Gen. 4:3-4 π 1 Ki. 19:18 π 2 Ki. 7:8 π Isa. 66:2 π Mt. 4:6 π Mt. 5:18 π Mt. 13:25 π Mt. 13:38 π Mt. 15:14 π Mt. 28:18 π Mk. 9:31 π Mk. 10:42-43 π Lk. 9:5 π Jn. 4:24 π Jn. 7:17 π Jn. 8:44 π Jn. 10:27 π Jn. 14:23; 2nd π Jn. 14:24 π Jn. 16:13; 2nd π Jn. 17:23 π Acts 5:3 π Acts 5:42 π Acts 15:28 π Rom. 16:17 π 1 Cor. 3:17 π 1 Cor. 5:11 π 1 Cor. 12:18 π 1 Cor. 13:12 π Gal. 5:20 π Eph. 5:21; 2nd π Phlp. 2:6 π 1 Ths. 4:17 π 2 Ths. 2:1 π 2 Tim. 2:15-16 π 2 Tim. 3:5 π Heb. 10:25 π 2 Pet. 1:20 π 2 Pet. 1:20-21 π 2 Pet. 2:1-2 π 2 Pet. 3:16 π 1 Jn. 2:19 π 1 Jn. 2:27 π 3 Jn. 9; 2nd π Rev. 2:6; 2nd π Rev. 2:15; 2ndGreek Words Mentioned in This Article
Assembling Together – episunagoge – 
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes are from The Unfinished Reformation by Charles Clayton Morrison (Harper Bros., New York, 1953)
Morrison, as we have seen throughout this series, was a man of depth – but in his depth he also demonstrated (and in some sense foreshadowed the current religious “church”-goer with) what we have to call a spiritual schizophrenia. He was a man who could see deeply and accurately but, coming back up through a different “rabbit hole,” assigned his observations to the wrong cause. Or he could mistakenly think that, having come up through a second “rabbit hole,” the path led uniquely back to the den (of iniquity) which he had just observed. We must credit Morrison who, far ahead of his time, saw deeply into the “rabbit hole” which the people of Christ have descended into (most certainly a series of divine revelations from the Spirit of God) – but he was not given the “map” that correctly “connected the dots.” In our time, these “dots” are being more clearly and correctly labeled and their interactive relations better exposed by the light of Christ. Today, this “map” is coming more clearly into view.
In this last chapter (only an epilogue follows), Morrison makes a distinction between the constitution (makeup) and fellowship of the ekklesia. In some ways (especially in his time – 1951), this was a helpful distinction (as we shall see as we analyze his statements). Yet in other ways, these distinctions also serve as more evidence that his underlying presuppositions (the “church” paradigm) were inspired by something other than the Spirit of truth. That this is so is best seen by realizing that nearly all the problems and issues he raises in this chapter are resolved in simply understanding that ekklesia is meant to be intensely local. But we shall have to arrive at that conclusion by stages.
Throughout this series, we have looked at Morrison’s errors first because, in seeing those, we could more easily see how he reached his erroneous (much more easily seen from our vantage point 60 years later) conclusions. Now let us change tactics and look at his clearest and perhaps best (certainly far ahead of his time) statements for they show us the forward vision from which his ideas sprang.
“Christ…has been present in His church through all the centuries, and devoutly recognized as present. But in using their orthodoxies as tests of loyalty to Him, the denominations, besides dividing His church into many fragments, have cast a veil over His countenance and impeded the full flow of His grace.” (p. 194)
Here again we see Morrison at his best, looking at the past (though he cannot bring himself to lump all denominations into one sin-stained category) and spiritually seeing the picture for what it was and is. This is the aspect of Morrison that shines brightest.
“The constitution of the church is forever determined by Christ Himself. In Him alone and in His Lordship the church has its sole constitutive authority. His authority has never been abrogated, or modified or delegated. It has not been delegated to any hierarchy or pontifical vicar to be exercised on His behalf, as in Roman Catholicism. Nor has He committed any authority to any office-bearers in Protestantism, be they called bishops, presbyters or deacons; nor to any ecclesiastical administrative or legislative body, however democratically its members may have been chosen. Nor yet has He delegated His authority to the church as a whole; its democracy is not self-government. It too, like all its parts and all its ordained and appointed representatives, is responsible to Christ who is its living Head and whose Holy Spirit is His empirical interpreter.” (p. 197)
Wow! There are “pastors,” “prophets” and “apostles” alike today who have not yet received this revelation! For Morrison to speak this 60 years ago is phenomenal!
Yet here too is where his spiritual schizophrenia peeks through. Earlier in this chapter, he acknowledges,”
“The whole of American Protestantism…all operate in structures which rest upon ‘the consent of the governed.’” (p. 186)
Democracy – that is majority, representative rule – is acceptable within the context of ekklesia structure according to Morrison. Yet one cannot find either the phrase or the concept in Scripture. To have “consent of the governed,” the governed must first have authority. The authority, as Morrison said so well above, rests only in our King.
In the context of the intensely local ekklesia that functions on unanimity (oneness, one-accord), there is neither room nor need for democratic (majority, representative) rule. This is precisely why Jesus said,
“You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you…” ( Mk. 10:42-43; top )
Jesus knew – and knows – that in unanimous agreement (oneness) there is neither need nor even place to exercise the lust for power and preeminence that has plagued the ekklesia since it was first called to gather. ( Acts 5:3 , 3 Jn. 9; top ) There is to be absolutely no classes of ruler and ruled – only equal participants in the divine nature.
“The concept of authority has bedeviled the Christian Church throughout its history. It is alien and repugnant to the Christian faith when applied otherwise than to Christ. Except for this proper usage, the very word should be thrust out of the vocabulary of Christian conversation. It’s use in Protestant ecclesiology is a remnant of Roman Catholicism which thinks of Christ as having ascended to the right hand of God where He remains in absentia, having committed his authority to a viceregent with power to exercise it until He returns.” (p. 197)
Morrison – over half a century ago! – is calling for deceptive words to be “thrust out of the vocabulary of Christian conversation”! How much more we should consider discarding the words “delegated authority” – and a few more like “church,” “pastor,” “ordained,” “missionary,” etc. – now!
The concept of authority has bedeviled the people of Christ because Satan, very early in church history, was able to get the people to succumb to the teachings and practices of the Nicolaitans, those who rule over the people. (see
) By 180
“Montanus was not entirely wrong. By the year 220 it was evident that the Christian churches, together with their bishops and clergy, were no longer what they had been.” (Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, p. 89)
Let he who has ears hear.
