Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

EASTERN ORTHODOX

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Just Christian

Thursday, October 11, 2018
I love church, and I love being part of God’s family, but I really dislike being a certain type of christian.  I don't understand why there are so many different beliefs for one religion (like Catholic, Methodist, and so on); is it possible to just be a christian and not any thing specific?  Is there a special church that's just christian?

Sincerely,
No Party Affiliation

Dear No Party Affiliation,

All we should ever be is just christians… you are absolutely right for being frustrated.  The denominational world is confusing… exactly the opposite of God’s church (1 Cor 14:33).  The term ‘denomination’ comes from the idea that a church believes that it is a subgroup of a larger religious body.  Lutherans worship and teach differently than Episcopalians, Catholics, Presbyterians, etc., but they all believe themselves to be christians – this is wrong.  Jesus said that there is only one path to heaven (Matt 7:14).  Denominationalism teaches that how you act and worship are matters of opinion, but Jesus said that how you act and worship are matters of truth (Jhn 4:24).  The only way to avoid denominationalism is to find a congregation that simply teaches what the Bible says – no creeds, no opinions, no personal agendas.  If we truly love Christ, we will follow His commandments (1 Jn 5:2).

Everything a church does (worship, membership, how they teach to be saved, how they spend their money, even their name) needs to have Bible verses backing them up (1 Tim 3:15).  A church needs to be able to explain the reasons for why they do what they do (1 Pet 3:15).

Our congregation here in Monroe goes by the name ‘Monroe Valley church of Christ’ because ‘church of Christ’ is a Biblical name for a congregation (Rom 16:16).  We worship by singing (Col 3:16), studying the Bible (1 Tim 4:13), praying (2 Thess 3:1), taking communion (only on Sundays – Acts 20:7), and taking up a collection (also only on Sundays – 1 Cor 16:1-2).  We teach that you must hear God’s Word (Rom 10:17), believe God’s Word (Jhn 3:16), repent of your sins (Mk 6:12), confess Jesus as your Savior (Lk 12:8), and be baptized to be saved (Acts 2:38, 1 Pet 3:21).  We do all these things because they are practices found in the Bible.  As you said, you don’t want to go to a church that offers their own thoughts – you want God’s thoughts.

There are other congregations like ours scattered across the country and the world.  Most of them use the name ‘church of Christ’, but then again, many churches that use that name aren’t faithful.  A Bible name for a church isn’t enough to make it faithful.  We have helped others, like yourself, looking for New Testament Christianity find faithful congregations in their area by contacting other preachers and christians that we know.  We’d be happy to do the same for you.  If you feel comfortable, just let us know what general area you live in, and we will try and get you in touch with a congregation that lives like your Bible reads (our e-mail is askyourpreacher@mvchurchofchrist.org).  It is frustrating, confusing, and exasperating to deal with denominationalism.  Thanks be to God that there is a better option!

 

Checking For Authenticity

Tuesday, April 24, 2018
I have been struggling with something lately.  I grew up in the Catholic church and left it because there were many things I couldn't find biblical (purgatory, papal infallibility, unmarried priests, and so on).  I became Baptist and have bounced between various churches, but all of them were churches that believed in grace and being saved versus earning heaven through works.  I did miss the history and tradition of Catholicism but still didn't agree with the doctrines.  I have been reading/listening to podcasts on Orthodox Christianity (Greek, Russian, etc.), and it seems like everything I like about Catholicism but none of the things I saw as made up.  According to their history, they are the original church, and Catholics broke off about one thousand years after Christ, basically as a power grab in Rome.  (Papal infallibility came in handy with that.)  I have been reading about Martin Luther and the reformation also.  Sooo, what I am trying to get at is... if the churches I am going to are the grace-based evangelical/protestant/whatever-you-call-them churches didn't really come around until over 1500 years after Christ, I am led to believe this is not the church of the New Testament that the apostles established.  My next logical assumption would be to seek out the true church that still performs church the way Jesus taught them… if that exists.  Any thoughts or guidance would be much appreciated.

