Author: William Andrew Dillard
Parson to Person
Church and state is an entirely different thing to religion and state. However, the unscriptural doctrine of universal, invisible church has been in place in the religious world so long (since the Protestant Reformation) that most people, and especially those in government do not know the difference. Additionally, terrible things happen when the government shows favoritism to a literal, visible church or denomination of churches. Furthermore, tax favoritism toward churches has motivated less than honorable men to use such laws to create organizations for fiduciary benefits to themselves. They will tell those under the blinders of their charade to send their money to God, and, Oh, yes, here is his address. With increasing, tax free funds they build their little empire of multiple mansions, yatchs, and airplanes. The increased number and variety of such religious organizations succeed in further blurring the perceptible lines between church and religion. So, one may ask if there really is an important difference, and if so, just how does a New Testament church originate?
Having the prerequisites of personal salvation and John’s baptism, men and women may covenant together to carry out the terms of the Great Commission, ideally under the express will of an established New Testament church that is able to oversee, comfort, and encourage the new congregation. This is succession. It is the New Testament pattern. It is the only pattern acceptable to New Testament churches in their missionary efforts that lead to church succession. Some in the theological world may “guffhaw” at the idea of church succession, but that is their problem. Jesus promised it; historians confirm it, and the meaning of the Word of God is found faulty and meaningless if it is not so. So soon will the bride of Christ who has sailed through bloody seas without mercy from the emmisaries of Satan be welcomed and rewarded by its soon coming king.
Of course, there are those who would be quick to levy the charge of “legalism” to such rigid thinking, but legalism it is not. It is understanding the New Testament pattern while also understanding that Jesus did not give anyone the authority or pronounce any blessings on those who would change the Word of God to fit their own human thinking to placate a sinful world.
On a personal level, let it be known that it is a terrible thing for an eternity-bound image of Almighty God to trust his eternal state to the thinking of others fully as much of a sinner as he, instead of the pure light of the Word. If I were a blind man, I would not want to trust the safety of my travel or the arrival to my proper destination to another blind man.