Must the true church be called the "church of Christ"?
Some churches, such as the "Iglesia Ni Cristo", claim that the true church must be called the "church of Christ". Is this true? When we examine the Bible, we see that this claim has no biblical merit.
God never commanded the church to use the name "church of Christ" in any particular way.
The INC assumes that the church must use the name "church of Christ", but there is no Biblical support for this. The fact that the phrase "church of Christ" is used in the Bible does not say anything about mandated use.
Additionally, the INC is making a very specific claim about the use of this phrase at an organizational level. Nowhere in the Bible does it say what name must be put on a sign outside a house of worship or what name should be used on tax forms.
The church goes by several names in the Bible.
If the church really must be called the "church of Christ" and not some other name, why does the Bible use so many different names for the church?
1. Sometimes it is just called the church (2 Corinthians 8:19).
2. Sometimes it is called the "church of God" (1 Corinthians 10:32).
3. Sometimes it is called the church of all members, like the churches of the saints (1 Corinthians 14:33).
4. Sometimes it is called the church of a subset of the members, like the church of the Laodiceans (Colossians 4:16).
5. Sometimes it is called the church of a region, like the churches of Galatia (Galatians 1:2).
6. Sometimes it is called the body of Christ (Ephesians 5:23).
When the INC says that the church must be called the church of Christ, they ignore that the Bible speaks of the church in many different ways.
God never commanded us to avoid using extra-biblical names.
The Bible never said that we cannot use names that aren't found in the Bible. For example, the word "Bible" is not in the Bible, but there's nothing wrong with calling scripture "the Bible".
In the same way, there is nothing wrong with calling a church by a name like "Baptist" or "Presbyterian", even if no church in the Bible is called "Baptist" or "Presbyterian". The phrase "church of Christ" as used in the new testament is not commanding normative usage in naming human institutions or buildings. Therefore, we should see no reason to object to other names, so far as they do not contradict what the Bible teaches.
Protestant churches call themselves the church of Christ.
What the INC doesn't seem to realize is that most Protestant churches do call themselves the "church of Christ". They claim that Protestant churches do not do what they indeed do. The true church is the church of Christ. Any other name that a Protestant church uses is merely an organizational formality; a courtesy to help others distinguish between human administrations.
The INC makes several mistakes when they demand that any legitimate church must
use the name "church of Christ":
First, they add to the law by demanding something that scripture doesn't command.
Second, they ignore the fact that the Bible has multiple ways of speaking of the church, and no one is elevated above another.
Third, they add to the law again when they reject the freedom we are given in the use of extra-biblical names
, Fourth, they fail to recognize that others do refer to their church as the church of Christ.
The INC may appear to be biblical in naming their organization the "church of Christ", but they are being anti-biblical when they add to its commands.