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Definitions of Doctrine
by C. D. Cole
Volume III- THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
CHAPTER 5-Church History
What is known and taught as Church History is in reality history of Christianity rather than a history of the church Christ founded and promised perpetuity to. History reveals that the true Church as an institution was represented by local congregations as opposed by a developing and growing hierarchy until the bishop of Rome is made Pope or Supreme Bishop. This hierarchy is made up of the collective body of bishops with the pope as supreme bishop. This hierarchy is independent of the lay members in Roman Catholic churches who are nothing short of spiritual slaves being told what to believe and do. This false church claimed to be the only mediator of grace, and to cut oneself off from it was to lose all hope of salvation. The first general organizations were diocesan (district).
Things became so rotten in Roman Catholicism until some of the members could stand it no longer and being excommunicated became founders of other denominations of Christians. This period began in the reformation under Martin Luther, when Protestantism was born. The Lutheran Church was organized in 1520; the Episcopal (Church of England) began with Henry VIII in 1534; the Presbyterian by John Calvin in 1535; Dutch Reformed separated from Roman Catholicism in 1540; Congregational founded by Robert Brown in 1580; Methodist by John Wesley in 1740; Free Will Baptist by Benjamin Randall in 1780; Disciples of Christ organized by Alexander Campbell in 1827; Mormons by Joseph Smith in 1830; Anti Mission Baptists by Daniel Parker in 1832; Nazarenes by S. F. Breece in 1835; Christian Science by Mary Baker Eddy in 1884.
Now the history of Baptists is altogether a different story. If there has been a New Testament church existing down through the ages it has to be the Baptist Church since all other groups have a beginning sometime since 1520. Our contention is admitted by others. Alexander Campbell, in his debate with McCalla (Presbyterian) had this to say: “From the apostolic age to the present time the sentiments of Baptists and the practice of baptism has had a continued chain of advocates; and public monuments of their existence in every century can be produced.”
John Clark Ridpath (Methodist) wrote to W. A. Jarrell (Baptist) as follows: “I should not readily admit that there was a Baptist Church as far back as A. D. 100, though without doubt there were Baptists then, as all Christians were then Baptists.”
In preparing their history, the Dutch Reformed Church, devoted a chapter to the Dutch Baptists. And in this chapter is this statement: “The Baptists may be considered as the only Christian community which has stood since the days of the apostles and as a Christian society which has preserved pure the doctrines of the Gospel through all ages.”
SOME DISTINCTIVE BELIEFS
1. The New Testament is the only law of Christianity—the sufficient rule of faith and practice. We do not go to the Old Testament for what we believe and practice as a church. This in no wise means that the Old Testament is not true as the word of God. But we do not get our doctrine as a church from the Old Testament. The Church of Christ is a New Testament institution. The Bible and the Bible alone is the religion of Protestants.
2. Individual responsibility. This covers a lot of ground. It does away with proxy religion in baptism, etc. This calls for freedom of conscience and religious liberty. Every person must give account of himself to God. Calls for obedience to God when there is conflict between God’s command and human authority. Calls for separation of Church and state. Calls for liberty not toleration. I do not want to be tolerated by the state in religious matters. I want to be left alone, to follow my own conscience. I do not want to have to get any license to preach from any human government. I got a license to marry people because marriage and the home are state institutions, not religious and spiritual.
3. The church is a body of baptized believers, equal in rank and privilege, administering its own affairs under the headship of Christ.
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