In Genesis 11:9 we have a historical account that has several valuable lessons in it. In verse 1 (NASV) we read:

"Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words."

Can you imagine that kind of world condition? Can you even conceive of that situation among God's people - the "same language and the same words?"

The people came to the land of Shinar and decided to settle there. God had instructed them to "be fruitful and multiply; populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it" (Gen. 9:7). They had learned how to make bricks and tar for mortar. They decided to build themselves a city, with a tower of great height, apparently as their headquarters and control station "so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."

In verse 6:

The Lord said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them" (NIV).

Note these facts:

(1) They were acting "as one people " in what they were doing. They were united, joined and working together.

(2) They were "speaking the same language." As v. 1 puts it they even had "the same words." This ensured understanding and the ability to work together.

(3) They had a common goal or purpose - "they have begun to do this" [build the city and tower]. They agreed upon the objective and all were committed to a definite purpose, a common cause.

(4) The above are the ingredients that ensure success in any endeavor. Long ago people had learned what it takes to be successful as a people, as a group, or as an individual.

Observe that "if," upon the condition that "As one people,'' united for a common objective, "speaking the same language" to ensure the needed oneness in understanding and in following directions, "then," under these conditions, God declares that "nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them." They had the guarantee for success in their endeavor. Oh, if only God's people could learn and practice these principles.

(5) Because God knew that they would succeed and flaunt themselves against His will, He said:

"Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."

The building of the city stopped. Because of the confusion of their language, they were thus scattered -separated and divided "over all the earth." The place was called "Babel - because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world."

The vital point we need to learn here is that where there is confusion in language and words people can not live and work together. They will be alienated and divided. Absolutely essential to God's people living and working together to do God's will is to have "the same language and the same words."

Confucius once was asked what he would do first if he were to administer a country.

"It would certainly be to correct language," he replied.
His listeners were surprised. "Why?" they asked.
His answer: "If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not meant, then what ought to be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals, and arts will deteriorate; if morals and arts deteriorate, justice will go astray; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence, there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything."

Ah, the wisdom of Confucius. But before him there was God Almighty who, in His infinite wisdom, knew the great value of having "the same language and the same words." He also knew the results when such a condition did not prevail, as we have seen at Babel.

Timothy was urged to "retain the standard of sound words" (2 Tim. 1:13). Titus was to teach young men to be "sound in speech" {2:8). Paul emphasized that the things God had revealed to the apostles by the Holy Spirit were "things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those [words] taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words" (1 Cor. 2:13). The Holy Spirit ensured that the words used were the proper words to express the "spiritual thoughts." Spiritual thoughts expressed with spiritual words -- that is the combination we need today. Words are vital. We must be highly concerned about the words we use in trying to express spiritual thoughts. The Greek words have been translated into English words of equivalent meaning (in most cases) so we can read and understand the revelation made through the apostles (cf. Eph. 3:3-4).

In Nehemiah 13:23-24 we read of the sad situation in Judah where "half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod or the language of one of the other peoples, and did not know how to speak the language of Judah." This condition represents the condition of God's people today. Our speech is corrupted and the result is confusion, division, and failure in understanding the language of the Spirit. Like Peter, our speech betrays us. We have partaken freely of the language of the nations around us and do not know how to speak the pure language of the Scriptures. Even if we use the words we often give them a different meaning from that in Scriptures.

Language and words are powerful. Words are signs of ideas, the vehicles of thought. Voltaire once proclaimed: "If you would converse with me, first, define your terms." This is vital. Another has said that the way men commonly use words borders on insanity. Stuart Chase called words "tyrants." Irving Lee stated that most language habits lead to "confusion, misunderstanding, and conflict." All this emphasizes the importance of God's people all having "the same language and the same words." And these words must have an agreed upon meaning for us to understand one another.

As Confucius said, "there must be no arbitrariness in what is said." That means that we, as Christians, cannot have the attitude of Humpty Dumpty: "Words mean just what I want them to mean." Too much is at stake for that kind of uncertainty in language.

There is an abundance of arbitrariness in language and words today, even among God's children in our relationships one with another. The same words mean different things to different people.

Our claim to "speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where it is silent" is often just so much falsehood. We even have the audacity to claim that "we call Bible things by Bible names and do Bible things in Bible ways.." On occasion we may do that, but for the most part it is not true. We even call non-biblical things by Bible names and Bible things by non-biblical names. Our speech is corrupted - it is rotten'. We do not understand one another and confusion reigns.

We must understand that language, the use of words, is often used to conceal rather than to reveal. Sophistry, caviling, double-talk, and deliberate misuse of words are found in every area of life. Lawyers often use their legal mumbo-jumbo to confuse. The client certainly needs a high-priced legal beaver because he can't understand all that stuff. The legal profession has written our laws in a fashion that assures that they will always have a job!

The best simple definition of communication I know is "an exchange of meaning." The "meaning" (idea, teaching, etc.) in the mind of one person is to be reproduced in the mind of another person or group. This is done with symbols, words being the most important and common symbols. This means that both parties must have the same meaning for the words used. For example, if the word "church" means a building to the speaker and it means a religious organization to the listener, they have not communicated; there has been no exchange of meaning. Only confusion or misunderstanding results. If we are to understand each other there must be no arbitrariness in the use of words. We must precisely define our terms. In Churches of Christ this is where we fail miserably. The result is confusion, misunderstanding, and division.

The purpose of this article is to demonstrate examples of our confused, non-biblical, anti-scriptural speech. We have developed a large vocabulary of words, terms, and names that do not come from the Bible. They convey the concepts and doctrines of men. They are used to mislead and deceive; to conceal rather than reveal, to sound wise when one is otherwise!

Categories of Language Corruption

Christianity

That is a familiar word to all of us and is used often by our people, especially by preachers. What does the word mean?

Webster says the word means "the Christian religion, founded on the teaching of Jesus. A particular system of the Christian religion." He also tells us that the word "Christendom" is an equivalent of "Christianity." In other words, the whole world of Christendom, all the multitudes of religious systems (Catholic, Methodist, Pentecostal, Baptist, Lutheran, Christian Church, and the Church of Christ) are included in the words "Christianity" and ·"Christendom." And that is exactly the way most people understand the word. It covers everything: every religion, that claims any connection to Christ. Let that vital fact sink into your mind real good. Think about what the word actually means in common usage.

