WHAT KIND OF PREACHER AM I?
A few weeks ago I wrote under the heading, “Sixty-Two Years of Preaching.” While I do not introduce myself to others as a preacher, and while I do not wear the titles of “Reverend,” “Pastor,” or “Father,” and while I do not wear any special “clerical” garb (either in or out of the pulpit), in spite of it all people still sometimes find out that I am a preacher. When I walk into my local barber shop, one of the barbers always greets me with a loud, “Come in, pastor,” code language for the other customers to watch their language and their jokes because a preacher is on the scene! (Yes, I still go to an old-fashion, “men’s only” barber shop, rather than one of those modern unisex salons!) When people learn that I am a preacher almost immediately their next question is, “What kind of preacher are you?”
To those who can only think in sectarian and denominational terms, I am a “Church of Christ” preacher. Thus, it may come as a shock to a number of my readers to learn that I disavow being a “Church of Christ” preacher. Further, I disavow being “Church of Christ” in my religious affiliation.
Now don’t misunderstand me. I am a member of Christ’s church, the church of the Lord, the church that Christ established, the church of which we read in the New Testament, God’s church. But I am not a member of any denomination—not one called the Church of Christ, the Church of God, or any other designation intended to have a denominational connotation. I am simply a Christian, a disciple of Christ, a member of the spiritual body of Christ. I profess to be nothing other than a plain, simple gospel preacher.
What “kinds” of preachers were the apostles of Christ? What “kind” of preacher was Paul? Barnabas? Silas? Apollos? Timothy? Titus? They were all Christians, members of the body (church) of Christ, but were they “Church of Christ” preachers? No, not any more so than they were “Church of God” preachers! (See Galatians 1:13; et al).
Further, I am not a preacher of “our brotherhood,” “our fellowship,” “our heritage,” “our tradition,” “our tributary,” or “our tribe”! All of these are decidedly sectarian and denominational ways of viewing those of us who are committed to being Christians only without denominational affiliation, simply members of the body of Christ.
It is hard in our sadly divided religious world for people not to think in denominational terms and employ denominational terminology. I do not charge all of those who think and speak denominationally with doing so maliciously or intentionally. Many members of the church simply have not thought about the way they express themselves and have fallen into the easy (lazy?) habit of speaking in a denominational fashion.
On the other hand, there are those among us who take great delight in speaking of the church as a denomination because they are committed to an agenda of bringing the autonomous churches of Christ to denominational status, and are brazen in their effort to do so. Such will never happen, however, except in their own twisted and unbiblical thinking!
But we need to think seriously about our concept of the church and the concept of the church we are conveying by our speech. We need to study our Bibles and get a clear, biblical view of the church. Instead of celebrating religious pluralism and being thankful for “all the many churches” and “all the many ways to God,” we need to be concerned about the way of Christ and the way of the cross (see John 14:6; Galatians 6:14).
If I can help point people to Christ and His way, if they are interested in learning what the New Testament says about what one must do to be saved from sin and added to the church Christ established, if they are interested in learning how to acceptably worship the Lord, if they need help in learning how to live a faithful Christian life, then that is what my ministry is about. But I represent no religious party, no sectarian group, no denominational body. I have no speculative theory to advance or religious “hobby horse” to ride. I do not have the answers to questions about which the Bible is silent (but about which curiosity seekers are sometimes more interested than they are in the questions that should really concern them).
So, what kind of preacher am I? Just a plain, simple gospel preacher, seeking to “work out [my] own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12), in compliance with God’s will as set forth in the inspired Scriptures.
June 2, 2015