CHRISTIAN IDENTITY

A photograph from the collection of Randal Pittman, lecturer at the College of the Bible for 49 years (1915-1963). This baptism took place at Leominster (UK).

 

Early Impetus

The Australian Christian Pioneer, published 1868-1879, edited by T. J. Gore

"We turn the leaves of that precious book from Genesis to Revelation and yet not one word about denomination, or denominational interests. When then we come before the great God and ask Him for wisdom and guidance, how can we dare set forth a purpose which is not given in his great revelation—the Bible? […] In turning the pages of that book we find that Jesus the Christ has been revealed, and that for a lost world there is salvation in no other name. Hence we will not be far wrong when we announce it as our purpose to plead the cause of Christ in its simplicity and fullness, to lift our voices on behalf of Christianity as it was in apostolic days."

The Australian Christian Pioneer Vol. 1, 1868

 

Contemporary Perspectives

by Stephen Curkpatrick

Interstitial identity*

Christian identity within Churches of Christ is not creedal or doctrinaire, much less, programmatic. It is interstitial, offering spaces of engagement and creative possibility as a forum of Christian testimony. This forum encompasses New Testament proclamation and its vital interpretations within the relay of Christian witness. Faithful and intelligent engagement within this space, in the midst of humanity, is orientated to generous and veritable testimony that is exhibited by christologically focused deed and word. The tone of this engagement is given within apostolic ministry and weighed as to interpretation through continuing faith and relay within specific contexts and emerging challenges.

* Interstitial: an intervening space, e.g. between teeth

 

Essentially, Churches of Christ identity

Churches of Christ identity is exhibited within its foci: Christological, so as to name and identity, unashamedly Christian; testimonial, so as to purpose, disseminating good news; as to character, given to generosity and veracity after Christological grace and truth. Essentially, this is all we need to affirm concerning our identity. 

 

 

The romance of churches of Christ

A Study in Origins, T. H. Scambler, Principal, College of the Bible (1938-1944)

"There have always been churches of Christ since the first churches were established by the apostles. This was one of the names by which they were known in New Testament times (Rom 16.16). Unfortunately the congregations of Christ's people have not always worn this beautiful and appropriate name."

"It has never been claimed that we understand the Christian institution completely. Our movement has been progressive. Sects that have been established upon definite creeds and confessions of faith are limited in the nature of the case to these statements. No such boundaries confined our pioneers as they started out on their work. They realised that their knowledge was imperfect -- they had much to learn [...] Hence our work is progressive. We still pray that the Spirit may lead us into all truth. The Bible contains the full and complete revelation of the will of God to man. Our understanding of that revelation, however, is imperfect. 'God hath more truth and light yet to break forth from his holy Word' [...] Hearkening to the voice of his Word, let us seek to attain the unity of the faith (Eph 4.13). That is our mission in the world. It was the plea for unity that brought us into existence."

T. H. Scambler, The Romance of Churches of Christ

 

State Conference Directions

  • To be a movement of the people of God gathering around the central figure of Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, living out his Way in our local contexts and inviting others to do the same (Victoria and Tasmania)
  • To bring the light of Christ into communities (Queensland)
  • To be a dynamic, relevant and vital Christian movement (South Australian and Northern Territory)
  • Unity in Christ alone, characterised by a diversity of expression in church life (Western Australia)
  • Transforming communities with fresh hope (New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory)