In Search of the True "Church of Christ"

Darrenn Jackson


Recently, I received a booklet in the mail from a local Church of Christ promoting their beliefs and their view of Church history. Much of the same "Back-to-Bible" Protestant approach I have come across before. Nonetheless, I was gladdened by the overall positive tone of the booklet. For one, it didn't seem to bash the Catholic Church in order to bolster its own claim to be the New Testament Church. However, appearances can be deceiving...

What follows is the entire text of the Church of Christ booklet (words in red) and my comments (words in blue) and contains an Appendix of quotations from the Apostolic Fathers with further comments. All misspellings and errors in punctuation in my quotations from the booklet appeared in the booklet itself. I just felt that thirty or so [sic]'s would hinder the reading of this piece.

All of my Scripture quotations are from the New American Bible (NAB), and the Patristic quotes come from The New Testament and Other Early Christian Writings: A Reader, compiled by Bart D. Ehrman ã 1998 by Oxford University Press, Inc.



Where are their roots?

No doubt you have heard of the churches of Christ. You may have wondered about this church. You may not know why we profess not to be a denomination among the hundreds that are in the world. We will endeavor in this little book to answer some of the questions you many have.


We in the church of Christ look to the Bible for all things, therefore in the spirit of restoration we are striving to restore the New Testament Church, as the church is described in the New Testament...


Every Catholic should shout "Amen!" to that. The Catholic Church is the "New Testament Church" in its fullness. The New Testament was not given to us in a vacuum, but via the Church who authorized, decided, and closed the Canon of Scriptures.

Church of Christ booklet continues:

We see that the New Testament Church has become watered down with men's traditions so that it has totally failed to be what the Lord intended. We feel the only way to restore the church is to go back to the Bible, and pattern the same way now as then. The apostle Paul prophesied that the word needed to be preached because a time was coming when "men would not endure sound doctrine, and their ears would begin to itch to hear fables rather than the truth from the word." (2 Timothy 4:2-4)After many years the early church fulfilled this prophecy by turning away from the word. It was during this falling away period that the universal (catholic) church was born of man. Because of the apparent sins of apostasy in this universal (catholic) church some men such as Martin Luther and others of the same conviction separated themselves into various denominations, all of which were unauthorized by the Lord. In the late 18th century as men began to study their Bibles, each not knowing of the other. In these studies they began to question their faith in men's denominations. Therefore they pondered these things saying,


The Church rightfully expresses her authority given to her by Christ:

"And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you" (John 14:16-18)

"The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name-he will teach you everything and remind you of all that [I] told you." (John 14:26)

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ and manifests through us the odor of knowledge of him in every place. For we are the aroma of Christ for God among those who are perishing, to the latter an odor of death that leads to death, to the former an odor of life that leads to life. Who is qualified for this? For we are not like the many who trade on the word of God; but as out of sincerity, indeed we speak as from God and in the presence of God, we speak in Christ."(2 Corinthians 2:14-17, emphasis added)

This authority to teach infallibly in Christ's physical absence is Christ's own promise to her. He fulfilled this promise by giving the Apostles His Holy Spirit. Pope St. Clement takes this idea one step further by applying the divine choosing of bishops in the first recorded mentioned of the concept of Apostolic Succession (See the attached Appendix of the Apostolic Fathers).

In the first quotation, Christ promises that the Father will send His Holy Spirit to the Church to guide her just as He did in His physical presence among them. In the second quotation, Christ emphasizes that the Holy Spirit will teach them continually and remind them of what He already told them.

Now St. Paul (not one of the original Twelve) asserts this divine authority in the quote from 2 Corinthians. Note the resemblance between 2 Corinthians 2:14-17, John 14:16-18, and John 14:26. In all three, the Holy Spirit is a witness to the presence of Jesus and the guardian of their teaching. St. Paul and the other Apostles (note the use of "we" in verse 17) assert to preach in Christ's stead because of his continued presence among them in the Person of the Holy Spirit. What puts it all together is verse 17 (the italicized portion): "but as out of sincerity, we indeed speak as from God and in the presence of God, we speak in Christ." The Apostles were given divine authority, and so were those appointed and ordained by them as indicated by St. Paul's assertion of that authority in 2 Corinthians 2:14-17.

The Catholic Church thus rightfully exercises her divine authority to infallibly interpret Scripture because of Christ's fulfilled promised of the Holy Spirit. But back to the New Testament itself. How should I interpret it with any confidence? Should I trust a non-denominational church like yours, or look to the Apostolic Fathers who were taught by the very Apostles themselves? Should I heed your church's teaching rather than the witness of the Early Church? Who's actually closer to the New Testament Church, your church or the Church of the disciples of the Apostles? St. John taught St. Polycarp (later bishop of the Church at Smyrna). St. Peter taught St. Clement (who would be the third successor to the See of Rome). St. Ignatius of Antioch knew St. John and likely Sts. Peter and Paul as well.

As we saw above, Christ promised to guide His Church and protect her from all error. It is on the word of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that I accept the teaching authority of the Church. Yet, your booklet says, "we see that the New Testament Church has become watered down with men's traditions so that it has totally failed to be what the Lord intended." As a Bible-believing Christian, I simply refuse to believe that. The Church is "the household of God...the pillar and foundation of truth" (1 Timothy 3:15). God the Father could never let his household fail to be what he intended since all of the Church's life comes from Christ the true vine (John 15:1-4). In order for the Church to fail, God would have to fail. The Catholic Church is the Biblical Church and the writings of the earliest Fathers testify to it.

My next point is this: what credible historical evidence can you show of the Church being "watered down" and getting off track? Your booklet says, "After many years the early church fulfilled this prophecy by turning away from the word. " How many years? 5? 10? 20? Furthermore, you say, "It was during this time that the universal (catholic) church was born of man." This statement is false. The Church was called "catholic" right after the Apostolic period:

"Where the bishop is present, there let the congregation gather, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. Without the bishop's supervision, no baptisms or love feasts are permitted. On the other hand, whatever he approves pleases God as well. In that way everything you do will be on the safe side and valid." (St. Ignatius of Antioch: Epistle to the Smyrneans; 8,1 ca. 110 A.D., emphasis added)

As a soon-to-be Catholic, I whole-heartedly agree that the Reformation churches were unauthorized by the Christ.

This is the scripture you cited for the Church's apostasy:

"proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths." (2 Timothy 4:24)

Note that in 2 Timothy 4:1-5, St. Paul is encouraging St. Timothy to "be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry". This passage points out that people will hunger for things other than the truth, but it never says that the Church completely fall victim to it. In fact, the Pastoral Epistles themselves are St. Paul's preparations (this passage being a prime example) for the times prophesized in this passage.

In addition, the attached quotations from the Fathers show that the Early Church did not fall into a total apostasy.

Church of Christ booklet continues:

-We need to get past denominationalism and worship simply and truthfully as the Lords church did in the beginning. (Acts 2:44-47)


Actually, in the beginning, Christians worshipped in the temple in Jerusalem before the split between Christianity and Judaism made final by the decision made at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15). But Jewish worship in the New Testament Church is something I'll get into later.

Church of Christ booklet continues:

-We need to accept Bible truths only continuing "steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship" (Acts 2:42)


Christians didn't have an authoritative canon to quote from until about the fourth century. Secondly, how could the New Testament Church be following "Bible truths only" since the Bible was written after all the events described in it? How could they follow a Bible that wasn’t even completed yet? The oral face-to-face preaching of the Word of God mentioned here in Acts 2:42 is the preferred method of transmission as we here from St. John himself:

"Although I have much to write to you, I do not intend to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and to speak face to face so that our joy may be complete." (2 John 12)

"I have much to write to you, but I do not wish to write with pen and ink. Instead, I hope to see you soon, when we can talk face to face." (3 John 13-14)

The Word in both forms (Scripture and oral teaching) comprise Sacred Tradition:

"To this end he has called you through our gospel to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours." (2 Thessalonians 2:14-15, emphasis added)

Both forms of the Word of God (not just Scripture alone) were followed by the New Testament Church. When the phrase "Word of God" appears in the New Testament, it almost always refers to oral, rather than written instruction.

