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Central Authority for the local Churches

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nelson View Drop Down
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  Quote nelson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Central Authority for the local Churches
    Posted: 04 October 2008 at 12:21am

One of the distinguishing features of the brethren is that they believe the autonomy of the local church. With out any central authority these local ‘brethren’ assemblies exist all over the world. Missionaries are being sent and supported, new mission centers are being established, and even other institutions like schools, hospitals have been established and maintained.

 
Now, there are some who think that we need some centralized system as the present circumstances demand. What do you think about it? Interested brethren may share your opinion.

 


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  Quote George P. Koshy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 October 2008 at 5:54pm
Dear brother Nelson,
 
As no one wants to make a posting, let me do that.
 
We usually say that there is no central authority for local assemblies.  I see that as not according to the scriptures.  There is a central authority and that is the Lord Jesus Christ, the head of the Assembly.  In connection with the local assembly, we read this in 1 Corinthians 11.
 
The Christians replaced the real head with a man-made head and call them by different names.  The local assemblies do not have such a central head, that is man made.  The local assemblies have the real head.  When we forget this truth, the local assemblies expereince strifes and difficulties.
 
Shalom Malekim!!! 
Shalom malekim!!!
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  Quote nelson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 December 2008 at 10:37pm

Dear Sir,

 

Thanks so much for your contribution. I could not add some information due to various reasons.

 

After posting this topic I came to know that some brethren in India are seriously considering to form a Confederation of Independent Christian Churches in India’ to safeguard the interest of the brethren assemblies and evangelists in the light of the growing persecution in India. They have already consulted a lawyer and it seems the by-laws are ready.

 

 Any local church that accepts the by-laws of the ‘confederation’ can be a member. Out of that general body a governing body will be nominated. An administrator will be appointed on salary basis to look after the affairs. Each church will have to pay a monthly contribution. This confederation can register Church property in its name and also have the right to operate any church related activities.

 

Also the confederation will give evangelists an identity to work as a ‘religious functionary’. Approach the government in time of need on behalf for the member churches.  

 

What do you think about it?

 



Edited by nelson - 02 December 2008 at 10:43pm

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  Quote George P. Koshy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 December 2008 at 1:29am

Dear brother Nelson,

 

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who emptied His glory that he had with the Father before the foundation of the world, even to the cross, and made us children of God, without any judgment about our enmity towards God.

 

You asked me about what I think about the proposed confederation of assemblies in India.  I wish to make myself clear in this matter.  Let me say that I am not paid to think on this subject.  At the same time, I would say that there are certain teachings that are given in the Word of God and I will be glad to place that before you.  I am not thinking, but I am following what is written.

 

In the Bible, the Word of God, there is no confederation of assemblies.  There are assemblies in localities around the world.  They all stand in its own base as different, distinct, and separate lamps.  Each of these local lamps has its head and that is Christ, the glorified Head.  We read this in 1 Corinthians 11:1-17.  In Revelation 1-3, it is written that the risen and glorified Christ walks among the local lamps.  He does not walk among them, judging them, as a confederation but as individual lamps at different localities.  The relationship of one assembly with another is only in Christ.

 

In opposition to the above teaching, a confederation demands the member assemblies to accept the constitution and/or bylaws of that organization.  This acceptance may or may not be in addition to the Word of God.  If that is true, then man has introduced another work of man to be in equality with the Word of God.  I am not sure about the place and value the Word of God, in relation to the bylaws of the confederation.

 

When the local assemblies are members of a confederation, bound by the bylaws of the organization, what is the position of the individual saints?  In 1 Corinthians 12, we read about the individual saints and their place in the Assembly.  Some may say that it is in connection with the local assembly.  This chapter deals with spiritual manifestations.  Spiritual manifestations are not limited to a certain locality, but it is for the building of the Assembly that Christ builds.  Therefore, the individual saints have multiple responsibilities that should not be bound by man-made regulations and bylaws of any organization.  In a confederation, saints are of subordinate position.  In the Word of God, they are the primary importance.

 

When an organization demands that the local assemblies must accept their bylaws to become its members, they have made the member assemblies under its authority.  If the bylaws say that the confederation shall not have authority over member assemblies, then there is a constitutional conflict of inconsistency.  It contradicts itself.

 

When a confederation has its constitution and/or bylaws and demands acceptance of them by the member assemblies, there is a hierarchy.  This hierarchy provides the authority for discipline within its members.  If there is not authority to discipline, then anarchy will prevail.  No organization can rule out a hierarchy of headship by the use of bylaws.  This hierarchy will result in questioning the headship of Christ and His authority in local assemblies.

