Church comes in many flavors. The point to note is, salvation is in Christ Jesus. Church is separate and may either hinder or assist in the salvation message and process.
A History of the Ecumenical Movement, vol. 1, 1517 - 1948, ed. Ruth Rouse, et. al., Geneva: World Council of Churches, 3rd Edition, 1986.
A History of the ecumenical Movement, vol. 2, 1948 - 1968 / ed. by Harold E. Fey, et. al., Geneva : World Council of Churches, 2004.
A History of the Ecumenical Movement, vol. 3, 1968 - 2000 / ed. by John Briggs, et. al., Geneva : World Council of Churches, 2004.
John A. Mackay, Ecumenics: The Science of the Church Universal, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Princeton, 1964.
"The Nature and Purpose of the Church: A Stage on the Way to a Common Statement," Faith and Order Paper, No. 181, Geneva : World Council of Churches, Nov. 1998.
Daniel L. Migliore, Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology, Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1991.
RESTORATION MOVEMENT (CAMPBELL, ETC.,)
What is the distinctive plea of the church of Christ?
It is primarily a plea for religious unity based upon the Bible. In a divided religious world it is believed that the Bible is the only possible common denominator upon which most, if not all, of the God-fearing people of the land can unite. This is an appeal to go back to the Bible. It is a plea to speak where the Bible speak and to remain silent where the Bible is silent in all matters that pertain to religion. It further empasizes that in everything religious there must be a "Thus saith the Lord" for all that is done. The objective is religious unity of all believers in Christ. The basis is the New Testament. The method is the restoration of New Testament Christianity.
The Historical background of the Restoration Movement
One of the earliest advocates of the return to New Testament Christianity, as a means of achieving unity of all believers in Christ, was James O'Kelly of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1793 he withdrew from the Baltimore conference of his church and called upon others to join him in taking the Bible as the only creed. His influence was largely felt in Virginia and North Carolina where history records that some seven thousand communicants followed his leadership toward a return to primitive New Testament Christianity. In 1802 a similar movement among the Baptists in New England was led by Abner Jones and Elias Smith. They were concerned about "denominational names and creeds" and decided to wear only the name Christian, taking Bible as their only guide. In 1804, in the western frontier state of Kentucky, Barton W. Stone and several other Presbyterian preachers took similar action declaring that they would take the Bible as the "only sure guide to heaven." Thomas Campbell, and his illustrious son, Alexander Campbell, took similar steps in the year 1809 in what is now the state of West Virginia. They contended that nothing should be bound upon Christians as a matter of doctrine which is not as old as the New Testament. Although these four movements were completely independent in their beginings eventually they became one strong restoration movement because of their common purpose and plea. These men did not advocate the starting of a new church, but rather a return to Christ's church as described in the Bible. Members of the church of Christ do not conceive of themselves as a new church started near the begining of the 19th century. Rather, the whole movement is designed to reproduce in contemporary times the church originally established on Pentacost, A.D. 30. The strength of the appeal lies in the restoration of Christ's original church.
How are the churches organizationally connected?
Following the plan of organization found in the New Testament, churches of Christ are autonomous. Their common faith in the Bible and adherence to its teachings are the chief ties which bind them together. There is no central headquarters of the church, and no organization superior to the elders of each local congregation. Congregations do cooperate voluntarily in supporting the orphans and the aged, in preaching the gospel in new fields, and in other similar works. There are no conventions, annual meetings, or official publications. The "tie that binds" is a common loyalty to the principles of the restoration of New Testament Christianity.
How are the churches of Christ governed?
In each congregation, which has existed long enough to become fully organized, there is a plurality of elders or presbyters who serve as the governing body. These men are selected by the local congregations on the basis of qualifications set down in the scriptures (1 Timothy 3:1-8). Serving under the elders are deacons, teachers, and evangelists or ministers. The latter do not have the authority equal to or superior to the elders. The elders are shepherds or overseers who serve under the headship of Christ according to the New Testament, which is a kind of constitution. There is no earthly authority superior to the elders of the local church.
Why does the church of Christ baptize only by immersion?
