A subscriber asks whether Churches of Christ are classified among "evangelical" Christians. He quotes a Churches of Christ seminary professor who says they are not, because evangelicals believe in "full assurance of salvation, coming not by any work of human merit, but through faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross" and deny that salvation is dependent on any "sacrament" (such as baptism). * * * I would argue that some Church of Christ people are evangelicals and some are not. The non-instrumental Churches of Christ, like the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the … [Read more...]
WHY SERVE AMONG CHURCHES OF CHRIST?
Various gracEmail subscribers ask why I am connected with the Churches of Christ instead of some other Christian tribe or movement. They ask for different reasons, depending on their own experience and perspective. * * * My home base is with the Churches of Christ because that is where God has placed me for now. If I ever sense that God is leading me to a different subdivision on the Christian map, I will not hesitate to move. The truth is that I am at home wherever believers worship God, proclaim Jesus Christ, teach the Bible, live in the Spirit and love each other. The spiritual address is … [Read more...]
THE SAME CHURCH OF CHRIST?
A Baptist sister writes, "I was married to a member of the Church of Christ and these gracEmails don't sound like the same denomination -- or has the Church of Christ changed? * * * God is also at work among Churches of Christ and a new face is emerging which often resembles that of the Savior. Some say the Churches of Christ are beginning to live up to their name -- truly churches "of Christ." However one might describe the change, it is from God and he is due all the glory! This has not yet happened everywhere, and the old legalistic and sectarian attitudes are still found here and … [Read more...]
THOSE CHURCH OF CHRIST LIBERALS
Bob writes from New York, stating that he belongs to a congregation that "many have left their denominational roots" to join, "to be part of the Lord's church, to preach Jesus and the way of salvation stated in the New Testament." He hears that "many brethren" in the Churches of Christ "are very 'legalistic' and others have gone towards the 'liberal' side, namly Max Lucado, Shelly Rubel [sic]." He wants to know where I stand "in terms of the Gospel plan of Salvation, who are the saved, is denominational baptism valid, and denominational fellowshipping among the Lord's church." He closes with … [Read more...]
IS ‘CHURCH OF CHRIST’ A DENOMINATION?
A correspondent asks, "What is a denomination?" and "Is the church of Christ one?" * * * It all depends on what you mean by "church of Christ." Are you talking about the world-wide body of all Christ's people -- or a local congregation somewhere -- or something smaller than the first but larger than the second? The body of Christ. The universal "church of Christ" or "church of God" is equal in scope to the "body of Christ," and it includes every person who knows Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Its exact constituency is known fully to God alone, and it likely includes people in all … [Read more...]
THE CRUX OF THE MATTER (Book Review)
Time was when the Churches of Christ (CoC), the vocal music wing of the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement, were a uniform body with a clear sense of identity. That time has now passed. Today this fellowship which began as a unity movement among Christians, but which generally came to regard itself as the exclusive "true church" of Christ on earth, stands at an historical crossroads, with competing voices echoing from many would-be guides. A bold new publication titled The Crux of the Matter: Crisis, Tradition and the Future of Churches of Christ (ACU Press, 2000, paper, 267 pages) urges … [Read more...]
THOMAS CAMPBELL — FOUNDING FATHER
After I had referred to Thomas Campbell as "a founder of my own modern-day Churches of Christ," a gracEmail subscriber responded: "Thomas Campbell never was, will be or claimed to be a founder of any church of Christ. It is Jesus' [church], bought with His own blood, and you do Him a terrible injustice by claiming this. I hope you will be man enough to print a retraction." * * * I do confess to technical imprecision. Thomas Campbell and his son Alexander Campbell did not actually found the Churches of Christ as a distinct Christian group. The Campbells themselves were first Presbyterian … [Read more...]
HE FEELS BETRAYED
A gracEmail subscriber writes: "Over thirty years ago I left the Baptist church to enter into a new relationship with our Lord through the Church of Christ and a new baptism. With all the changes going on in the Church of Christ today, I feel like the leaders have betrayed me and others of like belief. To suggest that one is saved before baptism and to accept as brothers in Christ those who have not been immersed is to leave the old paths that we have held as truth for many years." * * * Your feelings are common and natural to those believers who were once persuaded that their standing with … [Read more...]
CHURCHES OF CHRIST AND BAPTISM
A New Zealander writes, "I was wondering what statements of faith are held to by Churches of Christ. Down here they strike me as pretty odd. They believe in baptismal regeneration and consequently not in the baptism in the Spirit (which is what I call regeneration)." * * * As a nondenominational fellowship of autonomous congregations (among whom I live and serve), Churches of Christ and Independent Christian Churches have no written creed or statement of faith, which results in wide diversity on a number of subjects. In the past, their preaching often focused more on water baptism and the … [Read more...]
BAPTISTS & CHURCHES OF CHRIST (3)
I beg the indulgence of readers who are not associated with Baptist churches or Churches of Christ, as we look in three gracEmails at those two groups of Christians, both particularly populous and highly competitive throughout the southern United States. * * * In the light of the gospel, we must say that both Baptists and Church of Christ people have often missed the real point by focusing on something we do, rather than focusing on what God had done for us in Jesus Christ. Baptists have often talked as though the saving event occurs when we believe ("accept Christ"), while Church of Christ … [Read more...]