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They continue membership in the same lodges and social organizations, are captivated by the same worldly fashion trends, are entranced by the same political-nationalistic-military propaganda, and seek the same social standing as do others not claiming to be true believers. They likewise are responsible for similar marital discord, fighting, argumentation and divorce and even remarriage! Many do not have and never have had an insatiable appetite for spiritual things. They simply do not truly hunger for Go! We realize that some of this does not describe all the membership we are considering, but regretfully some of it does characterize many of the members!

Although they may have made an overt religious response of some kind in what they assumed was Biblical baptism, the inside remains the same, therefore the outside behavior and relationships are unchanged—or changed so little as to be negligible. Likewise, today, the sinner must undergo an inward change brought by initial repentance and continuing repentance if his outward behavior is to be different from what it was and from that of the world.

The new covenant itself, inaugurated by Christ, makes provision for an inward change that does the will of God from the mind and heart cf. Jeremiah ; Hebrews Repentance is a change of mind regarding sin and God, issuing from a sorrow for sin and resulting in a changed life. He must turn from self to God and His ways, thoughts, and plans.

He must cease living a self-centered life. He must cease directing the course of his life according to what pleases him and begin to seek that which pleases the God of heaven and earth in all things. The person who would be saved must turn from all sin of which he is aware and begin to live a life of godliness and righteousness. Revelation Colossians Moreover, repentance will produce and require restitution when needed. Restitution is seeking to make amends or reparations, when possible, for past wrongs committed. Past offenses must be confessed and corrected, relationships may need to be righted, misdeeds will need to be rectified, and items stolen will need to be paid for or returned.

In fact, generally this is the case. The world is too pervasive and the demands of Christ are so serious that people generally will need to change greatly. There needs to be a radical reorientation to all of life. For most people this will mean that friends, family, and acquaintances will definitely notice a change from negative attitudes to positive ones, and a change from negative behavior to a radically different and positive lifestyle.

They have never genuinely been forgiven, saved, born anew and sanctified! The Holy Spirit is not empowering them and strengthening them in the inner person so as to transform their characters and renew them to the image of God in Christ cf. Ephesians ; Romans ; Ephesians If people truly repent and change directions, there will be a radically new lifestyle. Given the proper, sustained teaching and training by wise and godly teachers a real rarity today unfortunately , newly repentant believers will love God and others, enjoy worship, hunger to know God and His word, and be excited about sharing Christ with one and all.

Let there be real repentance and this will help solve the perennial problems of worldly often unconverted young people and adults. This is not to say that if one actually repents he cannot fall into the worldly ways around him but if one is truly converted through the experience of genuine, heart-searching repentance, and through the supernatural Spirit-engendered new birth regeneration , he at least will begin his walk as a new creation, indwelt by the Spirit of God and will be prepared to live in Christ-likeness.

He needs to weigh whether he is ready to acknowledge Christ as more important than all others who is deserving of absolute love cf. Luke ; cf. Matthew Luke Remember that it costs us nothing to be saved, for Christ already paid the cost of His precious blood for our redemption cf. Philippians ; 1 Corinthians All of this underlines the missing note in the way repentance is usually presented today, but this emphasis must exist if people are to be changed inwardly by the Spirit of God and so manifest outward change of life.

One confesses this lone fact usually before an assembled congregation and immediately proceeds to be baptized. Obviously confession is a proper element in our initial response for salvation and our continued life in Christ. However, surely there must be an emphasis on sin and its consequences; otherwise, there would be no incentive to repent of sin.

Consider now the matter of confession after Christ died and rose again. What prevents me from being baptized? Although no Greek manuscript earlier than the seventh century has this statement, it may well reflect a practice of the early centuries. Confession of the Sonship of Jesus is quite appropriate since one cannot be saved apart from this great truth cf. Matthew , and belief of this fact, among others, is necessary for salvation.

One confesses outwardly the content of his inward faith. Beyond this, however, Paul speaks of confession. It is altogether fitting that the repentant believer confess that Jesus is Lord, for His Lordship is tightly bound to His Sonship as well as His Messiahship cf. Acts ; , 22; ; Romans ; John John ; Hebrews If he confesses Jesus as Lord, let him recognize that in this exalted position He is deserving of total submission and absolute obedience cf. Luke ; Matthew If he confesses his condition of sinfulness, spiritual deadness, and alienation from God, let him realize that he is unworthy of the provision of salvation freely offered by God cf.

