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 Vol. 7, No. 12 

December 2005


~ Page 15 ~

Why Do the Churches of
Christ Not Vote on Doctrine?

By Louis Rushmore

Image It is important to emphasize biblical fundamentals, especially when they differ from contemporary religion. The churches of Christ belong to Jesus Christ, and consequently, they are obligated to conduct themselves according to what Jesus authorizes (Romans 16:16; Colossians 3:17). People living in the Gospel Age must heed the words of Jesus Christ rather than Moses or the Old Testament prophets (Matthew 17:1-5; John 12:48). Jesus Christ is the Lawgiver and Mediator of the New Testament, to which people living today must turn for religious instruction (James 4:12; Hebrews 9:15). Jesus Christ condemns alteration of the Gospel with "the commandments of men," and the apostle Paul condemns false Gospels and the human will (when substituted for divine will) (Matthew 15:9; Galatians 1:6-9; Colossians 2:23). One must turn exclusively to the New Testament to learn what God has authorized respecting Christianity.

Contemporary churches routinely vote on religious doctrine. Catholic and Protestant doctrine has evolved over the centuries. Catholic doctrine slowly developed over several hundred years (e.g., holy water, 1009; priestly celibacy, 1079; indulgences, 1190; transubstantiation and auricular confession, 1215; purgatory, 1439; Mass in Latin only, 1546; immaculate conception of the virgin Mary, 1854; papal infallibility, 1870; etc.). Further crafting of doctrine among Protestants has resulted in crystallizing numerous denominational churches (i.e., hundreds of denominations and thousands of subgroups within those denominations).

Especially denominational doctrine continues to change in our time. Denominational doctrines have changed within our lifetimes (e.g., before 1910 Methodist babies were born in sin; meatless Fridays resulted from the Catholic doctrine of not eating meat on Fridays, though that doctrine is no longer practiced; some living today can remember when virtually no church had female preachers, elders and deacons, etc.). Many contemporary denominations are troubled over and bring to a vote whether homosexuality is sinful, whether the so-called clergy can be homosexual, etc.

Who gave any church the right or privilege of voting on what religious doctrine should be? No one! Certainly God did not authorize mankind to craft and ratify religious doctrine (Matthew 15:9).

The churches of Christ are obligated to discern and practice only the doctrine of Jesus Christ. The New Testament makes it clear that no doctrine other than the doctrine of Jesus Christ is acceptable (2 John 9-11). God has never allowed mankind to craft religious doctrine (Genesis 4:1-8; Hebrews 11:4; Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18-19). Today, anything but the doctrine of Christ is evil (2 John 11).

Neither the churches of Christ nor any man or church has been given the right or privilege of crafting and adopting manmade doctrines. Mankind has never been permitted to walk in his own doctrines (Jer. 6:16; 7:23-24; Mal. 4:4; Colossians 2:6; Proverbs 14:12). In the Christian Age, everyone is obligated to abide by the authority of Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:17; John 12:48).

New Testament doctrine was settled in the first century when inspired men penned the New Testament books (2 Tim. 3:16-17). No one has to wonder about God's doctrine because it is available for inspection and study in the written Word of God (Ephesians 4:11-14). For instance, homosexuality is a sin that will keep those guilty of that sin out of heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NKJV). No one has to wonder about divine doctrine respecting marriage-divorce and remarriage (Matthew 19:9), fornication, drunkenness (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) or even lying (Revelation 21:8) etc.

Presuming to vote on religious doctrine is an insult to God! No number of votes in favor of something that God through the Bible God has disallowed can prevail against the decision of God. It behooves mankind to recognize God's Word as authoritative and abide by it (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

Likewise, it is the height of foolishness for mankind to presume to craft a plan of redemption and further presume that God will abide by it; mankind needs a reality check in the worst way! Unbaptized believers need to follow the instruction of Jesus (Mark 16:16). Erring Christians need to follow the instruction of the apostle Peter (Acts 8:22).Image

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