|March 19 2004, 7:24 PM |
Your response to this student is typical and reveals your desperate need of repentance and public confession. May God have mercy on you at the Judgement of Christ.
Come to the Table
|January 6 2004, 9:32 PM |
The church or ekklesia Jesus built was His kingdom or AREA OF RULE. His example and commands were to go preach and the LORD'S SUPPER more like PASSOVER prior to Babylon than John Mark Hicks claim that Paul had a SACRIFICIAL FEAST in mind where we lap up the fat with God. The PASSOVER was the sitting but the FITH CUP was the fulfillment that MESSIAH HAD COME: they did not engage in the drunken Babylonian Passover. The CUP was the CONTENTS and the TABLE was the setting. However,they did not EAT the original PASSOVER which involved REAL flesh and REAL blood. Therefore, the LORD'S SUPPER is something OTHER than eating to keep from starving Bruce White is apparently going to urge on the church. It was a MEMORIAL or REMEMBRANCE of the DEATH of Christ consumated in a LIVING LAMB and not a BROKEN BODY literally consumed.
The BROKEN BREAD symbolizes the BODY of Christ and the Fruit of the vine the BLOOD. Those who make it a REAL MEAL for eating the Lord's Supper with PORK BARBECUE in their teeth DENY that we EAT the BODY symbolically by the sop or "ground off bits" of BREAD. The EUCHARIST John Mark Hicks and the AGAPAE people promote implies EATING Christ or EATING FAT with God. Among the "scholars" who have confiscated our "colleges" there is an UNHOLY LUST to move on the OTHER side of the cross.
The Word ASSEMBLY IS
Sunagoge (g4864)soon-ag-o-gay'; from (the REDUPLICATE form of) 4863; an assemblage of persons; spec. a Jewish "synagogue" (the MEETING or the PLACE); by anal. a Christian EKKLESIA: - assembly, congregation, synagogue.
For if there come unto your SYNAGOGUE a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; Ja.2:2
Synagogue DOUBLES SUNAGO something like "Tom-Tom."
Acts19:41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the ASSEMBLY.
Ekklesia (g1577) ek-klay-see'-ah; from a comp. of 1537 and a der. of 2564; a calling out, i.e. (concr.) a popular meeting, espec. a religious congregation (Jewish synagogue, or Chr. community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both): - assembly, church.
Acts 20:1 AND after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the DISCIPLES, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.
Bruce White speaks of US filling YOU with a burning "holy spirt." However, one is filled with the Spirit as one is filled with the WORD of Christ which we also EAT as His SPIRIT and LIFE. This is the act of a STUDENT and not a pagan being INITIATED into obscene fellowship by eating you don't want to know what.
Mathetes (g3101) math-ay-tes'; from 3129; a LEARNER, i.e. PUPIL: - disciple.
Acts 20:2 And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much EXHORTATION, he came into Greece,
EXHORTATION again is what one does RATHER than stirring up the carnal senses OUTLAWED for the synagogue in Romans 15.
Parakaleo (g3807) par-ak-al-eh'-o; from 3844 and 2564; to CALL NEAR, i.e. INVITE, invoke (by imploration, hortation or consolation): - beseech, call for, (be of good) comfort, desire, (give) exhort (-ation), intreat, pray.
Acts 20:5 These going before tarried for us at Troas.
Acts 20:6 And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of UNLEAVENED BREAD, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode SEVEN days.
Sunago (g4863) soon-ag'-o; from 4862 and 71; to lead together, i.e. collect or convene; spec. to entertain (hospitably): - / accompany, assemble (selves, together), bestow, come together, gather (selves together, up, together), lead into, resort, take in.
And upon the FIRST DAY of the week, when the disciples "SUNAGO" to break bread, Paul PREACHED unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. Acts 20:7
They didn't SYNAGOGUE every day: they worked for a living. The ONLY reason for synagoguing on the FIRST DAY was to carry out the REMEMBRANCE of the passion of Christ. Paul tarried to teach them.
First, let's note that people do not assemble as STUDENTS in a SYNAGOGUE in order to eat a COMMON MEAL. The Lord's Supper is a way to show forth or PREACH the death of Jesus Christ. Because DOING CHURCH often meant travel and the need for food (no Shoneys, you know) people provided food for the group as they still do for extended gatherings.
JESUS SAID GO MAKE DISCIPLES, NOT WORSHIPERS. Paul's unique worship word is to GIVE HEED to the WORD. This is the only way to give heed to Jesus Christ.
.......Mathetes (g3101) math-ay-tes'; from 3129; a LEARNER, i.e. PUPIL: - disciple.
Now, listen up: the STUDENTS came together because they had been baptized to make them DISCIPLES. What do STUDENTS in the religious sense do? Why, they learn the Word of God which CANNOT be squeezed into sermons condemning and judging people who won't "worship" with instruments.
........THEY are thinking about a pagan worship center.
........Jesus and those in Troas were thinking about GOING TO BIBLE SCHOOL.
........Thomas Campbell called church A SCHOOL OF CHRIST.
........The Germans called it a SKUL
Therefore, you find almost no history of SINGING other than the Bible for hundreds of years.
There is little "WHEN IN CHUCH" description of a WORSHIP RITUAL which means the superstitious belief that if you obey the LAW OF SINGING God owes you something: at least He loses His right to burn you. The early assemblies were simple affairs of reading and studying the Word, singing Biblical songs to LEARN them, remembering Christ in the supper, listening to any learned person and providing for the poor or rather destitute. At its heart the synagogue was devoted to the WORD: the church continued to be that. I am not aware of any children meeting with these synagogues.
PAUL DIDN'T LEAD THE SINGING or take up a collection. Paul preached. But, Paul NEVER did what most preachers are trained to do to be skilled rhetoricians which were recognized in that period as of the SECTARIAN Hypocrites: speakers, sophists, singers or musicians. The teachers TEACH and do not lecture about US.
WHAT DID PAUL DO to meet the needs of the STUDENTS who assembled as a SYNAGOGUE OF CHRIST at the place of the ekklesia.
Dialegomai (g1256) dee-al-eg'-om-ahee; mid. from 1223 and 3004; to say thoroughly, i.e. DISCUSS (in argument or exhortation): - dispute, preach (unto), REASON (with), speak.
Paul discoursed about the word as a teacher would teach. But, he wouldn't teach FINANCIAL PLANNING in a BIBLE class. Nor would he bring in a "Music Team" to assist him in explaining baptism. The word also means the hard dialog by which even one who claimed inspiration in Corinth must submit his "songs" to another prophet. Because there were none of those in Corinth, Paul used his cutting method to tell everyone to sit down and shut up.
.......And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days REASONED with them out of the SCRIPTURES, Ac.17:2
If Paul had preached a cut and paste sermon believing that his construction had the power to MAKE SPIRITUAL CHANGES he would have been a traitor to the Spirit of Christ Which inspired the SCRIPTURES. You cannot PREACH in the rhetorician or sOPHISts (serpents) style without INTENDING to scramble the minds of the people so that they never "come to a knowledge of the truth."
And there were many lights in the UPPER chamber, where they were SUNAGO together. Ac.20:8
When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and TALKED a long while, even till break of day, so he departed. Acts 20:11
Homileo (g3656) hom-il-eh'-o; from 3658; to be in company with, i.e. (by impl.) to converse: - commune, talk.
And they TALKED TOGETHER of all these things which had happened. Lu.24:14
And it came to pass, that, while they COMMUNED together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. Lu.24:15
LEARNING by a DISCIPLE never takes place at a LECTURE. Learning takes place when a good note taker "speaks to himself" and "meditates in the mind." Or, one discusses it with other students or the professor. Learning hasn't happened until DIALOG occurs and you can explain to others what you have learned.
The Bible, in most translations, speaks in a SPIRITUAL LANGUAGE. A "worshiper" even today doesn't care if it is an unknown dialect: they are out to rub their pleasure centers, get paid and get worshipped. However, one learns to PRAISE God by communing or dialoging or "singing" the Biblical material. They are FILLED with the spirit (word) of God and then "make melody" all week.
As John has noted, the church of Christ does not do an inquisition before allowing people to be their OWN Judges. T. Campbell got into trouble with the Presbyterians because he permitted Presbytrians of another SECT to take the Lord's Supper. The meaning of BAPTISM to the Baptists is to APPROVE them to eat the Lord's Supper. The Britannica notes that:
Quoted from the Britannica: "In other traditions within Protestantism the sacraments have become "ordinances," not channels of grace but expressions of faith and obedience of the Christian community. Among BAPTISTS the practice of "close communion" has RESTRICTED the ordinance to those who are baptized PROPERLY; i.e., as adults upon a profession of faith. The Society of Friends (Quakers) dropped the use of the Eucharist altogether in its reaction against formalism.
So, the seed picking has the universal theme: to FALSELY ACCUSE churches of Christ of what OTHERS are doing. This is the HEGLIAN DIALECT to try to use any means to make people UNHAPPY with their faith and practice SO that those who are TRULY CLOSED MINDED and CLOSED COMMUNION can infiltrate and divert. Jer, when the Baptists take over YOU will have to be purged of your CULT THINKING. You will have to endure the LAW until you cry "UNCLE." Then you will get a supernatural sign. You will then be ENDOCTRINATED and, if approved, BAPTIZED by having Jesus DIE AGAIN for your sins.
|This message has been edited by ConcernedMembers from IP address 18.104.22.168 on Jan 6, 2004 9:41 PM|
|January 7 2004, 11:39 PM |
Contrary to the urge to JUDAIZE or rather PAGANIZE the Lord's Supper, Paul shows that it is not like the FESTIVAL at Mount Sinai where we see the MUSICAL IDOLATRY. Neither, is the Lord's Supper a Jewish sacrificial TABLE MEAL where GOD eats. Paul said that THEY have no right to EAT at the Lord's Altar. Assuredly no Christian would even WANT to eat at the sacrificial meals of those SACRIFICING types of Lord Jesus Christ.
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the SUFFERING of DEATH, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should TASTE DEATH for every man. Heb 2:9
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. Heb 2:10
For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all OF ONE: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Heb 2:11
Saying, I will DECLARE thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I SING praise unto thee. Heb.2:12
Apaggello (g518) ap-ang-el'-lo; from 575 and the base of 32; to announce: - bring word (again), declare, report, shew (again), tell.
Evangelists do not break down and have a JUBILATING fit when they EVANGELIZE. How can you tell the STORY of the Death of Jesus Christ and all that it meant with PORK BARBECUE in your teeth and the "children" spiritually uncovering themselves and women bringing MENSTRUAL blood to the altar?
Apalgeo (g524) ap-alg-eh'-o; from 575 and algeo , (to smart); to grieve out, i.e. become apathetic: - be past feeling
Paul said SPEAK the inspired TEXT and make the melody IN THE HEART. Melody is not a musical term but speaks of the TWANGING BOW of Apollo or the DESTROYER who appeared at the FEAST at Mount Sinai. Paul will use the RISING UP TO PLAY to repudate John Mark Hicks's view of the Lord's Supper as a TABLE FEAST WITH GOD.
And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Heb 2:13
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same;
.....that THROUGH DEATH DESTROY he might destroy HIM that had the power of death, that is, the DEVIL; Heb 2:14
REMEMBERING THE body or SOMA preaches or show's forth that the DEATH of Jesus is what DESTROYED the DESTROYER who is Satan or Apollo who INSISTED on musical jubilation with the MUSES and INSTRUMENTALISTS performing the role of SORCERY. "Eating with the gods" is the Babylonian teaching that the SACRIFICES were to FEED the gods. Jesus said: "Remember my death, evangelize and agonize with me JUST ONE HOUR?"
And DELIVER them, who through FEAR of death were all their lifetime SUBJECT to BONDAGE Heb 2:15
For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the SEED of ABRAHAM. Heb 2:16
Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren , that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. Heb 2:17
The Lord's Supper is not to CELEBRATE our own senses but it is to remember that, in ways we do not understand, God DIED FOR OUR SINS. Yes, God can suffer and grieve over us.
Our Lord's Agony. Here is the BODY we are to WATCH with:
Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding SORRIFUL,even unto death: TARRY ye here, and watch with me. Matthew 26:38
Can you feature a Christian Disciple singing or clapping while Jesus was suffering in prayer or at the cross: the Levitical Musicians did it.
And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What,
.....could ye not WATCH with me ONE HOUR? Matthew 26:40
Jubilate at the COMMUNION of Christ's DEATH and suffering and you fulfill the MUSICAL MOCKING of Jesus as THEY caused His MURDER. Offenses must come but WOE to those who MUSICALLY MOCK the DYING JESUS as He TEACHINGS or EVANGELIZES WITH US and as his SONG is grieving out His death so that WE can DISCERN His literal body mocked, suffering and dying. Only then can we live a RESURRECTED life by making His SPIRITUAL body or church the kingdom of Christ.
Paul DID NOT compare the Lord's Supper to the sacrificial altar under the Law of Moses where we FEED and entertain God as in Babylon. Rather, he compared a NON-DISCERNING feast to the TABLE MEAL at Mount Sinai where they ROSE UP TO PLAY in John Mark Hicks "theology." Paul will say that THEY have no right to eat at OUR ALTAR and assuredly only Judaizers preach eating the LEGALISTIC Sacrificial meal which THEY DIDN'T EAT unless they were of Aaron: Jesus WAS NOT an Aaronic Priest nor a JEWISH PRIEST. Jesus Christ was the SACRIFICIAL LAMB offered up by the Jews or rather Kenites or Cainites or Canaanites.
|This message has been edited by ConcernedMembers from IP address 22.214.171.124 on Jan 8, 2004 8:49 AM|
IN THE GRIP OF GOD'S GRACE (A Review)
|January 14 2004, 6:14 AM |
Without doubt Max Lucado is the most widely published and read member of the Church of Christ in our generation. His many books have found a ready audience among members of evangelical bodies as well as ours. Bro. Lucado is also one of the principal spokesmen for those who wish to change the faith, worship and practice of our people. Change agents often say that it is those who have discovered "grace" that are no longer content to be bound by the faith of the past. Bro. Lucado's book, In the Grip of Grace, is a good demonstration of what these brethren mean by that statement. For those looking for a serious Biblical study of God's grace, this book will be a disappointment. It is more like cotton candy, filled with cute, catchy sayings that impress the impressionable who know little of God's Word. In his introduction he tells us that he discovered God's grace only after he found "there was a hole in (his) coat of convictions" (p. xii). He delights in sarcastic allusions to people like us. "If I read my Bible, have the right opinion on the right doctrines, if I join this movement..." (p. 12). This is a line from his portrait of those he classes as legalists. He goes on to describe those who strive to please God by obeying his will as having "a religious godlessness." (Ibid.). He paints us as boasting about our "five steps" (p. 6) while we stand "knee deep in the water" trying to save ourselves (p. 5).