Isaiah ; 1 Timothy How sad. A mere empty, external form cannot have a place in the response of a sinner to God. It would also seem fitting that the convicted sinner call on the Lord for salvation from his sin. Sometimes preachers assign forgiveness to the act of baptism itself, either intentionally or ignorantly. Has God transferred saving power from Himself to an act—any act—of a person?

This unbalanced view is reflected in many ways. In tracts, books, and other literature this is similarly the case. Admittedly, one reason for this unbalanced presentation is the widespread minimizing of the act and even false teaching on the subject from denominational quarters. But does this justify such an unbalanced view that even repels some outsiders because they rightly realize that Jesus is Savior rather than baptism?

Truth out of balance not only leads to error of belief, it also becomes error in practice. In this case, baptism has received such undue weight that, to many people, baptism is the chief response of the sinner for salvation. Faith itself is sometimes focused on the act of baptism while the Savior is left out or at least relegated to the position of One who commanded the act. What do these churches believe and teach about baptism?

They point out that in New Testament times people believed in Jesus and repented of their sins prior to baptism cf. Mark ; Acts ; ; ; ; ; ; Galatians ; Colossians Thus, infants and little children are not proper subjects for the act. They teach that baptism is an immersion in water; thus pouring, sprinkling, and moistening are unscriptural substitutes cf.

Matthew ; John ; Acts ; Romans ; Colossians The design or purpose, and results of baptism are especially emphasized. Mark , to be washed of sins Acts ; cf. What can we say about the several points above? Scripture does seem to teach that baptism was preceded by faith and repentance. We would go further. Mark ; Luke ; Acts ; cf. Acts As we have previously noted, many have not genuinely repented had a settled change of heart regarding sin and God and dying to the self-life , thus their baptism must have been defective and empty.

Baptism cannot magically accomplish anything, particularly when full repentance is not present! Baptism surely is to be preceded by faith cf. Mark ; Acts ; , but baptism also expresses faith and embodies the faith it expresses. God, therefore, intended that baptism express our turning from sin, our trust in Christ and His meritorious blood, our commitment to live for God henceforth, and our identification with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Granted, the newly-awakened person cannot be expected to understand the depths of this significant act, nor the breadth of its ramifications, but he surely should have some comprehension of its meaning. Moreover, his faith even while being baptized must be fixed upon God in Christ rather than his own obedience. If the act of baptism is merely conceived of as a work of man, motivated by belief in God, how is it substantially different from other works which definitely cannot save?

Scripture is clear that we do not have within ourselves the capability of saving ourselves, regardless of our good intentions, righteous works, and obedience to Biblical commands. Titus ; Philippians It must be this way if we would be saved by grace cf. We cannot be saved by works either in conversion or thereafter, during the normal course of life. If baptism is related to forgiveness and salvation, it must derive its significance from that which it is designed to portray—namely, faith and repentance.

Baptism is so closely associated with inward faith that both could be considered as component parts of the unified whole and mutual parts of the conversion experience. Baptism is an act expressing faith in Christ, and is often described in the same way as the inner response of faith, and can be referred to as partaking of the same meaning as that which it expresses. Faith itself looks to Christ. It simply relates the sinner and saint to Him and His saving act where all saving merit resides. Thus faith is non-meritorious the same can be said of repentance which is closely related.

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Obviously, baptism is also non-meritorious, since it simply is an act of faith which is itself non-meritorious. Romans , KJV. John , Therefore, we ask: How can it be claimed that faith only leads one to salvation but baptism alone confers it? Scripture clearly says that one believes eis eternal life, the Lord, Christ, and righteousness justification , just as it declares that one is baptized eis Christ. Yes, forgiveness is associated with baptism Acts ; , but forgiveness is also related to the faith which baptism is to express Acts ; cf. True, eternal life is associated with baptism Colossians ; Romans , 11 , but life is often related to the faith which baptism signifies 1 Timothy ; John , 36; ; ; ; Acts , etc.

