Inventory of Doctrines

February 20, 2006

I need your help!

For our next series of articles I would like to discuss each of the fundamental practices of the Restoration Movement churches from the perspective of CENI. (things like baptism, the Lord’s supper, church governance, acts of worship, and anything else of that nature which we would expect to find in an “orthodox” Restoration Movement congregation). I want to discover the hermeneutic foundation for each practice. Did the Restoration Movement forefathers establish the practice based on an explicit command in scripture? Or was it recognized from a biblical example, or from a necessary inference? Any historical information about how the practice came to be recognized would be helpful.

At the same time, I want to examine each of these practices based on its nearness to the core of Christianity. Is it of crucial importance to salvation, or is it a peripheral matter, or something in-between? This will be a judgment matter, but I want to make an honest attempt to categorize the practices in this way. There may be a temptation to say every teaching is crucial to salvation. Or there may be an opposite temptation to claim that almost nothing is essential to salvation. Both extremes are mistaken IMO. The circle is not so narrow that only those with perfect understanding and practice will be saved. Nor is it so broad that everyone will be saved regardless of the severity of their errors.

I am interested to see which practices are crucial, and how well supported they are hermeneutically speaking. An understanding of this may be very helpful in advancing the cause of unity

To proceed, we need an inventory of these practices. And we need to collect the scriptural basis for each. I’d like get the biblical evidence as it would be argued by proponents of the practice.

This is where I need your help.

I’m looking for information in the following format:

1. Practice: Worship every Sunday
2. Biblical basis: Acts 20:7, 1 Cor 16:2
3. Historical basis: Justin Martyr, Apology 1, Chapter LXVII
4. Fifty words or less of explanation: The church in Troas met on the first day of the week to break bread, and Paul preached. The Corinthian church took up a collection on the first day of every week. And the historical account of Justin Martyr indicates that the practice of the church was to assemble on the first day of every week for worship. So we have two scriptural examples and historical confirmation of the practice.

Please use a separate comment for each practice. If there is more than one line of reasoning, you could repeat points 2, 3, and 4 for each line of reasoning.

Right now we are in brainstorming mode, just collecting an inventory of these practices. Then we’ll organize the data and attempt to analyze each in more detail. Hopefully this exercise will give us more insight regarding the way toward unity.

May God give us success in our effort!


  1. Alan:Wow…you say I’m ambitious ;)This looks like a fun project. I’ll start looking at stuff and then I’ll post it when I get it in the fomr you want.-Clarke

  2. I’ll tackle a few of the more obvious ones…1.Practice: Adult believer baptism2. Biblical basis:Acts 2:38-39, Mark 16:163. Historical basis: Justin Martyr, Apology 1, Chapter LXI4. Fifty words or less of explanation: The passages in Mark calls for both belief and baptism in order to be saved. The passage in Acts calls for both repentance and baptism. Both passages are presented as universal promises. Belief and repentance imply a responsible adult decision. Justin Martyr also indicates belief and a decision to live accordingly as prerequisites to baptism. So we have commands, multiple adult examples in Acts (and no clear counterexamples), and historical confirmation.

  3. I already addressed weekly worship in the main article. Taking the Lord’s Supper every Sunday is based on very similar evidence: 1. Practice: Communion every Sunday 2. Biblical basis: Acts 20:7, 1 Cor 11:18,20,33; 1 Cor 16:2 3. Historical basis: Justin Martyr, Apology 1, Chapter LXVII 4. Fifty words or less of explanation: The church in Troas met on the first day of the week to break bread. The Corinthians apparently met every first day of the week (1 Cor 16:1). 1 Cor 11 instructs about the regular assembly in which they partook of communion, likely the same assembly referred to in 16:1, so that would mean weekly communion. And the historical account of Justin Martyr indicates that communion was practiced at the assembly on the first day of every week. So we have two scriptural examples (one by inference, perhaps not “necessary” inference) and historical confirmation of the practice.

  4. Here’s a universally accepted practice that is more weakly supported.1. Practice Singing in the weekly worship service2. Biblical basis 1 Cor 14:15(?), Eph 5:19, Col 3:16, James 5:133. Historical basis Not mentioned in Justin Martyr’s description of Sunday worship. Singing of a responsive hymn is mentioned in Pliny’s letter to Trajan describing Christian worship4. Fifty words or less explanation We have various instructions to sing, but none clearly placed in a worship assembly (unless 1 Cor 14:15 is admitted). So we have possibilities for inference (not a necessary inference) and perhaps an example in 1 Cor 14:15. And we have historical evidence from Pliny.

  5. You’ll probably want to edit this..Practice: Use of one cup for communionBiblical Basis: Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:23-25; 1 Corinthians 10:16; 1 Corinthians 11:25-26Historical Basis: One cup was used for communion for at about 200 years after the founding of the church. Individual communion cups were introduced in 1893. (I can’t find a historical source, but I’m guessing its out there…my source is newstestamentchurch.comExplanation: The first century church celebrated the Lord’s Supper with one communion cup. In the 1890’s, Restoration Churches started using individual communion cups, which caused divisions between congregations.

  6. Alan;Perhaps I can research a few.1. Plurality of Elders2. Anti-creedal stance3. Congregational AutonomyIf I am on the right track please let me know. Sincerely, Phil SpadaroRestorationUnity.com

  7. Alan, This would be a good addition to Clarke’s restorationwiki project. Sincerely, Phil SpadaroRestorationUnity.com

  8. Hey Phil,Those would be great topics to add to the list. I have very limited experience with the wiki stuff so maybe someone can help me add the stuff there as it comes in. Good thought.ALna

  9. Alan and Phil:We could definatly put it in the wiki if thats something you’d like to have happen, Alan. The wiki stuff is pretty easy to do. Just let me know what you’d like put there and I’ll enter it.-Clarke

  10. Regarding singing in worship service… My daughter pointed out to me that I overlooked 1 Cor 14:26 which does connect hymns with the public assembly.

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