“Each denomination presumed to determine for itself the constitution of the church by assigning to it matters that He has left to the fellowship. In giving constitutional status to matters which He has not made constitutional, each denomination has invaded His jurisdiction and, unwittingly, taken His authority into its own hand. And because Christians did not ask Christ to rule on what should go into the constitution, each group put its own ideas into it, thus dividing the Church of Christ into invisibility and impotence. The matters which the denominations erroneously placed in the constitution of the church may be listed as follows: 1) a standardized body of belief, 2) special interpretations of the Bible and 3) the Bible itself. (p. 198)
Here is where Morrison sees something but can’t quite get it to fit into his paradigm. If he did not have to force it through his self-imposed dichotomy of constitutional vs. fellowship sides of ekklesia, he would have understood what he was seeing better. It is not merely denominationalism that usurps Christ’s authority, it is the manmade “church” system itself that does that. It is in every “church” as much as there is sectarian denominationalism. He saw the truth but could not see through all the layers of murkiness to correctly label this one by separating these two very closely related monsters lurking behind many shadows.
Those who have abandoned the apostate institutional “church” because it will not forsake its “veils over the countenance of Christ” – Morrison’s writings are yet one more proof that this rebuke from the Spirit of God has been around for a long, long time – are insisting upon finding, being and preserving the sole Headship of the Lord Christ Jesus. Let us examine how Morrison views these three errors of the sectarian denominations, keeping our eyes focused on how these issues come into play in the truly united ekklesia of the near future.
“…the denomination, by standardizing a body of belief as a test of fellowship and loyalty, transcended the authority of Christ and determined for itself the constitution of the church. …Christ, in counting the sheep of His fold, totally disregards their attitude toward those standards of orthodoxy. The incongruity of maintaining a fellowship that is narrower than the fellowship of Christ’s own church is increasingly felt as an affront to His authority.” (p. 198)
This is where ignoring the New Testament pattern comes into view. We must be neither narrower nor wider than the fellowship of those whom Christ has called His own. In the New Testament there is one ekklesia per locale – with meetings held in every home ( Acts 5:42; top ), simply adding another home as a place of meeting when the number exceeded what one house could contain. The question of “which ekklesia to belong to” was thus not settled on the basis of denominational “orthodoxy” as people today decide which denomination seems best suited to their own opinions and tastes (lawlessness – doing what is right in one’s own eyes). Rather it is settled by asking “Where do you live? Is there an ekklesia already meeting nearby?” There is your Christian family – go and serve them as the Lord leads. “More than one ekklesia meeting in your town or area?” Not very likely in this time - but “Which one is closer to your house?” There is the ekklesia that you should attach yourself to. (And note well that this is much more than mere attendance – it is a full share in the unanimous directing of the group as everyone seeks to function only under the Headship of Christ.) It gets no more complicated than that – and sectarian denominationalism (divisiveness) is simultaneously nipped at the root.
It is in the context of the truly local ekklesia that Morrison’s “rules [of] tolerance, argument, persuasion and example, but not authority” (p. 205) truly come into play. But this is not a practice from the realm of mere human opinion, as Morrison supposes. This is the safeguard for the ekklesia against mere human opinion (private interpretations – 2 Pet. 1:20; top ) and to draw them into divine truth. When one member brings forth a notion, the whole ekklesia is to evaluate whether or not this is the voice of the Spirit of truth or merely this member’s opinion.
Note also how this protects the whole of the ekklesia. When all that one can lead astray is 20 to 30 people by one’s personal powers of persuasion, there is great chance that simply bumping into even one of another ekklesia’s members could break that persuasive spell. But when one is the head of a sectarian denomination (like Luther, Calvin, Cranmer, Wesley, Campbell, Smith, etc.) or the “pastor” of a mega-“church” or one who has a world-wide “ministry,” that one wields influence over thousands of individuals. This is why the devil and the demonic have labored so long and so effectively to get this kind of institutional “church” system in place. It is the perfect vehicle for the apostasy, the great falling away from the faith.
Morrison, attempting to contrast ecumenicalism’s broad “theological” tolerance and acceptance with the denominations’ use of “orthodoxy” as a test of loyalty, wrote:
“The overarching ideal of this [ecumenical] movement is to bring together into one church from our many churches those whom Christ has received into fellowship with Himself.” (p. 199)
It is indeed a noble ideal but the implementation is completely misguided. One cannot build with building blocks that are sinful in nature (the sectarian denomination’s “churches”) and produce a unified assembly of holy saints. It is simply impossible.
How does one assemble the whole ekklesia anyway? Not every believer can leave his home at the same time to gather, nor can one resurrect all the dead or gather the yet to be converted or born! The ecumenical movement suffers from a decidedly limited temporal perspective!
Secondarily, the ecumenical movement has only succeeded in forming a league or federation of denominations. It has established yet another human organization – not very different from denominations from a spiritual perspective, only larger in scope – in the place where Christ has already built a spiritual organization. Morrison said it himself,
“In short, a united church, [improperly] constituted, would be only another, albeit a vastly larger, denomination beset by the same perils that have dogged Protestant history through the centuries.” (p. 200)
This is an excellent description of the ecumenical movement.
If we truly want to bring people to the real ekklesia, we need only bring them to a truly local gathering of those whom Christ “has received into fellowship with Himself.” (p. 195) Any global organization that usurps roles and responsibilities of the Head or relies on the democratic, representative process to follow the wishes of the majority or of the wealthiest or otherwise most influential members is only yet another counterfeit of the real ekklesia.
Morrison wisely observes:
“Many in the churches regard with some anxiety the recession of these standards [of “sound doctrine”] into the background and are reassured by the fact that they are still there and available if necessary! The fear has not been wholly allayed that the ark of God might actually tumble unless steadied by the hand of those who are sure that they know what sound doctrine is. We can understand this feeling, however, if we consider how long the denominations have been putting their trust in, and giving their devotion to, this doctrinal idol of their own making. Their psychology has been deeply ingrained with the feeling that Christian truth cannot be trusted to take care of itself.” (p. 193-194)
It is fascinating to observe how Morrison so clearly recognizes his own generation’s fear that failed to trust Christ but instead trusted in their standardized, personalized version of “sound doctrine.” Indeed, the Scriptures are like a lion - the best way to defend the Bible is to turn it loose! But yet Morrison cannot make the same application to the first and second century believers’ nearly identical fear that caused them to put their trust in and give their devotion to the doctrinal, practical and positional idol of their own making that is now commonly called the bishop and clergy (“pastor” in most “churches”). But Morrison’s observation of the people of his time is certainly accurate enough about many, if not most, of the “church”-goers of his day.
