In my daily internet sifting, I came upon this recent blog entry from a veteran Church of Christ pastor. While he and I might disagree on several things, I am very glad that he recognizes the CofC inconsistencies that we discuss on this blog all of the time.
The article reads:
In May of this year I will celebrate 51 years of ministry among churches of Christ. In the first forty years of my ministry, when someone asked me if I taught “Church of Christ doctrine,” my stock reply was, “I do not teach ‘Church of Christ doctrine.’ I teach only the Bible.” I was convinced that my statement and practice was true.
However, as the years passed, I realized that there was a “Church of Christ doctrine” and it was not Bible! There was the doctrine taught by some that if you had a preacher working with an established congregation, doing all of the preaching each Sunday, that you were in fatal error. There was the doctrine taught by others that if you used more than one cup in serving the fruit of the vine in the Lord’s supper, you were hell bound. There was the doctrine preached and debated by others that if you had Sunday school you were practicing the devil’s doctrine. I could go on, but this is sufficient to prove my point that there is “Church of Christ doctrine” and it isn’t anymore biblical than the doctrines taught by others which denominate one person from another.
During those first forty or so years I justified myself by believing those brethren were preaching non-biblical doctrines, but I was preaching nothing but the Bible. Since I was preaching nothing but the Bible, I was not guilty of following man made teachings nor guilty of following traditions. One can blind himself by his own error.
In the late sixties I was working with the Ellendale congregation on Highway 70 in what is now Bartlett, TN. We had a highway sign that could contain a four line message on both sides. Above that area was the name of our congregation, “Ellendale Church of Christ.” One day I put up the sign, “We are also the church of God.” That sign didn’t last long. Someone removed it that night and neatly stacked the letters in front of the sign on both sides. I never did know who. However, it would not surprise me if some well meaning brother was not the culprit.
You see, one “Church of Christ doctrine” is that the only name we can be identified by in our advertisements, highway signs, VBS signs, and etc., is “Church of Christ.” In fact, if one will go back and look at some of the propositions in our debates with others, they will see that brethren defended the name “Church of Christ” as being “scriptural in name.” Notice it is singular!
Yet, the name “Church of Christ” is never used in the Bible to describe a single congregation. Yes, Paul did refer to all congregations as the “churches of Christ” in Romans 16:16, but he nor any other inspired writer ever used the singular expression. Yes, I know the argument which states, “If there were ‘churches of Christ’ in the plural, then a single congregation would have been ‘the church of Christ.’” However, since the Bible is silent in referring to a single congregation as “the church of Christ,” why would that silence not eliminate that designation from being used as the primary designation today? Our signs are actually our “Church of Christ doctrine” rather than specific Bible teaching!
Any teaching which is more important than the unity of the body of Jesus and which promotes division, is nothing less than a “Church of Christ doctrine” rather than the good news of Jesus Christ. It is a tradition of man that is loved and preferred more than a loving relationship with one another. Too often what we have become comfortable with becomes our doctrine rather than “a thus saith the Lord.”
Question: When our comfort zones become our standard of what must be, what makes us any different from those who are comfortable with their traditions which we condemn? Comfort zones are seldom a “thus saith the Lord” much less “good news.”
Allow me to give just one example of comfort zone religion. In some black churches of Christ, when a person, male or female responds to the invitation, that person is given the opportunity to express why they responded. In most white churches, the person is obligated to whisper their purpose in a preacher or elder’s ear. He then announces why the person came. Where is that procedure demanded in the Bible? We will allow that same person, when they respond to be immersed, to audibly announce that they believe Jesus is the Son of God. What is the difference between a woman announcing that she believes Jesus is the Son of God and one asking the congregation for prayers due to her sin of gossip? In both she is speaking. If she doesn’t sin by doing one, she doesn’t sin by doing the other. This is just another one of our inconsistencies built on our tradition and based solely upon our comfort zones as our authority.
So much of what we do is based upon Protestant or Catholic tradition brought into the Restoration movement by early pioneer preachers. We blind ourselves to this fact by continuing to dogmatically proclaim that we do not preach “Church of Christ doctrine, we only preach the Bible.”
This article was found here.