Quail Springs Church of Christ “Disfellowshipped”: A Bone-chilling Thought

quailsprings.gifToday is one of those nasty, winter days when it’s not cold enough to snow, not warm enough to be outside, too wet to want to get out of your car, and too windy to keep your umbrella over your head. Yuck.

And so I wasn’t surprised to feel a cold shiver as I drove to work this morning. I was pondering the state of the Churches of Christ as evidenced by this Quail Springs thing, when I realized that the lessons I’ve been posting come together to produce a bone-chilling conclusion. I’d been in my car for a while, and it was actually quite warm in there. The chill was from the thought, not the air.

This is kind of hard to explain. You’ve got to start by reading the last two posts on Galatians.

The Scary Lesson of Galatians, Part 1

The Scary Lesson of Galatians, Part 2

Now, I’m quite serious. You can’t read any further without having read those two posts, because if you do, what I’m about to say won’t make any sense. In fact, it’ll make me seem mean spirited. And that’s just not the case. So click and read both posts.

Next, I need to take you back to a post dealing with the Political Church here. The argument I made there deals with Romans 1:

28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Paul says that the world without God is perverse and filled with many obvious sins because “God gave them over” to such wickedness. Just in case we weren’t paying attention, he says it three times. I’ve only quoted the last of the three.

Why did God do this? Why would God want the lost to act so horribly? Obviously, God’s desire is that the lost be saved; but so long as they are lost, it serves God’s purposes for the futility and self-destructiveness of their existence to be manifest. It serves God’s purpose for the lost to be obviously different from the saved.

Now, here’s the point. When a community of people has rejected God’s grace, sometimes God gives them over to sin, not because he wants them to sin, but because he wants everyone else to see them as sinners.

Consider the list of sins Paul gives us –

29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, … and depravity. They are full of envy, … strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

Now reflect for a moment on the mindset of those who spent $12,000 to publish an ad in the Oklahoman advising those outside the Churches of the decision of three ministers to “disfellowship” another minister of the gospel.

There in verse 30 is the word translated “slanderers” in the NIV but as “backbiters” in the KJV. Barclay says backbiting “describes the open loud-mouthed attack, the public vilification of some person whose views are different.”

Finally, do a quick Google on “Oklahoman” and “Church of Christ” and “music.” A precious few condemn the ad. A few others dance around the issue, denying having paid for it but failing to say it was wrong. But most of the hits are websites sponsored by a Church of Christ member praising the ad — approving of the practice!

I’m old enough to be certain that 40 years ago very few, if any, would have approved taking our disputes before the world, especially through such an ad. I can’t imagine B. C. Goodpasture or Guy N. Woods condoning — or ignoring — such sin. It’s unthinkable that Gus Nichols or G. K. Wallace would have blessed such behavior. But the Churches are changing.

I hope I’m wrong. I pray that I’m wrong. But I’m wondering if we’re seeing a sign of God’s judgment on our legalism. I’m wondering if God is withdrawing his Spirit so that those who so press us into a works salvation are shown to be opposed to God. I’m wondering whether God is “giving over” some within the Churches of Christ. And if he is, I’m wondering if the rest will heed the warning.

K. C. Moser’s commentary, The Gist of Romans, published in 1957 (as revised in 1958) says as to this passage,

Now, what did the Gentile world need? How could the Gentiles be saved? Did they need the law of Moses? Did they need any legal system? Law simply cannot cope with the problem of sin. Law can neither furnish an atonement for sin nor provide a basis for holiness. Sinners need a Saviour, a sin-offering, a propitiation, and mercy. “Schemes” and “plans” legalistically conceived avail nothing. Sinners need Christ.

p. 8 (emphasis in original).

Reflect back on the two lessons on Galatians linked to above. Now consider this also from Moser –

When, therefore, are believing in Christ, repenting, and being baptized obedience to the gospel? The gospel is Christ crucified for our sins. (I Cor. 15:3,4.) The above conditions, therefore, constitute obedience to the gospel when they are responses to, and express reliance upon Christ crucified. To obey in the above respects simply because one has been commanded to do so, is to ignore the cross and render it void. Faith in Christ, is faith or trust in him as the sacrifice for our sins. Merely to believe in him as God’s Son with no thought of the cross is not enough. See Rom. 10:9. Likewise, to repent with no thought of Christ crucified, and to be baptized, except as a response to his death for our sins, are not enough. Luke 24:46,47 and Acts 2:38 definitely relate each to the cross. And Paul in Rom. 6:3,4 connects baptism with the death of Jesus. In all of his obedience the sinner should know that he is responding to the blood of Christ, not merely recognizing the right of Christ to demand obedience.

p. 9 (italics in original; boldface is mine).

