Open Handed & Closed Handed Interpretations

This is the first of thousands of postings on this recovery site.  If you have found your way to this Church of Christ Recovery ministry it is certain that you are aware of the practices of the Church of Christ denomination.

Most Church of Christ teach that they are the ONLY ones who are going to heaven.  They teach that they have been around since Acts 2.  They teach many things that if you want to be considered “worthy” of heaven then you must follow every one of those things.  All of these are LIES.

The TRUTH is that the Church of Christ members are not the ONLY ones going to heaven.  The Church of Christ has NOT been around since Acts 2 but rather history tells us they came about in the United States of American in the 1800’s and officially recognized 1906.  Additionally the only way you can be found worthy of salvation is through faith in Jesus.

These are not the only lies the Church of Christ has promoted over the years.  It is the desire of this ministry to draw you into a relationship with Jesus and away from hard core Church of Christ.

A logical and wise question to ask at the beginning of this recovery journey is:             “What things must we agree on to be considered followers of Christ?

This is a fair question because we need a common ground for our faith.  So there are valid and important questions like, “How much should can differing churches agree on and still remain a church that is “approved by God?”  Or, “What things to various members have to agree on in order to consider themselves both Christians?” These are things we need to ponder.

If you follow the hard core Church of Christ model there are some leaders who believe that if you do not see the things the way they see it then you are not a true follower of Christ.  Then there are other preachers or ministers who are a bit more relaxed but still have a list, be it documented or undocumented, on what basis one is a true believer or not.

So on what points must we agree and on what should be considered points of opinion or areas where we can agree to disagree?  For we can’t agree on absolutely everything?

OPEN HAND and CLOSED HAND

There are some things that are OPEN HANDED and some things that are CLOSED HANDED.  Regardless of what you have been told, the things in the CLOSED hand are FEW and those things in the OPEN hand are MANY.

To explain, those things in the open hand are things that as we study, grow in our faith and discuss, are things that we do not have to agree on.  These topics and issues in the open hand are things that we might disagree on but at the end of the day we still love and accept each other as fellow Christians, followers of Christ and members of God’s family.

The closed hand are topics, issues and items that in order to be called a Christ follower, we must believe and support.  These are fundamental issues of the faith that must be accepted by all who call themselves Christian.

Looking at Church of Christ history, the founder of the denomination, Thomas Campbell, was a Reformed (Calvinist) theologian.  So he was completely different than where the Church of Christ movement is today.  His son, Alexander, who was more influential than his father in many ways, was a Pre-Millennialist when it came to the end times.  This also is different than the main line hard core Church of Christ of today.  So one can see that these items are things upon which there were and are disagreements.  There is no way to find 100% agreement upon everything.

To explain a bit more specifically in the closed hand we would put only a very few things.  They would include:

  • There is One God
  • God exists as Father, Son and Holy Spirit
  • God created the universe
  • Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone
  • The Bible is God’s inspired word
  • Jesus was crucified, buried and raised again

In the open hand we would put a LOT of things.  These are topics, issues and items that we may find disagreement but they are not of first importance or fundamental.  They would include:

  •  Bible translation or version
  •  Women deacons or public ministry role for women
  •  How often communion is taken
  •  Calvin, Armenian views of theology
  •  End times (eschatology, millennial, pre-millennial, post millennial, a-millennial etc.)
  •  Instrumental music in worship, types or styles of music.
  •  Total abstinence or permissiveness of drinking alcohol

And the list could go on for a long time.  Neither of the lists is exhaustive but allow me to assure you that in its completion the closed handed list is extremely short.  There are very few things in the closed hand.

The issue is many fundamental Christians and most Church of Christ members reverse this.  They place almost everything in the closed hand and few things in the open hand.  The result is everything becomes a “heaven or hell” issue.  If you don’t agree with them you are doomed to hell.

The result in the Church of Christ is that there is a minimum of over 20 splits all of whom believing that they have the proper interpretation of Scripture on every point.  The Church of Christ had and has an unhealthy diet of putting down other fellow Christians in other Christian churches and in turn this has led to them devouring themselves.

Their twisting of the scripture, wrong interpretation and thinking is so perverse and like the Pharisees that many in the Church of Christ have turned on themselves.  They are devouring even their own.

Walk away in freedom.  If you are a leader in a Church of Christ, lead BOLDLY away from this Pharisee thinking.  Your salvation has to do with your faith in Jesus Christ and not that you agree with everything the Church of Christ believes.

As a reader you will not agree with all of the postings on this site NOR ARE YOU EXPECTED TO.  This introductory writing is in efforts to remove the shackles from you. You do not have to be a cookie cutter believer and act, think, believe and interpret everything just like the Church of Christ does.  There are only a few things we must have total agreement on to be called Christ followers.

Be Free!

4 Replies to “Open Handed & Closed Handed Interpretations”

  1. Yeah, I can relate to this article and have made the same observation how they are devouring one another. That divisive spirit began with opposition to instrumental music in the mid to late? 1800’s. That is, opposition to point of breaking fellowship, sowing division among brothers that God hates, and for many a salvation issue.

    But to be more specific though the Campbells/Stone started the Restoration Movement, the true founder of the American Churches of Christ church is none other than Daniel Sommer. He gave his Declaration and Address in 1889 advocating breaking fellowship with the Christian Church and Disciples of Christ. COC are usually referred to as Campbellites. That’s too much of a compliment, they are more like Sommerites. If you already know of I apologize for the extra information. But here on some links…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Sommer
    http://www.zianet.com/maxey/reflx213.htm
    http://www.wordsfitlyspoken.org/gospel_guardian/v9/v9n33p6.html

    He purposely sowed division that was not necessary. God judges him, but I have to wonder if he was a false teacher. He realized he was wrong in his older years and turned away from what he taught but the damage was already done. There were a number of preachers who learned from him who followed his lead. And the result, a very legalistic self-consuming COC churches.

    1. Thank you for that input Mr. Raulerson. Very insightful. What I have found in the many articles and books I have read on the genesis of the C of C movement is that there are many veins feeding those beginnings. It is interesting that some of those went further and helped with the beginnings of the Mormon movement. I am finishing a book on that and the key role Parley Pratt (among others) played. I will read your links with great interest.

      God Bless and keep you.

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