|Volume 17 Number 8 August 2015||
Why Was Deborah
Able to Be a Judge
Louis Rushmore, Editor
“Why was Deborah able to be a judge?” someone asks. The question arises out of the awareness that God designed different roles for men and women, especially in the home and in the church. “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says” (1 Corinthians 14:34 NKJV). In addition, Deborah was the only female judge among the 15 Old Testament judges that acted on God’s behalf before the era of the Israelite kings.
Most of the judges about which one reads in the Book of Judges were not religious officers. They were charismatic personalities raised up by God in troublesome times to encourage the Israelites to throw off their oppressors. Their duties were more of a civil type than a ceremonial religious nature. The judges were local heroes rather than governors of all the Israelites, and Deborah was the person for the job at hand when she arose to the occasion. Essentially, Deborah was a judge in Israel because God said so, implied from her being a prophetess (Judge 4:4) and the lack of divine criticism for her activities recorded in the Book of Judges, which was divinely inspired.
Is the Church of
Christ a Denomination?
Louis Rushmore, Editor
“Is the church of Christ a denomination?” someone inquired. That depends on the definition consulted. Contemporary dictionary definitions for the word “denomination” include: “a religious organization whose congregations are united in their adherence to its beliefs and practices” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) and “a religious group, usually including many local churches, often larger than a sect: the Lutheran denomination” (Dictionary.com).
The churches of Christ make up a worldwide religious organization, and its congregations are united in their adherence to the Bible and the New Testament in particular for their beliefs and practices. Furthermore, the churches of Christ are comprised of many local churches and are larger than a sect. It would seem by those contemporary definitions for the word “denomination” that the answer would be “Yes” to the question, “Is the Church of Christ a denomination?”
However, absent from the definitions cited are some important factors regarding denominations. Denominations typically have earthly, centralized headquarters that control their member congregations, siphon funds from them and from which the church leaders issue forth often evolving but obligatory doctrinal requirements. There are various cities around the globe in which the denominations had their beginning, and they began in numerous, different years over the centuries.
The churches of Christ in contrast do not have an earthly, centralized headquarters. Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, and He rules from Heaven. Each congregation independently governs itself and spends its funds at its own discretion in service to our Lord. In addition, there is no doctrine to legislate forasmuch as the New Testament is complete (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3) and final (Jude 3) as well as the sole doctrine of the churches of Christ (Galatians 1:6-9). Finally, the church of Christ had its beginning nearly 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem (Acts 2) in fulfillment of numerous prophecies (Isaiah 2:2-3; Daniel 2:31-45). From these considerations, the churches of Christ are unlike denominations.
The word “denomination” did not come into the English language until the 1400’s, and the first denomination (after the Roman Catholic Church) did not come into existence until 1529 (Lutheran Church). However, the churches of Christ (Romans 16:16), also known biblically as the church of God (1 Corinthians 1:2) among other scriptural designations, predates Catholicism by about 600 years and predates Lutheranism by approximately 1,500 years. The churches of Christ are older than denominationalism besides being different from denominationalism.
My recommendation to honest hearts and truth seekers is to identify with the church of the Bible that Jesus Christ died to establish (Acts 20:28), over which He is the Head (Colossians 1:18) and for which one day He will return to retrieve (John 14:1-3). Manmade substitutes in place of the Lord’s church may be more palatable to humans, but nothing manmade is an adequate and enduring alternative to the church about which anyone can read on the pages of the New Testament.