In the introduction, let us explain the descriptive terms which we will be using. Webster says that "liberal" means: "not bound by
orthodox tenets or established forms in political or religious philosophy; not conservative." The word "conservative" means: "disposed to
maintain existing institutions or views; opposed to change."
I believe these two terms describe the views of churches of Christ today. Many churches of Christ no longer hold to the New Testament
as a blueprint that is to be followed in every detail. They do many things for which there is neither command, example or necessary
inference. On the other hand, there are many churches of Christ who are opposed to these departures from the New Testament pattern.
They believe we must have book, chapter and verse for all we do and practice.
Let us contrast some of the views and practices of the two groups:
|1. Have missionary, benevolent and educational organizations to
execute the work of the church.
||1. Have no missionary, benevolent and educational organizations
to execute the work of the church. They believe the local church is
God's only organization to do his work (Phil. 1:1; Acts 14:23).|
|2. Have "educational directors," "associate ministers," "youth
directors," and "superintendents" over their human organizations.
||2. Have evangelists, elders (pastors) and teachers (Eph. 4:11).|
|3. Seek to get crowds with "youth meetings," "rallies," carnal
rewards such as trips to Opryland and all kinds of promotions
(such as the "bus ministry").
||3. Engage in none of these things, but seek to draw men to Christ
with the preaching of the gospel (Jn. 6:45; Rom. 1:16).|
|4. Emphasize society and the physical man by appealing to the
carnal nature with "church banquets," "church kitchens," "church
camps," "fellowship halls," and all kinds of parties.
||4. Do not believe the church is to provide the social needs of man
(Rom. 14:17; 1 Cor. 11:22, 34; Jn. 18:36).|
|5. Elevate their preachers above the rest of the members by using
such titles as "doctor."
||5. Reject all such titles as unscriptural (Matt. 23:7-12).|
|6. Support and operate schools for secular education, beginning
with kindergarten and going through schools of higher education.
||6. Do not support or operate any schools. They believe that the
church is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15)|
|7. Do much of their work through what they call the "sponsoring
church" arrangement - many churches pooling their funds under
one eldership to do a general work all churches are equally related
||7. Reject this arrangement as a violation of the New Testament
pattern of congregational cooperation. In New Testament times
one church only helped another church when the receiving church
was in want (or need) - unable to do its own work (Acts 11:27-30). (Cooperation in such work does not require the centralized
|8. Base many of their practices on the silence of the Scriptures,
and appeal to the traditions of the past.
||8. Base all their practices on the unadulterated gospel of Christ
(Matt. 28:18; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).|
|9. Expect their preachers to be modern-day "pastors," running
after the members and visiting the hospitals on a regular basis and
to be the "head planner" of all their projects and promotions.
||9. Do not expect their preachers to leave the work of God to serve
tables (Acts 6:20). They have deacons and godly women to take
care of the "physical needs" of the congregation and elders to do
the planning (Acts 20:28). The preacher is left free to study,
meditate, pray and carry on the work of preaching the gospel to
the lost (2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Tim. 4:12-16). The preacher is to visit the
sick because he is a Christian (Matt. 25:36), not as a "preacher
|10. Have "special singing" in the assembly - different choral
groups are invited in to sing.
||10. Have nothing but congregational singing (Eph. 5:19; Col.
(Truth Magazine, 3 May 1979, p. 290).
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 13, p. 396
July 5, 1990