Friday, July 24, 2009

The Plea

If you have come here from Stephen’s blog, let me very briefly state the plea of those of us in the church of Christ.

Our purpose is simply to restore the practice of Christianity as it was practiced in the New Testament. If we do what they did, we will surely become what they became. In other words, we will be the ancient New Testament church today. That is our plea and plan. I imagine Stephen believes the substantially same about his group. We just need to each (calmly and courteously) present his case from God’s word. That is what I am attempting to do. Note the following texts:

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. (Matthew 28:18 NKJV)

…The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63 NKJV)

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8 NKJV)

For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19

There is the authority and a prohibition of tampering.

The church of Christ is composed of normal humans, who are often imperfect, like any other religious group. We do not condone those who wear the name while making no serious attempt to walk the walk.


WatchAndPray said...


I hope that your son's move goes well and I congratulate him on his first house!

Mark said...

"I think that today the whole Christian World, including the whole world of Orthodoxy,has become cut off from the simplicity, the all-inclusiveness and triumphant beauty of the Gospels. Christ with his group of disciples founded a Church which was so deep,so all-embracing, so complete that it contained within itself the whole universe."

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh (Andrei Borisovich Bloom) [Eastern Orthodox] Taken from his book,'Encounter'.

Ryan said...

Dear John,
Thank you for your comments. As the son-in-law of a Church of Christ family, I have often had similar conversations. I respect the attempted consistency of C of C theology, but object to the disunity that private interpretation inevitably brings (2Pet1:20,3:16). The Revelations verse you quote often comes up, yet that line clearly refers to the "book" (biblios) of Revelations, and tnot to the Bible as we know it. If it did, though, why do you reject the "Apocrypha"? After all, the Septuagint OT was the Scripture quoted throughout the NT. Why also does your Church not accept the Bread and Wine (not grape juice) as truly the Body and Blood of Christ as the NT clearly states (John 6, Mt 26:26-27, Mk 14:22-24, Lk 22:19-20, 1Cor11:23-29). The Church has always accepted the Eucharist as literally His Flesh and Blood. (see also Ignatius (1st c), Justin Martyr, Ireneus (2nd c)).
We in Eastern Orthodoxy do not pretend that the early Church fathers are infallible. What is infallible is the consensus voice of the Church (especially about how Scripture whould be understood). Mr Calvin and Mr Campbell were part of no consensus. Why should the Holy Spirit rest with them more so than disciples of the Apostles who died for the Faith?
The Orthodox Church has its struggles - most significantly with ethnic divisions. Its faith though, is complete and unchanging. Please consider.

Mark said...

"You have also established for yourself a rule that will not allow verses of Scripture to possibly mean that there was an established Tradition which is still alive in the Church." _[Father]Stephen Freeman.

...Meaning that you will not interpret the verses of Scripture in the way I want you to interpret them.

This is the perennial problem of the 'Eisegetics of [human]Tradition' in reading Scripture and the issue of 'Ecclesiological Accetions' acting as a Pre-Hermeneutical interpretative grid.

Steve said...

Dear John,

Reading through your commentary there was one thing I felt I had to comment on.

Namely the point that the NT has no authority in itself. The Christian Life is apocalyptic (in the good sense) only when it is lived inwardly. Then, all things become possible.

From this comes a second, related point. Church tradition (oral and written) must have roots in the "OT" if it is to be deemed authentic expression. You will frequently hear Father Stephen writing about Church in the "OT". Church incidentally is etymologically derived (as I am sure you are aware) from Ekklesias (Gr.) which is closely related to sunagogue (Heb.) meaning assembly or gathering.

Mark said...

So,you have entered the Lion's den....that takes vision and the ability to stay down under the pressure - keep going, John.

Jeremiah 1:18-19

18 Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. 19 They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the LORD.

Mark said...


You may find this weblink useful:


John said...

It is quite evident that the Church in her primitive period had no precisely defined juridical organization, much less a technique or science of law.
(an Orthodox website) HT: Mark

Mark: when I click your name it says "profile not available" If you will email me, I will write back.

John said...

WatchAndPray: thank you, the move went perfect. He has an education, career, and house. Next on the checklist is a wife...

Ikonophile said...

I'm wondering which Church you want to get back to exactly? The Church in Acts chapter 2? Or the Church in Acts chapter 8? Or Acts chapter 20?

It seems from a reading of Acts that the church moves progressively in stages. For example, before the selection of Deacons, there were none. Do you then want to reconstruct the Church before there were deacons, or after? Do you want to construct the Church before the council of Jerusalem, or after? Which NT Church is the CofC trying to reconstruct?

My second question has to do with worship. I do not know how the CofC worships but if you disregard silly bible translations (and I'll show you why they are silly) and read the Greek, the early Church obvsiouly used Liturgy as the only form of worship.

In Acts 2, when it states that they "devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching to the breaking of bread and to prayer", the literal reading of the last part about prayer is *the prayers*. These are the set prayers that are recited at specified hours.

Or what about Acts 13:2. The bad translation of most protestant bibles is "they were ministering to the Lord and fasting". The word in Greek underlying "ministering" is litourgia which takes no professor of language to see that it is where we derive the word "liturgy" from. The actual translation should say, "while they were in the liturgy of the Lord".

There are more examples. In Hebrews (chapter 10 I believe) Christ is called the Minister (capical 'M' of course) of the heavenly sanctuary. Again, the Greek word is Liturgist. Christ is the Liturgist of the heavenly sanctuary.

I know very few churches that use a formal liturgy, most invent their own for the most part as opposed to doing some research on the early liturgy of the church (cf. what is commonly called the liturgy of st. james for more info on early church liturgy).

There is more to be said, and the time and space to do so are not available. But if Protestants really want to get back to what the early Church did, I suggest reading Father Peter Gillquest's book Becoming Orthodox. He and a number of his perishoners did a huge research project in order to understand what it was that the early church believed and how they worshiped. Obviously, they are all Orthodox now. It's a good read. I especially enjoyed the parts when they get together to discuss their research with one another. Their research was no shoddy job either, they took months to put it all together in order to present it when they met.


John said...

Hi Ikonophile

The church of Acts 2 and following. The complete doctrine was revealed orally and written down during the first century. That would be the NT. We have the complete doctrine in the NT.

I have no issue with reading prayers or following a set form in worship, if that's what you mean by liturgy.

Steve said...

I am always struck by the seamlessness of the Old and New Testaments, the authority of one is so completely vested in the other and it's really only possible to understand God when walking in the Way.