I have noticed many posts and discussions that use “CoC” and similar acronyms in an unfriendly, pejorative way, and I want to make a plea for that kind of thing to stop. Here’s why.
When people speak unkindly of “the CoC” teaching this or that, what exactly do they mean? Sometimes the criticisms reveal more fuzzy thinking than what they believe they are critiquing. For the purpose of clarification, a few questions are in order for the one who does this:
- Do you mean the universal church? Keep in mind this universal body would include Paul, Peter, and the rest of the apostles. Is this what you are talking about?
- Do you mean a particular local church? If so, then why speak in universal terms? If “the CoC” to which you are referring is local, then indicate this so as not to indict others who attend different congregations.
- Do you a mean a physically-assembled congregation? Probably not.
Here’s the problem: to speak of “the CoC” in a way other than the three above is to speak of it in a way that is not found in the Scriptures. Biblically, the reference will be universal, local, or an actual assembly.
“But wait a minute,” someone may object. “I’m talking about the mentality of those in the CoC who demand conformity to their ways of thinking and doing things. I’m talking about a denominational mindset that seems pretty pervasive in churches of Christ.”
Okay, now we are getting somewhere, and I can ask:
Does this mean that you are distinguishing a universal body called “the CoC” from the universal church found in Scripture? If so, does this mean that you think such people are without Christ and therefore lost?
Are you talking about everyone who attends where a sign says, “Church of Christ”?
If yes, then you are using universal language and indicting everyone who so attends. Is this what you are trying to do? I would hope not, for such would hardly be a brotherly response to what you consider to be a real problem.
If no, then do you think you can be a little more gracious and specific about your references without indicting everyone? Surely you know that not everyone falls under your indictments just because they attend where the sign says “Church of Christ,” don’t you? Or is that what you really think? We need clarification.
- Do you realize that many of us have been fighting a denominational mindset for a long time?
- Do you know that many of us have taught sternly against traditionalism? Against exclusive and denominational use of “Church of Christ”? Against any mentality that seeks control beyond a local group? Against an institutional mindset that removes the individual from the “Church” and makes the church some kind of separate, institutional entity?
- Do you realize that when you use “CoC” as a sweeping generalization and indictment that you lump many people together who have fought the very problems you think that you are now fighting? Do you think that is fair and right?
Do you realize that such broad, sweeping generalizations repeated over and over do more harm than good in this fight? Do you know that you end up alienating brethren by doing this, when these brethren could help in overcoming bad attitudes? Do you think it would be better to be very specific about what you mean? Do you think it would be more loving and fruitful to avoid broad generalizations?
There are better ways to work toward unity. Can we get past the pejorative uses of acronyms like “CoC,” “NI CoC,” “CENI,” etc.? I hope so, for such labeling helps no one and only further divides.
May God bless us in our joint work for the Lord and toward unity. May God defeat us when our efforts truly aren’t in line with His will.