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Calling All Current And Former Attendees Church Of Christ


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Okay, so in regards to the CoC, I have noticed a difference in opinion as to how the CoC are viewed in Australia, and how they are viewed in America. Even in the Australian CoC community I have detected a bit of animosity towards their American counterparts. So what I am trying to understand is what is this all about? This bone of contention, animosity, and the reasons so many Americans seem to view the CoC as a cult. What I'm wondering, is what the fundamental difference is between the two?

 

Now, I have spoken once on this topic with another forum member, and they raised the idea that the CoC's in America don't even seem to like each other. As a former member of the Australian CoC movement, I found that a bit of a hard pill to swallow, because they all seem quite close and connected here. They all know people of other CoC churches, and when I was little, we used to go to the big Pendle Hill CoC fete that they held once a year, and people from all different CoC's helped out and had stalls.

 

While there does seem to be a really strong sense of community among the CoC in Australia, there are two schools of thought within the movement. Each church fits into either what's loosely referred to as the traditional CoC movement, or the liberated CoC movement. The traditionals (which I grew up in) are very conservative and do not believe in any form of pentecostalism, ie. clapping, modern music, speaking in tongues or other gifts of the holy spirit... You get the picture. The liberated CoC movement embraces pentecostalism and has incorporated it into their belief structure and services. Overall, though, the CoC seems to be dying over here.

 

The first time I read on an American website that the CoC over there was nothing more than a cult (it was a couple of years ago) actually stunned me. I could think of way more examples of cult-like behaviour in the pentecostal movement than I can within the CoC movement over here. It was literally the first time I'd heard "cult" and "CoC" in the same sentence.

 

So what I'd like to know, is what are the similarities and differences between the two? Because I am really quite baffled. I plan to speak about it to my grandfather, too, as he is an Elder in a CoC over here, and I know of at least one instance when the American CoC's really upset him. Indeed, he was furious for quite some time. I'm a bit hestitant to bring the topic up with him again. He may be 91, but he has a very long memory!

 

So any thoughts on the issue would be much appreciated :) (hopefully I put this in the right forum!)

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I always thought that the CoC was weird, but the people I knew who went to a CoC were the nicer breeds of christians. They seemed similar to mormonism in how their people had a reputation for being very friendly and accepting. Unless of course you were gay, or not baptized, or whatever.

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Not sure I can help you. My experience with the American CoC is limited. This happened some time ago back when I was at the peek of my Christian fundamentalism. I was new to an area and looking for a Bible study so I gave them a try. There we perhaps three other people in the audience. The Bible study leader was younger than me at the time. He might have been 18 or 19 and he had been a Christian for only nine months. He was trying to preach. He was doing it just like the TV preachers or a revival evangelist. I thought it was strange that he would be doing such a performance for just four listeners but I figured maybe he was practicing. And then it got weird. He started to hard sell and he was directing that only at me. He is practically shouting at me Wood ja like ta give ya heart to Jeeessssuuuussss! I told him there was a misunderstanding. I accepted Jesus when I was six years old. I said I'm already a Christian. The preacher told me that isn't good enough. I'd have to say the prayer again with him. I was several years older than him and had been a Christian for at least a decade and a half but this newborn Christian was telling me that my Christianity wasn't real.

 

After a while the preacher got frustrated and left the room. When that happened the guy next to me who had invited me to the Bible study told me that I needed to accept Christ. I also told him I was already a Christian. His response was "That is a difference of opinion". It turned out that once their Bible study teacher had declared me to be non-Christian that they could not disagree because they were under him in a "discipleship" program. I stuck around for a while because I felt the need to prove to them that I was Christian. I attended their main Church a few times. There was a heavy emphasis on discipleship. They wanted me to sign up as the loyal follower of someone who would guide me spiritually.

 

Eventually I found a different Bible study in the area and started attending that one. The new one was more like what I was use to. Whenever people I had met from CoC would come by they would preach or pray for my new Bible study because the new one were "not real Christians". It turned out that branch of the CoC didn't think anybody was a Christian unless we joined them.

 

Maybe your Grandfather saw something like that.

 

 

 

 

.

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Okay, so in regards to the CoC, I have noticed a difference in opinion as to how the CoC are viewed in Australia, and how they are viewed in America. Even in the Australian CoC community I have detected a bit of animosity towards their American counterparts. So what I am trying to understand is what is this all about? This bone of contention, animosity, and the reasons so many Americans seem to view the CoC as a cult. What I'm wondering, is what the fundamental difference is between the two?

 

Now, I have spoken once on this topic with another forum member, and they raised the idea that the CoC's in America don't even seem to like each other. As a former member of the Australian CoC movement, I found that a bit of a hard pill to swallow, because they all seem quite close and connected here. They all know people of other CoC churches, and when I was little, we used to go to the big Pendle Hill CoC fete that they held once a year, and people from all different CoC's helped out and had stalls.

 

While there does seem to be a really strong sense of community among the CoC in Australia, there are two schools of thought within the movement. Each church fits into either what's loosely referred to as the traditional CoC movement, or the liberated CoC movement. The traditionals (which I grew up in) are very conservative and do not believe in any form of pentecostalism, ie. clapping, modern music, speaking in tongues or other gifts of the holy spirit... You get the picture. The liberated CoC movement embraces pentecostalism and has incorporated it into their belief structure and services. Overall, though, the CoC seems to be dying over here.

 

The first time I read on an American website that the CoC over there was nothing more than a cult (it was a couple of years ago) actually stunned me. I could think of way more examples of cult-like behaviour in the pentecostal movement than I can within the CoC movement over here. It was literally the first time I'd heard "cult" and "CoC" in the same sentence.

