This is a letter I wrote to the Edmonton Church of Christ in the early part of 1991. I have made a few small corrections from the original letter, but the content is more or less the same.
For a definition of which Church of Christ is being referred to, please refer to the article "Is the Church of Christ a Christian Denomination?"
To The Church of Christ:
For those who do not know who I am, my name is R. J. Grigaitis. I am a Christian, and I love the Lord. In December of 1989 I became a member of the Edmonton Church of Christ. I believed wholeheartedly in all the teachings of the church and believed I had to show others the way to the true faith so they could be saved. I believed there could be no fault with what the church taught, and all the teachings could be proven with in-depth study of the Bible, and could never be disproved. I spent all the time I could on detailed studies of the Bible and the teachings of the Edmonton Church of Christ. I believed the Edmonton Church of Christ was the only "Church of Christ" in Edmonton. I was wrong.
I found out that the Church of Christ is not the "one and only church of Christ" on Earth. The Edmonton Church of Christ is part of what is known as the Conservative Churches of Christ. This church originates out of the Restoration Movement of the nineteenth century; specifically, Thomas and Alexander Campbell's Disciples. The Churches of Christ are not a united body of true believers, but a divided body of Christians who cannot agree on the interpretation of the Bible. Instead of restoring the "one, holy, catholic and apostolic church," and uniting all Christians, the Churches of Christ have become responsible for new divisions in Christianity. I came to the realization that the Church of Christ was not the "one, true church" when I began to find faults in their interpretation of the Bible.
One such misinterpretation is found in the teaching that the Spiritual Gifts are dead, from 1 Corinthians 13:10. The faulty teaching is this: `"Perfection" here could not mean the Second Coming of Christ because it is in the neuter gender in Greek, not the masculine gender. "When Perfection Comes" probably refers to the canonization of the Bible some time after the first century.' The Greek word in question here is τελειον, which is a form of τελειος. The meaning of this word is, "brought to an end, finished." The gender of this word makes no difference in the meaning because it is not used in conjunction with another word in which the genders have to agree. With this definition, τελειν could refer both to the end of the world, as well as to the completion of the Bible. Verse 12; however, shows us that Paul must be speaking of Christ's second coming. If Paul was speaking of the completion of the New Testament, I would not be writing this letter. We would know in full and not see such a poor reflection of God's will. There would be no disagreements over the interpretation of the Bible.
The Edmonton Church of Christ also teaches this: `God wants Christians to sing and make music in their hearts and ... He does not authorize mechanical instruments to be used in worship to Him today.' The verses they use to support this teaching are: Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19; Hebrews 13:15; James 5:13. These verses do not in any way forbid the use of musical instruments. To say we cannot praise the Lord with musical instruments would conflict with I Peter 4:11; which teaches that God can, and should, be praised with everything we do.
Another false teaching is this: `There is no reason for infant baptism since babies do not inherit sin from their parents (Ezekiel 18:20); also, a baby cannot have faith, therefore babies are not suitable candidates for baptism (see Col. 2:12; Mark 16:16; Gal. 3:26, 27).' No where, does the Bible say that babies cannot have faith. Mark 16:16 says, "... whoever does not believe will be condemned." If faith is to believe, and we say, "a baby cannot have faith" all babies who die will be condemned. Christ tells us in Matthew 11:25; 18:3-6; 21:15,16; and Luke 10:21 all show that children know and believe in Christ and adults have to learn these things. Matthew 21:16 uses the word infants, so we know this knowledge is not only in older children. Babies believe; therefore, they can be baptized. If you believe, you will be baptized, because a believer will do as Christ commands. It is a Christian parents duty to see that their children are baptized and remain faithful.
After Jesus was conceived in Mary's womb, Mary went to visit Elizabeth. "When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb." (Luke 1:41) The unborn John recognized his Savior in the womb of Mary. This shows that even before he was born, John had faith in Christ.
The Bible speaks of children being baptized. The Edmonton Church of Christ refutes this by stating that although entire families were baptized, children are not necessarily included. The words used in the New Testament do not agree with this statement. In Acts 16:15, the Greek word οικος is used; the meaning of this word is "one's household" or "one's entire property." Included in the household would be the children, the slaves, and the children of the slaves. In Acts 16:33, the Greek words πασι, meaning "all," and οικια, meaning "the family," are used. The use of these word implies the inclusion of children. In Acts 16:34, the Greek word πανοικι is used. This word, quite specifically, means "with all (his) house," or "with (his) whole family." The Bible definitely speaks of infants being baptized. It would be ridiculous to believe that these families, which include children, grandchildren, and the children of the slaves, had no infants in them.
The most destructive and misleading teaching of the Edmonton Church of Christ is that it is the "one, true Christian church" that was established by Christ, and that all other churches are churches of Satan. When this is taught, the histories of different denominations are compared to the history of the New Testament church. The New Testament church was established in Jerusalem in approximately 30 AD, 50 days after Christ was crucified. The only churches that can claim this as their history are the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church, and the Holy Oriental Catholic and Apostolic Church. The Edmonton Church of Christ does not claim this as their history, but their Bible studies do give the impression that it is. The true history of the Church of Christ is not discussed with new members. Until a member questions the history of the Church of Christ, they are left with the impression that they belong to the church established in New Testament times.
