BY THE LATE B. H. CARROLL (1843-1914)
Founder and first President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and for thirty years Pastor of First Baptist Church, Waco, Texas.
"An Interpretation of The English Bible," 17 volumes; "The Holy Spirit;" "Christ and His Church;" "Evangelistic Sermons;" "Baptists and Their Doctrines;" "Inspiration of the Bible;" "Jesus the Christ;" "Revival Messages," etc.
A theory that is held by most of Christendom today is that the New Testament Church is a "universal, invisible" church not to be confused with the "local" church. This theory is believed throughout Protestantism and now a sizeable element of Baptists have accepted this theory also.
Dr. B. H. Carroll has written this book in order to prove the falsity of this concept and to prove that the New Testament Church is to be considered as local and visible and not universal and invisible, and this book is a very strong defense of the New Testament Church.
However, this book does contain one weakness. Dr. Carroll does interpret some Scriptures as referring to the "Glory Church" which he states does not exist now but is still future. Dr. Carroll has stated that "the general assembly, by all accounts, includes all the saved." Roy Mason in his book "The Myth of the Universal Invisible Church Theory Exploded" has pointed out how inconsistent this position really is. He writes:
To hold that the church is local and visible, and is a continuation of the institution that Christ started and promised to perpetuate, then to shift from this, the true church, and to teach that the church that finally assembles over yonder will be composed of all of these redeemed regardless of whether they ever belonged to any church or not, is an inexcusable contradiction. If that were true, then several other things would have to be true:
1 - As already argued, the Bride would turn out to be different from the one betrothed to Christ.
2 - Christ's promise that nothing would prevail against His church, would be proven false, for the institution started by Him would completely flop, for the church in Glory would prove to be a different thing entirely.
3 - In such case, there would be no reward for the church that endured endless persecution for Christ, and that furnished fifty million martyrs for the defense of His truth.
4 - Why should so much be made of the church that Jesus started? Why should its truth be defended so arduously? Why should members of this church have been willing to die for their beliefs, if in the final windup, the ultimate triumph is to be given to those who - some of them - persecuted those of the true church, or else ignored or disdained the true church? If all believers are to constitute the church in Glory - the Bride - then in the climax the church turns out to be something different than Christ's church here on this earth. (Pages 62-63)
In spite of this weakness, we believe that this book can serve a very useful purpose in helping to expose this heresy that has done so much harm to the New Testament Church, the universal, invisible church heresy.
M. L. Moser, Jr., Pastor Central Baptist Church Little Rock, Arkansas