“Church of Christ” adherents are not in the least backwards about claiming that they only “wear the Bible name;” they even condemn their “relatives,” the “Disciples” or “Christian Church,” because they don’t wear the “right name.” Some of them have even proclaimed that “Christian Church” is a “heathen” name.
We would like to ask a few questions about this so-called Bible name.
- In the first place, where in the Bible are we commanded to wear this name?
If it is a name to be worn, and if it is essential to salvation to wear it, surely we are commanded by the Lord to wear it. Book, chapter, and verse, please; not opinions, theories, and reasoning.
Of course, Romans 16:16 is often quoted in an effort to support their claim, but this verse does not command anyone to wear any name. There are other passages which refer to the church under different terms, but they do not contain a commandment for using such terms as a “name”. We are commanded to do many things – repent, believe, be baptized, assemble, observe the Lord’s Supper, pray, preach, etc. – but NEVER are we commanded to wear a name. Does not one, therefore, go beyond “that which is written” when he adds a “name” as if it were a commandment? If there is such a commandment, where is it?
Alexander Campbell, one of the founders of Campbellism, and its “scholar,” translates Romans 16:16 as follows:
“The congregations of Christ salute you” (Living Oracles, page 305).
Campbell is recognized as the greatest scholar the so-called “Restoration movement” ever had. But notice: Campbell does not translate Romans 16:16 so as to support “Restorationist” claims. Why so? He says that the word “church, or kirk, is an abbreviation of the words kuriou oikos, the house of the Lord and does not translate the term ekklesia” (Living Oracles, appendix, page 55). On this Campbell is right, for the Greek authorities tell us that ekklesia is best translated by the words “assembly” or “congregation”. Church is a word which refers to a material building, rather than to people. The word church, like baptize, appears in the King James (Episcopalian) Version because the “rules” of King James dictated that the word be used.
Therefore, if Romans 16:16 gives us the name of the Lord’s assembly, what should it be? Not “Church of Christ,” for “church” is an improper translation, according to Campbell and Greek authorities. Campbell himself asserted that “Disciples” should be the name, while Barton W. Stone, another one of the “Reformers,” insisted upon “Christians.” Actually, Campbellites have been fussing over a name for their “baby” ever since it was “born.” In the Christian Review, edited by Mr. Martin, there appeared several years ago, this statement:
“There is, perhaps, no question about which our people are more divided than that about the name. So divided are we upon this question that the census takers cannot ascertain who we are, what we believe, or our number.”
What confusion! – and on such a petty matter!
- A paper entitled The Vindicator says that any term which describes the church is all right to use as a name. But The Vindicator fails to give a single verse that commands us to wear “any term.”
Here is what the paper says:
“I see where some Baptists are offering ‘$100 for a Scripture which teaches that the name of the church is “The Church of Christ,” or any other particular name.’ …Personally, I wouldn’t be interested in proving the foregoing for any amount of money – because I would be trying to prove something I do not even believe. Any Bible term that describes the church is acceptable to me, not just one particular name. One of the terms in the Bible, however, is the ‘Churches of Christ’ (Rom. 16:16).” (May 1, 1958 issue).
That’s all very interesting, but you will notice that he did not tell us where we are commanded to wear “any Bible term” as a church “name.” The writer refers to “any Bible term that describes the church;” all right, suppose they start calling themselves “The Pillar and the Support” (1 Tim. 3:15), which are Bible “terms” that “describe” the church; will these “terms” be all right as the “name”? Why did they settle on the one name, “Church of Christ,” instead of several? And why do they insist that everyone else is going to Hell for not wearing this “name”? Why don’t they hang out this sign: “The Body, Temple, Building, Pillar and Support, Household, Flock, Bride, City, and Candlestick of Christ”? All of these “terms” are descriptive of the church. If all these are right to use as “names,” then is it right just to hang out one? Yet this is exactly what “Restorationists” do. Can they tell us why?
How strange for a man to say he “wouldn’t be interested in proving … something I do not even believe,” then proceed to assert that very thing! This is sometimes called “double-talk.”
We have no objection to using terms to “describe” the Lord’s church, but we do object to making names out of terms, demanding that we wear them or go to Hell. There are many terms used of God’s people, such as “sheep,” “elect,” “living stones,” etc. Would it be right to say, then, that those in the church must wear the name “Sheep of God,” or some other name? Nonsense.
- Actually, “assemblies of Christ” in Romans 16:16 is in the possessive case, and is no more giving a “brand name” than any other verse in the Bible. The verse simply tells us who is saluting (assemblies) and whose assemblies they are (Christ’s).
I challenge any person on the face of the earth to give one single verse that commands us to wear the name “Church of Christ” or any other “term” or name.
Bob L. Ross, Pilgrim Publications