Identity of the Church of Christ
Denomination or Not
Funk and Wagnalls Dictionary uses these definitions.
Denominate: from the Latin de-(lay)down nomen-name v. To give a name to; adj.Having a (specific) name. Denomination: 1. The act of naming or calling by name.2 A name; 3. Any specifically named class or group of things or people; 4. A religious group, or sect. Denominationalism: 1. A disposition to divide into or form denominations; 2. Rigid adherence or devotion to a denomination or sect; aka sectarianism.
Thus we see that having a name means we are denominated specifically as a group, whether one single group locally or (part of) a larger entity on a larger scale. Who gave us this name? It was God who named us (Ephesians 3:15). We are called Christians as in the fact we claim our allegiance and devotion to Christ (Acts 11:26). We speak of our brethren and call them members of the church of Christ. We do have a name whereby we designate ourselves, the church of Christ. We are specifically named because we are not called fill in the blank. But even then, we must realize that we are a specific group of people that meet as a religious group and participate in a particular doctrine and practice. The New Testament described the early church as a sect (Acts 24:5; Acts 28:22). Let's face it, under the definitions above, we meet all but one of the definitions. We are a peculiar sect of God's people. So why do we get so upset when someone suggest that we meet the definition of a denomination? The answer is twofold.
One, the world's view just assumes that all denominations are the same or at least related in some form, and we do not like being associated with those others
Two, we have seen many of our brethren turn away from the truth and practice the religion that many of the false denominations practice and realize that this goes beyond God's authority. We see them act as the children of Israel did in 1 Samuel. They wanted to be like the nations around them, and were willing to do whatever was necessary to accomplish that identity. Since they wear the same name we are devoted to, our dilema emerges. . In fact we have been commanded to come out and be separate from those who do not respect God and His authority. How do we do this?
Although acting out of the deepest sense of sincerity, many brethren have adopted an adjective for the church of Christ. I am sure that we all have heard of the Non-institutional church of Christ. Rather than be content to identify ourselves as simply Christians that meet in a particular location, we give ourselves an additional name that is not recorded in scripture. Thus these brethren give the appearance of meeting the definition #1 of Denominationalism as printed above.
Some public media that is offered by certain brethren advertise that their services are for "the non-institutional church of Christ". On the internet, the religious sites all have two categories for the church of Christ. NI-COC is usually listed with the COC. And many have argued to justify the designator. And few see the danger in using such.
The liberal brethren have accomplished what they set out to do many years ago; get us to quit identifying with them. Brethren if we promote the truth rather than hide it, we will see them seek the need to separate from us. Many have already done so by dropping the name church of Christ from their literature and signs. Brethren, let us contend earnestly for the faith.
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