Why I left the Church of Christ

Freedom In Christ - Institutional Church not required.

Why I left the Church of Christ by Dusty Owens

Why I left the Church of Christ – My admission of having “left the Church of Christ” may come as a complete surprise to many who have known me through the years; to others who have followed my writings on the institutional church, it will not come as a shock. The decision to cast off the shackles of traditions and laws of men came after many years of prayerful study of the sacred scriptures and the history of the development of the first man-made religious entity – the Catholic Church.

Betty, my faithful and loving wife of over 44 years, has been by my side all the while, studying, praying, and affording me a sounding board where I could test newly discovered hypotheses. She has often served as a good balance to my occasional impetuosity. Today, we stand in complete agreement on what I shall set forth in this article. When I state the reasons why I left the Church of Christ, I really am speaking for Betty also.

It is with great emotional difficulty that one declares he left something behind that was once very near and dear to his heart. Especially, when it involves long-time friends and loved ones. No doubt the apostle Paul shed many a tear as he contemplated the meaning of his decision to leave Judaism in order to embrace the liberating Christ:

Brothers, I pray to God that the Jewish people will be saved; that is my heart’s desire. I tell you the truth, they have much enthusiasm for God, but they don’t understand! They ignored God’s righteousness and tried to establish their own type of righteousness. They did not put themselves under God’s kind of righteousness (S.E.B. Rom. 10:1-4).

Why I left the Church of Christ
Why I left the Church of Christ

Why I left the Church of Christ – This is the second time I have had to make this kind of heart-rending determination. I was born to Roman Catholic parents and was raised a Catholic. I was “baptized” as a baby, attended catechism (religious instructions), and was “confirmed” at the age of twelve. Later, Betty submitted to catechism to become a Catholic that we might marry. We remained Catholics until I was 24 years old. By this time we were introduced to the teachings of the Church of Christ. I remember that much of the discussion centered around identifying “The One True Church.” As a Catholic, I was conditioned to the “one true church” concept and had no difficulty accepting it. Also, I could see that Jesus and the apostles taught “immersion” as being necessary for the remission of sins. After much study and deliberation we left the Catholic Church and became “members of the Church of Christ.”

Four years after our conversion in Wheeling, West Virginia, I gave up a promising career as a country music entertainer and moved to Temple Terrace (Tampa), Florida where I enrolled as a student in Florida Christian College (later changed to Florida College). I wanted to study the Bible in an intense program, and to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I preached for various congregations over the next 30 years. During this time, I arrived at scriptural conclusions that were considered erroneous and dangerous by some of the clergy (preachers and elders) of this sect. We were branded as “unsound in the faith.” Those preachers, elders, and churches which were under the influence of Florida College were warned: “to have nothing to do with Dusty Owens.” Interestingly, I have been invited to entertain (sing) at lectureships, homecomings, etc. many times, but never once asked to present a Bible lesson. I have often been solicited to make a financial contribution to the school, but never asked to contribute to their spiritual well-being.

Why I left the Church of Christ – I did not intend for this article to be a biography, but I felt that the reader ought to know these pertinent points. Please keep in mind that as I discuss why I left the Church of Christ, I hold no animosity or ill-will toward any person. God’s child is my brother or sister in Christ. I will state upfront that I do hate the system men devised that robs God’s people of their rich inheritance, including the blessings of joy, peace, hope, and love. And now, why I left the Church of Christ.

Why I left the Church of Christ – Emphasis On “Church”

Is The Church Of Christ A Cult
Is The Church Of Christ A Cult

Why I left the Church of Christ – When members of the Church of Christ claim they are “the one true church,” they mean that emphatically. They profess to be the only, therefore the true church, that Jesus will save. They go on to identify it by name, “Church of Christ,” and insist that one must be a member of this “Church” in order to be saved. Furthermore, they contend that one must be “a faithful member of the church” to be saved. “Faithful” includes attending every announced assembly (“worship service and Bible study”), and giving to the church liberally of your financial earnings and your time. It also includes doing everything according to “truth,” which, of course, is determined by the preachers and elders. If your study of the scriptures does not produce the same conclusions that they have reached, you are in “error,” judged “unfaithful,” and subject to “marking” and even “disfellowshipping.”

Gradually, as I studied the scriptures and the original language of the New Testament (Greek), I could see the errors of these contentions. Basically, there is one error – a faulty premise. When you assume the existence of a “church,” everything about the church seems to fall into place.

The truth of the matter is, the concept of “church” originated with man and not with God, and over the centuries man has institutionalized his creation. In other words, in the mind of the theologian, the “church” became an “it” separate from the people themselves. This idea permeates the thinking of those in the Church of Christ.

Actually, the English word “church” does not translate the Greek word ecclesia, and does not belong in any English translation of the Bible. The word ecclesia is used throughout the New Testament, but nearly always has reference to God’s people who were “called out of darkness.” In that context, the ecclesia is the spiritual body of Christ. Men have perverted this concept into a literal organized, functional, entity, which they call “the church.” They have differentiated it into “local” and “universal.” Furthermore, they think they see Divine instructions in the scriptures for the “local church,” which they insist must be followed to the “letter” or run the risk of being condemned by God. They proclaim that all who do not participate in the “five acts of worship” in the assembly are going to hell and that includes giving enough of your earnings to please God. Attendance and financial support are absolutely necessary to salvation – and, to the guaranteed existence of the Church of Christ.

All of these theories perish under a single blow of truth: God never established a literal organization, a functional entity, called “the church”! Jesus never died to save “the church.” Jesus died that “whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16). Jesus died to save individuals, not a “church”! In apostolic times, when a person gave in to the persuasion of the gospel, he/she was considered “saved.” Christians were never instructed to form, organize, or in any way create a corporate body to function as a “local church.” When a person became a Christian, he/she had a direct relationship to God through His Son Jesus Christ. Men have obscured that relationship by imposing the necessity of “church membership” for salvation. When I fully realized this, I was closer to leaving this man-made organization called, “The Church of Christ.”

Why I left the Church of Christ – Church of Christ Denomination

Why I left the Church of Christ – Members of the Church of Christ insist that their church is not a denomination. They readily admit that the Lord’s people were described by various terms, such as Christians, saints, firstborn ones, etc., but they cling to one designation – Church of Christ. They maintain that it would be scriptural to use all of the above designations, but in practice, they utilize only one. Look for the sign over the door or in front of the building and you will find their name; advertisements in the paper or in the phone book carry their name; many congregations send out advertising brochures which carry their name; and many use letterheads and envelopes that bear their name – Church of Christ. This is to distinguish them from the Church of God, the Baptist Church the Presbyterian Church, the Methodist Church, the Catholic Church, etc. It began to bother me that it was inconsistent and hypocritical to contend that the Church of Christ was not a denomination, when in fact it was – like all the rest.

The first requirement of a denomination is to have a specified name. “It is (1) the act of naming; (2) a name; (3) the name of a class of things; (4) a class or kind … having a specific name…; (5) a religious sect: as a Protestant denomination.” These definitions are from Webster’s New World Dictionary. Certainly, on this point, the Church of Christ qualifies as a denomination. Just declaring yourselves “not one” is not sufficient to escape the logical conclusion.