Church of Christ booklet continues:

-We need to plant the same seed as was sown in the beginning "the word of God" (Luke 8:11)


The Catholic Church continues to guard the "word of God" in its fullness today, "the faith that was once and for all handed down to the holy ones." (Jude 3)

Church of Christ booklet continues:

This evaluation of denominationalism brought about the needed restoration movement. They all felt a back to the Bible movement was the needed effort to reestablish the first century church to its original status in their time. Once the Bible was used to determine how to worship God, the church of Christ could be restored as before. The next obvious step would be to restore all things directed by the word of God in all areas of worship. Christ's church must follow Christ's word as found in the New Testament.


As seen above, Christ's teachings were also handed down orally. For example:

"In every way I have shown you that by hard work of that sort we must help the weak, and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus who himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive'". (Acts 21:35)

This saying attributed to Jesus isn't in any of the Gospels, yet St. Paul knew it, and assumed the Christians at Miletus knew it as well. The New Testament Church followed the oral teachings of the Apostles as they would later follow their written teachings also when the New Testament was written years later.

The Catholic Church, Christ's true Church, follows Christ's teachings as found in Scripture and Apostolic Tradition.

Church of Christ booklet continues:


We want to use only a proper name one that is used in the Bible. The church of Christ is not to be of denominational design but rather a term to describe whom the church belongs to, and that is Christ our Lord. "Christ is the head of the church, the savior of the body. Therefore the church is subject unto him. Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it; (Ephesians 5:23-25) Because the Bible tells us that the church belongs to Christ, we therefore use his name as the Bible does. "The churches of Christ salute you." (Romans 16:16) Since the restoration movement, "back to the Bible" the church of Christ has grown to a total of 2 1/2 to 3 million members, found over most of the world. She has grown from small congregations with only a few members, to very large ones with many hundreds of members.


The Catholic Church takes her name from the Church's very nature as revealed in the first chapters of Acts, where the universal mission of the Church is made manifest.

The Orthodox Church takes her name from the fact that the true Christian faith is "orthodox" which comes from two Greek words meaning "straight thinking", for the same reason we go to orthodontists when we want straight teeth.

These two and many other Churches didn't originally set out to create a "denominational name" but instead to name their Churches after important aspects of the Faith, almost all of which have Biblical foundations.

The Council of Constantinople (A.D. 381) finished the Creed of the Council of Nicea (A.D. 325). Of course, you would reject creeds of Church Councils as man-made even though as Acts 15 shows, the New Testament convened a Council to resolve the major doctrinal dispute of day, and that the decisions made at such Councils carry divine authority (Acts 15:28, "It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us...). This Creed states that the Church is "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic". The Catholic Church is one, she is the visibly and mystically unified body of Christ. She is holy because of Christ's continuing sacramental work in her, and she is the historic Church founded by the Apostles.

Church of Christ booklet continues:


Since the church of Christ has set out to restore the New Testament pattern we are not interested in man made creeds and doctrines. We are not a denomination, just simply members of the Lord's body, his church, the "church of Christ" that he died for. "Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures." (I Corinthians 15:3)


As I pointed out above in respect to Acts Chapter 15, Ecumenical Councils carry divine authority and are protected from error by the Holy Spirit. Let me point out the true "New Testament pattern" of resolving doctrinal disputes that affect the whole Church as indicated by Acts 15:

"Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers, 'Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved.' Because there arose no little dissension and debate by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and presbyters about this question." (Acts 15:1-2, emphasis added)

