Instrumental Music: Regarding Karate, Dance, and Roast Lamb in the Assembly

Angel with harpRobert Prater asked, in a comment,

Let me ask you a question or anyone else…..let’s suppose I wanted to bring into the worship assembly the act of rhythmic dance or karate or how about yoga? Or let’s say painting, etc. Or how about instead of brea[d] and fruit of vine, either add or subtract roasted lamb….or pop or whatever? Would these be acceptable in the assembly? Why or why not? What basis or interpretive principles would you use? Just curious…..

I responded in the comments, but thought it worthwhile to repeat (and expand) the comment as a post, as many readers don’t follow the comments.

Robert,

The scriptures don’t center on the Christian assembly, but they do address the purpose of the assembly –

(Heb 10:24-25) And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

The writer wasn’t issuing an edict: go to church or go to hell! He was explaining how we should help each other remain true to Jesus so as to not fall away. And we do that by meeting together so we can encourage each other (active voice: we go to encourage, not to be encouraged). This encouragement is toward love and good deeds — that is, to be like Jesus.

He does not describe performance of arbitrary rules to placate a vengeful God. Rather, he describes an assembly of people who’ve committed to carry a cross for Jesus, helping each other carry on to the end without falling away.

Just so, in 1 Cor 14 Paul deals with questions regarding what is and isn’t appropriate in the assembly. He doesn’t check his apostolic list of authorized acts. Rather, he asks: does it edify? and if it doesn’t, can it be done in a way that edifies?

(1 Cor 14:3-4) But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.

Notice that self-edification is considered inappropriate in the assembly if not accompanied by edification of others. It’s not a time to meditate quietly, all alone in a room with others. It’s a time to take advantage of the presence of beloved brothers and sisters to build them up.

(1 Cor 14:27-28) If anyone speaks in a tongue, two–or at the most three–should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.

Paul imposes rules based on pragmatic concerns. Tongues is neither inherently acceptable nor not acceptable. They’re neither authorized nor unauthorized. Rather, they’re appropriate if done in a way that edifies and not appropriate if not.

The third passage that is central to my own thinking regarding the assembly is –

(John 4:23-24) Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

While not limited to the assembly, the principle is applicable to the assembly. The traditional interpretation puts the emphasis on “and” — that Jesus is saying no longer will worship in spirit or worship in truth be acceptable alone — it must be both. And many traditions argue that “truth” means according to the rules of our tradition and “spirit” means with the right heart. This is a demonstrably erroneous interpretation.

In John, “truth” means the the truth about Jesus, that is, the gospel. In context, “spirit” refers to the nature of God: “God is spirit” is not about God’s attitude but his divine nature. And “living water” is plainly about the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39). Therefore, worship under the new covenant is worship that is in the nature of Jesus and in the Spirit.

I’ve explained this one way a while back. But in light of the series I’ve just begun on The Cruciform God, we can go just a little deeper. The Spirit’s role is to move us toward being more like Jesus. The gospel is all about the cross of Jesus. Being like Jesus is following his self-sacrificing example.

Therefore, true worship is kenosis — self-emptying — becoming more like Jesus — taking up your cross daily. And in the assembly, that which “edifies” or encourages “toward love and good works” is that which helps us realize the Spirit’s work in us to be more and more like Jesus and him crucified.

That means that many things that are not sinful are inappropriate in the assembly, and many things that could be righteous could be done in ways that are contrary to Spirit and truth.

Thus, preaching, singing, etc that is contrary to the nature of Jesus is not “in Spirit and in truth,” whereas announcements that encourage the members toward love and good works are — even though not in Alexander Campbell’s list of five acts. (Where I grew up, the announcements had to be before the opening prayer, because they weren’t one of the five acts.)

I propose, therefore, that when an activity is suggested for the assembly, whether or not it’s on the list of 5 acts, it be tested by the scriptures. Does it encourage to love and good works? Does it edify, encourage, strengthen, or comfort? Is it in Spirit and truth?

When we get done, we won’t have a handy list of only a very few approved acts, and we’ll have much more Christ-centered assemblies and much more Christ-like congregations.

Now, regarding adding roast lamb to the Lord’s Supper, as the early church routinely took communion as part of a love feast, that’s exactly what they did. And as roast lamb is served at a Passover meal, it’s what Jesus did. But the serving of lamb is not inherently appropriate. It’s only appropriate if it meets the scriptures standards referenced above. If it encourages, edifies, etc., it’s appropriate. If not, not.

Just so, I have trouble seeing karate as meeting the standards I find in scripture, but there are certainly places where in the local culture dance would be appropriate — but West Alabama is not one of them. There are plenty of places in this world where dance is not at all sexual and is a natural way of expressing celebration. Palestine during biblical times was one of them —

(Jer 31:13)  Then maidens will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.

This is a prophecy of the new covenant. Jeremiah prophesies that one result of the new age that will dawn will be dancing in celebration of God’s work.

(Luke 15:25-27)  “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'”

Jesus is describing how a First Century Palestinian would celebrate the return of a lost son — the very passage we often use when a member returns to Jesus today.

(Exo 15:20-21)  Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing. 21 Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea.”

Plainly, this was worshp of God.

There is nothing inherently wrong with dancing in worship — it’s just that we live in a culture where dancing is very often sexually suggestive and has been frowned on in church as downright sinful — because in our culture dancing is almost always male-female couple dancing. But that’s not the nature of Biblical dancing or the nature of much dancing in the Middle East and many other places.

Would dancing in the assenbly be appropriate in contemporary West Alabama. I don’t think so. But would it be appropriate in a Christian assembly in an African village or in the Middle East? Perhaps, so — if it in fact served scriptural purposes.

Finally, I’ve seen worship services where an artist painted a portrait of Jesus or other biblical scene during the sermon, alongside the preacher, to make a very effective point. Is it appropriate to use the creative gifts God has given us in his service? Absolutely. Indeed, it would violate the Parable of the Talents to do otherwise. Could those gifts be used in the assembly? Yes, if they fulfill the purposes of the assembly.

And that strikes me as an approach to the question that relies heavily on the scriptures and arises out of an understanding of the nature of Jesus and his work — because ultimately the question is whether the proposed activity helps the congregation become more like Jesus.

You see, all good theology is Christology. It starts and ends with Jesus. And that means there are very real boundaries — but the boundaries have to do with God’s purposes.

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99 Responses

  1. “Would dancing in the assembly be appropriate in contemporary West Alabama. I don’t think so.” – Jay

    My correction: Would dancing in the assembly be appropriate in contemporary West Alabama? Yes. If that’s what the Spirit is doing in that congregation. For “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”. God has authority over His congregations, and can lead them wherever He wants them to go.

    I know you weren’t trying to make Jay’s Rules Of Worship, but you started to, so I thought I’d mention it. :^)

    One of the marks of a child that is developing normally is that he or she dances in response to music (2-3 yrs old). It is built into us by God. Not dancing is a learned condition. And most people can dance like eastern cultures anyway – hopping up and down out of excitement and so forth.

    I saw a video years ago from a sky diver’s helmet cam. Something went wrong with his rigging, and he ended up descending in a spin, with his body parallel to the ground. As he got closer to the ground, all you could see was road and powerlines spinning by. It didn’t look good. When he hit, it ended up being very lightly, and he wasn’t hurt. He jumped up and kept jumping around yelling out “Thank God! Thank God!”

    That is an appropriate response.

    When you understand what you were saved from, there will be days that you *have* to dance, even the old men, as the Scriptures say.

    When there is more physical excitement at our cancel-the-services Super Bowl parties than there is in the assemblies of 1,000 Sundays of the local church, something is wrong. The life of God is so much more exciting than a game! His rescue is so much greater than the sky-diver’s story! His living water so much more refreshing than all the things that many are pursuing right now on this Monday morning! Hallelujah! Thank God! Praise Him! Woohoo!

    Sometimes, even somebody from West Alabama should be so happy about God they dance reactively, unconcerned for their outward appearance, completely swept up in the dancing that is happening in heaven at the same time.

    Otherwise it’s like saying, “What you did was good, God, but it’s not good enough to make us react in the way you designed us to. Now if you could be as exciting as the Super Bowl, then I might get up and celebrate!”

  2. Jay

    What about Miriam and all the women in Exodus 15:20.

    They sang, dance and used tambourines. Is not this a type of praise and gratitude worship for the freedom they gained by the Lord’s intervention?

    If I were in their place I would have done the same.

    Bob

  3. I hate flying and in my twenty five years working international scenes I danced when the plane or helicopter hit the ground. I was so grateful to be alive after several close calls that I danced and instantly praise God audible and in prayer.

    Are we afraid the world would think we were too Pentecostal?

    I still can’t completely comprehend what Jesus the man and Christ the God did for me. It only makes sense to God who wants us to be his people forever.
    I am yet hung up on “forever”. It is beyond my imagination.

    Too many of us see God as a stern, grumpy and demanding perfectionist. We are perfect but only because of Christ and the Holy Spirit. I am not at all embarrassed to shout that to the world. And maybe a little shuffle.

    Bob

  4. Last night (a Sunday evening) we had a worship service in my house with hot dogs, fruit salad, bean dip, and Fritos. This food strengthened us saints and edified us. No one gets upset about this as it is not “in the building” and “on Sunday morning.” Instead, it is “fellowship” in “an informal setting.”

    Sometimes we come close to the type of instructions found in Leviticus: specific month and day, specific recipe, specific butchering…and so on.

    This is quite simple on paper, yet gut wrenching uncomfortable if we try to practice it. I mean I would be sick to my stomach to see fried chicken served on a Sunday morning 9-10AM in the building. It is simply that unfamiliar to me and to everyone I know. Culture and practice are hard to change even after years of study, thought, discussion, prayer, and so on.

    This isn’t easy. Still, consider what we do and what the scriptures say.

  5. Key to Paul’s teaching to the Corinthian church about their assemblies is the one verse Jay didn’t choose to quote–1 Corinthians 14:26. But everything Jay and others commenting on his blog agrees with what the apostle says should be the purpose for our assemblies–mutual edification. Our “worship services” are a tragic misunderstanding of the gatherings of the church. Wherever we meet one another, it should be made a place where we seek to strengthen ONE ANOTHER. An excellent way to edify is to remind of how Jesus lived and what Jesus taught. And His apostles were empowered to know even more of God’s truth than was revealed by Jesus Himself while on earth. We miss the point when we feature only one speaker per session, or when we call on only the most gifted to share in word and song.

  6. I mean I would be sick to my stomach to see fried chicken served on a Sunday morning 9-10AM in the building.

    Well, DUH! Only a weirdo eats fried chicken for BREAKFAST!

    🙂

  7. unless its with gravy and biscuits.

  8. In a series I blogged on worship, my post on the assembly said in part,

    The assembly is not a performance with God as the audience. It is interaction with God and with one another in a way that will glorify God and build one another up. That way, our lives will reflect the glory of God as we go into the world to serve, living the life of Jesus, shining as stars in the darkness of this world.

    That post is here, note especially the 2nd half of the post for purposes of the assembly – very much in line with what Jay said above.

  9. Brad

    I agree with you. The Holy Spirit can lead us not only in the assembly but to go to places where we might not choose to go. He even directs our conversation in speaking to the lost.

    Poor Miriam, if she pulled a stunt today in an assembly at a Church building like she did in Exodus 15 you would have to have a bevy of ambulances to haul off the heart attack victims.But if she did it in a home meeting that would be OK because that is not church. Give me a break. Hoe shallow have we become. We need to tear down our sacred edifices and get real.

    I have had experiences where I knew I was going to die, but was spared. I was grateful for being spared to extend more time in his kingdom and yes I did not want to die.

    How do we express gratitude? Blind Bartmaeus and the lone healed lepore cried to Jesus in a loud voice. Today they would be asked to leave the assembly for causing an uproar.

    Bob

  10. Dwayne,

    You make an excellent point. We tend to read NT passages as though designed for a 300-seat auditorium with a baptistry and Jordan River scene in the front, when the early church largely met in homes. And for a meeting in homes, it’s only natural to eat together. Our small groups do, because that’s just how people are. The leaders discovered that meetings go better and people bond and share over a meal in ways they don’t over a Bible study. There’s just something about eating together in someone’s house that makes you friends.

  11. Jay

    AMEN.

    I have tried to tell all of you that is how most of the world does in a home with friends over a meal.
    In this country, asking someone over or having a meal with Christians in our home that lasts more than an hour is past history.

    This is why or one of the reasons we have become an island to ourselves.

    Bob

  12. Jay, you said <>

    I say, Amen! But perhaps, by that measure, there isn’t quite enough good theology floating around?

  13. Here is what one church does to edify its members (by their own admission):

    “A procession of animals, everything from dogs and cats to hamsters and even horses, is led to the church for a special ceremony called the Blessing of Pets.
    This custom is conducted in remembrance of St. Francis of Assisi’s love for all creatures. Francis wrote a Canticle (his alleged talent from God), of the Creatures, an ode to God’s living things. “All praise to you, Oh Lord, for all these brother and sister creatures.” And there was testimony in the cause for St. Clare of Assisi’s canonization that referred to her little cat!….
    No wonder people enjoy the opportunity to take their animal companions to church for a special blessing. Church is the place where the bond of creation is celebrated….
    The Blessing of Pets usually goes like this:
    “Blessed are you, Lord God, maker of all living creatures. You called forth fish in the sea, birds in the air and animals on the land. You inspired St. Francis to call all of them his brothers and sisters. We ask you to bless this pet. By the power of your love, enable it to live according to your plan. May we always praise you for all your beauty in creation. Blessed are you, Lord our God, in all your creatures! Amen.””
    __________________________________________

    This is what one church ACTUALLY DOES to “edify” its members.

    Other churches have similar religious services for their motorcylces in an attempt to edify and encourage their members.

    Are such services conducted with the approval of God? Or, are they against the will of God and therefore sinful? If the latter…. how do you know?

    Remember, what “edifies” you may not be what “edifies” them.”

