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By Johnny Oxendine

{Editor’s Note: Brother Phil Sanders is the speaker for the television program “In Search of the Lord’s Way” which is overseen by the Edmond, Oklahoma Church of Christ. Brother Oxendine is the preacher for the San Mateo Church of Christ in California. – RLR}


For years we have mentioned Phil Sanders as the type of brother who would come to exemplify the mass movement from the church of the New Testament to a new hybrid conglomerate that seems to be familiar, but is entirely different from what Jesus, Paul, and Peter describe. We are now mentioning Sanders as he has made his yearly pilgrimage to the Merced church of Christ this past week, and is returning to the Bay Area at Oceanview from April 27-30.


Our lesson last week from Hosea 4:17 is most appropriate: “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.” These brethren have had enough time to determine these things and there really is no need to continue efforts to correct them – we can only warn those of our number, or any others who will listen. I am also certain that Phil Sanders is a good person, which is why what he has said makes him that much more dangerous for those who don’t know what he said.


I am going to include some quotes from Sanders to let you see for yourself. The first part is from an interview he did for the Christian Chronicle, the latter was part of an email exchange we had in 2008:


“How do churches of Christ perceive independent Christian Churches today?

Phil Sanders: I can only speak for myself here. I believe baptized believers in the Independent Christian Church are my brethren, since everyone who is scripturally born of water and the Spirit is a child of God…One sister in the Christian Church I taught about musical instruments had never heard the reasons why we don’t use them. Once she learned the reasons, she gladly embraced the truth. We didn’t re-baptize her. We embraced her on her repentance.”


The response below was sent to me as part of an email discussion Phil and I had in 2008:


“They are today brethren in error but brethren nonetheless. Some of the independent Christian churches teach the same gospel plan of salvation that you and I teach. They ask people to come to Christ out of love in response to hearing the gospel, to repent, to confess Christ, and to be immersed in water in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. When people hear and respond to that imperishable word, the Lord himself adds them to his church. They may go astray, but the Lord adds them to his church…I regard people in the Christian church as brethren in error. If you wish to regard them otherwise, that is up to you.”


The Independent Christian Church is a conservative denomination, as far as that goes, but they are not our brethren – not even in error. They use mechanical instruments for music, often employ choirs and children’s church (during the adult worship hour), and a number of them now have women ministers and elders. Can we really think that they preach and teach the same gospel found in the New Testament? NO! What we can say is what has already been said so accurately and succinctly: “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.” (Via San Mateo Church of Christ Bulletin, San Mateo, Calif.)


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