FROM THE BIBLE: 17 Points of the True Church of Christ
 Christ organized the Church (Eph 4:11-14)
 The true church must bear the name of Jesus Christ (Eph 5:23)
 The true church must have a foundation of Apostles and Prophets (Eph 2:19-20)
 The true church must have the same organization as Christ’s Church (Eph 4:11-14)
 The true church must claim divine authority (Heb 5:4-10)
 The true church must have no paid ministry (1 Cor 9:16-18; Acts 20:33-34; John 10:11-13)
 The true church must baptise by immersion (Matt 3:13-16)
 The true church must bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands (Acts 8:14-17)
 The true church must practice divine healing (Mark 3:14-15)
 The true church must teach that God and Jesus are seperate and distinct individuals (John 17:11; 20:17)
 The true church must teach that God and Jesus have bodies of flesh and bone (Luke 23:36-39; Acts 1:9-11; Heb 1:1-3)
 The officers must be called by God (Heb 4:4; Ex 28:1; 40:13-16)
 The true church must claim revelation from God (Amos 3:7)
 The true church must be a missionary church (Matt 28:19-20)
 The true church must be a restored church (Acts 3:19-20)
 The true church must practice baptism for the dead (1Cor 15:16&29)
 “By their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matt 7:20)
We will definitely pray for you as you seek God’s truth. It is often a difficult journey from Mormonism to saving faith in the one true God, but no one travels that path alone. “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
The 17 Points of the True Church that your husband sent you has circulated within Mormonism for a very long time. The Mormonism Research Ministry website discusses this list in “Examining the ’17 Points of the True Church.’” At the bottom of that page you will also find links to a 3-part Viewpoint on Mormonism radio broadcast examining the 17 Points. You will find another helpful written evaluation at “Alpha and Omega Ministries Responds to 17 Points of the True Church.”
Without repeating a lot of what you will find at the above links, as a brief overview, let me offer this. The 17 Points purport to come from the Bible. If you take each point and look up the passages cited (I encourage you and your husband to do this!), you will find that the list loses much of its impact. Many of the Bible passages cited don’t seem to relate in any way to the claims they are supposed to support; many of the Bible passages are stripped from their context and used in ways the biblical writer did not intend; and many of the Bible passages are presented as imperatives though those imperatives are absent from the Bible itself.
For example, point #2 says, “The true church must bear the name of Jesus Christ (Eph 5:23).” The verse cited says this: “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.” Nothing here speaks to the name of the true church.
Point #5 states, “The true church must claim divine authority (Heb 5:4-10).” In its context, this Bible passage is all about Jesus, not about the church. Here God compares Old Testament priests with the “great High Priest” Jesus (Heb. 4:14), explaining that just as the Old Testament priests identified with the people they represented (Heb. 5:1-3) and served by God’s appointment (Heb. 5:4), so too Jesus became High Priest at the Father’s appointment (Heb. 5:5-6) and was identified with His people through suffering (Heb. 5:7-10). When understood in context, this Bible passage says nothing about the church or its claim to divine authority.
Point #6 states, “The true church must have no paid ministry (1 Cor 9:16-18; Acts 20:33-34; John 10:11-13).” This is stated (as are all the others on the list) as an imperative, as though it is a command from God. But none of the Bible passages cited include a command for all-volunteer ministry. Let’s consider the Bible passages provided in the 17 Points list in their context.
In the Acts 20 passage Paul notes that he didn’t want the money or clothing that belonged to members of the Ephesian church; rather, he himself provided for his own necessities, and also for those who were with him. He modeled the Christian commitment to help those in need (the weak), encouraging the church to remember, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
In the John 10 passage, Jesus is identifying Himself, teaching that He is the True and Good Shepherd. He talks about thieves and robbers and hirelings who care only about themselves; when trouble comes they desert the sheep — they cannot and will not save the sheep. But Jesus, the True Shepherd, loves the sheep and will lay down His life for them. This is about Jesus; it has nothing to do with whether clergy should be paid for their service.
In 1 Corinthians 9 Paul talks of his desire and commitment to preach the gospel free of charge. This is Paul’s personal conviction, not a command for the church. Paul makes this clear in his preceding remarks when he argues that ministers of the Gospel are entitled to material blessings from those whom they serve. Paul writes, “In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:14).” So in context we find that, rather than a command for an unpaid ministry, Jesus commanded the opposite!
Among the other points in the list are some that are subjectively self-fulfilling, like point #13, “The true church must claim revelation from God (Amos 3:7).” Any church can make any claim it wants. Many churches/religions/sects claim revelation from God; this does not mean that they actually receive revelation from God, nor does it mean that their claim is evidence that they are “the true church.”
So many of the items on this list are things that happened or were mentioned in the New Testament, but were not commanded or intended to be normative. The issue of unpaid ministry is an example of one of those, as is point #8, “The true church must bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands (Acts 8:14-17).” In Acts 8 it is recorded that Peter and John did indeed lay hands on the Samaritan believers, yet in other places in Acts we find the reception of the Holy Ghost without the laying on of hands (Acts 4:31; 10:44; 11:15). With this sort of approach to the scriptures, the 17 Points list could just as well include Acts 9:8-9 and insist that the true church must require new converts to spend three days fasting in blindness. It would be a grave misuse of the Bible to make such a claim; yet the 17 Points list is built on the same sort of biblical misrepresentation.
You asked what I think of The 17 Points of the True Church of Christ. I think it is a futile attempt (among many others) to make Mormonism sound biblical, while in reality it is far from it. Mormonism (as well as the 17 Points list) begins with an unbiblical concept of the church (i.e., that it is an organization) and strays far afield from there. For a biblical look at the church I invite you to read “What is the Church?” by Matt Slick at Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.
Again, Connie, I encourage you to always read and study any Bible passage in its greater context. Christian author Greg Koukl is fond of saying, “Never read a Bible verse.” That sounds radical! But check it out in context: “Never read a Bible verse. That’s right, never read a Bible verse. Instead, always read a paragraph at least.” You might find his STR.org blog post on this topic helpful.
Thank you for your email, Connie. Please let me know if there is anything more I can do for you. May you sense God’s presence beside you as you continue your journey, and may His presence give you strength and peace.