This booklet has been compiled especially for reading by those within the “Restoration Movement”.
In the late 1700's there was unrest among many people. They desired to be "Christians Only" and not a member of a man-made denomination which they knew the Scriptures taught against. They were convinced that divisions among God's people was sin (John l7:21; I Corinthians 1:10). Little by little various groups began to withdraw from man-made denominations which wore man-made names and taught man-made doctrines. These people desired to wear Bible names, call Bible things by Bible names, do Bible things by the Bible's ways and to address the church by the name of the One who founded it (Jesus Christ).
Historians called this movement the "RESTORATION MOVEMENT", as those who became a part of it wanted to restore the church found in the Scriptures. This “New Testament Church” shared a motto which has been retained, “Where The Scriptures Speak, We Speak, Where They Are Silent, We Are Silent”.
However, after tremendous growth and being called by many "The Fastest Religious Movement In American History", the devil has done "his work" and has caused division again.
As of this writing, the group known as the independent Christian Church/Church of Christ has made an impact in the USA. They have well over a million members in nearly 6,000 congregations which govern themselves. They have over 100 youth camps, numerous benevolent associations (children's works, homes for elderly and homeless, nursing homes), campus ministries, Christian pre-schools and day-schools, Christian colleges and graduate schools, and liberal arts colleges, many counseling centers and evangelistic associations as well as many miscellaneous ministries and several hundred missionaries serving all over God's earth.
THE PROPOSlTlONS OF THE
“DECLARATION AND ADDRESS”
OF THOMAS CAMPBELL
AS SUMMARIZED BY
FREDRICK D. KERSHNER IN 1923
- I) That the Church of Christ is essentially, intentionally, and constitutionally one.
2) That although this unity presupposes and permits the existence of separate congregations or societies, there should be perfect harmony and unity of spirit among all of them.
3) That the Bible is the only rule of faith and practice for Christians.
4) That the Old and New Testaments alone contain the authoritative constitution of the Church of Christ.
5) That no human authority has power to amend or change the original constitution or laws of the church.
6) That inferences and deductions from the Scriptures, however valuable, can not be made binding upon the consciences of Christians.
7) That differences of opinion with regard to such inferences shall not be made tests of fellowship or communion.
8) That faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God is a sufficient profession to entitle a man or a woman to become a member of the Church of Christ.
9) That all who have made such a profession, and who manifest their sincerity by their conduct, should love each other as brethren and as members of the same body and joint-heirs of the same inheritance.
10) That division among Christians is anti-Christian, anti-scriptural, unnatural, and to be abhorred.
11) That neglect of the divine Will of God and the introductions of human innovations are and have been the cause of all the corruption and divisions that have ever taken place in the Church of God.
12) That all that is necessary to secure the highest state of purity and perfection in the church is to restore the original ordinances and constitution as exhibited in the New Testament.
13) That any additions to the New Testament program which circumstances may seem to require, shall be regarded as human expedients and shall not be given a place of higher authority in the church than is permitted by the fallible character of their origin.
It's good to discuss many things, but it is easy to see why we would disagree on things where the Bible does not go into detail. However, on matters concerning the teachings of Jesus Christ and salvation, there can be little disagreement. Thus, in essentials, we should strive for unity; & in non-essentials, liberty and, in all things, love. This is a great motto and should be desired.
Do we want unity as much as our spiritual forefathers so as to follow their example of the 1800s? Sorrowfully some among us seemingly have little desire for Christian unity
We Christians who are "independent" of denominational oversight or editorial oversight chose to separate from the "liberals" of the Disciples Of Christ denomination when they began practicing "open membership" (accepting un-immersed as if they were Christians) and denying that the Bible is God's inspired revelation to man. However, there are still many within the Disciples Of Christ who are very conservative in their thinking.
Likely most of us would still not be able to feel that those who deny the deity of Jesus or who choose to disregard His clear instructions are our "brothers" in Christ. We feel they are not IN Christ. We very much do desire fellowship with all who ARE in Christ (Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:27).