When the huge controversy arose because of the Judaizers, Paul and Barnabas first tried to counter it by demonstrating the truth of their doctrine by debate with them. When they saw just how big this controversy had become, they sent "Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others" to meet with the other "apostles and presbyters" and it is within this Councilar context that Scripture would be interpreted in the light of the living experience of the Church (another name for Apostolic Tradition) pointed out by Peter who exercises his Primacy:

"The apostles and the presbyters met together to see about this matter. After much debate had taken place, Peter got up and said to them, 'My brothers, you are well aware that from early days God made his choice among you that through my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness by granting them the holy Spirit just as he did us. He made no distinction between us and them, for by faith he purified their hearts. Why, then, are you now putting God to the test by placing on the shoulders of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? On the contrary, we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they." The whole assembly fell silent, and they listened while Paul and Barnabas described the signs and wonders God had worked among the Gentiles through them." (Acts 15:6-12, emphasis mine)

Compare Acts 15:7 and Acts 15:2:

"After much debate had taken place, Peter got up and said to them..." (Acts 15:7, emphasis mine)

"Because there arose no little dissension and debate by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and presbyters about this question." (Acts 15:2)

Look at the similar situations. For Paul and Barnabas, it seemed that going to Jerusalem to resolve the controversy was pointless since it got them no further than they were before. The Council of Jerusalem seemed destined for deadlock, and would have been had not St. Peter exercised his Primacy in pointing out that the Living experience common to the whole Church (again, another name for Sacred Tradition): "My brothers, you are well aware that from early days God made his choice among you that through my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe..." (vv 7-8)

Peter's proclamation was then backed up Paul and Barnabas who proved that indeed "He made no distinction between us and them, for by faith he purified their hearts." (verse 9) After Peter, Paul, and Barnabas testify to the authentic Sacred Tradition, James then proceeds to interpret Sacred Scripture (Amos 9:11-12) within the framework of Sacred Tradition. Sacred Scripture is interpreted infallibly in the light of Sacred Tradition which is found by listening to St. Peter and the Apostles in harmony with him.

In regards to the divine authority of this (and subsequent Councils):

"It is my judgement, therefore, that we ought to stop troubling the Gentiles who turn to God, but tell them by letter to avoid pollution from idols, unlawful marriage, the meat of strangled animals, and blood. For Moses, for generations now, has had those who proclaim him in every town, as he has been read in the synagogues every sabbath." (Acts 15:19-21, emphasis mine)

"It is the decision of the holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell."

What presumption does St. James to have to say that he and the other Apostles speak for God, especially in light of verse 19 ("It is my judgement...")? By virtue of Christ's promise of the Holy Spirit to protect the Church from error and grant her His divine teaching authority (explained above), Ecumenical Councils of the successors of the Apostles are infallible in matters of faith and morals the decrees they make regarding behavior are binding.

The Catholic Church in that very same manner condemned the notion of sola scriptura (Scripture alone is the source of authoritative teaching and moral guidance for Christians) that this booklet promotes, and the doctrine that yours and many other Churches are built on.

Furthermore, your Church was a Church founded by individuals who broke away from the Catholic Church, thus your Church has no rightful claim to be the Church established at Pentecost in Jerusalem, which you state in these paragraphs:


Church of Christ booklet continues:

In order to worship God acceptably we must return to the Bible for direction. We know also that to be an extension of the original body of Christ we must, return to Pentecost for our direction in order to reestablish our roots. The Lord after his resurrection gave the command to his apostles saying "behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry in the city of Jerusalem, until you be endued with power from on high." (Luke 24:49) This promise to endow them with power was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place." (Acts 2:1) "They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." (Acts 2:4)

We have placed the historical beginning of the church of Christ in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost just days after the Lords ascension, as the Bible teaches. The next question to be answered would be


