From: [[url=mailto:email@example.com]firstname.lastname@example.org[/url]] On Behalf of John Waddey
Sent: Saturday, June 09, 2007 6:51 PM
Subject: [fortify_your_faith] A Lesson to Fortify Your Faith - 06/09/07</font>
THE NEW DIOCESAN CHURCHES OF CHRIST
<font color=black face=arial>Dear Christian Brother or Sister:
Today we offer our observations about the two mega congregations of the church of Christ in Texas who have announced plans to establish satellite congregations, both to exist under one eldership. Both of them being leaders in the change movement, we can expect others to eagerly follow their unworthy example. I urge you to pass this lesson on to other Christians in your email address book. Truth can and will defeat error.
- <font size=5>THE NEW DIOCESAN CHURCHES OF CHRIST</font>
- <font color=indigo size=3 face=times new roman> 'Tis a true saying, that a small step off the correct path can take one miles from his desired destination. Some 25 years ago a few fearless souls associated with the church of Christ began a bold experiment with a revised version of Christianity.
- The first small step was to launch a sustained program of criticism of the church, pointing out and magnifying every perceived weakness and failure.
- Then the criticism was extended to include our noble ancestors whom we oft describe as our restoration pioneers. Since ninety-seven percent of our people know little of our history and those who preceded them in the kingdom, that criticism was received without serious cross examination.
- They then began to float theoretical challenges to those principles of faith and worship held sacred among us. Questions were raised about our a cappella praise and our belief that baptism is essential to salvation(Mark 16:16). Doubts were created about our belief that denominationalism is sinful. They challenged our claim that we are not a denomination and that should we ever become such we would forfeit our standing with God. They questioned our understanding of the New Testament as a divinely given pattern by which we are to order our spiritual activities (II Tim. 1:13). They questioned our attempts to restore the ancient faith and worship of the church. They wondered if we had been too restrictive in not granting our women a public leadership role in the church (I Tim. 2:11-12). They speculated that we were far too strict in the moral standards we deduced from God's Word.
- In stealthy increments they began to change our musical worship. First came the vocal bands such as A Cappella. Then came the praise teams. Next were the soloists and special singing groups.
- When these were firmly entrenched, they launched their campaign for their real goal, the use of instrumental music in their worship. This is now established in several congregations.
- After undermining the faith of many in the ancient and simple gospel plan of salvation, they can now boldly preach salvation by grace through faith before and perhaps even without baptism.
- After many years of poking fun at what they perceived as our narrowness and praising the sweetness and respectability of our Evangelical neighbors, they now openly declare us to be a rather poor sectarian version of a denomination . They can now openly pursue a new station within denominational circles and acceptance by their Protestant neighbors.
- Having weaken the convictions of their followers in the sinfulness of instrumental music in worship, they are now openly pursuing reunification with Christian Churches. They are attempting to revise our history in order to blame our fathers for wrongly protesting and refusing instruments a century past.
- Having raised sufficient questions about the exclusive male leadership of the church, they are now ready to allow women a place in the public teaching ministry and congregational leadership.
- Having rejected the concept of the Scripture as a heaven-given pattern for the church, they have now taken another major step away from the path of truth. Following the lead of their religious neighbors with an episcopal form of government some have begun what they identify as "multi-site" or satellite congregations. They no longer accept that each congregation is separate, independent and self-governing. They no longer believe that elders have authority only over the flock among them (I Pet. 5:1-2) and are thus limited to feeding the church over which they have been appointed (Acts 20:28). They no longer think that there should be elders in every church (Acts 14:26). We now see evolving a repetition of the error of diocesan bishops that occurred in the second century and eventuated in the Roman Catholic Church "and what shall be the end thereof?" "A diocese is an ecclesiastical administrative territory subject to the jurisdiction of a bishop" (Westminster Dict. Of Church History). Following the apostles, in the second century, powerful and influential church leaders rose to dominance over the other elders of their congregation. The more ambitious of them aspired to manage other churches in their cities. Hence they were called metropolitans. As circumstances allowed, they claimed administrative control of other congregations, especially those they planted. This post-apostolic form of government is known as "episcopal" which is the governing form of the Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist and other churches. When a strong dominant preacher leads his elders to pursue such a course, he is repeating the sinful mistake of those early metropolitans.
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now