Brothers and sisters in Christ who meet at Ramstein,
Please print the following and pass it along to the leaders of the church in Ramstein.
In His service and yours,
Brothers and sisters in Christ who worship at Ramstein, Germany,
Greetings from your fellow Christians who worship at the Kaiserslautern church. Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The world changed on September 11, 2001. All of our lives have been affected in one way or another. We can never be completely
the same as we were on September 10.
One of the immediate things we saw in the days following those terrible events was that people everywhere are turning to
religion for answers. Now, more than ever before in our lifetimes, it is essential that the Body of Christ presents a true
picture of Christ and God to the world. If we, the ones who have put on Christ and who have God's Holy Spirit living within
us, don't reflect to the world the true image of God and His Son, who-IN THE WORLD-can?
On the night before He died, Jesus prayed for unity among His followers. We can think of no better way to honor our Lord
and to show the people of the world around us the true image of Christ than to show the unity of His Body in this area.
Creating unity among Christians has never been the duty of Christians. God created unity among us when each of us entered
the waters of baptism believing in God and trusting Him to remove our sins by the cleansing sacrifice of His Son. After God
cleansed us of our sins He united us all by putting His Holy Spirit in us and therefore sealed us with His Spirit until the
day of redemption. Our God-given task is to strive to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
We propose that the Christians at Ramstein and the Christians at Kaiserslautern show the unity of God's people in this
area. We propose our congregations conduct a joint Gospel meeting and invite the public to witness our unity in Christ. We
can share the cost to advertise this through the military papers, local papers, flyers, etc. We propose that the meeting run
from one Sunday through the next Sunday. We would hold the meeting in one of our buildings the first Sunday and end it the
next Sunday in the other's building. We could meet in a different building on alternating nights throughout the week.
It is important that all of understand this is NOT to be a debate among us, rather a show of Christian UNITY to the lost
in the community around us. The topics for this meeting must focus on Christian unity! We could have topics such as: "God
is One," "God creates unity when He saves," "Christians are commanded to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,"
"Jesus prayed for the unity of His followers," "Christians will be united in eternity in the presence of God," etc.
We live among thousands of people who do not know Christ and who will not spend eternity with God because no one has ever
told them of salvation through faith in Christ. Many of them are looking for Christ and for answers to their questions about
life, death, and the problems of this life. They are looking at those who claim to be Christians for the answers. They are
looking at us! They want to see a reflection of God in us. They want to see an example of Christ in our lives. They want to
see in us the unity among Christians they can (and do!) read about in the Bible. Let us join together in Christian love to
show them what they so desperately seek. Let us join together in Christian love to show them what they so desperately need.
We eagerly await your positive response.
In His service and yours,
David Emery Thomas Hackett
Elders of the Kaiserslautern church
cc: members of the Lord's Body who meet at Kaiserslautern
Brothers and sisters in Christ who meet at Kaiserslautern,
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We have received your kind invitation for the church here to
join with you in a Gospel meeting. (For your convenience, it is pasted in at the bottom of this post.) We commend you for
your interest in unity and in the lost around us. We assure you that we share these interests. We are always open to meet
with you and discuss matters that hinder the unity of God's people. In as much as your post to us emphasized unity let us
not forget God's plan for unity. It is a "unity of the faith" attained by "speaking the truth in love" (Eph. 4:13,15). If
we will all determine to submit to Jesus' word, we can have unity.
It is always our intent that visitors to our Gospel meetings "witness our unity in Christ" (all quotes herein from your
post except where noted). However, we believe your post conveys some very basic misunderstandings with regards to the differences
between us. Let us begin to note these differences by asking the following question.
1. Would you think it right for you to have a joint meeting with the Landstuhl Christian Church? They also are baptized
believers and you wrote: "God created unity among us when each of us entered the waters of baptism." We hope that you can
readily see the problem with your approach to unity. First, we do not believe that you are, in truth, in unity with the Christian
Church. They use instrumental music in worship. Second, why is it that all baptized believers are not united? Because the
Bible teaches that there are some with whom we should not have unity (1 Cor. 5:9-13; 2 Thes. 3:6-15; 2 Jno. 9-11). If a brother
or sister drifts off into sin and all attempts to recover such a one from this error fail, we must refuse unity with such
a one. This brings us to our next point.
2. We are, in fact, not united. Churches of Christ all over the world went through division starting in the 1950's. This
division was over centralization of church funds under the headship of sponsoring churches, colleges, and benevolent institutions
(orphan homes, widowages, etc.). As time has passed, this gap has grown wider as many of the churches which accepted the aforementioned
practices also built church kitchens and cafeterias (known as "Fellowship Halls"), which pervert the purpose of the assembly
of the church as well as the church's mission (1 Cor. 11:22,34; 1 Tim. 3:15). Also, "medical missionaries" have been sent
out by such churches into third world nations to promote the _social_ good of those countries (as opposed to the _spiritual_
mission of the church in evangelism). Other such practices could be mentioned. The many discussions which have taken place
between divided brethren have clearly shown to us that there is no Bible authority for the above mentioned works.
3. How does this apply to the Churches of Christ in Kaiserslautern and Ramstein? The Ramstein Church of Christ began when
brethren who had PCS'd into this area found that they could not in good conscience be a part of the Kaiserslautern Church
of Christ. Over the years, many brethren have come to us after first checking out the church in Kaiserslautern. They came
to us because they believed the Kaiserslautern Church of Christ was involved in unscriptural practices. In proposing a joint
meeting between us, you wrote the following in your post to us: "We can think of no better way to honor our Lord and to show
the people of the world around us the true image of Christ than to show the unity of His Body in this area." For Kaiserslautern
and Ramstein to join in the meeting you have set forth would be to portray to unbelievers around us a unity that does not
and has not existed. While we know that you did not intend to do so, your idea would deceive the unbelievers around us into
thinking that we, as churches, believe and practice the same when we, in fact, do not.
4. In the New Testament, each church did its own work. Among brethren who have accepted the innovations mentioned under
point number 2 (above), it has become common for churches in a given area to put on the kind of joint meeting that you suggest.
However, there is no Bible authority for the mechanics involved in this kind of meeting. According to the New Testament, each
church is to have elders with oversight limited to the church of which they are a part (1 Pet. 5:2). The largest organization
of which one reads in the New Testament is a local church (Phil. 1:1). Such joint meetings as you suggest involve organizing_beyond_the_local_church_level_.
First, one church must contact another church to get it involved in the multi-church effort. Then, such questions as Which
preacher will hold the meeting? When will it be held? Where will it be held? etc., must be decided on a larger than local
church level. To brethren long-used to such interchurch tie-ups as mentioned under point 2, such things might seem like minor
details. However, to those of us who have striven to use the New Testament as a pattern for the local churches of which we
have been members they represent major departures (2 Jno. 9).
As ugly and unwanted as division between us is, it is a reality. We dare not try to hide this reality by promoting the
kind of unity suggested in your well-intentioned post to us. On the contrary, as one brother has said, "We must continue to
sound forth the pure word of God with love and patience but without apology, and those whom God calls will unite with His
word and His people." We are always open to discuss these or other matters with you.
evangelist, Ramstein Church of Christ
We have further material (written and recorded) on the issues that stand between us available to any of you who are interested.
Please just let us know and we will send it on. You are all always welcome at our assemblies. Also, if any of you would like
to get together and talk, correspond or in some other way discuss matters that divide us, please feel free to contact us.