Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 12, 1954

Catholic, Protestant, Or Just A Christian?

William Reeves, Newark, New Jersey

Most of the professed believers in Christ today are divided into two groups — Catholic and Protestant. This is a bit strange in view of the fact that the original church of the New Testament was neither Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, nor Protestant. The members of the New Testament church were Christians, nothing more, nothing less. The church as established by the Apostles was not a denomination.

What the Catholic Knows (Be He Greek or Roman)

A Catholic knows that Protestantism has many weaknesses. He knows that an amalgamation of confused sects is not what the Lord had in mind when he established his church. Of course, Protestants are in harmony with the teachings of the Bible in many things. They are not wrong in every respect. This does not mean that Protestants are not sincere. We are persuaded to believe that most people are sincere in what they believe.

What the Protestant Knows The Protestant, who is familiar with the scriptures, knows that both Greek and Roman Catholics have tampered with the sacred deposit of faith, which the Lord gave to the church through the scriptures. We hardly expect our Catholic friends to readily admit this. However, an unbiased examination of the simple faith delivered to the saints will show what a monster of ritual and man-made tradition this modern church has come to be. We hope that our many sincere Catholic friends will not feel that we are impugning their motives. We also are ready to admit that the Catholic faith is right in many respects.

Is Reform the Answer?

In the ages past, and in the present, many of these who have struggled with the problem have tried to correct these evils by reform. In many of these attempts, the cure was worse than the disease. These reformers, in many instances, only added to the confusion by establishing a new sect. It does no eternal good, anyway, to reform some organization that is not the blood-bought church of Jesus Christ. Then, too, when apostasy has been fully developed it defies reformation. Frankly, we do not feel up to the task of reforming those whose apostate opinions have become crystal.

Is A New Religion the Answer?

We certainly do not need a new religion. We have far too many religions now. The Bible plainly condemns any religion other than the one which was established by the apostles. Paul said, "Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we preached unto you, let him be accursed." (Gal. 1:8.) We can readily see from this verse that the curse of God would rest on anyone who would preach a new gospel.

Is There A Solution To This Problem?

Some, becoming weary in trying to find the answer, have, in ostrich-like fashion, turned to embrace an "infallible clergy." Others, in the same shallow way have resigned themselves to a confused amalgamation of denominationalism. Others, in disgust, turn to unbelief or go away in fear to bury their talents. The pleasure of the Christ, and the welfare of the soul, is not found in any of these alternatives.

Restoration Is the Answer

We do not find the answer in reforming the existing sects, but in the restoration of the church of the New Testament. It is not all difficult to get back beyond all the corruptions and man-made doctrines and ideas that have found their way into the various creeds of churches. Any creed that contains less than the Bible does not contain enough. So long as men follow human creeds, we will have confusion. When we destroy these creeds and follow the New Testament, religious confusion will vanish. Then we will have answered the prayer of Christ for unity.

How This Can Be Done We do not need permission from anyone to become a Christian. We can render obedience to the gospel of Christ without obtaining permission from man. We can be assisted by men in our obedience to the gospel, but we cannot be prevented by man from obedience.

It is much easier to have a church of Jesus Christ than some would imagine. Jesus said, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matt. 18:20.) Anytime we have two people, who are Christians, assembled in the name of Christ, we have a church of the Lord.

How We Become Christians We become Christians in the same way now that one became a Christian 1900 years ago. A study of the conversions in the book of Acts will show us that one became a Christian by faith in Christ, repentance from sin, a confession of faith with the mouth, and a burial in the waters of baptism. This obedience made one a Christian then. It will make one a Christian now. These conversions were put into the Bible by the Holy Spirit to show us how we could enter the kingdom of heaven.

Having A New Testament Church As these people were converted they made up the various churches (congregations) over the country. We can have churches just like these today.

The New Testament gives us a simple pattern of the work, worship and organization of these churches. They met each first day of the week to partake of the Lord's Supper, sing, pray and contribute. (1 Cor. 16:1-2; Acts 20:7.) They were ruled by a plurality of bishops (or elders). No congregation in the New Testament had just one bishop. They always had a plurality. These elders were assisted by deacons. (See the third chapter of First Timothy.) There are no other church officers known in the New Testament. These churches were successful in their evangelization of the world without the aid of any society. Each congregation was independent of the other, having its own officers.

Your Cordial Invitation The members of the church of Christ earnestly urge you to consider this matter of going beyond human creeds to the inspired ground of the New Testament. Any inquiry will be given courteous consideration.