As I reached for the door knob to enter the door before me, I read the small sign on the door, which stated, "CHURCH OF CHRIST, OFFICE". As I entered to the sound of "Come in!", I saw an elderly person sitting at a desk, working at a computer. As I was about to introduce myself, the telephone rang. The elder said, "Please excuse me for a moment". He lifted the receiver to his ear and said, "CHURCH OF CHRIST". While I could not hear the conversation on the other end, I found out later that the calling party responded to that introduction with, "Are you THE Church of Christ, or A church of Christ"?
For a very long time there was a deafening silence in that church office. It appeared that the elder had never been asked that question before. Wonder what was going through his mind? What would have been going through your mind if you were the one answering the phone? Later, when by myself, I considered at length what I would have been thinking and said if I had been the one answering the phone.
First of all, I definitely would NOT have answered that this was "THE Church of Christ". The reason is very simple. The word "the" is a definite article in the English language. The meaning is that there is only ONE of that of which we are speaking. This certainly was not the ONLY Church of Christ in the city I was in at the time.
Secondly, I would NOT have answered that this was A Church of Christ. The reason is also very simple. The word "a" in the English language implies that there are MORE than one of that of which we are speaking. As I read my Bible, I find that the Lord only promised to build ONE church. His church was the one and only one He ever built or will build.
Evidently the elder must have been thinking along the same lines, for after a long pause, he said, "This is not A Church of Christ, neither is it THE Church of Christ, that is just the building owned by the Church of Christ, and you are talking to one of the elders. Can I help you?
I really did not listen much to the conversation after that. I was thinking that they were a group of people who had a sign out front of their building which plainly stated, "CHURCH OF CHRIST". It had to be "A" Church of Christ or "THE" Church of Christ. It had to be! There are no other choices. Unless, of course, it was really not "A" Church of Christ or "THE" Church of Christ because it was just another denomination that was started by seven people, seven human beings, in this century. As to whether it is a denomination or not, why not look up the world "denomination" in your dictionary and make an application.
God's "ecclesia" is simply His people. They are the "church". That is the only thing the "ecclesia" ever is in the Bible. The "ecclesia" (assembly, group, community) is used to denote all of God's people in His kingdom, dead or alive. It also is used to denote all of God's people in a given city (locality). It never refers to physical building, institution, organization, denomination or corporation. It is only God's people.
Since these things happen on a regular basis somewhere in the United States almost every day (although not necessarily in the exact sequence mentioned), what would you say if I told you that this is just a fictitious account? One person's response was, "Well,
I.B. JOHN BROWN"
P.S. What do you think the conversation would have been like if at the point where the elder stated, "This is not A Church of Christ, neither is it THE Church of Christ, this is just the building owned by the Church of Christ, and you are talking to one of the elders. Can I help you?" and the calling party said, "Yes, you can, is this building owned by "A" Church of Christ, or "THE" Church of Christ"?