Listening to a "very powerful" Worker speak during Winter Special Meetings this past week, I got verbal confirmation of something I'd heard subtly through the years professing, but never spoken this boldly. It went something like this:
"The objective of the workers is to create a group of people (a church) that conforms, as close as is humanly possible, to the New Testament Church!" He said that "this has been prophesied, and we are fulfilling this prophesy".
(Someone, please help me find where this was prophesied!!)
This is a very noble objective, but is it right?
When we look closely at the Gospel according to Christ, we find that the Worker's noble objective is wrong, very wrong! Why?
The form, methods and practices of the NT Church was not dictated, much less ordained, by Jesus. It simply evolved! The first Christians didn't always meet in homes (stealthy home meetings started because of the political atmosphere) and the Church found the freedom to move outside the home once Christianity was legalized. So why did the Workers choose one specific part of the Church fellowship method to emulate? I am puzzled. They then superimpose the Victorian era upon this specific form of fellowship. A very mixed-up formula indeed!
This specific "NT Fellowship Form" of worship has now become the most important aspect of our "Gospel". One Head Worker recently said that "we are fulfilling the prophesy of the NT Church that Christ established, by doing it the way they did it the first 100 years after Jesus died". Another spoke about us preserving it "thread-for-thread" in our day. So this puts us in the role of trying to fulfill prophesy (a prophesy that doesn't exist) by our own hand. This is very dangerous, because it causes what the "Truth" is currently suffering. That is, that the form of worship is now more important than worship itself. How the message is spread is more important than the message itself. This "other" gospel that we preach, is that the 'form' and 'method' of the NT church must "come alive again in our day".
And it started in 1897 with Wm Irvine. This is why the Workers refer to us as "The Living Way".
So it has now become clear to me, that the great mission on the part of the Workers, is to RECONSTRUCT the NT Church (a specific portion of it - anyway). The rebuilding of the FORM, METHODS, and PRACTICES of the First Century Christians, is the obsession of our doctrine. This "Gospel" far outweighs the true Gospel of Salvation, which is a VERY, VERY spiritual thing, and cannot, must not, be restricted or bridled by the physical efforts of man to copy what was never meant to be copied, nor did the apostles ask us to copy it.
-From PMB 12/2000
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