  14. Another church edifies its members in much the same way. Hear their explanation:

    “Every Sunday, when we go to church, we leave some of the most important members of our family at home…our pets. Sunday, June 28, 2009, Trinity United Methodist Church held their first annual “Blessing of the Animals” in the church parking lot. Pastors Charles Gattis, Abi Carlisle-Wilke, Joe Estes and Matt Reed laid their hands on each animal and blessed them individually.
    A brief service was held that included singing “This is My Father’s Wold,” reading Isaiah 11:6-9, a prayer of blessing before the animals were brought forward for to receive their blessing, and then singing “All Things Bright & Beautiful.”

    The Blessing was pronounced after learning the pet’s name: “May you be a good companion and a blessing to those who love and care for you. And my you have a long life of health in a happy home. Amen”

    There were mostly dogs (all sizes, breeds & shapes–purebreds & mutts) a couple brave cats, 3 ferrets, and two white horses. Next year, bring YOUR pet out for a blessing!”

    That’s cool too right? Or is it sinful?

    Who could know, right…..?

  15. One more example of not having to follow any list of apostolic rules (from another church seeking to “edify” as many as possible):

    “Barbara Kanoza of Sun City Center loves the freedom she feels on the back of her husband Bruce’s Suzuki Boulevard C90.
    Kanoza, who is helping to coordinate a Biker Breakfast and Blessing at The United Methodist Church of Sun City Center, also likes the feeling of security and peace that comes with a spiritual blessing.
    Members of the church are hosting their first biker blessing March 21 from 9 to 11 a.m….
    “A lot of people like the feeling they have when they had their bike blessed,” Kanoza said. “Most of the people we go out with have not had that done and want to”….
    Kanoza said the motorcycles will be blessed at 10 and 11 a.m. She said church officials will offer a moment of silence and prayer during the blessing of the bikes. They will also set up a memorial table for bikers who have passed away. People may bring in photos and light a candle in their honor….
    Jeff Jordan of Ruskin, the director of the arts for the church, said he is looking forward to the blessing event.
    Jordan and his wife Amanda recently decided to take a basic motorcycling riding course. He said the church has quite a few Christian motorcyclists.
    “I think it’s very cool and it fits into our less formal kind of atmosphere with Oasis, our church coffeehouse,” Jordan said.
    He said the church’s activities and events seem to draw a younger crowd of retirees.
    “Unlike some of the other churches, we have some of the retired Baby Boomers,” Jordan said. “We seem to be finding more and more of them who find our services satisfying. That includes a lot of motorcyclists.”

    Georgiana Chattin of Sun City Center said she plans to have her Harley Dyna Glide blessed during the event. She has ridden a motorcycle for five years.
    “I have always wanted to get my bike blessed,” Chattin said. “I’m a re-born Christian. Anything that Jesus can do to help me, I would definitely want it on my bike. If his prayers are going to be on my bike, I’ll be happy to have it done.”

    For more information on the bike blessing and the Sun City Center United Methodist Church, 1210 Del Webb Blvd. W., call (813) 634-2539.”

    Another good example of the possibilities that await the churches who feel no pressure to seek actual Biblical authority for the ways they choose to edify themselves….

  16. I read something on another blog about a pastor having parties at the church where they watch ultimate fighting on pay per view.

  17. “In the newly released directory, 21st Century Christian identifies 12,629 a cappella Churches of Christ with 1,578,281 adherents nationwide. Those figures represent 526 fewer churches and 78,436 fewer people in the pews than just six years ago.” – http://oneinjesus.info/2009/01/22/yeakley-states-that-churches-of-christ-are-in-decline-richland-hills-in-no-mans-land/

    This is what awaits those in the CofC who think that they have the authority to judge that they claim to have. Let’s use the same rule of judgment within the CofC.

    From an outside perspective, having this church-splitting, member-reducing obsession with instrumental music is just as crazy as a bike blessing service. And notice these are events, not an every Sunday thing. The pet thing is an event. What a terrible thing to have an event for the community! Using that expensive unscriptural building to try and exhibit some care for people where they are – the nerve!

    At least with these events, people left feeling like someone cared for them. I left the CofC, and was told I was going to Hell. Not as edifying as the bike blessing, but maybe that’s just me.

    The CofC could’ve led out on community efforts, and shown the way. Instead, they decided to argue over instruments, run their members out the door, and soap box themselves to the point that no one is listening.

    If the CofC does actually hold the corner on truth, then what will Jesus say to its handling of it? Well done? Hardly!

    So we’ve had three examples of finger pointing. Within this website alone, there are more than three issues plaguing the CofC. Why not address the plank in that eye first, before addressing someone else’s eye?

    And this sentence:

    “Another good example of the possibilities that await the churches who feel no pressure to seek actual Biblical authority for the ways they choose to edify themselves….”

    …is stated as if the CofC has had authority to do what it does: cause division, turn people away from Jesus, and ignore social justice. It actually made my stomach sick to read it.

    Here is this organization with flawed theology, flawed logic, and a tendency to pass by on the other side telling everyone else where they’re wrong. Such a pot calling the kettle black is part of what the unbelieving world finds unbelievable about Christians, and apparently the CofC members agree, since they are leaving rapidly.

    Plus, it’s that old “slippery slope” fear-mongering that has been constantly thrown around in the CofC longer than I have. Nauseating.

    The CofC is our best example of what to expect when authority is assumed and not questioned. We get dying churches, blind people, finger-pointing, and a wake of ungodly destruction in people’s lives, to the point of driving some away from God completely, never to return.

    This is the legacy of the CofC. And what did Jesus say should happen to those who cause His little ones to stumble?

    Yeah. That bike blessing sure is awful.

    But its better than the group that points fingers and does nothing to bring the kingdom to earth in power. In fact, you might say that since the CofC abdicated its Berean role in the kingdom by making the Scriptures and idol, pet and bike services are all that’s left for people who are actually trying to find God and peace. That’s the real story here.

    In the light of the fruit of the CofC, an objective observer would have to point out the pet and bike blessings as edifying, and the organization that destroys people’s relationship with God as not edifying. And it is most likely that neither group is living out the full-bodied, world-changing edification Paul was talking about.

  18. Funny Brad, that last paragraph is the argument I consistently used a decade ago with folks who screamed about the evils of congregations building family life centers. “Which use of the money accomplishes the purpose of the assembly and which is actually detrimental to it?”

    Same heart condition, just worse now.

  19. Brad, you make some some pertinent points. But, the question was (and still is), is it sinful for a church to have pet and motorcycle blessing services (events)?

    Why, or why not?

    You admit, “Yeah. That bike blessing sure is awful.”

    But, would you ever say that to someone who actually embraces them?

    I ask that because I believe the majority here would simply consider such “awful” events to be plain examples of being “free in Christ”…

  20. Jay,

    Let me respond to some of what you have written about worship and the principles you set forth. You say, “The scriptures don’t center on the Christian assembly, but they do address the purpose of the assembly.” You set up a false dichotomy throughout this discussion….either accept a Christ-centered gospel theology or a law, rules, non-Christ theology. Are these two opposed to each other? You make it sound like they are.

    Now, you are correct on the latter part about the purpose of the assembly but wrong on the first part. The first part is a false and unsubstantiated assertion. Evidence points to the contrary.

    Dr. Everett Ferguson in his book, “The Church of Christ”: “The sheer number of passages in the New Testament about Christians coming together is impressive. The frequency of these statements shows the importance of the assembly to the early Christians.” (232) He discusses all the Greek terms “come together,” “gather together” “assemble” and “the same place,” both in the Book of Acts and in the 1 Corinthians 11 and 14 for the assemblies of the church there.

    Ferguson later says, “The assembly of the church is a distinctive expression of the church. Not everything acceptable in other contexts has a place in the church meeting……..Paul makes a distinction between behavior that is appropriate elsewhere and what can be done in the assembly, between outside activities and assembly activities….” (cf. 1 Cor. 11:20, 22, 33-34) [p. 232-233]

    Again, Ferguson says, “The concern here is with the activities that were a regular part of the weekly meetings of the church…………..the elements of the structure of a service are there (as in Acts 2:42 and 1 Corinthians 11 and 14)……..the ‘order” may not be important, but what is in the order of service, what gives ‘form” to it, is important as expressing the nature of the church, the relationship of its members to God and one another, and the spirit of worship and service. The forms will be those that best express what the church is and its purpose in assembly.” (p. 248-249)

    My understanding and view on 1 Corinthians 11 and 14 is a little different from yours. I see this section of scripture, which is the fullest apostolic direction for the conduct of the worship assemblies found in the New Testament. “Assembly language” begins at 1 Corinthians 11:17 where Paul begins to correct the Corinthians’ behavior regarding the Lord’s supper.

    Note how often “when you come together” is mentioned. Again, it is a “come together” (assembly). Teaching, preaching, prophesying (inspired teaching) took place in the assembly (1 Cor. 14:3, 19), as it did when Paul preached to the church in Troas when they had assembled for the breaking of bread (Acts 20:7).
    Prayer also took place in the assembly (1 Cor. 14:15). Prayers are to be offered in intelligible language so all who are present can say “Amen” to what the leader says, thus making it their own prayer (I Cor. 14:16). And of course they sang in the assembly (1 Cor. 14:15, 26).

    The apostle Paul is very clear and straight forward to remind us that his instructions are not just the venting of his opinions. He says, “If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37).

    Jay you said: “When we get done, we won’t have a handy list of only a very few approved acts….” But stop right there, you don’t even really give us any list of a few “approved acts”…..do you? Did I miss that somewhere in our discussion?

    Noticeably absent from your criteria lists are “Is it Biblical” “Do we find an example of such worship activity in the New Testament?”

    Folks….please…..do you not see just how far some of our progressive brethren have gone from the spirit of the restoration movement?

    Again, Ferguson, under the heading of “Criteria for Activities in the Assembly” first list: “That which accords with the will of God. God has placed in the assembly those activities that will fulfill its purposes, and he has left out those that do not contribute to its purposes. To glorify God means to seek his will in all things. For the Christian age this means relating everything to the “name of Jesus Christ.” 247)

    Of course, he lists other criteria such as that which reflects the character of God, that which is spiritual and yes, of course, that which is edifying. But we’re not discussing those other criteria are we? We’re discussing specifically what is God’s will? What has He commanded or authorized in the assembly?

    And by the way, who gets to set the standards on what is permissible in worship, God or man? That is the question we should be asking…… What does God want? What kind of worship pleases and glorifies God? What does the Bible say about it? What would be in obedience to His will? The conclusion is very simple. In order for our worship to be pleasing to God we must obey His will.

    Jay, you wrote: “And that strikes me as an approach to the question that relies heavily on the scriptures and arises out of an understanding of the nature of Jesus and his work — because ultimately the question is whether the proposed activity helps the congregation becomes more like Jesus.”

    Here we are back once again to your cleverly false dichotomy. It’s either Christ-gospel center or Christ-less law abiding theloogy.

    It just seems to divert attention away from the real question you seem to be avoiding: the ultimate question when it comes to worship is what does God want? What has God commanded or authorized?

    And when we offer to Him worship, in the way He wants, and in the right manner (spirit and attitude) He wants….then yes, that will in fact help us become more like Jesus I agree…..but don’t we become more like Jesus only by putting in our hearts and lives (practice) what Jesus has commanded?? “If you love me, then you keep my commandments?” (John 14:15)

    Again, you say, “all good theology is Christology. It starts and ends with Jesus…..” But you are giving the impression that Jesus hasn’t specifically spoken about the matter of worship for His church? Paul said, 1 Timothy 3:15 after giving instructions concerning both the worship (chapter 2) and organizations of the church (chapter 3), “I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” Is that not good theology that is “Christology?” Is it not good also and “very real boundaries?” Just exactly how many ways does your “Christology” view interpret 1 Timothy 3:15?

    Jay I can hardly think of a more consequential distinction, than to have a reliable Word from our Creator. Do you reject a pattern for specific activities for congregational assemblies? It just seems grossly inconsistent to me on one hand to denounce patterns for congregational activities and then turn around and acknowledge that there are certain patterns to be followed in scripture for life and attitudes. Is God concerned about one and not the other?

    Jay you seem to be advocating that it is virtually impossible to prove anything is divinely required specifically for worship so long as it serves the purpose of mutual edification of the body, love and good works, etc.. That in essence, you seem to be arguing that when it comes to the activities in the worship assembly that each “element” (activity) does not have to have independent scriptural justification.

    Is that what are saying??? I just seems like you and other progressives have clearly moved towards the “Lutheran view” (Martin Luther) which say ch that “one may do whatever is not forbidden in Scripture.” But the restoration movement was based upon the notion that we may do in worship only what the Bible commands by explicit word or good and necessary example or inference (permissible expedient)

    Jay, please answer the question: Does the New Testament Scripture tells us what we should do specifically in the worship assembly or does it leaves us to determine the specifics by our own judgment and preferences based upon as you say, contributes to love, good works, edification, et?

    How are we to worship God? What specific “actions” or “activities” are commanded and authorized?

    This principle is also clearly implied in Paul’s view of the Scriptures: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16,17). It is not our contention that when Paul wrote these words he was thinking, specifically, about worship. But surely it is self-evident that the Apostle’s statement would not be true if there is any aspect of worship which is not clearly—and fully—revealed to us in the Bible.

    Paul commanded, “And whatsoever you do, in word or indeed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17). What does it mean to “do all in the name of the Lord Jesus?” Despite what you say, concerning the “name of the Lord,” Thayer writes, “the name is used for everything which the name covers, everything the thought or feeling of which is aroused in the mind by mentioning, hearing, remembering, the name, that is, for one’s rank, authority, interests, pleasure, command, excellences, deeds etc.”

    To do “all in the name of the Lord Jesus” then means that we do those things by His authority.
    We do things by authority of Christ when that authority is set forth in His will—the New Testament.

    Again, regardless of how many of my progressive friends try to “explain away” the example of Nadab and Abihu, they offered a fire not commanded by the Lord. It is called a strange fire in the KJV but perhaps a better translation here would be “Unauthorized ” fire. They did something in worship that the Lord had not commanded or authorized.

    Other examples found in the Bible should be sufficient enough to warn us: Cain’s offering in Genesis 4. Uzzah in II Sam. 6. King Saul in I Sam. 13 and 15. Jeroboam in the book of I Kings. The poor souls Jesus was referring to in Matt. 7:21-23. The Scribes and Pharisees in Matt.15:1-9. The judaizing teachers Paul condemns in Col. 2.