The Church of Christ states that the New Testament church `... differs significantly when compared to denominationalism. For example, the Presbyterian and Lutheran churches were started by John Calvin and Martin Luther respectively, 15 centuries after Christ established his church. John Smith started the Baptist churches sixteen hundred years after Christ. John Wesley started the Methodist church 17 centuries later then Christ. The Mormons were started by Joseph Smith 18 centuries after Christ. The Pentecostals came almost 19 centuries after the establishment of the church of Christ.' The Church of Christ does not make known that it was formed out of the separation which took place in the Disciples. The Disciples was the product of a merger of four American movements: the New England Restoration Movement, the Kentucky Revival, the Disciples' Message, and the Campbells. The New England Restoration Movement was founded by Abner Jones, a New England Baptist. In 1931, they merged with the congregational church, and are now part of the United Church of Christ. The Kentucky Revival was founded by Barton Stone. Barton Stone was influenced by the "New School" Presbyterianism, and later joined Alexander Campbell. The Disciples' Message was founded by Walter Scott, a follower of Haldane restorationists. In 1822 Walter Scott became an associate of Alexander Campbell. Thomas and Alexander Campbell were the spiritual fathers of the Disciples. Thomas Campbell was a pastor of a Seceder Presbyterian Church in western Pennsylvania. In 1810 Thomas Campbell's son, Alexander, joined his father and soon became the leader of the new movement.
Thomas and Alexander Campbell are not only responsible for most of the theology of the Church of Christ, but also many parts of the theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon). While Joseph Smith was formulating his doctrines, Sidney Rigdon, a Disciples minister, was baptized into the Mormon Church and became a companion of Joseph Smith. When Sidney Rigdon did this, 150 members of the Disciples were also baptized into the Mormon church; this increased the size of the Mormon church four times. As a result, the Campbells' teachings went on to become a dominant influence in Mormon theology. The Book of Mormon contains many references to the theology of the Campbells.
If the teachings of the Edmonton Church of Christ are correct, this would mean that everyone between the fourth and nineteenth centuries are not saved. This includes Hugo Grotins, John Coccejus, John Glas, John Lockes, John Calvin, John Knox, John and Charles Wesley, and Martin Luther. These are the men who influenced Thomas and Alexander Campbell. If Thomas and Alexander Campbell were influence by non-Christians when they formed their new church, they could not have formed the "one, true church of Christ."
There is no human institute which can call itself the "one, true, perfect church of Christ." Nothing human is perfect. The "true church of Christ" is made up of all true Christians from different Christian churches. Not all who belong to a Christian church are true Christians, but all Christian churches have some true Christians in them.
It is my Prayer that you accept all other Christian churches as "true churches of Christ." The War between Christianity and the rest of the world is big enough, let us not fight against each other. A Christian is one who accepts Christ as their Savior and devotes their life to him; not one who belongs to a particular church.
Correction to this letter:
At the time I wrote this letter I was still officially a member of the Lutheran Church, and an ostracized member of the Edmonton Church of Christ; however, I was not an active member in any church. Two years later I officially rescinded my membership in the Lutheran Church, and professed my faith in the Catholic Church. This letter was written while I was searching for Christ's Church, and I did not trust any biblical interpretation from any church. This resulted in my own personal interpretation of the Bible, which I used in this letter. I had no right in trying to enlighten anyone with my own personal interpretation, as Peter says, "Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation." (2 Peter 1:20) I have since reviewed this letter, and find no fault in it except the last two paragraphs. I will now correct these errors.
It is true that no human institute can call itself the "one, true, perfect church of Christ"; however, the Catholic Church is not a human institute. The Catholic Church is a divine institution, established by Christ and led by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said to Peter, the first Pope, "And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Mathew 16:18,19) The Catholic Church is the only church that can truthfully call itself the Church of Christ. For further discussion on this, please see my Second Letter to the Church of Christ.
All who follow Christ are true Christians. Those that do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety are, although imperfectly, in communion with the Catholic Church. In fact they implicitly admit this whenever they refer to the Bible, as the New Testament is an early record of the Catholic faith, and it was the infallibility of the Catholic Church that declared the authenticity of the Scriptural canon.
Background to this letter:
I was raised in the Lutheran Church. Although I did not live my faith, it was important to me. I really did not know which church was right, and I even thought of creating a church of my own. In the Fall of 1989 I had some Bible studies with a member of the Edmonton Church of Christ. I was set on fire by the Holy Spirit. I was amazed that there was already a church that does what I wanted. I didn't have to start a church of my own. By the Spring of 1990 I was disappointed with the teachings of the Church of Christ and began searching for a new church that I could trust. I began to wonder if there was a true church of Christ on Earth. After a great deal of searching and praying I made my Profession of Faith in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church on March 11, 1993. Since that time, God has opened my eyes in many areas of the Bible, life, and the ways of the true teachings of Christ. I am glad that God has finally led me to the church which possesses the true teachings of Christ, and I pray that one day our separated brethren may be united with us once again.
Bible quotes used in this letter:
For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your heart to God.
addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and praying to the Lord in you hearts,
Through him then let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.
Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone in good spirits? He should sing praise.
Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God; whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
The person who sins is the one who will die. The son will not be held responsible for the sin of his father and the father will not be responsible for the sin of his son. The righteous deeds of the righteous will be to his credit and the sin of the wicked will be charged against him.
You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.
For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
At that time Jesus said in reply, "I give praise to you , Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things for the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.
and said (Jesus), "Amen, I say to you unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
When the chief priests and the scribes saw the wondrous things he was doing, and the children crying out in the temple area, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they were indignant and said to him, "Do you hear what they are saying?" Jesus said to them, "Yes; and have you never read the text, 'Out of the mouths of infants and nurslings you have brought forth praise'?"
At that very moment he rejoiced in the holy Spirit and said, "I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things form the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been you gracious will.
After she and her household had been baptized, she offered us an invitation, "If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my home," and she prevailed on us.
He took them in at that hour of the night and bathed their wounds; then he and all his family were baptized at once.
He brought them up into his house and provided a meal and with his household rejoiced at having come to faith in God.