Vol.VI No.I Pg.6
March 1969

An 1866 Impression

Robert F. Turner

The true object of the Church of Christ has been greatly misunderstood by even the members themselves. Its design was never to bring about a state of indolent peace and ease with any given standard of morality. But its object was and is to induce the members of that church to submit themselves unreservedly to the law of God.

Peace in the Church of Christ is not only impracticable, but even undesirable unless it is attained by the whole church coming up to the perfect standard of Gods law. Until this is attained, continual, earnest effort, investigation and discussion upon the part of the members of the church must be kept up until they all come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

The unity and harmony of the faith are to be attained, but only through the knowledge of the Son of God. A unity. then, of faith itself, is desirable only so far as it may be in complete harmony with the teachings of the Bible. The schisms and divisions of Christendom are certainly to be deprecated as the works of the evil one. Yet, a union of these sects in error, would certainly be a more fatal, and more to be dreaded calamity.

The great object of the church then, is to assist its own members and the outside world in learning the truth of God. the law of Christ, and their persuading and encouraging them to obey that law. Its true unity then can never be attained by compromising the truth, or winking at and tolerating error, but by a diligent and earnest, and continual striving to learn the whole truth, and to teach it to others; by an increasing effort to bring the church up to the perfect standard of Christian truth and Christian practice.

We should be much more fearful of tolerating error, which breeds sin, than of tolerating investigation. We should be more anxious to make the impression upon the world that we will use every means in our reach, and make every effort possible, for the discovery of truth, than to make the impression that we are in perfect peace and undisturbed quiet. Such an impression will command the respect of every man that values truth higher than popularity, and will give a new, high, holy, incentive to activity and energy in the Church of Christ.

The above is from the pen of David Lipscomb, printed in the Gospel Advocate, February 20, 1866. (pp. 123-124)

The years 1865 - 1875 are said by some historians to be crucial years in restoration efforts. Missionary Society problems were joined by first battles over mechanical instruments in worship, and modernism. There was a fight in progress re. schools operated by brethren (Kentucky Univ.) and churches were dividing — liberal and conservative, anti and progressive. Knowing this, we see the above article in its proper setting, and are better able to see its application in our own day.