|Vol. 14 No. 4 April 2012||
I heard a Gospel preacher remark one time that during one of his many missionary trips to India, he spoke to a denominational body of believers who had discarded the use of instrumental music during their periods of worship. Also, they were partaking of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of each week. He instructed them more accurately of the way and immersed the preacher and most of the members into Christ. A few years ago, I read in a brotherhood publication (Restoration Quarterly) that a congregation of the Lord was in existence in Canada during the early to middle part of the 19th century that was not comprised of brethren who had moved there from the United States. For many years, we have known of congregations existing in various parts of Europe and Asia that were not in any way connected with the Campbell-Stone movement in this country during the 19th century. In the study of the Restoration Movement, there is concrete evidence that New Testament churches were in existence before the Campbells became influential in different states (Examples: the Rocky Springs church, Bridgeport, AL was established in 1807 and the Oak Grove church, Rincon, GA was started in 1819).
Why am I drawing your attention to these matters? Because there are numerous brethren who are saying that the church of Jesus Christ is so aligned with the Campbells and to culture (mostly southern) that we are merely a denominational body like the rest of the Protestant world. This I deny. While much credit is to be given to Thomas and Alexander Campbell, the fact is, the church of the Lord existed before and after them in this country and in other parts of the world separate and apart from their influence.
How was this possible? It was by honest seekers of truth who decided to adhere to the teaching of Paul as found in Philippians 3:15-16. “Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, be thus minded: and, if in anything, ye are otherwise minded, this also shall God reveal unto you: only, whereunto we have attained, by that same rule let us walk.” Surely, God would not condemn division among believers and neither would Christ have prayed for unity if unity could not have been achieved. Remember that the fault lies not in the guide but rather in frail humanity. While it is admitted that there are some passages of Scriptures that are more difficult to understand and that we should ever be striving to increase our biblical knowledge and making corrections when we reach a better understanding, there is no real reason why we all cannot grasp the simple truths regarding the way of salvation, the worship to God, the scriptural concept of the organization of the body of Jesus and the purpose of the kingdom of God. Often, it is not our inability to grasp these truths, but rather our unwillingness to submit to the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Does the term Ornithorhynchus anatinus mean anything to you? That is the scientific name for a strange looking animal known to most of us as the platypus (often called the duck-billed platypus).
The platypus looks like an animal that was put together by some sort of sadistic committee. It has fur, four legs and other features of a mammal (and is classified as such), but it has a bill that looks like a duck’s bill and it lays eggs like a duck and other birds.
In their rush to combat secular humanism, militant Islamists, political correctness, and other principles and ideas, many religious leaders, politicians, and others have put together an intellectual platypus. In solemn tones, they tell us that our nation was founded upon Judeo-Christian principles and that these principles are worth preserving. In more excited tones, they will tell us that our Judeo-Christian heritage is at stake and is worth fighting for.
It seems ironic to me that, in an attempt to combat such things as political correctness, these people are, themselves, practitioners of a certain kind of political correctness. The thinking seems to be that, since Jews and Christians all claim to worship the same God, they (we) have been lumped together in the public arena of ideas and discussion.
However, before we adopt the language of the politicians, theologians and others, it would seem logical to ask a very basic question, “What, exactly, is a Judeo-Christian?” There are some good corollary questions to this one. Here are a few that come to mind.
Have we forgotten that the first converts to Christ were Jews? Many of those who remained in the Jewish religion may have looked upon followers of Christ as members of a “sect” of Judaism (cf. Acts 28:23). It is more than just a point of interest that, as Paul had opportunity to preach to these people, he “…explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, from both the law of Moses and the Prophets…” (Acts 28:23, emphasis added).
Many religions teach admirable principles concerning morality, ethics, treatment of others, etc. All of us, regardless of nationality, race, economic status, educational attainment, etc. have a problem that can only be taken care of in one way and in one name. Peter was speaking only of “…the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth…” (Acts 4:10) when he made the following declaration: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Since the followers of Mohammed claim that their Allah is the same as the God whom we worship, I wonder how long will it be until some start referring to our nation, traditions, etc. as Judeo-Christian-Islamic? Never mind. It is already happening!
Most of us have heard of people who are so open-minded that their brains fall out. I am afraid that many in our day are so open-minded that their souls are lost.
It must be remembered and taught that it is the kingdom that is to be delivered to God at Christ’s coming (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:24). May we never get so caught up in the political correctness and unity in diversity thinking of our day to the extent that we lose sight of that.