Vol.II No.V Pg.5
June 1965

Unauthorized "Saluting"

Robert F. Turner

THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST SALUTE YOU! That's what the bill-boards say, and that's what we hear over radio, and see on T.V. It is at the world fair, county fair booths, and in the newspaper advertisements; and since it is also in Rom. 16:16 it must be right.

But recently I notice a "turn" to which "The Churches of Christ" is put that causes me to re-evaluate this passage in Romans. Now thing---is Paul saying that a brotherhood of churches (?) or a denomination called CHURCHES OF CHRIST salutes the world?? One may think so, from the current usage.

I have even had Rom. 16:16 cited as authority for the collective action of churches---as though it proved beyond a doubt that many churches may pool their means and operate as one under some "sponsoring" eldership, re. specific projects. That's reading a lot between the lines of so short a passage.

Rom. 16:5 reads, "Likewise greet the church that is in their (Priscilla and Aquilla's) house." Vs. 10 says "Salute them which are of Aristobulus' household." Vs. 11--"Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord." Vs. 14---Salute Asyncritus.....and the brethren which are with them." Vs. 15---"Salute Philologus.....and all the saints which are with them." Vs. 23 reads, "Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you."

Why does not Rom. 16:16 mean exactly what its context demands, viz., a number of different congregations, knowing that Paul planned to write the brethren at Rome, individually expressed their regards. Each church, in its own way, said "Hello!" So, "the churches of Christ salute" the church at Rome. In debates when Rom. 16:16 is used to justify the designation of saints as "church of Christ" our Baptist opponents usually point out that this passage speaks of a plurality. I have never heard this denied. The usual reply is---if there is a plural, there must be singulars; indicating that we know Rom. 16:16 speaks of a plurality of local churches of Christ.

Until very recent times I had seen no indication that anyone thought the "churches" could be made a single entity, for which a "sponsor" could speak, work, or do anything.

Until recently "inter-congregational" was the flag of denominationalism and sound brethren used it only to show its error. Now, however, even "middle-of-the-roaders" have adopted this term. (Firm Foundation, 6-1-65 editorial) Is it possible that "Churches of Christ" will become the "official" designation for a combine or denomination of churches?

The only way "churches of Christ" can "salute" anyone, is for those separate and independent congregations to do so. Four or five of them may elect to do so, and say so on a bill-board, etc. But the salute is from those churches signing the "ad"---it is NOT from the whole number of churches of Christ throughout the world. Remember, great oaks from little acorns grow---in error too.