Among our brethren today you hear people talking about our “faith?heritage,” or being a part of the “Stone?Campbell movement.” What is all this about? Upon first reading, one might think this is just some convoluted way of referencing the American Restoration movement. An unsuspecting Christian might even find himself using these terms interchangeably when referring to the Restoration movement. In reality, these terms and others like them are code words used by men who believe and teach that the church of Christ is just another denomination. One such man who espouses this belief says, “I am not a ‘Church of Christer,’ I am a member of the ONE CHURCH of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, I claim the churches of Christ as my faith-heritage and currently work and worship within this group. But, this group is only a part of the whole. My citizenship is not restricted to any one part of the whole, but encompasses it all.”
Make no mistake, when these men use the phrase “my faith?heritage” it is simply code for denomination; the same is true for the phrase “Stone-Campbell movement” when used in this context. Those who wish to see the church of Christ acknowledged as a denomination are distancing themselves from the doctrines of the church while clinging to its members all at the same time.
One who studies their Bible should know that it is not our choice what church we are a part of when we become a Christian. After hearing the first gospel sermon preached, the people asked the apostles what they needed to do in response.
“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off -? for all whom the Lord our God will call.’ With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day” (Acts 2:38-41 NIV).
This same process is still taking place today! When penitent sinners come before God in obedient faith and are baptized for the forgiveness of sins, Christ adds them to his church. Therefore, if you have been baptized for the forgiveness of sins then you are a member of the church of Christ, not a “faith-heritage,” not a “movement,” you are part of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27).
The church was built not with Thomas or Alexander Campbell as the cornerstone, not with Barton W. Stone’s blood. The church was “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (Ephesians 2:20-22).
I thank God for the work of men like Alexander and Thomas Campbell and Barton W. Stone who devoted their lives to the gospel of Christ and started the great restoration in America. These men deserve to be remembered in the history classes of our universities. However, I don’t believe that these men would be pleased to find their names being attached to a “movement” or “faith?heritage.”
Jesus’ prayer for all believers was that we would be unified, and not just for the sake of unity but unified around the truth. “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” (John 17:17-21).
If there is a “faith?heritage” left to us by the “Stone?Campbell movement,” let it be unity around the truth.