What Are “The Issues?”
A little old lady, sincere and innocent, asked, “Brother Turner, what are ‘the issues’ I hear about now and then?” Although these things have been repeatedly stated, I will reprint an analysis of current problems which I wrote in 1961.
<ol><li>(a) Shall we continue to teach and practice congregational independence _ each local church doing her God-assigned work to the extent of her own ability and under her own control; or (b) shall we change our practice to allow collective activities on the part of a plurality of churches? (Frequently called the “sponsoring church plan” since one church usually assumes or is designated the controlling church with reference to the project considered, and the rest of the churches are but contributing churches.) </li> <li>(a) Shall we continue to teach and practice the all-sufficiency of the church to do her God-assigned work_ the independent local church being the only God-appointed organization responsible for this work; or (b) shall we surrender our own responsibilities to human benevolent, evangelistic, and educational societies? (May inter-church bureaus and societies become organizational means by which the God-appointed local church functions?) </li> <li>(a) Shall we continue to teach and practice principles relative to the spiritual nature and function of the church _ a divine institution primarily concerned with the eternal destiny of the soul; or (b) shall we allow social and temporal welfare activities to dominate our program of work. (This involves determination, by the scriptures, of the God-assigned work of the organized church; and recognition of the distinction between the social, domestic, civil. and other responsibilities of the individual Christian, and their collective activities as an organized body or church.) (I Tim. 5:16, Col. 3:17-f). </li> <li>(a) Shall we continue to insist upon Bible authority for our practices _ inviting and encouraging open investigation and Bible study of any differences which may exist; or (b) shall we accept current “brotherhood practices” as our authority, and override opposition by majority rule or quarantine tactics? </li> </ol><p>I have so worded the above as to indicate my acceptance of the principles indicated in “a” of each issue. Emphasis is given to the word “practice” because men sometimes allow their practices to contradict the principles they claim to believe. We must determine principles by the Word of God, and fear not to alter practices of the past when they are seen to be in conflict with the Divine Will. Our practices may change from generation to generation _ and usually such changes are so gradual we do not at first perceive them _ but God’s Word remains steadfast; rebuking and correcting all who will be exercised thereby. (See 2 Tim. 3:16-f; 2 Cor. 10:12-18; Acts 28:25-28)</p>
“The issues” may very well be put as one issue _ acceptance or rejection of the Divine Standard.