Admittedly, salvation is connected with baptism Mark ; 1 Peter , but it is also related to the faith which baptism indicates Ephesians ; Acts ; Romans ; Yes, the gift of the Holy Spirit is associated with baptism Acts , but it is in like manner related to the faith which baptism manifests Galatians , 14; Ephesians ; John Furthermore, sanctification set apart from sin to God is associated with baptism cf. Romans , , but it is unmistakably related to the faith which gives baptism its meaning Acts Baptism, therefore, does not have a design different from that of faith and repentance which God wants to be expressed in the act.

To say that belief leads to baptism, and then baptism saves, is utterly wrong! God saves. Faith responds to the One who is Savior, thus it can be said that faith saves. Baptism can be said to save because of its true meaning, namely, faith in Christ, and because it is directly related to the saving events of the gospel. There is nothing inherent within the act itself that saves. It does not save and forgive by the act itself, as a sacrament, and as falsely claimed by Roman Catholic theology.

Likewise, there is nothing within the person who is baptized that deserves to be saved. Baptism is a response of faith; and faith, in turn, looks to God in Christ for salvation! Baptism, rather than being a work of self-salvation, a ground of boasting, or any contribution to our redemption, embodies faith which looks to Christ.

It is a renunciation of self and self-effort or any worthy achievement of man, and is an admission of utter dependency upon the mercy of God in Christ. Baptism, then, can mean utterly different things both positive and negative , depending upon the attitude of the one being baptized and his view of salvation. One cannot misunderstand and be wrong about salvation through Christ, and be baptized right. What more can be said about the design of baptism?

In one respect, members of this church body are seeking to be loyal to Scripture and for this we commend them. Baptism is neglected by one at his spiritual peril cf.

The Background and Ministry of Alexander Campbell

Baptism was invariably an integral part of conversion to Christ, as far as Scriptural evidence is concerned cf. This meaningful act must not be minimized, altered, perverted, substituted, postponed, depreciated, or omitted—all of which occurs today in the religious world. While all of this is true and needs to be stressed in the right context, we must beware of some very real dangers:.

These aberrations or deficiencies serve to exalt baptism as a work of man and result in very serious error:. Therefore, the argument goes, just as Jesus shed his blood for forgiveness, one must be baptized for forgiveness or to obtain forgiveness of sins. It is true that the same phrase is found in both texts; however a radical difference exists between them. His was a meritorious act on our behalf. Later in life members of these groups often base their eternal salvation upon this earlier ritualistic ceremony, feeling no need to make a personal response of themselves.

We think this has happened time and again. Outsiders may not really understand this point very well, although there are some groups that seem to have a similar view. If one wants to debate this matter, generally the reasoning goes this way:. It is obvious that we cannot deny many of these points. Only they have the promise of heaven. And one indeed must come to Christ for forgiveness and only in this way may one be a member of the body of Christ. This is all true and cannot be denied since it is plainly presented in Scripture. It was a focus on God and on Jesus Christ, particularly in His death and resurrection for sin.

We do not want to leave the mistaken impression that every preacher, or every common member, or every congregation fully endorses every one of the abuses and misconceptions to which I have referred. There are a growing number who have a more Scriptural, more balanced, more Christ-honoring, view of salvation in Christ.

Some do truly comprehend the good news of Christ and have a more proper understanding of our response to Him in the conversion experience and in everyday life. What is desperately needed in these churches is an emphasis on all aspects of our life in Christ! This would include:. To be content with only one element of Christianity to the neglect of the others is both inconsistent and woefully spiritually inadequate. Some readers may still wonder whether we have accurately and fairly evaluated this whole matter. Are we not blowing the issue out of proportion to reality?

After many years of studying this religious movement in light of the truth of the gospel and the basic themes of redemption as revealed in Scripture, we must answer in the negative. You must appraise these issues for yourself. Some years ago I surveyed many members of a certain congregation in the Churches of Christ , asking for responses to several significant points. Granted, this was some time ago; however, we suspect that some of the same answers might be given today. One question was of a completion type.

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  4. While there is some truth in some of these answers, we can see that they do reveal a woeful ignorance of the very foundation of salvation by grace through faith. Believe, repent, confess, be baptized. Live a Christian life. Hear the Word, believe the Word, confess it, through obedience to the Word be baptized into Christ. You need to study the revealed will of God, and obey the commands of Christ. First you have to hear, believe, confess, repent, be baptized.

