The Interdependence of Local Churches -- By: Alexander Strauch
EmJ 6:2 (Win 97) p. 189
The Interdependence of Local Churches1
How can autonomous local churches be interdependent? This subject is complex in character, frustrating to implement, relevant to the age of ecumenicity, and volatile to discuss among conservative, bible-believing churches.
Regarding interchurch relations, all church elders walk a tightrope: they must protect their flocks from doctrinal error and at the same time express, in a horribly divided Christian community, the oneness of the Church of Jesus Christ and the love of Christ towards all Christians and local churches — a near impossible assignment I assure you. This article is designed to provide some degree of guidance and balanced perspective on an intensely vexing subject.
For ease of organization and clarity, I have divided my paper into two parts. I will first present the biblical data for autonomous local churches and their interrelatedness. We should all find general agreement with the theology of this section. In the second section I will address the far more complex issue that generates much confusion and disagreement of how autonomous local churches can interrelate with other churches in a world of false churches, true churches, dangerous churches, wacky churches, and hundreds of denominational divisions and subdivisions. It is my desire that this paper will stimulate fresh biblical thinking and help your church’s attitude toward other churches be more biblical.
EmJ 6:2 (Win 97) p. 190
Autonomous Local Churches and Interchurch Fellowship
Under this first section it is our contention that (1) there is and can be only one, true Church of Jesus Christ, (2) upon earth the Church is manifested visibly in countless local churches, (3) local churches should lovingly interact with one another, providing that they are genuine churches indwelt by the Spirit of Christ, (4) local church isolationism is unscriptural, and (5) there are rich benefits resulting from interchurch relationships.
One Lord, One Church
As to the doctrine of the oneness of the Church of Jesus Christ, all Christians agree: our Lord and Savior established one Church. At one of the most crucial moments in our Lord’s earthly ministry, He declared to His disciples, “I will build my Church” (Matt. 16:18). He also said, “There shall be one flock, and one shepherd” (John 10:16). In John 17 He prayed that all believers would “be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, a...
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