21st Century Restoration Or Digression?

Yesterday I read an excerpt from a new book that is due to be released by Leafwood Press.  The book is entitled, “One Church,” and it asks if “churches of Christ” will join the 21st Century Restoration.  Personally, I’m all in favor of restoration.  My problem with the excerpt I read is that the author is not calling for “restoration,” but rather “digression.”  Restoration puts something back in its original state, but the changes this author calls for were never a part of the original state of Christianity. 

For example:

  • To speak of a “new worldview” that reduces the “church of Christ” to a small part of the “larger body of Christ” is not a restoration of the church of the Bible.  Rather it is a sectarian view of the “church of Christ” and such terminology is never employed in Scripture.  Nowhere does the Bible speak of or view the “church of Christ” as a small part of the larger body of Christ.  This isn’t a “new worldview” but rather “old sectarianism.”
  • To say we are “called to unity with all Christians everywhere who call Christ Lord” confuses the concepts of brotherhood and fellowship.  Certainly, all who have obeyed the gospel are brothers in Christ and should be acknowledged as such.  But that acknowledgement doesn’t mean that we can “fellowship” all who call Jesus Lord.  Jesus, Himself, does not even practice that (Matthew 7:21).  Again, this is not “restoration,” but “digression.”
  • Calling people to abandon “stagnant thinking” such as debating others who teach a different plan of salvation and who substantively worship differently is not a call to “restoration,” but a digression away from the doctrine of Christ.  Treating people who are “like Christ” as though they are “in Christ” is not a restoration of anything biblical.

Friends, I’m in favor of restoration.  I continually want and call people to go back to the Bible and follow the instructions of our Savior.  But to call people to extra-biblical teachings, and call that “restoration” is a misnomer.

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Comments 7

  • Sounds like Alice in Wonderland, doesn’t it? where a word means exactly what one wants it to mean.

  • No, it is not called “digression”. It is called “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free”. What you trying to promote is “old sectarianism”. What you trying to promote is that the Church of Christ denomination is the one true church. Now that is called sectarianism.

    You need go read Romans 14 and Mark 9:38-41.

    Matthew 7:21 is talking about you. On judgement day when you say, “Lord, Lord”, the Lord will tell you that you may not enter the Kingdom of Heaven because you did not do the will of God. You are causing division and sowing discord in the church with teaching false doctrine and that is not the will of the Lord. Matthew 7:21 is talking about doing the will of the Lord, not the will of the legalist patternist.
    You are doing the same thing that Satan did to Jesus when you try to prooftext.

    There is no where in the Bible that states that you must do your “five acts of worship” on Sunday morning in order to worship in spirit and truth (Romans 12:1).

    You first become a Christian at the time of faith, not at the time of baptism. Your plan of salvation came from Walter Scott. It did not come from the Bible.

    So, when are YOU going to the Bible in the first place and follow the instructions of our Savior?

    You also need to go read James 3:1.

  • Tom, your comment sadly has become the typical response of those who are pursuing a more ecumenical religion. There seems to be tolerance with nearly any divergent doctrine except with those who are unwilling to be as tolerant as you.

    The fact remains that you did not address a single thing I said. I addressed three errors in the excerpt that I read, yet you didn’t say a word about those points. Rather you criticized points that were never made, and assigned me to be among those whom the Lord never knew.

    Maybe your comments will help others to see through the frequent shallow talk of “love,” and “tolerance,” and focus more on the truth.

  • The comments from Tom seem to me rather harsh. Tom, I feel you must have been hurt deeply by the fellowship because of the perceived emotions behind the words. I am sure that you intended the words you wrote to sound loving and gracious, so I will do my best to read them with this mindset. I think most educated ministers in the church understand that the typical plan of salvation was formulated by Scott, and has gone through some changes with the years, but this point does not disprove that baptism is necessary for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). Baptism is an important part of our salvation story. I commend you on your knowledge of some of the developments in the Restoration Movement, but be careful about rejecting certain teachings because of human involvement.

  • Related to the three ideas you speak of Steve.
    There is a preacher at a small church that we tried to help to help turn around before it closed down. In Vicksburg MS. to make a long story short the church started in 1979 increased to 200+ by 1985 and is now closed it is in a city of 30,000 people. As we had discussions about reaching the unchurched especially those with postmodern world views he would always get defensive when I questioned our doctrine, faith, ecclesiology, and message. Once when I questioned him about a certain idea and subsequent practice he agreed that there was something wrong but then asked “what about those of us that it is now a matter of conscience?” And I replied well when did it ever become wrong to question and understand where and how we arrived at our convictions? It will be very interesting to see after the current ecclesiastical or culture war is over within the churches of Christ if there will be anything left worth fighting for. Many now believe that the idea of restoration based upon the idea that everybody will agree on the same things and see the Bible like those in the churches of Christ do has failed. There are several reasons why people now think this way. The most significant one is that the 13,000 Acapella congregations in the USA are wrought with division just as much if not more so than all the other “denominations”. There are four major divisions within the 13,000 and a whole bunch of smaller ones. 91% of church of Christ congregations established after 1980 in the USA were the result of division. I could go on but I think we get the idea. The second is that the constant arguing and bickering over what should or should not be done in a one hour assembly once a week and who may or may not do it has absorbed the majority of our preaching and teaching so there is little time to focus on things like Love, Joy Peace Patience etc. The third is that if you look at the states on the Christian Chronicle’s map of growth in decline in the USA where the churches of Christ have either declined or just held their own in membership, they are the ones where the greatest concentrations of churches of Christ congregations exist. One example is the Rosemont congregation in Ft. Worth TX that just closed down that once was 700+ members. This is not an uncommon scenario now. I can give you the names and addresses of many congregations that once numbered 1000+ that no longer exist that never “changed” a thing. Go to the Christian Chronicle on line to read the story. They had been in decline for a long time and knew it. They tried everything but in their own words “nothing seemed to work.” During this time they did not make one change to anything in regards the “work worship and organization of the church”. It was the epitome of the traditional church of Christ. Their idea now is that a Spanish speaking evangelist from Baxter Institute will solve everything since their community in Hispanic rather than white middle class. So when you are in a congregation like this and give forth enormous efforts and go from 700+ to disbanding or closing down it is next to impossible not to question your “Worldview”, “Idea of Unity”, and “thinking”.

  • Joe,

    I appreciate your concern for the church and for its growth. It is important that we, as the Lord’s church, are interested in growth and reaching the lost. But it is more important that we accomplish this growth in the manner of Christ as taught in the Bible. Paul warned Timothy not to change the message he taught just to tickle ears of those who did not like what they were hearing (2 Timothy 4:1-5). While I am interested in the growth of the church I am interested in the growth of the Lord’s church and not just a crowd. Therefore I will teach and practice things in the manner prescribed by the Bible.

    Further the plan of salvation that seems to be coming under attack is indeed Biblical. Romans 10:9-21 outlines God’s plan for our salvation. Hearing is essential (v17). Faith is essential (v9). Confession is essential (v10). Repentance is essential (vs 18-21). And calling on His name is essential (v. 13). Compare this with Acts 22:16 when Paul called on His name through baptism. We are not involved in some “made up” pattern but in a God inspired pattern that was “once delivered for all” (Jude 3).

    The Bible word for unity means harmony. Our harmony must first be with God’s word or the whole world will be out of tune.

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