Does the Holy Spirit guide Stanton alone into all truth? Ahh, this is the $64,000 question, isn’t it? Wouldn’t everyone nod their heads in agreement with Stanton’s claims to be the “One True Church” if this could really be proven true? Of course, but it can’t.
Thankfully, the opposite is actually possible. It is easily provable that this central claim of the church is not true. All we need to do is demonstrate clearly that the Holy Spirit has not, in fact, led either the church or any individual in the church, into all truth.
Wouldn’t that lay an ax to the root of this tree that has produced such divisive fruit for over four decades now? Of course it would. Which is exactly why so many of the Old Guard in the church are so invested in revising church history to purge any doctrinal changes from the memories of members and children of members. The accepted way of dealing with these inconvenient facts is to play word games: “We didn’t change the teaching, we just grew in our understanding.”
I’m sorry, but this is Orwellian double-speak (anyone remember the book 1984?). Changing the meanings of words and phrases to maintain control over a group is called propaganda, plain and simple.
Doctrine by any other name is still doctrine. As I’ve pointed out on this blog many times, “doctrine” simply means “teaching.” There is no meaning of the word possible such that “judgments” are not “doctrine.” If the church teaches it, it is a teaching. It is by definition, then a doctrine.
The church tries, with a wink a nod, to smugly insist that its doctrines have not changed, when we all know they have. This is disingenuous. How is it any different than a politician shading the truth to cover up their inconsistent voting record? The church’s record of changing doctrines is clear. You can’t argue with 45+ years of history (unless you don’t know that history, which is why this site exists).
Merie used to say, “If you find one contradiction in the Bible, I’ll eat every page.”
I’d like to propose a similar test. If we can find one instance of the church’s doctrines changing, they’ve judged themselves not to be the One True Church, because that used to be the standard they applied to all other churches, remember? Everyone else changes their doctrines, but the Bible doesn’t change. Truth doesn’t change. So the church’s teachings don’t change. That used to be a common refrain in non-member classes.
The church makes the assertion that it is led into all truth. But if the past is prologue, I’d certainly be skeptical of this claim. The children of Israel were told to test the prophets of old who claimed God was speaking through them. If a prophet failed the test, the people were not to listen to him. The test was if what they said came true, they were from God. If what they said didn’t come true, they were not.
Applied to Stanton, they said they were the One True Church, and that the Holy Spirit gives them unity and leads them into all truth. We now have 45+ years of history to judge whether these claims have held up.
If we find one doctrinal change, or one doctrinal error, it is obvious that Stanton has not been specially gifted by the Holy Spirit with The Truth. One error–one change in doctrine–one revision of teaching based on their “new understanding”–is all it takes to prove their status as a human organization. But let’s be safe and pick the first five that come to mind:
- Women didn’t used to be able to wear jeans with a zippered fly. Now they can.
- Families couldn’t go on vacations under Merie. Now they can.
- They used to question people about their thought life. Now they don’t.
- It used to be taught that an elder had to have a “good reputation within and without” both before and after his baptism. Now it’s correctly applied to his reputation after his conversion.
- Teachings on marriage and divorce have changed drastically over the decades.
We could come up with many other examples, but these ought to be sufficient to raise a red flag that this group does not have a lock on all truth.
NOTE: For the sake of clarity, and because metaphors can sometimes be taken out of context, I’d like to state for the record that I believe the axe should be laid to the root of the tree in the sense that we ought to completely destroy the notion that Stanton is the One True Church. This has been Stanton’s raison d’être, and it is based on completely fallacious, not to mention prideful, reasoning.
Great blog, Kevin, as usual. Love your thoughts!
I've only started reading the bible the last few years and had a question for every one. How do you get forgiveness after you are baptized? Like if you are baptized and then go get drunk or commit fornication what do I have to do to be forgiven by God? Confess to a priest or something? What do you Christians think about this subject? (I am only interested in what the other followers of christ think, not the atheist that keeps bashing God on this blog).