Bro. L's concept of grace is so strong that if a man is "given only the testimony of creation, then he has enough" (p. 23). That means that some can be saved without knowing Christ, or the message of the Bible simply by "know(ing) God through he handiwork of nature" (Ibid.)
The book reaches its climax in chapter 16 which is entitled, Life Aboard the Fellow-Ship. With the analogy of a battleship, he describes what he perceives to be Christ's church. It is big enough to accommodate virtually any doctrine (p. 161). Paul did not understand this as does Bro. L. The apostle wrote that "ye all speak the same things and that there be no divisions among you" (I Cor. 1:10). Bro. L's boat can accommodate such interesting beliefs as "once saved always saved," predestination, premillennialism, speaking in tongues, clerical robes, etc. In explaining who is to be accepted on God's ship (church) he says, "The Master says examine the person's faith. If he or she has faith in Jesus and is empowered by God, grace says that's enough" (p. 168). "If their (members of denominations) trust, like yours, is in the all-sufficient sacrifice of Christ, aren't you covered with the same grace?" (p. 169). "God's ship is a grand vessel. Just as a ship has many rooms, so God's kingdom has room for many opinions..." (p. 170). The context makes it clear that he speaks of many different kinds of churches (denominations). This is identical to the old analogy about the vine and the branches used in days past to justify denominationalism. Defenders of that system quoted John 15 and said, Jesus is the vine and each denomination is a branch thereof.
Bro. Max Lucado continues to hold membership among churches of Christ. He preaches for the Oak Hills Church of Christ in San Antonio, TX. However the faith he holds and the views he expresses are quite different from those held by most of his brethren of this and past generations. It is easy to understand his popularity with those of the evangelical world, but it is a mystery that many within the Church of Christ see no problem with views such as cited above. Those who are unfamiliar with the message of Christ, who read and follow Bro. L's teaching, may well stand before God in judgment thinking that because they believed in Jesus, God's grace will save them. What a painful surprise it will be for them to hear Him say, "Not everyone that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 7:21).
Editor, Christianity Then and Now
|This message has been edited by ConcernedMembers from IP address 126.96.36.199 on Jan 14, 2004 8:07 AM|
THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST (A Review)
|January 21 2004, 7:05 AM |
Dr. Richard Hughes
of Pepperdine University (formerly of Abilene Christian University) has written this history of our brotherhood. It is part of "the Praeger series of denominational studies" and the author willingly agrees that "...Churches of Christ comprised a denomination that erected its most fundamental self-understanding on claims that it was not a denomination" (p. 5). This assertion is repeated dozens of items throughout the book. Dr. Hughes tells us in his introduction, "I am a lifelong member of Churches of Christ but also an historian of American religion. Those two commitments have pulled at one another in a variety of ways... (as) this book has been in production. One's allegiance to one's own tradition always prompts one to tell only the good, to negate the bad, and to make the story look better than perhaps it really is. As an historian however, I had to resist that temptation..." (p. xiv). So complete was the historian's victory that Hughes found very little positive to report about us but a book full of negative, judgmental criticisms. As a history of a religious body, by one who is a member of it, the following attributes should be expected but are clearly absent: a sense of belonging; a sense of pride in what has been accomplished; a sense of respect and appreciation for those gone before
. If this were a trial in a court of law, the author would be considered a "hostile witness." His book is a classic example of revisionist history.
The thesis of Dr. Hughes consists of the following points: that Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone founded a religious movement at the beginning of the 19th century; that the Disciples of Christ/Christian Churches more correctly represent that tradition; that Churches of Christ are a legalistic splinter of the Campbell-Stone movement that left the larger body at the turn of the 20th century; that for the first 150 years we were a sect, but since the 1950s we have graduated to denominational status.
The author approaches his subject with a template created by denominational social historians, who know and care nothing for pure Christianity. He then forces every fact and every event into that narrow mold. Thus he concludes we were a sect and now a denomination (and in his estimation, a very poor example of that.)
Unintentionally, Dr. Hughes has done us a favor in writing his book.
- He shows just how pervasive the apostasy in our midst has become.
- He clearly demonstrates the role that Christian Schools, especially Abilene Christian
University, have played in that development.
- He reveals the disdain, which the intellectuals of the change movement hold for Churches of Christ.
- He demonstrates the impact that secular schools, such as Harvard, have had on our Christian Schools.
- He states in unmistakable terms their estimate of the church of Christ as a human denomination and that they see it as the poorest of the evangelical denominations.
- In his estimation, all of those years when we grew by ten fold and sent the gospel around the world, we were but a miserable, narrow sect and now we have graduated into a real, bona fide, but pitiful denomination.
- He tells us what kind of indoctrination we can expect for our children when we send them to schools that have embraced this agenda.
It is interesting to observe the way Dr. Hughes discounts and downplays the knowledge, accomplishments and contributions of men of past generations, the latches of whose shoes he is unworthy to loose. From his perspective, every hero was overrated and misdirected and every roguitator was a hero, especially if his orientation was to the left. One is impressed that to him, the zenith of our history was the day when "Dr. Royce Money, president of Abilene Christian University, traveled to Southwestern Christian College in Terrell, TX to issue on behalf of Abilene Christian University a formal apology to African American members of Churches of Christ for the years of racial discrimination."... "We are here to today to confess the sins of racism and discrimination and to issue a formal apology to all of you, to express regret and to ask for your forgiveness (p. 138).
The author of this review has read most of the biographies and histories of the Restoration Movement's 200 year history. Not one of them is as negative and pessimistic as this volume. Even denominational historians, with their built-in antagonisms, have been more charitable in their assessment of us.
If the author had been an avowed enemy of the body of believers known as Churches of Christ, how different would his conclusions have been? Books like this make the enemies of Christ rejoice. The question that must be asked is: Why does a brilliant man like Dr. Hughes stay among a body of people for whom he holds such a low estimate?
Those who wish to read a sympathetic history written by one who loves the church and has faithfully served her, need to read, Search for the Ancient Order, in four volumes, by Dr. Earl West
. Those who do so will be immensely rewarded. They may be ordered from the Gospel Advocate Co., P. O. Box 150, Nashville, TN 37202-1050 or from the Firm Foundation, P. O. Box 69, Damon, TX 77430-0069.
Editor, Christianity Then and Now
|This message has been edited by ConcernedMembers from IP address 188.8.131.52 on Jan 21, 2004 8:12 AM|
|A. B. Gregoreo|
RICK ATCHLEYS SPEECH AT THE RESTORATION UNITY FORUM
|January 29 2004, 6:24 AM |
RICK ATCHLEYS SPEECH AT THE RESTORATION UNITY FORUM*
Oct. 20-22, 2002 self-appointed representatives of Churches of Christ and Independent Christian Churches met in Lubbock, TX for their 20th annual assembly to promote unity among the two bodies. Among the many speeches presented was one by Rick Atchley, minister of the Richland Hills Church of Christ in Ft. Worth. I listened to the tape of his presentation and have before me a transcript of his speech. I say this lest anyone assume that I might have mis-heard or misrepresented him. Of the several prominent ministers of the church who have embraced the change movement, Bro. Atchley stands at the head of the list, along with Max Lucado and Rubel Shelly. The Richland Hills church is the largest congregation among us and no other is more fully committed to the change movement than is it. From his delivery at the Forum, it is evident that Bro. Atchley has the highest respect and regard for his peers in the Christian Churches. Not one word of criticism does he offer, not a single exhortation to make any adjustments or changes in their beliefs, worship or practice. On the other hand it is equally evident that he holds members of Churches of Christ who do not share his unity quest in utter contempt. Describing them, he says, theyve been mean, they are mean, and going to stay mean! And I think those people (meaning us)....youre going to deal with some ugliness (p.4 Question and Answer Session). His description of us was greeted with a roar of laughter by the Christian Church delegates.
Bro. Atchleys theme was, The Unity Imperative, and he opened with the declaration, I want to see in my life time, our fellowship reunited, and I intend to do all that I can to see that that happens (p. 1). He and the Richland Hills church already are in full-fellowship with the Christian Churches, but his goal is to move all of our preachers and churches to that same position.
Bro. A. tells of his grandmother who in her family was the only member of the Church of Christ. She helped lead him to Christ. On her death bed he discovered that she was baptized in the early 1900s in a Christian Church. He asked how she ended up in an acappella Church of Christ? He was shocked when she replied, the preacher moved. From this he concluded that in the past such questions as instrumental music were no big deal; hence, neither should it be today. By this story he unwittingly reveals his lack of understanding of our past history. The division we experienced was not a finished reality in some places until the decade of the 1920s. The names Christian Church, Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ were all used indiscriminately prior to that final dissolution of fellowship. A congregation could be known as a Christian Church and yet be acappella. If a previous preacher had tolerated or advocated use of instrument, or if had he tried to straddle the fence, his successor could come along and teach the church Gods will for worship, urging the brethren to sing and make melody in their hearts (Eph. 5:19). He then refers to all those lousy sermons he had listened to all these years. Those of course, were sermons relating to instrumental music, stressing respect for Gods Word, the authority of the New Testament of Christ, the sin of adding to or taking from Gods revealed will, etc.
Bro. Atchley cites Alexander Campbell, who wrote in his Millennial Harbinger, Were not going to publish, in this journal a lot of issue-oriented articles. He proceeds to fault us for preaching and teaching on issues such as instrumental music. It is noteworthy that he feels free to address the issue from his point of view (that instrumental music is not an issue worthy of discussion). But we should not address it from our point of view!
Bro. A. attributes our refusal to yield on instrumental music to our pride and our refusal to admit that cultural baggage has influenced a lot of who we are. He says, We all have cultures that taught us what we believe about what is right and wrong and what the Bible says... (p. 2). It is true that we all have to distinguish between our culture and Gods expressed will. But is he saying that it is impossible for us commoners to read and make that distinction? Or is it only intellectuals of the change movement who have attained to that higher level of knowledge?
He insists that weve (Churches of Christ) got to recover a passion for the doctrine of the unity of all believers (p. 2). He seems to think that only he and his comrades for change care for, or preach on the importance of Christian Unity. From the beginning of our movement, 200 years ago, our brethren have preached on unity. Sadly we have learned that not everyone wants unity. Some want a unity to believe and do as they will, regardless of Scriptures teaching. Others want unity, with everyone yielding to their opinions. Even the apostles encountered factious men (Tit. 3:10) and those who caused divisions (Rom. 16: 17). Just as Paul was not responsible for the defection of Phygelus and Hermogenese (II Tim. 1:15), we are not responsible for those who break fellowship with us.
He labors to convince his Christian Church auditors that our objection to instrumental music is simply a matter of personal faith or opinion, rather than a matter of Scriptural teaching. He confuses the eating or not eating of meat, (something God declares unimportant), with the worship of God, of which nothing is more important.
He says that early Christians, being led away to death would not have fussed about a piano. (The Christian Church folks enjoyed his point and laughed.) Under those same circumstances, what would they have said about infant baptism, or sprinkling, or weekly communion or a hundred other points of Bible teaching? Such emotional appeals only beg the question. The real question is, must we obey all things whatsoever Christ commanded or not? (Matt 28:20). He feels he has discovered the cause of our lack of unity: We havent preached Christ crucified as the gospel. We have not decided to know nothing but Christ and him crucified (p. 5). Of course he has in mind all of his brethren, save the change agents. It strikes me as a bit arrogant and judgmental to assert that the thousands of men who have preached among our churches have failed to preach Christ and him crucified. In fact I think it is more likely that every last one of them did; some more, some less, but all of them proclaimed the crucified Christ.
He affirms his belief in salvation by grace through faith (p. 5) and implies that other brethren (i.e. traditionalists) dont believe it. Again I suggest that every man that ever mounted a pulpit in a Church of Christ believed in salvation by grace through faith because it is plainly taught in Scripture (Eph. 2:8-9). They did not however preach salvation by grace alone. That was the theme of their Presbyterian neighbors. They did not teach salvation by faith alone. That was the message of their Methodist, Baptist and Lutheran friends. In recent years, change agents such as Bro. Atchley have discovered this foundation pillar of Protestantism and have begun to proclaim it among our people. They neglect to emphasize that those who truly love Christ will keep his commandments (John 14:15) and that Christ saves those who obey him (Heb. 5:8-9). By the way, if preaching Christ crucified will forestall division among Christians, why have some left the Richland Hills church since they launched their program of change?
Bro. Atchley is proud that his congregation participated as counselors in the recent Billy Graham mission. He calls it a tremendous event. Over 100 members of his congregation participated in the mission (p. 6). Did they help those seeking salvation to pray the sinners prayer? We would ask Bro. A. what would be the spiritual status of those who prayed that prayer but chose not to be baptized for remission of their sins (Acts 2:38)?
