In my sermon Sunday I used the stats from my last blog post – about the “Christians” in Dallas who don’t feel the need (apparently) to influence the community. It really is a sad commentary on our view of the heart of God.

But, that is not the issue on my heart tonight. Following my sermon a brother approached me in the foyer and asked me, “How are you defining Christian?”

“A follower of Jesus I suppose,” was my response.

“Well, your statistics are invalid. Those people who were interviewed are NOT Christians.”

I studied his countenance for several minutes as I tried to be certain that I understood his point. His point was, in all seriousness, that ONLY a cappella Churches of Christ contain Christians. (I suppose I ought to spell that with a small “c”).

I started to point out the obvious – if only a cappella Churches of Christ were used in the study the results would have been even worse for Christians. Let’s face it, we’re not much for all that “social gospel” stuff.

Thank goodness I did not respond to the brother any further. But the more I think about his viewpoint the more I am dumbfounded.

I honestly believe that he is the first person I have ever spoken with face-to-face who actually articulated the belief that God’s grace is only going to cover that small group of believers who split off from the Disciples of Christ in the late 1800’s on the western frontier of the United States of America (besides those Christians lucky enough to have lived in the first generation of the Christian dispensation).

That, my friend, is a pretty narrow gate. And, that means that the Lord’s promise in Matthew 16 (the gates of Hades shall NOT prevail against the church of Christ) failed for at least 1700 years! A narrow gate indeed.

Am I missing something or is the view that only a cappella Churches of Christ contain Christians a fairly recent phenomenon within our churches? Surely it is a minority view. I certainly hope that it is. None of the founders of the American Restoration Movement held that view (go read the letter of Alexander Campbell referred to as the Lunenburg Letter. It is available on ACU’s web page at www.bible.acu.edu/stone-campbell/Etexts/lun16.html).

When did such a God-limiting view creep into our churches? Is this the orthodoxy that we are going to insist upon as a test of fellowship? If it is, may heaven help us.

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