Located in Montgomery, Alabama
The Establishment of the Church of Christ (Opens in new window or tab)
The Lord's people under the former regime were designated as "Israel." The church is the new "Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16; Romans 2:28-29). As the church is now God's ekklesia (the called out), so there was an ekklesia (congregation) of the Lord's people in the days of Moses (Acts 7:38).
There was a divinely-designed "house of God" under the Mosaic economy; so today the church is "the house of God" (Isaiah 2:2; Ephesians 2:19; 1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Peter 4:17). Having said that, it must be emphasized that the New Testament church is a distinct organism-a regime characterized by a new, fresh character, uncluttered by the "carnal ordinances" of the former dispensation (cf. Hebrews 9:10).
The Origin of Christianity (Opens in new window or tab)
In his famous speech on St. Helena, Napoleon exclaimed:
I know men, and I tell you that Jesus Christ is not a man. Superficial minds see a resemblance between Christ, and the founders of empires and the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist. There is between Christianity and any other religion the distance of infinity... Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded empires. But upon what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ alone founded his empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for him (Monser 1961, 503,508).
Christ had no formal rabbinical training with which to mesmerize the multitudes (John 7:15). Even his own people had little regard for him (John 1:11; 7:5; 6:66). And yet, somehow, he changed the world forever. The following tribute is sometimes credited to Phillip Brooks, who wrote the hymn, "O Little Town Of Bethlehem."
He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman, He grew up in another village, where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a home. He didn't go to college. He never visited a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself.
He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.
While He was dying, His executioners gambled for His garments, the only property He had on earth. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today He is the central figure of the human race.
All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that one solitary life (quoted in Kennedy and Newcomb 1994, 7-8).
Psallo and the Instrumental Music Controversy (Opens in new window or tab)
History of Instrumental Music (Opens in new window or tab)
The several general periods of religious history, from the close of the New Testament until the present, have been searched many times from many viewpoints. These searches yield one significant fact for the present topic, which is clear and unassailable: Instrumental music in worship within churches professing to serve Christ did not emerge until hundreds of years after the close of the New Testament.
These centuries display various departures in doctrine and church organization [such as the practice of infant baptism, the emergence of a bishop versus the plurality of bishops in the oversight of a single church, etc.] over the years. These continuing departures from New Testament teaching issued from the Roman Catholic, the Greek Orthodox, and other nationalistic churches as well as the various heresies and schisms which litter the centuries of Christian history.
Baby Dedication Ceremonies: Expediency or Innovation? (Opens in new window or tab)
Every parent, upon becoming a Christian, automatically assumes the sacred obligation of rearing his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:1ff). He has a God-given covenant responsibility to raise his children right when he emerges from the water of baptism!
Here, then, is a question for sober consideration. Does the Christian need to continuously "make covenants" with God, buttressed with formal ceremonialism, in order to remind himself to fulfill that which he has pledged to do already? Must he initiate formal covenants relative to a variety of additional personal responsibilities that fall to him?
The truth is, if conscientious people-be they husbands, wives, brothers or sisters-would dedicate themselves to serving God passionately, contrived rituals would be wholly unnecessary.
Disney Church (Opens in new window or tab)
There was a time in most churches when the services were focused upon worship that glorified God, and the preaching consisted of reverent instruction from the Scriptures. In some places, it's still that way. On the other hand, drastic changes are underway in hundreds of churches across the land.
A recent article in World magazine addressed this phenomenon. Note this quote:
Nothing is more characteristic of evangelical church meetings at the end of the 20th century than their orientation to the consumer, especially the unchurched one. Churches decide what their "market niche" is; they study their "target audience"; they design the services to appeal to the consumer.
In a word, "worship" services have become "us-centered," rather than "God-centered."