Vol.V No.I Pg.4
March 1968

Christians In "Other Churches"

Robert F. Turner

In years past one of "our" preachers would take this as a subject, and "tear the hide off'n" denominationalism. He would point out that "the church" is the body of Christ, Eph. 1:22-23; the bride of Christ, 2 Cor. 11:1-2; the kingdom of Christ, Col. 1:13, Matt. 16:18-19; etc.; and that Christ has but one body, bride, kingdom. He would point out that the way into Christ -- "putting on" Christ -- is the way into the body, etc., (Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Cor. 12:12-13; Rom. 6:3-4) hence, only those who walk this way are "in Christ" and all who walk this way are added to the same body, family, kingdom, etc. That leaves no place for Christians in "other churches"!!

You know -- I think he was right about it!! That's the way it is!! But there were false conclusions drawn in the early days, even as now. Some missed the figurative nature of the above expressions; tending to equate Christ's church with some imperfect "party" -- and truth with the party practices; and perhaps even elevate the "plan" and the "Church of Christ" party above the Lord Himself. The preachers were not wholly to be blamed. Simple points were made for simple people, some of whom refusing to grow up. It happens today.

Today we have liberal thinkers who say there are Christians in "other churches." They discount plain Bible teaching re. baptism, the worship, etc., and glorify the so-called "pure heart" of subjective thinkers. These liberals see sectarianism among the saints (expressed in paragraph above) as justification for concluding that no "true" or "sound" church of the Lord exists today. They ridicule the idea of a "sound" functioning church. Others, bowing to popular demands, say there are Christians in "other churches." Hidden in the fine print is the explanation that these are the once faithful saints who have gone astray; and they fail to stress what God says about those who deny the Lord that bought them. (2 Pet. 2:1-f) The liberals grasp this "middle" (?) position as sop of encouragement.

It does seem we could learn something by all of this. Faithful gospel preachers can not cease to proclaim the points made in first paragraph because someone understands them in a sectarian way. It is their obligation to instruct -- enlighten. The scriptures do say there is one body. (Eph. 4:4; 1 Cor. 12:12-13) Now if hearers color this with sectarian conceptions it becomes our duty to erase the color -- not throw out the basic teaching.

If brethren have "institutionalized" the church, and "sectarianized" the church of Christ; we must attack the error -- distinguish between so-called "Church of Christ" doctrine and objective scriptural teaching. We gravely blunder when we leave the impression that the subjective philosophy, social gospel, emotion pricked sectarian is a "Christian" in the true sense of the word, and heaven bound. The Bible doesn't teach it.

Honest, truth-seeking pilgrims in and out of Christ's church are hungry for the bread of life, and welcome humble efforts to save their souls.