The Christian Chronicle, a news journal associated with the Churches of Christ, has recently published a series of quotes from ministers within the Churches of Christ addressing the question of whether or not there is an identity crisis within the fellowship (click on the title for the link access to the full article). I am not interested in discussing right now whether or not there is an identity crisis. What does bother me is some of the comments made by certain individuals. One such quote come from Phil Sanders, Preacher for the Concord Road Church of Christ in Brentwood, TN. Here is his response in full:
Phil Sanders, minister, Concord Road church in Brentwood, Tenn.: I believe some Christians and some churches know who they are and others don’t. You can’t expect the nearly 13,000 congregations among us to be carbon copies of each other any more than the seven churches of Asia in Revelation 2-3 were alike. Some were strong in faith, weak in numbers. Some were strong in heritage and without heart. Some were prominent in their society and lukewarm. Some have open doors and some have closed.
Many churches know the Book and stand for what we have historically held, while others are trying to turn the church of Christ into a bad substitute for a denomination. These mindsets are polarizing, and in many communities fellowship has ceased among brethren. Those who believe we must not become denominational will not join hands with those who feel we must progress beyond the Scriptures. In not a few communities the impasse seems inescapable.
I believe one of the greatest needs in the church today is for members to know what it means to be a New Testament Christian, saved by grace through faith and fully committed to the cause and teaching of Christ. Some have taken up padded crosses, convenient Christianity, and a synthetic faith. They don’t know what they believe or why.
I would like to point out one part of Brother Sanders comment. He says, “Many churches know the Book [Bible] and stand for what we have historically held, while others are trying to turn the church of Christ into a bad substitute for a denomination.” His comments assume that those of us that fall into the “others” category, like me, are leaving the pursuit of New Testament Christianity. That is hardly the case, it is just that some of us, like me again, believe that some of the conclusions about the Bible and Christianity reached by those among the Churches of Christ of the previous generation were incorrect.
Those conclusions were reached by honest Christians seeking to pursue Christianity with great integrity. Nevertheless, I believe some of their conclusions were based on a problematic hermeneutic and some faulty assumptions in regards to the intended function of scripture.
But please, if you disagree with me, don’t just label me as if I am just trying to pervert Christianity. Far from it, in my own weakness and limited understanding, I am trying to help the universal church and Churches of Christ be what it should be: The Body of Christ living out her life just as her head, Jesus of Nazareth, lived out his life.