“It will not be stretching the truth to say that most denominations conceived of their interpretations as, in effect, the divinely ordained basis of Christian unity. Many propagandized them as such, and still do. Others, less aggressive, were content to cherish their biblical belief with an ardent hope that it would, in the end, be accepted by all Christians. A few small sects, despairing of the church and of the world itself, withdrew into clannish settlements where they have lived in social isolation and maintained their biblical doctrines and practices in expectation of a divine intervention, the hope of which was also derived from the Bible.” (p. 202)
Morrison goes on to list some of the “weird interpretations…digged with solemn ingenuity out of the Bible and actually elevated to a constitutional status…” (p. 202) And a sorry list indeed it is. But this is not so in every case. What about the Methodists who were out to restore what they saw as the essential experience of
“glowing faith, the ecstatic ardor and radiance of the New Testament Christians to whom the gospel came as deliverance and hope. This essential experience Methodism was out to restore. But to do so, it had to follow the same course of dissent and separation from one of the churches of the Reformation, the reformed Church of England.” (p. 150)
The Church of England, Morrison wrote,
“underwent the least radical reform of the three tributaries of the Reformation. With one stroke it cut its connection with the papacy and proceeded to organize itself as the national church with the king as its head.” (p. 137)
This was the king whom Charles Dickens described as “a most intolerable ruffian and a blot of blood and grease on the history of England.” (Shelley, p. 283) Let us look at all this a bit more objectively: Of the three divisions of the Reformation, the Church of England retained most the form of that “alien regime which had fastened itself upon [the church] and kept it unconscious of its true nature for a thousand years” (p. 23), merely changing who was in the place of abomination and then went on with “church” business uninterrupted and unimpeded (so that Henry VIII might yet produce a “blessed heir” – male – from the woman he was sleeping with after the woman he was married to had produced only one surviving female heir.) This “church” then treats the Methodists with contempt for their ardor, zeal and, worst of all, their popular success in drawing attendees after themselves (and, one would suspect, the “tithe” money changing hands had something to do with the “church” of England’s attitude too) so much so that, as even Morrison admits, “no alternative course seemed open but to constitute them into a separatist church.” (p. 152) And yet in spite of this history, Morrison includes the Anglican sect in the three “rightful” divisions of the Reformation and calls it “classical Protestantism,” giving it preferential status over the later sects he called “restorationist.” Again, there is a certain spiritual schizophrenia that pervades his analysis.
Other denominational breaks have occurred as seekers of truth met with repression and heavy-handedness as even Morrison’s other accounts indicate. (p. 142, 146-147, 154-155) If the parent sect had not been immersed in Nicolaitan (delegated, representative) authority, Christ’s standing injunction to “submit to one another in the fear of God” ( Eph. 5:21 ) would not have been so readily and routinely ignored. So, if we could forsake the all-too-human propensity for simple “bottom-lines” and recognize that no sect is completely the “good guy” (not even Morrison’s “classical Protestant reformist” sects) and no sect is completely the “bad guy” (not even Morrison’s “multifarious restorationist” sects) and simply allow the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth ( Jn. 16:13; top ) – truth held, though probably misunderstood and misapplied, by one sect but completely or partially rejected by another sect.
But here again we see the strange blame that Morrison places on those who leave – those “despairing of the church and of the world itself” (p. 202) – but never finds fault with those who oppressively insist on their private interpretations because they believe they got theirs from Jesus or the Bible first. Division is a dance that requires two partners and, while it is theoretically possible for one partner to be completely blameless and innocent, this is rarely the case – especially in the eyes of the Lord! And the presence of differing faults on each side of the division are all the more likely to be present when the analyst has a presupposition that provides a biblical excuse for those who came “first.” Cain came before Abel but who did wrong and who was accepted by the Lord? ( Gen. 4:3-4; top )
Earlier in the chapter, Morrison had made a similar statement:
“Now and then a denomination even seriously thought that its orthodoxy, being the veritable truth of the gospel, would ultimately prove acceptable to the whole church as the basis of ecumenical unity! (p. 188)
Would this be like the ecumenicals of the 1940s thinking their “ecumenical ideal” was the basis of unity for the whole body of Christ? They thought the Lord had shown them something – Morrison wrote:
“The ecumenical movement is the call of God to awaken the conscience of the churches to the sin of their churchism and bring them the enlightenment and liberation of the ecumenical gospel.” (p. 68)
If it is so wrong for some denominational group to suppose themselves to have the “ultimate revelation” to bring about the unity of the body, why is it alright for the ecumenicals to think they have it?
If the Lord had truly shown something to one of these sects, why shouldn’t they expect the rest of the people claiming to love Jesus to obey Him? ( Jn. 14:23 ) The ecumenicals expected everyone to get on their bandwagon. That not everyone does get on the bandwagon is most often evidence that they have truth but not the whole truth. But just because some “Christians” refuse to agree with this truth does not conclusively prove that it’s error either. ( Jn. 14:24; top ) Religious life is far too messy for over-simplifications.
It is precisely here, though, that a nearly insurmountable barrier to the “church” would simply vanish in the local ekklesia. First, the sect would be unable to gather “critical mass” to form a denomination because the gathering is limited to the amount of people who will fit inside the host’s home. Second, anyone who felt compelled to push these doctrines at his own ekklesia would have to recognize that unanimity of the local ekklesia was the requisite confirmation that the Lord had thus spoken. Third, there would be no attempt to force these views on another ekklesia because the one pushing those views has no say in another ekklesia and can rightly gain no followers from another ekklesia. If he departs from his own ekklesia, he risks the Lord dealing with him severely if he in the wrong (starts his own private interpretation sect in his own neighborhood or in his own house). But he will gain the Lord’s approval and rewards if his patience, endurance and steadfastness brings forth a united ekklesia in his area that adheres to some genuine truth of the Lord.
No one can stop those who are not truly of Christ’s fellowship from leaving – their departure only confirms their origin. ( 1 Jn. 2:19 ) But those who leave the error of the denominations – errors stubbornly clung to with tenacity and even, as Morrison says, “with an idolatrous absolutism” (p. 79) – are not held to be in sin because they are, however imperfectly or ignorantly, abandoning the prostitute to go in search for the bride. They will be held to account for their failure to find the bride (to the degree there was a bride to find in their circumstances and environment. And there are always the “seven thousand” who haven’t bowed to Baal! – 1 Ki. 19:18; top ) But for hearing and obeying the call to come away from the practices of false religion, fear, error, mammon and antichrist there can be no fault!
