Information On The Church Of Christ

I recently spoke with a young man who is a member of the Church Of Christ. I may be wrong but from what I took away from the conversation is that the members of the COC believe they are the original church founded at the day of Pentecost and that all other churches are apostate churches and that they are also scripture only and anything outside of scripture is manmade traditions. Does anyone have any information that can help me in the next discussion I have with this COC member?

The Church of Christ was invented by Alexander Campbell in the early Ninteenth Century. Theologically it is strongly influenced by the teachings of John Calvin.

I am not aware of any claim by the CoC (or any other protestant denomination) that their particular denomination has unbroken roots to the Apostolic age. Rather, the CoC (like many protestant churches) claim to practice religion in the same manner as described in the Bible (although no two denominations agree on exactly what that manner is).

It’s fine for the CoC to claim to be based upon the Bible, because the Bible existed when the denomination was first invented. But the Catholic Church could never claim to be based on the Bible, because the Bible had not yet been written when the Church first became active on Pentecost (well, none of the NT had been written, anyway).

So, if a denomination wants to be like the Apostolic Christians, they must not base themselves on the Bible. In fact, they must discard their Bibles, because Apostolic Christians did not have them either.

The various books that comprise the New Testament were not completed until about 70 years after Pentecost. But it’s not like the Church finally had a Bible in the year 110 or so. Other early Christian writings had been produced (such as the Shepherd of Hermes). There was no consensus on which writings should be viewed as Scriptural and which should not (Revelation was hotly contested, as you might imagine). There was quite a lot of bickering about the definition of the New Testament canon (we still have many writings of the Early Fathers arguing this topic).

There was no consensus on this until Pope Damascus accepted the proceedings of a Council of Carthage, which itself had accepted a Council of Hippo, which is the first time the list of NT books that we know today was ever enumerated. This did not happen until the early Sixth Century.

If you went to a Christian in the First, Second, Third, Fourth, or Fifth Century and asked to see a Bible, he would not know what you were talking about. The Bible (as we know it) did not exist (or at least the various NT books we know had never been put together and declared Scriptural). There was no recognized New Testament canon until the early Sixth Century.

The early Church had no Bible to base themselves on, and this was the case for centuries. So if any church wants to be like the early Christians, they must toss out their Bibles completely.

I grew up CoC and that is definitely what they believe. The big reason why I converted is that I learned what David basically said: The Bible didn’t come first.

I grew up Church of Christ. My brother is a preacher and I have several uncles that have been elders and deacons in the church. I have one uncle that is a retired CofC preacher. I converted to the Catholic church in 2001. My conversion process was extremely painful! I turned against my entire family. I’d be happy to answer any question you have.

Ask them for the historical proof that they are the original Church.

I second and third the above comments. I also grew up CoC and thats the church I was baptised in, and they do believe that they practice the original church, and no other group follows the Bible correctly, oh the problems of sola scriptura.
My mom is still in the CoC, however, she is gradually coming towards the Catholic Church. As a joke, I usually call them cambellites…they can’t stand it lol

Great post, these individuals don’t have the biblical proof to prove it, nor history nor writings from the early church fathers.

Same thing happened with me, although my family are Southern Baptist. It’s a tough row to hoe.

I converted from the “church of Christ”. They believe that they are the original Church founded on the day of Pentecost in 33AD. And they do say that they are the only Christians and everyone else will go to hell.

The truth is far different, they were not founded until the year 1906 by dissident members of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ. The reasons for the split were as much political and sociological as much as religious. You will notice that most CofCs are located in the South where the excuses for the split came from lack of funds and University education. The ostensible reasons were mainly two. The Northern churches CCDOC could afford pipe organs, while the Southern CsofC could not so they were banned and found “unscriptural” down South. Same with University Education the Northeners could afford it while the South could not.

Church of Christ members are extreme literalists and fundamentalists. For them every single thing must be commanded in the bible to be legititmate, even things as trivial as musical instruments in the church, flowers and candles!

There are really different denominations calling themselves THE church of Christ. As a child I remember driving across town when the was a “church of Christ” only a block away. They differed on some tiny point. :shrug:

The different denominations all calling themselves “church of Christ” are several. They have churches that have sunday school classes, and churches that don’t because they think SS is unscriptural. Churches that will use separate tiny glasses for the grape juice and churches that use a common cup. Churches that will support orphanages, retired peoples housing, and then churches that refuse to support them.

All of this in a church that was founded with the purpose of unity among Christians!

About “apostacy”, they are a restorationist denomination. They think that God gave the bible to the world as a strict rule book, and when the world stopped using the bible that way apostacy and Catholicism were born.

Problem is that is not true. The church (CC) was established before even a word of the New Testament had been written.

