On Some Nebulous "CoC" Thing
I often see discussions where people keep referencing some “CoC” position, or “CoC” tradition, or “CoC-er” or whatever. So… here are a few thoughts about that adapted from a previous discussion.
What exactly is this CoC to which people keep referring? Is there some particular local group of Christians they have in mind? Is it a universal group? If so, who is in charge of it? Where does it make its decisions? What exactly is it composed of? Is it a collective of groups? Which ones are they? Do they fit this category because of signs on their buildings? Because they don’t wish to be donation agencies to institutions? Because they don’t use instruments in worship? Are we lumping all in this category who believe in some form of a shunned CENI? Because they believe that the Bible tells, shows, and implies things, even though those who oppose CENI believe the Bible does that as well? Are we spurning the whole because of a few? For which practice is “the CoC,” whatever it is and wherever it exists, to be shunned and rebuked? Or are they, imperfect as they are, apostate traditionalists who swap out loving the Lord for the sake of coldly trying to find commands and examples to follow and check off a list? I’m trying to understand why the persistent, typically pejorative use of labels and acronyms must be so pervasive, especially coming from a side that claims the high ground on love, acceptance, compassion, and tolerance.
Until we recognize that there is no such thing as some combined “CoC” conglomerate, then we’ll never get past this kind of divisive rhetoric. If the church is the people, then there is not some separate entity called “the CoC” to which the people belong. If people believe such, then they are wrong for thinking that way. I have long fought such a mentality. Groups of Christians practice together what they believe they should do; they refrain from practices they don’t believe are correct. Other groups do the same. That is the value of autonomy. There is no centralized web of entities so titled “the CoC.” Thus its continued use with negative connotations cannot be sustained unless further divisions are intended. If we want to address the way some interpret the Bible, then do it. But generalization of everyone who attends a congregation that fits what we don’t like is neither loving nor tolerant. When we say, “The CoC teaches this…” then we have generalized, lumped, and categorized anyone and everyone so associated. It’s fallacious at its root to do this, and it gives no credit to those who have tried make a difference.
All I can do is try to act as a Christian. As a Christian, I see the need to meet with other Christians. When I look in the Bible, I ask, what is it that God wills? (Cf. Matthew 7:21) How do I follow Him? What can I know pleases Him? I assume other Christians do the same. A few of us band together in order to carry out some joint tasks. We worship. We sing. We pray. We simply try to do what we see pleased God in Scripture. We have agreed not to collect funds to donate to other agencies. We do it to support the teaching and spread the gospel. It’s quite simple. But no matter how I act, it is as an individual. As an individual, I can only do what I believe I see in Scripture. I meet with other Christians on the first day of the week because that’s what I see in Scripture. I take the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week because that’s what I see them doing. Perhaps all of this is extreme: looking at what God says, considering the examples provided, and reasoning from the Scriptures to draw conclusions we believe are warranted. If others do the same, and we happen to agree, well and good. If not, others are free to do it another way. There is no forced fellowship. All I can do is act within my conscience, teach what I believe is right, and trust God and His mercy to aid me through my imperfections and misunderstandings.
There are Christians. There are erring brothers and sisters. There are non-Christians. We may debate who belongs or doesn’t belong in these categories, but for now I’m glad to let God be the judge while I simply try to follow what I see in Scripture. Until then, it appears the sectarian rhetoric will continue from both the “CoC” and “anti-NI CoCers,” whoever they may be and wherever they may roam. Ludicrous? Yes. This is why I cringe every time I see and hear the terminology.
- Church of Christ
- Command, Example, and Necessary Inference