Where Is Our Identity?

churchs2In the first century, when the church was born,  it’s identity was plainly in the belief that Jesus was the Christ.  The thought that was unmost in the minds of the early Christians was connected to the fact that they believed with all their heart that Jesus was the Son of God.  He was the one they had been waiting for, the hope of the world.  The defining attribute for the first century church was this belief in Jesus.   The element that set the first century church apart from the world centered in the acceptance or denial that Jesus was the God’s son.

As we examine the church today we need to ask, “Where is our identity?”  What determines who we are  and sets us apart?  What are our determining characteristics?  Without question there are things about the Church of Christ that make us different.  Let’s examine some of these qualities.

We could probably list a dozen or more characteristics we believe give us a unique identity.  In no way will the following list be complete nor is it intended as criticism but only as statement of fact.  Hopefully it will give us a feel for direction and identity.

First, we claim to have restored the first century church.  One of our characteristics of identity has been our claim of restorationism.  We have placed great importance in our effort to restore the church .  One of the unspoken truths of restorationism is  in order to restore the church, the church must have ceased to exist in its original form.  If it had continued to exist then our efforts would only replicate the church.  Our intent of restoration became a primary mark of our identity.

A second mark of identity rests in our non-denominational status.  We claim no earthly headquarters and no creed but the Bible.   Our views hold that each congregation is autonomous, free to make it’s own decisions and determine it’s own direction. If this is a true statement no congregation or group of congregations will exercise influence over any other church.  Each local church family answers to only God himself.  This identifying claim rests in the ablility of each congregation to maintain total autonomy, outside the realm of human hiarchy and influence.

Perhaps the most visible mark of identity in the Church of Christ  rests in the belief that as the restored church we hold the correct views in regard to salvation,  worship, and church government.  The most visible results of this mark of identity are an absolute adherance to baptism for salvation and the forbidding  use of instrumental music in worship.  The result of this belief prohibits acceptance of any group holding any view that does not mirror the views held by the Church of Christ. 

The final mark of identity we will discuss concerns our view of Scripture.  Many in our churches believe we can by study understand Scripture perfectly.  This belief promotes a trust in intellectualism, logic, and self-reliance.  It is believed  in order to please God all must understand Scripture exactly the same.  As a result of this view, anyone who holds a different view of Scripture is considered outside God’s grace and our fellowship.

We could list many additional views that mark our identity as a people.  The above list is sufficient to warrant the following question,  “Do we, in the Churches of Christ today, exibit the same marks of identity as the first century church?”  If not why not?

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