Jun 10

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In this second article noting “What some are saying,” we return to the webpage “Faith facts.” Here the charge is made that the churches of Christ are not monolithic in their views. Before continuing it is necessary to define the word “monolithic”; it means among other things: “consisting of or constituting a single unit.”
First, the churches of Christ (Rom. 16:16) are local autonomous bodies, under the authority of Christ, generally overseen by elders (Acts 14:23; 20:28). Looking at them as a whole, they are “one body” of which Paul wrote: “the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23). Thus, they are “monolithic: consisting of or constituting a single unit.” There was in the first forty years a “monolithic” “faith,” as Paul wrote: “one faith” (Eph. 4:5) and of which Jude wrote: “that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Juke 3). Here is a most important question: “Did these local churches of Christ during the first forty years of existence all believe the same thing?” The answer is no! However, there was one body of truth, called “the faith!” Nevertheless, there were misunderstandings, there were dishonesties, and there were people who taught false doctrines. No local church, of the churches of Christ, were immune to these dangers! It was so bad that Paul wrote to the churches of Galatia: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel” (Gal. 1:6). The letters to the churches addressed many of these problems! Therefore, if “our writer” were to ask the churches of Christ during the first forty years following the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), were they monolithic in what they believed, what would his answer have been?
It is necessary that we look at the first charge made by “our writer.” Here he sees the churches of Christ divided into two factions. The first he describes: “For simplicity’s sake, we can divide the group into two factions. One group is the traditional faction. This group is sometimes referred to by outsiders as ‘ultraconservative’ or “legalistic” or “legalistic patternists.” Just for general understanding, when these words are used, it is to prejudice the hearer, or the reader against the ones referred to! However, a study of the terms, might reveal something else entirely! Is something wrong with being “traditional?” If we are honest, the first thing is to determine what the word means! It is used in the New Testament by Jesus and by Paul. First, Jesus charged the “scribes and Pharisees,” in these words: “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” (Matt. 15:3). The Greek word is “paradosis” and means: “a giving over which is done by word of mouth or in writing, i.e. tradition by instruction, narrative, precept, etc. objectively, that which is delivered, the substance of a teaching 2b) of the body of precepts, …” Here I have given a long meaning in order to put before the reader a larger context of the word. In short, it is a handing down of actions or teaching from one generation to another. The question and that which makes the difference, is the word that goes with the word “tradition.” Notice what Jesus said: “your tradition;” here meaning the “traditions of the “scribes and Pharisees!” Second, it must be noticed that these “traditions” “transgress the commandment of God.” Here there are two things wrong with these man made “traditions:” 1) they “transgress the commandments of God; and 2) they were being bound upon others!
Second, the word “traditions” is used by Paul when he wrote: “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us” (2 Thess. 3:6). This is the same Greek word used by Jesus; therefore, it is not the word itself that makes it wrong. No, it is a matter of do the “traditions” “transgress the commandments of God!” This is what makes them wrong, or do they bind something that God has not bound?
Now for the second word, “conservative,” and what does it means? Here we have to go to a dictionary; it means: a person who believes in the value of established and traditional practices (Merriam-Webster). The “traditional practices” being “the teaching of Christ” (2 John 9). Once more, there is nothing wrong, but everything right about being a “conservative” when referring to “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The true “conservative” is one who stands upon “the teaching of Christ!” He neither turns to the right nor to the left, but stands in the middle!
The other two words: “legalistic” and “legalistic patternists,” will be considered in a third article, but in conclusion, you can see, even though the two words studied above, though often used negatively, to insite prejudice; while in truth; there is nothing wrong with them. In fact, when applied to “the teaching of Christ” they are desired!

Frank R. Williams

Permanent link to this article: http://okcsbs.com/what-some-are-saying-2/