What They Believe-Church of Christ
Taken from: http://ex-churchofchrist.com/whoareCoC.htm
Adult baptism by dunking under the water to be saved from one’s sins. Baptism is viewed as not only a symbol, but the moment of salvation.
Taking the Lord’s Supper (usually unleavened bread and grape juice) as a symbol, not a sacrament, every Sunday.
A capella singing (though there is a sizable instrumental Church of Christ group in the Midwest, associated with Central Christian College of the Bible who believe that it is wrong for men and women to wear shorts above their knees). The more conservative congregations use songbooks with shaped notes (doh through ti, each having a different shape). Shaped notes date back to the 1700s as a help for people to learn to read music. The conservative Churches of Christ and a small Presbyterian group are among the last to still use shaped notes, except for Sacred Harp singers who have clubs all over the United States to sing 200 year old songs a capella in four part harmony. Churches of Christ (south) split from the Christian Church/Disciples of Christ (north) during the Civil War over instruments of music used in worship and denominational organization.)
No denominational hierarchy, even anti-denominational. Each congregation is independent. Communication with other congregations is facilitated by journals/magazines, bookstores and colleges each associated with a particular wing of the Churches of Christ. Campbell, a postmaster, spread his beliefs by means of magazines which he edited. Churches of Christ are reputed to have the most religious magazines per person of any religious group.
Each congregation is led by elders elected by the congregation. The preacher is called a preacher, evangelist or minister (not a pastor, a term used by the Churches of Christ to describe an elder).
Salvation is by works and grace, not by faith alone, or grace alone. It is Arminian in doctrine.
taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Churches_of_Christ
The Churches of Christ discussed in this article are not part of the Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ; the United Church of Christ, or the Disciples of Christ. For those congregations within the Churches of Christ that do not agree with the support of church or para-church organizations, please see the churches of Christ (non-institutional).
Churches of Christ are a movement of autonomous Christian congregations associated with one another through common beliefs and practices. They seek to base doctrine and practice on the Bible alone, and see themselves as recreating the New Testament church established by Christ.
Historically, Churches of Christ in the United states were recognized as a distinct movement by the U.S. Religious census of 1906. Prior to that they had been reported in the religious census as part of the Movement that had its roots in the Second Great Awakening under the leadership of Thomas and Alexander Campbell, Walter Scott, and Barton W. Stone. Those leaders had declared their independence from their Presbyterian roots, seeking a fresh start to restore the New Testament church, and abandoning creeds. The names Church of Christ, Christian Church and Disciples of Christ were adopted by the movement because they believed that these terms were found in the Bible. Other names the movement did not believe to be biblical were rejected, such as Campbellite, Stoneite, Campbell-Stone movement, and even Restoration Movement. Even so, the rejected terms are used by those outside the movement to identify it.
A split occurred between those who used musical instruments in worship (now usually known as Christian Churches and Disciples of Christ) and those who did not because their use is not mentioned in the New Testament. It is this latter branch which is the subject of this article. Though officially recognized as distinct movements from 1906, the actual separation of the Churches of Christ from the Christian Churches had already been taking place gradually for decades.
Common beliefs and practices
Churches of Christ generally share these traits:
- Refusal to hold to any formalized creeds or statements of faith, preferring instead a reliance on the Bible alone for doctrine and practice:238,240 :123 :103
- Autonomous, congregational church organization without denominational oversight:238 :124
- Local governance:238 by a plurality of male elders:47-54 :124
- Baptism by immersion of consenting believers (Believer’s baptism):238 :124 for the forgiveness of sins:124 :103
- Weekly observance of Communion:124 on Sunday:238 :107 (also referred to as the Lord’s Supper or, especially in British congregations, the “breaking of bread”). All but “a very small segment” use unfermented grape juice instead of wine.:491
- Practice of a cappella singing in worship:240 :125
In keeping with their history, Churches of Christ claim the New Testament as their sole rule of faith and practice in deciding matters of doctrine and ecclesiastical structure. Although they view the Old Testament as divinely inspired:103 and historically accurate, they do not see its laws as binding under the New Covenant in Christ (unless they are repeated in the New Testament). They believe that the New Testament demonstrates how a person may become a Christian, thus a part of the universal church of Christ, and how a church should be collectively organized and carry out its scriptural purposes.
Variations within Churches of Christ
Since Churches of Christ are autonomous, not denominational, and purposefully do not maintain an ecclesiastical hierarchy or doctrinal council (as they hold the Bible alone as the only source of doctrine), it is not unusual to find variations from congregation to congregation. For example, some allow for more open interpretations regarding worship and other church practices, while others hold to more strict interpretations. The level of fellowship and cooperation that will exist between those of varying opinions will depend on each member and local congregation. Congregations and members are free to study the scriptures and to the best of their abilities ascertain God’s revealed will. Yet, most Churches of Christ have the similarities mentioned in the introduction.
