By Shane Scott
In the summer of 1993 brother Holmes and I discussed the contents of an article he wrote that had to do with what a person had to know for his baptism to be valid. This was because I was seriously considering publicly responding to the article. In the course of that discussion our concepts of the biblical teaching regarding the universal church and local churches arose. Brother Holmes explained to me on the phone that he did not believe the universal church was composed of local churches. Since the main bone of contention between us was the issue of baptism, and since we satisfied each other that we agreed on it, I decided not to publicly respond to him.
Some time later I wrote an article about an erroneous view that blurs biblical teaching regarding the universal church and local churches. It appeared in Sentry Magazine. To illustrate that view, I quoted the following statement from brother Holmes’ article:
There is only one church and that is the church you can read about in the Bible that honors his (Christ’s) name, is organized according to his dictates, works and worships according to the pattern he has given. No church but the church of Christ can truthfully make that claim.
That statement blurs the distinction between the universal church and lo-cal churches by combining the fact that there is one universal church with the work, worship and organization of local churches. I contend that since a denomination is a hybrid of the universal church and local churches, any presentation which blurs this divinely ordained distinction results in a denominational concept of the church. Thus, in my article in Sentry, I charged that the statement presented a denominational concept of the church.
I stand by this charge. I have never said that brother Holmes believes the universal church is composed of local churches. I have said that he blurs the two concepts. His own article, plus his private correspondence to me, is ample proof of this.
Brother Holmes is pursuing this matter because he feels I was dishonest in my dealings with him. After our initial conversation I left him with the impression that we agreed about everything in his article. I am sorry for my ambiguity. We do agree on what a person must know to be baptized, but I do not believe it is acceptable to blur and merge the biblical teaching of the universal church with the teaching about local churches. In a society pervaded with denominationalism, we should be especially precise in the way we speak of the “church of Christ.”
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 18, p. 9
September 15, 1994