BUFF SCOTT, JR.
[Primary Author of Mad Church Disease]
An interesting bit of history is that prior to King James’ scholars translating the Greek scriptures into what is known as The King James Version
, he instructed them, “When any word hath divers significations, that to be kept which has been most commonly used by the most eminent fathers, being agreeable to the propriety of the place, and the analogy of the faith.”
To paraphrase the King, “When any word has different meanings, you are to keep only the most commonly used by the most eminent church fathers who founded our faith, regardless of the Greek’s implication.”
The King insisted that all ecclesiastical terms be retained—terms such as “church,” “Easter,” “baptize,” “Bishop,” just to name a few of his preferences. The “church fathers” were those who founded The Established Church of England
, over which King James was Head.
A few years ago a new malady surfaced among cattle that was diagnosed by medical professionals as “Mad Cow Disease.”
The disease subverted the brain and nervous system and threw the afflicted animals into a quivering plight, from which there was no known recovery. I have targeted King James as the prime instigator of “Mad Church Disease.”
His instructions to his translators depict the malady that has attached itself to the body of believers—a spiritual disease that has caused untold schism and turmoil within the Christian community.
When the Christian community made its debut in about A. D. 30-33, there were no churches for believers to join. They identified themselves with other believers of a common cause—thus forming congregations, assembles, or communities. King James’ “church” is a misnomer and a distortion of the Greek ekklesia
. The early believers knew nothing of “church,” nor were they aligned with churches, whether Catholic or Protestant, for churches were non-existent. Yet we seem to be bent on fostering King James’ blunders, two of which were “Church” and Churchianity—plus “Easter” and numerous other mistranslated terms.
As King James considered himself a Divine Right
monarch and Head of The Established Church of England
, he insisted that Churchianity be incorporated in his King James Version
of the celestial documents. Instead of today’s church trying to recapture the vocabulary of the Holy Spirit, she insists on adopting the vocabulary of King James and promoting the bungling King’s mistakes.
The King had a few tricks up his sleeve, for to permit his translators to deliver the Greek ekklesia
correctly would have placed him in the position of being King over and Head of a mere
congregation. Apparently, he wanted no part of that. Today’s church has picked up where King James left off. It is my view that the The King James Version
has engendered multiple divisions in the form of churches [religious parties]. We could not be divided more if our Lord had commanded it.
Alexander Campbell’s plea for reform in the early 1800s to unite the Christians in all the sects is as meaningful now as it was then. His was a noble proposition that has long been forgotten by the sectarian church. He did not call for a unification of churches. He called for a reunification of all believers who were at that time entangled in and controlled by the partisan spirit. He well knew the partisan spirit had divided God’s community and that only a recommitment to the Spirit’s admonitions would reunite them.
It is interesting that in Campbell’s Living Oracles
, his personal rendition of the new covenant scriptures, he never once used “church” as the English counterpart of the Greek ekklesia
. His knowledge of the Greek language prompted him to leave “church” out of his version. I’m convinced Campbell knew that “churchitis” had divided God’s people into warring camps and that only a renouncing of “mad church disease” would reunite them. Campbell’s main thrusts were reformation and unity within the Christian community.
It is especially striking that in his Living Oracles
not once does he render the Greek ekklesia
“church.” He knew his Greek well, and although he occasionally employed “church” in his writings accommodatingly, he well knew that the Greek ekklesia
did not warrant our English “church.” Yet we have taken a mistranslated term and built barricades around it and dare anyone to breach them. We have “walled” and “weaved” ourselves in and no one may enter unless he mouths our password.
Praise the Lord, however, many of those barricades have been and are being dismantled and others of God’s children are being allowed access to our pastures without having to mouth a certain shibboleth. Changes are happening, and a lot of them are to the glory of God. Let it be forever said, “Wherever God has a child, we have a brother or a sister.”
At one time, as a young man, when I was consumed by the party spirit, I saw no believers outside of the a cappella
Church of Christ corral. I finally arrived at the realization that God’s domain on planet Earth is much wider, far deeper, and a lot higher than the little group calling itself the “church of our Lord.” Since then, I have attempted to show my brothers and sisters of the a cappella
Church of Christ that their “church of our Lord” is a sect among sects, a religious party among religious parties, a denomination among denominations, and a counterfeit copy of God’s new reign.
We have a long ways to go to recapture the dream of Alexander Campbell and other reformers—the greatest of them being our Lord and Savior, as portrayed in John 17.
[Look for Part 2 soon]