The approach taken to restoring the New Testament church has focused on “methods and procedures” such as church organization, the form of worship, and how the church should function. As a result, most divisions among Churches of Christ have been the result of “methodological” disputes. These are meaningful to members of this movement because of the seriousness with which they take the goal of “restoring the form and structure of the primitive church.”:212
Three quarters of the congregations and 87% of the membership are described by the The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement as “mainstream,” sharing a consensus on practice and theology. The remaining congregations may be grouped into four categories, the largest of which is the churches of Christ (non-institutional). Approximately 2,055 congregations fall in this category. The second group does not use separate Bible classes, and consists of approximately 1,100 congregations. A third group does not use multiple communion cups (approximately 550 congregations; this category overlaps somewhat with those congregations that do not use separate Bible classes for children). The fourth group “emphasize[s] mutual edification by various leaders in the churches and oppose[s] one person doing most of the preaching.” This group includes roughly 130 congregations. These groups generally differ from the mainstream consensus in specific practices, rather than in theological perspectives, and tend to have smaller congregations on average.
What They Believe- Freemasons
What is a Freemason?
By Br. Gregory Stewart
A Freemason is a man who, in searching for life’s ineffable questions, finds his way into the company of fellow seekers. Comprised of men from every nation, races, social and economic level, all hold similar ideals and beliefs. The uniting idea is a faith in the divine founded in the certitude in an afterlife. This “belief” is grounded by certain landmark tenants and virtues which ultimately lead in exploration of those invisible questions, leading ultimately to the betterment of all mankind.
Traditionally a male organization, Freemasons exist in most every country around the world guided by three principals: Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. The Fraternity is open to all men, with a belief in the divine, a passion towards humanity, and a desire to better themselves. Foremost is the practice of Brotherly Love, not just towards fellow Freemason’s, but towards all mankind for the purpose of unity and cooperation. Within the lodge, the bonds made through fellowship are vitally important steps towards a better understanding one another. Outside of the lodge, Brotherly Love leads to a greater degree of understanding and compassion towards all men. Coming to the aid of those in true need, Relief is a second light that serves as a sanctuary for the weary and distressed, what ever the cause to those in need, whether it be poverty, infirmity or what ever their ailment. And Truth, whose search is unending, becomes its own virtue by relating to the nature of man and his transcendental state. Truth does not conform to any specific dogmatic practice of law instead accepting all faiths as sacred. Freemasons nurture and grow the divine spark in humanity through the tenants of Brotherly love, Relief and Truth.
But, why exist for the betterment of mankind? For too long man has looked through varying degrees of authority for the answers to those unanswerable questions, “what is our nature and purpose” asked since time immemorial. By looking to answer those questions, Freemasons have found, instead the virtue in which the answers reside. To help frame the questions, Freemasons rely on four of the cardinal virtues, which are Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice. Temperance to suppresses our personal extremes, and promote modesty, Fortitude to keep good faith and careful watch ourselves, Prudence which keeps the perils of corruption in mind, and Justice which gives each their sense of due not stealing from another. By applying these virtues, the questions become transparent and unanswerable in terms of everyday ideas, instead they take on internal meaning, answerable only in the personal application of the virtues. The idea of personal growth this way is paramount to the craft, taught through lessons in allegory and symbols. The significance of learning this way is to convey their meaning symbolically, fostering individual introspection of their meaning. Exploration of these virtues is only part of the foundation of a Freemason with more enumerated throughout the allegorical degrees, all working to shape those who seek its light.
But the quest for answers is not lead by virtue alone. What many outside consider a barrier, is instead one of the strongest aspects of Freemasonry. Open to all faiths, Freemasonry has certain “landmarks” by which they live. One landmark in-particular is an acknowledged faith in God. Seeing the true nature of man through his works, a Freemason finds divine nature to be majestic in its meaning. But, to discuss faith, it would be problematic to not acknowledge the role of religion in the craft. Without any rule or requirement, Freemasonry neither prescribes to nor inflicts doctrinal controls over a member’s beliefs, ideas, or duties, but instead builds on the nature of good men; it only requires a simple profession of faith. Within Freemasonry there are no cannons of absolute law or moral leader as with a church congregation. Instead within each body of Freemasonry, democracy rules along with the sacred books of law, as prescribed to by each member’s faith. These books represent the backgrounds of the membership and the foundations from which they come, serving to link Freemasons to the transcendent. However, within the lodge, the conflicts of the sacred volumes are shunned, instead to embrace their celebration of the divine. What this represents is an open democratic society governed by mutual respect, advocating unity and harmony. No where is their represented malice or disunion, instead, men of all faiths are encouraged to make a harmonious fellowship.
