24 Jan 2016

Church of Christ, Sectarianism & Romans 16.16

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: A Gathered People, Carl Ketherside, Church, Monroe Hawley, Restoration History, Sectarianism, Unity

Church of Christ sect 3This blog will focus upon sectarianism. Of all religious people in the world you would think Churches of Christ (with a big or little “c”) would run from any sign of sectarianism. We are supposed to be Bible people, we claim.  We “speak where the Bible speaks” we claim.  But alas … such does not appear to be the case.

If the “Churches of Christ” could have something akin to a “viral” picture on Facebook, it is the current fad of posting a picture of the “sign” in front of the building with a heading “Not ashamed of the name of Jesus Christ” or “Romans 16:16 CHURCH OF CHRIST.” The notion is that if the place you meet does not say “Church of Christ” on the sign or the building then you are “ashamed” of the name and denying the “name” Thus the citation of Romans 16.16. I’ve seen this “hundreds” of times in the last few days.

My friends this has the stench of sectarianism. I know we do not want to admit that because “we” deny any sectarianism. However, this trend reveals a deep sectarian strain of thought. A few thoughts on this matter.

Not Ashamed of the Name

First, to begin with the most obvious point. I am not ashamed of the name of the Lord. There is no other name under heaven salvation comes through. That name is Jesus (Acts. 4.12). But the Lord’s NAME is not Christ, nor is it Jesus Christ. Christ is a title much like president, king, etc. “Jesus Christ” is short for “Jesus THE Christ.” It means Jesus is the promised Messiah of the Hebrew Bible, that is what Jesus “Christ” means. As Peter states in Acts 2.36, “let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and MESSIAH {Christ}, this JESUS whom you crucified.” To show a picture of a sign that says “Church of Christ” and say “Not ashamed of the name of Jesus Christ” reveals more of the person’s sectarianism than it does their love for the name Jesus who is the Christ/Messiah.

I love the old song “There’s Within My Heart a Melody” with the refrain

Jesus Jesus, Jesus
sweetest name I know,
fills my every longing
keeps me singing as I go

Amen! But Jesus’ name is not “Church of Christ.”

Church of Christ sect 2Were the Apostles Ashamed “of the Name?”

Second, were the apostles and the writers of the New Testament “ashamed of the name Jesus Christ” when they did not “name” their individual churches “Church of Christ?” It usually STUNS members of a “Church of Christ” when they go get their Strong’s Concordance and look up “c/Church of Christ” and do not find it in the Bible even once. Go look it up! That’s right there is not one single solitary example in the entire New Testament (or Bible) of A church/congregation called “c/Church of Christ.” It is not in the NT.  But this is what we find …

church of GOD that is in Corinth” (1 Cor 1.2)

church of GOD that is in Corinth” (2 Cor 1.1)

the churches of Galatia” (Galatians 1.2)

the saints who are in Ephesus” (Eph 1.1)

all the saints who are in Christ Jesus who are in Phiippi” (Phil 1.1)

the saints and faithful brothers in Colossae” (Col 1.1)

the church of the Thessalonians” (1 Thess 1.1)

the church of the Thessalonians” (2 Thess 1.1)

the church that is in your house” (Philemon 1.2)

to the twelve tribes” (James 1.1)

to the exiles” (1 Peter 1.1)

to the seven churches that are in Asia” (Rev 1.4)

We also find the phrase “church of God” in Acts 20.28; 1 Corinthians 1.2; 10.32; 11.22; 15.9; 2 Cor 1.1 and Galatians 1.13. Additionally we find “churchES of God” in 1 Cor 11.16

Not one church, not a single one, in the New Testament is ever addressed by any apostle as a “Church of Christ.” If you have the text that does so then by all means provide it. I do not believe Paul, Peter, James or John were “ashamed” of the name of Jesus. Jesus’ name is Jesus. But they called the body by many things.

If some one knows an example of even a single gathering on the corner in of Rome, Corinth, Antioch, Jerusalem in the pages of the NT that had “Church of Christ” on its sign please provide me the book, chapter and verse.

