THE CHURCH OF CHRIST: SOME THOUGHTS ON CHANGE
I haven’t spoken in much detail about my journey and how I’ve gotten to where I am. I’ve just mentioned pieces of it here and there. Perhaps my next article should be my testimony, so you can get to the know the person behind the words.
This time, however, I want to mention a list of things that have changed for me over the years. This article is primarily for my church of Christ brothers and sisters. This is not intended to be a reference list full of details and verses. I have written and will continue to write well thought out reasons for my beliefs. There is reason, theology, grammar, and a series of other necessary ingredients behind anything I believe. That doesn’t make them right or wrong. But it is worth noting before anyone decides to assume otherwise. This also isn’t “the view” of the elders or congregation I preach for, Shoals church of Christ. These are just simply some personal views that have changed for me over the years. It is not meant to be exhaustive, detailed, or necessarily mind-changing in any way. And I am only speaking from my experience. I understand that not all churches are the same.
No, the point of this post is that studying and letting Scripture speak for itself will often change what you originally thought was true. Ask the Pharisees! I believe the churches of Christ have good intent and love the Lord, but we seem to have a general fear of change. I don’t think I’m right about everything by any means. But I do want to start a conversation in the minds of those who read this article. I believe that, generally speaking, as a movement, we (the churches of Christ) need to be less afraid of change when necessary and more willing to question things.
Over the last several years I have changed my position on several traditional issues after more study. I’ve also kept a lot of views after more study. But it is a much harder thing to change than to remain the same. Each of the following positions are still subjects that I am humble about concerning listening to other arguments. But, at the moment, this is where Scripture (and I believe the Spirit) has guided me.
1) I believe one is saved at the point of genuine faith (Spirit immersion) and then is baptized as a sign of said faith.
2) I believe instruments in worship are fine so long as they are not the item of worship.
3) I believe women can be deacons, preachers, and lead singing.
4) I believe drinking is okay (although not always wise) but being drunk isn’t.
5) I believe that the fate of the wicked ends in total destruction, not eternal conscious torment.
6) I believe heaven is real, but that there will be a new heaven and earth.
7) I believe we will have resurrected bodies.
8)I believe communion was most likely taken in some form daily in the early church.
9) I believe the Bible is inspired but I also believe it has some very bold human elements to it. It is not to be worshiped but used correctly and respected.
10) I believe the Holy Spirit lives within us and speaks to us today, but that He doesn’t contradict what He has already said in Scripture.
11) I believe the elder and deacon qualifications are most likely general qualities.
12) I believe in the traditional view of marriage, divorce, and remarriage; however, I believe the sin is point of action and not continual. In other words, it is not the unforgivable sin.
13) I believe that Genesis 1-2 are classic examples of Hebrew poetry. I am not a scientist, so I do not wish to comment on the particulars of our existence. And I think that doing so misses the point of the passages written to previously enslaved tribal people.
14) I believe, while there was order to the church gathering, it was much more informal than we do it. In many ways.
15) I believe we are to worship God daily and that, in a general sense, we worship Him just by being a Christian indwelled by the Spirit. But I believe the point behind the gathering is not to worship (although we should be willing to worship) but to build up one another in Christ.
16) I believe that we are not to judge those who are in the world, but to simply do our job and let God do the judging.
17) I believe that homosexuality is sinful but no more or less capable of finding grace than any other sin.
18) I believe that the same measure that I judge others will be given to me and that mercy always triumphs over judgement.
19) I believe that grace is immeasurable but that it is only found with a heart that puts its trust in Jesus and a heart that doesn’t quench the Spirit.
20) I believe that at best “church of Christ” should only be a descriptive term, not a name.
21) I believe that it is possible that miracles by human agency still happen, but that it is certain that miracles by our Lord still exist.
22) I believe that universally applying the interpretive method of CENI/the law of silence is inconsistent at best.
23) I believe the entire point of Scripture (God’s will) is for those created in His image to return to His image through Christ. That transformation is a life-long process through the Spirit. When Jesus comes we will be as He is. And we will forever be in our eternal family.
24) I believe love for God has to be choice.
25) I believe the Spirit guides those seeking truth, even those who are not yet Christians.
26) I believe the traditional church of Christ (in my experience) have the most dangerous creed of all, the unwritten creed. Well, it’s written in books like “why am I a member of the CofC”, but it is not seen as a creed by the traditional individual. My point is that It’s hard to edit what you don’t know you have.
27) I believe that, in a lot of ways, many of us in the churches of Christ have become one of the most denominational “non-denominations” there is. In other words, we claim we aren’t a denomination, but many of us act very denominational. (not all, but many in my experience)
28) I believe that biblical faith is synonymous with repentance and confession in the Scriptural context.
29) I believe man is not saved by faith, baptism, blood, or anything like that. He is saved BY grace THROUGH faith BECAUSE OF the blood of Christ.
30) I believe that no church can save you, only Christ’s grace an do that.
I’m sure the list goes on. And some of these things I believe more strongly than others because I believe there is more evidence for some of these positions than other positions that I lean towards. But the point is, I don’t see things as black and white as I used to. It is amazing what happens when you let the Bible speak for itself! I love my heritage, but we have work to do! Even if you don’t agree with me on any (or most) of these views, you must admit, after looking honestly at Scripture, that many church of Christ views are just as inconsistent and in need of change as any of the denominational views that some in our movement condemn so easily. These are just some thoughts on change. Don’t make this article any more or any less than what it is. It is a call, in love, for an honest look at our movement and the divisions we often cause in God’s kingdom. – Jesse