What Kind of Church Is This?
By LeRoy Lawson

One thing is certain – there is no shortage of churches. You can take your pick among the hundreds of different kinds, from the proud old denominations like the Episcopalian and Presbyterian to the newer, more energetic Assembly of God or Seventh Day Adventists, to say nothing of those amazingly numerous and various cults that keep springing up.

In the midst of such diversity, what is special about our church? What kind of a church is it, anyway?

We answer paradoxically. The distinctive about this Christian church is that it has no distinctives. In fact we deliberately seek not to be different, because our goal is unity, not division. Christianity has suffered long enough from deep divisions separating denomination from denomination, Christian from Christian. When Jesus prayed “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us” (John 17:21), He had us in mind. In the spirit of His prayer we seek unity with all others in Christ.

Obviously that desire is difficult to achieve. Human nature resists oneness. We seem to believe with Robert Frost that “good fences make good neighbors,” even though something within us “doesn’t love a wall, [but] wants it down.” God desires unity, however, so it must be possible.

Christian churches and churches of Christ trace their modern origins to the early 19th-century American frontier, a period of militancy among denominations. America’s pioneers brought their deeply rooted religious convictions to the new land and perpetuated their old animosities. Presbyterian squared off against Anglican who defended himself against Baptist who had no toleration for Lutheran. A reaction to this mutual animosity was inevitable.

continue to page 2: our roots
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