In this editorial from the December 27, 1970, issue of Christian Standard, the late Edwin V. Hayden registered an objection to the term “Independent Christian Church.”
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We’re Still Friends—Isn’t it wonderful that we can be brothers—we can even be friends—without agreeing with one another in some rather strong opinions?
Consider, for example, the convenient use of the term, “Independent Christian Church,” to designate folk who generally concur in the historic position taken by CHRISTIAN STANDARD. Some of our best friends use the term pragmatically, arguing that it is brief, generally understood, and generally applicable. It communicates what otherwise requires a lot of explanation. Hence it is the title usually assigned to us by those who consider themselves outside our circle—specifically by brethren affiliated with the recently restructured Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada, and by members of churches of Christ overseas.
We object to the term, “independent,” for the same reasons others use it. Its brevity makes it a denominational name, indicating bounds and barriers that are no part of New Testament Christianity. It is understood as a denominative, establishing boundaries based on a very limited area of church polity. It creates a false impression of radical individualism, and it conveys nothing of Scriptural commitment to the whole cause of Christ. Its applicability is too narrow. Generous-spirited folk, sharing widely in all good works, are miscalled ‘‘independent,” and are thus separated from Christian brethren who choose not to be independent.
We hope our friends will forgive us, therefore, if we continue to delete the denominative “independent” from CHRISTIAN STANDARD essays, or admit it under quotation marks where the clear intent of the writer demands it. We’re still brothers, and friends, in Christ!