Monday, August 23, 2010


Have you ever given much consideration to the names of churches? Some of them are quite strange, and I am not talking about a few isolated congregations. Locally, we have what is becoming a small denomination called Branham's Tabernacle which is named for the founder of the sect. It is not surprising then that every time I have spoken to its members, they talk about William Branham instead of Jesus.

The church I attend is named Charlestown Independent Church. I find the name disturbing for the obvious reason that our church (and every other church if it is actually a church) is totally dependent upon God. It is God Who gives our pastor his message. It is God Who motivates people to attend and support the ministry. It is God Who protects us from Satan's desire to destroy us. It is God Who gives us faith to believe in Jesus. No church is independent of God; to be so automatically disqualifies the assembly from being a church. I have half-jokingly said many times that some night, I am going to sneak over there and "white out" the "In." Of course I might as well do it in the daylight because everyone would know it was me.

The name, Church of God, kind of reminds me of the passage that speaks about THE UNKNOWN GOD (Acts 17:23). Since the term "god" is so generic, it does not define the church's focus. Every religion speaks of worshiping a god, so apart from the word "church," it could be a mosque or a temple. The Church of Christ has the right idea, but the name suggests all others are not worshiping Christ. It is sort of like the Corinthian Church (1 Cor. 1:12; 3:4-6). In order to keep from being a group who thinks they are the only ones going to heaven, perhaps the name should be "A Church of Christ" instead of "The Church of Christ." I have family who are Mormons. Their church has a name that reserves Jesus for only those who are considered "Latter Day Saints." I don't suppose they believe anyone between Acts Twenty-eight and Joseph Smith's founding to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, will be considered members of the Body of Christ (with the exception of those for whom Mormons are baptized, of course).

"The Assembly of God" sounds like someone assembling something or creating an idol. "The Church of God of Prophecy" sounds like God restricts His love for only prophets. "The Church of the Four-square Gospel" is strange in the phrase "four-square" only refers to the furniture in the tabernacle in the wilderness and our future heavenly city (Ex. 27:1; 28:16; etc.; Rev. 21:16). The Gospel is a declaration of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ on our behalf (1 Cor. 15:1-9). This could also be said of the "Full Gospel Church." It is either "full," or it is not the Gospel.

I kind of like the concept that the Bible uses to describe a church. It is either the "church in," the "church at," or the "church of." The only problem is, the Church is so divided that we can no longer use these terms. Well, at least our church does not name itself based upon one of the ordinances, such as "The First Church of the Lord's Supper." Oh wait, someone did that with baptism; sorry.

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