We have spent several months in our adult Sunday morning Bible study class reviewing what we have come to call the American restoration movement. Men like Thomas and Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone came to the conclusion that radical change was needed to bring those desiring to practice pure Christianity back into compliance with the Holy Scriptures. Their study and efforts led them to call into question why things were being done in the name of religion, yet had no foundation in scripture, while those things found in scripture were not being observed. Their call was to return to the simplicity of doing Bible things in Bible ways.
Today we hear more of groups who are striving to be non-denominational, breaking away from practices of long-standing denominations in order to worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). These could well be attempts to reverse the falling away from sound teaching spoken of by the apostle Paul in his letters to Timothy. Throughout history, we have seen efforts of men like Luther and Wesley attempting to return to worship that is indeed in spirit and in truth. Their actions sought to ‘reform’ what had evolved from the church Christ died for, rather than attempt a return to its purest form. Recently I heard a term that I think more accurately describes what God’s children would do well to strive for… pre-denominational, being the church that was before denominations came about. I’ve been told by friends it is likely impossible to be pre-denominational, but I prefer to rely on the words of Jesus when He told His followers regarding entry into heaven, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 and “All things are possible to him who believes.” Mark 9:23. I believe, with many others around the world, that we can and must put divisive, denominational ways behind us in an effort to return to the unity Jesus prayed for in His followers in Gethsemane. This is the goal of churches of Christ, won’t you submit to Jesus’ plea for unity today?
Copyright © 2009, Nolan P. Rutter