Five Pillars

The Five Pillars of Reformed Mormonism are:

1. Authority: Priesthood of Believers

2. Baptism: Into Christ, not a denomination; more than one

3. Church: Who you are

4. Communion: Closed table

5. Salvation: Through Christ alone




Nothing trumps the authority of a first hand experience with God, that is how prophets were called:

5 Wherefore it came to pass that my father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his heart, in behalf of his people.
6 And it came to pass as he prayed unto the Lord, there came a pillar of fire and dwelt upon a rock before him; and he saw and heard much; and because of the things which he saw and heard he did quake and tremble exceedingly.
7 And it came to pass that he returned to his own house at Jerusalem; and he cast himself upon his bed, being overcome with the Spirit and the things which he had seen.
8 And being thus overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open, and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God.
9 And it came to pass that he saw One descending out of the midst of heaven, and he beheld that his luster was above that of the sun at noon-day.
10 And he also saw twelve others following him, and their brightness did exceed that of the stars in the firmament.
11 And they came down and went forth upon the face of the earth; and the first came and stood before my father, and gave unto him a book, and bade him that he should read.
12 And it came to pass that as he read, he was filled with the Spirit of the Lord.
13 And he read, saying: Wo, wo, unto Jerusalem, for I have seen thine abominations! Yea, and many things did my father read concerning Jerusalem – that it should be destroyed, and the inhabitants thereof; many should perish by the sword, and many should be carried away captive into Babylon.
14 And it came to pass that when my father had read and seen many great and marvelous things, he did exclaim many things unto the Lord; such as: Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty! Thy throne is high in the heavens, and thy power, and goodness, and mercy are over all the inhabitants of the earth; and, because thou art merciful, thou wilt not suffer those who come unto thee that they shall perish!
15 And after this manner was the language of my father in the praising of his God; for his soul did rejoice, and his whole heart was filled, because of the things which he had seen, yea, which the Lord had shown unto him.
16 And now I, Nephi, do not make a full account of the things which my father hath written, for he hath written many things which he saw in visions and in dreams; and he also hath written many things which he prophesied and spake unto his children, of which I shall not make a full account.
17 But I shall make an account of my proceedings in my days. Behold, I make an abridgment of the record of my father, upon plates which I have made with mine own hands; wherefore, after I have abridged the record of my father then will I make an account of mine own life.
18 Therefore, I would that ye should know, that after the Lord had shown so many marvelous things unto my father, Lehi, yea, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, behold he went forth among the people, and began to prophesy and to declare unto them concerning the things which he had both seen and heard. (1 Nephi 1) 


The call of the apostle Paul was a direct result of his encounter with Jesus Christ:

3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.
9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.
10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.
11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,
12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:
14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.
15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.
17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. (Acts 9)

1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) 
11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,
16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. (Galatians 1)


Elders were called “Elders” because their age and/or their experience with God:  

22 And he spake unto me concerning the elders of the Jews (1 Nephi 4; v. 27)

37 who are his elder brethren. (1 Nephi 16)

7 The elder was called Jacob and the younger Joseph. (1 Nephi 18)

7 Alma had consecrated to be teachers, and priests, and elders over the church (Alma 4)

16 And he selected a wise man who was among the elders of the church (Alma 4)

Holy Spirit

It is a fact that wheresoever the Holy Spirit is, God is, and such stand approved of God, for His Spirit confirms truth and holiness and is called “The Holy Spirit of Promise.” (Eph. 1:13)

Name of Jesus

The authority to command elements, cast out devils, perform miracles, pray to God, baptize, ordain and name a church is contained in the name of Jesus, and ANY follower of Christ is allowed to use his name.

New Testament

23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.
24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. (John 16)

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 18)

Command the Elements

6 Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea. (Jacob 4)

Cast Out Devils

19 And in the name of Jesus did he cast out devils and unclean spirits; and even his brother did he raise from the dead, after he had been stoned and suffered death by the people.
20 And the people saw it, and did witness of it, and were angry with him because of his power; and he did also do many more miracles, in the sight of the people, in the name of Jesus. (3 Nephi 7)


1 And now it came to pass that according to our record, and we know our record to be true, for behold, it was a just man who did keep the record – for he truly did many miracles in the name of Jesus; and there was not any man who could do a miracle in the name of Jesus save he were cleansed every whit from his iniquity – (3 Nephi 8)

5 And there were great and marvelous works wrought by the disciples of Jesus, insomuch that they did heal the sick, and raise the dead, and cause the lame to walk, and the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear; and all manner of miracles did they work among the children of men; and in nothing did they work miracles save it were in the name of Jesus. (4 Nephi 1)

Ask God

27 O then despise not, and wonder not, but hearken unto the words of the Lord, and ask the Father in the name of Jesus for what things soever ye shall stand in need. Doubt not, but be believing, and begin as in times of old, and come unto the Lord with all your heart, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him. (Mormon 9)


6 And the twelve did teach the multitude; and behold, they did cause that the multitude should kneel down upon the face of the earth, and should pray unto the Father in the name of Jesus.
7 And the disciples did pray unto the Father also in the name of Jesus. And it came to pass that they arose and ministered unto the people. (3 Nephi 19)


3 In the name of Jesus Christ I ordain you to be a priest, (or, if he be a teacher) I ordain you to be a teacher, to preach repentance and remission of sins through Jesus Christ, by the endurance of faith on his name to the end. Amen. (Moroni 3)


11 And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.
12 And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do. (2 Nephi 31)

