By Randy Blackaby
An article in the October 31 edition of the Kokomo Tribune about the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) stunningly revealed the ends of apostasy in the Lord’s church.
Entitled “Illinois pastor chosen acting Disciples leader,” the article told of an Illinois “pastor” who had agreed to accept the title of “acting president and general minister of the Indianapolis-based” church.
It then told that the Rev. C. Williams Nichols was taking the job on an interim basis so that “healing deep wounds from a bitter controversy over homosexuality” could take place.
An account is given of how the Rev. Michael Kinnamon of Kentucky was nominated to be president but then rejected because of his view that homosexuals can be ordained as ministers. Kinnamon is dean of the Lexington Theological Seminary and a member of the Gay, Lesbian and Affirming Disciples, the article stated.
Kinnamon fell 87 votes short of the two thirds majority of 5,000 delegates needed to be approved as president, so Nichols will serve two years as president until another nominee is presented to the 1993 General Assembly in St. Louis, the paper said.
This news account is nothing if not shocking.
Prior to 1901 there was no official distinction between what is known as the Christian Church and the church of Christ. Before 1850 there was no unofficial division. We were brethren. We were in full fellowship.
Since about 1850, the group known as Disciples not only has adopted denominationalism’s wrongful concept of preachers as “pastors” and adopted titles such as “Reverend” and “president” but has accepted centralized organization in lieu of the autonomous local churches taught in the Bible.
Like Catholicism’s departure from the New Testament pattern of church government, our former brethren have elevated a single man to lead the church. A “base” for the Disciples has been established in Indianapolis and money is funneled to the central headquarters for nationwide and worldwide church work.
Now, the Disciples, who still claim to be a church “with no creed but Christ and no book but the Bible” are wrestling unsuccessfully with the issue of homosexuality. They seem unable to understand the clear teaching of Scriptures such as Romans 1:24-28 on the issue of homosexuality.
The man nominated to lead them is a member of a gay rights group within the denomination.
And, rather than adhering to Bible teaching, these former brethren opt to “vote” on issues like their denominational counterparts.
Many are fond of pointing to instrumental music and the missionary society as the “reasons” for the division that separated the Disciples from the church of Christ. But those are only symptoms. The real answer to what happened lies in a departure from strict adherence to the teaching and patterns of the New Testament.
Churches cooperating through institutions other than the church (a missionary society) seemed a minor departure from New Testament patterns to many in those days. But look where it has led today.
As we look with sadness upon the tragedy befalling our former brethren, we must be warned ourselves.
Brethren today are departing from New Testament patterns. God’s pattern of congregational autonomy is being twisted by “sponsoring church” arrangements where the elders of one church oversee the work and treasuries of several congregations. Is there any fundamental difference between this and the missionary society concept?
The Disciples have an earthly president and an earthly headquarters and call their preachers and leaders by titles which should be reserved for God. Is this fundamentally any different than the pope of Catholicism and the Vatican in Rome?
Like the children of Israel in the years before God’s judgment upon them, God’s people today are being lured into adopting the worship, organization and practices of the unbelievers about us.
Rather than being haughty about the tragedy striking the Disciples denomination, we should examine our own practices and bases of authority so that we don’t walk the same path a decade or two from now.
Some “churches of Christ” are already well along the path the Disciples have walked. Perhaps the realization that opening the door to apostasy can lead to Sodomites teaching our children will turn some brethren back to the New Testament pattern.
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 10, pp. 289, 310
May 21, 1992