Furthermore, everything that characterizes the denominations of the world (those claiming to follow Christ), are found in the Church of Christ: Corporate body, organization, membership, Church buildings, clergy, worship-services, etc. In fact, I challenge you to name one thing that qualifies a group to be a denomination that is not found in the Church of Christ. You can’t name one! The Church of Christ is a denomination.

In fact, the Church of Christ is a sect as well. Members of a sect, by definition, are narrow-minded and bigoted (Webster’s New World Dictionary). Many of the members of the Church of Christ are narrow-minded and bigoted, thinking that only those of their particular brand of Church of Christ-ism will be saved. There are over twenty different sects among those wearing the Church of Christ name and claiming to be the “one true Church.” They usually do not fellowship each other. Often, they will not call on a person from another Church of Christ to lead in prayer, lead the congregational singing, or take part in the “services” in some other way. Some preachers will go so far as to insist that a person desiring membership be re-baptized if they come from another type of Church of Christ. I suppose if a group starts their own church, they can establish their own rules and regulations to govern it.

Why I left the Church of Christ – Authoritative Elders and Preachers

Why I left the Church of Christ – Another reason why I left the Church of Christ was because of the doctrine of authoritative Elders. Through the years, I witnessed men who were elected to the position of leadership become carried away with what they considered to be “divine authority.” Supposedly, God has invested authority in each “eldership” of each congregation “to rule in the place of Christ.” Much of the blame for this false teaching must lie at the feet of preachers. They use Hebrews 13:17 to mold the “elder-ship” into a ruling class that often demands unconditional obedience. “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit to them for they watch in behalf of your souls…” A careful student of the scriptures, doing a word study of this verse, will discover that the writer was not requiring submissive obedience to a “delegated power from on high,” but was encouraging the younger to trust the counsel of the older, wiser, “shepherds of the flock.” As Peter would admonish, “Tend the flock of God … NEITHER AS LORDING IT OVER THE CHARGE allotted to you, but making yourselves ensamples to the flock (1 Pet. 5:2-3).

Obviously, God never intended any man, or group of men, to hold a position “OVER” others, and to exercise special authority by which to “RULE” them. Elders were to SERVE and TEACH others, being EXAMPLES of sonship to God. You can do all this without a dispensation of “divine authority.”

According to Jesus, not even the apostles would “exercise authority” over the people of God. “Ye know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. NOT SO SHALL IT BE AMONG YOU” (Matt. 20:25-26). This is very significant. If Jesus emphatically withheld “divine authority” from the apostles, surely, He did not delegate it to elders.

Some men are obsessed with the desire for power. They want to control every detail of the group’s activities, as well as tell each individual where and when they can “go to church”; how they should dress for the assembly; and what they can do in their work and play. On the other hand, I have seen men put into positions of leadership who were in no way qualified to be there. Some have functioned as mere finance committees.

Also, I have witnessed a one-man rule in congregations where the preacher made all the decisions. Many congregations rely on the preacher to do everything, “because, after all, he is getting paid to do the work.” There are preachers who love the lime-light and allow brethren to hold them up on a pedestal. They call all the shots; do most of the teaching and preaching, hold debates, visit the sick, convert the sinner: and everyone insists “we do not have a clergy system.” Does this sound inconsistent to you?

Churches of Christ believe in the autonomy or independence of “each local congregation.” That is until it serves a purpose to practice otherwise. There are times when a preacher or elder from one “local church” will call a preacher or elder of another to advise him that it would be wise to cancel a gospel meeting with a suspected “heretic.” Often the gossip and slander (no evidence) is enough to accomplish the result that will “black-ball the heretic.” If the leaders of the congregation refuse to cancel the meeting, they know that they become suspect with the “brotherhood.” The pressure is there to accommodate the further discrediting of the person who is not willing to spout the party line. Is this not an intrusion into the “autonomy” of a congregation?

Why I left the Church of Christ – Strife and Division

Why I left the Church of Christ – Another reason for leaving the Church of Christ is that we witnessed a developing “spirit of division,” which, in my opinion, is of the devil. Jesus prayed for unity among His people, which has to be God’s will also. In order to thwart God’s purpose, Satan works overtime to influence strife and division among the saints. This evil spirit was working in apostolic times:

Now I beseech you, brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be NO DIVISIONS among you: but that ye be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment (1 Cor. 1:10).

… for ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you JEALOUSY and STRIFE, are ye not carnal, and do ye not walk after the manner of men? (3:3).

Notice, that the apostle Paul attributed the divisive spirit of the Corinthians to carnality. Carnality is the opposite of spirituality. It is worldly, and therefore, Satanic. It is ungodly and unrighteous, therefore, sinful!

Paul listed “strife” and “division” with “fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, … jealousies, wraths, factions,… parties, envyings, drunkenness, revellings, and such like,” stating emphatically, “that they who practice such things SHALL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD” (Gal. 5: 19-21). Is promoting “strife and division” a serious offense to God? I believe it is. Since my attempts to reform members of the Church of Christ and get them to see the seriousness of this sin, not only fell on deaf ears, but kept me in constant turmoil, I had to leave the Church of Christ. I could no longer be a party to the “strife and division” that they seem to thrive on.

Much of their fighting, wrangling, strife and division come from (1) a self-imposed responsibility to “defend the truth”; and (2) misinterpretation of 2 John 9-11.

Every child of God should be ready to “defend the truth” as far as he understands it. But, what does this mean? Peter supplies the answer: “Always be ready to give an answer of defense to anyone who asks you why you have hope inside you” (1 Pet. 3:15, S.E.B.). When I give an answer to a person who questions my faith and/or practice, it is limited to my own knowledge and understanding of God’s will. I should not be so presumptuous as to think that I can always give an answer that will be according to God’s truth. If I could, I would be infallible!

Many of the clergy of the Church of Christ go beyond Peter’s admonition to “defend the truth,” to a position of defending “the doctrine of Christ” as their brand of Church of Christ-ism teaches. Hence, they have the self-imposed responsibility to keep the doctrine OF THE CHURCH pure. “Defending the truth” is really “defending the teachings of the church.” Since “the church” was not an idea of God, but an institution of man, God does not require anyone to offer defense for this institution.

When the clergy insists on everyone conforming to their church doctrine, there are bound to be differences of opinion. When this happens, debates and argumentation ensue. If attitudes are not right, if the contestants are carnal, fighting, wrangling, strife and division follow, and Satan wins out over God’s people. I have witnessed this happening often just in the Tampa Bay area over the last several years. Many of the congregations here today, owe their existence to the result of strife and division. In my opinion, God is not pleased.

Another contributing factor for the divisions that are rampant among the Churches of Christ, especially the radical right of each of the parties, is the misinterpretation of 2 John 9-11.

Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God: he that abideth in the teaching, the same hath both the Father and the Son. If anyone cometh unto you, and bringeth not this teaching, receive him not into your house, and give him no greeting: for he that giveth him greeting partaketh in his evil works.

The interpretation placed upon this passage is that the “teaching of Christ” is generic, meaning it applies to everything Jesus taught. In other words, “teaching of Christ” equals “truth.” With this prefabricated “yard-stick” one can measure any “teaching” to see if it conforms with “the teaching of Christ.” If it does, he has “both the Father and the Son”; if it does not, that person does not have God. Furthermore, if he comes to your house, you cannot admit him, nor give him greeting. If you do, you come under God’s condemnation.

