Why Are You In A Church That’s Not In The Bible?

The title of this post is a question that hyperconservative churches of Christ (like the 3 TV hosts) love to ask.  The implication to their question is that they (the hypercons) are not just in a church that is in the Bible, but that they are in the only modern church that is in the Bible.  In other words, they are the only ones who are theologically correct (TC).  They are the only ones who are really Christians.  

Of all the arguments for tearing down the walls of denominationalism I’ve heard (and I’ve heard some good ones), this idea is to the Christian faith what New Coke was to soft drinks.

or the Yugo was to automaking.  

In other words, it’s a load of complete rubbish that deserves to become a distant memory in the minds of those who have heard of it.

Unity = Good

Understand that I am not arguing against unity.  Even a casual reading of the New Testament will yield to the reader that God desires for His children to be unified.  Here are just a couple of examples:

Jesus said, 

“I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me…May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:20, 21, 23). 

Paul said,

“We were all baptised by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (1 Corinthians 12:13)

Unity is a good thing.  But the proponents of the “where’s your church?” idea aren’t interested in unity.  They are interested in conformity – to their limited interpretations of Scripture.   

Conviction = Good

Understand, also, that I’m not arguing against having convictions.  I agree completely with the old expression that goes, “you have to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything”.  Or, as Scripture says, “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.” (1 Corinthians 2:15)   

The problem I have is this idea that the name of your church is enough to condemn or save you.  “Why are you in a church that’s not in the Bible?”  The hyperconservative asks.  Well, why are they in a church that’s not in the Bible?

Churches That Are In The Bible

The churches in the Bible were located in the modern countries of Israel, Turkey, Italy, etc – in other words, in countries that are near and around the Mediterranean Sea.  Did the person who asked this question pack up his or her things and move to this region?  No?  Then guess what – they aren’t in a church that is found in the New Testament.

In fact, you won’t even find the exact phrase “church of Christ” in the Bible at all!  I’m still waiting for someone to answer the challenge to find “church of Christ” in the Bible.  If they find it, I’ve got $1000 that I will give them.

But That’s Not What We Mean…

“But we mean why are you in a church that doesn’t act like the church in the Bible,” they might respond.

First, if you mean that, then why don’t you say that?

Second, my hypercon friends, I hate to tell you this, but you are also not in a church that acts like the church in the Bible.  Let’s look at three basic ways in which you join the rest of us by not acting like the church we find in the New Testament:

1.  The infamous holy kiss.  

Hyperconservative churches of Christ don’t do this.  Check here for more explanation.

2.  Women and Head Coverings.

1 Corinthians 11:5-6 says:

“But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved.  For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered.”  

Hyperconservative churches of Christ don’t follow this.  At least not the ones in our area.

3.  Tongues and Prophecies.

Sorry, I couldn’t find a good picture.  We’ll just let Scripture speak for itself.

“Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues.” (1 Corinthians 14:39)

Hyperconservative churches of Christ forbid people from speaking in tongues.

So, gentlemen, I ask you… why are you in a church that is not in the Bible?

Wait!  Stop!  Let me give you the answer to that question.

The Answer 

It doesn’t matter whether or not you are in a denomination.  It doesn’t matter whether or not you can “find your church in the Bible”.  All followers of Christ are in Christ’s church and we are all called to be a part of something that transcends differences – that transcends denominations.  

The churches that existed in the first century, that Paul and the other NT writers were addressing, were all different.  They were dealing with different issues.  They lived in different cities with different cultures and values.  

Where did they find their unity?  In the words of the New Testament?  No, because they didn’t have the New Testament.  They had the words of the ones who taught them, the letters from various NT writers, what we call the Old Testament (if they were Jewish), and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Their unity was in the Gospel of Christ.

“…[S]tanding firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”  (Philippians 1:27)

This is at the heart of the New Testament – the Gospel of Christ.  What is the Gospel of Christ?  The hypercons would, by necessity, link baptism to the Gospel.  And while Baptism plays a part in the life of a Christian, baptism is not the Gospel (1 Cor 1:17).  

