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Church Of Christ Theology And Experiences


Neon Genesis
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I've noticed we have several ex members of the COC here so I thought it would be interesting to discuss the theological beliefs in the COC and some of the absurdities of their teachings and what experiences we've had. Out of all the COC's beliefs, which do you now find as an ex member to be the most absurd? For me, I think it's the whole belief that the COC is the original church established on the Day Of Pentecost. It's one thing to claim you're the only true Christians because most xtians make that claim but it's just frankly ridiculous that they claim to trace roots exactly back the Day Of Pentecost, even though as far as I'm aware, there is no evidence the COC didn't come into existence until the 19th century. I remember once they were talking about this in Sunday school about where all the COC Christians were between the Day Of Pentecost and the 19th century and they tried to use the argument that maybe there were some Christians we don't know about who held the same beliefs and practices but just didn't call themselves the Church of Christ. Did any of the COC's theological absurdities specific to the COC, like their ban on musical instruments, lead to your deconversion? Like did the absurdity of banning musical instruments play any role at all? And did you ever feel embarrassed when you admitted to your friends that you were a COCer? None of their specific teachings that other churches didn't also teach against didn't play much of a role in my own deconverion but I remember one time in high school when this one kid in my orchestra class who was a Baptist asked me where I went to church and I told him the COC and his immediate reaction was "that's the church doesn't believe in music, right?" and he kept bugging me about why didn't we use musical instruments, so I just changed the subject to something else. What were your experiences like in the COC and dealing with other non-COC Christians?

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I think the idea that the COC was the ONLY church and that ONLY COC members were going to heaven did play a part in my deconversion. Even as a child that idea was simply unbelievable. What kind of a god would come up with that???

 

The first COC I attended (from age 10 - 19 1/2) was rigid and strictly by the book. We did not have a kitchen or a fellowship hall in the building because god didn't tell us to spend his money on those frivolous items. Overall it seemed like a pretty joyless place to be.

 

After a 19 1/2 year break, I attended a COC for the next 10 years that was less rigid. We did have a kitchen and a fellowship hall but the sermons were still pretty much hell fire and damnation! The congregation was pretty small and most of the members were old. It also seems as if we had more than our fair share of physically and mentally challenged members.

 

For the last few years prior to my deconversion, I attended what I like to think of as COC Lite. It was by far the largest COC I had ever attended. In addition to a kitchen and a fellowship hall, there was even a "teen house" on the property. There were lots of social activities, talent shows, teen events, a softball team, potluck dinners, etc.

 

The sermons were pretty light and fluffy with powerpoint presentations, lots of jokes, and NEVER running much over 20 minutes. Of course this was after you had endured non-instrumental hymns, communion, and prayers. They did a pretty good job of keeping the whole thing to an hour (unless of course someone went forward to be baptised!)

 

Looking back it seems odd that a church that professes to stick strictly to the bible with no deviation would have such dissimilar congregations. I guess the folks at the first church that I attended would say that the COC Lite folks were going to be condemed to hell! Oh well, hopefully they get to enjoy a good potluck luncheon before they go!!!

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I thought the whole having kitchens and a gym is a sin thing was ridiculous too noob, and you bring up a good point about how different the COC congregations are from each other. My grandmother on my mother's side of the family's church wasn't allowed to have a kitchen because of something about it being a sin. Last time I went there they had preached about how evil and sinful it is to dance and overeat and I'm like "Wtf?". Our church was sort of like the COC lite you described. At first we just had one kitchen but then they expanded the building some and added another one and a gym but at first we couldn't call it a gym because to call it a gym would make it a sin somehow, so we called it a "fellowship hall." I've noticed though it's sort of unofficially now called a gym. Like the members will call it a gym but the elders and preacher still call it the "big room" to avoid offending any of the old ladies in the church who might throw a hissy fit if we called it a gym. But we still had musical instruments and preached about hell although it wasn't like all the time fire and brimstone. Like they would usually save hell until the end when they would always end services with Pascal's Wager. Our sermons on Sunday mornings were usually about 40 minutes long and we would have singing first, followed by the Lord's Supper, then more singing, then the sermon, and then more singing and then Sunday school. Our Sunday night services were the same expect they had the Lord's Supper after service for anyone who didn't get to take it that morning. On Wednesday nights we just had a short devotional before bible class. I thought it was silly the way our church would try to jump hoops to condemn people to hell while denying that they are. Like they would deny that they think are the only true xtians going to heaven but then turn around and rant about how sinful those other xtians are for not worshiping God right without actually saying that you're going to hell. It's like they wanted to say they're the only true xtians going to heaven but they can't because they know it's politically incorrect to do so, so they have to go about saying it in a roundabout way.

