For the Churches of Christ, practices not present in accounts of New Testament worship were not permissible in the church. In contrast, the Christian Church may consider any practice not expressly forbidden. In addition, there was also disagreement over the appropriateness of organizational structures above the congregational level, such as those of missionary societies and funding orphanages. Though not officially recognized as distinct movements until , the separation of the Churches of Christ and the Christian Churches had been taking place gradually for decades.
The Restoration Movement was not a purely North American phenomenon, and active mission efforts began in the 18th century. Members of the church of Christ do not conceive of themselves as a new church started near the beginning of the 19th century. Rather, the whole movement is designed to reproduce in contemporary times the church originally established on Pentecost , A. The strength of the appeal lies in the restoration of Christ's original church. Modern Churches of Christ have their historical roots in the Restoration Movement , which was a converging of Christians across denominational lines in search of a return to an original, "pre-denominational" Christianity.
Churches of Christ generally share the following theological beliefs and practices: . In keeping with their history, the Churches of Christ claim the New Testament as their sole rule of faith and practice in deciding matters of doctrine and ecclesiastical structure.
These churches comprise about 2,, members in over 40, individual congregations worldwide. Within the U. The divorce rate was 6. In keeping with their non-denominational focus, recently some congregations have identified themselves primarily as community churches and secondarily as Churches of Christ. Alexander Campbell said the goal was to "[c]all Bible things by Bible names," which became an early slogan of the Restorationist Movement. Other terms have been recognized as scriptural, based on their use in the New Testament: "church of God", "church of the Lord", "churches of Christ", "church of the first-born", "church of the living God", "the house of God", and "the people of God".
Church government is congregational rather than denominational.
Churches of Christ purposefully have no central headquarters, councils, or other organizational structure above the local church level. Congregations are generally overseen by a plurality of elders who are sometimes assisted in the administration of various works by deacons.
While the early Restoration Movement had a tradition of itinerant preachers rather than "located Preachers", during the 20th century a long-term, formally trained congregational minister became the norm among Churches of Christ. While the presence of a long-term professional minister has sometimes created "significant de facto ministerial authority" and led to conflict between the minister and the elders, the eldership has remained the "ultimate locus of authority in the congregation".
Churches of Christ hold to the priesthood of all believers. While there is an identifiable mainstream within the Churches of Christ, there are also significant variations within the fellowship. As a result, most divisions among Churches of Christ have been the result of "methodological" disputes. These are meaningful to members of this movement because of the seriousness with which they take the goal of "restoring the form and structure of the primitive church".
Congregational a cappella music from hymnals perhaps pitched from a pitch pipe , but directed by any capable song-leader motioning the time signature, is notably characteristic of the Churches of Christ. The remaining congregations may be grouped into four categories which generally differ from the mainstream consensus in specific practices, rather than in theological perspectives, and tend to have smaller congregations on average.
The largest of these four categories is the "non-institutional" Churches of Christ. This group is notable for opposing congregational support of institutions such as orphans homes and Bible colleges.
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Similarly, non-institutional congregations also oppose the use of church facilities for non-church activities such as fellowship dinners or recreation ; as such, they oppose the construction of "fellowship halls", gymnasiums, and similar structures. In both cases, opposition is based on the belief that support of institutions and non-church activities are not proper functions of the local congregation.
Approximately 2, congregations fall in this category. The remaining three groups, whose congregations are generally considerably smaller than those of the mainstream or non-institutional groups, also oppose institutional support as well as "fellowship halls" and similar structures for the same reasons as the non-institutional groups , but differ by other beliefs and practices the groups often overlap, but in all cases hold to more conservative views than even the non-institutional groups :  : Churches of Christ seek to practice the principle of the Bible being the only source to find doctrine known elsewhere as sola scriptura.
Regarding church practices, worship, and doctrine, there is great liberty from congregation to congregation in interpreting what is biblically permissible, as congregations are not controlled by a denominational hierarchy. Historically, three hermeneutic approaches have been used among Churches of Christ. The relative importance given to each of these three strategies has varied over time and between different contexts. In this regard the approach is much like that of science which, in practice moves deductively from one hypothesis to another, rather than in a Baconian inductive manner.
A debate arose during the s over the use of the command, example, necessary inference model for identifying the "essentials" of the New Testament faith. Some argued that it fostered legalism , and advocated instead a hermeneutic based on the character of God , Christ and the Holy Spirit. Traditionalists urged the rejection of this "new hermeneutic". While it is still not seen as authoritative for Christian worship, church organization, or regulating the Christian's life, some have argued that it is theologically authoritative.
Many scholars associated with the Churches of Christ embrace the methods of modern Biblical criticism but not the associated anti-supernaturalistic views.
Churches of Christ
More generally, the classical grammatico-historical method is prevalent, which provides a basis for some openness to alternative approaches to understanding the scriptures. Churches of Christ are strongly anti- Calvinist in their understanding of salvation and generally present conversion as "obedience to the proclaimed facts of the gospel rather than as the result of an emotional, Spirit-initiated conversion". Congregations differ in their interpretation of the age of accountability. Churches of Christ generally teach that the process of salvation involves the following steps: .
Beginning in the s, many preachers began placing more emphasis on the role of grace in salvation, instead of focusing exclusively on implementing all of the New Testament commands and examples. Baptism has been recognized as an important rite throughout the history of the Christian Church ,  : 11 but Christian groups differ over the manner in which baptism is administered,  : 11 the meaning and significance of baptism,  : 11 its role in salvation,  : 12 and who is a candidate for baptism.
