Becker Bible Studies Library
Churches of Christ
The Churches of Christ is considered a conservative denomination. It was founded by Alexander Campbell whose hope it was to achieve unity among the followers of God. Since then, the Churches of Christ have become exclusive because of their belief that all other denominations are incorrect in their teachings.
They hold to the belief “speak where the Bible speaks and to be silent where the Bible is silent”.
The divisions within the Churches of Christ centered on the idea of postmillennialism. Postmillennialism is the belief that the second coming of Jesus will be after the period of 1000 year reign of Jesus on earth. Another major division centered between the Instrumental Christian Church/Churches of Christ and the Non-instrumental Church of Christ. The Churches of Christ believe there should be no musical instruments in worship because it is not used in the New Testament.
Their views of the roles of women in the church are also a major division. The more conservative Churches of Christ exclude women from leadership rules during worship such as leading prayers or serving communion.
There is no headquarters for the Church of Christ. Each of the congregations has its own structure. They consist of Elders, Deacons, and Preachers.
The Elders of the congregation are spiritually mature Christian men who provide moral guidance, establish Bible study curriculum, and select the Sunday school teachers. Some of the congregations of the Church of Christ refer to their senior Elder as the pulpit preacher. These Elders are not paid and do not have to be ordained. Elders are selected by the members of a congregation since they are the backbone of the congregation. Elders must follow the job description as written in 1 Timothy 5:17-20 )...
“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. 18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. 20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.21 I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality. 22 Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.23 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities. 24 Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.25 Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.”
Elders also should follow Titus 1:5-6) that states Elders should be ordained in every city. They should be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
Are special servants of the church and take care of the specialized needs of the congregation, such as the overseeing the building. Deacons are selected by their congregations. Deacons should follow the job description of 1 Timothy 3:1-7)...
“This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. 8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. 11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13 For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
Deacons must also follow Titus 1:7-9) stating Bishops must be blameless, as the steward of God, not self willed, easily angered, not a given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre. Deacons must be a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; holding fast the faithful word.
Prepare and deliver all sermons and the Gospel they teach Bible classes, and perform weddings and baptism. Preachers usually are paid. Preachers are ordained rather than licensed. They are elected by the Elders. The authority of preachers is moral instead of arbitrary. The governing of the church is done by the Elders.
The Church of Christ was founded by Alexander Campbell after he arrived in America in 1810. Alexander Campbell joined with Barton W. Stone and together they started the Stone-Campbell movement in 1832.
Barton W. Stone believed in the doctrine of Premillennialism, the belief that the second coming of Jesus will be before the period of 1000 year reign of Jesus on earth. Both Thomas and Alexander Campbell denied the Premillennialism belief and split from the ideas of Stone concerning his Trinity and Atonement doctrine.
It was in 1906 when the Stone-Campbell movement split creating their own churches. The Churches of Christ was under Alexander Campbell and the Christian Churches, or Disciples of Christ under Barton W. Stone. This split of the movement occurred as local congregations refused to take part in the organizations of the General Assembly.
The nineteenth century leaders among the Churches of Christ were more conservative religiously than the Disciples of Christ. The Churches of Christ hold rigorously to the New Testament which includes how the structure of their church are organized and how their worship service is conducted. Musical instruments are not allowed because the New Testament did not authorize it.
The Churches of Christ refused to join any inter-congregational organization including the Missionary Society.
In the twentieth century around 1906, the Churches of Christ denied being a denomination and claimed to be nondenominational and had no headquarters, no governing boards, and no head clergy.
Today the Churches of Christ hold to their acceptance of the Bible as entirely true and adequate revelation.
The Churches of Christ believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost as members of One Godhead, the incarnation, the virgin birth, the bodily resurrection of Christ, the universal comprehensive view of sin after the age of accountability.
The Churches of Christ believe Jesus is the Son of God, and the death of Jesus by crucifixion as the atonement for sin. They believe the structure of the church was laid down by Jesus Christ through His apostles in the New Testament. The church has no headquarters and each congregation is independent of each other and may vary on some of their teachings. The Churches of Christ believe the church is the body and the bride of Christ.
The Churches of Christ believe the Bible was written by men who were inspired and guided by God the Father through the Holy Spirit. They refuse to hold any creeds other than those mentioned in the Bible. They believe it is a sin to depart from the original plan laid down in the Bible for the church.
The Churches of Christ believe worship can take place anywhere the members gather. They believe there should be no instrumental music in their worship service. Alexander Campbell, their founder, believed it was inappropriate and considered materialistic. Some Churches of Christ believe it is a false doctrine, and the more conservative congregations call it a sin to have instruments in their worship services. Most of the Churches of Christ practice only congregational singing using a song leader or a praise team with only a cappella singing.
The Churches of Christ observe a weekly Lord’s Supper. This can vary from Church of Christ congregations. There is no specific individual who is appointed to administer Communion. Most congregations do believe in a closed Communion. The Churches of Christ usually use grape juice, rather than wine, for the Lord’s Supper because most of the Churches of Christ prohibit the use of alcohol.
The Churches of Christ practice adult baptism which is a requirement for the remission of sins and salvation. The Church of Christ practice Baptism in any suitable body of water by total immersion. They believe the requirements for salvation are the hearing of the Word of God, and then believing the Word of God; one must then repent of sins and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and then be Baptized by total immersion.
All believers must continue faithfulness. They do not believe in the doctrine of perseverance of the saints. The Churches of Christ believe and practice a closed fellowship with only members of the Churches of Christ. Normally the Churches of Christ consider themselves as non-denominational because they believe it is a sin to be denominationalism. They believe Jesus Christ established only one church.
The Churches of Christ believe children that are below the age of accountability are protected in the eyes of God and are not condemned to hell if they died. There is no fixed age for accountability. The age of accountability varies on the maturity, knowledge and mental capacity to choose between right and wrong.
Most social dances are condemned by the Churches of Christ because they are considered as lewd and lascivious behavior, especially popular dancing of today because of the sexual overtones. Folk dancing is considered acceptable by the Churches of Christ.
The Churches of Christ believe when faithful members die, they do not go to Heaven or Hell until Judgment day. They believe there is no means of earthly or spiritual intercession for the soul of one who has died. They believe there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous. The Churches of Christ believe the lost will be condemned to an eternity without God.
The Churches of Christ believe satan is a literal being. They believe satan literally tempts the followers of Jesus to keep them from walking their chosen paths. They believe satan is strong, but much weaker than God. The Churches of Christ believe God allows satan to exist to prove believers of God are truly following Him out of free will, and not predestination. The Churches of Christ do not believe there is any proof lucifer or satan is a fallen angel.
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About the Author
Joanne B. Holstein is a Becker Bible Studies teacher and author of Guided Bible Studies for Hungry Christians. She has received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology/Christian Counseling with honors from Liberty University. She is well-known as a counsleor to Christian faithful who are struggling with tremendous burden in these difficult times. She is a leading authority on the history of development of the Christian churches and the practices and beliefs of world religions and cults.