Ooooo…I hope I did not offend. I do not see eye-to-eye with my father-in-law on many (alright, most) things. He is not an unpleasant or hateful man, but quite extreme in his “piety.” I’ll put it this way - neither of my husband’s siblings go to any kind of church ever, but they are looked upon more favorably by my father-in-law than is my husband who is a strong family man (again, unlike his siblings) and attends a Baptist church. As for our Baptist church, in some ways it is typical Baptist, but in many ways it is not. We have what I consider to be a quite ecumenical congregation, though still conservative. Obviously, it’s not perfect, or I wouldn’t be here reading and posting
In my initial post I didn’t really share any information because that would be enough to write many books! In the years I’ve known my husband’s family I’ve been amazed at the rigid stance on things that they take (like the lack of instruments, for example). flameburns623 gave excellent background on the history of the movement. As I said before, they are for the most part a very zealous group - they truly want to be as obedient as they can be to God. The problem is that they’ve come to the conclusion that their interpretation is the absolute truth and therefore all others must be wrong (and what follows in many circles is the belief that everyone else is necessarily going to hell). The next step beyond “we’ve got it right” is “everyone else has it wrong” and, sadly, there’s a certain pride that naturally follows, and, well, we all know about the dangers of pride.
To more directly answer katieandpaul’s original questions (and by the way, Katie, I used to live in Birmingham, so if you know the actual name of the congregation where they worship I may can even be more specific in telling you how conservative they are and what they would therefore believe) - the church of Christ sect does believe that their church was started by Jesus Christ. They do believe in a great apostasy, but are convinced that the (their) church existed all along. They believe in baptism only by those who have accepted Christ, never infant baptism. They do not use the term “saved,” however, like many fundamentalist churches. They think salvation occurs at baptism and as a result will generally take someone directly from the “altar call” (can I assume everyone here knows what I mean by that?) to the baptistry. They also don’t do anything (or at least they claim not to do anything) that isn’t expressly provided for in the New Testament (i.e., no instruments or choirs). Many CofC congregations have split over the decision to add a kitchen to the church’s building. They have communion (always referred to as “the Lord’s Supper”) every Sunday, but use grape juice, not wine (they believe that wine in the NT refers to unfermented grape juice - virtually impossible in those times, but whatever). They consider themselves non-denominational, but are vastly different from the non-denominational megachurch concept that has emerged in recent years. They believe that all churches should be autonomous and shouldn’t have to subscribe to the direction of a governing body/authority. Some of the more progressive (progressive being a relative term) congregations may associate somewhat with other congregations, but always within the CofC. The preachers (never reverend, minister, pastor, etc.), as far as I can tell, aren’t expected to have any theological training whatsoever (an example - my husband’s stepsister’s husband is in real estate but is looking for a full-time preaching job). As far as leadership goes, the elders of the congregation make the decisions. Here’s some CofC code for you: if they use a capital “c” on the sign it’s more progressive than the ultra conservative lowercase outside “c” churches.
I’ve just hit the highlights on the surface, but maybe that’ll pique some curiosity! Like I said in the first post, I don’t agree with them, but I know them very well.