    God’s law of obedience in worship is clearly set forth in the Scriptures. There are many plain statements of it in all parts of the Bible, and there are numerous historical examples given in the Bible of God’s indignation with those who violate it.

    You propose by saying, “….when an activity is suggested for the assembly, whether or not it’s on the list of 5 acts, it be tested by the scriptures. Does it encourage to love and good works? Does it edify, encourage, strengthen, or comfort? Is it in Spirit and truth?”

    Again, lacking in your list is the issue of “Biblical authority”, i.e., “Where do the scriptures approve of such actions?” Is Christ only our pattern in conduct and attitudes but not in congregational orgaiziation and worship? Friends without this anchor of Biblical authority (including proper use of Regulative Principle) there’s nothing to keep a church from ending up with all kinds of manner of worship except only the preference of its people and leaders or as culture dictates.

    The church at Berea was an example that Luke refers to in Acts explains clearly an attitude and position of churches of Christ. It said of the Bereans, “they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). This is both an attitude and pattern for the church today. It is also a good approach to many questions about the church. “What do the Scriptures say?” must be our conviction. It should be our main and chief concern. What it says is truth and doctrine. And you can’t get more “Christology” than that, can you?

    Again, we must ask concerning what we engage in as worship in our assemblies, “Is this Biblical?” Jay, should we ever wonder whether what we are about to do can be demonstrated from Scripture to be acceptable to God? Listen to what Campbell said of the attempt in America to restore apostolic practices:

    “Those, then, who contend that there is no divinely authorized order of Christian worship
    in Christian assemblies, do at the same time, and must inevitably maintain, that there is
    no disorder, no error, no innovation, no transgression in the worship of the Christian
    church — no, nor ever can be.” (Alexander Campbell, “A Restoration of the Ancient Order
    of Things,” Christian Baptist, Vol. 2, pp. 240-241).

    Friends, nothing can be wrong unless something right is specified against which to evaluate it.

    Take for example and let’s come back to the music question. Paul said in giving instructions for the church at Ephesus, “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:19) How did the early church understand this verse? They worshipped for centuries without the use of instruments, choosing rather simply to sing as they were instructed.

    In his book, “Instrumental Music and New Testament Worship “James D. Bales quotes Clement of Alexandria’s statement that the “one instrument of peace, the Word alone by which we honor God, is what we employ. We no longer employ the ancient psaltery, and trumpet, and timbrel, the flute” (p.356-7).

    I’m reminded of the funny story of how a reporter once asked a safari guide if it was true that jungle animals won’t hurt you if you carry a torch. He responded, “That depends on how fast you carry it.” Straying from God’s stated will is dangerous no matter how fast one runs. In our quest for New Testament Christianity the safe ground to occupy on this issue is clear. The church is justified in refusing to adopt instrumental music in worship. There is no doubt that a cappella, congregational singing satisfies the demands of Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians. 3:16 and is acceptable to God. There is no evidence that Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians. 3:16 are generic instructions permitting anything as long as singing is included. There is overwhelming evidence that God demands obedience to inspired instruction for worship as in other areas of life.

    My dear friends, I do not want to be a legalist (making law where God has not made one) but I also don’t want to get caught up in liberalism (allowing freedom where God has not given). A wrong turn to the right takes one just as off-course as a wrong turn to the left. The fact is, obedient people value the grace of Christ. I love God enough to simply do what He says to do. Hearing and obeying the commandments is how we love God (John 14:15). We are to learn righteousness and godliness from grace (Titus 2:11-14).

    I want to to draw closer to the apostolic doctrine (Acts 2:42) and its acceptable worship and keep a safe distance from the traditions of men (Matthew 15:8-9) and its vain worship. Our obligation to God is to obey rather than explain away His clearly stated desire in worship. May the Lord enable us to worship, as the Scripture says, in both “spirit and truth,” with both “reverence and awe.”

    In Christ,
    Robert Prater

  21. Hank—

    Have you ever prayed for your pet(s)? Why or why not? Have you ever prayed for your business? Has your congregation ever prayed for blessings for a building construction plan?

    I like the idea of the pet blessing. In fact, I believe my two boxers must have received some of that general blessing without even being present, because frankly, they do a better job of offering unconditional love to every person they come in contact with than probably any human I know of! 🙂

  22. Hank:

    Sorry – my frustration with the audacity of the question got the better of me. It should’ve read:

    [sarcasm]Yeah. That bike blessing sure is awful when compared to how the CofC damns first and asks questions later.[/sarcasm]

    I’m not admitting that they were awful. I’m saying “How awful it is for the CofC to point fingers when their (CofC) doctrine is equally bad.”

    I never think someone trying to walk out their faith – especially when it looks strange to others – is awful. It takes a lot of guts to bless a bike while the world and other religious groups laugh. That is 100 times braver than I’ve seen the CofC be. May we all be so fearless in seeking God.

    I don’t believe that a bike blessing is the wisest way to use one’s freedom. But what’s the alternative? The sinful-but-finger-pointing, powerless doctrine of the CofC? If those are the two choices held up to an objective observer and we were to ask them to identify the organization that was focused on loving their neighbor, they would have to point to the bike blessing. Damnation doesn’t edify, encourage, lift up, heal wounds, or bring an end to sinful lifestyles.

    The good news is, those aren’t the only two choices. But that was your example, so I tried to answer your question.

    My point is that it takes some real guts asking if those events are sinful, considering the CofC’s sins.

    So, what – the best course of action when trying to lead people and shepherd them is to point out that they’re sinning? That they’re out of bounds? I don’t buy it, because Jesus didn’t even do that to tax collectors and harlots. Did Jesus tell Zaccheus the boundaries? Then how did Zach know that giving back 4X was acceptable to God? There is no hard and fast rule. There is the Spirit of God.

    I’ll follow Jesus’ lead, not the CofC. Jesus built relationships, and showed people the Father by serving them. Apparently, that worked. His group is still growing.

    The CofC, not so much.

  23. “Folks….please…..do you not see just how far some of our progressive brethren have gone from the spirit of the restoration movement?” – Robert

    I don’t know about you, but I’m not pursuing the spirit of the restoration movement. That’s straight up idolatry right there. We should be pursuing the Spirit of God.

  24. Robert, you wrote: “I do not want to be a legalist (making law where God has not made one) but I also don’t want to get caught up in liberalism (allowing freedom where God has not given).”

    I think you did a good job of using a Biblical definition of legalism, for that is akin to the desription Jesus gave. However, you seemed to have missed the mark considerably with “liberal” if not in your definition, then in the consequences of your definition.

    God has always been very specific as to what is a sin and what will separate us from Him. So if you call something a sin that God has not, then you are taking away freedom where God has allowed it. And by calling somethng a sin where God has not, you are allowing someone the freedom to dicate from their interpretation what is a sin, while God has not given any man that freedom.

    Robert, will you speak where God has not? Will you call something a sin that God has not called a sin? Will you separate from a fellow child of God that God still holds fast as His child?

  25. Robert,

    Thank you for taking the time to post what you did….. pretty much said it all.

    And Campbell was right regarding what he said of the attempt in America to restore apostolic practices:

    “Those, then, who contend that there is no divinely authorized order of Christian worship in Christian assemblies, do at the same time, and must inevitably maintain, that there is no disorder, no error, no innovation, no transgression in the worship of the Christian church — no, nor ever can be.”

    (Alexander Campbell, “A Restoration of the Ancient Order of Things,” Christian Baptist, Vol. 2, pp. 240-241).

    As were you with your conclusion, “Friends, nothing can be wrong unless something right is specified against which to evaluate it.”

    ——————————————–

    Which explains why our progressive friends can’t even bring themselves to consider the church services where hamsters and motorbikes are “blessed,” to be something unauthorized and therefore sinful.

  26. Hank—

    I’m curious to your answer to my question. I’m not trying to box you into a corner here…I’m neither crafty nor smart enough to do anything once I had you in said corner anyways. 🙂

    Do you/would you pray for you pets? Your business? Pray that God help you on a test you are taking? Why or why not? Thanks,

  27. Brad,

    I don’t know who you are or what your problems are with churches of Christ. But it seems you are very bitter. You say some of the most hateful things with great venom about us in churches of Christ.

    I think you greatly stereotype us. You seem to be real good at painting those of us in churches of Christ as always being people who are abusive and cruel and mean in our theology and appraoch to the Bible and teaching others. Not loving our neighbor, healings those who are hurting and broken, etc. You seem to pigeon-hole as self-righteous legalists” and a people obsessed with instrumental music.

    You seem to be quite exasperated with churches of Christ and for that I am sorry. I feel sorry for the bitterness you seem to live with towards us. And yes I am sorry that you’ve (apparently??) experienced hurt first hand by some members of churches of Christ. If I were in your shoes, I’d probably want to completely change it, or, failing that, abandon it or just “cast stones” at it which you are very skiled at doing:)!

    We are certainly not a perfect “movement” and we do have our glaring errors and mistakes both in our approach to Scripture and in communicating it with others. Theology problem are sometimes not just about the WHAT, it is also about the HOW. Even good people can get swept into bad theology, from any point in the theology spectrum, and end up doing harm regardless of intention.

    Abuse within the spiritual and religious realms is not limited to one group or one end of the liberal/conservative spectrum. Abuse show up everywhere. Error crouches at every door it seems.

    I’d like to see Christians living free in Christ, not burdened down by the traditions of men that have sometimes been translated into law for the church. I’d like to see our doors open wide, inviting all true “believers” to join hearts together as we study, pray, grow, serve, and progress in our spiritual life. I’d like to see real spirituality discussed instead of memorized “talking points” and tired arguments from debates that have long since died. I’d like to see us re-create that time in the book of Acts of powerful evangelism and outreach to the lost and compassion for the hurting.

    I’m striving to be committed to such a cause and movement and effort in my local work.

    But, my friend, find me a “perfect group” with an unblemished history and tradition??

    Again, for all our faults and “sins”, I think we in churches of Christ have a tremendous unique message and biblical emphasis to share with the lost world and the denominational community.

    Now, you used the word “Idoltry.” Really? It saddens me and causes me to do some deep “soul searching” to read such an accusation against me. But having thought about it, I think you grossly misunderstand the principles of the restoration movement.

    But many of us (including probably many reading this blog) still believe in the “validity” of this movement which calls Christians to unite around a simple allegiance Christ and to the authority of scripture and to restore the worship and life of early Christianity as far as possible in our time.

    We believe the “spirit” of this movement is indeed a Biblical one. The great prophets, both major and minor, initiated restoration movements in Israel, Isaiah 1:17-20; 55:6-8; Jeremiah 3:11-13; 6:13-16; Malachi 3:7. Christians are appealed to in the New Testament to follow apostolic teaching, 2 Peter 3:2; 1 John 2:24; Jude 1:17; Revelation 2:5

    Now hopefully ideally speaking (practically we do fall short as humans), the best goals and intentions of the “spirit” of the restoration movement have been to be fulfilled in Jesus Christ. May we never hope or seek after anything but Christ alone. Christ must always be the end goal of the restoration movement.

    But I would guess that many reading this blog are grateful for our heritage and also value our contribution and view to better understand the scriptures.

    Some of us have deep, powerful personal family ties to the Restoration Movement. For many of us it is both our “spiritual home” and in many ways our “biological one. “ I certainly am predisposed out of love and gratitude to overlook our weaknesses and overestimate our strengths and idealize our history, but I know that my commitment is more than nostalgia. Yes our commitment to scripture and fellowship without hierarchy or creeds can occasionally get messy but it is also our greatest protection against error and the source of our enduring vitality as a movement.

    It is my prayer that you’d come to see its strength more than its flaws.

    Many of us feel passionately and are committed that the Restoration movement is a particularly vital and relevant voice for this moment in history. Our blend of independence and interdependence is precisely what is needed in this post-denominational age.

    I still believe that we are a movement. Even after all these years, I see our churches serving God’s kingdom by helping others who will listen to move toward basic Christianity. We are a movement, bound relationally, with no foundation but the hard work of studying scripture, trusting the Holy Spirit and doing our best to follow faithfully. Our movement is moving and I am grateful to be along for the ride.

    I wish you nothing but the best in your own spiritual journey.

    Humbly,
    Robert Prater

  28. Brad wrote:

    “My point is that it takes some real guts asking if those events are sinful, considering the CofC’s sins.”

    Which pretty much epitomizes the stance of all true blue progressives — those who have not the guts to wonder whether anything actually done by any church is ever unauthorized by God and wrong. (Except. of course…saying something is wrong)

    I was tyring to make a joke when I said I might take my rod and reel to a fishing equiptment blessing church service, but based on your response to the above, you probably wouldn’t see anything wrong with that.

    While progressives say there is a boundary somewhere, they virtually always refuse to say whether any specific act is in fact in violation of it.

  29. Hank—

    Even with your “rod and reel” comment, it isn’t that simple IMO. We still let the HS lead us to good judgement. If you need to catch fish to feed your family, I’d be the first guy standing next to you laying hands on the UglyStick.

  30. LOL bro. That was good.

  31. Hank,

    Thanks for the encouraging words. Try to “hang in there.” We are certainly in the minority here:)! I am confident that the church will continue to struggle with these issues concerning Biblical authority. I think in time it’s going to get worse in congregations where more and more progressive thinking members are becoming more aggressive and vocal, particularly the issue of instrument music. It is doubtful that its proponents will tire of demanding its acceptance.

    Thankfully I am sensing from my local work with many young people that they sense the need for a valid principle of discrimination, by which to distinguish between what is scirptural and what is not. In recent times there has been a great sense of uncertainty—because everything seems to be in a state of flux—in the realm of worship. What is really pleasing to God, and what should be rejected? When people want to innovate this, or that, in the worship of God do we have convincing answer? Well, the encouraging thing is that there are those in the rising generation who are taking a new and serious look at this question. It is my hope and prayer that many of them (certainly not all) are beginning to come back to this Biblical standard.

