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Continuing Discourse on FLDR (From Legalism Disaster Recovery)

December 17 2010 at 6:06 PM
Donnie Cruz  (Login Donnie.Cruz)
from IP address

From the thread: "Ephesians 4:14 (A recovering legalist requests serious input from any perspective.)" -- some of the questions I asked Sonny Elliot were as follows:
  • On legalism, would you explain your assertion: "I was one [a legalist] because I made laws where God did not and bound those on others, like the Pharisees...." Did you label yourself as a "legalist" at the time that you were aware [say 15 or 20 years ago] that you made "laws" and "bound them on others"?

  • Could you be more specific or provide an example(s) regarding which "laws" you made "where God did not and bound those on others"?

  • What did you mean by "because we do not teach grace"? How so? How would/do you teach "grace"?

Sonny Elliot's response to the questions on December 8 2010, 11:58 PM:

Here are a few examples of laws I made based on my interpretive slant that God does not in Scripture:

It is wrong to clap hands with a song.
It is wrong to worship God with instruments.
It is wrong to raise hands during prayer/worship.
It is wrong to have children's worship during a sermon.
It is wrong to have move than 1 person leading worship.
It is wrong to have a woman lead songs with the children at VBS.
It is wrong to for women to have speaking parts during a skit at VBS.
It is wrong for a church to have something different on a Sunday evening (meeting in homes, serving people).

No, I did not think of myself as a legalist. I had a good heart while I was mistaken. I saw myself as someone standing for the truth. I just did not see how my traditions were affecting (and I'm sure they still do) my understanding of Scripture.

Two things influenced me with the IM issue.

1. When I was convinced that clapping is o.k. then I noticed an inconsistency between my interpretation for clapping and instruments. To be consistent, either both are permitted or both are not.

2. A while back when I mentioned the story about the elder who said to me IM is o.k. at home but not at a church building. I started thinking (uh oh, don't think) how this was his opinion and conscience based on whatever, including our tradition, and is not in Scripture. In fact, we are to worship God in our homes. Therefore, to be consistent, IM is either acceptable in homes and church buildings or neither.

How does grace fit into the Christian equation and experience? Great question. I wish I had this one completely figured out for every possible scenario.




Thanks for providing a few examples of your "formerly-Sonny-made, legalistic" laws. I'll try to briefly discuss or at least categorize each one where it belongs. But first I would like to bring up a number of expressions that should help identify the nature of the object/subject of controversy:

  1. Apostolic Teachings and Traditions: Beliefs, doctrines, teachings and practices that originated with Christ and His chosen apostles. NOTE that Abraham, Moses, David, the OT prophets and laws and commandments associated with these men of God do not belong in this category. Some examples are as follows:

    • God's plan of redemption: God's unconditional grace, love and mercy and the shedding of the blood of Christ the Redeemer;
    • God's plan of redemption: Man's acceptance of God's offer of salvation -- he must believe, repent and be baptized into (put on) Christ UNTO (in order to receive) the forgiveness of past sins;
    • Becoming a member of the body of Christ (becoming a Christian): occurs only AFTER one has been BURIED WITH CHRIST IN BAPTISM for the forgiveness of sins and RISEN WITH CHRIST (from immersion) to BEGIN NEWNESS OF LIFE; there's no other way;
    • Observance of the Lord's Supper to commemorate Christ's suffering and death on the cross on the first day of the week;
    • Giving to help the needy, those in the household of faith; to care for the widows and orphans;
    • Praying continually;
    • Remaining faithful unto the end in order to receive the crown of life;
    • Teaching and admonishing one another via speaking or singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs;
    • Growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord;
    • Loving God and loving one another;
    • Elders to teach that which they have been taught;
    • ... ... or any of the other teachings and commands found in the New Testament.