He protests that some call him a liberal. He says he believes in the absolute authority of Scripture, the miracles and male leadership for the church. Of course he uses a twofold definition for liberal. Since he is not as extreme a liberal as a Unitarian preacher or professor, he insists that he does not qualify for the designation. But liberal is a relative term. Webster defines it, Broad-minded, tolerant; esp: not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or traditional forms. It is insistence that the churches should be undogmatic in temper, tolerating a plurality of theologies, and seeing personal social ethics as their main concern.... (New Dictionary of Theology (IVP). It is being ideologically left of center of the group one is associated with and its standard which they honor as the declaration of their faith. There are liberal and conservatives among Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists and Churches of Christ. Bro. A. and others of the change movement, without dispute are left of center among the brotherhood of our people. He reveals the thinking of his circle of brethren by saying, most of the preachers that I run with in mainline churches of Christ do not believe instrumental music is wrong (p. 7). Strange, but most of the preachers I know do in fact believe instrumental music in worship is sinful. Until 25 years ago 99 ½ percent of our preachers believed it was wrong. He assures us that he is not trying to make (us) worship and violate (our) conscience (p. 7). He just wants us to admit and accept that it aint wrong. Then he and his change agents can use instruments if they wish and enjoy full fellowship with those who do. We could argue the same way for the use of beads, incense and candles in worship.
In the Q & A session he ponders, I wonder in acappella churches of Christ, if this one issue isnt going to cause another breach...? His response is enlightening. I dont know if we have enough energy to split again (p. 7). But note that he is not worried that it might do just that! He has no intention of giving up his crusade, even if it is divisive!
To a question, he responds, you are going to find a lot of a cappella churches that are gonna start saying Sunday morning we are going to be a cappella, but after that, we are going to let a lot of freedom reign, which is pretty much what we do at Richland Hills. You walk into our youth center Sunday morning or Wednesday night: and Im telling youChristian rock an roll is just blasting (p. 9).
Bro. Atchleys final word is, But if you believe that Jesus alone saves, then you can be my brother or sister (p. 10). Thus he shows where his road leads: open membership; fellowship with all who believe in Jesus as Savior. Perhaps it would be easier for him to tell us which sects and denominations that would exclude from his fellowship.
Rather than Rick Atchley and his team trying to change a million and a half of us, most of whom do not share his view, it seems it would be far better for them to go to the Christian Church, or some other Protestant body where they would be gladly received. It is time we bid farewell to Bro. Atchley and his fellow change-agents. They are going out from us because they are no longer of us (I John 2:19).
A. B. Gregoreo
* (Page numbers cited refer to a typed transcription of Bro. Atchleys speech).
|This message has been edited by ConcernedMembers from IP address 184.108.40.206 on Jan 29, 2004 8:19 AM|
Re: RICK ATCHLEYS SPEECH AT THE RESTORATION UNITY FORUM
|January 3 2005, 1:29 PM |
You , know I keep forgeting every so often reading these posts contending for the faith: The church of christ doesn't even believe the Holy Spirit is in action today. The spirit of God Himself- He isn't present and He does NOTHING? The scriptures are not more Holy than God. Theyare Holy because He had them writtnen, but He is also present with us in these days. Without Him we would be lost and in despair. I can't live my life without Him, and His loving grace. God is the same today and in the future as He was yesterday. Jesus's message was and is about changes in the heart. To resuce everything down to print on paper and argue over this is crazy. The scriptures are the steps to God. I don't want to be in a world where He is not operating. And I am sorry for people who feel He doesn't.
|January 3 2005, 2:27 PM |
I totally agree and HE has a name.
It is Jesus of Nazareth now returned to full Deity in Spirit form as opposed to being visible to the eye as HAND and audible as WORD.
The NAME of Father, Son and Spirit is SINGULAR. It is Jesus or Joshua or Jehovah- Saves. That name was revealed on the day of Pentecost when Peter commanded that those who believed and then repented and were baptized in the NAME of Jesus Christ would receive a new,A holy spirit. We have GOD or JEHOVAH and His CHRIST. His Christ was prophesied to be His ARM or RIGHT HAND and that is why CHRIST Who was WITH God because He WAS God sat down on the RIGHT of the Majesty and Glory He laid aside to take on the form of a human.
RELIGIONISM was always a hateful, burden lading activity of trafficking priests. There was nothing they could do to bring REST to God's people. Even the Jews used music as exorcism and slaughtered tens of thousands of innocent animals which were TYPES of God in Christ or God Himself.
The only way God the one and only Holy [pure, wholly] Spirit could bring REST from the ceremonial legalists was to let them actually--as far as they understood it--slaughter God Himself. That would disable the pagan gods who were always musical, perverted and loved to shoot real arrows and love arrows into people.
Rick's bonded buddies Max Lucado and Rubel Shelly are credited [or cursed] with being the first humans in church history to preach that God was a Family of Gods. That is where churches get their name. John Mark Hicks missed the point that the Gospel Advocate, Lipscomb and H. Leo Boles in about 1942 PUBLISHED the first statement of this blasphemous dogma of THREE gods who are ONE in that they are somewhat friendly.
Perhaps the holy spirit you are thinking about comes from the same place as GOSPEL HYMNS: directly from Voodoo. The "little" man [sprit] is contained within the "big man" [me]."
You have almost all history--especially the Trinitarians--proving that the "persons" of the God head are not "people" but personae just as we are body, soul and spirit.
The big HEGLIAN lie is that churches of Christ invented all evil including bad breath. That intends to make you unhappy with a free-will and freedom of assembly school of the Bible so that YOU will pay the dues of performers such as "rhetoricians, sOPHISts (serpents), singers, musicians and craftsmen" who are well documented in the Greek resources as performing the task of SORCERY and are therefore parallelled with PARASITES.
God as FATHER sent Himself as SON. Jesus difined this distinction as "the Son speaks only what He hears from the Father." Unless I am driven charismatic with "praise teams" my MOUTH speaks what my MIND as father thinks. The SPIRIT is that which exists and transpires between the FATHER as Sender and SON as the WORD. That is why Jesus discounted ALL flesh and rituals and said "My WORDS are SPIRIT and LIFE." (John 6:63). If you don't SPEAK that which is written in song and sermon it is because there is NO SPIRIT within you. That is, there is no transpiring or communicating between God as Father and you as Son. That is why when you see the drift from SPEAK or SAY to that of tinkly-winkly poetic speaking or singing you know that the spirit is UNholy and there is no connection between our WORD and GOD'S thoughts.
There is probably ZERO connection between the TOWERS of babbyling and the ekklesia or synagogue of Christ--a school where the FATHER speaks to we as SONS through His Word which JESUS SAID was SPIRIT. I don't want to repudiate the words of the SON Who defined SPIRIT.
Re: RICK ATCHLEYS SPEECH AT THE RESTORATION UNITY FORUM
|June 23 2005, 2:56 AM |
IS CHRIST DIVIDED??? YEPPPPP
RECLAIMING A HERITAGE, a review
|February 22 2004, 1:20 AM |
RECLAIMING A HERITAGE, a review
Dr. Richard Hughes
of Pepperdine University has given us, Reclaiming a Heritage; Reflections on the Heart, Soul and Future of Churches of Christ. The book is published by Abilene Christian University Press. Bro. Hughes was raised in the Church of Christ and continues to claim membership in it (p. 118), but after reading his book one cant help but wonder, for how long?
Professor Hughes problem is revealed on p. 59. It was not until the late 1960s that I found myself disillusioned with certain aspects of my heritage. Now he is disillusioned with most of it. But he finds much to admire in other religious bodies who hold more liberal views.
- From Bro. Hughes perspective, Churches of Christ are suffering a severe identity crisis (p. 121). Those acquainted with our brotherhood know it is not the conservative element among us, but the liberals of the change movement who suffer from this identity crisis. They dont know who they are or where they are going. They only know that they no longer wish to be part of restoring the faith and practice of the early church.
- He tells us, It is time to admit that in our churches, a wide variety of people from all walks of life...simply do not find patternism and legalism to be meaningful themes (p. 121). By patternism he means the conviction that we should be obedient to the commands, restrictions and regulations of the Bible. He along with all other change agents flatly rejects that concept. There is a legalism that is a perversion of Christianity, but he has in mind the sense that man should be obedient to the written word of Christ! We freely admit that those of the change fellowship fit this category.
- He suggests, For many in our churches today, the restoration vision is a dead-end street, an essentially useless category (p. 121). Understand this and you will understand what change agents are saying and why. This loss of faith in our restoration vision is clearly demonstrated in the flow of materials being issued by men associated with Abilene Christian and Pepperdine University.
- He declares, And so we are left with no useful past, no clear identity, and no meaningful legacy. Essentially we are spiritual orphans (p. 122). This sad passage reveals the bankruptcy of the change movement. Those of us who look to Christ as the head and founder of the church; to his word as the divine standard of our faith, have no such disillusionment.
- He asserts, Many feel...that the restoration ideal has spawned arrogance and division and little else (p. 67). Our movement spawned Abilene Christian University, Pepperdine University (where the professor has taught) and a dozen other schools. It spread the gospel message around the world into some 110 nations. It grew from 189,000 in 1906 to some 1,350,000 here at home and as many more overseas. Its members have established and sustained a dozen benevolent homes, scores of Christian primary and secondary schools. They have pumped millions of dollars into relief for the poor and victims of tragedies. They have established and sustained campus ministries on scores of college and university campuses. Her members have written and published hundreds of books and journals including quality commentaries and Bible Translations. Her ministers are generally well-educated and her members are generally middle class. On the whole, her meeting places are modern and comfortable although not usually lavish. She has carried on an extensive outreach by radio, television, newspaper and the Internet. This is the church that Hughes thinks has spawned little else than arrogance and division..
Dr. Hughes goals are easily identified.
- It is revealing to consider his view of Churches of Christ, of which is a part. His career has been spent teaching in schools founded and sustain by members of this church, hence from them he has drawn his sustenance. Within a few short years, some had essentially abandoned the search for truth...They elevated their rejection of creeds to the status of a creedal statement...for all practical purpose, these people had turned their backs on the genius of their own tradition (p. 34).
- He paints an accurate picture of a contemporary change congregation: restorationist churches constitute a perpetual feeder for the evangelical establishment. This is a way of saying that authentically restorationist churches are by definition sectarian. As they move toward denominational status, however, they almost invariably move into the orbit of evangelical Christianity (p. 111). There is, perhaps no better example of the transition from restorationist sect to evangelical denomination than the Churches of Christ... (p.112). He should qualify this by saying, Churches of Christ of the change movement!
- He identifies the belief that drives the change agents, it is a newfound theology of grace (p. 132).
- This book is a vivid example of postmodern thinking. This worldly philosophy argues that truth is unattainable; that all things are relative and there are no moral and spiritual absolutes. He tells us, Our fathers argued that no human being can capture the truth, possess the truth, codify the truth, preserve the truth, dispense the truth, or guard the truth. Instead, each of us much search for truth, and that search is a search that is never completely finished (p. 30). Of course he offers no documentation for this outlandish assertion. It does however tell us much about the author.
- He reasons that the goal of restoration is, that every Christian must return to the biblical text time and time again, constantly rethinking his /her beliefs and opinions in the light of Gods holy word (p. 34). What he wants to convey is that we cannot be certain of our understanding of baptism, the nature of the church, the role of women in leadership, the question of instrumental music in worship, etc. I would ask him if he is sure about such doctrines as monotheism, the deity of Christ, the reality of heaven, salvation by grace? How can he be sure of his faith? Does he have to keep searching?
- He labors long and hard to convince us we cannot understand Gods revelation sufficiently to say, this is that which the prophets spoke (Acts 2:16). Jesus said, Ye shall know the truth (John 8:32), but Dr. Hughes says we cannot know the truth. But then Jesus did not have his doctorate, did he? Hughes tell us that God refuses to be confined by words, even biblical words; and therefore shatters every formula, every definition, every pattern, every plan, every from of orthodoxy... (p. 46). By his doctrine, he has no pattern, no standard, no sure way of knowing Gods will for how to serve him; only a blind leap of subjective faith and the wistful hope that God will have mercy on him! He assures us, As envisioned by the founders of our movement, this ecumenical thrust never depended on the ability of human beings to arrive at the truth or to agree on a set of theological propositions... (p. 31). Thus I suppose we should embrace in fellowship everyone who claims to be a Christian, all of whom are hopelessly searching for illusive truth.
- He repeatedly implies that members of Churches of Christ, other than his circle of change agents, pretend to be infallible and absolute masters of all of Gods truth. Yet in 47 years of preaching among our people I have yet to encounter even one who so claimed.
- The author tells us the dominant theme of Churches of Christ in our early years was our commitment to the conviction, that God is God and all human beings are fallible. (p. 35). He oft repeats this profound theological and philosophical truth but he offers no documentation to sustain it. Can he find anywhere, at any time a leader among our brethren who did not in fact recognize God alone as God and all human beings as fallible? Just one! He finally gets around to saying, Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone seldom made direct and explicit statements to that effect, but they pointed unmistakenly to their convictions in that regard... (p. 53). Where? This airy statement bears the musty smell of the seminary and most likely had its origin in the lectures or writings of some denominational professor. It is profound but meaningless for the discussion at hand.
- Change agents like Hughes delight in finding some ill-conceived, ill- stated line by a brother and then asserting that such dribble is representative of all conservative men...those not of his tribe. He delights in setting the extreme views of prominent men against the general consensus of other mature brethren. This he does with David Lipscombs views on Civil Government and Barton Stones views on Premillennialism. He fails to note that David Lipscomb fought the change agents of his generation hook and claw until he grew too old to do so.
One of the few useful things in this book is Dr. Hughes portrait of the liberal change element that has arisen to prominence among us. Note the characteristics of these people:
- He wants to convince us that we are in fact a denomination and should not claim otherwise (p.51-52).
- He wants to convince us that Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone were the founders of our tradition (p. 48).
- That the founding generation expressed no interest in restoring the true Church of Christ (p. 37). It is too bad that those first generation restoration preachers did not understand this. They would not have worked so hard to win members of sectarian bodies to the church they served.
- Along with other change agents he wants us to treat the Bible as a narrative that tells the story of Gods mighty deeds on behalf of the world which he created, which he seeks to redeem and over which he someday will triumph when his rule is complete (p. 186). He should tell us if there are any commandments to be obeyed? If so, which? Perhaps he would explain those two reference which speak of Gods word as a pattern and tell us why they do not mean what they say (II Tim. 1:13; Heb. 8:5).
- To Dr. Hughes the defeat of premillennialism in our ranks was unfortunate.