Morrison asks an excellent question:
“What kind of book is this Bible of ours which lends itself to so many conflicting but infallible interpretations and breeds so many churches? A detached onlooker is bound, wonderingly or cynically, to ask precisely this question. Ought not Christians also to ask it in amazement and soul-searching? Is it possible to get Protestant intelligence out of its sectarian huddles long enough to face the truth that its divisive interpretations of the Bible are nothing more than human opinions, and that it is these human opinions, not the Bible, which they have written into the constitutions of their churches? The mind of the churches may have become so embedded in a certain conception of the Bible that it is cannot be opened to a larger and more profound conception. But if so, should not the absurd consequences of its method of dealing with the Bible at least excite the amazed expostulation: Something must be wrong here! Are all other wrong, and we alone right? How can we be so sure that the Bible says what we believe it says when innumerable other groups equally intelligent and devout fail altogether to find our kind of church in its pages? Can a book that says so many different and contradictory things to so many equally devout readers be the inspired Word of God?” (p. 203)
Morrison takes us far out onto the edge of a razor with this question – but it is an area precisely where many who claim to be followers of Christ need to question. Here Morrison – as early as 1951! – was bringing into view the difference between the Bible and the Word. This revelation too has still escaped many a supposedly great teacher and expositor of “the Word”! There is no serious question that the Bible is the inspired words of God. The fault lays in all the various, contradictory interpretations that men have used to divide the people who follow after Christ in their shadow.
Indeed we must jettison the interpretations based on merely human opinion and seek out the divine illumination that will enable us to rightly divide the divinely inspired words that then bring the infallible Word (Person) of God into view. And the first step in that process is to abandon the ear-scratching teachers and “pastors” found in the sectarian boxes men ignorantly call “church”!
We who are believers always need to ask the question: “Are all others wrong, and we alone right?” If we are surrounded only by people who are like-minded in “theological” opinions, we have not yet arrived at an ekklesia – just as it is true that, if our gathering does not reflect the local population’s demographics or most, if not all (except the host, of course), travel long distances to gather, our gathering is not local. We may indeed gather and enjoy fellowship to a degree – perhaps even with the Lord Himself – but we will not be able to attend to any particular location’s need for the kingdom of light and will instead be like the lepers helping themselves to the fabulous horde of food and treasures after the Lord had slain the opposing army. ( 2 Ki. 7:8; top ), seeking the blessings of the Lord for our own enjoyment rather than for the attaining of His will and purposes. Only when the people of a particular local meet to attend to the affairs of the kingdom of light in that locale will Christ be the true Head and the will of the Lord have any chance of being the highest priority in the hearts of those gathered.
But we must not seek to simply conform to some majority opinion – that would be to abandon the ones and twos who get mowed over by the majority opinion. We must cling to whatever truths God has truly shown us until such time as He confirms them to all. Possessing a genuine truth can sometimes be a lonely experience. Throughout His time of ministry, Jesus alone knew that the Scriptures required Him to be crucified, die and be resurrected ( Mk. 9:31 , etc.) - He alone knew the “right way,” the way of the will of the Lord, and no other human being is recorded as having understood it. Attempting to force the truth on an apostate “church” is a frustrating and useless experience. Jesus’ experiences with the Pharisees stand as an example as does His instructions to leave them alone. ( Mt. 15:14; top ) Waiting for the Lord to build His ekklesia in His time, in His way, according to His overarching purpose is the testing, trying and training experience which many call “the wilderness.” Blessed indeed is the one who endures that time so as to experience and witness what it is that the Lord will do!
The question we need to ask ourselves even more than Morrison’s question is: “Who taught me what I think I know?” Did we learn our Scriptural and spiritual knowledge from a man? Every man, exercising his right and responsibility to read and discern the Bible for himself, has a chance to misinterpret what he reads. The man who gleans his interpretations from some other man instantly doubles (or exponentially increases) his chances of being wrong depending on how many men were involved in helping the second man arrive at his opinion! We need to consider also the distinct possibility that the man, who influences scores, hundreds or thousands of people, could have gleaned his “theological” opinions from the traditions of mere men or even the teachings (doctrines) of demons. And those who rely on an inner voice to guide them into their private interpretations also have to face the very real possibility of having, at one time or another, listened to a demonic counterfeit “voice of God” in their own hearts. It is always in our own best interests to tremble at the word of God ( Isa. 66:2 ) and to remain humbly aware of our ability to be wrong. Just because we know something of the Bible is no sure indication that we have gleaned our knowledge from the Holy Spirit of truth. Satan knows the Scriptures but has no truth in Him. ( Mt. 4:6 , Jn. 8:44; top )
“The Bible is not the true focus of the church’s loyalty – Christ Himself claims its undivided allegiance… To say this should not be accounted as heresy. For Protestants from the beginning has included among its cardinal principles ‘the right of private interpretation.’ The freedom of the Christian man to read the Holy Scriptures for himself, without the imposition of any ecclesiastical restraint upon his mind, has been historically included in the same bracket with ‘justification by faith’ and ‘the priesthood of all believers.’ But while the latter two principles have been consistently maintained throughout Protestantism, the former has been seriously tampered with and practically nullified.” (p. 204)
Here is Morrison at another of his highest peaks. But this definition of “private interpretation” should be received precisely as it is written – every believer of Christ should read and understand the Scriptures for himself without having ecclesiastical (“church” leadership) forcing their opinions upon him. But the Scriptural definition is different from this narrow definition created in response to the over-bearing Catholic treatment over the medieval centuries of those truth-seekers whom they branded – and martyred! – as “heretics” because they departed, not from truth, but from Catholic dogma which stood in stark contrast to the truths Christ was opening to those truth seekers.
The Scriptural definition of “private interpretation” is any illumination or understanding or insight about the words and concepts found in the Scriptures that is gained apart from the direct revelatory work of the Holy Spirit. ( 2 Pet. 1:20-21 ) Thus clergy, denominational leaders, dissenting sectarians and full-blown heretics can all rely on “private interpretations” that are departures from the leading of the Spirit of truth because their ideas, views and opinions were gained by human effort, intellect and reason and not through divine revelation. Quite often these views are about divine truths found in the Scriptures but they reflect (until later corrections by the Holy Spirit which, because the previous “truth” holders cannot relinquish their views, place or position, results in yet another denomination) the human’s limitations of seeing dimly and in part. ( 1 Cor. 13:12; top ) and it is this limitation that is the very point of contention that the demonic uses to cause division and strife.
