Monday, April 04, 2011

What "kind" are the Churches of Christ?

Booklets of the Churches of Christ ('C' or 'c') frequently state the original church was “merely the church” or the “church of the Bible” or the “Lord’s church.” Some Churches of Christ go on the offensive when pressing for an answer: “WHAT KIND?” Here, a number of Churches of Christ make a BIG DEAL over a non-issue. They state the first church established in Jerusalem was never a “kind” or any “brand.” “There was just the church!”

Why do some of the Churches of Christ react like this?

Denominational churches are the norm today. However, the Churches of Christ affirm original Christianity was undenominational and not supported by the Bible. These UNCONTESTED FACTS gave rise to the American Restoration Movement in the 1800s that eventually gave shape to the Churches of Christ who wants to bypass all forms of denominationalism.

Unfortunately definitions and terms used by a number of Churches of Christ in their quest for undenominational Christianity are often TWISTED to support anti-denominationalism sentiment. Of particular interest to this article are the noun(s) – “kind” and “brand.” The Churches of Christ argue the original New Testament Christians and churches were of no particular kind.
“You can be just a Christian – exactly like the original Christians – not any “kind” – just a Christian. You can be in the church – the original church – not any “kind” of church – just the church.”
  • Jim Massey, ‘You Can Be Just A Christian’, World Literature Publications, p2, 1991

  • In the New Testament, the church was merely the church. It is absurd to ask what kind of church it was, because there were no kinds. There was just the church! If we were to see the first automobile, we wouldn't ask what kind is it; for there were no "brands" of automobile. There was just an automobile.
  • Evangelism Handbook, The Church, Concord Road Church of Christ, Brentwood, TN

  • Jim Massey’s argument does not hold ground. Even here, Massey hints to a particular “kind” of Christian – “the original Christians” and a particular “kind” of church – “the original church”! Concord Road Church of Christ does not fare any better regarding the matter of the first automobile, saying: “we wouldn’t ask what kind”. The actual history of the early cars as we shall investigate is not as simple as the Churches of Christ make it out to be. But most importantly…

    We believe it is right to ask questions – no matter how stupid! The only stupid question is trusting not to ask! Any group having certain characteristics in common whether religious, political or social according to the DICTIONARY forms a “kind” while the definition of a “brand” according to the DICTIONARY means a kind or variety of something distinguished by some distinctive characteristic. There is no exception. Not even for a church group like the Churches of Christ who like to persuade people OTHERWISE. The Churches of Christ are not any “kind” or “brand” of church – just the “original church.”
    If I should come to your door with a new car, you would likely ask, “What kind?” Suppose I said, “No kind, just a car!” You would not believe me, since there are no cars today which are not “kinds” of cars.
    Our thinking is the same way about churches. If I say that I am a Christian you immediately ask, “What kind?” You cannot imagine a Christian who is not some “kind” of Christian. You cannot conceive of “the church” except as some “kind” of church.

  • Jim Massey, ‘You Can Be Just A Christian’, World Literature Publications, p1, 1991

  • The quote above is a man-made argument, whose aim is to RENEW THE LOGIC about our thinking concerning “kinds” of cars, churches and Christians. Here it is obvious that the Churches of Christ HAVE THEIR LOGIC: Suppose I said, “No kind, just a car! The defence of the argument is to bypass “kinds” of cars, churches and Christians and trusting people will accept the original is achievable. When a salesman knocks on your door and tells you something wonderful that sounds too good to be true – then it is! Always trust your initial gut instinct, as the quote above indicates: “You would not believe me.” The ultimate proposition by Churches of Christ is to avoid being labelled as a “kind” or to be identified as such.

    Therefore the next step is to override the meaning what defines the noun “kind” or “brand.” Here, the renewed logic of the Churches of Christ has REDEFINED the meaning of the nouns – “kind” and “brand” to JUST MEAN a type of denominational, interdenominational or even nondenominational Christian church.

    This peculiar plea merits an investigation.

    First and foremost it is important to distinguish that dictionaries define words like “kind” and “brand” and not pamphlets distributed by church groups. Words are what they are by definition according to the laws of language and not by redefinitions of any church group in order to support doctrinal viewpoints. Proper concern for the laws of grammar makes proper communication possible. No church group is in any position to abuse well-defined terminologies to showcase their agendas.

