When I began writing this gracEmail, I thought it might interest only subscribers who share my own spiritual heritage in the Churches of Christ (“CoCs”). These are an association of autonomous congregations who, lacking any sort of institutional superstructure, accomplish a great deal of good nonetheless. One of three major tribes who descended from the 19th-century “Restoration Movement” (“RM”) led by Barton W. Stone and the Campbells (father and son Thomas and Alexander), the CoCs traditionally tended toward isolationism and sometimes even aloofness.
I used to participate in such conduct, but I later learned better and was embarrassed by it. Eventually, I discovered that it is common to most denominations and non-denominations of every stripe, although such myopia is contrary both to Scripture and to the RM’s founding document. In “The Declaration and Address,” Thomas Campbell affirmed “that the Church of Christ upon earth is essentially, intentionally, and constitutionally one,” despite a plethora of different names, creeds and ecclesiastical organizations. The Campbells intended to restore “the ancient order” of “primitive Christianity” as a platform on which Christians in all “the sects” could come together and watch the world come to Jesus Christ.
Alexander Campbell eclectically adopted truths and principles wherever he found them, a tendency he once described as plucking feathers from birds of many colors, with which he then adorned his own hat. These pioneers would have been sad if they had somehow foreseen the judgmentalism and exclusivism that would entangle many of their spiritual descendants. But God is teaching us better, and with the teaching he is providing us with opportunities to do better even as we learn.
For example, during a 60-day period, in which today is about midpoint, I have already or will shortly minister the Word in churches that are Seventh-day Adventist, Baptist, Church of Christ, nondenominational and Methodist, with a 10-week series of teachings scheduled later this year in an Episcopal Church. In all these case, my hosts are gracEmail subscribers who love the Lord, treasure the Bible and are eager for their people to become increasingly conversant with the Scriptures. We all learn from each other, which is what God intended, and we all have something to teach as well. These truths everyone needs to learn, not only believers in the CoCs. Which means, as it turns out, that this gracEmail is equally important for us all.