By Kevin Rutherford
The Roman Catholic Church arrogantly states that it gave the Bible to the world. In reality, the Catholic Church has done all that it can in the past to inhibit the availability of the Scriptures. Roman Catholicism also believes that the church has the right to authorize religious practice, and that the religious practices authorized by the church take precedence over any practices authorized by the New Testament, or, if the New Testament does not authorize the practice, it doesn’t matter in the eyes of Catholic leaders. The church can authorize whatever it wants to, even if what it authorizes directly contradicts the Bible.
I have noticed within the past fifteen years a dangerous trend within the church of Christ. That trend is for people to ask questions such as, “What is church of Christ doctrine on this matter?” Our standard of authority is not the Roman Catholic Church; and, it is not the church of Christ. The church of Christ is the one body established by Jesus (Eph. 4:4; 1:22-23), but, while it is the Lord’s true church, it does not have the power to authorize religious practices. Jesus Christ, who is the Head of the church, is the only One with the authority to authorize religious practice for His church (Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18). How does Jesus lead, govern, and reign over His church? We might ask, “How does the church determine what Christ has authorized?” The answer is that Jesus rules through the New Covenant that became rule and law at His death (Heb. 9:15-17; Col. 2:14-17).
Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ revealed His law for the church (John 14:26; 16:13). Inspired men wrote down the very words that Christ supplied through the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 2:13). Those words, which have been recorded and preserved for us, make up the New Testament. The New Testament of Jesus Christ is the law and authority for the church of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel of Christ is the authority and standard for man’s religious practice and devotion to God. It is the standard that gives us all we need to make us spiritually complete (II Tim. 3:15-17). We need no other standard. Accepting another standard, including Roman Church tradition, will cause us to be lost (Gal. 1:6-9). The New Testament is our final guide and religious authority.
Because the New Testament is our final guide and religious authority, we ought not accept the doctrines of the pope, priests, or preachers over the doctrine of Christ. If we do so, we shall be lost (II John 9-11). Jesus Christ has already given us all the authority and instruction necessary for faithful service and worship. He did so through His New Testament. To accept any other standard is to be lost. Therefore, we need not be concerned about what the church authorizes, because it has no power to authorize religious practice. We simply ought to make sure the church is following the standard of authority that the Lord set out for us.
Don’t ask, “What is church of Christ doctrine on this matter?” Ask, “What does the New Testament say concerning this matter?”
- Kevin Rutherford; via the Nile Street Notes, the weekly bulletin of the Anna church of Christ in Anna, IL; R. W. McAlister preaches for the congregation and may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.annachurchofchrist.com/