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This is an interesting subject. A new revelation for me. How many people know about the history of the Church Manual?

It was brought up in 1883, in the General Conference Session, and this is what was said:

"It is the unanimous opinion of the committee appointed to consider the matter of the Church Manual that it would not
be advisable to have a Church Manual. We consider it unnecessary
because we have already surmounted the greatest difficulties connected
with church organization without one; and perfect harmony exists among
us on this subject. It would seem to many like a step toward the
formation of a creed or a discipline, other than the Bible, something we
have always been opposed to as a denomination. If we had one, we fear
many, especially those commencing to preach, would study it to obtain
guidance in religious matters, rather that to seek for it in the Bible,
and from the leading of the Spirit of God, which would tend to their
hindrance in genuine religious experience, and in knowledge of the mind
of the Spirit. It was in taking similar steps that other bodies of
Christians first began to lose their simplicity and become formal and
spiritually lifeless. Why should we imitate them? The committee feels,
in short, that our tendency should be in the direction of the policy and
close conformity of the Bible, rather than to elaborately defining
every point in church management and church ordinances."

"On motion, this report with reference to Church Manual was accepted. It was then also Voted, That
the President of the General Conference be requested to write an article
for the Review, explaining the action of the Conference on the subject
of the manual." -- Review and Herald, November 20, 1883; Year Book, 1883, pp. 33-36

Here's the article:

"The writer was requested by the recent General conference to make a brief statement through the Review of the action taken in reference to the proposed manual. Four or five years past, there has been with some of our brethren a desire to have some manual of directions for the use of young ministers and church officers, etc. It was thought that this would lead to uniformity in all parts of the field, and afford a means of instruction to those who are inexperienced, and be very convenient in many respects. Steps were taken several years ago to prepare a manual, but for a time it was left unfinished. Last year at the Rome Conference the matter came up for consideration, and three brethren were appointed a committee to prepare a manual, and submit it to the Conference this year for its approval or rejection. During the past summer the matter they have prepared has appeared in the Review, and had doubtless been well considered by its readers.

"At the recent Conference a committee of thirteen leading brethren were appointed to consider the whole subject, and report. They did so, and unanimously recommended to the Conference that it was not advisable to have a Church Manual. Their reasons were briefly given in the report of Conference proceedings given in last week's Review. The conference acted upon this recommendation, and quite unanimously decided against having any manual. In doing this they did not intend any disrespect to the worthy brethren who had labored diligently to prepare such a work. They had presented much excellent matter, and gave many valuable directions concerning church ordinances, holding business meetings and many other important questions, and had done as well, no doubt as any others would have done in their place. The reasons underlying this action of the Conference were of a broader character. They relate to the desirability of any manual whatsoever.

"The Bible contains our creed and discipline. It thoroughly furnishes the man of God unto all good works. What it has not revealed relative to church organizations and management, the duties of officers and ministers, and kindred subjects, should not be strictly defined and drawn out into minute specifications for the sake of uniformity, but rather be left to individual judgment under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Had it been best to have a book of directions of this sort, the Spirit would doubtless have gone further, and left one on record with the stamp of inspiration upon it. Man cannot safely supplement this matter with his weak judgment. All attempts to do this in the past have proven lamentable failures. A variation of circumstances requires variation in acting. God requires us to study important principles which He reveals in His word, but the minutiae in carrying them out, he leaves to individual judgment, promising heavenly wisdom in times of need. His ministers are constantly placed where they must feel their helplessness and their seeking God for light, rather than go to any church manual for specific directions placed therein by other uninspired men. Minute specific directions tend to weakness rather than power. They lead to dependence rather than self-reliance. Better to make some mistakes and learn profitable lessons thereby, than to have our way marked out for us by others, and the judgment have a small field in which to reason and consider.

"When brethren who have favored a manual have even contended that such a work was not to be anything like a creed or a discipline, or to have any authority to settle disputed points, but was only to be considered as a book containing hints for the help of those of little experience, yet it must be evident that such a work, issued under the auspices of the General Conference, would at once carry with it much weight of authority, and would be consulted by most of our young ministers. It would gradually shape and mold the whole body, and those who did not follow it would be considered out of harmony with established principles of church order. And really, is not this the object of a manual? And what would be the use of one if not to accomplish such a result? But would this result, on a whole, be a benefit? Would our ministers be broader, more original, more self-reliant men? Could they be better depended on in great emergencies? Would their spiritual experience likely be deeper and their judgment more reliable? We think the tendency all the other way.

"The religious movement in which we are engaged has the same influence to meet which all genuine reformations have had to cope with. After reaching a certain magnitude, they have seen the need of uniformity, and to attain it, they have tried to prepare directions to guide the inexperienced. These have grown in number and authority till, accepted by all, they really become authoritative. There seems to be no logical stopping place, when once started upon this road, till this result is reached. The history is before us; we have no desire to follow it. Hence we stop without a church manual before we get started. Our brethren who have favored such a work, we presume, never anticipated such a conclusion as we have indicated. Very likely, those in other denominations did not at first. The Conference thought best not to give the appearance of such a thing.

"Thus far we have got along well with our simple organization without a manual. Union prevails throughout the body. The difficulties before us, so far as organization is concerned, are far less than those we have had in the past. We have preserved simplicity, and have prospered in so doing. It is best to let well enough alone. For these and other reasons, the church manual was rejected. It is probable it will never be brought forward again." -- Written by G. I. Butler, 1883 General Conference President

I highlighted those words, because that's the problem I have faced, recently. I was seen as out of harmony with church order because I felt uncomfortable conforming to a certain tradition which had no foundation on God's Word, or Inspired Counsel. The only authority it had, was the Church Manual. The pastor even suggested that I start attending a different church.

I like what Elder Butler said. His words are very powerful. Ellen White seemed really be inspired by him:

Elder Butler a Most Valuable Laborer

It is with feelings of satisfaction and of gratitude to God that we see Elder {G. I.} Butler again in active service. His gray hairs testify that he understands what trials are. We welcome him into our ranks once more, and regard him as one of our most valuable laborers. {2SM 226.1}

Eventually a Church Manual was written up, in 1932, long after these faithful servants where laid to rest. And what does that Church Manual say about those pioneers?

This action revealed the growing realization that church order was imperative if church organization was to function effectively, and that uniformity in such order required its guiding principles to be put into printed form. Accordingly the articles were published. But at the 1883 General Conference Session, when it was proposed that these articles be placed in permanent form as a church manual, the idea was rejected. The brethren feared that it would possibly formalize the church and take from its ministers their freedom to deal with matters of church order as they might individually desire.
But this fear—doubtless reflecting the opposition that had existed twenty years before to any kind of church organization—evidently soon departed. The annual General Conference sessions continued to take actions on matters of church order. In other words, they slowly but surely were producing material for a church manual.

According to this, the 1883 General Conference acted on fear, when they rejected the notion of a Church Manual. It was fear that kept them from the "realization that church order was imperative if church organization was to function effectively, and that uniformity in such order required its guiding principles to be put into printed form."

Wonderful, clever words. Who do we side with? These modern church leaders seem to insult our old time pioneers. There is no way I will go along with their agenda. I believe in the revival of primitive godliness, foretold in The Great Controversy. And I invest everything into that. Not in this "mega-church" mentality.


http://www.tithetruth.org/ii_thechurchmanual.htm
Church manual pdf

I got these pages from this Google search, "No church Manual" George Butler at the recommendation of Stewart. Thank you, Brother Stewart.

I would like to make more comments on this, when I get time. I feel it's an important subject.

Thank you for reading, and God bless.

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The churches are under some tight control. Ideally all churches would be independent with no governing bodys save the local elders. But, we cannot even name a church or someone else would come along and incorporate the name and close the churches down using the name they now no longer own. And so the 501c3 was instituted. There are still many ways to work in the system. There are independent SDA ministries. And the synagogue Jesus preached in was in the Roman Empire that probably had similar controls.
What does having a "governing body" have to do with the Church Manual?
A sensitive subject Rush4hire.
But definitely, a "policy driven" church is not a good thing. That kind of "machinery" does have a place, but 'standard procedures' can get in the way, and become a hindrance. I don't think anyone would deny that.

Quoting Mrs. White in "The Southern Work" p.17,
"There is altogether too much dependence on machinery, on mechanical working. Machinery is good in its place, but do not allow it to become too complicated. I tell you that in many cases it has retarded the work, and kept out laborers who in their line could have accomplished far more than has been done by the minister who depends on sermonizing more than on ministry."

On the other end of the spectrum, there were prominent voices in the early days, such as George Storrs' (the man that God used to bring "the state of the dead" doctrine to the Adventist people), that taught:

“Take care that you do not seek to manufacture another church. No church can be organized by man’s invention but what it becomes Babylon the moment it is organized.” (The Midnight Cry, Feb. 1844) In practice, Storrs recommendation was that the church have NO organizational system at all, but of course that approach would have meant disaster. He went too far.

In reference to this (at least in part), Mrs. White wrote that "we had a hard struggle in establishing organization. Notwithstanding that the Lord gave testimony after testimony upon this point, the opposition was strong, and it had to be met again and again." (Testimonies to Ministers p.26)
I am sorry John, I don't want to irritate or provoke here, but in response to your comment, may I ask,

Was "some kind of order" kept in God's church prior to the Church Manual?

