Institutional or Non Institutional Chruches Of Christ
“and I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church. And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Romans 16:16, “the churches of Christ greet you”. Paul in referring to the churches of Christ is this verse is referring to a way by which a congregation may be referred. Christ built only one church, “which he purchased with his blood. Acts 20:28”.
The “one church” is referred to a number of different ways in the Bible, but all of these identify the one church Christ established. “church of God”, “church of the living God”, “church of the first-born, who are registered in heaven”, “churches of the saints”, “churches of ------, put a location in”. These all identify the one church that was built.
Acts 2:47, when one obeys the gospel, they are added to the one church. Those who are faithful Christians will be identified with other faithful Christians, and will join together in order to work and worship together as a local church, and will be identify as the” church at Mill Street”. If a member walks disorderly, we are to withdraw ourselves from that individual. II Thes. 3:16, Acts 19:9.
The terms Institutional and Non-Institutional are ways of identifying beliefs and practices adopted by local churches that started to develop in the 1950”s. at that time, brethren became divided over the questions of whether there is scriptural authority for the church to take money from the treasury and give money to support human institutions that was established for education and charitable purposes. Those who were referred to as institutional argued that the money could go to colleges and children homes. Those who were referred to as non-institutional argued that there was no example of support of these things in the Bible.
In the years since this, brethren holding these different views have withdrawn from one another and many other things are now associated with those who are called institutional. Some of these are, kitchens are now in theirs buildings, sponsored social and recreational activities are now a work of these. Sponsoring church arrangements to promote foreign evangelism, and do not believe that the example of the NT for this, “go into the world and preach the gospel, Mark 16:16, is no longing binding.
These views reflect those who are called institutional or as being referred to now as liberal. They may be conservative in a lot of ways compared to the world, but more liberal in their views of scriptural authority. Seems the majority of the churches of Christ today are considered liberal. They sometimes refer to themselves as the “mainstream” church to avoid the impressions that what they teach is liberal.
Brethren who refer to themselves as non-institutional believe the collection can on be used for, direct relief to needy saints,( Acts 11:29), direct support of preachers, (Phil.4:16), support elders who preach (I Tim. 5:17), support qualified widows, (I Tim. 5:3-16), church may use fund that worship can be carried out. Example, a building, Heb. 10:25.
By being a conservative of the Bible, we are often viewed as “anti’s”. neither of these names, “institutional or non-institutional are meant to be insults at each other but simply a belief of each. It is no more than say, I am a Baptist, a Methodist. When brethren go beyond what God’s word teaches, we must withdraw from such practices.
- CL Bruner