Back in the “hay day” of the Restoration Movement, new churches were the fuel that propelled the rocket forward. It was said of that period, “New churches spring up like dandelions in a lawn in the spring season.”
God must be very disappointed when He looks down from heaven and sees His family split over various opinions and interpretations. There have been a number of radical restorationists who seemingly insist upon having things their way. Their attitudes possibly have caused more division then they want to admit. However, their legalistic stands are well known.
One of the major teachings of those insisting on their way is as follows. To be a true Christian and a true church one must have book, chapter, and verse for everything they do in worship services or in their walk in life. They claim that if one does not have Scriptural authority then they can not use certain things in worship or do certain things. This school of thought says that if God has not commanded a certain thing then He prohibits it. This writer disagrees with this doctrine above. I contend that it has caused great division in the Lord’s church. I also contend that many families have been divided due to this teaching. A much more reasonable teaching would say that one can do anything in worship or in one’s walk in life that exalts Christ and is not contrary to Christian principles.
I would like to list several areas that some have chosen to point to as areas where there is no Scriptural authority and therefore does not receive God’s approval. They teach that it is sin. Thus, I have entitled this booklet, “So, Where Is The Scripture…?” that prohibits it. Some of these examples are:
1) A true church can not secure land and purchase a meeting place to conduct services. However, common sense states that when a few brethren grow into many and out-grow a house, doesn’t it make sense to erect a nice comfortable church building where worship services can be conducted? Thus, I contend as the title of this booklet, where is the Scripture that prohibits this? However, may one never get so wrapped up in the building that the main reason for the church is forgotten, and that is evangelism.
Thus, I contend as the title of this booklet, where is the Scripture that prohibits this?
2) A true church can not use any other translation of the Bible besides the King James Version. The KJV has been revised numerous times since its original translation in A.D. 1611.
Thus, I contend as the title of this booklet, where is the Scripture that prohibits newer translations? There is totally too much ignorance of the Word of God today even with various modern translations. A church who wants the membership to grow in knowledge of the Scriptures (II Peter. 3:18) will surely strive to promote translations that are understandable.
3) A true church can not have graded Sunday School Classes. Anyone who has ever taught a class of preschoolers or those of elementary age understands that one does not teach them on the same level as adults. God made children with much shorter attention spans than He did adults. Common sense and experience teaches that if youth are going to grow spiritually – they must be taught on their level. Thus, I contend as the title of this booklet, where is the Scripture which prohibits teaching the most important book in the world (Bible) on one’s understanding level?
4) A true church can not have mixed Bible Classes (All must be of the same sex). It has been contended by some that since The Bible has some talk about sex that it is wrong to discuss such in a mixed class. Why would anyone draw this conclusion? Seemingly a personal opinion has become doctrine in some churches. Thus, I contend as the title of this booklet, where is the Scripture which prohibits teaching this ridiculous doctrine?
5) A true church can not use any literature from a publisher in a Bible Class. No doubt about it – the Bible must be the main
text and the standard to all of our Bible teachings. However, most Bible teachers appreciate those who have studied extensively and have recorded their summaries into teachers’ aid books. This is what commentaries are. They are comments concerning his/her studies of the Scriptures. What preacher has not searched through numerous commentaries while preparing sermons in order to put more “meat” into his sermon? Thus, I contend as the title of this booklet, where is the Scripture which prohibits a student or teacher from using published materials to understand the Scriptures more intently?
6) A true church can not have one man do all of the preaching for the congregation. There are those who believe that it is sin to have one man’s name on a bulletin board. They contend that several men of the congregation should serve in this capacity. A one man minister is normally called a “located minister”. Thus, I contend as the title of this booklet, where is the Scripture which prohibits one man from serving as the preacher?
7) A true church can not employ a full-time minister. There are those who teach that it is sinful to provide a living for a minister and his family. Even though congregations would like to have a full-time minister to serve with them and even more so, one who is educated in the areas of the ministry. One can turn a head away from Scriptures as is found in I Corinthians 9:1-18. Thus, I contend as the title of this booklet, where is the Scripture which prohibits one man from serving as a full-time preacher?
