Quotes on Institutionalism

Excerpt from an article by David Lipscomb
Gospel Advocate, August 29, 1907

The following article was sent to me with the request that I comment on it.

Bathurst St. Church of Christ

To the Church of Christ at Beamsville

-- Greetings:

At a meeting of the officers of the congregation, held on June 2, a resolution was passed recommending to the congregation, that a larger and more aggressive work in the Province be entered upon, and that, with this in view, a man be placed in the field immediately. Also, that the church ask the cooperation of the churches and individual brethren and sisters in the province financially, so that the needs of the entire field may in the near future be adequately met.

A beginning has already been made by this congregation; they having arranged with one of the preaching brethren already in the field that he devote his whole time to the work of the church, looking to this congregation to make up any deficiency in the amount necessary to carry this decision into effect. We now appeal to you to cooperate with us in creating and maintaining a fund which shall be used for the extension of the Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in places where churches now exist, and to preach the gospel and to establish churches in communities where there are now no churches of Christ.

If the church is asking for help to support a preacher in a temporary work, there is no harm in calling on others to aid in the work and for those who are called on to help in the work if it seems good to them.

If it means that one church is to receive and direct the means given in by other churches, it is all wrong. It will take the work out of the hands of those to whom God committed it and give it to others. This can only work evil for all the parties to it.

God commits work to His churches and children, not because he needs the help of these, but because doing the work will strengthen and build up these and give spiritual growth and activity to the churches and Christians. Each church should collect, control, and direct its own means; do what it can in preaching and having preaching done to the whole world. They need this for their own growth and spirituality. A Christian cannot live and grow without working to save others. Each needs personal work in teaching and saving others to develop and save himself. Churches need the same experiences in working to save others to develop their own growth and activity.

Excerpt from an article by James A. Allen
Gospel Advocate, January 17, 1929

The thing that lies like a dead weight upon the churches of Christ and that keeps them from making any material progress is organized religion and institutionalism. Men think of the New Testament church in the terms of a human denomination and want to model the work of the church after the institutions of denominationalism. They have no proper concept of the primitive church. They are zealous to "do" something, but what they want to do is to "organize" something in which the local congregation and the individual are lost in the institution.

Jesus Christ, who was so poor that He had "nowhere to lay His head," could not have had any weight on any of the Boards of the various Institutions that are depending upon the churches of Christ for support today. A man with no more money than the great apostle Peter, who said, "Silver and gold have I none," would but be a laughing stock on any of the Boards of anything that has to have a Board.

H. Leo Boles
Gospel Advocate, 1937, page 170

No one has a right to organize any human institution, it matters not what may be the purpose or mission of that institution, and fasten it upon the church of Christ. No one has a right as a Christian to form a corporation, educational institution, orphan home, or any other human agency, and impose these upon the church for support.

N. B. Hardeman
Hardeman's Tabernacle Sermons, Volume V, page 53, November 1945.

It is the duty of the overseers to feed and develop the members of any church. To do so does not require the organization of something unknown to the Bible. Many brethren have looked upon our young people's meetings with some degree of suspicion. If we are not careful, we may have an organization not at all different from others that we now condemn. Really, brethren, I have failed to find anywhere in the Bible where there is a difference made in teaching or church work between a young fellow and an old fellow. Just where is that passage which intimates that the church should be divided according to years? Brethren Srygley and Tant thought that such distinctions evidenced our drifting away. To say the least of such, there is danger. I submit to you preachers that we should be exceeding careful lest, in our enthusiasm to make a big show, we turn apart from the straight and narrow path and have within our midst something that the Lord does not want.

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