But, But, But Romans 16.16 Says …

Third, Some one will, inevitably, cite Romans 16:16. It figures prominently in the pictures on Facebook. But it is astonishing that for a Church of Christ sect 1people who claim to that to add to or take away from the Word is anathema, that they change what Romans 16.16 actually says! Some do not even, apparently know they misquote the text. Or some do not seem to care if they misquote it.

But Romans 16.16 does not, in fact say “Church of Christ.” Paul writes “churchES of Christ” … plural. It is a group, not a single congregation. This, btwm is the ONLY time even “churchES of Christ” occurs in the pages of the NT.

Do not misunderstand me. I do not have an issue with a local congregation having “Church of Christ” on the sign. But the fact remains that not a single individual church in the NT is so designated by any apostle – and they were not ashamed of Jesus’ name.  Individual congregations in the NT are called “the church of God,” “the church of the Thessalonians,” etc.  Palo Verde could, with far more biblical warrant, designate itself “Palo Verde Church of Tucson” as Palo Verde Church of Christ. Only sectarianism blinds people to this biblical truth.

I had conversation recently about this. The brother assured me that it was only out of devotion to Christ that he insisted on the “name” Church of Christ” (and he literally misquoted Romans 16.16, as is typical of sectarians). So I asked “would it be ok to put “Assembly of Christ” on the sign instead of “Church of Christ?”

Oh no! That was a denominational name!

This proves his motivation is sectarian and alien to scripture.

First, the change in what the text actually says in Romans 16 is essential to his point. Second, to willfully ignore all the other designations for the Messiah’s body is sectarianism. Third, reject the same phrase only put differently (the word “assembly” is the same word as ‘church’). The word “church” is not a name or title. It means literally “gathering” or “assembly.” Thus to reject “assembly of Christ” is beyond ironic.

The People of God have NO “Name” … Unless it is …

There is no “the” name for God’s people in the NT. No amount of sectarianism will change this fact of Scripture. The closest we come to a proper designation of the new/renewed covenant people is from Luke when he calls us “The Way.” We see this used by him in his book we call Acts.

Some spoke evil of the Way” (Acts 19.9)

no little disturbance broke out concerning the Way” (Acts 19.23)

I {Paul} admit to you that I worship the God of our ancestors according to the Way” (Acts 24.14)

Felix, who was rather well informed about the Way” (Acts 24.22)

 

Sectarianism“We” Actually Understood This Once …

G. C. Brewer, as did most leaders of the Stone-Campbell Movement, understood this biblical truth with clarity. When folks want to latch onto a specific distinguishing term exclusively, they have exposed a root named sectarianism. Brewer wrote,

“No one ever contended for a distinguishing name (denominational name), but ALL GOSPEL PREACHERS {sic} then opposed and declaimed that very principle.”

A few pages later he writes …

“Church of Christ, when used as a distinguishing name or denominational title, is just as unscriptural as Church of God when it is used by Pentecostals … To use the phrase ‘church of Christ’ as THE {sic} name of the Lord’s body is not only to make it a sectarian designation; it is also to exclude the expression church of God and all other scriptural terms …” (Autobiography of G. C. Brewer, pp. 133, 137-8, my emphasis)

Concluding Comment

God’s people are called many things in the Bible and the NT. It is perfectly biblical for a local congregation to have a sign that says “Church of the Tucsonians.” Why do we say a person is ashamed of the the “name” if he/she gathers at 1702 and it has a little sign that says “1702 Church.” Does not Paul do this?

Carl Ketcherside wrote a small article entitled “That They All May be One” (Mission Messenger 19 [January 1957], 1-3). In the article he relates how a group of believers were seeking a place to gather. A brother asked about securing a sign for the front. A wonderful imaginary dialog takes place following over what to put on the sign. In the end they decided to go with the most biblical and least sectarian way … “Walnut Street Chapel, A congregation of Christians meets here for worship” was placed on the sign.

“Churches of Christ” claim to be non-denominational. But “we” often, please forgive me if this offends you, behave in the most sectarian way.

Is Christ DividedSometimes my friends, I suspect (I pray that I am wrong), we are more attached the name of we have given to ourselves than we are the Jesus who saves us.