As such, the inclusion of all faiths has made tremendous enemies. The diligent observer can easily find dissent from all faiths about the brotherhood of Freemasonry. Some examples are as recent as tracts written by the Pope of the Catholic Church, denouncing membership as being in disharmony with Christian faith. Also, standing against the gentle craft are imams of Islam, pastors of protestant Christianity, and rabbi’s of Judaism. The unique thing to all these groups is their agreement that their members should not join the fraternity and shun it as heretical. Their reasoning is that Freemasonry acts as a surrogate to religion, replacing their doctrines of faith. But reason shows us otherwise, as masonry builds on the tenants of all faith, embracing the primitive aspects of each faith, in that all faiths are sacrosanct.
Freemasons work to smooth the rough stone edge indifference to create a vibrant and living craft. Neither libertines, racists, nor atheists by creed, Freemasons should not suffer it to exist within its body. Therefore, it is accurate to say that masons are not irreligious; to the contrary their mandate is a belief in the divine. The obligations taken as Freemasons do nothing to stand in the way our family, our religion, or our civic participation, instead it necessitates our participation in all of these and more by advocating charity through brotherly love. Of this, love of our neighbor is to be paramount in our mind. We are, in fact, encouraged to perform our duties to God, our neighbor, and ourselves daily. Our fraternal bonds are made sacred by oaths and obligations between men, making us stronger and united in purpose. Those oaths make the bonds stronger and the bonds make the men stronger.
Freemasonry strives in its membership to bring like minded men together to explore the four cardinal virtues in hopes to glimpse the divine transcendence of God. Existing in all lands membership relies on the members own free will and accord, each in his search for illumination through the hands of the divine. A freemason believes in the brotherhood of man and fatherhood of a compassionate deity. Surrounded by like minded men, masons are dedicated to Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth, believing in their universality of the sacred and divine for the betterment of mankind.
taken from: http://www.bibleanswer.com/masonry.htm
This offering is intended to provide enlightenment on a subject which has been shrouded in mystery, secrecy, speculation and assertions for many, many years. Freemasonry has held a kind of mysterious intrigue to untold numbers. To others, it is nothing more than a social fraternity designed to offer and extend benevolence to mankind. If this were the complete extent of Freemasonry, these articles would not be written. If the Masonic Lodge is only a social organization, there would no more harm come from being a Mason than would come from being in the Lion’s Club, Rotary Club or any other civic or social organization. However, it is our sincere and studied conclusion that Freemasonry is both religious and a religion, carrying serious consequences for those involved therein. To see the magnitude of the situation, consider that in 1970, it was estimated by Emmett McLoughlin in the introduction to A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, p. xxxiv, that there were four million members of the Blue Lodges (the first three degrees of Freemasonry) in the United States alone.
In these series of articles we will be examining Freemasonry from several standpoints. First, we will consider some of its history, and its attempted ties to ancient times. Then, the organizational arrangement of the Lodge will occupy some space; its membership requirements and the obtainable degrees in Freemasonry. Thirdly, we want to take a close look at Masonic definitions of Freemasonry and their stated objectives, along with some of the symbolism used in the rites of Masonry. As far as I know, very little material is currently available which deals with these three areas of Masonry. We hope to provide some needed information on these aspects of our topic. Following this, we must consider the practices and beliefs of Freemasonry which contradict the Bible, the word of God, and therefore make it incompatible with Christianity. Finally, we intend to consider some of the rationale used to justify Masonry by Christians, as well as the consequences of a Christian being a Mason…
Masonry is not the product of one man’s inventive planning and execution. It is a conglomeration of many human philosophies which have been gathered throughout the centuries and applied to the tools of operative Masonry through the use of symbolism. Its ancient rites, forms, symbols and ceremonies are freely admitted (in fact, boastfully acknowledged) to have been borrowed from ancient systems of religion and philosophy.
“Masonry propagates no creed except its own most simple and Sublime One; that universal religion, taught by Nature and by Reason. Its Lodges are neither Jewish, Moslem, nor Christian Temples. It reiterates the Precepts of morality of all religions. It venerates the character and commends the teachings of the great and good of all ages and of all countries. It extracts the good and not the evil, the truth, and not the error, from all creeds and acknowledges that there is much which is good and true in all.” (Morals and Dogma, Pike, p. 718, emp., jrp)
The apostle Paul said, “Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. 2:8). Since Masonry has been conclusively shown to be an organization of human origin, which speculates on such things as deity, the universe, science, humanity, morality and immortality through the use of all the ancient religions and philosophies, surely it falls into the category of human philosophy which is “after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (cf. l Cor. 1:19-21). To get caught up in practicing and defending Freemasonry amounts to letting others “make spoil of you through his philosophy and vain deceit.”
a good book to read on this topic is: The Concise History of Freemasonry by Robert Freke Gould