    And I’ve been meaning to comment and encourage you to keep thinking through Price’s book on IM and the regulative principle in particular. In his chapter on “The History of Musical Instruments” after talking about the unanimous rejection of musical instruments by the Church Fathers throughout the early centuries of the church says:

    “The significance of this rejection of musical instruments in worship by the Church Fathers cannot be underestimated. It provides the most convincing historical evidence that musical instruments in worship was not commanded by the apostles or practiced in the churches of their time. If the apostles had commanded and used musical instruments in the early church, then surely this practice would have been carried on by the Church Fathers…..Is it possible that musical instruments were used in all the churches of the New Testament, and yet immediately after the death of the apostles, the Church Fathers were able to completely eradicate them from worship, and that, as we shall see, for over a thousand years? The thought is absurd. All the historical evidence leads to only one conclusion, that there were no musical instruments in the apostolic churches.” (p. 77-78)

    Now on to Alan,

    You raise some good questions and points. Particularly about calling “something a sin that God has not, then you are taking away freedom where God has allowed it”

    None of us would ever surely want to be guilty of such a thing.

    But I think in our current discussion, espeically as it pertains to instrumental music, I guess we both thing that the other guy is “speaking where God has not.”

    When it comes to the issue and question of whether to use instruments of music in worship, we as Christians should desire to want to know is their use in accord with the will of God, or if their use is only in accord with the traditions of men?

    The Bible, indeed, never condemns the use of instruments of music in worship, but neither does it command their use. I think surely everyone would agree on such point. Many things we know to be wrong are not condemned specifically by name in the Bible. Thus, we can never assume that we have God’s approval to do an act when no scripture teaches
    against that act.

    In the New Testament, which is our guide today, the apostle, Paul, says that faith comes by hearing the word of God. (Rom. 10:17) In regard to worship, all many of us are arguing is that if you cannot find command/teaching or example for an act of worship in the will of Christ (the New Testament), you should not do that act.

    Thus, if an act of worship -is done without scriptural approval, it is done without faith. God has always required that man obey His directions; faith is defined as man’s obedience to God’s will, and man’s actions contrary to God’s will are called sin. (Read Hebrews 11 and notice in each example, their “response” or action of their faith in obedience to the will of God).

    Although the way in which God deals with man changed at the time of Christ’s death, God never changes. Thus, God (who expected obedience in Old Testament times) expects obedience in New Testament times. This includes our era today. (cf. Rom. 15:4)

    Alan….one more thing……do you remember what Jesus Himself, said concerning Jewish tradition? He denounced the Scribes and Pharisees because they had “a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe their own traditions” (Mk. 7:9). And because of this fact our Lord went on to say this concerning their worship: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain: their teachings are but rules taught by men” (Mk. 7:6,7 [quoted from Jeremiah 29:13]).

    No doubt this was offensive to them. But that isn’t what matters. What matters is that God was offended. And according to Jesus the cause of offense was two-fold in nature: first, there was a setting aside of what God had commanded, and second, there was a diligent observance of what was not commanded by God; namely, man-made traditions.

    Was Jesus calling “something a sin that God had not?”

    For Christ,
    Robert Prater

  32. Hank,

    Would you have a problem with children being brought to church to be blessed?

  33. Hank—

    I’ve directed two questions to you, one at 8:05pm, the other at 5:05pm. I am interested as to your answers…I won’t ask you again, as I’ll assume there is some reason you don’t want to answer.

  34. Hi Jay,

    You ask — “Would you have a problem with children being brought to church to be blessed?”

    Of course not. In fact, I wish that every child would be brought to church to be blessesd each and every time it is the church comes together.

    However, I think bringing our children to church to be blessed is a lot different than bringing our Doberman Pinschers, our Harley Davidsons, our fishing gear, and stuff ilke that.

    After all, where the Lord commanded us to “let the little children come to me,” he said no such thing about our horses and/or nets.

  35. JMF asked:

    “Do you/would you pray for you pets? Your business? Pray that God help you on a test you are taking? Why or why not? Thanks.”

    I have in fact prayed for a pet. As well as for my job. And for a test or two. The reason for that would be because the Bible encourages us to cast all of our anxieties on him, because he cares for us. I have even prayed for my sorry truck to keep running. I even prayed for the Raiders to make a big play many times as a kid (although they seem to need it even more of late).

    But, I do not see anywhere in the book of God where we are authorized to hold a special service as a church to formally have our snakes and motorcycles, or favorite football teams “blessed.”

    One of the adherents of the United Methodist church said. “I’m a re-born Christian. Anything that Jesus can do to help me, I would definitely want it on my bike. If his prayers are going to be on my bike, I’ll be happy to have it done.”

    I mean, that doesn’t even make good nonsense. Does it to you?

    It for sure is unbiblical, and I for one, oppose the entire notion.

  36. Robert,

    I didn’t say the Bible doesn’t address the assembly. I said it doesn’t center on the assembly. And it doesn’t. It centers on Jesus. Do you disagree?

    I do not argue for the Normative Principle (all silences are permissions) and in fact specifically rejected it for reasons stated just a few days ago at: http://oneinjesus.info/2010/03/13/instrumental-music-an-experiment-in-christian-dialogue/ You are arguing a false dichotomy that is logically unsupportable, as shown in that post. Both the Regulative and Normative Principles are wrong. I agree with neither.

    Regarding the scriptures alleged to support the necessity for express authority, well, we’re considering them one at a time in the series An Experiment in Christian Dialogue.

    Regarding Campbell’s statement, he’s just plain wrong — and I usually agree with Campbell. I considered his arguments in detail at http://oneinjesus.info/2009/06/02/the-regulative-principle-all-churches-must-be-painted-green/

    Here is my argument: The Bible is sufficient. I quoted what the Bible says on the subject. You quote Campbell and Bales and other uninspired writers. You seek to argue that the NT is a new law like the old law. It’s not. It says that it’s not.

    (2 Cor 3:6 ESV) Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

    (Rom 3:20-21) Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. 21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.

    I urge you to return to the scriptures. I have no interest in arguments based on Clement of Alexandria.

    You cite several OT passages in support of the RP. We can take them one at a time, if we must, but surely we have to first deal with the fact that the new covenant is not the same as the Law of Moses. God did not replace the Old Law with the New Law. That’s not how it works. And so it’s a mistake to presume that God deals with us today in the assembly just like he dealt with Uzzah. You can’t begin your reading of the NT assuming that it’s a book of laws just like Leviticus. It’s not.

    Now, because you believe the scriptures themselves argue for the Regulative Principle, I urge you to participate in the discussions in the An Experiment in Christian Dialogue series. We’re taking the scriptures one at a time. I don’t recall seeing a single conservative voice seek to defend the scriptures we’ve covered so far.

    Finally, you say,

    Our obligation to God is to obey rather than explain away His clearly stated desire in worship.

    It’s very unfair to imply that because I disagree with you as to the commands to be obeyed that I don’t believe in obeying commands. I cited and quoted – book, chapter, and verse — NT passages and urged that they be honored. How is that disobedient?

    Just what commands is it you think I’m disobeying? The command to sing a cappella only? Of course, there is no such command. The command to do nothing without authority? Again … there is no such command. If you disagree, then tell me which NT passages impose the RP on the church and we’ll take them up one at a time in the Experiment in Christian Dialogue series.

    Indeed, this seems the fairest possible test of the RP. As I said when I began that series — tell me which NT passages establish that the RP is binding on the church today, and we’ll take them up one at a time to see whether they in fact do so.

    When we’re done, I’m sure we’ll find that we still have to obey God’s commands. (I’ve never argued otherwise.) But I think we’ll find there are a lot fewer commands than some have taught — and that the commands that remain are of the utmost importance.

    I ask that you also read The Cruciform God series still underway — because it offers a valuable perspective on how to understand God’s commands.

    And I’d like to make this deal with you. You don’t need to tell me that you think it’s important to obey God’s commands. I believe it. But please credit me with the same. We just disagree as to what those commands are.

  37. Thanks Robert.

    You have been a blessing here and I am sure that many have benefited (and will benefit), from the excellent points you have made.

    And I too feel sorry for those who despise the Church of Christ and the spirit of the restoration movement.

    Some have written here that they are “embarrassed to be members of the Church of Christ.” Which make me wonder why they even are one.

    But as for me personally, I am proud to be a member and am blessed to be a worker (not in a merritorious way) in the congregation I am in.

    And for the record, we are hardley any of the nasty things Brad (and others) have called the Churches of Christ. While they may rejoice at the alleged declining numbers, our particular church is growing in many ways!

    To God be the glory.

  38. Hank,

    My church has an annual day set aside for parents to bring newborn babies to be prayed for. I think it’s clearly scriptural. Other churches in town have condemned it as lacking scriptural authority or being a step toward infant baptism or such like. We believe that prayers are effective and there’s no one more important to pray for than newborn children. So that’s why I asked.

    Now, how is it that there is no scriptural authority to pray for pets as a church event — if it’s authorized as something an individual Christian can do? If prayer is one of the authorized acts of worship, is there as subclause excluding pets? I just don’t see how the Regulative Principle leads to the conclusion that we can’t pray for pets in church.

    I think your objections aren’t based on the RP at all but on doubt regarding the wisdom of the leadership — but that’s a different question altogether, and we both agree that the leadership needs to use good judgment in planning church events. But I’m struggling to see how the 5 Acts analysis makes praying for pets wrong.

  39. Hank,

    One more point. “Blessed” has a double meaning. When I had my audience with the Pope (me and 5,000 other tourists), he “blessed” trinkets and prayer beads. I think that’s nonsense because the implication is that the Pope’s blessings attach to the trinket and to whoever has the trinket — as though a “blessing” has talismanic power. God’s blessings don’t stick to trinkets.

    On the other hand, when we “bless” newborn babies, we pray to God for his blessings on that child, and I think that’s a good prayer.

    As I read the material regarding the blessing of pets, it seems to me that it’s in the second category and not the first. There’s no sin and much that’s holy in praying to God for our pets. And there’s no sin in the church praying together for a member’s pets.

    But, of course, it’s entirely possible to do a good and holy thing in a frivolous and even harmful way. But the Regulative Principle doesn’t help us make that distinction. Rather, I’d think the leadership should be asking whether such a service truly edifies the church rather than whether it’s authorized — because it is authorized by the RP logic. It’s a prayer.

  40. Robert:

    The only bitterness I have is in the enemy taking an otherwise wonderful group of people and deceiving them to the point that he has. There is a place in the Kingdom for a Berean-esq group such as the CofC, and if it were ever to find its place in the Kingdom, the result with shatter the earth (in a righteous way).

    My heritage for several generations back is CofC. I was on my way to being you, Hank, or some of the other conservative brothers here. I have, myself, warned people of their Hellboundedness because of their use of musical instruments, and other issues. At the time, I could debate most anyone in any religion with one lobe of my brain tied behind my back. Moreover, I enjoyed the engagement, feeling like I was making a difference for the sake of the Restoration Movement.

    The Lord himself disciplined me out of that lifestyle, and I am eternally grateful. As a result I have a great desire to see my brothers and sisters in the CofC find their place in the Kingdom.

    Not loving our neighbor, healings those who are hurting and broken, etc. You seem to pigeon-hole as self-righteous legalists” and a people obsessed with instrumental music.

    No, conservative brothers seem to do that without any help from me. The CofC has made instrumental music more important than anything else, and have taken people to task over it for years. It gets in between people and God, making it an idol.

    If I were in your shoes, I’d probably want to completely change it, or, failing that, abandon it or just “cast stones” at it which you are very skiled at doing:)

    Where do you think I learned how to cast stones? CofC 101. What I don’t do anymore is wrap them in scripture to make them look like truth. It’s either truth or its not, always out in the open for discussion.

    Iron sharpening iron is a painfully hot process filled with banging and much sweat. Sometimes this is required for a lie to be exposed and the truth to take root.

    We are certainly not a perfect “movement” and we do have our glaring errors and mistakes both in our approach to Scripture and in communicating it with others.

    Name the errors. Seriously – it would be monumental to hear a conservative brother admit and list where the mistakes have been.

  41. Robert: (cont’d)

    I’d like to see us re-create that time in the book of Acts of powerful evangelism and outreach to the lost and compassion for the hurting.

    I’m in my third church (two different cities) that is known for doing just that, and have been privileged to work with many more. I’ve been to every type of CofC from Brown Trail to Richland Hills. RHCC does a fantastic job of doing exactly what you described. So do the two I have attended since then. The first century church is everywhere, but ironically not in the CofC as you admit – unless you still consider places like RHCC to be a Church of Christ?

    I’m striving to be committed to such a cause and movement and effort in my local work.

    It would be better to strive to be committed to Jesus. He is the only true movement.

    But, my friend, find me a “perfect group” with an unblemished history and tradition??

    There isn’t one. But there are two brothers, God says. The kind that do His will, and the kind that don’t, and that we will know the difference by their fruit. I’ve been in churches that were living Bibles – everything that is supposed to mark a church, they were doing or pursuing. But they didn’t have the name “Church Of Christ” on the building in all cases. I’ve also been in conservative Churches of Christ. They are invariably about the business of telling those fruitful churches why they are Hellbound, and teaching others to do the same. That’s something to be righteously indignant about, just like Jesus was.

    Again, for all our faults and “sins”, I think we in churches of Christ have a tremendous unique message and biblical emphasis to share with the lost world and the denominational community.

    Agreed, if you can get past being the sin police and step into a shepherding role instead.

    Now, you used the word “Idoltry.” Really? It saddens me and causes me to do some deep “soul searching” to read such an accusation against me. But having thought about it, I think you grossly misunderstand the principles of the restoration movement.

    There are times where the other person thoroughly understands your position and that is precisely *why* he disagrees. This is one of those times.

    I was on my way to being one of the best Pharisees ever in the CofC and could still produce witnesses to that effect. Thank God He did not let me stay there! It wasn’t me that changed my mind, but God called me out.

    The CofC has set up Scripture as authority over all, but it is not Scripture that is seated at the right hand of the Father, nor is it Scripture that will come riding in on a white horse at the end of time. That distinction belongs to Jesus, the anointed, the one and only. The CofC has put its interpretation of Scripture over Jesus, and that is the very definition of idolatry. (<–sometimes I done spel guder than at other times. You'll just have to overlook it, if posibull.)

    Again, the fruit of the CofC is hurt people. They are hurt because the top two commands are not being obeyed, while commands that aren't even in the Scriptures are – for the sake of The Movement™, and not Christ.

    But many of us (including probably many reading this blog) still believe in the “validity” of this movement which calls Christians to unite around a simple allegiance Christ and to the authority of scripture and to restore the worship and life of early Christianity as far as possible in our time.