  2. Man-Made Traditions and Practices: These activities are man-concocted; they are not from Christ and the apostles; they are not God-authorized:

    • Operating musical instruments in addition to the "teaching and admonishing one another in ... songs." The simple, main directive is to "teach and admonish one another" that can be accomplished via singing or speaking. Allowing musical objects to participate in the "teaching and admonishing one another" is nonsensical.
    • Modifying the apostolic instruction to observe the Lord's Supper in order to commemorate the Lord's death on the cross by making it into a brunch or a food festival or a meal of barbecue pork chops, chips and drinks for the sake of fellowship.
    • Modifying the apostolic instruction to observe the Lord's Supper from the first day of every week to Saturday or Thursday or any day of the week. (NOTE: denominational churches have their own man-made tradition of a monthly or quarterly or yearly observance.)
    • Tithing (the required 10%/+ "giving" for whatever purposes under the old covenant) is not a command or requirement under the new covenant; thus, a denominational religious belief or practice.
    • Adhering to the old law or covenant (including the "10 Commandments" with keeping the sabbath day holy) is a rejection of the new law or covenant that Christians are under grace.
    • Changing God's plan of redemption from what the apostles taught [as stated above] to a misguided/misleading conversion process such that one is to ONLY: "accept (believe or have faith in) Christ as your personal Savior and you are SAVED." This means that sins are forgiven at the point of belief only and that one becomes a Christan even BEFORE BAPTISM -- the New Testament does not teach this.
    • Designating a new office in the local church's organization called "Worship Leader" with the new post-modern concept that he/she leads all the congregants into God's holy presence; there was no such title or office or profession in the church of the first century.
    • Designating women as deaconesses or in the local congregation.
    • Implementing the services of elite singers into the assembly to enhance its "worship" programming. It is a man-made tradition initiated by the Roman Catholic Church with its "CHOIR BOYS", propagated by the Protestants (e.g., the Baptist CHOIR), imitated by certain "progressive" churches of Christ with the "Praise Team."
    • ... ... or any of the other man-made teachings and commands not found in the New Testament.

  3. Discretionary Elements: These are items, methods or activities that are NOT related to or associated with doctrine, teaching or belief and that do not affect man's spirituality. While they do not violate New Testament principles in themselves, they should not offend others or cause division in the local congregation. It is the responsibility of the elders to make wise decisions and judgments over these matters in order to preserve or maintain unity and peace.

    • Clapping hands while singing. To clap or not to clap is not a doctrine. Rhythmic clapping to the musical beat is programmed, however. Since folks generally claim that clapping reflects a happy or cheerful disposition and a joyous feeling inside, clapping while "praising the Lord," accordingly, would be the right attitude to have in a gathering or an assembly. Think about this LOGIC: (a) Heartfelt joy is supposed to be spontaneous; (b) Rhythmic clapping is programmed and not spontaneous; (c) Therefore, rhythmic clapping is programmed joy or programmed clapping is rhythmic joy. How silly!!!

      Clapping is essentially an entertainment facet associated with any kind of a speaking, musical or comedic gathering or engagement. Can't one keep REAL, SPONTANEOUS JOY to himself privately at that particular moment or experience -- and NOT WAIT until a scheduled gathering time to experience with others corporately your RHYTHMIC, PROGRAMMED JOY (clapping)?

      Doesn't "worship" involve reverence and awe toward God. Would you sing, "Let us worship the Father [clap-clap, clap-clap-clap], worship the Father [clap-clap, clap-clap-clap], worship the Father [clap-clap, clap-clap-clap]. We kneel before our Father [clap-clap-clap]"?

      What about the possibility of a 98-year old Christian sister jumping out of her skin the moment she hears a bunch of "Charismatic Praise Music" teenage enthusiasts clapping, making the loud popping noise? (Well, I didn't mean to over-illustrate this point, but it was the first one on the list.)

