condemn others for their "pastor" then have a roster of men whose word cannot be questioned. I'm saying that when a man or group of men can effectively overturn an assembly decision, we have clergy in fact, if not in name.

I'm not saying we are wrong to have books, commentaries, and various publications. I am saying that we are in fact committing idolatry when we consider them to be the authority, rather than Scripture.

I'm not saying we ought to jettison things like church order, I'm not even saying things like headcoverings or "open ministry" are unimportant. I am saying that getting externals right is not an excuse to be backbiting, self-righteous, or complacent. The scripture warns very strongly about "having a form of godliness" and denying it's power.

My desire for "occasional fellowship" is not because I intend to visit a whole slew of other assemblies and break bread there. It's based on the conviction that there is no membership other than that in the Body of Christ, and (one-line disclaimers in assembly phone lists notwithstanding) what we practice is sectarian membership.

I'm not saying the assembly where I have been fellowshipping is in sin. I'm saying that I have been compromising on certain things in order to get others. For example, I've been compromising on the issue of reception in order to be in an assembly where the meetings are largely unscheduled so the the Holy Spirit can lead. But I've started to realize that I've made compromises on "intangibles" for "tangibles." That is, I've compromised on issues like pride and complacency so I can see a certain level of correct church order. I no longer feel free to make those compromises. I am not condemning anyone, but I no longer feel free to continue on this course.

That probably won't clear things up to any significant degree, but I felt it worthwhile to lay it all out like that.

5 comments:

Ames said...

Well said.

Kendall said...

I appreciate your honesty and concerns. Speaking from another exclusive brethren group I know what you are saying and share the same views.
It leads to complacency when two or three brother make the decisions for the assembly. Darby express the concern about "two or three brothers making decisions for the assembly. When there is not the exercise about reception, but just do they have a letter from our group.
I am in my comfortable complacent Pew
It is very easy to give advice, but I think of Job's friends who give good advice, but it did not apply to Job. Would I be willing to spend a lot of time with you like Job's friends did. Job 2 - 13.

Here it is aways do not throw the baby out with the bath water.

"The Brethren are a remarkable people for rightly dividing the Word of Truth and wrongly dividing themselves."

On an lightly note I enjoyed one of your previous comments and upon passing it on. what should I say "a comment by Clumsy OX". It does have the same condescension as saying it from JND, WK, CM should I say CLX?

clumsy ox said...

I love it! CLX is perfect.

In fact, I once heard an older brother say when he was younger, the younger men would quote one another in Bible Readings, using just their three-letter initials.

I tried it once or twice and it worked quite well. Of course, I think a lot of the older guys when home and scoured their bookshelves, trying to figure out who "SAP" was.

Daryl said...

Wow, you gave really laid things out the way I see it too, albeit as an outsider. I have never been in fellowship with any branch of exclusives but have always, ironically, felt that they taught the truth, especially church truth concerning the unity of the body, in a way that open brethren, with whom I am in fellowship, have never understood or taught, except maybe imperfectly or partially. I recently came across a quote from Letters of J.N.D, as follows ... "What is important is not "The Brethren", but, the truth they have... God could set them aside and spread His truth by others... etc."
My reasons for not joining the exclusives are varied, but what they teach is not one of them, since I agree with it. I think Ironside stated how I feel in his "Historical Sketch of the Brethren Movement" in which he says: "...the exclusive principle, if not pushed to an extreme, seemed to me for many years to be the most nearly scriptural;... I have come to the conclusion that it may require greater spirituality to act upon it than most of us possess." So what am I to do in this day of ruin ? I haven't quite figured that out yet.

clumsy ox said...

"So what am I to do in this day of ruin ? I haven't quite figured that out yet."

You and me both, bro. If you figure it out, let me know...