    Where is the command that tells you to restore the 1st century church? Like, “Go into all the world and restore the church” or “Go into all the world and duplicate the first century using acapella from the 19th century, and buildings that are not authorized by scripture at all.”

    What we should be doing is going into all the world and preaching the good news, which is, Jesus died for our sins, and we can be reconciled to Him.

    But I would guess that many reading this blog are grateful for our heritage and also value our contribution and view to better understand the scriptures.

    Even I am grateful for my heritage. For it taught me the very skills that taught me to compare Scripture to what was being taught! Ironically, it was this teaching and the leading of the Holy Spirit that showed me the flawed theology and logic of the CofC.

  42. Robert: (cont’d)

    Yes our commitment to scripture and fellowship without hierarchy or creeds can occasionally get messy but it is also our greatest protection against error and the source of our enduring vitality as a movement.

    Without creeds? Seriously? Acapella is a creed! It’s Jesus AND no musical instruments, or its Hell. That’s not scriptural, it is a test of fellowship, and if somebody doesn’t agree they are “out”. And that’s just the IM issue.

    Your greatest protection against error is being close to the Author. Anything else is done in the flesh, and of little value.

    Enduring vitality as a movement? You mean in the 50s, right? Because 1,000,000 people and dwindling is not vitality in a world of 6,808,000,000.

    It is my prayer that you’d come to see its strength more than its flaws.

    I’m eager to get the flaws out in the open before Jesus, so that the strength of the CofC can be used in the Kingdom as God designed. And I mean a lifestyle of putting them before Jesus, rather than looking past them to the strengths.

    Again, feel free to name those flaws.

    Many of us feel passionately and are committed that the Restoration movement is a particularly vital and relevant voice for this moment in history. Our blend of independence and interdependence is precisely what is needed in this post-denominational age.

    While the “progressives”, as you refer to them, talk of being passionately committed to Jesus. What’s needed in this post denominational age is Jesus. Your remarks once again betray the fact that you hold certain things in higher regard than Jesus, and therein lies the entire issue between “conservatives” in the CofC, and everyone else.

    (Technically, I’m not a progressive. Hank’s wrong about that. The other conservative brothers simply refer to me as “lost” or “heretical”.)

  43. Robert: (cont’d)

    I still believe that we are a movement. Even after all these years, I see our churches serving God’s kingdom by helping others who will listen to move toward basic Christianity.

    Jesus was all about moving people towards the Father. Again, you talk of Scripture, The Restoration Movement, and basic Christianity. You should be talking about The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. This is the conundrum of conservatives in the CofC, trying to glorify God with Him at the edges, and Scripture at the center.

    We are a movement, bound relationally, with no foundation but the hard work of studying scripture, trusting the Holy Spirit and doing our best to follow faithfully.

    Again, that’s backwards. We should do our best to follow God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and well studied in Scripture, as evidence that we are approved. You’ll may call that picky, but I call it telling. The source of our thoughts is the heart.

    Our movement is moving and I am grateful to be along for the ride.

    “Our movement” indeed. For a movement that holds man’s interpretation of scripture above the Author of it is indeed a movement of man.

    Moving is not a mark of the Church. Life-giving streams of water, people being rescued, and the spread of the gospel are. Any man-made group can create a movement.

    Those from this list and other places who contact me about seeking God describe the same atmosphere I left years ago. In other words, there really is no “movement” at all, there is stagnation, and dwindling numbers.

    You call this a post-denominational age, and yet your greatest goal is to restore a small group called the Restoration Movement (a name found where, in the Scriptures?). So which is it – keep your current denomination, defining who is “in” and who is “out”, or get rid of denominationalism and seek Christ? You can cling to your movement, or you can cling to Christ. You can’t do both.

    Again, I do not speak to you as an outsider, but an insider who has a passion for other insiders to seek and find the living God who is loving, compassionate, forgiving, jealous, powerful, awe-inspiring, and determined to make us into the likeness of Christ, despite the war being waged in the flesh.

    While conservatives are busy trying to get every one to agree on and stay within man-made boundaries, followers of Jesus are busy breaking down walls, and taking the light into dark places. The “Christian Life” that you would have us live is for the sake of Scripture and the Restoration Movement.

    Jesus says it’s all about Him or nothing. Everything else falls into place when He is King of all. Oh that you would leave “your movement” behind to know the freedom for which He set us free!

    That is my wish for you, and all those who consider themselves conservative, and defenders of the faith.

  44. Jay,

    I have never here (that I recall) agreed to sign up for and defend the RP as I’m not even sure I understand it entirely. And I wouldn’t want to find myself defending something of which I am not sure.

    So, your church likes to set apart certain days to pray for babies?…cool, that’s fine.

    You well know that I am here because it bothers me that (many) progressives like to point out the inconsistencies of conservatives who draw lines and clearify boundaries. Yet, they (in their minds), consider themselves free from said inconsistencies by never showing their cards at all. Sure, they give generalizations, but refuse to deal in actual specifics.

    How about you?

    What do you believe regarding the Methodist church that sets apart a day to come together and hold a religious sevice devoted to the “blessing” of the Harleys?

    Is not even THAT against the will of God for the church to take upon themselves? (And we can surely get crazier still in terms of the rediculous things some churches have decided to do).

    If you believe that idea is okay, we will move to an even crazier one. But at some point, you will either have to admit that a certain specific act of worship is wrong (and then be forced to explain the reason why)….or else, you will prove my point in terms of your refusing to say a certain act of worship (as a church) is ever sinful.

    If that day comes, I know you will argue that the grace of God will cover it. And then, we will move our discussion over to how many sins (or to what extent) a church can continue so sinning witout ever jeapordizing their salvation.

    Eventually, you (like me) will be forced to say you are not exactly sure in every case.

    Which was why I am sure you never addressed the meaning of lukewarmness (who and at what point exactly God considers to be guilty of such). I know you said that it is not good, but I don’t recall you ever explaining when and where God considers one to be guilt of such.

    It all goes back to Todd’s book. He did a fine job in showing how and where conservatives have been inconsistent. But, he never realized that he was throwing rocks from within his own glass house.

    His “solution” was terribly weak?

    I hpoe I have not just violated the good rules of being nice and all, but I am getting a tad bit frusterated with the hypocrisy of my good brethren.

    I am sure you can appreciate my frustration though….

  45. I’m not sure what it means to “bless a motorcycle.” Here, however, is something specific. Last December my wife, son, and I were caught on the road in a snowstorm. After spending the night in a gas station parking lot we tried the snow-covered roads at daylight.

    I prayed for the tread on my tires
    I prayed for the transmission of the van
    I prayed for the engine
    I prayed for the slope of the hills to lessen
    I prayed for my brakes
    I prayed and prayed for safety

    I trust that these were not sinful prayers.

    I don’t consider it sinful for someone to place their hands on a motorcycle and pray, “God, have these two tires hold the road on curves and have these brakes stop this machine. God, have this motorcycle deliver its rider safely to their destination. In Jesus name, Amen.”

    It would be unusual to gather a bunch of motorcycles in a Church parking lot on a Sunday, walk around the lot, and say these prayers. I have never seen that done. Anything that unusual would be uncomfortable, and I don’t know how I would feel at the moment. But then maybe someone would remind me of the morning that I prayed for the tread on my tires.

  46. Regarding a comment from above, I’d like to add a few lines (maybe they are a little off topic):

    Brother Stanford wrote: “Where is the command that tells you to restore the 1st century church? Like, “Go into all the world and restore the church” or “Go into all the world and duplicate the first century using acapella from the 19th century, and buildings that are not authorized by scripture at all.”

    I think we should not mix apples and pears. But here are my answers to ths question:

    a) The Word of God will not change. The Prophet Malachi urges the Israelites to keep the same commandments that Joshua had to study day and night about 1000 years earlier. No change.

    b) God does not change: But, He complains (again through Malachi) that His people constantly changes.

    c) Our Lord Jesus said, His words will be the same until He returns. No change.

    d) He said, teach all peoples to obey My commandments. This means: If today we come to a tribe, that does not know of Christ, it will be instructed by the very same words to obey the very same commands as the NT-church.

    e) In Revelation our Lord rebukes the church at Ephesos that they lost their first love. He urges them to consider that, to repent and to do the first works.

    That’s just a very very brief overview on a subject that is very important to our Lord: Don’t change!

    Now we have changed a lot (just as the Israelites in the days of Malachi). This prophet would rebuke our churches in the same areas: Divorce and Remarriage, or bringing unclean (spiritual) sacrifices (e.g. carnal worship), not obeying His word and distrusting Him, a wrong, self-centered attitude and not even realizing how much He loves us.

    We (the priests of the NT) don’t give true counsel according to His word, as they did, leading others astray instead of to repentance. We hide behind church traditions or a more open liberal mindset (either way is devastating to the church). So what is the answer to that mess?

    Consider, repent and do the first works. Which first works?
    The works, I did, when I came to Christ?
    The works of Stone and Campbell?
    The works of the Reformation?
    All this falls far short!
    The only works that are binding are those that can be summed up as Apostolic teaching and tradition (2Thess 2:15).

    OK. If a-capella singing is part of that tradition, so be it. It is not up to us to change it. If not, fine, grab your guitar and enjoy instrumental worship. See, being conservative is not enough. Being progressive can lead us back to these questions or lead astray (depending on the person and the kind of questions). But we need to be radical (from radix=root), being willing to go back to the roots.

    For us in Vienna that meant: Breaking up in house-churches, encouraging the restoration of the Agape (Love-Feast); eventually restoring the head-covering (which was met with a lot of resistance, when we proposed it) … either way: It does mean change! And we must not be afraid of that, as long as we are striving to obey God’s Word. I see a strong imperative for restoration; but it is most likely something different than a conservative CofC would expect.

    I see Campbells Declaration and Address as a very thoughtful and well balanced guideline to approach the scriptures. But when he wrote it down, he did not expect to be baptized a few years later. The same is true for Stone’s “Last will”. Here the attitude is described that we all should have in our discussions. He also did not expect to be baptized a few years later.

    I hold both brothers in very high esteem, because these documents were not conservative, but encouraged change towards unity, based on a growing understanding of God’s Word. They did not hide behind traditions, they questioned them. But – and that’s a hint for our liberal brothers – they did not question one word in the Scriptures, declaring entire passages for obsolete.

    Going this way can be very exciting and challenging, and it may be (no, it is) a rough ride for any congregation … constantly opposing the flesh and worldly attitudes in order to become more and more Christ-like.

    Alexander

  47. Dwayne

    I too pray for those things and when one of my family or others are going to the docvtor for test, I pray all will be well. I had rather pray than not pray. We never know?

    It has taken me a long time to read all that was written on this thread and one question I would like answered that I ask brethren at various churches of Christ and am asking all of you is “What are you doing to further Gods work? I mean to save the lost outside the church of Christ”.

    From my observation all I see is arguing with each other, Most sermons in the Anti’s are about and built on just that. Progressive and Anti’s trying to change each others thinking and it seems to me it would be far more fruitful to spend the time seeking those outside the Church of Christ to teach and save. Seem there is an example, maybe even a command addressing that somewhere.

    Arguing with one another can become a hiding place and an excuse why we don’t get out and do something don’t you think???

  48. Brad,

    “You who are most lifted up,” to use the cliché. “We’re not worthy to be in your presence:)” Come on. It’s getting pretty hard to stomach your self-righteous, arrogant, pompous attitude toward us. I mean, seriously, to you I am evidently the bad buy from the evidently bad church CofC. You know it all and we don’t. You have found “true” freedom and been liberated in Christ and we enslaved and have not. Blah, blah, blah:)!

    Now, I will not attempt to list all the “sins” or errors that I perceivce and believe we have, because, frankly, I don’t it would really matter to you. I mean, really, if I listed 20 things, would it change how you feel toward us? If I’ve said we have been wrong on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit issue, marriage and divorce, Bible translations, foolish and unscriptural divisions of matters of opinion, sinful attitudes and open tolerance of immoral behavior within the Body itself, incorrect misunderstanding of passages, elitism at times toward others outside the Body, etc. I could go on, but I won’t.

    Does that change anything about how you feel toward us? No, I will not attempt to defend all of “us.” Are all members, elders, preachers, etc. in the churches of Christ genuine truth seeking and lovers of God? Absolutely not. Your accusations and others who have left churches of Christ must have been based on some level of truth… of course. There are militant, power seeking members, ministers and elders within the body of Christ. I have seen them and you have too. I could name them and you could as well.

    But man, of boy, do I greatly disagree and personally resent much of what you say. You may be thinking, “What is this guy’s problem?” My problem is how you accuse me in essence and those of us in churches of Christ of some of the most vile and hurtful things.

    Friend, anyone who points a “gun” at your flesh and says, “Guilty!” is bound to see a reaction from the flesh I’m sorry. May God forgive me! But honestly, mostly my heart breaks instead of being ignited with bitterness and resentment toward you.

    You see, no man has the right to label other Christians as “evil” bent on oppressing people. My dear progressive brothers and sisters in Christ reading this blog, is this the tone and attitude you now have toward us and want to promote? Will no one have the conviction and guts to speak for Christ and His Bride here as it is assaulted by the likes of Brad and other bitter ex-CoC’s?

    Brad, you will not find an open heart by pointing fingers and accusing other brothers of loving the Scriptures more than the Lord. That we somehow do not focus on the person and work of Christ. That we care more about our CofC tradition than we do Jesus! Absurd!

    Nobody has said that we must not go to the heart of our faith: Christ Jesus our Lord!

    Let’s not contribute to the building up of more walls. If the truth is going to be heard… it will not be found in accusing us of not preaching Christ and Him crucified.

    I will right here and now, stand up and boldly proclaim to only have a vision of Christ! I’ll send you my sermon outlines if you want!

    And yes we are all learners here. Nobody is claiming perfection or wanting to promote a works law keeping system of justification. I confess that I have made many mistakes in my life and spiritual journey.
    May God always help us to continue to remember that it is only by the grace of God that we have been given this glorious and wonderful light of both the Living Word and written Word.

    I only want to see the Bride as she was created to be…….and understanding of the church…to see Christ in all His glory and splendor!

