NCCG's Greatest Mistakes
Q. What would you say was your Church's greatest mistake?
What an unusual question! Though I do not think it is a good thing to parade one's dirty laundry too often, now and then I think it is profitable for instruction. We have made so many mistakes, especially in our formative years, that it is hard to know where to begin! This will, of necessity, be a personal analysis -- other members (and especially ex-members!) may think differently.
If I were to lay my finger on the Church's greatest error in the past it would be that we were too insular. This was caused by our allowing peripheral doctrines to find a place in what one might call "essential" doctrines, which in turn alienated us from other Christians and led them to view our motives with some suspicion. Today such doctrines as pre-mortal existence and eternal marriage which, though very important to us personally, are no longer paraded by us as fundamental articles of the Christian faith generally but as being local to our own denominational interpretation. Though we believe the Bible speaks clearly on these subjects other Christians do not, and are able to give reasonable arguments to the contrary. We also believe Christ was married which is anathema to many Christians schools of interpretation. We do not believe this is a saving doctrine so we don't "push" it as once we did. Thus I think we have learned to limit ourselves to the essentials when working together with other Christians. That limitation does not mean that we believe everyone who claims to be a Christian is one necessarily, as least not theologically. Where we believe the Bible speaks uniquivocally, we will defend it uncompromisingly, as we always have done. But if the Bible is silent on a matter, notwithstanding the fact that we may have received more light and truth in our own revelations, then when in company with other Christians, we are usually silent, since we have unilaterally agreed to make the Bible our primary canon, and nothing else. Though some might say this was compromising, we do not, for God has ensured that the Bible throughout the ages be preserved as the universal standard of the faith. If He had wanted some of the deeper doctrines to be preserved or recorded in the Bible, such as have been given to us in our revelations, we believe He would have done so. As it is, we believe that these expanded revelations, for the most part, are relevent to our mission alone.
Another great error which occurred way back at the beginning of our Church in the late 1980s was, I believe, our over-keenness to accept non-biblical scriptures without adequate testing. Today we are more cautious, partly because we can afford to be (the New Covenant Church's mission is rather different from the early Independent Church's whose purpose was to gather the leadership of the New Covenant Church by means which would be considered strange today) and partly because we must (so as not to fall into the same errors again). Though the early revelations warned the people to test the non-Biblical revelations thoroughly, this was rarely done. One outcome of this error was the rigorous testing which is now applied to all revelations (the present collection of revelations was reviewed by a team many, many times).
Another error of the early Church was extending too much authority to female ministry at a time when male ministry was lacking. The effect of this was to undermine the divinely appointed male headship pattern found in the Bible, with unfortunate domestic repercussions. And finally, too many immature leaders were appointed, despite there being little choice because the Church was young.
Finally, I don't think we spent enough time in prayer. As Billy Graham once remarked, if he had had the opportunity to live his life again, he would have spent much more time in study and prayer and far less evangelising. The early New Covenant Christians were very good in education and study but I think we lacked fundamentally in communal prayer. The result was a lack of unity at critical points in the Church's history
We believe we have learned profitably from these mistakes and can give sound counsel from experience. We have learned, most of all, not to compromise with what God has revealed, no matter how "right" it may seem to human logic and feeling. God's ways are not man's ways and we tinker with God's approved order at our own spiritual (and sometimes temporal) peril.
This page was created on 8 April 1998
Last updated on 8 April 1998
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