The word baptize comes from the Greek word "baptizo" and literally means, "to dip, to immerse, to plunge." In addition to the literal meaning of the word, immersion is practiced because it was the practice of the church in apostolic times. Still further, only immersion conforms to the description of baptisms as given by the apostle Paul in Romans 6:3-5 where he speaks of it as a burial and resurrection.
Is infant baptism practiced?
No. Only those who have reached the "age of accountability" are accepted for baptisms. It is pointed out that the examples given in the New Testament are always of those who have heard the gospel preached and have believed it. Faith must always precede baptism, so only those old enough to understand and believe the gospel are considered fit subjects for baptism.
How often is the Lord's supper eaten?
It is expected that every member of the church will assemble for worship on each Lord's day. A central part of the worship is the eating of the Lord's supper (Acts 20:7). Unless providentially hindered, each member considers this weekly appointment as binding. In many instances, as in the case of illness, the Lord's supper is carried to those who are hindered from attending the worship.
By what means does the church secure financial support?
Each first day of the week the members of the church "lay by in store as they have been prospered" (1 Corinthians 16:2). The amount of any individual gift is generally known only to the one who gave it and to the Lord. This free-will offering is the only call which the church makes. NO assessments or other levies are made. No money-making activities, such as bazaars or suppers, are engaged in. A total if approximately $200,000,000 is given on this basis each year.
Does the church of Christ have a creed?
No. At least, there is no creed in the usual sense of the word. The belief of the church is stated fully and completely in the Bible. There is no other manual or discipline to which the members of the church of Christ give their allegiance. The Bible is considered as the only infallible guide to heaven. [Who are the churches of Christ? Batsell Barrett Baxter]
[Image Source: Pioneers in the Great Religious Reformation of the Nineteenth Century. Steel engraving by J. C. Buttre, after a drawing by J. D. C. McFarland, c. 1885, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (197)]
THOMAS CAMPBELL (1763-1854)
Thomas Campbell, Writings on The Church And Baptism, Library of Radical Christian Discipleship, Stone-Campbell Tradition Series, Vol. 1, Indianapolis, IN: Doulos Christou Press, n.d.
Thomas Campbell, Declaration and Address of the Christian Association of Washington, Washington, PA: Brown & Sample, 1809.
One Church: A Bicentennial Celebration of Thomas Campbell's Declaration and Address, eds Glenn Thomas Carson, et. al., Abilene, TX: Leafwood Publishers, 2008.
The Quest for Christian Unity, Peace, and Purity in Thomas Campbell's Declaration and Address, eds Thomas H. Olbricht and Hans Ollman, Lanham, Maryland: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2000.
Evangelicalism & the Stone-Campbell Movement, ed., William R. Baker, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002.
H. Eugene Johnson, The Declaration and Address for Today, Nashville: Reed and Co., 1971.
Moreover, being well aware from sad experience, of the heinous nature, and pernicious tendency of religious controversy among christians; tired and sick of the bitter jarrings and janglings of a party spirit, we would esire to be at rest; and, were it possible, we would also desire to adopt and recommend such measures as would give rest to our brethren throughout all the churches; as would restore unity, peace, and purity, to the whole church of God. This desirable rest, however, we utterly despair either to find for ourselves, or to be able to recommend to our brethren, by continuing amidst the diversity and rancour of party contentions, the veering uncertainty and clashings of human opinions: nor indeed, can we reasonably expect to find it any where, but in Christ and his simple word; which is the same yesterday, and today, and forever. (D&A p. 3)
|Many Bodies or churches.|| One body or church Mat. 16:18,|
|Founded by men.||Founded by Christ (Mat. 16:18)|
|Human Heads.||Christ the head (Eph.1:22,23)|
|Human Creeds.||Bible as only creed (2 Tim.3:16,17)|
|Wear human names.|| Glory God in the name Christian|
(1 Pet. 4:16)
|Follow men.|| Following men is condemned|
(1 Cor. 1:10-13)
| A multiplicity of churches is not in the|
| One mentioned in the Bible|
|You join a denomination.||
God adds you to His church
|Denominations preach many gospels.|| If any man preach any other gospel,|
he is condemned (Gal 1:8,9)
|Rewrite creeds and church laws often.||Bible remains the same (Mat. 24:35).|
|Many faiths.||One faith (Eph. 4:5)|
|Many baptisms||"One baptism" (Eph. 4:5)|
| Claim to be abiding in branches of the|
| Jesus said "Abide in me," the true|
vine (John 15:1-6)
|Walk by different rules.||Walk by the same rule (Phi. 3:16)|
|Thank God in their prayers for so many churches.|| Jesus prayed for oneness|
|Claim doctrine is inconsequential.||
Take heed unto doctrine and others to save self and others (1 Tim. 4:16)
| Membership in denominations not|
essential to salvation
Membership in Christ's church is
Louis Cochran, The Fool of God, Cincinnati, OH: New Life Books, 1958.