Armed with this interpretation, the leaders of the church, BY THEIR OWN STANDARD, can measure the “soundness” of each individual. What they believe the truth to be on any subject becomes the STANDARD.

For example, Hebrews 10:25 teaches we are not to forsake our own assembling together. Since this was taught by an inspired writer, it must be a “teaching of Christ”; if you disagree, you are not “abiding in the teaching of Christ”; therefore, you do not have God, and I cannot fellowship you. This is only one of many examples I could cite to show how easy it is to cause strife and division. 2 John 9-11 has been invoked on many occasions in the Church of Christ to cause this sinful condition.

What is the meaning of 2 John 9-11? The answer is in the context, which is ironic, for members of the Church of Christ say they insist on leaving passages of scripture in context. The “teaching OF Christ” concerns His deity. Jesus taught that He was God come in the flesh. The apostles believed that (John 1:1,14). Later, a group claiming to be Christians refused to accept the idea that deity could take on sinful flesh. They rejected “the teaching of Christ” on this point. In John’s second epistle, he states, “For many deceivers are gone forth in the world, even they that CONFESS NOT THAT JESUS CHRIST COMETH IN THE FI.ESH. This is the deceiver and the antichrist” (v.7) This is the context by which we understand the point John is making in verses 8 through 11. There, the apostle warns of the dangers and consequences of rejecting the teaching of our Lord (i.e., that He was both man and God) in favor of the deceptive doctrine of the “antichrist.” Using this passage to club people into submission to a church doctrine is inexcusable. It promotes strife and division which are serious enough to keep one from inheriting the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:21).

As the truth about these things became apparent to me, I became more cognizant of the ways that many of the clergy were misusing this passage to win their arguments with each other, and to force conformity upon the masses. It made me sick at heart. Gradually, I reached a point where I no longer considered them honest and forthright.

HELL Eternal Torment or Complete Annihilation?

Ceremony and Ritualism

Why I left the Church of Christ – If you study the development of Catholicism, you must be impressed with the gradual development of ceremony and ritualism. As a catholic for many years, it was common practice to “attend church” and follow the priest as he “said mass.” They call it, “WORSHIP”! The format was almost always the same: a combination of songs, scripture readings, prayers, and preaching. There was a mass for each Sunday printed in your missal to aid you in following the priest. The priest, a full-time professional, was center-stage and obviously the central character in each performance. And, that was really what drew the people to any one congregation. If a priest was personable and exceptionally articulate as he went through the liturgy, the people responded with faithful attendance every Sunday. If a priest was introverted and dull, the people slowly drifted off to join another congregation where the priest was a more exciting performer. Churches competed by making sure that they had a top-notch achiever. Success for the priests was measured by the ability to draw great numbers and by the amount of the offerings that could be solicited from the audience.

It was some time before the ceremony and ritualism in the Church of Christ began to register on me. Maybe it was because I was caught up in the responsibility I felt to “be prepared” each week with two sermons and a Bible class lesson. Maybe it was because we like the comfort zone of our own little rut (do you notice how people tend to sit in their “own” pew every assembly?), and we fight change. Depending on what part of the country you are from, every Sunday’s ritual included “the five acts of worship”: announcements, two songs, a prayer, a song, another song to “prepare our minds,” the Lord’s Supper, the collection, the sermon, an invitation song, closing remarks, closing song, and a closing prayer. Finally, it dawned on me – this is ceremony and ritualism. This is another form of what we had in the Catholic Church.

Does it have to be like this? I think that one reason we succumb to ceremony and ritualism is because of the insistence to own and meet in a “church-building.” Look at how we arrange the auditorium. We put nearly all the seats in theater style, facing the front (stage?). In a lot of places, there is a spotlight fixed at the location of the preacher or master of ceremonies. This tends to focus all attention on the one who is “performing.” The seating arrangement discourages any interaction between the members. In fact, even whispering may illicit a resounding rebuke. After dismissal, a person does get the idea that he/she has “attended a service,” instead of “participating” and “serving.”

In my opinion, it is significant that in apostolic times, the disciples met in their houses, probably in several, small groups. Jesus promised that even where two or three come together, He will be in their midst. The practice of building a special place for the group did not become the norm until the early Fourth Century. In these smaller, more intimate gatherings, there was no call for formalism, ceremony, or ritualism. The saints came together to visit and to encourage each other in the faith. Sometimes, someone would have a spiritual song or psalm to share, someone else prayed. They often came together to eat the common meal and at times they included the Lord’s Supper. There was no set pattern. God has not revealed one. Coming together in this fashion allowed them to really know each other and to discover ways they could minister to each other.

Meeting this way in houses carried other advantages. There were no collections of money for payments on properties, maintenance, and utilities. There were no squabbles over who owned or controlled the building. There were no signs to put up, therefore, no need to “name the group.” There was no need for a “church treasury,” something completely foreign to the New Testament scriptures. The early Christians were admonished to put money aside AT HOME, in case an opportunity to exercise benevolence came along (1 Cor. 16:1-3). Arguments today over whether women can speak out in the assembly dissipate when the group meets in a private house. There women readily participate and no one objects.

Free to be just a Christian

Freedom In Christ

Why I left the Church of Christ – God intended for His children to be free in Christ Jesus. Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). We learn the extent of this freedom by studying His word (8:31). Paul said, “For freedom did Christ set us free: stand fast therefore, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5:1). “For ye, brethren, were called for freedom; only use not your freedom for an occasion to the flesh, but through love be servants one to another” (5:13).

One aspect of religion is that it holds people in bondage. God has no religion. Christ did not die for a religion. The apostles did not establish a religion. You can read about the Jew’s religion (Gal. 1:13,14), and the religion of the pagans (Acts 22:17), but you will not read about the religion of Christ. The Jew’s religion held people in bondage through the law of Moses and the traditions of men. Pagans served many gods through a temple system maintained by a priesthood. It kept them in bondage. Any Jew or Gentile who renounced all, turned from sin, and placed his faith in Jesus Christ was liberated.

Writing to the Galatians, Paul expressed surprise and shock that Christians gave up the “grace of Christ” to return “to the weak and beggarly rudiments… to be in bondage over again” (Gal. 1:6; 4:9). What were they doing to bring on these critical comments by the apostle? They were allowing religious leaders to dictate rules and regulations that they said had to be obeyed for salvation. They were told that they had to be circumcised, keep certain days holy, make various sacrifices to God. Paul said that if they gave in to these requirements, they would lose their blessings. “Christ will profit you nothing” (5:2).

The denominations of the world, including the Church of Christ, are man-made institutions. They abound with church laws and regulations, which, if broken, may lead to ex-communication, or members being reduced to second-class citizenship. Under these laws, members are returned to bondage. Here are some of the laws imposed by the Church of Christ WHICH GOD DID NOT LEGISLATE: You must assemble with the saints twice on Sunday and on Wednesday night; you must observe the Lord’s Supper every Sunday (some say only in the morning); you must sing, but not be accompanied with an instrument; you must give of your earnings to the church treasury every Sunday; only men in proper fellowship may be called upon to pray; proper attire is required of those who “wait on the Lord’s table”; women are not allowed to teach adults or preach to the congregation but must remain silent during the assembly; they are expected to sing; no mixed bathing or swimming; no gambling of any kind; consumption of any alcoholic beverage is prohibited; all smoking or chewing is prohibited; no fishing, hunting, or playing sports on Sunday; and the list goes on, but this will suffice to make the point.