    I only wish to claim to know Christ, the author and finisher of my faith. Christ, the Living Word is the key to understanding, wisdom, and light!

    You speak passionately about our horrible oppressive system that grips us. That Christ is not our true reason and foundation in what we believe and practice. That we travel down a path of self-righteousness and elitism focused on the secondary issues all the while claiming it is all for the first priority.

    Again, if I listed all our flaws and errors that I perceive are among us in churches of Christ, would it change anything about how you feel toward us? You might think you have left the “bondage” of churches of Christ, but it is you who I believe have enter into bondage—the bondage of a false “enlightenment,” the errors of much of postmodern thinking.

    But only the Lord knows the condition of each man’s heart and if he really seeks Truth in order to conform his life to it, right? So I’ll try to avoid judging hearts and motive if you will?? That is the Lord’s business, not mine. My business is proclaiming the truth in love by word and deed and to encourage all souls to conform the standard of His revealed will and only have the certainty found in Christ and His Word.

    I don’t question that in your heart you honestly believe what you accuse us of doing or have done. Of making the Christ the Living Word secondary to the written Word (scripture). But, I honestly and sincerely believe that the Christ you present here is not the complete Christ of the written Word. It is a Christ colored by your own personal experiences, misguided zeal and fallacy against us. That somehow the “real” Christ in not welcome in churches of Christ.

    I only desire to teach others of the salvation of God found only through an intimate relationship with the Christ, the Living Word and His written Word. That “church life” gathered around Christ will naturally and only produce the community for which we were created. Our faith is not “Churchianity,” but Christianity. I desire to only fix my eyes on Christ.

    I agree with the principle of the statement: “The church is measured by Christ: more Christ, more church; less Christ, less church.”

    I believe we are preaching that Christ died for our sins. I believe we are proclaiming how one is to enter into that saving place of redemption through our faith, repentance, confession and immersion for the forgiveness of sins. (cf. Rom. 6:3-4) We believe that following the Living Word as He commands us in His written Word is our salvation. (cf. Heb. 2:1-3) This applies in our lives, our congregations, and our worship to Him. I believe if we’ll simply follow that…we can never go wrong.

    Brad…..now…I want to back to an important point and quite frankly, it is the point of contention and the critical belief where you and I part ways in our theology.

    Let me address, what seems to your most fundamental flawed thinking and charge against us: that we hold certain things in higher regard than Jesus. That we are trying to “glorifying God with Him at the edges, and Scripture at the center.”

    You have simply accepted the old false charage against us that we look at the Scriptures instead of through the Scriptures to Christ.

    I have never believe or taught such. I believe the written Word (Scripture) bears testimony to the Living Word. I am devoted to the Living Word because I believe the evidence in Scriptures gives me abundant justification for accepting Christ as the Living Word. The written word presents Christ, and Christ teaches that the written Word is His Word!

    Brad, let me ask you a question…when we look to Christ the Living Word, what do we learn about the written Word’s doctrine, relations, congregational worship and activities? Church organization or any other facets of life? What love means and what love does is revealed in the written Word given to us by the Living Word. The written Word tells us to have the spirit of and accept the teachings of the Living Word. Christ tells us to walk by faith in Him and His Word.

    Now….you seem to also believe God is speaking and revealing His Word to you apart from His inspired written Word, is that right? Friend, right there is where you and I part ways. When we read Scripture, God’s voice speaks to us (Mt. 22:31-32), as do the prophets (Acts 13:27) and the Spirit. (Rev. 2:1,7)

    Yet, it is the Holy Spirit who directs people to Christ the Living Word as revealed in the inspired written Word.

    It is through the written Word that Christ the Living Word helps us to see what the church is to be. (cf. 1 Tim. 3:15) If you miss this critical and essential step… you will only be herding people into a place where Christ the Living Word is not found.

    Besides, you can’t expect anyone to find Christ the Living Word without His written Word do you? As Spock would say, “It is just not logical Captain.” Again, the starting point is always with Christ the Living Word and the written Word.

    You do not magnify the Living Word by explicitly minimizing the written Word.

    Finally (you never thought I’d get there), I’m afraid I don’t see things your way. I am proud to be a part of a congregation and “movement” which you despise, that is in so many wonderful ways is serving a Christ-loving, Bible-preaching, elder-led church with very little of the junk going on what you seem to assign to every church of Christ.

    Again, while I recognize that we certainly would have our problems, and some “unchristian” Christians, fruit of the Sprit-less congregations and people among us, I affirm that there are many solid, Biblical congregations preaching Christ as supreme and central.

    So I guess it’s no surprise in the end that I disagree totally with your assessment. I think you are the one who are holding yourself up above all others and it seems even above God’s Word to do so.

    Apparently you and I probably won’t find enough common ground to pursue this conversation. But gain, for what it’s worth, I have worked and known and continue to do so with many congregations in the churches of Christ, and I don’t know the tyrants who abuse their folks and lord it over them; I know preachers and elders who shepherd, teach, lead, and serve their congregations with hard work and integrity and love. Again, I’m just sorry to hear how sadly you view the church.

    Brad, the church is Christ’s Bride, and flawed or not, it’s who I love. I hope you can love the church again one day as well.

    Sincerely,
    Robert Prater

  49. “Now….you seem to also believe God is speaking and revealing His Word to you apart from His inspired written Word, is that right? Friend, right there is where you and I part ways. When we read Scripture, God’s voice speaks to us (Mt. 22:31-32), as do the prophets (Acts 13:27) and the Spirit. (Rev. 2:1,7),

    When I read scripture, God speaks too me, and the Holy Spirit brings understanding. And when I’m not reading, He still speaks to me, yes. They are not mutually exclusive. But you’re right – unless we agree on that, there’s not much else to say.

    Besides, you can’t expect anyone to find Christ the Living Word without His written Word do you?

    Ah, logic. Keeping men from seeing God at work for hundreds of years. I have a dear friend who could not read very well as a kid, and therefore chose not to. He got saved in 9th grade. God would fill his heart full of scriptures, but he only figured it out later after learning to read better. He would read the bible and realize that was something God had told him before. God is not bound to your logic.

    You do not magnify the Living Word by explicitly minimizing the written Word.

    But you magnify both by having them in their rightful places.

    Now, I will not attempt to list all the “sins” or errors that I perceivce and believe we have, because, frankly, I don’t it would really matter to you. I mean, really, if I listed 20 things, would it change how you feel toward us?

    I would finally be able to say, “I met a conservative who was willing to be honest and lay out on the table all the areas that needed improvement. He was very gracious and humble, and was able to talk through them with grace, sorrow, and peace.”

    Unfortunately, all I can continue to say is, “I have yet to meet a conservative who can honestly and openly discuss the doctrinal errors that have hurt so many, even though they continue to point the finger at every one else.”

    So I’ll try to avoid judging hearts and motive if you will?? That is the Lord’s business, not mine.

    Brad, the church is Christ’s Bride, and flawed or not, it’s who I love. I hope you can love the church again one day as well.

    Which is it? First, you should do the right thing (not judge hearts) whether I agree to do so or not. Secondly you finish up by judging my heart. More of the same conservative back and forth. A plus at the beginning, a minus at the end, and it adds up to nothing

    The same reason you try to talk to the “progressive” brothers is the same reason I have spent so much time addressing a “conservative” brother. Remember – I had the same heritage that taught me the same thing: if a brother is in error try to show him, so that he may not continue to live in sin.

    Indeed, there is little common ground here, no need to dialog further, but much to pray for. I know personally that the affect has been good because of the feedback I’ve received from people off list. I pray that God will continue to help people heal and find freedom, even if we can’t agree.

  50. Robert Prater says:

    “Now….you seem to also believe God is speaking and revealing His Word to you apart from His inspired written Word, is that right? Friend, right there is where you and I part ways. When we read Scripture, God’s voice speaks to us (Mt. 22:31-32), as do the prophets (Acts 13:27) and the Spirit. (Rev. 2:1,7),”

    Brad Stanford says:

    “When I read scripture, God speaks too me, and the Holy Spirit brings understanding. And when I’m not reading, He still speaks to me, yes. They are not mutually exclusive. But you’re right – unless we agree on that, there’s not much else to say.”

    And finally, Brad Stanford ends with:

    Indeed, there is little common ground here, no need to dialog further, but much to pray for.

    Says I:

    This is good stuff right here, guys!! That point right there in-and-of itself is plenty worthy of discussion…Brad speaks to the views of most Christians outside the coc, and Robert holds the traditional COC view.

    In fact, if Jay reads this, I’d BE THRILLED if you did a series on this very subject. This is the only subject that I’ve yet to find substantially covered on OIJ.

    Brad—those first two quotes by you and Robert are the specific gist of what I emailed you about.

    I can only speak personally, but I don’t think further discussion on this point would be in vain in any way. Sure, the two of you may not convince one-another, but us “pew fillers” get a lot out of these dialogues, I assure you guys.

  51. Hank wrote,

    I have never here (that I recall) agreed to sign up for and defend the RP as I’m not even sure I understand it entirely. And I wouldn’t want to find myself defending something of which I am not sure.

    Hank,

    You’ve repeatedly challenged and criticized practices as lacking authority. The notion that authority is required for a practice not to be sin IS the Regulative Principle. So what are you saying? Are you now unsure whether authority is required for instrumental music?

  52. Jay, I will address whatever it is you ask of me. I trust you know that I am am one of the ones who will actually do so.

    But, before going further, I would like for you to address the concerns of mine when I previously wrote:

    “What do you believe regarding the Methodist church that sets apart a day to come together and hold a religious sevice devoted to the “blessing” of the Harleys?

    Is not even THAT against the will of God for the church to take upon themselves? (And we can surely get crazier still in terms of the rediculous things some churches have decided to do).

    If you believe that idea is okay, we will move to an even crazier one. But at some point, you will either have to admit that a certain specific act of worship is wrong (and then be forced to explain the reason why)….or else, you will prove my point in terms of your refusing to say a certain act of worship (as a church) is ever sinful.

    If that day comes, I know you will argue that the grace of God will cover it. And then, we will move our discussion over to how many sins (or to what extent) a church can continue so sinning witout ever jeapordizing their salvation.

    Eventually, you (like me) will be forced to say you are not exactly sure in every case.

    Which was why I am sure you never addressed the meaning of lukewarmness (who and at what point exactly God considers to be guilty of such). I know you said that it is not good, but I don’t recall you ever explaining when and where God considers one to be guilt of such.”

    While I understand that this is your blog, and that you are sharper than I, I do believe that what I have asked is fair. Isn’t it?

    If so, please address the points I have attempted to make.

    Once you do… I will respond to whatever it is you want to know from me.

    But, it simply wouldn’t be fair to brush aside whatever it is I ask — all the while expecting me to address whatever it is you ask of me.

    Would it?

  53. Hank,

    I addressed the meaning of “lukewarm” in some detail at http://oneinjesus.info/2010/03/03/the-fork-in-the-road-the-perfectibility-of-the-intellect/#comment-23908 — back on March 7.

    Here’s your answer. Under either my view of scriptures or yours, it’s a question of wisdom and expedience. Like a lot of things, it can be done well or not well. And I have no interest in judging these people. I hope the church’s efforts have brought these motorcyclists closer to Jesus. And I’m quite certain that their approach will be more effective than the approach: “I don’t like it therefore it must not be authorized.” It’s prayer and therefore authorized under the Five Acts rubric. I have no idea why you find no authority for prayer for these people. But that doesn’t mean it was necessarily done well or wisely.

    And, no, I’m not going to engage in a discussion about where the lines of wisdom and expedience are as applied to motorcycles.

  54. Brad

    I don’t think you are bitter at the COC as Robert declared.

    I completely understand where you are coming from. You are right and thank you for correcting me the other day. I have been embarrassed by our actions for many years.
    I have invited friends to come who declined because of our very hostile treatment of others. Not to long ago we lost three young families that had just placed membership with us because their parents told them of the COC reputation of condemning others that did believe as they did.
    I am truly amazed at those who would condemn us for using a several million dollar building and a humongous staff, was not authorized by God, to bless animals and dedicate babies. Anything to serve the community has to be a plus.
    The old COC has been a pattern type group that turns good folks into “cookie cutter Christians” that march in lock step to a set of rules. Jay is a breath of fresh air in a musty tomb of “church doctrines and errors” God help you if you dare think outside the box.
    I don’t thonk you are frustrated. I think you are outside of the box and are seeking te truth.
    We are currently members of the independent Christian Church, but have no problem going from one to the other or any place where Christians meet.

    I have been touted by some here for talking about the interdenominational Churches as being fudementally sound and scriptural in their practice. At least they get along and don’t destroy one another. They have to get along because if they ever started to question their individual beliefs it would be devastating.

    Thanks Brad for you comments. At least you are honest.

    Cheers

    Bob

  55. Robert said, “Was Jesus calling “something a sin that God had not?”

    With all due respect, Robert, that is a rather silly thing to say. Jesus the Word WAS God. Jesus was God incarnate.

    The fact remains that when you call something a sin where God has not, you are going beyond what God has authorized, you are speaking where God has not, and you are taking away freedom where God has allowed.

    God bless,
    Alan

  56. Jay, you wrote:

    “I hope the church’s efforts have brought these motorcyclists closer to Jesus.”

    That comment of yours is yet another example of you just dancing around the issue and spinning it any way you can in order for you to avoid having to call any church practice (or mode of sorship), sinful.

    You see, the church was in actuallity seeking to bring the motorcycles closer to Jesus (not the motocyclists as you try to make it seem).

    Hear one of the people who took their machine itself to be blessed:

    “I’m a re-born Christian. Anything that Jesus can do to help me, I would definitely want it on my bike. If his prayers are going to be on my bike, I’ll be happy to have it done.”

    Did you catch it this time? This person at that church wanted to have the “prayers of Jesus” ON HIS BIKE! Come on now.

    You also said:

    “And, no, I’m not going to engage in a discussion about where the lines of wisdom and expedience are as applied to motorcycles.”

    Of course you’re not. Because even if we were to talk about something even more unscriptural than churches blessing motorcylces (not the people – but the actual machines), you would hate to have to actually say that a church was wrong, and guilty of sin. You know, that they had “went beyond the things which were written,” or that they were doing something “without authority,” etc. For if you ever do say (or write) something like that, you will end up finding yourself in the same dilemna as those you challenge. And you would at that time, be forced to face your own failure.

