Unity Graphic

Unity of the Spirit VS Unity in Diversity

Charts (Lesson 5)
Is Doctrinal Unity Possible?

The True Church
The Church of Christ
The New Testament Church
(Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4; Acts 2:47)

Eternal Purpose in God
Ephesians 3:8-10

Preparation for kingdom / church
Matthew 3:1-3; Matthew 4:17; Mark 9:1; Acts 1:5-6

Beginning of Kingdom / church
Acts 2

Historical References: Colossians 1:13; Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; Philippians 1:1

Falling Away Foretold
1 Timothy 4:1

Walking in Truth
Unity of God's People

The Lord's Church
(Belonging to Christ, Blood Bought)
Ephesians 1:20-23; 5:23-27

The Lord's Church Is:

The Lord's Church Has Distinctive:

"This I set forth to you" (Acts 17:23)

The Great Apostasy
The Falling Away

Apostasy Was Foretold

Acts 20:28ff
2 Peter 2:1-2
1 Timothy 4:1ff
2 Timothy 4:1ff
2 Thessalonians 2:1ff
1 John 2:18-19
1 John 4:1ff
3 John 9ff

Storm Clouds of Apostasy

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine" "Will turn away their ears from truth, and turn aside to fables" (2 Timothy 4:3,4)

"...Tossed about with every wind of doctrine" (Ephesians 4:14)

They "...Set at naught dominion and rail at dignities," "...Rail at whatsoever things they know not" (Jude 8, 10)

Is This Historical Only?

Does This Describe our Generation?

Restoration Principle

"Where the Bible speaks, we speak; where the Bible is silent, we are silent."

Thomas Campbell
Speech in home of Abraham Altars, 1808

The Church of Christ in America

Separate and Independent Movements in Pioneer America

Return to New Testament Christianity


Frederick D. Power, 1885:

"How then may spiritual, organic, and practical oneness be secured? One word is they key to it. Restoration! Not legislation, not confederation but restoration of the original apostolic New Testament church with its doctrine, its ordinances and its fruits. We must step up the stream of eighteen centuries and stand at the fountain head. We must go back to the spirit, the unity, the faith, the practice, the foundation of the early church. By returning to Jerusalem it is possible to take up the gospel just as the apostles left it, to receive the ordinances just as our Lord delivered them, to discover the church just as it existed in its primitive purity and simplicity, to establish ourselves upon the eternal rock just as did Saul of Tarsus and the thousands of that early time and to revive once more in the glory of its original beauty and splendor the Christian institution."

(Christian Evangelist, Vol. 22, No. 24, p. 372) [p. 106]

Discard the Rules of Men
Restore Primitive Apostolic Christianity

Nathan J. Mitchell, 1877:

"If, as is stated in terms in nearly all the creed books of the Protestant sects, the sacred Scriptures furnish an infallible rule of faith and practice, we may discard all rules made by man, and be guided in our action by the very same commandments which were heard and obeyed when the Christian religion was first introduced into the world. Turning away from all that is modern, and being guided solely by the New Testament, we secure, not only a reformation of any sect, or sects, but a restoration of primitive, Apostolic Chrisitaniity."

(Reminiscences and Incidents in the Life and Travels of a Pioneer Preacher, Cincinnati; Chase and Hall, 1877, pp. 192-194) [p. 100]

How Are Believers to Unite?

"If the Christians in all sects could be drawn together, then would the only real, desirable, and permanent union, of Christians be achieved. How to effect this has long been a question with us and many others. To us, it appears, the only practicable way to accomplish this desirable object is to propound the ancient gospel and the ancient order of things in the words and sentences found in the apostolic writings - to abandon all traditions and usages not found in the Record, and to make no human terms of communion. But on this theme much must yet be said before all the honest will understand it. One thing, however, is already sufficiently plain to all, that a union amongst Christians can be obtained only upon scriptural grounds, and not upon any sectarian platform in existence."