Is it any wonder that many of the members of the church are unhappy and frustrated? They are not enjoying their life as a Christian. You can tell it when you visit with them. You can see it in their eyes. The spark of life is gone. Their attitude betrays them. In the sermon on the mountain, Jesus told us what it would take to be blessed (happy). We need to go back to the mountain. We will not find the institutional church there. Paul tells us to rejoice always under any and all circumstances, but it’s difficult when you labor under great bondage and wonder if you are obeying all the requirements that men have laid upon you … and, if you are saved! The answer my friend is not “church”; it is freedom in Christ Jesus!


There are many other reasons why I left the Church of Christ that have not been covered in this treatise, but these are some of the principal ones. I suspect that I have infuriated some who have taken the trouble to read this article thoroughly. I did not mean to antagonize. Hopefully, some of you will gain knowledge and understanding of what it means to be a slave to a system devised by men. May you find the courage to do what God would have you do, because doing it will bring you the peace, love and joy that Jesus died to provide.

What I have said critically about the Church of Christ could be said of any denomination, because the problems discussed are the logical consequences of any institutional church. There is always the temptation to take something simple and plain, and add to it, embellish and modernize it; change it! Also, there is always the quest for power and notoriety, competition for the spotlight, the clash of the super-egos. I witnessed it all in my years with the Church of Christ.

In the early years of our experience, many members of the Church seemed different than those of today. Then, I was impressed with their quest for truth, their open-mindedness, humility, love and concern for others, and their tolerance towards those who did not believe the way they did. I saw the change in that attitude through later years as many seemed to become paranoid with fear, frustration and suspicion. Bitterness and sadness filled the pews. Frank, open discussion on any Bible subject became a thing of the past as there gradually developed a form of catechism; where the teacher asks the same simple, basic questions of the class that he has asked for years (of the same people); where probing and meaningful, though perhaps controversial, questions were no longer encouraged and tolerated, and sometimes even forbidden for fear that it might result in a heated argument. Through the years, I witnessed the emergence of a church doctrine that had to be protected at all cost. I watched members of the Church of Christ develop an attitude that it is better not to speak out on things they disagreed with lest they be “put out of the synagogue.” And so, they still sit in their pews, silent as a tombstone, putting in their time, not rocking the boat, protecting their status and reputation as “faithful members of the church.”

So are the fruits of institutional church-ism. Its members are the product of the professional preacher and the authoritative eldership. They have taken what God gave through His Son, a simple, direct, unencumbered relationship with Him, and they have fashioned unto themselves their idol, their golden calf: The Church of Christ. Is there any hope for the people? Yes – but will they repent? What must they do?

The answer is similar to Jesus’ response to the rich man. “Give it all away and come, follow me.” Lay down your banner, “Church of Christ,” which is part of the sin of division, and be content to be known simply as a Christian. Put away your idolatry.

And what agreement hath a temple of God with idols? for we are a temple of the living God: even as God said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them: and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore, COME YE OUT FROM AMONG THEM, AND BE YE SEPARATE SAITH THE LORD (2 Cor. 6:16-17).

Why I left the Church of Christ – written by Dusty Owens

Author: Greg

Welcome to Gods Message on the web. My name is Greg and I want to welcome you. I started doing these Podcasts, MP3, and Audio Books back in 2007. Stay awhile and make yourself at home. The Christian Podcasts here are free and for everyone to enjoy. I’m doing a complete series on David Chadwell who is a retired minister from Fort Smith, Arkansas. I’ve also done an Audio Book for Wayne Jacobsen’s the Naked Church. Plus a series of MP3s for Pastor Billy Crone and his The Final Countdown series.

53 thoughts on “Why I left the Church of Christ”

    1. I’ve been going to a non-denominational Church. It lifted a heavy burden from me. We went to a home Church for a little while and worship at home other times.

      1. Thanks for the answer, I will reply and say I believe and this is my opinion that the Church of Christ is one of the most divided religious organization in the country. I spent quite a few years in a non-institutional COC and then I started coming up with some of your conclusions. But to be honest for the Seeker in today’s world I really believe that denominationalism is a horrible thing because when a person says I go to a non-denominational church that’s not really true or even accurate because that particular church will preach along the lines of a Baptist Church Methodist you name it so it’s really not, undenominational at it’s core. What you said about traditions oh, I’ve come up with the conclusion that every church out there has traditions Some are Good some are bad but you cannot get away from it. When I have pressed COC members on his this they refused to admit that a big part of their history is the stone Campbell movement, you probably know that as well they won’t admit that the modern Churches of Christ sprang from Barton Stone, Alexander Campbell and others. Now on your other points you made I do believe in baptism for remission of sins I do believe a lot of things they taught because if you go back to the first century when a person got so to speak saved they were not added to any denomination they became members of the Lord’s Church, things just seemed a lot simpler back then as far as that aspect anyway. But since the Reformation it has become more of a deformation in the religious world so I think the Reformation did more harm than good. What do you think? Also you mentioned you started your home Church well in reality then you become your own Pope because you pick and choose your own tradition and how things will be done. Just some things to think about, by the way I was raised Catholic also and my wife and I thought about going back there but they have some serious issues very serious issues with their hierarchy like bishops ,priests, Pope. Once again keep in touch I’d like to hear what you respond to my latest email to you

        1. There are some great facts here. In fact, I’ve been called a Campbellite before when I was actually attending there. This phrase is used so much that my spellchecker corrected my spelling to Campbellite. I appreciate your thoughtful comments and agree with your assessments. These days we’re walking in a close relationship with Jesus Christ more than anything. Blessings to you and your family and thank you for sharing your story about Why you left the Church of Christ.

        2. Thank for that mesages about The Church of Christ
          I attend a Bible study and next ithey been try to draw into join the church. I told they i belong to another and i don’t change happy that i listen to this messages. church were i taugththe true.
          I so happy o got the true about this church. They are good people but blinded snd in bondage. I dont want that in my life. They pastor are very confident tjat this is the true. church.
          Thank God i knoe thr true in Jesus Christ not man made religious practice and control.

      2. Nice to hear that you have found out some amazing truths. I too do not attend a “church” after all, in Acts is written that God does not dwell in buildings, and most denominations insist of worship in buildings built with their own hands, and money fleeced from their parishiners. Having said that, neither am I free.
        My experiences have led me to my current belief that each person almighty God chooses or calls by God’s will has a unique path that is called “narrow” in the writings of the bible. As Christ expounded in parable “John 10:3-4 (HCSB Free) He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought all his own outside, he goes ahead of them.” I understand this to mean that Christ leads his sheep out from man-traditioned religious institutions that call themselves ‘church’ (in my opinion that are really of the world anyway).
        Whilst I would like to be able to ‘fellowship’ with others – this is not a possibility for me at this time. I won’t go into the reasons right now, but I’m happy that you chose to write about your leaving of one of the many religious institutions that keep “traditions of men”, rather than “the commands of God”. I believe that it will give hope to others and the courage for them to listen while it is still today (Heb 4).

        1. Thank you, your comments are very kind and resonate with me. Leaving the Church of Christ was one of the toughest things I ever accomplished. In fact; I was shaken at the thought of going anywhere else.

          A Pastor at a Church I ended up going to for a while said it like this. “I don’t think you can do it” (In reference to me making the move to another Church). He then said, “But why don’t you go ahead and prove me wrong.”

