by Elder Roy Mason
(Now In GLory)
- A THEORY WITHOUT A LEG TO STAND ON
- WHY AND WHEN THE THEORY STARTED
- WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE THEORY
- SOME CONTROVERTED PASSAGES
- FALSIFIES THE DATE OF THE CHURCH'S BEGINNING
- WRONG ON HOW THE CHURCH IS CONSTITUTED
- SOME ADDITIONAL INDICTMENTS
- USURPS THE FAMILY AND KINGDOM OF GOD
- WHICH LOCAL CHURCH IS THE TRUE CHURCH?
- THE TRUE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH IDENTIFIED
- THE LINKED CHAIN BUGABOO
- WHO WILL THE BRIDE BE?
One of the most widespread theories of this day is the theory that the
church that Jesus founded was not a local, visible assembly, but a Universal
Invisible Church to which all believers belong, and of which they were
made a part through a mysterious, mystical Holy Spirit baptism. It will
be the purpose of the author to show the fallacy of this theory in this
Theory Without A Leg To Stand On
Most heresies have plausible arguments to justify them. Scriptures are
taken out of context and made to bolster up error, or else ignoring the
uniform teaching of the Scriptures concerning a certain thing, certain
verses are pressed into use to make a false teaching seem reasonable. But
the heresy of the Universal Church, doesn't really have anything to back
it up. It simply will not bear honest investigation. Yet, the Universal
theory is one of the most popular, and one of the most commonly held of
all teachings. Liberals and Conservatives alike make use of this false
doctrine. Indeed, it is a doctrine that is fundamental to many of their
other beliefs. Many otherwise orthodox writers assume the Universal Church
theory as a matter of course, and so popular is it that the correctness
of it is seldom even questioned. Only a wise and wily Satan could have
put over this doctrine so skillfully. But let us remember that Satan is
the great counterfeiter. He has a counterfeit for every true doctrine of
the Bible. I taught in a Bible school for young ministers for some years,
and I challenged my classes to name a single doctrine of the Christian
faith that Satan has not devised a counterfeit for. Every student pondered
my challenge, but none were ever able to mention any doctrine for which
Satan has not devised a counterfeit.
Why have so many able preachers come to hold the doctrine of the Universal
Church? Most of such have just adopted it without careful examination.
It is a part of the current theological jargon of the times, and they have
swallowed it down unthinkingly. The writer is a Premillennialist
- and without apology, but he has heard many a Premillennial speaker ring
the changes on the "CHOORCH" as they pronounced it. Over and over again
they spoke of the "Rapture of the CHOORCH," yet the Scripture they referred
to, says nothing about "The rapture of the church," Look at I Thessalonians
4:15-16. What does it say?
"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the
voice of the archangel and the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall
rise first. Then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together
with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air."
Note that there is no mention of the CHURCH. It says "The dead in
Christ," and "We which are alive and remain." The
word church is not used. Reference is to believers. "Oh,' says someone,
"but it means the Church." That is pure assumption - that is part of a
theory. All believers are NOT members of the genuine church - the one that
Jesus started. This I shall prove as I go along.
I am writing as one who was once addicted to the Universal theory, and
the word "addict" properly expresses it. That theory was a part of my theological
thinking. Where did I get it? I got it from two sources - the Scofield
Bible notes, and the Scofield Bible course. Let me pause to say that generally
speaking, I consider Dr. Scofield a great Bible scholar. A Bible scholar
today is often thought of as a man who is a critical researcher into such
questions as "did John write the Apocalypse, or is it a forgery;" "were
there three Isaiahs or one?" Their knowledge is not of the Scriptures,
but of critical theories that seek to discredit the Scriptures. Dr. Scofield
was a student of the Bible itself. He and his associates did a colossal
work in preparing the Scofield Bible. I like the arrangement of that Bible
very much and would not take $500. for my copy, if I could not buy another.