- The destruction of the apocalyptic vision (includes premillennialism) severely weakened both the restoration vision and the counter cultural dimensions of Churches of Christ ... (p. 116). If he feels that a belief in premillennialism is so important, he could find it by transferring his membership to the Independent Baptists.
- He wants us to accept women in leadership roles in the church. He describes Gods limitation on women in church leadership as subjugation of women (p. 89). He would negate the plainly stated restrictions on women (I Cor. 14:33-34; I Tim. 2:11-12) by citing Pauls words, There is neither male nor female, for ye are all one in Christ (Gal. 3:26-29). The fact is that God did not in some other verse place limitation on people regarding ethnicity or social status as he did on gender!
- He labors hard to convince his readers that the best minds among us have always believed that one could be a faithful Christian while an active member of a human denomination. No doubt a few exceptions could be found, but the overwhelming majority of our brethren have not thought or said such. Only with the advent of the change movement has such become widespread.
- Like other liberals in the social, political and religious realm, Dr. Hughes wants the church to involve itself in their social agenda. He frequently mentions our failure to respond to the issues of poverty, racism and war (p. 87), and the subjugation of women (p. 89). Why Churches of Christ took so little interest in social ethics. Why, for example were we so reluctant to see the implications the gospel holds for large-scale issues of peace and justice? (The anti-war movement of the 60s and the Civil Rights Movement, JHW). Why were we so reluctant to confront the issue of racial segregation...why did Churches of Christ take so little interest in the great moral issues that convulsed the country during the turbulent years of the 1960s? (p. 58). He faults brethren because they sometimes cast their lot with the forces of law and order that sought to subdue the voices of dissent (p. 61). Almost never did white, mainstream Churches of Christ support the great swelling movement on behalf of peace and justice that captured the minds of so many Americans... (p. 61). As a true liberal he cannot imagine an intelligent person not agreeing with his agenda. He cannot understand that many of us preferred law and order to those motley crowds of anarchists rioting in our cities. Nor can he understand how Christians could work within the church to change sinful attitudes about race without joining the Civil Rights political movement. Dr. Hughes faults todays church for the failures of past generation in dealing with slavery (1810-1865) and segregation. In this he follows the example of the social and political liberals. They cannot concede the progress made because they spend their time dwelling on the failures of the past. We do not deny the failures of past generations, but we recognize the great progress that has occurred. He constantly labors to paint white mainstream churches of Christ as molded and shaped by their culture. I would ask him if black Christians and churches are shaped by their culture? Are the academic communities at ACU and Pepperdine U molded and shaped by their culture?
Change agents like Dr. Hughes like to talk about radical faith, discipleship and commitment, but observation reveals it is radical liberalism, not Gods ways they are calling us to. Bro. Hughes is a man he describes as swallowed by one strain...of the popular religious culture that dominates much of American Christianity today (p. 133). He is immersed in postmodernism, a thorough going liberal, who is trying to reshape our people after his own philosophical image. I feel sorry for this brother. His much learning and his academic environment have poisoned his heart against the church of his parents and his early life. They have filled him with a spiteful arrogance towards it and his fellow-Christians. He really needs to break out of this church which he holds in such low esteem and migrate to one whose social agenda is more attuned to his; perhaps the United Methodist or the Episcopal church. His book is pure poison, it would have been far better had it been stillborn.
- They worked to enhance their colleges by appealing to the budgets of local congregations through a variety of promotional strategies, through increasingly complex institutional structures, and through a vast building campaign, aimed at giving Churches of Christ more viability in the affluent and respectable parts of town.
- Following the 1960s, other developments suggested the Churches of Christ (make that liberal congregations and preachers) were rapidly turning their backs on their Restorationist heritage and moving into the evangelical orbit.
- The distinctly evangelical theme of justification by grace through faith became the norm in their preaching.
- A therapeutic gospel, coupled with an emphasis on family values...dominated many Church of Christ pulpits.
- Worship sometimes verged on entertainment.
- And many urban Churches adopted church growth strategies that had more in common with the Willow Creek Church (Independent Protestant Denomination in Illinois JHW) than with that traditional heritage ( p. 117).
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now
|This message has been edited by ConcernedMembers from IP address 220.127.116.11 on Feb 22, 2004 1:46 PM|
BOOKS EVERY CHURCH LEADER SHOULD READ
|March 8 2004, 2:37 AM |
BOOKS EVERY CHURCH LEADER SHOULD READ
An uninformed preacher or elder is at best a weak leader. At worst, he can be dangerous in that he may inadvertently lead his people into destructive situations that he did not perceive as dangerous. Every preacher and elder needs to inform himself about the separation and division that occurred in our Restoration Movement at the opening of the 20th century. Today, the same scenario is being repeated. Bro. Homer Hailey's excellent book, "Attitudes and Consequences of the Restoration Movement" identifies the attitudes that resulted in the departure that is now seen in the Disciples of Christ/Christian Churches.
A few years back James DeForrest Murch wrote a valuable history of the Restoration Movement entitled, "Christians Only."
Being a prominent leader of the Independent Christian Churches, Murch had a perspective that is especially valuable. The following paragraph from his book contains a lesson every leader of our people needs to hear.
"Within the last generation the Church of Christ has made a phenomenal growth. This is due to two things: (1) Its people have stood like a Rock of Gibraltar for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints,' amid the doubt and confusion superinduced by liberalism. They have challenged the spirit of compromise and worldliness and dared to be a peculiar people' teaching and practicing what they believe is the Bible way of life. (2) They have come to realize that the silence of the Scriptures must be respected, but that obedience to its silences permits freedom of judgment and action" (p. 313).Francis A. Schaeffer
was a powerful conservative leader among the Presbyterians and other evangelical Protestants. He had a tremendous influence from the 1960s until his death. One of Dr. Schaeffer's most valuable books is entitled, "The Great Evangelical Disaster." In it he demonstrates how conservative, Bible-believing churches have been infiltrated by and victimized by liberal theology; how that false system weaken their voices and divided their ranks.
His analysis is a veritable profile of what is currently happening to Churches of Christ. When you read his observations, just substitute the words, "Churches of Christ" for his term "evangelicals" and you will quickly see the pertinence of his points.
Only Hailey's book is still in print, but a good used book dealer can probably locate you a copy of the others. Also they could most likely be borrowed from the library of a Christian College.
|This message has been edited by ConcernedMembers from IP address 18.104.22.168 on Mar 8, 2004 8:41 AM|
TRUSTING WOMEN a Review
|March 21 2004, 1:31 AM |
TRUSTING WOMEN a Review
, (The way of women in churches of Christ) is a recent publication issued by New Leaf Books of Orange Calif
. New Leaf is a perennial spring of materials promoting the agenda of the change movement
. Billie Silvey is the editor of this book of essays by women affiliated with the Lords church
. Harold Shank of the Highland Church of Christ in Memphis expresses the view of change agents concerning the message of this book These writers say things about Churches of Christ that nobody else is saying, things that nobody else can say. He feels it contains things that should have been said long ago.
This reviewer and others of a conservative bent, would describe it as a coming out statement
of women who have rejected Gods Word and the limitations it sets on their filling roles of congregational leadership and public teaching in His church. Preferring the teaching of feminism to that of the Holy Spirit, they express their frustration with preachers, elders and congregations that would not allow them to use their talents in the leadership and public worship of the church.
This book is noteworthy in that is a declaration of the first women preachers to surface among our churches in over a hundred years. True, women preachers emerged among the digressive churches that separated from us at the end of the 19th century, but had no place among our brethren until recently.
- There is Katie Hays, one time ministeress of the Cahaba Valley Church of Christ in Birmingham, AL, now preaching for the West Islip Church of Christ in Long Island, NY.
- There is DEsta Love, chaplain of Pepperdine University and member of the Malibu Church of Christ whose elders made a statement to the church that made it possible for women to read from the Scriptures, to serve communion to the congregation, and to participate in periods of prayer in our worship (p. 128). She feels that her own religious tradition (i.e., Churches of Christ) had let her down. She reminiscences about thinking she would never have the opportunity to use her gifts of ministry in the church. It seems to me she could easily have walked away from a church so tightly bound and limited by Scripture and gone to the Disciples of Christ, the Methodists, Presbyterians or Pentecostals and instantly gone on payroll (p. 129). She tells us how folks like her get around such embarrassing passages as I Cor. 14:43-34 and I Tim. 2:8-14. We are finding tools for the analysis of scripture which allow us to view the role of women in the larger context of the biblical witness, rather than allow two heavily disputed passages to relegate women to a silent role (p. 130). She believes that God called (her) to Pepperdine University and has opened doors of opportunity for service that could not have been possible elsewhere (p. 131). In this she is probably right, except of course she could have gone to Abilene Christian University and done as well.
- There is Amy Henegar, hospital chaplain, who preaches Sunday sermons at the hospital chapel.
- There is Karen Logan who found her inspiration from a statement of faith by Christians for Biblical Equality published in the denominational journal, Christianity Today.
- Joyce Hardin argues that women can do anything except be elders, preachers or Bible teachers of Christian men (p. 57) . For this concession we do give her credit. But she informs us that she does not...understand why those restrictions are placed on women (p. 57).
- Pat Boultinghouse tells us how she found her freedom from the old Biblical restrictions while working for Howard Publishing Co. of West Monroe, LA. With the help and encouragement of Alton and John Howard, she and her husband launched Image magazine, precursor of Wineskins. She tells of working with influential leaders of the change movement such as Joe Beam, Ruble Shelly, Lynn Anderson, Jeff Walling, Mike Cope, Terry Rush and Marvin Phillips (p. 135). She asks, Do we lift up our Lord and draw others to him when we rigidly hold to human traditions and a fifties culture (p.141). I remind her and others of like-mind that the limitations on women in the leadership and worship of the church originated with the apostles in the first century, not the 1950s.
- Sherrylee Woodward acknowledges that, During those tender devotions of the late sixties youth rallies, my crowd first began to wonder about applying the pattern for church worship, order and leadership when the church was not in church. (p. 191). It is fair to assume that much of the change agenda had it origin in the period of the sixties and in the environment of youth meetings. Young people who were poorly taught and led then are now the forty-something adults who are emerging as leaders of our churches. Raised on entertainment and emotionalism they know not what we believe nor why we worship as we do. Nor do they care much for what the Scriptures says.
- Lucille Todd and her friend, felt the Holy Spirit moving (them) (p. 209) .
- Karen Logan tells us she was blessed to be at a progressive church where she enjoyed the worship of hand-raising and singing (p. 228). She wonders, Where is the verse that says a woman cannot lead a prayer? (p. 22). We could ask, Where is the verse that says we cannot sprinkle babies for baptism? Of course this is the wrong question. The question is where is the verse that says women can lead in public worship? She believes that God was preparing (her) to teach gender equality using this ministry of drama (p. 232).
In reading this volume, one is impressed that virtually all of these liberated women who aspire to public leadership in the Lords church got their education and or inspiration from universities operated by members of the Churches of Christ. The most notable influence coming from Abilene Christian University
and Pepperdine University
. This is important information for those who care for the church and want to see this apostasy contained. Whenever there is an outbreak of food poisoning public health workers look for the source. When blatant heresy breaks out in the church we too must look for the source. This book provides the answer. All who read Trusting Women will agree with Harold Shank who, in his commendation of this book, rightly said, This is not an academic volume or a book on Bible study. It is rather a declaration of women who no longer accept the Bible as their spiritual standard
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now
|This message has been edited by ConcernedMembers from IP address 22.214.171.124 on Mar 21, 2004 8:27 AM|
THE CHURCH IN TRANSITION (a review)
|April 29 2004, 1:56 AM |
THE CHURCH IN TRANSITION (a review)
James S. Woodroof has preached some 50 years among us. His book, published in 1990, was a precursor of numerous similar books calling for changes to the faith, worship and practices of Churches of Christ. Transition is a code word for change. Bro. Woodroof is a smooth, skillful advocate of change; more subtle and diplomatic than most of his fellows.
This book is not totally bad. The careful reader will find a few insightful observations in its pages.
On the opening page, the author seeks to establish credibility by identifying himself and his revolutionary ideas with the late G. C. Brewer, icon of brotherhood scholarship and soundness. Bro. Brewer wrote a wonderful book entitled As Touching Those Who Were Once Enlightened dealing with the change agents of his day. He would be no friend to those today who are tearing down what he labored to build.
Bro. W. well describes the thinking of those among us demanding change. Note: Often when a church or a movement reaches the point I believe we have reached, it suddenly becomes pragmatically ecumenical. Abandoning its convictions, it bands together with others who are suffering the same fate. Through organizational union they together hope to stay afloat by jointly dismantling their rudders. Thus crippled, they drift into uncertain waters (p. 6). No more succinct portrait of the change agents and their churches could be painted.
The author says he is concerned about those who are in danger of embarking on uncharted waters without a compass (p. 7), but in actuality his book paved the way for much of the abuse and apostasy that now flourishes among us.
Bro. W. believes, Until we get our own house in order we have no right nor reason to address the broader problem of division among those outside our movement (p. 8). There were also problems of division in first century churches. Did that disqualify the apostles to address the broader problem of division? But they did so, did they not? And so should we. He makes a confession befitting for all change agents. It seems self-defeating to write a book advocating unity if the book itself is written in a way which only produces more division (p. 8). This spotlights a characteristic of the advocates of change; they justify their divisive actions, by charging those who do not accept them with being divisive.
The writer says, We are a people of the Book (p. 15). More correctly he should say, we (change agents) were formerly a people of the Book. The champions of change ridicule our emphasis on the Book, calling it legalism, patternism and other uncomplimentary names. They prefer story telling to book chapter and verse preaching. They delight in citing theologians and denominational leaders to establish their points.
He has warm words for three journals that have promoted his concept of unity: Leroy Garretts Restoration Review, Carl Ketchersides Mission Messenger and Victor Knowles One Body (p. 17). Bros. Garrett and Ketcherside were formerly leaders of the Mutual Edification Churches (anti-located preacher). When that movement floundered, they then converted and became leaders of the most liberal element among us and were never accepted in fellowship by the great body of our people. Victor Knowles is a minister of the Christian Church. This puts a clearer focus on Bro. Woodroofs dream for our churches. He cites as positive examples of folks seeking Christian unity the Abilene Christian University Lectures
, the Tulsa Workshop
and the Kiamichi Clinic of the Christian Churches in Oklahoma
(p. 18). Since ACU is the fountainhead of the change movement
, this clarifies where our brother finds his inspiration.
