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ANSWERING THE HARDLINE CHURCH OF CHRIST – How2BecomeAChristian TV

Examining and answering some hardline Church of Christ myths and false teachings

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‘Names’ in the Bible for God’s Church

Whats-in-a-name

All of these combined are referred to as “the churches of Christ” (Rom. 16:16) … never used as a singular group or as a proper name…

This is a list of descriptive terms of God’s people.
“the kingdom of Heaven” or “Heaven’s kingdom” (Mt. 16:19)
“the church in Jerusalem” (Acts 8:1; 11:22)
“who were of the Way” (Acts 9:2)
“the churches throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria” (Acts 9:31)
“the church in Cenchrea” (Rom. 16:1)
“the churches of the Gentiles” (Rom. 16:4)
“the church that is in their house” (Rom. 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:19)
“the church of God in Corinth” (1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1)
“the church of God” (1 Cor. 10:32; 11:22; 15:9; Gal. 1:13; 1 Tim. 3:5)
“the body of Christ” (1 Cor. 10:16; Eph. 4:12)
“the churches of God” (1 Cor. 11:16; 2 Thess. 1:4)
“the body” (1 Cor. 12:18-25; Eph. 4:16; 5:23)
“Christ’s body” (1 Cor. 12:27)
“the church” (1 Cor. 12:28)
“the churches of the saints” (1 Cor. 14:33)
“the churches” (1 Cor. 14:34)
“the churches of Galatia” (1 Cor. 16:1)
“the churches of Asia” (1 Cor. 16:19)
“the churches of Macedonia” (2 Cor. 8:1)
“the churches of Judea” (Gal. 1:22)
“those who are of the household of the faith” or “the members of the family of the faith” (Gal. 6:10)
“the church, which is his body” (Eph. 1:22-23; 5:23)
“members of the household of God” or “members of God’s family” (Eph. 2:19)
“the kingdom of the Son of his love” (Col. 1:13)
“the body, the church” (Col. 1:18)
“his body, which is the church” (Col. 1:24)
“the church that is in her house” (Col. 4:15)
“the church of the Laodiceans” (Col. 4:16)
“the church of the Thessalonians” (1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1)
“the churches of God in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 2:14)
“the church in your house” (Philem. 2)
“the general assembly and church of the firstborn” (Heb. 12:23)
“God’s household, which is the church of the living God” (1 Tim. 3:15)

A different list provided:
the church (Used 56 times: Acts 11:26 the most common term used in the Bible)
the body, body of Christ, Christ’s Body [body = church Eph 1:22-23] (Used over 50 times: Col 1:18; Rom 7:4; 1 Cor 10:16; 12:27; Eph 4:12)
church of God or assembly of God (Used 10 times: Acts 12:5; 20:28; 1 Cor 1:2; 10:32; 11:22; 15:9; 2 Co 1:1; Gal 1:13; 1 Tim 3:5; 3:15)
churches of Christ or assemblies of Christ (used once: Rom. 16:16)
the way (used 7 times exclusively by Luke in Acts: Acts 9:2; 18:25; 19:9, 23; 24:4,14,22)
flock (used 4 times: Acts 20:28,29; 1 Pe 5:2,3)
the sect, sect of the Nazarenes (Used 3 times: Acts 24:5,14; 28:22)
general assembly (Heb 12:23)
church of the firstborn (Heb 12:23)
church of the saints (1 Cor 14:33)
house of God (I Tim 3:15)
church of the living God (I Tim 3:15)
kingdom of God (Col 4:11 and many other passages)
kingdom of his dear Son (Col 1:13)
kingdom of Christ and of God (Eph 5:5)
family of God/ household of God/ house of God (1 Tim 3:15)

Courtesy Larry D. Crosby

Question: “Which church is the true church?”

one-true-church

SOURCE: Answer: Which church—that is, which denomination of Christianity—is the “true church”? Which church is the one that God loves and cherishes and died for? Which church is His bride? The answer is that no visible church or denomination is the true church, because the bride of Christ is not an institution, but is instead a spiritual entity made up of those who have by grace through faith been brought into a close, intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8–9). Those people, no matter which building, denomination, or country they happen to be in, constitute the true church.

In the Bible, we see that the local (or visible) church is nothing more than a gathering of professing believers. In Paul’s letters, the word church is used in two different ways. There are many examples of the word church being used to simply refer to a group of professing believers who meet together on a regular basis (1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 8:1; 11:28). We see Paul’s concern, in his letters, for the individual churches in various cities along his missionary journey. But he also refers to a church that is invisible—a spiritual entity that has close fellowship with Christ, as close as a bride to her husband (Ephesians 5:25, 32), and of which He is the spiritual head (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 3:21). This church is made up of an unnamed, unspecified group of individuals (Philippians 3:6;1Timothy 3:5) that have Christ in common.

The word church is a translation of the Greek word ekklesia, meaning “a called–out assembly.” The word describes a group of people who have been called out of the world and set apart for the Lord, and it is always used, in its singular form, to describe a universal group of people who know Christ. The word ekklesia, when pluralized, is used to describe groups of believers who meet together. Interestingly enough, the word church is never used in the Bible to describe a building or organization.

It is easy to get ensnared by the idea that a particular denomination within Christianity is “the true church,” but this view is a misunderstanding of Scripture. When choosing a church to attend, it is important to remember that a gathering of believers should be a place where those who belong to the true church (the spiritual entity) feel at home. That is to say, a good local church will uphold the Word of God, honoring it and preaching faithfully, proclaim the gospel steadfastly, and feed and tend the sheep. A church that teaches heresy or engages in sin will eventually be very low on (or entirely bereft of) those people that belong to the true church—the sheep who hear the voice of the Shepherd and follow Him (John 10:27).

Members of the true church always enjoy agreement in and fellowship around Jesus Christ, as He is plainly revealed in His Word. This is what is referred to as Christian unity. Another common mistake is to believe that Christian unity is just a matter of agreeing with one another. Simple agreement for the sake of agreement does not speak the truth in love or spur one another on to unity in Christ; rather, it encourages believers to refrain from speaking difficult truths. It sacrifices true understanding of God in favor of a false unity based on disingenuous love that is nothing more than selfish tolerance of sin in oneself and others.

The true church is the bride of Christ (Revelation 21:2, 9; 22:17) and the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12; 1 Corinthians 12:27). It cannot be contained, walled in, or defined by anything other than its love for Christ and its dedication to Him. The true church is, as C. S. Lewis put it, “spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners.”

http://www.gotquestions.org/true-church.html

20 Ways to Know You Attend A Hardline Church of Christ

20 Ways copy2SOURCE: 1. Believe or assume that man is born basically ‘good’ or morally neutral, and does not have a prior inclination or predisposition to sin or to do evil.

Answer: “For just as through the disobedience of the one man (Adam) the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man (Jesus Christ) the many will be made righteous.” Romans 5:19

“…I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Romans 7:21-24

“For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that He may have mercy on them all.” Romans 11:32

2. Believe that the unsaved, natural man can understand and respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ without the inner working of the Holy Spirit.

Answer: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” John 6:44

“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor. 2:14

3. Believe that if a person will simply try and apply themselves that we have the ability in our own strength to live every day without sinning.

Answer: “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9

“There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.” Ecc. 7:20

“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Romans 3:10-12

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23

4. Believe that to be saved, all a person needs to do is cooperate and be obedient to all the necessary moral and religious requirements of the New Testament.

Answer: “And if by grace, then it (salvation) is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” Romans 11:6

“For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” Galatians 3:21

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Eph. 2:8-9

5. Believe that the definition of baptism (to dip, to plunge, or immerse) only means to be dipped, plunged, or immersed in the medium of water.

Answer: “He (Jesus) commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:4-5

“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body- whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free- and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” 1 Cor. 12:13

Author’s note: Water baptism is simply the believer’s outward sign or symbol of the true, actual, or Holy Spirit baptism that occurs at the moment of conversion.

6. Find it difficult to explain how that John the Baptist said he baptized with water, but there was One coming after him (that is, Jesus) who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.