(Millennial Harbinger, Vol. III, No. 5, p. 195) [p. 42]

What The Scriptures Teach

Moses E. Lard, 1864:

"...The reformation proposed was to be marked, positively, by accepting, as a matter of faith, what and only what, the holy Scriptures teach; practically, by doing every thing and only what they enjoin, and negatively, by rejecting everything which they do not sanction. Such was the reformation proposed by Mr. Campbell and his brethren."

(Lard's Quarterly, Vol. I, p. 11) [p. 85-86]

What the New Testament Contains

"The New Testament contains the constitution, laws, ordinances, and discipline of the Christian church, if such belongs to it at all. Hence, the propriety of proposing this volume as the bond of union among the churches. But what avails a promise to be governed by this book, unless this promise be faithfully fulfilled? Why promise to submit to the constitution, laws, institutions and rules of discipline found in this volume and afterwards require submission to institutions and usages wholly human...?"

(Thomas Campbell, Millennial Harbinger. Vol. III, No. 5, p. 193) [p. 42]

Appeal to All Men

John F. Rowe (1884)

"What we have now mapped out as the ground we occupy, we are thoroughly convinced is truly the apostolic ground, and a ground of unity about which there can be no intelligent controversy. The ground we occupy excludes sectarianism. All the people of God may occupy this ground. We invite all men to receive the same Bible we receive; to accept the same creed we accept; to honor the same Lord we honor; to obey the same gospel we obey; to bear the same scriptural titles we bear; to 'walk by the same rules,' to 'mind the same things,' to 'speak the same things,' to be 'joined together in the same judgment,' to contend earnestly for the same faith."

(History of the Reformatory Movments, Cincinnati, C.W. Rice, Pub., 1884, p. 204) [p. 104]

A Perfect Church?

"But there is no perfect church to study as a model for imitation. Jerusalem was racially narrow and biased. Colossae was tainted with doctrinal heresy. Corinth was beset with doctrinal heresy. What we must realize is that there is no finality for the church in any of its corporate manifestations."

Rubel Shelly, "The Second Incarnation," p. 63

"Holding Fast the Faithful Word"
(Titus 1:9; cf. John 17:17)

It Is:

Bases for Change Among Churches of Christ
(Attempts to Justify Apostasy)

End Justifies Means

What "Mainstream" Churches Are Doing

What the (Denomi) Nations are Doing

No Patternism

New Hermeneutic
New "Wineskins"
New "Image"


Romans 14

A Necessary Practice of Bible Study

Definition: "Science of Interpretation"

Nehemiah 8:8 "And they read in the book, in the law of God, distinctly; and they gave the sense, so that they understood the reading."

Acts 2:40

Acts 8:26-35

Acts 18:4

Acts 18:24-28

Ephesians 3:4

2 Timothy 2:2

"...Understandest thou what thou readest...?"

The Old (Biblical) Hermeneutic

Truth is perceived, understood, realized as we accept God's expression of His will
(Heb. 1:1-2; Eph. 3:4; 5:17; John 20:30-31; 1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Thess. 2:13-15).

God has spoken! "Speak, Lord, thy servant heareth."

How Does God Speak?

This is Objective Truth, Not Subject to My Approval; True Without My Consent.
God Chose These Methods of Expression. It is Not A Restoration Invention.

Where Did We Get Our Hermeneutics?

"For years, it has been understood among the churches of Christ that the scriptures are the inspired word of God. It has also been commonly believed that individual interpretations of the scriptures are not inspired -- only the scriptures themselves. Both of these premises are true and can be verified in any number of ways. In spite of these things, some behave as if a particular method of interpretation is inspired. This statement gets us into the area of hermeneutics ... To be sure, some are more valid than others, but none of them is inspired by God."

Craig Tappe, "The Two-Point Hermeneutic"

What Does the Bible Say?