In Churches of Christ and the Independent Christian Churches, that is, among the adherents to these religious bodies or movements, the word "Christianity" is often used It is commonly used as an acceptable term to describe their religion, their church.

I recently heard a preacher (a very good man) preach, a sermon on "Is Christianity Worthwhile?" He strongly avowed that it is. He never defined the word. Did he mean that all of "Christianity" or "Christendom" is worthwhile, Biblical, and from God? Well, that is what he affirmed whether intended or not. Hence, in effect be taught that all religions claiming any connection with Christ are '"worthwhile."

Preachers urge us to take Christianity seriously. We are even told that to ignore "Christianity" leads to great evil and even eternal death. I mean this kind of careless talk comes from the mouth and pen of C of C and Christian Church clergy. Is "Christianity" really what we are to accept and follow? Is one brand of it (Catholic, Methodist, etc.) as good as another and it all comes from God. Surely we don't believe that. if not, why do we talk that way?

Our preachers (of all shades and grades) use the word as if it is speaking where the Bible speaks, One preacher/editor has written a series of articles under the heading of "Restoring New Testament Christianity." Is Christianity" really a NT product? Are there different brands of it, one of which is a NT variety? What does one restore if it is restored? This brother even edits a paper called "Christianity Magazine ," dedicated to the cause of "Christianity," advocating "Christianity" as if it is found in the word of' God. It is shameful to give acceptance and prominence to such an ambiguous, misleading name.

Years ago Florida College chopped the word "Christian" from its name, rightly so. Now a greater error has
occurred in the paper which advocates Christianity, just as does the older conservative protestant journal called Christianity Today. Both magazines advocate the same thing - Christianity! And our brethren actually claim to speak where the Bible speaks. Ridiculous!

Sometimes preachers talk of "pure Christianity." In the C of C there are several brands of it, each brand claiming to be the "pure," loyal, sound kind. Why can't we clean up our speech and live up to our claim to call Bible things by Bible names and shed all the denominational jargon we have borrowed from them? Christianity is not a Bible thing and it is not a Bible name. It is loose talk and gives a very confusing message.

We also misuse and abuse the name Christian . It appears only three times in Scripture, each time as a proper noun; never as an adjective. Our people speak of (1) a Christian home, (2) a Christian father or Christian mother, (3) a Christian nation, (4) a Christian gentleman or Christian lady, (5) Christian love, (6) Christian magazine, (7) Christian doctrine, (8) Christian marriage (9) Christian school, college, or university {every denomination has all of these), {10) the Christian world, and (11) the Christian church, to cite a few examples. In all these cases the word is used as an adjective, and without any clear meaning. Most of these used by all religious groups to convey various ideas.

Why do we fling around this precious word so carelessly? We picked up its use from the denominations around us. They speak this way and did so long before we took up the habit.

Titles/Names for our Preachers/Clergy

This is another area where confusion abounds in our speech. In the last fifty years there has developed a multitude of titles and names for our clergy. The reason for this is that we have developed an entire clergy system with all if its necessary parts. Just looking at the titles/names alone and what they mean, should give us some idea of how far into denominationalism we have drifted.

Let me list some of these and you check to see if any of them, or their equivalent, are found in the NT, as they are used today . This is not to say that everyone of them is anti-scriptural, but it is to point out that none of them - as we use them today - is found in God's word. For example, the word "preacher" is indeed found in the NT, but it in no way refers to one like our modern hired "located preacher" or "pulpit preacher" who is an employee of the local church institution. Also, the word "minister" is there, but not the big "M" type (or title) who is employed as the "full time Pulpit Minister" of the North Terrace C of C, for example.

Here are some of' the titles of our clergyman: The Pulpit Minister · The Located Minister · Minister of the Lakeview C of C · Youth Minister · Hospital Minister · Minister of Involvement · Minister of Discipleship · Minister of Concern · Campus Minister · Associate Minister · Singles Minister · Minister to the Elderly · Minister of Outreach · The Located Preacher · "The full time public servant of the church" · Education Minister · Ministry Leader · The Located Evangelist · Church Growth Specialist · My Minister · "Our Pastor."

I am sure there are others, but the above gives some idea of the confusion of unscriptural concepts which has given rise to the necessity for titles and terms not found in the NT; at least, not as they are used today.

Our clergy system has brought on such things as the (1) "Ministerial compensation package," (2) "Minister and Church Referral Service" (one of the employment agencies and interviews" for
for Churches of Christ), (3) "try outs" and "interviews" for minister jobs, (4) preacher resumes, 5) "intern training," (6) dozens of "Schools for preachers," (7) Center for Biblical Studies for Ministers who are seeking a "Master of Divinity" or "Doctor of Ministry" degree, and (8) the "Ministerial training" offered by all C of C colleges and universities. Whatever the other denominations have we must have because the C of C (all segments) and the Independent Christian Churches (CC) are following them.

So far as I know none of our preachers yet use the title of "Father" or "Reverend," but in time they likely will do so. It is increasingly common to hear the hired preacher called "pastor." Certainly we could correctly refer to him as a "church employee." He is hired, could we speak of him as a hireling?

Our "Movements," "Heresies,"
and "Isms"

"Abuse of words has been the great instrument of sophistry and chicanery, of party, faction, and division of society." -- John Adams (1819).

The Church of Christ (C of C) is richly "blessed" with an abundance of the above. Let me name a few. See how many of the following you can identify and accurately explain what they are supposed to mean.

(1) The Grace--Unity Movement. It is sometimes called "The Unity-In-Diversity Movement" or "Heresy." The latest version is "The NEW Unity Movement."

(2) The Crossroads Movement. Sometimes this is simply, called "Crossroadism."
It should be understood that preachers are the originators and primary users of all these labels and terms. "The people in the pews (YOU) are in no way responsible for starting such an identification system nor for causing the trouble and divisions over such.

