IS THE CHURCH OF CHRIST A DENOMINATION?

Neal Griffin

Church of Christ members tell their denominational friends that the Church of Christ is not a denomination. But, their friends are simply not buying it. Here are six reasons why:

1. To name an organization or institution is to denominate it. The various, so-called, scriptural names for God's people are not names at all, but rather, they are descriptions of "what" they are. The English word, "church", is an erroneous translation of the Greek word, "ecclesia', which only means a group or assembly. It carries NO religious connotation what-so-ever. To single out a descriptive term, and use it as a title, is to give God's called out people a title that He did not authorize. Many Church of Christ members try to evade the issue by using the lower case "c" in "church of Christ'. Not only does this evade the issue, but it is grammatically wrong. Failure to use correct grammar cannot keep something from being what it is.

2. But, one might argue, "The ecclesia is the bride of Christ, therefore it should have the name of its husband". This would be a good argument except for one very important fact. And that fact is that the custom of the bride taking her husband's name is a Western custom, and it cannot be stretched out of context to cover an Eastern situation. Does the Bible say, "Mr. and Mrs. Ananias?" Does it say, "Mr. and Mrs. Aquilla?" Libraries contain stacks of documentation confirming these two cultural differences.

3. When most logical thinkers see a prominent sign, similar to the signs of all denominations, put up on a building similar to all other denominational buildings, they correctly conclude that the sign indicates property owned by a denomination.

4. And, from the viewpoint of their friends, where do you find the name, "Church of Christ", in the phonebook? It is very clear to them that it is found in the yellow pages with all of the other denominations. And it does not make any difference whether they spell it with a little "c" or not.

5. Denominations have creeds. Churches of Christ have creeds. And in the words of one of their own notables, "There is only one thing worse than a written creed, and that is one that is not written."

Probably the most harmful aspect of their creed is the manner in which truth is determined. For example, when an issue comes up, instead of prayerfully studying all sides of it, they seek out the conclusions of the brotherhood preachers. There is absolutely nothing wrong with soliciting the opinions of respected brethren. What is wrong with this approach is the rejecting of all other viewpoints without looking into them. When they do this, the brotherhood position becomes their creed. One very dangerous tenet of this creed is the judgmental position that all are lost who do not agree with it. This attitude is very visible in the so-called "sound" Churches of Christ.

6. A Characteristic of denominationalism is the teaching of error. Many Churches of Christ (mostly by implication and emphasis) teach that Sunday church attendance is faithfulness.

They also teach that the methodical observance of the, so-called, five acts of worship, performed on Sunday in the Church of Christ building, constitutes "worship in spirit and truth". It is interesting to note, that when Jesus used the very words in the above quote, He said that worship that is in spirit and truth will not be confined to a place. John 4:23.

Many Churches of Christ teach that giving into the church coffers is an act of worship on a par with the Lord's Supper. Money is necessary in our economy, but must they equate giving into their coffers with the Lord's Supper in order to get their people to give? But they are quite ready to point the finger of guilt at the other denominations for their fund raising schemes. Which is worse, bingo or perversion of truth? Judge not lest ye be judged!

They teach that one legal system (the old law) was done away to make room for a new legal system. They are reluctant to teach that we are saved through faith. Somehow, they are reluctant to say that we are under a system of faith, and not a system of law. We cannot earn, or in any way, obligate God to save us. The blood of Jesus saves us by grace through faith. Jesus is our righteousness, and it is His righteousness that makes us worthy to be called children of God.

Jesus said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments". They teach, "Keep the commandments, and this IS loving God'. There is one big thing wrong with this "legal system" approach, and that is that it is exactly backwards. We should be motivated by a love for Jesus to keep His commandments, and not by a rigorous attitude of perfect law keeping. Even under the old law it was not their perfect law keeping that saved them. It was their faith. And it is that same faith by grace that saves us today. This great doctrinal fact needs to be declared to the world today.

Is the Church of Christ a denomination? Yes it is, and if you have placed your membership in it, you need to get out. God does not want schisms (denominations) in His family. (1 Cor. 1:10 and 1 Cor. 12:25) You can serve God acceptably without being a member of any man-made organization.