Category Archives: Testimonies
SOURCE: My admission of having “left the Church of Christ” may come as a complete surprise to many who have known me through the years; to others who have followed my writings on the institutional church, it will not come as a shock. The decision to cast off the shackles of traditions and laws of men came after many years of prayerful study of the sacred scriptures and the history of the development of the first man-made religious entity – the Catholic Church.
Betty, my faithful and loving wife of over 44 years, has been by my side all the while, studying, praying, and affording me a sounding board where I could test newly discovered hypotheses. She has often served as a good balance to my occasional impetuosity. Today, we stand in complete agreement on what I shall set forth in this article. When I state the reasons why I left the Church of Christ, I really am speaking for Betty also.
It is with great emotional difficulty that one declares he left something behind that was once very near and dear to his heart. Especially, when it involves long-time friends and loved ones. No doubt the apostle Paul shed many a tear as he contemplated the meaning of his decision to leave Judaism in order to embrace the liberating Christ:
Brothers, I pray to God that the Jewish people will be saved; that is my heart’s desire. I tell you the truth, they have much enthusiasm for God, but they don’t understand! They ignored God’s righteousness and tried to establish their own type of righteousness. They did not put themselves under God’s kind of righteousness (S.E.B. Rom. 10:1-4).
This is the second time I have had to make this kind of heart-rending determination. I was born to Roman Catholic parents and was raised a Catholic. I was “baptized” as a baby, attended catechism (religious instructions), and was “confirmed” at the age of twelve. Later, Betty submitted to catechism to become a Catholic that we might marry. We remained Catholics until I was 24 years old. By this time we were introduced to the teachings of the Church of Christ. I remember that much of the discussion centered around identifying “The One True Church.” As a Catholic, I was conditioned to the “one true church” concept and had no difficulty accepting it. Also, I could see that Jesus and the apostles taught “immersion” as being necessary for the remission of sins. After much study and deliberation we left the Catholic Church and became “members of the Church of Christ.”
Four years after our conversion in Wheeling, West Virginia, I gave up a promising career as a country music entertainer and moved to Temple Terrace (Tampa), Florida where I enrolled as a student in Florida Christian College (later changed to Florida College). I wanted to study the Bible in an intense program, and to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I preached for various congregations over the next 30 years. During this time, I arrived at scriptural conclusions that were considered erroneous and dangerous by some of the clergy (preachers and elders) of this sect. We were branded as “unsound in the faith.” Those preachers, elders, and churches which were under the influence of Florida College were warned “to have nothing to do with Dusty Owens.” Interestingly, I have been invited to entertain (sing) at lectureships, homecomings, etc. many times, but never once asked to present a Bible lesson. I have often been solicited to make a financial contribution to the school, but never asked to contribute to their spiritual well-being.
I did not intend for this article to be a biography, but I felt that the reader ought to know these pertinent points. Please keep in mind that as I discuss why I left the Church of Christ, I hold no animosity or ill-will toward any person. God’s child is my brother or sister in Christ. I will state up front that I do hate the system men devised that robs God’s people of their rich inheritance, including the blessings of joy, peace, hope and love. And now, why I left the Church of Christ.
Emphasis On “Church”
When members of the Church of Christ claim they are “the one true church,” they mean that emphatically. They profess to be the only, therefore the true church, that Jesus will save. They go on to identify it by name, “Church of Christ,” and insist that one must be a member of this “Church” in order to be saved. Furthermore, they contend that one must be “a faithful member of the church” to be saved. “Faithful” includes attending every announced assembly (“worship service and Bible study”), and giving to the church liberally of your financial earnings and your time. It also includes doing everything according to “truth,” which, of course, is determined by the preachers and elders. If your study of the scriptures does not produce the same conclusions that they have reached, you are in “error,” judged “unfaithful,” and subject to “marking” and even “disfellowshipping.”
Gradually, as I studied the scriptures and the original language of the New Testament (Greek), I could see the errors of these contentions. Basically, there is one error – a faulty premise. When you assume the existence of a “church,” everything about the church seems to fall into place.
SOURCE: I grew up in the non-instrumental Churches Of Christ and left the Stone/ Campbell movement in late 2001 when I was about 40. Since that time we (my family and I) have been active members in a Baptist fellowship.
I did not leave the Church of Christ over a falling out or a bad experience or anything. I simply became convinced from reading the book of Romans that the theology was absolute heresy.
It happened one day after reading Paul’s summary statement in Romans 3:9-20 about man’s (read my) fallen condition-
“There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one…”
I continued in the context of the passage and begain to read about the righteousness that God provides as a gift to all who place faith in Jesus Christ-
“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe…”
This was not just some abstract verse taken out of context.
This theme continues for the rest of chapter 3, 4, 5 and is picked up again in chapters 9,10, and 11.
I kept thinking “I’ve been reading the Bible all my life. How could I have missed this doctrine about the gift of perfect righteousness that God gives to all who place faith in Jesus Christ?”
And then it was- “Yes, Lord! I don’t have any righteousness of my own. I’ll gladly trust in Jesus Christ for evernal life.”
In summary, there are 154 places in the New Testament alone that tell us that salvation is by simply placing faith in Jesus Christ. It is systematically taught in the book of Romans in chapter 1,3,4,5,9,10, and 11, and because of a doctrinal controversy, Paul addresses it again in the book of Galatians in chapter 2,3,4 and 5.
Galatians 2:15-16 says,
“We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified…”
Needless to say, I didn’t stay Church of Christ much longer after I came to understand how we are saved simply by placing faith and trust in the Savior.
This doesn’t mean I didn’t have questions about baptism.
But at least I knew we are saved by faith in Christ and then began looking for answers of how water baptism related to salvation, rather than just thinking we are saved by water baptism and never coming to understand how we are saved by faith in Jesus.
In short, in all four gospels and twice in the book of Acts it says that ‘John baptized with water, but that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit.’
I found out that as the Lord’s Supper is the believer’s sign or a symbol of the actual body and blood of the Lord, water baptism is simply the believer’s sign or a symbol of the real or actual baptism of the Holy Spirit that comes upon the believer at conversion.
1 Cor. 12:13 says,
“For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free —and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”