The New Hermeneutic Stated

The supposed mistake in today's church is the view of the Bible that suggests "a view of Scripture as the seamless depository of Revelation which functions as the basic blueprint for the entire Christian enterprise."

Alan McNichols, "Theological Method on the Bible Among Churches of Christ"


"Whatever else one can say about pianos and organs in worship, he cannot find their explicit condemnation in the Bible. Acceptance of their use certainly does not repudiate any one of the seven essential items of Christian faith identified in Ephesians 4:4-6"

IJWBAC (84 ed.), p. 113

Biblical Principles of Bible Study Rejected

A New Hermeneutic Demanded

"Possibly the most widely accepted view among certain front-runners in Dallas, Ft. Worth, Abilene, Nashville, San Antonio, and Searcy is that the scripture is not a constitution or code book, as envisioned by the old hermeneutic, but is a love letter from God. There is much merit in both the rejection of the former model, and the parameters of the new."

Thomas Olbricht, "Hermeneutics: The Beginning Point," p. 6


The Old Hermeneutic Commands

In the Old Testament

In the New Testament

Commands Carry the Authority of God

The Old Hermeneutic Examples

Examples are illustrations taken from the lives of disciples, under the light of inspiration, given for instruction, as they obeyed God.

Examples may encourage or restrict, but their force is binding, unless there is a principle that limits their application.

Examples Bind Negatively - We Must Not Act

Examples Bind Positively - We Must Act

Unless a Principle Limits Their Application

Is Use of Examples Blasphemy? Bible Response

Example: Moses Carrying Law Down Mountain? No! God bound the Law, not the Journey

Equivalent: Matthew 28:18-20 - "Go" is Bound, not How

Accounts of Actions Do Stand Alone in Determining Biblical Authority!

The Old Hermeneutic Divine Implications
(Necessary Inferences)

Truth may be stated explicitly (leaving nothing unstated or implied) - Matthew 26:26

Truth may be stated implicitly (requiring the hearer to draw necessary inferences in order to obey) - Matthew 26:29; Acts 20:27 - the kingdom and the church are the same.

We are to employ our God-given ability to reason to infer what God implied (Ephesians 3:4; 5:17). This is true with commands and examples, as well.

Implied Truth is No Less Truth!

Speak Where the Bible Is Silent

"If the thesis of this paper is correct, namely, that the New Testament is not an exclusive pattern, or does not contain an exhaustive number of ways one may worship and serve God, then items which are not mentioned in this regard (expressions about which the Scripture is 'silent') are not necessarily excluded ... In short, the silence of Scripture has no different function from silence in normal human discourse and should not be assigned prohibitive force..."

Wood Woodrow, "The Silence of the Scriptures and Restoration Movement", p. 38-39

The Binding Silence of Scripture

Human silence is not the same as God's silence. I may omit by mistake. God makes no mistakes; omits nothing!

When God says "nothing," it prohibits

God's silence is due to the totality of His expressed will!

Decades of Discontent
The Winds of Doctrine Are Blowing

Things Concerning the Church

Fellowship Those In Error
Stop "Traditions" (of Apostles?)

If We Can Do Part, Why Not All? If So, What Would You Have?

Example of Demands for Change

Magazine from Nashville, TN
Editors: Mike Cope, Rubel Shelly

"Weave! ... Teach new ideas for a while, stretching your church out beyond comfort zones and into fresh thinking ... But when you feel your church approaching the limits of tolerance, back off! Talk about familiar and safe things for a while. Then, move back out to the cutting edge again. Weave in and out: first with new ideas, then as you actually implement new practices."

(Lynn Anderson, Vol. II, No. 1, 5/93)

Seminar Advertisement

Leading Your Church Through Change

A practical, one-day seminar for church leaders who are challenged with transforming traditional congregations.

Thus saith the Lord:

"Stand in the ways and seek, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls."

The Changing Church or The Unchangeable Church?

