I was quite surprised to read that some people descended from the Restoration Movement actually made the claim that they were the closest thing to a national church in America that there was–and that they foresaw the day when that vision became a reality, where all the denominational groups would join together with them.
Now, some might scoff at that statement and say that the Campbells looked to unite all the denominations into one body, and that I just don’t know my history.
No, there’s a difference. The Campbells were trying to stop the division among the denominations based on clear teachings of the word of God. These people I’m talking about took pride in saying that none of the sermons they preached would be offensive in any denomination. They took pride in saying that they were the only church who weren’t offensive to anyone, and who would accept anyone, so long as they would acknowledge the Bible as the word of God (whether they accepted what was written in there apparently didn’t matter, as we’ll see momentarily), and displayed a Christian attitude.
If they accepted infant baptism, sprinkling or pouring as baptism, or rejected baptism completely, it didn’t matter. If they used instruments and women preachers, no big deal. Ignore the Lord’s Supper? Who cares! As long as you take the word of God and act nice, you’re more than accepted!
We have brethren today who may not be as far gone, but they’re getting close. In the name of “Christian Unity,” they are willing to ignore anything “doctrinal,” anything to do with worship, leadership roles, and even things the Scripture clearly connects with salvation, and just proclaim to people that their sins are all forgiven and that they have a home eternally with God awaiting them–WITHOUT OBEYING THE GOSPEL!
The people that brought this post about were the early 20th Century descendants of the Christian Connexion. In 1911, Martyn Summerbell gave a short lecture called “An Address on the Origin and Principles of the Christians,” and in it he made the claim that the “Christians” were the only ones who could bring together all the denominations.
Perhaps they could. But bringing together all the denominations into one body still doesn’t make them the church if they haven’t come to the Father through Jesus Christ in obedient faith which exhibits itself in repentance, baptism, and a faithful life in service to our Lord.
The address, fully reformatted and corrected (and searchable) can be downloaded below.
Address on the Origin and Principles of the Christians (Martyn Summerbell)
-Bradley S. Cobb
One thought on “The National Church of America???”
Very sad. In the late 1960’s I heard a professor from the Northeast say to a Disciples group, “I thought Harvard stood for as little as possible in religion, but you have them beated.”