    Come to church and listen to the gospel; when one comes to believe it, repent of your sins and be baptized. First you have to hear the word before you can know what to do, and then you have to repent of your wrongdoings and sins, then you have to confess Christ as the Son of God, and be baptized. First you have to have an interest. Again we point out that there is some good in these and other answers that could have been listed. Yet, the impression is given by many of these responses that salvation is somehow based on what the sinner himself does.

    We know that we are not capable of such a feat if we are honest with ourselves, and if we have some comprehension of the depths of our unrighteousness and the demerit of our sin. Someone other than ourself must do the saving. We merely respond by faith to the salvation God offers as a gift of grace cf. Ephesians ; Romans What we do to be saved means nothing unless it is directly related to what Christ did to save us! Our response is an empty hand extended to receive a free gift.

    This movement is to be commended for their opposition to the many abuses they have seen and sought to correct in the denominational world. This is not to be viewed as simply an academic matter. Scripture is clear that Christ is the only way of salvation available to host humanity cf. Salvation may not only be negated by misunderstanding the person and saving work of Christ; it may also be canceled by a failure to properly respond to Him for salvation. For example:. We contribute something to our own redemption. The result can be a dreadful insecurity, for if I initially save myself, then I must continue to save myself.

    Yet I know my own weakness and failings. I then must either deny the extent of sin into which I fall, or have a superficial view of sin as consisting of a few easily-identified and rather easily-avoided external items , or try to balance sin with my righteousness and good deeds i. The spiritual implications are serious. This whole concept leads to spiritual pride, the very attitude that God hates.

    You, therefore, owe me a heavenly home. It thinks one can somehow deserve or achieve eternal life. It is entirely lacking in an understanding of the essence of the good news of salvation through Christ and His entirely-sufficient sacrificial work. It is an attitude that neglects and nullifies the grace of God. Galatians He cannot be saved! Philippians ; Galatians Titus ; Ephesians ; Romans ; 1 Peter And this grace came in Christ Jesus his Savior cf.

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    Grace was the very content of his preaching Acts However, nothing that a man does or can do is meritorious. Nothing provides the basis of salvation, the ground for our redemption, the cause of justification, or the source of forgiveness. What we do simply responds to the salvation God offers in Christ, or constitutes our living out in experience the salvation we have already been granted. We are saved to serve rather than serve to be saved. This provides an altogether different motivation in life.

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    We serve God and others through love because we have been the recipients of bountiful love cf. Through Scott's efforts, the Mahoning Association grew rapidly. In , Thomas Campbell visited several of the congregations formed by Scott and heard him preach. Campbell believed that Scott was bringing an important new dimension to the movement with his approach to evangelism. Several Baptist associations began disassociating congregations that refused to subscribe to the Philadelphia Confession. In , The Mahoning Baptist Association disbanded.

    The younger Campbell ceased publication of the Christian Baptist. In January , he began publication of the Millennial Harbinger. The Age of Enlightenment had a significant influence on the Campbell movement. He also believed that the Bible was clear enough that anyone could understand it and, thus, creeds were unnecessary. He saw those facts as providing a blueprint or constitution for the church.

    Thomas Campbell combined the Enlightenment approach to unity with the Reformed and Puritan traditions of restoration.

    First, it provided the idea that Christian unity could be achieved by finding a set of essentials that all reasonable people could agree on. The second was the concept of a rational faith that was formulated and defended on the basis of a set of facts derived from the Bible. Alexander Campbell's millennialism was more optimistic than Stone's. Those following the Campbells were called "Reforming Baptists" because of the associations with the Baptist at the beginning of the movement; this was sometimes shortened to "Reformers.

    The Campbell movement was characterized by a "systematic and rational reconstruction" of the early church, in contrast to the Stone movement which was characterized by radical freedom and lack of dogma. The Stone and Campbell movements merged in Stone and "Raccoon" John Smith. Two representatives of those assembled were appointed to carry the news of the union to all the churches: John Rogers, for the Christians and "Raccoon" John Smith for the reformers. Campbell viewed this as sectarianism, which cut across the fundamental commitment of the Disciples movement to "the union of all Christians," and rejected "anabaptism.