To Bro. W. Our burning desire to be biblical has blinded us to the need to be tolerant towards others who have the same desire but who have arrived at somewhat different conclusions (p. 21). If a burning desire to be biblical is sinful we freely confess our guilt. We must be tolerant in all areas that are not fundamental to Christianity and salvation. Even Paul and John were intolerant to those who preached another gospel and went beyond the doctrine of Christ (Gal. 1:8; II John 9). Interestingly, the author tells us that he came to know and love Jesus Christ long after he had been baptized, educated and trained as a minister and preacher. He was a missionary in New Zealand when he was finally converted (p. 26). He says, We have searched the Scriptures, thinking, that in them we have eternal life; and not realizing it is He who is the life, we have failed to come to Him that we may have life. We, like they, have become enamored by the written word to the point of becoming oblivious to the Living Word (p. 29). This is a heavy indictment to lay upon some 2 million Christians around the world, the most of whom, it is fair to say, he has never met. Can he bring forth an example of any member of the church who is oblivious to the Living Word i.e. Jesus? Jesus said, the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and are life (John 7:63). Does Bro. W. believe that we can be saved without the Scripture or by neglecting them? If the Word is of so little value, why does he bother to preach the Bible?
He quotes the early Christian, Eusebius, who wrote of some in his day who ...treat the divine Scriptures recklessly and without fear. They have set aside the rule of ancient faith; and Christ they have not known. They do not endeavor to learn what the Divine Scripture declare, but strive laboriously after any form of syllogism which may be derived to sustain their impiety. And if anyone brings before them a passage of Divine Scripture, they see whether a conjunctive or disjunctive syllogism can be made from it... (p. 30). One can only conclude that the Bro. W. uses this interesting quote to strike a blow against brethren who have effectively used syllogistic arguments in controversy with those who were promoting change. It is wrong and unfair to imply that great thinkers like Bro. Thomas Warren in any way, set aside the ancient faith or that they did not know Christ, or did not endeavor to learn what the Divine Scripture declare preferring to make a syllogism. Perhaps the author has felt the sting of Bro. Warrens piercing logic.
Bro. W. says, We had no more right (maybe not as much, in view of Pauls statement) to preach only the last part of the good news than Billy Graham had to preach only the first part (p. 33). First he should point out to us the preacher who has taught only the last part of the good news. Having done that, he needs to elaborate on Billy Graham having more right to preach only the first part of the good news. Can we conclude from this that Bro. W. would consider the man who preached salvation by faith alone
as more faithful to Christs commission than the man who preached salvation by faith and baptism
( Mark 16:16)? Such reasoning helps us understand why numerous change churches have participated in Billy Graham crusades.
It also explains why men such as Max Lucado
are now preaching that salvation is by grace through faith, before obedience to gospel commands.
The writer tells us, There is much uncertainty and mounting unrest among members of the Church of Christ today (p. 44). But he does not say that such is only among those primed and prepped by the agents of change. That those under their influence are restless and uncertain is obvious to all. But they are only a small part of the whole. Most members of the church continue to hold to the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3) and are happy and confident in their faith.
In defense of himself and his fellow promoters of change, Bro. W. says, those addressing the issue are not causing the problem, but are merely acknowledging the presence of it and attempting to offer some answers? (p. 44). Those familiar with our history know that there has never been a false teacher or agitator who troubled the church who felt he was causing a problem. It has always been their response that those who refuse to heed their demands were at fault.
The author makes an interesting concession on p. 45: There are some mega-churches reporting increase, but most of them must admit that the majority of their growth comes from swelling; i.e., by absorbing members from other congregations about them.
His observation is absolutely correct. Speaking of promotionalism, he notes, The mega-churches which provide the community with a wide selection of services are most susceptible to this trap (p. 51) Agreed! Without promotionalism they would wither away. Their recruits would flock to the denominational mega-churches with more elaborate programs. It is primarily in the mega-churches that the change agents have been well received.
Bro. W. charges, the traditional approach to the Holy Spirit by Churches of Christ had been one of ignoring him. We generally believed that when the written word was completed, the Spirits work was forever done (p. 49). Would he tell us just who has believed and taught this about the Holy Spirit. It is common to hear liberals make such unsubstantiated charges against the Lords people and the unknowing take them as facts. In reality they are exaggerated falsehoods. He thinks that the thing that kept us from being swept away by the emotionalism of the early Stone movement was the excesses of Pentecostalism (p.50). He does not perceive that the greater reason was the lack of Biblical authority for such behavior that made our people reject that emotionalism.
While change agents call for a new hermeneutic that will free the rest of us from the old command, example or necessary inference approach to the Bible
, they interpret every scripture through the prism of change. Woodroof interprets the historical record of the acceptance of the Gentiles into the church from a pejorative point of view, seeing events in their worst light. He exaggerates the extent of the problem with Peter and the other apostles (p. 65-66). Concerning the acceptance of the Gentiles, he writes, But why all the resistance to this God-ordained transition? Why did Gods people oppose Gods plan? Why was there entrenched opposition, such prolonged resistance? (p. 67) To build his case for change today, he writes as if the failure of some Jewish brethren was the failure of the whole! This is not sound exegesis!
The author writes, Fear of change may also explain the actions of some who attempt to follow Jesus: fear to move forward, fear to make peace, fear to open dialog. It is, however, a hallmark of true discipleship that disciples follow Jesus wherever he might lead... Jesus was an outspoken advocate of change (p.68). He assumes that the leadership of the change agents is the same as Christs leadership.
Christ came with a new religion. Can we conclude that is what the change folks have to offer us? Christ was empowered of God to institute change; they are not. Christs change was heaven-ordained; theirs seeks to change what Christ has given us.
It is impressive to note how all change agents tend to say the same thing, use a common vocabulary and examples.
This suggests that all have been to the same schools and seminars and read the same books and journals. It is as if they studied the same manual. I wish one of them would tell us the original sources from which they are gathering their materials. I can predict that they are from denominational churchmen who know nothing of, nor care a whit for going back to the Bible, finding and practicing New Testament Christianity.
Bro. W. says, Much of what the Jewish Christians had to recognize as baggage was not just that which resulted from human accumulation, but also that which had come to them through divine revelation (p. 74). This leads me to ask is this where he and his associates are heading? Do they expect us to surrender to change that which is of divine revelation? The author acknowledges that the things they wish to change are things we can go to our graves practicing... (S)hould we recognize that we too are a church in transition; there probably will be no massive revolution in our worship practices or in the general manner in which we believe religiously (p.77). Paul warned that by their smooth and fair speech (divisive teachers) deceive the hearts of the innocent (Rom. 16:18) Here are some of the changes already being widely promoted. You decide if they would effect a massive revolution in the worship of your congregation. * Instrumental music in worship, * choirs and solos; *the Lord Supper as part of a pot luck meal; * hand clapping and applause in worship; * women teachers and preachers; * no more gospel preaching, rather story telling and drama; * accepting our status as a denomination; * fellowshipping denominational bodies, * allowing their preachers to fill our pulpits; * people being saved by confessing Christ and praying the sinners prayer. If these changes would not be revolutionary in your congregation, it is evidence that the change movement is already entrenched there.
Bro. W. tell us, We...are faced with unremitting prospect of their being Christians on earth, as fully acceptable to God as we, who do not look and act exactly like us (p. 77). He does not have in mind unknown souls who on their own have searched the Scriptures and found the way of salvation, rather he has in mind our denominational neighbors. He along with other change agents likes to hold up before the world the various divisions that have occurred over the years and blame us with responsibility for them. Look at the thirty or more official divisions among us... (p. 77). Some folks exaggerate. That some brethren disagree on whether Christian should go to war does not constitute an official division; nor does disagreement about women wearing head coverings; nor most of the 30 he mentions. Many today can agree to disagree on numerous nonessentials that once troubled our fathers. The process is called maturation. By the way, I wonder what makes a division official.
He charges, We have been guilty of severing the body of Jesus from limb to limb. We have divided over such matters as cups and kitchens, organs and orphans, race and ritual, pastors and personalities, contribution and cooperation and a host of other things (p. 78) This does have a cute poetic ring but it is exaggerated and seeks to blame all with the sins of the few. I ask Bro. Woodroof and his fellow agents of change, how he would respond if an element arose in the church where he preaches demanding that he not be paid for his work, or that they remove their fellowship facility or that they use only one cup in communion? Would he concede out of love, tolerance and a desire for unity? Would he try to teach them? If he saw them gaining ground among his members and threatening to overwhelm the leadership what would he do? If the mistaken brethren were frustrated in their attempts to impose their opinions for change and withdrew themselves and started a new congregation, would it be his fault or theirs?
He says, We like the Jewish Christians of the first century, have been sitting in a position of sectarian elitism for years (p. 86). Does this include Bro. W. and his Christian ancestors? Does it include his fellow change agents, or only those who do not embrace his call for change? Name-calling proves nothing. But it does reflect the authors degree of love and appreciation for the church of Christ and his brethren within it. He tells us, I have spent, and am presently spending, my life pursuing pure doctrine. But I insist on letting God determine what that doctrine is...(p. 94). Would he inform us just how God tells him what is central and what is peripheral doctrine? Does he have a source of information beyond the Bible that the rest of us mortals have? He says, Jesus himself was preached as the only message. There was no other (p. 107). Why then did the Holy Spirit guide the apostles to write the epistles if they are unneeded and per him the root of our lack of unity? He notes, there have been believers in every generation, especially among restorationists, who so revered their own traditions that they felt justified in excluding all other believers who did not totally share their beliefs. This is purely and simply sectarianism... Based on a few cases, he proceeds to casts guilt on the whole body of Christians.
On one hand he argues that we should just preach Christ and not let doctrine divide us. But then he says, the call for us to preach Gods message and let that be enough has nothing to do with the ongoing need to nourish and strengthen the new convert in the whole counsel of God. It does not advocate abandoning the letters of the Apostles which address the further equipping of the saints or the organizing of the church to be the body of Christ in the local community. It does not negate the addressing of specific problems of the corporate church and the correcting of abuses... (p. 110-111). He wants it both ways. Preach Christ and that is enough, all else is divisive. But we do need to preach from the epistles and address the specific needs of the church. These opposites cancel each other, do they not? Why then does he fault us for preaching the whole counsel of God; Gospels, Acts, Epistles and Revelation?
He writes, We have shed blood to establish the sufficiency of that God-designed process apart from denomination accretions. Surely we will not abandon it now... (p. 111). But it is Bro. Woodroof and his coworkers who are in fact trying to change (i.e., abandon), the faith, worship and practice, that God designed for his people.
He states, I have often said that Rom. 14:1-15:7 is the Spirits attempt to clean up the mess caused by the events in Acts 10 (p. 119). Although he later attempts to soften this rash statement, it borders on blasphemy. The Holy Spirit does not attempt, he does. The divine instruction of Peter and the opening of the door of salvation to the Gentiles in Acts 10 was no mess. It was one of the epochal events in sacred history.
He charges, Any thoughtful assessment of the 20th century Church of Christ will drive us to the conclusion that we as a movement, instead of an instrument to the glory of God, are to a great extent, an occasion of embarrassment and cause of shame to God (p. 120). Does he include himself and his change comrades in this indictment? Does this describe congregations where he has preached? Without doubt he is embarrassed by his association with Churches of Christ! Like all liberals, he finds loveliness in denominational bodies and naught but sores and ugliness in the Lords church! For those who say we divided over convictions, well it may seem that way on the surface,, and we may wish it to be that in reality, but that is seldom, if ever, the case (p. 121). I take it that he feels we had no scriptural basis to refuse to go with the Christian Churches and Disciples of Christ when they introduced their changes! If so he should bid us goodbye and go to them. He would surely be more comfortable there.
The more conservative church...must not condemn the church which (is)...more liberal (p. 123). This is what his book is all about. He wants us to allow the liberal change agents do their work; to effect their changes without question or challenge. How convenient for them!
He labors to convince us that their changes are not really bad, but only in the minds of we whom he judges to be weak Christians. He writes, The uncleanness lies inside a person and not in the things themselves which lie outside the person (p. 125). But there surely are things he would object to: adoration of images, a pope, infant baptism, etc. etc. Are these things wrong only inside the person?
He endorses the Bulls Eye approach to evaluating scriptures. We are left to wonder if Bro. Bill Love got the idea for his book by that title from Bro. Jim Woodroof or did Bro. W. get his idea form Bro. Love? After deriding us for not spending more time in the gospels and too much time and emphasis on the epistles, he then spends much time and space in Romans chapters 14 and 15 to make his case for his change agenda. Working on Rom. 15:17-18, he writes, ...the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit. He who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God. He then concludes with these remarkable words, Does not he also then, imply that a person who fails to view the kingdom in this way is not acceptable to God? Is not this a necessary inference? (p. 141). Earlier he faulted us for using logic, making deductions and drawing inferences. Such, says he, is divisive. But when he needs it, he does just that. I suppose it is acceptable to do so if you are promoting the change platform, but not if you are objecting to it. He states, Since the kingdom consists of righteousness, peace and joy...it follows that we should then be in pursuit of that, and be forever finished with division and strife... (p. 145). Per him we should never spend time opposing error taught and practiced by others. But notice that he and other change agents do just that against us, continually. If it is good of them, why not for us? He and his brethren remind one of the anti-war demonstrators at work in our cities. To protest our nations war against the cruel tyrant of Bagdad, they throw rocks and bottles at the peace officers tying to maintain the peace of the community.