      3. I grew up in a denomination called the Church of God in Christ Mennonite or they’re sometimes referred to as Holdeman Mennonites after their founder John Holdeman. After reading your article I see a lot of similarities between the church of Christ and them. They also teach that they are the “One True Church” and they excommunicate over very trivial things thus promoting doubts and fears. Usually the founders of these groups are tormented with guilt and fear, and they build a system that operates like that albeit unwittingly. But one thing that came through very starkly in your article is love or rather the lack of it. I wish this were taught and practiced in our churches, to the extent that the Bible teaches it. Sacrifice of oneself, not retaliating, and even just a general interest in others. When my wife and I were visiting churches this is the thing we looked for the most. Because “by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples if ye have love one for another.” I firmly believe that if we love, all other issues will naturally fall into place. Thank you for your courage.

        1. Thank for that mesages about The Church of Christ
          I attend a Bible study and next ithey been try to draw into join the church. I told they i belong to another and i don’t change happy that i listen to this messages. church were i taugththe true.
          I so happy o got the true about this church. They are good people but blinded snd in bondage. I dont want that in my life. They pastor are very confident tjat this is the true. church.
          Thank God i knoe thr true in Jesus Christ not man made religious practice and control.

        2. I have attended many different congregations of the church of Christ over the last 35 years, and not one time have I
          1) heard anyone refer to their group (or the related groups) as the ‘one true Church”.
          2) seen anyone ‘kicked out’ for anything other than sufficiently egregious behavior that would have them removed from any reasonable organized group’s meetings.
          3) seen a lack of love, the genuine agape’ type of love.
          How can that be explained in light of your post?

          1. The Elder who baptized me raped his twin pre-teen daughters and got away with it. I’d say you were in a group of folks who were salvation-bound. And that can happen almost anywhere and does.

      4. I agree with a lot on the coc traditions and their way of believing, but not on having to join a church that’s Called non denomination. I belong to a Baptist church and we have never turned people away from other denominations or non denominations. We have always been welcoming and even have had joint revivals with Methodist, and separate Baptist denominations. Believing it’s more important to see someone saved than arguing over things. Just as a Primitive Baptist preacher stated we might not all agree on some of the subjects in the Bible with each other, and that might lead us to worship with other churches different from each other. Although it doesn’t mean one or the other is right on things, believing we will see each other in Heaven because we all are saved under the blood together.

    2. You have no idea of what you are saying, you succeeded in running off point from what the bible says.

        1. Do not most – if not all – of the common ‘houses of worship’ teach some sort of doctrine that is man-made or to some point self-serving? I am not knocking any one group or praising another; I just wish to point out that we still live in an imperfect situation and aside from Christ’s love and forgiveness not one of us would make a passing grade that would get us into Heaven.

    3. Babies are not baptised,they do not understand belief into christ,mark 16.16 . People are the church 1 cor 3.9, Matt 16.17,18 rock- not Peter but belief, love us eph5.25, salvation is a free gift, our offerings have no part in our intiltament for the kingdom of God

  1. Man will always let you down, but Christ never will. I hope you’ll find forgiveness towards those you described in your writings and move on to a congregation where you can serve Christ and use your knowledge to minister to others, bringing them to accept Him as their personal Savior. Let God use you and your wife for His glory to teach those who will listen and grow in the faith, not constantly judge you for their personal gain.

    1. Hi, and thank you very much for your comment. I’m just the Podcaster that read and re-shared Dusty Owens’ story. Sadly he passed away in 2015. His story resonated with me so much that I wanted to share it with the world.

      Thank you for the kind words though. Nice to see folks commenting on what I believe was one of my toughest moments in life. I also left the Church of Christ for a non denominational Church and Dusty’s story gave me the guts to do it. Now I’m free to be, just a Christian.

      1. So you jumped from being a catholic. To a confused church. Then back to catholic?
        Sorry. I can’t grasp the biblical understanding. Cuz it’s not there! Of praying to Mary or any other saint.

        1. My friend. You obviously didn’t read the article. It was written by a man named Dusty and this story is his journey, not mine. I’m just sharing it with the world. Dusty was Catholic and went on to be a Church of Christ preacher. Then he left just to be a disciple (believer) just worship at home with friends. The story is we don’t need an official Church to be saved believers. Just the belief in Christ. There are some great tidbits if you were to digest the entire article and look on to other posts Here. I wish you well on your Journey.

        2. You were so ready to attack the author and his article you completely missed where the person you were talking to said they didn’t write it. I pray you let go of your anger and allow God to soften your heart as to, like Paul, become all things for all men and be a better example of Christ.

          1. Hi Ted,

            Thanks for commenting. In regards to Paul, I understand where he is coming from because I used to be a bit like him. It took me a long time to break free from my Church of Christ chains but you could substitute almost any hardline denomination in its place that believes they are the one true Church. I pray he will realize that believers from all congregations and groups will be making it to heaven. In fact, that’s kind of the goal of my site, albeit; an unintended one. On my podcast I started back in 2007 they were strictly a Church of Christ Podcasts. And as I started digging through the Bible I started to realize I was wrong in my approach. So I kept digging and learning. I called it my walk from Pharisee to Freedom. My story is written here – https://www.godsmessageontheweb.com/index.php/gods-message/

            God Bless you and yours and thanks again.

  2. I was raised in the CoC, and at 49 y.o., along with my wife and teenage son, we are beginning to look at other bible-based churches. This is something I never imagined I would or could do. If you have advice, please share. We are praying for guidance!

    1. My best advice is to not be what I was. A legalistic person in fear of breaking the rules that were instituted by the Church of Christ. Find a place that has a lot of young people, and that church is non-denominational, to begin with. If they have a worship band, smile and try to break the teachings that acapella only is the only way to worship. If a woman gets up on the stage or speaks from the pulpit smile and try to be more open-minded. Get involved, teach a class for the kids or adults, and get out of your comfort zone a little bit. God has a mission for you and he’ll bring what that is to you. Keep praying for His will to be done and not yours. You’ll soon find your way to the narrow path. Best of luck and reach back out if you have any more concerns. Read this PDF entitled Free to be just a Christian by a good friend of mine. https://www.wheniwokeupthismorning.com/pdf/FreeToBe-JustAChristian.pdf

  3. I attend a church of Christ and have for the last several years which resembles nothing like the article written above. I’m so sorry that this was your overwhelming experience. These unfortunate experiences might be widespread, but they are certainly isolated. There are hundreds an hundreds of incredible churches of Christ that do not operate this way. I feel the need to speak up and reiterate that your above statements not be generalized to all congregations under the name church of Christ. That would simply not be accurate what so ever. Carefully discern your words and not speak for the church of Christ as a whole.

    To God be all glory.

    1. I’m glad you have found a good place to call home and I’m also glad you’ve found somewhere you can Worship that you love. The real problem with even the word Church is it is a mistranslation (Thanks to Kind James no less). The word Church comes from the Greek word Ekklesia which isn’t even a religious term. It’s means congregation, or technically, any lawful assembly. If you’re interested in learning more I’d ask you to read this great PDF entitled Free to be, just a Christian. It shows every time the Greek word Ekklesia is used in the Bible and the context of each use. It clearly shows the Bible was never talking about a building in the first place. Just a group of people that worship Jesus.