Churches of Christ have historically had the most conservative position on baptism among the various branches of the Restoration Movement , understanding baptism by immersion to be a necessary part of conversion. Churches of Christ consistently teach that in baptism a believer surrenders his life in faith and obedience to God, and that God "by the merits of Christ's blood, cleanses one from sin and truly changes the state of the person from an alien to a citizen of God's kingdom.
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Baptism is not a human work; it is the place where God does the work that only God can do. Because of the belief that baptism is a necessary part of salvation , some Baptists hold that the Churches of Christ endorse the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. The Churches of Christ generally combine the lack of any historical evidence that the early church used musical instruments in worship  : 47  : —  : and the belief that there is no scriptural support for using instruments in the church's worship service   : — to decide that instruments should not be used today in worship.
Churches of Christ have historically practiced a cappella music in worship services. Not all Churches of Christ are without instruments. The use of musical instruments in worship was a divisive topic within the Stone-Campbell Movement from its earliest years, when some adherents opposed the practice on traditional grounds, while others may have relied on a cappella simply because they lacked access to musical instruments.
Alexander Campbell opposed the use of instruments in worship. As early as , some Restoration Movement churches were using organs or pianos , ultimately leading the Churches of Christ to separate from the groups that condoned instrumental music. There are congregations that permit hand-clapping and a few that use musical instruments in worship.
Churches of Christ avoid the term "theology", preferring instead the term "doctrine": theology is what humans say about the Bible; doctrine is simply what the Bible says.
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Many leaders argue that the Churches of Christ only follow the Bible and have no "theology". Regarding eschatology a branch of theology concerned with the final events in the history of the world or of humankind , Churches of Christ are generally amillennial , their originally prevalent postmillennialism evident in Alexander Campbell 's Millennial Harbinger having dissipated around the era of the First World War. Before then, many leaders were "moderate historical premillennialists" who did not advocate specific historical interpretations.
Churches of Christ have moved away from premillennialism as dispensational millennialism has come more to fore in Protestant evangelical circles. Premillennialism was a focus of controversy during the first half of the 20th century. Wallace Jr. During the late 19th century, the prevailing view in the Restoration Movement was that the Holy Spirit currently acts only through the influence of inspired scripture. This view came to prevail over that of Barton W.
Stone , who believed the Spirit had a more direct role in the life of the Christian. Though relatively few have adopted outright charismatic and third wave views and remained in the body, apparently the spiritual waves have begun to erode that rational rock. The fundamental idea of "restoration" or "Christian Primitivism" is that problems or deficiencies in the church can be corrected by using the primitive church as a "normative model. One effect of the emphasis placed on the New Testament church is a "sense of historylessness" that sees the intervening history between the 1st century and the modern church as "irrelevant or even abhorrent.
The Restoration Movement originated with the convergence of several independent efforts to go back to apostolic Christianity. Stone began at Cane Ridge , Kentucky and called themselves simply " Christians ". The second began in western Pennsylvania and was led by Thomas Campbell and his son, Alexander Campbell ; they used the name " Disciples of Christ ". Both groups sought to restore the whole Christian church on the pattern set forth in the New Testament , and both believed that creeds kept Christianity divided. The Campbell movement was characterized by a "systematic and rational reconstruction" of the early church, in contrast to the Stone movement which was characterized by radical freedom and lack of dogma.
Nothing in life has given me more pain in heart than the separation from those I have heretofore worked with and loved. In , the U. Religious Census listed the Christian Churches and the Churches of Christ as separate and distinct groups for the first time. The controversy over musical instruments began in with the introduction of organs in some churches. More basic were differences in the underlying approach to Biblical interpretation. For the Churches of Christ, any practices not present in accounts of New Testament worship were not permissible in the church, and they could find no New Testament documentation of the use of instrumental music in worship.
For the Christian Churches, any practices not expressly forbidden could be considered. In , at the International Convention of Christian Churches Disciples of Christ , those Christian Churches that favored a denominational structure, wished to be more ecumenical, and also accepted more of the modern liberal theology of various denominations, adopted a new "provisional design" for their work together, becoming the Christian Church Disciples of Christ. To object to any child of God participating in the service on account of his race, social or civil state, his color or race , is to object to Jesus Christ and to cast him from our association.
This blood and its merit and power he put into baptism, in order that in baptism we might receive it. For whenever a person receives baptism in faith this is the same as if he were visibly washed and cleansed of sin with the blood of Christ. For we do not attain the forgiveness of sins through our work, but rather through the death and the shedding of the blood of the Son of God.
What Bible passages would you use to defend the biblical teaching and practice of infant baptism? Explain how you might use those passages.
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The first place to start is Matthew While some people say infants do not need Baptism because they are born innocent or morally neutral or not guilty of sin, Psalm points out we are sinful from the time of conception. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise of forgiveness and the Holy Spirit that God gives through Baptism is not limited by age. Some also will argue that infants cannot believe in Jesus. Therefore, Baptism is useless for them, if Baptism even gives faith. Jesus says that little children can trust in him.
Jesus desires children to be brought to him so that they can be blessed by him Matthew ; Mark ; Luke How can this truth strengthen you in times of doubt?
Remembering that we are baptized can strengthen us when we doubt that we are forgiven or that eternal life is secured for us or that God still loves us. They speak to the way this church lives and practices our faith, and they will guide how we journey forward in Christ as church together. Forgiveness and reconciliation flow from what God has made us to be in Jesus Christ and what God is doing with us in the world. As a people of God, we embody forgiveness in speech, action and relationships, and our ministry in reconciliation is foundational.