We are confused on sectarianism.  Many simply, among “us,” equate what is termed “denominationalism” as “sectarianism. Or it is the the belief of something that is wrong (Lord help us because we are all wrong!). Monroe Hawley demolished this nonsense in his classic Is Christ Divided? A Study of Sectarianism. (Get a used copy for less than 5 bucks click on the title for an Amazon link). However sectarianism is always – without exception – the bedfellow of Satan’s other consort – legalism!

57 Responses to “Church of Christ, Sectarianism & Romans 16.16”

  1. Patti patterson Says:

    This stuff makes my head explode. Disfellowdhipping over traditions. Picking gnats and swallowing camels.

    • Bill Williams Says:

      Would you be more specific what you consider to be traditions which are “picking gnats and swallowing camels”?

  2. Joe Dukes Says:

    “But Romans 16.16 does not, in fact say “Church of Christ.” Paul writes “churchES of Christ” … plural. It is a group, not a single congregation.” If a group of congregations is called churches of Christ, what would you call one congregation? “Church of Christ, therefore is a scriptural name.
    There are other scriptural names, and it would be OK to refer to the church by any of those, however, we must also acknowledge that many of those names have been adopted by groups that have left the faith, therefore, if we were to use those names today, we would be associated with those practicing false doctrine and becoming churches other than the one found in the scriptures.
    The solution is, we should be a scriptural church in name, but NOT in name only; and we are called to set ourselves apart from those who teach false doctrine.
    One of the churches in Revelation had a name that they were alive, but they were dead. We should seek to distinguish the Lord’s church from those impostors.
    This is not sectarian, but setting ourselves apart as we are instructed to do.

    • Profile photo of Bobby Valentine Bobby Valentine Says:

      The desire to “distinguish” ourselves is at the very heart of sectarianism. Since you are in Alabama (I think), and Bama is a region, just put “Church of the Alabamians” on the sign, letterhead, etc. The Holy Spirit would find such a designation very holy. 🙂

      • Bill Williams Says:

        Excused me but did not Peter plainly teach that we are distinct? 1 Peter 2:9,  “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:” So exactly what right to we have to try and breakdown the distinction plainly set forth in the Word of God?

        • Profile photo of Bobby Valentine Bobby Valentine Says:

          Thanks for reading and sharing Bill. Just a few words in reply. No one is trying “breakdown the distinction plainly set forth in the Word of God” Bill. Context, I assume you would agree, matters. First Peter 2.9 is not addressing being distinct from some other group of believers now is it. The immediate context and the wider context of 1 Peter makes it quite clear that the way these Exiles are “distinct” is from the PAGAN WORLD. The Apostle uses that wondrous image given by God to Israel at the foot of Mt Sinai (Ex 19.6) and gives it to these former pagans themselves (that the original readers of 1 Peter are Gentile converts and not ethnic Jews is clear from 1.14; 1.18; and 4.3, etc). So Peter applies the words of Hosea 2.23 in 2.10, “you were not a people … but now you are God’s people” so God who is rich in mercy has (to use a Pauline metaphor) grafted these converted pagans into Israel – thus all the imagery from the Hebrew Bible.

          But what does that mean for being “distinct.” Just as Israel in the Hebrew Bible was, in theory, to be not “like the nations” (that is the unbelieving pagans) so Peter continues in v.11ff “I urge you as aliens and exiles to abstain form the desires of the flesh that way war against your soul. Conduct yourselves honorably among the GENTILES …” This anticipates 4.3 where Peter reminds them they have already spent enough time “doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness … etc”

          The People of God are absolutely to be DISTINCT from the unbelieving world. This has to do with holiness as 2.9 makes explicit itself. We walk according to the conduct of God. This, however, has nothing whatsoever to do with the name on a sign brother.

          Blessings.

          • Bill Williams Says:

            So then all who claim to believe in Christ are of the one faith of which Jude speaks in Jude 3?

    • Bill Williams Says:

      Amen! Well said!

  3. Joe Dukes Says:

    In Acts 24:14, the Apostle Paul was speaking of “the Way”, but it was being falsely called “a sect”. Was Paul being “sectarianism” when he spoke of “the Way”, as opposed to “A way”? Was Paul sectarianism when he said “there is… one faith” or “one body” (which is the church)?
    If not, why are we being sectarianism today when we insist that there is only one (true) way, only one (true) faith, and therefore, only one true church and when we try to distinguish it (as Paul did) from other so-called “churches”?

