Are We Sacramentalists? Baptism

BaptismIt’s hard to deny the sacramental character of baptism as taught in the Churches of Christ. Although Zwingli taught “external things are nothing. They avail nothing for salvation,” the Churches of Christ have always taught that baptism is the event during which salvation occurs.

Interestingly, even though the Churches of Christ often cite the European Anabaptists as evidence that the Church of Christ pre-existed Stone and Campbell, Hicks points out that the Anabaptists followed Zwingli’s view. Even though they insisted on adult immersion, they saw a convert’s coming to faith as the moment of salvation. Continue reading


March Summary

woohoo.jpgAs is my custom, here’s a summary of “One In Jesus” for March 2008.

Much to my surprise, March set another record for views, easily surpassing February.

Here’s a chart —


It’s pretty obvious that things took off in January. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was all the articles on baptism and instrumental music. I mean, I guess the the Churches of Christ think those are big issues. Who knew? Continue reading

A Better Way to Be a Restoration Church

[I’m reposting this one from August. It’s cited in the article on a New Restorationism. The post makes better sense once you’ve read this.]

Jesus healingIn the last post, I suggested that a better approach to the assembly is to think about how we can best accomplish God’s mission on earth rather than how we can best replicate First Century practices.

However, First Century practices are hardly irrelevant. After all, the apostles may well have had very thoughtful reasons for what they did. Or it may have just been necessary due to their circumstance. The particulars may well have been defined by the local culture, but the purpose and spirit of what they did remains important today. And so, we should “go to school” on the apostolic church and see how these practices might be applied in contemporary culture–but without making them into laws.

I don’t think we want to require our travelers to sail in wooden boats or walk on sandaled feet, but we should be able to see some genuine wisdom in the church’s early practices that still is applicable today. Continue reading

The Future of the Progressive Churches of Christ: Part 9, A New Restorationism

cooperation.jpgIt’s just so easy, and facile, to say the Restoration Movement has run its course and we need to do something else now. If that were entirely true, why aren’t we all Baptists or Methodists or something else? Why are we still Churches of Christ?

Isn’t there anything about the Restoration Movement that’s worth preserving? And if we can capture the good, maybe we can give some purpose to the last two centuries. Surely it happened for a reason. Surely there’s something that’s worth keeping!

I think there’s quite a lot, actually. And so, I’d like to propose a new Restorationism built on the good we’ve inherited from our spiritual ancestors.

Without trying to be comprehensive, I’d say at least — Continue reading

A fresh approach to the Lord’s Supper

[I’m reposting this note from a year ago. We had a similar service this morning for Mission Sunday. I thought it was worth sharing this idea once again.

CommunionSunday was Missions Sunday for us. We enjoyed a truly extraordinary day of worship and fellowship in anticipation of making a once-a-year offering to support our missions program. But without a doubt, the highlight was taking communion with our brothers and sisters in China. Our missions team arranged for the missionaries we support in China to be connected to our church by live internet feed.

Now, that was cool enough, but the communion service was led by a recent convert from China, Continue reading

Back from ElderLink

ACUWell, I got back from ElderLink late last night. It’s about a three-hour drive, except we were caught in some pretty awful weather and behind a horrendous wreck and in between those walls of concrete and piles of asphalt which Georgians lipscomb_logo.jpgcall “construction,” which I’d believe except for the fact that “construction” at some point gets finished and this is eternal. It’s not “construction” — it’s a “way of life” for the poor denizens of central Georgia. I’m glad to be home!

(And do these people not know the difference between an Interstate and a parking lot?)
And so it was a very long day — made worse by the 8:15 start time, which is Eastern Time, and God made me with a Central Time Zone body, and so it was a long ol’ day. Continue reading

Are We Sacramentalists? Introduction

Baptism“Sacramentalist” just sounds kind of cool, doesn’t it? Lots of alliteration and sibilance. But it’s not a word you hear much in Church of Christ circles. We’ve been accused by many of teaching baptism as a sacrament. We usually figure that’s a Catholic thing and so deny the accusation. But things are changing.

In this quarter’s Restoration Quarterly, John Mark Hicks argues for taking a frankly sacramental view of the Lord’s Supper, baptism, and the Lord’s Day — following Alexander Campbell and, no coincidence, three excellent books he’s authored or co-authored: Come to the Table: Revisioning the Lord’s Supper; Down in the River to Pray: Revisioning Baptism as God’s Transforming Work; and A Gathered People: Revisioning the Assembly as Transforming Encounter.

Well, Hicks is one of our few truly interesting theologians, and so I want to spend a little time considering what he has to say. Continue reading