8) A true church will not support Christian Colleges, Orphanages, Camps, or anything which their eldership does not oversee. Anyone who has been around for awhile knows that when we hold hands with others of common faith much more can be accomplished than if we attempt to do something alone. There is a lack of trust by a congregation when they refuse to trust others to oversee a ministry apart from their congregation. Thus, I contend as the title of this booklet, where is the Scripture which prohibits a congregation from holding hands with other congregations to promote the kingdom? Are we brethren or not? Are we a family or lone rangers?
9) A true church can not use multiple communion cups. There are those who say where is the book, chapter, and verse for such? Again, common sense tells us that after the discovery of the microscope and germs that one communion cup was not sanitary. Thus, I contend as the title of this booklet, where is the Scripture which prohibits the usage of multiple communion cups?
10) A true church can not serve individual communion loaves. When one considers that it would take a lengthy period of time to have the entire congregation to go to the communion table and to individually remove a piece of bread from the one loaf, there is nothing wrong with it, except it is a time element. Does it not make more sense to distribute the individual loaves with the individual communion cups, Thus, I contend as the title of this booklet, where is the Scripture which prohibits one from partaking of individual cups?
11) A true church can not partake of communion on any day other than Sunday. Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper on a Thursday evening. After He was crucified and then resurrected on Sunday and the church began on Sunday, the apostolic precedent which was established was on Sunday (Acts 20:7). However, when saints of the Lord desire to remember Jesus at a special time, such as a special day of Christmas, Memorial Day, etc., thus, I contend as the title of this booklet, where is the Scripture which prohibits one from doing so? Do we take a legalistic stand and say absolutely not or do we welcome it into our lives. Some will take the legalistic stand and then stand back and cast stones at everyone who does not agree with them. Some legalistic church leaders will call on the carpet any of their members who visit a sister congregation who differs on this matter, and partakes at a service other than on a Sunday. Thus, I contend as the title of this booklet, where is the Scripture which prohibits one from partaking of communion other than on Sunday?
12) A true church will always insist that anyone who has had fellowship with an instrumental church must come before the congregation and admit the sinfulness of their affiliation with an instrumental church and also be re-baptized. This non-scriptural tradition has caused great division in the Lord’s body. Faithful workers in the Lord’s church who have served painstakingly for years and then moves into a new community and desires fellowship with another congregation and is now confronted with this foolishness. Thus, I contend as the title of this booklet, where is the Scripture which teaches this nonsense?
13) A true church can not wear but one name and that being the “Church Of Christ”. The church belongs to Christ. Thus, it should wear His name. One can say something in more than one way. An example of this might be as follows. Philosophy of Plato, Plato’s Philosophy, or the Platonian Philosophy. Likewise we could say, Flag of America, America’s Flag, or American Flag. The church could be called the Church of Christ, Christ’s Church, or Christian Church. All of the above are saying the same thing. Now the word “church” was sometimes translated assembly or community, thus these should be acceptable names also. The descriptive terms by which the Lord's church is Biblically known include these: "my church" (Matthew 16:18), "the church" (Acts 2:47; 8:1), "church of God" (1 Corinthians 1:2), "churches of Christ" (Romans 16:16), "body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:12), "church of the living God" (1 Timothy 3:15), "church of the firstborn" (Hebrews 12:23), "temple of God" (1 Corinthians 3:16), "bride of Christ" (Ephesians 5:21-32; Revelation 22:17), "kingdom of his dear Son" (Colossians 1:13) and "house of God" (1 Timothy 3:15). Thus, I contend as the title of this booklet, where is the Scripture which prohibits one from using a name other than “Church of Christ” if it points to Jesus?
14) A true church can not eat in their house of worship. As a congregation grows to where they need more room, they normally obtain or erect a building and include a kitchen and fellowship hall in it. This is normal for a family to want to eat together. Thus, I contend as the title of this booklet, where is the Scripture which prohibits one from eating within the same building where worship services are conducted?