(3) The Liberal Movement.

(4) The Ultra-Liberal Movement

(5) The Conservative Movement. Yes, as in politics, you can be assured that we have "The Ultra- Conservative Movement."

(6) The Anti Movement. This is sometimes spoken of as "Anti-ism."

(7) The Grace-Fellowship Movement. This is closely related to number 1.

(8) The Premillenial Movement. This is often spoken of as "Premillenialism."

(9) The Divorce and Remarriage Heresy. It is also called a "Movement."

(10)The Anti-Orphan Home Movement. Also called a "heresy" by some. Surely if there is such a "Movement" as this, there must be a "Pro-Orphan Home Movement."

(11) The Anti-Cooperation Movement. Obviously there must be "The Pro-Cooperation Movement.

(12) The Institutional Movement. This brings on "The Anti-Institutional Movement."

(13) The Ketcherside-Garrett Movement. Also called a "Heresy" and by other unsavory references to make it a "hiss and a by-word."

(14) "The Individualism Movement." This is perhaps the latest "Movement" or "Heresy" among us. The inventors of this brand or name have given me the dubious honor of being the "Founder" of this "Movement." I did not know I had done such a thing until these preachers decided that was what I had done and announced it, with strong warnings to one and all to beware of this "movement." I have no idea how l did such a thing. It must have been an accident. But like the fellow years ago who was to be "tarred and feathered" and run out of town, if it wasn't for the "honor" of the situation I had as soon have no part in such!

If there is such a thing as "The Individualism Movement," then there must be "The Anti-Individualism Movement." I suppose, therefore, that these preachers who have originated "The Individualism Movement" name must be the founders of "The Anti-Individualism Movement." Can you imagine any preacher being against the individual?

(15) The Church Growth Movement

(16) The Restoration Movement. You have heard about this one I am sure. Some preachers specialize as experts concerning this movement. They preach on it, write about it, and feature it as something of vital importance to Christians in their relationship to God. Thomas and Alexander Campbell are said to be the founders of this movement, but they never attempted to "restore" the NT church and even if they did, they had nothing in mind like the C of C church or the CC today. One good brother has written a large book on "The Stone-Campbell Movement," which I suppose is another name for the above.

(17) The October issue of Contending For the Faith has just arrived and Ira Rice, Jr. has uncovered another heresy - the "All Grace - No Law Heresy." This issue is largely devoted to exposing this awful "heresy" and blackballing those he thinks believe it.

Well, so much for a listing of "Movements." Let me throw in a few additional terms that our clergy use quite often.

(18) The Current Issues. Do you know what these are? There are Past Issues obviously. Some preachers have an "Issues" mind set. They hunt for them, manufacture them, feature them, and spend a lot of time preaching and writing on them, condemning them and any preacher who may be (in their judgment) involved with the particular "issue" being opposed. It is a lot like shadow boxing. It gives these preachers something to do, but is of little benefit.

(19) Legalism. Just what is that? Precisely.

(20) Modernism. It comes in all shapes and sizes it appears.

(21) Secular Humanism. This is a "hot" item now.

(22) Theology. More and more preachers spend time studying and preaching whatever this is.

(23) Hobbyism. Does this have reference to golf as a hobby?

(24) Liberalism. A lot of ideas, positions, teachings are so labeled.

(25) Master of Divinity. Would you recognize one?

(26) Doctor of Ministry. Does he wear a clerk, collar?

Enough? Reflect back on all this and consider what has happened to produce all the confusion and division among us. It is all involved in destructive efforts which will destroy us as faithful people of God.

Churches of Christ are in a tragic condition, a first-class mess. Generally, "church members" have no knowledge of what is going on. Our corrupt speech is a major symptom of deep-seated problems. The implementation of denominational and sectarian practices is sweeping our brotherhood· The corporate body institutional structure called "the local church," with all its necessary parts (the corporate Board of Directors, the clergy system, corporate worship, corporate treasury, increasingly larger and more elaborate, expensive buildings, etc.) brings the loss of conformance with NT teaching.

Look back at the quotation from John Adams. No truer words could be spoken of the current abuse and use of words on the part of our clergy. Words are a "great instrument of sophistry and chicanery," all kinds of deception and confusion. Preachers are, in my opinion, responsible for 95% of the alienation, parties, factions, and division among us today. You - the people in the pews - did not bring these about. You are the victims· Only you can stop it!

Norman L. Parks recently wrote me as follows: "I am convinced of one thing: if we would fire all of our professional clergy and then re-employ them to do ex-elusive evangelistic work, we would be a new movement." I agree. The world is lost in sin and we keep all these hired preachers in the pulpits in our buildings talking to us! Can you imagine a "Pulpit Minister" being an "Evangelist?" Evangelizing, doing the work of an evangelist, is not "filling a pulpit" talking to the same people all the time. Of course, that is where the money is and the "work" is easy. Most preachers don't have much to do. That is evident by the weak, insipid talks they make that they call "sermons." We need to turn them into "evangelists'' and send them out into the world to preach the gospel to the lost. My fear is, however, that most of them don't know the gospel and can't preach it! There is a lot of' difference between the gospel of Christ and the theology of the Church of Christ!

Open your eyes and heart -- recognize the facts and act upon the truth they tell. Our clergy system is our curse and will lead to our doom as far as any claim to being nondenominational, Christians only and only Christians· Wake up, my people, your destiny is in your hands!

Terms/Names Relating to the Church

It is in this area that we have gone wild! Let me enumerate some expressions, terms, and names in common use today. While some of them may not be anti-scriptural, neither the language nor the meaning, as used today, are in the NT. You may not use or accept all of these as right, but all are in common use among C of C people.

We have "the local church" (which is an institution) and "the universal church" (not an institution), terms now familiar to most of us. But have you learned about "the local collectivity" or "the local fellowship?" These are euphemisms invented by preachers and supposedly mean the same as "the local church" corporate body. These terms, none of them, do not refer merely to God's people, redeemed individuals. All of them are used with reference to "the local church" which our preachers tell us is a functional unit, an organization, or corporate body like AT & T, Sears and Walmart. "The local collectivity" is a legal entity that functions in its own name. It is separate and distinct from the people who compose it.

