"The only difference between the church of Christ and the Christian Church is instrumental music" is one of the sad statements that we so often hear today, and is sometimes made by church members.
We have many friends in the Christian Church whom we would welcome with open arms should they lay down their sectarian practices. We ever plead for them to return to the first love.
Many and varied are the differences, and it is a saddening thing to see the break ever widening. The name "Christian" is for individual members and not for the church. Christ is the head of the church, and His church is named after Him, not after the membership. It remains for children to wear the family name rather than the family being named after the children. It is erroneous to say, "Since we are Christians we will have 'Christian churches.'" The gospel nowhere speaks of congregations as Christian churches. Truly the church is made up of Christians the same as a material house might be made up of bricks but the name is not "Christian church". The name denotes ownership and the church of our Lord is referred to as the "church of the firstborn" and the "churches of Christ" (Romans 16:16). Though we are children of God, we yet would not call His church "Children's church."
We appeal to the Christian Church to give proper honor to Jesus Christ through his body. In the split between the Christian Church and the church of Christ a great brotherhood was divided, and today there stands this division which is as displeasing to God as division was when Paul wrote the first chapter of Corinthians. Christ's church was established in the city of Jerusalem 33 A.D. in fulfillment of the prophecies of God. The Christian Church is modern, originating in an innovation at St. Louis, MO less than a century ago. The church of Christ would welcome the return of this brotherhood which drifted from them, and has never ceased to pray for scriptural unity. As always, the basis of unity must be the word of God, and this continues to be our plea, as it has ever been to a divided religious world. We must ever speak where the Bible speaks, and be silent where the bible is silent. God's word must be kept and preached in its purity: His silence must not be imposed upon.
For those who may desire to know the differences, some vital contrasts are here shown:
Churches of Christ: Scriptural name (Romans 16:16).
Christian Church: Unscriptural name.
Churches of Christ: Scriptural organization (Philippians 1:1).
Christian Church: Unscriptural organization boards, circles, machinery, societies, aids.
Churches of Christ: Scriptural giving (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).
Christian Church: Unscriptural money schemes, dinners, etc.
Churches of Christ: Scriptural song service (Colossians 3:16).
Christian Church: Unscriptural music in worship, sing and play.
Church of Christ: Uncompromising attitude toward false doctrine (Ephesians 5:11).
Christian Church: Compromising and cooperative attitude toward denominations (2 John 11).
Church of Christ: Scriptural adherence to New Testament identity of the church in name, creed, terms of salvation, worship, and work.
Christian Church: Soft pedaling of the identity, name, creed, doctrine and other New Testament principles.
Church of Christ: Women in their scriptural work.
Christian Church: Women leadership, preachers, and rulers.
Church of Christ: Elders and overseers (Acts 20:28).
Christian Church: Board and majority rule.
Church of Christ: Preachers and evangelists (Acts 21:8).
Christian Church: Preachers, "pastors," and "reverends".
Church of Christ: Observes first day of the week as the Lord's Day (Revelation 1:10).
Christian Church: Observes also in many instances pre-Easter, Easter, Maundy Thursday, candlelight communion, Children's day, Mother's day, Father's day, etc.
Church of Christ: Worships in spirit and truth (John 4:24).
Christian Church: Sometimes leave both spirit and the truth, substituting them with modern inventions to "get the crowds" and to entertain.
These differences are pointed out in love and friendship, openly; as the rift is open, and it is hoped that someday the wound may be healed by the return of the Christian Church. It may be argued that the Christian Church is progressive, but the scriptures read "Whosoever goeth onward (American Standard Version) and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God" (2 John 9). It may be argued that it is "broad," hence fellowships denominationalism. Again we read 2 John 11: "He that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." Think of fellowshipping the program of denominational names and organization; the program of Baptist "closed communion", "once in grace always in grace," the program of Methodist "sprinkling" and "infant membership"; "faith only" in most denominations; of "direct operation of the Holy Spirit" among "Holiness" people; of "getting religion and joining the church of your choice"; of "being saved out of the church." Picture Paul exchanging pulpits with Ananias the high priest; of Stephen being the "guest pastor" at the Sanhedrin; or the Epicureans having "charge" of the service of the church at Antioch of Jerusalem. Imagine the Methodist preacher hurrying from a "sprinkling" program to "supply" while the Christian "pastor" is away, or the Lutheran clergyman coming immediately from his mass of consubstantiation to "bring the message" at the Christian Church, or the "holiness" preacher who comes from a ranting "divine healing" or "Holy Spirit baptism" service to try to preach a gospel sermon to the Christian Church. It is wrong to fellowship denominations; to say they have not the right name, creed, or terms of salvation, or right baptism; and then to criticize the church of Christ for refusing to "cooperate" with or fellowship error (I admire the man who stands firm on his convictions and am persuaded that the world does). It is unfair to refuse to expose error in people who have been led astray and to refuse to teach the truth. The Christian Church is unfair to itself because every innovation it introduces drives its more spiritually- minded members elsewhere. It weakens its fortifications and surrenders its plea. It has borrowed the denominational phraseology until it has lost much of the ring of the "oracles of God."
To our friends who teach and practice the gospel plan of salvation we plead: Repentturn back; confess your errors; remove your innovations; remove the name Christian Church; reorganize scripturally; and seek the old paths and worship God as a loyal congregation refusing to join hands with sectarianism and compromise. Fellowship your so-called "conservative brethren" by refusing to sacrifice the height of the ideals of the New Testament church, the depth of its purity and the mission it must perform.
By Boyd Morgan from FCGN November 1953)
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