    Thomas began to refuse to share prayer, worship, or communion with those he considered not to be validly baptised Christians. His theological views also continued to develop. By he was teaching annihilationism , and debated a Presbyterian clergymen, Isaac Watts. Campbell interpreted this as materialism , and believed that it undermined the biblical doctrine of the resurrection, and reacted strongly. In the Millennial Harbinger he announced that he could no longer consider Thomas a brother. Many congregations of Disciples took this as an indication that they should withhold fellowship from Thomas, and he found himself on the margins of the movement.

    Thomas continued to have supporters among the Disciples, but moved further and further from Christian orthodoxy.

    Alexander Campbell

    In he published a "Confession and Abjuration" of the faith he held at his baptism, and arranged to be baptised again. Despite this, when he toured the United Kingdom to give prophetic lectures in he played down his separation from the Disciples movement, in an endeavour to access congregations in Britain. But his true position was discovered by James Wallis and David King, and the movement closed ranks against him.

    In he coined the name "Christadelphian" for those who shared his views and sought to register as conscientious objectors to military service. The new name was adopted by Robert Roberts , the Scottish protege of Thomas, for the periodical which he had just begun to publish in Birmingham ; and the sect began to grow rapidly. Benjamin Wilson left the Disciples about the same time as Thomas, but split with Thomas in over disagreements about eschatology, forming the Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith. During the American Civil War his followers also sought to register as conscientious objectors.

    Some congregations were unable to register this name due to local regulations, and chose an alternative name, Church of the Blessed Hope ; but the two names referred to the same sect. The sect divided in , and the Church of God General Conference was formed by the larger grouping. In , the first National Convention was held at Cincinnati, Ohio. He did not attend the gathering.

    Forming the ACMS did not reflect a consensus of the entire movement, and these para-church organizations became a divisive issue. While there was no disagreement over the need for evangelism , many believed that missionary societies were not authorized by scripture and would compromise the autonomy of local congregations. The ACMS was not as successful as proponents had hoped.

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    The use of musical instruments in worship was discussed in journal articles as early as , but initial reactions were generally unfavorable. Pinkerton, brought a melodeon into the church building. Both acceptance of instruments and discussion of the issue grew after the American Civil War. The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement notes that Restoration Movement historians have tended to interpret the controversy over the use of musical instruments in worship in ways that "reflect their own attitudes on the issue.

    Early leaders of the movement had a high view of scripture, and believed that it was both inspired and infallible. I do not see how we can answer this question affirmatively. Nothing in life has given me more pain in heart than the separation from those I have heretofore worked with and loved. Disagreement over centralized organizations above the local congregational level, such as missionary societies and conventions, was one important factor leading to the separation of the Churches of Christ from the Christian Church Disciples of Christ.

    While music and the approach to missionary work were the most visible issues, there were also some deeper ones, such as basic differences in the underlying approach to Biblical interpretation. For the Churches of Christ, any practices not present in accounts of New Testament worship were not permissible in the church, and they could find no New Testament documentation of the use of instrumental music in worship. For the Christian Churches, any practices not expressly forbidden could be considered. As the 19th century progressed, a division gradually developed between those whose primary commitment was to unity, and those whose primary commitment was to the restoration of the primitive church.

    In contrast, the Churches of Christ largely discouraged women from joining activist women's organizations such as the WCTU and speaking in public about any issue. The United States Census Bureau began a religious census in I would like to know: 1.

    If there is such a body, has it any general organization, with headquarters, officers, district or general conventions, associations or conferences? How did it originate, and what are its distinctive principles? How best can there be secured a complete list of the churches? Lipscomb summarized the early history of the movement, described the "general organization of the churches under a missionary society with a moneyed membership" and the "adoption of instrumental music in the worship" as "a subversion of the fundamental principles on which the churches were based," and then continued: [81].

    The U. Religious Census for the first time listed the " Churches of Christ " and the " Disciples of Christ " as separate and distinct groups. For Lipscomb, an underlying theological concern was the adoption of German liberal theology by many among the Disciples wing of the Restoration Movement. Movement historian Douglas Foster has summarized the events this way:.