The churches of Christ are not caught up in man's devised political boards, and headquarters. Each congregation is governed by one common bond, which is the word of God, not man's. (2 Corinthians 4:3-5) Any fellowship among individual congregations to evangelize (teach others) or in benevolence (giving to the needs of others) is strictly on a voluntary basis. Each congregation was meant to have its own leaders (elders0 who must be qualified as the Bible directs in (1 Timothy 3 and Titus1). There are also those who serve the church called deacons who must also be qualified (1 Timothy 3). All work and worship is directed by the Bible which in turn is overseen by the elders, and carried out by each member on a voluntary basis realizing they will be judged by their own deeds (1 Corinthians 11:32)


The unity of the Catholic Church is visibly manifested by the office of the Papacy, upheld and maintained by the Ecumenical Councils, and is mystically manifested by the common celebration of the Eucharist:

"Therefore, my beloved, avoid idolatry. I am speaking as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I am saying. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf." (1 Corinthians 10:14-17) 


Church of Christ booklet continues:


The churches of Christ observe the same five articles of worship as the first century church did. 1. Singing 2. Praying 3. Preaching 4. Partaking of the Lords supper 5. Giving.

1-Our singing is A Capella (vocal only)

Perhaps the first thing one will notice when visiting the services of the church of Christ is the absence of a mechanical instrument used as accompaniment to our singing. Again having endeavored to restore the first century worship according to Gods word, we find that instruments were not used or authorized in the Lord's church.

There are only eight passages in the New Testament on the subject of music that direct us. None of them hints at anything more than simply "to sing." There is one verse of the group that clarifies that the heart is the only instrument we are to use while singing. The apostle Paul wrote saying "speak to yourself in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. SINGING and making melody in your HEART to the Lord," (Ephesians 5:19)

The other seven verses are as follows: (1) Matthew 26:30, (2) Romans 15:9, (3) Acts 16:25, (4) I Corinthians 14:15, (5) Colossians 3:16, (6) Hebrews 2:12, and (7) James 5:13.

Historically the mechanical instrument was not found in any christian worship until the sixth century AD and did not become a general practice in them until the eighth century. Since denominationalism came from man so did the mechanical instrument in worship.


It is obvious that you failed to grasp something fundamental about the history of the New Testament Church: the New Testament covers the period before, during, and after the break with Judaism. The New Testament Christians were Jewish Christians, and there was no thought of splitting with Judaism until the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15.

"Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. "(Acts 2:46-47, emphasis mine)

The earliest Christians met every single day and in the Jerusalem temple. Do members of the Churches of Christ do that? No, the New Testament portrays a Church in embryo, and undergoing change and growth while keeping true to the teaching of the Apostles. The New Testament Church worshipped as Jews, and this is significant for reasons we'll see shortly.

"Now Peter and John were going up to the temple area for the three o'clock hour of prayer."(Acts 3:1, emphasis mine)

This is the introduction to the story of the cure of the crippled beggar. The spiritual life of the New Testament Church still revolved around the Temple and the practice of regular periods of prayer throughout the day.

"All the supervisors of the kingdom, the prefects, satraps, nobles, and governors are agreed that the following prohibition ought to be put in force by royal decree: no one is to address any petition to god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king; otherwise he shall be cast into a den of lions. Now, O king, issue the prohibition over your signature, immutable and irrevocable under Mede and Persian law.' So King Darius signed the prohibition and made it law.

Even after Daniel heard that this law had been signed, he continued his custom of going home to kneel in prayer and give thanks to his God in the upper chamber three times a day, with the windows open toward Jerusalem. So these me rushed in and found Daniel praying and pleading before his God. Then they went to remind the king about the prohibition: 'Did you not decree, O king, that no one is to address any petition to god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king; otherwise he shall be cast into a den of lions?'...(Daniel 6:8-13, emphasis mine)

This passage provides some important background information on Acts 3:1:

1)That the prayer life of Jews literally centered on the Temple in Jerusalem and

2) That Jews regularly prayed more than once (possibly three times) a day.