 

My grandma on my dad's side of the family belongs to a COC that uses musical instruments. They have two worship services, one before Sunday school called "contemporary" worship where they have musical instruments and praise teams etc, but then they have a second "traditional" service after Sunday school where it's just plain singing. My family thinks their church is going to hell for using musical instruments and I have to admit that I'm ashamed that I used to think like that. It's interesting though that my grandma knows the bible verses that was used to justify banning instrumental music and she used to belong to a church that didn't have them, but she still goes to the one with instruments anyway. And I don't understand why the COC makes such a big deal about the Lord's Supper. Like at my church they act like you're backsliding if you start missing the Lord's Supper and you have to take it every single Sunday. At least most other churches only have it periodically instead of regularly and they act like it's such a sin to miss it, they have to have people take it out to the old ladies who aren't able to get out of the house to go to church. If you're so sick or too old to get out of the house anymore to go to church, then why is it so important for these ladies to have communion? I mean, it's nice that they're sending people out to visit these ladies. I just think it's cruel to damn them to hell if they don't have the Lord's Supper every Sunday when it's not their fault they're too sick to leave the house. I've also heard some COCs will use actual wine in the Lord's Supper although all the ones I've been to use grape juice. It's just ridiculous that for a church that claims to be the original, they certainly spend a lot of time on these petty differences and the COC seems so out-dated even compared to other fundies. And why is it that it seems like it's impossible to find COC xtians online? Back when I was a xtian, I used to post at the COC forum they had at beliefnet.com before they redid the forums and everything, but now I don't seem to be able to find any COC forums online. I just sort of want to debate a couple about the inerrancy of the bible just because. ^^;;

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  • 4 weeks later...

They are first century Christians even though their practices derive from Catholicism.

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I'm ex-CoC myself.

 

One of the things that always bugged me while growing up in the CoC was their insistence that all songs/praise should be strict A Capella. When I was in High School, I was an active member of the band. I was in the marching band, the jazz band, the symphonic band, and even a community orchestra on the side. Music was my life, and it could move me like nothing else could. But it was off-limits at church. :angry:

 

A lot of my friends from these groups were members of the church (not the CoC, but other denominations) and would play in their church bands. They would ask me if I played at my church, and I'd have to say "No, I go to a Church of Christ, we don't use musical instruments." Then I'd always feel kind of ashamed, like I knew how ridiculous that sounded to anyone not in the CoC.

 

Then when I was a sophomore at ACU (Abilene Christian University, which is CoC affiliated), I met this girl who would become my girlfriend. She was born and raised in Nashville, TN, and went to David Lipscomb for her K-12 schooling (another CoC school). By this time I was attending a local Baptist Church, in large part because I was actually allowed to feel things while worshipping there, and the musical praise/worship moved me. Well, I got her to come to this baptist church with me. The pastor there was very well spoken, very down-to-earth, and just an all around nice guy. She was impressed as well, and she started attending this church regularly with me. Now fast forward to the first week of school the next school year. I ask her when I should pick her up to go to church, and she says she can't go with me anymore. Her dad (CoC family, remember) gave her a long lecture about how if she started going to this baptist church she was going to get in trouble spiritually, how she would be led astray, and how she would tear her family apart in the process. :blink: Well, needless to say I was pretty blown away by this. Our relationship was pretty much centered around church, and now she was telling me that she couldn't go to church with me anymore because it wasn't CoC. She ended the relationship less than a year later, in part, she said, due to "religious differences."

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There's a website/BB for ex-Church of Christ folks specifically here. I was introduced to it a couple of years ago by another ex-CoCer in the family.

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I used to post at that ex-COC board before I came to ex-c. I actually found out about ex-c through a link that was posted in an older thread at their board. While I think it's a good board, I just sort of drifted away from their as I started posting at ex-c more. But would the COC really count as a cult? The site seems to think it is but I've never thought it was more cultish than most other fundie churches are, but would it depend on the congregation? Even though I had a negative experience with them, I just don't feel comfortable calling it a cult even though the site claims it is.

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I used to post at that ex-COC board before I came to ex-c. I actually found out about ex-c through a link that was posted in an older thread at their board. While I think it's a good board, I just sort of drifted away from their as I started posting at ex-c more. But would the COC really count as a cult? The site seems to think it is but I've never thought it was more cultish than most other fundie churches are, but would it depend on the congregation? Even though I had a negative experience with them, I just don't feel comfortable calling it a cult even though the site claims it is.

 

It depends on the particular congregation. Since they're technically non-denominational, each church is independent of all the others which is why there is such a wide range of practices among Church of Christ groups. Some Church of Christ congregations are more hard-line than others. The ones I went to while growing up weren't that bad, really. Pretty liberal ones as the CoC goes, actually, so I have a hard time calling the coc as a whole a cult also. But some particular groups I've met might qualify...

 

The ex-coc site I think is specifically talking about the really conservative congregations, the one-cuppers, no kitchens, etc groups when they call them a cult. One of my cousins (the one who pointed me to that site in the first place) was a member of a pretty hard-line church. She was actually disfellowshipped (ex-communicated in coc speak) from the church, at which point everyone pretty much turned on her, or broke contact with her. I don't know if that qualifies as a cult or not, but extreme religiosity combined with insularity speaks cultish to me.

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The no kitchen doctrine always made me laugh. "You have a kitchen? How liberal can you get? You're going to hell, you know."

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