Admittedly, Loughborough's book, "The Church: Its Organization, Order and Discipline" (1907) was employed in the early days, but again, that was quite a different thing to the Manual of today, wasn't it?
rush

There is a danger in picking and choosing the parts of history that fit what we want to beleive. So, in response to your statement, please allow me to post what Ellen White had to say on the matter.

THE INTRODUCTION OF CHURCH ORDER

Our numbers gradually increased. The seed that was sown was watered of God, and He gave the increase. At first we assembled for worship, and presented the truth to those who would come to hear, in private houses, in large kitchens, in barns, in groves, and in schoolhouses; but it was not long before we were able to build humble houses of worship. {CET 195.1}
As our numbers increased, it was evident that without some form of organization there would be great confusion, and the work would not be carried forward successfully. To provide for the support of the ministry, for carrying the work in new fields, for protecting both the churches and the ministry from unworthy members, for holding church property, for the publication of the truth through the press, and for many other objects, organization was indispensable. {CET 195.2}
Yet there was strong feeling against it among our people. The First-day Adventists were opposed to organization, and most of the Seventh-day Adventists entertained the same ideas. We sought the Lord with earnest prayer that we might understand His will, and light was given by His Spirit, that there must be order and thorough discipline in the church,--that organization was essential. System and order are manifest in all the works of God throughout the universe. Order is the law of heaven, and it should be the law of God's people on the earth. {CET 195.3}

ENTERING UPON NEW ENTERPRISES

We had a hard struggle in establishing organization. Notwithstanding that the Lord gave testimony after testimony upon this point, the opposition was strong, and it had to be met again and again. But we knew that the Lord God of Israel was leading us, and guiding by His providence. We engaged in the work of organization, and marked prosperity attended this advance movement. {CET 195.4}
As the development of the work called upon us to engage in new enterprises, we were prepared to enter upon them. The Lord directed our minds to the importance of the educational work. We saw the need of schools, that our children might receive instruction free from the errors of false philosophy, that their training might be in harmony with the principles of the word of God. The need of a health institution had been urged upon us, both for the help and instruction of our own people and as a means of blessing and enlightenment to others. This enterprise also was carried forward. All this was missionary work of the highest order. {CET 197.1}

THE RESULTS OF UNITED EFFORT

Our work was not sustained by large gifts or legacies; for we have few wealthy men among us. What is the secret of our prosperity? We have moved under the orders of the Captain of our salvation. God has blessed our united efforts. The truth has spread and flourished. Institutions have multiplied. The mustard seed has grown to a great tree. The system of organization has proved a grand success. Systematic benevolence was entered into according to the Bible plan. The body "has been compacted by that which every joint supplieth." As we have advanced, our system of organization has still proved effectual. {CET 197.2}

AVOIDING THE PERILS OF DISORDER

Let none entertain the thought that we can dispense with organization. It has cost us much study and many prayers for wisdom that we know God has answered, to erect this structure. It has been built up by His direction, through much sacrifice and conflict. Let none of our brethren be so deceived as to attempt to tear it down, for you will thus bring in a condition of things that you do not dream of. In the name of the Lord I declare to you that it is to stand, strengthened, established, and settled. At God's command, "Go forward," we advanced when the difficulties to be surmounted made the advance seem impossible. We know how much it has cost to work out God's plans in the past, which have made us as a people what we are. Then let everyone be exceedingly careful not to unsettle minds in regard to those things that God has ordained for our prosperity and success in advancing His cause. {CET 197.3}
Angels work harmoniously. Perfect order characterizes all their movements. The more closely we imitate the harmony and order of the angelic host, the more successful will be the efforts of these heavenly agents in our behalf. If we see no necessity for harmonious action, and are disorderly, undisciplined, and disorganized in our course of action, angels, who are thoroughly organized and move in perfect order, cannot work for us successfully. They turn away in grief, for they are not authorized to bless confusion, distraction, and disorganization. All who desire the co-operation of the heavenly messengers, must work in unison with them. Those who have the unction from on high, will in all their efforts encourage order, discipline, and union of action, and then the angels of God can co-operate with them. But never, never will these heavenly messengers place their endorsement upon irregularity, disorganization, and disorder. All these evils are the result of Satan's efforts to weaken our forces, to destroy our courage, and prevent successful action. {CET 199.1}
Satan well knows that success can only attend order and harmonious action. He well knows that everything connected with Heaven is in perfect order, that subjection and perfect discipline mark the movements of the angelic host. It is his studied effort to lead professed Christians just as far from Heaven's arrangement as he can; therefore he deceives even the professed people of God, and makes them believe that order and discipline are enemies to spirituality; that the only safety for them is to let each pursue his own course, and to remain especially distinct from bodies of Christians who are united, and are laboring to establish discipline and harmony of action. All the efforts made to establish order are considered dangerous, a restriction of rightful liberty, and hence are feared as popery. These devoted souls consider it a virtue to boast of their freedom to think and act independently. They will not take any man's say-so. They are amenable to no man. I was shown that it is Satan's special work to lead men to feel that it is God's order for them to strike out for themselves, and choose their own course, independent of their brethren. {CET 201.1}

INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY AND CHRISTIAN UNITY

God is leading a people out from the world upon the exalted platform of eternal truth, the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. He will discipline and fit up His people. They will not be at variance, one believing one thing, and another having faith and views entirely opposite; each moving independently of the body. Through the diversity of the gifts and governments that He has placed in the church, they will all come to the unity of the faith. If one man takes his views of Bible truth without regard to the opinion of his brethren, and justifies his course, alleging that he has a right to his own peculiar views, and then presses them upon others, how can he be fulfilling the prayer of Christ? And if another and still another arises, each asserting his right to believe and talk what he pleases, without reference to the faith of the body, where will be that harmony which existed between Christ and His Father, and which Christ prayed might exist among His brethren? {CET 201.2}
Though we have an individual work and an individual responsibility before God, we are not to follow our own independent judgment, regardless of the opinions and feelings of our brethren; for this course would lead to disorder in the church. It is the duty of ministers to respect the judgment of their brethren; but their relations to one another, as well as the doctrines they teach, should be brought to the test of the law and the testimony; then, if hearts are teachable, there will be no divisions among us. Some are inclined to be disorderly, and are drifting away from the great landmarks of the faith; but God is moving upon His ministers to be one in doctrine and in spirit. {CET 203.1}
It is necessary that our unity today be of a character that will bear the test of trial. . . . We have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn. God and Heaven alone are infallible. Those who think that they will never have to give up a cherished view, never have occasion to change an opinion, will be disappointed. As long as we hold to our own ideas and opinions with determined persistency, we cannot have the unity for which Christ prayed. {CET 203.2}
When a brother receives new light upon the Scriptures, he should frankly explain his position, and every minister should search the Scriptures with the spirit of candor to see if the points presented can be substantiated by the inspired word. "The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth." 2 Timothy 2:24, 25. {CET 203.3}

WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT!

In reviewing our past history, having traveled over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, Praise God! As I see what God has wrought, I am filled with astonishment, and with confidence in Christ as leader. We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history. {CET 204.1}
We are now a strong people, if we will put our trust in the Lord; for we are handling the mighty truths of the word of God. We have everything to be thankful for. If we walk in the light as it shines upon us from the living oracles of God, we shall have large responsibilities, corresponding to the great light given us of God. We have many duties to perform, because we have been made the depositaries of sacred truth to be given to the world in all its beauty and glory. We are debtors to God to use every advantage He has entrusted to us to beautify the truth by holiness of character, and to send the messages of warning, and of comfort, of hope and love, to those who are in the darkness of error and sin. {CET 204.2}
Thank God for what has already been done in providing for our youth facilities for religious and intellectual training. Many have been educated to act a part in the various branches of the work, not only in America, but in foreign fields. The press has furnished literature that has spread far and wide the knowledge of truth. Let all the gifts that like rivulets have swelled the stream of benevolence, be recognized as a cause of thanksgiving to God. {CET 204.3}
We have an army of youth today who can do much if they are properly directed and encouraged. We want our children to believe the truth. We want them to be blessed of God. We want them to act a part in well-organized plans for helping other youth. Let all be so trained that they may rightly represent the truth, giving the reason of the hope that is within them, and honoring God in any branch of the work where they are qualified to labor. . . . {CET 205.1}
As the disciples of Christ, it is our duty to diffuse light which we know the world has not. Let the people of God "be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." 1 Timothy 6:18, 19. {CET 205.2}


Then in the next chapter, we find some of the most beautiful language in print.>

34: God's Love for the Church

George's Terrace, St. Kilda Road, Melbourne, December 23, 1892.

