Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 8, 1953
NUMBER 22, PAGE 4-5a

The Only Christians


The powerful Radio Luxembourg a few weeks ago was carrying a program over the air in which a gospel preacher was telling the people of Europe about the churches of Christ. He said many good things, and emphasized that "We speak where the Bible speaks; we remain silent where the Bible is silent." But in the program he used another statement that was popular at one time among certain groups of disciples, but which was rejected and repudiated by all thinking Christians, and is most certainly misleading and untrue. He used the old worn-out statement that, "We do not claim to be the only Christians; we do claim to be Christians only."

Across the Irish Sea a listener in Belfast was listening raptly to the radio speaker. This man had been a Christian but four years; there was much he had to learn, and he was eager and willing to know the full truth. That statement interested him. If "we" (the Churches of Christ) were NOT the only Christians, then just who else would be included in the category? What about the Church of England? and the Catholics? how about the Moravian brethren? and the Baptists? Are they to be included also? Are they Christians? Do they belong to the family of God? Have they been baptized into Christ for the remission of sins? If the churches of Christ are NOT the only Christians, how many, and who are to be added to the list? If those baptized into Christ do not make up the whole family of God on earth, then what? Who else?

From the questions that flashed into the mind of this earnest listener, it is clear that the radio speaker made a most egregious blunder. He sent out over the air-waves a sectarian, compromising, modernistic "catch phrase" that has a pleasing sound to the ear, but which is utterly and totally false. Oh, he might have gone into endless explanations as to what he meant by the "we" and by "Christians only" and by "the only Christians"; but the fact remains that to the average listener, without the qualifying and modifying and "weaseling" statements, his words have a definite, simple, and undeniable meaning: they mean that the churches of Christ recognize denominational people as fellow-Christians, brothers in Christ. That is the meaning of "We do not claim to be the only Christians."

We enter a protest. We take exception. The church of Christ is THE ONLY CHURCH. Members of the church of God are THE ONLY CHRISTIANS! There is not a Christian on this earth who is not a member of the church of Christ. There has never been one. There will never be one. The very same process or act that puts him into Christ, making him a member of the family of God, a Christian, makes him a member of THE CHURCH OF CHRIST. When one obeys the gospel of Christ, he is added to the family; he becomes a member of the body. And no one can be added to Christ without becoming a member of his body, the church.

Do we mean that denominational people are not true Christians? We mean exactly that. It is impossible for a member of any denomination to be a true Christian. Even if such a one had once been baptized into Christ, his being in a denomination is undeniable evidence that he has apostatized, and is not now a true Christian. He has forsaken the truth to adopt error.

Faith in Jesus Christ as God's Son, genuine repentance, a confession of faith and burial through baptism unto the remission of sins will make one a Christian. There is no other way by which one can become a Christian. The acts which put one into a denominational church do not put one into Christ; they do not make one a Christian. Neither do faith, repentance, and baptism put one into a denominational church. Becoming a Christian is one thing; becoming a member of a denominational church is something entirely different. The first is a requirement of God; the second is rebellion against God.

Are we saying that it is impossible to find even one true Christian within a denominational church? Do we contend that among all the millions of Baptists, Lutherans, Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians, and other denominational people on the earth there is not even one single solitary faithful Christian?

That Is Our Contention.

We do know a few people who were once faithful Christians but who later joined some denominational body. There are people in the Baptist Church, the Catholic Church, and doubtless many other denominations who were at one time members of the body of Christ. But in joining themselves to these denominations they have departed from the truth; they have apostatized; they have fallen from grace. They are those of whom Peter wrote when he said, "It has happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog turning to his own vomit again, and the sow that had washed to wallowing in the mire." (2 Peter 2:22)

It behooves all of us to be most careful in our proclamation of the truth. The man who spoke over Roche Luxembourg was in error. (Our Irish listener did not send us his name). He needs to learn the truth himself before attempting to teach it to others. He has a particularly grave responsibility in preaching in Europe in that there are so few faithful Christians there who can correct his errors. Let us hope he will not again make the error of repeating the false and misleading statement about "the only Christians."

— F. Y. T.