What Must Be Preserved of the Churches of Christ? (Communion, Part 1)

churchofchristThe Churches of Christ have long insisted on weekly communion. This teaching traces back to a series of articles by Alexander Campbell called “The Search for the Ancient Order.”

Campbell specifically declared that his studies on how churches should organize and conduct their Sunday assemblies should not be taken as salvation or fellowship issues, but soon after his death, some Restoration Movement preachers were damning – contrary to the core principles of the Restoration – those who took communion quarterly.

Of course, the argument that was ultimately relied on for weekly communion is the Regulative Principle as applied to Acts 20:6-7 –

Continue reading

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What Must Be Preserved of the Churches of Christ? (Unity, Part 7)

churchofchristChurch politics

We elders should be a little worried about this one. It certainly worries me –

(Gal 2:11 ESV)  11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.

(Gal 2:11 NASB)  But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. Continue reading

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What Must Be Preserved of the Churches of Christ? (Unity, Part 6)

churchofchristBefore we talk about falling away, let’s discuss being in jeopardy of falling away. We begin in 2 Peter –

(2Pe 1:5-8 ESV) 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,  6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,  7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.  8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Notice v. 8 very carefully. The promise is that if we are growing in spiritual virtues (such as those listed in verses 5 – 7) we will be effective and fruitful. But if not, we can become ineffective and unfruitful. Continue reading

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What Must Be Preserved of the Churches of Christ? (Unity, Part 5)

churchofchristAlthough the Churches of Christ often teach God’s forgiveness based on 1 John 1:7, they also teach that sins won’t be forgiven unless and until we –

* Confess the sin to God (and perhaps publicly, if the sin was public)

* Repent of the sin (by no longer doing the sin)

* Pay restitution where appropriate and possible. This element is usually ignored except in the context of marriage, divorce, and remarriage, where it is insisted on.

* Ask God for forgiveness. Continue reading

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What Must Be Preserved of the Churches of Christ? (Unity, Part 4)

churchofchristI don’t remember who preached the sermon, or even if it was in my home church. But sometime while I was a teenager, I heard a lesson that just astonished me — a most excellent lesson still being taught in even very conservative Churches of Christ based on 1 John 1:7 –

(1Jo 1:7 ESV)  7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Here’s a very typical example from Wayne Jackson’s very popular Christian Courier websiteContinue reading

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On the Spirit’s Ordination of Elders

councilofelders I have a new article up at Wineskins: On the Spirit’s Ordination of Elders.

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What Must Be Preserved of the Churches of Christ? (Unity, Part 3)

churchofchristThe 20th Century Churches of Christ have staunchly opposed the ecumenical movement, largely because they saw the other denominations as lost and saw no hope of converting the others to their way of thinking.

In those days, the unity efforts largely were handled by negotiations among bishops and patriarchs and other high officials of the various denominations — with minimal success due to non-negotiable differences regarding the sacraments and church organization.

However, today, the real ecumenical movement is taking place in the pews, as church members reject the thinking of their leaders and insist on respecting baptisms and honoring faith in Jesus across denominational lines, with no concern for the ancient doctrines that have long separated denominations. Continue reading

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What Must Be Preserved of the Churches of Christ? (Unity, Part 2)

churchofchristWe are continuing to consider the great slogans of the Restoration Movement.

No creed but Christ;
no creedbook but the Bible.

In the 19th Century, many denominations had written creeds that were used to define who could be a member and who could take communion.

Thomas Campbell had originally been a Presbyterian preacher in Ireland, where he fathered Alexander. He moved to western Pennsylvania for his health (I have no idea why that made any sense), leaving Alexander behind with his mother to complete his schooling. Continue reading

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What Must Be Preserved of the Churches of Christ? (Unity, Part 1)

churchofchristI attended David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University) and managed to take a Bible class every day for the entire time and learn nothing about the Restoration Movement. That class was reserved for Bible majors and offered opposite key major courses for all others.

Later on, when I began to teach adult Bible classes at church, I decided to do a study of the Restoration Movement. I was fortunate that my church had excellent resources for Restoration Movement studies, by the standards of the day. Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s “The Case for the Psalms” Chapter 3

caseforthepsalmsWe are considering and riffing a bit on N. T. Wright’s The Case for the Psalms: Why They Are Essential.

In chapter 3, Wright explains how the psalms “invite us, first, to stand at the intersection of the different layers of time.

(Psa 90:1-4 ESV) Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
3 You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!”
4 For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. Continue reading

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