Dear Brethren of the General Conference: {CET 206.1}
I testify to my brethren and sisters that the church of Christ, enfeebled and defective as it may be, is the only object on earth on which He bestows His supreme regard. While He extends to all the world His invitation to come to Him and be saved, He commissions His angels to render divine help to every soul that cometh to Him in repentance and contrition, and He comes personally by His Holy Spirit into the midst of His church. "If Thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in His word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning." "Let Israel hope in the Lord: for with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption. And He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities." {CET 206.2}
Ministers and all the church, let this be our language, from hearts that respond to the great goodness and love of God to us as a people and to us individually, "Let Israel hope in the Lord from henceforth and forever." "Ye that stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God, praise the Lord; for the Lord is good: sing praises unto His name; for it is pleasant. For the Lord hath chosen Jacob unto Himself, and Israel for His peculiar treasure. For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods." Consider, my brethren and sisters, that the Lord has a people, a chosen people, His church, to be His own, His own fortress, which He holds in a sin-stricken, revolted world; and He intended that no authority should be known in it, no laws be acknowledged by it, but His own. {CET 206.3}
Satan has a large confederacy, his church. Christ calls them the synagogue of Satan because the members are the children of sin. The members of Satan's church have been constantly working to cast off the divine law, and confuse the distinction between good and evil. Satan is working with great power in and through the children of disobedience, to exalt treason and apostasy as truth and loyalty. And at this time the power of his satanic inspiration is moving the living agencies to carry out the great rebellion against God that commenced in heaven. {CET 207.1}
At this time the church is to put on her beautiful garments,--"Christ our righteousness." There are clear, decided distinctions to be restored and exemplified to the world in holding aloft the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. The beauty of holiness is to appear in its native luster in contrast with the deformity and darkness of the disloyal, those who have revolted from the law of God. Thus we acknowledge God, and recognize His law, the foundation of His government in heaven and throughout His earthly dominions. His authority should be kept distinct and plain before the world; and no laws are to be acknowledged that come in collision with the laws of Jehovah. If in defiance of God's arrangements the world be allowed to influence our decisions or our actions, the purpose of God is defeated. However specious the pretext, if the church waver here, there is written against her in the books of heaven a betrayal of the most sacred trusts, and treachery to the kingdom of Christ. The church is firmly and decidedly to hold her principles before the whole heavenly universe and the kingdoms of the world; steadfast fidelity in maintaining the honor and sacredness of the law of God will attract the notice and admiration of even the world, and many will, by the good works which they shall behold, be led to glorify our Father in heaven. The loyal and true bear the credentials of heaven, not of earthly potentates. All men shall know who are the disciples of Christ, chosen and faithful, and shall know them when crowned and glorified as those who honored God and whom He has honored, bringing them into possession of an eternal weight of glory. . . . {CET 207.2}
The Lord has provided His church with capabilities and blessings, that they may present to the world an image of His own sufficiency, and that His church may be complete in Him, a continual representation of another, even the eternal world, of laws that are higher than earthly laws. His church is to be a temple built after the divine similitude, and the angelic architect has brought his golden measuring rod from heaven, that every stone may be hewed and squared by the divine measurement, and polished to shine as an emblem of heaven, radiating in all directions the bright, clear beams of the Sun of Righteousness. The church is to be fed with manna from heaven, and to be kept under the sole guardianship of His grace. Clad in complete armor of light and righteousness, she enters upon her final conflict. The dross, the worthless material, will be consumed, and the influence of the truth testifies to the world of its sanctifying, ennobling character. . . . {CET 208.1}

The Lord Jesus is making experiments on human hearts through the exhibition of His mercy and abundant grace. He is effecting transformations so amazing that Satan, with all his triumphant boasting, with all his confederacy of evil united against God and the laws of His government, stands viewing them as a fortress impregnable to his sophistries and delusions. They are to him an incomprehensible mystery. The angels of God, seraphim and cherubim, the powers commissioned to co-operate with human agencies, look on with astonishment and joy, that fallen men, once children of wrath, are through the training of Christ developing characters after the divine similitude, to be sons and daughters of God, to act an important part in the occupations and pleasures of heaven. {CET 208.2}
To His church, Christ has given ample facilities, that He may receive a large revenue of glory from His redeemed, purchased possession. The church, being endowed with the righteousness of Christ, is His depository, in which the wealth of His mercy, His love, His grace, is to appear in full and final display. The declaration in His intercessory prayer, that the Father's love is as great toward us as toward Himself, the only-begotten Son, and that we shall be with Him where He is, forever one with Christ and the Father, is a marvel to the heavenly host, and it is their great joy. The gift of His Holy Spirit, rich, full, and abundant, is to be to His church as an encompassing wall of fire, which the powers of hell shall not prevail against. In their untainted purity and spotless perfection, Christ looks upon His people as the reward of all His suffering, His humiliation, and His love, and the supplement of His glory,--Christ, the great center from which radiates all glory. "Blessed are they which are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb." {CET 209.1}

Order is the first law of Heaven. God does not establish a church on earth that is in disorder, where every person can go and do as they please.

True, there has been a strident effort to hijack the church so it can be used for Satan's purposes. However, remember, it will be the sinners in Zion who will be shaken out. Those who are honest in heart will continue to attempt to work from within to maintain the direction that God has established for His people to follow. This does not mean that those who are faithful will not be opposed by those who want to be a law unto themselves. However, the contrast between those who love God and those who love to do things their way will be such that the honest in heart will see and choose who they want to be like.

So, the real question is: "Which side do we want to demonstrate the results of following their lead?" Each person is being tested to see if they will do what God asks them to do, without argument or trying to do a soft shoe dance to make it seem like they are obeying when in fact they are not. Each person will be tested to see if they are true through and through.

How will you come out in this testing time?

Maranatha :)
Ray
www.basicsoftheword.com
zafer

Can you please explain how an organization that functions around the world, can operate without a common set of guidelines?

Yes, the manuel did come later, just like church organization came after the "little flock" started to cohere. The problem today is not the church manuel. The problem today is two fold.

1. Many do not want to follow the church manuel, unless it favors them.
2. At least the NAD portion of the church has been hijacked by the "Willow Creek," "mega church" mentality.

Some in leadership, or positions of power and or influence, have deemed that to go to the Philitines to inquire of the god, Baal, will give us plans and programs that will "grow the church." They then only use the church manuel, and in fact some of the above quotes as well as statments that follow them, to demand that everyone fall in line with them.

However, the "unity" for which Jesus prayed, was not unity in going after the world or apostate protestantism. Why would Jesus pray for that kind of unity? A unified rejection of His plan for His church?

God has given the church a "church manuel," which we call the Bible. We have ignored it. God sent us a messenger for these last days. We have ignored that too. So, why should it be any surprise that some want to igore the church manuel too?

I will readily admit that at times it is most difficult to walk the tightrope between unity and taking a stand for truth. The guideline I have chosen to follow is: 'What does the Bible say?" Jesus said it this way:

"He said to them, "Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." Luke 20:25 (ESV)

This must be our position too. Caesar, no matter whether it is represented by the properly established government, or the properly established structure of the church, must be followed if we are to receive God's blessing, as far as it does not conflict with God's requirements and teachings. God does not bless those who choose to go off on their own and do their own thing, independent of the body. This goes for all levels of the church.

E.g. when the NAD choose to go off on its own, indepedend of the body of the church, they lost the blessing of God and chaos has resulted. As individual unions and conferences have chosen to obey the NAD instead of God, they have also suffered for it. Oh, some attempt to put a happy face on what has happened, but the facts do not support their selection of one or two factors that give a postivie side to the story.

The same is true with individuals. I beleive this to my heart. Which is evidenced by the fact that I have been offered two different positions, high in the ranks of different independent ministries. In one case, to be the director and speaker. However, I respectfully declined. I believe that God is still with the Seventh-day Adventist church and I intend to stay with it too. If I am disfellowshipped, then that is their responsibility, as long as I have been true to God's word. That type of an approach has been tried before, but ended in defeat for those who attempted it. So, I leave that in God's hands. My responsibilty is to remain true to Him and He will direct my paths.

The Church Manuel is essential for any church to move in an organized manner. Let's not attack that because some have misused it. Rather, lets study to show ourselves approved before God, a workman who needs not be ashamed.

Maranatha :)
Ray
www.basicsoftheword.com
Thank you for making this point, Zafer.

I think we can all skim over things, and miss what is being said... even at times when a thought amounts to little more than 10 sentences.
I appreciate what you say teresa. People sure do "discover" what is not in the Bible. But one thought that does exist in the Bible is the idea in Proverbs 6:6-8

"Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,
Provides her meat in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest."

The lesson from the ants is : they are not being told what they have to do. They have no guide, no overseer, no ruler... Obviously, without the Holy Spirit they [and we] would be reduced to chaos.

But the ants work in the time of opportunity. We are called to consider their ways [specifically the "way" that is mentioned], and be wise.
I echo your words John, Divine Order is Biblical. No, I am not wanting to condone the idea that people can do whatever they want in God's house. I am sorry, I do not mean to be giving that impression. Whether we be a minister, a lay person, or a stranger in the house, we are not free to do as we please. We are in another Man's house.

"Keep thy foot when you go to the house of God [no, we are not free to "go" where-ever we want], and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil." (Ecc 5:1)

I think we could be working on different parts of the proverbial "stick", and looking at the application of Divine Order (or Gospel Order) from different places.
Thank you all for sharing your thoughts on this matter. I do appreciate the different points of view. I wish people where allowed to do what they want with that book. They could see it as an accumulation of wisdom, where they can glean whatever they can from it, and reject whatever they don't agree with. But sadly, it has happened as Elder Butler had predicted:

Elder Butler said:
yet it must be evident that such a work, issued under the auspices of the General Conference, would at once carry with it much weight of authority, and would be consulted by most of our young ministers. It would gradually shape and mold the whole body, and those who did not follow it would be considered out of harmony with established principles of church order.