    • Operating mechanical music in the assembly should be classified as a man-made tradition. The New Testament church in the first century did not practice it. The Roman Catholic Church, known for its papal traditions, initiated this tradition. While instrumental music was not favorable to founders of Protestant denominations, these churches propagated the use of musical instruments in their services. So, this issue DOES NOT BELONG here.

    • Raising hands in prayer is a scriptural concept to a certain extent. Just be sure about your "HOLY HANDS" [hmmm: how is that determined]. Be sure of your gender [a man] according to the most commonly used passage. Be sure that during prayer [with CLOSED EYES], the one lifting those HOLY hands is NOT SEEN happy.gifsad.gif by others in attendance.

    • A woman leading songs with the CHILDREN at VBS. Hmmm. Just be sure that there are no adult male Christians with the children at VBS.

    • Women with speaking parts during a skit at VBS. Same reason as above: Just be sure that there are no adult male Christians with the childen at VBS. If there are, they should be asked to take their break now.

    • What and where on a Sunday evening. Wow. This really is a discretionary activity.

It appears from the list of assertions immediately above that all activities and practices may be categorized as "discretionary" (meaning: that these are not doctrinal issues) with the exception of instrumental music--which is a man-made tradition originated by the POPE and the Roman Catholic Church.

Other discretionary items or activities may include:

-- the color of the carpet or hymnbooks
-- choice of indoor or outdoor toilets
-- kitchen sink and utensils
-- power point, wide screen, projector
-- caution: Bible study materials [oops... no denominational materials]
-- the pitch pipe
-- etc., etc.

Let's continue with this discussion in more detail.

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Jimmy Joe
(no login)

First Century Christians

December 18 2010, 9:38 PM 

Forty years ago, some of the discretionary items you mentioned would have been thought of as heresy. Example: kitchen sink, eating in the "church" building, power point, widescreen, projector, supporting orphans, widows and the poor out of the church contributions,etc. The conservatives of the present time would have been considered very liberal back then.

On the continious instrument debate, it's been stated many times that the first Christians did not use musical instruments (which you use the term lifeless to describe which also could be used as an adjective to describe some members in the pews on Sunday morning) I was wondering if you could use the same logic to assume they did not use a bible (King James preferably)during the first century?

Of course history tell us they did not. The bible as we know it came about hundreds of years later. However, is it not a great aid to us today?

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(no login)

Re: First Century Christians

December 20 2010, 3:58 PM 

Jimmy Joe,

What were those Christians forty years ago thinking?

Of course, what I just said is a generalization. Breaking it down further might help our study of what we consider "discretionary" because of certain seemingly incomprehensible technological advancements of our time that weren't available back then. I'm not sure how the apostles did their power point presentations happy.gif; but I'm sure that the first century Christians had their way of using their model of the kitchen sink. Eating in the "church" building might have been thought of not too long ago as paving the way to excessive fellowship and entertainment and fun activities, replacing the intent that saints gather for edification, teaching, admonition, spiritual enrichment. Only in America would eating in the "church" building have been an issue a few decades ago -- but not in other countries.

So, it is in these areas, but not in others, that I agree with your assertion that "the conservatives of the present time would have been considered very liberal back then."

Hopefully, you're not suggesting that because of changing times and cultures, that the use or operation of musical devices in the gathering of saints should no longer be an inhibition or prohibition but, rather, be acceptable (or even considered scriptural) to the "wiser," gentler and kinder generation of Christians [the liberal, progressive ones, I might add].

With regard to supporting orphans, I believe that it is an apostolic teaching. Since it is a responsibility of Christians to help or take care of the widows and orphans, those in the household of faith, I believe that it can be done by the church itself through its funds or by individual Christians who are able. The teaching is apostolic, but the process is discretionary. I'm inclined to believe that where it is discretionary, the elders of the local church make that decision.