In recent years there are preachers who, in desperation to justify these erroneous concepts and practices as Scriptural, now speak of "the local body of Christ," "the local kingdom of Christ," and "the local family of Christ," all of which are supposed to be the equivalent of "the local C of C." Now recall what "the local church" is! This means each of these designations has reference to a functional unit, organization, institution, or corporate body just like Walmart and Sears!

Can't you see the folly of all that? This means that Christ does not have just "one body" as is plainly affirmed in the NT, but that He has thousands of "bodies," for wherever there is "the local church" there is "the local body of Christ." And "the local kingdom" and "the local family." Isn't that ridiculous?

Once more let me drive home for you that all these preachers believe and preach that "every local church of Christ is an organized, functional, institutional entity (body corporate)," to quote the teaching of J.T. Smith in public debate. Very few preachers to my knowledge have repudiated this view. They are uncomfortable and embarrassed to have the doctrine so plainly stated, but they all must accept this view. If not, very few of them has had the conviction, courage, and integrity to repudiate this denominational, anti-scriptural position.

If the position is true, then Christ has thousands of bodies, thousands of kingdoms, and thousands of families. These preachers need to rewrite the NT.

Here in the Chattanooga area there are about 35 "local churches." It follows, therefore, that in this area there are 35 "local bodies of Christ," 35 "local kingdoms of Christ," and 35 "local families of Christ." Do you believe this wild and ludicrous teaching? If not, speak up and stand up against it. Ask your minister about this, if he believes it. Ask the elders where you attend if that is what they believe and teach. Talk with other Christians about this doctrine. Wake up!

Not only is the above being taught, but the follow-up to it is "that every disciple of Christ is required to join (become a part of) such a formal organization..." as the local" church - local body, - local kingdom - local family! Get it, please, even though you obey the gospel as the people did on Pentecost and the Lord adds you to the number of the saved, that is not enough! No! You are also "required" by God to "join" or "become a part of," "place membership in" a "local church" formal organization, which means that you must "join" or "become a member of," "place membership in" a local body of Christ, a local kingdom of Christ, a local family of Christ! It is absurd! This is a mutilating and perversion of God's word by desperate preachers who must hold on to their idol - "the local church, institutional, functional unit concept." "The local church" hires and pays them! Upon it they depend for their livelihood. They dare not bite the hand that feeds them. The clergy system has taken control! You are victimized by these preachers. You pay the tab, with neither voice nor vote! Like the Catholic laity, you are afraid to oppose the clergy and the Eldership with the supreme authority that preachers have given to that governing body. You are taught that to obey the Elders is to obey Christ; and to disobey the elders is to disobey Christ. And the preachers control the elders in the majority of church organizations! You accept this slavery, like the Catholic, and go along ignorant and fearful. Many do not want to know the truth about these matters and place their faith in the preachers (clergy) to guide and direct them to heaven. It is easy. You feel secure just being "a faithful member of the church" organization and doing as you are told.

Wake up! Your trust is in "lying words."

But I want to press the point even harder. Our preachers have given us the denomination name (identity) of Church of Christ. It is the exclusive name used. That is the one they put on the sign out in front of the building. No other name will do or is ever used. Yet they try to deceive us with the claim that other names could be used. Let me discuss this with you.

On the sign board in front of the building we read: North Terrace Church of Christ. That really says to the world that the material structure, the building, is the North Terrace C of C. If someone inquires if there is a C of C in town, they are told where to find the one on North Terrace; for the building is, by our corrupted speech, the North Terrace C of C.

Look at all the C of C ads in such papers as Searching the Scriptures, and Guardian of Truth, two papers aligned exclusively with the "Anti," or so-called "Conservative Churches of Christ." In my opinion, this church ad business is the biggest financial rip-off going at the present! The ads are not worth shucks to the churches. Take a look and you will see that each of these papers rakes in a financial bonanza amounting to $16-$18,000 per year from the 3-41/2 pages of ads. The "church ad business" is a highly profitable business!

The only "value" to the "anti brethren" is that their faithful can find out "where to worship" with a "faithful church" when they travel. God knows that they must never be caught "attending church" at any church (see the confusion in our corrupted speech?) that not fully aligned with the "anti" segment! To "attend church" at a "liberal church" is little short of the sin against the Holy Spirit! If anyone does per chance do such a thing, he must repent, confess his sin and be "restored." This is sectarianism gone to seed.

Perhaps there is another value to the "anti" churches which donate $75 each year to these papers and place a "church ad." This is one way to publically declare to that brotherhood that that church is a faithful, sound church, properly and exclusively aligned with the "Anti" Church of Christ Churches. It is a sort of creedal declaration of their faith and doctrinal stance.

Now back to the main theme.

It would be good to see these preachers practice what they claim to believe. Let them be consistent and on their sign board and letterhead use any of these names:

Lakeview Body of Christ
North Terrace Kingdom of Christ
East Brainerd Family of Christ
The North Hixson Priesthood of Christ
Northern Kentucky Holy Nation of Christ

All of the above are the equivalent, of  "the local church." Ask your preacher if it would be scriptural to use any of those terms on the sign board or letterhead. If not, ask why not? Let them practice what they preach about it.

Additional Terms

Let me get on with more terms relating to the church which are not used in the Scriptures. These represent our common speech, especially of preachers. Words are the conveyors of ideas and concepts - teaching.

In my lifetime preachers have crystallized into creedal positions such things as: (1) local church autonomy, (2) local church independence, (3) equality of each local church, (4) church cooperation, (5) church treasury, (6) church fellowship, (7) C of C members, (8) church work, and (9) "congregations of the C of C."

Definitely we have a church building craze, a building is absolutely essential in our day, almost the first and highest requirement for "the local church." It is the organizational headquarters. Then our unscriptural, denomination language calls for church plantings, start a church, establish a church, organize a church, "grow a church," disbanded the church. We speak of the C of C Church, C of C preacher (we have a multitude of these preachers!); "I am a Church of Christ," "belong to 5th & Highland C of C," "the brotherhood of churches of Christ," a "sister church," "the parent church," the oldest church, the newest church, the mother church, and he "joined the church."