A Christian is forgiven based not on what he does but what Jesus did for him. We don't **earn** forgiveness by going through XYZ steps and checking them off our list. The best way to look like it is as a relationship with a friend or spouse you've wronged. If you hurt someone, you would repent (change your behavior) and ask their forgiveness in an attempt to reconcile the break in the relationship that occurred when you did whatever it was that hurt them. It's the same with God. Sin breaks our relationship–it comes between us and God. Reconciling with… Read more »
So in your opinion you don't think we have to confess out loud? You just pray for forgiveness and it is given? Any particular scriptures you have on this subject would be sincerely appreciated.
You're wanting a formula, and I'm telling you it's about relationship. Healing a relationship with an earthly father is not a matter of following a formula and checking those items off your list. It's a matter of healing the broken relationship. It's a heart issue. So telling you, "confess it verbally" can be interpreted as something on a checklist. Telling you "pray about it" can be interpreted as something on a checklist. But if you truly understand it's a heart issue, then you'll know what to do, because you know when a relationship is not restored. If you've truly offended… Read more »
Yeah, I guess it's just hard to wrap my head around the fact that you don't have to confess every time you sin to the church after being in it for so long. Some confessions are so embarrassing. I felt really bad that the whole church knew some VERY personal sins about people. I guess my question is why in the bible did they withdrawal from the guy sleeping with someone else' s wife? If repenting from your sins is between you and God why was this example in The bible? Anyway, I'm still studying on my own trying to… Read more »
I didn't say that public confession was never appropriate. Remember, SCOC made it into an item on a checklist, and by doing that, ended up with absurd results, i.e. women confessing publicly that they didn't wear nylons to church last week, etc. It's the "checklist" or "formula" mentality that is foreign to the Bible. There are circumstances where, in order to reconcile a publicly broken relationship–in this case between the adulterer and the church, when the entire church's reputation was at stake because of this guy's brazenly immoral lifestyle–that coming before the congregation to "come clean" might be very appropriate.… Read more »
So I had an interesting online conversation this week about an "ONLY" faithful church. I was on FB and had signed up for a mainline COC gospel series. Another person (from my hometown) chimed in and said they were also doing one back home in their congregation. I asked where that might be. He gave me the address and said "we're the ONLY faithful church in this region". I mean, I thought, WHY ME??? I sat there for a while, kind of stunned. They are not a COC affiliated with Merie. It just hit me…this is just something churches say… Read more »
I love that God puts things in front of us to open our eyes to things. 🙂 Yes, I've found that SCOC's idea that they are the only faithful church is not unique…many churches, particular Churches of Christ, struggle with this kind of thinking. It's just that Stanton takes the idea to its logical extreme. The others may reluctantly acknowledge that other churches CAN have faithful Christians in them. Stanton cannot admit that.
I know the church of Christ Boston movement (ICOC) also taught they are the one true church. No wonder people who have left there have run into this site…so many similarities! Nothing new under the Sun, eh?
Here's an interesting story about the ICOC. When my family was visiting local churches here in Idaho many years ago, we inadvertantly stumbled upon an ICOC church. I instantly knew something was not right, not because of anything tangible about the assembly, but because I saw the same relational dynamics between members that the Stanton churches I grew up in had. I mentioned it to my wife with 5 minutes of walking in the door. It had a cultish atmosphere where everyone knew their pecking order in the power hierarchy, everyone had clearly known each other for many years, and… Read more »
That IS interesting. Last week I remembered that a few years back a cousin of mine was attending an ICOC here in town for a bit. I never asked much about it. But she had gone through a rough period in her life at that time and was travelling almost 3 hrs to come. Anyway I contacted her a few days ago about her experience and she immediately used the terms "legalistic" and "one true church" and explained why she left after a few months. She then started going elsewhere and seems much happier now. I was always considered the… Read more »
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Merie taught as is taught today her cult is the one true "church". It amazes me how distant they want you to be from others outside of there cult. Example four years ago I for some reason other than being a good ole boy asked about taking a co-worker and possibly his family on a hike. Not a good idea. Yet, they leave it up to you to make the final decision sometimes. Yet if I go I'm… Read more »
Just interesting that with us leaving the SA congregation they decided to have a workshop on the ONE TRUE CHURCH. Instead of having a workshop on loving others or even on the Pharisees and how to avoid being one, they are still pushing the same formula Merie Weiss concocted and perpetuated.