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Sunday, August 17, 2008

BS Chart # 3

Toward the end of my stay with the (Stone-Campbell) Church of Christ , I became increasingly uncomfortable with many of the Bible Study materials every CoC preacher was expected to use in his evangelistic work. Among these were charts illustrating "The Marks of the One, True Church" which included items like:

Founder: Jesus Christ

Dated Founded: A.D. 33

Place Founded: Jerusalem

Organization: Jesus (Chief Shepherd), Elders/Pastors/Bishops, Preachers/Evangelists/Ministers, Members

Authority: Jesus/Bible (New Testament)

The more I used the charts, the more I became less convinced of the assumptions underlying or enveloping them and of their effectiveness as pedagogical/teaching instruments. My readings of the socio-cultural milieu within which the Stone-Campbell Movement was hatched challenged our assertion that we were the AD 33 Church and that our doctrines were simply drawn out of the Scriptures without using the highly suspect hermeneutic or interpretive tools of denominationalism. My reflections on the so-called "Seed Principle" (i.e., if we only follow the New Testament, we will reproduce the New Testament Church in our time as it was) questioned our selective choosing of which features of the primitive church were to be restored. My awareness of the existence of many congregations in our fellowship which could not even successfully and consistently set up a supposedly distinguishing mark of the "Restored" church -- the plurality of eldership, primarily -- blasted me for my hypocrisy in attacking other churches for, say, their "one-man pastor system" while glossing over the fact that most of our local "Ministers" have been ruling their respective congregations for decades in the same way as these demonized "denominational pastors" had done. My realization that I was largely focused on the externals of our faith (i.e., the right collective and individual appellations/names, the right organizational structure, the right procedure in baptismal and communion rites, etc.) drove me to pursue what I believed was a more substantive method of discussing the nature of the Christian church a result of which is the chart below.

Again, I do not offer this diagram as a perfect teaching tool. Those who can find use for it can always revise it.

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