Thursday, March 15, 2012

Un or Non Denominational?

The current issue (April 2012) of the Christian Chronicle leads with this headline:

Declining Numbers, but Signs of Hope?

NEW DIRECTORY for Churches of Christ in the U.S. shows a loss of members and congregations.  At the same time, interest in non-denominational Christianity soars.

What does reporter Erik Tryggestad find as “signs of hope?”  Here are some quotations from the story:

They (young Christians) just don’t see why it (the Lord’s church) must have the words “Church of Christ” on its building…

Our generation wants more Jesus and not more tradition.

We’re all about relationship…

…many Lipscomb students attend ETHOS CHURCH, a congregation started by a former campus minister for the university.  The church meets in the Cannery Ballroom, a downtown Nashville bar and music venue and has multiple worship services, all with instruments.  The Harpeth Hills church of Christ in Brentwood, TN. helped fund the church as it began.

Young Christians don’t look for the name “Church of Christ” when choosing a place to worship…And we’re not looking for instrumental music…We’re looking for how we can connect with God.

We used to say, “We are Christians only but not the only Christians.”  What happened to that?[1]

Two things are disturbing here.  First of all, with one exception, specific Scripture citations are missing.[2]  In addition, history has been rewritten to suit the present day.
First and foremost, the church of Christ is not a denomination nor is it "non-denominational."
The blood bought Body of Christ is UN - denominational.
Jesus promised to build His church (singular) in Matthew 16.18 - 20.  In Acts 2.41, 47 we read that His promised singular church was established on the Day of Pentecost and "God added to that church (singular) daily those who were being saved." Words mean things.  The word “denomination” is a mathematical term meaning “division.”  The bottom number of a fraction is known as the “denominator.”  A denomination, by definition, is a division from the original. 

The phrase "non-denominational" is bandied about by those denominationalists (in current semantical usage) who advocate religious pluralism.  In reality, “non-denominationalism” is the mixing together of many denominations together into a singular setting.  It is not the rejection of denominationalism, it is the acceptance of multiple denominations! 

This view is marketed by some among us with the phrase; "We are Christians only, but not the only Christians."  In real history, this phrase was used to describe the fact that un-denominational Christianity was springing up all over the American frontier and those finding the truth of the gospel did so without any knowledge or contact with other New Testament Christians in other locations. Today this quotation has been co-opted by many departing churches of Christ who embrace the so-called "emerging church" theories of non-Christian theologians. 

To those who celebrate these "other Christians," please consider these questions: 1) Who are these "other Christians?"  2) How did these "other Christians" become such?  3) When did God begin adding Christians (those who have repented of their sins and have been baptized for the remission of those sins in the Name of Jesus) to churches other than the church of Christ? 

The purpose and mission of the singular church of Christ was clearly articulated by our Lord in Matthew 28.18 -20.  We, too, should “be about our Father’s business.” We are to make disciples, baptize and to teach all things taught by Christ in the gospels, the Acts, the epistles and the Revelation for “all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.”  Our mission is to preach and teach the saving gospel of Jesus Christ, the very same gospel proclaimed by Peter and the rest of the apostles on the Day of Pentecost.  It is NOT for us to become just another “non-denominational” denomination. 

[1] All quotations are from: Erik Tryggestad in “Declining Numbers, but signs of hope?” The Christian Chronicle, Vol. 69, No. 4, April 2012.  From page 1 continued on page 10
[2] The only Scripture citation is a generic reference to the Pentecostian congregation in Jerusalem.  (Acts 2)   The text is used as a “proof text” that this congregation was prototypical for all congregations which would follow.  Such Is not the case.