    Therefore, you actually CANNOT “engage in a discussion about where the lines of wisdom and expedience are as applied to motorcycles.”

    Because if you ever admit something like that (and we could find even worse), was sinful….. your entire glass house would come down.

  57. I meant, mode of “worship,” not “soreship.”

    Sorry.

  58. Our son David is 42, married with two children and a great job in construction. He spent 15 years in Los Angeles where he managed to commit six felonies(non violent), and become addicted to drugs, crack cocaine and Rx pills.He has spent four years in various penal institutions. We had given him up for dead, but after we prayed that the Holy Spirit would bring him home he called. He is a Christian, baptized by me along with a lady from Cambodia for the Remission of sin.

    David is the pure example of the Prodigal Son. As did the prodigal he almost ruined his father financially, reputation in the synagoge and the disfavor of his older brother.

    What swung David was the radical services of a group called the Delancey House of San Francisco for rehab.
    They used motorcycles, very loud music extreme Pentecostal preaching and stuff that would mortify the COC to reach these folks and it worked. David told me if you went into his area with the COOCstyle worship you would be in trouble. However he did admire the Salvation Army. They trod where only fools would venture.

    I guess what i’m trying to say is it takes extreme measures to reach these people. I have drug counseled for several years and know what works.

    David and family are here with us in Bastrop Texas. His wife Maria is Catholic but we are patiently working with her.

    So Hank sometimes what seems extreme to you works on the very mixed up culture of druggies and excons.

    Bob

  59. Jay

    Your friends need to go into the slums and work with the lost. I fear most of them live in a sterile environment.

    I grew up in such a setting, an alcoholoc father who taught me only how to play poker. He was role model of chasing women. My experience with the church was very negative.

    So I do know how to reach these folks.

    Bob

  60. Bob, thank you for sharing that story about your son. To hear how God works in our lives is very uplifting. You mention his wife and that you are patiently working with her. Is she struggling with her faith?

  61. Nancy

    Maria, our daughter in law was raised in Mexico as Catholic but was never confirmed. She at first fought going to church with us, COC. But with time she has softened. Donna, my wife bought her a Spanish study bible so she can understand more about Christ in her own language. But our lives have to back up our words.

    Like our son David it takes takes a lot of prayer and patience. God will touch her when she is ready. Maria completely believes in the grace of Christ but has not taken the final step. We moved to Bastrop, Texas
    so we could be near our youngest son Mark who is bi-polar and needs much encouragement. We are also close to Davids family.

    The older we get, the more we trust God to do his work in us as he sees proper. All this dialog in the Blog is great. We are all kindred spirit and I pray we love each other in spite of our minor differences.

    All these Guys I love dearly. We would not get so fiesty if we were face to face. Cougan Collins and Robert Prater are fine young men with courage and keen minds. I hope we don’t discourage that. Sometimes people soften after the heat of a battle. I love Jay also for putting up with us.
    . Marvin Phillips once said in a book “Don’t Shoot Were on the same side.”

    Anyway thank you for asking.and showing interest.

    Your friend in Christ

    Bob

  62. Readers,

    For interested readers, here’s the link to the newspaper account Hank has referred to: http://thesun2.tbo.com/content/2009/mar/18/sc-church-plans-biker-blessing-breakfast/

    Here’s the link to the church’s website: http://suncityumc.publishpath.com/

    Spend some time on their site and learn about the people that Hank is so intent on ridiculing.

    Hank,

    Let’s see, you want to know whether it’s okay to bless motorcycles. Yes. Blessings are authorized in the Bible. They are simply one form of prayer.

    Merriam-Webster defines “blessing” in this context as “an invocation imploring divine favor on some or something.” Is it authorized to implore God’s favor on a motorcycle? Obviously, yes.

    To state the obvious, to “bless” a motorcycle is rather like saying a blessing for a newly commissioned ship or airplane. I would be happy if every maker of every airplane completed his work by praying that the plane carry its passengers safely to their destinations — every time. And I’m sure that’s what the church did for the motorcycles.

    Does Hank’s CENI Regulative Principle 5-Acts of Worship theology produce a different result? No.

    Hank, as you obviously think the scriptures condemn this practice, what scriptures do you think prevent praying for motorcycles?

  63. Hank I’ve been asked several times over the past twenty years to go and bless someone’s home or place of business – even when I was very much conservative CoC. How is blessing a motorcycle different?

    And I am very comfortable giving an answer to the question of when “worship” becomes sinful. When, like pagan worship, it involves idolatry, sexual sin, drug use, selfishness, lovelessness or man made requirements for salvation it is sinful. Otherwise it is a Romans 14 issue and is acceptable to God so long as it is offered in Spirit and in Truth. (Truth being an honest relationship between God and the worshipper, not buying into modern Phariseeism.)

  64. Bob wrote:

    “His wife Maria is Catholic but we are patiently working with her.”

    Why? What’s wrong with her being Catholic?

    Seriously, I would be quite surprised to see anybody actually go ahead and list some of the beliefs and/or pratcices of Catholics which are against the revealed will of God.

    And then, so what if there are many beliefs and/or practices of Catholics which are contrary to the will of God right? It’s not as though the grace of God won’t cover their honest mistakes, right?

    Same goes for our good Mormon and JW friends as well. Who are we to judge, right?

    Seems as though the only thing considered wrong and dangerous is when someone goes around saying certain things are wrong and dangerous. You know, being a Pharisee.

  65. I don’t think it’s what these groups do at their assemblies that is such an issue, but is their belief.

    A few examples are:

    Catholics believe Mary the mother of Jesus was sinless equating her to that of Jesus. They believe in another mediator other than Jesus, a person’s sins are forgiven when a priest forgives them. Catholics believe salvation is attained by water baptism and maintaining good works. They believe they are the only true Church restored from the first century.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the deity of Jesus believing Jesus is Michael the archangel. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe salvation is attained by water baptism and maintaining good works. They believe they are the only true Church restored from the first century.

    Mormons believe God has not always been the Supreme Being of the universe, but attained that status through righteous living and persistent effort. They believe Jesus is a god, but that any human can also become a god. Mormons believe salvation is attained by water baptism and maintaining good works. They believe they are the only true Church restored from the first century.

  66. Hank, it’s generally been found true that to reach people with whom you disagree, it’s more profitable to start the conversation without making fun of them or disrespecting them our shouting, “You’re lost and going to hell, sinner!” – since most of us who believe differently are recovering sinners as well.

    Believing differently about the same God is a place to begin a conversation; an opportunity.

    I don’t know about praying over motorcycles, but when my older sister was a student at ACU (then ACC), returning from Dallas across the desert with some of her girlfriends and her car overheated, they pulled over and – afraid and not knowing what else to do – put their hands on a cooler part of the car than the hood and prayed for God to fix it. Then they got back in the car and drove the rest of the way to Abilene without incident. That was in the late 1960s.

    You can chortle if you want to. I believe God heard their prayer.

  67. I understood Bob’s concern to be the fact that the DIL has not made any profession of faith Catholic or otherwise.

  68. Bob Harry—

    Thanks for you testimony…it was very uplifting for me and something I needed to hear.

    You say you’ve done rehab counseling, etc…let me bounce something off of you. Have you noticed any correlation between extremely legalistic religious upbringing and poor mental health? I know some will read that and scoff and yet another “liberal” whining about how “mean” the old-school COC is, but I’m anxious to hear your thoughts (knowing, of course, that you may be slightly biased).

    I can only speak to that which I know. But in my small sphere that I have witnessed, I’d estimate 90% of those I know that grew up very conservative COC have totally abandoned faith. As in, no relationship with God at all, and have not moved to another “brand” of church. I think the CC article stated that 70% of the kids leave the COC, but in the conservative wing, I’d estimate those numbers far higher.

    But my question to you was about the mental health. Admittedly, my only studies into mental health involve working to improve my own challenges. I do, however, know that most mental challenges are born in fear.

    Now, who does fear better than “we” do?! The conservative theology of, “You are forgiven of sins when you ask for it. Sin can’t enter heaven. Therefore, if God comes back (or you die) prior to being forgiven of a sin, you go to Hell. BTW, hell is fire-torture for ever and ever and ever.” Certainly, this is a recipe for mental disasters.

    Again, I only can speak to what I know. I have cousins that at 6yrs old were having nightmares about being burned and tortured in Hell, because that was what their kindergarten sunday school class was studying. Those same cousins are in their late teens now and cannot function in society. They live in desolation so as to not sin. One cousin was helping sand a car so that we could paint it, but felt he should stop and the paint dust was landing on his skin (and he might accidently breath a little into his lungs) and that would be bad for his body. And his body is a Holy Temple. Thus, it would be sinful. Trust me—he didn’t do this out of laziness, he truly felt he was sinning. Such is their ENTIRE life.

    Personally, I just see that as the necessary bi-product of that sort of teaching. You either, a) try to achieve some sort of perfection like my cousin I mentioned or, b) you totally give up and say, “well, at least I’ll try and have fun, because I’m going to hell no matter what, I don’t have a chance.” Interestingly, that is the viewpoint of the brother of the cousin I mentioned.

    Bob, i got to rambling a bit with offering my opinions along with examples. So let me repeat my question: has your research/involvement in this field shown a correlation between an unhealthy legalistic upbringing and poor mental health?

    Thanks, and blessings to yours and your two sons.

  69. Hank,

    I don’t see the point in talking about people not here when there’s so much that needs discussing among those already present.

  70. JMF,

    The state mental hospital is here in Tuscaloosa. When I first moved to town (1975), long before I’d left the conservative fold, I met a church member who was a social worker at the hospital. He told me that when he was first hired, his supervisor told him, “I hope you’re not a member of the Churches of Christ. Nearly every patient here is.” He scoffed, but experience showed him that in a state that’s about 5% CoC, a much larger percentage of the patient population was CoC. Ponder that one. And all this was long before there was a progressive movement of any consequence. He remains a dedicated Church member and has no animosity toward the Church at all.

    Of course, we may not be crazier than anyone else. We just might be more willing to commit people to the asylum. 😯

    I don’t know. And I have no theories to offer. It just happens to have been true around 1975.

  71. Jay notes that in some cases CENI leads to commitment–to a crazy house, that is. A reason some can’t remain mentally healthy when they’re told they must have “authority” for every act is that much that we choose to do is not furnished with specific authority from God. If one imagines he or she must HAVE such authority, then someday something might snap since there is no such “authority.” We all do want to please God. Some more than others have that desire. But we realize we are not perfect. Some realize it more than others. Those who know God as LOVE are far less apt to “lose” themselves when they sin. For we know that God loves us anyway and will allow us to repent!

    Another thing of course is that legalistic folks are taught to be judgmental, to feel that all who disagree with particular opinions are bound for Hell. So they worry about loved ones who don’t agree with the particular opinions they’ve been taught are set in concrete. Wise Christians don’t worry. Weak Christians are far more apt to break down from worry. Strong Christians are full of faith and full of JOY. Of course they’ll not need psychiatric help! Usually.

  72. Hank

    Read what I said about Maria. She was raise in Mexico as Catholic but was never confirmed. SHE IS NOT CATHOLIC AND HAS NEVER BEEN BAPTIZED. She thinks she is Catholic but we have very patiently taught her about Christ and not Catholocism. With some people it takes years to convert to Christ. She is about there and will get there as her English improves. David and Maria both have a long way to go. I could write a book on how “Prodigals can turn you life into a nightmare”. You should try it as well as work with addicted folks.

    JMF

    You are right a phycologist that worked with teens told me the kids from the COC are guilt ridden. Another one a PHD from Yale, just less than a year ago told my bi polar son that most COC people he worked with were very angry .

    I have several good catholic friends and one priest that is a friend. They are very devoted to Christ. Yes they do practice some things we disagree with, But we don’t do a lot of things we should do, so I am the last one to throw stones.

    The Mormons have one attribute lacking in most Christian groups. A strong family tie and evangelism. If we had their values on these two our membership would soar.

    Bob

  73. JMF

    Any legalistic religion will spawn angry people because they make rules or subscribe to rules that they and no one else could keep. I wont mention any denominations.

    I like to read and cherish Philippians 4:7-8 The peace of God,,,you need to have positive thoughts.

    I can tell you that from my 54 years in the Church that Jay is a breath of fresh air.

    Bob

  74. Nancy

    Thank you for standing up for me. Women are more perceptive than men. Maria has an erroneous perception she is catholic. One problem is that she feels we are trying to change her. I guess we are but we are trying to get her to give he life to Jesus or even be a good catholic by getting baptized and confirmed. Right now even the catholic church would not accept her. She came from a village in central Mexico that has a very low literacy rate,

    Evangelism is not fun when you are working with the mentality of backward. addicted and the post modern people.

    Donna and I are neither conservative or progressive. We are simple followers of Christ and feel comfortable with many groups. There are a lot of nice Chirstian folks in other Churches.

    I wonder how many rocks that statement will get.

    Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.

    Bob

  75. Jay wrote:

    “Hank,

    I don’t see the point in talking about people not here when there’s so much that needs discussing among those already present.”

    Then, let me explain (again)…

    As you knowJay, many of the articles here have been written in an attempt to point out the inconsitencies of “conservative” brethren who do “draw lines” (set boundaries) in terms of what other Christians believe, how they organize themselves, and in what ways they worship. Personally, I became involved in these discussions (bloggs) after learning of bro. Todd Deaver’s book “Facing our failure.” For as already mentioned, while he did a fine job in pointing out said inconsistencies of brethren who do “draw lines of fellowship,” what he fails to see himself is that he (and everybody else), only has three options:

    1. Be just like the conservatives you so regularly take to task. IOW, go ahead and reveal where your lines clearly are in every case (female elders, motocycle blessings services, Catholics, Mormons, JW’s, practicing homosexual church leaders, whatever). And then explain how you know the line is actually where you suggest it is in every case. And not by merely giving some subjective guidelines, but actual examples of beliefs and/or practices that are sinful to God. But then, you too would be just as inconsistent as the brethen you oppose and would be be forced to “face your own failure.”

