The Future of the Progressive Churches of Christ — Is There a Third Way?

third-way-300x241A friend of mine from high school popped up here at One In Jesus the other day asking what this “progressive Church of Christ” thing might be. He’s from another Christian tribe. And it’s kinda hard to explain.

I jotted off a response. Here’s a revised version.

David,

Good to hear from you. The Churches of Christ drifted into legalism in the 20th Century after having been a unity movement in the 19th Century. There is now a movement within the Churches to escape fundamentalism/legalism and find a better path. We sometimes call it “progressive,” but it’s a very poor term. I’m continually looking for something better. “Third Way” has recently popped up, and it might catch on.

There is no one leader but rather an ongoing conversation regarding “what next?” I have written an article based on a post by Josh Graves that addresses this directly but only in the context of how the different movements approach the Bible – hermeneutics. He uses “Third Way,” and it’s growing on me.

I just posted a series on the Atonement that seeks to lay out a better approach to that part of our theology, based on a book by Michael J. Gorman, who’s in the theological camp along with N. T. Wright, James D. G. Dunn, Richard Hays, Scot McKnight, and others. (Even Wright has a problem labelling his views.)

Some progressive Churches of Christ have trended toward being kind of generic Baptist-ish, but I think the larger, longer trend will be toward what Josh calls Third Way theology  — or, as it was known for a while, the Fresh Perspective or, before that, the New Perspective (things just won’t stay the same).

These men are heavily influential in other circles as well, but since the progressive Churches of Christ are aware of the need to find something better, we have less trouble seeing the advantages of their narrative, holistic approach to scripture. We’ve already seen that we need to change. And so we’re open to new ideas — new ideas that insist on a high view of scripture and on a Christianity that insists not only on believing but being. Even doing.

We’ll still baptize converts by immersion for the remission of sins and take weekly communion, but we will be more interested in serving our communities, in working with other churches even across denominational lines, less programmatic (lots of programs but more about personal transformation into servants rather than recruiting volunteers to serve — not that we’ll ever escape that).

I heard Rick Atchley, a prominent preacher in our movement, explain it this way. His parents would remember as their legacy a church with sound doctrine, teaching sound theology about how to be saved. He hopes his legacy will be people helped as they struggle to overcome AIDS, homeless shelters built and homeless people ministered to, people brought to Jesus to become not merely saved but followers of the Master, transformed hearts … You get the idea. It’s more about being than knowing.

It’s hard to summarize, and I really ought to think of a way to do that. In fact, Josh’s excellent article, which was aimed at something else but hit me here, has me reflecting on just what we “progressives” are about.

It’s a movement. And it moves. But right now, that seems to be the trend. I think it’s extraordinarily positive for us, but I have no idea how to compare it to anything or anyone else.

Does that make any sense?

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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238 Responses to The Future of the Progressive Churches of Christ — Is There a Third Way?

  1. John says:

    Jay, I think your statement, “Some progressive Churches of Christ have trended toward being kind of generic Baptist-ish”, is right on target as to, what I believe, is slowing down and stifling the progress movement in the CoC. Believe me, I understand how someone who has grown up being taught that the Baptist Church, even the conservative Christian Church, are going to hell feels so liberated when they finally shake off that kind of extreme legalism and judgment. However, the feeling of having “arrived” causes many to stop there. For this reason, I believe your search for the “third way” is very spiritually grounded and promotes continued growth,

    Just one more point. The “generic Baptist-sh” trend keeps too many churches as cells of the political right wing. While I consider myself a liberal Democrat, I understand that a true progressive movement must allow different political points of view. As much as the “liberalism” of the Methodist Church and the Episcopal church frightens many, even some so-called progressives, in most congregations of these churches you can find Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians sitting side by side. However, they understand that they no longer live in the world of “White, male domination”, and that the way of Jesus grows and thrives, even more so, when that world fades from view.

  2. Glenn Ziegler says:

    As long as denominational ism and politics are read into any movement, the progress it claims is hollow and cosmetic. This isn’t progress; this is schitzophrenia.

  3. laymond says:

    Jas 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

    If this truly described the modern church of Christ, I would say sign me up.

  4. Mark says:

    I frequently attend an apolitical Episcopal church. Yes, there is such a thing. Their focus is on Jesus and doing for others and going out into the world. Their homilies will make you squirm in your seat too.

  5. Mark says:

    Isaiah 1 beginning at verse 16 “Wash yourselves clean! Get your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing evil, 17 learn to do good! Seek justice, relieve the oppressed, defend orphans, plead for the widow.”

    I used the Complete Jewish Bible text because of the forcefulness of the language. This says nothing about being a good liberal, good conservative, opposing the Assyrians, etc.

  6. Ray Downen says:

    I’m now 85 years of age. I began attending a CHRISTIAN church when I was eight years of age, became a Christian when I was 13 and attended and earned a B.A. degree from a CHRISTIAN Bible College in due time. I know what I like about churches and what I dislike. I’m confident we need to believe and OBEY apostolic teachings and follow apostolic examples.

    The apostles majored in sharing truth about Jesus. They did NOT engage in social engineering, nor did they encourage anyone who loves Jesus to do so. Their congregations helped the poor who had come to Jesus and were MEMBERS of His church. Many were poor. Some were slaves. Their charity began with helping CHRISTIANS who had needs.

    Their assemblies were for mutual EDIFICATION rather than entertainment or demonstration of the latest “popular” thing. That some members needed HELP of various kinds was a given. And the church members who had more than they needed gladly shared with those who had need. If they saw a need in the community outside the church and if their means permitted them to help others, of course they did so. But the first charity was to the MEMBERS of the church.

    They could serve others because they didn’t need to raise funds for a building. Or for salaries of a “staff.” They had no voice in politics, so were free to tell others about Jesus and to help all who turned to Him. They are our example. It’s like THEM we should strive to be.

    Some felt called to go to other places in order to tell others there about Jesus. Those who stayed felt called to tell others nearby about Jesus. And all felt called to love others who were in Christ. Our situation is vastly different. We are still called to serve Jesus and to tell others about Him and to help our brothers and sisters in any need. In this nation we surely are called to be patriots who serve the nation when that doesn’t interfere with our service for the Master.

  7. Alabama John says:

    It would be easier and better understood to start over with a new name instead of having to explain our differences and keep fighting the old battles over and over.
    Notice how many have done just that and are growing like wildfire.

    There are many names that can be used to identify us so why not pick one and leave all this debating and past hurts and arguments behind. leaving it to start fresh would not only help our cause but do a good job mentally on those of us with regrets of past behavior toward others too.

    Much easier to get others to forgive us than it is to forgive ourselves for the lessons taught to others now passed that we wish we could take back.

    Best to put it behind us totally and move on and quit reliving it.

  8. Price Futrell says:

    Jay, I agree with Rick Atchley.. The church will grow only as it becomes or is relevant to its community. The Bible isn’t vague when it comes to caring for the poor, the homeless, the widows and orphans.. As a group we can do more.

    I think another often overlook aspect is how we show the world what a difference there is when you listen to the admonition and guidance of the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. How do our marriage rates compare to that of secular society? Does following God strengthen our families or are they statistically the same in regard to divorce? Do we live healthy lives? 15% of the Law of Moses had to do with protecting and preserving life and health. Do we exhibit healthy lifestyles as God has directed ? What we do says more about our relationship with God than our theology.. people notice.

  9. One of my concerns is that young people (at 27, I consider myself somewhat young) aren’t being given a reason to stay in Churches of Christ. How can we maintain a distinct identity that is worthy of preservation while avoiding sectarianism?

  10. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Brian,

    It’s not an easy question to answer because it’s not entirely obvious that we should maintain a distinct identity. I mean, in theory, there should be one church, identified with its one Head, and no division within that church. That’s the theory. In such a world, members will be loyal to a congregation because of personal relationships and connection to the particular ministries of that church, but not because of denominational differences.

    On the other hand, in reality, there will be differences among congregations based on doctrine and tradition. Churches of Christ, even the most progressive, will baptize from remission of sins by immersion. They’ll take weekly communion. Hopefully, they’ll learn to do it in very meaningful ways.

    Churches of Christ will continue to reject Calvinism, and will continue to be students of the word of God, who emphasize Bible class. (I hope.) But none of these things is unique to Churches of Christ. But few non-Churches of Christ are all these things.

    And if we’ll be true to our heritage, we’ll lead in the effort to bring unity across denominational lines. And that will be a mission that members should find attractive.

    Ultimately, though, the way to keep young people in the Churches of Christ is to be as Christ-like as possible, to teach, preach, and practice authentic discipleship. And part of this is having a healthier, fuller theology as I’ve been trying to describe. It’s not the theology so much as the kind of people and churches the theology will produce that young (and old) people should find attractive.

  11. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Price,

    I agree that the real differentiator is how we live. And for Christians, the divorce rate is probably half of what it is for non-Christians. http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2014/June/Church-Divorce-Rate-Way-Lower-than-Anyone-Thought/

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/february/marriage-divorce-and-body-of-christ-what-do-stats-say-and-c.html?paging=off

    It turns out that the press — especially the Christian press — loves to report negative news without checking their facts. Christians do this as a motivator to do better. But the facts don’t support the claims.

    And yet despite several articles debunking these claims in major news outlets, the word hasn’t gotten around. We love bad news. But for committed Christians — those who actually attend church — divorce rates are dramatically lower than for others.

  12. Royce says:

    If one simply observes Christiandom across the USA and around the world it becomes quite obvious that many churches are faithfully preaching Christ at home and abroad and are ministering to the poor and downcast. It is also obvious that Churches of Christ are a tiny fraction of those sort of Churches. It is very odd to me that people decry denominations and then cast their own denomination as the only hope of the world. I’ll be impressed when we have in mind more than our own group when we refer to “Christians”.

  13. Randall says:

    Hi Jay. I know you don’t care much for Calvinism but let’s remember that Thomas Campbell remained a “Calvinist” all his life, and saw no conflict between that and being simply a Christian. No one more than Calvin (as well as Paul, Augustine and Aquinas) has been associated with affirming the sovereignty of God, and that truly needs far more emphasis that it ever received from the CofC during the 20th century.

  14. Neal says:

    At church this Sunday night there were about 70 people, about 7 were under 30. We gather and we siñg the old and new songs. Wednesday night is better attended, we offer Bible classes for the children, up to about 120 people on a good night. At this year’s advancement night we were told unless we get more families under 30 with children that the membership will be at risk for the church’s future. We continue to focus on teaching the church, programs, facilities, and stress our serving one another and using this as our gospel. It all appears to be the right stuff but people come for a while and then leave. We say the right things and people nod and say yes and all remain in their groups, circles are tough to get into even after 9 years of working along side one another. To worship in a spirit of open praise and study without hearing a baptism argument at every turn I attend a Calvary Chapel Thursday night service. Somewhere in this I long for Truth, for an accounting to and of the power of God in my life. To stop the hate toward people who love Jesus and show an unsaved world the love of God in the Saints.

  15. John Fewkes says:

    It is that call to a Biblical center that deserves continued discussion. In an earlier post I used the term center line, but perhaps that is not a good term — lines are THIN and NARROW) leading to legalism (?). Of course, there is the NARROW PATH, but a path is wider than the edge of a knife or razor blade as some try to split the doctrinal hair. But there IS a center path (or circle or box) that is worthy or examination. Ray: ” I’m confident we need to believe and OBEY apostolic teachings and follow apostolic examples.” I am not aware of any better source for a discussion; if THEY did not “get is right” we have no hope of doing better. God will ALWAYS make the decision (HE is GOD, after all) and we will willingly submit or our LACK of SUBMISSION opens us to judgment, likely more than a lack of understanding.

  16. Dwight says:

    I believe that if we got away from labels we would be much better off. “Progressive” or “Third Way” is a a way of explaining ourselves before we are understood. They are essentially tag lines, just as “conservative” and “liberal” are. We cast them at others and are cast at and we accept some but don’t accept others. They become dividing points before we even get to the scriptures themselves. The movement of Jesus was called “the way” as it was going the way of Jesus “who called himslef “the way”, but we don’t find them extrapolating on what kind of way it was…conservative, liberal, etc. It was specific in Jesus and generic so as to include all. Looking for a new or better name is pointless and will just seek to divide along those desigantions or names. This is what happened to A. Campbell who sought unification and non-denominationalism/sectarinism, but then those of that movement decided upon “churches of Christ” and “disciples of Christ” and thus became what A. Campbell hated.
    We need to realize it isn’t about names and places, it is about Jesus and people.

  17. Joe says:

    Jay,
    Many have simply dropped the cofC connotation. Taking on biblically colloquial names that are locally relevant. Like the church on the Rock. In my my band it is less important to find a name for us all to fit under and more important to figure out how we network together to move forward. Just a individuals recieve mutual encouragement from going through the same difficulties and changes do do churches. So maybe it would be better to figure out how to connect congregations that are and have moved away from legalism and Institutionalism so they can support one another in the journey? This would be more productive and less divisive then trying to find a new name.

  18. Chris says:

    How about Christ Community Church? Simple enough, but says a lot.

  19. Dwight says:

    Or how about just a sign that says, “christians meet here” or simply the sign of the fish? The less exclusive we are, the more inclusive we are. Many think that to give up the church of Christ name is to give up on what is believed, but this is the opposite as now it comes down to our belief and it is not based on what we think we are by designation, but who we are by being. the problem with names is that by name we have carved out a section of God’s congregation with our sub section of God’s congregation. When we get a name we become associated by name with others of that name and disfranchised from others that do not have that name.

  20. Pingback: Jay Guin’s Article on the Future of Progressive Churches of Christ | Kingdom Living

  21. Matt Dabbs says:

    Just linked over to this from my blog. Here is what I wrote there for what it is worth,

    I believe part of the way forward is in us being in tune with how the timeless Gospel intersects the present times. Said another way, how are the eternal truths of the Gospel actually applied and lived out in today’s world?

    Part of the answer to that question comes in understanding the shift from modernism to post-modernism and how a new generation listens differently and for different things than previous generations. The modern generations wanted locked-down seemingly irrefutable logic. The post-modern generation is listening for who is telling the best, most impacting story.

    Understanding that shift is one thing we need to do in order to move forward in meaningful, relevant and Christ-honoring ways. It means we don’t take narratives and poetry dissect them down into legislation. Instead, we start appreciating the bigger themes of scripture and how the story plays out especially through the Gospels and into Acts. Then we have to figure out how that grand narrative is faithfully told through us in today’s world by today’s people.

  22. Super Christian says:

    “The Way” seems a bit exclusive. How about “A Way”?

  23. Colson says:

    One characteristic of the post-progressive movement, and the younger generation in general, is the desire to be more outward and service focused. The movement is characterized not so much by what we believe as by what we do for Christ in our communities. Following the model of charity organizations rather than traditional church models means that we have more money to spend in the community instead of paying for a full-time building and staff/minister salaries. Just compare most charity overhead expenses to any church overhead, and the results are shocking. It’s truly embarrassing how the institutional church squanders God’s money. The less we worry about getting the doctrine just right means we don’t spend all of our (God’s) money supporting a full-time doctrine-preacher. Instead we commit fully to the work of Christ in the world.

  24. Mark says:

    Matt Dabbs wrote, “The modern generations wanted locked-down seemingly irrefutable logic. The post-modern generation is listening for who is telling the best, most impacting story.”

    When there were no books, few scrolls, no blogs, and most people probably struggled to read and write, Jesus told very impacting stories. He also answered questions. He even violated the Sabbath laws on at least one occasion. We would do well to learn from his example and follow it.

  25. Matt Dabbs says:

    Mark,

    I was talking with another minister here this morning about hypothetically telling the congregation that we want to collect their Bibles next week and keep them for a few months. We would have one Bible for the church to share and see if it changes the way they see things.

    This, obviously, has its own set of dangers and limiting people’s access to scripture (which is now basically impossible in English via technology)…the point is still there, with dozens of Bible in our homes and at our finger tips we take the Bible less seriously than when Scripture was cherished and hard to come by. What is more, people would really listen if they knew their hearing of the scriptures communally with the church would be their only chance to hear the word that week…they would listen, remember and meditate on it better than when we know we can look it up later.

    We would never do that but it illustrates one of our issues.

  26. Mark says:

    Matt, that Bible that is available needs to only have one church worth of letters. Call it Corinth and give the people only the letters to the Corinthian brethren. Too much of the time was spent taking a few verses from 4 different letters written for different reasons and making a lesson out of it. I do not believe that was ever the intent.

  27. Matt Dabbs says:

    We talked about that Mark…or even just split that Bible up into sections and hand everyone their section…they are to treasure it, share it, study it, live it…when we come together have something to share from your section.

  28. Alabama John says:

    I remember when at public grammar school we were given only the little red book of John.
    Saw that same little red book of John, and only that book, in many homes and in most cases the people in those homes couldn’t read or write.
    Everyone having a bible or even access to one is a pretty new thing.

  29. Neal says:

    The church that meets at Jay’s House. If it’s not about Jesus the name makes no difference. Our basis for meeting must shift away from ideaolgies, names, peer pressure, and just call us who we are…saints or sisters and brothers. Let’s get the faith right first. Let’s prove ourselves by love and following God, Jesus, and the Spirit always looking for understanding of God’s Word over tradition and misinterpretation of scripture just to make us superior. Let’s start over.

  30. Dwight says:

    Then we would have a problem with the scripture that “All scripture is given for edifcation, reproof, …etc.” Of course most of them had only the OT, but still the concept is there. We shouldn’t be trying to limit access to the scripture, but enjoin the common people in the pews to read it on a daily basis, instead of relying on the pulpit minister telling them how things are to be. This is where the big danger lies…in our reliance on interpretation of the standing in a position of authority. If it was just us readin gfrom the bible and us making our own interpretation or us discussing the scripture that was just read, then this might not be a bad thing, but that is not what happens and that is not what we will get. We will get somone elses thoughts put in such a way that it is hard to question.
    Remember the letters written to one congregation were supposed to be shared with the others in other cities, which meant copying and distributing so that others would know the same things that were revealed to the apostles. This is why we have four gospels and not just one.

  31. Mark says:

    I am not sure the congregation in Corinth knew about the congregation in Ephesus. I don’t remember hearing about sharing the letters. (Someone please correct me if I am wrong.) the reason for the 3 gospels were that they were written to Jews (who knew about God) Romans (who did), and Greeks (who thought), respectively. Each saw things different from the other and so there was a gospel to each of them. The same can be used today to explain the gospel. I left to John’s gospel since it is a very detailed explanation of the Passion week and does not follow the pattern of the other 3.

  32. Aaron says:

    Churches filled with the “truth police” should have their bibles taken away.

  33. Ray Downen says:

    We do well to honor JESUS in the name of our congregations. Christian Churches/Churches of Christ are appropriate names. And anyone who is ashamed of the Bible will surely avoid such appropriate names. But clubs and social groups can use any name they like, of course.

  34. Royce says:

    There are quite a few biblical names other than those two Ray.