  4. Dwight Says:

    The word church, which is from cirche and means “house of God” wasn’t a reality when the scriptures were written and came much later. The word ekklesia means congregation and was translated by two out of the three of the earliest translators as such. It is by luck that the word church was used and propagated instead, otherwise we would be reading congregation instead of church.
    Another fact is that even when reading the “plural” churches, the same word for the singular church is used…ekklesia or congregation.
    The “church of Christ” was never a name or intended to be as it was a description of the saints in “congregation of Christ” of “congregation of God”.
    So to insist on a particular name is sectarian indeed.
    Even in I Cor.1-3 Paul comments on those who have taken the names of people, one of them even being Jesus, but condemns them not for the names, but the dividing over them.
    Denominationalism (taking a name) was never aligned with a sin, but sectarianism (dividing) over a name was.

  5. Dwight Says:

    The problems I see is that when we argue for the right name we are immediately arguing that those under the name are correct and yet if pressed everyone would admit that there are those that call themselves coC that aren’t scriptural and then they would also admit that not all those under the “correct” name are saved. So the name which was never put forward by Jesus or the apostles doesn’t decide holiness…faith in action decides holiness. And the more we press the concept of the name as a sign of holiness, the more we are being divisive and unholy.

  6. Dwight Says:

    To argue from the perspective of “the Way” of which they were called not by themselves, but others as a name, is to also argue that when Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” that Jesus was ascribing himself three names other than Jesus. Most understand this not to be what he intended. Jesus was “the way” by self description, not insinuating a name.
    Ironically the terms saints, brothers, children of God, etc. greatly out number the term “congregation (church) of Christ” (zero) and means the same thing.

    We aren’t called to distinguish ourselves from other “churches”. Despite the challenges some of the churches in Asia had, John never encouraged the other better situated churches to distinguish themselves from the others. God would distinguish as it is God who decides who is in the Kingdom.

    • Bill Williams Says:

      So can we know who is in the kingdom and who is not?

    • Bill Williams Says:

      “John never called on encouraged the other better situated churches to distinguish themselves from the others.” Where those other churches Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Mormons?

  7. Profile photo of josh Josh Says:

    It bothers me when someone uses the logic that Joe Dukes used above. “If a group of congregations is called churches of Christ, what would you call one congregation? ‘Church of Christ, therefore is a scriptural name.” Uhh – no. I’ve heard this argument used over and over but it holds no water whatsoever. You could call one congregation A Church of Christ or One of the Churches of Christ since it is one of the many. Missouri is a state in the United States so can I call it “United State”? Of course not.

    • Bill Williams Says:

      Are you serious? No, Missouri is not called a United State but it is called a State. Would there be a United States if there were no states? Your logic is completely asinine. Thus to speak of “churches of Christ” necessitates that there were individual churches. You cannot have the plural without having more than one of something.

  8. Matt Bruner Says:

    Implying that only “congregations” that are in the faith are called “church of Christ” is a bit of a fallacy as well. John says that “there were many that went out from among “us” but didn’t belong to us.” and calls them “anti-Christ”. Jesus said “many will come in my name claiming I am Christ and decieve many.” Just because we call ourselves “church of Christ” doesn’t mean that we corner the market on doctrine we could say that some of the churches of Christ have left the faith as well, but blanket the “churches of God” or any of the other names that were used and say that those congregations and have “notoriously” left the faith is a generalization. The fellowship or gathering of believers is the church not the building where they meet and furthermore Jesus’s name and declaration of Him being Messiah or Christ is written on our hearts not the building. Remember we are the temple. I’m pretty sure Jesus had the same problem when our dear brethren were rebuking a group of men for casting out demons in Jesus’ name? (Which in and of itself is a topic that few if any “coC” congregations want to discuss because of demons possession has ceased along with miracles, right? “Ceasationism” is clearly frowned upon by Paul who writes “people in the ‘end times’ would hold a form of godliness but deny its power.” which to me sounds a lot like saying that the power of the Spirit ceased. But I digress) Well, Jesus tells the disciples that whoever is for us cannot be against us and says what they are doing is a good work.” Back to the “church” or rather our idea of our 21 century church isn’t exactly the pattern we were meant to follow I would argue is not the mega-type with 5,000 members and multi-campuses where we sit and are talked at for 45 min. I don’t remember that in Acts. Many cite Acts 2:38-39 but if you go back and read it again Luke clearly describes that all these men were from different areas of the Middle East and were in Jerusalem because of Pentecost or second first fruits which after the the festival would return to their respective homes with the gospel and start churches in their homes. Small house groups.