      New American Standard Bible
      “However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says:

      New King James Version
      “However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says:

      King James Bible
      Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,

  4. Your article has opened my heart to several questions that I have been struggling with within my church, which is a Church of Christ. One thing that you did not address was the Lord’s Supper. Church of Christ practices communion every Sunday morning. How do you feel about scripture and if communion should be held every Sunday monring.

    1. Hi Sarah,

      I don’t think it’s a weekly requirement but I always do enjoy it. And in many cases, it could be just a meal with friends and family. The trick I believe is to celebrate your relationship with Christ Jesus, I obviously don’t have the final word and I’m always looking to discover the truth. I leave you with this for your consideration.

      Passover or Lord’s Supper?

      Quoted from article:

      There exists no basis in the Bible for using the terms “Lord’s Supper” and “Communion” when referring to what occurred during Jesus’ last night on planet earth. When believers eat unleavened bread and drink a small amount of wine each year in commemorating Jesus’ sacrifice, they partake of HIM. The correct and truthful phrase for this solemn occasion is “the Passover” or more properly “the Christian Passover.”

      Blessings and best of luck on your spiritual journey.

  5. Interesting Read. Have to agree.
    I too was brought up Catholic and then was a COC member for a few years during my 20’s.
    I left them mainly because I was unable to follow the rules.
    Did not feel free to confess my sins. There seemed to be a lack of forgiveness and love and more focus on following the rules and growing the Church membership.
    I was just unable to hold up to their standards.
    Now that I am older I realize that they were just implementing rules, bringing us back to the OT days. Exactly why Paul was so upset with the Galatians.
    I remember a study with them on how Wine in the Bible was really grape Juice Non Alcoholic. That never really made sense to me when it was used to blame the apostles for being drunk early in the morning in Acts. How does grape juice make you drunk and speaking in tongues? But really curious to your thoughts on baptism? As far as I know the COC teaches that if you believe in Jesus but die on the way to the Water baptismal you go to hell. The Water Baptism doctrine is the real distinguisher for me. Acts 10:47 to me clearly states that the gentiles were Baptized by the Holy Spirit prior to their Water Baptism. I have read a lot of COC response to Acts 10:47 and they seem to start spinning things when it just says what it says. They had Holy Spirit Baptism prior to Water Baptism. But there is only One Baptism? Water or Spiritual? Which one is superior? John the Baptist’s Water Baptism or the Baptism of the Holy spirit that he foretold as greater in Matthew 3:11? Again curious if you have changed your position on Water Baptism or not?

  6. I grew up in the church of Christ and was taught mostly a works oriented gospel. I had been dunked when I was 8 but never really understood God’s grace. Then when I was 17, my youth minister started a Bible study for the teenagers. We all dug into the Bible and asked hard questions. I began to understand how amazing God’s grace is and dedicated my life to being His child forever. That developed into a strong personal relationship with Him. After I married I went with my husband to the Baptist church, then to a non-denominational church. I have been to Methodist, Assembly of God, and even several house churches. Now that I am in my 60’s I have finally realized that there are no “perfect” churches. Every one of them have their own problems. One day I went back to the same church that my parents went to and that I was raised in to visit. l felt like I was at home so I stayed. Many things had changed and other things had stayed the same but I realized that I could worship the Lord even in the church of Christ. Buildings, organizations, denominations, rituals, leaders,or anything else can not separate me from the love of Christ and all the joys of being His daughter! The older I get the happier I am whenever I can share and worship with a Brother or Sister in Christ…whether they go to a Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, church of Christ, non-denominational or home church. They are all my family and I thank God for each one of them.

  7. Dear brother!
    All i know that the church Jesus planned and found assembled every first say of the week to do his will.All i know that the Jesus Christ will come back and judge each and everyone in this world and each individual must have an account because Jesus Christ died for our sin.
    All i know that Jesus Christ wants the saved to spread the gospel so others cpuld be saved. MAY THE LORD ALMIGHTY GUIDE US THROUGH IT ALL.THE LORD REIGNS FOREVER .AMEN

    1. Hi,

      I agree with you. In the example given by Dusty, he left a particular Church to worship God with other believers. And the Greek word Ekklesia basically means an assembly of believers. It doesn’t mean a particular group or a particular building. Having said that, you are correct. God Bless you.

  8. My letter below explains why I left the Church of Christ. Also, why I refuse to return to sectarian/legalism and churches which are argumentative, divisive, and judgmental! Romans 16:17 states: “Now I beseech you brethren, mark those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, an avoid them.” Today I am blessed to be identified and active at Shasta Way Christian Church of Klamath Falls. There exist several
    ex-church of Christ in this wonderful church, who like I did, flee sectarian/legalism.

    Ashland Daily Tidings: Tuesday, March 10th, 2010/Letters To The Editor

    Putting church abuse into perspective

    The Monday, March 1 Oregonian article via the Ashland Daily Tidings for same date (“Deceased priest who abused boys casts a shadow on the Northwest”) was very disturbing indeed! As a Christian, I must be direct, forward and morally/intellectually honest: Our churches have both the best and worst of people. Of course too does other segments of society as well. But let’s talk about churches and organized religion.

    Though I myself was never sexually abused as these boys described in article, I’m certainly aware such does indeed happen in our churches. And I’m also certain some churches are worse than others.

    Example: Prior to relocating to Ashland from Klamath Falls in 1986, I spent one year in a Church of Christ (non-instrumental) in Klamath Falls from 1982-83. Though there were some things I agreed with, there were other teachings I sharply disagreed and dissented with, including their sectarian/legalistic, dogmatic attitude of, “We are the only church and everyone else but us is wrong!”

    After leaving that congregation I was the target of judgmental gossip and slander! And get this: This judgmental jerk within the congregation told me it “would be damnable if I left the church,” which I eventually did anyway.

    Later, this same jerk was arrested for sexual abuse of a girl under 12 years of age! Yes, he was a predatory pedophile, a real creep! This is just one example of sexual abuse in our churches that, more often that not, remains covered up, hidden and suppressed. And that is downright criminal!

    Another thing I find disturbing is the trend in our churches today of taking 1 Corinthians Chapter 7 out of context and using it against Christian singles. The dogmatic parroted, “It’s better to remain single than marry,” as preferred by the Apostle Paul, is an oppressive doctrine indeed! Most people who parrot this are religious elitists who are married anyway and have a significant other in their lives.

    Though I have never read the book “Churches That Abuse,” by Ronald Enroth in 1992, it remains posted online via Google for reading. Yes, I have expressed my sentiments here. And furthermore I rightly feel that moral and intellectual honesty sees farther than does political and religious correctness.

    So what is the answer to this? I feel a place to start is with this Bible passage from 1 Peter 4:17: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God.”

    James A. Farmer Ashland, Oregon
    Now a resident of Merrill, Oregon in Klamath County
    Long Live The State of Jefferson!

      1. In 1984  I largely divorced because my wife’s dad hated me.  I was in the way of him fulfilling his dreams for his child & through his manipulation, she buckled.  She went off to college after we were married for 4 years. We were members of the COC.  Anyway, her
        grandfather died, left money and her dad had control of it and pulled the money strings to be big man on campus.  He said if you go to my old college, we will pay for it.  He did not mention the money came from her deceased grandfather.  She moved a long way off even after sharing my thoughts about a married couple needing to be together. I  was in the military at the time and had to PCS to my next station.  I was emotionally crushed. Hurt and alone as no mentor to guide me through this area.  I was too young and no understanding, unfortunately, my loneliness took hold and in bad judgement, I stepped out with a new lady after 6 months of being separated.  Someone paid me attention I needed. I never saw my wife and she was a voice now and again on a phone.  I finally divorced my wife and  without full understanding, committing adultery.  After marrying the new lady, my church stepped in to tell me I had to get rid of her and divorce for true repentance.   I couldn’t function in the current marriage. I felt so guilty. I again was devastated.  Thus, I divorced in what God did not approve of. But that same good little minister was caught having sex later on the church office desk and was fired keeping it hush. So, determined to get my wife back, I got out of the military and tried to work through issues. However, her dad was happily aggressive to keep me away from her and he further manipulated her enticing with cash.    I was told at that time by COC ministers, if I ever had another relationship, I would not go to heaven.    It’s been very hard to be celibate, alone for the consequences of my actions.  The sword never departed from my life as David I guess.  I have been miserable neglecting myself and emotional needs as a human being.  I have been so lonely as a human being all these years. I had many opportunities and I dated and even had a relationship with a lady. But, I broke it off because I knew I could never remarry or be in a true relationship ever again because of my adultery.   They said, it’s your life long consequence for my action. But my wife remarried. It has been 37 years and I am so tired of being alone without a wife or gf to interact with.  I’ve learned my lesson so well.  My punishment is getting the best of me.  My Christian walk has suffered, I’m broken and I’ve drifted away several times psychologically leading to feeling of Spiritual suicide.  It’s so, so sad I must be alone until my death.   How do I continue to cope.  It’s getting very, very thin.  I cry myself at sleep night lately.  I pray, but, it does no good. I am now 58 now and I hope the lord will just see fit at times,  to take me on.  I have no friends largely because I don’t fit with singles, married and most divorced ppl are now remarried legally or illegally. Its hard to sit in a pew and see families enjoy themselves  in while I sit alone black balled from church as society.  The COC elders won’t even let me participate to say a open prayer, song lead etc.   Thus, I’d rather have worship at home and Then I take communion.  I need help to cope. You are right the COC don’t believe in grace. They do like a dog and pony show when the invitation occurs. Then, if you do ask for prayer, they love to gossip about you.

        1. Bobby, I pray that God will intervene actively in your life so that you are able to share joy and love and peace of mind in the true church ( which – and I hate to be judgmental – doesn’t appear to meet in the pews where you currently attend). Hugs, Janice

        2. Omg you are in bondage dear friend. You have wasted so many years on a doctrine that is So wrong! It is more like an occult than a church. Please find you someone you trust and that can pray with you. This that you have gone through IS NOT OF God! Get on with your life in the Lord. I am asking God to place a Christian Lady in your life. Don’t keep going on like this.

  9. At first I thought I was too late to respond to this article but I see a few posts from less than a month ago.
    I left the Churches of Christ in the early ’90’s for much of the same reasons in this article. What truly got my attention was when Ira North debated Givens O’Blakely from the Christian Church. The debate was over the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and Ira North did not believe the Spirit indwells us today.
    I remember more than once looking across the congregation, more than one over a period of years, thinking to myself “devoid of the Spirit.”
    I was with a house church which consisted of the former Campus Minister, Single Adult Minister, and Youth Minister. And a few other members. They left some years after I did. For that matter I was with the Christian Church for a few years.
    And this was a long time ago. And I thought most of them came to believe in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. But then I see on social media where they argue against the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And it seems the COC has become more bitter and legalistic because members are more able to challenge what is being taught and practiced because of the internet and there seems to be an exodus from the institutional church.
    This is too bad. A few years ago, I don’t remember the site’s name, I suggested they just teach expositionally the books of the Bible for regualar Sunday messages. But can they do that, I mean in Romans 4 and 5 you have to clarify baptism, or even clarify baptism when Jesus says “believe in me” and baptism is not mentioned.
    And finally another reason I left is their unwillingness to believe in imputed righteousness when Romans 4 is so clear on that. That righteousness is credited to us. It uses terminology like that. And “the righteousness of faith.” To them that’s Calvinism. No Romans 4 words it that way. And so I wonder if they believe the Bible or do they believe their topical teachings on the Bible MORE than the Word itself.

  10. I escaped the church of Christ after being forced to attend by my mother and then marriage to a life long member whose family are cofc zealots. I never believed their teachings though I was terrorized in to submission. I went to great lengths to protect our son from their brainwashing. I actually was a Sunday school teacher in the cofc to protect our son. As soon as the door closed I out away their brainwashing materials and simply taught Bible stories. I was the victim of a witch hunt in 2010. The preacher of the now defunct Banning CA cofc Max Dungey was so mean and so brainwashed and legalistic he held a witch hunt like secret meeting with my husband, and male in-laws. I was not informed until my husband returned home with the outline that was handed out at the meeting. Across the top in bold it had my name Evil In The Camp. He believed it! I was tormented for the next 12 years by my zealot inlaws, until I finally accepted the divorce. We are still in court over my husband’s insistence he pay no support as I am not his responsibility as we were unequally yoked in their belief. Our son who is almost 16 chose to escape the cofc and live solely with me. He can’t even contact his grandparents for fear of retribution. So sad that a preacher, who only months after the meeting died of a brain tumor, could be so wholely worshipped that he could wreck peoples marriages and lives 12 years after his death. So sad that a family could be so legalistic and brainwashed in to believing they are the only Christians that they teach hate and fear. As kids we weren’t even allowed to have friends outside the church as everyone else was lost and evil. Please escape the cult, there are organizations to help people escape cults. I can’t give my real name but those at that meeting know. Woman are allowed to work outside the home but inside the home are treated like slaves. We had to be silent. If you dared speak out you would be terrorized. I witnessed a congregation surround the home of an exmember shouting that they were lost and going to Hell. They held hands surrounding the house. Is that not cult like? I dreaded Sundays. My husband knew our son and I did not share his beliefs and forced us to attend anyway with his parents and siblings. We were sneared at and tormented on Sundays. My son as a small child would wake up in a panic when he realized it was Sunday. It was a weekly funeral for Jesus. Solemn and drab. Worship songs were funeral durges. After 47 years of being trapped in a cult I only escaped when my husband filed for divorce. After much prayer, and study my son and I placed Membership at a local Baptist church. Of course to the cofc that warrants disfellowship and being ostracized. The Church of Christ teaches they are the only Christians, and not only that but in many congregations preach politics from pulpit. God save you if you aren’t a republican.

    1. Welcome survivor. If you’re ready to take the next steps I’d recommend checking out the following.

      Free to be just a Christian

      Thoughts on Punishment of the wicked

      HELL Eternal Torment or Complete Annihilation?


  11. Hi Greg,

    I cam across your article whilst looking for something else – thanks for sharing.

    I didn’t read all the article (sorry, and not all the comments) but what I did pick from the bones (and meat) of the words being said is simply ‘milk’ . Namely, you (and some of those in the comments) seem to have been around Christians that simply haven’t grown Spiritually in God – some seem to have grown in the opposite direction. The stagnant Christian. People may have the garb of leadership, speak words of the Bible, go to church systematically on a Sunday but spiritually have stood still or have nothing to do with God. (A.W. Tozer experienced stagnant Christians in his early life (at 17 years of age) – so you are not alone).

