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Volume 16, Issue 4: Doctrine 101

Reproduce After Their Own Kind

Patch Blakey

After my wife and I were married, we started having children. The first one was a human being, which didn't surprise us at all. The next three were equally unsurprising in that they were all human beings as well. As they've all grown older, people have commented to us how much each of our children looks and acts like my wife and me. Again, we weren't surprised. It was expected.

In Genesis 1, in the creation account, there are several different types of living organisms which God created, and the Bible says that they were each created after their own kind (Gen. 1:11-12, 21-25, 26-28). And each of these created organisms was to multiply and fill the earth. At this point, it's not much of a stretch to anticipate that they each reproduced after their own kind, just as God had initially created them.
In fact, there tends to be a general principle found throughout Scripture that organisms reproduce after their own kind. In some places it is plainly stated, in others it's the underlying assumption. For example, Jesus said, "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" (Matt. 7:16).
For examples of human conduct, Proverbs says, "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed" (Prov. 13:20). And again, "Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul" (Prov. 22:24-25). Both good traits and bad traits may be learned. One may learn to be wise from spending time in the company of a wise man, while conversely, the implication is that those who make fools or angry men their friends and companions can expect to become like them.
Jesus also pointed out this principle in regard to His own disciples. "The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master" (Luke 6:40). The teacher is not able to teach his students to become more than he is himself, but it is not foreign to expect that the student will eventually become like his teacher. It is almost assured.
Now many of us have probably been to a county fair where we've seen a "freak of nature," that is, an exception to the rule. Typically, we may find a three-legged chicken or the two-headed calf. There are even recorded similar oddities among human beings. But again, these are the exceptions to the rule, and are not expected. Indeed, we are usually surprised and amazed at them for their oddness. However, even a three-legged chicken is still a chicken, and a two-headed calf is still a bovine. Even though the shape may be altered, the creature is still genetically of the same stock as its parents.
Now to my point: what about the parachurch? More specifically, what about the parachurch organizations that specialize in evangelism, Bible studies, and discipleship? What about those parachurch organizations which state that their objective is to help fulfill the Great Commission? Are these organizations growing in size? Are they actively reproducing? What are their progeny like?
Before I proceed, let me first make a disclaimer. I first heard the gospel via the ministries of such a parachurch organization. Also, I am thankful that God mercifully used this parachurch organization to faithfully proclaim the gospel, draw me into Bible study, help me memorize Scripture, and encourage my growth in the Christian faith. I am thankful to the men who invested so much of their lives into mine. These were no cults, but men and women who desired with all their hearts to serve God.
Even so, there is still a point to be made. Aren't all of the above activities the activities of the church? Isn't the Great Commission the mission of the church? Isn't the proclamation of the gospel the calling and responsibility of the church? Aren't the Scriptures and their proper instruction through preaching and teaching the responsibility of the church? What I'm not asserting here is that only a pastor or elder has the right to proclaim the gospel or lead a Bible study. Surely, this is an intended aspect of the whole church—otherwise there would be no need for the saints to be equipped for the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:12).
If the stated objective of such parachurch organizations is to help the church grow, why are these parachurch organizations growing? Shouldn't the words of John the Baptist be applicable here? "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). If these parachurches were truly fulfilling their stated objective in helping the church, wouldn't they be working to put themselves out of business? Yet we find that the principle of self-reproduction comes into play. These parachurches can do nothing other than reproduce after their own kind. Are there exceptions? Sure. But exceptions are not the rule.
Such parachurch organizations are doomed to replicate themselves. To quote Jesus again, "The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master" (Luke 6:40). How can the parachurches avoid doing this? They can't. They cannot fulfill their stated purpose to help the church grow because by the very nature of God's created order, they must reproduce after their own kind. Hence, as they succeed, they fail. The net result is a weakening of the church through the dispersion of otherwise capable and qualified families to the parachurches.

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