"...but try the spirits whether they are of God..." (1 Jno. 4:1)
|Volume One, Number One||Winter 1991|
In at least two publications Bob Ross, a Baptist preacher, has castigated members of the church of Christ because we claim to wear a Biblical name when we refer to ourselves as the church of Christ. In one of theses publications entitled: What is the Name of the Church? he tries to show that the word church is not a proper translation of the greek word ekklesia. He quotes from Alexander Campbell who said that the word church, "...does not translate the word ekklesia." (Living Oracles, Appendix, p.55) Then he tells us how right Campbell was because:
"...the Greek authorities tell us that ekklesia is best translated by the words 'assembly' or 'congregation.' Church (he continues) is a word which refers to a material building, rather than to the people. The word church like baptize, appears in the King James (Episcopalian) Version because the 'rules' of King James dictated that the word be used." (What is the Name of the Church, inside page, left column.)
There are four things, concerning this leaflet, that we wish to address.  The translation of ekklesia.  The word church meaning a material building,.  The words church and baptize in the King lames Version, and  Mr. Ross's offer of $100.00 for a name of the church.
1. Mr. Ross quotes Campbell as saying that the word church is not a translation of ekklesia. He indicates that the Greek authorities agree with he and Campbell. Which ones? (A) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament: "General dictionaries define ekklesia as 1. 'assembly' and 2. 'church'." (Abridged Edition, p.397) (B) The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology says: "... (ekklesia), assembly, meeting, congregation, church." (Volume 1, p.291) (C) A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature by Ardnt and Gingrich says: "4. Of the Christian Church or congregation.." (p.240) (D) The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised says that ekklesia means: "the church I Co. 12.28..." ( p. 125) (E) Thayer's Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament says:
"..., the whole Corinthian church (emp. added) was accustomed to assemble in one and the same place...bb the whole body of Christians scattered throughout the whole earth... [In general see Thrench I, and B.D. s.v. Church... "(pp. 1 96, 197).
A.T. Robertson, a Baptist scholar, says:
"It is the figure of a building and he uses the word ekklesian which occurs in the New Testament usually of a local organization but sometimes in a more general sense... Peter by his confession was furnished with the illustration for the rock on which His church (emp. added) wilt rest... We have here a figure of two buildings, the Church of Christ on the Rock..." (Word Pictures of the New Testament pp.l31 133)
Robertson seems to think church is a proper translation. All of these Greek authorities (one of which was of his own persuasion) says that church is a proper translation of ekklesia. The only scholar he produced was Alexander Campbell, then he drew the unwarranted conclusion that all the Greek authorities agreed with him.
Even the Baptist Church Manual disagrees With Mr. Ross. Notice what it says:
"The term Church occurs in the New Testament more than a hundred times. The word thus translated means congregation or assembly; but it does not indicate the purpose for which the congregation or assembly meets. Hence it is used, Acts 19:32,39,41, and rendered assemble. In every other place in the New Testament it is translated church In its application to the followers of Christ, it refers either to a particular congregation of saints, or to the redeemed in the aggregate." (Baptist Church Manual by J.M. Pendleton, D.D.,p.5)
Is Mr. Ross willing to go against all of these scholars and his own church manual? I think not! His only purpose is to cut down the church of Christ because of the name. According to him his church cannot be called the "Baptist Church." It must be called the "Baptist congregation" or the "Baptist Assembly" or something like that. Will he denounce the "Baptist Church" because of its name?
2. Mr. Ross said that the word Church means a material building and not the people. But again he is in direct conflict with the Baptist Church Manual which says the word church refers, "...either to a particular congregation of saints, or to the redeemed in the aggregate." (p.5) Now, what about Matthew 16:18, "Upon this rock l shall build my church..." Was Christ going to build his material building upon Peter's confession? Acts 8:1 tells us how the church was persecuted at Jerusalem. I guess they threw sticks and stones at the building? Acts 9:31 tells us that the churches had rest from the persecutions. The material buildings; Mr. Ross? His argument is as absurd as any we have ever heard made.
3. Mr. Ross then castigated the KJV because it uses the words church and baptize. He says these words are in there because King James dictated that they be used. The Expanded Translation by Wuest; The Jerusalem Bible; ASV of 1901; RSV; NKJV; NASB; NIV all use the word church in Matthew 16:18. Did King James dictate that it be used in these versions as well? Most versions use the word baptize, did King James dictate that? Church is a proper translation of ekklesia. Baptize is a transliteration of Baptidzo. The actual translation is immerse. However, I do not understand why Mr. Ross would complain about the word Baptize! Quibble, quibble, quibble!
4. Mr. Ross' reward: Mr. Ross offered a reward of $100.00 to anyone who could find a command where the church is to wear any particular name. Does Mr. Ross agree with the "New Hermeneutics ?" Those who hold that view say that only commands are binding upon us. Is this Mr. Ross' position as well? What about direct statements, Mr. Ross? Will you accept one of those? "...the churches of Christ salute you." (Romans 16:16) What about implication, Mr. Ross? Christ is married to the church and the bride should wear the bride-groom's name. Therefore it could be called the church of Christ because it belongs to Christ. There are numerous scriptures which will back that one up.
He is safe from losing his money because he will not make a fair challenge Our brethren offered money to any Baptist who could find the name "Baptist Church" in the New Testament. Bob, why not make that same challenge to us? Why not offer a $100.00 reward to any member of the church of Christ who can find the name church of Christ in the New Testament? He knows why, it is because he would lose his money!
His challenge tells us how he views Bible authority. Those who hold to the so called "New Hermeneutics" are steps away from the position of atheism on the Bible. Mr. Ross may now respond if he desires.
CHALLENGE is published quarterly by Challenge Publications.
Jerry D. McDonald, Editor; Michael P. Hughes, Associate Editor.