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Answering the Church of Christ Name Game by Bob Ross

Whats-in-a-name

SOURCE: One brother put it rightly when he wrote: “They (the Campbellites) have been quarreling over a name for their baby ever since it was born.”

They have called themselves “Reformers,” “Restorationalists,” Disciples of Christ,” “Christians,” “Christian Church,” “Church of Christ,” and even a few other titles. Barton W. Stone contended for the name “Christian,” while Alexander Campbell thought “Disciples” was better.

Apparently there was quite a bit of “heat” between Campbell and Stone on this point.

The matter of having the correct name is still an important issue in the Churches of Christ and many do not believe that one can be saved unless he wears the right name. Some will even go so far as to say that “The” must not even be attached to “Church of Christ” while others will not even allow any additional items to be added which would identify its locality.

For example, ”Main Street Church of Christ” would be considered wrong.

Of course, not all Campbellites believe alike on these foregoing restrictions, but all of them are concerned about the name they wear. And often they will cite some verses in the Bible which they believe teach the wearing of a “correct” name.

Here, we will take a look at of some of those passages that are often used.

Matthew 16:18: “… and on this rock I will build My church.”

Campbellites reason from this verse that since Christ said “My church,” it must have been named after Jesus Christ.

However, you will notice that there is no name given in the verse and there is no command to wear a name in the verse. When we read “My church” it simply tells us whose church it is.

One may say “I will build by fence,” but does these mean he will place a name on the fence which reads, “The Fence of Mr. Jones”?

Certainly not.

Someone may build and own a fence, but it does not mean that the person will provide a name for his fence.

Acts 4:12: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Question: Does this verse command us to hang out a name over the church building?

If so, what is that name?

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The Bible versus the “Church of Christ” by James Melton

CHURCH OF CHRIST

SOURCE: This article is a slightly condensed version of a small booklet that I wrote a few years ago. It’s purpose is to expose the false teachings of the so-called “Church of Christ.” If you attend a Church of Christ, or you know someone who does, I challenge you to read this study carefully, checking all of the scripture references in your Bible and praying for the Lord to show you the truth (Jn. 16:13). Remember, Jesus said SEEK and you shall FIND (Mt. 7:7).

What is the Church?

The Church of Christ people fail to realize that the “true church” is a spiritual organism, NOT a physical organization. In the tract, Introducing the Church of Christ, by Delton Haun (Haun Tract Co., Pasadena, TX.), we read on page 8 that, “The Lord promised only one kind and built only one kind–There is only one body (Eph. 4:4), and that one body is the church. (Col. 1:18)”

Here Haun isn’t referring to the SPIRITUAL body of Christ. He is referring to his own religious group, which he CALLS the body of Christ. He is referring to his particular group of people who believe and practice the same things, NOT a spiritual body of born-again believers.

This can be very confusing for an unsaved reader who knows not what it means to be born-again spiritually into the spiritual body of Christ (Jn. 3:3; I Cor. 12:13). The only “church” that the natural man can understand is a PHYSICAL church that he can see with his eyes. A natural man who has never been saved cannot understand how it is possible for people to be “born” into the spiritual body of Christ. Unfortunately, the Church of Christ people don’t understand it either.

On pages 9 and 10 of this same tract, Haun says that, “The church of Christ today is no more or no less than the New Testament church reproduced in doctrine and practice in this twentieth century.”

This is a common belief in the Church of Christ. Another tract titled, Are You Looking for a Church? (Exum Press, Crystal Lake, IL.), says on pages 11 and 12 that the Church of Christ people are actually going back and becoming members of the “original church that Christ built.” These people believe that the true Church ceased to exist for about seventeen centuries, and that THEIR church has restored the true faith for today. This would mean that such great Christian men as John Wesley, Martin Luther, John Knox, and George Whitfield were not really members of the “true church” because the “true church” didn’t exist in their lifetime.

There is absolutely NO SCRIPTURAL SUPPORT for this doctrine. In Matthew 16:18, the Lord Jesus Christ plainly said, “. . . . I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The true church has existed since the day Jesus started it. All throughout church history, millions upon millions have entered into the spiritual body of believers by receiving Christ as their Lord and Saviour (Jn. 1:12; Rom. 10:13). If you have received Jesus Christ as your Saviour, then you are a member of the true church, no matter WHAT denomination you are associated with, and if you haven’t received Him, then you are NOT a member of the true church, regardless of how many religious groups you join. Salvation is not in a church; it’s in a PERSON–the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Church Name

The Church of Christ claims to reserve for itself the ONLY scriptural name for a New Testament church, although the term “church of Christ” is found nowhere in the Bible.

On page 4 of George Baily’s pamphlet, Why I Am A Member of the Church of Christ (Lambert Book House, Shreveport, LA), we read these words: “Since the church belongs to Christ shouldn’t the church be so called? It is certainly scriptural to refer to the Lord’s body as the ‘church of Christ’.”

This is the result of human reasoning, not Bible study. There is nothing particularly wrong with the term “Church of Christ,” but it is wrong to insist that this is the ONLY scriptural name for the church when the term isn’t even found in the Bible! A Bookmark of Basic Bible References, by John Hurt (Hurt Publications, Smyrna, TN), gives several scripture references to “prove” that the term “church of Christ” is the only scriptural name for the church. The references listed on this bookmark are Romans 16:16, Acts 4:12, Matthew 16:18, Philippians 2:9-10, Isaiah 62:2, and Colossians 3:17. The term “church of Christ” is found NOWHERE in any of these references, because the Lord never specified a special name for the church. The disciples were first called “Christians” at Antioch (Acts 11:26), but a specific name is never given to the church itself.
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What is Pelagianism and how is it similar to what the Church of Christ teaches

pelagianism

SOURCE: What was the 5th Century Pelagian Controversy? How was this controversy similar to what is taught in the Churches of Christ today?

During the early part of the 5th century there was a religious controversy which occurred that placed at odds a very earnest, moral, and zealous monk by the name of Pelagius, against the Bishop of Hippo we know today at St. Augustine. This controversy became known at the Pelagian Controversy and came to a crisis point at the council of Carthage in 418 AD.

Now to understand this controversy, we need to know something about the background of Pelagius.

Pelagius was born on the British Isles. And sometime later in life when he traveled to Rome, he became alarmed about the godlessness he saw in the clergy and other professing Christians. It was while in Rome that Pelagius had the reputation for the calling of Christians ‘to the attaining of virtue and righteousness.’

In this way he and his followers had much in common with the Puritans in that they loved the law and the precepts of God, and were also very concerned about the moral laxity they saw in their own day.

The crisis point came, however, when Pelagius read a famous prayer written by St. Augustine, and in this prayer there was a statement that troubled him greatly. The statement was, “Oh God, grant unto us what thou dost command…”.

It was this very statement in that prayer which set into motion the controversy that was to ensue.

The question on Pelagius’ mind was, why would anyone need to pray such a prayer? For what Augustine was asking God for was that He grant unto them the moral and religious power and ability to do the very things that He had commanded.

For Augustine believed that, unless God grants the necessary grace, man by himself is inherently unable to live in perfect obedience to God, and that in our fallen humanity we lack the moral power and religious ability to do the things that God commands.

This teaching deeply concerned Pelagius.

How can it be that a Just and Holy God could render a law or command that in our own humanity we do not have the moral power and ability to obey? For God to be just and at the same time issue a law or command that we cannot possibly obey…(and then punish us?)…would not only be unthinkable but monstrous.

It was here that Pelagius rejected the teaching that man requires any kind of grace, or divine assistance outside of himself in order to live in obedience to the commands and laws of God.

No, Pelagius argued, God saves us by providing us with His laws and commands, by giving us the excellent moral examples of Christ and the saints, and by the cleansing waters of baptism.

For according to Pelagius, salvation can and is received by our own cooperation and obedience to the necessary commands and laws of God as found within the pages of the New Testament.