    As for the ‘the one church’ thinking, this comes from a misunderstanding to what Jesus says in John 17 (i.e. ‘I hope they become one just as we are one’ etc). So, rather than being ‘one’ as the scripture intends, what the church currently has instead is a colossal amount of Christians today just echoing what the last generation said, and they inturn just echoed what their previous generation said. And all without actually asking the Spirit to lead them in the spirit and truth (word) into why the church says such things – ‘we are the only church’. (If they knew what this John 17 passage is really saying it would be a very different story for many Christians today).

    One of the things the church of Christ is good at is knowing the word of God. But, there is a clause when learning God’s living word and many simply are unaware of it. Take this illustration, take the scientist, he/she may study life on earth, peer into the beauty of existence and still manage to fail to see God’s handy-work in creation, fail to see God. Likewise, Christians can studying the word intently, peering into every jot and tittle of the Greek and still manage to fail to build a relationship with God, fail to see God. A person is able to love God/Jesus by merely reading historical information; and yet fail to build a knowing relationship with Him. We are to live in Spirit and in truth, many Christians in the church get the ‘truth’ part perfectly well because it the easier ‘bit’ to grasp (the physical words in the Bible). But many fall short in allowing the Spirit to move them closer and closer to knowing God on a greater level. As such, many accidental see the Bible as the forth member of the Trinity, or accidentally replace God with the words of God.

    So, it seems from what I can read is you are growing in a way that may seems at odds to those that are spiritual stagnant. And so there is something I should add to your journey. God actually uses such spiritually stagnant Christians to sharpen and strengthen those that are spiritual trying to grow. Don’t ask, it’s just what He does. As such, it is hard on the growing individual but it’s what he does to get the person closer to Him. And because it a difficult aspect of the Christian journey, that person has the option to stay and fight it out – getting closer to Him – or to run away from the difficulty. Although many run away from this aspect of God’s work on a person – some stay in the church getting no closer to knowing God. The stagnate Christian.

    I do hope you and your wife haven’t walk too far away and I do wish you and your wife all the best on your journey in life. Yes, I am a ‘member’ – if that is the term used in the USA – of the churches of Christ. In effect I am one of His, a child of God, a member of His body, one of the saints… and so on.

    In His care.

    1. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Church-of-Christ

      The early history of this group is identical to that of the Disciples of Christ. They developed from various religious movements in the United States in the early 19th century, especially those led by Barton W. Stone in Kentucky and Thomas Campbell and Alexander Campbell in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. These men had all been Presbyterians. They pleaded for the Bible as the only standard of faith, without additional creeds, and for the unity of the people of God by the restoration of New Testament Christianity. Refusing affiliation with any sect, they called themselves simply Christians.

  12. I was raised in a relatively liberal Church of Christ — we didn’t tell people outside the church they were going to hell unless they asked, then of course we’d have an impossible time figuring out a path for their salvation. This is a good and accurate article but it pulls the punches on the area the CoC is most vulnerable and which they treasure above all else: doctrine. As I work on my master’s in religious studies, I have plans for a long essay or book along those lines. The CoC is so hung up on the idea that an error in belief or practice is a damnable offense that they fail to see that they thereby demand perfection of themselves, which of course is impossible. Areas that are almost universally viewed in the Christian world as matters of opinion are for them strict rules written in stone. It’s not difficult to hoist the CoC on its own petard, but to do so effectively takes more space and time than I have here. Also, importantly, counselors and therapists could ring in with the swarth of psychological destruction wreaked by the CoC and other strict fundamentalist churches. Although some survive it and adopt the same practices as adults, the results are the same as having authoritarian parents, creating major disruptions in the limbic system of young, developing brains. Scars that last a lifetime are very common. It is all very anti-Jesus and anti-Christian. Please keep speaking out against this sect.

  13. Posted Wednesday, November 24th, 2021. Why I also chose to leave the Church of Christ and their divisive sectarian/legalism, abuse, controlling, and judgmental religious criticism! No…..I avoid and shun these Judaizers according to Romans 16:17.

    Ashland Daily Tidings: Tuesday, March 10th, 2010/Letters To The Editor

    Putting church abuse into perspective The Monday, March 1 Oregonian article via the Ashland Daily Tidings for same date (“Deceased priest who abused boys casts a shadow on the Northwest”) was very disturbing indeed! As a Christian, I must be direct, forward and morally/intellectually honest: Our churches have both the best and worst of people. Of course too does other segments of society as well.
    But let’s talk about churches and organized religion. Though I myself was never sexually abused as these boys described in article, I’m certainly aware such does indeed happen in our churches. And I’m also certain some churches are worse than others.

    Example: Prior to relocating to Ashland, Oregon from Klamath Falls in 1986, I spent one year in
    a Church of Christ (non-instrumental) in Klamath Falls from 1982-83. Though there were some things I agreed with, there were other teachings I sharply disagreed and dissented with, including their sectarian/legalistic, dogmatic attitude of, “We are the only church and everyone else but us is wrong!” After leaving that congregation I was the target of judgmental gossip and slander! And get this: This judgmental jerk within the congregation told me it “would be damnable if I left the church,” which I eventually did anyway. Later, this same jerk was arrested for sexual abuse of a girl under 12 years of age! Yes, he was a predatory pedophile, a real creep! This is just one example of sexual abuse in our churches that, more often that not, remains covered up, hidden and suppressed. And that is downright criminal!

    Another thing I find disturbing is the trend in our churches today of taking 1 Corinthians Chapter 7 out of context and using it against Christian singles. The dogmatic parroted, “It’s better to remain single than marry,” as preferred by the Apostle Paul, is an oppressive doctrine indeed! Most people who parrot this are religious elitists who are married anyway and have a significant other in their
    lives. Though I have never read the book “Churches That Abuse,” by Ronald Enroth in 1992, it remains posted online via Google for reading. Yes, I have expressed my sentiments here. And furthermore I
    rightly feel that moral and intellectual honesty sees farther than does political and religious correctness. So what is the answer to this? I feel a place to start is with this Bible passage from 1 Peter
    4:17: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God.” James A. Farmer, Ashland
    Now a resident of Merrill, Oregon (Klamath County)

  14. I’ve had experiences with both the Catholic Church and the Church of Christ. I also know others who belong to other groups like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In all of these groups you have devoted believers in Jesus, and some who are not so devoted. My personal opinion is that the individual Christian must choose a Church (I don’t think it is wise to avoid all congregations because none of them are “perfect”) that seems to be one that he can grow in and serve God and encourage his fellow believers. If God points you to a different church or congregation, then leave the old church and go to the new. Never cause trouble at a church and rebel against the leadership. Scripture prohibits that. I really don’t think that the denominational problem will be solved before the return of Jesus.

    1. While I agree with you that swapping Church’s can be a good thing I wanted to share the basic root of the word Ekklesia again. The word Church is born from the Greek word Ekklesia which isn’t even a religious word, it is a political word. The Church is us and was never a building. I kindly point you here for a wonderful explanation of it. Blessings!

      Free to be, just a Christian

      “What is the meaning of ekklesia in Hebrew?
      summoned group
      Where the Masoretic Text uses the term qahal, the Septuagint usually uses the Koine Greek term ekklesia, ἐκκλησία, which means “summoned group” (literally, “they who are called out”).”

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