Dear Brother G.:
I would like to make some comments on the matter before the “Forum” regarding the excommunication of churches.
It has often been pointed out that the One Body is composed of members and not churches. If we can conceive the Church in its original state, before any division at all, we could speak of inter-assembly fellowship, thus corporately expressing the idea of unity. There would not be the question then of which company of believers can we recognize.
But such is not the state of Christendom about us now; hence the individual responsibility regarding one’s association. The early brethren, in appreciation of truth newly apprehended, could not remain in the systems of their day. Did they then organize something of a corporate character to further confuse Christendom, or did they meet as fellow believers, walking in the light of truth concerning the Church without assuming a corporate entity?
The early brethren withdrew from the systems because of individual exercise. The same responsibility remains for the individual today. It is not then a matter of cutting off companies, which savors of authority that is not ours, (Thyatira et al have not yet been judged by the Lord), but the individual responsibility to “seek those calling on the Lord out of a pure heart”, without assuming corporate status. Brethren used to decry the name of “Plymouth Brethren” as being sectarian; now we speak of ourselves as “The Assemblies.” Is this justifiable? Is it not likewise sectarian? Is not the acknowledgement of various companies of believers then in the present state of Christendom but one of convenience in directing saints as they move about, to those of like mind? It is not then an official circle of churches.
Mr. Hunter’s remark, “The assemblies of God, as constituted by Him,” seems to me ambiguous; for if they were that, the question of cutting them off would not arise. Then too, in the present confusion of Christendom, we would be judging companies as being thus constituted or not, and my choice of such might not agree with yours.
To me then, it is a matter of withdrawing because of one’s responsibility in regard to his association, and not cutting off, which requires authority.
Trust there is a generous response to this question. Will be looking forward to them, D.V.