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What Does the Bible Say About..What Sets the Churches of Christ Apart?

What does the Church of Christ believe? What sets you all apart from the Baptists or the Disciples of Christ?


The Disciples of Christ and the churches of Christ are very similar, having a background in the "Restoration Movement" in America in the early to mid-1800s. The two groups eventually split over two basic doctrines. One was the use of instruments of music in the worship, with the Disciples accepting the use of pianos, organs, etc. The other, more important, issue was the nature of the work and government of the church. The particular issue was the missionary society. The question was whether a group of congregations could submit to a leadership outside the individual congregation, and whether churches had the authority to support works such as orphans homes. The Disciples accepted these ideas; the churches of Christ believe each congregation is under their own leaders and no higher authority other than Christ, and many oppose congregational support of orphans homes, senior homes, and church sponsored schools (although most will say individual members can give to such activities). Since that original split the differences have widened, with some Disciples differing with the churches of Christ on the purpose of baptism, the frequency of taking the Lord's Supper, and other issues.

The differences between the Baptists and the churches of Christ include the differences in government of the church (some Baptists submitting to conventions or other hierarchies) and music in the church. The principal difference, however, is over the purpose of baptism. While both accept that baptism is immersion in water, the churches of Christ have held that baptism is for the purpose of washing away sin and entry into Christ's church (Acts 2:38, 42; Acts 22:16; Romans 6). Most Baptists consider baptism to be necessary, but not the point at which one is saved from sin. The concept is generally that baptism is because of, not unto, salvation. Thus most Baptists will say that all you need to do to be saved is pray. Other differences are based on the Baptists accepting Calvinist doctrines which the churches of Christ feel are not taught in scripture. The primary doctrines held by the Baptists in this area which are points of contention are: predestination, limited atonement, and the impossibility of apostasy (often stated, "once saved, always saved"). There are some free-will Baptists, but not as many as follow Calvin's doctrines.

What do the churches of Christ believe? Although each congregation would have to answer that separately, there is general agreement on a number of doctrines. The bare essentials are that Jesus is the son of God (Matthew 16:16), that he died to take away the sins of the world and was raised again to life (1 Corinthians 15:1-8), that we can choose to accept that salvation through faith and immersion in water to begin a new life (passages referred to above, among others). We believe that Jesus will come again, and at that time will judge the world, taking those who have submitted to him to heaven and condemning the remainder to eternal punishment (Matthew 25). Those are the essentials. There are other doctrines that we hold, based on the idea that the Bible is the only authority in religion and that it is the inspired word of God. Any practice that is not supported by scripture is a tradition of men which may be accepted or rejected with no effect on salvation.