“…the whole tragic history of denominationalism is to be explained by the adoption of the fundamental error that the Christian Church is founded on the Bible… There can be no unity of Christ’s people so long as the Bible is given a place beside Christ in the constitution of the church… Protestantism must be called back to first principles, among which none is more important than the right of private interpretation. This clearly means a right to be exercised within the fellowship of the church. It means the right to hold diversities of interpretation in a community which refuses to standardize any interpretation because it refuses to standardize the Bible itself as the constitutive principle of the church. These diversities of interpretation would thus take their true place as human opinion in a realm in which Christ has left His church free, a realm whose rules are tolerance, argument, persuasion and example, but not authority. Relieved of the false authority long attributed to the Bible, it would become a living book instead of the static book which its standardization as the authoritative blueprint for the organization of the church has made of it.” (p. 205)
Again, Morrison takes us far out onto a razor’s edge and fails to see the danger of allowing the ekklesia to drift away from a very close mooring to the Bible. It is true that our mortal interpretations of it ought not be the standard of “orthodoxy” and “sound doctrine.” Yet, because the “church” has trained so many to ignore and neglect the voice of the Lord, where would we be without the Scriptures?
Morrison’s insight, though accurate enough, when held in the context of the “church” as practiced now, equates to a fuzzy tolerance of that group over there as we do our thing over here even as we all live and work in some ill-defined “community.” But in the intensely local ekklesia, Morrison’s “right of private interpretation” (not speaking here of the Biblical meaning of interpreting apart from the Spirit of truth) must be present, protected, exercised and even promoted as it is an integral part of the abundant corporate life of Christ. But one’s private interpretations and diverse opinions must be subordinated to the unanimity of the whole ekklesia before such views are to be acted upon by the group. One who fails to convince his own ekklesia must be content to wait until the Lord confirms these views to all (assuming that the one is truly hearing from the Lord) or he must confront the very real possibility that he is merely imagining or falsely reasoning or even actively receiving deception from demonic voices. The one who, having failed to convince his own ekklesia, travels to another ekklesia (where he has no real place but is almost always welcome to visit) and seeks to win followers to his views is one who causes divisions and offenses and is to be unanimously avoided. ( Rom. 16:17; top ) The one who “convinces” his ekklesia (more accurately, enjoys his ekklesia’s confirmation) that he has some “new” truth is then free to be sent to or to write to other ekklesias with the support and spiritual backing of his united ekklesia. This is how the Lord moves among His people!
It is precisely because the people of Christ have removed themselves from the New Testament pattern of assembly – a pattern which foremost has Christ as its Head but for which the Bible does not give any “authoritative blueprint” which men can use by themselves or for their own ends – that men who seek to corporately walk in truth with others of like mind must go around the clergy (who have a bottleneck on what is allowed and practiced and spoken of in their “church”) and shake the dust off of one’s heels wherever men claiming the name of Christ live otherwise than in subjection to His Spirit ( Lk. 9:5 , 1 Cor. 5:11 , 2 Tim. 3:5 , etc.; top) – otherwise they run the risk of allowing their souls and spirits to quietly and slowly die. Men should not have to make such choices but in our fallen world as we grope toward that place where righteousness dwells, this is how it is.
“That the Bible and its interpretation do not belong in the constitution of the church, but in its fellowship, is proved historically by the fact that the New Testament (which is the portion of the Bible that is relevant to our problem) was itself a product of the fellowship of the early church. The primitive Christian community lived for nearly a hundred years without benefit of the New Testament as we have it. It lived for a quarter of a century before the earliest writings of the New Testament…began to appear… Those, therefore, who would restore the New Testament church should begin by restoring the New Testament itself to the place it held in primitive Christianity. Plainly its place was not in the constitution of the church.” (p. 206-207)
This argument happens to be correct but Morrison has no right to use it. In previous chapters, he vigorously attacked all “restorationism” on the grounds that the original ekklesia was simply the “infant church” and had organized itself as it saw need. (p. 178) Using the argument he is using now, the New Testament should simply be tossed away because we have no reason to return to any of the first ekklesia’s practices. We can just keep writing our own “New Testaments” as so many cults do. Morrison would probably not even consider going to these extremes but these are the conclusions we must come to if we consistently apply Morrison’s anti-“restorationism” arguments.
But we must also recognize that Morrison’s distortions of constitution and fellowship casts a false light on the whole matter. That is, the rightly-divided word of truth is not a factor in determining who may enter an ekklesia but is certainly a factor in determining who may remain. The words of the Bible do not belong solely to the realms of the supposed “fellowship” side – which seems to be little more than a “theological” debate society that tolerates everyone else’s diverse opinions and private interpretations but which does nothing to move the fellowship as a whole in any given direction. Again this fuzziness is because Morrison is trying to fit the spiritual realities he sees into his already preconceived “church” paradigm. The two are simply incompatible – no distinction drawn from spiritual insight will be able to completely fit within the structure of the false, counterfeit “church” paradigm.
“…the general picture…shows that the church recognized no authority save that of the Lordship of the risen Christ whose empirical interpreter was the Holy Spirit.” (p. 207)
If the first ekklesia “recognized no authority save that of the Lordship of the risen Christ” and “His authority has never been abrogated, or modified or delegated” (p. 197), why should the second or third or any or final ekklesia be expected to recognize any other authority? The obvious answer is they shouldn’t – neither the usurped (“delegated”) clergical authority of bishops, “pastors” and “apostles” alike nor the democratic (majority rule, representative – again “delegated”) authorities of “the governed.” There is no authority save that of the King ( Mt. 28:18 ) who speaks through whomever He chooses, awaiting His sheep to hear His voice ( Jn. 10:27 ), then to demonstrate their love for Him ( Jn. 14:23 ) while simultaneously demonstrating their submission to one another ( Eph. 5:21 ) and their oneness that demonstrates to the world that Christ came from God. ( Jn. 17:23 ) This is the mislabeled “moral weightiness” Morrison refers to (p. 207) – it is instead rightly called the inner witness of the Holy Spirit that what has been spoken of by another is truly the will of God. (see Acts 15:28; top )
Morrison said it very well:
“The early Christians knew but one authority, namely, that of their crucified and risen Lord. They had no New Testament, but they had Him.” (p. 207 – emphasis in original)
To the genuine believer, the New Testament, like the Law, stands ever beside and before him as a mirror to give him clues about whether he is or is not truly walking in harmony with the Holy Spirit of God. As such these are invaluable tools. But because, as Morrison labels him, the “literalist, blinded by his sectarian stereotype” (p. 206), can wield the letter of the Law to kill and can twist the Scriptures to his own destruction ( 2 Pet. 3:16 ), we must diligently present ourselves so as to gain God’s approval, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth while shunning profane and vane babblings. ( 2 Tim. 2:15-16 ) The work of the Holy Spirit in guiding us into all truth is so effective that we do not need men to teach us ( 1 Jn. 2:27 ) – when we submit to Him, desiring God’s will above our own, we will be able to discern whether the words spoken to us come from God or mere men. ( Jn. 7:17; top ) Today’s genuine follower of Christ can trust the Holy Spirit to use both the New Testament and the Law and the Prophets in such a way as to bring forth the life of the Living Word, the crucified and risen Christ Jesus. Any teaching or practices that bring forth any other life is a false and counterfeit “gospel.”