St. Augustine’s Response
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The Church of Christ and Contextless Prooftext Sermons

Here is a former Church of Christ member talking about the CoC style of preaching.

quote mining
SOURCE: There are many wonderful Churches of Christ with uplifting biblical speakers. However, hard-line Churches of Christ use a preaching style that often uses up to 30 scripture quotes in one sermon:

1. Each scripture is intended to build the point or points.

The problem with this preaching style is that the context is usually lost by the third or fourth scripture citation, if it was ever established.

I have heard many preachers and members of these Churches of Christ express pride in the fact that so many scriptures are cited in sermons. Preachers are admired if they can recite many scriptures in a sermon off by heart.

The only way so many scriptures can be cited all in one sermon is to ignore each context of each scripture. This is fine if the entire congregation and all the visitors know the context of each verse cited, but this is seldom the case.

For instance when a sermon on the inspiration of the scriptures is preached, there is usually a progression from Jesus’ commissioning of the apostles and imbuing them with power from the Holy Spirit, to the Day of Pentecost, then statements by the apostle Paul to the church at Ephesus (2:20–“the church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets”). The clincher is from Paul’s letter to Timothy (II Tim. 3:16–“All Scripture is Godbreathed”). Then Peter’s comments about Paul’s writings (II Peter 3:15). Wrap it up with Jude 3: “The faith that was once for all delivered to the saints”. That about does it.

I probably heard II Timothy 3:16 quoted at least one thousand times in sermons. I do not ever remember the context being given. I do not ever remember being mentioned the fact that Paul is speaking about the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures in this passage. The hard-line Churches of Christ see the Old Testament ending at the cross and the New Testament beginning with the Day of Pentecost. They see a sharp dispensational change between the Old Testament and the New. To have the one favorite verse on the inspiration of the scriptures refer to the Old Testament scriptures (the New Testament had not yet been written) would seriously rankle, if the context were known.*

2. Even when the truth is being taught, to jump from passage to passage without understanding who wrote the book, and to whom, is a poor way to teach the Bible.

3. The biggest issue that arises from contextless sermons is the theme that the New Testament has a hidden blueprint for the work, worship and organization of the local congregation that is obvious if an honest person reads it (Taking the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week, having no financial cooperation between congregations, no instrumental music, etc.).

This doctrine of a hidden blueprint in the New Testament can only be taught by ignoring the true context of the passages and imposing a distinctly hard-line Church of Christ presupposition onto the New Testament. **

Assumptions:

  • One has to assume that God is a rules-oriented God when it comes to commanding the practices of church worship.
  • One has to assume that whatever the early churches did in response to Christ had to be because they were following strict rules that were given to them orally by the apostles that were never written down.
  • One has to assume that these unwritten rules are so important that, in order to preserve the sanctity of these rules when others disagree, one has to divide and split churches.

When the context of these favorite blueprint passages are studied they do not indicate rules at all–only examples of the early church’s response to Christ.

4. These sermons are exciting to members of hard-line Churches of Christ, because they see their raison d’etre so powerfully laid out in scripture upon scripture, like a beloved memorized catechism comfortingly repeated as a ritual week after week. And for the same reason, these sermons are boring, if not irritating, to those who come to church wanting their understanding of their relationship with God to be expanded and empowered to be able to face the stresses and temptations of life.

http://ex-churchofchrist.com/sermonsCoC.htm

The Bible versus the “Church of Christ” by James L Melton

Believe It or Not Yellow Logo copy

SOURCE: This article is a slightly condensed version of a small booklet that I wrote a few years ago. It’s purpose is to expose the false teachings of the so-called “Church of Christ.” If you attend a Church of Christ, or you know someone who does, I challenge you to read this study carefully, checking all of the scripture references in your Bible and praying for the Lord to show you the truth (Jn. 16:13). Remember, Jesus said SEEK and you shall FIND (Mt. 7:7).

What is the Church?

The Church of Christ people fail to realize that the “true church” is a spiritual organism, NOT a physical organization. In the tract, Introducing the Church of Christ, by Delton Haun (Haun Tract Co., Pasadena, TX.), we read on page 8 that, “The Lord promised only one kind and built only one kind–There is only one body (Eph. 4:4), and that one body is the church. (Col. 1:18)”

Here Haun isn’t referring to the SPIRITUAL body of Christ. He is referring to his own religious group, which he CALLS the body of Christ. He is referring to his particular group of people who believe and practice the same things, NOT a spiritual body of born-again believers.

This can be very confusing for an unsaved reader who knows not what it means to be born-again spiritually into the spiritual body of Christ (Jn. 3:3; I Cor. 12:13). The only “church” that the natural man can understand is a PHYSICAL church that he can see with his eyes. A natural man who has never been saved cannot understand how it is possible for people to be “born” into the spiritual body of Christ. Unfortunately, the Church of Christ people don’t understand it either.

On pages 9 and 10 of this same tract, Haun says that, “The church of Christ today is no more or no less than the New Testament church reproduced in doctrine and practice in this twentieth century.”

This is a common belief in the Church of Christ. Another tract titled, Are You Looking for a Church? (Exum Press, Crystal Lake, IL.), says on pages 11 and 12 that the Church of Christ people are actually going back and becoming members of the “original church that Christ built.” These people believe that the true Church ceased to exist for about seventeen centuries, and that THEIR church has restored the true faith for today. This would mean that such great Christian men as John Wesley, Martin Luther, John Knox, and George Whitfield were not really members of the “true church” because the “true church” didn’t exist in their lifetime.

There is absolutely NO SCRIPTURAL SUPPORT for this doctrine. In Matthew 16:18, the Lord Jesus Christ plainly said, “. . . . I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The true church has existed since the day Jesus started it. All throughout church history, millions upon millions have entered into the spiritual body of believers by receiving Christ as their Lord and Saviour (Jn. 1:12; Rom. 10:13). If you have received Jesus Christ as your Saviour, then you are a member of the true church, no matter WHAT denomination you are associated with, and if you haven’t received Him, then you are NOT a member of the true church, regardless of how many religious groups you join. Salvation is not in a church; it’s in a PERSON–the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Church Name

The Church of Christ claims to reserve for itself the ONLY scriptural name for a New Testament church, although the term “church of Christ” is found nowhere in the Bible.

On page 4 of George Baily’s pamphlet, Why I Am A Member of the Church of Christ (Lambert Book House, Shreveport, LA), we read these words: “Since the church belongs to Christ shouldn’t the church be so called? It is certainly scriptural to refer to the Lord’s body as the ‘church of Christ’.”

This is the result of human reasoning, not Bible study. There is nothing particularly wrong with the term “Church of Christ,” but it is wrong to insist that this is the ONLY scriptural name for the church when the term isn’t even found in the Bible! A Bookmark of Basic Bible References, by John Hurt (Hurt Publications, Smyrna, TN), gives several scripture references to “prove” that the term “church of Christ” is the only scriptural name for the church. The references listed on this bookmark are Romans 16:16, Acts 4:12, Matthew 16:18, Philippians 2:9-10, Isaiah 62:2, and Colossians 3:17. The term “church of Christ” is found NOWHERE in any of these references, because the Lord never specified a special name for the church. The disciples were first called “Christians” at Antioch (Acts 11:26), but a specific name is never given to the church itself.

Music in the Worship Service

According to the Church of Christ, it is unscriptural to use musical instruments in worship services. Only vocal singing is allowed. On page 4 of Surprising things about the church of Christ, by Dub McClish (Valid Publications, Denton, TX), we are told the following: “The apostle Paul wrote the following instruction on this subject: ‘Speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord’ (Eph. 5:19). In a parallel passage he wrote: ‘Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God’ (Col. 3:16). Please notice that this is activity in which all of the assembled worshippers are to be involved. Just as no one can do our praying, studying, or giving for us, no one can do our singing for us.”

To what “assembled worshippers” do you suppose Mr. McClish is referring? In Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, the apostle Paul is instructing Christians in matters pertaining to their PERSONAL FELLOWSHIP WITH CHRIST, not worship services. The Church of Christ is very quick to quote these two verses OUT of their proper context, ignoring the two chapters in which they are found. Neither chapter speaks of “assembled worshippers,” and neither chapter forbids musical instruments.