    The data reflected what had already happened and what continued to happen for at least another decade. The Census Bureau itself had noticed a rift between Churches of Christ and Disciples of Christ, and in the interest of reliable data collection tried to ascertain if that was true. Lipscomb agreed that it was accurate to list the two separately; Garrison did not. The government did not declare the division; the Census Bureau simply published data it received. When the U. Religious Census was published in it reported combined totals for the "Disciples or Christians" for comparison to the statistics on the movement, as well as separate statistics for the "Disciples of Christ" and the "Churches of Christ.

    Generally speaking, the Disciples of Christ congregations tended to be predominantly urban and Northern, while the Churches of Christ were predominantly rural and Southern. The Disciples favored college-educated clergy, while the Churches of Christ discouraged formal theological education because they opposed the creation of a professional clergy. Disciples congregations tended to be wealthier and constructed larger, more expensive church buildings. Churches of Christ congregations built more modest structures, and criticized the wearing of expensive clothing at worship. Churches of Christ have maintained an ongoing commitment to purely congregational structure, rather than a denominational one, and have no central headquarters, councils, or other organizational structure above the local church level.

    After a number of discussions throughout the s, the International Convention of Christian Churches adopted a process to "restructure" the entire organization. After the separation from the Churches of Christ, tensions remained among the Disciples of Christ over theological liberalism, the nascent ecumenical movement and "open membership. The movement as a whole grew significantly over the course of the 20th century, and the relative size of the different groups associated with the movement shifted as well.

    Following the separation of the Churches of Christ , controversy still existed within the movement over whether the missionary efforts should be cooperative or independently sponsored by congregations. Questions on the role of the methods of Biblical Criticism to the study and interpretation of the Bible were also among the issues in conflict. During the first half of the 20th century the opposing factions among the Christian Churches coexisted, but with discomfort.

    By mid century, the cooperative Christian Churches and the independent Christian Churches were following different paths. By a split began to form within the Disciples over the future direction of the church. Conservatives within the group began to have problems with the perceived liberalism of the leadership, upon the same grounds described earlier in the accepting of instrumental music in worship. By this time the decennial religious census was a thing of the past and it is impossible to use it as a delineation as it was in Following World War II, it was believed that the organizations that had been developed in previous decades no longer effectively met the needs of the postwar era.

    The Disciples of Christ still have their own internal conservative-liberal tension. In , a movement of conservative congregations and individuals among the Disciples formed the "Disciple Renewal. In the Disciple Heritage Fellowship [96] was established. It is a fellowship of autonomous congregations, about half of which are formally associated with the Disciples of Christ. The Christian Church Disciples of Christ has experienced a significant loss of membership since the middle of the 20th century.

    Membership peaked in at just under 2 million. In , the denomination reported , members in 3, congregations. Independent Christian churches and churches of Christ have both organizational and hermeneutic differences with the churches of Christ. The Disciples of Christ were, in , a united, growing community with common goals. A new convention, the North American Christian Convention , was organized by the more conservative congregations in The official separation between the independent Christian churches and churches of Christ and the Christian Church Disciples of Christ is difficult to date.

    Because of this separation, many independent Christian churches and churches of Christ are not only non-denominational, they can be anti-denominational, avoiding even the appearance or language associated with denominationalism holding true to their Restoration roots.

    One of the issues leading to the separation was the question of organizational structures above the level of the local congregation. Since then, Churches of Christ have maintained an ongoing commitment to church governance that is congregational only, rather than denominational. Churches of Christ purposefully have no central headquarters, councils, or other organizational structure above the local church level. Since Churches of Christ are autonomous and purposefully do not maintain an ecclesiastical hierarchy or doctrinal council, it is not unusual to find variations from congregation to congregation.

    There are many notable consistencies, however; for example, very few Church of Christ buildings display a cross, a practice common in other Christian churches. The approach taken to restoring the New Testament church has focused on "methods and procedures" such as church organization, the form of worship, and how the church should function.

    As a result, most divisions among Churches of Christ have been the result of "methodological" disputes. These are meaningful to members of this movement because of the seriousness with which they take the goal of "restoring the form and structure of the primitive church. The largest of these four categories is the "non-institutional" churches of Christ.