    The Churches of Christ apply the precise definition of terminology to many doctrinal viewpoints. For example the noun – “baptism,” which means: immersion in water. But argue that other well defined definitions like “kind” and “brand” in the context of the dictionary should never be applied to the Churches of Christ or the “original church” in the Bible. To ensure this won’t happen the Churches of Christ rely on the subtle art of redefinition.

    The subtlety lies in the truthful representation of the redefined idea. Any Christian denomination forms a “kind” or “brand,” but so does ANY GROUP having certain characteristics in common. Incredulously some Churches of Christ ABSOLUTELY REFUSE to be categorized as a “kind” or “brand”! Here we are not referring to denominational terms, but actually to the noun word of kind and brand.

    Nevertheless, the nouns – “kind” or “brand” should easily comply with a type of religious group like the Churches of Christ despite their objections. We know the Churches of Christ consists of many church groups. Each "kind" of Churches of Christ has certain characteristics in common that differs from another "kind."

    The Churches of Christ had to redefine these terms for members and outsiders in order to complement their man-made argument: NO KIND, JUST A CHURCH OR CHRISTIAN. The analogy of “the” original and only car is key to support their position, but it’s a fallacy.
    But the original car, the very first one, was not any “kind” of car. It was just a car – “the” car. People then did not think of “kinds” of cars – there were no kinds. There was just “the” original and only car.
  • Jim Massey, ‘You Can Be Just A Christian’, World Literature Publications, p1, 1991

  • No one can pinpoint so-and-so for being responsible for inventing the first original and only car. Furthermore, we are forced to ask: “What kind!” Early cars developed along the line of three different “kinds” of engines – steam, electrical and gasoline-engine cars!

    In the motoring world, some say that Karl Benz takes the honors for making the first prototype of the modern car (1885). The first Benz had only three wheels! On January 29, 1886, the Benz motor tricycle received the first patent (DRP No. 37435) for a gas-fueled car. By 1897 Benz produced 500 automobiles - daily! Even so, Benz was not the first to invent "the" automobile. On March 8, 1886, Gottlieb Daimler designed the world’s first four-wheeled car in 1886. Benz built his first four-wheeled car in 1891. Daimler and Benz invented and built cars that represent the cars we use today. But it is wrong to conclude either man invented “the” original and only car. It’s all a matter of opinions. The argument of the Churches of Christ sounds plausible, but ignores what led to the development of the steam, electrical and gasoline-engine cars! We have no choice in this matter to ask in the motoring world: “What kind of car?”

    Thankfully, the New Testament gives us an accurate picture and detailed description of the development of the early primitive church – starting from the original and only church in Jerusalem! Here, we can determine exactly after 2000 years “what kind of church it was.” It was a group of believers – supposedly “a undivided church” that initially excluded all Gentiles and in the end persevered with their unique Jewish customs (Acts 21:20-25)!

    The reformulated terms – “kind” and “brand” as used by many doctrinal booklets of the Churches of Christ could only refer to a Christian denomination.
    We have all grown up in a world full of churches. We didn’t start them, we didn’t cause them, we didn’t want them. We simply inherited them. Exactly as we think of cars, we think there are no churches except “kinds” of churches.
  • Jim Massey, ‘You Can Be Just A Christian’, World Literature Publications, p1, 1991

  • Since we have all grown up in a world of denominational churches, it is hard to think of the undivided church of the first century.
  • Jim Massey, ‘Was Original Christianity Denominational?’, World Literature Publications, p20, 1991

  • The Churches of Christ distort the meaning of the terms “kind” or “brand” as established in the dictionary to be understood sub-consciously only as “denominations.” The nouns – “kind” and “brand” become trigger words. This leads to confusion. The Churches of Christ’ vocabulary concerning the words – “kind” and “brand” is not the same language as stipulated in the dictionary. It is a form of trick terminology. A redefinition switch is produced when the terms “kind” or “brand” are associated with the term “a Christian denomination.” These associations of words immediately flash through the mind when the redefinition light is activated through booklets, conversations or sermons. The reformulated terms – “kind” and “brand” produce the redefined idea of denominational Christianity!

    Think about it! What do you put in a toaster?

