A recent statement issued by some professors as their affirmation of the identity of their denomination was done to "clarify" where they stand and believe their denomination ought to stand. Unfortunately, anyone familiar with Churches of Christ will recognize the standard subjects: baptism, Lord's Supper, and a cappella singing . . . and the thoroughly discredited notion that Christian unity can be achieved through a common interpretation and practice of ancient church forms.
Hasn't that been tried? Isn't it a modern idea that human understanding and agreement will be the basis of Christian unity? Unity does not exist through common practice and belief, but by the Spirit despite dissimilar human practice and belief.
While I don't doubt the sincerest desires of these men (several have been my teachers) it is a clear example of institutional irrelevance. Concern for the preservation of the organizational identity of the denomination leads to focusing on 'internal' discussions over disputable interpretations.
We have an urgent need for Christian faith and life to be theologically incarnated in today's challenging cultural contexts. At least for me, nothing can be more irrelevant than spending time defending historical interpretive positions for the purpose of clarifying and preserving denominational identities. The three matters chosen as an identity show how form-oriented the discussion remains for what Churches of Christ have been.