  35. Parker says:

    Mark, the synoptic gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke) were copied from each other and edited. John appears to be later and independent along with the sayings gospel of Thomas if you’re willing to consider it. Check Mark Goodacre’s work on the Farrar hypothesis and dispensing with the hypothetical Q source for a critical look at this. Evangelicals tend to ignore the textual evidence in favor of more spiritualized/mystic interpretations.

  36. Ray Downen says:

    Through actions of His apostles, Jesus built HIS church. I’m sure the church is Christ’s. No name is more appropriate than His for His church.

  37. Ray Downen says:

    I entered a comment. It doesn’t seem to have made it, so I’ll try again. Through His apostles, JESUS built HIS church. Those who belong to Jesus surely will want to honor HIM in the name they use in any community.

  38. Ray Downen says:

    Two previous replies are not showing up, but I’ll try yet once again. Through HIS APOSTLES Jesus build HIS church. No name is MORE appropriate than HIS for HIS church.

  39. Matt Dabbs says:

    Ray, all of your comments seem to be coming through. I am curious, though, are you saying that we have to have a name on our building and that name has to say “church of Christ” or else we are sinning? Are you saying it is the best option out there if you have to choose? Do you have any objection to what others have said here…that something maybe as simple as just calling ourselves Christians might work as well…help me see how far you are taking it.

  40. Dwight says:

    Ray uses a thought that has created much of this mess to begin with. We should honor Christ and thus we should honor Christ if we have a name in that name and since the church belongs to Christ, then we must use church of Christ.

    First, Jesus or god never said you must honor the name Jesus itself, after all Jesus wasn’t the only Jesus in the area and it was a fairly common name.

    Second, while we honor Christ, we honor Christ through our actions and not by just wearing the name, because we can wear the name and not honro Christ as well and many people do.

  41. Jared says:

    Dwight, he does have the name above every other name, but that’s beside the point. Insisting on a particular name or being simply Christian as they were in the New Testament is just the same old legalism. Church branding with logos and all has shown to be an effective way to bring more people into the building and gain familiarity with the church. In this way, separating from any denomination or perceived denomination is usually best.

  42. Dwight says:

    Third, church is a latter word not found in the scriptures used to replace ekklesia or the meaning of congregation by the translators during the 16 century. when you look at congregation it overwhelmingly applies not to one group or groups, but to all people under Christ.
    There are no examples of them using one name or designation, but rather them using many names and designations…brothers, sisters, children of God, saints, etc. While many people point to “church of Christ” there was only one instance and this was “churches of Christ”, which was really “congregation of Christ” meaning the whole body of Christ.

    Fourth, I Cor.1 is where people were taking on names and dividing along those names and one of those names was Christ. The taking on of names was denominational, which wasn’t a sin, but them dividing along those names in exclusivity was sectarianism and was condemned.

  43. Alabama John says:

    To be really correct out front it must say on the sign “Skyline Drive Church of Christ” or whatever location in big letters but also even more important below the big letters it must say “meets here”.
    This clears up that the people are the church and not the building.

  44. Dwight says:

    Sorry, Col. 4:16 “Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.”
    Within I Cor. are the mention of many letters being written and many of the city congregations sent money to other cities to help the saints there and in other places. So they were aware of each other.
    As pointed out the Gospels were written after the facts and were copies and there are more copies in partial that exist that we have of those gospels. The point is that copies come from an original source and that source was written by those who knew Christ or were there during Christ time. Copies spread outward, just as the copies of the letters did, because we have many partial remnants of the copies.They understood the power of the word…Jesus.

  45. Ray Downen says:

    Matt. if the church belongs to Jesus Christ, as it surely does, then the name we promote in our communities should be either Christian Church (which is a church loyal to the Christ) or Church of Christ. If we do not love and honor Jesus, then any name for our organization will do. If Jesus is NOT the head of “our” church, then any human name will surely serve to represent us in our community.

  46. Matt Dabbs says:

    Ray,

    Here is the problem with your logic. You automatically assume that the name on the building is a 100% accurate indicator of all sorts of things that it is not. So, in your mind, in order to honor Christ, one MUST name the building something exact or else no one there is honoring Christ. That is faulty logic at best.

  47. Matt Dabbs says:

    By the way, the “name we promote” in the community is Jesus. Period…then if people are drawn to Christ they can come and gather with us when we worship. And let’s not forget the early church met in homes and the last thing they wanted was a sign out front inviting the Romans to come in and arrest them.

  48. Ray Downen says:

    Thanks, Matt. I don’t suppose a building is a church. I speak of what any congregation of true CHRISTIANS should call themselves. If they’re a social club, any name will do, and some of our present churches seem to fit that bill. If the group love and serve JESUS, surely it’s appropriate that we call ourselves CHRISTIAN. And when we speak of the group of CHRISTIANS, it’s best that we honor our Lord and Master, JESUS CHRIST.

  49. Matt Dabbs says:

    A group of people gathering in the name of Jesus is anything but a social club. I guess I just don’t get why anyone would get caught up over a group who is loving God, teaching the scriptures, and worshipping together but has a name other than X,Y.Z on their building…that somehow they are automatically a social club or that Christ isn’t their head, etc etc…that is what I hear you saying…maybe I am misreading you. Baptists and all the rest all call themselves “Christians”. So help me understand the problem there.

  50. Dwight says:

    Considering that the early Christians didn’t call themselves anything in particular and called themselves many things like children of God, saints, etc. we are really at a loss for what we are supposed to call ourselves. We are to be Christian and this is more important than what we call ouselves, and there are many people who call themselves Christian that are anything but. So names are just that names. If we put “coC” we will be a denomination and if we exclusively adhere to that name as the “right name” we will be sectarian becuase now we have put our name and us above all other names and people.
    “Wherever two or more are gathered in my name, there I am with them.”
    There is no suggestion that those who gathered must gather with a name or designation or tag line or moto to suggest thier scripturalness.

  51. Ray Downen says:

    Matt, you seem to be fixated on a sign, and you claim that is promoted by a social society name is Jesus. The promotion of a group is in one name or another. There is no other name under heaven given among men that says “JESUS” better than the title given to Him. Good for you if you can promote JESUS by use of some other name for the group. What name is better than that of the Lord Jesus? Why does anyone object to “Christian Church” or “Church of CHRIST”? I grant you that in our small riverside community (the Wabash was our east boundary), because of bad press given the name “Church of Christ” which had been our name when the church was founded, our leaders felt it wise to drop that name and become instead a “Christian Church.” So legalists didn’t make converts in our town, but did persuade the church to change to a better name. Wherever legalists do not ruin the reputation of “Church of Christ” it’s an excellent name for followers of the Master.

  52. Royce says:

    Matt , Ray doesn’t believe others are Christians. That is the problem.

    There are tens of thousands of churches in China, North Korea, and many other places that have never heard of a church of Christ or a Christian church or the Restoration movement. I suppose Ray and others have forgotten that it was Baptists and Presbyterians who gave the good news to the Campbell’s.

    Years after the Campbell’s and Stone were gone the movement of simple Christians being only Christians (a unity movement) morphed into the sectarian group that is still strong today believing they alone and those who do and say things like them are truly Christians.

    Some of these fine “Christian” men spend more time attacking others who claim Christ as Lord than anything that furthers the kingdom.

  53. Ray Downen says:

    The name adopted by any group should be one which tells others the purpose of the group. Methodists are known for being methodical. Baptists are known for immersing into their fellowship. Each group adopts a name which SHOULD let others know what is most important to them. OUR aim should be to honor and obey Jesus as Lord. If Matt’s group is seeking to honor Jesus, it’s not obvious why it makes good sense to choose to not honor HIM by the name of the group. I figure it’s best to be “up front” with our message of the gospel. So I recommend use of the name which honors Jesus as “boss” for the fellowship of believers in HIM. I applaud any group which has that aim regardless of the name they advertise in the community.

  54. Ray Downen says:

    I see I didn’t proofread well. The first sentence in the 2:07 note from me should read, “Matt, you seem to be fixated on a sign, and you claim what is promoted by a social society name is Jesus.” That’s what I thought my comment was saying! As it reads, it makes no sense.

  55. Matt dabbs says:

    Church of Christ is a perfectly good name. I agree. What I don’t think is helpful is what is implied in your conclusions regarding the faithfulness of those who use that phrase and unfaithfulness of those who do not. Again, if I am misreading you help me out.

  56. Matt Dabbs says:

    Ray,

    You wrote, “So I recommend use of the name which honors Jesus as “boss” for the fellowship of believers in HIM.”

    I am glad all this is is a recommendation on your part. I wasn’t reading it that way until you just said that.

  57. Dwight says:

    What we must conclude per Ray is that the early Christians since they did not have names or designations did not honor Christ and up till the point they were called Christians by others and it stuck they did not honor Christ. So just belonging to Christ is not enough, we must advertise we belong to Christ as does everyone else who may or may not.

    Names that we promote do not neccessarily tell the purpose of the group, they tell what we want others to know about us.

    Honoring Jesus is what we do, not what we say we do or what we say we are. There are many churches of Christ that do not agree with one another and think the other are sinning, so which church of Christ is right as they all have the same name?

  58. Royce says:

    Excellent observations and question Dwight.

    Ray?

  59. Ray Downen says:

    If a family member dishonors the family name, do we change the family name? You seem to suggest that since some legalists use the name “Church of Christ” that it’s ruined for everyone. I hope I misunderstand your intended meaning.

  60. Ray Downen says:

    The first disciples didn’t use the name “Christian.” It wasn’t until the gospel was being taken to GENTILES ALSO that the term came into use. Dwight thinks (seems to think) those Jewish Christians weren’t followers of Jesus since they didn’t have the right name. All I see is that as soon as the gospel was being taken to both Jews AND Gentiles that the name was given and is appropriate as long as we are indeed followers of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. Linguists suggest the name was given somehow by God, which sounds good. I don’t agree with those who now want to quit using the name “Christian” and “Christian Church.” And “Church of Christ,” although never used by the apostles except in the one benediction, “The churches of Christ salute you,” is very appropriate regardless of how many congregations use it and are legalistic. I’m glad that the Hills church in Texas is still a “Church of Christ.” They’re not legalistic. They love Jesus and want to honor HIS NAME. Good for them!

  61. Joe Baggett says:

    It seems to me that institutionally we must have a name to define ourselves. The churches of the first century had many names but they had colloquial meanings unique to the gospel/kingdom work they were carrying out in their locale.
    If we peer into the future we will see that institutionalism not only in religion but even in secular society is dying. We still don’t understand that this is having a major effect on religion and spirituality in America.
    So I would suggest the names of congregations be unique to the local group and what God is doing through them in certain local.
    For instance there is an inner city work that works mainly with recovering addicts, homeless etcetera. They are called Renovare. Because they are heavily involved in redemptive, renewing recovering work. I know of another group called “Four winds” who are made of up of people from several different Christians groups who left their previous groups due to spiritual wounding and a desire for unity and deeper spirituality.
    I would suggest again one of the best things to do as congregations study themselves out of legalism and seek deeper spiritual meaning is for those groups to get together. The fellowship of people who are recovering from legalism is the most powerful tool in shaping new paths forward.

    The more the traditional/legalistic/institutionalism wing of the churches of Christ try to strengthen their grip on the remaining churches in the USA, more will slip through their fingers.

    So I would suggest a forum for churches who are moving away from legalism to get together and learn share their stories, give each other permission to live again, dream again, love again and use their new found freedom from legalism as a blessing from God to grow and love.

  62. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    “A forum for churches who are moving away from legalism. ”

    I like it.

  63. Dwight says:

    Actually I think per the scriptures that the Jews and gentiles followed Christ without a name to call themselves and if we can find one I will change my tune. As noted the first gentiles didn’t use the term Christian, which just makes my point as they did not have a name to assign to themselves. Were they wrong in this?
    Especially since the saints were called “Christian” by thier detractors in mockery.

    I am not suggesting that we run from Christian, church of Christ, Christian Church as a description, but as a name that is above all other names such as saints, brethern, children of God, Assembly of God, etc. We somehow think that names make the difference to us and to others, but they don’t, they only separate us from them and make us feel as if we are holier than them in name.

  64. Dwight says:

    Ray, You admit that the apostles never used a name “except in one benediction, “the churches of Christ salute you.” but let it be recognized that this wasnt a name, but a statement of Paul.

    The term church did not come into existence until the 1300s by Wycliffe and this was done to replace ekklesia, which means congregation (of the saved) and then the King James translators copied the error by decree, so in reality in Greek the benediction was “congregation of Christ” and it referred not to one group or groups or assemblies as a name, but the whole body of Christ as a fact. If you are going to be true to what you believe you would have them change to “congregation of Christ” and yet just one group doesn’t make up the congregation of Christ.

  65. Dwight says:

    This just came across my mind. If it is that we should wear a name to designate what we are…as in “church of Christ”, then shouldn’t we do the same as a Christian. Wearing a cross to show others that we are Christian should be pushed for afterall we are honoring Jesus by doing this or maybe wearing a t-shirt that states our Christianity or with a big cross on it. And then why shouldn’t our church buildings have a big cross on it or at least a steeple to designate a Christian church. All of these are just as valid as a sign our front and us saying we are “church of Christ”, but the further conservative you get the more these other things become repugnant and then these things become dividing points among groups. The only way to not be sectarian by names is to realize that names don’t make or define the church and move away from denominationlism or having names.

  66. Larry Cheek says:

    To all,
    As I have been reading the comments concerning the names used to identify an assembly of Christ’s followers, many thoughts come to mind about how Christians are displaying themselves before the unbelievers.

    I really do not desire any of you to think that I want to be a judge or a legalist, but to possibly help guide thinking how the world sees us. We all claim to be serving Christ, but some of the names we use to describe who we are in our assemblies are divisive in their messages. If an individual from another country who had not been informed in detail how in this country there many differing names used to identify those who are serving and worshipping Christ was to tour our nation how many times would you believe that as they saw a meeting place they would inquire about who was being worshiped in that location? Remember as Paul went to Mars he was able to know who was being worshiped in any location just by the name or identity at that location. If he was to tour our nation would he automatically know by the identifiers at a location that those who meet there are worshipping his Lord and Savior? Shouldn’t it be possible for all Christians to be part of the same family called by the same identifiers? As we look back into history of God’s people, when the people from all of the different Tribes came together to The Temple did they segregate themselves into different locations within The Temple, claiming to be only a member of the Pharisee or Sadducee sects, or identifying themselves with their Tribe only of the twelve or were all together as Jews/Israelites?
    Do we understand from communications in scriptures that these Jewish Tribes taught different messages and segregated themselves as being superior to the other Tribes?

    Let us look at the message that followers of Christ display to the World in their names.

    Catholic = I have been told that the term means “universal” therefore should an individual conclude that “universal” is really a broader term covering or placing that organization over all others? Could that term suggest that it automatically fills the void for anyone who does not join themselves to another division?

    Baptist = lets see, the name became the identity of this group because those who were opposing baptism, chose to identify this group by the action they were performing. They thought they were ridiculing these people by calling them many forms of word baptize; eventually this shortened word became their identity.

    Methodist = John Wesley chose this identity to identify their particular methods of their beliefs.

    Christian Church = an organization belonging to Christians.

    There are so many variations I could not begin to address all, but this will be sufficient to convey the concept that in my opinion is out of synchronization with Christ’s Church his bride which should be identified with his name.
    Normally as I encounter members of these organizations, they express that they attend the Catholic, The Baptist, The Methodist, and The Christian Church. If they are questioned about if that means they are Christians they will comment of course, but we are members of the (name) church where we attend. Many times I get the message that they are more dedicated to the organization and to the active programs of these organizations to which they allege their membership than they are to Christ. Each one of these organizations conduct campaigns, meetings, encouraging individuals to join their membership come and support us, we would love to have you meet with us. Most times the message comes across, its really us who are important, Christ is left out of the equation and I wonder if the individuals get the message that the goal should be their benefit. Their relationship with Christ should be the goal.
    I wonder many times how Christ sees this identity being applied to those who are identifying themselves as following him. Do these names portray the image that he desires his Church to be? What term did Christ use to identify this church?
    (Mat 16:18 NIV) And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

  67. Royce says:

    Larry, you make some valid points. But, you must know that “all” of those members of churches of Christ are not as loyal to the Christ of the church as they are to the church of Christ. The way you can know is by observing and seeing what they talk about most. Even in “gospel meetings” often in 5 or 6 nights there is no gospel but rather lessons that demonize all professing Christians not meeting with a coc group, and talks about how the coc is superior to all others. The knife of criticism cuts both ways.

  68. Grace says:

    “Many times I get the message that they are more dedicated to the organization and to the active programs of these organizations to which they allege their membership than they are to Christ.”

    That is painting people with quite a broad stroke. Just because someone goes to a church with a sign that says “Baptist Church” doesn’t mean they are less dedicated to Christ than you are. You attending a CofC denomination doesn’t make you better than they are and doesn’t mean you love Jesus more than they do. It doesn’t mean their goal isn’t to teach people about Jesus and bring others to Him to have a relationship with Him.

    There are many people who have left the CofC denomination in their area because of it being more dedicated to the organization than they are to Christ.

    It’s not a sign boarded on a building that makes a church, it’s when God is moving among believers that makes a church.

  69. Ideally, most progressives would like to maintain their traditional distinctives without those things being divisive. I think this will be a much bigger challenge than we think. Congregational self-rule or weekly communion or plural elders or immersion or acapella singing or the name on the sign out front— I find astounding the power such things have to divide. Let’s face it, instrumental music is just not a big deal. I can leave my guitar in the case for an hour. But that distinctive has created more isolation from the rest of the church and more angst and hard feelings and division among the CoC denomination than should be logically attributable to such a small matter. How has this gained such power among us? The last few generations have never really seen acapella as a CoC practice, but as an actual identity. A couple of years ago, a major CoC directory started culling out groups like Richland Hills, because – as the compiler later admitted – “This was intended to be a directory of acapella churches.” In other words, to be CoC is to be acapella. Acapella singing is clearly not just something we do, but something we think we ARE. Adding or allowing instrumental music services will not be a matter of just attracting other people or allowing a form of worship that many enjoy. Strangely, but clearly, it is clearly more powerful than that. It will be the shaking off of a longstanding false identity. Buying some banjos and bagpipes means little or nothing. Making the statement that our identity is in Jesus, not in congregational autonomy or weekly communion or plural elders or immersion or acapella singing or in the name on the sign out front– now THAT is a really big deal.

