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Outlining the Christian church

Since I have been in Demopolis, many people have come up to me and have asked me, “what kind of church is First Christian Church?”. I respond by saying we are a Christian Church, and they say, I meant what denomination are you affilated with. At that point, I say we are affiliated with the Christian Church. It seems as though the person who asked the question was more confused at that point then when they first asked me the question.

The Christian Church is one of the largest and fastest growing religious groups in America. People in Alabama have a hard time believing that because they have never heard of a Christian Church. Well, that is because Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana are the three weakest states for the Christian Church. There are only 28 Christian Church congregations in the entire state of Alabama. However, we are VERY strong in Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana&Illinois. In fact, there are some counties in Kentucky where the Christian Church outnumbers Baptist Churches 6-1.

I want to use my article this week to share with our community a little bit about the Christian Church. The Christian Church traces her origins to the early 19th century and the American Frontier. Those first pioneers of the New World possessed deep religious convictions. In time Presbyterians squared off against Methodists who defended themselves against Baptists who would not tolerate Lutherans. It was not an era of love and good will for Christianity.

Then several groups of Christians in New England, Kentucky and Pennsylvania broke out of this divisive mindset and announced they would follow the Bible only and join with other Christians who thought the same. In Kentucky, some Presbyterian leaders under the influence of a minister named Barton W. Stone, published The Last Will And Testament Of The Springfield Presbytery, in which they severed their ties with their denomination. They wrote, “We will, that this body die, be dissolved, and sink into union with the Body of Christ at large; for there is but one body, and one Spirit, even as we are called in one hope of our calling…….

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, a Presbyterian minister named Thomas Campbell, published a document entitled Declaration And Address in 1809. A native of Ireland, Campbell had grown restless with the rules of his brand of Christianity – the “Old-Light, Anti-Burgher Seceder” Presbyterian Church (what a mouthful) – a split that was split off a division in the Presbyterian Church. At the same time his son Alexander reached similar conclusions during his studies in Ireland and Scotland. When Alexander came to America in 1809, he read “Declaration” and joined his father in helping churches return to the New Testament ideal.

These and other Christian people had a great Revival at Cane Ridge, Kentucky and comprised what is now known as the Restoration Movement (Christian Church, Church of Christ&the Disciples of Christ). Since it’s beginning, the Christians of the Restoration Movement have believed that all Christians can unite if they would let go of man-made traditions and loyalties, follow and worship Jesus Christ, and look to the New Testament as the ideal model of the Church.

The Restoration Movement has had two major splits since it’s conception. The first issue was the use of a musical instrument during worship and those who believed it was wrong to use an instrument in worship broke off and they are now known as the Church of Christ. The second split was caused from liberalism and trying to become a full-blown denomination and the group who left is now known as the Disciples of Christ.

Over the years and even today, the Christian Church aspect of the Restoration movement continues to grow and break down unnecessary walls between Christians. In fact, the second fastest growing religious group/affiliation in the U.S. during the decade of the 90’s was the Independent Christian Church. It is this movement that First Christian Church is affiliated with.

Our church government is very much like a Southern Baptist Church although there are a few differences in theological beliefs.

The following colleges&seminaries are affiliated with the Christian Church: Atlanta Christian College, Bluefield College of Evangelism,

Boise Bible College, Central Christian College of the Bible, Cincinnati Christian University, College of the Scriptures, Crossroads College, Dallas Christian College, Florida Christian College, Great Lakes Christian College, Emmanuel School of Religion, Hope International University, Johnson Bible College, Kentucky Christian University, Louisville Bible College, Manhattan Christian College,

Nebraska Christian College, Ozark Christian College, Summit Theological Seminary, Lincoln Christian College&Seminary, Milligan College.

God Bless and GOOOOOOOOO DAWGS!

Marshall Murphy

Marshall Murphy is the Pastor at the First Christian Church in Demopolis. Rev. Murphy can be reached at the church office at 289-3615.