All of the above calls for church services, church kitchen, church kindergarten, church nursery, church picnic, church yard, church staff, church plant, church secretary, church officers, and a church directory. Obviously there must be "the worship services" which is the main function of the corporate church organization.

In view of all this, the members "go to church," "attend church," and some ride the "church bus." After this they claim that "I've been to church," "I love my church," "our church is growing," and "I attend church at Forest Hills C of C in Tampa."

However, each one must be certain that they "attend church" only at a sound church or a faithful church, not at a "liberal church," "anti-church," a "digressive church," and absolutely not at a "Crossroads church." One must find a "liberal church," or it's all in vain. One must avoid Christian Church churches, and, of course, all of those denomination churches!

One corporate church "built a $2 million church," one "bought a church," one "painted the church," while another actually "moved the church."

One Fort Worth group claims that "our church is located at 1025 Merritt St.," and one even avows that they "added two new wings to our church." We do some amazing things with, to, and in the church!

C of C preachers and members talk of such things as starting a church, establishing a church, organizing a church, cleaning up the church, remodeling the church, enlarged the church, air conditioned the church, and "our business is to restore the church."

Even though I have already alluded to it., I must emphasize that nowhere in the NT do we read of the division and separation of the saints unto Autonomous (self-governing), independent functioning units; such as (]1) College Park C of C, (2) Fry Road C of C, (3) Timberland Dr. C of C, or (4) Boston St. C of C. There was never a plurality of churches in any city mentioned in the NT. All of this theology of the independent, autonomous local church corporation is from men, not from God. Check it out for yourself. No NT writer ever discussed such. The basis for all this is built upon a hodge-podge of scriptures that necessitates a pre-conceived position that these devotees want to "prove" is scriptural. It is our idol, we've got it, now let's find scriptural justification for it. In the same way, the Baptist Church preacher finds proof for the Baptist Church.

Every time the word "church" (ecclesia) is used with reference to a city, it is always in the singular! We never read of the "Churches of Christ in Jerusalem," or any other city. Why? Obviously because God's people were not divided into independent, autonomous functional institutions ("local churches") like we have it today. The whole concept came from Catholicism and other denominations. That is the way they are set up and operate. No NT disciple was ever a "member" of anything like our modern, man-devised "local church" institutions.

All the saints in a city were regarded as "the church" (ecclesia) or assembly of the Lord in that city. Hence, "the church of God at Corinth" (1 Cor. 1:2) means that portion or part of God's people at Corinth. We read of' the church in Ephesus, in Sardis, in Antioch, etc. All the saved everywhere make up "the church (people) of the Lord." Whatever the word "church" (ecclesia) means in Matt. 16:18, it always means the same in every other place used! It means "assembly" or "congregation," without even any indication in the word itself as to the kind of assembly or congregation it is. In Acts 19 the word ecclesia is used three times to refer to a mob and once to a "lawful assembly." In Matt. 16:18 it is "My assembly," the assembly belonging to Christ. So we must have some modifier to tell us what it meant. The word ecclesia means assembly, congregation, or gathering. That's all! You cannot tell from the word itself that it is anything but the whole of whatever assembly is referred to. If you need to speak of a part of that assembly, then you must modify it someway; by the context or by a specific modifier, such as "the assembly of God in Corinth." It always refers lo the whole or total assembly (ecclesia) unless restricted by a modifying phrase or the context.

It is true that we read of "churches," plural, in the NT, but only when referring to a country, a region, or a plurality of cities. Apparently because in the cities of the country there could be found some of the church; a part or portion of God's people in these various cities. If you don't agree with my explanation, then you can tell us why the Holy Spirit always made such a precise, restricted use of the singular word "church" and the plural word "churches."

In the NT we read nothing about "church officials" or "the officers of the church."

Where in the NT can one learn about "corporate worship," "corporate works," "corporate family," or that vitally important "corporate treasury," so essential for paying the employees of the "corporate church" and otherwise pay the financial obligations of that functional unit? Is there a "corporate local kingdom," a "corporate local body" also? Maybe there is a "corporate local Priesthood" and even a "corporate local Holy Nation."

In the NT there is no such thing as "Children's Church" or "Children's Worship" as many C of C churches have it today; borrowed from the other denominations, of course. We copy-cat everything they do it seems. No one was concerned with "the image of the church" nor with "taking the church to the world." They did not have a "church sanctuary" and never had a special dedication service for a sanctuary or even a church building. The Lord's disciples were so ignorant that they never had a "puppet show" to teach the children. As far as I can tell they never even had a Sunday School that enrolled people from the cradle to the grave. Not even a SS superintendent. There was no Fellowship Hall, Family Life Center, no recreational facility of any sort, and never did the Central C of C in Jerusalem engage the Northside Pharisees in a softball tournament.

They had no parochial schools of any sort to protect the children from the evils of the day and help keep them in a sheltered environment with minimum contact with the people around them. They had no Bible colleges. They had no school for training a professional ministerial class or caste; nor any Center for Biblical Studies for training theologians, Masters of Divinity, or even Doctors of Ministry. They certainly did not pour millions of dollars into real estate and buildings for any reason! These material things which are so vital to the C of C church today were not needed and were of no interest. These things came with the development of the great apostacy - Roman Catholicism.

Subjects Not Preached

The apostles and early disciples never preached/taught on such subjects as:

(1) The Identity of' the Church

(2) The Marks of the True Church

(3) How to Become a Member of the Church

(4) The Worship of the Church

(5) The Organization of the Church

(6) Why I am a Member of the Church of Christ

(7) How to Grow a Church

(8) How to Start a Church (and they never "started a church.")

