The basic complaint is that while we seek to restore the New Testament pattern, we have our own problems and failures in our lives. A corollary to this is that all the congregations about which we read in the New Testament were also beset with problems of their own. This is no more vivid than in the church at Corinth. They had doctrinal, moral, ethical, and worship problems within the congregation, but Paul still called them “the church of God which is at Corinth” (1 Cor. 1:2). From this the enemies of restoration quip, “Which New Testament church do you want to restore, Corinth”? As to the charge that we fail in many ways, I must plead guilty. As to the conclusion that there is no pattern to follow, I must call foul.
This attitude stems from the postmodern view that truth is relative and no one has a right to claim to know truth more perfectly than another. In the mind of the postmodernist, such a claim is the epitome of arrogance. However, it is important to remember that all learning is an exercise in humility. This is so because truth is truth independent of us all. We simply discover truth which removes any reason for our feeling proud about what we know. This does not mean that no one who gains an insight becomes haughty over their new understanding. However, they are completely misguided in the application of their boast. They ought to boast only in the one who supplied the truth which led to their achievement of knowledge, and that is God.
The point is even though we who advocate restoring New Testament Christianity fail in many ways, the pattern to which we point fails in nothing. That it is a biblical principle to teach others the way more perfectly is quite evident from Priscilla and Aquila’s handling of Apollos in Acts 18:24-28. Apollos taught boldly the things of Christ, but he had a limited understanding of those things. Priscilla and Aquila took him aside and explained the way of God more accurately. Apollos sincerely taught what he knew, but when his understanding was made complete, he augmented his previous teachings to reflect his fuller understanding of truth. He was not willing to deny truth in order to maintain the status quo, and we stand to learn from his example.
So, one may rightly tell us we ought not to throw rocks while living in a glass house, but there is no biblical foundation for the position that it matters not what one teaches if he/she is sincere. Jesus plainly denied this position when He said, “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Mt. 7:21). Our failure to implement the pattern properly will not excuse anyone who decides not to acknowledge there is such a pattern in Scripture. May we all strive together for His will, not our own?