Sincerely,
Searching For The Original

Dear Searching For The Original,

We absolutely love your attitude!  If only everyone wanted to be a part of God’s original church.  You are on the right track by seeking to find a church that performs what Jesus taught – the question is: how do we do that?  Almost every church professes to be the right church, and almost every church professes that God wrote the Bible… so the way to tell which church is really God’s church is to compare their behavior to what the Bible says.  The Bible is the pattern that every sound congregation should follow (2 Tim 1:13).  The Catholic church is one of the oldest churches, but as you mentioned, their behavior doesn’t match the Bible’s teachings.  Greek Orthodox churches also have a lot of history behind them, but it is a history of tradition, not a history of biblical purity.  What you want to do is find a group of people that are dead-set on doing only what the Bible says, no more, no less.

Everything a church does (worship, membership, the steps they teach for salvation, how they spend their money, even their name) needs to have Bible verses backing them up (1 Tim 3:15).  A church needs to be able to explain the reasons for why they do what they do (1 Pet 3:15).

As an example, our congregation here in Monroe goes by the name ‘Monroe Valley church of Christ’ because ‘church of Christ’ is a Biblical name for a congregation (Rom 16:16).  We worship by singing (Col 3:16), studying the Bible (1 Tim 4:13), praying (2 Thess 3:1), taking communion (only on Sundays – Acts 20:7), and taking up a collection (also only on Sundays – 1 Cor 16:1-2).  We teach that you must hear God’s Word (Rom 10:17), believe God’s Word (Jhn 3:16), repent of your sins (Mk 6:12), confess Jesus as your Savior (Lk 12:8), and be baptized to be saved (Acts 2:38, 1 Pet 3:21).  We do all these things because they are practices found in the Bible.  As you said, you don’t want to go to a church that offers their own thoughts – you want God’s thoughts.

There are other congregations like ours scattered across the country and the world.  Most of them use the name ‘church of Christ’, but then again, many churches that use that name aren’t faithful.  A Bible name for a church isn’t enough to make it faithful... but it is a beginning.  We have helped others, like yourself, looking for New Testament Christianity find faithful congregations in their area by contacting other preachers and christians that we know.  We’d be happy to do the same for you.  If you feel comfortable, just let us know what general area you live in, and we will try and get you in touch with a congregation that lives like your Bible reads (our e-mail is askyourpreacher@mvchurchofchrist.org).

 

Original Origins... Of Wayward Churches

Thursday, April 13, 2017

(This question is a follow-up to “Original Origins”)

Thank you for your answer regarding the first church in history, but I have another question.  Did the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church start at the same time, or did one form first and then the other?

Sincerely,
Ground Zero

Dear Ground Zero,

Both the Roman Catholic church and the Eastern Orthodox church trace their history back to the days of Caesar Constantine.  As we mentioned in the last post, Constantine made Christianity the national religion and forced all people to join it.  By forcing people to join Christianity, Constantine removed all traces of the volunteer Bible-based faith that Christ died for.  With national sanctions, political power, and a religious hierarchy that included cardinals, bishops, archbishops, etc., Constantine’s endorsement of Christianity suppressed Christ’s religion.  This time period gave birth to a national religion that was more about politics and power than faith, hope, and love.  Paul warned christians that an apostasy like this was coming and to beware of anyone that would set themselves up as head of the church (2 Thess 2:3-4).

This national religion continued until about the 11th century when there became a dispute over whether the city of Rome would lead this church or the city of Constantinople would.  This argument (and other smaller ones) broke the national religion into two groups.  The Roman Catholic church followed the Pope from Rome, and the Greek Orthodox church chose to have more localized bishops control their territories.  In any event, both churches can be traced to the same non-biblical beginnings which have confused many people for many generations.

Original Origins

Wednesday, April 05, 2017
What exactly was the first Christian church in history?  Was it the Roman Catholic church?  Was it the Eastern Orthodox church?  Or was it a Gnostic sect?

Sincerely,
Ground Zero

Dear Ground Zero,

The first church in history is the one founded on the day of Pentecost in the second chapter of Acts.  Catholicism and the Eastern Orthodox church didn’t begin until hundreds of years later under the reign of emperor Constantine when Constantine tried to control Christianity by making it the national religion… complete with government councils and sanctions.