 

In an organization, which demands, acceptance of its constitution and bylaws as the condition for any to be its member, should have a ‘general body.’  If this general body is made-up of representatives of member assemblies, then we are starting to see a hierarchy.  If this general body will appoint an Administrator, then he/she will have the headship of the organization of which the assemblies are members.  This is similar to the constitutional political system that exists in India.  The general body is the Parliament.  The Administrator is the prime Minister.  He/she may have others to help and we call them ministers.  This ‘general body’ – ‘Administrator’ concept shows their superiority over the individuals who send them to govern them.  When we take this concept and apply that to run the assemblies-as-a-whole, then we are replacing the Word of God in its governance.

 

If the confederation registers “church” properties, then it has a claim on what God provided for the use of the local saints.  We are surrendering what belongs to God to a human organization, and this is done on the terms established by the confederation by the help of a lawyer.  No one knows about the mind-set of this lawyer.  Is he a believer?  Is he interested to obey God?  I do no know.

 

The Word of God does not say anything about a man-made organization having the right to operate Church related activities.  In John 14-16, Christ told His disciples that he would not leave them as orphans.  He will send another comforter to lead them into all truth.  This included their activities.  All activities of an assembly are to be done in complete dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit and this right should not be surrendered to any human organization.  If we do, then we are surrendering the power of the Holy Spirit to a human organization.  We are told not to grieve the Holy Spirit.  This act of surrendering the power of the Holy Spirit is a rebellion against God.  The Word of God tells us that Holly Spirit is our God.  This act of surrendering God to a human organization will delight only Satan.

 

There is a statement that the member assemblies should contribute a prescribed amount of money monthly to the confederation.  This is a regular contribution and the amount is fixed by the confederation.  Such a fixed contribution is not demanded by God from the saints.  That means this confederation has a right to claim the Lord’s money, as it seemed fit.  Apostles did not demand such a term to any local assembly.  They worked for their living.  It appears to me that the confederation has placed itself above the apostles, in this matter.

 

I do not read anything about the apostles were in need of an identity given to them by an organization operated under the rules of Nero or any other rulers of this world.  The apostles were not known as “religious functionaries.”  They were known and read as bondmen of Christ.

 

These I write as a brother in Christ, without prejudice and open minded.  I am not prejudiced against the Word of God.  I am open-minded to obey the Word of God by changing my mind and will.  I am prejudiced against the ways of this world and closed minded against the world.  As a child of God, saved by the grace of God, I attach my name to this document.

 

A fellow believer in the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior, Lord, and God,

George P. Koshy

Shalom malekim!!!
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  Quote Joy Boy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 December 2008 at 3:33am
Originally posted by George P. Koshy

In the Bible, the Word of God, there is no confederation of assemblies.  There are assemblies in localities around the world.  They all stand in its own base as different, distinct, and separate lamps.  Each of these local lamps has its head and that is Christ, the glorified Head.  We read this in 1 Corinthians 11:1-17.  In Revelation 1-3, it is written that the risen and glorified Christ walks among the local lamps.  He does not walk among them, judging them, as a confederation but as individual lamps at different localities.  The relationship of one assembly with another is only in Christ.

 

In opposition to the above teaching, a confederation demands the member assemblies to accept the constitution and/or bylaws of that organization.  This acceptance may or may not be in addition to the Word of God.  If that is true, then man has introduced another work of man to be in equality with the Word of God.  I am not sure about the place and value the Word of God, in relation to the bylaws of the confederation.

 
Unfortunately, the assemblies who are informally known as "the exclusive brethren" do practice a confederation type authority.  If an assembly in, say Chicago, disciplines one in fellowship, it is informally required that all assemblies who are known as "exclusive" also take a position in this discipline.  If an assembly refuses, then that assembly is also considered disciplined.
 
This is their interpretation of 1 Cor 5, so that the assembly has nothing to do with the disciplined persons until they repent. 


Edited by Joy Boy - 10 December 2008 at 3:45am
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  Quote George P. Koshy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 December 2008 at 6:42pm

Dear Joy Boy,

Do the exclussive brethren have a constitution and/or bylaws to follow?  Do they ave a centralized "General Body" to elect a paid Adminsistrator?  Do they jointly register, as one body, to the appropriate agency of the national government?  I heard that when Hitler wanted all religious bodies to register with his government, they refused to do so, but the open brethren did comply with that order.  The exclussive brethren were persecuted by the Nazi government along with the Jews and they willingly suffered for the cause. 

The proposed confederation have all these.  Please do not mix what is practiced and what is taught in the Word of God.  What is practiced by a group of Christians do not justify another group of Christians to introduce what is not in the Word of God.