(9) Building a Strong Church

(10) The New Testament Church

(11) Church Membership

(12) Church Government

(13) The Authority of the Church

(14) The Mission of the Church

(15) What Church Membership Means

(16) Membership - Its Responsibilities

(17) Salvation and Church Membership

(18) The Undenominational Character of the Church

(19) The Scriptural Name of the Church

(20) Church Finances

(21) The Sufficiency of the Church of Christ

{22) The Autonomy of the Local Church

(23) The Church and the Christian Individual

The last one is a complicated piece of twisting and turning of the Scriptures to "prove" that there are "some individual Christian duties that cannot be performed by the Church." The "local Church" has its assigned (by the Lord) duties that only this functional unit can perform with the Lord's approval. Whatever these "duties" are cannot be performed by the individual nor by a group of individuals acting conjointly, according to this new theory. The idea is that "the local church" is not the individual Christians acting together in praying, singing, studying the word, etc., on their own initiative. Preachers are now telling us that "the local church" does not even exist until and unless the disciples form or constitute themselves into such a formal organization which then acts as any other organization. What is done by the organization is not the action of individual saints (even though they do it!) but it is the action of the Temple Terrace Church of Christ - a formal organization.

The teaching is that there are "some duties assigned both to the Christian Individual and the Church." Did you know that? Where in the Scripture is there any teaching showing that Jesus Christ has ever assigned any duty to any formal organic institution, even one called "South End Church of Christ" in Louisville? Please tell what these duties are. Question: If the Lord has assigned "some duties" to "the local church," will the church as an organization be held accountable and judged at the final judgment? Will "the church ," which is distinct from the individuals who compose it, stand before God to be judged?

To preach on these subjects, the preacher has to do it in piece-meal fashion, a part of a verse here and another verse there. It is to "ransack" the Scriptures, often lifting passages out of context. The basic error is the assumption that such subjects are dealt with at all. Back of that assumption lies the broader assumption that there is "the local church" organization set forth in God's word. It isn't! We've got our idol, "the local church," and we intend to retrofit (scrap) the scriptures to "prove it."

The Baptist preachers "prove" that the local Baptist Church is scriptural in the same way our preachers justify, "the local church" operation. Let's get honest about it. If we are going to have the "local church" functional unit (entity), then let's admit and openly acknowledge that such an institution is not taught in God's word; and it isn't. That is the necessary first step. Then we can try to establish its value as an expedient method for Christians to work together in doing God's will. This is highly doubtful, but at least it is a legitimate appeal to God's word for the set-up. There is absolutely no "pattern" or requirement front God for "the local church" organization. But maybe in this day and age, some sort of "local organization" might be expedient, if not overdone and it is recognized for what it is.

Complicating God's Word

Some of our preachers labor hard to make the Bible a mysterious, complicated Book to understand. This is partially responsible for many C of C people doing so little study of God's word for themselves - they are made to believe that they can't understand it as God gave it to us. Hence, they must depend upon the scholars, logicians, lawyers, and those specially trained to explain it. Only our clergy can fathom its depths and understand it, so more and more people depend upon them for guidance, just like the Catholic laity depend upon their clergy-priests. The people blindly follow.

One minority group of brethren are devotees to the goddess of logic and philosophical human reasoning. They feature it, preach it, and their faith rests in it. So they preach about logic, syllogisms, major premises, minor premises, and conclusions. They speak knowingly of such things as "The Law of Rationality," "Conjunctive and Disjunctive Propositions," "The Argument ad Hominem," "The Law of Identity" "The Law of Contradiction," and "The Law of the Excluded Middle." (This last one really gets to me for I have been concerned for years with efforts at "excluding" some of my "middle!" Do you suppose this refers to some weight reduction program aimed specifically at how to "exclude" some of our middle section??)

They emphasize the necessity of understanding all this stuff, and properly using it, if you are ever to understand God's word and know for sure the absolute infallible truth on every question or doctrine! They can run any question or subject through their grist mill of logic (human reasoning) and grind out the answer that is right and cannot possibly be wrong. Their conclusions are as certain the exact teaching of the Lord as anything the apostles ever said or wrote. In fact, what these modern teachers deliver is probably (in their view) a notch or two higher and more inerrant than the revelation, through the apostles, of the Holy Spirit. The reason is that these modern "revealers" derive their teaching by logical deductions based upon correct use of human reasoning. The poor apostles did not know a syllogism from a hole in the ground and were therefore, severely handicapped. All they had going for them were the mere words and inspiration and revelation of the Spirit.

Even Jesus Himself erred; He did not understand. He told the apostles that when "the Spirit of truth is come He will guide you into all truth." But Jesus was wrong about that; the Spirit revealed only "explicit" truth through them. Nearly 1900 years must pass before all truth could be made known or declared! Then Thomas B. Warren, the Chief Logician and Human Reasoner for his sect, came on the scene. He found out that 400 years before Christ, Aristotle, founder of systematic logic and human reasoning, had provided the key that would "open up" the NT scriptures so that finally all truth could be derived therefrom. Now Warren, Deaver, and a few others are "revealing" to us all the "implicit" truth of God's word. And when they set it forth it is the same as absolute knowledge, infallibly and inerrantly derived as if God Himself gave it from some holy mount!

Do you understand (really) all this confusion about what God's word teaches explicitly and implicitly? Well, you must do so if you desire to be a good Bible student and learn the whole truth. These are terms often used by Brother Warren and his disciples. Let me help you come to grips with this "first essential of salvation" - understanding all this garbage (that's a good word to describe it!) of terms. This is necessary if you are to understand the system that is the "key" to understanding the Scriptures -- as they view it.

For nearly 1900 years the masses as well as the theologians and clergy were ignorant of thru system; they did not have this "key" that unlocks a large portion of God's truth. They had to get along as best they could with only what the Holy Spirit revealed through the apostles; that is, only with the "explicit" part of truth. "Explicit" simply means that part of truth which is clearly stated, expressed in definite statements, clear commands and facts. Things like "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved;" or "Except you repent you will perish." Of course, even these relatively simple "explicit" things can be made clearer if they are couched in logical terms of syllogistic form.

One fact seems apparent. The "explicit" portion of God's truth seems to be limited. After all of the "explicit" is said all of it is said. (See how logical I can get?) There is a limit to it.

Then there is that "implicit" part of truth. This means that vast part of truth that is implied by what is said. This portion has to be derived (deduced, inferred) from what is stated. So since this truth of God is there "implicitly," these brethren had to set up a "deriving" mechanism or system.

