Does The Church Have A Name?
While living in Alabama I was introduced to a person in the following manner. "This is the preacher from the church of Christ." I was critical of the introduction at the time, but if brother Gordon Wilson was correct in his article of February 9th, then I may be from the church of Christ Church. Brother Wilson undertook to prove the specific name for the church is "Church of Christ." If he proved this, and he didn't, then the church must be called by this name at all times, all other terms or names excluded. If our brother is right then we have the church of Christ Church.
He stated in the first paragraph this: "Some have deplored the fact that all of the congregations use the same name, "the church of Christ," and have suggested that by so doing we are making the church into a denomination." Well, I deplore the fact that any of the congregations are using the term, "the church of Christ," as a name for the Church. As for the church being made denominational, something is having an effect on it. This reasoning that he calls sound reasoning, may be responsible for some of the denominational tendency we now see in the church. Brother Wilson doesn't agree with those that contend that the church hasn't been given a specific name. I am one that so contends. By necessary inference and sound reasoning he set out to prove the specific name for the church is "Church of Christ." This is only the name. So, when the church is referred to by name it is the Church of Christ Church. I did not see the necessary inference in his reasoning. He must have used "Sound Reasoning" to prove his point. There is no other grounds for his conclusion.
Brother Wilson has confused terms and expressions with names. He speaks of five terms that describe the church (Par. 3 of Wilson's Article). He also says that the church is distinguished by the following expressions. "My," "of God," and "of Christ." (Par. 5) Now if five terms and three expressions are used to describe and to distinguish the church, where is the necessary inference and sound reasoning that changes one of these five terms into the specific name, "the church of Christ?" When the church has been described and distinguished, what more can you ask? If it is described we know what it looks like. If it is distinguished, then we can tell it from human counterfeits. Where is the need for a specific name?
Our brother needs to read his article again. Through his article he fails to distinguish between words, terms, titles, expressions, and names. Notice this from Wilson's article: "Thus, in every instance where the church is distinguished it is called by one of the terms for Christ. And finally, in Romans 16:16, where Paul sends greetings from several congregations, he uses the proper title or name given the Son of God and says, "the churches of Christ salute you." Now we know Paul did this, but does this make it specific? There are other terms that would tell the Romans that the churches belonged to the Lord. And did Paul sin when he told the Colossians he had been translated into the kingdom of his dear Son? (Col. 1:13) Or is this a forbidden term now that we have a SPECIFIC?
A sign that reads, "The Church of Christ Meets Here" is a good sign. But does it prove that the TERM, "the church of Christ" is the SPECIFIC name for the church? I am not ashamed of being distinguished either, but I would be, both now and at the judgment, if I taught that the church had a SPECIFIC name. The church is of Christ. It is His. But this only proves ownership of the church, not a name for what is His. So far as a name for the church is concerned, nothing has been established, specific or otherwise. The church is the church. Now haven't we heard this many times? "Let the church be the church." Let it be!