With regard to church funds, I often question how these are managed by elders of the local congregation. I'm inclined to believe that often the church "treasury" is misused or mishandled. It is sad and unfortunate that we have witnessed the church become a business-like entity that pays the unauthorized "Worship Leader" and various "employed staff members"; then, the elders are responsible for massive staff infection in the church. What's happened to: "Give of your best to the Master ... freely ... and with joy"? Shouldn't the evangelist be paid then? Well, yes, if he has no other income. (The discussion of this matter can go on and on. So, I'll stop right here.)

I'm not sure I understand your analogy between "lifeless" musical instruments [my famous expression] and some of the "lifeless" members in the pews on Sunday morning. You may be suggesting that those "lifeless" members may become alive once they hear the "trumpet" of the Lord, I don't know. Would you elaborate?

Furthermore, you mentioned: "if you could use the same logic to assume they did not use a bible (King James preferably) during the first century?" You seemed to be somewhat critical of the KJV as the preferred version. At the same time, I gather that you're interested in the study of the canonicity of the Scripture and in the period in the early centuries when the "printed" material was not available. (I may just be misunderstanding your talking points.) But we can discuss these matters, if you're interested.

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Ken Sublett
(Login Ken.Sublett)

ALL preachercators missed the PROPHETS.

December 18 2010, 10:24 PM 

Christ defined the Qahal, Synagogue or Church of Christ in the wilderness AFTER musical idolatry caused God to turn the Levi tribe over to worship the starry host: that's what they worshipped all during the monarchy whatever they called their 'god.'

The synagogue existed up to the time of Jesus when He EXAMPLED it and not the Temple. Paul and Peter being synagogue-literate FIRST outlawed all of what Jesus called the hypocrites: Scribes and Pharisees which CHRIST in spirit named as slick preachers, singers and instrument players.

Jesus commaned TWO ACTS: "teaching what HE commanded to be taught" and the Lord's supp[er which is a showing forth or "evangelism term. The historic church never altered that for several centuries.

Christ defines the Church in great detail in the PROPHETS: the spiritual people heard that PREACHED by being READ each rest day. Jesus preached in Syngagogue Houses which had a pulpit to hold up the Bible and pews. They undoubtedly had windows for air condition and a heater. As long as you teach WHAT HE COMMANDED to be taught he would not care about toilet tissue. What humanoids argue over is always caused by violating direct commands against "doubtful disuptations."

In Isaiah 50 Jesus EXCLUDED the vocal or instrumental music as He had for the church in the wilderness.

The eunuch has a copy of Isaiah and a copy was found at Qumran more than a hundred hears before Christ. Jesus is quoted from the Septuagint (LXX) which existed maybe 250 years in a BOUND VOLUME.

In Isaiah 55 Christ used the WATER CYCLE to define the FREE WATER OF THE WORD. He told us NOT to pay for it.

In Isaiah 58 Christ defined the REST which Joshua was not able to give the Israelites BECAUSE of musical idolatry.

He commanded that we not seak our own pleasure or speak our own words because GOD'S thoughts are too high for a preacher to ENHANCE. Paul simply repeated that in Romans 14 and 15 where we speak with one mind and one mouth "that which is written for our learning."

Peter defined the PROPHECIES through Christ and the prophecies made more perfect by Jesus of Nazareth whom God made to be both Lord and Christ. So, Bible readers have the PATTERN hundreds of years before Jesus came and there are just TWO ACTS. Peter said that the WRITTEN memory is left for the further MARK of false teachers. In defining the two-piece pattern we have the witness of Christ in the Prophets and those prophecies fulfilled by the man Jesus of Nazareth. These two witnesses are in One.

Teaching that which has been taught: PREACHING by READING
The Lord's Supper which is our confession as an evangelism act.

Most literate people would say that a warm room in a snow storm would AID the carrying out of those two ACTS.

Most literate and reverent (burn-proof) would DENY that a flakey-wakey, singy-clappy team singing falsetto (got something in a vise) would WOULD AID the teaching of what Jesus commanded to be taught.
Since He did not command musicators then we know that it is not OF FAITH and is called will-worship.

