Three Bases of Biblical Unity

The other day, I opined that unity in a local congregation doesn’t require perfect agreement on every doctrinal concept.  This is true even for churches like the churches of Christ, churches with a high view of Scripture that demand Biblical authority for religious practices.  In fact, I suspect that doctrinal disagreement exists in every church of Christ with more than three members.

Unanimity of belief is not the foundation of congregational unity.  Instead, I think these three things are: Continue reading


Bible Authority and Church Unity

A few days ago, in the midst of one of those authority-driven blowups that happen on Facebook every so often, somebody linked to this article. I read it, and my brow furrowed.  I didn’t agree with the conclusion, but even more than that, I had trouble figuring out where the author was coming from.  He insists that unity based on a shared understanding of Bible authority was impossible, but he never specifies whom this understanding could unite.  Is he talking about brotherhood unity?  Congregational unity?  Both?

Rather than engaging in a point-by-point rebuttal, then, I thought it would be worth setting out my own understanding of unity from the beginning. Continue reading

Problems with “Chairs”

Sometime in 2010, Rick Atchley, preacher for what was then the Richland Hills Church of Christ and is now The Hills Church, produced a YouTube video called “Chairs”.   In it, he presents his argument for rejecting the traditional Restoration view of Bible authority.  It generated lots of discussion back in the day, and it continues to pop up on Facebook from time to time.

Recently, I was asked what my perspective on “Chairs” was (honestly, I thought I’d already written about it, but apparently not).  Let’s start with the good.  I give Atchley all the credit in the world for being a smooth, plausible, even funny speaker.  Unfortunately, he uses his considerable skills to promote false doctrine.  He distorts the Biblical truth about authority in a way that will cause souls to be lost, and I think he does so knowingly.  The problems with “Chairs” are legion.  Here are the four I think are most significant. Continue reading

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

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