Eva Jean Wrather, Alexander Campbell: Adventurer in Freedom, Fort Worth, TX: Disciples of Christ Historical Society, 2007.
THOMAS CAMPBELL (1950)
Guy V. Caskey and Thomas L. Campbell eds., Why I Left, Hawthorne, CA: Thomas L. Campbell 1949.
Thomas L. Campbell, What Is Wrong, Los Angeles: Thomas L. Campbell, 1950.
By Gene Edwards:
Beyond Radical, The History of Where We Protestants Got Our Present Day Church Practices (Gene Edwards, 1999)
Church Unity (Beaumont, TX: The Seedsowers Christian Books Publishing House, MCMXCI)
How to Meet in Homes (Jacksonville, FL: SeedSowers Publishing, MCMXCIX)
Climb the Highest Mountain (Jacksonville, FL: SeedSowers Publishing, MCMLXXIV)
What We Do That Is Not Scriptural:
- The Church Building
- The Order of Worship.
- The Sermon.
- The Pulpit.
- The Pew.
- The Choir.
- Sunday School.
- Bible School.
By Frank Viola:
Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of our Church Practices, with George Barna (BarnaBooks, 2008)
- As William Tyndale translated the New Testament, he refused to translate ekklesia as church. He translated it more correctly as congregation. Unfortunately, the translators of the King James Version did use church as the translation of ekklesia. They rejected the correct translation of ekklesia as congregation because it was the terminology of the Puritans. (p. 12, fn. 10)
-When Roman Catholicism evolved in the fourth to the sixth centuries, it absorbed many of the religious practices of both paganism and Judaism. It set up a professional priesthood. It erected sacred buildings. And it turned the Lord's Supper into a mysterious sacrifice. Following the path of the pagans, early Catholicism adopted the practice of burning incense and having vestal (sacred) virgins. The Protestants dropped the sacrificial use of the Lord's Supper, the burning of incense, and vestal virgins. But they retained the priestly caste (the clergy) as well as the sacred building. (p. 13)
-Summary of Origins:
- Church Building
- Pastor's Chair
- Tax-exempt status for Churches and Clergy
- Stained Glass Windows
- Gothic Cathedrals
- The Steeple
- The Pulpit
- The Pew
- Two Candles Placed on Top of the "Communion Table"
- Incense Burning
- The Choir
- Clergy Salaries
- Infant Baptism
- The Lord's Supper condensed from a Full "Agape" Meal to Only the Cup and the Bread
- Bible College
- Sunday School
- Youth Pastor
(pp. 271-275, selected)
Reimagining [i.e. Rethinking] Church, (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2008)
-The New Testament church meeting depended entirely upon the headship of Jesus Christ. Christ was fully preeminent. He was its center and its circumference. He set the agenda and directed what took place. Although His leading was invisible to the naked eye, He was clearly the guiding agent. In this gathering, the Lord Jesus was free to speak through whomever He chose and in whatever capacity He saw fit. There was no fixed liturgy to tie His hands or box Him in.
