Editorial -- By: Anonymous
EmJ 2:1 (Sum 93) p. 3
A recent publication by Rex Koivisto, Chairman of the Department of Bible and Theology at Multnomah School of the Bible, is sure to provoke considerable discussion and controversy among the Assemblies.1 While the overall thrust of the book is on the unity of the church, the oneness of the body of Christ, and fellowship and cooperation among believers, there are two chapters which specifically deal with the history of the Brethren movement and its distinctive characteristics, particularly in relationship to the organization, worship, and mission of the church.
What is sure to be controversial is Dr. Koivisto’s thesis that many of the distinctives that the Brethren have maintained as New Testament principles are in fact only Brethren traditions. They are not the normative teaching of the New Testament which should be practiced by all churches. Among these “Brethren traditions” he includes a plurality of elders leading each local church, a weekly Breaking of Bread service, the silence of women during this service, and the autonomous nature of the local church.
While there will undoubtedly be some in the Brethren movement who will accept Dr. Koivisto’s argument, I expect that the majority will reject it. It is the type of response and the way the discussion develops which are the subjects of this editorial.
Those who have discovered and hold to the principles of the New Testament church as practiced by the Assemblies could easily respond the way one does when something which is precious and dear is attacked. It would be easy to denounce the author, denounce his book, and denounce all who agree with him. This would be
EmJ 2:1 (Sum 93) p. 4
unfortunate. It would produce the very opposite effect that the author is trying to achieve in his book, the promotion of the practical unity and fellowship among genuine believers in the body of Christ. This truth of the oneness of all believers in Christ and the need for practically expressing that unity was one of the driving forces in the formation of the Brethren movement in the early nineteenth century. Even though we might disagree on an issue of Scripture, we should not do so in a way that would prevent us from sitting side-by-side, worshipping the one who loved us and gave Himself for us and who commanded us to love one another.
Instead of denouncing Koivisto’s book, we at Emmaus would welcome it as raising some very important issues which need to be discussed in the Assemblies today. This does not mean that we agree that “church truths” are just Brethren traditions. In fact, we would affirm the very opposite and maintain that there are normative teachings taught in the New Testament ...
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