We Need Distinctive Doctrine: The Doctrine Of Christ
James E. Farley
A local denominational preacher in our area left his Baptist roots and formed an ecumenical Community Church in our city. At first, it seemed to be very successful with over two hundred in attendance from various denominations. They formed a praise team with a live band each week. They purchased a very expensive sound system, had a youth minister with an active youth program, began a drug rehabilitation ministry, etc. It seemed they would simply grow and grow. However, the proverbial bottom has now fallen out!
The board of deacons has had several meetings now, according to my sources, trying to figure out just what has gone wrong. They are now having forty-five or fifty in attendance, and people are leaving the group each week. One of the studied determinations they have reached is that they need a more solid and distinctive doctrine. The Pastor of this group stated it just that way: “We have no real distinctive doctrine.” You see, they first stressed that they were non-denominational when they were actually inter-denominational and ecumenical in nature. They first came together simply agreeing to disagree. They stressed “unity in diversity,” and all they were able to accomplish with this attitude was a loosely formed union. This kind of union may work among the denominations when people are still attending their own distinctive sects, but, when you try to jam them all together in one group with all of these doctrinal differences, there is tension and stress. It just will not work.
Yes, I agree. They do, indeed, need a more distinctive doctrine in order to hold everyone together, but this thought is not original with me. Paul said, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:10-13).
There is a cure for the disease of denominational division. The Great Physician has given the remedy. It is “speak the same thing … have the same mind and the same judgment.” The result of this will be no divisions. However, what is it that we all are to speak in order to attain this unity and to maintain it? Peter says, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:11). If you speak as the oracles of God and I speak as the oracles of God, we will be speaking the same thing, and we can have real unity. However, if either of us begins espousing and promoting something other than the oracles of God, there will be division.
Yes, we do, indeed, need distinctive doctrine, and that is found in the verbally inspired Word of God. “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, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It is from the Bible that we get our distinctive doctrine. It is the doctrine of Christ. If anyone will not abide in the doctrine of Christ, he or she transgresses and does not have God! (2 John 9-11). Now, that is strong language; but it is, nevertheless, true!
Our distinctive plea, among the churches of Christ, is for all to drop all man-made religion with its catechisms, councils, confessions of faith, constitutions, dogmas, doctrines, and disciplines and to UNITE upon the Bible ONLY for all that we do and say in matters of faith and practice. We plead for all to come back to the Bible with us, for the Bible ONLY makes Christians ONLY! -1179 Mark Wayne Drive, Louisa, Kentucky 41230. e-mail: email@example.com
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