The Church of Christ position is that we are FORBIDDEN to use instruments in worship because the New Testament does not specifically AUTHORIZE us to use them. L.R. Wilson’s tract, The New Testament Church – It’s Music in Worship (Haun Publishing Co.) says the following: “In our efforts to follow the Lord Jesus Christ we are not governed by what He did not forbid, but by what He has authorized.”

This is unscriptural logic. There are MANY things that are used in worship services that are not specifically authorized by the Lord Himself. For example, HYMNALS, MICROPHONES, and PITCH PIPES are not authorized in the Bible, but the Church of Christ still uses them in their worship services. There are many things that the Bible doesn’t specifically authorize, but this doesn’t mean they are forbidden! God gave us all a BRAIN to use when making decisions about such matters, and He has sealed real Christians with His Holy Spirit to lead and guide them in their decision making. One who insists on looking for specific authorization in all things is one who insists on IGNORING the leadership of the Holy Spirit of God, for the scriptures do not specifically mention all things.

The Bible is very clear in stating that the Lord loves good music of praise and worship, and this DOES include musical instruments. Please check the following references in your Bible and see for yourself. In fact, you will even see that three of these references have musical instruments IN HEAVEN! The references are: Psa. 33:2-4, I Chron. 25:5-6, II Sam. 6:5, I Chron. 16:42, Neh. 12:27, Rev. 5:8, 14:2, 15:2, and Psa. 150.

The Lord’s Supper

Like the Roman Catholics, the Church of Christ places far too much emphasis on the Lord’s Supper. In the pamphlet, What is Expected of Me as a Member of the Church of Christ? (Standard Publishing Co., Cincinnati, OH.), Fred Gardner tells us on page 20 that, “Fidelity to this service almost invariably results in a continuance of a fervent spirit for the Lord and his work. It helps maintain us in our ‘first love’ (Rev. 2:4), and to keep us doing the ‘first works’ (Rev. 2:5). When week by week we visualize the broken body and the shed blood of the Master for our sins and the sins of those about us, we do not fall away from a fervent love for Him and an earnest working for the Salvation of those about us–the ‘first love’ and the ‘first works’.”

Now we agree fully that a Christian needs to labor to keep the “first love” and to do the “first works” for the Lord, but this has NOTHING to do with the Lord’s Supper! Revelation 2:4-5 say nothing–ABSOLUTELY NOTHING–about the Lord’s Supper.

Notice Mr. Gardner’s comments about having to “visualize the broken body and the shed blood of the Master” in order to stay in fellowship with Him. Where in the Bible are we told that our fellowship with Christ is based on our visualizing his body and blood? The Bible tells us to walk by FAITH, not by SIGHT (II Cor. 5:7)! Friend, you can observe the Lord’s Supper fifty-two weeks a year, but if you haven’t been born again then you’re lost and going to Hell, and if your sins aren’t being confessed to the Lord regularly, then you are OUT of fellowship with Him, in spite of your faithfulness to the Lord’s Supper (Jn. 3:1-7; I Jn. 1:1-10).

Mr. Gardner also tries to lead his readers to believe that Christians are to observe the Lord’s Supper EVERY WEEK. Does the Bible teach this? No, it does not. If you’ll read Matthew 26:26-28 and I Corinthians 11:23-26, you will be reading what the Bible has to say about the Lord’s Supper, and you will see nothing at all about observing it on a “week by week” basis. I Corinthians 11:26 says, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.” It is doubtful that God expects us to interpret the words “as often as” to mean “week by week”.

So how did the Church of Christ come up with their “week by week” observance? Simply by perverting the scriptures! For example, let’s take a look at page 9 of “Why I Am A Member of the Church of Christ,” by George Baily. Mr. Baily says that, “The Bible tells us that upon the first day of the week the disciples came together to break bread (Acts 20:7). Since the Lord said that the Lord’s Supper was observed upon the first day of the week, we gather that this was a weekly affair.”

Mr. Baily just told you that THE LORD said that the Lord’s Supper was observed on the first day of the week. Read it again. Now tell me, WHERE exactly did the Lord say that? I’d be delighted to have any Church of Christ member show me WHERE and WHEN the Lord said that. You say, “He said that in Acts 20:7.” He DID? I thought He said that they came together to BREAK BREAD, not to observe the Lord’s Supper. Mr. Baily wants you to think the two are the same, but they are NOT the same.

Also he didn’t tell you that the original Lord’s Supper was observed at NIGHTTIME (Mt. 26:31), and that it was NOT observed on the first day of the week (Sunday). He also forgot to tell you that the practice of BREAKING BREAD was done on a DAILY basis from house to house, not on a weekly basis in the Church of Christ. You find this information in Acts 2:46, and you’ll also find that MEAT was involved, not just bread and wine. Why? Because it wasn’t the Lord’s Supper.

There is no specific day in which Christians are told to observe the Lord’s Supper, and nowhere in the Bible are we told to observe it on a weekly basis. The Lord loves His church and He gives us liberty (II Cor. 3:17) to make certain decisions for ourselves. This is evident in the fact that Paul wrote “as often as” in I Corinthians 11:26.

Resurrections and Judgments

The Church of Christ believes in a GENERAL resurrection and judgment for all people, both saved and lost at the same time. This perversion of truth is known as A-Millennialism (No Millennium). The first seven verses of Revelation chapter twenty speak of a coming one thousand year reign of Christ and His saints on this earth. This reign immediately follows the Second Coming of Christ, which occurs in Revelation 19:11-21.

A-Millennialism cannot be correct, because Revelation 20:1-7 clearly tells us that there WILL BE a one thousand year reign. To say that there will be no Millennium is to simply DENY the word of God.

True Bible-believers take the Pre-Millennial view, which is the correct view, according to the word of God. Notice the order of events in Revelation: The Church Age ends at 3:22, and the church is not mentioned again until 22:16. John’s going up to Heaven in 4:1-2 pictures the calling out of the Christians, immediately following the Church Age of chapters two and three ( The church’s departure from the earth is also mentioned in I Thess. 4:13-18 and I Cor. 15:51-52). Revelation chapters 6 through 18 cover the Tribulation period that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 24:21. This is when the Antichrist will rise to power and deceive those who were not caught up to meet the Lord because they were not true believers (I Thess. 4:16-18, Lk. 17:35-36, II Thess. 2:11). Then the first ten verses of Revelation 19 cover the events in Heaven immediately preceding the Lord’s Second Coming, which follows in verses 11 through 21. After that, we see the one thousand year reign of Christ and His saints showing up in 20:1-7. This is the promised Kingdom of the Old Testament (Isa. 2:1-4; Dan. 7:27). Satan is doomed in Revelation 20:10. The wicked are judged at the White Throne Judgment in verses 11-15 and cast into the lake of fire. Eternity begins with chapters 21 and 22. Now this is the order in which the Lord reveals these events to us. If He’d intended for us to adapt some other interpretation then He’d surely have told us. The Bible is perfectly clear in stating that the 1000 year reign of Christ will come immediately AFTER the Second Coming. Anyone can see that.

Now read this incredible remark by a Church of Christ author: “The Bible certainly does not teach that there will be a 1000 year period AFTER the second coming of Christ.” This comes from page 1 of The Rapture, Tribulation, and Pre-Millennialism, by Grover Stevens (Stevens Publications, Lubbock, TX.). He arrives at this false conclusion by perverting II Peter 3:9-10 and saying that “the day of the Lord” means “the day of his coming,” meaning ONE SPECIFIC DAY in which the Lord returns and burns up the world, leaving no time frame for a 1000 year reign on the earth.

Did you notice that Mr. Stevens doesn’t say anything at all about II Peter 3:8? He IGNORES verse 8 and quotes verses 9 and 10 OUT OF CONTEXT. Why did he skip verse 8? Because verse 8 INCLUDES the 1000 year reign!! Verse 8 tells us that one day is as a THOUSAND YEARS in God’s eyes, so the “day of the Lord” can very well INCLUDE the 1000 year reign! The Church of Christ ASSUMES that the “day of the Lord” is only a 24 hour day, but the Bible never says this a single time. Therefore, the “day of the Lord” can begin with the Second Coming and end a thousand years later with the White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:11-15.

