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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.)


Author: admin


  1. Ms. Johnson, I used the term,”brother” with reference to Phil Sanders because he is a member of the church of Christ, though his views may be errant. However, the Independent Christian Church are not brethren because the fundamental teaching they employ is unscriptural at this core, thus one cannot be “baptized” in the ICC and into the Lord’s church, as the fundamental teaching is different. As to your other question, those baptized into Christ for the remission of sins as taught in the New Testament, with an understanding of what there are being baptized into (the Lord’s church – Acts 19) may still use methods that are optional. A congregation may or may not have Bible classes or support ophan homes, but that itself becomes sinful when a congregation that determines not to do so attempts to bind that which is not bound in the New Testament on others and subsequently accuse them of sin. Now, back to Phil Sanders for one last moment. The acceptance of someone from a denomination (ICC) with out repentance and baptism is unscriptural itself. That person is still lost, because what she “believed” was not what the Bible teaches, and they (ICC) does not preach the same gospel we (churches of Christ) preach as can be read in my article the things they do in their worship that are not authorized by scripture.

  2. Somwthing caught my eye in reading the information on Ohil Sanders. "Editor's Note"which I assumed was Jophnny Oxendine, if not, then whoever the Editor was.  He used the phrase Brother Phil Sanders.  If he is the same person who  disagreeded so much in the article with looking at the Independent Christian Church as not brethren, it seemed odd to me he would call him brethern. Just a thought.

    I do have a question. Since the thought is clear they are not looked at as even erring brethern , do you look at the congregation of the church that use one cup for communion, or don't have bible classes, or deal with orphan homes, those type of differences, also not brethern. 

    I agree, from the last paragraph on the Independent Christian Church, those congregations that incorporate women elders, women ministers that teach before the congregations (not just to women) , etc, poses a difficult situation. But one thing I must agree with Phil on, the Lord adds all those who hear, repent ,believe, confess, baptised for remission of sins, as those in Acts 2:47 were, to his church. Now comes the question, how much varience from what the Church has taught would be looked at by God as in error. Ex: one cup or more. Many make a big thing on this, even to the point of one or the other is sinning, this bothers me as we may be making something a rule that God wouldn't see it that way.  While I agree to gather in the assembly where women preaching in congregational worship, or the congregation had a woman elder, for example, I could not do, I'm just not sure I would say you are part of the Lord's church, but erring. I guess what I'm trying to say, and probably not to well, is I don't want to make laws where God hasn't, and be so proud that I think I've got all the answers and my way of thinking is right , with no rome for correction. Thanks and have a great day


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