    2. Maintain the apparent progessive approach. IOW, refuse to ever actually say that to believe and /or practice “thus and such” (or, Catholicism, Mormonism, JW, etc., is against the will of God and therefore sinful). In essence, accept, embrace, and tolerate virtually every conceiveable false belief and/or practice. (So long as the people believing and/or practicing the sin honestly believe that they are pleasing God).

    3. Place yourself somewhere betwixt the two. IOW, admit that a actual and specific belief and/or practice is contrary to the revealed will of God, but not pretend to know exactly how God will handle (judge) those who believe and/or practice the sin. Be willing to say you are not sure sometimes whether a certain person, or church has actually “gone too far” (crossed the line) in terms of wehther or not they can continue believing and/or prcaticing the thing and still be considered by God to be “walking in the light” (and saved). Of course, this position will end up having you encourage people to “play it safe” in many areas. The very thing progressives apparently hate to suggest.

    Having said all of that, I trust you CAN “…see the point in talking about people not here (Catholics, Mormons, JW’s, etc.)…”

    Can you really not see the point?

  76. Anon wrote:

    “Catholics believe Mary the mother of Jesus was sinless equating her to that of Jesus. They believe in another mediator other than Jesus, a person’s sins are forgiven when a priest forgives them. Catholics believe salvation is attained by water baptism and maintaining good works. They believe they are the only true Church restored from the first century.”

    They also pray to Mary and worship the pope. The questions then are these:
    1) Are such teachings sinful?
    2) Does the garce of God forgive them for sure? (assuming they believe they are pleasing to God)

    Anon then wrote:

    “Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the deity of Jesus believing Jesus is Michael the archangel. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe salvation is attained by water baptism and maintaining good works. They believe they are the only true Church restored from the first century.”

    Does that mean they are going to hell? Or, will the garce of God cover such (when honest), mistakes?

    Finally, Anon wrote:

    “Mormons believe God has not always been the Supreme Being of the universe, but attained that status through righteous living and persistent effort. They believe Jesus is a god, but that any human can also become a god. Mormons believe salvation is attained by water baptism and maintaining good works. They believe they are the only true Church restored from the first century.”

    Again, does that mean they are going to hell? Or, will the garce of God cover such (when honest), mistakes?

    Jay, Keith, and whoever else, what do you think? Are the honest persons who believe and teach such “false doctrines” saved nonetheless? Are they lost? Or are you not sure? Why and/or why not?

    I bet you maintain #2 from my last post. At least, others here will be able to see your situation for themselves. (And think about which one they see themselves in).

    Which is precisely why the discussion is pertinent indeed.

    Good day.

  77. Hank

    You live in a very narrow sheltered world.

    I will pray for your softening a bit/

    Bob

  78. Thanks Bob, and while I’m not quite sure as to whether I live in “a ver narrow sheltered world” or not, I could use the prayer either way.

    To the rest, see what I mean about option #2?

    2. Maintain the apparent progessive approach. IOW, refuse to ever actually say that to believe and /or practice “thus and such” (or, Catholicism, Mormonism, JW, etc., is against the will of God and therefore sinful). In essence, accept, embrace, and tolerate virtually every conceiveable false belief and/or practice. (So long as the people believing and/or practicing the sin honestly believe that they are pleasing God).

  79. Keith wrote:

    “Hank, it’s generally been found true that to reach people with whom you disagree, it’s more profitable to start the conversation without making fun of them or disrespecting them our shouting, “You’re lost and going to hell, sinner!” – since most of us who believe differently are recovering sinners as well.”

    Yeah, I know. However (and to be fair), I bet you maintain that to question the sinfulness of ANY of the beliefs and/or practices of our religious neighbors would be “disrepecting them.” Isn’t that true? Or, is it possible to question the uncsriptural (sinful), pratices of our Catholic, Mormon, etc., friends without “disrespecting them”? You do realize that the practicing homosexual “pastors” and church members would consider it “disrespectful” to say that they are practicing sin and may in fact be lost, right?

    And while I would never suggest on shouting “You are going to Hell, sinner,” I would also never want to leave the impression that they can carry on and know that they are saved. Because we don’t know that. Actually, the Bible would (and does) say, that they are not.

    Come on Keith, why imply that I go aroung shouting “You’re lost and going to hell, sinner!”

    I don’t, nor have I done what you’ve implied of me (unless you are talking about somebody else?)

  80. I would ask an individual person from any group if they believe Jesus is the Messiah the Son of God their only Savior from sins, do they trust Christ alone as their salvation, was His sacrifice enough to pay the penalty of their sins or is their performing righteous deeds equal to Jesus’ sacrifice, are they trusting in something else other than Jesus.

  81. Hank,

    Thanks for such a clear statement of where you’re coming from. I’m working on a response that will appear in the form of two posts tomorrow morning.

  82. Hank, we can disagree with folks without disrespecting them. Your sarcasm communicated (to me, I admit) a level of disrespect that I think most folks would find off-putting. I could be wrong about that. I’ve certainly been wrong before!

    When you say things like “Why? What’s wrong with her being Catholic?” and “Same goes for our good Mormon and JW friends as well. Who are we to judge, right?” you accuse others of being so broad in their acceptance of other beliefs and practices that they are completely indiscriminate. That’s inaccurate. People who are more accepting than you aren’t a bloc of identical liberal idealists, any more than people who are less accepting than you are a uniform troupe of conservative clones – a lesson I am having to learn.

    Would you like a confession? I have anger issues. I have anger issues because I went to a church whose minister was systematically attacked via church bulletin from two other congregations in town virtually every week, making sarcastic accusations with no basis at all in fact about him, trashing him with labels and disparaging his ministry. Why? Because he also taught Greek and Hebrew at a church-related college that wasn’t related to the Churches of Christ. Oh, and also because he taught grace.

    I didn’t accuse you of shouting at anyone, but I would assert that you were making fun of and disrespecting Bob by not treating him as an individual and asking him, rather than badgering him, what and how he was discussing with his sister – if you really wanted to know.

    Your response wasn’t, “Bob, I’d be glad to pray for your outreach to that sister.”

    It sounded like a cheap shot to me. And if my response about shouting sounded like a cheap shot to you, I apologize.

    I hate it when I stoop to the tactics I deplore in others.

  83. Keith

    I have learned a long time ago to be very tolerant for others of a different mindset. God has been so very tolerant with me over the years for my unkind words to everyone.

    About the only way to help those of radically different faith values other than our own is to be like Christ in every situation, then maybe they will want want the peace that we have found. I believe most of the folks on this blog are Christ loving but have different interpretations, which is fine. In the end the Lord will get rid of all the wood, straw and stubble we possess when he interviews us as we stand before him in our judgement. At that time we will listen and he will tell us what we could have been, .2 Corinthians. 5. If we have built wood, hay or stubble rather than gold or silver on the foundation of Christ that will be burned up but we will survive the fire. 1 Corinthians 3.

    I pray for all churches in my community that they will lead others to Christ and fill their buildings. If we concentrate on evangelism hopefully all the bad stuff will go away.
    During the last six years we have worshiped with a number of other evangelicals and interdenominationals of which were non denominational and autonomous. They are Christ loving people and are full of the spirit.

    It makes a big difference as to how you talk about people when you meet them face to face an really get involved with them.

    I am not sure how I would convert these people or what I would convert them to. They have different traditions and they use the same bible to justify them .

    My daughter in law the wana be catholic is a disaster and my son David in a hard guy to live with but ten years ago he was a druggie and had just got out of jail in LA.. But they have been attending Church with us and he is off drugs and has a good job with Brown and Root. Conversion to Christ and rehabilitation are slowly incremental. So is our friendship with those who disagree with us. Slowly improving incrementally.

    It take a lot of time and patience.

    Bob

  84. Bob writes:

    “I pray for all churches in my community that they will lead others to Christ and fill their buildings.”

    And then:

    “I am not sure how I would convert these people or what I would convert them to.”

    The above statements prove my point entirely.

  85. Hank

    I would and have always taught the Gospel in it’s simplicity. It is the other set of rules that most of them don’t understand.

    You are not a loving person, but combative and rude just like some conservatives and the so called non institutionals.

    What is your point and who are you supporting a form of doctrine or a set of man made rules.

    bob

  86. Hank, is Christianity supposed to be about proving points or being concerned for souls?

  87. Keith, “proving points” is at the very heart of converting souls to Christ (as it is with thwarting false doctrine). A simple search of the word “prove” in the Bible will prove as much.

  88. Hank

    Most folks we teach don’t have the mental capacity to understand your twisted warped view of the Gospel.

    Legalism is a pozi scheme that grows to gigantic proportions once you start.

    I know people that could find false doctrine in your practice of conservative COC with located prachers and Sunday School and would send you to hell as fast as you send others.

    Forget it, Your like talking to a stump.

    Bob

  89. For the record…

    The above post of Bob contained more nastiness directed at me than I have ever said of anyone here (look through it all and see).

    And he is the nonlegalistic loving one?

    Good job Bob.

  90. I absolutely disagree with that Hank, you have said much much nastier things on here to people.

  91. Would it kill any of us to stop saying nasty things? As if one of us doing it makes it right for the others?

    Where I primarily disagree with you, Hank, is that it is the Christian’s primary mission to thwart false doctrine, over and above saving souls … and that the things you argue as doctrines of God are any more than teachings of men.

    You could have defused your quarrel with Bob with a simple apology.

    None of us who engage in “unwholesome talk” above edifying words is displaying the heart of Christ – myself included.

  92. Anon

    I am sorry I blew up, that is not what Jesus would have done.

    Nastiness is not my nature.

    I try to teach in a gentle way. we even accept people who have not been “properly baptized” into our fellowship, even those with questionable ideas about the bible.

    How else are you going to have a prolonged study with them in order to teach what we believe is correct?
    If I am wrong then I am willing to tell Jesus what was in my heart, only the Love that you gave Lord to talk to the Samaritan women. We have prayed with people even during the worship assembly when they were overcome with emotion over the shipwreck that was their life.
    I know of no rules when it comes to teaching the lost. Those who we deem to have false ideas how are you going to reach them?

    I stand condemned Hank. You can throw the first stone.

    Bob

  93. Kieth

    I don’t need an apology from Hank. One thing I admire about Hank, Robert Prater and Cougan Collins is they will stand up for what they believe and at time the debate gets heated.
    I used to argue with those who were opposed to Sunday School and located Preachers. We heated in debate but our love for each other overcame all. Who Knows they may be right.

    Thanks for your concern. At times I do tow a targret sp I guess if I get a few shots thats OK.
    One thing about my shaded past. We would argue violently about a point in engineering then go play golf and have fun.

    Cheers to all

    Bob

  94. Bob, I wasn’t saying you were being nasty. If Hank takes that as being nasty things he has said to people are much, much nastier.

    Titus 3:9-11 “But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.”

    Where this blog and we here on it don’t do so well is when after two admonitions we are to walk away from such a person.

  95. Guys,

    I think we’d all agree that name calling, etc. is probably not Christ-like. But let’s not forget that the other side of being “Christ-like” is that we are capable of BEING called a name, and not reacting reactively. Gotta give Jay props on this one; I’ve seen him called to the mat several times, heckled, etc. and he stays even and on-topic.

    Let us not forget that ALL of us are likely here in order to walk closer to Christ. And let us not forget that most of us are likely passionate about that walk. So while we may get a bit heated at times, let’s all praise God in unison that we aren’t lukewarm in this regard!!

    So let’s not namecall. But when we are called a name, let’s just turn cheeks and be blessed that at least we are dealing with someone who is likely not lukewarm, and let’s praise God for that!

    ***Props to Brad Stanford for sending me the best lesson I’ve ever heard on lukewarmness. If you really wanna be blessed, go to Youtube and watch: “Francis Chan Lukewarm and Loving it”. This is the guy of “Crazy Love” fame.

  96. JMF

    Thank you and Amen brother.

    Bob

  97. (Anonymus said:) I would ask an individual person from any group if they believe Jesus is the Messiah the Son of God their only Savior from sins, do they trust Christ alone as their salvation, was His sacrifice enough to pay the penalty of their sins or is their performing righteous deeds equal to Jesus’ sacrifice, are they trusting in something else other than Jesus.

    That’s a nice Evangelical statement, and I used to think so, too. But if it is to answer our issues, we need to expand it.

    Christianity is not only about our salvation. That’s maybe my personal starting point. But it is also about bowing my knees and confessing Christ as Lord, giving up my selfwill and dying to my carnal attitudes.

    In the end it is about gloryfying God in a way fitting to Him. Here we are to inquire, to develop a sense of His holiness, we need to come in a humble way. Consider the words from Hebrews, when we speak about the assembly:

    Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our body washed with pure water. (Heb 10:19-22)

    When I then follow debates about having your bikes blessed or the use of instruments … are we not carnal? Are we not selfish? Imagine the scene: We enter the Most Holy Place with our bikes? We enter into His prensence arguing about whether or not we may bring along our guitars? Noway! We must focus on our hearts! We must be cleansed if we want to survive in His holy prensence! Please, refocus!

    Alexander

  98. Alexander

    Good point but this thing about blessing bikes was a way to get interested as a group to worship Christ,

    We could call this a seeker service to get all kinds of folks together with a goal of presenting the Gospel. I guess it is a sales pitch. Maybe it’s the wrong approach but in this post modern age it may work. But if you don’t believe in “what ever it takes” then it would be wrong for you.

    I have tried to get the COC where we used to live to have a Saturday and Thursday “seeker service” with IM and even communion. Not all people have the same weekend of Saturday and Sunday. It would have attracted large crowds as we were close to many apartment complexes. They didn’t want to do it. Too bold and may offend the older folks.

    I know I am a heretic and a disgrace to the tradition of the COC. But i will try anything to get the lost interested.

    Bob

  99. I am trying to figure out exacty when instrumental music was prohibited in the church.

    I told my wife that if I had to render a guess, that it was sometime after the oboe was invented. The oboe (French for hot boy), can be a beautiful instrument. However, in the hands of a novice who has no concept of intonation, it can be a serious weapon that can bring about some painful auditory afflictions much like the wringing of the nose can bring forth blood.

    A bad sounding oboe is certainly enough bring about the banishment of all instruments from a worship service.

    Garrison Keeler (Prairie Home Companion) says the trombone is the instrument that caused the banishment. Being a former trombone player, I have to respectfully disagree.

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