  70. Dwight says:

    I think Larry and Royc4e are both right in thier estimations. We in general have a tendency to be “church”-centric instead of Christ-centric, meaning that much of our religion and religious identity flow from our ‘church” affiliation and doctrine. this is essentially true of the conservative coC in which evem the name is considered scripturally correct and others are not, despite the fact that Assembly of God, Baptist, etc are words from the Bible.But there are many who use thier orginization as the avenue to God, Catholic being one of them, which most of the CoC no longer believe.
    I have to say Royce that there has been a shift in the coC, somewaht, where what you state is no longer true in general as many, even within the conservative groups, are looking at grace more and the fact that God is not limited to just the coC, so they are becoming slightly less “church”-centric

  71. Joe Baggett says:

    There were no church members in the NT only disciples that were first called “Christians at Antioch”. I almost have a visceral reaction when I hear the words church member as it is a serious connotation of a social club rather than a group of disciples. Ekklesia is the Greek word for assembly. So maybe we should just call it the assembly of Christian disciples? Period!
    Christianity continues to be marginalized in western post modern society as a whole because Christianity as a whole has replaced the gospel with a form of religion. Institutionalism runs rampant. We spend so much time and energy arguing over things and answering questions that the post modern spiritual seeker is not asking. People are so fed up with our volumes of discourse over names and forms and institutional related issues which make no difference in the overall kingdom.
    Believe me there are many long time regular attending “church members” who have no clue what is means to be a “disciple” that is constantly undergoing spiritual transformation. If we could fix that it would serve as a mighty witness to the skeptical post modern seeker as they view truth mostly by the character and behavior of those who claim to believe it not just the Rhetoric and Polemics of the actual claims to truth.

  72. Matt Dabbs says:

    When everyone you knew seemed to be a Christian…it wasn’t a question of which Savior or which way to eternal life…it was a question of which church. I think we have finally realized how far the “which church has it all right” contest has taken us afield and now we struggle to find our way back to the centrality of Christ.

  73. Dwight says:

    Grace, I think this is not just a coC issue, but overall a religious group issue as it affects many religious groups. You have a tendency to blame the coC for everything and anything, even while they and others are involved and sometimes the coC not overly.
    I would change your last statement from “It’s not a sign boarded on a building that makes a church, it’s when God is moving among believers that makes a church.”, which is partially true to “It is not a sign board on a building that makes a church, it is the people who move among God.” It is God’s people that makes up God’s congregation, locally or universally and signs don’t mean a thing and usually cause division. Many of the church of Christ are definitely absorbed with the right name on the sign=right people, but there are many who have moved away from this concept, even while keeping the sign the same.

  74. Grace says:

    I will keep my last sentence as is, people need God to move them. People can move among God but not be moved by God.

  75. Ray Downen says:

    Tilt! Wrong! You say, “Christian Church = an organization belonging to Christians.” This is exactly opposite to the fact. “Christian” means “of Christ, belonging to CHRIST.” A Christian church is composed of Christians who BELONG TO CHRIST. The church and its congregations BELONG TO CHRIST. The organization is headed by Jesus Christ, not by any man or group of men. We do not claim to be perfect, but we strive to be LIKE JESUS in all ways, and to honor HIM by our choice of name for the congregations. You imply we think the church belongs to us. It doesn’t, and we don’t claim that it does.

  76. Ray Downen says:

    An additional comment. The church which is led by Jesus is identified in Hebrews as “the church of the firstborn…” ESV says “the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven,” He is describing the church by the ones who are members of Christ and therefore members of His “assembly.” It’s us who have been reborn of water and spirit who are enrolled in Heaven. So if “Christian Church” is used to identify its members, it’s a scriptural use. But Jesus still leads while we Christians seek to serve HIM as Lord. And “Christian” means “OF OR BELONGING TO CHRIST.”

  77. Ray Downen says:

    Laymond is eager to join a truly CHRISTIAN church. What is obvious to most is that NO CONGREGATION includes only mature Christians. Even ones who have been members for many years may not have absorbed the spirit of Jesus Christ in its fullness. So every congregation will be imperfect, and it might be made even more imperfect by our joining it. But every group who seek to be faithful to JESUS is a worthwhile group and worthy of our help in the pursuit.

  78. Ray Downen says:

    When I replied to LARRY I assumed incorrectly that my reply would be entered to immediately follow Larry’s note, so I failed to specify that it was to LARRY I was replying.

  79. Dwight says:

    We do need to be moved by god, but we have to allow this to happen. Jonah was moved by God physically, but his heart did not change towards the people God was trying to save…Ninevah. God will not move us without us accepting Him and bowing to His will. The concept is “if walk in the light as He is in the light we fellowship one with another’ meaning Jesus is there and is the light, but we must move ourselves into that light relationship.
    The congregation is composed of those in this relationship.
    Technically the Christian “church” are the people in Christ and when we assemble it is for the saints to edify each other, grow each other, teach each other, partake of the Lord’s Supper with each other in remembrance and a time to be with others who are of Christ in relation to Christ. We often regard going to “church” as going to worship or services, but worship and service is something we are supposed to do daily in our lives.
    So the body belongs to Christ in all places and is made up of christians and when we meet it is to strengthen those Christians towards Christ to make the body stronger in doing the things of a Christian in our life in helping others into the light and in thier struggles.

  80. Ray Downen says:

    Larry writes, “I wonder many times how Christ sees this identity being applied to those who are identifying themselves as following him. Do these names portray the image that he desires his Church to be? What term did Christ use to identify this church? (Mat 16:18 NIV) And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

    Jesus did not NAME the church in this statement, he merely mentioned it would be HIS church. Apostolic usage does not once refer to the church as “the church of Christ” or to its members as belonging to a “church of Christ.” Names given the church in apostolic writings include “church of God” and “church of the ones whose names are written in heaven” (or “Christians’ Church” or “Church of God.”) Once the plural is given as “churches of Christ.” But no individual congregation is addressed as either Christian Church or Church of Christ. Both terms mean the same and are adequate descriptions of the people who serve Jesus in any community.

  81. Ray Downen says:

    Dwight writes, “Ray, You admit that the apostles never used a name “except in one benediction, “the churches of Christ salute you.” but let it be recognized that this wasn’t a name, but a statement of Paul”

    It surely WAS a name used by Paul to describe more than one congregation of Christians. That’s what names are, descriptive terms to speak to membership in any organization. “Church” is the English word for “ekklesia.” We speak English rather than Greek.

    So each congregation of which Paul spoke was a CHURCH OF CHRIST. They served Jesus as best they understood what He wants. That’s still our goal.

    Dwight earlier questioned whether Gentiles were called Christians and whether the term was appropriate. He obviously misunderstood what Luke reports. What LUKE reports is that in the first church which included Gentiles, the name “Christian” came into use. As long as it was a Jewish religion, as it was for many years at first, it didn’t have that God-given name. As soon as it was for all races, the name “Christian” was applied to Christ’s church members.

  82. Ray Downen says:

    Grace assumes that every church using any name is a church of God “if God is moving among them.” Shall we assume that every move is a move by God? I think not. Many who claim they are moving as God directs are instead moving as THEY choose. And who are we to judge? Grace feels we can tell if a group is being moved by God. I assure anyone that the only way we can tell is if they are obeying apostolic commands and examples. And if that’s their AIM, we might do well to be less judgmental and more loving and helpful, since serving God faithfully is OUR aim.

  83. Ray Downen says:

    Good for Charles! He points out that our distinctives should be our LOVE for Jesus and our obedience to Him as Lord. A-cappella snging is not taught or demanded by Jesus or His apostles. It’s entirely a human law based on human wisdom and prejudice.

    I also prefer a-capella singing to being assaulted by loud instruments which drown out the words of our songs. But a piano or organ played to ASSIST singing is another matter. Drums have no place in God’s house! Expert drummers put on a show during song services. We don’t need shows. We need words sung meaningfully from the heart. Guitars are fine for small groups, and terrible for any more than a dozen singers. Is my prejudice showing?

  84. Ray Downen says:

    Dwight might seem to imply that any name found anywhere in the Bible is a good name for Christ’s body. I believe there are two names which should/could be used for a congregation seeking to belong to Jesus. These are “Church of Christ” and “Christian Church” (which means exactly the same as “Church of Christ.”) A directory of independent churches seeking to honor Jesus might well list every such congregation. There’s no way of knowing from more general names what is believed and taught by members of such congregations.

  85. Ray Downen says:

    Joe feels bad about people belonging to Christ’s church and therfore being “church members.” He writes, “There were no church members in the NT only disciples that were first called ‘Christians at Antioch’.” But these Christians of course WERE members of the Lord’s church. They were church members, just as every Christian today should be. We are called to be part of a group rather than a loner. There’s something wrong with our practice of the Way if we don’t belong to a group who share our goal of serving Jesus.

  86. Royce says:

    You put far too much stock in a name Ray. There are thousands of people in churches with the right name ( according to you) who are sure you are going to hell because you worship with the dreaded instrument.

    The hearts of the people and if or not they are devoted followers of Jesus and believe Him to be the only Saviour matters more than a name.

    In West Monroe there is a congregation called “Christ’s Church”. That’s a great name isn’t it?

  87. Ray Downen says:

    Matt, our goal should be to serve Jesus TOGETHER. Being separated by differing names for our congregations makes unity difficult if not impossible. Those who honor Baptist doctrine are not just Christians, even if their aim is to serve Jesus. Those who hold to Presbyterian (Reformed) doctrines and use names other than the name of Jesus Christ for their congregations are not seeking unity based on JESUS, but rather on their doctrines. Those who claim to be “Progressive” are in fact bragging about leaving the Way of Christ in favor of their own preferences. Many who make that claim are really just adopting Baptist doctrines and would be more honest to change their name to reflect their change of beliefs.

  88. Ray Downen says:

    Dwight is right that signs can mislead. But it’s nonetheless true that Christians should advertise that they belong to JESUS and seek to serve HIM. A generic community name gives no honor to God or the Messiah even if the doctrine taught is Christian. Our advertising name should reflect that we are a church of CHRIST or a CHRISTian church if that’s the truth.

  89. Ray Downen says:

    Dwight expresses well what should be our purpose for assembling as the body of CHRIST.

  90. Ray Downen says:

    Christ’s Church is just another way of writing Church of Christ. And we have two like that in the Joplin (MO) area. The name we advertise should be that of JESUS CHRIST. If indeed our goal is to be a church OF CHRIST.

  91. brent says:

    It seems to me that Jesus said the world will know his disciples by our love for each other and not some label.

  92. Grace says:

    “Jonah was moved by God physically, but his heart did not change towards the people God was trying to save…Ninevah.”

    Um, did you not understand that I was meaning the heart of people need to be moved by God: “I will keep my last sentence as is, people need God to move them. People can move among God but not be moved by God.”

    Jonah said he knew about God’s mercy in 4:2. Yet in Jonah’s heart he didn’t want God’s mercy if it means that he had to express it personally to the Gentiles. The mercy that Nineveh needed from God, Jonah needed even more because of his own pitilessness, judgmentalism, and petulant anger.

    It moves me deeply that even though Jonah didn’t want God’s mercy, God can’t deny His own nature of mercy, longsuffering, and patience. God still didn’t give up on Jonah. God’s final word in 4:10-11 He speaks of His own heart of mercy for the world.

    Jonah 4:10-11 And the LORD said, You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night, and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?

    Did Jonah finally have a change of heart? It never tells us. I believe that Jonah wrote this book, and that he wrote it purposefully to show God’s open heart of love for the world. Because of the way he told the story I believe that he finally did come to understand the heart of God.

    The love of God has a twofold purpose in our lives. First to change our nature and secondly to empower us to love others.

    When a believer doesn’t show the love of God they are greatly hindered and limited in their ability to make a significant impact on others.

    The love of God is far reaching yet many have not experienced its impact in their life. One reason is because the primary way God demonstrates and expresses His love is through His people. God communicates His love through those whose lives have been changed by His love.

    I don’t think the question for believers should be what church sign should we have on our building, the question for believers should be are we showing others the love of God.

  93. Ray Downen says:

    Brent, I hear you saying that names don’t matter. But a dog is not a cat and would resent being called a cat. And a Christian is not an unbeliever. Names DO matter. Indeed they matter. We need to honor Jesus by the name we choose for our group of believers. It would not be good to call our group a Demon Hall or by any human name if our goal is to serve JESUS as Lord. We pick names to describe the group. OUR name should honor our Master.

  94. Matt Dabbs says:

    Ray, if you ask a Baptist if they are a Christian will they say “yes” or “no”? You are talking about names the wrong way. You are making anything with a name categorically distinct from anything else with a different names. It doesn’t work like that. I can be Matt and a Christian and a member of the Churches of Christ and an American all at the same time. A Baptist is known as a Christian. I am not sure why that is hard to understand.

  95. Ray Downen says:

    Grace thinks names don’t matter, I understand. She writes, “I don’t think the question for believers should be what church sign should we have on our building, the question for believers should be are we showing others the love of God.”

    I think the question for believers in Jesus is what should we advertise as our NAME of our group. If our goal is to be a church of CHRIST, we surely should select a name which says so! If it’s just to be a loving group, then a name including LOVE should be our choice. And surely that would attract other lovers of many kinds.

    It’s for good reasons that the church should advertise itself as a church OF CHRIST. Yes, we should love. Both those outside of Christ and surely all who are IN CHRIST. But we’re not called to just love others. We’re called to honor JESUS AS LORD. To advertise how friendly we are is good. But our goal should be to win others to JESUS rather than to our group. Our name should honor our Master.

  96. Matt Dabbs says:

    Just a quick side note…this whole discussion on church names misses the entire point of how names were used in the New Testament and how the name of Jesus was used and as the name “Christian” was used. The absurdity of this discussion shows us just how far we have to go.

  97. Matt Dabbs says:

    All of this discussion of names completely misses the point of how names were even used in the New Testament…the name of Jesus and the name Christian. This discussion shows us just how far we have to go in how we even talk about these things.

    I don’t think Jesus would be impressed with any of this choosing the right name discussion. He wasn’t caught up on any of it. If we live as Christ followers, the name of Jesus will clearly characterize us and the world won’t have to drive by our building to figure out who we are for an hour or two a week…this really is a strange conversation.

  98. Royce says:

    If the name of a group should clearly describe them perhaps “Sectarian church of Christ” should be the name of some groups.

  99. Ray Downen says:

    Matt, you imply that it’s just as good to call ourselves Baptist or Presbyterian as Christian. I disagree. It would not be accurate to call me a Baptist even though I believe in baptism. It would not be accurate to call me a Methodist even though I feel good methods should be chosen for our witness and service for Jesus. I think you’re saying that the name just doesn’t matter. Do you have a wife? What name do you want her to wear? Does it matter. If she called herself Mrs. Ray Downen, would you like that? I’m sure you would not.

    If we ARE “in Christ” (Galatians 3:27) then we should bravely speak the name of JESUS as our Lord and Savior. Names make a tremendous difference. It’s about JESUS that we should speak. It’s the gospel of JESUS that will save from sin. Will another name do just as well? I think not.

  100. Matt Dabbs says:

    Ray, you entirely missed my point and you didn’t answer my question. Do Baptists call themselves Christians?

  101. Ray Downen says:

    Matt, you suggest that to call our assembly a Baptist assembly is no different from a Christian assembly. But honesty forces me to point out that names DO make the man. A Baptist church is not a Christian church. A Methodist church is not a Christian church. A sectarian Church of Christ is not a Christian church. It’s a question of truth in advertising. What we advertise is what we want to sell. If I want to sell a Chevy, I’ll not say it’s a Ford. If I want to glorify Jesus, I’ll advertise JESUS and not any sectarian name instead.

  102. Matt Dabbs says:

    That is all we needed to hear Ray.

    I honestly hope you get every single detail of faith and doctrine down perfectly in line with the will of God and not be wrong on a single point…by the standard you use on others it will be used with you. Good luck with that brother.

  103. Ray Downen says:

    Matt, you seem to be saying that names do NOT make the man. Yet you claim to be a particular man, Matt Dabbs. Why would you not respond if someone spoke to you and called you Ray Downen? It’s because YOUR name is what it is. The name of JESUS is Jesus. It’s not Mohammed or Calvin or Luther or Pope Whoever. It’s in the name of JESUS that we seek to win the world. Names make all the difference in the world. If your wife chose to call herself by another man’s name, you would quickly take offense. Yet you suppose people can honor Jesus while using human names for their organization. Where’s the logic in that?

  104. Ray Downen says:

    Little as we like it, Royce is right. Our congregations should be known for their love of others and their desire for PEACE and righteousness.

  105. Matt Dabbs says:

    Ray, since you don’t think a Baptist would call themselves a Christian (which they do) we don’t have anywhere else to go in this discussion. Once you hear Baptist you can’t hear Christian. So if I tell you that the name does matter and that Baptists got the main thing right in calling themselves Christians you will just disagree with that in spite of reality. So I don’t have much else to say brother.

  106. Ray Downen says:

    I’m sorry if I missed the point you intended. I responded to what you wrote. I assure you that names are very important. You seem to feel that just any name will do for an assembly of Christians. I disagree. I’m asserting that JESUS SAVES. No one else can save from sin. Only JESUS. And the church built by His apostles (called in their writings the assembly of the firstborn ones and the churches of Christ) is not honored by being given a human name instead of what is right. If you are saying just any name will do, I disagree. That is what I hear you saying, that names aren’t important.

  107. Royce says:

    The gospel doesn’t save, Jesus Christ does. The gospel is the good news about what He has done to take away our sins and give us his eternal life.

  108. Matt Dabbs says:

    Names are important, sure…a name states what something is. What you are failing to see is that there are people who don’t have “church of Christ” on their building that are a part of the “church of Christ” or Christ’s church…that seems to be where this discussion is breaking down. You can put Baptist on your building and still belong to Jesus. I can agree that not all Baptists are Christians to the same extent that I can say not everyone who sits in a pew in the Churches of Christ are Christians either.

  109. Ray Downen says:

    Thanks for your good wishes, Matt. I wish the same for you. I didn’t claim to be perfect. I do claim that the RIGHT NAME for the church of Christ is HIS NAME, not the name of someone else or some feature we choose to emphasize in our meetings. You specifically asked if some Baptists would say “Yes” if asked if they were a Christian. I’m positive that most would reply as you wish them to. But the name they carry in the community is not Christian but is BAPTIST. Even worse than the honesty of Baptists is the dishonesty of some now teaching Baptist doctrine while claiming to be members of Christ. Baptists I’ve met all are honest about their false doctrine and sincerely expect to be saved because they are Baptists.

    I wonder what Jesus will say to preachers of Baptist doctrine who claimed to be Christians.

  110. Matt Dabbs says:

    So what does it take to be a Christian Ray? I would like to know everything that you think is on the list of essentials.

  111. Ray Downen says:

    Matt, I hear you claiming that the name of the group means NOTHING! That some Baptists claim to be Christian doesn’t change the name on the sign or on the door or on advertising in the community. You say it makes NO DIFFERENCE what name they choose to use. You think I’m worthless since I don’t agree with your nonsense. I do understand the sarcasm.

  112. Matt Dabbs says:

    Baptist does mean something…it is the name that helps one understand the particular tradition within broader Christianity that those particular churches are connected with. They understand that over being a baptist is being a Christian.

    I am sorry you think I believe you are worthless. I have not intended to convey that message nor do I feel that way.

  113. Matt Dabbs says:

    It is like you are saying that Levites cannot be Israelites because they are called Levites…Levite means something and so does Israelite and someone can be both.

  114. Matt Dabbs says:

    One last point…my last question was not sarcasm…instead of me assuming what is on your list of essentials, I thought I would ask so you could explain that for yourself. I would rather not make assumptions about what people believe but let them explain it for themselves. It was an attempt to be respectful, not sarcastic. I am not a sarcastic person and I am sorry if I have come across that way.

