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The State of Faith
A Study on Holiness

The State of Faith
A Study on Holiness

The State of Faith
A Study on Holiness

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Renewing Your Mind


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Cults and World Religions

The Churches of Christ

The Disciples of Christ


No creed but Christ

It is not the purpose of this course to study Christian denominations, although at times we seem to be doing just that. This may be another of those trips.

We noted that Dr. John Thomas, the founder of the Christadelphians, came out of the Campbellites and it seems appropriate to take a quick look at this little known group. They are another of those groups which seem to adhere to the essential doctrines of Scripture, yet, float on the edges.

Thomas Campbell and his son, Alexander, were Presbyterian ministers from Ireland. They arrived in the eastern US in the early 1800s, bringing a message of unity to the Christian churches. Although apparently not intent on forming a new denomination, the pair developed a following, with many Christians forsaking local church ties to follow the Campbells. Although nicknamed “Campbellites,” the group preferred to be called Disciples of Christ.

At the same approximate time, another Presbyterian minister, Barton Stone, was teaching along the same lines. His followers formed an association of churches known as the “Christian Church.” In 1832 the two groups combined to form the “Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).”

Doctrinal differences, the Civil War, and divisions over the establishment of institutions (i.e., mission boards) split the denomination. One group called itself the Disciples of Christ, the other the Churches of Christ. The Churches of Christ split further over the issue of whether only one communion cup should be used during the Lord’s Supper. The Disciples of Christ became more liberal over the years and split further. The new group became known as the “Christian Churches and Churches of Christ” or as the North American Christian Convention. Interestingly enough, all of the groups use the names almost indiscriminately and one of the major differences is whether instrumental music should be used in the worship service. Yet, all three main groups have individual churches on both sides of the music issue. The Churches of Christ, however, generally reject the use of instruments in worship.


From a doctrinal / cult point of view, the major issue is baptism. Both the Churches of Christ and the NACC consider baptism as necessary for salvation.

The Campbells believed that Christians should avoid the use of the creeds (Nicene, Apostles, etc). Further, while they taught an orthodox view of deity of Christ and the existence of the Trinity, they avoided all Trinitarian language. Stone, however, clearly rejected the doctrine of the Trinity. Surprisingly, while the issue of baptism as part of salvation remains, the churches of the Disciples of Christ and the Churches of Christ generally accept the doctrine of the Trinity.

Other doctrinal issues involve a rejection of the Calvinistic doctrines of predestination and eternal salvation. The Churches of Christ view the doctrine of eternal security as a license to sin. The churches are generally amillennial, spiritualizing the reign of Christ on earth.

The major fault is the teaching that salvation is by faith in Christ and baptism by immersion.

Satan at Work

In concept, this entire group of churches approaches worship by rejecting every theological system and practice not found explicitly in the Bible. The motto of the collective group is, “Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent.” However, in practice, they are not silent. Where the Scriptures are silent, they speak against a practice, such as instruments in worship.

What was a basically doctrinally correct movement of the Campbells apparently was so weak in their beliefs that they accepted Barton Stone into the group, even when Stone denied the Trinity. This opened the door for more errors in doctrine and as the groups split and re-split and reformed, Satan was able to corrupt the doctrines of the church. Today, a major portion of the group has an incorrect view of the place of baptism, resulting in the teaching of an incorrect method of salvation.

Here, then, is a group essentially correct in all but one major, essential doctrine. The non-essential doctrinal issues are not important to eternal life. But, when error seeps into the foundation, eternal problems arise. And, from the early years of this group, the seeds of a more drastic cult - the Christadelphians - were formed.

For a more detailed discussion of the Churches of Christ, see the article on this group at the Christian Research Institute WEB site,




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May 29, 2024

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