Church of Christ Deism: Do Spiritual Gifts Come Exclusively from the Laying On of Hands?

i_dont_believe_in_miracles_i_rely_on_them_tshirt-p235921785579041865yk07_400It’s been argued by many that spiritual gifts died out in the generation following the apostles because the gifts were imparted exclusively by the laying on of apostolic hands. In the Churches of Christ, this teaching has taken on near-canonical status due to the highly influential book by H. Leo Boles The Holy Spirit: His Personality, Nature and Works.  And there are indeed passages in the both the Old Testament and New Testament that refer to the Spirit’s coming by the laying on of hands. And yet, there are cases where the Spirit came by other means.

Who laid hands on John the Baptist? Or the apostles? Or the Romans? Ah, yes, the Romans. We need to talk about the Romans … because Paul says, Continue reading


Church of Christ Deism: In Response to Alan

i_dont_believe_in_miracles_i_rely_on_them_tshirt-p235921785579041865yk07_400Alan Rouse was kind enough to critique the first post in this series in considerable detail, and I’ve been too tied up with GraceConversation and some other things to give Alan’s comment the response it deserves. So … finally … I get to it.

[I love receiving such thoughtful comments, especially when they disagree with me. Why allow comments except to be pushed by the readers into deeper study?]

Alan writes by quoting me and then inserting comments throughout the text. Therefore, the doubly indented text is from my original article. Continue reading

Church of Christ Deism: The Old Testament Background, Part 3


Perhaps the most famous prophecy of the Spirit among the Churches of Christ is from Joel, because Peter preached this scriptures in Acts 2 —

(Joel 2:28-31)  ‘And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. 30 I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.

Of all the prophecies of the coming Spirit, only this one speaks of “wonders” or in similar terms of miracles beyond changing God’s people and empowering God’s people to speak God’s words. On the other hand, the presence of the Spirit is routinely associated with special gifts — prophecy, etc. – in the Old Testament. The Old Testament knows nothing of a Spirit given to people that isn’t somehow evident to others. Continue reading

Church of Christ Deism: The Old Testament Background, Part 2

i_dont_believe_in_miracles_i_rely_on_them_tshirt-p235921785579041865yk07_400The Prophets and Writings

In the Psalms and Prophets we see, of course, the work of the Spirit through God’s prophets. And we see many powerful stories of how God’s Spirit led his prophets to confront kings, challenge the people to obedience, and even speak the word of the Lord to surrounding nations. For now, I want to focus on what activities the prophets attribute to the Spirit.

(Psa 143:10)  Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.

The Psalmist teaches us that one function of the Spirit is to lead the person filled with the Spirit. This, of course, parallels Romans 8, which speaks of being led by the Spirit.

(Isa 11:2)  The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him — the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD—

Speaking of the Messiah, the Spirit is credited with giving a host of special gifts, including some gifts mentioned in the New Testament as given to some Christians. Continue reading

Church of Christ Deism: The Old Testament Background, Part 1

i_dont_believe_in_miracles_i_rely_on_them_tshirt-p235921785579041865yk07_400One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in the last few years has been to treat the Old Testament with the respect it deserves. As Paul wrote Timothy,

(2 Tim 3:16-17)  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Paul was speaking of the Old Testament, and yet we treat the Old Testament as though it’s an worn-out, obsolete parchment. But I’ve found that the New Testament makes much better sense when we take the time to check the Old Testament roots — and see the New Testament as a continuation rather than replacement of the Old. Continue reading

The New Perspective: Justification and Pope Benedict XVI

newperspective.jpgI’ve been reading a new book by N. T. Wright called Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision, in which Wright responds to a challenge of his work by John Piper, The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright, in which Piper attempts to refute Wright’s new perspective on Paul.

I’m hoping (Lord willing) to post a few things on Wright’s book, and in anticipation of that, I thought it would be interesting to quote this from Scot McKnight’s blog “Jesus Creed” —

Now the Pope, Benedict XVI, has a book that illustrates this all the more: Saint Paul . I want to illustrate this connection by briefly sketching the Pope’s view of justification, and his view reveals dramatic connections to the New Perspective as well as to classic (old perspective) Reformation teaching on justification. Now for the sketch, drawn from chp 13 of this fine introduction to Pauline theology: Continue reading

Backgrounds of the Restoration Movement: Manufacturing a Christian Protest

passioncartoonThis is from Phil Cooke’s “The Change Revolution”

On June 2nd, a protest march was staged outside the Los Angeles Convention Center. It was Christians protesting the release of the new video game by Electronic Arts called Dante’s Inferno game, according to the Associated Press. The only problem? It was all staged. Because Christian protests in the past have generated publicity, EA decided to hire a marketing company to create the whole thing. They even created this fake Christian protest website called “We Are Saved.” As World Magazine reported:

“Channeling its best Ned Flanders, Electronic Arts (EA), distributor of popular gaming software titles like Madden and Rockband, staged a protest-of its own product. A marketing team hired by EA staged a protest of EA’s upcoming release “Dante’s Inferno,” a third-person action-adventure game based loosely on the epic poem by the Italian poet. The undercover marketing group sought to stir up publicity at a trade show in Los Angeles on June 6 by posing as Christians who objected to the game, saying video games ought not glorify eternal damnation. The paid picketers even held up signs that read, “Hell Is Not a Video Game” and “Trade in Your PlayStation for a PrayStation.”

What is your reaction to this? When the culture creates a parody protest from Christians, isn’t that a huge indicator that the real ones they’re making fun of, don’t work? Maybe it’s time Christians created a new engagement strategy. Continue reading