  115. Ray Downen says:

    I surely agree that not everyone who claims to be a Christian in fact IS a Christian. But for sure those who do not claim to be Christian surely do not want to be called a Christian. Baptism DOCTRINE is not CHRISTIAN doctrine. The name “Baptist” is not the name “Christian.” You seem to want me to say all Baptists would claim to be Christians, and I surely would suppose many of them do so. But the sign on the door says BAPTIST CHURCH and that’s where they go and that’s what they believe. Neither you nor I, Matt, will judge Baptists in the final judgment. Why are you so vigorous in defending them to ME when I’m not to be their judge? If you asked them if they were a Baptist, would they deny it, saying instead that they are a Christian?

    If names mean anything, names mean something. The Baptists I know are proud to be Baptists and would not deny being a Baptist for anything. You want to say they’re also Christians. But the name they USE is Baptist and NOT Christian. Neither you, Matt, nor I will be the judge of any Baptist at any time. Why are you so eager to defend them now? Jesus won’t ask my advice when judgment day comes!

    Jesus wants His people united. Differing doctrines and names divide. I affirm that we should all use the name of JESUS for our assemblies and do our best to welcome into our assemblies every person who believes in Jesus, and be kind and courteous to those who do not yet believe in Him. And we should encourage all to be disciples of JESUS CHRIST.

  116. Ray Downen says:

    Matt asks me to list what steps it takes to become a Christian. His Bible does the listing. I need not make a new list. Seekers who have heard of Jesus and believe in His resurrection power are told they MUST turn to Him as Lord (repent) and MUST be baptized as He commands. That is not at all what Baptists tell seekers, but it’s what is essential for entry into the church of CHRIST.

  117. Grace says:

    “Even worse than the honesty of Baptists is the dishonesty of some now teaching Baptist doctrine while claiming to be members of Christ. Baptists I’ve met all are honest about their false doctrine and sincerely expect to be saved because they are Baptists.”

    I am so grateful right now not to be affiliated with the sign boarded on the building Ray attends. If I were standing in front of the building Ray attends right now and someone were ask me if I’m with them, I would tell them, “Not At All!”

  118. Matt Dabbs says:

    I am going to bow out of this conversation. Thanks for being patient with me. I am grateful that God is gracious, merciful and patient.

  119. Ray Downen says:

    Matt, you suggest that Baptists consider being a Christian more important than being a Baptist. I wish you were right. Baptists of my acquaintance would not stand steady for the name on their building being changed to “Christian.” They are Baptists and proud to be Baptists. If they think it’s more important to be a Christian, why do they call themselves Baptists?

    I wish you were right that Baptists consider it more important to be a Christian than a Baptist. I just think your assessment is wrong. The ones I know feel that they ARE Christians because they are Baptists, but not a one of them was baptized INTO CHRIST. They each were baptized INTO THE BAPTIST CHURCH. They suppose they became a Christian apart from the “new birth of water and spirit” Jesus says is essential for entry into HIS KINGDOM.

    Note that I make no claim to be the judge. I only know what the apostles taught and that’s what I believe, which is that sinners (not already-saved people) are baptized INTO CHRIST and in baptism put on Christ. Our preachers who have been converted to Baptist doctrine also now baptize people who have been told they were already saved prior to obedience in baptism. The word hasn’t been changed. It’s still sinners whose sins are washed away IN BAPTISM and who are raised up out of the baptismal pool INTO NEW LIFE. And we still do well to call ourselves CHRISTIAN rather than any sectarian name.

  120. Ray Downen says:

    I hear Jay speaking about a movement within Churches of Christ to accept Baptist doctrine and call it apostolic. I applaud Jay for opposing legalism. I’m sure Jesus does not want us to think we need a law to authorize our every act as Christians.

    But we surely do need to obey what Jesus through His apostles teaches is part of living for Him. I believe Jay is seeking to encourage faithfulness to Jesus as Lord. And surely we all are in favor! But to accept doctrinal changes as if a “new gospel” was better is not in the cards. What has gone wrong is that some have thought of the gospel as a code of laws which aren’t written and must be deciphered through human wisdom.

    But the pioneers of the Restoration Movement headed us in the right direction. FOLLOW THE BIBLE. OBEY THE BIBLE. And all will be well. And don’t lose sight of Acts 2:38 since that’s the guidance from God on conversions. And John 1:1-14 since that’s setting us straight about the deity of Jesus and the nature of one God in two or three persons.

  121. Ray Downen says:

    Thanks, Matt. I strongly believe the Bible as God’s inerrant Word. I figure you agree. I’m 85 years of age. From a youth I was taught the doctrines of “the Restoration Movement.” I’ve not budged from them through the years. I believe that the Bible is correct and complete AS WRITTEN. It’s true I had to go from the American Standard (1901) translation to now the English Standard (about 1989 I think), and I’ve felt free to change every thee and thou to “you,” but the Bible is GOD’s WORD. I figure we both think so. It calls for us to be brothers and to love one another. I appreciate the love which is shown by your words! Thanks.

  122. Ray Downen says:

    How nice that Grace is honest even if terribly wrong. Her notes make clear that she is not well versed in the Bible but is a strong believer in what she has been taught.

  123. Royce says:

    Over the years I have known thousands of Baptists. I myself was a Baptist for many years. I have never heard even one person say he or she thought they would go to heaven because they were Baptists. Neither have I ever met one Baptist who thought it was more important to be a Baptist than to be a Christian. What you are saying Ray is absurd and not true.

    Jesus talking…” “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

    Without regard to their name, any group who does this are being obedient to what Jesus commanded, even if they are not a Restoration Movement church.

  124. Ray Downen says:

    We surely want to be gracious and loving to every person who seeks to serve Jesus. But false doctrine is FALSE DOCTRINE. Baptist doctrine is NOT Christian doctrine. All the loving in the world can’t change it into CHRISTIAN doctrine. Even when it’s being heard in “our” churches nowadays, it’s still not CHRISTIAN doctrine. Acts 2:38 is the proper response to seekers after salvation. Those who believe in Baptist doctrine never answer as did the apostles when asked what seekers need to do to be saved. So are they saving souls? We surely hope so. But it’s when sinners are baptized INTO CHRIST that the Spirit is given. It’s not when they are baptized into the Baptist (or any sect’s) church that baptism into Christ happens.

    It may be that God (Jesus) will save everyone who is baptized for any reason. Or He might just care why an action is taken and do as promised only when the deed is performed for right reasons. It can’t be denied that Baptist baptism is into the particular Baptist congregation of the one doing the baptizing. It’s NOT into Christ. Or at least that’s what Baptists I’ve talked with have said. It’s not up to ME to judge what God will do when any of us make an honest mistake.

    But what’s sure is that sinners need to be baptized in order to have their sin remitted and in order to receive God’s gift of His Spirit. Baptist doctrine contradicts apostolic doctrine. You seem to be saying God won’t care whether or not people believe and obey truth as long as their actions are what a believer should do. You may be right.

  125. Royce says:

    Eph 1:13,14. And Gal 3:3 say we receive the Spirit when we believe. Why is Acts more authoritative than other passages in the NT?

  126. Larry Cheek says:

    I will begin by directing my comments in reverse order, that way it will be much easier for each of you to locate the messages which I am referring to, and I would really appreciate that each of you understand that I am not attacking you in these messages, instead my goal is to identify some of the factors that I believe that men of the world who are not Christians view our actions and communications. I will identify who has made the comment that I am addressing.

    Royce, I have attended several Baptist services at many different locations, and I testify that it is very common to hear communications within their services that portray that the allegiance to the membership of Baptists is spoken of far more than the concept that they believe that they are Christians. It might be possible that one who is a member would not even recognize this because it is such a common event they don’t even hear the message. Again I will state from my experience, I hear that type of allegiance expressed by nearly all of the different (for the lack of a better term) denominations what ever the name over the door which I have attended.

    Ray, I see that you also have encountered the same attitude, as you expressed, “They are Baptists and proud to be Baptists. If they think it’s more important to be a Christian, why do they call themselves Baptists?”. Now, I must explain that over many years of teaching, you know we that have attended Church of Christ thought that we had an obligation to teach all others where they had missed the proper understanding of scriptures, and while trying to teach many Baptist’s I came to the conclusion that many Baptist preachers and members had been teaching how to become a Christian the same way as I was teaching. Therefore, when you find those whom you are trying to teach believing the same message you are teaching, which they had already obeyed, can you refuse to believe that they are also a Christian, your brother, without placing yourself outside of the kingdom to which both of you were added? So the conclusion, are their Christians within the Baptist Church? I affirm “yes” are all Baptist’s Christians “no” no more than all CoC or CC or any other denominations members are “all Christians”.
    One other message, Ray, I was sure you would not agree with my message concerning the name, “Christian Church”. I must ask you to remember that I had stated that I was trying to show how the world would see that name. Your response was.
    “Tilt! Wrong! You say, “Christian Church = an organization belonging to Christians.” This is exactly opposite to the fact. “Christian” means “of Christ, belonging to CHRIST.” A Christian church is composed of Christians who BELONG TO CHRIST. The church and its congregations BELONG TO CHRIST. The organization is headed by Jesus Christ, not by any man or group of men. We do not claim to be perfect, but we strive to be LIKE JESUS in all ways, and to honor HIM by our choice of name for the congregations. You imply we think the church belongs to us. It doesn’t, and we don’t claim that it does.”
    Your own claim here tells exactly what I was trying to express, notice. “Christian” means “of Christ, belonging to CHRIST.” If they belong to Christ then he is the owner of their assembly.
    I will agree that you do not think or claim that the church belongs to you as Christians. But, that is because being on the inside you know that your intentions are that the church belongs to Christ. What I am saying is that the context that you apply in your name would be seen by those who do not understand what you are, the message would say to them that the church belongs to the Christians who meet there. A parallel message could be to place the name of your own (city) church, then explain that the city does not own or have control of the church.
    You mentioned: “I believe there are two names which should/could be used for a congregation seeking to belong to Jesus. These are “Church of Christ” and “Christian Church” (which means exactly the same as “Church of Christ.”)
    In the schools I attended my English teacher would not have accepted this statement in this context.

    Laying all this communication aside for a moment, no one has offered a suggestion that matches the NT perfectly. There were many letters written to different cities identifying the Church there, I know of no place using that terminology today because the Church is divided in segments that did not exist while the Scriptures were being written by inspiration. Denominational names divide the Lord’s Church.

  127. Grace says:

    I have many friends who attend a Baptist Church near them and every Baptist Church I have been to always stress the importance of Christianity and how they as Christisns are to be telling others about Jesus. Being a Christian is very important to them.

    Matt and Royce are right, this is a most ridiculous and absurd conversation.

    Wonder if John the Baptist appeared in Ray’s kitchen if Ray would argue with him, “you were never a follower of Jesus, you’re known as a Baptist rather than a disciple of Jesus.”

  128. Ray Downen says:

    You suggest that Paul disagrees with the other apostles who teach that we are baptized into Christ, yet Paul surely does teach exactly that in Galatians 3:27. You write, “Eph 1:13,14. And Gal 3:3 say we receive the Spirit when we believe. Why is Acts more authoritative than other passages in the NT?” So you have Paul disagreeing even with himself in Romans and Galatians.

    Ephesians 1:13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee[a] of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it,[b] to the praise of his glory.

    Paul here affirms that receiving the Spirit follows believing in Him, which does not conflict with the more specific teaching of Galatians 3:27 and Romans 6.

    Galatians 3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by[a] the flesh?

    Here as in many other passages, Paul contrasts flesh and the human spirit. Translators choose to change his contrast to human flesh and God’s Spirit. They don’t understand what Paul wrote, so they change it to agree with their misunderstanding. If a human is in conflict with God’s Spirit, the human will ALWAYS lose. If the human realizes that his “conscience” is urging that he go God’s way and his flesh is calling him otherwise, then there is a genuine conflict. It’s within the person. Paul is saying that we DO repent (change our spiritual master), and that we should continue as we began. That’s all he’s saying in verse 3 of chapter 3.

    In verse 27 he SPECIFIES when we receive GOD’s Spirit. I don’t want to believe that Paul changed his mind between writing 3:3 and writing 3:27. I wonder why anyone would want to think the apostle would be so changeable? Paul agrees with all other apostles that we are BAPTIZED into Christ, as he makes CLEAR in Romans 6 and in the simple and unambiguous statement in Galatians 3:27. I find it hard to understand why some are so eager to make light of the baptism commanded by Jesus. And why some try so hard to prove baptism isn’t important at all.

    Baptism mattered enough to JESUS that He made the command to baptize a part of His “great commission.” And here come folks who claim to love Jesus and they say baptism isn’t at all important, that sinners are saved the instant they BELIEVE in Jesus. No apostle taught that salvation is by faith ALONE. Every apostle teaches that faith in JESUS is essential for salvation. Our message should be in harmony with that of the apostles.

  129. Ray Downen says:

    Larry doesn’t see any difference between “Christians’ Church” and “Christian Church.” I see total difference between them and don’t see why anyone would suppose both mean the same thing. If I’m a Christian, I’m not claiming to be the Christ. I’m claiming to BELONG TO the Christ. A Christian church belongs to the Christ. That’s all the name could possibly mean to those who understand the English language. “Christian” is not the same as the possessive “Christians’.” I hear Larry explaining that “Christian” means “belonging to Christians.” We claim to belong to Jesus Christ, that is, our aim is to serve JESUS as Lord.

  130. Ray Downen says:

    Larry also speaks of the church divided in any city. But that’s exactly what Paul says was wrong in Corinth. Sects loyal to one or another leader. The church in our small city is equally (even more so) divided, with some claiming loyalty to one and others claiming loyalty to another. All Christians should have undivided loyalty to JESUS CHRIST. And the names on our buildings should reflect our loyalty to Him. As also the names we individually wear should represent our loyalty to Jesus.

  131. Ray Downen says:

    John the Baptist lived prior to the ushering in of the new religion we know as Christianity. The first converts to the risen Lord are spoken of in chapter two of Acts. John the Baptist had been killed at least a year prior to that time, so he had no opportunity to become a Christian. In fact, the first time the name “Christian” was used was more than ten years after Pentecost (of Acts 2). After Gentiles were added to the church that name was adopted to identify those loyal to Jesus. Prior to that time, Jewish converts were simply disciples of the Christ and had no specific name other than “disciple.” All who now seek to follow Jesus as Lord are known as Christians. And many of those who claim to be Christian are in fact “in Christ” (Galatians 3:27).

  132. Dwight says:

    Ray, you are fvery name focused as if it makes a difference to God, while it may make a difference to us.

    Ray you write, “It surely WAS a name used by Paul to describe more than one congregation of Christians. That’s what names are, descriptive terms to speak to membership in any organization. “Church” is the English word for “ekklesia.” We speak English rather than Greek.”

    But you don’t acknowledge that the word church only came into existence during the 1300 and was used by a few translators after that point. “church” was never the name or in use before that point as they used ekklesia which by all dictionaries and lexicons mean “the called out- congregation.” “Churches” was never used by Paul as he understood it to be congregation and this was in referrence to all of the body.

  133. Dwight says:

    Ray wrote, “Dwight earlier questioned whether Gentiles were called Christians and whether the term was appropriate.” but I never did do this. Jews and Gentiles were called Christians, but they were also called saints, brethern, children of God, saved, etc. You are missing the point as you focus on one or two names that were never meant to be used as exclusive names.

    Which brings about the point that if you believe we should have a sign saying that we are something, such as church of Christ, Do you wear a sign or shirt saying you are a Christian and if not then why not? Otherwise people will not know what you are and they might mistake for for an Islamist or Buhddist or anything. The point is that while Christian might have been used it wasn’t exclusively used and it was never promoted in this way. This one designation was adopted after the saints were called this by others who were not saints and Paul never said call yourself this as opposed to something else.

  134. Dwight says:

    I agree with Matt and Royce and Grace, this is an absurd conversation. You, Ray, are applying a technicallity where none existed by saying that there were only a few names even though there were many descriptives and even though you will not admit that technically church was not a word or concept to the Jews, as it was “chirche” in the 1300s and it meant “God’s house” by defintion and we all know that God doesn’t dwell in houses or have houses. The congregation or ekklessia was the Lord’s and those of the congregation assembled into smaller groups and they did not place “church of Christ” as thier sign as they did not know the word church. Most of them put up a fish sign during the persecution to show where Christians were and gathered.

  135. Ray Downen says:

    Dwight, thanks for your comment. I live in this century and speak for this century. How words in other languages were used long ago interest me little. What I am interested in is speaking to living people in words THEY might be expected to understand. Jay does a good job of doing that. We are blessed to have his insights even when they differ somewhat from what we choose to believe. There’s always a chance that we might learn something different from what we already knew.

  136. Ray Downen says:

    Bible students notice that it was only after Gentiles were forming congregations that Luke mentions they were called Christians. Luke uses the words “first called Christians” but that doesn’t seem to have penetrated to Dwight. AFTER Gentiles also were being baptized the name was brought into use–not before then. Various other names were used, as Dwight notes. Luke mentions this new name in particular as appropriate for GENTILE AND JEWISH followers of the Way. By speaking of it as a NEW name, he makes clear it was not used prior to the time when the church began witnessing to Gentiles as well as Jews. This was more than 10 years AFTER Pentecost.

  137. Grace says:

    John the Baptist wasn’t referred to as a disciple of Jesus (follower of Jesus) he was referred to as a Baptist. Yet we know John the Baptist was a follower of Jesus. I don’t see anywhere Jesus condemned John the Baptist for being a Baptist. We as Christians are disciples (followers of Jesus) and Jesus tells us to go make more disciples (followers of Jesus). Just can’t find where He said go condemn disciples who are Baptist.

  138. brent says:

    Because I agree with Matt, Royce, Grace and Dwight that this is a silly conversation I’ve tried to refrain from commenting. But, against my better judgement and because Ray responded directly to my comment, I’m going to respond.

    Ray said, “Brent, I hear you saying that names don’t matter.”

    My comment was simply a rephrasing of what Jesus said in John 13:35. So, are you arguing with me or Jesus?

    Ray said, “But a dog is not a cat and would resent being called a cat.”

    My question is which kind of dog? A doberman, pit bull, Yorkie, hound dog, Maltese, jack russell, retriever, Labrador, German Shepherd, Husky, Mastiff, Terrier??? All dogs. All different names.

    Ray said, “Names DO matter. Indeed they matter. We need to honor Jesus by the name we choose for our group of believers.”

    And I agree, but where we differ is that you say there are only two names that can honor Jesus and glorify God. I, and many others here, disagree because whatever label is on the door it’s love that will prove discipleship to Jesus.

    Ray said, “. It would not be good to call our group a Demon Hall or by any human name if our goal is to serve JESUS as Lord.”

    Of course I agree, but in good Restoration Movement arguing fashion you’re using an extreme argument to try and disprove my point and make it seem absurd or silly. Of course no one who wants to honor Jesus would name their church “Demon Hall”.