    • Dwight Says:

      I like the idea of small house groups. It is as you read in the scriptures and all you need is a shingle outside saying, “Christians meet here.”
      Many assemblies are in the business of promoting their righteousness against others, instead of practicing it towards those around them. The congregation was built upon the belief in Jesus, not a name on a sign.

    • Bill Williams Says:

      Is it possible to be the church of the Lord and teach that which conflicts with the Word of God?

  9. Patricia Laster Says:

    Not only is the church of Christ sectarian, it is beyond “in error” for even allowing its members to think that baptism saves you. The ONLY thing that saves you is Christ’s blood on the cross and accepting the grace provided by that blood for your personal salvation. Baptism saves NO ONE! Nor, if one is not baptized, does that mean he/she is going to hell! Hell is real, Going to hell is real. But being dunked in water will not keep you from going there. Nor will being dunked in water save you! If we follow Christ’s teachings, we will be baptized just as we will share the Lord’s supper – AFTER we are saved!

    • Bill Williams Says:

      Patricia Laster, if it is the blood of Christ and the grace of God that saves us, then why are all not saved?

      • Patricia Laster Says:

        My answer would be the same as your’s, Bill, only without the additional requirement of baptism: Only those who recognize their sin and personally accept the forgiveness Jesus obtained by dying on that cross will be saved. I like your article a lot, Bill, and I love many of conservative beliefs of the church of Christ, but I fear for them in attaching a requirement for salvation to what Jesus did on that cross for us. Yes, we have to personally accept what He did for us, but once we make that heart and mind choice, it’s a free gift, without any attachments, for those who accept it.

        • Bill Williams Says:

          So you attached attachments to it but reject the attachments that the Lord attached! That is interesting! In Mark 16:16 the Lord attached baptism! “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.”

          Patricia, can a person be saved without repenting?

    • Dwight Says:

      Patricia, When those in Acts 2 asked what must they do to be saved?” Peter didn’t says, “Well, you are already saved, but I want you to do this also.” Peter told them to repent and be baptized. This makes Peter quite the jokster or liar in telling them to do something that they understood would save them when they were already saved. I Peter 3:21 John makes the argument that it isn’t the washing of water that saves them, but the “answer of a good conscience.”
      Heb.10:22 “having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
      But still baptism in water is key in this bonding and transformation and burial into Christ.

  10. Patricia Laster Says:

    Dear Bill, I don’t attach attachments to it and I reject that our Lord attached attachments to it. I could quote many, many verses in support, but won’t play that game. I agree with you that a person must repent, but repentence and acceptance of what He did for us on the cross is a heart and mind choice, not an attachment. If someone offers us a gift, we have to choose to accept it, but we don’t need to pay for it or do anything else in order to receive it.

    • Bill Williams Says:

      Patricia, it is rather obvious that you are very much confused! If repentance is necessary to be saved, then that is an attachment, an addition, more than the grace of God and the blood of Jesus.
      And you hope that a group that is teaching false doctrine grows? How can that be? I would that every religious group that is teaching false doctrine would go completely out of existence and stop misleading people.

      Patricia, even your comment to Dwight above shows your inconsistency! First, you say we have to accept it and then you say “nothing we do, saves us”! Now which is it–do something–“accept Christ’s blood” or “NOTHING we do, saves us”? You can not have it both ways!

      • Patricia Laster Says:

        No, Bill, it’s not an attachment. When I accept a gift, I’m not attaching anything to that gift or giver.

        My “hope” is to see you grow in the love and grace of Christ and to give up the error of attaching additional requirements for that grace.

  11. Patricia Laster Says:

    Let me add, Bill, that I believe the ‘church of Christ’ is one of the last bastillions of conservative beliefs. I want to see it survive and grow, and I’m fearful that won’t be the case if it perpetuates this error.

