January’s top posts

star.jpgWell, January is over — in Greenwich, England, and WordPress keeps their stats on Greenwich time, so it’s time for the month-end summation.

January had over 10,000 views, compared to December’s previous record of over 6,300! I’m really surprised to have had a 60% increase in one month. I’m not really sure what’s driving the growth, but I’m pleased that someone else finds this stuff interesting.

Here are the top posts for January.

Continue reading

A Plea to Reconsider: Abusing Restoration Movement History

angelharp1.jpgMiller’s concluding paragraph begins,

Over a century ago, many churches of Christ were swept into what was then called “the digression.” The use of musical instruments in worship was one of the divisive issues that caused the breach. History is now repeating itself.

This is entirely true. The a cappella Churches of Christ separated itself from the larger remaining parts of the Restoration Movement over, among other things, the instrument.

It’s important to know and learn from our history. But Miller learned the wrong lesson. You see, the list of “divisive issues” that we split over is much longer than just the fight over the instrument — and we should learn entirely different lessons from why we split. Continue reading

Amazing Grace: Now that We’re Saved (reflections on the previous 3 lessons), expanded

 [I had a student ask for some material from lessons taught years ago, and so I’ve added the chart and text beneath it. Of course, we’re really just getting going. There are more charts to come. I’ve also added an example from a recent email condemning a Church of Christ for approving instruments. It’s the perfect example for the point I was trying to make.]

grace2.jpgThis is not easy stuff. Well, it’s only really hard because so many of us have been taught error, and the error is so familiar that we struggle to integrate these new truths into our understanding. Therefore, we need to take some time to kick these ideas around a bit to be sure we’ve really absorbed what’s being said.

The two-kinds-of-falling-away mistake

Some teach two levels of falling away–a temporary, easily fixed falling away where you go forward, confess your sins, and receive forgiveness and a permanent, impossible to fix falling away described in Hebrews. Continue reading

A Plea to Reconsider: A Return to Creeds?

angelharp1.jpgMiller’s conclusion focuses on the articles of incorporation of the Richland Hills Church of Christ. You see, as is true of many Churches of Christ, the original articles specified that the church may never use “mechanical” instruments of worship and must take the Lord’s Supper every Sunday.

Moreover, the articles specified that only men who agreed with the founders on instrumental music may be ordained elders. The articles actually attempted to add conditions beyond those stipulated in God’s word!

The elders amended the articles to remove these specific rules. Miller is outraged.

But Miller forgets his principles. After all, the articles of incorporation were nothing but a creed — which I thought we in the Churches of Christ long ago rejected.

And don’t we believe that the elders have the spiritual leadership of the congregation — not a legal document? Do we really believe that elders should be bound by charters written decades ago by men long dead? Is that the Biblical pattern of church governance? Continue reading

Amazing Grace: Now that We’re Saved (the Hebrews lesson), expanded

[In doing class preparation, I realized this lesson would likely take only 45 of the 55 minutes we now have. And so I added about 30 minutes worth of new material.]

grace2.jpgA very long time ago, when I was a teenager, I remember showing up for Sunday school class with the other teens. One of the deacons entered the class and said, “Well, I tried to run, but the elders caught me and insisted that I teach this class. So what do you want to study? I’ll teach any book of the Bible that you’re interested in–except Romans and Hebrews.” He winced, to make his point. “I don’t understand anything those books are saying! If you want to study those, you’ll have to get a better teacher than me!”

In my experience, we in the Churches of Christ don’t spend much time in Hebrews. I’m glad that Romans has come back into fashion. It’s the book we usually use to teach lessons on grace. It’s a thorough grounding but raises a whole bunch of really difficult issues.

On the other hand, I find Hebrews relatively straightforward. Now, I didn’t use to. In fact, it used to be completely opaque. I later learned that I couldn’t understand it because I was reading it with false assumptions–lots of false assumptions. You see, Hebrews is about as un-traditional-Church of Christ as any New Testament book can be. I’ll explain why. Continue reading

A Plea to Reconsider: What’s Not Religious?

angelharp1.jpgOn page 89, Miller begins to set up the classic “gopher wood” argument —

But does that mean that we must have authority for everything we do in religion? Everything? What about the many things we do that the Bible does not mention? For example, where is our authority for church buildings, pews, lighting, carpet, television programs, songbooks, and communion trays?

Did you notice it? The subtle change in argument? Miller is playing three-card Monte. While you’re not watching, he hides what’s really going on. Continue reading

The Future of the Progressive Churches of Christ: Introduction

gremlin2.jpgOops. This got posted prematurely. I’m not sure how, but gremlins have been known to haunt the Internet.

What a few of you saw was a draft. The real thing is coming in a few weeks. But it’s still in the oven. It’s just not quite ready.

It’s a series I feel is very important, but I’ve had a lot of trouble articulating my thoughts. But I’ll get it done and posted.