In this section, Morrison revisits, in greater depth, his case against the “restorationist” denominations, focusing particularly on the clash between Luther and the Anabaptists. Morrison wrote:
“In 1535 [Luther] wrote: ‘When our opponents [the Anabaptists] urge the Scriptures against Christ, we urge Christ against the Scriptures.’ This laconic declaration was, no doubt, ambiguous and open to misunderstanding. But taken as Luther intended it, it draws the destination sharply where it should be drawn. He affirmed that ‘Scripture must not be understood against Christ, but for Christ; therefore the Scripture must be referred to Christ (that is, for His judgment or approval) or one cannot claim it as true Scripture.’ Summing up his view, he said: ‘I urge (insist upon) Christ, the Lord, who is Lord (Rex) also of the Scriptures.’ Thus, the ‘right of private interpretation’ in the use of the Bible is to be exercised, not autonomously, but under the approval or correction of the mind of Christ.” (p. 208 – emphasis in original)
Luther’s quote seems to indicate an opposition that is simply not there at all. No rightly-divided Scripture is against or over Christ, true – but Christ is not against the Scriptures either. It is not a case of one or the other – they work hand in hand. But Morrison’s last statement – that one’s interpretations must be subject to approval or correction by the mind of Christ – is an excellent statement of a truth we need for our time.
“We shall not understand Luther’s position unless we clearly grasp his conception of Christ Himself as the Word of God. The Bible, as a book, is not the Word of God. The word of God is that supreme Person whom the Scripture unveils to the devout reader of its pages. And Christ then, in turn, becomes the judge and interpreter of the Scriptures. The Bible discloses Him, unveils Him, and at the same time releases Him into His own sovereign, self-authenticating supremacy over the heart of man, over the church and over the Bible itself.” (p. 209 – emphasis in original)
It is hard to say it any better than that! This is absolutely correct – except that Luther himself did not really practice it. Luther dared to divide the Reformation due to political considerations (see p. 19) and “could envisage no form of union except on a creedal basis which fully embodied his own theological ideas.” (p. 21) In short, Luther subjected Christ to his own opinions and preached and practiced, in effect, “No Christ but Luther’s ‘Christ’” Then Morrison will blame the Anabaptists for walking away from Luther because his is “classical Protestantism” but their’s is mere dissent from Luther’s “truth.” Morrison’s double standard simply is not historically sustainable.
“This was a conception which the Anabaptists could not grasp. And their successors, the restorationist denominations, beginning with the Puritan separatists at the turn of the seventeenth century, failed to grasp it. ‘The Bible and the Bible alone,’ to quote Chillingworth again, became ‘the religion of Protestants.’ Christ was subordinate to it, pendant to it, governed by it.” (p. 209)
Again, Morrison sees something and labels “this” as “that” and almost derails the whole train. What he is seeing is the inability of the people of Christ to rightly divide the word of truth. How could they? They had turned away from the Headship of Christ long ago by demanding a king (bishop) over them in His place. That they have done as well as they have with the written Scriptures is testimony to the faithfulness of God.
Morrison’s history here is one-sided. “The Bible and the Bible alone,” like Luther’s own “Sola Scriptura,” was a philosophy adopted in reaction to the Catholic sect’s inclusion of supposedly “infallible” proclamations from the pope as guidance for the people. Today, “the Bible and the Bible alone” stands as a good rule of thumb. We certainly don’t want to tap into the Koran or the Bhagavad Ghita – as some “church” leaders and organizations today seem willing to do – to find absolute truth! Though Morrison’s arguments take some unnecessary turns, he arrives at the right conclusion – the Scriptures are subordinate to Christ and, though the Scriptures are not His master, to speak from a carnal understanding, He will not violate any rightly divided word of truth found in the pages of Scripture. How can this be so? His transcendency above human existence.
“Any use of the Bible which divides Christ’s body is ipso facto false to Him. The notion that He delegated His authority to a book, or to the writers of a book, for the legalistic regulation of His church has no basis in fact. Its result is to dethrone Christ. One who has been fairly confronted by Him in the pages of the Bible can hardly imagine that He who swept all traditional literalisms and ecclesiastical legalisms into the discard, thereafter invested a book with His authority to set them up again. His authority deals with more profound and vaster issues than those upon which this misuse of the Bible has divided the church. Of all these churches ‘founded on the Bible’ He would say, He does say, that none is His church. He cares not at all for their special claims of scriptural authority, but finds His church in the community of all who have received Him and whom He has received into fellowship with Himself. To bring this hidden church into empirical existence the Bible must be removed from its static and divisive position as constitutive of the church so that Christ may reign unchallenged as Himself the only true interpreter of the Bible and the sole head of His church.” (p. 209-210)
As far as this goes, it is true. Yet again here is Morrison’s spiritual schizophrenia – the Bible is only a book but he sees it as on some kind of throne that competes with the Lordship of Christ. No – it is the interpretations of men that sit on some kind of throne that competes with the Lordship of Christ. Morrison’s underlying presupposition here sees a conflict between the Bible and Christ that simply does not exist.
And it is also true that any union of elements purporting to be the body of Christ but in reality are not, is equally false to Him. That is, any attempt to practice “unity” with people who claim to be “Christians” but who do not submit to His Headship, any “unity” that includes “members” who are not truly of His real body or that neglects or excludes members who do belong to His true body, is a false “unity.” We can be neither too broad nor too narrow. We must have Christ as our true – and not merely nominal – Head and we must embrace and incorporate all the people whom Christ has received into fellowship with Himself or we have failed Him. We cannot rest content with majority rule or finding like-minded (to some plan or scheme for unity). If, at the end of men’s organizational efforts, we have included a false member or excluded or neglected a true member, only yet another abominable sect has been created. Don’t we have too many of those already? Only the intensely local ekklesia, practiced around the world – with its two simple standards for acceptance: fellowship with Christ and local residence – can routinely keep the hundredth sheep from dying in the wilderness.
