Institutionalism Cause for Broken Down Condition by E. E. Jones
We are evidently in the Laodicean age of the church, a lukewarm condition. We wonder what the cause is. I think that with one word we can give the principal reason – “institutionalism”. The churches, speaking in the general sense, are institutions, but we speak of institutionalism outside the pale of the churches. The characteristic features of an institution affect the social and national character of a people. We believe the foundation that ushered in the Laodicean age was laid in about 1814. About this time a great field was opened to Baptists. Instead of the independent churches cooperating in a scriptural way, they took counsel of their doubts instead of their faith, followed the general trend of the times, produced consolidation and centralization. Direction of mission endeavor was placed in human bodies. Organizations were formed to direct the energies of the churches and these organizations assumed control.
Baptists have to their sorrow placed the emphasis in the wrong place, and thus they have belittled the churches. These new organizations with their assumed authority have taken the management of the churches and have weakened the sense of responsibility the churches once felt, placing the churches in a secondary place in evangelism. These outside organizations have assumed ecclesiastical authority.
Boastful claims of a wealth of wisdom, education, culture, superior leadership, and a spirit of predominance characterize this age.
From The Baptist Defender January 28, 1941 (as reprinted in The Baptist Waymark, Vol. III, No. 3, May-June 1995, p. 4)