Our Relationship to Our Heritage
As Central Church of Christ, we seek to become the kind of church that the Scriptures describe as God’s ideal. We want to be an authentic expression of the non-denominational Body of Christ and family of God in Amarillo. However, we are well aware that we did not arrive where we are without having a history that shapes us. Churches are composed of human beings who live in a specific culture and have a long history with an inescapable tradition. We find it very difficult to separate ourselves from our past and present contexts enough to hear the Word of God in a pure unfiltered form. We realize that our experiences and viewpoints shape what we see and hear. We also believe that God has worked powerfully in our past in ways that we should recognize and honor.
We are descendants of the American Restoration movement led by Alexander Campbell and Barton W. Stone. We do not revere these leaders or their associates, but we do recognize that their leadership created a community that continues to shape us. Like those early leaders, we do not believe that members of our fellowship are the only Christians, but we do believe that Churches of Christ are the work of God. We appreciate the many contributions and insights of our restoration heritage. And we seek to stay a part of this fellowship, but not in an exclusive way.
While recognizing that tradition is unavoidable and has value, we do not feel obligated to adhere to all the Biblical interpretations and traditional practices which have characterized Churches of Christ through the years. We desire to honor our heritage, but we seek to follow God’s Word and Spirit above all so that we might be the church God is calling us to be today.
Among the things we are resolved to retain from our heritage are believer’s baptism by immersion, weekly communion, a capella singing in corporate assemblies, respect for the inspired authority of and commitment to Scripture, the essential role of the Church, congregational autonomy, and the plurality of shepherds. In addition, we seek to reach back into our heritage and revive a passion for unity lost over the past century. Some of these matters are, for us, unambiguous and inarguable teachings of Scripture: believer’s immersion, the inspired authority of Scripture, the importance of the Church, and a passion for unity in the body of Christ. Other aspects of our heritage are not so clearly defined as requirements of Scripture, but are, in our opinion, most compatible with the teachings of Scripture: weekly communion, a capella singing, congregational autonomy, and the plurality of shepherds.
Not everything passed down to us in our heritage is worthy of handing on to the next generation. Several aspects of our tradition are in conflict with our understanding of Scripture and the Spirit of Christ. These aspects include a legalistic patternism, confining the Holy Spirit to the Scriptures thus denying a personal indwelling, sectarianism, judgmentalism, arrogance, and any form of works righteousness.
We struggle at times to know how to separate Scripture from our traditions. But we are committed to being faithful to Scripture and faithful to the work of God in our past, present and future. We honor where he has worked in the past and we seek to follow him as he leads us into the future.