CHURCH ORGANISATION –
1. What historical proof do we have concerning church organisation?
Ans. “All the earliest churches were independent and self-governing The Christians held that they all belonged to one universal church for all were one in Christ. But there was no General Organisation having control over the scattered churches. In the first century there was no organised government of the whole church. East congregation managed its own affairs in freedom”. From “The Growth of the Christian Church”, by R.H. Nichols Vol. 1, P.25, From, “Robinson’s Researches” Chp, 8 we read, “There was among primitive Christians a uniform belief that Jesus was the Christ and a perfect harmony of affairs. When congregations multiplied so that they became too numerous to assembly in one place, they parted into separate companies…. But there was no schism. On the contrary, all held a common union and a member of one company was a member of all. One company never pretended to inspect the affairs of another, nor was there any dominion over the consciences of any individuals”.
2. When did General Organisation come into being? (From Moshein’s History.
Ans. “During the greater part of this century (second); the Christian churches were independent of each other; nor were they joined together by association, confederacy of any other bonds but those of Charity.
Each assembly was a little state, governed by its own laws….But in the process of time all the Christian churches of a province were formed into one large ecclesiastical body which, like confederate states, assembled at certain times, in order to deliberate about the whole. This institution had its origin among the Greeks, with whom nothing was more common than the confederation of independent states”.
3. What does history tell us was the next step in General Organisation?
Ans. Quoting from Mosheim’s History Part 2. Chap. 2 – “To these assemblies, in which the deputies…of several churches consulted together; the name of SYNODS was appropriated by the Greeks; and that of COUNCILS by the Latins; the laws that were enacted in these general meetings were called CANONS i.e. rules. These councils ….changed the whole face of the church, and gave it a new form: for by them the ancient privileges of the people were considerably diminished, and the power and authority of the bishops greatly augmented. These pious prelates asserted at length that Christ had empowered them to prescribe to his people authoritative rules and manners”.
4. How did the present order of ecclesiastics come into being?
Quoting further from Mosheim’s, “Another effect of these councils was the gradual abolition of that perfect equality which reigned among the bishops in the primitive times. For the order of these assemblies required that someone of the providential bishops met in council, should be invested with a superior degree of power and authority; and hence the rights of the Metropolitans derive their origin. The universal church had now the appearance of one vast republic, formed by a combination of a great number of little states.
This occasioned the creation of a new ORDER OF ECCLESIASTICS, who were appointed in different parts of the world, as heads of the church, and whose office it was to preserve the consistence and union of the immense body. Such was the nature and office of PATRIARCHS among, whom at length, ambition formed a new dignity investing the BISHOP of ROME and his successors with the title and authority of Prince OF THE PATRIACHS”.
Thus we see the whole system of human church organisation and federation is derived from the Greeks, who patterned the church after their governmental system. We still he this Greek system with us in the multiplicity of sects and denominations. However, there are many sincere people today who have been enlightened on Bible organisation and the result has been that there are many independent groups who are free from the apostate system of ecclesiastical dictatorship.