The church meeting was based upon the "round table" principle. That is, every member was encouraged to function and participate. By contrast, the institutional church service is built on the "pulpit-pew" principle. It divides the members into the active few and the passive many. For this reason, some people call it the "audience church." (p. 53)
-There is thoroughly entrenched in our church life an unbiblical two-caste system. In this two-caste system there is a clergy-caste which is trained, called, paid, and expected to do the ministering. And there is the laity-caste which normally functions as the audience which appreciatively pays for the performance of the clergy - or bitterly criticizes the gaping holes in that performance (and there are always gaping holes). No one expects much of the lower or laity caste (except attendance, tithe, and testimony). And everyone expects too much of the upper or clergy caste (including the clergy themselves!). The greatest problem in the whole business is the fact that the Bible's view of ministry totally contradicts this system. -Robert C. Girard (p. 167)
-Elders, then, were overseers and shepherds. The term elder refers to their character. The term overseer refers to their function. And the term shepherd refers to their gifting. (p. 170)
-In others words, New Testament leadership can best be understood in terms of verbs rather than nouns. Recall that our Lord Jesus rejected the authoritative pecking orders of His day (Matt. 20:25-8; Luke 22:25-27). In His eyes, spiritual authority was found in a towel and a basin, not in an external post (Matt. 23:8-12). (p. 177)
-The elders were examples to the flock, not lords over it (1 Peter 5:3). 9p. 178)
-The elders were not regarded as religious specialists, but as faithful and trusted brethren brethren. They were not career clergy, but self-supporting family men with secular jobs (Acts 20:17, 32-35; 1 Tim. 3:5,7; Titus 1:6; 1 Peter 5:2-3). (p. 179)
-Some have tried to argue for a professional clergy from one isolated text in 1 Timothy, which says,
"The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, 'Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading our the grain,' and 'The worker deserves his wages.' (1 Tim. 5:17-18)"
However, the context of this passage reveals otherwise. First, the specific Greek words that the New Testament uses for "pay" or "wages" (misthos and opsonion) are not used to refer to what the elders are due. The Greek word for "honor" in this passage is time, and it means to "respect" or "value" somoeone or something. (p. 179)
-Granted, double honor may have included freewill offerings as a token of blessing from time to time (Gal. 6:6; 1 Tim. 5:17-18). But this was not the dominating thought. It is honor (respect) that elders deserve, not a salary. Consequently, 1 Timothy 5 is perfectly consistent with Paul's words to the Ephesian elders recorded in Acts 20:
"I have not coveted anyone's silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everyting I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, rememberng the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' (Acts 20:33-35) (p. 181)
-Section: The Dramatic Lack of Attention Given to Leadership in the New Testament (p. 181)
-What is called "Christianity" - and what has come to be called "the church" - has become a tradition, and institution, and a system quite as fixed, rooted, and established as ever Judaism was, and it will be no less costly to change it fundamentally than was the case with Judaism. Superficial adjustments may be made - and are being made - but a very heavy price is attached to the change which is necessary to really solve the great problem. It may very well be, as in the time of the Lord, that the essential ight will not be given to very many because God knows that they would never pay the price. It may only be a "remnant" - as of old - who will be led into God's answer because they will meet the demands at all costs. - T. Austin Sparks (p. 225)
-My experience suggests that unless the extrabiblical clergy system is dismantled in a particular church, efforts to recover the organic nature of chuch life will be handcuffed. (p. 256)
- Insanity in the Church, (Enumclaw, WA: WinePress Publishing, 2001)
- Even the Demons Believe, 3rd edition 2003 (Enumclaw, WA: WinePress Publishing, 2001)
- A Church Building Every 1/2 Mile, (Lincoln, NE: Ekklesia Press, 2008)
-The Protestant Reformation is repeating itself again. Back then, men in the likes of Luther, Melanchthon, Zwingli, and others were challenging the religious system of their day. As a result, the Reformation changed the landscape of the Christian faith. The result: the Protestant church ended up becoming just as accepted as the Roman Catholic Church. But that's not all. The Radical Reformation is repeating itself again. Like the Protestant Reformers, the Radical reformers - the Anabaptists - not only challenged the theology of the present-day church, but they did something beyond that. They also challenged its ecclesiology. (Frank Viola, Foreward in Jon Zens, A Church Building Every Half Mile, 2008, p.13)
-Why does there have to be such a multipication of expense and duplication of effort when in fact they are all essentially the same? [with community also] (p. 19)
-Eleven churches in 3 miles (Vero Beach, FL) (p. 20)
-Conservative estimates would put the number of Protestant denominations at around 25,000 worldwide. (p. 24)
One church leader suggested that most Christians would experience three church break-ups in their lifetime. (p. 25)
-Patrick Allitt's observations from the 1960's: By then [mid-1960s] the whole idea of heaping up great monuments in stone, concrete and glass was under challenge. The civil rights movement, and renewed political attention to the fact that poeverty was still widespread in affluent America, prompted critics to assert that billions of dollars going to church buildings every year coud be better spent on the kind of work the Jewish Prophets and Jesus would have approved: feeding the hungry and housing the homeless. Michael Novak, a Young Turnk among the Catholics, wrote in 1964 that the Catholic Church should abandon its mammoth building program altogether...the time had come, he argued, 'to move out of our church buildings' and 'to recapture the ideals of those small gorups of Christians who met together informatlly in living rooms, who celebrated the sacrament in small groups.' The brick and mortar structure of Catholicsm, achieve at immense cost over the preceding century, now seemed to him no better than a burdern 'which weighs us down on our pligrimage.' (p. 29-30; "Religion and Materialism: 1950-1970," Religion in America Since 1945: A History, Columbia Unviersity Press, 2005, pp. 40-41.)
