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And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32

Is the Church of Christ A Denomination?

By Louis Rushmore

  The churches of Christ are listed in Frank S. Mead's book, Handbook On Denominations in the United States. This signals that the religious community and the world in general perceive us as merely another denomination, one among many. Especially in recent years it has become increasingly clear that some (if not many) brethren also consider the churches of Christ likewise. But, "Is the church of Christ a denomination?"

  If I believed that the churches of Christ were denominational, I would not preach evangelistic sermons; I would not try to convert anyone from anything. Instead, I would simply encourage people to be sincere. Personally, I would revert back to Catholicism from which I came (because it is easier), or I would abandon religion altogether as a hopeless enterprise (because denominationalism is a self-contradictary, hopeless system of religion).

  The New Testament definitively teaches that there is but a single religious body or church (Eph. 4:4; 1:22-23; Col. 1:18) to which all saved people are added by the Lord (Acts 2:47). That one church was built by and belongs to Jesus Christ (Matt. 16:18) and wears His name (Rom. 16:16). There is no religious organization, approved by God, which is either larger or smaller than the Lord's church. Therefore, the churches of Christ are not one of many denominations.

  This one church is blood bought by the precious blood of God's Son (Acts 20:28; Eph. 1:7). However, Jesus Christ did not shed his blood for even one denomination. The redemptive blood of Christ is contacted by penitent believers who are baptized into the death of Christ (John 19:34; Rom. 6:3-5; Col. 2:12). Membership in the one church is essential because it is into the Lord's church one is baptized (1 Cor. 12:12-14) at the same time by baptism one enters the death of Jesus Christ, where He shed His blood. Denominationalism cannot offer redemption by the blood of Christ.

  Further, there are a number of distinctions between the churches of Christ and denominationalism. Whereas the churches of Christ teach that salvation from past sins is procured at baptism (Acts 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21), most denominations deny this Bible truth. Whereas the churches of Christ (Rom. 16:16) wear a biblical name, selected from among several biblical appellations which glorify Deity, most denominations wear a name of human origin.

  While the doctrine of the New Testament, of Divine origin, is changeless, which the churches of Christ acknowledge as the final, absolute standard of authority in religion, all denominations periodically change their man-made creeds. Jesus Himself possesses original religious authority (Matt. 28:18).

  The churches of Christ, per the New Testament, recognize Jesus as head of the church (Eph. 1:22-23) and that he rules now from Heaven, through the Gospel. Further, in keeping with the New Testament, each fully organized congregation is directed by elders who meet Divinely given criteria (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9), served by deacons (1 Tim. 3:8-13) and taught by preachers (Rom. 10:14-15) and teachers (Heb. 5:11-14). Denominations, however, have human heads and church organizations foreign to the Bible. Whereas each church of Christ is a separate, autonomous congregation under Christ, a denomination is a collective body of several like congregations.

  The churches of Christ were begun in Jerusalem, while Rome ruled the world, in about A.D. 33, in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies (Isa. 2:2; Dan. 2:31-46; Joel 2:28 3:2). Denominations, though, began in the wrong cities at the wrong times. Jesus founded his church (Matt. 16:18; 1 Cor. 3:11); men founded the denominations.

  Hence, the churches of Christ are not denominational or of human origin. Although it is possible for Christians to be found in denominations, those who therein, having abandoned the church of the Bible in favor of a denomination, are lost and will be eternally lost unless they repent and return to the Lord's church.

  The churches of Christ are Divine in name, redemption, doctrine, organization and origin. Who then, understanding these truths, would even want to be a member of a denomination?

H. A. "Buster" Dobbs, email:
P. O. Box 690192
Houston, Texas 77269-0192
(281) 469-3540

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