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Sent: Saturday, October 28, 2006 4:34 PM
Subject: [fortify_your_faith] A Lesson to Fortify Your Faith - 10/28/06</font>
THOSE INFAMOUS 28 DIVISIONS IN THE CHURCH
<font face=arial>Dear Brethren:
Today's lesson answers an accusation often hurled by change agents against the Lord's church. They claim we are so divided we cannot possibly be pleasing to God. My lesson responds to their charge and shows that it is exaggerated for effect. If you find this lesson helpful, please download it and share it with others. Forward it to others on your email list.
THOSE INFAMOUS 28 DIVISIONS IN THE CHURCH</font>
<font size=3 face=times new roman>A few years ago, a singing group traveled the country, making a good living singing Twenty-six Miles Across the Sea. Today, change agents travel far and wide singing about 28 divisions among Churches of Christ. For them that mantra proves we are an unworthy group and that they with their ecumenical plan for unity are our saviors. A member of their team recently sent me the infamous list. It really shows how desperate change agents are to paint a false picture of their brethren in order to justify themselves in causing yet another division in the body. [emphasis, d.c.]
As we look at their list, note with me the distortions of their accusation:
<ol>[*]The Firm Foundation faction (1884). There was disagreement and discussion about whether those immersed without understanding the full purpose of baptism should be rebaptized. There was never an open break in fellowship. Though still discussed, the issue does not constitute a separate brotherhood.
[*]Churches of Christ separation from Digressives (Sand Creek. IL, 1889). This was a declaration of one congregation declaring they would no longer fellowship digressives who were introducing instrumental music and missionary societies into churches. Had not that congregation and hundreds of others taken a stand against the apostasy of that day there would be no Churches of Christ today. All would be in the camp of the Christian Churches. This would be pleasing to our change agents. The fact is those wishing to have musical instruments and societies went out from us (I John 2:19). We continue to occupy the same ground as did the early leaders of the Restoration movement and the first Christians.
[*]Black Churches of Christ. Outside of a few Black separatists, no such schism exists. Christians and congregations, be they Black or White, are brethren and fellowship each other.
[*]Those opposed to baptisteries (ca. 1900). While a few folks a century ago questioned the use of baptisteries, I challenge the promoters of the list to find us even one congregation holding such a view today.
[*]Those who insisted on an order of worship (1888). True, a tiny handful of brethren argued that Acts 2:42 provided an order of worship. They have long since died out. No such schism exists today.
[*]Sommerism. Daniel Sommer was a strong minded, legalistic preacher who had a following that spread into several states. He flourished from 1890-1940. W. Carl Ketcherside led this group after Bro. Sommer's passing but he eventually swung to the opposite extreme of liberalism leaving chaos and confusion among his followers. The survivors, who describe themselves as mutual edification churches, still carry on but are small and few in number. Many of them enjoy fellowship with mainstream congregations.
[*]Anti-Sunday School, anti literature and anti-women teachers were not three separate schisms but one. Such churches still exist but in many places now have fellowship with the larger brotherhood.
[*]One cup churches. Some of the anti-Bible class churches also insisted on using only one cup in communion. They divided among themselves over such issues as "fermented or unfermented wine"; "whether the loaf should be broken by the one presiding or by the partaker." Of this group he lists, some who advocated "no plate for communion bread; some who debated whether "to have or not to have a handle on the communion cup" and some that insisted that "communion must be taken around the table." That a legalistic splinter group should continue to divide among themselves is not the responsibility of the mainstream churches, nor should we bear the blame for their foolishness.
[*]Premillennialism. In the 1920s a few preachers, led by Robert H. Boll, began to promote the false doctrine of premillennialism and found a following in a handful of churches. The brotherhood rejected their message and they were gradually excluded from fellowship. A few such churches exist today. Most have faded away.
[*]In the 1950's a group arose that opposed cooperation of churches in evangelism, benevolent homes operated by the church and eating in meetinghouses. These are the only significant schism that has continued to flourish. Today there is some fellowship between members of the two groups and that will likely increase in coming years. Within this group was a schism led by Charles Holt and a more liberal minded minority.
[*]In the late 1950s and 60s, W. Carl Ketcherside and Leroy Garrett, formerly of the Sommerite camp, swung to the opposite extreme of liberalism. They called for unity in diversity and embraced the Christian Churches and other denominational bodies in their fellowship. They worked unceasingly to influence and seduce young preachers of the mainstream churches. The message of the change movement bears the stamp of these two false teachers.
[*]Differing views on divorce and remarriage have been warmly discussed by preachers and writers from 1960 to the present. While differences were pronounced and convictions were deeply held, no separate body of people emerged over this issue.
[*]Tongue-speaking and supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit were claimed by a tiny handful in the 1960s. Probably not more than a dozen preachers dabbled in this Pentecostal practice. All either left the church or ceased to be used by our churches. No schism occurred.
[*]Ira Rice's Contending for the Faith group. Bro. Rice led an on-going war against anything and anyone he perceived as liberal. His harsh and indiscriminate approach alienated him from most main-stream churches. Even many who opposed liberalism as much as he, refused to use or approve of his tactics. These brethren do not constitute a separate body of people.
[*]The International Churches of Christ. This group otherwise known as the Cross-roads or Boston Movement were a group of young zealots who embraced a cultish program of control over their members. They flourished for some 20 years but now appear to be disintegrating.
[/list]To this list I will add The Change Movement. This is the merging and flowering of several past groups under a new banner. In its ranks one finds Ketcherside's Unity in Diversity disciples; those who yearn for a Pentecostal experience; those who have lost their faith in the inspiration and authority of the Word of God, those who desire an ecumenical fellowship with denominational bodies, especially with the Disciples of Christ and Christian Churches; those who have embraced the agenda of feminism and those who have been caught up in the philosophy of Postmodernism. The issues of this movement are virtual identical to those that led to the separation of Churches of Christ and Christian Churches a century ago.
The authors of the infamous list of schisms badly want to paint the Lord's Church as a flawed and failed movement that must be changed by their more enlighten group. The exaggerations of such a list are telling. While there have been issues and trends, actual brotherhood schisms amount to some eight rather than 28. While eight is too many and those responsible will have to answer to God for their actions, it is unfair and unreasonable to blame the church for the failure of some of her disgruntled members. To do so is like blaming godly parents who have raised six faithful children, for the failure of one child who has chosen to abandon the faith.
Let us all give diligence to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace (Eph. 4:3). We must not allow the enemies of the church to discourage or dishearten us by the false charges and accusations they make. May every faithful Christian reject the proposals of the promoters of change. </font>
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now