The Latest Sect: Part 2

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 10
As a leader of this movement declares that they do not “appoint” elders, the writer in the B.T. feels bound to accept and repeat the disavowal. It is not denied that they claim to have “elders,” and insist strongly on their authority, as one of their cherished and distinctive tenets. Others who make a similar claim, though not with the same pretension, have a solemn form of appointment, which probably led one to suppose it in their case virtually, if not formally. It looks rather like self-appointment.
Now it is indisputably according to scripture that the apostle did “choose” elders church by church (Acts 14:2323And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. (Acts 14:23)), and that Titus was apostolically commissioned to “appoint” or establish elders city by city in Crete. This was “God's way for His people having bishops.” It was not a question only of such qualities as 1 Tim. 3 lays down, but of adequate authority appointing them. Scripture only recognizes as presbyters men thus inaugurated. Whatever their qualities, they were only eligible for elders without or before that; but elders scripturally they were not till so chosen. It is well to know, honor, and obey those who have the requisite traits, as we hear enjoined in 1 Cor. 16, 1 Thess. 5, and elsewhere. But they were not called elders, nor ought to be so, until duly established as such. Clearly therefore to dispense with this is not subjection to scripture. The brethren of the new movement offend against God's word in pretending to “elders” in their midst without the essential title of a valid appointing authority.
Not to appoint, then, would be right, if they did not claim to have “elders” scripturally entitled to rule. To appoint now is altogether invalid, because they have not the requisite apostle or his delegate so charged. Hence to claim “elders” according to scripture without the due appointing power is contrary to scripture and presumptuous. The paper on “Bishops and Deacons,” in the little vol. of Addresses is an evasion as to this and inconsistent also; for it asserts in pp. 90, 91 what refutes p. 93.
A gift from the ascended Christ made one responsible to exercise it, evangelist, pastor, or teacher. Gifts as in 1 Cor. 12 and Eph. 4 needed no appointing authority; but, if scripture is to decide and govern, the local charge of an elder did. It is therefore evil to set 1 Tim. 3 or any other text against Acts 14:2323And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. (Acts 14:23) and Titus 1:55For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: (Titus 1:5). The one may be “the only instance where we have the apostles pointing out elders.” But this one is as conclusive to faith as ever so many. And why use men's mistake about Timothy to enfeeble the certainty that Titus was delegated to appoint elders in Crete? Does either one or other give license now to claim “elders” without analogous appointment? To do the work without that claim is what we see of old at Corinth and Thessalonica; it is accordingly sanctioned of God as the right, humble, and comely way when we have neither apostle nor delegate to appoint. So Christians have long learned and practiced; whereas the device of the new movement on their own showing is baseless pretension as well as retrograde. They might and ought to have known better, but for self-importance, which hinders true intelligence of God's mind, never more needed than in a day of ruin. To dispense with due appointment is as wrong as to unduly appoint. '