Christian Churches Together

May 2, 2006

Unity news:

Thirty-four churches and national Christian organizations, representing over 100 million Americans, have formed the broadest, most inclusive fellowship of Christian churches and traditions in the USA in a gathering at Simpsonwood Conference and Retreat Center near Atlanta, Georgia, March 28 – 31, 2006.

These groups officially launched an organization known as Christian Churches Together. Such an event can hardly escape the notice of anyone who longs for unity among believers in our Lord. The groups represented include the Evangelical/Pentecostal, Historic Protestant, Historic Racial/Ethnic, Orthodox and Catholic churches. It is quite remarkable that groups of such diverse doctrinal beliefs have chosen to organize together with a shared mission “to enable churches and Christian organizations to grow closer together in Christ in order to strengthen our Christian witness in the world.”

Christian Churches Together has been in formative stages for several years. According to an article at beliefnet.com:

Organizers had hoped to launch last year but put off any official action until the group could attract more interest and participation from historically black churches.

Two of the nation’s largest black denominations — the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc. and the National Baptist Convention of America — officially joined as members during the Atlanta meeting.

From an earlier article at religioustolerance.org:

The 2003 meeting approved a proposal to be distributed among “…churches, Christian communities, and national Christian organizations” that might wish to join the CCT. Their theological requirements for membership are minimal. Members are expected to:

  • “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Savior according to the Scriptures
  • Worship and serve the One God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
  • Seek ways to work together in order to present a more credible Christian witness in and to the world.”

The phrase “according to the scriptures” allows each of the member organizations to interpret the Bible in their own way. This will inevitably lead to a great diversity of latitude in beliefs about Jesus.

This list of doctrinal requirements allows the CCT to include a much broader range of Christian faith groups than, for example, the NAE which requires members to specifically affirm the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible, and of Jesus’ virgin birth and sinless life, atonement, resurrection and ascension.

Some more conservative groups, including the Southern Baptists, chose to participate as observers only rather than join the organization. These groups have concerns about the liberal views of some of the member organizations regarding the scriptures, and about some conclusions that those organizations reach as a result. The CCT steering committee holds that their policy of decision by consensus will prevent the group from moving in directions that are offensive to some of the members.

As members of the Restoration Movement, how should we view such an event? We would certainly have more in common with the conservative groups who, while watching with interest, are concerned about the liberal views of many at that table. It is hard to accept the notion of unity with someone who doesn’t hold to the inerrancy of scripture and the virgin birth. For most of us in the Restoration Movement, it is equally difficult to imagine unity with those who do not hold to biblical teachings about conversion.

I think we should welcome constructive dialogue with other groups such as these. But for that dialogue to be constructive, it must deal with the important issues that separate us. I don’t think we can call the results “unity” as long as we cannot mutually accept one another as Christians.

In practical terms, we have much work to do within the Restoration Movement itself. I believe that is the right place for us to start. Meanwhile perhaps God is doing something among the other groups which will lead to greater unity in the future. Wouldn’t that be amazing!


  1. I don’t think we can call the results “unity” as long as we cannot mutually accept one another as Christians. Exactly.I think that we can respect each other. Come together in Unity? It is being tried among the COCs and the Christian churches. It is being met with mixed emotions. It’s hard for us to put what we believe aside. I can see how easily something could turn ugly and make things worse. Satan can take it down hard. I’ll be praying that God’s will is done.

  2. Alan:I was surprised (pleasantly) to see this on your blog. I’m somewhat suspicous of the ecumenical movement, although I’ve read some interesting material that has come out of the dialogues these groups have (Travis Stanley had a post recently asking people to read the “Baptism, Eucharist, Ministry paper put out by one….check it out.)One thing I’d like to point out though, is that Churches of Christ are actually represented by this “Christian Churches Together” group. Dr. Doug Foster from ACU is on the board of directors.When I heard Foster speak at the Stone-Campbell Symposium, he was pretty adament that Churches of Christ needed to have a seat at the table in the ecumenical movement. He stated he’s been involved with the EM for a long time, and it has forced him to be more concrete in his beliefs, not less so. Like I said above, I’m suspicous of Ecuminism, but, if Dr. Foster is involved, I’m defiantly willing to give anything from this group a fair hearing.-Clarke

  3. Hey Clarke,I looked over that paper “Baptism, Eucharist, Ministry”, particularly the section on baptism. It’s pretty interesting, and surprising, that they would say some of those things. Of course I have a serious problem with the infant baptism portion. But as for the purpose and role of baptism they have a lot of things right. I suspect the CCT is a long way from making some of the statements that were made in this paper.I’m glad to hear that the coC is represented in CCT. Our voice can only be heard if we are represented in the conversation. Alan

  4. Isn’t it one thing to be part of a dialog among the denominationalist and another to have fellowship in worship with them?I think dialog is a good thing, and an opportunity to demonstrate the distinctive nature of the church.I wonder how any one person or group could represent thousands of independent congregations in a group like this anyway.

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