The Principle of Corporate Responsibility (Murray)

  As I’ve mentioned here before, and as I’m sure you’ve heard and read elsewhere, people today are very individualistic and want to be completely independent.  This attitude and desire is a huge problem in the church.  But it’s not a new problem.  John Murray wrote about it over 60 years ago in an article called “Corporate Responsibility.”  He opened the essay by noting how relationships are a natural part of being human.  Then he explained this truth from Scripture as it relates to the church:

“This principle of corporate responsibility becomes particularly important for us as members of the church of Christ.  That the church is a corporate entity lies on the face of the New Testament, for the church is the body of Christ.  Christ is the head of this body and believers are members.  No word advertises the closely-knit solidarity more clearly that of Paul: ‘And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member honored, all the members rejoice with it.  Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular’ (1 Cor. 12:26, 27).”

If the fallacy of individualism and independentism appears anywhere it is in connection with the church of Christ; at no point does the gravity of the abnormality and offense of individualism become more conspicuous than when it takes the form of discounting the unity and solidarity of Christ’s body.  We cannot abstract ourselves from the corporate relationship which inheres in the very notion of the church as the body of Christ, and we cannot abstract ourselves from the corporate responsibility which belongs to the church as a corporate entity.  The corporate witness of the church is our witness….”

I appreciate those words near the end of the second paragraph: corporate relationship and corporate responsibility are big parts of what it means to be in the body of Christ, the family of God.  A good prayer would be for God to help our Christian relationships in the church grow and that he would help us understand our responsibilities to others in his family.

The above quote and article is found in chapter 37 of Murray’s Works, volume 1.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI