Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 28, 1971

"I Was A Lutheran ..."

R. A. Gilbertsen

Since I became a Christian some six and a half years ago, I have become increasingly concerned about the tendency in the brotherhood to use the term "church of Christ" exclusively to describe the body of Christ. It has become more of a name for the church, instead of a descriptive phrase — as it's used in the Bible. When a religious group adopts a name, it has become a denomination — whether we like it or not and whether we are willing to admit it or not. Listen to the definition of a denomination, according to Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, "denomination (1) An act of denominating; (2) Name, designation: esp: a general name for a category; (3) ..."

I recently mailed a letter to a denominational man who visited the assembly of the saints in Carrollton, Texas. I would like to share portions of that letter with the readers of the Gospel Guardian. "You see, Mr. Carlson, the term "church of Christ" is not a name. It is rather a descriptive phrase, showing ownership — that is to say when we speak of the Josey Lane church of Christ, we refer to a congregation "belonging to" or "owned by" Jesus Christ. Each individual congregation is separate, independent and autonomous; according to the New Testament pattern. We read in Romans 16:16b, ". . . all the churches of Christ greet you." Jesus Christ is the only head (we have no earthly headquarters) These congregations make up the body of Christ. We are un-denominational, non-denominational and anti-denominational. We are anti-denominational because denominationalism is division and division is sin, according to the Bible. (I Cor. 3:3, 1:10; Gal. 5:19.20.) We are not a new church, but are rather striving to be what the church was in the first century. We are striving for the unity of all religious people. based on the Bible alone. We believe the Bible only makes Christians only and so we thus reject all creeds, catechisms, confessions, manuals and disciplines — believing these to be the primary cause of religious division. By taking the Bible only — without addition, subtraction or change, there can be unity in the religious world and the pure, primitive, apostolic church of the first century can thus be restored in all her glory. Only by returning to the word of God can there be true unity.

Mr. Carlson, please do not take my word, your pastor's word or anybody else's word in any religious matter, but always examine the scriptures yourself to determine what they teach, (Acts 17:11.) See also John 12:48; 14:6." (End of letter to visitor.)

Having been raised in the Lutheran denomination, the concept of restoring the New Testament church still seems fresh and dynamic after having been a saint for 61/2 years. As I grow in Christ, it becomes increasingly so. Today in the church we see much compromise with error — both the error of denominationalism/sectarianism and the error of "liberalism, etc." within the church. I think it is time we restored the restoration movement and realized the 19th century appeal of the restoration movement still has appeal in the 20th century — if we will but only preach it, teach it and live it.

Yes, people will still respond to the good news of Christ — whether they live in Texas, in my home state of Minnesota or in Afghanistan... It is up to every individual child of God to proclaim this good news.

— 1101 Northside Drive, Carrollton, Texas 75006