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This is a difficult question to answer due to the label "Church of Christ" being such a broad description. There are many churches who refer to themselves as the "Church of Christ." Even within the...
I am a member of the a cappella singing church of Christ. I was not reared in the church of Christ. My family attended a church that evolved through several denominations over several years. It was 1950. I was a high school student. I was a Boy Scout and a 4-H Club member. On special Sundays we would visit host churches. I experienced a variety of worship services through the years. It was a time in my life when I was searching for truth because I was concerned about spiritual matters - salvation, heaven, hell, judgment, eternal life, etc. I was invited by a friend to be his guest at a church of Christ worship service and Sunday school class. I was impressed. They studied the Bible. A slogan often heard back then was: “We want to speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where it is silent.” This is a Scriptural principle, (1 Peter 4:11 & Revelation 22:18, 19) May I share my impressions of the churches of Christ. We baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit for the remission/forgiveness of sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:18-20 & Acts 2:38) We partake of the Lord’s Supper/Communion on the first day of every week (Sunday). (Acts 20:7) We contribute our financial offering one time each week on Sundays. (1 Corinthians 16:2) Most of our ministries, if not all of them, throughout the world do not solicit funds from non-members of the churches of Christ, and then, the offerings from members are voluntary. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8) Note: non-members are welcome to help financially if they choose. Church members are not “taxed” or compelled to contribute a specific amount by any authority in the church. Each congregation is autonomous/self-governing by a body of elders. There is no national or world headquarters. Why the name Church of Christ? Well, one reason is for a listing in the telephone directory. The church needs a name to designate the group. There are several Scriptural names for the Lord’s church. However, Jesus said to his disciples, after Peter’s confession in Matthew 16:18: “Upon this rock I will build my church.” If we can consider the Lord’s church as his bride. (Ephesians 5:22-33) Why not wear his name? (Romans 16:16) Again, please note: there are several names used in Scripture to refer to the Lord’s church. Regarding a cappella singing in our worship services. A cappella singing sounds good. However, the main influence for me concerning a cappella singing in the worship is that historically an instrument was not introduced into worship until the tenth century. Man did that, not Scripture. Singing is endorsed in New Testament Scripture. Regarding baptism: we believe baptism is essential to salvation. Many try to explain it away, i.e. they teach that baptism is not essential to God’s plan of salvation. I am concerned about those who explain it away because if in the day of judgment they learn that God, Jesus, the Apostles, and the writers of the New Testament meant baptism is essential to salvation, then a lot of souls will be in jeopardy because they were not buried in baptism to arise from the watery grave to walk in a new life, as a new creature in Christ. (Romans 6:1-4 & Colossians 2:12) In closing, please consider these comments as my personal impressions of the churches of Christ. I have these convictions based on my study of God’s word. There may be other members who do not hold to these views. Each one of us is personally responsible for our conduct and our relationship with God in this life. 2 Corintians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. Blessings
I was raised in the "Church of Christ" and taught to believe in the three main tenets above. I was baptized when I was twelve years old. Since that time I left all organized religion for several years. I reconnected with God when I was 52 years old, based on my wife's example as a Christ follower. I returned as an adult, anxious to study God's Word to learn and study these three main areas to learn their true meaning; not just what I had learned by rote. I have since read the Bible through 13 times and CONTINUE to learn new things. I have gone back to college to get a second degree in Christian Studies. (My first was a Bachelor of Business Adminstration) As far as a capella (non-instrumental) music goes, I have come to the conclusion that worshipping God with JOY, in whatever form that entails, is not only scriptural, but encouraged throughout God's Word. If my research is correct, the Church of Christ's belief in non-instrumental music is based on David Lipscomb's interpretation of the bible verse that tells us to sing and make melody in our hearts. That should not preclude our ability to enhance and enrich our worship with beautiful instrumental accompaniment. I have also, in my studies, learned that we are saved by GRACE through our faith that Jesus Christ is our savior and our redeemer. After my studies I have come to believe that it is important to be baptized to show the world our faith and our rebirth as Christ followers. A symbol of our belief, much like our wedding ring is a symbol of our commitment in marriage. The last major misconception in the "Church of Christ's" major belief system is that they are the only ones going to heaven. This legalistic view of who will or won't get into heaven is simply stated, "ludicrous". C.S. Lewis, in his book "Mere Christianity" likens today's Church as to a long hallway with many doors leading off of it. These doors lead to many denominations. Mr. Lewis states that our main objective is to get in the main hallway, that is the Church. Which door or denomination or which set or rules we choose to live by as Christ followers is inconsequential as long as we are saved by being in the "hallway" of the Church.
I have grown up in the churches of Christ since the womb, and as an adult have found so much that I love about them and also some that I disagree with. I really appreciate the answers that clearly show grace and don't dismiss the coC as a cult because yes: there are legalistic views (something most coCers struggle with, myself included) but there are also very practical, godly, good and most importantly, Scriptural things that are taught. Nothing is wrong that the coC espouses...it is when it becomes dogmatic and a yolk is built that is apart from the only yolk we need to carry: that of Christ's. But hear me saying: ALL CHURCHES AND DENOMINATIONS DO THIS, even the "bible churches" that have sprung up everywhere. If you look at "about" pages for any local church, you will quickly see the things they find important and they put value on and what they expect "members" to buy into as well. One thing I love in the church of Christ is their focus on Bible-based teaching, especially in children's ministry. My 3 children know Scripture better than 95% of adults I know that attend "Bible-based Community Churches" or other denominational churches. That is not pride speaking, but fact. I appreciate that the church of Christ (I have attended 6 over my life) all do the same thing...they strive to know God and his Word. That is not bad and it certainly is not cult-like. I would also add that while I agree we should not push any dogmatic practice on others, others should not judge the motivations of churches of Christ. Romans 2:15- They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. Romans 14:1-3 Accept other believers who are weak in conscience, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. 1 Corinthians 8:9-11 But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble. For if others see you—with your “superior knowledge”—eating in the temple of an idol, won’t they be encouraged to violate their conscience by eating food that has been offered to an idol? So because of your "superior knowledge," someone with a weak conscience for whom Christ died will be destroyed. You who condemn the churches of Christ may feel you have "superior knowledge" but that doesn't mean you do. It just means you have interpreted something differently. The bottom line is this: don't cause someone else to violate his conscience and don't push dogma on others. No single church is perfect (little "c" church). But the Church (the Bride of Christ) IS, and we are all added BY GOD to it. Fighting about right and wrong interpretations is counter-productive and makes unity in the Church very difficult.
I just want to add a couple of thoughts here. The Churches of Christ are somewhat unique in that there is no centralized governing body. Each church governs itself. So, there are groups that use instruments in their worship. There are some people who believe that only people in these groups will go to Heaven, but there are many who are more "broad minded", if I may. Max Lucado is a church of Christ preacher, after all. As regards the necessity of Baptism, it, along with a weekly Communion, are the two things that virtually all local churches would agree on. I won't get into the theology of it here, but, in a nutshell, this: Remember there's no New Testament conversion that doesn't involve baptism, save the thief on the cross and Christ hadn't yet died for him, so there was no death and resurrection to be baptized into. The only way to judge a church of Christ (or any church of any denomination, really) is to spend some time with the group and find out for yourself. There are some old-school dry, legalistic groups, for sure, but there's many more that are full of grace and joy.
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