By Johnie Edwards
It seems that many churches of Christ are trying to be like the denominations around them. Like the Jews of old, they are saying, in principle, “Give us a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 Sam. 8:5). We seem to be having a language problem in some quarters. It reminds us of Israel as Nehemiah wrote: “In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab: And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jew’s language, but according to the language of each people” (Neh. 13:23-24). More and more we see expressions being used like the denominations around us:
1. I Am a Church of Christ. I am asking, how did you get to be “a church of Christ”? I read of the Lord’s people being “Christians” (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16), but never “a church of Christ.” The denominations use terms like this to identify them. For example a member of the Methodist Church says, “I am a Methodist. “ So some say, “I am a church of Christ.”
2. Conference. The denominations have their conferences which are “an assembly of church members, representing a church, from a particular district in Protestant churches.” When we use the term to identify our work, we may be leaving the wrong impression on those to whom we are trying to teach the truth. I do not recall reading anything about the church in the New Testament having a conference, do you? I do read about “Gospel Preaching” (Acts 14:7) Why can’t we be content to use terms which identify what we are doing, rather than terms used by the churches around about us? What could be put on a meeting announcement better than, “Gospel Preaching?”
3. The Individual is the Church. Did you ever read in the Bible where an individual Christian was a church? Paul penned, “For the body is not one member, but many” (1 Cor. 12:14). A lot of churches of Christ have had tons of problems by thinking an individual is a church and whatever an individual Christian does, the church is doing it or what an individual can do, the church can do. Somebody has not been reading 1 Timothy 5:16. This is denominational thinking and a language foreign to the Word of God!
4. Church of Christ Doctrine. Tell me, just what is “church of Christ doctrine”? And when you tell me, I will ask you, “Which church of Christ are you referring to?” Indiana has a broad spectrum of churches of Christ with all kind of teachings! Really, the church of Christ has no doctrine that is its own. True churches of Christ believe and teach, “the doctrine of Christ” (2 John 9) and “sound doctrine” (Tit. 2:1, 7-8) is their plea. Do you ever recall reading anything in the New Testament about “church of Christ doctrine”? It’s the language of “Ashdod”!
5. I’ll Take Christ, But Not The Church. Impossible! The plea of the denominations around us want Christ but not his church. You can’t have one without the other, for they go together. The men of God in the New Testament pleaded for “Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:32). When we understand that “the church is the body of Christ” (Col. 1:18) and that Christ is its head, we will quit talking like those around about us. To ask for Christ and not his church would be about like inviting me for dinner by saying, “Come for dinner, bring your head, but not your body.”
6. Tuesday Night Communion. Did you notice where the Highland Avenue Church of Christ, on Tuesday evening, October 5, 1999 viewed the video, “Walk to Emmaus,” which featured a full-fledged band on stage, an all-woman quartet entertaining the audience, and a Tuesday evening communion being served “Catholic style” as the bread was broken, then dipped into a large cup of the fruit of the vine as the soaked bread was eaten! Does this sound like we have been too long drinking from the well of sectarianism? Who would ever have thought that a church of Christ would be found doing this kind of doings? It looks a lot like we are being influenced more by those around about us than we are by the word of God. The Bible that I read teaches that the Lord’s supper consists of “the bread” and “the fruit of the vine” as two separate acts and is to be observed on “the first day of the week” (Matt. 26:26-28; Acts 20: 7). Does yours read that way?
4121 Woodyard Rd., Bloomington, Indiana 47404
Truth Magazine Vol. XLIV: 12 p13 June 15, 2000