Dr. Scofield had a Bible correspondence course on the market for about
twenty-five years. At his death, the Moody Bible Institute took it over,
and it is continued until this day. I took this course, which was designed
to cover a period of two years study, and I had the distinction of completing
the course in the shortest time of any student who had taken it up to that
date. So- what I am saying is that I had a thorough dose of Scofieldism,
most of which was helpful, but I became thoroughly inoculated with the
Universal Church theory. At a Baptist associational meeting I heard a staunch
Baptist preacher bring a sermon in which he combated the Universal theory,
and presented the view that Baptist churches have had continuous history
from the days of Christ, and are to be identified with the church which
He started in the days of His flesh. I went away from the meeting very
angry, and determined to write a booklet such as to refute the views that
I had listened to. But honest study along that line is fatal to the holder
of the Universal theory. I spent several months collecting data concerning
the history of Baptists and others, together with a study of the Universal
theory. The result was, I discovered to my chagrin that the preacher who
had so angered me was right. Out of my study developed my book, "The Church
That Jesus Built," which has gone through some ten editions and has never
been refuted. Incidentally, the preacher who had angered me, liked my book
very much and bought and circulated many copies.
I was a great admirer of Dr. Scofield, as I have already indicated, but
no man is infallible. We should not follow any human teacher with such
blind adulation that we fail to search the Scriptures for ourselves. Dr.
Scofield was as far from the truth on the church question as it is possible
to get. The Bible doesn't indicate that Jesus is the author of but one
kind of church, but Scofield has several kinds of churches in his writings.
He writes to the "church visible", "the church local", "the true church"
and so on. As I examined the Scriptures, I had to take what God says rather
than what Scofield and others say. I wonder how many who read this book
will be willing to take the same step I took when I renounced my precious
Universal theory? I wonder how many will throw aside prejudice such as
to face the fact that the Universal theory is utterly without Scripture
backing, and is the author of some of the worst heresies that we know anything
Baptists didn't use to fall for the Universal theory. The staunch old Baptist
scholars and historians of the past were believers in the perpetuity of
Baptist churches through the centuries, back to the days of Christ. But
we are in a liberalistic, ecumenical period, when Baptist teachers in our
schools and seminaries are loose in their views. They want to fit in with
what is currently popular, so many of these have espoused the Universal
There is no mention of a Universal Church in the Bible. The warmest advocates
of the theory will of necessity admit that nearly every instance in which
ecclesia, translated church, is found, reference is to an actual, local,
visible church. The other few times ecclesia is used, according to the
laws of language, the term is used in a generic or abstract sense, and
does not at all refer to an all-inclusive Universal, Invisible some thing.
This will be dealt with later.
And When This Theory Started
Not only does the New Testament know nothing of a Universal, Invisible
Church, Christians of the early centuries knew nothing of such. I have
read rather widely in the writings of the early church fathers - the writings
of the Christian leaders who lived in the early days of Christianity all
the way from Polycarp who knew John the apostle, on down. In their writings
they don't speak of an all embracing spiritual Universal, Invisible Church.
Doubtlessly they would have been amazed at such a doctrine. They speak
of church and churches - never of a vague Universal, Invisible monstrosity
composed of all the saved everywhere. They knew the Greek language too
well to try to use the term ecclesia in such a sense anyhow.
As time passed, Satan managed to introduce heresies and perversions among
the churches. These eventually produced the Roman Catholic Church. Bear
in mind that Roman Catholicism did not spring full grown into the world.