Divine Church of Christ
Prophecy, Gospels, Epistles

Some Demand Changes

Attitudes Toward Change

Stay with the "Church of Christ" Church, No Matter Where it Goes
"Our Papers, Our Colleges, Etc."

Stay with the Bible, Christ
No Matter Where Church Goes

A Pilgrim Church

"The thesis of this chapter is quite simply that the nature of the church is that of a pilgrim. The pilgrim church is never a static accomplishment, but always a moving process. In this life the church never arrives but is forever on the journey. The church is never a perfect reflection of God's ideal but always strives to move forward toward that goal expressed by the words 'kingdom of God'."

IJWTBAC, Shelly & Harris, p. 71

Changing Fellowship

"There should be room in the Christian fellowship for those who believe that Christ is the Son of God, but who differ on eschatological theories such as premillennialism, ecclesiological matters such as congregational organization, on soteriological matters such as whether baptism is 'for' or 'because of' the remission of sins."

Carrol Osburn, "The Peaceable Kindom," (Abilene, TX: Restoration Perspectives, 1993), pp. 90-91

Eschatology: "Last Things"
Ecclesiology: "Church Doctrine"
Soteriology: "Salvation Doctrine"

New Hermeneutic Slogan

"If you keep doing the same things you've been doing,

you'll keep getting the same things you've been getting."


Thus Saith the Lord:

"Stand in the ways and seek, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls."

Whom Shall We Trust?

"When someone asks me, 'Where is this leading us?' I have to say, 'I'm not sure.' Then when they ask, 'Is it safe?' I have to respond, 'Probably not! But it's the direction God is leading us as we continue learning to trust him.'"

Mike Cope, "Traumatic Winds of Renewal" (Wineskins, Aug. 1992, p. 6)

Trust Writer ... Or God?
"Wineskins" ... Or Bible?

Is It Safe? Absolutely Not!

Out With the Old Church In With The New

"First, there is the simple and observable fact that, throughout Churches of Christ, many people are questioning and sometimes rejecting the traditional doctrinal system that for several generations gave Churches of Christ their distinctive identity. Acts and the Epistles as architectural "blueprint," as a rigid "pattern," as a collection of case law - these images and the interpretive method they support are steadily declining."

C. Leonard Allen, "The Cruciform Church"

What are we without our "distinctive identity?" A denomination among others!

Where Is All This Headed?
Expanded Fellowship in Error
Accepting Denominationalists as Brethren

Question: Has Ephesians 5:11, etc. been erased?
Question: When is the blood applied?

N. B.Hardeman

Tabernacle Sermons, II:185-187

"I would to God tonight that all professed followers in the city of Nashville, Tennessee, and elsewhere, would be content to have but the Bible as their creed, their discipline, their church manual, their church directory, their rule of faith and practice throughout life. There would be oneness on the part of all the splendid people of this great country...I pledge my word and promise myself tonight, if the man will thus show me that God's book does not plainly demand it, I will gladly surrender and give that up that the cause of division may cease...When I announce that platform, it is not narrow, it is not limited, it is not human; but it is big enough, broad enough, wide enough, and comprehensive enough for every son and daughter of God on earth to occupy and none feel that in so doing they have had to sacrifice a single principle of faith...Take your stand on God's book and eliminate all things that are not plainly taught therein; and when you so do, I will gladly come to you and take my stand with you, if there be any preference as to which way the coming is done"

Unchangeable Truth

"It may, of course, be argued that the genuine primitive Christianity which is a pattern for the church of all times is not what actually existed in the church at Jerusalem or the one at Corinth but in the teaching of the apostles as recorded in the New Testament; this may be pure and perfect, even if the other is not. To say this, one must presuppose: (a) that there was in the mind of God a perfect and permanent pattern for the church; (b) that the apostles had a complete and authoritative revelation of this pattern; and (c) that the New Testament contains an exact record of this pattern as it existed in the minds of the apostles."

e-mail this author at tmr1@flash.net

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