|open and closed|
What to say about unity?
In this e-mail I wish to make some remarks concerning the expression
“exclusive brethern” and that in connection to the several e-mails. This
article is not corrected by an English speaking corrector (sorry)
The term exclusive brethern gives reason for misunderstanding.
In the english-speaking countries it is the name for the Raven-
section or better for the Taylorites. I learn from the article of George
Hawke that their “accredited vessel” (as they call it) now is John
Hales. With this group we have nothing to do. Those who will
taste the atmosphere in this group I advise to read the pocket
“Shut up Sarah”, Highland Books, Godalming, Surrey, GU7 2EP
In Dutch “exclusief” means “very special” for instance “exclusive
For both reasons we speak of “Open” en “Closed”
Indeed the unity (oneness) of which is spoken in verse 22 is
surely not the oneness of an organisation, but also not the unity
of the body, an organism. It is the unity of life or nature, just as
it reads “that they may be one AS WE ARE ONE”.
It is the oneness of life of the children of God and that life is in
That prayer is heard by the Father, He hath realised it.
But the words “ about the world” in verse 21and 23 are not
fullfilled in the full sense of the words.
Now if we do not maintain practicaly the unity of the Body we
also act not in accordance with being one family of children of God who
have the same life, but the aspect of the Body is not found in John 17.
We have to distinguish these two aspects, but not to separate them.
Gathering on the ground of the one Body
The TOB (and OB ingeneral) reject the expression “gathering
on the ground of the one Body. In 1965 I got a booklet of
William Bunting titled “Unity”, he was a leader among the TOB
in Northern Ireland and writes concerning 1Kor. 12:
“It should also be noted that neither here nor elsewhere do we
read of saints “gathering upon the ground of the one body”.
But he continues with “on the other hand, of course, we are
responsible to recognise the unity of Christ’s Body in our
gatherings, and to put away everything which would mar
or obscure the expression of this great New Testament truth”
(page 42). But he speaks about : “The Unity of the Mystical
Body of Christ, the Church in its aggregate form”. And the
question is: what does he mean with “to recognise the unity
of Christ’s Body”. When he means that the believers in A
have to receive believers from B because they belong to
the same body it is oké.
However I should not speak of gathering on the ground
of the one body, but gathering with maintening one of the marks
of the body. (the two other marks are: freedom for the Spirit to
use the gifts as He will and last not least: holding the Head and
being subject to His guiding). I mean to say that the expression
“gathering on the ground of the one Body” is very incomplete.
There are more features of the Body that we have to maintain.
To say nothing from the fact that the assembly also is the House
of God, the familky of God; the fold of the Good Shepherd. We
have also to maintain practically the features of those representations
Unity of assemblies?
Now there is an aversion (when I see it well) in OB circles to
speak much about the Unity of Body of Christ. Still the same Bunting
Our aim surely ought to be to have as much fellowship as is scripturally
possible with all assemblies gathered in accordance with the Word...
He stands for the automy of the assemblies but not in that way that one
assembly hath nothing to do with another assembly. Still I regret that
they do not express themselves very clearly about recognising the discipline
of another assembly.
But I also regret that among the closed Brethern the Unity of the Body
of Christ is connected with the the idea of the unity of assemblies in stead
of only with the unity of the believers For the Body present the unity of
the members and never the unity of the assemblies as such. Brethern
who say to be gathered on the ground of the one Body and who connect
that with the unity of assemblies speak of breaking bonds with assemblies
when they do not agree with all what happens there. And the practise is
that they in such a case do no longer receive any believer from such an
assemby. They maintain an oneness of certain assemblies at the cost of
by giving up) the oneness of the Body. This is an ernest point and
therefore I lay such a stress on the fact that the Body is not the representation
of the oneness of assemblies, but of yhe oneness of believers.
Of course I am open for reactions. Yours in Him,