How do we know this is so? That’s easy. Revelation 20:5 (which is NEVER quoted by the Church of Christ) speaks of a “first resurrection” for the Christians BEFORE the 1000 year reign. Lost people are not brought up to the White Throne Judgment until AFTER the 1000 year reign in Revelation 20:11-15, and this is called the “second death.” So there is a “first resurrection” for the saved BEFORE the Millennium, and there is a “second death” for the lost AFTER the Millennium.

The saints are resurrected BEFORE the Millennium so they can reign with Christ DURING the Millennium, but the Church of Christ OMITS the Millennium altogether, making the First Resurrection and the Second Death one and the same. By doing this they create a “general judgment” for everyone, which is entirely unscriptural.

Water Baptism and Salvation

Of the many heresies taught by the Church of Christ, Baptismal Regeneration is probably the most well known, and also the most harmful. This is the ancient pagan belief that a person must be baptized in water in order to receive cleansing from sin and the right to enter Heaven.

Let’s begin with page 2 of Delton Haun’s tract, Must One Be Baptized to Go to Heaven? Haun says the following: “As we begin this brief study let us note the question concerns us, not Abraham, nor the thief on the cross. These men lived and died in past ages before Christ’s death and before the terms of pardon were announced publicly on the day of Pentecost for all who lived in the Christian age.”

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CHURCH OF CHRIST: A Lesson on The Trump Card Fallacy and The Obvious Fallacy

TEN COMMANDMENTS OF LOGIC

If you have ever debated with hard-line Church of Christ members you are probably aware that many of them will resort to using some very fallacious tactics in defending their truth claims. One ex-Church of Christ writer from the site chocd.org correctly claims…

The Church of Christ denomination uses four main tactics in debating their pet doctrines. These tactics are generally used by all cultic groups. They are:

1. Change the subject
2. Take scripture out of context
3. Straw man arguments
4. Ad hominem attacks (attacking you instead of the issue)

The way to counter these tactics is very simple: Stay on the subject until you are allowed to make your point! http://chocd.org/conclusions.html

But these are not the only unscrupulous and fallacious debate tactics that they will use to try and shut down the debate and make it appear to some that they have won the debate and their claims are true. I will call the two fallacious debate tactics I will be highlighting in this article the Trump Card Fallacy and the Obvious Fallacy. First we will look at the more simplistic fallacy of the Obvious fallacy.

THE OBVIOUS FALLACY

What is an Obvious Fallacy? James W. Sire in his book “Scripture Twisting: 20 Ways the Cults Misread the Bible” list the Obvious Fallacy as the 15th way Cults misread the Bible. On page 99 he says….

Interpretation of some bible text requires great study. Even then, honest scholars are uncertain and disagree with each other. Yet we frequently find cult writers drawing conclusions with great ease and expecting us to follow their lead. The impression that the interpreter wants to give is that the case is closed. His view is the obvious one.

Words like OBVIOUSLY, UNDOUBTEDLY, CERTAINLY, ALL REASONABLE PEOPLE HOLD THAT and so forth are substituted for logical reasons. The reason this writing and debate tactic is a fallacy is that it is not true that something is obvious unless it is obvious to everyone. Just because someone says something is obvious does not make it true, even if they sincerely believe it is obvious to them. And this in itself, I believe, is a form of what I call the Trump Card Fallacy. It is used to not only to stifle conversation and debate but is a blatant attempt to end all discussion and debate. GAME OVER, THEY WIN.

THE TRUMP CARD FALLACY

What is a Trump Card fallacy? Like the Obvious Fallacy it is a means to try and shut down conversation and it also further enables their cognitive dissonance. We will look at an example of what I mean by a Trump Card and then I will explain why it is a logical fallacy.

Kevin

A trump card is anything that is like CHECK-MATE, GAME OVER and CASE CLOSED. For example if your debating someone and they say “God told me to tell you your wrong”, what can you say to that other than “if God told you that then why did he not tell me”. Notice that my interaction here with Keven might as well be over because his mind is closed and his thinking has become authoritarian and fallacious. In his mind he is the authority and there is no possible way he could be wrong and everything thing he says is straight from God and His word,, not from Deven and his opinion of Gods word because he speaks “in accordance with the Bible” while others are merely speaking their opinion or feelings. What else can you say to someone who says they do not state their feelings, theology, philosophy or opinion – other than to respond as I did, “according to your opinion”.

Here is why this kind of statement is Trump Card and a logical fallacy, it is purely a subjective statement (based on feelings or opinions rather than facts http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/subjective) and could be said by anybody about anyone to try and shut down debate. When these tactics are used we must point out their fallacious thinking, if not for their benefit, then for others who may be reading the exchange. These tactics do indeed mean the debate is over, but it is the ones who use such fallacious thinking that have lost. And that is not just opinion, it is a fact, whether they themselves and others can see it or not. The debate is over because they have quit debating and resorted to a Trump Card.

Church of Christ versus Baptist Debate: IS FAITH A SYNECDOCHE?

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The following debate happened between myself and Church of Christ member Dave Bell. “Faith is a synecdoche (please see opening statements for a definition)” is an argument that is often employed by Church of Christ preachers. The claim is often made without any substantiation. Therefore I am grateful to Mr. Bell for participating in this debate with me as it is the only one on this subject on the internet. – Damon Whitsell

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Opening Statement by Dave Bell

IS “FAITH” A SYNECDOCHE?

It has been said that “words written in truth are everlasting” and I believe that with all my heart. The question of this discussion is about the use of the word “faith” or belief and how it is used in scripture especially in regards to our salvation. Many contend that all one has to do is to believe or have faith in Christ and at that point one is saved and that it is by faith alone and nothing else since all other would be to add ‘works’ of our own to that salvation. In one sense that is true but it is only true if one realises that “faith is a synecdoche for the whole plan of salvation we must obey in order to be saved. So that is how am I using the word synecdoche here? We must define our terms for the discussion to continue.

Synecdoche: This word is from the Greek sunechdeechesthai meaning to receive jointly. It is usually spoken of as a figure of speech by which is spoken a whole by a part or a part by using a term denoting the whole.

All of us who read and study the Bible must remember that it is richly endowed with figures of speech and the synecdoche is one of the most common figures of speech used by the Bible writers under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. There fore we must read, recognise, and learn to correctly interpret synecdoche’s this is absolutely necessary if we would be faithful and accurate in drawing our conclusions on numerous passages and indeed subjects.

It is my contention in this discussion that “faith” of “belief” is a part put for the whole of the Gospel plan of salvation as it is presented in the New Testament that is all of the conditions of salvation are indicated by the use of one; generally that of faith this is the first one mentioned as without it nothing else would follow. The whole Gospel plan of salvation given is this: Hearing the Gospel, believing the gospel, repentance of sin, confession of Christ as Lord before men, baptism for the remission of sins, and living a faithful life until death. “Faith” involves all of these and is thus the synecdoche of salvation by Gospel obedience.

Men were to call on the name of the Lord in order to be saved (Romans10:17); they were to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved (Acts 16:31); they were to repent of their sins in order to be saved (Acts 17:30); they were to be baptised in order to be saved (Acts 2:38; 22:16). It is common for us to see one of these mentioned without any reference as to the presence of any other. That is how I am using “faith” as a synecdoche in this discussion.

If we were to put the word “alone” with all of these component parts I think we can see what I mean. We are saved by “faith alone” but are we? We could do this with the entire component parts of the plan of salvation legitimately since all on their own are synecdoches. We could say we are saved by baptism alone since it saves us (II Peter 3:21). It was not however Peter’s intent to teach us that all one must do to be saved was to be baptised. Yet by parity of reasoning with the faith only error we could say that Peter does indeed teach this since we forget how to employ the synecdoche in our reasoning. Baptism (a part) is made to stand for the whole plan of salvation as faith is made to stand as a part for the whole plan of forgiveness of our sins.

