The Divisiveness Of The Church Of Christ Denomination
October 24, 2016
For those of us who are bewildered about the actions and words of those who belong to the Church of Christ, and for those, as well, within that denomination who wish to understand better why they are ostracizing themselves from others who uphold God’s Word, there is an excellent pdf book, written by insightful men within the CoC itself, which we can study. I have been reading through it this month and it is quite enlightening. It confirms what I have experienced in the past as well as recently, for instead of accepting that friends will, and can, differ in their interpretations of some passages of Scripture, there seems to be an insistence that others come to see their beliefs as being undeniably right. To this end many CoC people work, oblivious, or maybe just unconcerned, as to their combative, insensitive style, and to the betrayal others may feel when they realize that the CoC adherent’s main goal is making a convert rather than that of maintaining a friendship.
Should we not try to persuade others to believe what we are convinced is the Truth? Yes and no. Yes, when we are making a clear declaration that that is our main goal and are leaving it open for others to choose to listen or not, to share with us their beliefs and why they have those beliefs, and when we can drop those matters which cannot be agreed upon. However, if methods are employed such as condescension, intimidation, coercion, or deception, then the one “evangelizing” is not operating in the Holy Spirit, but rather in the sinful nature.
Gal. 5:19-21 makes that clear. There it tells us that the acts of the sinful nature are obvious and that along with such sins as sexual immorality, witchcraft, and fits of rage, the sins of discord, dissensions, and factions are also those sins which will keep a person from inheriting the Kingdom of God. In the pdf book I’ve mentioned that I’m reading, it is admitted that the CoC has many factions, that this is due to much infighting, argument, and contention, and that the majority perpetuate this behavior as if it is admirable to do so. This is largely discussed from chapters 14 on to the end, all of which I’ve read.
Now I am reading through the previous chapters, which I earlier skimmed. Letting their readers know that unity, not divisiveness, was the goal of the CoC founders, these authors lament that the exact opposite has come about. Here are three excerpts and I encourage everyone to read these carefully, noting how off course the CoC denomination has since gone:
~~From p. 31: It is ironic that a Movement that began as an effort to unite the Christians in all the sects should itself become the most divisive of any persuasion in Christendom. It would be like Quakers evolving into bitter warmongers or like Pentecostals becoming apathetic to the call to holiness. Not only did our pioneers preach unity, they also practiced it. The union effected at Lexington could only have occurred among people who were prepared to accept each other despite differences and to honor the right of private judgment.
~~From p. 37: It was here that Stone showed his magnanimity. Realizing that he had been too speculative in his handling of scripture, he resolved to cool it. He went on record as agreeing that there is but one thing necessary insofar as faith is concerned, for union in Christ, and that is believing that Jesus is the Son of God. And there is but one act that is required for entrance into the fellowship of the church, and that is immersion. Campbell had long stressed this believing the one fact, obeying the one act as the basis of fellowship, and Stone accepted it. Stone, however, never really believed in baptism as “essential to salvation,” the view that eventually emerged among the Campbellites, though Campbell himself avoided stating the idea that strongly. Stone’s definition of a Christian will interest you: “Whoever acknowledges the leading truths of Christianity, and conforms his life to that acknowledgement, we esteem a Christian.”
~~From p. 41: Then there are some that will draw the line on a sister or brother for taking a drink. I do not take drinks and I suppose I do not approve, but in the light of scripture do I have the right to impose my view upon others, demanding that they see it my way or be thrust from the fellowship? The scriptures clearly make drunkenness a sin, and I know of no one that disputes that. Here we can agree. But to deduce that one cannot therefore take a cocktail with his meals without sinning is to go beyond what the Bible says. The teetotaler may be right, but as Thomas Campbell liked to put it, he cannot impose his deduction upon others until they see it the way he does.
Where Scripture does not give a clear-cut command, we should never think we have the right to infringe upon others what we believe concerning those debatable issues. In the first four chapters of 1 Cor. we are warned about factions that tout one teacher over another. No, we are to follow Christ alone (3:21-23), for He is our only Master and Teacher (Mt. 23:8-10), our only Spiritual Authority (20:25,26), and the only Mediator between us and God. (1 Tim. 2:5) Moreover, the Lord alone is our Judge (1 Cor. 4:4), and we are not to judge the conscience or motives, nor the debatable beliefs and actions, of another one of Christ’s servants. (v. 5 // Rom. 14:1-4) “Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil.” (Rom. 14:16) And so that “you will not take pride in one man [and his doctrines] over against another” (1 Cor. 4:6), definitely “Do not go beyond what is written [in Scripture]” –!!! (Same verse) In spite of these warnings, the CoC continues to invent strict rules that are not stated in the Word of God. In the future I will address some of them.
Here is the link to the very helpful pdf book:
Again, I want to point out that this pdf book is written by those within the CoC but who see where their churches are erring and how they are hindering the furtherance of the Gospel. Those who are in the CoC should find it helpful and freeing, and so should anyone else who is being intimidated to believe as that denomination says we must.