Morrison is absolutely correct here about delegated authority – it always dethrones Christ because it makes equality with God a thing available to be grasped and used for one’s own advantage. (see Phlp. 2:6 ) That is why we, like Jesus Himself, must reject “all traditional literalisms and ecclesiastical legalisms” which the “church” has concocted and instead worship God in spirit and in truth. ( Jn. 4:24 ) Where men have set themselves up as a buffer between the people and the truth – whether a traditional “pastor” bottlenecking the “truth” through his pulpit or whether home fellowship “leaders” refusing to allow those whom God has sent to speak directly to all the people ( 3 Jn. 9; top ) – we must decide whether we will obey God or men.
Morrison is also absolutely correct in saying that none of the “churches” supposedly “founded on the Bible” are truly His . But Morrison has missed the most foundational and fundamental reason why this is so. It is because these “churches” do not really submit to Christ’s Headship - as is evidenced by the fact that they do not conform to the New Testament pattern of intensely local ekklesia. Indeed, Christ does find His people everywhere and from all walks of life. But that is not the same thing as being the ekklesia of Christ. The only thing we need to do to bring “this hidden church into empirical existence” is to stop tolerating, condoning and practicing the sins of dissensions and heresies (denominations – Gal. 5:20 ) and Nicolaitan clergyism (delegated, democratic or representative rule over the people of Christ – Rev. 2:6 , 15; top ) and return to the original, spiritual practices of the first ekklesia.
But that is only one aspect of bringing the ekklesia into “empirical existence” that we need to consider. The other aspect is that the whole of the ekklesia cannot be brought into “empirical existence” except by the King. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians regarding an event he called “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him.” ( 2 Ths. 2:1 ) In his previous letter, he had told them:
“Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with [the dead in Christ] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” ( 1 Ths. 4:17; top )
Our “gathering together to Him” (Greek, episunagogue [ 1997 ]) as the whole ekklesia is a one-time event. Interestingly this word is used in only one other place in the New Testament – we are told not to forsake our being assembled into the one body which will one day be gathered together in one place at one time. ( Heb. 10:25; top ) These two unique usages of this interesting word are yet more evidence that the genuine local ekklesia stands at the crossroads of time and eternity! Uniting ourselves with any other body than the one body (failing to be the true body) or seeking to bring the whole ekklesia into “empirical existence” apart from the work of the King (usurping the role of the Head) are equally dangerous occupations as they separate us from the real ekklesia and place us outside of the will of God for our lives.
In closing this section of this analysis, we need to observe some statements of Morrison that call for examination. In some ways, they are a tangent to the thrust of his chapter, but yet they are very revealing of various false foundations that in the end, contribute to what errors he makes.
In a previous chapter, Morrison had said:
“The earliest writings in our New Testament (the only ones contributed by an apostle) are Paul’s letters…” (p. 177)
In this chapter, he writes:
“No apostle save Paul wrote any part of the New Testament, and Paul was a convert, not an original disciple who had seen Jesus in the flesh.” (p. 207)
This is a surprising error for Morrison to make. It is a superficial one but one that such a student of the Bible as he is should not make. John and Peter were apostles and they contributed to the New Testament. One could argue that John Mark was also an apostle because of his work with Paul and Barnabus and his is the second Gospel. It would seem that Morrison is again referring to some obscure scholarly distinction.
“Plainly, a new spirit was emerging in most Protestant churches.” (p. 189)
But which spirit? Was it truly and only the Spirit of the Lord at work during the time of the formation of this “ecumenical ideal”? No. Both the Spirit of the Lord and the demonic spirits of false religion, antichrist, fear, mammon and error were at work in that situation.
“…it would have been far better had the dissenter remained in their churches and trusted the principle of free discussion within the fellowship to resolve the issues.” (p. 189-190)
Where truly free discussion exists, that is quite correct. But in the context of a denominational sect (even the so-called “non-denominational” ones), where the leadership jealously guards its power over “the flock,” free discussion is an illusion. Free discussion is squelched at first by quiet “damage control” and then by a demand that the “rebellious dissenter” be silent or leave to go start his own sect or to find one that agrees with him. And since the choice is then between the truth that Christ is revealing and some men’s sect practiced in the name of Christ – a choice that should not be forced upon believers but routinely is nonetheless – the true seeker must reject men to follow God. If this is ever an easy or painless process, the true seeker is far off course in his pursuit of God.
“This new ecumenical spirit cannot be long contained in the ecclesiastical forms of the denominational system. It is the new wine and is already bursting the old bottles of our dogmatic and exclusive orthodoxies. It demands a new ecclesiastical order of inclusiveness and comprehension; in other words, a church which embraces all who in their love of Christ acknowledge Him as divine Lord and Savior and whom, as the churches now gladly confess, He has received into fellowship with Himself.” (p. 195)
Here is the breathtakingly awesome ideal of the ecumenical order – nothing less than the world-wide elimination of division among the people of Christ. But the “new ecclesiastical order” that Morrison and his associates concocted was simply a collection of old wineskins! Too many “churches” were incorporated, tolerated and perpetuated for the ecumenical movement to have been a genuinely obedient response to the Spirit of the Lord - and the “new ecumenical spirit” won the day because they simply could not wrap their heads around the idea that the ekklesia does not need “ecclesiasitical organs” when it already has a Head who composes the body as He wills. ( 1 Cor. 12:18; top )
“But it seems clear that if the denominations project their growing practice of catholicity in the same direction in which it has been moving they will inevitably come out on ecumenical ground.” (p. 196)
Unfortunately, this tracking of trends in the sin-dominated divisions of “churchianity” (and almost gloating over them) gives us little information as to where the Holy Spirit was leading at the time. Completely overlooked is the fact that a false unity (which the ecumenical movement patently is) of any kind will only yet be another tool for the enemy to use.
“All our denominations freely confess that they [already] know what His judgment is.” (p. 209)
This is true – but how is it different from Morrison who wrongly presumes that he knows what the Lord’s judgment of the ecumenical movement is? This is a common human weakness and yet another reason why Christ constrains His people into smaller units so that, when they go wrong, they can do far less damage.