23 Verily I say unto you, that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words, and desireth to be baptized in my name, on this wise shall ye baptize them – Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptize them.
24 And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying:
25 Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
26 And then shall ye immerse them in the water, and come forth again out of the water.
27 And after this manner shall ye baptize in my name; for behold, verily I say unto you, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one; and I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one. (3 Nephi 11)

Church Called

7 Therefore, whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name; therefore ye shall call the church in my name; and ye shall call upon the Father in my name that he will bless the church for my sake.
8 And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel.
9 Verily I say unto you, that ye are built upon my gospel; therefore ye shall call whatsoever things ye do call, in my name; therefore if ye call upon the Father, for the church, if it be in my name the Father will hear you; (3 Nephi 27)


5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. (Jeremiah 1)


The authority to act for God shifted from priestly blood lines to all faithful believers in Christ. Anyone could use his name. Jesus demonstrated that when he declined to stop a non-disciple from using his name to perform miracles:

38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us : and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.
39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not : for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.
40 For he that is not against us is aon our part. (Mark 9)


18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18)


There are several baptisms spoken of in the Book of Mormon:

Of Repentance

22 And again the Lord called others, and said unto them likewise; and he gave unto them power to baptize. And he said unto them: On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you.
23 Verily I say unto you, that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words, and desireth to be baptized in my name, on this wise shall ye baptize them – Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptize them.
24 And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying:
25 Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
26 And then shall ye immerse them in the water, and come forth again out of the water. (3 Nephi 11)


1. Not for those who are without sin: not children, infants, the comatose, or the ignorant.

11 And their little children need no repentance, neither baptism. Behold, baptism is unto repentance to the fulfilling the commandments unto the remission of sins. (Moroni 8)

2. The sinner must have repented of their sins before being baptism.

Are eight year children being put through steps of repentance, just as 30 or 40 year old investigators are? 

Of Acceptance

There is another form of baptism which is used to show acceptance.

Of a Covenant

12 And now it came to pass that Alma took Helam, he being one of the first, and went and stood forth in the water, and cried, saying: O Lord, pour out thy Spirit upon thy servant, that he may do this work with holiness of heart.
13 And when he had said these words, the Spirit of the Lord was upon him, and he said: Helam, I baptize thee, having authority from the Almighty God, as a testimony that ye have entered into a covenant to serve him until you are dead as to the mortal body; and may the Spirit of the Lord be poured out upon you; and may he grant unto you eternal life, through the redemption of Christ, whom he has prepared from the foundation of the world. (Mosiah 18)

Of a Belief in Jesus

21 And the Lord said unto him: I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people when I am again ascended into heaven. (3 Nephi 11)

“This people” had already been baptized before Jesus arrived for repentance and the remission of their sins:

23 Thus passed away the thirty and second year also. And Nephi did cry unto the people in the commencement of the thirty and third year; and he did preach unto them repentance and remission of sins.
24 Now I would have you to remember also, that there were none who were brought unto repentance who were not baptized with water.
25 Therefore, there were ordained of Nephi, men unto this ministry, that all such as should come unto them should be baptized with water, and this as a witness and a testimony before God, and unto the people, that they had repented and received a remission of their sins.
26 And there were many in the commencement of this year that were baptized unto repentance; and thus the more part of the year did pass away. (3 Nephi 7)

The baptism Jesus commanded the people to receive was out of a belief in him:

33 And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.
34 And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned. (3 Nephi 11)  

Gift of the Holy Spirit

Unlike Mormons who believe the “gift” of the Holy Ghost is given after baptism “by the laying on of hands” by someone with their melchezidek priesthood, it is called a “gift” because it is free to all:

17 The Holy Ghost which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him. (1 Nephi 10)

20 Whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost (3 Nephi 9)

44 While Peter yet spake these words the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished as many as came with Peter because thaton the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? (Acts 10)


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.


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, 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)


Denominationalism VS. Christianity

Denominationalism Christianity
Many Bodies or churches. One body or church Mat. 16:18,
1 Cor.12:20.
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
(Rom. 16:16)
You join a denomination.

God adds you to His church
(Acts 2:47)

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
(John 17:20,21)
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
essential to salvation (Eph 5:23)


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.


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
  • Pastors
  • The Order of Worship.
  • The Sermon.
  • The Pulpit.
  • The Pew.
  • The Choir.
  • Sunday School.
  • Seminary
  • 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
  • Sprinkling
  • The Lord’s Supper condensed from a Full “Agape” Meal to Only the Cup and the Bread
  • Seminary
  • 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)

Timothy Williams

  • Insanity in the Church, (Enumclaw, WA: WinePress Publishing, 2001)
  • Even the Demons Believe, 3rd edition 2003 (Enumclaw, WA: WinePress Publishing, 2001)

Jon Zens

  • 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)

David Fredrickson

  • 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.)

Church Architecture

Further Study: The meaning and evolution of church architecture.


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) 


Communion is only required of those who have been baptized, i.e not children, etc.


The message of Salvation is found in The Most Holy & Sacred Book of Mormon and is supported by the New Testament, although the New Testament lacks the simple instructions regarding baptism and the communion. The assurance of those who place their faith and hope in Jesus; who follow through with the outward ordinance of baptism (after repentance) is confirmed in both New Covenants records and is simple beyond measure and is not about works i.e. church attendance or service.

The Most Holy & Sacred Book of Mormon confirms its simplicity by the following:

19 And behold, I have given you the law and the commandments of my Father, that ye shall believe in me, and that ye shall repent of your sins, and come unto me with a BROKEN HEART and a CONTRITE SPIRIT. Behold, ye have the commandments before you, and the law is fulfilled. (3 Nephi 12)