Friday, September 18, 2015

Campbellite confusion on "The One True Church"

The "church of christ" denomination, also known as 'disciples of christ" and "Campbellites", often write charts and books about how their denomination is actually not a denomination and that they are "THE" "one true Church". I have articles, books, and sermons by these people claiming this very thing. They say that they are 'the' one true Church and that other churches are just "denominations" that "do not have the right to exist" (see Aaron Erhardt's Truth In Charts).

Here is one such chart from Aaron Erhardt himself:

The One True Church
Church History
Church Name
Church of Christ A.D. 30-33
Catholic Church A.D. 606-607
Lutheran Church A.D. 1520-1530
Church of England A.D. 1534
Presbyterian Church A.D. 1536
Baptist Church A.D. 1607-1611
Methodist Church A.D. 1729-1739
Mormon Church A.D. 1830
Seventh Day Adventist A.D. 1863
Salvation Army A.D. 1865
Jehovah's Witnesses A.D. 1870-1879
Pentecostal A.D. 1901-1906
Christian Church A.D. 1906
Nazarene Church A.D. 1908

I have never been able to figure what they mean by this. As much as I have read, listened to, and communicated with these people, I have still never been able to figure out what they even mean by "church". The word "church" just means congregation or assembly.

Here is a brief article written by Aaron Erhardt on this subject called "The First Century Church"

The Lord Jesus promised to establish a church in Matthew 16:18. He said “on this rock,” that is, the truth of Peter’s confession that He was the Son of God (v. 16), His church would be built and the “gates of Hades,” that is, the power of death, would not prevail against it. His promise came to pass on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2.
The Lord’s church was founded in the first century. We can read about its establishment and expansion in the New Testament. Any church founded by someone else at some other time is without authority and, by its very nature, rivals the church built by Jesus.

This writer firmly believes that the church built by Jesus is still in existence, though it is often overshadowed by the churches of men. To find it, one must look at the various marks of identification set forth in Scripture (name, work, worship, organization, plan of salvation, etc). This task is made much easier when churches admit that they were the product of mere men long after the time of Christ. For instance, consider some quotes from notable Baptist sources.
“The history of Baptist churches cannot be carried, by the scientific method, farther back than the year 1611, when the first Anabaptist church consisting wholly of Englishmen was founded in Amsterdam by John Smyth, the Se-Baptist. This was not, strictly speaking, a Baptist Church, but it was the direct progenitor of churches in England that a few years later became Baptist, and therefore the history begins there” (A Short History of the Baptists, p. 4). 

“The word Baptists, as a descriptive name of a body of Christians, was first used in English literature, so far as is known, in the year 1644… There had been no such churches before, and hence there was no need of the name” (Ibid., p. 3).

“The earliest instance in which this name occurs as a denominational designation, so far as my information goes, befell in the year 1644… The name Baptist was in 1644 first claimed by our people. They have claimed it ever since” (A Question in Baptist History, pp. 92-93).
The Baptist Church admits that it was established by mere men long after the time of Christ. It began in the 1600’s with John Smyth. This fact alone should keep one from Baptist association. We want to be in the Lord’s church of the first century, not John Smyth’s church of the seventeenth century! 

Other churches admit to being man-made as well. Perhaps the most obvious example is the Lutheran Church, which wears the name of its founder, Martin Luther. What makes this even more astounding is the fact that Luther had said, “I ask that men make no reference to my name, and call themselves not Lutherans, but Christians” (A Compend of Luther’s Theology, p. 135). 

If we truly love the Lord, we will want to be a member of the church He established in the first century. Regardless of past history or family tradition, we will find and associate ourselves with the church that is divinely purposed (Ephesians 3:9-11) and purchased (Acts 20:28). 

Churches that admit to being man-made should be immediately marked off the list. Churches that wear names that were not worn in the New Testament, like Methodist or Presbyterian, should be excluded as well. As we continue looking at the various marks of identification set forth in Scripture, we will finally be left with what we were looking for all along, the first century church (of Christ)!

There are several issues with Aaron Erhardt's writings as well as the other "church of christ" people.

1.) They assume that just because you call something the "church of christ" that this means it is the Church of Christ. However, merely labeling something "church of christ" does not make it Christ's church. 2 Corinthians 10:13 For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.

2.) They engage in "endless genealogies" about history rather than godly edifying. 1 Timothy 1:4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.