This "implicit" portion of truth seems to be unlimited. It is amazing what nitty-gritty "truths" can be learned from this source if one is an "implicit deducer specialist," who can use the "key" for finding all these absolute, binding truths buried in the "implicits" of the NT. The "key" (or deducing mechanism) is the correct use of logical schematics and human reasoning. There is a rather limited number of our preachers who are sufficiently trained and have the skills necessary to "pump out" the "implicit" grains of truth, buried in Holy Writ. Tom Warren is more or less recognized as the Chief of our "implicit specialists." Maybe he can be called the Head Master or Guru of this particular school of "implicit specialists." It is asserted, and even Warren himself seems to claim, that we can put our faith in any and all deduced conclusions that Warren sets forth. These are as much the absolute truth of God as any plain statement God has ever made. It is, therefore, as binding upon us as if God said it in "explicit" language.

You just can't beat a "system" like that. Infallible, inerrant, and delivered by an "all-knowing" one. It is "absolute knowledge!" Faith is no longer needed! Now you can know. This removes all question and doubt. For instance, you no longer should say, Yes, I believe that God exists. No! Now you can proclaim, "I know that God exists," with evidence as sure as certain as if you had seen Him with your eyes and heard Him with your ears. All of this absolute knowledge is yours because Brother Warren and company have shown God to you by their logic!

The poor apostles saw the Lord, heard and "handled" Him, but as Thomas put it, "Lord, I believe," not "Lord, I know ." He did not have the logical mechanism that moves one up from "faith" to absolute knowledge.

The thing about this is that it forces us to do one of two things if we want all the truth, especially all that truth in the "implicit" part of God's word. Either we must become "experts" in logic and human reasoning so we can correctly use the deducing mechanism to learn this truth for ourselves; or else we can put our "faith" in Tom Warren and the other specialists and accept and obey the "absolute truth" that they set forth as binding.

In this case, Paul's warning that our faith should not "stand in the wisdom of men," would not apply. Our faith would of necessity have to "stand in the wisdom of men," our own or in another! This is what "absolute knowledge" does - it forces a "faith in men" and a removal of faith in God.

Brethren, I am greatly concerned about "the wisdom of this world" that has made substantial inroads within the church of the Lord. It is a grave danger to us all. The best thing about all this logic and human reasoning is that it is such a complicated system that the majority will never take it seriously. They can't! We can't understand all that stuff!

Turning God's Word Into a Legal System

Preachers have turned the Bible (NT) into a system of laws, rules, and regulations that can only be understood and explained by our Doctors of the Law and our logicians - the Doctors of Philosophy and Logic. They have made it difficult to understand, a mystery of sorts, that yields it needed truths only to those who know the correct way to study the Bible!

Preachers should stop all this preaching and writing on "How to Study the Bible." Let me pull a little logical term on you. That very subject implies that there is some special "how," "way," "method," "system" or "key" to studying and understanding the Bible. Without this method, system or rules the Bible cannot be understood. This is the big lie! The Bible is the simplest, easy-to-understand Book ever written considering the subject it deals with; considering its development over 1600 years, with 40 different writers. God is the real author!

Do you want to know and understand what the Bible says? Yes? It is simple -- read it! Think as you read it. Read it again and again and again! It is amazing how easy it is to understand and how much clearer even some of the "difficult" parts become. If we will study it - read it - we can grow...in the knowledge of the truth (2 Pet. 3:18}. It is a matter of growth. We do not need any official interpreter. Praise God for the glorious fact that you are not dependent upon the church nor a clergy caste in learning His word!

Examples of Mystifying God's Word

I have recently been trying to re-read Thomas B. Warren's book "When Is An 'Example' Binding?" It is one of the most confused and bewildering pieces of theological and philosophical concoctions that I have ever read! If a person has to understand and be able to correctly use all that intricate system of interpretation in order to understand when an example is binding, then most of us will never know! For sure the author does not know!

You see what this sort of thing does? It forces you to depend upon one of these men of (vain) reasoning to figure it all out and hand it down to you! See how necessary these clergymen become? See how dependent upon them and their human system of reasoning you and I are? Without them we will die in ignorance of much of the truth of God!

The sad thing is that men actually are deceived into believing this vicious error.

Let me give an example of this modern Gnosticism. Chapter II is headed: Logic - The Principles of Valid Reasoning in Connection with the Study of the Bible." You see right off that the author believes that logic, the principles of valid reasoning, is connected with the study of the Bible. Now get this:

1. What is involved in any problem of Biblical Interpretation? Before anyone can be a good student of the Bible (i.e. accurately interpret the message God has for man), he must understand that the basic constituent elements of the total situation involved in Biblical interpretation (hermeneutics) are: (1)the total evidence (that which purports to be supportive of the conclusions drawn and/or asserted, (2) the handling of that evidence, and (3) the conclusions drawn from evidence by the handling of it..." (pg. 19).
Warren further asserts: "in this book, the aim is to stress the necessity of using, in connection with the explicit evidence in the Bible, the principles and rules of valid reasoning (logic)" (pg. 19).
Another statement: "In short, to learn what the Bible means, one must correctly apply the principle of logic to the totality of the statements of the entire Bible" (pg. 20).

Do you understand all that high sounding, fancy talk? As N.B. Hardeman used to put it, that is a hard effort to sound wise when one is otherwise. These brethren fancy themselves as deep scholars and profound thinkers. The Apostle Paul spoke of this kind of talk as "the wisdom of this world;" and that is just what it is.

Here is a man who brazenly asserts that being an expert in all phases of logic is essential to being a "good student of the Bible." It is the only way one can "accurately interpret the message God has for man," according to Warren. God have mercy upon us if that is true. As I have said before these brethren make the ability to correctly use logic the "key" to understanding God's word. If you do not have skill in the accurate use of logic, you are lost and without hope! Over and over in his book this view is asserted.

Let me show you another example of how complicated some preachers make the Bible, especially in this specific area of examples. The Bible isn't complicated nor hard to understand if clergy and the church did not cloud it with theology and human reason.

