The Churches of Christ and Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ are getting a lot of really important things right. While it is true that this website is tough on the churches of the Restoration Movement, this should not be misconstrued as a condemnation. On the contrary, our congregations have much to be commended for.
There are no liberals in our churches. We are theologically conservative. The terms liberal and conservative are used a great deal in a subjective sort of way. Those to our right are conservative and those to our left are liberal. Instead of looking at it from our own perspective, let’s look at the big picture. Real liberalism denies:
- The virgin birth of Christ
- The inspiration and authority of scripture
- The miracles of the Bible
- The existence of Hell
- The resurrection of Jesus
Many other examples could be named, but these should suffice. None of our congregations are truly liberal.
We recognise that the Bible is authoritative. We understand that it contains the inspired words of God. We treat God’s message with respect and endeavour to understand it and apply it to our everyday lives. The message contained within the Bible supersedes the conclusions of any church council or creed, whether written or unwritten.
Because the teachings of the Bible are authoritative, we demand book, chapter and verse for all that we do. As congregations or as individuals, we recognize the authority of Jesus Christ; He is the Master and we are His servants. We strive to do that which pleases Him.
For those desiring to become a Christian, we properly emphasize repentance and immersion. It grieves us that preachers and teachers in some (but not all) denominations appear to understate the case for turning away from sin and toward God. A greater number do not understand that immersion is for the remission of sins.
While many of the mainline Protestant denominations have compromised with sin, we still take a strong stand on moral issues. The moral decay of our world is accelerating rapidly, but Christians are called to live transformed lives. Jesus expects His disciples to be lights in a dark and evil world. We should stand out from the crowd as opposed to blending in with the world around us.
Like the early church, our congregations are independent and autonomous. We do not have a formal denominational hierarchy which exerts control or influence over our congregations. Our congregations are led by a group of men who shepherd the disciples and spiritually lead by example. This gives each congregation the flexibility to take whatever actions are needed to spiritually build up their own, spread the gospel, and provide help for others when they have need.
We have the heritage of the Restoration Movement, the goal or which was to unify all Christians by abandoning creeds and denominational allegiances which divide the followers of Christ. Men like Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone led this unity movement which saw great success in its early years. While this heritage has been forgotten by many of our people, it is a worthy goal and should be pursued earnestly. Men like Daniel Sommer did great harm to the cause in the late 1800s by destroying the unity that had been achieved in prior decades. We have never recovered from that setback.
Let no one make the mistake of assuming that we have restored all of the positive attributes of the early church! Some of us think we are done, but we aren’t there yet. We have a long way to go and much work to do. So, the question is, will you be a uniting influence like Campbell and Stone or a divider like Sommer?