After 75 years of growing greater, and greater, in authority, the Church Manual, in chapter 1, "Authority of the Church and the Church Manual", declares itself to represent the authority of the General Conference. Not the GC in 1883, but the modern GC, which contradicts that GC and puts it to shame, as one who dishonors his mother and father. The GC that refuses to be subject to the GC in the past has no authority at all, for the Bible says: "And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets", (1 Cor. 14:33).

It is suggested that this authority is like the authority the Apostles had over the early church. But as 1 Cor. 14:33 suggests, these apostles did not contradict the prophets. Did later apostles contradict what earlier apostles said? No. They never did. Any contradicting apostle, would be considered a false apostle. Yet, these modern leaders blatantly contradict the founders of this church, who had the Holy Spirit, and didn't use the kind of guile that we see in the Church Manual.

Concerning church order, the Apostles said:

1 Tim. 3:4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
3:5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)

How did this Bishop establish order in his own house, and later in the church of God? Who knows? He figured it out, apparently. Does a man need a manual, to rule his house?

I've worked on many framing crews, and they all have different ways of doing things. But they all end up building the house, up to code, and according to the plan. No one has the right to try and take away the freedom of individuality, and personal preference.

Elder Butler goes on:
But would this result, on a whole, be a benefit? Would our ministers be broader, more original, more self-reliant men? Could they be better depended on in great emergencies? Would their spiritual experience likely be deeper and their judgment more reliable? We think the tendency all the other way.

And:
If we had one, we fear many, especially those commencing to preach, would study it to obtain guidance in religious matters, rather that to seek for it in the Bible, and from the leading of the Spirit of God, which would tend to their hindrance in genuine religious experience, and in knowledge of the mind of the Spirit.

Every important thing is dealt with in the Bible. If it's not in there, then it is simply a matter of personal preference, like what color of car you want, or something like that. God is all about freedom. He says so at the beginning of the Ten Commandments.

We have so much guidance, already without this book:

Elder Butler said:
"The Bible contains our creed and discipline. It thoroughly furnishes the man of God unto all good works. What it has not revealed relative to church organizations and management, the duties of officers and ministers, and kindred subjects, should not be strictly defined and drawn out into minute specifications for the sake of uniformity, but rather be left to individual judgment under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Had it been best to have a book of directions of this sort, the Spirit would doubtless have gone further, and left one on record with the stamp of inspiration upon it. Man cannot safely supplement this matter with his weak judgment. All attempts to do this in the past have proven lamentable failures. A variation of circumstances requires variation in acting. God requires us to study important principles which He reveals in His word, but the minutiae in carrying them out, he leaves to individual judgment, promising heavenly wisdom in times of need. His ministers are constantly placed where they must feel their helplessness and their seeking God for light, rather than go to any church manual for specific directions placed therein by other uninspired men. Minute specific directions tend to weakness rather than power. They lead to dependence rather than self-reliance. Better to make some mistakes and learn profitable lessons thereby, than to have our way marked out for us by others, and the judgment have a small field in which to reason and consider."

This is the decision of the real General Conference. Any General Conference, that is not in harmony with this, is acting outside their jurisdiction. And who would ever go along with such a rebellion? Why would the church want to contradict itself like that, and cause such a schism?

If you attend a church, where they are zealous for the Church Manual, and you are not, then you will not be allowed to do anything there. If they start an evangelistic effort, you will not be allowed to go along with them. If you try, they will ask you to leave. They will shun you. The Pastor might even ask you to leave his church.

The Pharisees had a wonderful Church Manual. Jesus refused to abide by it. They ended up crucifying Him.

God bless you, brethren. May you take these matters to heart, and may your hearts be in the house of mourning:

Ecc. 7:2 [It is] better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that [is] the end of all men; and the living will lay [it] to his heart.
7:3 Sorrow [is] better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.
7:4 The heart of the wise [is] in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools [is] in the house of mirth.
Unfortunately, Rob, that does seem to be the case. The Papacy also claimed to have the authority of the Apostles of Christ. But their ways contradicted the Apostles, plus they added so many things, as if God forgot to cover something. And not many people where willing to rebel against the authority of the church. But it was a test. Those who went along with the established order, also refused to listen to the reformers, but joined with Rome in condemning them, where lost:

Rev. Rev. 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving.....shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire....

They are lost, who are afraid to die and be tortured, for Jesus. And they had Rome's huge assumption of authority to justify them. What about those who are fearful of disfellowship, and who are deceived with the modern GC's assumption of authority? What about ministers afraid of losing their jobs?