    The aim of trick terminology is to overlook the obvious. The purpose of a toaster is making toast. To start the process you need bread! That is what goes in a toaster. What comes out is toast! Hopefully you came to the same conclusion! If you answered, “toast” then you have been tricked: Think again! What do cows drink? The obvious answer is water, but surprisingly many will first think milk! These examples show the power of word association and trigger words that can easily mislead us. Toast and bread are alike, but semantically they describe different nouns. Many people using toasters are happy to substitute the term “bread” with the term “toast” long before it is exposed to heat!

    The Churches of Christ’ redefinition switch produces the same effect and will persuade the unaware to overlook the obvious. By definition the noun “kind” is a class or group of individual objects like people of the same nature or character, or classified together because they have traits in common.

    What “kind” are the Churches of Christ?

    A predicament arises the moment the Churches of Christ accepts the obvious to be classified as a “kind” or “brand” (1) according to the dictionary or by (2) their redefinition switch. Either way each step of acceptance would relegate them to a position within the body of Christ like any other Christian denomination. But they claim they are not just a part of the body of Christ, but that they are the body of Christ – the original church.

    The Churches of Christ argue the “original church” in the New Testament could not be a “kind” or a “brand”! According to them it is “absurd”!
    In the New Testament, the church was merely the church. It is absurd to ask what kind of church it was, because there were no kinds. There was just the church!
  • Evangelism Handbook, The Church, Concord Road Church of Christ, Brentwood, TN

  • Here we can see the Churches of Christ support the strange idea and teach “no kinds” of churches existed in the New Testament. Nor is it acceptable to ask: “what kind of church.”

    Why does it sound ridiculous to them? The moment when the redefinition switch for the noun “kind” is activated as seen below, it produces the concept of a Christian denomination!
    In the New Testament, the church was merely the church. It is absurd to ask what denomination of church it was, because there were no denominations. There was just the church!
  • Evangelism Handbook, The Church, Concord Road Church of Christ, Brentwood, TN

  • See how the redefinition switch dramatically alters the picture! Here, we connect on the same level with the noun “kind” and what it means to members of the Churches of Christ. A moment before it was a ‘strange question’ to ask “what kind of church” was the New Testament Church. Now through the help of the ‘redefinition switch’ we can clearly see why.

    Indeed it is ‘absurd’ to state that the first congregation of believers was a denomination. Anyone who wants to imply such ludicrous claims is sadly mistaken! Even so, we must not forget how we came to this conclusion. We have arrived with the help of the Churches of Christ redefinition switch. Cracking this redefinition formula of the noun(s) – “kind” and “brand” is almost as satisfactory as shuffling the name of Dan Brown to mean “Own Brand”! No pun intended.)

    The redefinition of the nouns “kind” or “brand” depending on their usage implicates a Christian denomination or a Christian from it. This is exactly what the Churches of Christ want to avoid. They don’t want to be called a Christian denomination or identified as such. Therefore they don’t take it kindly when asked what kind!

    Redefinitions create more problems down the line. The redefined noun “kind” not only obscures the proper well-defined terms in the dictionary but also enforces a metaphorical forked-tongue or double talk. Communication suffers when individuals are armed with a redefinition and others are not because the vocabulary is not like the vocabulary of the dictionary by definition. No wonder individuals of the Churches of Christ object being asked: What “kind” are the Churches of Christ? Obviously saying: “Not any kind” will lead to bewilderment. The conversation will go nowhere trying to establish “what kind” was the New Testament church. This cannot be. Any group – religious, political or social, sharing similar characteristics makes a kind!

    The Churches of Christ follow the path of established cults who all rely on redesigned terms of their own creation and preferences, which always contradict well-defined and accepted terminology.

    This man-made argument of the Churches of Christ surrounds two conflicting points. The New Testament church was NOT A KIND and NOT A DENOMINATION. This observation is twisted.

    It is twisted; because this observation of the Churches of Christ is absurd! It relies on a redefinition switch instead of the laws of language. The argument of the Churches of Christ insists on “what their itching ears want to hear.”

    It is twisted; because this observation of the Churches of Christ does not distinguish between the meaning of the noun “kind” and what a Christian denomination is. For them it is all the same. We can distinguish “what kind of church” was “the” original and only church IN JERUSALEM, but we cannot state it was a Christian denomination. Doing so is wrong.

