New Catechism Needed
In April 1940, George DeHoff wrote A SHORT CATECHISM for The Bible Banner. We quote a part of this article.
"1. Question: Does the church of Christ own any colleges? Answer: The church of Christ does not own any colleges.
"2. Does the church of Christ own any orphan homes? The church of Christ does not own any orphan homes.
"3. Does the church of Christ own any religious papers? The church of Christ does not own any religious papers.
"Comment: There are members of the church who operate colleges, papers, orphan homes, grocery stores and farms. None of these things belong to the church. They are not the property of "the brotherhood." They belong to whomever starts them and controls them. Members of the church may contribute to a private college, a private paper, a private orphan home and a grocery store if they like and decide it is doing a good work. If the elders of any local congregation want to operate an orphan home, print a paper, run a school or operate a farm to feed the poor, they may do so. These things would then belong to the church in the same sense that the meetinghouse does. If it is not controlled by the elders of one local congregation, it does not belong to the church!"
"Doctor" DeHoff of 1966 will likely disown a great part of his 26 years old article; but that only emphasizes the changes of our day, and further warns us of the "church-hood" denominational concept many have today. A current brochure from San Angelo says, "THE BIBLE STUDY CENTER IS THE CHURCH AT WORK --." Which church?? The local (Johnson St.) church, or the "church at large" which bro. (excuse me-- Dr.) DeHoff says can not own anything?
The pamphlet continues: "The work done through the BIBLE STUDY CENTER is financed entirely by the church --" (which church? rft) " -- and is under the direction of the CHURCH OF CHRIST which meets at 2200 Johnson Street.." Now I can understand that last reference -- that's the local church. But "the church" by which the CENTER is "financed entirely" is certainly not the Johnson St. church in San Angelo. This same paper says, "Some Christians and congregations over the area contribute to its operation."
Page Dr. DeHoff -- we must either have a new catechism to fit current denominational concepts of the church, or we must do a better job of teaching the "catechism" of 1940. Which will it be George?
The organizational structure (and consequently, the organized function) of the church (God's people) begins and ends with the local congregation. If this ONE fundamental principle of church identity could be given something more than lip service by "our" brotherhood (church-hood) planners, many current digressions would cease. Don't hold your breath while you wait.