Speaking of the early days of our movement, he says, In those days, when such massive theological jungles had to be cleared and the boundaries of doctrine identified and staked out, we were able to provide honorable and intelligent men of integrity to do battle for the truth and defend the faith. We own much to those giants who gave their lives in pursuit and propagation of truth (p. 149). If such was a good and noble pursuit then, why is it not now? Most change agents prefer to hurl rocks at those early champions who cleared the road for them to travel. He says, Instead of going to the uttermost parts of the earth to preach Jesus as the Christ to the lost and unchurched (Lk 5:31-32), we remained close to the camps of those who considered themselves saved and occupied ourselves with preaching reactionary theology... (p. 150). Note he feels we should not seek to win those who already believe in Christ and think themselves saved. That would include members of all religious denominations. This speaks volumes about Bro. Woodroofs thinking. Were Priscilla and Aquila mistaken in taking time to each Apollos and win him over? Or was Paul wrong for teaching and rebaptizing those twelve men of Ephesus?
He derides self-appointed defenders of the faith committed to...keeping the church pure (p. 151). But change agents such as Bro. Woodroof are self-appointed saviors of the church with their own variety of unity with Christian Churches. They too are warring against legalism, traditionalism.
If it is wrong for us, why is it right for them? Is their case special?
He states, Whenever two groups thus separate...more than likely the division indicates that neither has the mind of Christ at allnot at the time of separation or later...the longer each group goes along without the influences of the other, the less likely either will possess the mind of Christ (p. 166). Does he include our fathers who refused to go with the progressives of last century whom we know as Disciples of Christ/Christian Churches? If so, then all of his years of service have been with an illegitimate body that is not likely to possess the mind of Christ.
To Bro. Woodroof, Churches of Christ are a denomination, born of the division with the Disciples of Christ. We dont like to hear criticism that would imply that we may be a denomination. But the time has come of Churches of Christ to redefine the term denomination... (p. 167). By that redefinition, he means we should accept our status as a denomination and not insist that we are the true church of Christ founded by Jesus. This being the case, when he went as a missionary to New Zealand he was in reality a denominationalist sowing and practicing denominationalism. When he has preached here at home he did so as a denominational preacher to congregations of denominational people.
The message of The Church in Transition reminds one of a fountain that offers from the same opening both sweet water and bitter (Jas. 3:11). That which is good is tainted by that which is false. The value of this book is to know just what this prominent author really believes about the Church of Christ, our faith, our practice and our people. It demonstrates the destination the agents of change have in mind to take us. It makes us aware of how serious our problem is. It also gives us a good insight as to where much of the thinking of lesser men comes from.
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now
THE CRUCIFORM CHURCH (a review)Part 1
|May 29 2004, 2:42 AM |
THE CRUCIFORM CHURCH (a review)
C. Leonard Allen
issued this book in 1990. It is important because it is one of the earlier books promoting the change agenda
. It continues the project that began with his two previous books, Discovering Our Roots: the Ancestry of Churches of Christ and The Worldly Church; A Call for Biblical Renewal
(p. ix). Bro. Allen was at the time of writing, an associate professor at Abilene Christian University's College of Biblical Studies. Thoughts, phrases and expression from this book echo in many of the speeches and books of other change agents that have followed him. I think it fair to say that Bro. Allen is a chief theoretician and architect of the change movement that is ravaging our churches.
The author dedicates his work to Dr. Thomas Olbricht of Pepperdine U., father of the New Hermeneutics. It is a veritable handbook for seducing unwitting Christians and churches away from their biblical roots and into the camp of the change movement.
Allen and other change agents hide behind a mask of pretended piety and concern for the church while, chipping away at her foundations to effect her collapse. He gives lip service to his "debt to Churches of Christ" yet he acknowledges that he questions and critiques "some aspects of (his) heritage..." He wants to "stand free from the influence of tradition" [i.e. his heritage in the Church of Christ jhw] (p. ix). He concludes that his faith, learned in the Church of Christ, needs "careful alterations" (p. x). In this book he attempts to ingraft those alterations to faith upon his readers.
The word "cruciform
" means "a cross-shaped church
." It is a picturesque term borrowed from the denominational world and likely was intended to disarm readers who would think it was a positive, constructive attempt to bring the church closer to Christ. For many, by the time they grasp its true intent, the damage will have been done.
Allen critiques the way we read Scriptures; the way we view God; the place we give to the cross of Christ; our stance towards the world; our portrayal of Christ-like character and gives us failing marks in each category (p. 14-15). If I were a member of church that I found so flawed, I would be looking for a different body with more promise
. Hopefully Bro. Allen and his tribe will do just that
Having read some 15 books by various change agents, I am impressed that all of them must read the same books or listen to the same thought leaders. They use the same examples, make the same criticisms and propose the same changes!
, like Allen, like to identify with illustrious teachers of the past to validate their specious claims. Allen, claims Bro. G. C. Brewer as the icon whose ideas he is promoting. For the unknowing, the sacred name of Brewer may give them credence, but those familiar with G. C. Brewer's life and work know that he would not have given these false teachers the time of day. Brewer's two books, "As Touching Those Who Were Once Enlightened" and "A Medley on the Music Question" belie their claims. Brewer chastened those who left the church for the charms of denominationalism and those who vainly tried to justify the use of instrumental music in their worship.
He opens by telling us that "we
face a kind of identify crisis" (p 3). But it is not those of the "traditional" churches who are suffering from an identity crisis, it is the change agents and their converts who having abandoned the guiding principles of New Testament Christianity are blindly searching for meaning and direction in the realm of denominationalism and subjectivism.
Rather than faithfully preaching the sacred Word, he tells us, "we must learn to tell stories" (p. 4). Lacking scripture for what they believe, a story promotes their change doctrine well.
Allen dismisses the historical studies of other brethren as flawed and self-serving (p. 6). It is necessary for men of his tribe (i.e., change agents) to correctly interpret the past and debunk the things we believe and in which we trusted. He says, the historical approach our brethren have taken "has inhibited and dislocated our theological efforts" (p. 6). He assures us that his criticism of the church and her members past and present is not to be taken as carping, cutting down or fault-finding, but that is exactly how it impresses this reader! He acknowledges that we might interpret his criticism as "bashing the pioneers
" (p. 10). That is precisely what he is doing! Like all liberals, he seeks to build his case by discrediting great teachers of the past; men whose shoes he is unworthy to tie! Behold how the brass doth shine! What has Allen done to win the lost, plant new congregations and defend the church and the faith of Christ from those who are His mortal enemies? Allen contrasts his highly educated professorial peers with the humble, preachers of the past who were largely self-trained and pronounces his team the winner. But the proof is in the pudding. It was precisely those humble men who
went forth with minds filled with the Word hearts aflame and brought multitudes to Christ. They planted the churches and even established the schools the change agents now occupy and use for their new brand of religion.
Even today it is not the professors and those with the doctorates that go forth seeking and saving the lost! To Dr. Allen, of all the thousands of preachers and teachers among us for 200 years, only a handful of recent change agents, principally at Abilene Christian U and Pepperdine U have correctly understood the bible and its doctrines.
THE CRUCIFORM CHURCH (a review)Part 1 . . . to be continued
Reviewed by John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now
THE CRUCIFORM CHURCH (a review)Part 2
|May 30 2004, 1:26 AM |
THE CRUCIFORM CHURCH (a review)Continued
The author [C. Leonard Allen] dismisses past brethren such as N. B. Hardeman with the wave of his hand, charging him with a "serious dislocation of the past" (p. 8). Of course Bro. Allen assumes he is wiser and a better historian than Bro. Hardeman. The fact is, his biblical knowledge, his ability as a teacher and preacher and most especially his usefulness to the Cause of Christ pales as a dim shadow beside Hardeman!
He says, we must "face the challenge of rethinking our traditional way of reading the Bible"
(p. 19). "Some (namely change agents, jhw) have consciously rejected their (traditional jhw) methodology of interpretation and begun casting about for new ones" (p. 19). He assures us that "the traditional view"
(i.e. of biblical interpretation, jhw) is in decline
. While this is true of change agents and the schools they control, it is not true of the vast majority of our preachers and teachers. He warns that those who reject the traditional approach are "susceptible to theological fads" (p. 20). "The Bible becomes the self-help manual par excellence, a book containing just the things we like to hear. This current secularizing and psychologizing of Scripture provides another compelling reason we must rethink the role of the Bible in Christian faith" (p. 20). Rather than the way "traditional" churches handle scripture, this is a perfect portrait of how change agents such as Allen use it. He criticizes the way our preachers have studied and interpreted Scripture, yet most of them studied and were trained in schools like Abilene. So his indictment includes his own professional peers in our Christian Universities. It is true that some of our preachers did not have a good working knowledge of hermeneutics and some did not always rightly divide the more difficult parts of the Word, but one need not be a highly trained exegete to understand the basic lessons of salvation, the worship and the church. If such were so, how few would be able to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Allen charges that, "Our traditional approach violated the historical and literary character of the Bible" (p. 32). "Among Churches of Christ, the effect of the Baconian method was to shut down serious attention to Scripture's historical or cultural settings" (p. 33). I have always sought to discover the historical and cultural context and the literary style of the particular text I was studying. Maybe his early Biblical education failed him in this respect. It is true that we have not made our interpretation conform to the rationalistic canons of liberal theologians. Perhaps it is this he really objects to.
He says, "Our traditional way of reading the Bible has restricted our Spiritual resources for dealing with the advanced secularization of our time"
(p. 35). Does he suggest that the "new hermeneutic" produces a stronger, more courageous disciple who can better resist the temptations of our secular society? Are the students and graduates of Abilene and Pepperdine thus more godly and victorious than their peers from Freed Hardeman or Faulkner U? He asserts that our "traditional' hermeneutic hinders our compassion
(pp. 174-175). What a wild unfounded assumption. Does he claim that his change churches exhibit more compassion and benevolence than the traditional churches? He treats us to pages of theological gobbledegook and insists that, "the traditional approach....fostered a kind of spiritual self-reliance, proves theologically inadequate to address an individualistic, self-indulgent secularized age. How we might ask can a self-help Christianity direct increasingly self-indulgent people away from self" (p.37). But it is precisely the change agents who are preaching the self-help gospel!
This book is a promotional piece for the "New Hermeneutics." This new method of interpreting God's Word is an essential tool to create a mind-set willing to accept their innovations without question or dissent. If they can get novice Christians to read the Word through the tinted lenses of denominationalism, they can lead them anywhere with ease. With their new hermeneutic, they would create a religion without commands and ordinances that must be obeyed; one without obligations or accountability.
He sees his approach to Bible interpretation as "more faithful" than the method used by the rest of us (p. 11). Many of the alleged principles of their new hermeneutics are not really new. Much of what they claim to have discovered are basic principles of interpreting Scripture, known by all serious students of the Word for hundreds of years. Preacher students at their Christian universities may not have been taught these basic tools of information, but students in schools of preaching routinely receive this instruction. His critique of our methods of interpretation is flawed because it is built upon a mistaken premise that no one knows how to properly interpret Scripture but the he and his fellow change agents. "Given our familiar, traditional way of reading the Bible, however, such a move may well mean breaking with tradition and entering a strange and unfamiliar world" (p. 71). Change agents are the ones "breaking with tradition and entering a strange and unfamiliar world! "
Dr. Allen's view of Scripture is revealing. He says the "canonical list containing exactly the twenty-seven books we accept today appeared only by the fourth century, though even then there was not unanimity among the various Christian communities" (p. 56). Perhaps he could tell us who wrote those books of our Bible, not accepted until the fourth century after Christ. He should tell us if he believes all the 66 books of the Bible are equally inspired of God, as for example the Gospels
The arrogance and smugness of the change agents is illustrated in his discussion of our understanding of God. He writes as though he has discovered something new that all the rest of us "traditionals" have failed to grasp: that God is transcendent, omnipotent and capable of doing wondrous, stupendous things (p. 98). It is interesting to see him evaluate the Christian's view of God through the lens of atheistic philosophers such as Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872), Karl Marx (1818-1881) and Sigmund Freud (1856-1939).
Change agents like Allen delight in labeling the truths we hold dear as mere traditions that need to be abandoned for the new truths they have discovered.
Allen favorably quotes F. J. A. Hort who wrote, "the air is thick with bastard traditions which carry us captive, unawares while we seem to ourselves to be exercising our freedom and instinct for truth" (p. 11). While harshly criticizing our traditions, he insists that we must "take Christian traditions other than our own with great seriousness" (p. 11). He describes the impact his agenda will have on some Christians: "The effect of such an engagement might best be described as a theological loss of innocence" (p. 12). A "loss of innocence" suggests an experience like a seduction or rape, and in a spiritual sense, that is an apt description of occurs when change agents steal into a congregation.
Bro. Allen implies that all but his group of preachers and churches have "lost the word of the cross" (p. 113). The author is totally out of touch with reality! Only the theological liberals, whose works he cherishes, have lost the word of the cross! The preachers of the change movement, who resort to entertainment and drama to nourish their congregants are the ones who have lost the precious message of the cross. Other brethren continue to preach Christ today as always!
For Allen it is not enough that we believe in the omnipotent, transcendent God, the atoning death of Christ and that we preach those truths; we must plumb the mystery which is incomprehensible (p. 115-120). Allen bases his program on the premise that the true meaning of God's will is an incompressible mystery (p. 118). That being the case, how can we know anything for sure about God, Christ, the Bible and the Church? The very definition of a mystery is that which is not understood.
THE CRUCIFORM CHURCH (a review)Part 2 . . . to be continued
Reviewed by John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now
THE CRUCIFORM CHURCH (a review)Part 3
|June 1 2004, 2:34 AM |
THE CRUCIFORM CHURCH (a review)Continued
Bro. Allen has a huge misconception regarding Churches of Christ.
He builds his case on the faulty assumption that the Old Testament is universally neglected in our preaching and teaching, that we fail to appreciate and teach its great themes. Allen and other change agents have not actually found points of doctrine we have overlooked or neglected.
They have an elitist attitude of superiority and smugness towards their brethren who are not their academic peers and who do not share their appetite for change.
The author says that the church must be "a withdrawing community," yet change agents are the champions of mega churches with their elaborate social, recreational and entertainment programs
. They routinely make common cause with the world about us. Does the administration and staff of ACU or Pepperdine U live "withdrawn" from the world? One need only visit the campus of either school to get the answer. Are the churches the change agents serve free from worldly influences? Behold they say and do not!