 

So what I'd like to know, is what are the similarities and differences between the two? Because I am really quite baffled. I plan to speak about it to my grandfather, too, as he is an Elder in a CoC over here, and I know of at least one instance when the American CoC's really upset him. Indeed, he was furious for quite some time. I'm a bit hestitant to bring the topic up with him again. He may be 91, but he has a very long memory!

 

So any thoughts on the issue would be much appreciated smile.png (hopefully I put this in the right forum!)

 

 

This might not answer your question, but the CoC back in the 50's/60's to my understanding told everyone they were the only one's going to Heaven and everyone else was going to hell. Preached it directly like that. The CoC in Texas still carries a stigma on some level, IMO. Lot's of boomers not happy with that history.

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My mother's side of the family is mostly Church of Christ (in Arkansas). They have a very legalistic approach to Christian life and practice. Their theology of salvation is pretty much Arminian - you are saved by grace,but you have to work to keep it.

 

They refused to consider themselves a denomination. They are the one true church and all others, while probably sincere, are sincerely wrong. And if you do not belong to the true church, then sorry. You're going to hell. Some members of the COC balked at that even when I was growing up in the 70's and 80's.

 

They believed you had to be baptized by immersion in water by a Church of Christ representative (usually the pastor) or any "confession of faith" is not valid - you would still go to hell. Once baptized you had to be a member of a Church of Christ , participate in the Lord's Supper (communion) and live a good obedient Christian life.

 

One of their quirks was the idea of conducting church business and worship according to the New Testament ("Do Bible things in Bible ways"). They didn't see evidence of musical instruments being used by churches in the New Testament, so they would not use pianos, organs or other forms of instruments in their worship services. They would only use a tuner just before the acapella choir sang.

 

I never considered them a cult, just very legalistic. "Cult" depends more on the personality of the leadership and the way the members are manipulated. A "cult" could actually arise in any denomination or offshoot, even if on the surface they are main stream.

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I'm going to try to reply to you all at once, so please bear with me. I really appreciate all of your replies.

 

MM mentioned a discipleship programme- this is not something that I, personally, have come across over here. I do remember Wednesday night bible study, but it was pretty standard as far as bible study groups go. The main difference was that we had dinner together at bible study. Actually, come to think of it, those people were always putting on food- pot luck's, Christmas in July, afternoon tea, Wednesday night bible study.

 

I'm a bit shocked at MM's experience with young preacher boy- the CoC's, well, the traditionals, at least, have always been very quiet with their evangelising. They're more into helping people out and using that as an opportunity to get to know someone and bring them to christ, than telling them they're not saved.

 

Both MM and End3 mentioned this idea that they were the only ones going to heaven and everyone else to hell, or that they were the only true christians. THAT surprises me, because they do quite readily acknowledge christians of other denominations. They don't like Catholicism, as they believe they worship idols, but they still concede that there are christians within catholicism. Many do not like the Uniting church, because they believe there are many freemasons in its midst. But again, they concede that there are christians in there. Generally, they believe there are Christians in every denomination (except the Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons).

 

They do believe very strongly in baptism over here. They believe that you are not properly saved unless baptised by water by your own free will- baptism as an infant does not count. They don't believe you are properly saved unless you have been baptised, but don't really care which denomination it happened in, as long as it was of your own free will. Generally the age of 8 is the youngest they will go.

 

Communion has a big emphasis over here, as well. The traditional churches don't like so-called "modern" instruments, but they will play an organ or piano. Some are starting to incorporate more instruments into the services.

 

And as far as what got my grandfather so upset, well, it was a couple of years ago now. The American CoC's were instituting a practice of only allowing people who earned a certain amount financially each year to join the church as full members. If you didn't earn enough, you weren't allowed to join properly. It was raised at my grandfather's church, and he shot the idea down in flames. He told them that a real church does not care how much one earns, and the issue should never have been raised for discussion, period. He was absolutely furious at the idea- I heard all about it for months!

 

it's just after 3am here, and my grandfather will be up soon, so I might give him a call. We're both insomniacs :)

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I gave my grandfather a call, and discussed all of this with him. He was most upset to hear about MM's experience with the CoC- he said it was nothing short of presumptuous to decide what is in another's heart, and that only god can decide if a person is saved or not, quoting "judge not lest ye be judged".

 

As to what End3 raised, he said it was kind of a common theme among quite a few churches in America at that time, but not a belief the CoC churches over here ever had.

 

I enquired about the "discipleship" programme MM had mentioned, and grandpa said he'd joined the CoC in 1959, and had been a member of 6 different CoC churches all across this state (he was a civil engineer with the now-defunct Department of Main Roads), and had never come across anything like that. He said he didn't like the idea of it, either, felt that it would be distressing to some people.

 

He gave me a bit of background on the church's history, too. The CoC started in America in 1815, and around the same time, independent of the American movement, also started in England. It was started as an alternative to Roman Catholicism, and the fundamental belief difference hinged on the celebration of Christmas and Easter. Initially, the CoC celebrated Christmas in July, and did not celebrate Easter at all. While my grandfather still doesn't celebrate either of these, the church had a change of heart along the way, and now both Easter and Christmas are celebrated. The lack of musical instruments in services came out of the Eastern Orthodox movement, but my grandfather doesn't think it's a major issue- as far as musical instruments go, he reckons it's whatever you feel comfortable with.

 

I suspect the Australian CoC movement came out of England, rather than America, and that probably accounts for the majority of differences between the American and Australian movements.

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