The year was 1882 and samples of a fairly new brand of soap were sent to college chemistry professors and some independent laboratories. They compared this new soap with castile soaps, which were the standard for that day. The soap proved to be 99.44% pure. “99.44% pure” became so associated with this brand of soap, that even today, it is part of the registered trademark for Ivory Soap.
For the sake of this article, I want to compare Ivory Soap to the Church of Christ/Christian Church. And then I would like to use the Bible for the standard of purity. Just how pure is the church in doctrine? What is the standard we use to measure our purity?
I am afraid in many Churches of Christ/Christian Churches “purity in doctrine” is no longer important. At least that seems to be the case as I surf the internet and view some of the websites of our churches. One would think that if “purity in doctrine” was important to them, they would not put up some of the very weak statements of faith that I read. Many of them are so weak, in fact, they could be accepted in almost any denominational church. It is almost like they are embarrassed to make the connection between faith, repentance, confession, immersion, faithful living and our salvation! I personally agree with the Apostle Paul when he writes, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). What has happened to the boldness to share THE faith once delivered? Whatever happened to “purity in doctrine”?
One would also think that if “purity in doctrine” was important, they would not put some of the links on their websites that I find. I have been on some church websites, that if they didn’t teach faith only doctrine in their statement of faith, it was simply one or two clicks away because of a link purposely placed on the website. Whatever happened to “purity in doctrine”?
One would also think that if “purity in doctrine” was important, churches would use extreme caution when choosing curriculum for classes or which internet site or book to get the sermon from! Many of my brethren in Christ would much rather study from a “faith-only” book than a good solid book in line with the Scriptures! I have to wonder if some would rather study these “faith only” books or websites than to study from the Bible itself! We hand out false teaching in books and videos and then say we will adjust the materials to match the Scriptures. But I ask again: Whatever happened to “purity in doctrine”?
One would also think that if “purity in doctrine” was important, we would be extremely careful about the missions we support. Shouldn’t we only support missions that are going to promote New Testament Christianity? Isn’t “one Lord, one faith, one immersion” still essential in our missions? Shouldn’t our missions wear the name of the Lord instead of some denominational name? The Apostle Peter wrote, “if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name” (I Peter 4:16). Whatever happened to “purity in doctrine”?
In fact, I wonder sometimes if we have not changed the standard. It used to be that the BIBLE was our only source of authority! I believe some churches would rather use something written by Rick Warren or Bill Hybels as the standard, rather than the Word of God! If someone tries to point out the errors within the theology of men like these, they are labeled a legalist! I say, if that is the definition of a legalist, THANK YOU for the label! I would rather be simply classified as a Christian, though!
The church here at South Side, nor myself, is in no way perfect. But I would pray that we would try to stay pure to the Scriptures. The Apostle Peter encourages us to “like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (I Peter 2:2)