    Ray said, “We pick names to describe the group. OUR name should honor our Master”

    Again, we agree. But again, you say only two names, church of Christ or Christian church, honor our Master. I disagree. I go to a church called Lifechurch. No one on the outside thinks we somehow worship “life”, but rather by our love others know we worship the One who gives life, Jesus.

  139. Dwight says:

    Ray, your point that Christian wasn’t used until 10 years after pentacost and stating that it was a new name and that you admit that they “were first called Christians” puzzles me in that this did not and was not a name given by the apostles, but by others who were not Christians and that this wasn’t even promoted by the saints within 10 years of the church existing. In fact as noted other , many other, names or descriptors were used much more than Christian was within the scriptures.

    You may live in this century and speak for this century, but both congregation and church are both used in this century, thus it behooves us to use the word that matches ekklesia more perfect. At least I would think this makes sense and the meaning of ekklesia is congregation.

  140. Dwight says:

    You state that “how words were used long ago interest me little” and yet church/chirche/God’s house was used long ago, but not as long ago as ekklesia/ congregation, which was used by Jesus and the apostles and the writers.

    Again you seem to place great importance upon names and in the case of assemblies identifying that assembly by a particular name by a sign, even if the first century Christians didn’t do that, and yet haven’t declared whether you yourself declare yourself a Christian by wearing a sign. Do you when people meet you say, “my name is….” or say ” I am a Christian.” If you declare your name, then you must be rejecting your Christianity. In fact the fact that you have your name here in this blog means that you are rejecting Christ name over your own, if you take your argument to its fullest. From your argument you cannot take the name of man and Jesus both and honor both.

  141. Dwight says:

    One thing to consider is that even the saints who had left Judiasm referred to themselves Jews, even though Jesus said in Christ “neither Jew nor Greek”. the term Jew referred to Judea the place as well as Hebrew. None of the names by which the Jews were called or regarded were names that reflected God or Jesus within that name.
    Again as with the Christians, even though the Jews had many Laws that dictated their nation & nationalism, they were not given a name or told to abide by names to describe themselves. They went by many descriptors…Jews, Hebrews, children of God, God’s people, of the circumicized,etc.
    We have a tendency to make human happenings or incident into traditions and then into law in the absence of command for it.
    As seen in I Cor.1-3 Paul condemned those who took on names and divided themselves by those names and one of those names given was Christ. This marks a difference between using a name and making the name the only acceptable name. God Bless Ya’ll.

  142. Ray Downen says:

    You imply that “Christian” is not a good name for followers of the Way since it wasn’t used until the Gentiles also were included. That’s strange thinking. And totally illogical. I’m told that Luke’s implication is that it was a GOD-GIVEN name. Wherever the source, it honors JESUS CHRIST, and that can’t be improved on.

  143. Larry Cheek says:

    Ray,
    Could you be convinced by Paul that “Church of God” is also an appropriate name for the followers of Christ?
    (1 Cor 1:2 NIV) To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ–their Lord and ours:
    (1 Cor 10:32 NIV) Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God–
    (1 Cor 11:22 NIV) Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not!
    (1 Cor 15:9 NIV) For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
    (2 Cor 1:1 NIV) Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God in Corinth, together with all the saints throughout Achaia:
    (Gal 1:13 NIV) For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.

    Here we have Paul using a different name for the church, “God’s household or house of God and church of the living God”, would these names not be appropriate?
    (1 Tim 3:15 NIV) if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.

    (1 Tim 3:15 KJV) But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

    I noticed that you implied that the name “church of the firstborn” referred to Christians, and used that in support for Christian Church. But to accomplish that purpose you will have to modify how the Hebrew writer uses the term. The church of the firstborn in the following verse has been identified in these verses that Angels are in joyful assembly to the church of the firstborn, the firstborn is referring to Jesus, not Christians.
    (Heb 12:22 NIV) But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

  144. Royce says:

    Great thoughts Larry. I believe that in the New Testament the followers of Jesus after the cross are called “saints” more than any other name. “All Saints” is the name of a church I know and a perfectly biblically one.

  145. Dwight says:

    Ray, I don’t imply that “Christian” is not a good name, but I note that per the Bible that it never indicates that it was the only name or a better name and was never promoted as such. The artist formally known as Prince once state He was a Christian even while acting the very opposite of a Christian. So are we to believe his actions or his statement?
    Luke never indicates that “Christian” was a God given name and that any of the Apostles preferred that name, even while accepting it, but it was given to them in Antioch many years after Pentecost. Either this means that the saints who were baptized in Act 2 were not Christian or saints or they simply had not been called that yet, even though they were called saints.
    In fact the word “Christian” only shows up three times as opposed to saints(20+), children of God (10+), etc.

    In Heb.12:22-23 “general assembly and congregation of the firstborn” refers to the saints, but these saints are of the congregation of the Lord or body of Christ and is not localized on this earth but in heaven as it says “registered in heaven” or “written in heaven”. This might include angels as noted, but they do not have their names written in heaven as they are already there. The firstborn is Christ and the “church’ is congregation. Even so calling an assembly “congregation of the firstborn” would not be right or wrong as the saved are “of the firstborn”, but just another in a long list of designations.
    We should be more concerned about who they are and what they do vs what they call themselves and think of themselves. Jesus didn’t look Holy or make himself look Holy even though He was.

  146. Alabama John says:

    Once folks believe and are baptized, they are automatically added to the church and are Christians.

    No matter how bad they or we act in the future they or we are still Christians, but erring Christians. You can’t be kicked out.

    Hopefully all of us are obedient Christians instead.

    No matter how bad, with prayer, we Christians can get forgiveness.

    Remember the songs chorus: I love to hear about the mansions you will give, but, the sweetest words you ever said was “I forgive”.

  147. Larry Cheek says:

    Ray,
    As you responded to my comment your statement is reproduced for convince. If by chance you find that I have documented information that does not apply to the church which you are committed, please explain, I would be proud to apologize.
    “Larry doesn’t see any difference between “Christians’ Church” and “Christian Church.” I see total difference between them and don’t see why anyone would suppose both mean the same thing. If I’m a Christian, I’m not claiming to be the Christ. I’m claiming to BELONG TO the Christ. A Christian church belongs to the Christ. That’s all the name could possibly mean to those who understand the English language. “Christian” is not the same as the possessive “Christians’.” I hear Larry explaining that “Christian” means “belonging to Christians.” We claim to belong to Jesus Christ, that is, our aim is to serve JESUS as Lord.”

    I do hope that you will review my findings, for this is the basis for my statement about The Christian Church being a church of Christians, organized by Christians, serving only a few Christians, rather than being The Church which Christ established. Christ is only the head over this church as the voting membership allows, the voting membership has already in this document created rules and regulations which are not found in Christ’s Church. This is not the Church which accepts “ALL” who are saved as communicated in Acts 2:47. In fact an individual who God had added to Christ’s Church would subsequently have to elect to become a member of this organization. Thus, The Christian Church is not equivalent to Christ’s Church and is a church designed by Christians.

    I copied only segments of this document that were pertaining to the subject I was addressing. Anyone can read the total document in the location below.
    Several statements by the denomination will identify that they consider themselves only a portion of the Church that Christ created. Christ did not create portions of his church, and he has not authorized any organizations to sentimentalize his Church into groups which do not include the whole.

    THE DESIGN
    for the
    Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
    in the United States and Canada Revision Approved by the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) • July 2013 This is a 20 page document, Produced By The Office of General Minister and President, and can be found at http://disciples.org/Portals/0/PDF/TheDesign.pdf

    1. Within the whole family of God on earth, the church appears wherever believers in Jesus
    the Christ are gathered in His name. Transcending all barriers within the human family, the one
    church manifests itself in ordered communities bound together for worship, fellowship, and
    service; in varied structures for mission, witness, and mutual accountability; and for the nurture
    and renewal of its members. The nature of the church, given by Christ, remains constant
    through the generations, yet in faithfulness to its nature, it continues to discern God’s vision and
    to adapt its mission and structures to the needs of a changing world. All dominion in the church
    belongs to Jesus, its Lord and head, and any exercise of authority in the church on earth stands
    under His judgment.

    4. In keeping with this Design, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) shall establish,
    receive, and nurture congregational ministries; provide for regional and general ministries and
    such other organizations as may be required; have a General Assembly, a General Board, and
    an Administrative Committee of the General Board; define policies and criteria for its Order of
    Ministry; develop or recognize new forms of ministries for mission and witness; maintain
    appropriate relationships with institutions of higher education historically related to the Christian
    Church (Disciples of Christ); provide appropriate consultation and procedures whereby existing
    organizations may make any necessary transition within the provisions of this covenant; and
    engage in continuing renewal, reformation, and adaptation as necessary to minister in the world.

    NAME
    5. The name of this body shall be the CHRISTIAN CHURCH (DISCIPLES OF CHRIST).
    MEMBERSHIP AND PARTICIPATION
    6. As a member of the whole Body of Christ, every person who is or shall become a
    member of a recognized congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) thereby
    holds membership in the region in which that congregation is located and in the Christian
    Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada.

    CONGREGATIONAL MINISTRIES
    8. Congregations constitute the primary expression of the community of faith within the
    Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Through congregations, individuals are brought to the
    saving grace of Christ, baptized into the Body of Christ, nurtured in their faith, and gather at the
    Lord’s Table. Joined in discipleship, congregations partner with their regions and the general
    ministries of the church to share the good news from their doorsteps to the ends of the earth.

    RECOGNIZED CONGREGATIONS
    9. All congregations listed in the latest Year Book and Directory of the Christian Church
    (Disciples of Christ) shall be recognized congregations of the Christian Church (Disciples of
    Christ). Other congregations desiring recognition and congregations desiring to withdraw from
    recognition in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) shall follow established procedures for
    Year Book and Directory listing.i
    (See Note.) Congregations that follow the procedures for listing
    after the publication of the latest Year Book and Directory and that are recorded in the Year
    Book and Directory office shall also be recognized congregations.

    NATURE AND PURPOSE
    19. The primary nature of regions is drawn from the Acts of the Apostles in Paul’s desire to
    nurture, support, and engage congregations as unique entities and as gatherings of
    congregations related to one another in their mission. Regions should embody the character of
    the ministry to which Christ calls His people in their mutual commitment to Him and to one
    another.
    20. The primary purpose of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in regions is twofold:
    1) to extend the ministry of Christ in mission, teaching, witness, and service among the people
    and social structures of the region; and
    2) to establish, receive, and nurture congregations in the region, providing help, counsel, and
    pastoral care to members, ministers, and congregations in their mutual relationships, and
    relating them to the worldwide mission and witness of the whole church.
    25. As an integral part of the whole church, regions witness to the unity of the Christian
    Church (Disciples of Christ) by calling congregations to an awareness of their opportunities and
    responsibilities beyond local concerns. They also help to relate congregations to the total
    ministry of the whole church. By calling the general expression of the church to an awareness of
    the needs both of congregations and of regions, the regions help to relate the general
    expression to the life and work of congregations.
    26. Governing and enabling documents of regions shall be in harmony with this Design.
    Updated copies should be filed with the Office of General Minister and President.

    28. The General Board shall provide procedures for the continuing modification of the shape
    and boundaries of existing regions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in keeping with
    the principles set forth in this Design.
    29. In the development of any new regional boundaries, existing regional organizations shall
    remain intact, subject to modification by mutual consent of the regions involved, in the light of
    the corporate judgment of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) as expressed through the
    General Assembly. The process of reshaping regional boundaries (even if only one
    congregation is affected) includes the participation and approval of the parties involved, the
    Administrative Committee, the General Board, and the General Assembly.

  148. Ray Downen says:

    Good thinking, Larry. Except that “church of God” is TOO generic since Jesus speaks of us as HIS church. And you quote “the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven” and fail to see that this is referring to us whose names are entered into the Lamb’s Book of Life as a result of turning to Jesus as Lord and being baptized as He commands is to be done. Luke points out that the saved are ADDED to “their number” (of the saved and committed followers of Jesus, surely whose names are in His book) in the heavenly record. Acts 2:47 “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

    The church is surely the church of God, you’re right. But the name used in the community should reflect the ownership of the church, which is God’s SON, as is made clear in many places in apostolic writing. When writing to other Christians, surely the church is God’s church. When seeking to win others, we do well to mention the Savior who is God’s SON. Those are honest who call their congregations “Church of God” if indeed the head of their church is not Jesus.

  149. Ray Downen says:

    Dwight, I hear you doing what you say you’re not doing–implying that “Christian” is not a good name for followers of the Christ or for the church owned by the Christ. I agree with the apostle that if anyone suffers as a CHRISTIAN, he/she is doing well. “Saint” is generic. “Christian” is specific. It means owned by Jesus CHRIST, ruled by Jesus CHRIST, obedient to Jesus CHRIST. It’s the name everyone owned and ruled by Jesus should wear with pride and should so live as to being honor to the one pointed to by the name.

  150. Ray Downen says:

    Larry, you seem unaware of the distinction between Disciples of Christ denominationalists and members of “the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ” undenominational fellowship. You accuse me of being a Disciple of Christ member. I’m not.

  151. Larry Cheek says:

    Ray,
    In your 8:40 post above, I understand you indicating that the “church of the firstborn” does not referrer to Christ. To state the statement as I read and understand it would be (firstborn = Christ), therefore this phrase is actually saying “church of the Christ”. Explain how I have misunderstood.

  152. Larry Cheek says:

    Ray,
    I apologize if I have misrepresented your association with this group, but I have not been able to locate a second identification for the name (Christian Church) other than the association with the organization (Disciples of Christ) who are the creator of the document that I presented. You have identified that those whom you associate with are considered un-denominational who are self governed. Within the document I saw that congregations were also self governed, but it is easy to see that is only a farst, notice they can be removed from the organization by the organization.
    11. Among the rights recognized and safeguarded to congregations are the rights to manage their affairs under the Lordship of Jesus Christ; to adopt or retain their names, corporate documents, and organization of ministry; to determine, in faithfulness to the gospel, their practices; to own, control, and encumber their property; to organize for carrying out the mission and witness of the church; to establish their budgets and financial policies; to call their ministers; and to participate through voting representatives in forming the corporate judgment of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

    So I am glad to hear that you are not associated with this organization. But, what I don’t understand is why I can’t locate information regarding the Christian Church to which you do associate. Oh and the documentation that I did find still identifies that this (Christian Church) is an organization designed by Christians. How can we identify that the Lord added Christ’s followers to the (Christian Church) you attend? It was never identified as such in scripture.

  153. Royce says:

    Larry,

    Your questions to Ray about the church he is a member of raise some questions.

    It it your position that only local congregations with the name “***** church of Christ” are the only true churches? Surely a gown man couldn’t believe that. It appears that from this last comment that it’s your belief that our friend Ray is not a Christian, “How can we identify that the Lord added Christ’s followers to the (Christian Church) you attend? It was never identified as such in scripture.”

    If (a big if…) I understand you correctly you believe that the located churches of Christ are the body of Christ. You can’t find Ray’s church “(Christian Church) in the Bible. Can you find yours?

    Can you find a church that meets on Sunday twice, Wednesday once, takes communion weekly, uses no instruments, and declares everyone else in the world lost who does not have the exact practices as they do? But wait….Not all churches of Christ would pass the acid test either. What if they have the right name (church of Christ) but allow women to serve communion or baptize other women. What if they didn’t hold to your exact teaching about water baptism, or the Holy Spirit, or missions, or dozens of other things. I can’t find that kind of church in the Bible. But in churches of Christ I have found some of the most devoted followers of Jesus imaginable and I have run across some who were not Christians but pretenders who didn’t trust Christ but trusted in themselves and their right church and right rituals and right beliefs. And I have found some of the same kinds of people, both good and bad, in churches with other names.

    I am a member of a church of Christ by choice, it’s where God wants me to be and I’m glad to be there. But I’ll tell you Larry, the church Jesus purchased with his own blood and promised the gates of hell could not stop did not need to be “restored” in the 1800’s in America. God has been gathering up sons and daughters since the first century and they are scattered across the earth with all sorts of congregational names and a far greater number are now with the Lord. I only wish that the wisdom and spirit of Alexander Campbell lived on in more of the people who are a part of his legacy. He was a unity man, not a sectarian. I have met several people who think they are the only ones saved and they seemed pretty glad about it. What a shame to disgrace the name of Jesus Christ in that way.

  154. Larry Cheek says:

    Royce,
    Just in case that more may have concluded that my post was addressing that Ray was not a Christian, I will affirm that with my knowledge of Ray he is definitely a Christian.
    I really thought that I was portraying that there are many individuals who have obeyed the Gospel call and God added them to His Church according to Acts 2:47, what I was questioning was that the organization which has named themselves The Christian Church was the Church to whom God added the saved. The point of my discussion was that those who were added to the Church in Acts 2:47 were not only added to the only church on earth at the time but were also added to his kingdom in Heaven. Was it then possible that God added Christians to a Church which Christians organized? This is no reflection upon becoming a Christian, but whether Christians had a right to design Christ’s Church and make rules and regulations which are in opposition to Christs teachings. Read the document created by the Christian Church and see if you agree with it being the representation of Christ’s Church.
    Royce stated,
    If (a big if…) I understand you correctly you believe that the located churches of Christ are the body of Christ.
    In order for me to address that statement, it must be re stated, I will state that the body of Christ is made up of those who are added to the Church. This would be the one body just as identified in,
    (Eph 4:4 NIV) There is one body and one Spirit– just as you were called to one hope when you were called– 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
    In other words, the body is not totally contained within the churches of Christ, and especially not the located churches of Christ.
    It is my belief that God adds the saved to the church just as mentioned in Acts 2:47 and that church is his body. There may be many Christians attending churches that men have designed with the aid of the great deceiver that Christ will not accept. Remember, no one is saved by the church they attend. On another side of the story as we read the messages to the churches in Revelation we will find that assemblies of Christians can be judged unworthy. In the communication to each of the churches, the final message was directed to individuals within the churches, never was there a promise to save the complete body because most were obedient.

    (Rev 2:7 KJV) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

    (Rev 2:11 KJV) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

    (Rev 2:17 KJV) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

    (Rev 2:26 KJV) And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

    (Rev 3:4 KJV) Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. 5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

    (Rev 3:6 KJV) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

    (Rev 3:12 KJV) Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

    (Rev 3:13 KJV) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

    (Rev 3:21 KJV) To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

  155. Dwight says:

    Ray, again you totally missed what I actually said. I said that Christian is a good name, but not the only name as saints, etc were also used. You say that Christian is specific and saint is generic and yet since the saints were called saints in early Acts and Christian had not come about until about 10 years later it seems as though you are impying that they should have known better and were sinning in this generic state. Again I pointed out that even while Christian was being used, although only three instances is recorded, saints, brother, sister, children of God, etc. was used many more times than that before during and after these Christian references by the apostles. You are trying to make something more significant than even the apostles were doing and to them Christian was just another way of describing the same people as in other ways.

  156. Dwight says:

    Also we seem hung up on “church of Christ” or “Christian church” even though the word “church” wasn’t employed until 1300 years later, so even in reality those early christians were sinning becuase they also did not use the word church?. Wycliff used “chirche” which meant “God’s house”, but Tyndale and Coverdale used “congregation”, the actual definition & yet the nondescript meaning of “church’ became standard because KJ declared it this way.