    It is twisted; because this observation of the Churches of Christ relies on the support of man-made arguments. We can establish the progress of the early church from its humble beginnings in the New Testament, but unfortunately nothing can be said about the origins of the first car. We can establish “what kind of church” “the” original and only church in Jerusalem was, but to assume it was a denomination is wrong. No respected Christian denomination has ever made such claims to justify denominational Christianity. The Churches of Christ make a BIG DEAL of a non-issue.

    It is twisted; because this observation of the Churches of Christ does not take in account “what kind of church” the early church represents. It seems members of the Churches of Christ may not ask such questions. Clearly, the first disciples added to the Lord’s church were all Jewish believers. The ethos of the original church in Jerusalem never changed. It had certain characteristics in common, which makes them a kind of church. The congregation fled to Pella when Rome destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Overtime, “the” original and only church vanished. The Pauline churches ‘survived’. Today Christianity imitates the customs of Paul not what James, the Lord’s brother, followed in Jerusalem (Acts 21:20-25).

    It is twisted; because this observation of the Churches of Christ implies there was only “the” original and ONLY CHURCH. This is a dangerous assumption, which had led to the formation of the Roman Catholic Church. The structure of the early church (for two centuries) was holistic. Emphasizing the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts (Galatians 2:9). The New Testament indicates two separate ministries – one for the Jews and another for Gentiles. Thus two “kinds.” However, it is wrong to assume these different churches were denominations. The Bible mentions only one body, one church (1 Corinthians 12:13). But we are in the right to ask: What kind! Whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free?

    It is twisted; because this observation of the Churches of Christ forms an anachronism. If the Churches of Christ imply the early church was not any kind, they also mean not any denomination! We know Christian “denominations” only occurred as a by-product from the 16th Century Protestant Reformation period. Not before. Religious groups who rivaled the teachings of the New Testament were known as “sects” like the movements of the Gnostics, Marcionites and Montanism.

    It is twisted; because this observation of the Churches of Christ relies on double standards that lead to confusion.
    Just because men may call the church a division or sect does not make it one. … In like manner the church of Christ today may be everywhere called a denomination, but this does not mean that it is a denomination and calling the church a denomination does not make it one.
  • Jim Massey, ‘You Can Be Just A Christian’, World Literature Publications, p53, 1991

  • It is twisted; because this observation of the Churches of Christ can be proven wrong.
    Never are “kinds” of churches mentioned. Never in the Bible do we read of “different” churches teaching different doctrines.
  • Jim Massey, ‘You Can Be Just A Christian’, World Literature Publications, p48, 1991

  • Never say ‘never’! The conversation between James, the Lord’s brother, and Paul speaks volumes of “kinds of churches” and “different churches teaching different doctrines.” (Acts 21:21) To be of a “kind” or to be “different” does not change much! The characteristics of a lemon and an orange are similar. Yet, they are two kinds of citrus fruits. One is bitter the other delightful. The early church was a mixture between bitter-and-sweet kinds of Christianity. Paul’s Letters attest to it!

    Finally, it is twisted, because this observation of the Churches of Christ excludes other Christian denominations from the body of Christ. A predicament arises the moment the Churches of Christ accept to be classified as a “kind” or “brand” (1) according to the dictionary or by (2) their redefinition switch. Either way each step of acceptance would relegate them to a position within the body of Christ like any other Christian denomination. But they claim they are not just a part of the body of Christ, but that they are the body of Christ – the original church!

    The Churches of Christ reaction seems to emphasize that the Way, the Truth, and the Life is void in denominational Christianity. How can this be? Surprisingly the original founders of the American Restoration Movement never reacted like this.

    Next article: The concept of “kind” amongst the Churches of Christ

    Friday, April 01, 2011

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    icoccommentary will comment freely on twitter! New articles will be posted shortly. Our focus will be on the Churches of Christ ('C' or 'c').

    Not much is said here about the belief system of the Churches of Christ ('C' or 'c'). We think it is worthwhile to examine the doctrine of the 'C' or 'c' of Christ in order to understand the actual roots of the pro-McKean and anti-McKean factions of the former unified ICOC. We will welcome your comments.)

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