Among his many criticisms of the church is that as a whole (specifically, we leaders, jhw) act as though we have no human history; that we have only the Biblical history of the early church. This is but one of the baseless assertions on which he erects his flimsy structure. A multitude of our preachers had courses in church history and restoration history while in our colleges and in virtually all did who attended our schools of preaching.
Books of brotherhood history and biography have enjoyed wide circulation among us over the years. While encouraging his readers to study our past he says, "One may become so keenly aware of the humanness of the tradition that one is tempted to reject it" (p. 13). This is precisely what he and other change agents have done! Allen paints what he imagines one might conclude about us as our history is studied. His description well describes the liberal change agents: "One may perceive serious theological distortions...or discern narrowness and intolerance. One may find overwhelming ironies in the movement (for example, the grandiose plan for unity, yet the runaway fragmentation that ensued). One may be frustrated by institutional intransigence" (p. 13). He confesses that he has felt a longing to start all over again, abandoning the church as she presently exists (13).
Chief among his criticisms are the following: "The central irony that has dogged our movement since its inception: the tendency to creedalize the absence of creeds, to make nonsectarian claims a centerpiece of one own sect, to make rejection of all human tradition a fixture of one's own robust tradition..." (p. 24).
He faults our understanding of the world and consequently our understanding of the Bible...blaming us for seeing the world through the eyes of Isaac Newton's view of nature rather than as did our predecessors in the Dark Ages. I wonder if Bro. Allen prefers that superstitious, medieval view of the world and the Word over that which he grew up with? He faults us for using the inductive method to determine the meaning of Scripture. He prefers the uncertain approach of subjectivism and relativism. He indicts our way of studying Scripture, "The traditional approach elevated inorganic, impersonal, and mechanistic models of the Bible, the church and the Christian life" (p. 31). "The Bible became an inert object, a compendium of separate facts and commands rather than a unified, personal story of God's acts and character" (p. 31). I don't know just where he has spent his life or which congregations he has been associated with, but his experience is totally atypical. I have visited at least 300 of our churches over the years and not found such to be the case. Perhaps he is just repeating an urban legend circulating among his peers. He and other change agents have a hundred criticisms but no positive construction suggestions for the church. Like termites they eat away at the foundation and structure of congregations leaving only ruin.
On page 46 he tells us Alexander Campbell failed to properly interpret Scripture because "He drew upon a modern western, social compact' theory widely held in the political thought of his day." My what arrogance from a would be scholar not qualified to hold light for Alexander Campbell. Allen is like an armchair critic who deigns to criticize the general who lead a great army to victory.
Bro. Allen bases his program on the premise that the real and correct understanding of the Bible is an incomprehensible mystery. He exalts the incomprehensible mystery and then faults those who do not dwell on the incomprehensible (p. 118). He says "we do not solve true mysteries, we engage them..." He bemoans the fact that gospel preachers commonly cite Eph. 3:2-6 showing that the mystery is now made known in Christ. If Scripture is an unfathomable mystery, then none can know what God's will for us is and all are left to their own ideas and opinions. This uncertainty is the basis of Postmodernism. All of his multi-syllabic discourse about mystery of religion says nothing significant or new. All mysteries that were pertinent to our salvation and faith were revealed to us by revelation. Other mysteries, things unrevealed, belong to God and we must be content with what he has shown us (Deut. 29:29).
He insists that we must "enlarge our canon," meaning "recovering the Jewish Scriptures as a vital and functional part of our Christian life" (p. 52). This falsely implies that we do not recognize the 39 Old Testament books as divine Scripture. He really wants to convince the unknowing that Old Testament Scripture is equally authoritative for doctrine and practice of the church today. Principally he wants them to accept those Old Testament passages authorizing the Hebrews to use instrumental music in their worship as giving approval for its use in our worship today. He says, "We must embrace the whole canon of Scripture and thereby become a more biblical people" (p. 57). This is pure puffery. Everyone accepts the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments. He posits a false impression (that traditional preachers do not accept the Old Testament books), then proceeds to attack and destroy the imaginary situation he has created.
In the same vein, Allen says we must "elevat(e) the Gospel accounts to equal status with the Epistles as authoritative documents for the church" (p. 52). This falsely implies that we elevate one part of the New Covenant over the other, thus neglecting the Gospels. For our preachers, he says, "The Gospels, in short, play a somewhat minimal role when it comes to preaching the gospel or instructing the church about its life together in Christ" (p. 52). False charge! Note that he acknowledges "It exaggerates only a bit (better, a lot, jhw), to say that the Old Testament and to some degree the Gospels- dropped out of the theology of Churches of Christ" (p. 55). False again. He labors to prove that the early church loved and honored the Old Testament (p. 56). But no one believes otherwise! This, like much of his book, is relevant. He tells us "Neglect or eclipse of the Old Testament, for this reason makes us more vulnerable to misalliances with secular or naturalistic world views (p. 57). This statement better describes the change agents who warmly embrace the anti-Christian views of pluralism, relativism and post-modernism!
THE CRUCIFORM CHURCH (a review)Part 3 . . . to be continued
Reviewed by John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now
THE CRUCIFORM CHURCH (a review)Part 4
|June 2 2004, 1:48 AM |
THE CRUCIFORM CHURCH (a review)Continued
Much of this book is filled with "theo-babble" i.e., heavy, obtuse paragraphs filled with the cloudy language of the denominational theological seminary. Such lines make no sense to the average reader. For example:
"Parables are not illustrations; they do not support, elaborate, or simplify a more basic idea. They are not ideas at all, nor can they ever be reduced to theological statements...They contain a surplus of meaning that beckons us beyond ourselves to discover something new...They have hooks all over them; they can grab each of us in a different way..." (p. 61). This, dear reader, is the scholarship of the new hermeneutic.
Allen says, "Life in the kingdom involves a shattering for the settled, predictable, well-managed, possible world" (p. 102). While eulogizing the mighty power of God, he hints at the idea that God will still work miracles today as in Biblical times
He charges that "the word of the cross' has been significantly displaced in the history of Churches of Christ...we have tended to push the cross into the background and thus to proclaim an anemic and distorted gospel" (p. 113). "The most pressing question facing Churches of Christ today is the question; Can we recover the word of the cross' in its biblical fulness?" This is an arrogant assumption
on the part of a professor whose view of the Church and the world is the insular campus of a university. Before he could honestly make such an indictment of a brotherhood of some 15,000 preachers (here and around the world), he would have to interview each, review all the sermons and classes they have taught to see how much emphasis they placed on the word of the cross!'
Perhaps he views the whole church through the prism of his ACU classroom where theological liberalism holds sway! "In light of our own theological tradition and our present culture, then, can we truly proclaimor evenhear the New Testament word of the cross'" (p. 114). This is arrogant presumption. He looks at the faith of the liberal Protestant bodies in our society and then blames us with their malady!
It is fair to ask, while he dabbles in his mysticism, ecumenism, and criticism of his brethren, is he himself proclaiming the word of the cross?' Whatever our failures to place appropriate emphasis on the cross, the change agents with their entertainment, feel good message are in no way superior.
On page 63, Allen tells us "We must remember however that torah was not law' in our often narrow usage of the word. It was not simply divine commands and human obligations. It was not legalism. Rather it was the story of God's love and might, of divine graciousness and deliverance." Strange, the Jews did not understand it as does he. On the previous page he discusses the various "law codes" of the Torah. Which way shall it be? Is it the law of God or a narrative of God's love and might? In fact it combines both, but it most certainly contains hundreds of rules and regulations that God expected the Hebrews to obey "For if ye shall diligently keep all this commandment which I command you, to do it..." (Deut. 11:22).
He repeatedly implies that the advent of the Age of Reason caused modern man (us jhw) to have a view of God inferior to that of medieval man (p. 81). Does he really believe that the medievals in their ignorance and superstition had a better understanding or a closer relationship with God than he does! "Our tradition among Churches of Christ makes it easy for us to think this way. For we have not focused on the biblical doctrine of God" (p. 82). Have any change preachers done a better job of focusing on God?
Which ones? He hints that we whom he labels "traditional" have such a distorted view of God that it borders on idolatry (p. 85, 90).
Like all true liberals, whether political or theological, Allen sees all thing through a racial prism
, Blacks against Whites, harkening back to the slavery of a century ago, setting the faith, even the concept of God between the two races in opposition to each other. Do liberal changes agents form God in their own image? "The God of slaves is the commendable liberator who identified with their suffering. The God of middle class White Americans views America as Number One, or perhaps as the elect nation chosen to lead the world in the paths of righteousness. God sanctions the American work ethic where prosperity and affluence becomes sign of divine favor and poverty becomes a sign of moral failure. God becomes an ardent capitalist, a support of the nuclear arms race..." (p.93). These lines sound like they are borrowed from CNN television!
Of conservative congregations, he alleges, "A church can be sound' while excluding black people from its midst" (p. 174). No one approves of such conduct today. All would condemn it. He would be hard pressed to find such a congregation in our nation. Does his broad brush condemnation include his liberal congregations?
The change agents are determined to make the thought of Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone the basis of our faith! No doubt it is the basis of theirs but the rest of us will rest our faith on the foundation of the New Covenant of Christ. No preacher or church is as neglectful of the cross as the liberal who disregards the will of the crucified one who expects his disciples to "obey all things whatsoever (he) commanded" (Matt. 28:20).
He faults A. Campbell for assuming that most of his contemporaries understood the atonement of Christ and that the major challenge at hand was restoring the ancient order of thingsand focusing energies on calling people into Christian union on the basis of the ancient order (p. 116).
Allen asserts that our "mindset sought hard facts and precisely stated propositions. It sought formulas and equations whereby on might exercise ever greater control over the world" (p. 117). Would he tell us the name of one person in the church of the last two centuries who sought this!
He faults us for our desire to understand metaphorical language, but does he not attempt to explore obscure and poetic and symbolic language? Of course he does.
He cites Bill Love who claims to have surveyed hundreds of books of Restoration sermons over five generations.
(Being very familiar with the literature of our brethren, I wonder where he found hundreds of books of sermons?) Bro. Love selected five preachers of five generations (25 in all) and exploring their published sermons, he concluded that "in general our movement has failed to preach the word of the cross.' Love's survey is not scientific.
The average preacher normally preaches upwards of 100 sermons per year. Most influential preachers may well have preached 200 or more times per year. Few preachers publish their sermons in books and most who do only publish a handful of the sermons they preach, some 20-30 in a book. Few preachers have more than one or two books of sermons published. In addition to sermons, preachers usually teach two or more Bible classes per week and many have newspaper, radio or television lessons which also are occasions for teaching fundamental themes of the faith such as the word of the cross.'
Before Love or Allen can conclude that all preachers have failed to preach on this theme, they must be have analyzed the content of every sermon preached, every class taught, every article written. Not just the title, but the contents. This seems to be an assumption he first made and then selected some evidence to try to prove his assumption. What kind of record do Love and Allen have? Has anyone analyzed their preaching, teaching and writing to see just what percentage of it focuses on the word of the cross?'
Allen has a low and critical estimate of his brethren in the Churches of Christ. He finds his message and his delight in the liberal theologians and philosophers of Protestantism and the world.
He says that to follow the way of the cross, "We will require a community that stands in sharp contrast to the dominant social order." Do ACU or the mega Churches of the change agents live in sharp contrast to the dominant social agreement? He says, "Jesus' way calls in short, for character traits and moral skills that appear either incomprehensible, foolish, or impossible to a world schooled only in the ethic of self-advancement' (p. 163). But the change agents strive to build their worldly mega churches by making common cause with the world!
He tells us that, "By dwelling in Christ's body, which is the church, the Spirit continues Christ's incarnation" (p. 165). Could he please give us a Scripture for this statement.... a favorite of the change brotherhood
. Perhaps he found that in "The Second Incarnation
" by Shelly and Harris
He repeatedly cites J. S. Lamar's Organon of Scripture, written and published in 1859 as having profoundly warped the ability of our brethren to properly understand scriptures. It is not likely that a hundred of our preachers have heard of, much less read Bro. Lamar's book. I happened to have read it. When one first assumes his point and then seeks for supporting evidence he is liable to say anything!
Allen and his fellow change agents are "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth"
(II Tim. 3:7).
I am pleased to report that Dr. Allen is now a visiting professor at Biola University in California, a Baptist school. There his theology fits his benefactors. It is a blessing for the church and the young Christians who would be under his blighting influence were he still teaching in one of our schools. If he cannot find his way back to the simple faith and practice of New Testament Christianity, we should pray that he will stay there.
Reviewed by John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now
CHRISTNO MORE, NO LESS
|August 19 2004, 3:18 AM |
CHRISTNO MORE, NO LESS
In this book Milton Jones
proposes to teach us "How to be a Christian in a Postmodern World." It was published by Leonard Allen's New Leaf Books, a familiar name in "change" literature. The author's stated design is to help us understand postmodernism so we can be more effective witnesses for Christ. Discerning readers will conclude, however, that the author himself has embraced postmodernism
and is molding his ministry to its canons in order to attract and keep young postmoderns under his influence.
He asks, "How do we fit Christianity in a postmodern world?" (p. 20). This is surely the wrong question. We should be asking how can we help those lost in the maze of postmodernism escape and find salvation in Christ?
On page 20, the writer relates how "many churches" are trying to adapt and survive in the postmodern world. Some "are taking more of an Eastern approach to religion by emphasizing an inner subjectivism and allowing for the validity of all religions." "Others are changing or softening their core beliefs. Congregations are giving in to the intellectual marketplace where whatever is popular becomes the rule of thumb for the church." "The new trend is to create a church that is more pleasing to people of the postmodern mind, while avoiding those who do not fit into the postmodern philosophy." In these quotes Jones paints a vivid picture of the change churches among us that are willing to sacrifice everything and try anything to attract or hold on to people who want religion without the demands of Christ revealed in he Word.
