But I think [the churches] do need to consider how to clarify that the ad-buyers spoke falsely when claiming to speak for them. Perhaps a joint service with Quail Springs as a demonstration of shared love for Christ regardless of each congregation’s views regarding instruments (and invite the ad-buyers), or a demand for a retraction from the ad-buyers. That would be a good test of their character.
I’ve moved to this the level of a post in hopes that the Oklahoma Churches see it. A joint church service is a good idea — indeed, a necessary idea. Let me expand on it.
Anybody can buy an ad. Anybody can write a letter to the editor. But actions speak louder than words.
(1 John 3:14,18-20) We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. …
18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 19 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20 whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
John said it’s just not enough to express your love for your brothers — you have to demonstrate that love by action. And he says that doing so gives assurance of our salvation. That should be a more-than-sufficient motivator!
If we don’t act when action is needed, we don’t really love, John says — and we remain in death. John doesn’t allow for a middle ground.
In v. 18, John says we must love “in truth.” “Truth” in 1 John, and many other places, means the truth about Jesus — particularly the truth of the gospel. And in this setting, nothing I’ve heard would better show the power of the gospel to overcome barriers and break down walls than a joint service.
Now, properly understood, taking communion with someone is not a declaration that this person is doctrinally perfect — just forgiven — just like the rest of us.
Something like the following seems to me to be what ought to happen:
* A church other than Quail Springs should rent a large facility for a Sunday-morning service and invite all the other Churches in town to attend.
* A very capable preacher should preach the sermon, and Mark Henderson, Quail Springs minister, should preside over the communion table. (It just seems most powerful this way — there’d be no ambiguity at all about what’s being said.)
* Singing should be a cappella, so all may participate in good conscience.
* Prayers for love, unity, and healing should be offered from many congregations.
* I wouldn’t mention the ad. After all, this is the sort of thing we should have been doing anyway, right? “Autonomy” does not mean isolation.
Some churches will refuse to participate because they won’t commune with the damned, and they’ll consider Quail Springs damned. They’ll show their true colors to their members and the watching world.
Others will refuse to participate because, even though the leadership considers Quail Springs within grace, many members do not. (Such Churches need to do a better job of teaching the gospel to their members.)
But a precious, Christ-like few will break bread with Quail Springs. I mean, Jesus broke bread with Pharisees, publicans, and all sorts of other sinners. Why not fellow Christians?
This will be news. It’ll be reported and reported positively. The press will dutifully collect quotes from the men who bought the ad, and they’ll say hateful things. They may even run another ad. They may even disfellowship all those who attended the service. (If so, they’ll just prove how obscene their views are.)
But the public will see that many Churches of Christ love each other and want to be truly united — in action and in truth. And it will help heal the image of the Churches in the community.
I pray that enough congregations would be willing to take such a step to show a wondering world what kind of people we really are.
Our actions define who we are. Our inactions do, too.