The entire understanding of the worship of the New Testament Christians is grossly misunderstood because of the author(s) lack of understanding of the influence of Old Testament worship on New, and this misunderstanding results in the (unbiblical) insistence on A Capella singing within the Churches of Christ.

There are two verses that I'd like to focus on now:

"addressing one another [in] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and playing to the Lord in your hearts," (Ephesians 5:19)


'I will proclaim your name to my brothers, in the midst of the assembly I will praise you'"(Hebrews 2:12)

First of all, many of the Psalms were meant to be accompanied with musical instruments:

"For the leader; with stringed instruments. A psalm of David." (Psalm 4:1)

"For the leader; with wind instruments. A psalm of David." (Psalm 5:1)

Secondly, since the New Testament Christians worshipped as Jews in the Temple, they of course would have used musical instruments since those two were a part of Jewish worship:

"Give thanks to the Lord on the harp; on the ten-stringed lyre offer praise" (Psalm 33:2)

"That I may come to the altar of God, to God, my joy, my delight. Then I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God."(Psalm 43:4)

The use of musical instruments in worship is so early, it dates to when the New Testament Church was still a small Jewish sect.


Church of Christ booklet continues:

2-We pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

and whatever you do in the word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:17)

Response: Amen.

3-Some of the churches of Christ have fully supported preachers that work full time, while in others the men take turns teaching.

"how shall they hear without a preacher?"

"faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:14-17)

Response: Amen.

Church of Christ booklet continues:

4-We are also taught by example to observe the Lords supper each and every first day of the week as the early church did.

"And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread." (Acts 20:7) The Lord Jesus Christ established this memorial feast himself (Matt 26:26-27) It is to be taken in memory of him by the faithful (1 Cor 11:24-25) The bread and the fruit of the vine are the two elements of worship we are to use (1 Cor 10:16)


Amen. Although as we will see in the eyes of the St. Ignatius of Antioch, the Early Church viewed the Eucharist as much more than a memorial feast.

Church of Christ booklet continues:

5-We are taught by example to give every first day of the week when we assemble

"upon the first day of the week let everyone of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come." (1 Corinthians 16:2)

Response: Amen.

Church of Christ booklet continues:


Because the New Testament teaches that baptism by immersion in water washes away sins assuring salvation and the hope of heaven, we teach and practice the same. As we trace our roots to Pentecost, the very day the Lords church was established we hear Peter as he unlocked the door of truth saying these words. Acts 2:38.

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The apostle Paul blinded by the glorious light as he came into the presence of the Lord on the road to Damascus was not saved until he too obeyed the command to be baptized. And now why tarry? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord. (Acts 22:16)

Baptism into the Lord was never to be anything more of less than a burial in water. A man known as the Eunuch after being taught by Philip said "what doth hinders me to be baptized?" The reply was, "If thou believe with all thine heart, thou mayest." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." And he commanded the chariot to stand still: And they went down both into the water, both Philip and the Eunuch: And he baptized him. (Acts 8:37-38)

Baptism in water is symbolic to a burial when one dies, Romans 6:3-11, and Colossians 2:12. The New Testament emphasizes baptism for the following purposes.

  1. It is the only way one can enter into the Kingdom of God, John 3:5.
  2. It is the only way to be added to the Lords church. Acts 2:41.
  3. It is the only way to die to sin and be resurrected to live, Romans 6:3-4.
  4. It is the only way to be saved from sin, 1 Peter 3:21.
  5. It is the only way to become a child of God, Galatians 3:26-27.
  6. It is the only way to be forgiven of sins, Acts 2:38 and Acts 22:16.

We put our faith in Christ and walk in the Spirit not the law, that we might have the hope of eternity with God, Galatians 5:5-6, Jesus did not say one is saved or lost as was predetermined before hand. He said one is lost or saved by either simple obedience or not, Mark 16:16 He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned.

It is everyone's choice to live or die according to the choices they make.


