Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Just a Bible Church

I heard it again the other day. "We don't want to be a 'Christian Church'; we just want to be a Bible Church."

Pardon me! What exactly do you mean?

I guess itmeans we don't want to be in the "Christian Church" denomination; we want to be "independent" and just be a Bible Church.

Pardon me! Don't you know that the Bible Church movement is every bit as much a denomination as those congregations generally recognized as part of the Restoration Movement?

I get a bit testy when I hear drivel like that! It's sort of saying that those churches associated with the Restoration Movement are now a denomination. (I don't want to get into an argument over what constitutes a denomination at this point. Even Alexander Campbell talked about "our denomination" at times.) Maybe its saying that the churches of the Restoration Movement have a specific theology that sets them apart from others where the "Bible Churches" don't!

Well, that's probably true to an extent. Bible Churches, like most "non-denominational" churches are simply part of the typical mish-mash of evangelical churches "out there". Most if not all of them preach the typical evangelical core message that we used to identify with Baptists. In other words it is the typical faith only message that the Restoration Movement largely rejected in the early 1830s. What it is is a populist message that is easy for people to swallow. It is an easily marketable message because it identifies with what people hear parrotted by the most "popular" writers and speakers of our day -- you know, the ones we invite to speak at the North American Christian Convention! Pardon the sarcasm!

It offends me to have someone suggest that any attempt to "preach the whole counsel of God as it is written" is divisive, denominational, and sectarian while preaching the "politically correct" message is right on!

I've had students say stupid things like I started this message with and I expect it from someone who hasn't really studied or understood what our movement is all about. When I hear it from "big guys" who are in their late 50s or 60s it makes me want to ... well, regurgitate!

Listen, folks!

We have a biblical name ... Christian Church, Church of Christ ... although there are many others, we kinda settled on one of those.

We have a biblical structure ... elders and deacons lead local congregations (except where prophet preachers have taken over) and we do not have any extra-congregational structure to dictate our beliefs or practices.

We teach only what the Bible teaches ... or at least we should.

We use biblical terminology for biblical things.

We observe the Lord's Supper weekly just as did the early church; we baptize just as the early church baptized and we hold forth the same message the early church proclaimed.

That's more than I can say for the Bible Churches. I have no quarrel with these churches when the preach the Bible. I don't quibble with them when they immerse. It's when they tell people that obeying all the commands of Scripture is optional and unrelated to salvation ... that's when I get upset.