...the churches of Christ salute you! Rom 16:16

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home The Light Articles from 1999 No Such Thing As the True Church?!

No Such Thing As the True Church?!

E-mail Print PDF

No Such Thing As the True Church?!

The disposition to regard truth as unattainable and its pursuit a useless and unnecessary exercise, has long been an acceptable view in denominational circles and those possessed of this concept have not hesitated to justify their departures from sacred writ on the ground that "it is not possible for everybody to understand the Bible alike." Others, not willing to cut the Gordian knot by such blatant denial of the word, have nonetheless reached much the same conclusion by the allegation that it is not possible to know the will of the Lord from the study of his Word, and that those who claim to do so are arrogant in disposition, sectarian in spirit, and dogmatic in doctrine! It is now being taught that divi-sions arise because some among us claim to be right, to be identified with the loyal church, and that such efforts to avoid denominationalism turn us into bigoted sectarians!

There are those who say we may be wrong on some of the basic matters in our distinctive plea and there ought never to have been any alienation and division over such issues as instrumental music in worship, premillennialism, marriage and divorce, and similar matters. Had the [courageous giants of the restoration movement] been theological weaklings and religious cowards, division over these issues would have been avoided but at a cost too awesome to contemplate—the loss of the souls of tens of thousands of people who now adhere to a pure faith and a scriptural practice but who otherwise would have long since been enmeshed in denominational error. How thankful we who are the recipients of that priceless heritage ought to be that these men and thousands of others who have so valiantly defended the faith through the years did not believe that we may be wrong on these matters!

If there is such a thing as truth; if it is accessible to us; if it is within the mental reach of those for whom it is intended, why should we not seek it and, having found it, claim it as our own? To urge that it is wrong to want to be right and, having achieved conformity to the Lord's will as set out in his Word to assert the fact, makes one a bigoted sectarian, is in effect to say that there is really no such thing as truth; or, if there is, that it is neither desirable nor necessary to separate it from error and to insist upon it for its own sake. Surely, it must be admitted that sometime, somewhere, some of the Lord's people have been right and are members of the loyal church! If so, may not those who are thus circumstanced say so without being liable to the charge that they are bigoted sectarians? For some years there has been a form of breast-beating among us which sees little that is good in the churches of Christ and little that is bad in the denominational world and we are by them repeatedly urged to give up our "traditions" for the sake of unity in the religious world.

What traditions? We are never told; it is simply alleged that we are wedded to traditions which constitute a continuing barrier to union with our denominational friends. No one is so naive as to think that those peculiarities of ours which have developed through the years are a formidable obstacle to unity; we are not rejected by the denom-inational world because of our hours of meeting, the order of our services or the architecture of our buildings. Their repudiation of us results from basic difference over the name, the doctrine and the practice of the New Testament church. More specifically, whether men may properly honor Christ by wearing human names (Acts 11:26), whether salvation is by faith only (James 2:24), whether one may apostatize and fall away from grace finally to be lost (Gal. 5:4), whether baptism in water is for (unto) the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), whether the Lord's Supper must be observed every first day of the week (Acts 20:7), whether God's praises may be sung to the accompaniment of mechanical

instruments of music (Eph. 5:19), and much, much more. These are distinctive characteristics of the Lord's church which separate us. Which of these features are traditions we may relinquish in order to attain acceptance with people of the denominational world? To say that the New Testament church is without distinctive features is sheerest nonsense. It differs in essential detail in every area from the institutions of men; each vital difference accentuates this distinctiveness as the two are compared with what the New Testament teaches regarding it.

If we may be wrong on some of these matters then, to the same extent, the de-nominational world may be right about them—a conclusion which logically follows, thus leading to a deterioration of conviction and consequent weakening of opposition to denominational doctrine and practice. Inevitably, this leads to questioning regarding our basic plea, hesitancy to insist upon it, and criticism of those who do. Those who reach this point no longer preach with conviction and power and their preaching produces converts equally weak and without conviction. "For if the trumpet give an uncertain voice, who shall prepare himself for war?" (1 Cor. 14:8). The apostles and those who followed their direction were beset with no uncertainty regarding the matters presented. Timothy "fully" knew the doctrine of Paul (2 Tim. 3:10), and the faith in him was "unfeigned" because of the robust convictions of his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois. (2 Tim. 1:5,6.) Men believed and knew the truth in the apostolic age (1 Tim. 4:3), and were "filled with the knowledge of his will," in "all spiritual wisdom and understanding" (Col. 1:9). So ought it to be with us all today. —Guy N. Woods, cond., text via Yokefellow



Our Friends

User Login