Marvin L. Weir
The name “Christian” is either abused or misused by most people today. According to man’s wisdom, there are many different types or kinds of Christians. Years ago Leroy Brownlow made reference to what he called “hyphenated Christians.” In his excellent book entitled Why I Am A Member Of The Church Of Christ is this statement:
I am sure that method and system should be used in the Lord’s work, but I am not a Methodist; that we should have bishops (the Greek word being episcopos) to oversee the work in a congregation, but I am not Episcopalian; that we should have elders (the Greek word being presbuteros) who are bishops to rule and oversee in the congregation, but I am not a Presbyterian; that each congregation is independent, but I am not a Congregationalist; that it takes immersion to constitute the act of baptism, but I am not a Baptist; that Christians should be holy but I am not a Holiness; that Christ will come again, but I am not an Adventist; that the church is universal or catholic, but I am not a Catholic. According to some good folk—since I believe in the above facts—I should call myself a Methodist—Episcopalian—Presbyterian—Congregationalist—Baptist—Holiness—Catholic—Christian. A monstrous hyphenation and a rather long name! It is unnecessary, too. We find in the Bible that the disciples were called Christians, but we never read of any person being called some hyphenated Christian. Regardless of what names others wear, I prefer to stick to the Bible and be a Christian only (pp. 32-33).
Isn’t it amazing that some folks will become “fighting mad” when you explain to them that denominational names are man-made and unscriptural? They have no God-given right to exist and thus cannot be found in the Bible (John the Baptist will not do as he did not die for the church). On the other hand, Christ promised to build His church (Matt. 16:18), purchased it with His blood (Acts 20:28), promises to save it (the one body—Eph. 4:4; 5:23), and through an inspired writer mentions congregations called “churches of Christ” (Rom. 16:16). Such simply shows ownership, and rightly so since Christ is the head of the body which is the church (Eph. 1:22-23).
It will surprise some to learn that certain individuals in the past had no desire for a “church” to be named in their honor. These men knew that man-made names make mockery of Christ and His Word, and their comments will forever haunt those who choose to give “churches” man-made names. Listen to the words of Charles Spurgeon, acknowledged by many to be the most famous and talented Baptist preacher ever:
I say of the Baptist name, let it perish, but let Christ’s name last forever. I look forward with pleasure, to the day when there will not be a Baptist living. I hope they will soon be gone. I hope the Baptist name will soon perish; but let Christ’s name endure forever (Spurgeon Memorial Library, Vol. 1, p. 168 as noted by Brownlow).
Can you imagine the outcry against me if I were to say today that I look forward to the day when there would not be a Baptist living? Well, Spurgeon’s sentiments are mine, but don’t hold your breath waiting on Baptist churches to inform their members of Spurgeon’s comments!
Now hear the words of Martin Luther who was a most influential reformer and scholar of his day:
I pray you to leave my name alone, and call not yourselves Lutherans, but Christians. Who is Luther? My doctrine is not mine. I have not been crucified for anyone. St. Paul would not let any call themselves after Paul, nor of Peter, but of Christ. How then, does it befit me, a miserable bag of dust and ashes, to give my name to the children of God? Cease, my dear friends, to cling to these party names and distinctions: away with all; and let us call ourselves only Christians after him from who our doctrine comes (The Life of Luther, p. 289 as quoted by Brownlow).
Most of the above statement Luther made is correct, but Luther fell far short of fully aligning himself with Bible doctrine. Let all Baptists, Lutherans, and members of other denominational churches hear the words that give them no right to exist:
Now I beseech you, brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment each one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos: and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized into the name of Paul (1 Cor. 1:10, 12-13)?
Christ spoke of those who “seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand…” (Matt. 13:13-15). It is so sad that so many are indeed blind and deaf to God’s truth but they are not physically impaired.
Yes, different kinds of Christians exist in the minds of men today, but people must be spiritually deaf and blind to believe such is true. Neither the Father, the Son, nor the Holy Spirit mentions different kinds of Christians. The word “Christian” is found only three times in Holy Writ. Christ’s disciples were first called “Christians” at Antioch as now it was clear that Christ died for both Jew and Gentile and they both would be reconciled “in one body unto God through the cross” (Eph. 2:16). The word “Christian” is also used in Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16. Study the Word of God, and do not allow yourself to be blinded to God’s glorious truths that are clearly set forth in Holy Writ.