    God cares about who we belong to and not what name we wear and if so then God would have declared a specific name for us. God is not vague. God tells us what he wants us to do or not do.

  157. Ray Downen says:

    Larry, what the text says is “church of the firstborn ones who are enrolled in Heaven.” Jesus is doing the enrolling. It’s US who are added when we are baptized into Christ. Therefore, the church of the firstborn one is the Christian Church or Church composed of Christians.

  158. Ray Downen says:

    Larry says he can’t find any facts about “Christian Churches” except that is one of the names used by Disciples of Christ sectarians. Since I grew up in a Christian Church and have attended Christian Churches all my life since I was about 12 (we lived in the country for awhile and since the neighbor who was a Baptist could give us a ride to their church and we had no way to get to a Christian Church we attended a Baptist church for about three years, courtesy of kind neighbors) but ever since we moved to town I’ve been a happy camper in Christian Churches.

    While I served in the navy, I got to help start a Christian Church in Norfolk, Virginia. And there are Christian Churches in most communities in the U.S.A. I wonder where Larry has lived to never know about us. Some of our churches wear the name “Church of Christ.” And it seems that Larry is well acquainted with that name. But none of our congregations hold to an anti-instrument law as do many Church of Christ congregations. And most of our congregations now have become Pentecostal in their music programs, forsaking hymns, odes, and spiritual songs and now chanting children’s choruses and calling that “worship.” And, of course, using a guitar and a band instead of the godly pianos and organs of the past.

    Well, anyway, we’ve been around and claim the same early leaders as most Church of Christ leaders claim. We say Alexander Campbell was one of “us.” And so was Carl Ketcherside, who always attended a Church of Christ, and so are many others in Churches of Christ who are forsaking human laws such as the anti-instrument law and returning to the Way of Christ.

  159. Ray Downen says:

    Good for Royce to recognize that the church is God’s and Christ’s and is composed of Christians. We have many differing ideas, but what unites us is love for JESUS and a desire to serve and please Him. Since there are Christian Churches in most communities in the U.S.A. I find it hard to believe in Larry’s inability to locate any facts about Christian Churches.

  160. Dwight says:

    I’m not sure anyone has actually denied that the “church” is Christ and is composed of the saints or Christians. I kind of thought that all those that assembled under Christ were technically Christian “churches” or saints assembled in Christ, but maybe I am wrong. I myself have never heard of a “Christian Church” as I have been raised in the “Church of Christ” and I have heard of Baptist, Disciples of Christ, etc.
    In actuality A. Campbell wasn’t one of the “Christian Church” or “Church of Christ” in that when he assembled he assigned no names or hung out no sign to signify by a particular name those he assembled with after he left the Baptist denomination. He never sought to create another “sect”, but attempted to unite all groups under Christ as stated by hin in the Christian Baptist “I have no idea of adding to the catalogue of new sects. I labor to see sectarianism abolished and all Christians of every name united upon the one foundation upon which the apostolic church was founded. To bring Baptists and Pedobaptists to this is my supreme end.”

  161. Ray Downen says:

    Dwight writes, “I myself have never heard of a ‘Christian Church’ as I have been raised in the ‘Church of Christ’ and I have heard of Baptist, Disciples of Christ, etc.” No one should be proud of being ignorant and unaware.

  162. Johnny says:

    The most uniting movement in Christian History has devolved into the most sectarian group of Christians on the planet. Heartbreaking. Campbell would not be welcomed in many churches that are heirs of his efforts.

  163. Dwight says:

    Yes, After Jesus worked to bring the Jews and gentiles into union the newly formed saints sought to divide themselves against each other and are still doing it today.

  164. Ray Downen says:

    Today I’ve been working on a reprint revision of a tract I published several years ago. It’s too long to send to the list, but I’ll try sending it anyway. Titled, “It’s After Dying to sin, we follow JESUS.” It follows:
    Am I right? Gospel facts are TRUE facts. Jesus WAS raised from death. In an e-mail to Viewpoint friends I suggested —
    The Stone-Campbell unity movement was popularized by the preaching of Walter Scott, an evangelist whose work began around 1830. Later, hundreds and then thousands of others carried on Scott’s methods of teaching. Most of these workers were not highly educated. Few if any of them became rich through preaching.

    One reason the “Restoration Movement” found many disciples eager to believe in “the ancient gospel” was because of the prevalence in the U.S. in that day of doctrines earlier popularized by a particular European theologian. Those who believed what the theologian had taught and that most preachers then were teaching were thrilled to learn that the Bible offered hope rather than despair to seekers after life and truth.

    Leaders of a Unity through Restoration Movement were Alexander Campbell and Barton W. Stone, both of whom gained many friends through public exposition of truth and through written publications. A compelling story of fast growth is told in Leroy Garrett’s book (published by College Press in Joplin), “The Stone-Campbell Movement: The Story of the American Restoration Movement.”

    Many today are still led astray by modified forms of the European theologian’s teaching which they think are true doctrines of Christ. Bill Pile calls this modified teaching a new form of gnosticism, which was an early enemy of Christian truth. Perhaps he’s right.

    Those who study the Bible should easily see that what is being taught and practiced is certainly not what was taught and practiced in early days of the church of the Lord Jesus. (Pile’s comments are available in the Viewpoint tract, “Gnosticism Revisited – Being saved is based on believing and continuing to act upon true facts” [CD-B05, you can read at Viewpoint web site or receive as a printed tract like this one).

    Most popular evangelists of our day don’t choose to preach the same gospel message that the apostle Peter announced on the birthday of the church. Peter’s words simply don’t match what many today claim is the Way of Christ. But Christ’s Way has not changed, and will indeed never change. Those who preach a different gospel are in fact not teaching the Way of Christ.

    The form of modified gnosticism popular in the first half of the 19th century included a “mourner’s bench.” And well men might mourn, for the message they heard was that men were not free to come to Christ until they could persuade God to individually and specially “call” them to salvation. So they must pray and pray and pray until they somehow “prayed through” to salvation, which was usually accompanied by some “sign” to which they could testify as proof of their “conversion.”

    This practice was not copied from the Bible. It was based on theories of Bible understanding which in modified form still trouble many who seek to follow the Lord Jesus. Bible verses were found which seemed to imply that each man was so steeped in sin that he could only be saved if God “turned the key” to open the sinner’s heart to hear and understand the Way of Christ. The message preached was not an invitation to come to Christ, but instead sinners were told that they were unable to turn to Christ unless God personally “called” the sinner to salvation and reached into the sinner’s heart to enable (and indeed, force) him to believe in Jesus as Lord.

    Hours spent at a “prayer altar” were so that the sinner could “pray through” until he knew God was willing to individually save him. Supposing this method of salvation was correct, many in that day waited on a sign from God that they had been selected for salvation. Some waited in vain.
    Others found “signs” which surely didn’t come from God. In contrast to the true gospel, the “total depravity” doctrine portrays a God of whim and whimsy who wants men to beg and grovel so they’ll properly appreciate salvation if they finally think they’ve found it.

    The teaching was based on the erroneous idea that men are born as sinners totally unresponsive to the voice of God. It was thought that unless God intervened, every man would be a monster, doing everything evil and nothing good. The technical term for this theory is “total depravity.” Unless God chose to intervene and change the sinner’s nature, every person was only wicked, and not in any way good. And it was all up to God. The sinner was “dead” in sin, unable to seek God or find salvation without an individual miracle which would make that sinner alive and able to believe in Jesus.

    In fact, the Bible teaches that men are a mixture of good and bad, but that God so hates sin that NO sin will be permitted into His eternal presence. So our hope of eternal life is based not on our good outweighing our bad, but rather in our being cleansed from all sin by the power of Jesus’ blood.
    The truth is that man’s only hope IS in Christ. All of us do sometimes choose sin rather than salvation. We are always imperfect while we are on this earth, and cannot be saved in perfection since humans are NOT perfect, no matter how hard we might try. But the difference between other teaching and truth is that God so loves us that He has made salvation possible for every man.
    The Bible verse, John 3:16, tells the story simply. God so LOVED the world that He gave His unique Son to die in our place so that we might live eternally with God. Gospel truth is not complicated. But competing doctrines are very complicated.

    The false teaching of which we speak is based on a theory of total depravity of every man as a first principle. Joined to this theory is the idea that God has selected some for salvation and others to live and die without hope of glory. Unconditional “election” is the popular name for this second tenet of this popular theory. It’s thought that until God picks out an individual for salvation that person wants only evil and has no desire for good within. It’s taught that sinners love only sin – sinners can do nothing good, nothing that will please God.

    Most observant people will see just by human experience that this idea is not true. For the worst men sometimes do good things. And the best men sometimes do unworthy things. And every man is a mixture of good and bad, even prior to any religious experience. This wrong teaching goes on to teach that Jesus died only for those who had been selected for salvation. Those who had not “experienced” salvation COULD not receive salvation through Christ, for Jesus died only FOR the elect. Those who didn’t get God’s vote would live and die with no chance for eternal life. And God loved only some men and women. All others were doomed to eternal death.

    Even more obviously wrong is the teaching that sinners have no choice whatever in moral matters. If God elected a man to salvation, then that man is fated to be saved in spite of anything he wants, thinks, says, or does. He has no choice in the matter. God will save that sinner because of God’s choice. No resistance is possible. No action on the part of the sinner can change God’s mind. Weakness can’t prevent. Wickedness can’t alter the person’s fate. Those few who were selected by God are going to be born again, says the theory. Then, no matter what THEY want, or how they live, they’re going to be finally saved with God in glory. God’s grace is for few. But resistance is futile. Those who were selected by God are going to be saved regardless. All others will go to Hell regardless.

    The fourth and fifth points in the theory merge as just stated. The doctrines are generally separated into a statement of “irresistible grace” and “perseverance of the saints.” Thinking men in the 19th century rejoiced to hear that every man was loved by God, so that every man who wanted salvation could come to Christ and FIND love and grace and life. The truth is eternal. There’s no merit in the theories of any men that God destines picked persons to life or death, with those individuals having no choice in the matter. Thinking men in the 21st century will be wise if they read the Bible and find there the truth that God loves every man and doesn’t want ANY man to select sin over salvation.
    Individuals who want to be saved CAN be saved. Christ died for all. He invites ALL to be saved. Every person is free to either accept or reject the invitation of Christ. Those who have in the past rejected the gospel are free to change their mind so long as they have life and breath. It’s also true those who have in the past accepted God’s grace are free to turn away and be lost. God gives man freedom of choice so long as the man is alive on earth.

    Men who are truly dead no longer can change their mind. But living human beings are free to choose either good or bad things to do and say. Some make good choices. Some make bad choices. So long as we’re alive, we CAN change. The path of wisdom is to seek truth and resolve to FOLLOW truth. Those who do so can enjoy LIFE with God through eternity. I recently read a helpful study on the theory of which we speak. The study is by Charles P. Schmitt. In the Fall 1999 issue of Immanuel’s “Foundational Teachings” he writes on “The Five Points of Calvinism: A Contrasting Point of View.” You could get a copy of the study from him by writing to him at 16819 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20905.

    Calvinism uses Christian words and names. But it’s far away from true Christianity. I invite you again to carefully consider Seth Wilson’s simple pointers to correct understanding of the Bible. These are presented at Viewpoint’s web site in the 13 brief studies of “Proper Bible Understanding” in the TRACT Studies.

  165. Ray Downen says:

    You may be implying that Campbell and all his associates used NO NAME for the congregations they established. In fact they used “Church of Christ” or “Christian Church” and NEVER any human names. But they did NOT set up groups who wore no name for their fellowshipping together.

  166. Ray Downen says:

    This is a comment about a note I sent just prior to midnight last night. I wrote, “Therefore, the church of the firstborn one is the Christian Church or Church composed of Christians.” Of course the name is “Church of the Firstborn ONES.”

  167. Larry Cheek says:

    Ray,
    I really believe that you are mistaken about the “firstborn” in the following.
    (Heb 12:23 KJV) To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

    (Heb 12:23 NIV) to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect,

    (Heb 12:23 NRSV) and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,

    The “firstborn” in this passage is identifying the owner of the church or assembly rather than the individuals in the church or assembly. If you do not believe that try this exercise.

    To the general assembly and church of the Christians.
    to the church of the Christians.
    and to the assembly of the Christians.
    Compare to
    To the general assembly and church of the Christ.
    to the church of the Christ.
    and to the assembly of the Christ.

    Christians have never been referred to in NT as “firstborn”, check it out that term referred to Christ or in speaking about the firstborn children during the Passover in Egypt.
    Try diagramming the sentence it should be easy to notice that Christians are not the owners of the church, Christ is.

  168. Royce says:

    “Firstborn” whose names are written is a fairly clear statement. Yes, individuals are being spoken of.

  169. Royce says:

    Jesus was the “firstfruits” from the dead but not the firstborn. He was not born again, only his bride has that description in Scripture.

  170. Dwight says:

    Actually I have read much of A. Campbell’s works and haven’t found where he suggested that they adopt a name for thier gatherings or movement, although during one of his writings he does say “churches of Christ”, but he uses it in the same sense of the scriptures where the “churches of Christ” meant the whole body of Christ or the people and not the assemblies. A. Campbell primarily met in thier homes. In fact there is proof that “church of Christ” was being used by some assemblies before A. Campbell broke away from the Baptist group he was associted with.

  171. Dwight says:

    What you seem to be saying is that if we meet in our homes, then we must take on a name, even if it is for a singing or to pray, after all this is assembly. The fact is that you don’t find anything like this in the scriptures. Jesus nor the apostles neither put forth or promote any name. Again you don’t seem to acknowledge the fact and it is fact that the word “church” wasnt invented until about 1300 years later and somehow this is a scriptural word as opposed to ekklesia or congregation and it has a different meaning. We just use the word “church” due to tradition and it is written in our Bibles, which was put there by translators who failed to use the exact word/meaning.

  172. Dwight says:

    Firstborn? In what way are Christians “the firstborn” in that we were born again and as stated Christ was not born again, so He must be the firstborn. I think most will agree that since the body of Christ is the “church”, then the “church” must belong to Christ and not the people. In Matt.1:25 Jesus was called “the firstborn” because He was Mary’s firstborn child.
    Col.1:15 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”
    Col.1:28 “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”
    Christ was the first raised from the dead and all who are batpized are raised in his likeness.

  173. Royce says:

    Christ was never born. He is eternal.

  174. Dwight says:

    Tell that to Mary. God said, “Only begotten son”, which means sired. He might be eternal, but he was born according to John in the flesh, as the word became flesh.
    Then argue with Col.1:15-28 and Rom.8:28 “…that He might be the firstborn among many brethren…” and Rev.1:5 “and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,”
    I haven’t been able to locate a scripture where the church is called the firstborn, even while it is called the bride and the body. Now is the church or congregation composed of the firstborn, yes, because Jesus is the head of the body and the head is not detached from the body, but part of it and yet I still haven’t found any scripture that correlates the people as the firstborn, as opposed to Christ.

  175. Royce says:

    “Firstborn from the dead” refers to the resurrection, not a birth. The man Jesus had an earthly beginning, Christ did not. Christ is eternal.

  176. Ray Downen says:

    The English word, “church” is a perfectly GOOD word to describe us who assemble to honor Jesus. And of course we need to identify our group, no less than was done by apostles. So the name we choose SHOULD honor Jesus, who is head of our groups. By inspiration, the group collectively is referred to as the church of the firstborn who are enrolled in Heaven. That’s Christians, hence the name “Christian Church.”

    Paul refers to the groups as “churches of Christ.” You seem to object to apostolic usage.

  177. Ray Downen says:

    “Church of the firstborn ones” refers to a verse in Hebrews ” Hebrews 12:23 English Standard Version (ESV)

    23 and to the assembly[a] of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,” which is a reference to the grand assembly one day of all Christians, but which applies surely to each assembly today of Christians. It’s CHRISTIANS whose names are entered into the heavenly roll book. You refer to two verses which speak of Jesus as “firstborn.” Neither of those verses have anything to do with the name of the church of the Lord. Hebrews 12:23 DOES refer to the church on earth.

  178. Ray Downen says:

    Royce says Jesus was never born. Mary would likely object to that idea, as would all who realize that the Word became flesh by way of BIRTH into this world. It’s surely true that Jesus existed from the beginning of time, but He was then known as simply the WORD of God. The name Jesus was NOT given to Him until after He was born.

  179. Ray Downen says:

    I have referred Dwight to Hebrews 12:23. But this was AFTER his note stating he couldn’t find the verse.

  180. Ray Downen says:

    Royce says Christ is eternal. I’m not aware that He was called “Christ” until AFTER His resurrection. As God’s WORD He was eternal. That’s surely true.

  181. Matt Dabbs says:

    “Christ” prior to the resurrection:
    Matthew 1:1
    Matthew 1:16
    Matthew 1:18
    Matthew 2:4
    Matthew 11:2
    Matthew 16:16
    Matthew 16:20
    Matthew 22:42
    Matthew 23:10
    Mark 1:1
    Mark 8:29
    Mark 9:41
    Luke 2:11
    Luke 2:26
    Luke 4:41
    Luke 9:20
    John 1:17
    John 1:41
    John 4:25ff
    John 7:41
    John 11:27
    John 17:3

    Safe to say he was called Christ prior to his resurrection. Hard to miss that.

  182. Dwight says:

    Ray, it appears you object to apostilac usage as that the apostles used the word ekklesia which meant “congregation”, while church means “God’s house”. One word was used while the other was yet to be invented yet and one word describes exactly what the people of God are…a congregation..of the saved.
    Like I said I am not against the word church, but saying that the word church is a scriptural word and is what should be used defies what was really in the scripture and was used. In the sense of where you read “churches of Christ” it should really read “congregation of Christ” and this is refferring to the whole body of Christ then. So any allusion to “church of Christ” being the name for an assembly or group is really off the mark.
    Ray, you seem to hung up on pressing a technical name that wasn’t there, so i am being technical in explaining why it wasn’t there in that it had never been there.

  183. Dwight says:

    Ray, I think you have me confused with Larry in regards to Hebrews 12;23 in that I had never said that I couldn’t find it, but Larry did say he couldn’t find “Christian Churches” in general many entries ago.
    Heb.12;23 from what I understand means that the congregation(the people) of the firstborn (Jesus Christ) is written in heaven. What is ironic is that even when you presnted it you repalced church with assembly to reflect what it was, even while saying that church was a good word.

    Jesus and Christ were the same person, the saviour, prophet, priest and King. He was all of these at the moment he was born as was propheisied. There was a reason the magi came to Jesus bearing Kingly gifts and Herod was scared from the prophecy and tried to have Him killed.

  184. Ray Downen says:

    As far as I know every verse you cite was written AFTER the resurrection of Jesus. Your conclusion is based on something other than facts, I think.

  185. Ray Downen says:

    Dwight, the term “church of Christ” or “Christian Church” in English describes the families of faith who seek to serve and honor Jesus as Lord. That’s exactly what the words mean IN ENGLISH. The New Testament was, we think, written in Greek (some Aramaic), and NOT in English. I see no good need to use Greek phrases instead of English phrases in describing God’s church made up of folks who speak English and NOT Greek.

