by Richard Mansel, managing editor
Some congregations are deciding to remove the name Church of Christ from their signs because they think that the name has negative connotations.
Each individual Church of Christ is an autonomous body, governed, we hope, by Scripture. The leadership of this congregation can decide how best to conduct themselves, as long as it falls within the boundaries of Scripture (1 Corinthians 4:6).
We must remember that these elders do not have absolute power. They are under the same New Testament under which everyone else serves (James 4:10). Their dictates do not supersede the Word of God.
Some argue that since they are an autonomous congregation, we have no right to criticize their decision. Well, these congregations are a part of the whole Church. Accordingly, they are saying something substantial about the rest of us in the Church. The name that we wear is no longer worthy. Since it is the Lord’s name, and they are speaking of those of us who wear his name in a derogatory manner, it is indeed our business.
Christ came to build his church (Matthew 16:18). It is his body, which fills “all in all” (Ephesians 1:22-23, NKJV). It bears his name because he established it and died for it.
“Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).
Christ will return the kingdom back to the Father in the end and we want to be in it when he does (1 Corinthians 15:24).
The removal of the name, Church of Christ is, in part, a reaction to the charges leveled against members of the Church. This results, in part, from the careless and imprecise use of language that many have used. Our words have consequences and we bear some responsibility when we misrepresent the truth of Scripture and unwittingly contribute to leading people away from the Lord.
Firstly, that we think that members of the Church of Christ are the only ones going to heaven. It is proof that brethren have accepted the denominational mindset of the religious world, rather than God’s way. Viewed through this broken prism, the church will have profound distortions.
Worshipping in a building called a “Church of Christ” is not the determining factor of who goes to heaven, despite what some have appeared to teach./1 Salvation results from immersion into the blood of Christ, walking in the light and being in the Lord’s body (Acts 2:38; 1 John 1:7; Galatians 3:27).
Second, that we think that salvation comes from works. Very few believe that we can earn our way to heaven. Nevertheless, too many have given the impression that we can do so.
While works do have a place in our salvation, the blood of Christ cleanses us from our sins (Romans 5:6-11). We cannot live good enough to earn our salvation and we must do a better job enunciating this truth to the world (Romans 5:1; Romans 3:23; Isaiah 59:1-2).
Finally, people act in ways related to their own reasons and do not speak for everyone. For some brethren, this trend to remove the name Church of Christ may simply be a tear in the fabric. Instead of having a huge fight over doctrine, they are just stepping away from the rest of us.
The answer for some is that they no longer wish to follow the teachings of the Church. The name change is cover for leaving completely and following after the denominations. They ask their members to focus on the altruism of the name change rather than the sleight of hand of apostasy. This may appear to be clever, but God knows better (Galatians 6:7).