Exhortation to broadness

by William B. Screws

Our mouth is open toward you, Corinthians: Has your heart broadened? Not distressed are you in us, yet you are distressed in your compassions. Now, as a recompense in kind (as to children am I saying this), you also be broadened!
(II Corinthians 6:11-13, Concordant Literal Version)

Sectarianism, which means narrowness, was and is one of the curses of Christendom. Before becoming a saint, Paul had been a member of a sect he acknowledged it. Sectarianism found its way into the church during the ministry of the apostle, but he was continually warning against it. However, he could see that sects among them would work one good the disqualified ones would become apparent.

In giving instructions to Titus, Paul said "A sectarian man, after one and a second admonition refuse" (Titus 3:10). The sectarian man had no standing so far as Paul was concerned. None except a sectarian person has any standing in Christendom today. "Does he belong to our denomination?" is the first question that is asked.

The King James Version of the Bible, translated by those who considered sectarianism as the most important of all things, concealed the truth, by using the word "heresy" for sect, and "heretic" for sectarian.

Sectarianism violates the broadness of fellowship that the Father gives to all saints, and forces them to be narrow. In some cases, perhaps, it smothers it so successfully that the saint is satisfied with a restricted fellowship; but, normally, the heart of the saint is broadened. He feels ashamed to yield to the narrowness and non-fellowship that his sect imposes upon him. It causes distress. The Baptist must fellowship with Baptists ahead of other saints, but he rarely feels happy in doing so. The Methodist must act as if his brother Methodists are nearer to God than any other people, but his compassions are broader than his creed, and distress him. The Presbyterian must prefer other Presbyterians, but when he listens to the promptings of his heart, he knows he is living a lie, and so on. This is normally the case.

Paul recognized that the HEARTS of the Corinthian saints were broadened. He knew they were distressed in their compassions. What they needed, was to follow their hearts, and become broadened themselves. This is why he admonished, "you be broadened."

There are many who are sick of the restrictions of denominationalism, and long for a fellowship as broad as the sphere of saints. God has led many saints out into the open field of freedom. We do not claim that we know it all. We encourage Scripture research. If a fresh truth is discovered we are free to accept it. If they refuse it entirely, this does not destroy our fellowship for them. We make no effort to force anyone.

An organization, where there are certain ones in authority, where there is an ironclad creed that violates the consciences of some of the members, and where there are certain ones continually seeking to "discipline" those they do not like, is a hotbed of turbulence.

We make no demands on saints. We do not even demand that they sever their connection with sectarian orders. We know that many of them have no use for the "churches" where their "membership" is, except as places of social enjoyment. If they can get this, let them have it. They certainly do not find rest of spirit there. But it grieves us to see many saints cramped, distressed, because they are kept from expressing their fellowship for other saints, and are not allowed to serve God in communion with people who are not of their sectarian order. To such we should say, "Your hearts are broadened. You are distressed in your compassions. YOU be broadened."

I once thought that being "out of the church" would be a calamity worse than death. I have found that it gives such happiness that there is not enough money to hire me to go back in. The rulers of the sectarian organization expect the members to look upon their order as the temple of God. This was one thing that was sadly the matter at Corinth. So, Paul told them to "Come out," he explained, "YOU are the temple of God." Not the organization, but the saint, is God's temple.

Is your heart broadened to do that which your religious order will not allow? Are you in distress because of it? I implore you, "You be broadened."

The Pilgrim's Messenger
Volume XIII, Number 10, May 1934
Glennville, Georgia, USA

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