This blog records my transition from the Churches of Christ to Eastern Orthodoxy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Why I Am Still A Member Of The Church Of Christ Part 1

No, i don't equate the name "Church of Christ" with anyone who's saved, at least not in this blog i don't. i'm talking about buildings with this particular name on the sign out front. why do i still attend a building with that sign out front? i say "still" because i have honestly considered where else i could go given my personal convictions, and i've considered a couple options before (but not too seriously though--if any of you were worried). another reason i say "still" is because i have developed a list of criticisms of trends among groups with CoC signs in front of their buildings. But like i said, those criticisms haven't driven me to participate with any other group, and there are a few basic reasons why i am still a member of "The Church of Christ."

The first reason (of four i think) that i am still a member is the CoC's basic commitment to a principle of restoration. (i know some who read this will immediately want to make a fuss about the CoC's failure to carry out true restoration in a lot of ways, and i'd probably be sympathetic to most examples that could be given, but this doesn't alter the fact that at least a recognition of the restoration principle as legitimate and a commitment to it as a paradigm has always been a part of the CoC.)

What is the restoration principle? This probably isn't a perfect formulation, but here's my attempt to capture some of it:

Insomuch as is trans-temporally and trans-culturally possible and appropriate, we ought to imitate the first century church.

Again, i'm sure that formulation could be picked at for bugs. In fact, i'm going to pick at a couple of bugs right now. First, it could be said, "Should we imitate the divisiveness of the Corinthan church or the idleness of the church at Thessalonica, etc.?" Obviously not. The restoration principle is not meant to lead us to imitate anyone's sinfulness. i think it can be determined when the first century church was doing something that God approved of.

Second, it could be said, "But we don't have an account of everything they did; how can we imitate what's not recorded?" Absolutely true. But i don't see the restoration principle as an exhaustive or sufficient rule for our faith and practice, only a necessary one.

Third, it could be said, "Doesn't every church really believe in the restoration principle?" Yes and no. It's true--have you ever been to a church that blanketly aimed NOT to imitate the first century church or take the NT as a guide and rule of faith? Probably not. Even the most theologically liberal church still believes it's basically doing what God wants it to do, and still a majority of churches believe they're imitating the things about the people in the NT that they should be imitating. Pretty much everyone claiming to be Christian thinks there are things we ought to lift up off the 30-100AD part of the timeline and move it over to the 2008AD part of the timeline. However, plenty of churches believe and argue (though they may not put it in these words) that there is very, very little that is trans-temporally and trans-culturally appropriate for us to imitate about the first century church. It could be put like this, there are people who think it's fine for there to be a precedent of non-imitation until sufficient cases can be made for individual items that warrant their imitation. i believe the restoration principle calls us to a precedent of imitation, and that instances which warrant non-imitation must be sufficiently demonstrated.

While i'm sure there may be more bugs to work out, i'll stop there and try to restate the principle.

The modern church ought to acknowledge and honor a precedent of imitating the thought and practice of the first century church (as accounted for in the NT) insomuch as the thought and practice of the first century church was approved of by God and insomuch as is trans-temporally and trans-culturally possible and appropriate.

There's certainly more exegesis i could do of this principle and might do in the future. For now, all i want to say is that i believe this to be a legitimate principle, and it (in concert with other things) is part of what keeps me a member of the Church of Christ.


MrsHonea said...

Looking forward to the continuation of this blog. ;)

Matthew said...

Well said, and I agree. The principles that we stand for are strong.

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