The only pattern for the church that can be trusted is the one that can be found in the Bible.  All denominations, sects, and schisms are caused by deviating from the Bible.  The apostle Paul proclaimed that there is only one pattern for the church’s teaching, worship, and behavior (Eph 4:4-6).  A church must follow the Scriptures as its blueprint (1 Tim 3:15)… that is the only way to make sure it is pleasing to God.

Checking For Authenticity

Friday, March 28, 2014
I have been struggling with something lately.  I grew up in the Catholic church and left it because there were many things I couldn't find biblical (purgatory, papal infallibility, unmarried priests, and so on).  I became Baptist and have bounced between various churches, but all of them were churches that believed in grace and being saved versus earning heaven through works.  I did miss the history and tradition of Catholicism but still didn't agree with the doctrines.  I have been reading/listening to podcasts on Orthodox Christianity (Greek, Russian, etc.), and it seems like everything I like about Catholicism but none of the things I saw as made up.  According to their history, they are the original church, and Catholics broke off about one thousand years after Christ, basically as a power grab in Rome.  (Papal infallibility came in handy with that.)  I have been reading about Martin Luther and the reformation also.  Sooo, what I am trying to get at is... if the churches I am going to are the grace-based evangelical/protestant/whatever-you-call-them churches didn't really come around until over 1500 years after Christ, I am led to believe this is not the church of the New Testament that the apostles established.  My next logical assumption would be to seek out the true church that still performs church the way Jesus taught them… if that exists.  Any thoughts or guidance would be much appreciated.

Sincerely,
Searching For The Original

Dear Searching For The Original,

We absolutely love your attitude!  If only everyone wanted to be a part of God’s original church.  You are on the right track by seeking to find a church that performs what Jesus taught – the question is: how do we do that?  Almost every church professes to be the right church, and almost every church professes that God wrote the Bible… so the way to tell which church is really God’s church is to compare their behavior to what the Bible says.  The Bible is the pattern that every sound congregation should follow (2 Tim 1:13).  The Catholic church is one of the oldest churches, but as you mentioned, their behavior doesn’t match the Bible’s teachings.  Greek Orthodox churches also have a lot of history behind them, but it is a history of tradition, not a history of biblical purity.  What you want to do is find a group of people that are dead-set on doing only what the Bible says, no more, no less.

Everything a church does (worship, membership, the steps they teach for salvation, how they spend their money, even their name) needs to have Bible verses backing them up (1 Tim 3:15).  A church needs to be able to explain the reasons for why they do what they do (1 Pet 3:15).
As an example, our congregation here in Monroe goes by the name ‘Monroe Valley church of Christ’ because ‘church of Christ’ is a Biblical name for a congregation (Rom 16:16).  We worship by singing (Col 3:16), studying the Bible (1 Tim 4:13), praying (2 Thess 3:1), taking communion (only on Sundays – Acts 20:7), and taking up a collection (also only on Sundays – 1 Cor 16:1-2).  We teach that you must hear God’s Word (Rom 10:17), believe God’s Word (Jhn 3:16), repent of your sins (Mk 6:12), confess Jesus as your Savior (Lk 12:8), and be baptized to be saved (Acts 2:38, 1 Pet 3:21).  We do all these things because they are practices found in the Bible.  As you said, you don’t want to go to a church that offers their own thoughts – you want God’s thoughts.
There are other congregations like ours scattered across the country and the world.  Most of them use the name ‘church of Christ’, but then again, many churches that use that name aren’t faithful.  A Bible name for a church isn’t enough to make it faithful... but it is a beginning.  We have helped others, like yourself, looking for New Testament Christianity find faithful congregations in their area by contacting other preachers and christians that we know.  We’d be happy to do the same for you.  If you feel comfortable, just let us know what general area you live in, and we will try and get you in touch with a congregation that lives like your Bible reads (our e-mail is askyourpreacher@mvchurchofchrist.org).

 

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