“We may confidently expect that the churches will be led by their scholars to see the Bible as a dynamic book rather than as a static one. In its profound ideas of God, the world and man, of life, of time and eternity, rather than in its supposed infallible language, they will sense the essence and secret of its divine inspiration.” (p. 211-212)
Here is Morrison taking us blithely out onto a razor sharp edge – and this time he is touching upon two things at once. First, the Scriptures - as originally given - were divinely inspired and it is a supreme arrogance of any man to assign various portions as trivial, inconsistent or contradictory – Jesus said not even the punctuation was to be ignored! ( Mt. 5:18; top ) But in seeking to bring the Bible into subservience to Christ, Morrison has only succeeded in exalting his own interpretation!
Second, while the original was inspired, the interpreters and translators were neither always nor completely so. Personal biases and preconceived paradigms have bled through (even into various versions of the Bible) that distort the meaning away from the original meaning and intent of the Holy Spirit. The word “church” is one such obvious example. So, because we now have a “language barrier” to overcome (from Greek to English and all the other modern languages), it is appropriate to a degree that we must be “led by scholars.” But we must take care that in overcoming the Greek language barrier, the scholar does not interfere with our ability to overcome the other “language barrier” we face – the language of the Spirit vs. the language of the flesh. In many ways, this second barrier is the far more difficult one as both of these languages use the same words but only the Spirit gives them new meaning which brings forth abundant and eternal life. We must still submit the scholars’ works to the work of the Holy Spirit who alone leads us into all truth. ( Jn. 16:13; top )
“…the possibility of a united church constituted neither by the Bible nor by theological doctrines, but only by the Lordship of Christ, is not so unrealistic as it might seem, or so remote.” (p. 213)
Here again the “ecumenical ideal” floundered on the rocks of men’s interpretations of what the Spirit was saying to Christ’s people. The ecumenical movement gives the same lip service to the Lordship of Christ as does the denominational system. And this statement points again to the “language barrier” of the Spirit vs. the flesh. The “church” uses all the same buzzwords as does the genuine ekklesia but the meanings and usages are vastly different even though the differences are so subtle and deep that only a lengthy conversation can begin to scratch the surface of how they differ. These differences of meaning are too precise and too calculated to bring about the result of spiritual immature and division among the people of Christ for there to have been no “conspiracy” or intelligent design behind the changes in meaning. It is impossible to not reach this conclusion unless one subscribes to the “church” paradigm – then denial and dismissal of the truth is patently simple.
“The knowledge which modern scholarship has brought to us has shown that the Bible cannot be a competitor of Christ who, as Luther said, is ‘Lord also of the Scriptures.’” (p. 215)
Yes, we must see that the Scriptures are no competitor of Christ. This superiority of Christ over the Scriptures, though a real thing in some regards, is too often relied upon to justify some scholar’s private interpretation or when Christ is not truly the Lord over the scholar. Instead, the scholar’s intellect is his true god. Too many “theologians” have managed to use the Bible to change the descriptions and understandings of God, miraculous events, spiritual truths, etc. The “theologian” who explains “God” in such a way that He is no longer God is no longer a theologian – he has succeeded only in becoming his own god and he will be subject to his own rewards in the company of all those who destroy the body of Christ. ( 1 Cor. 3:17; top )
There is one more observation to make about the ecumenical movement of Morrison’s time. The General Secretary of the World Council at the time was Willem Adolph Visser’t Hooft. Shelley records:
“One of Visser’t Hooft’s pet projects after World War II was the creation of an Ecumenical Institute in Switzerland for the training of leaders in the church unity movement. In the United States one evening at dinner with financiers Thomas W. Lamont and John D. Rockefeller Jr., he described the plan to Rockefeller, who replied: ‘You must ask for more money.’ Rockefeller later contributed about $1,000,000 to set up the Ecumenical Institute at Boissy, Switzerland.” (Shelley, p. 465)
Lamont and Rockefeller, it should be noted, are names most often connected with the globalists and collectivists who are intent upon establishing a new world order that, conveniently, has the banking families at the top of the heap.
Shelley (writing in 1982) adds:
“Through all the years the most persistent critics of counciliar ecumenism were the conservative Evangelicals. Holding staunchly to the authority of the Bible, Evangelicals know that Jesus prayed that His disciples would be one, but they question the federation form of Christian unity.
They challenge the inadequate doctrinal basis of the World Council and its commitment to evangelism. They are especially troubled by the increasing involvement of the World Council in political activities in developing nations.
Since the Uppsala Assembly (1968) the World Council appears to consider the unity of the church as a sign of the unity of mankind. Conservative Evangelicals contend that this can easily lead to support for humanistic goals for society rather than a distinctively Christian witness. The difference in church and world becomes less a matter of faith and unbelief and more a difference in oppressed and oppressor. Salvation becomes liberation.” (Shelley, p. 468)
As the root so the fruit. As the fruit so the root. It doesn’t matter which way you look at the tree, it’s rotten at both ends.
It is interesting that Shelley observes that the conservative Evangelicals have clung to “the authority of the Bible” which – as Morrison rightly observed – only denies the Lordship of Christ. This is a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black – and we will leave it to scholars who have nothing better to do with their time to decide which is the kettle and which is the pot.
“The fear that heresy will creep in and dilute or debilitate the faith is grounded in unbelief in Christ’s sovereign rule in His church.” (p. 217)
Here is another of Morrison’s jaw droppers. This statement is coming from the man who has written a major portion of his book to clearly prove that Christ is not sovereign over the “church” that purports to be His! The same man wrote:
“These [denominational] churches all embody self-will and each exists in contravention of the will of Christ.” (p. 78 – emphasis added)
“…the denomination…in its apostasy from the true church…is not under Christ.” (p. 79 – emphasis added)
“Our Christian experience is impoverished…by the historical necessity of living the Christian live in the isolation of these autonomous fragments of a dismembered church.” (p. 80 – emphasis added)
These quotes alone, in comparison, clearly establish the depth of Morrison’s spiritual schizophrenia as now, in the last chapter, he wants us to believe that Christ is truly Lord over the “church” and that He will keep heresy out no matter what we do.
This statement is also flatly contradicted by Scripture. Peter wrote,
“There will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies [divisions] even denying the Lord [His Lordship even though He] bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.” ( 2 Pet. 2:1-2 - paraphrased, emphasis added; top)
This has been the theme of Morrison’s whole book but in yet another burst of spiritual schizophrenia he is saying in effect, “Continue with the destructive ways because the Lord will sovereignly protect you.” No! The Lord sovereignly protects us in our ignorance but, when light comes, that protection is replaced with a different kind of protection – the command to “Go and sin no more”! When the Spirit reveals a “new” truth to us, our ignorance will be replaced – either we will obey or we will rebel but we will no longer be ignorant.
Let he who has ears hear.
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