It is the product of error and false doctrine accumulated over a period
of several centuries. Dr. R. K. Maiden, former editor of the Word and Way,
of Missouri, has the following to say about the rise of the Universal Church
conception and adoption of the Universal Church Theory, is the parent heresy
in ecciesiology. How and when did this theory originate? The change from
the idea of the individual, self-governing church, to the Universal Church
had its origin in one of the most colossal blunders of all Christian history
- that of making 'ecclesia' and 'basileia' identical. So far from being
identical, the difference between 'church' and 'kingdom' is so great as
to require that they be contrasted rather than compared. Jesus and the
writers of the New Testament never confused the two terms. The taproot
of the Universal Church theory is the identification of the church and
kingdom, making the two coincident, coextensive and coterminous. The theory
of the identity of church and kingdom and of the universality of the church
were twin born. New Testament writers knew nothing of a world church. As
nearly as can be determined, the first formal, official identification
of church and kingdom was projected when the Roman Empire became nominally
Christianized, about the time of the consummation of the great ecclesiastical
apostasy. It was the Ecumenical Council of Nice, called by the Emperor
Constantine, that affirmed and projected as its creed the idea of a 'Catholic'
World Church. From then down to the Lutheran Reformation of the sixteenth
century, the universal VISIBLE theory of the church held the field, except
for the scattered, comparatively obscure, hunted and persecuted little
churches known by various names at different times - churches of the New
Testament type in doctrine and polity. Following the Reformation period
and born of the Reformation movement, there emerged a new theory of the
church - the UNIVERSAL, INVISIBLE SPIRITUAL THEORY."
The Universal Visible Church theory is an utter necessity of the Roman
Catholic Church. There is not the slightest resemblance between the simply
organized, self-governing churches of New Testament times, and the great,
complex hierarchical pope dominated institution that we know as the Roman
Catholic Church today. Conditions in that church became so intolerable
that they produced the Protestant Reformation. Let it be remembered, and
never forgotten that Baptists are NOT Protestants. They existed long before
the rise of Protestantism.
When the Protestant reformers split the Catholic world, they did not make
the radical changes they would have made had they gone back to the Bible
as their standard of life, and doctrine, and conduct. They of necessity
rejected the Roman Church as the Universal Visible Church, but they did
not go back to the New Testament Church type. What would they do? With
what would they replace the doctrine of the Universal Visible Church? They
solved the problem by coining the doctrine of the Universal INVISIBLE Church.
So the Universal, Invisible, spiritual theory of the church WAS INVENTED!
Such a thing didn't exist for over fifteen hundred years after Christ started
His church! But this is now the working theory of all Protestantism - and
sad to say many Baptists have unwittingly been snared by this theory.
MOTHER OF HERESIES
Down in Florida where the writer lives, we often have severe hurricanes,
and sometimes these spawn a whole bunch of violent tornadoes. They literally
spin off of the parent storm. This same thing is true of the mother heresy,
the Universal church theory. She spawns a lot of other heresies. The Church
Branch theory is a case in point. Some years ago there was a preaching
mission sponsored by the Federal (now National) Council of Churches. Dr.
E. Stanley Jones acted as a special spokesman for the Council, in an attempt
to keep it and its aims before the people. Dr. Jones advocated the formulation
of a kind of super church entitled "The Church of Christ In America", formulated
by all the denominations. He said, "The figure that I have in mind is that
of a tree, with many different branches adhering to the central trunk -
"The Church of Christ In America ..."
Dr. W. L. Poteat, a former president of Wake Forest College, and a very
loose Baptist, in his book entitled, "Can A Man Be A Christian Today,"
in referring to organized Christianity calls it, "The Christian Church."
Dr. Marshall, teacher of McMaster's University, is quoted as saying in
a sermon, "Baptists do not regard baptism as essential to membership in
the 'Christian Church' - the church universal - even though they insist
on immersion as a condition of admittance into the BAPTIST SECTION OF THE
CHRISTIAN CHURCH." The National and World Council of churches operates
on the theory that all of the churches of different and even conflicting
faiths should be united into one big world church, with the leaders, the
"Big Boys" directing its course. Beyond this seen conglomeration however,
is the Church Universal concept, the mother of the smaller church heresy.
SUMMARIZING: The Universal, Invisible theory is unknown to the Bible; is
unknown to the writings of the early church Fathers who lived back near
apostolic times; was unknown during the centuries when Roman Catholicism
dominated Europe, and when the Universal Visible theory was in vogue. It
is AN INVENTION of Protestantism designed to take the place of the Catholic
Universal Visible theory. No one who seeks to follow the Bible should adopt
as an item of doctrine an unscriptural invention of men.
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