Those on Pentecost who "gladly received" the word that the apostles preached to them "were baptized," and when they were baptized, "The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." (Acts 2:47) When these people heard Peter preaching the resurrected Christ, they asked, "What shall we do?" Peter replied, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." (They had already believed the word the apostles had preached.) When they did what Peter said, "The Lord added to the church" those who were receiving the remission of sins--being saved.
To what church did the Lord add these saved people? Any denomination that came into existence after that day of Pentecost two thousand years ago is NOT the one to which the Lord added the saved. If the Lord is still doing today what He did in Acts 2:47, He does not add the saved to any denomination. But what church came into existence on Pentecost?
In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, "I WILL build MY church." Jesus promised to build only one church. He further said, "The gates of Hades shall not prevail against IT." Jesus spoke in the singular case. He had no plans to build differing churches. He evidently did what he said he would do, for He was adding to it on Pentecost. From Pentecost on, the New Testament pictures the church as being in existence. The idea of more than one church is never mentioned. This evidence cannot be denied.
This same book describes what the body is.
The Bible says there is ONE, and ONLY ONE, body, or church. It began on the first Pentecost following Christ’s resurrection. In Acts 11:15, the apostle Peter referred to these events as "the beginning." "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them, even as on us at the beginning."
Yet, some are devoted to proving that Alexander Campbell founded the Church of Christ. "We see from this record, then exactly how the first Campbellite church ever to appear on the face of the earth had its origin. It began on May 4, 1811, not the day of Pentecost. It--like the Lutherans started by Luther, the Presbyterians started by Calvin, the Episcopalians started by Henry VIII, the Methodists started by the Wesleys, and other groups started by man-- had its origin with man, too." (Campbellism, Its History and Heresies, Bob L. Ross, pg. 19)
Alexander Campbell was an outstanding nineteenth-century gospel preacher, but he was nothing more. Campbell was not an authority in religion (1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 4:11); nor do members of the church consider him to be authoritative. Before Alexander Campbell even began his effort, others had made fruitful efforts to plant New-Testament churches in several parts of this country. The restoration works of Elias Smith and Abner Jones in New England, James O'Kelly in North Carolina, and Barton W. Stone in Kentucky all predate Campbell’s work.
Alexander Campbell (1788 - 1866), his father, Thomas Campbell, and the Campbell family came to America as Irish immigrants. They were reunited in 1809. Thomas and Alexander, along with the afore-mentioned men, had, through their study of the Bible, come to reject Catholicism, protestant denominationalism, and all human creeds. They came to reject their unscriptural baptisms and were baptized (immersed) into Christ for the remission of sins as the Bible teaches, on Wednesday, June 12, 1812. They issued such challenges as "Let us speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible is silent" and "Let us call Bible things by Bible names and do Bible things in Bible ways."
These, however, including Campbell, did not seek to build a new church. We, therefore, urge anyone to name one thing taught or practiced by faithful Churches of Christ that originated with Alexander Campbell, or that was not taught and practiced in the New-Testament days. When the first-century gospel was preached in the nineteenth century, it produced Christians--just as it did in the first century. Preaching only the gospel makes nothing but New-Testament Christians.
If Alexander Campbell started the church of Christ in 1811, how do we explain the monument marking the grave of William Rogers in Cane Ridge Cemetery near Paris, Kentucky? It says that the man buried there was united with the church of Christ at Cane Ridge in 1807. That was two years before Alexander Campbell came to America, and four years before Campbell himself was baptized into Christ. He was a Presbyterian when he came to this country. Vergilius Firm’s Encyclopedia of Religion, 1945, p. 116, gives this definition of a Campbellite,
"A term sometimes applied to Disciples of Christ (a) whimsically, by themselves; (b) ignorantly, by the non-church public; (c) viciously, as well as ignorantly, by the less enlightened members of the less enlightened sects."
It is contrary to fact and contrary to all reliable history to state that Alexander Campbell founded the church of Christ, or any other church. He did no such thing, and those who so state contradict the facts and truthful history. Campbell simply called upon people to take the New Testament as their guide and accept the church of the New Testament as the only church authorized by God.
Many have suggested that the church is the product of Alexander Campbell’s work. The dictionary says the Church of Christ is an organization founded by Alexander Campbell. That is human thinking and reasoning; there is no proof to sustain the charge.
One question, that members of the Lord’s church can ask those who claim Mr. Campbell founded the church is, “Which of the church’s DOCTRINES OR PRACTICES BEGAN WITH ALEXANDER CAMPBELL?” Detractors often claim that the answer to the question is baptism. But that’s incorrect. Baptism originated with the Lord, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16) Its practice began on the Day of Pentecost, “Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)
By the way, the same thing is true of other church doctrine that men say began with Mr. Campbell. The church received its doctrine much earlier--during the first century--through the Holy Spirit’s work. Those who feel this way need to look for other arguments—good luck! (KMG)