Recorded history of many Scribes of History would say that no important event which attracted the public attention was attended, recorded, hand-copied and sold before the people left the area. Where the church was planted they had what they needed to conduct school of the Word if they had any recorded evidence or any competent elder trained in the oral traditon who could accompany Jesus all day and sit down at night and copy it down.

There was no congregational SANGING in the modern since until the time of John Calvin and you cannot use an instrument to accompany what I have just written.

This message has been edited by Ken.Sublett from IP address on Dec 18, 2010 10:26 PM

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Ken Sublett
(Login Ken.Sublett)

MUSIC for the children: MEAT for the MATURE

December 20 2010, 6:09 PM 


Plat. Laws 659e for this reason we have what we call chants, which evidently are in reality incantations1 seriously designed to produce in souls that conformity and harmony of which we speak.
But inasmuch as the souls of the young are unable to endure serious study,
we term these plays and chants,'' and use them as such,
just as, when people suffer from bodily ailments and infirmities, those whose office it is try to administer to them nutriment that is wholesome in meats

1 i.e. charms or magic formulae, canted over sick persons (or over snakes, Euthyd. 290A): cp. 664 B.

John Calvin Psalm 92: In the fourth verse, he more immediately addresses the Levites, who were appointed to the office of singers, and calls upon them to employ their instruments of music -- not as if this were in itself necessary, only it was useful as an elementary aid to the people of God in these ancient times. We are not to conceive that God enjoined the harp as feeling a delight like ourselves in mere melody of sounds; but the Jews, who were yet under age, were astricted to the use of such childish elements. The intention of them was to stimulate the worshippers, and stir them up more actively to the celebration of the praise of God with the heart. We are to remember that the worship of God was never understood to consist in such outward services, which were only necessary to help forward a people, as yet weak and rude in knowledge, in the spiritual worship of God. A difference is to be observed in this respect between his people under the Old and under the New Testament; for now that Christ has appeared, and the Church has reached full age, it were only to bury the light of the Gospel, should we introduce the shadows of a departed dispensation. From this, it appears that the Papists, as I shall have occasion to show elsewhere, in employing instrumental music, cannot be said so much to imitate the practice of God's ancient people, as to ape it in a senseless and absurd manner, exhibiting a silly delight in that worship of the Old


But Calvin knew the character of the book better than the doctors of the Sorbonne, and having, by his influence, obtained its introduction into the worship of the Protestant Church of France, it contributed so much, in consequence of its extraordinary popularity, to the advancement of the Reformed cause in that country, that it was interdicted under the most severe penalties; and, in the language of the Romish Church, psalm-singing and heresy became synonymous terms. -- Warton's History of English Poetry, volume 3, pages 164, 165.

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...........................THE BOOK

What Happened at the Madison Church of Christ?

There are thousands of churches being taken over across America.

This book is only about one of those churches. It's about the Madison Church Of Christ. By studying the methods used here along with the resource references you might be able to inoculate your church. At the very least you will recognize the signs early on.

Many of the current members of the Madison Church of Christ still don't know what happened.
Some never will know! This book is for them as well.

Madison Church of Christ was a 60 year old church. At one time it was one of the largest churches in the US, and the largest Church of Christ.

It thrived for many years on the vision of it's elders and those of it's ministers. Those visions undoubtably came from the the inspired word of Jesus Christ.

At sometime in the last 10 years there was a deliberate plan by a majority of the elders to take the Madison Church of Christ into a more worldly realm.

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At the heart of the plan was the fact that old members were going to be driven off so new techniques could be used to go out and reach the unchurched through new "Contemporary Holy Entertainment" methods developed by the "Community Church Movement"

Old members had to be kept on board long enough to get their plans ready, or the funds would not be there to pay for the new building. So by the plans very nature, it had to be secret.

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5 Godly Elders
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120 "Deacons" (allegiance unknown)
2,800 - 4,000 church "members"
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