From a little book, "Walking By Faith," by Roy E. Cogdill (now deceased), a close friend and associate in years gone by, I offer an example.

In Chapter V, the author proposed to answer the question about "When Is a New Testament Example Binding?'' As can be seen by Warren's book and Cogdill's long chapter on this subject, this is a pretty tough, intricate, hair-splitting type of question. These two men, one a Ph.D. philosopher of sorts and the other an attorney have written to explain the details of how to find the answer. Both draw contradictory conclusions; and both are wrong. Both start off with an invalid assumption that there are times when a NT example is binding and times when one is not binding. (See how tricky finding the truth is?) They set forth their speculative judgments about when it is which. (Did you get that?) Both are wrong in their basic assumption and all their labor is in vain.

An Apostolic example is never binding! Never! Nowhere in the NT is there the slightest evidence that one is binding . In fact, none of the writers ever even alluded to this matter which has been so troublesome to our people.

Let me explain. These brethren mean that an apostolic (NT) example authorizes, but also excludes everything else if there is only that one example of some action that is approved by the Lord. For instance, they use Acts 20:7 as an approved example that excludes any other day save first day of the week for observing the Lord's Supper since that is all the information given relative to the day of observance, so it is asserted. Therefore, Christians are "bound" to that day only; and that example "excludes" every other day.

Now I must stop here to inject the fact that they are wrong in their assumption and assertion that there is no example (or teaching) of observing the Lords Supper on another day than Sunday. There is an example of the LS being observed on another day! This example is purposely ignored and passed over by both out' logician and our lawyer, as well as almost all of our people.

Jesus and His disciples observed the LS on Thursday evening! This is a plain statement of fact. It is in your NT three times! We ignore it. Why? It plays havoc with our preaching and practice! It knocks over Warren's and Cogdill's involved reasoning. What about Thursday evening observance of the Lord's Supper? There is a powerful example for it. Well, you handle it from here.

Cogdill argued, attorney-like, that a NT example can "bind upon God's people a practice or method to the exclusion of all others by example." Then he sets out "how...such exclusiveness" can be determined. Are you ready? Well, there are seven "Rules" or "Laws" by which this determination is to be made. Let me simply name them:
1. The Rule of Uniformity
2. The Rule of Unity
3. The Rule of Universal Application
4. The Law of Materiality
5. The Law of Competence
6. The Law of Limited Application
7. The Law of Exclusion

There you have it! Isn't it simple? Go to it and find out for yourself about this matter. It is so simple to understand the NT on this subject if you first understand and know how to use all these rules and laws. It is ridiculous. Preachers do indeed complicate understanding God's word.

The Simple Solution

It is far more difficult to understand all of this profundity of' Warren and Cogdill than it is to understand the simple statements of Scripture. We don't need all that help! We need to throw away all these "keys" to the Scripture, all the pontifical explanations, and humanly-devised systems for understanding God's word. We don't need that stuff. We need to put these preachers of this human wisdom out of the pulpits until they can divest themselves of such and learn to simply "preach the word " as it is given in the NT. This is what the world desperately needs. And the disciples are dying for the lack of non-sectarian teaching of God's word.

N. B, Hardeman was a great preacher in my book. I thank God that I was able to sit at his feet and listen to him preach and teach the word. Foy E. Wallace, ,Jr . was the greatest preacher I ever heard! If I ever had an idol as a preacher, Foy was it! These men were giants as preachers, as were so many others of bygone days. We need men of that caliber today, but they are not to be found. It is tragic. The amazing thing is that many today rejoice over the passing of that type of preacher -- the debators, plain-speaking, sin-condemning, error-exposing men who gave a spiritual strength and statue to the people of God that has all but departed. We have indeed sold out and done away with that "distinctive" message that laid the measure of truth down against error.

Brother Hardeman delivered the message as it is in the Book, simple, yet powerful. He often argued that man as he is can understand God's message of redemption just as God gave it to us in the NT. That is still the truth and it needs to be accepted. He would often say it something like this:

"All we need to do is to take God at His word, believe what He says, do what He requires, live as He directs, and trust Him for every promise and we can make heaven our home."

Them's my sentiments exactly. That's the truth of the matter, in a statement of fact.

All this logical and legal approach to God's word confounds the matter. It is wrong. It will destroy God's people, even as it is doing today.

Personal Word To You

The Churches of Christ are my people. I count myself as one of them. I love and accept you all as my brothers and sisters in Christ. I may disagree with some things we do and/or teach, but we are still children of God, together in one family. We should openly and honestly work on our disagreement, on all matters of vital doctrine and practice and seek the truth on them. It could be done - if we were all willing to do it.

In this paper, I speak to you from honest conviction on many areas of teaching and practice that I believe to be contrary to God's word. I believe what I teach to be the truth, but l am aware that I could be wrong. I have been wrong before. When I realize that I am wrong, I change and make correction. Like the Apostle Paul, I now preach some things I once sought to "destroy" and now seek to "destroy" some things I once preached. Every honest man of conviction will do this.

You don't have to agree, but I do hope you will honestly study what is presented. Before you reject it, please try to first understand what I am saying and the basis for it. Don't be misled by the many false and/or distorted views attributed to me by the preachers. Only if you understand and can correctly state my position are you in a position to show me or others the error of my way.

I am not involved in this work for any personal benefit. I don't get any personal pleasure in being at cross purposes with my brethren. To the contrary, it is heart breaking and I would run from if I thought I could please God and do so. There is no satisfaction in being critical or being engaged in differences and debates with my own brethren, or anyone else for that matter.

I receive a lot of abuse, misrepresentation, and rejection. I guess this last - rejection by those whom I love and with whom I have been close and closely associated in years gone by, is the hardest thing to handle. Jesus warned His disciples that the time will come when men will kill you thinking that they do God's service. Perhaps these saints actually think that by rejecting me that such is what God would have them do. But I suspect that underneath it is often ignorance and fear. As Jesus said it, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." As was true in the case of Jesus and countless others, it is relatively easy to move a mob against one who seeks their good. -- CAH