  12. Patricia Laster Says:

    Dear Dwight: Yes, I believe we should repent and be baptized. But I don’t believe baptism nor repentence save us. We repent because we recognize how sinful we are. If we then accept Christ’s blood as the means to forgiveness for our sins, then we are saved and, following Jesus’ example, baptized. But neither of those, NOTHING we do, saves us. The only thing that saves us is the blood that Christ shed on the cross, not baptism. It’s His gift to us. As with all gifts, we must accept it, in our heart and in our mind, to secure it.

    • Bill Williams Says:

      Patricia wrote, “Yes, I believe we should repent and be baptized. But I don’t believe baptism nor repentence save us.”

      Luke 13:3, 5 Jesus said, “I tell you nay except you repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Now Jesus plainly states that without repentance one will perish, but Patricia says repentance has nothing to do with being saved.

      Acts 17:30, Paul said, “At the times of this ignorance God winked at but now commands all men everywhere to repent.” God commands repentance but Patricia says that repentance has nothing to do with being saved, thus we can be saved without obeying a command of God.

  13. Patricia Laster Says:

    Bill, you distort my thoughts. I may have worded it poorly, but I believe we have to repent and ACCEPT Christ as our personal Savior to receive His gift – that is what I mean by a heart and mind choice. Yet, these acts, none of our acts save us. I repeat, the only thing that saves us is the blood which Christ shed on that cross. It is a gift. We can accept (heart and mind) it and go to heaven or reject it and go to hell.

    • Bill Williams Says:

      Patricia, “Bill, you distort my thoughts. I may have worded it poorly, but I believe we have to repent and ACCEPT Christ as our personal Savior to receive His gift – that is what I mean by a heart and mind choice. Yet, these acts, none of our acts save us. I repeat, the only thing that saves us is the blood which Christ shed on that cross. It is a gift. We can accept (heart and mind) it and go to heaven or reject it and go to hell.” Will the blood of Jesus save a person who refuses to repent? Will the blood of Jesus save a person who refuses to accept it?

      • Patricia Laster Says:

        No, Bill. The blood of Jesus will not save a person who refuses to accept it. No gift can be given unless it’s received

        But that’s not what is being discussed. What is being discussed is how we receive the gift. I’m merely saying that all we need to do is accept, in our hearts and minds, what He offers. If we accept His gift of cleansing, then that is acknowledging that we need cleansing – that is repentence. But nothing we do adds to or takes from the power of His blood to save us.

  14. Patricia Laster Says:

    Bill: “Patricia, it is rather obvious that you are very much confused! If repentance is necessary to be saved, then that is an attachment, an addition, more than the grace of God and the blood of Jesus.
    And you hope that a group that is teaching false doctrine grows? How can that be? I would that every religious group that is teaching false doctrine would go completely out of existence and stop misleading people.

    Patricia, even your comment to Dwight above shows your inconsistency! First, you say we have to accept it and then you say “nothing we do, saves us”! Now which is it–do something–“accept Christ’s blood” or “NOTHING we do, saves us”? You can not have it both ways!”

    Bill, first let me confront you with your attempts to bully by using personal and derogatory labels like “confused” and “inconsistent” and issuing demands (“now which is it..you can not”). This is not reflect Christ.

    I repeat, we have to accept (heart and mind) a gift in order to receive it. If we understand what Christ did for us on the cross and why, then our heart and mind choice involves repentence. But NOTHING we do or don’t do changes the offer of the gift nor the giver who makes the offer. The gift is His shedding blood on the cross for us. That shedding of our Lord Jesus, the Christ’s blood is the ONLY thing that saves us.

    • Bill Williams Says:

      You may say whatever you want about me but that does not change the truth of the gospel. I’m sorry that you do not like for you inconsistencies and confusion to be pointed out but it is what it is.

      I don’t suppose the Scribes and Pharisees liked being called hypocrites, vipers, and whited sepulchres either but it was the truth. Sometimes the truth hurts and people have to face the truth before they will remove the blinders and see the truth.

    • Bill Williams Says:

      Furthermore, what is the difference between me speaking of your inconsistencies and confusion and your accusation of my teaching error. Truly, the legs of the lame are not equal!

