Loyalties

To what church do you belong? This question sometimes initiates that rare conversation about religion. If someone wants to know where you stand, it is a fact that the name, organization or denomination with which you identify reveals your loyalties. So, the question is: where are your loyalties?

For many years now, apostates and heretics have asserted that “our tradition” began in the late 1800s with men like Alexander Campbell or Barton W. Stone. This assertion justifies their claim that churches of Christ have, like other religious groups in this country, evolved into our current existence, having been influenced along the way by a dynamic American culture. This argument is seen as a justification for supposed and “necessary” changes in churches of Christ, in order to make the doctrine, worship and/or service more effective in today’s modern society.

If “our movement” originated in the 19th century and if our roots go back only as far as the preaching of Campbell and Stone, these quibblers are correct in their assessment. However, if the foundation of churches of Christ precedes these (and all) men and “proceeds from the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3), then changing the doctrine, worship, or service of this body in response to fickle social whims is damnable heresy.

In response to the apostles’ answers to the question of Jesus’ identity and deity, the Son of God stated, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Jesus would build His church; one that could be identified (Acts 24:5; 28:22), whose followers would wear His name (Acts 11:26), that would worship according to His dictates (John 4:24) and serve people (any people) most productively (Matthew 5:14-16).

A member of that church is loyal to Christ Jesus, not to men, no matter how sincere or celebrated they may have been. A member of that church is called only a “Christian” (1 Peter 4:16). A member of that church will worship according to Jesus’ instructions (through the Holy Spirit by inspired writers) and not by the dictates of any man-originated creed book (Matthew 15:9). A member of that church would belong to a body of people with the name of Christ describing them, both corporately (Romans 16:16) and singularly (Acts 26:28), but never to any religious organization ashamed to wear only His name, either as a group and as an individual. That church began in the 1st century, not the 19th. So, to what church do you belong and what does that say about your loyalties?

Jeff Sweeten