George Booker
A New Creation

3. The Ecclesial Constitution

Baptism introduces one into the family of God. Every family has (or should have) its own rules. It is necessary, therefore, along with the exalted concepts, to discuss also some rather down-to-earth rules. The necessity of rules of order, as embodied in our “Constitution” (a copy of which you have received or will receive), is explained by Robert Roberts, first editor of “The Christadelphian” magazine:

“In all communities, large or small, there must be order and mutual submission, in order to attain the objects of their existence.

“In small bodies, few and simple rules will suffice. In large bodies, there will be more need for precise and definite regulations, having reference to what duties certain persons will attend to, how such are to be appointed, under what conditions their duties will be exercised, and so forth. Two things have to be secured in the conduct of an ecclesia, which are capable, in a wrong mode of working, of becoming inconsistent with one another, but which, with care, wisdom, and patience, can be so reconciled as to both have their full and effective place. The one is ORDER, and the other INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY. Both are essential to the healthy and harmonious life of an ecclesia. The danger is that one or other may be sacrificed, in the endeavour to secure either. Care should be taken that neither is secured at the expense of the other. Let not order quench individual liberty, and be sure that individual liberty is not allowed to destroy order....

“The only practical basis of order in the circumstances existing in our dispensation is that of mutual consent, expressed in the process known as voting, which literally means voicing, or speaking your mind. If God would speak, as in the day of the Spirit’s ministration, there would be no need for man to speak; but, as God is silent, there is no alternative but to make the best appointments we can amongst ourselves, aiming in all things to come close to His mind and will, as expressed in the written word.

“The principle of government by consent can only be practically applied by listening to the voice of the greater number, technically described as ‘the majority’. There are well-founded objections to following such a lead in certain matters: but in this matter, what other principle can be acted on? Shall seventy-five submit to the contrary wishes of twenty-five? Is it not more reasonable that in matters of general convenience the lesser number should submit to the greater?....

“The ecclesia does not appoint masters, but servants. In principle, the ecclesia is the doer of everything; but, as it is impossible in its collective capacity to do the things that are to be done, it delegates to individual members the duty of doing them in its behalf.”

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