By Ron Halbrook
Anyone who teaches publicly, whether in a pulpit or a paper or any other medium, can expect some response. We appreciate your questions and your comments, even when you disagree. No preacher is infallible or above question. The word of Jesus and not of some preacher will be the final standard of judgment (Jn. 12:48). We are to test and to examine all teachers by the Word of God (1 Jn. 4:1-6).
We are willing to share critical comments and the following is the warmest one we have received in a long time:
You free loader, why don’t you look up where your church started in public books. A woman started it. You are putting your . . . (expletive deleted) . . . in the paper and expect people to believe it. Just because you don’t get down and find out the facts, you got a one track mind.
The K.K.C. needs to get you and prove to you how stupid you really are. Because you don’t know any better, you expect the rest of the people to believe as you do. Remember, people are not crazy. If you want to believe your nonsense, O.K. but don’t try to preach to others that you are the only one that is right. Your Bible is all fouled up and you never took time to go into public books and find out the truth about your church. Wake up and do so while you have time to do so. Remember some people know the facts while others don’t. Watch yourself. Don’t you try to mislead others because you are wrong.
The Origin of the Church of Christ: The Real Facts
The reader confuses “Church of Christ” with “Church of Christ, Scientist,” which indeed was started by a woman named Mary Baker Eddy. She claimed revelations which were published as Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures and in 1879 started the first Christian Science Church in Boston. She was a “mental healer” who denied the existence of sin, sickness, and death, which are only “errors” of the mind according to her, She said the Bible is fouled up with impurities and is not a complete or final revelation. She taught that Jesus was not incarnated in flesh, He did not actually die, and He will not return in bodily form. The true church of Christ did not teach such theories in Bible times and does not teach such theories today. These are the real facts.
The true church of the Lord did not start in Boston in 1879 but started in Jerusalem 50 days after Jesus arose from the dead, as recorded in Acts 2. When people believe, obey, and teach the same gospel today that was preached in the beginning, they constitute the same church. If not, why not? What would it take to have the same church, if not the restoration of the original gospel? Corn seed produces the corn plant and apple seed the apple tree. If we wish to produce the original gospel and church of Christ, “the seed is the word of God” (Lk. 11:8). The church of Christ of which I am a member preaches the same facts, commands, and promises of the gospel which were preached in the beginning. We obey the same conditions of pardon – faith, repentance, confession of Christ, and water baptism (Acts 2:38; Rom. 10:10). Our worship, doctrine, organization, and discipline is taken directly and literally from the Bible. So long as we follow the Bible only, we are Christians only members of the church you can read about in the Bible. If not, why not? Those are the real facts.
Historically in America, in the early 1800s people from Congregational, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and other backgrounds gave up their human names, creeds, doctrines, and denominations in order to follow the Bible only. You can read of this restoration effort in public books like encyclopedias under “Churches of Christ,” or in more detail in Homer Hailey’s Attitudes and Consequences in the Restoration Movement (Edited for out-dated information). We will gladly give anyone a free copy of the booklet “A Short Study in Church History” by William E. McDaniel (contact the author). You will find that “restoration” did not mean starting a new denomination with a new human name. It simply meant forsaking all denominations, opposing them as sinful, and going back to New Testament Christianity as the only right way in religion. This means to take the Bible as the final standard without addition, subtraction, or substitution.
These are the real facts about the origin of the church of Christ. Our reader who wrote added heat but no light to correct us if these are not the facts.
Just One Right Way: What Does the Bible Say?
The reader seemed to think that I “expect people to believe” whatever I write just because they read it in the paper. No, not any more than he can expect me to believe what he says just because he writes it on paper. We constantly urge people not to take our own word or that of any other man, but to be like the noble Bereans who “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). It would help if critical readers would send us the Scripture references they have been searching in order that we might be corrected and better informed. “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thess. 5:21-22). The only standard of testing and proving is, what does the Bible say (1 Jn. 4:1-6; 1 Pet. 4:11; 2 Tim. 3:16-17)?
Our reader primarily objects to our teaching that there is only one right way in religion. He says, “. . you got a one track mind . . . you expect the rest of the people to believe as you do . . . don’t try to preach to others that you are the only one that is right.” First, we have already pointed out that I do not claim to be the infallible standard or one right way but am pointing away from myself and all other human standards to Jesus Christ and His Word as the one right way in religion. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the father, but by me” (Jn. 14:6).
Second, the reader wants me to believe as he does that there are many right ways. So, the truth is that there are many right ways to God, not just one, according to him. Since he is trying to persuade me to his view of many right ways, I guess I could say to him, “You got a one track mind. You expect the rest of the people to believe as you do. Don’t try to preach to others that you are the only one that is right (on the point of many right ways)!” Why is it right for him to persuade me but wrong for me to persuade him?
Third, it is right to convince and to persuade people that the one right way is found in Jesus and His Word. Jesus said we should make disciples of “all nations” (Matt. 28:19). “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mk. 16:15-16). “If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins . . . . And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin?” (Jn. 8:24, 45-46) Was Jesus wrong in telling us to preach the gospel to others and wrong for saying that those who reject the gospel are lost in sin and doomed to hell? Does our reader convict Jesus of wrong in this? If Jesus was wrong for teaching only one right way, let someone produce the evidence which convicts Him of wrong! It has not been done in 2,000 years and it will not be done now!
People living in sin and error have always protested against the teaching of Christ on only one right way. Atheists and evolutionists object when the Bible says, “In the beginning God. . . .” Murderers (including abortionists), thieves, adulterers, those who covet (as in gambling), and liars all object to the condemnation of their sins, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor” (Rom. 13:9-10). They do not believe there is only one right way to live.
Modernists and liberals do not believe there is only one right way when it comes to believing that the Bible is the inspired Word of God (word for word, 1 Cor. 2:13), that God created Adam and Eve by miracles in one day (Jesus said He did, Matt. 19:4), that Jonah was swallowed by a great fish and lived to tell about it (Jesus confirmed it, Matt. 12:40), or that Jesus arose from the dead (Matt. 28). Denominations teach many bodies or churches, many baptisms, and many faiths – they reject the Lord’s Word when it says just “one” (Eph. 4:4-6). People who wear denominational names and attend denominational churches are embarrassed at the Bible teaching that we should be “Christians” only without using human names (Acts 11:27; 1 Cor. 1:10-13).
Yes, Jesus abundantly taught one right way in religion and said, “Few there be that find it.” Most people will believe in many ways and be lost, He said (Matt. 7:13-14).
Guardian of Truth XXX: 21, pp. 643-644
November 6, 1986