United Church of Christ and the Churches of Christ

An article in Saturday’s Mobile Press- Register announced the formation of a new church in Mobile. Although it does not go by the name it is affiliated with the United Church of Christ. Because this is the first UCC church in Mobile and because of the similarity of the name, I thought we should take a look at the beliefs of this new church and see if it compares well to the teachings of the New Testament. It does not.

The United Church of Christ has no affiliation with, nor never has had, the churches of Christ with whom we worship. The church was formed in 1957 as the union of two protestant bodies, the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Churches. It is headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio and claims about 1 million members.

Some teachings of the UCC are commendable and reflect first century values. Local churches are considered autonomous according to their bylaws. The church teaches that members of the church are likewise members of the body of Christ which is based upon Paul’s teachings (Ephesians 5:23). The UCC acknowledges Jesus as the “sole Head” of the church which also reflects Biblical teaching. The United Church of Christ is active in the area of benevolence through a variety of programs which are based both locally and nationally.

Nevertheless there are some teachings that are not Biblical and which place the UCC at the extreme left of so-called protestant churches.

For example, the church is emphasizing the idea that “God is still speaking” and argues that we must “never place a period where God put a comma.” That has a nice ring to it but what exactly does it mean? On their website the UCC notes that they were the first to ordain a woman, to ordain an openly gay person and the first to affirm same-gender marriage equality. This seems to suggest that UCC floats with the times. What is trending today is theologically sound tomorrow. (1 Timothy 2:12;  1 Corinthians 13:34; Romans 1:26-27). Such is an extremely dangerous precedent to live by. The ancient word was confirmed through the working of miracles. What confirms new revelation today?

Now we should be quick to add that because each congregation of the UCC is independent, it might not hold to all of the things taught by the national office. But in the case of the Mobile church, their leader and ordained pastor is female and is called a “Reverend” (Matthew 23:8-10). In a quote from the Register article,  the new preacher at the Mobile church said, “one can follow Jesus without seeing the Christian path in exclusive terms.” What exactly does she mean? In order to follow Jesus, one must be obedient to him. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” Jesus said (John 14:15). The Lord affirmed clearly that he was building his church and that the apostles would bring forth doctrine already settled in heaven (Matthew 16:18-19; Matthew 18:18). It is that doctrine, once delivered (Jude 3) which men today must be obedient to (Romans 6:17). Our task is not to choose and change but to obey out of a heart filled with love and thanksgiving.

Our concern is twofold. First we deeply love those involved in the UCC although we may never have met them. As they seek for God we beg to them to stand with us on the Bible alone, not the multiplied creeds and confessions which they presently honor. But we also wish to make clear that the doctrines taught at UCC are often far from what is taught in the churches of Christ and we wish to make the difference known.

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