ARE THERE DIVISIONS WITHIN THE “CHURCH OF CHRIST”?
There is the commonly heard CoC 5 step plan of salvation which is “Hear, Believe, Repent, Confess, and Baptism“. But this is by no means the standard CoC plan of salvation. Many CoCers include living a faithful christian life, growing in the faith or continuing in the way of Jesus as a 6th step. And Walter Scott originally had 6 steps in his plan of salvation which he said was “Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Remission of Sins, Gift of the Holy Spirit and Eternal Life”. But before he had 6 steps Scott only had 3 steps in his plan and they were “Believe, Repent and Be Baptized”. Scott later made his steps of salvation into a “five finger exercise” that was easy enough for kids to remember and use, which was “faith, repentance, baptism, remission of sins, gift of the Holy Spirit.” And today many CoC’s argue over if there should be a sixth step and what that sixth step should be if so. This causes much division within the CoC with many saying other CoC’s are not the real church.
Even if you do the the plan of salvation, which ever one it is, then according to many hardline CoCers your still not saved unless you adhere to their “5 acts of worship” which are “singing, giving, preaching, praying and taking the Lords supper”. And this is where division really comes to bear in the CoC. Many CoC’s think that if other CoC’s do not worship just as they do then they are not really a part of the One True Church or saved.
One CoC writer named Cecil Hook list 100 issues that have caused splits and divisions within the CoC in his book Free In Christ. Hook then goes on to say there are 11 “big” issues “over which we have created open divisions, aligning brethren in different sectarian, exclusive groups“. Those issues are “1. use of Sunday School classes. 2. use of women teachers. 3. use of multiple communion cups. 4. premillennialism. 5. congregations cooperating in evangelism through a sponsoring church. 6. supporting Christian orphanages from the local treasury. 7. speaking in tongues. 8. cooking and eating in the church building. 9. the “located minister” system. 10. the use of instrumental music in worship. 11. the use of missionary, benevolent, and other types of societies or organizations to carry out Christian activities“. You can see the CoC becomes legalistic and divides over many non-essential issues.
Another CoC writer named Jay Guin says in his book Do We Teach Another Gospel “You see, in teaching that certain doctrines other than the gospel are essential to salvation, we’re effectively saying that to be saved, you not only must hear, believe, repent, confess, and be baptized, you must also join a congregation with a scriptural name, with a scriptural organization, and with a scriptural pattern of worship. Thus, if your home church has an elder who might not be properly qualified, or your church does something in worship that might lack authorization, you must change congregations or else lose your soul! I know Christians who have left their local congregation and take communion weekly at home rather than risk damnation by joining an unscriptural Church of Christ” (pg 57). Guin then concludes that the harline CoC does indeed teach another Gospel saying “I fail to see how insisting on these rules as conditions to salvation is any different from insisting on circumcision as a condition to salvation. Either way, you’re insisting on obedience to a law in addition to the gospel. The gospel is meant to take us away from legalism, and the imposition of any rule as a requirement for salvation—even a single morally neutral rule—beyond the gospel is a return to legalism and damnation” (pg 57). All these different CoC “Gospels” can be wrong but they cannot all be right. Also see this Wikipedia article to learn more about the 3 big splits in the CoC.
Posted on September 11, 2015, in Divisions in the CoC and tagged church of christ divisions, divisions in the church of christ, divisions in the CoC, is the church of christ united. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.