1927 Formation of the North American Christian Convention. This convention, which has no official status began as a rendezvous for conservative congregations in the Disciples’ movement. The Christian Churches/Churches of Christ are autonomous churches that have fellowship with one another as a part of a “brotherhood.”
We speak where the Bible speaks, We are silent where the Bible is silent.
In essentials unity; In opinions liberty; In all things love.
We are not the only Christians; We are Christians only.
No creed but Christ; No book but the Bible.
1934 “It was J. D. Tant who held the first meeting at Houston, Waco, Hillsboro, West, Georgetown, Bartlett, Killeen, Ft. Worth, Chillicothe, Quanah and many other towns in Texas. Then Tant was an able preacher and in demand, but all these places now have strong churches and good houses, yet Tant would not be permitted to hold them a meeting free of charge. But Tant preaches the same gospel now he did then. I wonder what has brought about the change. Some claim it is because Tant does not have a college education. Does not hold a degree and is not refined. I beg to state the college I went to did not give degrees. I went to school at Jerusalem under Christ. Studied zeal and determination under Paul, and studied culture and refinement under Sampson who tied fire brands to foxes tails, and slew a thousand men with the jaw bone of an ass. So I am not lacking in Bible zeal, Bible knowledge, and Bible refinement. But I don’t hold a degree and therefore am a back number.
Firm Foundation (May 29, 1934), Jefferson D. Tant
1956 Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and thou alone.
“I have frequently said that we sing a much better Gospel than we preach. I believe with all my heart that this is true. Too many of us do not preach Christianity; we preach “churchanity.” Too many of us instead of preaching Christ, preach a creed. And too many of us instead of trusting Christ, depend upon working out our own salvation as though this means that we should achieve it by works of merit in this life. If we believe the songs we sing, none of us would have this kind of a hope which practically amounts to no hope at all. If we believe the songs that we sing, we will never be doubting our salvation. We will be rejoicing because our names are written in the Book of Life.”
G. C. Brewer (1884-1956) in the last year of his life.
1966 “Any man who believes that he can find literal truth in the Scriptures must also believe that those who do not find the same truth are wrong. What follows is that such people are sinful. The next logical conclusion is that they will go to hell . . .. It is frequently assumed that they believe that all who do not accept the truths which they find in the Bible will be lost. All members of the Churches of Christ do not have such an attitude, but I do . . ..”
David Edwin Harrell, Jr.
1975 The zealous one who says “I am of Christ” in an exclusive spirit, is just as heretical as one who says, “I am of Paul (or Luther)” with the same spirit. It is depravity of heart which makes one a heretic, not a mistake of the head!
F. L. Lemley
1979 Kip McKean calls 30 “would be disciples” to be totally committed to Christ.
(The church later becomes known as the Boston Church of Christ.)
“A movement which began on the glorious note of uniting the Christians in all the sects has degenerated in a mere century and a half, into subdividing that unity into narrow sectarian camps. Each splinter splinters further. this very obvious fact is evidence that something is basically wrong in the attitude and aim in the movement.
1981 Leroy Garrett, in The Stone-Campbell Movement identifies six divisions within the Churches of Christ:
1. Mainline Group: 935,439 members in 10,615 congregations believe in their church only, no musical instruments, and do not fellowship with those who do not adhere to their doctrines.
2. Non-cooperatives: 100,000 in 2,800 congregations disagreed about supporting “The Herald of Truth” television ministry and missionary societies.
3. One Cuppers: 15,000 in 400 congregations use a common communion cup.
4. Pre-millennial: [no figures given] believe Christ will set up His millennial kingdom after the rapture and punish those left in the Tribulation.
5. Non-Sunday School Churches of Christ: 600 congregations do not have Sunday School because it is considered unbiblical.
6. Black Churches of Christ: [no figures given] are separated by race from mainline churches.
1992 The elders of the Quaker Ave. Church of Christ in Lubbock, a non-Sunday School congregation, penned a document … to the elders of the Broadway Church of Christ, a “mainline” church.
While there have been steps taken in recent years to move away from the animosities of the past, there are still settled divisions among us…. We are aware of the debates and strife of the past that often led to our divisions. Most of us were not here then and we do not feel we can appropriately judge just who was responsible for the division. But we are convinced that we the living are responsible for doing whatever is possible to bring about greater unity in our day. We want you to know that we all are genuinely sorry for whatever led to division. While we ourselves may not have contributed to the original division, some of us have, in our own lifetime, been guilty of attitudes that have maintained it. We repent of that and seek the forgiveness of God and all our brethren….
At the same time, we are thankful for many good things in our particular heritage, and the good men and women who engendered and cultivated our faith…. We do not renounce our fathers in the faith. We simply wish to acknowledge and embrace the whole family of God, and thereby renounce sectarianism…. We want to be known as a people who love all the brethren. We believe that honest differences need not divide us, that we can enjoy sweet fellowship in all that we mutually hold dear while allowing for some diversity in interpretation and practice. Our plea for reconciliation is not by any means a repudiation on our position on Sunday Schools, but a recognition that such issues are less important than the blood of Jesus that made us one.
What we are asking from you is the right hand of fellowship in the great work of the kingdom…. Let us proclaim together the grace which makes us one in Jesus. And let us together extend the same spirit of fellowship to all other brethren….
1996 Comedian Emo Philips tells a story:
“In conversation with a person I recently met, I asked, ‘Are you a Protestant or Catholic? ‘ My new acquaintance replied, ‘Protestant.” I said, ‘Me, too! ‘What franchise?’ He answered,’Baptist.’ ‘Me, too!’ I said. Northen Baptist or Southern Baptist?’ “Northern Baptist,’ he replied. ‘Me, too!’ I shouted. We continued to go back and forth. Finally I asked, Northern conservative fundamentalist Baptist, Great Lakes Region, Council of 1879 or Northern conservative fundamentalist Baptist, Great Lakes Region, Council of 1912?’ He replied, ‘Northern conservative fundamentalist Baptist, Great Lakes Region, Council of 1912.’ I said, ‘Die, heretic!”
Thomas Campbell found himself a member of the Old Light, Anti-Burgher, Seceeder branch of the Presbyterian church of Scotland when he decided to be simply a Christian. In the same way, you and I might be sitting on our usual pew when we decide to quit thinking of ourselves as a member of the “Pro-Cooperation, Amillennial, Weekly Communion, Immersionist, Acappella, Restoration Movement Church of Christ! (Please understand that I am using this as if it were a distinctive name of some kind!) and we begin to be a citizen of the entire church – all the way to the very edge of the borders!
In the words of Rubel Shelly, “I just want to be a Christian.”
Jim Harris (Recover The Dream)
1998 … it is important also to remember that one’s faith will express itself in action consistent with one’s knowledge and understanding of God’s will. It is inappropriate, therefore, for one believer to judge another believer to be an unbeliever simply because the second believer has not yet come to the same knowledge as the first believer, even though the second believer is acting out of faith according to the knowledge he or she does possess. That, after all, is the most any of us can ever do.