Churches of Christ
by King McCarver
Beech Hill Church of Christ
Writing to the saints in Rome (Romans 1:7), Paul encouraged them with a reminder of their place in a great association: “All the churches of Christ salute you” (16:16). Paul had served as a preacher of Jesus the Son of God (Acts 9:20; 2 Corinthians 1:19; Romans 1:1-5) for twenty to twenty-five years by the time he wrote his Epistle to the Romans. He knew of many congregations of the Lord’s people, and he had been a founder or co-founder of some of those churches. Based on his knowledge of the church in numerous places because of his work and his travels, and by virtue of his role as an apostle appointed by Christ himself, Paul could represent many congregations in sending greetings to the saints in Rome.
The apostle who spoke for the “churches of Christ” was a servant of Jesus Christ (1:1). He served no religious denomination. He did not acknowledge Peter as pope. He did not regard the church in Jerusalem as the official headquarters for all the congregations from Judea to Italy. But he served Christ and recognized him as the one Lord of all the saints. Risen from the dead, Jesus Christ reigns. Headquarters is in heaven. All his people, whether Jews or Gentiles, have been reconciled to God and justified by one gospel plan of salvation (chapters 4-11). In Christ the widely scattered churches (congregations) are one people (chapters 15-16).
“Churches of Christ” is not a denominational name. It is even today a reference to congregations in many localities where the Lord’s people love him and serve him, following his teaching and proclaiming the gospel to others. They do not constitute a denominational association. Though such congregations are in fellowship with each other, they do not aspire to become a denomination; indeed, they resist the religious world’s insistence on labeling them as a denomination.
The determination of denominationalists to label every “Christian” group as a denomination reveals either their ignorance of New Testament teaching about the church or their willful rejection of that teaching. We hope that their mistake in this matter is one of misunderstanding and not an evidence of stubborn rejection of God’s word.
We observed recently in front of a church building a sign that quoted Ephesians 4:5: “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism.” The denominational group responsible for the sign would do well to contemplate the preceding verse, which states that there is “one body.” The failure to understand and to receive the New Testament teaching about that “one body” is a crippling characteristic of all denominationalism.
Beech Hill Church of Christ Bulletin (26 August 2007), 2.