  15. Patricia Laster Says:

    I accuse you of nothing personal, Bill. I love the people who are members of the church of Christ but am aware of its error in theology and fear for its future. Thus I came on this blog (which I thought was remarkably open-minded and true)

  16. Patricia Laster Says:

    p.s. nor am I a scribe or a Pharisee or a hypocrite or a viper or a whited sepulcher 🙂

    – just someone who’s concerned about the church of Christ.

    • Bill Williams Says:

      You accuse the church of which I am a member of teaching error and you don’t think that is personal?

      Good bye! I will proceed no further with this discussion.

  17. Patricia Laster Says:

    Perhaps that is best. Prayers.

  18. Patricia Laster Says:

    I will happily consider continuing this discussion with anyone else who wishes to join in. If you’d like to know more about me personally, I’ve an author’s page on Amazon under the book title, “Free to Be God’s Child.”
    Blessings – and lots of prayer. Pat

  19. Dwight Says:

    I think part of the problem on both sides of the fence in discussing baptism is regarding it is a work, which it is not. It is a response. In the action of baptism the repentant person does nothing but give himself over to another and is buried in water and raised by another, which is what we are doing on a spiritual level in giving ourselves over to another and being buried and raised by another. We place our trust in another to raise us and we place our trust in God to save us. It is not an action, but a surrender of self to another…in the grand scheme of things…God.
    Baptism, repentance, even faith would have no power without Jesus, but the response in faith is powerful and obedience and thus saving.
    Having been raised in the coC I can attest to the fact the coC often preaches strongly on baptism, and other things like repentance, faith, etc. are often supporters of baptism. It is often the coC pendulum response to what others preach on faith only. Both extremes are not good.
    But baptism, like faith, like repentance, like trust…in Christ saves, because Jesus saves. We are told all of this.

  20. Dwight Says:

    Here is a thought on works though. God wants to see them, because they reflect our faith or should. Works actually reflect the merciful side of God.
    “What”, you might say?
    Let’s think about Adam and Eve, they sinned when they ate of the fruit, but not before, even though they were thinking about it. God did not condemn them in the thinking of eating, but in the action of eating. If God condemned us based on our thoughts there would be no one that could enter heaven. God is merciful in that He allows us to act or not act and it is the action that bears the disapproval.
    In this sense God allows us to act on our faith or not act, but it is the action that bears the approval.
    Both actions are the result of the heart, but the actions themselves show the over all will of man.
    Gal.5 reflects the sin in the works of the flesh, but the fruits of the spirit bears greater works when in action.

  21. Patricia Laster Says:

    Dear Dwight: What a delightful and lovely response! Thank you. I see what you’re saying although I can’t agree that baptism, for any reason, has saving powers.

    I see your blog has moved on to other topics, so let me just offer this quick reply: Baptism is a behavior, an act, and not in the same category as repentance, and faith. It’s not saving, but it is an important re-enactment, portrayal, witness once one is saved. However, it doesn’t save. Only the blood of Christ has that power and, no, Scripture does not tell us that baptism saves.

    For me to continue to repeat this, however, would be argumentative and self-serving. If anyone wishes to discuss this further with me, just leave a reply and it’ll come to my email. I’ll be happy to remain in conversation with you. Blessings and prayers.

    • Bill Williams Says:

      Patricia Laster says that baptism does not save, has no saving power! Peter said, “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” (1 Peter 3:21). Patricia says it doesn’t save; Peter says it does save. Now who are you going to believe?

  22. Patricia Laster Says:

    Yes, Dwight, I believe God want to see works once a person is saved. Baptism has no power to save however…nor do our works, but, yes, if a person is a believer, his/her acts will reflect the fruits of the Spirit.

  23. Dwight Says:

    Patricia, your statement seems focused on baptism when faith, repentance, etc. all fall into the same category of a response and play into our salvation.
    Faith is a work according to Gal.5:6 “faith working through love.”, I Thess.1:13 “your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope…”, II Thes.1:11 “the work of faith with power,”
    Faith is a work, because it is produced by man in response to something, in this cases Jesus and it can grow and it can diminish in man due to his willingness.

