Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 2, 1950


Robert C. Welch, Uvalde, Texas

(Editor's note: We've had it in mind for several months to write an editorial on this; but Brother Welch says it so very well that we give over to him and put his article in the editorial column. Read it carefully.)

Frequently some sectarian will ask some member of the church about something that is done in "your church". Then he will talk about what is done in "my church". Gospel preachers have replied that Christians do not have a church; that the church is purchased and owned by the Lord. That is true, but the sectarian did not accuse the Christian of owning a church when he used the possessive case of the pronoun. Neither did he consider himself as owning "his church". It is misrepresenting the sectarian to say that he implied ownership. The possessive case does not always denote ownership. Notice the definition of the pronoun "my" in Webster's New International, Second Edition: "1. Of or belonging to me or myself as possessor; due to me; inherent in me; associated or connected with me; as, my head; defending my rights; my relatives." Every Christian has a connection or association with the church. And that is the sense in which the sectarian uses it. He does not intend to imply that Christians own the church. I am opposed to the use of the personal pronouns of the first person, possessive case with reference to the church, but it is not because I think it denotes ownership. I am opposed because I want to give glory and honor to the owner when referring to the church rather than mention those who compose the church. It is spoken of this way in the Scriptures. Christ said, "my church."

Another misrepresentation frequently heard is reference to the Christian Church and its members as "First Christian Church", and "First Christians." They do not call themselves by such names. Then why should anyone else want to call them that? The name "Christian Church" applied to them is bad enough without giving it such a primitive ring. Local congregations of them sometimes have the title "First" attached, but that is not intended to be the name of the denomination. It is intended to glorify the fact that they are the first ones of the kind in town. If another one is established, it will have to take the name of some street.

"Our schools", and "church papers" has had attention in the last few years particularly. Yet those terms are overworked as much as ever. The church does not own the papers, nor do we (referring to the church) own the schools. Such terms are used by denominations to denote ownership and control. To them it means that the schools and papers are official organs of the church. They are individual enterprises unless the denominational practice prevails. Such terminology misrepresents the church and those enterprises.

Occasionally someone breaks out with an article about what "we teach" or "What We Teach and Why". Some preacher gave me a sermon outline on "What the Church of Christ Teaches". It reminds me that the Baptists have a larger book than the outline or any one of the articles on their doctrine, and why. The manual contains a statement of their creed and then cites the Scriptures at the bottom of the page supposed to be telling why. Methodists have their Church Discipline telling what they believe and teach. Will one of these creed writers in the church tell why we need a statement of what "we" believe and practice, while pointing out why denominations should not have creeds? If we believe the Bible to be the word of God then we had better be talking about what the Bible teaches, rather than what "we teach". "We" can be wrong but the word of God is not. Even if the statements made are true in such teaching, there is still a false impression made. It implies that the church is just another denomination. And if the statements made are true, how did the writer or preacher find out which are the fundamental truths from God's word? The Baptists claim that for their Church Manual also. Maybe those writers and preachers did not have me in mind when they gave their summary of what "we believe and teach", but they misrepresented me. I am persuaded that they misrepresented the church of the Lord. The church of God is the pillar and ground of the truth, not a summary of the truth. He may not realize it, but the person who tries to tell what the "church of Christ believes" is as much a creed maker as those people who write the creeds for the denominations.

Sometimes brethren want to discuss an issue on the basis that it has been taught by the pioneers. Shades of the pioneers! Those men loved the truth more than all such little-minded ancestor worshippers. They made mistakes and they discussed those things with one another, but the Scriptures was the basis of discussion. If these brethren would be like the pioneers, let them discuss the right or wrong of an issue rather than resting the case upon the age of the issue. The Catholic Church uses such a principle in claiming that she is the true church. Is that what these brethren want? Let us be careful not to misrepresent other people and, above all, the cause of Christ.