The promise of MCF

Because of, at least the theory of, multiple eldership, many of us stayed and continued to believe in the original promise that MCF preached . . despite the fall of several key players, including the founder of MCF (Melbourne Christian Fellowship), Ray Jackson Snr, and their exposure in 1988.

The teachings, and promise, had been Biblically solid and really uplifting, and some of it was mostly practiced really well (some parts, not so well).

It didn’t originate with MCF or Ray Jackson Snr, but was championed by him 1940-1988 in the US and Australia, and was, in fact, largely the work of Bethel Temple’s William Offiler (USA) and other restorationists in the first half of the 20th century. It was hugely bolstered by Jeff Hammond’s (Melbourne) scholarly work in the 1970s and 1980s in a Master’s thesis that mainstream theologians couldn’t deny the Scriptural basis of.

Unfortunately, Vic Hall, has, since 1992, brought an end to many of these teachings, particularly true Multiple Eldership and Priesthood of All Believers.

Multiple Eldership

MCF (or Immanuel as it was known pre-1986-ish) taught that the leadership of a church in the early church was always a multiple, without a ‘top dog’. Jeff Hammond’s thesis finds strong academic evidence for this.

For example, whenever the apostles Paul or Peter visited churches, it is always ‘the elders’ plural that they visit. There is no hint of a top dog.

And, unlike the elders in most modern churches, the elders of the early church, Scripturally, turn out to be the actual pastors and teachers and leaders.

Secondarily, of course, other workers, including deacons, and the remainder of the congregation also participate in ministry.

This multiple eldership, although apparently fully rolled out at MCF, did not work in practice because Ray Jackson Snr held control, as does Vic Hall now.

So MCF never really delivered on its promise in this respect.

Priesthood of All Believers

Everyone should contribute. Scripture is clear:

What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.

I Cor 14:26

And this was relatively well practiced at MCF communion meetings and home groups until Vic Hall took over in 1992.

In the mid-1980s there was a real sense of excitement. And people were coming in. You could bring your friends and some would stay.

Unity of the Body of Christ

We taught that Jesus’ prayer in John 17, that God’s people would be ‘one’ as Christ and the Father are one, would occur literally. And why not?

Of course, it could get cultish when it was hinted that we would be the origin of that unity. But, fair enough, few others were preaching it.

Understanding the Symbology of the Old Testament

It was fascinating seeing how beautifully the Scriptures backed up each other. And how you could understand the meaning of the Israelite feasts as shadows of Christianity to come.

For example, the Israelite feasts of Passover and Pentecost have been fulfilled in Christianity as plainly acknowledged by the New Testament writers.

Jesus sacrifice of Himself as the Lamb of God occurred on the same day as the Jews were celebrating their Passover Lamb feast! Similarly, the 120 disciples were filled with the Spirit on the literal Day of Pentecost, as the Jews were celebrating their feast. And there were more parallels that showed us that God had been carefully foreshadowing and leading up to Jesus the whole time.

But there was one more main feast that hasn’t yet been fulfilled in the Christian era . .

End Times & Perfection of the Church

MCF seemed to understand End Times better than most churches.

Why does only MCF (and a few other restorationists on the internet) talk about the meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles (which clearly has links to the Book of Revelation)? It makes so much sense.

Yes, MCF, over-emphasized the ‘perfection’ of the Church. But a lot of it made sense and still does.

Church History & Restoration of All Things

It was useful to understand that the Church of the Dark Ages was gradually being enlightened since Martin Luther. Baptism. The Holy Spirit. Why not restoration of early-church-like Priesthood of All Believers and Multiple Eldership?

It makes sense and still does.

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