By Frank Jamerson
The concepts. that people have are extremely important. Our convictions and actions basically come from our concepts. It is also important that we study history that we may learn from the mistakes of others. Restoration history is interesting, though we are not disciples of the “Restoration Movement,” but of Christ.
About two years ago a college room-mate and I had occasion to visit and talk about events since school days. He has finally finished his Doctorate in History and changed his faith to the degree that he can preach for the Christian Church without it bothering his conscience. He insisted that the “Restoration leaders” were not opposed to denominationalism and therefore that he should not oppose it.
I fear that many brethren have the concept that whatever Restoration leaders believed must have been right, therefore we should accept those things. Now, I appreciate what those men did in calling men back to the Bible as the standard of authority, and leaving denominationalism, but I am not a member of the “Restoration Movement.” I am a member of the body of Christ and subject only to its head.
My concept of New Testament Christianity does not permit me to endorse or. be a part of denominationalism. The church revealed in Scripture is not composed of denominations, but of saved individuals. Local churches are not parts of the universal church. The universal church is composed only of individuals, and though these same individuals are to join themselves together in local churches, there may be individuals who have not done so. (The Ethiopian eunuch was in the body of Christ when he was baptized, but we do not know where or when he met with others in a local assembly.)
Those who are so concerned about the “Restoration heritage” are constantly concerned about “which group” is right. This views God’s arrangement in a denominational way. The primary concern that we should have is: Am I doing the things that God authorized?
Yes, I believe that the concept of “restoration” is the biblical concept. We must accept that, or believe in continued revelation, or that it makes no difference what we do! If the Bible is not a “pattern” for us, then it “matters not what we speak, nor whether we speak at all” to quote Bill Humble when he believed in “pattern authority”). We must “restore” New Testament teaching on every subject, but I am not overly concerned about what some in “the movement” thought or believed.
My friend insisted that he had not “left the church of Christ” because he had preached for several years for the Christian Church! That reminds me of brethren who quit assembling with the saints for years but they “never quit the church.” Well, as one preacher put it, “If they were going to quit, what would they do differently?”
The church that Jesus established was not a denomination, though it was accused of being “a sect” of the Jews’ religion (Acts 24:5,14; 28:22). The word “denomination” means “a sect,” and a sect is a party, or denomination that represents division and a group that holds peculiar and false teachings. It is a work of the flesh (heresy or party in Gal. 5:19). It is division with an attitude to defend the party which Paul condemned in 1 Corinthians 1. Christ died for the church (Eph. 5:25), but he certainly did not die for a work of the flesh.
Let us guard our thinking about the church of the Lord. It is not a product of the “Restoration Movement, “but of the word of God. Following the word of God never made, and will never make, a denomination. When we “restore” the New Testament teaching, we restore what the New Testament established – churches of the Lord!
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 10, p. 300
May 18, 1989