We are then to recognise and understand the various synecdoches that relate to the terms of our forgiveness of sins and thus our pardon. If we can do this I think we will find a truly beautiful and harmonious picture in the plan of salvation given to us by God through the Holy Spirit in the word.

However if we do not recognise them it is not possible to understand fully what God requires from us in order to be is for the whole plan to be Obeyed, not just one part of it at the expense of the rest. To repeat it, the whole for which a single element (synecdoche) is made to stand in various passages consists of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance of one’s sins, confession of Christ as Lord before men, being baptised for the remission of one’s sins, and living faithfully until one dies.

Figures of speech are common in all languages and the Bible is no exception to this. Our New Testament was written in the common or koine Greek and the Greeks seemed to make a “science” out of figures of speech and we must learn to interpret those figures or “tropes” as they were called; tropes comes from tropos meaning a turn this is simply because these figures represented “turns” or variations from the normal literal meaning of words.

For this and the other reasons we have seen we must acknowledge that the Bible is replete with figures of speech. We must also learn to recognise when a writer or speaker is using figurative terms like the synecdoche, and to correctly interpret those terms as a failure to do so can lead to disastrous consequences for us especially in regards to our salvation.

If we look at a question such as “How long was Jesus in the grave?” we can see how a synecdoche works in practice. In Mark15:42-43; Luke 23: 50-54; and John 19:31, we can see that the crucifixion occurred on a Friday. Then in Matthew 28:1ff; Mark16:2ff; Luke 24:1ff; and John 20:1ff, we can see that the lord’s resurrection was on the first day of the week or Sunday.

Now even though these statements are clear there are many unbelievers who will tell us that Christ’s own words just cannot be harmonised with a sixth day crucifixion (Friday) and a first day resurrection (Sunday). The prophecy they will all go to is found in (Matthew12:40) where Jesus said that He would be three days and three nights in the grave. They are quick to show that part of Friday night, the entire day and night of Saturday and part of Sunday are equal to only ‘part’ of days and only two nights. I think that what is even sadder is that some who claim to be believers also make this argument and agree with the unbelievers.

Now if it be demanded that we take the Lord’s words strictly literally then we do have a problem as they would contradict what He had spoken in passages such as: (Matthew 16:21; Luke9:22; Mark 8:31; and John 2:19). Yet when Jesus said these things those who heard Him had no problem with them including His enemies.

All of these apparent difficulties melt away when we recognise that the three days and three nights are a synecdoche of time in which the phrase “three days and nights” actually refers to a part of that time.

If we go back nearly a thousand years and read (I Kings 12:5, 12) we can see the exact same figure used by Rehoboam; where he says to the people “Depart for three days, then return to me, so the people departed.” Then Jereboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the “third day” as the king had directed, saying “Return to me on the third day.” So we can see that this type of synecdoche was very familiar to the Jews and they would understand what Jesus had said to them hence they had no problem with His words at all and never made the argument the atheists and some “believers” make about ittoday. All that was needed was to understand the type of figure Jesus used and here it was a synecdoche and is an example to ustoday.

If we now look at some Biblical examples of salvation we might begin to see how this figure is used in scripture. The question we must ask ourselves regarding these synecdoches is this: Is this “all” or is it only a part of what God requires for us to be saved?

(1) (Titus 3:5) “According to His mercy He saved us.”

(2) (Hebrews 7:25) “He saves to the uttermost them that draw near to God.’

(3) (Matthew 10:22) “He that endures to the end shall be saved.”

(4) (Romans 10:17) with (Matthew 10:32 “He who confesses Me etc.

(5) (I Peter 3:21) “Baptism now saves us.”

(6) (John 3:16) “He who believes shall have eternal life.”

(7) (Mark 16:16) “He who believes AND is baptised shall be saved.”

I think when we examine these properly and interpret them right we must agree that all of these are synecdoches they are part of the plan of salvation that have been given to represent the whole of that plan of salvation.

This raises a question that I think demands an answer from us if we are to be logical in our interpretations and that is this: Should we now fault the Holy Spirit (who inspired the New Testament writers) for NOT stating ALL the conditions of salvation every time the subject occurs, both God and our part in it?

This in turn provokes (to me) another question which is this: Why is it that when the word “faith” appears in the New Testament that those who claim that this alone saves us feel that they must insert the word “only” after faith? We can surely all agree that what we have just looked at are indeed synecdoches yet with faith it suddenly changes here, why? I think that it has to be this way for the “faith only” corner because if they believe this doctrine then in order to be true and consistent to it they must then teach that faith is the only condition thus when it appears it simply cannot stand for anything else. This I deny.

The only place that the doctrine of faith only is discussed is in (James 2) and in that passage it explicitly states that faith according to the non synecdoche corner cannot and does not save us.

This is because true faith produces and works through love (Galatians 5:6) if it does not do this then faith does not work at all. Further if we love God then (I John 5:3-4) will tell us that this is the love of God that we keep His commandments and that his commandments are not grievous for whatsoever is begotten of God overcomes the world, and this is the victory that overcomes the world (even) our faith.

The last question is has your faith overcome the world and if so how can it be “faith only?

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DEBATE: Is faith a Synecdoche?
Denial Opening Statement
by Damon Whitsell

Hello Dave, thanks for this debate and bringing up this interesting topic, it’s a new one for me. In researching for this debate I found many Church of Christ articles that claimed faith is a synecdoche. But they all just made the assertion without trying to prove or make a positive case for that assertion. I look forward to hearing your affirmative case and responding.

A Synecdoche, as I understand it, is a figure of speech in which a part represents a whole of something, or the whole represents a part of something, such as a “hand” represents a “worker”. And from our prior interactions and your posting in the group, I take it that by saying “faith is a synecdoche” you mean the word faith means to do or “obey” the “whole plan of salvation” which is “hear, repent of sin, believe, confess, be baptized for remission of sin and live a faithful life” (6 steps). I think you will have a hard time establishing the truthfulness of that claim and my reasons follow.

I had to look up the term synecdoche and found Wikipedia list over 20 examples of synecdoches. All of them apply to nouns like the example above (please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synecdoche). A synecdoche represents “the whole” or “a part” of a “thing” and seems to not apply to verbs, and most NT usages of faith are used as a verb. Faith is used 245 times; about half appear to be in the verb usage. And faiths synonym in the purely verb forms believe and believeth are used 124 and 41 times. Can you provide me with any examples of a synecdoche of any kind being applied to and used as verbs, as you’re doing in saying a synecdoche is doing or “obeying” ie. the 6 steps (which are all verbs or doing something).

Also the Greek definitions involved define faith, believe and believeth as trust. Eleven times in the book of John Jesus says that those who believeth in Him have (present tense) everlasting or eternal life (John 3:15-18, 3:36, 5:24, 6:40,6:47, 7:38-39 and 11:25-26) – He does not say that we don’t have eternal life until we do such and such steps and live a faithful life. The Greek word used for believeth is Strong’s “G4100 pisteuō: to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), that is, credit; by implication to entrust (especially one’s spiritual well being to Christ): – believe (-r), commit (to trust), put in trust with”. This is consistent with the English definition of faith as exemplified in putting your trust in a chair when you sit on it. Imagine how different that is to how you’re defining faith. Jesus was speaking matters of eternal life or death (condemnation) and it is hard to imagine, and you will have a hard time convincing others, that when he said believeth in me, he really meant do or “obey” the “whole plan of salvation” which is “hear, repent of sin, believe, confess, be baptized for remission of sin and live a faithful life”. When He said those that believeth in Him have eternal life, the NT command for water baptism had not even been given yet; there was only John’s baptism. How could Christ use a figure of speech as a present imperative to include something that did even exist yet? Why did he say believeth in me instead of giving a list of things to do, one being living a whole life of faithfulness? And why did Paul and Silas in Acts 16:31 not just spell out the “Plan of salvation” and what we must “obey” and do to be saved? Why did they say “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” instead of clearly laying out the steps (if steps are involved?) when asked such an important question as “what must we do to be saved?”. Why would they use a figure of speech and not straight forward language c0ncering the matter of salvation?

