Many of our brethren are speaking and writing about making changes
in the church to make a transition into the coming twentyfirst
century. They justify their claim that the church must affect
changes in certain areas because society is in the process of
change so as to meet the challenge of the next century. The social
order has changed throughout the ages and will continue to change
in response to the will of men. However, the church is neither
a social institution nor the creature of society. The church is
a divine institution purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ whom
God made head of the body, the church, therefore, is subject to
the stipulations which God places upon it.
The role of woman has changed in the social fields of education,
government, business and professions. This is no reason or excuse,
though, to advocate and instigate changes in the role of women
in the church. The social order has renounced the authority of
the Scriptures but this is no reason for the church to propose
and adapt a new theology that changes the interpretation of the
Bible. The church is supposed to be the agent to change society
and not one that reacts in accordance to societal influences.
The apostle announced to the church in Rome the criteria by which
we should pursue spiritual matters:
Do not be conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the
renewing of your minds, that ye may prove what is that good, and
acceptable and perfect will of God (Rom. 12:2).
The Holy Spirit claims that the church of our Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ was in the eternal purpose of God the Father (Eph.
3:712). The ancient prophets pointed to the time and place
for the establishment of the kingdom of God (Dan. 2:44; Isa. 2:14).
The Son of God himself promised that He would build the church
In due season the purpose of God was realized, the prophesies
were fulfilled the promises were kept on the day of Pentecost
in Jerusalem in the year A D. 33. The Holy Spirit came upon the
apostles after they had been endued with power from on high to
execute the Great Commission (Mark 16:15; Acts 2). The power of
God was wrought in Christ whom he raised from the dead and gave
him to be head of the church (Eph.. 1:1823).
Following the sermon delivered by the apostle Simon Peter, three
thousand gladly received his word, were baptized, and in the same
day were added unto them (Acts 2:41). Dr. Luke adds the observation
that "the Lord added to the church daily such as should be
saved" (Acts 2:47). The ancient order of things was set forth
by the apostles doctrine in which the early saints continued steadfastly
(Acts 2:42). That order has obtained throughout the centuries
and men should not tinker with that system in the close of the
Transition to Christianity
God intended for the Jews, Gentiles and heathens of the first
century to make a transition from their foreign state to Christianity.
God mandated this difficult transition from Judaism and false
gods to a new system. The apostle Paul told the Colossians that
God blotted "out the handwriting of ordinances that was against
us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing
it to the cross" (Col. 2:14). This was a wellplanned
transition into a state where salvation was brought to all men
in the church through the blood of Jesus Christ. There is no other
period in human history comparable.
Transition to Catholicism
In spite of the warnings by the apostles to the church against
apostasy the body of Christ began a slow and gradual process of
falling away during the third and fourth centuries. The result
was that the New Testament church was transformed into the Roman
Catholic Church. The apostate church reached its height in ecclesiastical
and civil political powers in 1215 with the meeting of the Fourth
Lateran Council in Rome. The papacy had become full grown and
monarchs were made subject to it. The pope was declared to be
the Vicar of Christ and authorized to speak ex cathedra. This
transition held sway during the period of the Dark Ages.
Transition to Protestantism
The apostate church made the transition from the complete denomination
of the Catholic Church to the system of Protestantism during the
1500s and 1600s. The Italian Renaissance and the European Protestant
Reformation brought about this transition. Martin Luther, John
Calvin, John Wycliffe, Ulrich Zwingli and others sought to reform
the false teachings and the corrupt practices of the Catholic
Church. However, they did little more than affect a transition
into denominationalism and sectarianism. This state of religion
gave rise to various human creeds and confessions of faith which
obtain to this good day.
Transition from Reformation to Restoration
The state of conflict, division, controversy and contention, in
which the apostate church found itself, gave rise to efforts to
restore New Testament Christianity. The church had lost its identity
and the gospel of Christ had lost its power and significance.
Individuals were called by the names of men who led the Reformation.
The first efforts to restore the New Testament church were made
in Scotland by John Glas, Robert Sandeman, Greville Ewing and
the Haldane brothers. They affected a break with the Church of
Scotland in the 1700s and went about establishing independent
churches that would take the Bible as their only rule of faith
The process of the Restoration Movement was more perfectly executed
in America under the leadership of Barton Warren Stone in Kentucky
and Thomas Campbell and his son, Alexander, in Pennsylvania during
the early 1800s. By accepting the motto to "speak where the
Scriptures speaks and remain silent where the Scriptures are silent,"
they were able to bring about a transition from Protestantism
to New Testament Christianity. They prepared to eliminate from
the teaching and practice those things that are not contained
in the Bible and refuse admission of those things into the worship
of the church on which the Bible is silent. This was a most significant
transition which the church made in an effort to restore "pure
and undefiled religion before God and the Father" (James
Transition to Innovations
The associates of Barton Stone and of Alexander Campbell came
together at the Hill Street Church, Lexington, Kentucky on January
1, 1832, to bind themselves in a more perfect union. The representatives
agreed with Raccoon John Smith in his keynote address when he
God has but one people on this earth. He has given them but one
book. Let us come to the Bible alone, which is able to give us
all of the light we need.
The Stone-Campbell movement united and advanced on the basis of
that principle as Christians only and as the corporate body of
Christ. However, by 1849 a delegate assembly of restorers met
in Cincinnati, Ohio, and organized the American Christian Missionary
Society. Many of the restored congregations became society churches
while others remained non-society churches. A decade later (1859)
one of the self-styled liberals within the movement, L.L. Pinkerton,
introduced a mechanical instrument of music into the worship of
the Midway, Ky. church. Their innovation further divided the churches
into society-organ churches and non-society non-organ churches.
In the main those congregations that affiliated with the missionary
society and introduced the organ into worship became known as
Christian Churches while those which rejected both continued to
be known as churches of Christ. When the gate to innovations was
opened the Christian Church/Disciples of Christ movement went
into a full-fledged denomination. The transition from a biblical
position to a non-biblical position proved catastrophic to the
We ask our brethren, in the light of history, and ourselves why
would some today lead the church into unscriptural changes under
the guise of transition? We can meet all of the challenges of
a new century without changing the doctrine of Christ and the
practices of the New Testament church. We can deal effectively
with societal changes by keeping the "ancient landmarks"
and walking in the "old paths."
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