One of the most widespread theories of this day is the theory that the church that Jesus founded was not a local, visible assembly, but a Universal Invisible Church to which all believers belong, and of which they were made a part through a mysterious, mystical Holy Spirit baptism. It will be the purpose of the author to show the fallacy of this theory in this book.
Most heresies have plausible arguments to justify them. Scriptures are taken out of context and made to bolster up error, or else ignoring the uniform teaching of the Scriptures concerning a certain thing, certain verses are pressed into use to make a false teaching seem reasonable. But the heresy of the Universal Church, doesn't really have anything to back it up. It simply will not bear honest investigation. Yet, the Universal theory is one of the most popular, and one of the most commonly held of all teachings. Liberals and Conservatives alike make use of this false doctrine. Indeed, it is a doctrine that is fundamental to many of their other beliefs. Many otherwise orthodox writers assume the Universal Church theory as a matter of course, and so popular is it that the correctness of it is seldom even questioned. Only a wise and wily Satan could have put over this doctrine so skillfully. But let us remember that Satan is the great counterfeiter. He has a counterfeit for every true doctrine of the Bible. I taught in a Bible school for young ministers for some years, and I challenged my classes to name a single doctrine of the Christian faith that Satan has not devised a counterfeit for. Every student pondered my challenge, but none were ever able to mention any doctrine for which Satan has not devised a counterfeit.
Why have so many able preachers come to hold the doctrine of the Universal Church? Most of such have just adopted it without careful examination. It is a part of the current theological jargon of the times, and they have swallowed it down unthinkingly. The writer is a Premillennialist - and without apology, but he has heard many a Premillennial speaker ring the changes on the "CHOORCH" as they pronounced it. Over and over again they spoke of the "Rapture of the CHOORCH," yet the Scripture they referred to, says nothing about "The rapture of the church," Look at I Thessalonians 4:15-16. What does it say?
"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air."Note that there is no mention of the CHURCH. It says "The dead in Christ," and "We which are alive and remain." The word church is not used. Reference is to believers. "Oh,' says someone, "but it means the Church." That is pure assumption - that is part of a theory. All believers are NOT members of the genuine church - the one that Jesus started. This I shall prove as I go along.
I am writing as one who was once addicted to the Universal theory, and the word "addict" properly expresses it. That theory was a part of my theological thinking. Where did I get it? I got it from two sources - the Scofield Bible notes, and the Scofield Bible course. Let me pause to say that generally speaking, I consider Dr. Scofield a great Bible scholar. A Bible scholar today is often thought of as a man who is a critical researcher into such questions as "did John write the Apocalypse, or is it a forgery;" "were there three Isaiahs or one?" Their knowledge is not of the Scriptures, but of critical theories that seek to discredit the Scriptures. Dr. Scofield was a student of the Bible itself. He and his associates did a colossal work in preparing the Scofield Bible. I like the arrangement of that Bible very much and would not take $500. for my copy, if I could not buy another. Dr. Scofield had a Bible correspondence course on the market for about twenty-five years. At his death, the Moody Bible Institute took it over, and it is continued until this day. I took this course, which was designed to cover a period of two years study, and I had the distinction of completing the course in the shortest time of any student who had taken it up to that date. So- what I am saying is that I had a thorough dose of Scofieldism, most of which was helpful, but I became thoroughly inoculated with the Universal Church theory. At a Baptist associational meeting I heard a staunch Baptist preacher bring a sermon in which he combated the Universal theory, and presented the view that Baptist churches have had continuous history from the days of Christ, and are to be identified with the church which He started in the days of His flesh. I went away from the meeting very angry, and determined to write a booklet such as to refute the views that I had listened to. But honest study along that line is fatal to the holder of the Universal theory. I spent several months collecting data concerning the history of Baptists and others, together with a study of the Universal theory. The result was, I discovered to my chagrin that the preacher who had so angered me was right. Out of my study developed my book, "The Church That Jesus Built," which has gone through some ten editions and has never been refuted. Incidentally, the preacher who had angered me, liked my book very much and bought and circulated many copies.
I was a great admirer of Dr. Scofield, as I have already indicated, but no man is infallible. We should not follow any human teacher with such blind adulation that we fail to search the Scriptures for ourselves. Dr. Scofield was as far from the truth on the church question as it is possible to get. The Bible doesn't indicate that Jesus is the author of but one kind of church, but Scofield has several kinds of churches in his writings. He writes to the "church visible", "the church local", "the true church" and so on. As I examined the Scriptures, I had to take what God says rather than what Scofield and others say. I wonder how many who read this book will be willing to take the same step I took when I renounced my precious Universal theory? I wonder how many will throw aside prejudice such as to face the fact that the Universal theory is utterly without Scripture backing, and is the author of some of the worst heresies that we know anything about.
Baptists didn't use to fall for the Universal theory. The staunch old Baptist scholars and historians of the past were believers in the perpetuity of Baptist churches through the centuries, back to the days of Christ. But we are in a liberalistic, ecumenical period, when Baptist teachers in our schools and seminaries are loose in their views. They want to fit in with what is currently popular, so many of these have espoused the Universal theory.