-If you came to Ephesus, you would meet "people of the Way." Christ in Revelaion 2-3 could address the "church" in each city. Now, however, we believers meet separately as deeply fractured and endlessly differentiated. (p. 31)
-Is it any wonder that the clergy profession is among the highest in divorce rates, nervous breakdowns, suicides, moral lapses and burn-out? A Focus on the Family survey in 2001 discovered that 1400 persons a month were "leaving the ministry." (p. 35)
-Even believers who theoretically reject the clergy/laity distinction often end up with a form of clergy in the way they function, even in house church settings.(p. 46)
-When former governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura, brashly dismissed organized religion as a sham, it scandalized the religious establishment. (Back cover)
-Do you believe the diversity of churches competing with one another is the inevitable result of evolution of Christianity? (Back cover; Felicity Dale, An Army of Ordinary People)
- When the Church Leaves the Building, (Livermore, CA: WingSpan Press, 2006)
- Church Outside the Walls: A Four Part Documentary Exploring Church Life Outside of Organized Religion, DVD Set (Family Room Media, n.d.)
Further Study: The meaning and evolution of church architecture.
DISCIPLES OF CHRIST
D. Duane Cummins, A Handbook for Today's Disciples, 3rd ed. (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2003)
Robert Richardson, Principles of the Reformation (Orange, CA: New Leaf Books, 2002)
Richard Greaves, Theology & Revolution in the Scottish Reformation: Studies in the Thought of John Knox (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Christian University Press, 1980)
The Covenant Church at a Glance, (Chicago: Covenant Publications, 2004)
Howard Pittman, Placebo, What is the Church's Dope? (Foxworth, Mississippi: The Philadelphian Church, n.d.)
William Barclay, By What Authority? (London: Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd, 1974)
John A. Mackay, Presbyterian Way, (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Princeton Hall, 1960)
Ogden Kraut, The Four Crafts (Salt Lake City: Pioneer Press, 1994)
John Paul Jackson, Unmasking the Jezebel Spirit, (North Sutton, NH: Streams Publications, 2002)
Billy Graham, A Biblical Standard For Evangelists, (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Billy Graham Evangelists, 1984)
Paul S. Wright, The Duties of the Ruling Elder, (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, MCMLVII)
Michael Goulder, St. Paul versus St. Peter: A Tale of Two Missions, (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994)
Bill Donahue, The Willow Creek Guide to Leading Life-Changing Small Groups, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1996)
John Calvin, Truth For All Time: A Brief Outline of the Christian Faith (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1998)
John Calvin, Instruction in Faith (1537), translated and edited by Paul T. Fuhrmann (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, MCMXLIX)
William F. Keesecker, A Calvin Reader: Reflections on Living (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1985)
Abraham Kuyper, Lectures on Calvin (Grand Rapids, Michigan: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1931)
Francois Wendel, Calvin, The Origins and Development of His Religious Thought (Glasgow: William Collins Sons & Co., 1976)
John T. MccNeill, The History and Character of Calvinism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1954)
Georgia Harkness, John Calvin, the Man and His Ethics (New York: Abingdon Press, MCMXXXI)