-- In the choice of Rome, Vs. the Reformation, it was a test.
-- In the choice of the Pharisees, Vs. Jesus, and the early church, it was a test.
-- The way God established in Philadelphia, Vs. the rulers of Laodicea, must also be a test.

Duet. 13:1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
13:2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
13:3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

The claim to have the highest authority on earth, in church matters, made by the modern GC, is false. It is like "ex cathedra". Whatever comes from the throne of the Pope, we are obligated to follow, without question. We call this blasphemy, but it's OK for the GC to have this same exact attitude? Is it not blasphemy? Is it not also fraudulent? To try to control the minds of the very people of God? To treat the Lord's heritage like cattle? To coop up his ministers, like chickens in a commercial egg facility? To make laws the Apostles of Christ would never have kept? How presumptuous. And how long has this been going on?

Matt. 20:25 Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
20:26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
20:27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:

Concerning the claim of ultimate authority, by the GC:

At times, when a small group of men entrusted with the general management of the work have, in the name of the General Conference, sought to carry out unwise plans and to restrict God's work, I have said I could no longer regard the voice of the General Conference, represented by these few men, as the voice of God. - Testimonies For The Church, Vol. IX page 260 {PC 422.4}

That these men (leaders) should stand in a sacred place, to be as the voice of God to the people, as we once believed the General Conference to be, that is past. - General Conference Bulletin 1901 page 25 {PC 422.5}

Let those in America who suppose the voice of the General Conference to be the voice of God, become one with God before they utter their opinions. - Testimony To Elder Haskell, November 16, 1899. {PC 422.6}

Do not understand me as approving of the recent action of the General Conference Association, of which you write, but in regard to that matter it is right that I should speak to them. They have many difficulties to meet, and if they err in their action, the Lord knows it all, and can overrule all for the good of those who trust in him. - Testimony To Elder Littlejohn, August 3, 1894 {PC 422.7}

Who can now feel sure that they are safe in respecting the voice of the General Conference Association? If the people in our churches understood the management of the men who walk in the light of the sparks of their own kindling, would they respect their decisions? I answer, No, not for a moment. ....(1896) {PC 422.8}


The voice from Battle Creek, which has been regarded as authority in counseling how the work should be done, is no longer the voice of God.--17MR 185 (1896). {LDE 50.2}

It has been some years since I have considered the General Conference as the voice of God.--17MR 216 (1898). {LDE 50.3}

So this great claim of authority, like the Pope's claim, is guile, and must be rejected.

"Organizations, institutions, unless kept by the power of God, will work under Satan's dictation to bring men under the control of men; and fraud and guile will bear the semblance of zeal for truth, and for the advancement of the kingdom of God. Whatever in our practice is not as open as day, belongs to the methods of the prince of evil. His methods are practiced even among Seventh-day Adventists, who claim to have advanced truth." Special Testimonies Series A, Number 9, p. 26

The Church Manual, is supposedly "advanced truth". We are supposed to be more "advanced", then in Philadelphia, because of it.

Brethren, I don't like saying these things. But I sincerely believe this is another test, to see if we really love the Lord, and His truth, with all our hearts. Those who followed Jesus, instead of the Pharisees where put out of the synagogues, and murdered. Those who followed the reformers, instead of the Papacy, where excommunicated, and tortured, and murdered. In both cases, they where seen as rebellious against church authority.

Do we claim that we would pass that test, if we lived back then? Then are we willing to risk being disfellowshipped from the SDA church, and be misunderstood by our brethren, and branded as rebels, if we renounce this horrible yoke these modern GC brethren presume to put us under?

Is this not a test?

I would appreciate your thoughts on this.
I read a bit, and here are some thoughts:

The Church Manual says:
Unauthorized Speakers in Our Churches—Under no circumstances should a minister, elder, or other church officer invite strangers or any unauthorized persons to conduct services in our churches..... Each one worthy of the confidence of our churches will be able to identify himself or herself by producing proper credentials. There may be times when it is proper for our congregations to be addressed by government officials or by civic leaders. All others should be excluded from the pulpit unless permission be granted from the conference/ mission/field office. It is the duty of every elder, minister, and conference/mission/field president to see that this rule is carried out. -- Church Manual, p. 77

Great... Well, in contrast to that:

Acts Acts 13:14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.
13:15 And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, [Ye] men [and] brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.
13:16 Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with [his] hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.

They just invited a stranger to speak in church. No credentials. No government official. No permission from the conference office. He was just impressed by the Holy Spirit to invite Paul to speak. And they got the wonderful good news of Christ, preached to them, that day.

We do not need this rule. It is unbiblical. It is arbitrary. It is unholy, and evil to make up such rules. If that synagogue ruler was under such a law, he would not have allowed Paul to preach the Gospel, that day. What a tragedy that would have been.

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