We are to follow the Word of God.

I have no idea, how the exclussive brethren operate.  I cannot say much about them.

Shalom malekim!!!
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  Quote Joy Boy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 December 2008 at 10:08pm
I have no idea what the brethren did in Germany.  It doesn't matter, really.
 
My point was merely to point out that some folks who are called "brethren" (note: I did not say that they call themselves brethren) already have informal confederations. 
 
An assembly is rightly autonomous, dealing with all matters of local church life as the scriptures teach.  The named elders deal with issues of discipline in a timely, sensitive manner.  
 
What I was trying to show in my post above is that because those who are called exclusives practise what I call (for lack of a better phrase) "universal enforced discipline", they have thereby become a de-facto confederation. 
 
Take my example above: If an "exclusive" assembly in say, Chicago, makes a disciplinary decision, it is required that all "exclusive" assemblies with which this Chicago assembly fellowships, must make a decision regarding the validity of that discipline.  
 
There have been cases where an assembly disagrees with the original discipline, and as a result, the disagreeing assembly is thereby excommunicated by all the assemblies who agree with the original discipline.
 
My point in bringing this up is this:  we must condemn both the formal and informal confederations of assemblies to which we belong.  For the named and unnamed elders do not answer to other assemblies, nor to other named and unnamed elders.  Elders answer to God.  To do so otherwise is to take the spirit of 1 Cor 5 to the utter extreme.
 
I agree that we should follow the word of God.  I am saying that those who are called "exclusive brethren" have taken the word of God to extremes by requiring that all assemblies in their group fellowship to make decisions on all matters of church discipline, lest they themselves be disciplined.
 
If you want to read horror stories of this, google "Raven/Taylor" this is a subset of the "exclusives" that took this to the extremes..  There is a web page by a brother named Dick Wyman from Australia (if you can find it and if it still exists) that is particularly well documented.
 


Edited by Joy Boy - 10 December 2008 at 10:13pm
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  Quote Joy Boy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 December 2008 at 11:03pm

FYI: I just went to google and searched for Dick Wyman's website.  It turns out that the "Exclusive Brethren Bible & Gospel Trust" (a UK organization that has a presence in the US) has sued Wyman.  Wyman settled out of court.  now they are suing Peebs.net.  So it seems that there is representative organization for the exclusives.  Whether or not it is a hierarchacal orginization is up in the air.  But it is clear that it is a sort of "anti-defamation league" of the exclusives.

Stories of the "separation from evil doctrine" (i.e. what I described above) can be found on many websites like this one.
 
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  Quote George P. Koshy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 December 2008 at 7:08pm
Dear Joy Boy,
 
What you wrote may be historically correct.  That historical correctness does not warranty scriptural obedience.  What we should be interested in is to obey the scriptures and not justifying our actions by finding similarities in others.
 
When we read the seven epistles of Christ to the assemblies in Asia, He found many errors in their histories.  Those assemblies had eminenet teachers, and He found faults with them and their teachings.  He also found commendable things in others.  He asked them to correct those errors and be overcomers.  Only overcomers will receive the rewards.  Those who have ears to hear are to listen to what the Spirit says to the assemblies.  Then individuals are to obey to become overcomers.  Only overcomers will receive rewards.  The assemblies will be removed.  The Lord Jesus Christ did not ask one assembly to copy another assembly's actions.  They were asked to have an ear to hear what the Spirit has to say to them.
 
If we want to experience blessings from the Lord, we must begin to obey the Word of God and not that of men.   Obedience is always better.  In John 14-16, the Lord told the disciples, "If you love me, obey my commandments."
 
When we say that the Word of God is the only authority for our faith and conduct, we should not introduce any thing from outside, even if it is practiced by "exclussive brethren," or Baptists.  They are not our lord.
Shalom malekim!!!
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  Quote nelson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 December 2008 at 12:04am

 

Dear brethren,

 

This is in connection with the ‘confederation of the independent churches’. The brethren who are behind this proposal want us to notice carefully that the leaflet distributed in a conference was meant for discussion only and no final decision has been made yet. The last paragraph of the leaflet is noteworthy.

“This is only a rough thought. Formalities, responsibilities, organizational setup, the bylaw, and any other details can all be worked out after meaning full deliberations.  We want to do it only at the will of the Lord. Brethren who are with out prejudice and have an open mind are welcome to give any suggestions.

 

At this point of time we do not want to attach any name to this proposal.  Brethren who are concerned and have a burden in this area are requested to make their opinion known to other and let us come together for a meaning full discussion.”

 

 

 



Edited by nelson - 15 December 2008 at 12:13am

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