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    June 26, 1907

    “The Catholic Church” The Medical Missionary, 16, 26, pp. 204, 205.

    ATJ

    BY ALONZO T. JONES

    THE word “Catholic” signifies “general, universal;” literally, “according to the whole.” In the common or King James version of the Scriptures, the epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude are entitled “The General Epistle of James,” “The First Epistle General of Peter” or of John, “The General Epistle of Jude.” In some versions these titles read, “The Catholic Epistle of James,” “The First Epistle Catholic of Peter,” or of John, “The Catholic Epistle of Jude.”MEDM June 26, 1907, page 204.1

    In the New Testament and in the divine order of the Christian church, each separate congregation of Christians is designated as a church—the “church at Antioch,” “the church which is at Cenchrea,” etc.MEDM June 26, 1907, page 204.2

    When these separate congregations are referred to collectively, it is in the terms, “the churches of the Gentiles,” “the churches of Galatia,” “churches of the saints,” “the Spirit saith unto the churches,” etc.MEDM June 26, 1907, page 204.3

    When all Christians universally are referred to, it is in the terms “the Church of Christ,” “the Church of God,” “the Church which is His body,” “gave Him to be Head over all things to the Church.” This is the Church “according to the whole,” the “general, universal” Church, and therefore the catholic Church. This is the true catholic Church. It is this catholic Church, this Church “according to the whole,” that is referred to in the words of the “Apostles’ Creed”—“I believe in the holy catholic Church.” Every Christian does believe in this general, this universal, this catholic, Church; this Church “according to the whole.”MEDM June 26, 1907, page 204.4

    In the earliest times of Christianity, this true meaning of the word “catholic” was everywhere recognized, and the catholic Church was in truth held to be only the whole body of Christians in the world. And this continued so long as all Christians remained only brethren and therefore equal, and all one in Christ Jesus, with Christ himself the only Master and superior. But just as soon as self-exaltation and exclusiveness entered in, all of this beautiful sense and application of the word “catholic” was thrown away. The whole original thought of the word was perverted, and it was made to apply in only a narrow and exclusive sense to a sect or self-exalted division that called itself “the Church.”MEDM June 26, 1907, page 204.5

    In the churches, there were elders and deacons. These were at first, and in the Christian Church are always, chosen as the servants of the churches; not their lords nor their masters. “Those who are regarded as rulers of the heathen, as you know, lord it over them, and their great men are their masters. But among you it must not be so. On the contrary, whosever wishes to become great among you, must be your servant, and whoever wishes to take a first place among you must be at the call of every one; for even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:42-45; Matthew 20:25-27, 20th Century Version.MEDM June 26, 1907, page 204.6

    Only condemnation attaches to any kind of mastership, except only that of Christ. “Be not many masters, knowing that ye shall receive the greater condemnation.” Since many masters mean only the greater condemnation, then any masters at all means only condemnation. Therefore, “Be not ye called Rabbi; for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth; for one is your Father, which is in Heaven. Neither be ye called masters, for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.”MEDM June 26, 1907, page 204.7

    In the Scriptures the terms “elder” and “bishop” invariably designate the same person in the church. The word “elder” signifies primarily an older person; while “bishop” signifies an “overseer,” a “lookout.” And these are distinctly instructed that, while they are over-seers, they are not to think that they are over-lords or over-rulers. Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-3, with margin.MEDM June 26, 1907, page 204.8

    Yet, very soon, there were of the elders those of whom Diotrephes is the illustration, who loved to have “the preeminence among them.” These asserted a distinction between bishops and elders or presbyters; and claimed for themselves only, the title of “bishop,” as the “superior,” while the others, as inferior, were entitled only to the designation of presbyter. And the presbyters were, of course, “superior” to the deacons.MEDM June 26, 1907, page 204.9

    The bishops then assumed over the presbyters a superiority and an authority that never belonged to them. The presbyters, in turn, assumed over the deacons superiority and authority that never belonged to them. And all three of these “orders” together—bishops presbyters, and deacons—assumed a superiority and exercised an authority that never belonged to them, over the people; and asserted for themselves the distinction of “the clergy,” while the general membership of the church were only “the laity.” As a matter of course for this no justification could be found in the Christian order. Therefore, recourse was had to the Mosaic order. Then these three “orders” of the “clergy” also claimed that they in the Christian Church were the legitimate successors of the high priest, the priests and the Levites of the Levitical law. With this also there was indulged a splendor of dress and function analogous to that of the sanctuary service under Levitical law, while the air of superiority and the exercise of authority that was indulged was always in the spirit of a Roman magistrate, instead of that of the Christian ministry.MEDM June 26, 1907, page 204.10

    From this point it was an easy step to the arrogance that demanded that “we should look upon the bishop even as we would upon the Lord himself;” and that asserted that “the Church is founded upon the bishops, and every act of the church is controlled by these same rulers.” And further, “Whence you ought to know that the bishop is in the Church and the church in the bishop; and if any one is not with the bishop, that he is not in the church.”MEDM June 26, 1907, page 204.11

    Thus by these bishops and their “clergy” there was built up an hierarchical system which they called “the Church.” To this thing they confined the term “catholic” and then insisted that this was the catholic Church, and denied to all others any right even to the name of Christian, and much more of Catholic Christians.MEDM June 26, 1907, page 204.12

    Also, as Diotrephes at the first, these over-lords, in their overbearing despotism, issued commands and made demands that were not only unchristian, but anti-christian; commands which no Christian could obey, and demands to which no Christian could conform—and remain a Christian. All such disobedience was denounced as heresy and schism, and these Christians were cast out of the church.MEDM June 26, 1907, page 204.13

    However, it is worthy of note that the overlording ones were compelled to acknowledge that those Christians were not cast out because of any disrespect or disobedience to Christ or to His word, but only to the usurping and overbearing bishopric. They publicly declared, and it has stood for all time, that “Neither have heresies arisen, nor have schisms originated, from any other source than this, that God’s priest is not obeyed: ... whom if ... the whole fraternity should obey ... no one would rend the Church by a division of the unity of Christ.”MEDM June 26, 1907, page 204.14

    The “unity” of this man-made and heathen system called “the church,” was thus made to be of more importance than either truth or righteousness, or than even Christian character. No room was now allowed for any question as to what any one taught, or what was his Christian character, “so long as he teaches out of the pale of unity.” In this way the very truth of Christ was made to be heresy; and the truest Christians were made to be heretics and schismatics in order to maintain a factitious, outward, and enforced “unity.”MEDM June 26, 1907, page 204.15

    Then, as they had made the “unity” of this anti-Christian thing to be of more importance than truth or righteousness or Christian character, and when this “unity” had become perfected, it followed naturally enough that truth and righteousness and Christian character should all be made to spring from, and to be the consequence of, this “unity.” And so the ultimatum was announced—MEDM June 26, 1907, page 206.1

    (To be Concluded.)

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