HUGH’S NEWS & VIEWS
THE MOVE TO BRING THE CHURCH OF CHRIST TO DENOMINATIONAL STATUS (Part 2)
Some 40 years ago, a prominent preacher in the church of Christ proclaimed that “the Church of Christ is a big, sick, denomination,” and went on to say, “and I meant all three of those words—big and sick and denomination.”
This preacher is a long-time friend of mine, going all the way back to our student days at Freed-Hardeman College in the 1950s. I hold no animosity toward him as a person, and love him as a brother in Christ, but I do strongly disagree with his assessment of the church on all three scores.
First, compared to the churches that have originated with men, the church of our Lord is not “big” (see Matthew 7:13-14), though I question the ability of anyone to accurately quantify all who have obeyed the gospel and been added to the spiritual body (church) of Christ.
Second, while some members and some congregations no doubt “are weak and sick . . . and many sleep” (I Corinthians 11:30), I deny that the church as a whole is “sick.”
Third, unless what Jesus built (Matthew 16:18) was a denomination or unless one today cannot be a member of what Jesus built without being a member of a denomination, I deny that the church is a “denomination.” (Note: The Judaizers of the first century alleged that a Gentile could not become a Christian without first becoming a Jew, and some among us today seem to think that one cannot become a Christian, a member of the church (body) of Christ, without first becoming a member of a denomination!)
In a book published in 2011 under the title, What Must the Church of Christ Do to be Saved?, the author (who sees himself as a modern-day reformer), in response to the question that serves as the book’s title, included a chapter titled “Come To Terms With Our Status As A Denomination.” In this chapter he forthrightly asserts that this is what churches of Christ should do—admit that they are a denomination! (In another chapter he declares that we should “Have Our Own Vatican II.”) Continue reading