(Editor’s Note: The following was written by Steve Waller, a missionary whom we help to support in Indonesia. Steve has been a trusted friend for nearly 10 years. Please consider the following and examine your attitude toward promoting undenominational Christianity. JTC)
While reading the various posts on a couple of Internet discussion groups, the thought came to me (as it has from time to time); Am I (are we) supporting, preaching and defending undenominational Christianity (the faith once delivered unto the saints – Jude 3), or are we promoting (in our own way) a form of denominationalism? Have I become sectarian in my attitude? Although I refuse to have fellowship with denominationalism as we know it, do I promote my own brand of it? Furthermore, (because I quote much from those preachers of the past who have influenced me), am I more a follower of “men” rather than Christ? Or, am I more the follower of a school and its faculty than I am a follower of Jesus?
Is my study of a subject shaded or tainted by what I already know what men whom I respect have said about it? Or, do I truly study a subject with an unprejudiced, open mind? Is my real attitude in my study and research: “Speak Lord, thy servant heareth?” Or, do I reach conclusions based upon what I feel that some of the more influential brethren have said, will think, or might say about it? Am I swayed in my research and conclusions by what some segment of the brotherhood thinks, or because if I reach a different conclusion, and proclaim it, I fear for my job or the scathing denunciations that I know I will receive?
Do I speak “Church of Christ Doctrine” or do I approach things from the perspective that “The Church of Christ believes or teaches thus-and-so?” Or do I approach matters from the perspective, “The Bible teaches, therefore, I believe and teachT” (Romans 10:8, 17). Do I preach the “sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1)? I think there can be, and is, a difference between the above perspectives.
If I read something a brother has written on a subject that differs from what I have been taught and believed, do I immediately condemn him, or do I carefully read and study his position? Do I ask him more about how he reached his conclusions? If I learn that I am wrong on this matter, will I change my thinking or my preaching to conform to what I understand the Scripture to teach, or will I follow the brotherhood “line” to avoid trouble and avoid being ostracized? Do I love all my brethren and manifest that love? Do I really “love the brotherhood?”
From time-to-time I think about these questions. I also reflect on the fact that there are probably a multitude of men in generations past who had to give these and other questions much thought. Some of those men made some big changes in their lives. And, their decisions have affected all of us.
If you should ask: Are YOU about to tell us of some earth-shaking change in yourself or your beliefs? The answer is “No, not that I am aware of.” I just think that we need to examine ourselves from time to time. “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove you own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
(Brethren, we also need to be careful not to denominationalize the Lord’s church with our language. When we say things like, “I’m a Church of Christ” (as opposed to “I’m a Christian”) or “He’s a Church of Christ preacher,” (rather than “He’s a Gospel preacher”) we make the church to be no better than any man-made denomination. Remember Titus 2:1, 1 Peter 3:15, and 1 Peter 4:11! JTC)