15) A true church can not have women teachers. Some church leaders are so narrow minded that they refuse to allow women to even prepare the communion trays, let alone teach the Bible. Common sense teaches one that normally women are able to relate to nursery, pre-school, and elementary age children. There are a few male teachers in public schools, but this is possibly the reason. May we in the church grasp this basic understanding in education? Thus, I contend as the title of this booklet, where is the Scripture which prohibits a woman from teaching youth in the church?
16) A true church can not use instruments to accompany the congregational singing. This has caused a major division among God’s people. Many advocates of this false doctrine also claim that a congregation cannot have a song leader, a choir, specials, or sing from a screen. Thus, I contend as the title of this booklet, where is the Scripture which prohibits a church from enjoying such and people using their talents for the Lord?
17) A true church cannot observe any Christian holidays. Christmas and Easter, as well as national holidays are not to be recognized in the church. One can not have youth to participate in a Christmas nativity program or the congregation share in a Easter Sunrise Service followed by a breakfast. A Memorial Day Service is not to be observed whereby our U.S. Veterans are recognized, the pledges are stated, and patriotic songs are sang. Thus, I contend as the title of this booklet, where is the Scripture which prohibits a church from celebrating our Christian history and our nation’s history.
18) A true church cannot share in a community’s effort to perform benevolent work. Attempting to feed and cloth the poor is a command of Jesus and yet some would have us to believe that it is a sin to cooperate in this effort, with congregations of different Christian beliefs. Thus, I contend as the title of this booklet, where is the Scripture which prohibits such?
19) A true church cannot cooperate with other congregations of like faith in anyway outside of its own facility. The cooperative effort to support an area singspiration, gospel crusade, advertisement in a local newspaper, radio or TV program, a new congregation, etc. Talk about narrow-mindedness, and the ridiculous teaching of the false doctrine of silences of the Scripture. I contend that some of these proponents of this false doctrine of silence could be compared to modern day Judaizers. Thus, I contend as the title of this booklet, where is the Scripture which prohibits this non-sense?
20) A true church cannot permit its leaders to fellowship with anyone who does not totally agree with them. Isn’t it strange how mankind can get stuck in a rut and refuse any suggestions as to how one might get out? Refusing to attend anyone’s sessions (clinic, seminar, convention, program, etc.), who differs somewhat from one’s beliefs, can stagnatize oneself. One may have some doctrinal differences, but a person who is filled with wisdom and who is well grounded can obtain some profitable ideas by looking outside of one’s comfort zone. Thus, I contend as the title of this booklet, where is the Scripture which prohibits this non-sense?
Our Lord Jesus Christ prayed for unity among His followers (John 17:20-23). The world will never believe that we are God’s people if we are divided. If we really love one another and love the Lord and desire for His will to be done, then we need to get busy in an effort to have unity among us.
Some would have us to believe that if we would give in to the false doctrine that says unless we have book, chapter, and verse or God’s authority for everything we do we must prohibit it or not use it or do it. This is not the solution to unity, but it is the cause of our lack of unity. For instance, the forsaking of the instrument by some, did not bring unity among those who were the “non published materials”, the “one cuppers”, or the “no pay for the preacher” group, etc.
There have been some efforts among the various divisions of the Restoration Movement (Disciples Of Christ, Independent Christian Church/Church Of Christ, and the Non-Instrumental Church Of Christ). There have been regional and national efforts to determine where we agree and not so much where we disagree.
I would hope that all readers of this booklet would examine themselves to see if there is any consideration to rethink the positions held. Could the premise be considered, “That if God has not prohibited it and it does not violate a Christian principal, then it can be administered”? Does this make sense?
Plainly, don’t get short changed. Let’s be ready to meet our Maker. The Bible teaches that to avoid hell and gain heaven - one must: 1) Believe In Jesus As Savior (Acts 16:31) 2) Repent Of Sins (Acts 17:30) 3) Confess Christ Audibly (Acts 8:37) 4) Be Baptized In Water (Acts 2:38) 5) Live A Christian Life (Acts 14:22) 6) Be Active In the Church (Acts 2:47)
Striving For Jesus,
Hoyt W. Allen, Jr.