By Weldon E. Warnock
Members of the church of Christ are frequently referred to as “Campbellites” by some of their religious neighbors. Baptist preachers, particularly, appear to get a lot of satisfaction in using this derisive epithet. However, I have never seen a “Campbellite,” nor have I ever heard of one. No one else has, either! I will endeavor to show why I am not a “Campbellite” and why I choose not to be one.
First of all, I am not a Campbellite because I am not a disciple of Alexander Campbell. To be a Campbellite I would have to be a disciple and follower of Campbell. Some say we teach the same things that Campbell taught and are, therefore, followers of him. In many things we do teach what Campbell taught, but we do not teach them because Campbell taught them, but because the Bible teaches them.
Because Campbell taught something and I practice it does not necessarily make me a Campbellite. If this were true, then by the same token I would be a Baptist, Methodist, Catholic and Lutheran, as well as many more. For example, if teaching immersion for baptism makes me a Campbellite, it also makes me a Baptist because Baptists teach immersion. But I am not a Baptist because Paul taught immersion in Romans 6:3-5, Colossians 2:12, and I teach immersion because Paul did. If teaching that we should not have instrumental music in worship makes me a Campbellite, it would also make me a Greek Catholic because they do not use it. But I am not Greek Catholic because the Bible teaches that vocal music only is authorized in worship (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16).
Campbell taught some things that I do not believe. For example, he defended the missionary society through which churches may evangelize the world. If I were to accept Campbell’s conclusions regardless of his premises, then I might be a Campbellite. But if I accept only his premises when they are scriptural, then I am just a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ.
Second, I am not a Campbellite because Campbell was not crucified for me and I was not baptized in his name. In 1 Corinthians 1:12-13, Paul shows there are two things necessary for ownership. First, is a crucifixion for, and second, is baptism in the name of the one crucified. Paul was showing the Corinthians that this would be essential for them to be a ” Paulite. ” Obviously, this would also be necessary for one to be a Campbellite.
It would do the Baptist preachers, and Lutherans, some good to take a little “peek” at this passage. John the Baptist was never crucified for anybody; neither was Martin Luther. Jesus was crucified for us, and if we have been baptized into His name, then we ought to be nothing else but just Christians.
Third, I am not a Campbellite because there is no salvation in the name of Campbell. He was only a minister at best. Paul says, “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase” (1 Cor. 3:5-7). Salvation is only in the name of Christ. We read, “Neither is their salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). This eliminates Alexander Campbell, John the Baptist, Martin Luther, or any other mortal man.
Fourth, I am not a Campbellite because I reject all human names and designations. Human names are carnal and sinful. “For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?” (1 Cor. 3:4) Any one who wears a name that cannot be found in the word of God falls into this category. Again, we read, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Col. 3:17). A person cannot be a Campbellite or a Baptist, etc. and do it in the name of Jesus Christ.
Fifth, I am not a Campbellite because I am a Christian. The name “Christian” is the one we can read about in the Bible. A more beautiful name cannot be found. Every time the name is spoken, Christ is glorified. Yet, many find more pleasure in wearing human names that glorify mortal men than in wearing a name that glorifies our Savior and Redeemer. The name “Christian” has almost been completely hidden and overshadowed by the denominational and factional names adopted by the imaginations of men.
“Christian” is a God-given name. It was prophesied by Isaiah in chapter 62, verse 2. The prophecy was fulfilled in Acts 11:26 when “the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” King Agrippa said to Paul, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” Peter wrote, “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (1 Pet. 4:16).
No, I am not a Campbellite. I am a Christian! It is a most worthy name by which we are called (James 2:7).
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 23, pp. 705, 727
December 5, 1985