by Elder Roy Mason
(Now In GLory)
1 - A THEORY WITHOUT A LEG TO STAND ON
2 - WHY AND WHEN THE THEORY STARTED
3 - WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE THEORY
4 - SOME CONTROVERTED PASSAGES
5 - FALSIFIES THE DATE OF THE CHURCH'S BEGINNING
6 - WRONG ON HOW THE CHURCH IS CONSTITUTED
7 - SOME ADDITIONAL INDICTMENTS
8 - USURPS THE FAMILY AND KINGDOM OF GOD
9 - WHICH LOCAL CHURCH IS THE TRUE CHURCH?
10 - THE TRUE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH IDENTIFIED
11 - THE LINKED CHAIN BUGABOO
12 - WHO WILL THE BRIDE BE?
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 about.
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 theory.
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 theory:
"The 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.
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.
Grace Bible Baptist Church
26080 Wax Road
Denham Springs, LA 70726