PREACHING THE PLAN INSTEAD OF THE MAN

“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19)

I find that when many talk about salvation or being saved, they do not even use or have the correct definition of save, saved or salvation in mind. The terms in Hebrew, Greek and English predominantly means to deliver, to rescue from harm or danger, to deliver from sin, to preserve and protect. These actions come from outside of us. They are not something we do. We are merely recipients. Webster’s defines salvation as “the act of saving someone from sin or evil : the state of being saved from sin or evil”, “something that saves someone or something from danger or a difficult situation” and “deliverance from the power and effects of sin”. It was Christ “who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Galatians 1:4). Before the foundation of the world “… God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17). Salvation is simply not about what we do, but rather what God and Jesus Christ has done on our behalf, delivering us from the wages of our sin – death. There is a plan of salvation. And with any plan there is doing involved. But we are not the ones that do the doing. As it has been said before, “Christ has done it all”. I would contend that salvation is simply belief/trust in Christ finished work for our saving/rescue – by his death, burial and resurrection for our sins, according to scripture. Salvation is not about doing or “obeying” “the whole plan of salvation”. It is about believing the plan of salvation. And the focus of that plan is on Jesus Christ and his actions, not ourselves. Biblical Christianity is not a do religion, it is a done religion.

That salvation is not about what we do is also strongly indicated by the biblical use of such terms as redemption (to purchase), reconciliation (restoration to divine favor), propitiation (the act by where which God‘s righteous wrath is satisfied by the atonement of Christ), atonement (restoration to divine favor), deliverance (from sin), ransom (from the wages of sin) and justification (a onetime event in which God justifies sinners by reckoning Christ’s righteousness to their account through a legal declaration). The definitions of these words and their usage in scripture show us that salvation is not something we do (Eph. 2:9, Jonah 2:9). Salvation is done on our behalf.

Scripture also says “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Romans8:28-30). We cannot make ourselves right before or acceptable to God. It must for done for us by God. We cannot even come to Christ unless the Father draws us and even our faith is a gift and not of ourselves. Another reason we are not saved by what we do is that we are not saved by our righteousness, which is like filthy menstrual rags, but we are saved by being made the righteousness of God – which is a free gift to those who believe in Jesus Christ and His name.

It must also be remembered that God works covenantally and the bible is a covenant document. It was predetermined in an eternal covenant between the Father and the Son before the foundation of the world that Christ would be slain to take away sin for those whom the Father has given Him (Rev_13:8, Hebrews 13:20, John6:37-39, John 17:9-12, John 17:24, John 1:29). And because this contract agreement is between God the Father and God the Son we can rest assured that it will be fulfilled and that Jesus will indeed save and keep secure all those the Father has given him. We can rest in the fact that Christ has done it all for salvation and we are saved when we believe and trust in Him as the payment that the Father and Son made for the penalty of our sin.

Other problems with the idea that faith is a synecdoche that means obeying your 6 step plan is that repentance as turning from sin, baptism for the remission of sin and the notion that we can live a faithful life are not taught in the Bible. That is something I will cover in my counter-responses. Our only hope is to be saved by mercy and grace and the promise that Jesus will remain faithful even if we do not remain faithful.

2 Timothy 2:13 “If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, since he cannot deny himself.”

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First counter-response by Dave Bell

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Baptismal Regeneration/Water Baptism Salvation – Reduced to Absurdity

absurd

Have you ever been in a forum and someone post something like this?

Mar 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Act 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Joh 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

1Pe 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

Sometimes they will not even copy and paste the verses and will just list them like this Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, John 3:5 and 1 Peter 3:21 – and rarely do they add any commentary – they just throw them out there like they prove the necessity of baptism for salvation. Not only is this a prime example of proof-texting and contextomony, there is also something very absurd about this methodology that people use to try to prove water baptism is required for salvation.

A Reduction to Absurdity is a form of argumentation that the apostle Paul often employed. Wikipedia states: “A Reductio ad Absurdum (Reduction to Absurdity) is used to demonstrate that a statement is false by showing that a false, untenable, or absurd result follows from its acceptance”. So how does proof-texting in the above manner result in an absurdity? It results in taking a few verses, or sometimes as many as a dozen verses, completely out of context of what the rest of the Bible says about Salvation.

One site counts over 31,000 verses in the OT and NT together. And by myopically focusing on a handful of verses, these are a few things that are omitted by this “water gospel”. God has always had a plan of salvation. That plan is and always has been that salvation is by grace and mercy through faith in Christ.

The Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world was slain before the foundations of this world. So we see Gods plan before He formed the earth was that He would send His Son to reconcile the world to Himself. This is played out all the way through scripture. In Genesis we see the gospel of grace in proto-type form when God killed animals (shed blood) to cover Adam and Eve and promised that through their seed the head of the serpent would be crushed. Then we see Abraham being justified before God by faith in Gen. 15, before the law, before he was circumcised (Romans 4) and before he was obedient to offer up Isaac (Gen 20). God would send Jesus to make atonement for sin and the expiation of sin. This is seen in the offering of sacrifices for sin in the OT and is vividly seen in the Day of Atonement which looked forward to Jesus’s fulfillment of the law and the prophets which would fulfil the Salvation Plan of God. By faith they looked forward to Jesus’s atonement and we look back.

And in the NT there is much more overlooked by this proof-texting methodology. In the Book of John (which was written so that we “may know that ye have eternal life”) Jesus says 11 times that those who believe in Him HAVE (present tense) eternal life and HAVE (past tense) moved from death and condemnation to life in Him. There are 4 NT books that focus on salvation Romans, Galatians, Ephesians and Hebrews that all agree salvation is by grace and the sacrifice of Christ. There are well over 100 NT verses that say we are justified or saved by faith in Christ Jesus. There are dozens that say we are not saved by works. And scripture says several times that salvation is a gift from God (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9 etc.).

So when you step back and consider all that the scripture says about salvation you can see the absurdity and danger of focusing on a handful of verses.

Some who use this methodology might say “All I have to do is post scripture and you have to prove they don’t mean what they say”. That is flat out wrong. By posting these verses as proof-text the poster has the obligation to prove the doctrine they are asserting by doing so. And when you get down to the nitty gritty and examine their proof-texts none of them actually teach water baptism is necessary to be saved. Some of them are not even speaking of baptism or water at all.

 

ARE THERE REALLY 38,000 DIFFERENT DENOMINATIONS? by Damon Whitsell

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That there are that many denominations is a lie created and propagated by Roman Catholic Apologist claiming there are 38,000 differing “Protestant denominations”. They make this claim to say that the Sola Scriptura of the Protestant Reformation is divisive in nature, protestants are divided so therefore they must be the One True Church. This lie is then repeated by other groups and while the specific number of denominations that may be claimed can be higher or lower than the 38,000 number, this false claim is made often by many groups who claim to be the One True Church.

Roman Catholic apologist get their numbers from the “World Christian Encyclopedia” (WCE) by David B. Barrett. Because the 2,400 page, 2-volume WCE is $320 new, we will have to rely on secondary sources to see why the 38,000 denomination claim is nowhere near true. The two sources we will look at are a book written by a Protestant called “Upon This Slippery Rock: Countering Roman Catholic Claims to Authority” by Eric Svendsen (see an applicable excerpt here), and a “Facts and Stats Sheet” provided by a RCC Apologist where much of the info in the WCE is detailed for us to see. To grasp what I am about to say might require you to spend sometime looking at those last two links. I will refer to these resources as the “Protestant resource” and the “RCC Resource”.

It is readily apparent after studying the RCC resource that the WCE is not really a good resource to determine how many Christian denominations there actually are. Denominations are not defined correctly and are categorized by country, race and other non-helpful sub-categories to show a way over-bloated result.