By the time I was 9 years old, I already understood that to go to heaven you had to be Church of Christ. I was brought up to believe that the CofC restored the church back to its origin, that it got off track somewhere back in history. Their motto is, “Speak where the Bible speaks, be silent where the Bible is silent.” In one of my many hour long conversations with my preacher brother, I reminded him of this belief and said, “If that’s the case, then why don’t we anoint the sick like it says to do in James 5.” He was a little flustered and said he didn’t know but wouldn’t mind doing it. They believe they follow the Bible more correctly than anyone else. They “worship in spirit and in truth.” The truth part is what they believe they have. :slight_smile:

The documented history of the Catholic church is what really convinced me that it was the church founded by Christ himself.

Couldn’t have said it myself. People can argue and protest all they want, but through historical facts, heck, even the Britanicca encyclopedia states that the Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ

I studied with a CoC evangelist once and he said their movement began with a “great awakening” in the early 1800’s (Joseph Campbell, et al). They saw all the denominations around and decided that there were so many denominations because there were so many man-made creeds and confessions, such as the the Augsburg confession, the Westminster confession, and so on. Thberefore they decided to disregard all these man-made confessions and simply “go back to the bible.” They wouldn’t be a denomination, but be simply Christian.

Then, from a Catholic point of view, something interesting happened. By going by the bible alone, they came to a very Catholic understanding of soteriolgy, of salvation and baptism, of the nature of the kingdom. They preach directly against Calvinism. A lot of their theology is more similar to Catholicism than reformation Protestantism. I don’t know if they realize this since they are otherwise very anti Catholic. They are also extremely congregational, with the local congregations being pretty much independent of other “Churches of Christ.”

There is a church of Christ not far from my house, but this church is a Mormon church.

All of this is true. The Church of Christ believes you must be baptized to be saved, but they don’t believe in infant baptism. They believe you must be at an age of reason and ask for it yourself. They also believe in partaking of the Lord’s Supper(what we would call the Eucharist or communion) every Sunday, but only on the first day of the week. They do not believe in the real presence though; it’s only a symbol.

I appreciate all the information, please pray that my future conversations with this gentleman plants some seeds that bear fruit.

As a member and Deacon in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) I would like to clear up a couple of your statements. First the Church of Christ was not “invented by Alexander Campbell” nor was any church for that matter. Alexander Campbell was an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church. Alexander along with his son Thomas led a group of Christians believing that creeds were a source of division in the church when used as a test of faith as well a believing that the Lord’s Supper should be open to any baptized Christian regardless of denomination as long as they professed belief in Jesus Christ and accepted Him as Lord and Savior. Another contemporary Barton W. Stone led a separate group of Christians believing much the same so the two groups merged to form the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, the the non-instrumental Churches of Christ all derived from this movement. They committed themselves to the restoration of pure New Testament Christianity free of the the many man made dogmas associated with Tradition and the many abuses of the institutional church up to and following the Reformation. They believed in 'No Creed but Christ" and in speaking only where the scriptures speak. These three churches were products of the restoration movement while the United Church of Christ is a product of the reformed churches.

They do not claim to be the original church but a restoration of the Church Christ established free of the many false dogma and abuses that occurred over the years. They believe in a simple practical practice of Christianity.

I entered the Catholic Church last Easter Vigil. I was raised Baptist/Holiness probably more Holiness than Baptist, I converted to Catholicism after about a 3 year search looking for answers. The answers I found were in the Catholic Church which was a pretty big surprise. I am sorry to hear that things did not go well with your family when you converted, I can’t say my family was happy when I converted but it remained mostly civil and it’s pretty much a subject that we don’t discuss. Things have been a little rocky at times with my family since my conversion but I have no regrets and it was the best thing I have ever done.:smiley:

My mother converted to CofC, when I was a kid, and drug my reluctant father after her, so I, too, was brought up attending these churches…although my father used to whisper to us that the Catholic Church was, indeed, the first Church- something he no longer whispers, as 40 years of indoctrination has either changed his mind or silenced him (can’t tell which).

Good luck dialoging with anyone who is a member- they can be a very stubborn lot. Your best bet, as others have suggested, is in constantly reverting to the chronological history of the Church, as well as the chronological history of the compilation and canonization of the bible. Many are completely unaware of the history…but be prepared to have that dismissed, if you’re attempting dialogue with a member whose mindset is like my mother’s- she can truly accept the notion that every single Christian who didn’t practice a faith identical to the one she is currently practicing, for the last 2,000 years, is currently burning in hell. As a matter of fact, she and my father recently joined a splinter group from a larger CofC and she firmly believes that only they (all 33 members) are going to heaven. She takes that “camel through the eye of a needle” thing to a whole new level. She does, however, think there might be other CofCs out there, somewhere, maybe, who might believe exactly as she does, and therefore will get to heaven.

I doubt that all CofCs are so rigid in their thinking, but those of my personal experience have been.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit