What’s in a Name?

The Jackson Heights Church of Christ?

The Jackson Heights church of Christ?

The Church of Christ at Jackson Heights?

The Church of Christ That Meets at Jackson Heights?

The Building in Front of the Jackson Heights Subdivision Where a Congregation of the Lord’s People Assembles?

Depending on how persnickety the elders feel like being, the name that a church puts on the sign out front can reflect a nearly infinite degree of concern for using the correct nomenclature.  I don’t know this for certain, but I fear that sometime, somewhere, a church has split because of dissension about what verbiage to use (though hopefully not over the capital versus lower-case C!).

Even lesser disagreements on the subject still strike me as textbook examples of 2 Timothy 2:14.  If quarreling about the words on a sign isn’t “quarreling about words”, then what is?  Even beyond that, I’m generally suspicious of magic-word approaches to serving God.  Changing the name of a congregation doesn’t change its nature, and either that nature is pleasing to God or it isn’t, regardless of the name.  Why get all fussed about the part that doesn’t matter? Continue reading

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A New-to-Me Argument for Church Cooperation

A few days ago, Rufus Clifford, one of the elders here, lent me a book entitled Pursuing the Pattern, edited by Jim Deason.  It contains 14 essays, half by preachers from non-institutional backgrounds, half by preachers from institutional backgrounds, addressing various topics related to institutionalism.

In particular, Rufus urged me to read the essays written by institutional brethren.  He (correctly) observed that the only way to truly understand a position is to read defenses of that position by those who believe in it.  It’s awfully easy for non-institutional Christians to set up strawmen and knock them down.  However, that’s not fair either to the institutional perspective and those who support it. Continue reading