Vol.VI No.IV Pg.7
June 1969

Queries And Answers

Robert F. Turner

Dear bro. Turner:

Does the church have a name? If so where may I find it?


Webster says synonyms for "name" are "designation" "denomination" "appellation" "title" and "style". Name is the general term loosely embracing all the others. God's people are identified by such expressions as "the church of God" (1CO.1:2) and, speaking of a plurality of congregations, "churches of Christ," (ROM.16:16). In these instances, the inspired writer saw fit to relate the "called-out people" (church) to owner or head (I doubt that a deliberate distinction was intended). In a loose and general sense, this gives God's people (collectively) a "name" — more that one name, in fact.

In the same vein, if I mistake not, the people of God are called (named?) "the household of faith" (GAL.6:10). In HEB.12:23 God's people are spoken of as "church of the firstborn" — and "firstborn ones" are under consideration — those who are born-again, NOT Jesus Christ, who was "first born". Here, characteristics of the people are emphasized. But I find, neither in these, nor in those names given in my first paragraph, an official label, or trademark, which Gods people (collectively) must wear.

If there is any lesson here, with respect to "label", it would be that (a) we should describe God's people with accuracy, "calling" them only what they are (not after Luther, John the Baptist, etc.); and (b) God gives no one label for His church.

"There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (ACT.4:12). Does this argue that God's people must wear the title, "Church of Christ"? The "name" given here in context (vs. 10) is "Jesus Christ of Nazareth". By what right do we shorten it? The context further shows that it was "power" (or source of power) that was questioned, (vs. 7;9) not some spoken "name". We have nothing here about a church name.

"Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus — " (COL.3:17). Does this label the church? If so it is the "Church of the Lord Jesus". But the context shows this refers to (a) letting the word of Christ dwell in us; (b) singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord; (c) wives, submit to husbands, as it is fit in the Lord; (d) children obey parents, to please the Lord; (e) servants, fear God, and work as to the Lord. This passage does not require a "label" on all we do, but calls upon us to live our whole life, "as unto the Lord" "to His glory".

Communication, especially in this day of "church" confusion, demands some means of identification. I speak of God's people as the church (called-out people) of (belonging to) Christ (the Lord) because I believe this accurately designates these people. "Of God" would be equally scriptural, but to the non-Christian public would be less exact. I do not switch about, using various scriptural designations, for this would be even more confusing to the public (Consider the problems of postal service, advertising a public meeting, etc.). In preaching, I emphasize identity, not some label.