  186. Matt Dabbs says:

    Ray,

    As you well know the Gospels record events in the life of Jesus and some of those events actually took place before the resurrection. So when Peter says Jesus is the Christ when Jesus asks his disciples who he is, pre-crucifixion and pre-resurrection, Peter says he is the Christ.

    So yes Mark was written after the resurrection but the narrative and the words of Jesus and his disciples were mostly from before. You know this…Mark 8:27-30,

    “27 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.”

    So tell me, does this depict Peter calling Jesus Christ BEFORE his resurrection or AFTER? I can’t imagine you would say the gospels don’t accurately record these conversations.

  187. Ray Downen says:

    I’ve learned to reply with certainty to particular blog entries. Yes, I could easily be confused between what one wrote and another wrote. I can only hope that the right person reads my comments and understands my reply even if addressed to the wrong person.

    You write, “Heb.12:23 from what I understand means that the congregation(the people) of the firstborn (Jesus Christ) is written in heaven. What is ironic is that even when you presented it you replaced church with assembly to reflect what it was, even while saying that church was a good word.”

    Hebrews 12:23 — “and to the assembly[a] of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,” You think the “firstborn who are enrolled in Heaven” is Jesus? I’m sure it refers to the Lamb’s BOOK OF LIFE in which is entered the name of each new Christian. And of course the assembly is called the “church of God” or “church of the Lord” or “churches of Christ” or, as in this case, “church (assembly) of the firstborn ones” which in simple English is “Christian Church” (the church made up of Christians and led by the Christ).

    I’m sorry if this is confusing to you. But it surely is NOT talking about “assembly of the firstborn ONE,” as you want it to have been written. It’s “firstborn ONES” in every translation I know of. That is, those whose names are on the membership roll in Heaven.

  188. Royce says:

    “Christ” is the eternal, preexistant, creator of all that is. “Jesus” is the name the Father had announced before his birth in flesh. In his life in the flesh on earth he was both Jesus and Christ but before the time of his flesh he was the Christ outside of time. “Christ” means “anointed” translated to English from Greek. The original name meant Messiah in Hebrew but translated into Greek meant anointed one.

    “Christ” was the Messiah to come and when he came his name was Jesus. He is now with the Father. He is Jesus the Christ, our man in heaven, our advocate, our Great High Priest who once for all and once for all time by the offering of himself purged us from our sins and purified for himself a people for his name. He is both Lord (God) and Christ.

  189. Ray Downen says:

    Matt, you’re surely right. I notice that Jesus said the word “Christ” was NOT to be used at that time. Is that significant? Does it mean anything? It was only AFTER the resurrection that the word began to be used with the Lord’s approval, it seems. And only after Gentiles rather than only Jews were welcome in the church was the name “Christian” applied to the followers of the Way.

  190. Ray Downen says:

    I hope you noticed that Jesus forbade His disciples publicly calling Him the Christ prior to His resurrection. You correctly state that He WAS the Christ already. He was NOT called that prior to His resurrection!

  191. Matt Dabbs says:

    Ray, let’s put your claims to the test with scripture rather than making wild baseless claims,

    “I notice that Jesus said the word ‘Christ’ was NOT to be used at that time…It was only AFTER the resurrection that the word BEGAN [emphasis mine] to be used with the Lord’s approval”

    I am trying to make sure I read you right here so I don’t miss your point. It seems to me you are saying that the word “Christ” was used but it wasn’t supposed to be used and wasn’t accepted by Jesus until after the resurrection. If that is the case then we shouldn’t have any examples of that title being applied to Christ pre-resurrection without Jesus correcting them somehow. Is that a fair assessment of your view?

    Let’s test it out and see if it holds up:

    First, it is true that there were occasions where Jesus didn’t allow demons, formerly demon possessed people, etc to use the word Christ. It is important that we understand why Jesus silenced certain people at certain times. That doesn’t automatically mean he never allowed it just because there were times and reasons where he didn’t. The good news is, we have a direct reason given in scripture as to why Jesus silenced people in Matthew 12:9-21

    Jesus’ reason had nothing to do with “disapproving” the title of Christ until after his resurrection and everything to do with fulfilling Isaiah 42:1-4. So that is why Jesus did that, not what you are saying.

    So that addresses the “approval” issues with the title.

    Second is the bigger question that, if proven true, would refute your point that Jesus disallowed the term Christ prior to his resurrection…are there any instances pre-resurrection where people called Jesus “Christ” (which is the Greek word for anointed e.g. chosen) where Jesus didn’t see a need to correct or silence them because if your point is right and Jesus didn’t allow that to happen well, then if someone did it in his presence he wouldn’t allow it…

    Matt 23:10 where Jesus calls himself the Christ pre-resurrection, “Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ.”

    Mark 9:41 where Jesus again refers to himself as Christ, “For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.”

    He does that again in John 17:3

    Those 3 instances are Jesus referring to himself as Christ, sometimes publicly the last one privately.

    John 4:25-26 where the Samaritan woman asks Jesus about the Christ/Messiah and he says he is the Christ – The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

    John 7:40-41 people publicly call him the “Christ” and he does not rebuke them, “When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee?”

    Jesus just spoke and they respond with this and there is no rebuke…Jesus allowed this.

    John 11:27 completely dismantles your view, “25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[d] Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

    Where is the rebuke? Not there…Jesus allowed it just like he allowed the public profession of him as Christ in 7:40

    So your point doesn’t hold up…he does allow people to openly call him Christ in Samaria, in Jerusalem at Tabernacles and on the way to raise Lazarus from the dead.

  192. Matt Dabbs says:

    By the way, let me retract my statement of “wild and baseless” and leave it at baseless…that wasn’t fair.

  193. Matt Dabbs says:

    Here are some more:

    Matt 26:63-64 & Mark 14:61-62 where “messiah” is the Greek word “Christos”/”Christ”…he is publicly asked his under oath and he confirms it is true.

    John 1:41 – “We have found the Christ!”

    Luke 7:26 – again “Messiah” is the word “Christ”

    Luke 7:31 – the crowd was calling him the Messiah/Christos

    Luke 23:2, 25, 39 – while not a confession of Christ a few things are made clear here…that Jesus openly professed that he was the Christ…they very clearly understood this to make this charge against him. Again, this would be Jesus calling himself that as we have already shown evidence he did that publicly as well as allowed it on at least 4 occasions.

  194. Larry Cheek says:

    Ray,
    Am I understanding you to state that the church to which you attend call themselves “Christian” or “Christians” which identifies them as followers of Christ and that qualifies the church to be named “Christian Church”?

    I noticed in an earlier post you quoted this verse as, “Church of the firstborn ones” refers to a verse in Hebrews ” Hebrews 12:23 English Standard Version (ESV)
    The version of ESV that I have access to shown below does not contain the phrase (ones) where did you locate it.

    Heb 12:23 ESV and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,

    The only translation that I can find that contains (ones) is Literal Translation of the Holy Bible (LITV) and that word is in Italics, I could not find a definition of the reasoning for the Itliacs

  195. Ray Downen says:

    Matt, Jesus did NOT publicly proclaim Himself to be “Christ” prior to that announcement on Pentecost. That’s all I said, pointing out that He did NOT want His apostles or close associates to use that title or ask others to do so. Thanks for the lesson. Did you think it was Jesus who asked to be named as “Christ” by all who spoke to Him? I don’t believe it was that way. He chose to present Himself as a teacher during His earthly ministry rather than as the Savior Messiah. We note that He spoke with authority and clarity and firmness. But He did not call for others to bow down to Him as the Messiah/King. He did NOT encourage anyone to proclaim Him as the Messiah. The proclamation came AFTER His death and resurrection.

  196. Ray Downen says:

    Matt, I’m surprised to hear you say that “Messiah” and “Christ” are the SAME TITLES. I think that is not the case.

  197. Ray Downen says:

    Larry, commonly in Bible translations words in italics are words added by the translators rather than found in the original (Greek or whatever) text. “Who are enrolled in heaven” seems to me to be defining the word “firstborn.” The plural “are” indicates the author is not referring to the singular Jesus. The meaning of the verse then is explained by addition of “ones” since the “who are enrolled in heaven” obviously means us Christians. In Acts 2:42 it’s made clear that it’s new Christians who are enrolled as new members of the “body” of Christ.

    “Firstborn who are enrolled in heaven” has no meaning here if applied to Jesus Himself. If that had been the intended meaning the verb would have been “is” rather than “are.” And there would have been no need to speak of JESUS being “enrolled in Heaven.” He lived there. That was home. He didn’t need to enroll. WE do need to enroll by obeying the gospel. When we have repented toward the Christ (recognizing that He is Lord) and have been immersed as HE commands, then we are added to His “book of life” in Heaven as saved and headed for Heaven.

  198. Matt Dabbs says:

    “Matt, I’m surprised to hear you say that “Messiah” and “Christ” are the SAME TITLES. I think that is not the case.”

    Wow Ray, as respectfully as I can say it you don’t know what you are talking about here brother. The word “messiah” and the word “Christ” are both a translation of the same word – Christos. Look it up in strongs or online…it is very easy to find and it is a well known fact. So you have that one wrong. Not criticizing you…just stating a fact.

    What I am a bit critical of here though is that I have shown you directly from scripture people publicly proclaiming Jesus as Christ, pre-resurrection, publicly but that doesn’t make any difference to you. For one so caught up on using just the right words from scripture you really don’t care if that is the case or not when you are shown to be wrong. That is disturbing at best. It seems you have one standard for us and another for yourself.

    Second you wrote, “He chose to present Himself as a teacher during His earthly ministry rather than as the Savior Messiah.” I guess you know his name means “God saves”, right? The first thing John the baptist says about him is that he is the lamb of God who comes to take away the sins of the world. If you read the Gospels it is very easy to see that Jesus and everyone around him very clearly saw that what he was communicating was that he was God in the flesh (I am) that he was the Son of God that he was Messiah/Christ…the anointed king of Israel. People misunderstood that but he did teach all of that and people did proclaim it.

    I hope given all of that you will seriously reconsider your position.

  199. Ray Downen says:

    Larry, you also ask: Ray, Am I understanding you to state that the church to which you attend call themselves “Christian” or “Christians” which identifies them as followers of Christ and that qualifies the church to be named “Christian Church”?

    I did not state that the name Christian Church is because members are Christians. It was the Christian Church before there were any members. It’s because “Christian” refers to Jesus CHRIST as owner of the organization and leader. Naturally the members, since they love and obey Jesus, are also described as Christians. But the name is not derived from the members but rather is derived from the ownership of the congregations. All members are loyal to Jesus CHRIST. The organization is faithful to HIS leading through faithful men who obey apostolic instructions. We seek to obey Jesus. That’s what Christians do. An equivalent name is “Church OF CHRIST.” Both names mean exactly the same.

    The only mention of this fact that comes to mind just now is that the church is referred to as the “church of the firstborn who are enrolled in Heaven.” That’s how that verse came to be considered here. It’s in reference to the fact that we all are loyal to JESUS and have been added to His book of life by obeying the gospel. We do not claim that WE own the church. It’s NOT the Christians’ Church, as some might suppose even though members are Christians. Each member, just as the congregation, belongs to Jesus, who is Head.

  200. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Ray and Matt,

    “Son of God” in the Great Confession refers to Psalm 2 on which the Anointed One or Messiah is given that title. While many ideas are packed into those words, the foundational idea is Messiahship.

    Christos is Greek for Anointed One. Messiah is Hebrew for Anointed One, as Matt says.

    Hence, when God declared Jesus his beloved Son, the Jews would have heard God as naming Jesus his Messiah per Psalm 2 and other related passages.

  201. Dwight says:

    In regards to the firrtborn we have:
    The reason I wrote “Heb.12:23 from what I understand means that the congregation(the people) of the firstborn (Jesus Christ) is written in heaven.”
    Is because there are numerous scriptures identifying Jesus as the firstborn.
    Rom.8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren
    Col.1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation
    Col.1:18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence
    There are more, but please give me a scripture that shows differently and then we talk.

  202. Dwight says:

    Ray, true we speak English, but the words were translated from Hebrew and Greek and sometimes not well, so it is important to get a better understanding of the original intent and meaning. We can read baptism all daly long, but until we know that it means immersion, then we could just get the idea that it involved water in some way and not burial or being surrounded by it.

    the problem with your naming convention is that names were not used or applied by Jesus or the apostles. They never said “use this name” as opposed to this name. Christian was used to describe the saints,the children of God,brothers,sisters, etc. & Christian was used less than those other descriptors by the apostles. The church or rather congregation is the body of Christ and this is reflected in “churches of Christ”, which is actually “congregation of Christ” meaning the body or people of. Christian was used 10 years after the first person was baptized in Christ in Acts 2 and called a saint, child of God, etc.

  203. Ray Downen says:

    Dwight, you seem to want to pick out the ONE WORD and tell us what it means. But understanding the Bible is more than individual words. Thoughts are expressed in sentences. Sometimes lengthy, as in much of Paul’s writing. Sometimes brief. But you select one word out of a phrase and demand that we accept what that one word means, with no regard whatever to how the author uses words.

    The “firstborn who are enrolled in heaven” IS not (ARE not) Jesus. Jesus does the enrolling, but it’s new Christians whose names are written in the “Lamb’s Book of Life.” Just read what was written and you’ll not need some OTHER text to explain “firstborn.” You choose to extract the one word out of the phrase and ignore what the author is saying!

  204. Ray Downen says:

    Dwight, thanks for explaining what you think is true concerning nomenclature of the early church. You might be right. It’s obvious to me that you’re wrong. Until Gentiles were part of the church, the members were not identified as Christians. Afterward they were. That’s all I said. And it’s true. We live in the afterward. So the chief title for us is “Christians.” We are also saints because we’ve been baptized and had our sins washed away. We are also disciples since we seek to learn more each day about Jesus and His Way. And we’re “friends” because that also describes what we become as followers of the Way of Christ. But the principal and most correct term to describe believers in Jesus Christ is “Christian.”

  205. Royce says:

    Since Ray and Dwight are so very interested in names of congregations I thought each of you might be interested in this. http://www.zianet.com/maxey/reflx635.htm

  206. Royce says:

    I gave the wrong link in the previous comment. Al Maxey’s study “True church, True name” can be found at http://www.zianet.com/maxey/reflx536.htm

  207. Dwight says:

    Ray, Have you been reading my post. I agree that Heb.12;23 speak of the saints in heaven, but they are not the firstborn. The text goes “to the general assembly and congregation of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,” The text is to the “general assembly and congregation of the firstborn” who are the saved and not to the “firstborn written in heaven” you leave out “general assembly and congregation” to whom it was written. Again as I have given scriptures that reflect that Jesus was considered the firstborn, but here they are again. Ahem.
    Rom.8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren
    Col.1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation
    Col.1:18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence

  208. Dwight says:

    Royce, I have just read Al Maxey’s article “True Church, True Name” and it makes the point that I am making. There is even a reading from the Complete Jewish Bible in regards to Rom. 16:16 “All the Messiah’s congregations send thier greetings to you.”, except congregation is not plural “congregations” as it is plural in its meaning all of the time, but beyond that it is exactly the point of Rom.16:16. It is not referring as a name to a group or institution, but rather is a statement of Paul about the people of the Messiah or Christ. I will add this to my article I am writing on the church. If you are interested in looking at my article (and why I make the statements I do) I will send it to you or whoever ask, at least the first three sections of it for critiquing and reading. Let me know at: criticalchristianthinker@gmail.com
    Thank You again Royce.

  209. Dwight says:

    Ray, you need to say, “But I beleive the principal and most correct term to describe believers in Jesus Christ is “Christian.”, as you have given no scripture to account for this. It is your opinion and it cannot be backed up by scripture as you have enen noted that the term Christian came afterward. You still haven’ t explained if you believe the saints in Acts 2 to be Christian or not as they were not called this. One thing you noted is that we become follwers of the “Way of Christ”, which is interesting since you are not fighting for “The Way” which they were called numerous times as well as opposed to “churches of Christ” once. Perhaps we should all be called “the Way” instead of “church of Christ”.by your reasoning for a scriptural name. “The Way”- Acts 9:2, Acts 19:9, Acts 22:4, Acts 24;14-22.

  210. Larry Cheek says:

    Ray,
    I copied your post here so you can see it more clearly, what I am addressing.
    “Larry, commonly in Bible translations words in italics are words added by the translators rather than found in the original (Greek or whatever) text. “Who are enrolled in heaven” seems to me to be defining the word “firstborn.” The plural “are” indicates the author is not referring to the singular Jesus. The meaning of the verse then is explained by addition of “ones” since the “who are enrolled in heaven” obviously means us Christians. In Acts 2:42 it’s made clear that it’s new Christians who are enrolled as new members of the “body” of Christ.”

    ““Firstborn who are enrolled in heaven” has no meaning here if applied to Jesus Himself. If that had been the intended meaning the verb would have been “is” rather than “are.” And there would have been no need to speak of JESUS being “enrolled in Heaven.” He lived there. That was home. He didn’t need to enroll. WE do need to enroll by obeying the gospel. When we have repented toward the Christ (recognizing that He is Lord) and have been immersed as HE commands, then we are added to His “book of life” in Heaven as saved and headed for Heaven.”

    I am glad that we agree that the “ones” that you continually refer to has been added by the translators. But, it really seems odd to me for someone to hold this lonely word only added by one translator, Jay P. Green, Sr, notice this evidence, to be so powerful as to change the context of all of the other translators, including the translations that were done by committees or groups of individuals.
    Copyright Notice:
    Scripture taken from the Literal Translation of the Holy Bible
    Copyright © 1976 – 2000
    By Jay P. Green, Sr.
    Used by permission of the copyright holder
    Courtesy of Sovereign Grace Publishers and Christian Literature World
    If you have more evidence please present it for our consideration.

    Now, let’s take a little trip back into basic English. That was a class required while I was in High School. I believe that some of the basic sentence structure is being overlooked while attempting to glean the message from this verse. Maybe someone can show me where my understanding of the rules has gone wrong, notice the three translations below, then I will explain my understanding.
    Heb 12:23 KJV) To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

    (Heb 12:23 NIV) to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect,

    (Heb 12:23 NRSV) and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,

    I was always taught that there will be a subject of any sentence, what is the subject of these sentences?
    My determination is that the subject is (in KJV, [general assembly and church], both are the same object. (in NIV, [church], (in NRSV, [assembly].
    The phrase, “of the firstborn” is a prepositional phrase which is modifying the subject.
    Therefore, the “general assembly and church” is an object which is owned, belonging to, or a possession of “firstborn”.
    Notice, that “church” is singular and “firstborn” is singular, firstborn can only be plural when referring to multiple “churches” or multiple “assemblies”.

    Christians were never referred to in scriptures as firstborn, Christians (which the church or assembly is made up of) plural individuals could never be referred to as firstborn, they would have to be addressed as “firstborns”. I believe that is why Jay P. Green, Sr. added the italic word, to justify his understanding.
    Now, for the phrase “which are written in heaven”, is there only one name written in Heaven? Of course not, [are] refers to multiple [plurality], it cannot refer to a singular [firstborn].