He knows and states the correct answers to the postmodern challenge: "In the postmodern world, Christianity must be seen as distinctive and not something that can be changed to fit an ever-changing mold." "Christianity and postmodernism, in many of their foundational tenets are mutually exclusive" (p. 20). "In postmodernism we are to leave everyone alone and celebrate diversity..." "The heart of the Christian message is not the celebration of diversity..." (p. 33). How truly said! But his problem is in following his own better judgment. His practice is to change the church to fit the ever-changing mold of the world. Paul plainly says, "Be not conformed to the world" (Rom. 12:2).
He says, "The church itself started to act as if it had everything figured out." (p. 74). "In the postmodern world, no one can be sure of anything. But it goes deeper than that. No one can tolerate anyone who is sure of something." (p. 49). It is a cardinal rule of postmodernism that no one can be sure of anything, or be certain that he has figured out anything, especially in the realm of moral and spiritual truth. One of the chief complaints of change agents against us
is that we are too sure of our faith! They are intolerant of those who refuse their program! Thus he joins them in this conclusion. "In the church of my heritage,(i.e., Churches of Christ, JHW), we tried to figure out everything it took to be the right church. ... It was called Restorationism... But too often we put the emphasis on our work of discovering the ancient pattern rather than God's revelation of his current movement" (p. 75). Perhaps he would explain just what kind of revelation from God concerning his current movement he and his tribe are looking for? Have they received such revelations? If such are available, why do we need the Bible?
He quotes Mike Regele, "Thousands of churches are about to die..." "A local church has only two options as its surrounding culture moves from modernity to postmodernity. It can die because of its resistance to change or it can die in order to be reborn as something new. Either way the church as we know it will die. Most churches are choosing the first alternative. The second choice is possible only if old structures and approaches and perspectives give way to new ones" (p. 87). From this quote we can deduce that Jones believes that churches that resist the change movement are doomed to die. This, by the way, is what the progressives said a hundred years ago of our fathers who refused to embrace their call for instruments of music in worship and missionary societies. Strangely they survived and flourished and the change agents (Disciples of Christ) have been in decline ever since
. We agree that those churches embracing the change agenda will be changed to such an extent that they will "reborn as something new," i.e., a new denomination, even if, God forbid, they still use the name Church of Christ. Many churches will die as a result of change agents sowing seeds of discord that splinter and scatter their members.
Jones says, "In reality, society needs someone to stand up and say when something is wrong" (p. 93). This is true, but such is contrary to the change philosophy. They only have criticism for the Christians and congregations that refuse to follow them into the world of change.
He reminds us, "In our culture today, the facts are not enough to convince. In fact they may not even be heard coherently by the masses. Without a story there is little change for belief" (p. 101). One wonders, who told him this and on what authority? "You don't have to prove the story or analyze it to death-just tell it" (p. 103). But I Thess. 5:19-20 says, "Prove all things...."
He glowingly speaks of "Fred Craddock, the great teacher of preachers" (p. 102). Mr. Craddock is the darling of the change professors and preachers. He is a minister of the liberal Disciples of Christ denomination and a professor at Emory University. By giving heed to teachers of this stripe many good men are now enmeshed in the snares of the postmodern change movement.
He tells us, "Post modern worship must be something altogether different. It must celebrate the joy of life in Christ. It must be centered in the retelling of the story in such a way that the worshipers find themselves inside the story even as they worship" (p. 103). Perhaps he could explain why it took some 2000 years to discover that man must have a postmodern type of worship? The result of postmodern thinking and behavior is a society of chaos, confusion and disintegration.
Why should Christians even think of following their crooked path? "The focus in a postmodern world must be upon participating in the story that rests at the heart of the Bible" (p. 105). Does he mean we must give them a role in a drama program for the worship service? "The story then become the shaping influence in our lives and the evidences of their truth resides not in scientific proof, but rather in the fact that Christians pattern their lives by them" (p. 105). To teach sinners the gospel in the words of and by the example of Christ and his apostles is distasteful to postmodern change agents. They seek to discredit such old fashioned efforts by likening them to dry scientific experiments. What if Christians pattern their lives after false stories? Does such matter in a postmodern church?
To Jones, "A blessing of postmodernism is that it will create a culture unresponsive to legalistic, works-oriented churches" (p 122). In case you haven't understood, it is us who refuse to follow the pied-pipers of change to whom he has reference.
"Change has been extremely difficult for churches as the modern world has given way to the postmodern. However churches that are interested in evangelism will do more than change for the sake of change. They will have to change for the sake of the mission. They will have to change in order to help younger people find Christ" (p. 124). Millions have been taught and brought to salvation through the preaching of the gospel such as was common among our brethren. It is a venture fraught with risk to assume the church will prosper by abandoning the tried and proven Bible mandate of preaching the word (II Tim. 4:2) for postmodern story-telling.
"Older church members, accustomed to modern thought and modern churches will be reluctant to change. But that reluctance may thwart the church from accomplishing its mission" (p. 124). It grieves agents of change to think that any Christians are so stubborn in their faith as to resist their calls for change.
"One of our problems as Christians is that we may have spent too much energy maintaining our umbrage against postmodernism. Our approach has been that we are right and they are wrong. Such an inflexible tactic in dealing with those of another viewpoint doesn't work well in our current age of tolerance." (p. 124) A change agent does not protest, because he has embraced this new world view and is willing to adjust his Christianity to fit into its mold. The following quote verifies this conclusion. "Christians who actually want to see change should not react in a hostile way to postmodern people" (p. 124-125).
"Paul's unique realization is that there are indeed, many other Christians, but they are not all exactly alike" (p. 134). Note his implication that Christians may be found in all sorts of denominational bodies. Does he include Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Scientists, The Jonestown Cult and David Koresh's Cult?
"Postmodernists tend to have a negative, irreverent spirt towards the church and even toward people in general" (p. 135). So do change agents. An entire book could be assembled of negative, irreverent quotes directed at Churches of Christ and their past and present ministers, who did not and will not accept the change agenda.
He cites columnist George Will, "Today, however there also seems to be s small-minded, mean-spirited resentment of those who rise, a reluctant to give credit where it is due, a flinching from unstinting admiration, a desire to disbelieve in the rewarded virtue of the few" (p. 136). Mr. Will was writing about baseball, but Jones applies these words to those of us who fail to appreciate the efforts of change agents to capture and redesign the church into a worldly denomination!
He continues from Will, "We have a swamp of journalism suited to such an age, a journalism infused with a corrosive, leveling spirit..." (p. 136). These lines Jones directs at those who dare to express in print their objections to his change proposals.
"We could conclude that postmodernism is the ultimate end of human arrogance" (p. 140). We add our Amen. In the spirit of America's liberal political establishment, he writes, It would be hard to argue with the opinion that the people of the modern West became the most arrogant people in history of the World." (p. 140). What a broad, derogatory generalization. Most of the Christians in the world, including all the change agents, are among those he labels as "arrogant!" I suspect the author excludes himself and fellow-change agents from this judgment.
He says, "The church needs a prophetic ministry that will mature, nourish and evoke a consciousness and perception alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture around us" (p. 144). Having read sixteen books promoting change, I am impressed at the repetition I find in them, both in ideas and phrases. "Prophetic ministry" is one of them. I wonder from whom they borrowed it?
Because of its watery content and opaqueness, this book is not the serious threat that some change productions are. The author failed in his purpose to inform us about the threat and challenge of postmodernism because he, knowingly or unknowingly, is in it up to his neck. In reality, the author is an apostle for a postmodern version of Christianity.
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now
|Dr. Bill Crump|
"Good As New: A Radical Retelling of the Scriptures"
|August 21 2004, 6:06 PM |
Another "New Testament" has hit the market, titled Good As New: A Radical Retelling of the Scriptures, the latest in the Change Movements never-ending passion to produce more exciting, up-to-date, politically correct, and culturally relevant biblical paraphrases. Written by John Henson, whom the Associated Press described as being a fundamentalist-hating Baptist from Great Britain, the book is not only further described as the wildest, wackiest and possibly worst of those trendy attempts to update Holy Writ, but also as women, gay and sinner friendly.
The book has been endorsed by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who proclaims the translation to be of extraordinary power.
An exceedingly loose treatment of the Scriptures, Hensons book seems to imply approval for unwed heterosexual and homosexual couples, among many other doctrinally denuded passages. For example, compare the KJV passage of First Cor. 7:2, Nevertheless, (to avoid) fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband to Hensons version, My [Pauls] advice is for everyone to have a regular partner. Also compare KJV First Cor. 7:9, But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn to Henson, If you know you have strong needs, get yourself a partner. Better than being frustrated! Henson stresses only partner (which can be married or unmarried, heterosexual or homosexual) and avoids specific reference to heterosexual marriage.
One of numerous examples of how the book prefers modern colloquialisms over accurate translations is seen in the paraphrase of Mark 1:10-11: A pigeon flew down and perched on him. Jesus took this as a sign that Gods Spirit was with him. A voice from overhead was heard saying, Thats my boy! Such a paraphrase likens God to a prideful dad sounding off about his son, who has just made a showy spectacle of himself. How many times have we been at childrens sports events and heard some parent yell, Thats my boy! when their son scored a goal, touchdown, basket, or hit a home run? Such a paraphrase reduces Scripture to worldly elements and violates Romans 12:2 and James 4:4.
Worse, Henson completely deletes eight New Testament books, because they dont suit him: 1st and 2nd Timothy, Titus, 2nd Peter, 2nd and 3rd John, Jude, and Revelation.
Clearly, Good As New cannot be seriously taken as a legitimate Bible except perhaps by the biblically illiterate and naïve, who mistakenly assume that all Bible translations and paraphrases are alike and present the same Word of God. That reasoning is just as fallible and dangerous as the reasoning that as long as you love and have a heart for Jesus, everything else about the Bible is disputable; that as long as you love your partner, mutual co-habitation (live-in girlfriend or boyfriend) is acceptable, that marriage and gender of that partner are irrelevant.
Postmodern = ME!
|August 24 2004, 9:28 PM |
Heisenberg noted that if you want to determine the position and velocity of an ELECTRON you have lots of problems because it would be like trying to define the position and shape of a bowling ball by shooting bowling balls off of it. But, that only works with SUBATOMIC PARTICLES. You can line up a million atoms on the head of a pin and an electron is almost infinitely small compared to the total atom.
This advancement of science was used in the same way by the SOPHISTS who decided that the uncertainty by, say discovering that the earth was round, could be turned into a Lucifer like TRAFFICK. That was before the time of Christ.
We have noted that the daisy chain of "scholars" FLOODING the brotherhood trying to wash away the church do not have the physical possibility of quoting men like Lucian of Samosata or Luther without lying about them. Well, perhaps it is INTELLECTUAL INCEST where doctors quote doctors who lied about Luther. That fits with the STRONG DELUSION promised by God for those who tamper with the Word of God as latter day PROFITS.
All generations are "modern" and the next infant born is "post modern" and knows, within a few years, that he is God's awaited Messiah. Of the victory of the Catholic church over paganism. Of the victory of the Catholic church over paganism:
"The generation that arose in the world, after the promulgation of Imperial laws, was ATTRACTED within the pale of the Catholic Church, and so RAPID, yet so GENTLE was the fall of Paganism, that only twenty-eight years after the death of Theodosius [the elder], the faint and minute vestiges were no longer visible to the eye of the legislator." Now, how can this great and rapid revolution be accounted for? Is it because the Word of the Lord has had free course and been glorified?
Then, what means the new aspect that the Roman Church has now begun to assume? In exact proportion as Paganism has disappeared from without the Church, in the very same proportion it appears within it.
Pagan dresses for the priests, Pagan festivals for the people, Pagan doctrines and ideas of all sorts, are everywhere in vogue.
The testimony of the same historian, who has spoken so decisively about the rapid conversion of the Romans to the profession of the Gospel, is not less decisive on this point. In his account of the Roman Church, under the head of "Introduction of Pagan Ceremonies," he thus speaks:
"As the objects of religion were gradually reduced to the standard of the imagination, the rites and ceremonies were introduced that seemed most powerfully to effect the senses of the vulgar.
If, in the beginning of the fifth century, Tertullian or Lactantius had been suddenly raised from the dead, to assist at the festival of some popular saint or martyr, they would have gazed with astonishment and indignation on the profane spectacle which had succeeded to the pure and spiritual worship of a Christian congregation.
As soon as the doors of the church were thrown open, they must have been offended by the smoke of incense, the perfume of flowers, and the glare of lamps and tapers, which diffused at noon-day a gaudy, superfluous, and, in their opinion, sacrilegious light." Gibbon has a great deal more to the same effect. Now, can any one believe that this was accidental? No. It was evidently the result of that unprincipled policy, of which, in the course of this inquiry, we have already seen such innumerable instances on the part of the Papacy.
Gibbon distinctly admits this. "It must ingenuously be confessed," says he, "that the ministers of the Catholic Church imitated the profane model they were so impatient to destroy."
He has seen that, about the very time when the Bishop of Rome was invested with the Pagan title of Pontifex, the Saviour began to be called Ichthys, or "the Fish," thereby identifying Him with Dagon, or the Fish-god; and that, ever since,
advancing step by step, as circumstances would permit, what has gone under the name of the worship of Christ,
has just been the worship of that same Babylonian divinity, with all its rites and pomps and ceremonies, precisely as in ancient Babylon.
The Catholic Church confesses that SHE stole musical instruments because they were COMMON IN ALL CULTS.
Nothing is clearer in history than the adoption by successful rebels of the methods they were accustomed to condemn in the forces they deposed. -Will and Ariel Durant
When once it was proved that the Pope was willing to adopt Paganism under Christian names, the Pagans and Pagan priests would be his most hearty and staunch defenders.
And when the Pope began to wield lordly power over the Christians, who were the men that he would recommend--that he would promote--that he would advance to honour and power? Just the very people most devoted to "the worship of the strange god" which he had introduced into the Christian Church.
Gratitude and self-interest alike would conspire to this. Jovinian, and all who resisted the Pagan ideas and Pagan practices, were excommunicated and persecuted.
Ask Milton Jones about those weeping widows.