Monday, May 14, 2007

I am a Christian but not a Campbellite

I often hear misinformed people call members of the church of Christ, "Campbellites." One critic recently has brought up that name and attached it to writers of the Spiritual Sword. He has labeled us as cultish and has noted that people who had contact with the American Restoration Movement were involved in the formation of cults in the early 1800s.

I am a member of the Lord's church. I love the Lord's church, because Jesus did. He loved it enough to be its head and Savior. He was willing to die for the church and adorned her as his bride (Acts 20:28; Eph. 1:22-23; 5:23-32).

I have never quite liked the labeling of our brethren as the American Restoration movement. While I believe in restoring the church to the beliefs and practices of the New Testament (restoration is actually doctrinal and practical repentance), I do not for one moment believe they were trying to start something new so much as they were trying to return to the teaching and practice of the New Testament.

This critic likes to single out those who believe that the silence of the Scriptures are to be respected, who hold to inspiration and inerrancy, who believe in doing Bible things in Bible ways, and calling Bible things by Bible name, as exclusive and thereby cultish.

By doing so, it seems clear he is either ignoring what the Bible itself instructs Christians to be and do or he lacks a good definition of a cult. Christ and his church are inherently exclusive. Those who do not believe can not please God and stand condemned (John 3:18; 2 Thess. 1:7-10; Heb. 11:6). This notion was recognized by the Restorationists, but the thought is fully Biblical. The church is to mark and avoid divisive heretics (Rom. 16:17; Tit. 3:9-11). Paul said that in the first century.

This critic does not seem to realize that brethren believe things because the Bible teaches them, not because the Campbells did. They don't seem to understand that people today can evaluate and judge the teachings of the Campbells just as they anyone else.

Neither Thomas nor Alexander Campbell had holes in their hands. Neither is my Lord; my Lord and Savior is Jesus Christ. Only to Jesus do I have allegiance. Only to his blood do I look.

The Scriptures that our sins are remitted at the time of baptism. I don't care what A Campbell believed in 1812 or in 1829. What he believed at either time does not determine the truth. What the Bible says determines the truth. The decision making factor in my mind has everything to do with Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-7; Titus 3:3-7; John 3:3-7; and 1 Peter 3:21 but not A. Campbell.

I am not a "Church-of-Christer"; I am a Christian. I am not a "Church-of-Christ" preacher; I am a gospel preacher and a member of the body of Christ. I did not become a Christian to join the Campbells. I became a Christian out of love for my Lord Jesus.

Critics often say more about themselves than they do those whom they criticize. This critic loves to debate and deride others. Let him rant and deride. He only shows his own colors (Prov. 26:4).



Tom Shiflett said...

"Critics often say more about themselves than they do those whom they criticize. This critic loves to debate and deride others. Let him rant and deride. He only shows his own colors (Prov. 26:4)."

"From a Reader in Georgia:
Dear Bro. Al, Today I received a copy of the latest issue of The Spiritual Sword (a local preacher sent it to me). The theme of this issue was "Wolves in Sheep's Clothing." I read it all, and some of it twice or more. Tonight, I am actually sick at my stomach. The entire approach of this publication is venomous, hate driven, and arrogant. Al, what has happened to us (Churches of Christ)?! How could a movement like ours, founded on the unity of all believers, lose touch with the person of Jesus Christ so utterly? How can so many precious people be kept in such captivity? I am in tears now after reading this publication!! It hurts so much to read such a mistreatment of God's Word. It is as though the New Testament is being treated as some codified writing handed down by a distant god who dares us to make a single mistake so that he can swat us down like the insects we are. Al, I don't know that kind of God. I worship a God who wants with all His heart for me to love Him with all my heart. Is it any wonder that I know of so many in the ultra-conservative Churches of Christ who are afraid, unhappy, guilt-ridden, and who do not know the peace that comes from our Father? Fear breeds suspicion, hate and paranoia. This is all clearly present in these writings by the authors of The Spiritual Sword. God help us -- this is terrible!! I am so very sad right now because of this legalistic mindset in the church. I will spend time in prayer tonight on their behalf."

You and the other writers (wolves in sheeps clothing) of The Spiritual Sword are showing your own colors (Prov. 26:4).

"Comment moderation has been enabled. All comments must be approved by the blog author." Why is this?

"I will spend time in prayer tonight on your behalf."

In Christian Love
Tom Shiflett

Phil Sanders said...

Dear Tom,

Those of us who write for the Spiritual Sword take no pleasure in pointing out the faults of others. We take no pleasure in revealing that others are wolves in sheep's clothing. We believe there is such a thing as truth, and that truth is the basis of our faith and our unity.

The brother at Richland Hills has led an entire church into his guess. Some felt compelled to leave the congregation rather than be forced to support presumptuous worship. He argues that God's will is so uncertain on music that it permits him to do more than the Scriptures specifically teach.

Tom, you want to blame us for this problem. We didn't cause it. Are we to remain silent when a brother has sent out materials all over this brotherhood trying to get everyone to join in this disgression? We didn't pick on him to be mean. We spoke because he is not only teaching but spreading a false doctrine that is splitting the church. It is not those who point out error but those who commit error and want to spread it that has caused this disagreement.

Error can cause people to sin and be lost. We serve a holy God, who punishes presumption and demands repentance. The restoration principle is simply doctrinal repentance.

In John 17, Jesus' prayer to be sanctified in truth came before his prayer for unity. Jesus never prayed for a unity without truth.

Which commandment of God can people ignore or neglect and remain guiltless?

We are not paranoid any more than Paul was paranoid when he fought against the Judaizers in Galatia. We are not paranoid than Jesus was paranoid against the Pharisees who added to God's Word. We are not paranoid any more than John was paranoid against the anti-Christ who went beyond the teaching.

James 5:19-20 and 2 Timothy 2:24-26 has far more do with our hearts than paranoia and fear.

I too have spent much time in prayer, that the Lord's church will not be further divided by the presumptuous men of our time.


Paula Harrington said...

"I am not a "Church-of-Christer"...

This is something that my grandfather, a Gospel preacher, taught me at a very young age. Also, never to say, "That's my church." Back then I didn't understand why but completely understand now and passing this same instruction on my kids.

That kind of terminology is not only inaccurate, but it also trivializes the Lord's church.

Good thoughts. Thanks