    What is the alternative to addressing a singular word “firstborn”? Well God’s Son is an only child, he then is The firstborn Son of God, and there are other passages of scripture that refer to Him as the only Son of God.
    The Church is identified as His body and Christians are said to be indwelt by Christ, but is calling the body of Christ, The Christian Church reflecting the same identity as applying his name to it.
    The Church is Christ’s bride made up of multiple individuals called Christians.
    Is saying The Christ-ians Church not identifying the Church being the bride of Christians?

    Ray,
    I would assume that you would have no problems communicating that, when an assembly of Christians called themselves The Baptist Church, that the Baptist organization owns or has control over those who use that name.
    I know that The Baptist organization declares that they do not have control or own the churches who use their name, but just try to influence one of them to quit using that name because it is not a reflection of The Lord, and see how dedicated they are to their name.
    Do the same with Methodist, Presbyterian etc; you will run into the same problems, each clings to their identity (Christ’s identity?) with a great passion.

  211. Grace says:

    Why should these churches change the name that you don’t think is Biblical?

    Again, That is painting people with quite a broad stroke. Just because someone goes to a church with a sign that says “Baptist Church” doesn’t mean they are less dedicated to Christ than you are. You attending a CofC denomination doesn’t make you better than they are and doesn’t mean you love Jesus more than they do. It doesn’t mean their goal isn’t to teach people about Jesus and bring others to Him to have a relationship with Him.

    There are many people who have left the CofC denomination in their area because of it being more dedicated to the organization than they are to Christ.

    You’re painting all other churches as though they’re not passionate about Christ and that is simply not true. As both Royce and I both have stated we have known many Baptist Churches to be exceedingly passionate about Christ. Again, I have many friends who attend a Baptist Church near them and every Baptist Church I have been to always stress the importance of Christianity and how they as Christians are to be telling others about Jesus. Being a Christian is very important to them. This is also true of many people I know who attend many other churches. They are very passionate about Jesus and telling others about Him.

  212. John Fewkes says:

    Labels become shorthand — a way to describe a larger concept in a smaller way. That results in stereotyping and therein is the shortfall. We do not want (?) to be bothered or take the time to investigate a particular named group, or the people within that group; we can just drop them in the box of condemnation or the box of doubtful with a “label”.. How very convenient, how very “un” Christlike.

  213. Johnny says:

    I know of several Churches who have dropped the term Baptist from their name because they felt it hindered their outreach to the lost. I also know of Churches who have dropped the term Church of Christ from their name for exactly the same reason. It aint about us, its about Him and His work.

  214. Dwight says:

    Grace, Again yo are attacking the coC as if everyone is against names like “Baptist church”, I am not and many others aren’t, for possibly except Ray, who believes “church of Christ” is scriptural and others aren’t. If you are talking to Ray talk to Ray, but it sounds as if you are attacking all those in the coC on this issue.
    Read the link that Royce gave: http://www.zianet.com/maxey/reflx536.htm
    Now having said this, those of the conservative coC are very name oriented, placing sin or justificaton on a name. But you are on a progressive coC site.

    John, You are right…labels and names are denominational (not anything wrong with this), but when we adhere to those labels and names as being righteous and deny all others, then we are sectarian and divisive. Very unChrist like.

  215. Mark says:

    Some of those churches in denominations with central offices have dropped the denominational name because the Central office could run off more members (often as a result of bad policy/politics) in a week than could be converted in a year of had work.

    Those denominations without a central office have to contend with the radicals giving them all a bad reputation. “But we don’t do that here” and “we don’t believe that” don’t always convince people that you don’t condone the behaviour.

  216. Royce says:

    That Baptist churches (SBC) are governed by some central authority is pure fiction. People keep saying it because of ignorance or dishonesty.

  217. Grace says:

    No Dwight, I’m not attacking everyone in the CofC denomination. As anyone can see from my other comments on here I agreed with both Matt and Royce. You seem to get upset when I speak against the disgusting attacks on other churches that have been made by many in the CofC denomination for years. You seem to get upset that I defend my brothers and sisters without having to attack them in the same comment.

    My comment never referenced everyone who attends the CofC denomination. It was a reply to yet another attack by someone from the CofC camp made toward all other churches saying they aren’t as passionate about Christ as they are to their identity, which is simply not true about many people who attend Baptist Churches and other churches as well.

    So it seems to me that instead of getting upset at me for defending my brothers and sisters, you would want people from your camp to quit their disgusting attacks on other churches and learn to have a more reasonable discussion.

    Lord have mercy

  218. Matt Dabbs says:

    After all these comments I couldn’t help but get excited when I saw “Grace” show up!

  219. Ray Downen says:

    Royce points us to a Reflections article by Al Maxey. I’ve been receiving his weekly articles for many years, and some of them are excellent, and some have become disappointing, for he no longer agrees with the apostles that seekers need to repent and be baptized. His teaching against legalism is superb. His teaching about conversion is not acceptable by any measure. I consider Al a good friend, but he’s tragically wrong about conversion. His doctrine on that subject fits in perfectly with Baptists. As for names, I’m pleased to believe that good names for any church should point to the owner of the church rather than its members or the neighborhood or the nation. Church of Christ and Christian Church speak of the church as belonging to Jesus, the CHRIST.

  220. Royce says:

    These are your words about Al Maxie

    “some of them are excellent, and some have become disappointing, for he no longer agrees with the apostles that seekers need to repent and be baptized”

    Why would you say something so blatently untrue? You should repent.

  221. Ray Downen says:

    Yes, Dwight, I did read your earlier note and this current one. And I’m positive that the text in question is referring to the “firstborn who are enrolled in heaven,” that is, to born-again Christians. The church is also referred to as the church of the saints in particular places. But the names I think most appropriate for any congregation of Christians is either Christian Church or Church of Christ. Al points out that “church of God” is used more frequently (11 times) than “churches of Christ” (used once). The reason I think using Christ’s name for a congregation rather than “God” is that the church is particularly the church OF CHRIST, founded by Him, taught by His apostles, shaped by His apostles. God shaped the nation of Israel. Jesus shaped the churches in every nation.

    Of course you may be right that the most logical meaning of the passage is not what we should learn from reading it. But I don’t much believe in disbelieving what is simple and preferring what is complex and less likely.

  222. Ray Downen says:

    Royce, in my book “Should Any Christian Ever Be Baptized,” I quote exactly what Al has written. He no longer believes in baptism “into Christ.” He thinks people are saved the instant they BELIEVE in Jesus. One of his Reflections is entirely devoted to explaining why Peter and the apostles were wrong as recorded by Luke in Acts chapter two. You claim my statement is untrue. I assure you that it is fully true according to recorded writings of Al Maxey. The exchange between Al and myself (and another friend) can be read at my website. The booklet is HS-G01, available to be read or printed on the website, missionoutreach.org. All available studies are listed in CU-D07.pdf. Each is in printable form (.pdf). Visitors to the site will see Al Maxey’s name on several of the booklets I publish. What I first admired about Al many years ago was his clear teaching against legalism.

  223. Royce says:

    You said he no longer believes people ” should repent and be baptized”. He (and many others) does not believe baptism is the split second a person is saved.

    When you make public statements about others you should be careful that you get it right.

  224. mattdabbs says:

    Royce, you have to understand how this discussion works. If Ray makes a point it is very important that we, who are mistaken, get it right. If we make a point and show Ray is wrong, it is not important that he shows he is going to “get it right”. There are two standards being used here…one of what he expects for us and another for himself.

    For instance, he emphatically states that no one called Jesus Messiah/Christ before his resurrection. I give him the verses where they do. Ray is silent. Ray says it can only be Church of Christ or Christian church…others have given him other “titles” from scripture but he doesn’t budge. Ray says Christ and Messiah are not the same word…he is shown that it is (very easy to look that up) but he doesn’t have anything to say about it.

    I don’t like admitting I am wrong either but if I am and I see it, I try to admit it. I had to do that online today in another conversation and I apologized. It is the Christian thing to do. If we all did that when it was appropriate these conversations would go so much easier.

  225. Royce says:

    Reread the statement again I quoted. What you said in that quote was untrue.

    Everyone knows your sacramental view of baptism. Al disagrees. But to say he doesn’t believe “seekers should repent and be baptized” is untrue.

  226. Larry Cheek says:

    MattDabbs,
    I noticed your comment and agree about no response. Ray, was given the request to address my comment posted the 27th about applying the name Christian to the identifier “firstborn” in Heb 13:23 but he chose to totally ignore responding, just choosing to continue his affirmation of his conclusions. Stating again, “But the names I think most appropriate for any congregation of Christians is either Christian Church or Church of Christ”. Of of course, I really thought many of you would join in identifying whether the conclusion that I had shown had any merit according to English sentence structure or even comparing to the structure of the Greek language. Without support or opposition I could never be sure of my own position.

  227. Larry Cheek says:

    Royce,
    Can you show us how you arrived at this conclusion, posted 9/24?
    “Christ was never born. He is eternal.”
    Later you posted. ““Firstborn” whose names are written is a fairly clear statement. Yes, individuals are being spoken of.” and ““Firstborn from the dead” refers to the resurrection, not a birth. The man Jesus had an earthly beginning, Christ did not. Christ is eternal.”

    I found these verses that tell me that he was born.
    (Mat 1:16 NIV) and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

    (Mat 2:1 NIV) After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born.

    (Luke 1:35 NIV) The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

    (Luke 2:11 NIV) Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.

    (John 18:37 NIV) “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

    (1 John 5:1 NIV) Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.

  228. Larry Cheek says:

    Ray,
    You have stated 9/25, “I did not state that the name Christian Church is because members are Christians. It was the Christian Church before there were any members”.
    I really cannot find any reference to the term Christian being applied to anyone prior to Pentecost..
    Jesus referenced (church) in two verses prior to Pentecost.
    (Mat 16:18 NIV) And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

    (Mat 18:17 NIV) If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
    I really thought that earlier you had told us that Antioch was the first occurrence of the application of Christians as an identifier of the followers of Christ.

    Later that same day you said, “Dwight, thanks for explaining what you think is true concerning nomenclature of the early church. You might be right. It’s obvious to me that you’re wrong. Until Gentiles were part of the church, the members were not identified as Christians. Afterward they were.”

    Well, you say that the Church was called The Christian Church before there were any members, then you say that the members of the church were not identified as Christians until after the Gentiles were part of the church. Would you tell us which is correct?

  229. Royce says:

    Larry,

    I had explained what I said but you evidently didn’t see it or understand it.

    Of course Jesus was born. But Christ is eternal. Remember Jesus saying “before Moses was I am”? As for the “firstborn” references.

    “He is the first-born of every creature. Not that he is himself a creature; for it is prototokos pases ktiseos—born or begotten before all the creation, or before any creature was made, which is the scripture-way of representing eternity, and by which the eternity of God is represented to us: I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was; when there was no depth, before the mountains were settled, while as yet he had not made the earth, Prov. 8:23-26. It signifies his dominion over all things, as the first-born in a family is heir and lord of all, so he is the heir of all things, Heb. 1:2. The word, with only the change of the accent, prototokos, signifies actively the first begetter or producer of all things, and so it well agrees with the following clause. Vid. Isidor. Peleus. epist. 30 lib. 3. (3.) He is so far from beginning himself a creature that he is the Creator: For by him were all things created, which are in heaven and earth, visible and invisible, Col. 1:16. He made all things out of nothing, the highest angel in heaven, as well as men upon earth. He made the world, the upper and lower world, with all the inhabitants of both. All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made which was made, John 1:3. He speaks here as if there were several orders of angels: Whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers, which must signify either different degrees of excellence or different offices and employments. Angels, authorities, and powers, 1 Pet. 3:22. Christ is the eternal wisdom of the Father, and the world was made in wisdom. He is the eternal Word, and the world was made by the word of God. He is the arm of the Lord, and the world was made by that arm. All things are created by him and for him; di autou kai eis auton. Being created by him, they were created for him; being made by his power, they were made according to his pleasure and for his praise. He is the end, as well as the cause of all things. To him are all things, Rom. 11:36; eis auton ta panta. (4.) He was before all things. He had a being before the world was made, before the beginning of time, and therefore from all eternity.” Matthew Henry Commentary.

    Christ is God and is thus eternal. Jesus was “God with us”, or God “in flesh”. In his humanity Jesus embodied the Christ. Christ is not Jesus last name. Jesus is the name given according to God’s instructions. “Christ” described who he was, the “the promised anointed one”, or “the promised Messiah” predicted by the prophets.

    When we speak and write we say Jesus Christ. We would be more accurate to say or write “Jesus who is the Christ”, or “Jesus the Christ”.

  230. Mary Hollingsworth says:

    To me, a glaring issue here is lack of female voices. Why is that? Do women not have an opinion on these topics? None of the females with experience and education in your camps have anything to contribute to the discussion ? You don’t feel you need the female voice? That doesn’t seem very contemporary at all. Would their perspective not be relevant or helpful or pragmatic?? The men writing here don’t seem to notice the conversation is ALL MEN. I guess this is the way they are used to doing things. Maybe that is how things are in Alabama? The women that ministered with Him did more than be reverent, refrain from wine, love their own families, and refrain from gossip and malice.

    If women made comments here, they would probably have a different flavor, a different presentation, a different objective even perhaps. Might be helpful and instructive. I know Jesus traveled with and was financially supported by professional women. Probably not a bad precedent or model to follow. Interestingly, despite a few comments Paul later made to Titus, these women were not just at home with their husbands. .

    It doesn’t

  231. Larry Cheek says:

    I am not Jay, but I believe that this site is not gender specific.
    I don’t see any signs here asking women not to comment. I noticed that you must have been reading enough to have a clue that these are almost all men, is there a reason why you have not been contributing your concepts. I mean over the years many women have been contributors, I do not have a clue why most women who read the comments chose not to comment, can you enlighten us as to why they don’t. We will never be able to imagine what women think about some of these lessons or ideas unless they commit to telling us.

  232. Dwight says:

    Mary, my wife, and probably like a lot of women, don’t care to go to sites like this and have discrussions like this. There are a few women who sometimes contribute, but then again if you look at the site and follow the threads you will see that the regular posters and contributers are just a few more men, maybe seven or so. No woman has ever been rejected or made to feel less than an important contributer from what I have seen. This is an open blog spot and those who find it will contribute and many who dont’ find it won’t. After all it seems as though you found it and posted. Please feel free to post at will. We will be blessed to have your comments.

  233. Mark says:

    Most if not all of us would be happy to read women’s comments which would likely add more depth to the discussion. We can’t make women get on here and comment.

  234. Monty says:

    Why didn’t Miriam get to go up and meet with God and see him in Exodus and have a fellowship meal with the 70 elders and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu? Surely, she had to have felt excluded. Why weren’t women allowed to be priests under the Levitical priesthood? Why were all the judges male with one exception? Why were first born sons the head of the family with the double portion and not first born females? Why were there no female major prophets(or minor) and no female Apostles? Why was Adam created before Eve and put in charge over the garden and and the animals? Why wasn’t Eve allowed to name some animals? Is God against women? Gracious NO! Is there something to the idea of male leadership taught in scripture if by nothing else than by example? It seems rather apparent to me. Why couldn’t God give us one prophetic book written by a woman? Why not one female Apostle(of the 12)? We can ask him one day but will we accept his answer? Does that somehow mean women are inferior? Not to me. I doubt to God either. But by the political correctness of the day, it makes God look like a bad guy. And he isn’t, even if he chose the male sex to lead in the home and in the church. Which may mean we have to question the spirit of the age. My thinking is that most women in the church today(certainly not all) believe in the male role to lead in these areas, and prefer it that way. Some obviously would prefer to come to a blog like this and reason the scriptures together, and we welcome your input and reasoning.

  235. Mark says:

    Monty wrote, “My thinking is that most women in the church today(certainly not all) believe in the male role to lead in these areas, and prefer it that way.”

    So are you talking church of Christ or Christianity as a whole? Maybe in the cofC they are still of that mindset but in the rest of Christianity I think it would be the opposite, they are leaders in churches and clergy too. Even some cofC congregations have women in the pulpit.

  236. Monty says:

    You obviously didn’t read what I said, very well. I do not believe “most” women in the COfC or SB or Pentecostal want to lead by preaching or teaching. Sure some find that to their liking (calling) but what percentage do you believe want(desire) to take the lead? It’s my opinion, certainly not scientific, that most women or even men for that matter don’t want to lead. As a preacher of a small congregation, it’s all I can do sometimes to find men who will fill-in while I take a vacation. Maybe I should ask the women. 🙂

  237. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Mary H asked,

    To me, a glaring issue here is lack of female voices. Why is that?

    I have no idea. There have been times when a woman was the most active commenter here. Many women have commented over the years — even Paris Hilton. http://oneinjesus.info/2008/10/why-the-multiverse-theory-is-wrong/. Regarding a post on the multiverse theory. Of course.

    But I have no control over this. Unlike many blogs within the Church of Christ space, I rarely moderate comments, and I can’t remember ever moderating a women.

    On the other hand,the recent post on suicide quoted an email from a female reader — and long-time friend. She prefers to comment in confidence, directly to me. In fact, I receive a significant number of private emails from female readers and correspond with them as I can. And a female reader commented on Facebook earlier this week.

    Frankly, I prefer it when readers, male or female, comment at the blog rather than Facebook or in private, because I think a vigorous commenting community provides insights I would never think of on my own, helps me write better, and helps to correct me and others. I’m a firm believer in group hermeneutics.

  238. rich constant says:

    J I heard it once said that every great Reformation started from a turnAround or the way that we perceive justification.
    When you put this into perspective what we’re talking about is another great Reformation because we’re putting into perspective Romans 1 16 17.
    That makes not only the Word of God relevant to the people being spoken to but also the Word of God being relevant to people that we speak to. I agree wholeheartedly with your last couple of sentences in this post and fortunately for you and John Mark I don’t live next door.
    Blessings my brother enjoy your evening.

    😉
    because for me this is the neverending story. this is an adventure into the only story that’s important at least it has been for me and you John Mark and for a lot of people.
    but then I don’t have a lot to say after you get certain principles laid down nailed down one of those principles is nailing the Christ down on the ground and getting him Kirsch Oh God an understanding righteous Faith and missing the mark of righteousness instead of looking at sin as something so crazy.
    and then understanding that Jesus is the seed of promise and the author and perfecter Of OUR
    it gets to Romans 6 maybe around 17 being slaves to sIn you have obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching teaching to which you were committed. you have been freed from sin, and have now been enslaved to righteousness.

    Look at that word form. (Pattern -net Bible)
    Think of a jello mold in the likeness of the Messiah.
    and what is the irony here.
    it’s all about righteous faithfulness to the truth that the individual see’S
    at some point you will understand about what I mean by fractal.
    almost perfect circle or globe although from my perspective not quite right. it becomes a disjointed love disjointed faith and that disjointed hope.
    like my mom used to say to me.
    Richard why don’t you use that head As something other than a decoration for the body.
    🙂

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