The RCC resource says the statistics are subdivided into “6 major ecclesiastico-cultural mega-blocs”. Those mega-blocs are Independents (about 22000), Protestants (about 9000), “Marginals” (about 1600), Orthodox (781), Roman Catholics (242) and Anglicans (168). When looking at the first “mega-bloc” we see there are not really 22,000 “independent denominations” there. To come to the 22, 000 number they include “single autonomous congregations”, “isolated radio churches”, “house-church networks” and they use race as a sub-category. In other words there are African, Black American, Filipino, and Indian Apostolics and there are African, Black American and Chinese Charismatics etc. The categories are inappropriate to determine how many denominations there are because they even include “hidden Buddhist believers in Christ” and “hidden Hindu believers in Christ”. All of these 6 major mega-blocs of information have the same problems. And the “marginal” category with “about 1600 denominations” are not really Christian denominations, but Christian pseudo Cults.

To get a better understanding of how many denominations there really are let’s refer to the Protestant resource by Eric Svendsen. Svendsen says in his book Upon This Slippery Rock, “Barrett identifies seven major ecclesiastical “blocs” under which these 22,190 distinct denominations fall (Barrett, 14-15): (1) Roman Catholicism, which accounts for 223 denominations; (2) Protestant, which accounts for 8,196 denominations; (3) Orthodox, which accounts for 580 denominations; (4) Non-White Indigenous, which accounts for 10,956 denominations; (5) Anglican, which accounts for 240 denominations; (6) Marginal Protestant, which includes Jehovah s Witnesses, Mormons, New Age groups, and all cults (Barrett, 14), and which accounts for 1,490 denominations; and (7) Catholic (Non-Roman), which accounts for 504 denominations”.

Svendsen then says “Barrett indicates that what he means by “denomination” is any ecclesial body that retains a “jurisdiction” (i.e., semi-autonomy). As an example, Baptist denominations comprise approximately 321 of the total Protestant figure. In other words, if there are ten Independent Baptist churches in a given city, even though all of them are identical in belief and practice, each one is counted as a separate denomination due to its autonomy in jurisdiction. This same principle applies to all independent or semi-independent denominations. And even beyond this, all Independent Baptist denominations are counted separately from all other Baptist denominations, even though there might not be a dime’s worth of difference among them. The same principle is operative in Barrett’s count of Roman Catholic denominations. He cites 194 Latin-rite denominations in 1970, by which Barrett means separate jurisdictions (or diocese). Again, a distinction is made on the basis of jurisdiction, rather than differing beliefs and practices”.

“However Barrett has defined “denomination,” it is clear that he does not think of these as major distinctions; for that is something he reserves for another category. In addition to the seven major ecclesiastical “blocs” (mentioned above), Barrett breaks down each of these traditions into smaller units that might have significant differences (what he calls “major ecclesiastical traditions,” and what we might normally call a true denomination) (Barrett, 14). Referring again to our seven major ecclesiastical “blocs” (mentioned above, but this time in reverse order): For (1) Catholic (Non-Roman), there are four traditions, including Catholic Apostolic, Reformed Catholic, Old Catholic, and Conservative Catholic; for (2) Marginal Protestants, there are six traditions; for (3) Anglican, there are six traditions; for (4) Non-White Indigenous, which encompasses third-world peoples (among whom can be found traces of Christianity mixed with the major tenets of their indigenous pagan religions), there are twenty traditions, including a branch of Reformed Catholic and a branch of Conservative Catholic; for (5) Orthodox, there are nineteen traditions; for (6) Protestant, there are twenty-one traditions; and for (7) Roman Catholic, there are sixteen traditions, including Latin-rite local, Latin-rite catholic, Latin/Eastern-rite local, Latin/Eastern-rite catholic, Syro-Malabarese, Ukrainian, Romanian, Maronite, Melkite, Chaldean, Ruthenian, Hungarian, plural Oriental rites, Syro-Malankarese, Slovak, and Coptic. It is important to note here that Barrett places these sixteen Roman Catholic traditions (i.e., true denominations) on the very same level as the twenty-one Protestant traditions (i.e., true denominations). In other words, the true count of real denominations within Protestantism is twenty-one, whereas the true count of real denominations within Roman Catholic is sixteen. Combined with the other major ecclesiastical blocs, that puts the total number of actual denominations in the world at ninety-two obviously nowhere near the 23,000 or 25,000 figure that Roman Catholic apologists constantly assert and that figure of ninety-two denominations includes the sixteen denominations of Roman Catholicism (Barrett, 15)!”

To put this into perspective the Protestant resource goes on to say “Roman Catholic apologists have hurriedly, carelessly – and, as a result, irresponsibly – glanced at Barrett’s work, found a large number (22,189), and arrived at all sorts of absurdities that Barrett never concluded”. The hardline Church of Christ is guilty of perpetuating these ill-conceived and false numbers about denominations so they can go onto say they are the One True Church, like many other groups do.

To sum up this section, it is obvious that we cannot determine if the WCE is a good resource to refer to when trying to determine the number of Christian denominations there are actually in the world without buying the massive encyclopedia and studying it in full detail. Without looking at the WCE for ourselves and having to rely the these two best resources I found we cannot know for sure that he is correct when Svendsen’s Protestant resource says that Barret and the WCE went on to further define the number of denominations by defining traditions and “major ecclesiastical traditions” separately to come up with his number of “ninety-two actual denominations”. But that number seems allot more possible and plausible than the obviously over-inflated numbers that RCC apologist and other exclusive authoritarian groups irresponsibly throw around. After all how did you answer Blackburn’s question of “If I were to ask you exactly how many different churches exist in the world today… what would you say?“. You probably guessed allot but not 38,000 denominations “all teaching opposite things”. I thought of less than a dozen differing denominations off the top of my head. How about you?

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Baptized Believer

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And he spoke a parable unto certain men who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.

Two men entered a church building to pray; the one a Pharisee and the other a baptized believer.

The Pharisee went to the front row, stood and prayed thus with himself.

God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are, Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, or even as this liberal. I assemble thrice a week, taking communion every Sunday and only on Sunday. I give liberally and cheerfully to the church treasury every Sunday and only on Sunday. I refuse to allow any food, except unleavened bread and unfermented grape juice, to enter this most holy building, even after services have been dismissed, and I refuse to call the room where communion is prepared a kitchen, even though it has kitchen cabinets, a kitchen sink, and a refrigerator. I sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (except those mentioning Christ’s birth) without the aid or addition of musical instruments, or choirs. I refuse to help orphans or any other non-Christian (one who doesn’t believe exactly as I do) out of the church treasury. I refuse to support a missionary society or any other so called Christian institution out of the church treasury, and I wouldn’t even think of building something as sinful as a fellowship hall. I use the one and only scriptural name for the church even though those liberals, whom I lovingly refer to as erring brethren (sinners condemned to hell – James 5:19, 20), also use the same name. I bind certain examples and inferences (those which help me to add to your list of sins, thus condemning others who don’t agree with me) making them equal to your commandments. I speak only where the Bible speaks, and am silent where the Bible is silent (except for those sins mentioned above which I have added to the doctrine in order to set myself apart from all those despised denominations and liberals). I refuse to accept the definitions of words such as “psalms,” “aid,” or “denomination.” I am open minded to study and questions but I always throw out some intimidating verses such as 2 John 9, 10 in order to discourage and condemn those who dare to disagree with me, or question one of my added sins. If they persist to question me I accuse them of being weak, not a mature Christian as myself, and suggest that they are trying to justify some other sin in their life. I tell them not to raise these questions in class lest some weaker brother be made to stumble. If all these intimidations fail I declare that they have a problem with authority and threaten withdrawal. I then declare them to be false teachers and announce to the brotherhood worldwide that since they disagree with me these troublemakers have fallen from grace, and should be shunned. I know that because I do all these works that I am one of the few that will go to heaven when I die, leaving all those self-proclaimed Christians who disagree with me on any point to burn in hell.

And the baptized believer, sitting on the back pew, bowed his head saying;

Father, I pray in Christ’s name that you be merciful unto me and forgive me my many sins.

Which of these men went home justified?

(AUTHOR UNKNOWN)