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This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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Church Maligned on CNN

inthenewsIn the aftermath of the Gary Winkler murder, pundits are filling the airwaves with speculation regarding motive, and seeking to fill in the gaps of knowledge regarding the relationship between the deceased and his wife, Mary Winkler. Also, there is interest in knowing more about the church of Christ. Unfortunately, in a recent (March 27th) edition of Nancy Grace’s show on CNN, Ms. Grace asked, not a member of the Lord’s church, but a Baptist Minister, about the church. A partial transcript of the show is below:

I want to go to pastor Tom Rukala, joining us tonight, a special guest, a Baptist minister. I`ve been researching the Church of Christ. I don`t know that much about it. What can you tell me?

PASTOR TOM RUKALA, BAPTIST PASTOR: Well, the Church of Christ is a relatively new church. It was started about 150 years ago by Alexander Campbell (ph). And it`s, unfortunately, a very legalistic sect, and they tend to use methods of intimidation and pressure tactics. They claim that they are the only ones going to heaven, and all other people are condemned to hell. So in case…

GRACE: Uh-oh, I`m in trouble. But I already knew that.


GRACE: Now, wait a minute. What more can you tell me?

RUKALA: Well, they claim that if you`re not baptized by one of their ministers, that you`re doomed to hell, even if you`re a believer in Jesus Christ, which, of course, breaks completely from the traditional Christian view that all those who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved because we`re saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and rose again. For the Church of Christ folks, that`s not enough. You have to be a member of their narrow sect. It`s a very exclusive group. And if you`re not a member of their sect, you`re condemned.

GRACE: You know, Pastor, you keep saying “sect.” “Sect.” You make it sound like a cult.

RUKALA: It kind of is a borderline cult, unfortunately. I don`t want to make it out to be some kind of Hare Krishna group, but it has cult-like characteristics and…

GRACE: In what sense?

RUKALA: Well, in the sense of the exclusivism, the attitude that they are the only ones who know the truth. The tactics that they use are sometimes just — not only un-biblical but unethical, and they can be very ungracious, unfortunately.

Transcript, Nancy Grace


Of course, it is objectionable that a Baptist preacher would be asked about the church, rather than one who is a member of the church. And, you can see the prejudice of the man in the words he uses to describe the “intimidation and pressure tactics” used by Christians.

One wonders if it would be considered an intimidation tactics to tell a non-believer that because of his lack of faith in Jesus he is “doomed to hell,” (something that Baptist preachers contend for every day).

While Rukala’s contention that the church is a “borderline cult” is not shared by most people, do not be surprised if there is a backlash toward the Lord’s church because of all of the misinformation that will be bandied about in the months leading up to the trial of Mary Winkler.

Peter had instructions regarding what Christians must do in situations such as these: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”