Amen!!!!!!!! This is exactly the Catholic viewpoint. :>)

Church of Christ booklet concludes:

We pray all who read this little book will understand Gods plan of salvation. Because the church belongs to Christ if is referred to simply as "THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST." please let us know if we can help you as you study your Bible to see if these things be so.


I pray that all those who read this response and the accompanying Appendix of Quotations from the Apostolic Fathers will come to see the glory of the Early Church in the "One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church" (Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed).


Selected Quotations from the Apostolic Fathers

Pope St. Clement (ca. 80 A.D.)

"Due, dear friends, to the sudden and successive misfortunes and accidents we have encountered, we have, we admit, been rather long in turning our attention to your quarrels. We refer to the abominable and unholy schism, so alien and foreign to those whom God has chosen, which a few impetuous and headstrong fellows have fanned to such a pitch of insanity that your good name, once so famous and dear to us all, has fallen into the gravest ill repute." (Letter of Pope St. Clement to the Corinthians; 1:1-2)

St. Clement actually apologizes for not dealing with the schism in the Corinthian Church sooner, and more than that, St. John the Apostle is still alive in nearby Asia Minor while Pope St. Clement is thousands of miles away in Rome. Here we see a Roman Pope exercising a presidency of love right after the Apostolic Age.

"The Apostles received the gospel for us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus, the Christ, was sent from God. Thus Christ is from God and the Apostles from Christ. In both instances the orderly procedure depends on God's will. And so the Apostles, after receiving their orders and being fully convinced by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and assured by God's work, went out in the confidence of the Holy Spirit to preach the good news that God's Kingdom was about to come. They preached in country and city, and appointed their first converts, after testing them by the Spirit, to be the bishops and deacons of future believers. Nor was this any novelty, for Scripture had mentioned bishops and deacons long before. For this is what Scripture says somewhere: 'I will appoint their bishops in righteousness and their deacons by faith.'" (Ibid; 42)

For two more chapters of his epistle, Pope St. Clement goes on to explain the concept we now call Apostolic Succession, that is, that the bishops are direct successors of the Apostles (which were chosen by Christ) and thus have their teaching authority passed on to them. He then implores the Corinthian Christians to dethrone the current leaders and reinstate the old ones.

"For we shall be guilty of no slight sin if we eject from the episcopate men who have offered the sacrifices with innocence and holiness."(Ibid.; 44:4)

The Early Church regarded the Eucharist as one with the sacrifice Christ made of himself on the Cross, and thus the ones who presided over the Eucharist are thus priests.

"You know the Holy Scriptures, dear friends-you know them well- and you have studied God's oracles. It is to remind you of them that we write the way we do."(Ibid.;53:1)

The Early Church held close to the Scriptures, and when they got off track (as is the case here with the schism) the See of Rome gently and lovingly guided them back. Thus, your assertion that the Catholic Church strayed from the Word of God early on is false as we shall continue to see.

"If, on the other hand, there be some who fail to obey what God has told them through us, they must realize that they will enmesh themselves in sin and in no insignificant danger."(Ibid.; 59:1)

"Yes, you will make us exceedingly happy if you prove obedient to what we, prompted by the Holy Spirit, have written, and if, following the plea of our letter for peace and harmony, you rid yourselves of your wicked and passionate rivalry."(Ibid.; 63:2)

Here we have the See of Rome asserting divine authority for its instructions. The See of Rome early on in the Church's history exercised a primacy.

St. Ignatius of Antioch (ca. 110 A.D.)

"But since love forbids me to keep silent about you, I hasten to urge you to harmonize your actions with God's mind. For Jesus Christ-that life from which we can't be torn- is the Father's mind, as the bishops too, appointed the world over, reflect the mind of Jesus Christ." (Letter to the Ephesians; 3:2)

"He who fails to join in your worship shows his arrogance by the very fact of becoming a schismatic. It is written, moreover, 'God resists the proud.' Let us, then, heartily avoid resisting the bishop so that we may be subject to God." (Ibid.; 5:3)

"The more anyone sees the bishop modestly silent, the more he should revere him. For everyone the Master of the house sends on his business, we ought to receive as the One who sent him. It is clear, then, that we should regard the bishop as the Lord himself. (Ibid.; 6:1)

St. Ignatius of Antioch held a very high view of the bishop because the bishop was a successor of the Apostles, and because the bishop presided over the celebration of the Eucharist (which St. Ignatius regarded as the real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ as we shall see later).