As Paul wrote in Galatians,

(Gal 5:6b) The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

His point is that faith in Jesus counts, and love counts — if coming from faith in Jesus, and nothing else does. That’s what “only” means. Therefore, adding circumcision, holy days, or even a cappella singing as tests of salvation is to teach a different gospel, which is really no gospel at all (Gal 1:6-7).

(Gal 5:4) You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

We must come to Jesus and seek grace by his sacrifice — only. As soon as we claim merit of our own works, as soon as claim our obedience separates us from the lost, well, we’ve made the gospel void.

And if we void the gospel, there comes a point when God will give us over to disgraceful sin — allowing us to prove to the world and, hopefully to the church, that such teachings lead down a very, very dangerous path. Such disgraceful sin is a warning: walk along this path and you’ll suffer this fate.

Now, I say again, I pray that I’m wrong. Nothing would make me happier than to get an email or a comment showing how I’ve misread God’s word. I’m not trying to score debating points. Rather, if I’m right (and I hope to God I’m wrong) I have to sound the warning. Someone does.

Please, if I’m wrong, show me. But if I’m right, help me sound the alarm! I just pray it’s not too late. You see, I’m truly, deeply scared for many of us. And it chills me to the bone.

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0 Responses to Quail Springs Church of Christ “Disfellowshipped”: A Bone-chilling Thought

  1. Cary says:

    40 years ago Guy N. Woods was engaged in this very kind of thing. The way he publicly crucified the leaders of the Campus Evangelism movement with a crippling toxic venom is still felt today in the deep hurt of many people.

    Also, reading through the Christian Chronicles and many other publications of 40 years ago does not support, at least in my mind, the idea that this same kind of thing was not going on or that some big names would not have condoned this, unfortunately. I believe we are just seeing another example of a kind of vitriol that has existed among some for a long time.

  2. Alan says:

    In 1889, Daniel Sommer published the Address and Declaration to disfellowship those who disagreed with him over some similar issues, Afterward, many took issue with what Sommer had done. Notably, David Lipscomb, then editor of the Gospel Advocate, wrote that in publishing that piece, Sommer was guilty of the same thing he was accusing the others of. Sommer was taking unauthorized action against other churches in violation of their autonomy. He was acting without biblical authority.

    So, people in our movement have been doing things like this for at least 119 years. And a few have been opposing those things, for just as long.

  3. Jay Guin says:

    Cary and Alan,

    I certainly agree that divisiveness and vitriolic attacks on brothers and sisters date back for over a century of our history. What's new is taking the attack to the secular media, and with broad-based approval!

    Sommer's "Address and Declaration" was the beginning of our formally dividing over opinions. Many, many others have been guilty, too — and this divisive attitude is very much a part of the Galatian heresy. It's not new to us at all.

    Goodpasture led the effort to marginalize the non-institutional brothers, formally "marking" them in the Gospel Advocate, back in the 1950s. The other men I mentioned were also controversialists. To my knowledge, none ran ads in the secular media to attack their opponents. They at least loved the Lord's church enough not to intentionally embarrass the church before the world.

    But we've now taken it to a new level — intentionally advertising our squabbling to the world — and approving those who do this. This, to me, is a whole new level of sinfulness — which is saying a lot.

    I've modified my post to clarify what I was trying to say. Thanks for helping me clarify my thoughts.

  4. Cary says:

    I see what you are saying, and I certainly hope it is true. It's certainly all speculation one way or another, but from what I've experienced of someone like Guy N. Woods, he may not speak for it but I don't see him speaking against it. He attacked long and hard in as public a manner as I suppose he thought he could get away with. If you listen to the Freed-Hardeman Open Forum from 1969 his words and actions were publicly hateful. If a full-page ad appeared in a secular paper saying the same things he said, I do not see him condemning it.

    But, I don't want to beat up on GNW. That wouldn't make me any better. I know he did a lot of good things for a lot of people.

  5. Alan says:

    I agree that going to the secular media takes it to a new level. I think it demonstrates a level of desperation. In some ways I feel sorry for those who see their cherished doctrine being discarded, but they've obviously gone too far in communicating their displeasure to the general public.

  6. Raymond Perkins says:

    In the mid 90s while I was working as an associate minister in Corinth, MS, a number of the local congregations sponsored an area-wide campaign and invited Larry West from We Care Ministries, West Monroe, LA to speak and guide us through this evangelism effort. Two or three of the local Pharisaical congregations opposed him and even went so far as to mail throughout the community a flier denouncing him and a false teacher listing some of his "doctrinal errors". I remember being appalled and shocked. Now, I am even more concerned as this is clearly the promotion of another gospel and a determined effort to leave behind the simplicity of the message of Jesus which the world so desperately needs.

    Thank you for all your work here….You are truly blessed with insight and clarity.

    Ray

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