Beware of the Churches of Christ and Christian Churches (A Satire) by: George L. Faull

You cannot be in religious circles very long till you encounter a member of the Christian Church or Church of Christ. These people are often aggressive in trying to get you to study with them or visit one of their congregations. They have many radio and television programs which propagate their unique teachings. I wish to expose to you where the Churches of Christ and Christian Churches differ from Evangelical Churches, so that you will not be taken in by them.

FIRST, THEY ARE A PEOPLE OF CLICHÉS. They use clichés like: "Where the Bible speaks, we speak, and where the Bible is silent, we are silent." Another one of their mottos is: "Book, chapter and verse for everything we believe and practice." or "In matters of faith, unity; in opinions, liberty, and in all things, love." or "The Bible only makes Christians only". These clichés are worthless idealism. There is no use to pray that we may be one, cause men are just never going to speak the same things and be of the same judgment. It is naive to think that all who name the Name of Christ could be one body. Just because Jesus prayed that we might be one, does not mean that it can be done.

SECOND, THEY REJECT CREEDS. They say that they have "No creed but Christ!" They have a saying that says, "If creeds say less than the Bible, it doesn't say enough; if more than the Bible, it says too much, and if it says just what the Bible says, it is unnecessary." Isn't that preposterous? They say, "Creeds do not unite, they divide." But creeds are a part of a long tradition, and are necessary to distinguish the denominational sects among us. How would we know the difference in Churches without creeds?

THIRD, THESE RADICALS THINK DENOMINATIONALISM IS WRONG. They quote Paul in defense of their weird contention. I Corinthians 1:10-13, "(10) Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and [that] there be no divisions among you; but [that] ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. (11) For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them [which are of the house] of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. (12) Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. (13) Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" They substI­tute the names of Wesley, Calvin and Luther for Paul, Apollos, and Cephas, and think It Is as applicable today as It was when Paul wrote It. This is one of the evils of this group. They show a certain respect to the Reformers, but they don't hold them in the high regard that they should. These reformers deserve to be honored more by the Church of Christ folk. They only quote them when they agree with them on things. For ex­ample, they will quote Luther when he said, "Leave my name alone, my doctrine is not mine, and you were not baptized in my name. Call yourselves Christians after Him from whom our doctrines come." They don't quote the Church fathers for authority, but only as witnesses that the reformers agree with them on some particular practice or teaching. They accuse those who establish their doctrines on the traditions of men of worshipping in vain. They quote Jesus, "In vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" as proof that denominationalism is sinful. You can see that they are a quarrelsome people.

FOURTH, THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST and CHRISTIAN CHURCHES REJECT THE IDEA OF THE CHURCH HAVING A WORLD HEADQUARTERS. They think it is as presumptuous to have a president of a denomination as it is to have a pope. They say that neither are in the Bible. This is another example of their absurd, "Is it Scriptural?" or "Back to the Bible" mentality. Their Churches are all locally autonomous with men in the local Church called Elders who oversee the Church. Many of these men are just farmers or factory workers! Can you imagine such unlearned and ignorant men overseeing the Church of God? We need educated and learned men to set down guidelines and rules for the ignorant, uninformed laity.

FIFTH, THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST and CHRISTIAN CHURCHES ONLY BAPTIZE BELIEVERS. They refuse to baptize infants, thereby causing little babies to be dammed. They say that the Scripture, "Suffer the little children to come unto Me" is out of context when used to prove infant baptism. They say it does not even mention baptism. They foolishly argue that children are innocent and do not have the guilt of original sin. They quote Ezekiel 18:20, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him." They also deny that little children are totally depraved and say that unless an adult becomes as little children, they cannot be saved. They say that Jesus said that we must "believe and be baptized", and Peter said that we must "repent and be baptized," and that Paul was told to "be baptized while calling on the Name of the Lord". In other words, faith, repentance, and a conscious call for mercy to God must precede baptism. This is another example of their demanding a Scriptural precedent for their every action. I am sure the reader can see through this facade.

SIXTH, THEY BELIEVE THAT YOU MUST BE BAPTIZED TO BE SAVED. They ignore the fact that the thief on the cross was saved without being baptized. They say that Jesus had not died yet, so He was not under the New Will or Testament, and that Jesus, being yet alive, could forgive whomever He would. They also show that every conversion in the Book of Acts records the baptism of the convert. But that's just a coincidence. They say Churches turn Jesus' command in the Great Commission all around. They say that those who baptize infants act as if Jesus said, "He that is baptized and is saved, shall believe." They say those who are saying you don't have to be baptized, act as if Jesus said, He that believeth and is saved should be baptized." They say those who believe everyone is going to be saved, act as if Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be saved also. "Then they say, "But what Jesus said was, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark 16:16). This is another example of their legalism. They also quote Acts 2:38 to prove that repentance and baptism precede the remission of sins and the receiving of the Holy Spirit. "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." (Acts 2:38). They use about a half a dozen other Scriptures to prove that baptism Is essential to salvation such as: Galatians 3:27, "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." 'Peter 3:21, "The like figure whereunto [even] baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrec­tion of Jesus Christ: Romans 6:1-10, "(1) What shall we say then? Shall we con­tinue in sin, that grace may abound? (2) God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? (3) Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? (4) Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (5) For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection: (6) Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (7) For he that is dead is freed from sin. (8) Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: (9) Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. (10) For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

However, we know that if you go to any evangelical preacher for some professional help, these verses can be explained away. Salvation is by faith alone, works are not needed.

SEVENTH, THEY BELIEVE ANY BELIEVER CAN BAPTIZE. The trouble with the Church of Christ folk is that they do not hold the clergy system in the regard they should. They stress the priesthood of all believers, and they let the one who taught the prospects, baptize them! They also don't vote on whether the convert can be baptized. They stress that "whosoever will may come." In fact, they practice open communion and let the person judge himself as to whether he will partake. The leaders don't have any say as to who is baptized or communes. Sometimes the people will bring their friends whom they just baptized to meet the preacher! Carried to its natural conclusion, this would do away with the entire clergy system, and rob the leaders of their authority.

EIGHTH, THEY BELIEVE YOU CAN KNOW THAT YOU ARE SAVED. They are so arrogant. They speak confidently of going to Heaven. They quote' John 5:13 as proof that they know they are saved. , John 5:13, "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." Such presumption should not be in a Christian. We don't know if we are good enough to be saved.

NINTH, THEY GIVE MONEY STRAIGHT TO THE MISSIONARIES. Rather than giving money to a missions board and letting experts decide if a missionary is qualified and sound, the Church of Christ folk give straight to the ones they wish to support. They argue that this way 100% of a dollar is used for evangelizing the lost. They say mission boards eat up the money for useless and unnecessary salaries, offices, and supplies. In fact, the Churches of Christ and Christian Churches have been known to directly support missionaries who do not even have an accredit­ed degree. This looseness is defended by the fact that Jesus and His apostles didn't have degrees. I think my readers can see the weakness of that argument. A man should have no less than an accredited Master's degree to go teach those supersti­tious and ignorant people of the world. They also call attention to the evil World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches, and their support of political murders and insurrection.

TENTH, THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST and CHRISTIAN CHURCHES HAVE MANY OTHER UNIQUE PRACTICES. They take communion each week like the early Church did. They don't call their preacher "Reverend" nor do their preachers dress as clergymen. They try not to go beyond what is written and try to teach whatever was taught by the apostles in the first century. They usually don't have women preachers or elders, except a few Churches have given in to today's peer pressure from women.

From the above facts, I think you can see that you should avoid this group. They are opinionated, dogmatic and self righteous. They seem to think they are right and others wrong. Though correct on the essentials of the deity of Christ, the virgin birth and the bodily resurrection of Christ, they are fanatics about doing things the Scriptural way. Their views would mean preachers of most evangelical Churches were either ignorant of the Scriptures, or teaching what they ought not for advantage.

Beware when you meet these Bible toters and Bible quoters. They are just trying to bring you into a sect that makes the Bible alone the basis of what is right or wrong. This is too narrow of a way, and you need to broaden your opportunities. The old paths need to be forsaken and new ways need to be explored to worship Christ.

George L. Faull is President of Summit Theological Seminary in Peru, Indiana.
Article reproduced from The Gospel Unashamed, April 1993.