13. Jesus said “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35). Ketcherside says (chapter 50, Glory), “It is not by being baptized or by faithfully attending services that the world will be impressed, nor by being right or doctrinally sound. It is rather the magnificent Christian dynamic of love that will press the claims of Jesus upon men’s conscience.”
RT – Couple John 13:35 with 1 John 5:3. After doing that which one will you follow: the Lord or Ketcherside?
One respondent to our article said this: “Those erring members of the church who refuse to grow out of false teachings and grow into a knowledge of and submission to the Truth are to be rejected, not tolerated.” Of course, what is meant here by Truth is truth as the Church of Christ understands it.
1. Is it correct that CC will not fellowship with Christians who are “in error?” Is there any other kind of Christian? In other words, since CC members both acknowledge their own sin and disagree on so many points among themselves, is it not correct that each member of the Church of Christ must be in error on at least some points?
RT – No it is not correct; why would you think it is? We all struggle with regard to one’s behavior and with regard to implementing God’s word in our respective lives – and in this regard there is error that is in place. Without the charitableness of Christians we would be on an island. That said, however, the New Testament is clear concerning those who are in rebellion to the Lord (2 Thessalonians 3:6). The key difference is the difference between the word “error” and the word “rebellion.” On your last question it is certainly possible (probable) that there are many Christians who are in error. No error that is known, however, ought to be retained. Do you disagree with this?
2. Is it correct that in some cities there are as many as half a dozen different groups of Churches of Christ, none of which will fellowhsip with the others?
RT – I do not know, but this is possible
3. Isn’t Ketcherside correct when he says “All of this talk about ‘full fellowship’ is sheer poppycock. It is wholly without scriptural warrant and has been conjured up…God has no stepchildren so we can have no half-brothers. If we are in his family we are in it wholly or not at all. The idea that you can be in partial fellowship is like loving the right side of your wife and hating the left side. You cannot parcel God out and you cannot carve up his spiritual offspring either (chapter 15,Authority)”.
RT – The Scriptures do not recognize anything but full-fellowship. If one is in fellowship with God, it is full-fellowship. Where does the New Testament teach something less? without scriptural warrant? What does 1 John 1:3 mean if it does not mean “full-fellowship”? The terms “stepchildren” and “half-brothers” does not communicate very well.
4. Ketcherside clarifies that, “Harmony is not essential to fellowship but is a goal of those who are in fellowship….There is no passage in the apostolic doctrine commanding harmony which was written to bring the saints into fellowship. Every such passage was written to those who were in the fellowship and because they were in it. Please consider (chapter 24, Fellowship).” Does fellowship require the endorsement of another’s position or views? Are people in fellowship by being called by God through the Good News of Jesus Christ or some other means?
RT – Fellowship is attained and maintained by one’s allegiance to God and His word as expressed in Scripture. There is to be harmony with regard to the Scripture, otherwise Paul’s words have no meaning (1 Corinthians 1:10; Acts 4:32; 5:12). Since Paul wrote by the authority of the Lord, if he words have no meaning, then neither does the Lord’s! Does fellowship require endorsement? No. Fellowship is association, a common bond that ties two together. One can have “fellowship” in a civic club without there being a particular endorsement of an individual. However, if two are in that club, then both became members of that club the same way. With regard to religious doctrine the same applies. If one is in fellowship with the Lord, then that obedient one became the Lord’s child in the way commanded by Him – this is vertical fellowship. Horizontal fellowship is attained and maintained when another person obeys the Lord in the same way.