Errors of the Church of Christ (13)

True Church

Based on the responses, this essay is one of Al Maxey’s biggest hits. Please read Maxey on The Universal Body and offer your critique.

 RT – I ask that you forgive me since I do not plan on reading what Al said. Some years ago I did, but when I saw it was an agenda based on one’s preference, I turned away.

Are we saved by the Church of Christ, or the Christ of the church?

 RT – We are saved by Christ.

Walter Scott in the preface of his book, The Gospel Restored, said: “In 1827 the True Gospel was restored. For distinction’s sake it was styled the Ancient Gospel.” In a more recent Church of Christ tract, the writer says: “She [the church] was HIDDEN for 1260 years, that she might be protected from the power of the Popes.” Is it true that some within the CC still teach that the true church was really completely hidden for some 1260 years, so hidden in fact that Alexander Campbell had to find a Baptist preacher to baptize him?

 RT- You’ll forgive me if I fail to see the importance of these remarks and this question. Does it matter what some might think relative to this?

Apparently not all CC people have this understanding of the 1260 year church gap. Some only say that the true church existed during those 1260 years, although believers had to worship in secret lest they be persecuted by the apostate Catholic church. But if you do hold to the gap view, what is the meaning of Mat 28:20 (“And lo, I am with you all the days, even unto the end of the age.”)? AndEphesians 3:21 (“Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.”) If the church was in apostasy for centuries, why does Jesus say, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it”?

RT – What the Lord said rings true whether the church is large or small; whether the church is in one location or many. With regard to the opinions of men you have offered, there is no incompatibility in the words of Jesus and the thinking of some men. If there is you’ll need to demonstrate. Perhaps a reading of Revelation 12 would be useful.  

Is it correct that sometimes the CC considers Christians who “do not walk with you,” as Ketcherside claims (chapter 22, Butting Brethren) to be “hobbyists, or dishonest, or insincere, or sectarians, or unworthy of notice?” Did Jesus die for a particular party within Christendom? Do you know precisely where God would draw the line to eliminate certain people from being considered Christians? How would you define “sect?” Would you define it differently than Cecil Hook (chapter 24 beginning on page 84, One Hundred)?

 RT – These questions have no real value with regard to what the Scriptures teach. They may be of interest to some, but not to me. With regard to your question – that has been answered previously.

Hasn’t the church always been in need of reform and restoration—even from the beginning, as evidenced by Paul’ letters to his churches? If a man loses his leg, doesn’t he still have the essential nature of a man? If the church loses some correct practices, doesn’t it still have the essential nature of a church (chapter 19, Identity)?

RT – Whenever there is a human involved in administering the Lord’s teaching to self (or others) there will need to be reform. That is the nature of the case because man is far removed from the Lord – apart from Jesus. Yes, the essential nature of man is still intact with the loss of a leg, but the loss is a loss, and the ability to do as the Creator designed to be done is lost. What of a church? The nature of a church may still be intact with a loss of “some correct practices.” However, the loss of a leg is accidental (medical), is the loss of “some correct practice” the same? While the answer is readily apparent, let us develop this answer a bit more. Simply having the “essential nature of a church” is inadequate to the problem at hand. If there is (or are) correct practices to a church, and that correct practice is not applied, will the originator of that “correct practice” be pleased when there is a failing (or refusal) to implement His will?

The concept of the restoration of the true church is a view that the CC holds in common with Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. If the church only existed in “seed” (meaning the Word) as you say during this church gap period, where in the “seed” does it prophecy that Alexander Campbell and his followers would restore the church? Or where in the “seed” does it authorize anyone to restore the church?

RT – This seems to illustrate a tremendous failing to understand the restoration movement. Since the seed will produce like kind, and the word of God is the seed to growth (Luke 8:11), what is it that will be produced but that which God designed? Is there fault to be found in the sentiment: “Let us call Bible things by Bible names and let us do Bible things in Bible ways.”? This is not a comprehensive sentiment, but it is useful to serve its purpose. The seed is God’s chosen method to produce in man what He wants accomplished. I gather that you have found fault in what some men have attempted to do in implementation of this. That’s your prerogative, I suppose. I will not find fault. What I will do, however, is measure everything taught by man against the Lord’s revealed will (John 12:48; 1 John 4:1). You criticize anyone who follows A. Campbell, and that might be an acceptable thing (when it comes to religious ideology) because Campbell is not the standard of authority of any Christian. Your last question amazes me.

Is it fair to accuse other Christians groups of being started by men, when history clearly shows that the Church of Christ was started by men—Thomas and Alexander Campbell on May 4, 1811?

RT – No, it would not be fair if your assertion were true. On the other hand, let us call into question your assertion, and with that I will wait until you establish your assertion. For the record, your attempt will not be difficult to handle!

How does the Bible differentiate between joining a local congregation and joining the universal church of Christ (chapter 22, Your Church)?

RT – In Scripture it is the Lord who adds to the church (Acts 2:47). Those that belong to Him He has sealed (Ephesians 1:13). Joining a local congregation is a local thing, nothing more.