3.) The phrase "church of christ" is not in the Bible anywhere.

4.) There is a denomination called "church of God", by the Campbellite logic this would mean that this denomination is also "the one true church".

5.) The "church of christ" cannot really trace their lineage back to 33 AD. All they do is say "our beliefs line up with the Bible and yours don't, so we must be the one true church that began in 33 AD".  The problem with the "church of christ" is that EVERY denomination believes that their practices are in the Bible and have been around since 33 AD. Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise. Proverbs 16:2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits. Proverbs 20:6 Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find? Proverbs 21:2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.

6.) What "church" is Aaron Erhardt even referring to? There are many different churches of God/Christ in the Bible. There was church of God in the wilderness that consisted of Jews congregated in the wilderness (Acts 7:38). There were heathen churches that were assemblies of idol worshipers (Acts 19:37). Then there are LOCAL congregations of carnal back slidden believers such as "the church of God which is at Corinth" (1 Cor. 1:2).....then there is "the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ" which was a healthy church growing by the word of God (1 Thes. 2:13). Both of these local churches are said to be made up of saved people, yet one was said to be "carnal" and puffed up in pride about the sins they were committing (1 Cor. 3:1, 5:2). Then there is the SPIRITUAL church made up of ALL saved people assembled in the BODY OF CHRIST by the baptism into Christ performed by the Holy Spirit....1 Corinthians 6:15-17 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit...1 Corinthians 12:12-13 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. This church is made up of believers that are "seated in heavenly places in Christ" (Eph. 2:6) and it is not physical. It is spiritual. "he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit." This church is called "the body of Christ" of which He is the Head and there is only ONE of this church (Eph. 1:21-22, 4:4, 5:23-32). Which church is Aaron Erhardt referring to? He lists local churches such as Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist, but what about the spiritual church made up of saved believers assembled in Christ? That is the church that the Lord started.

The Lord did not start any local institution. What most people think of as a "local church" that is physical, it is just believers assembled together. The mere title "church" has nothing to do with doctrine or practice, "church" only means believers. The church at Corinth was not a group that upheld the doctrine and practices of the word of God. They were carnal and Paul said it would be better if they did not assemble (1 Cor. 11:17). The church is referring to believers.   Acts 14:27 And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. (a "church" is something that can be gathered together, it is not a building)

Where does the Bible ever tell believers to assemble on a certain day of the week at a certain time to sing songs, read the Bible, study the Bible, teach the Bible, or preach the Bible? It doesn't. What Christ started was SAVED PEOPLE, not a group/denomination that is required to hold to certain doctrines and perform certain practices.

Saved people in a particular community (local church) are commanded to study and preach the Bible, we are told to be ambassadors for Christ, and we are told to sing Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. But we are never told to assemble in one place at a certain time to do those things. Assembly is an issue of liberty. Sometimes it is better not to assemble (1 Cor. 11:17). A lot of times assembling is an effective way to serve God together, such as assembling together to print Scriptures or listen to the word of God being taught.

Many people use Hebrews 10:25 to teach that we are required to assemble with other believers and that it is a sin not to go to a local assembly.

"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."

But the context of that verse is not assembling every week to sing and preach. The context is verse 24,

"And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:"

These verses are not referring to the local church, they are referring to believers not forsaking each other, to consider each other provoking each other to good works. That has nothing to do with the modern idea of a "local church" that comes to a building a few times a week. Believers are suppose to "consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works" daily as we are around each other.

The 'local church' is an option for the sake of effectiveness and fellowship, not a commandment.

The church which is the Body of Christ is made up of all believers under Grace (they are assembled in Christ), those who are not in it are not saved. Local assemblies, church signs/advertisements, and practices have nothing to do with this church. It is spiritually being joined to Christ by the Holy Spirit...

1 Corinthians 6:
[15] Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.
[16] What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.
[17] But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit

1 Corinthians 12:12-13 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

Galatians 3:26-28 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 1:
[21] Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
[22] And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
[23] Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all

Ephesians 2:
[5] Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
[6] And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
[7] That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus

Ephesians 5:
[25] Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
[26] That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
[27] That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
[28] So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
[29] For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
[30] For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
[31] For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
[32] This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church

The "church of christ" is greatly mistaken by confusing local buildings with the universal, spiritual church of all believer IN CHRIST.

--Eli Caldwell

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