So, what is the Gospel? 

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.  For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”  Romans 5:8-10

Like the church of the first century, this is where we find unity.  We don’t conform to the teachings of a few hyperconservative church of Christ TV host/pastors, or Baptist pastors, or Lutheran pastors, or [fill in the blank] pastors… we conform to Jesus, and Jesus alone.  

And there – in that conformity and only in that conformity – will we be a part of the Lord’s church – a part of the worldwide churches of Christ as found in Scripture and through the last two thousand years.

No matter what the sign outside reads, or whether or not we are in a church that’s “not in the Bible”.

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Romans 10:5-13

From my Scripture reading this morning.  What an encouraging passage of Scripture!

Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: “The man who does these things will live by them.”  But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?'” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 

But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. [emphasis mine]  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” [emphasis mine]

My prayer is that hypercon church of Christ people will carefully read these passages before standing in condemnation of other Christians who have believed these words and followed them.

Interesting Local cofC Blogging Development…

Visit local church of Christ TV host Norm Field’s blog here for an interesting development.  Norm has removed the URLs to Johnny Robertson’s and James Oldfield’s blogs (fellow hyperconservative church of Christ TV hosts) from his blog.  They used to be found on the side panel, but now they are gone.

I’m not surprised.  Norm is Mr. Blog, and it must have been frustrating for him to be linking to two blogs that have not been updated in over a year (in JR’s case) and in a few months (in JO’s case).

Way to be a good blogger, Mr. Fields!  We, your fellow bloggers, appreciate your consistency.

Spiritual Gifts

Do they exist today,

or were they only for a certain time and then ceased?

Discuss.

(This conversation was started on another place on this blog.  To get caught up, you can visit that place here.)

Eternal Security


Eternal Security, or Perseverance of the saints, maintains that none who are truly saved can be condemned for their sins or finally fall away from the faith. 

Discuss.

By the way – please avoid cutting and pasting arguments of other writers from other sites to prove your argument.  If you want to cut and paste a bit here and there, that is fine, just put the URL where you got the info.  You can also reference another URL, too, if you want us to go there to see what that writer says.  Thanks! 

Some Interesting Links

My recent online wanderings have led me to a couple of interesting church of Christ related websites.

First, is Journey to Orthodoxy.  This is a blog by Nathan Lee Lewis, who was formerly Southern Baptist, but has since become Orthodox Christian.  He makes some pretty interesting pleas to Campbellite churches of Christ.

Second, is a website I found on JP Manzi’s blog, and it is a bulletin board for church of Christ persons who have since gravitated towards the Catholic church.  It is called church of Christ to Catholic.

As a Protestant Christian, it is interesting for me to see these other two streams of Christianity, and how they have developed through history.  And it is interesting that they all also claim the mantle of THE church of Christ.  

Hope everyone had a nice 4th of July!

Churches of Christ and the Emerging Church

Believe it or not, I have found several blogs of people in the churches of Christ who are trying to figure out this new movement called “the Emerging Church”.  

Personally, I’m not completely sold on the Emerging Church, but I do think that it is good that they are trying to figure out how to relate with the 21st Century western culture.  I appreciate their willingness to thrash through the issues of traditional -vs- Scriptural.  And I think that especially hyperconservative churches of Christ need to ask themselves hard questions about this issue (as do all Christians from every Christian background).

Of course, some Emergents go too far and throw the baby out with the bathwater, so that Scripture plays little role.  But I appreciate that God is using this movement to continue the building of His kingdom.

The church of Christ and the Emerging Church?  Wow.  That’s a union I didn’t see coming.  It’ll be an interesting discussion!

You can read about it here.

And here.

And here.

If you Google “church of Christ” and “emerging” or “emergent church” together, you’ll find more. 

Thoughts?