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Calhoun Church of Christ
#10 – “Where Did The Church of Christ Come From?”
The Church of Christ in America appeared during the Second Great Awakening, a sweeping religious revival centered at Cane Ridge, Kentucky in 1801. A Presbyterian clergyman, Barton W. Stone, had organized these revival meetings in response to the spiritual deadness of early frontier America. Nearly twenty thousand people gathered in the Kentucky woods where a massive revival burned for several days.
This kicked-off the Second Great Awakening in America, which produced huge growth in Baptist and Methodist churches and also gave birth to the Cumberland Presbyterians, the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ and the Church of Christ.
As revival swept across America, clergymen like Barton Stone, Thomas and Alexander Campbell (Presbyterians), James O. Kelly (Methodist) and John Raccoon Smith (Baptist), among others, began to search for a new model for the church in America, a model that later got titled “The Restoration Movement.”
This movement featured (1) de-emphasizing denominational differences and being “Christians only,” (2) going back to the Bible rather than church creeds to establish policy for worship and Christian living, and (3) attempting to restore the spirit and simple practices of Christianity depicted in the New Testament. Most modern Churches of Christ still believe in these ideals and attempt to live up to this high calling.
# 9 - “Why Don’t You Use Music In Your Worship Services?”
We do use music, but we don’t use musical instruments to accompany our singing. While many of our friends in other churches (even some Churches of Christ) use instruments, we don’t because we believe it’s closer to the New Testament ideal.
According to Dr. F.W Mattox, a scholar of early church history, musical instruments weren’t used until the Fifth Century, and organ music in church didn’t appear until the Eighth Century. Even today the majority of Christian groups worldwide still sing without instruments, or acappella (literally meaning of the chapel or in the way of the church.)
Note these interesting quotes by famous church leaders of the past:
Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), the well-known Baptist preacher who never allowed instruments in his worship service said, "Sing to me. This is the sweetest music We might as well pray by machinery as praise by it."
Adam Clark (noted Methodist commentator) said:
"I am an
old man, and a minister; and I here declare that I never knew them productive
of any good in the worship of God; and have had reason to believe that
they were productive of much evil. Music, as a science, I esteem and admire;
but instruments of music in the house of God I abominate and abhor. This
is the abuse of music. And I here register my protest against all such
corruptions in the worship of the Author of Christianity."
So it seems logical, considering our goal of restoring a New Testament type worship, that acappella singing would fit that model. Besides, the only musical instrument God ever created is the human voice; man created all the rest. The purest form of musical worship on earth is found in human voices.
# 8- “Aren’t You The Ones Who Don’t Believe In The Old Testament?”
No, we definitely believe that God inspired every word of the Old Testament. Even the New Testament says, “For everything written in the past was written to teach us...” (Romans 15:4). Without the Old Testament revelation, we couldn’t understand the New Testament.
But the Old Testament isn’t our covenant with God. As Christians, we’re under the new covenant (Hebrews 8:6-13). That’s why Christians don’t offer animal sacrifices in worship, stone adulterers to death, abstain from pork, or keep other regulations demanded by the old covenant.
# 7- “How Does A Person Join The Church of Christ?”
By simply becoming a Christian. Just as in the New Testament, we have no special rules for joining our fellowship and no votes are taken to screen potential members. When one is born again, Christ adds him or her to the universal, worldwide church (Acts 2:47), and then that believer joins a local group of disciples to continue his or her growth and service to Jesus (Acts 10:26).
#6- “Why Do Some People Call You ‘Campbellites’?”
Because of Thomas Campbell and Alexander Campbell (father & son), two Presbyterian clergymen who became leaders in the Restoration Movement that sprang up after the Cane Ridge revival.
They believed that Christianity had become too institutionalized, divided, formalized, and denominational. They left their denomination, intending to bypass all sects and go back to the simple New Testament forms of worship and church life.
Since the Campbells were two of the main leaders of this movement, which birthed the Churches of Christ, some people have called us “Campbellites.” However, Churches of Christ insist on wearing only the name of Christ and not the partisan names of human beings.
#5- “What Denomination Are You?”
A denomination usually has a national organization, a headquarters here on earth, a hierarchy of clergy, a handbook or creedal statement of belief (in addition to the Bible), and a bureaucratic structure to make policy for the local churches to follow.
Churches of Christ have attempted to minimize these denominational trappings. We prefer to operate as local self-governing congregations answerable mainly to God. While we cooperate with each other, and often with other Christian groups, we desire to be what one of us summed up in his statement: “We’re Christians only, but not the only Christians.”
#4– “Why Do You Emphasize Baptism?”
Because the Bible does; the New Testament mentions baptism 51 times. Every conversion to Christ recorded in the book of Acts ended in a water baptism. And every New Testament writer considered baptism an essential part of a believer’s response to Jesus.
The Apostle Paul wrote that water baptism is a faith-inspired re-enactment of the gospel. It’s a symbolic death, reflected by burial in water (instead of dirt) and a symbolic resurrection acted out by rising from the water (Romans 6:1-7).
Christ considered it so important that not only was he baptized but he included this teaching in his marching orders as he sent his apostles out to make more disciples (Mark 16:15-16).
#3- “Why Do You Take The Bible So Literally?”
In any communication, some statements are to be taken literally and some aren’t. A stop sign on the street corner sends a literal message: “STOP.” But when a car at that stop sign has “Mustang” written on it, we know that’s a symbolic statement - the car isn’t literally a horse.
In our approach to Biblical interpretation, we try to separate the literal and symbolic by using a few common sense rules: What did the Biblical statement mean to those who originally heard it? What was the context? What does it mean for us today? What was the writer’s intent, to be symbolic or literal?
The life-or-death statements in the Bible such as, “if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins” (John 8:24), we take at face value and teach them accordingly.
#2- “Why Do You Have Communion Every Sunday?”
Because of the nature of the Communion. Jesus said that each time we celebrate this feast, he eats it with us! (Mark 14:25.) Each time we have Communion, we participate symbolically in the blood and body of Christ (1 Cor. 10:16). We also show our unity as a body, remember his sacrifice, and depict his death and resurrection (1 Cor. 11:17-34).
The Communion service is one of the most important reasons we meet on Sunday. Paul and his companions thought it so important that they waited seven days in one town so they could assemble with the church and celebrate the Communion meal (Acts 20:6-7).
#1- “Don’t You Believe You’re The Only Ones Going To Heaven?”
Most religious groups have a few misguided people who think they’re the only ones going to heaven. Churches of Christ are no different.
But churches can’t save anyone; the church is an assembly of the already saved. So what does save us and get us to heaven?
Jesus does. It’s God’s action through Christ that saves us, not membership in a church. And the only way to know Jesus is through his gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-4) – believing that he is God’s Son (literally God in flesh,) that he died and rose again on our behalf to erase our sins, and that he is Lord. Once you accept that message from the heart, place your faith in Jesus to save you from hell and put you in heaven, repent of your sins, and are baptized, you move into the Christian life - the life of the saved (Acts 2:22-41.)
So the only ones who are going to heaven are those who’ve been reborn spiritually. As Jesus put it, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” (John 3:3.)