"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.IV No.II Pg.3a
September 1941

Concerning Church Names

C. E. W.

On page 5 will be found an article entitled "About Church Names." Brother John W. Kurfees, whose zeal for the New Testament order of things is generally recognized and approved, is having a pretty hard time keeping some of us from "stereotyping one particular designating term" when we are talking about "the church." He thinks we are "sectarianizing the church" if we call it "church of Christ" too often and something else too seldom. Now, I am somewhat of a stickler for calling the church anything and everything it is called in the New Testament and have said so over and over again in these and other columns. Much that Brother Kurfees says is true, but I'm inclined to think he is carrying this thing to an erroneous extreme. I am certain that the expression "church of Christ" has been used in a sectarian sense, but not when it is applied to the right thing, however often it may be used. It is misused, only when it is employed to cover too little or too much or applied to something that is not it at all. For instance if you call something "the church of Christ" which is smaller than the entire body of Christ and larger than a local congregation, then you have employed the term in a sectarian sense. Brethren keep me more uneasy sometimes by what they mean by it, than they do by how often they say it.

The term "the church" which Brother Kurfees seems to prefer and regards as fool-proof as far as any "danger of ever sectarianizing that institution" is concerned, has no religious significance whatever aside from the "qualifying designations" either expressed or implied in the New Testament. Without such qualification it might be a mob in Ephesus or a Roman court. "Church of God," "my church," "the church of the Lord," "kingdom of Christ and God" and like "designations" identify the character of "the assembly." Of course any and all of these "designations" may be abused by applying them to the wrong sort of assembly or church and they often are. That is not my fault however and I'm doing all I can to stop it without universal success.

Brother Kurfees should be pleased to note that brethren generally in their conversation and their writing often refer to "the church" and employ a variety of terms about as extensive as we find in the New Testament. He seems to be particularly concerned about what brethren write on their bulletin boards and over the doors of their meetinghouses. Of course a meetinghouse is not the church at all. Let him tell us what we should write there. It would be rather awkward to "use some dozen or more qualifying, or designating terms" on a sign-board or over a meetinghouse door. Should the sign be changed each week or so to keep from "stereotyping one particular designating term"? Should one church use one "designation" all the time, while another church employed another for full time? Would it help any if all should uniformly use "the church" without any "qualifying designations"? We are told that this term was used "far more often than any other" in the New Testament. But even the apostles did not use it all the time. And we must not use one "to the practical exclusion of all the others."

"The church is what the Lord established, and he didn't establish but one." Which one? What "church"? "My" church! Well, why not say so, over the meetinghouse door or anywhere else and as often as the need may be?

Along with his many other virtues, Brother Kurfees is persistent, and he will probably want to give us a little more light on this question.-C. E. W.