Did Alexander Campbell Start the Church of Christ?

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It is not uncommon for someone to affirm that Alexander Campbell started the church of Christ. Recently, a preacher on television taught this and, as a member of the church of Christ, I feel obligated to address this matter.

Alexander Campbell was a prominent man who lived and worked during the days of the Restoration Movement. This was a movement that began in the early part of the 19th century. Campbell, along with Barton Stone and others began working to bring unity to a religious world that was divided. The plea of the movement was to “speak where the Bible speaks, and to be silent where the Bible is silent.”

“Upon this rock, I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). Jesus loved the church and gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:25). Jesus shed His blood to purchase the church (Acts 20:28). Jesus is the Head of His church (Colossians 1:18). It is clear from all these passages that, in the first century, the Lord Jesus Christ started His church (Acts 2:1-47). His church was not and is not a denomination.

In view of these facts, the question we should ask is this: Is it possible to be a member of Jesus’ church, without joining a denomination? Some who desire membership in Jesus’ church are not aware that there is an alternative to denominationalism. The alternative is membership in the church of the New Testament. None of the Protestant denominations of our day are in the Bible, but the church started by Jesus is in the Bible. Early Christians were part of that one body (Ephesians 4:4), and it is still possible to be part of that body without denominationalism.

The term “church of Christ” is not a proper name; rather, it is a designation which shows ownership. It is the church “of” Christ (belonging to Christ). This is what we mean by “church of Christ.” It is not a denomination. Paul wrote: “The churches of Christ salute you” (Romans 16:16). This was written long before the birth of Alexander Campbell!

Mark Lindley
Chapman church of Christ
Ripley, MS

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