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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Is The Church of Christ a Sound, Biblical Church?

  • Introduction:
          -The intention behind writing this article is not to bash any members of the Church or Christ or to cast any form of condemnation on those who are affiliated with these churches, but rather serves to reveal some fundamental concerns that exist within the Church of Christ sects. Hence, the question that this article strives to answer can be a very confusing, convoluted process because many smaller, individualized congregations occupy the title "Church of Christ", yet have significant doctrinal differences at the same time. While the majority of these non-denominational sects have indeed been established upon the solid foundation of the gospel, some are borderline cult-like in their preferential customs, traditions, and doctrines. In short, this means that the answer to whether a single "Church of Christ" group is biblically sound or not is completely dependent on the nature of its organizational structure and beliefs.
  • Brief History of the Church of Christ:
          -In 1906, the Church of Christ group broke away from the "Disciples of Christ", which was established in the mid 1800's by Alexander Campbell, over the issue of using musical instruments in worship.
          -The Campbells joined Barton Stone and Walter Scott to create the "Restoration Movement", which was an attempt to restore Christianity back to its original state after the alleged total apostasy of Christianity (or, as they put it, "a great falling away from the truth"). 
  • Was There Ever A Great Apostasy Of Christendom?:
          -If, as Church of Christ members claim, that there was a complete falling away from the truth and light of the gospel, then where was the church of the New Testament before it was restored by God? What happened to the church? How did the truth of the gospel vanish from the face of the earth? Where did the truth go? 
          -Not only is the belief in a complete apostasy of Christianity deprived of historical evidence, but it also violates Christian theology, for our Lord Jesus Christ emphatically promised that His church would be preserved throughout all generations (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 3:21). The Word of the Lord endures forever (1 Peter 1:23-25). Furthermore, there has always been a general consensus among true Christians on essential doctrines such as the Trinity, Incarnation, Hypostatic Union, and the Virgin Birth. 
  • Doctrinal Summary of Church of Christ Groups:
          -Most Church of Christ groups adhere to the essential doctrines of the Christian faith such as the Trinity, the physical resurrection of Christ, and a literal hell. However, others have been corrupted by the stains of heresy. Members of the Church of Christ have embraced a works-based salvation, have completely denied the future event called the Rapture, vehemently oppose the use of instruments in worship, and have even made claims to being the "one true church". The previous list is by no means meant to be exhaustive in nature, but rather serves to be the issues that this article intends to address. These issues are important because they have become sources of division throughout mainstream Christianity, as well.
  • Psuedo-Sola Scriptura:
          -Practically all members who constitute the Church of Christ population adhere to a false view of Sola Scriptura. They redefine this principle to mean that the Bible is the "only" authority existing in the church, whereas the original, classical principle originally meant that Scripture alone is the only infallible rule of faith for the church. The actual view permits for the existence of other authorities in the church, insofar as they stand in complete agreement to the written Word of God. As a result of perverting the concept of Sola Scriptura, Church of Christ advocates have developed various slogans such as, "We speak where the Bible speaks. We are silent where the Bible is silent." This is really ironic, since members of the Church of Christ vehemently reject the establishment of creeds! It is noteworthy to study the Church of Christ deviation from the Reformed principle of Sola Scriptura, for it reveals internal inconsistencies in the arguments of these people.   
  • Works-Based Salvation:
          -One of the false doctrines running rampant throughout the Church of Christ groups is baptismal regeneration. Moreover, most of these people maintain that man must perform meritorious works in order to get saved. They view heaven as an earned "reward", rather than a free gift provided by God to those who are spiritually bankrupt and thus on the verge of eternal condemnation in hell. They add church attendance, weekly Sunday communion, and gospel preaching as prerequisites to faith in the work of Jesus Christ. But where does the New Testament specifically authorize these steps as being necessary for the justification of sinners? 
          -Scripture teaches that we are saved by the grace of God through our faith in Him--apart from the merit of all good works. Works are the product of salvation, not the cause.
  • Denial of The Rapture:
          -Many people who are associated with Church of Christ groups deny the the concept of the Rapture. Instead, they believe that the Lord will come to judge and part the righteous from the wicked. But the Scriptures do affirm that there will be a "departure" of Christians from this world (1 Corinthians 15:50-54; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). In the twinkling of an eye, the Lord shall return. Two shall be, and one shall remain (Matthew 24:41; Luke 17:36). In fact, Revelation 20:1-6 speaks of the literal 1,000 year reign of Jesus Christ.
  • On Musical Instruments In Worship:
          -Many Church of Christ groups believe that we are forbidden to use instruments in worship because the New Testament does not specifically authorize us to use them. However, the Bible also never specifically instructs us to use hymnals, microphones, pitch pipes, pews, or to worship in a church building, yet these people still occupy all of the previously mentioned items. My point here is that we are to always exercise good judgment. There are Scripture passages in both Testaments that implicitly, if not explicitly, allow us to use instruments in worship (i.e. Psalm 33:2-4; 1 Chronicles 25:5-6; 2 Chronicles 6:5; Psalm 150; Revelation 5:8; 15:2). Not only is it wrong to be so dogmatic about an issue that is so clearly non-essential, but it would also make sense for the Church of Christ members to ramble about using instruments in worship, if people started worshiping them or the Bible expressly forbade us from such activity. But none of this is the case here.
  • More Cult-Like Features:
          -A fourth and final observation that warrants concern is the belief that the "Church of Christ" is the only true church and that no salvation exists outside that particular church body. Although not all members of the Churches of Christ subscribe to such a mentality, it is still widely prevalent throughout various sects that fit into this criteria. These features are still a common characteristic of a cult. But the truth of the matter is that the "true, original church" comprises of all who are saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, all throughout the world (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:17-18). It is not limited to any specific group of people who dwell in a specific location.