"I have heard that some strangers came your way with a wicked teaching. But you did not let them sow it among you. You stopped up ears to prevent admitting what they disseminated. Like stones of God's Temple, ready for a building of God the Father, you are being hoisted up by Jesus Christ, as with a crane (that's the cross!), while the rope you use is the Holy Spirit. Your faith is what lifts you up, while love is the way you ascend to God." (Ibid.; 9:1)

Here is yet another testimony to doctrinal purity of the early Catholic Church, and their resistance to "men's traditions" which your booklet contends they submitted to.

"Yes, I had the good fortune to see you, in the persons of Damas your bishop (he's a credit to God!), and of your worthy presbyters, Bassus and Apollonius, and of my fellow slave, the deacon Zotion. I am delighted with him, because he submits to the bishop as to God's grace, and to the presbytery as to the law of Jesus Christ."(Letter to the Magnesians; 2)

"I believed, then, that I saw you whole congregation in these people I have mentioned, and I loved you all. Hence I urge you to aim to do everything in godly agreement. Let the bishop preside in God's place, and the presbyters take the place of the apostolic council, and let the deacons (my special favorites) be entrusted with the ministry of Jesus Christ who was with the Father from eternity and appeared at the end [of the world]." (Ibid.; 6:1)

"Make a real effort, then, to stand firmly by the orders of the Lord and the apostles, so that whatever you do, you may succeed in body and soul, in faith and love, in Son, Father, and Spirit, from first to last, along with your most distinguished bishop, your presbytery (that neatly plaited spiritual wreath!), and your godly deacons. (Ibid.; 13:1)

"Correspondingly, everyone must show the deacons respect. They represent Jesus Christ, just as the bishop has the role of the Father, and the presbyters are like God's council and an apostolic band. You cannot have a church without these."(Letter to the Trallians; 3:1)

"Be on your guard, then, against such people. This you will do by not being puffed up and by keeping very close to [our] God, Jesus Christ, and the bishop and the apostles' precepts. Inside the sanctuary a person is pure; outside he is impure. That means: whoever does anything without bishop, presbytery, and deacons does not have a clear conscience." (Ibid.; 7)

All these quotes show how the immediate post-Apostolic Church regarded the bishop and his role in maintaining unity and orthodoxy within his church.

"Flee from schism as the source of mischief. You should all follow the bishop as Jesus Christ did the Father. Follow, too, the presbytery as you would the apostles; and respect the deacons as you would respect God's law. Nobody must do anything that has to do with the Church without the bishop's approval. You should regard that Eucharist as valid which is celebrated either by the bishop or by someone he authorizes. Where the bishop is present, there let the congregation gather, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. Without the bishop's supervision, no baptisms or love feasts are permitted. On the other hand, whatever he approves pleases God as well. In that way everything you do will be on the safe side and valid." (Letter to the Smyrneans; 8)

St. Polycarp (ca. 135)

"Certainly, neither I nor anyone like me can follow the wisdom of the blessed and glorious Paul, who, when he was present among you face to face with the generation of his time, taught you accurately and firmly the word of truth. Also, when absent he wrote you letters that will enable you, if you study them carefully, to grow in the faith delivered to you-which is the mother of us all, accompanied by hope, and led by love to God and Christ our neighbor."

The Catholic Church remained true to the Scriptures as these quotes show from the early second and late first century. Your assertion, "After many years the early church fulfilled this prophecy by turning away from the word." is without credible historical evidence and also runs contrary to Scripture as I have shown above.

Yours in the Holy Trinity,

Darrenn J. Jackson