Ultimate Corporate Responsibility--Just Leaders or The Body as a Whole?

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Dear Patrons of this WebSite,

Some take one statement on corporate responsibility by Ellen White, which says that the leaders will be held responsible. That statement can be twisted so that it contradicts other statements, and our objective is to interpret so that nothing contradicts. That is the purpose of this exchange with Robert Parker.

Correspondence From Robert Parker to Ron Beaulieu

Dear Ron,

In response to your answer to Patrick regading corporate repentance, might I suggest that it would be appropriate to quote some of the context of the inspired writings so as to give a clear indication of what they are saying. Under what circumstances is the whole church body held responsible for the sins of its members"? the following context might clarify your answer to Patrick

If the leaders of the church neglect to diligenlty search out the sins which bring the displeasure of God upon the body, they become responsible for these sins (3T 269)..

Thus, Ellen White is saying that unless the plain straight testimony AGAINST SIN is maintained by the church LEADERS, they are responsible for the state of the Church, and will be counted as guilty as the one who actually commits the sin. What does that mean for the layman? As church menbers we all have a say at Church business meetings. It is our responsibility to speak against open sin in the Church and to influence our leaders to take the appropriate action. If we fail in this then we too are guilty. As for corporate repentance, I believe that each of us has the responsibility to call the church together and repent of our failure to deal with sin and to work toward purification of the church.

Robert Parker

Ron's Response to Robert

Dear Robert,

Testimonies, vol. 5, 211, says that the leader NEVER AGAIN will show the HOUSE OF JACOB its sins. Never again is a long, long time. That is not diligently searching out the sins which bring the displeasure of God upon the body. From all I can observe, this is precisely what is transpiring in the church. The sins and apostasies are not being searched out and dealt with. We are dealing with a people who think they know it all and believe that they are rich, increased with goods and in need of nothing, and when one tries to show them what they are in need of, they respond as you did to me; with slandering misrepresentation. You pick and choose your statements Robert. Leaders will be responsible to a high degree, but the statement I gave Patrick indicts the church AS A BODY, if the sins are not corrected. The leaders will be made more responsible because they have been responsible for bringing the errors in and introducing the church to those errors. Ellen White says that they will suffer 10 times worse for such. In that regard they are made responsible for the sins, but if the people do not oust such leaders and search out truth for themselves, then they become responsible also.

Another important point involves whether or not the members are able to purify the church. This has never been the case in every generation since Christ, Desire of Ages, p. 232. In this case, there is a duty to withdraw, and you do not deal with this responsibility Robert. It is to this degree that you are selective in your interpretation of the matter as a whole. You do not take it as a whole, considering all the implications and responsibilities accruing to all parties concerned. You do not say what should transpire if the members are not able to purify the church, and that includes the General Conference.

By your interpretation, no Catholic should be lost if they cannot purify the church! Only the leaders; this is error. By your interpretation, no Adventist should be lost if the members cannot purify the church; only the leaders! this is error. We are all responsible as individuals to God, and corporately as a church. If this individual responsibility did not accrue; if church leaders of the fallen churches are all that would be counted guilty if their members could not purify their churches, then it would not have been necessary for any coming out of those churches. This is my trump card Robert! According to your interpretation, the leaders only are held responsible if the church cannot ultimately be purified. At least you leave that point hanging! So why did members such as Ellen and James white and the Reformers and their followers have to leave the churches? By your interpretation, the people should have stayed when they were not able to change things, and let the leaders take the rap!

When the ecclesiastical leaders refused the overtures of the Reformers, they withdrew from such leaders in every past generation since Christ. Please note:

"The Sanhedrin had rejected Christ's message and was bent upon His death; therefore Jesus departed from Jerusalem, from the priests, the temple, the religious leaders, the people who had been instructed in the law, and turned to another class to proclaim His message, and to gather out those who should carry the gospel to all nations. As the light and life of men was rejected by the ecclesiastical authorities in the days of Christ, so it has been rejected in every succeedng generation. Again and again the history of Christ's withdrawal from Judea has been repeated. When the Reformers preached the word of God, they had no thought of separating themselves from the established church; but the religious leaders would not tolerate the light, and those that bore it were forced to seek another class, who were longing for the truth. In our day few of the professed followers of the Reformers are actuated by their spirit. Few are listening for the voice of God, and ready to accept truth in whatever guise it may be presented. Often those who follow in the steps of the Reformers are forced to turn away from the churches they love, in order to declare the plain teaching of the word of God. And many times those hwo are seeking for light are by the same teaching obliged to leave the church of their fathers, that they may render obedience." E.G. White, Desire of Ages, 232.

1Cr 6:15 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make [them] the members of an harlot? God forbid.

Another View From Patrick Stevenson

This corporate repentance concept has been quite illusive to me over the years. For the longest time I imagined it to mean that the General Conference should call a big meeting - a la Quinquennial G.G. meetings - and there declare our previous denomination rejection of the most precious message, and with weeping and contrition take hold of the message from the top to the bottom.

Now I think it may opperate on a more personal level and results in a heart of compassion for the lost in and out of the church. It is an identifying ourselves with the sin of the world as Christ did. It is not "those sinners", but "us sinners", so that our hearts ache in echo to the heart of God in Christ Jesus. For the same sins that Christ died in bearing, we renounce in repentance. The trite saying, "there but for the grace of God go I" has truth in it. I think it might more closely resemble corporate repentance is we say, "there go I", because our individual humanity is connected to all other humanity, saved or rebel.

I'd be glad for correction and instruction.

Grace and peace

Ron's Response to Patrick Stevenson

Dear Patrick,

I proffer the following instruction:

"The plain straight testimony must live in the church, or the curse of God will rest upon His people as surely as it did upon ancient Israel because of their sins. God holds His people, as a body [corporately], responsible for the sins existing in individuals among them." Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 269.

It truly does not matter what "I think," if what I think departs from the above instruction.

1Cr 6:15 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make [them] the members of an harlot? God forbid.

Ron Beaulieu

Ron's Response to GM

----- Original Message -----
From: Ron Beaulieu
To: gco-list@tebba.pair.com
Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2002 11:20 AM
Subject: Re: Omega

Dear GM,

Scripturally, corporate repentance is demonstrated by the Achan experience. Corporate responsibility is demonstrated in that we all were accounted as sinners because of Adam's sin. From the New Testament we have the same principle:

Rom 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

Israel was a theocracy. Ellen White says that we are a theocracy:

Theocracy -- "God's people have been called out of the world, that they may be separated from the world. It is not safe for them to take sides in politics, whatever preference they may have. They are ever to remember that they are one in Christ. God calls upon them to enter their names as under His THEOCRACY. He cannot approve of those who link up with worldlings [and churches which cannot be distinguished from the world, Early Writings, 273]. We are entirely out of our place when we identify ourselves with party interests....

God has chosen a people who are to proclaim the third angel's message to the world. They are to be a separate and peculiar people in this world of churches who are transgressing His commandments." E.G. White Manuscript Releases Volume 3, 40, 41.

Being "one in Christ," certainly speaks to corporateness and corporate responsibility. One sinner in heaven would contaminate the entire body of Christ, because He is the head and we are the body.


Ron Beaulieu