    In regards to no scripture that says baptism saves I must go with Bill, “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” I Peter 3:21
    It saves due to why we do it and in who it is done in.

    No water or baptism or baptism in water, in itself doesn’t save, but I don’t think anyone understands that. Baptism, like faith and repentance, must be in Jesus for it to save. Those in Ephesus were baptized in John’s baptism and had to be rebaptized into Christ. Christ is the “way, the truth, the life”, but our actions or response must be towards Christ and his word.

  24. Dwight Says:

    Patricia, when we read the scriptures we must we must think in God’s box. And this is challenging to all of us because there are depths of meaning that even the simplest thing can have.
    Now when we say, “faith saves” (which is a true statement) what we really mean is “faith in Jesus” and when we say “faith in Jesus” we don’t mean “Faith in Jesus ability to get dressed in the morning”, but rather “faith in Jesus power to save as the Son of God”. And we don’t mean someone else’s faith, we mean our faith.
    So it is amazing how one statement can have so many other vital parts to it.
    Baptism is the same way. We can say baptism saves (because the scriptures say this), but only baptism spurred by faith in Jesus as the savior. Acts 2.
    It is never called a work in the scriptures , no matter how many coC people used to say it in the past. Jesus still saves while we submit to obedience through baptism, but only through burial with Jesus are we raised in Jesus.
    Rom.6:3 “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
    Paul is relating what they had done and why, even though they might not have realized it at the time.

  25. Profile photo of josh josh Says:

    Bill wrote:
    “Are you serious? No, Missouri is not called a United State but it is called a State. Would there be a United States if there were no states? Your logic is completely asinine. Thus to speak of “churches of Christ” necessitates that there were individual churches. You cannot have the plural without having more than one of something.”

    You must have missed where I wrote “You could call one congregation A Church of Christ…”.

  26. Patricia Laster Says:

    Dwight: “Jesus still saves while we submit to obedience through baptism, but only through burial with Jesus are we raised in Jesus.”

    I’m sorry, Dwight, but I and millions of other Christians disagree. Jesus saves the very moment we admit we’re sinners and accept His grace. He doesn’t wait and doesn’t need to wait until obedience through anything. As soon as we accept Him, our old self is dead and we are new creatures in Him. How beautifully the act of baptism then re-enacts what has happened to us – just as the Lord’s supper re-enacts the sharing of His body and blood.

    You write beautifully, Dwight. Thank you for not making this personal. I think it’s best I leave the site now and I wish you the best. Blessings, Patricia

  27. Patricia Laster Says:

    His words should never be taken out of context! The whole verse (Mark 16:16) reads “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved, but HE WHO HAS DISBELIEVED shall be condemned.”

    IF this refers to water baptism (Jesus could have been talking about baptism in the Holy Spirit), it is UNBELIEF (second half of the same verse), not failure to be baptized, that condemns. The verse does NOT say, “he who has not been baptized shall be condemned.” Water baptism does not save.

  28. Patricia Laster Says:

    There is no way to be saved without the remission of sins, the washing away of sins, and putting on Christ.

    When we recognize and accept the sacrifice He made for us and choose to follow Him, then we put on Christ. It is His blood, and His blood alone that washes away our sins.

    May God open your mind and touch your heart until you know that it is Him and Him alone Who saves.

    Blessings,
    Pat

    • Bill Williams Says:

      So then the Apostle Peter, one of Jesus’ chosen Apostles just did not know what he was talking about when he stated, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us”. How tragic it is that Satan has blinded the eyes of millions and millions of people of the necessity of baptism. Even Satan knows that baptism is necessary for salvation and that is why he works so hard to keep people out of the water.

  29. Patricia Laster Says:

    Dear Father, this dear, sweet church that calls itself by Your precious name, please open their eyes, touch their hearts, and make them see that they need nothing more than Your blood to save them. I know many, many of them love you Father and I know you love them. Forgive them this error, Lord, and make them wholly Yours in truth. In Jesus Name. Amen

    • Bill Williams Says:

      Patricia, please answer the following: 1. True or False He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.
      2. True or False He that believes and is baptized shall be lost.
      3. True or False He that believes and is not baptized shall be saved.
      I shall await your response.
      Have a good day!
      Bill Williams

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