“Forging Our Identity As Churches of Christ”

Jerry Brewer

The following comes from the website of Abilene Christian University (ACU):

Quote begins here:
Abilene Christian University was established in 1906 by members of Churches of Christ and has been closely affiliated with this body for nearly a century. The university is committed to biblical principles. Historically, we believe these principles were reaffirmed through the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement begun in early 19th-century America and expressed today through Churches of Christ. Defining ourselves as a ‘movement,’ we are constantly in the process of articulating the basic elements of our biblically-based faith for our times—all without the involvement of denominational hierarchy. As an institution of Christian higher education within the movement, we are called to examine how our theological perspectives shape our educational philosophy. We also recognize that the church-related colleges in the Restoration Movement (and ACU in particular in the 20th century) have played a major role in forging our identity as Churches of Christ (www.acu.edu/faith.html).
End of Quote

Colleges have played a major role in the gradual rise of a new denomination from among “mainstream churches of Christ.” This is admitted in the above excerpt from ACU. “… church-related colleges in the Restoration Movement (and ACU in particular in the 20th century) have played a major role in forging our identity as Churches of Christ.” The identity they have forged is foreign to New Testament Christianity.

In the last five or six decades, colleges have increased their influence over the church to such an extent that they are regarded as adjuncts of it. Seemingly innocent things, like “mission work” carried on by colleges, such as that done by Oklahoma Christian University (OCU) has helped forge “our identity as Churches of Christ.” From the OCU website comes this:

Quote begins here:
Summer mission work is a widespread opportunity for OC students. From a mission trip to Australia with OC Missionary in Residence, Kent Hartman, to a summer with Associate Professor of Youth Ministry, Dudley Chancey in Honduras, around 20 different groups participate in summer missions.
End of Quote

“Wonderful,” says one who has no idea of the difference between the church and colleges. “They’re doing mission work. Why would you oppose that”?

For a most Biblical reason. No human organization was ever charged by the Lord to, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). That is the Great Commission given to the apostles and, consequently, to the church. By what Scriptural authority can any college—a human organization—do the work of the church? There is no such authority.

Who oversees, and is responsible for the “mission work” of Oklahoma Christian University? Elders oversee the church and its work, which includes foreign and domestic evangelism, called “mission work.” Elders have no oversight over any college, nor should they. Their work is spiritual as shepherds of the church. Neither should any college do the work of the church—what OCU has presumptuously taken upon itself. This is one of the ways that colleges are “forging our identity as Churches of Christ,” and is the impetus for “mainstream churches of Christ” to become another denomination.

An “identity” foreign to the New Testament was forged for churches of Christ in the 19th century that resulted in the emergence of the Christian Church from the body of Christ. That “identity” was first forged in the work of the church with the establishment of the Missionary Society in 1849. In his address at the “unity” meeting between churches of Christ and the Christian Church in Indianapolis, May 3, 1939, H. Leo Boles said,

Quote begins here:
It will be admitted by all that the Missionary Society was thus the first departure from the original grounds of the New Testament teaching as set forth by the pioneers when they united; those who made the departure were responsible for the division on this point. The “Christian Church” departed from the ground of unity and attempted to justify its course in the organization of the Missionary Society.
End of Quote

The unauthorized incursions into the “mission work” of the church by colleges today is parallel to what caused the rise of the Christian Church from 1849 onward. They are leading “mainstream churches of Christ” away from the New Testament pattern in the work of evangelism.

About 20 years ago, one “mainstream church” in northeastern Oklahoma fired its preacher when he opposed that church contributing to an elder’s granddaughter, a student at Oklahoma Christian, who planned a “mission trip” under the auspices of the college. That is the kind of “elder” who oversees “mainstream churches of Christ.” They have no concept of the church and its work, and are willing to let colleges be their modern missionary societies. And they are the ones which will eventually follow in the steps of the Christian Church and become a full fledged denomination.

* We are pleased to share this article. This article may be freely distributed as long as 1) there is no cost to others, 2) no changes are made to any part of the content, 3) it is distributed in full, 4) the author’s name remains attached to the article, and 5) this web location from which the article was taken is noted.

Comment About The Article Below:
The key to understanding and fully appreciating the excellent article on this page is found in the following statement about soldiers-turned-diplomats: “They are divested of a crusading spirit, look at the situation from the point of view of others rather than God, and compromise on any and all issues that are not vital to their own interests.” It is very deceptive to create the appearance of soundness as an editor of a periodical (while boldly professing to seek the old paths) by the publishing of many articles about the one faith, “but (be an editor who) has fallen silent in the face of Dave Miller’s elder reevaluation/reaffirmation error.” — Gary L. Grizzell, glg@1791.com
   Send article as PDF   

Author: bible

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *