By H.E. Phillips
I have difficulty trying to understand how men can in-vent a philosophy of religion that so widely differs from their fellow man and then claim that they are all right. Is religion something that is right just because one believes it? If one man believes that Christ was born of a virgin, did miracles, died, and arose from the dead, and another believes that Christ was born of a woman out of wedlock, died, and did not arise from the dead, can both be right? Now when you figure out how a rational, intelligent man can believe two people can be right in such opposite views, you can then explain how a man can believe both of these views at the same time and not oppose himself. This makes no sense to me, and yet it is the basis of denominationalism.
In 1966 a book was published on “Critical Studies in Church of Christism” called Voices of Concern, edited by Robert Meyers. It contains 17 chapters by as many writers who claim to have been “within the Church of Christ segment of the Restoration movement” or “recently out of it” (Introduction by Robert Meyers). Some of these I have personally known in years past when they at least professed to be members of the church of Christ. Others I did not know. I have read what some of them have written.
All these “Voices of Concern” have two things in common: they all were members of the church of Christ at one time, and they all were dissatisfied and criticized what they called “Church of Christism.” From this point they go in all directions. Some left completely, some joined various denominations, and some joined the radical liberals, which is just another denomination. Their criticisms range from personalities in the church to the New Testament doctrine of salvation, worship, and the nature of the church.
It is hard for one who has heard the truth and knows anything of the Lord’s church to believe that some of these who wrote in Voices of Concern denied baptism for the remission of sins, the Lord’s supper on the Lord’s day, immersion as scriptural baptism, the inspiration of the scriptures, the deity of Christ, and issued a plea for the use of instrumental music in worship, fellowship with all religious groups, and about every innovation ever invented.
I am not interested here in examining any one of these essays on what is wrong with the church of Christ. I am interested for the moment in why they think as they do. The attitude toward the authority of Christ is the tap root to all these radical views. The attitude toward the authority of Christ is really an attitude toward Christ himself. It was interesting to note that most of these who wrote in this book were educated in some of the “Christian Colleges” who have for many years emphasized liberal views toward the word of God. Their eggs hatched! The bitter fruits are seen in such books is this one, denying the very foundations of the faith once delivered.
Every chapter in Voices of Concern asserts a belief (of some kind) in Christ, and at the same time denies what Christ teaches in his word. I have concluded that every-one of these who still professes any faith in Christ believes the only basis of fellowship and the only standard of right to be a belief that Christ is the Son of God.
Suppose we take this as the criteria of acceptance with God. Which Christ shall be the basis of fellowship with God? Is it the one who was born of a virgin, did miracles, called himself the Son of God, died, and arose from the dead; or is it the one born of man and woman, really did no miracles, died, and is still dead? He cannot be both! Is it the Christ who winks at disobedience to the will of his Father in heaven and accepts all who profess some form of religion, or is it the Christ who demands obedience to his will and will come in flaming fire to take vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of Christ (2 Thess. 1:8)?
And suppose we accept the view proclaimed in Voices of Concern (and many more like it) that all denominations are right. Of course, they do not believe that all people in denominations will be saved, but they believe one can be saved in any denomination. Some of them limit salvation to “segments of the Restoration Movement.” If some one cries that belief in Christ is legalism and too narrow, will it then be right to accept religions that are anti-Christ? This is the principle upon which they left “Church of Christism,” as they call it. If there is any difference in principle, I am unable to see it.
The whole problem with these renegades is the authority of Christ. When they understand the Christ, the Son of God, revealed in the New Testament, they will understand that his authority is all; there is no other authority in religion. When they recognize this authority and acknowledge it in obedience, they will be in the Lord’s church and no other. The Lord only adds to his church, and he adds only the saved to his church (Acts 2:47). “Segments” or “heirs” of the Restoration Movement will have no more meaning to them than the Reformation Movement or the Inquisition of the middle ages. I want to be an heir of God through Christ, and movements of all kinds can be buried with all other dead movements.
Guardian of Truth XL: No. 16, p. 10-11
August 15, 1996