I played and spoke at a Church of Christ church yesterday evening and learned a lot about the denomination’s history. I know that’s not all that interesting to most people but I guess I’m a nerd: to me it’s fascinating.
The Church of Christ was bopping along just fine, so we were told, until a difference over biblical interpretation arose around the early 1900s. One group said the church should only speak where the bible speaks and remain silent on everything the bible is silent on. The other group said that was silly. They said we should of course speak about what the bible speaks about and where the bible is silent they felt we can exercise our freedom wisely.
They split from each other. The first group was called Church of Christ and the second group was called Disciples of Christ. Disciples of Christ used instruments in their church services; the Church of Christ did not. They did not because the bible doesn’t say to and doesn’t describe church meetings after Jesus as having instruments present. The bible doesn’t speak,m in other words, on the subject of instruments in the early church. Of course the New Testament also doesn’t speak about the churches back then having buildings, a paid full-time pastor, pews, but…
Then the Church of Christ split again, this time over cups.
There are two cuppers and one cuppers apparently. One cuppers see that when Jesus taught communion (or the Lord’s Supper) to his disciples in the upper room just before he was arrested, Jesus only used on cup – what some churches call the “common cup.” Two cuppers thought, I’m just guessing, that logistically it made more sense to use many cups to serve a crowd larger than 12 in a church service. They split into these two groups.
Then the Church of Christ gave birth to another faction called the Anti-Church of Christ. The Anti-Churchers don’t have kitchens on church property because Paul, scolding early Christians for being gluttons and pigging out at communion, told them to eat at home. And they won’t give money to orphanages because they believe the church is supposed to take care of orphans. And they won’t give money to Christian education of any kind because they believe education is the parent’s job – though one guy said he dated an Anti-Church girl who went to public school and knew no other Anti-Church folks who didn’t.
That’s just one denomination, folks. Fractured again and again. All of them have a strange tragic past like this (or at least I’d describe it that way). Baptists? Split. American Baptists were the ones against slavery and Southern Baptists thought it was ordained by God. Methodists? Split. Methodists wanted to push out the poor and the black skinned so they allowed the rich to purchase their seat in the pew, pushing those without money to the back and the balcony and sometimes out the door. Free Methodists thought church seating should be, you know, free. And on and on and on…
Now we split over politics, musical style, architecture, decor, women in ministry, homosexuality, and lots of other things that are “important.” What’s important enough to split the Church over? Thoughts?