New Testament Associations -- By: Warren Vanhetloo

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 10:4 (Winter 1967)
Article: New Testament Associations
Author: Warren Vanhetloo

New Testament Associations

Warren Vanhetloo

This is an investigation of what the Bible has to say about associational relationships among churches. The word “association” does not appear in the English translation, nor would it be a proper translation of any word appearing in the Greek. The evidence of associational activity has been gleaned from such references to “churches” as indicate a joint or cooperative effort being performed by those churches, or a grouping in the designation of churches of a particular geographical area. The absence of the word “association” should not disturb, however, for the word “Trinity” does not occur in the King James translation either; nevertheless the doctrine of the tri-union of the Godhead is clearly set forth in New Testament teaching. Similarly, the evident teaching of the New Testament is that churches did maintain fellowship with one another and did have cooperative activities. New Testament churches did not maintain an isolationist position.

Many churches today who boast of being independent might better identify themselves as non-cooperative or isolationist. Their attitude seems to be that no other churches are good enough to be considered on the same level; that they do not want to recognize or to have any fellowship with any other gatherings of believers in any other area; that they seem to be saying in effect, “We don’t want anything to do with you, and you stay away from us— we have b.o.”

The New Testament does not say anything about the organization utilized by most churches today known as the Sunday School. Baptists conduct Sunday Schools as a means of teaching the Word, a ministry which is clearly commanded in the Bible. Such activities which are means of effecting instruction of the Word of God are utilized by Baptists. Associations are not in this class of activities which are permitted or considered consistent, but fall into a class

of activities which are set forth by example and precept in the New Testament. It is the endeavor here to demonstrate that associational activity is not just optional or permitted but ought to be the pattern of every local Baptist church.

Baptists believe that that which is recorded in the Bible concerning what was done among New Testament churches is there by God’s direction for our instruction. We ought to mold the activities of our churches after that which God has clearly set forth in His Word. We may have Sunday Schools and youth activities; we should have associational relationships with other churches of like faith and procedure.

The evidence of associational activity in the New Testament does not present all that must be consider...

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