The Future of the Progressive Churches of Christ: Part 3, Compassion for the Conservatives

cooperation.jpgTo understand my complaints with the progressives (including me), I have to explain some of my concerns for the spiritual state of the conservatives.

Do you remember my earlier summary of Joe Beam’s article on what’s going on in the Churches of Christ? Well, his description, accurate at the time, was couched in Church of Christ terms — “change agents,” “innovation,” “Christian Churches,” and such. But the real issue is grace. And that means we need to see ourselves through a different lens — a grace lens.

You see, the Churches of Christ don’t divide neatly into a progressive and a conservative camp or, for that matter, a grace camp and a works camp. In fact, the situation looks something like this—

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In the far left, there are the “100% grace” advocates, while on the far right are the “100% works” advocates. In between, there’s a near infinity of mixtures of some grace and some works.

There’s likely no one entirely on the far right. I know of no author who denies the necessity of some grace. And yet some get very, very close.

As we look at the graph, we can imagine that those on the right are more likely to find a particular doctrine a question of salvation (a matter of “faith,” as many say) than those on the left. Thus, there are those on the leftward side who practice weekly communion but don’t see the choice to do so weekly as essential to salvation. Toward the middle are those who not only practice weekly communion, they see it as essential to salvation. And a bit further to the right are those who not only see weekly communion as essential to salvation, they see believing that weekly communion is essential to salvation as itself essential to salvation. Numerous other issues follow the same pattern.

I have books on my shelves that contend that one’s salvation depends, in addition to “hear, believe, repent, confess, and be baptized,” on having the author’s understanding of the doctrine of divorce and remarriage or agreeing with the author as to the age of the earth. Of course, countless authors have added having a scriptural form of congregational organization, having a scriptural name, and having a worship service consisting of only the right five acts of worship.

I could make literally hundreds of examples. The point is that, except for those on the very left edge, all of us within the Churches of Christ see some matter or other as a law essential to salvation in addition to the simple “hear, believe, repent, confess, and be baptized.” We often take comfort in the fact that there’s always some brother or sister to our right more legalistic than ourselves, and so we feel free from the accusation of legalism. But those on our left look rightward and see us as legalists. In fact, we’re nearly all legalists, just to different degrees.

Paul declares in Gal. 5:4 that those who seek to be justified by works are fallen from grace, and when I was a conservative, I sought to be justified by works. This is the theme of the entire book of Galatians.

What I’m going to say isn’t going to win me many friends among the conservative Churches, but I believe the conservative Churches — and many progressive Churches of Christ — are guilty of the Galatian heresy. Indeed, anyone who hangs his salvation on anything other than the saving work of Jesus and faith — we are saved by grace, through faith — violates the teachings of Paul in Galatians.

I explain this carefully in Do We Teach Another Gospel?, which is a book-length study. If I’m sounding crazy or mean-spirited, please click over there and read Parts I and II of the book. They aren’t that long. If you see my point, then read on.

Here’s my key conclusion from the book,

I am not qualified to judge the fate of those among us who teach modern equivalents of circumcision, and less so to judge those who’ve been deceived by such teachers. I only know that having become aware of the problem, I must speak out and call for repentance — urgently — desperately. Out of love, not condemnation — out of concern for souls.

It is not enough to be less legalistic than the church down the road. It’s not enough to be less legalistic than you used to be. There is only one gospel, and it won’t admit of any additions at all. Nothing is required to be saved or to stay saved other than the gospel. Those who teach otherwise have been cursed by Paul in the most unambiguous terms. I pray daily for the souls of my brothers and sisters in the Churches of Christ. Please, let’s stop biting and devouring each other and learn to accept one another just as Jesus accepted us.

(Pages 59-60).

The “gospel” is the fact that Jesus is Lord, Son of God, and Savior and that he died and was resurrected for our sins. It is not the doctrine of divorce and remarriage or the 5 acts of worship. Making such things tests of salvation is, therefore, to add to the gospel and so to teach a different gospel.

I hope you see my quandary. The legalism of the right wing churches is devastatingly destructive. It can even be damning. As hateful as some of their preachers might be, how could we even consider ignoring their plight?

Moreover, there are thousands of members in churches, led by false teachers, who know that there must be a better, truer gospel, but they can’t find it. They haven’t been able to find the resources to do so. And they’re miserable.

I know because they write and call me nearly every day.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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0 Responses to The Future of the Progressive Churches of Christ: Part 3, Compassion for the Conservatives

  1. Alan says:

    Interesting thing: I see weekly communion as a good idea, not a command of God. But I see myself as a very conservative interpreter of scripture. In fact, I think that conclusion is what the most conservative approach to scripture demands. Weekly communion can be supported from Justin Martyr, and perhaps from Pliny's letter to Trajan. But a true conservative would never introduce such sources as authoritative in the church.

    I guess what I'm saying is that the right hand side of that graph is not really conservative. Legalist would be a more accurate term (with the axis being Grace – Law). Conservative – Liberal is a different axis.

  2. Kent says:

    Jay-

    I just found your website a couple days ago and I am glad I did. I wish I had found it earlier. What a great thing you have going here.

    I, too, have found myself comparing the conservative Churches of Christ with the Galatians. I cannot believe that it is not more apparent to people. But I also appreciate you trying to hold us progressives feet to the fire because we need to be asking ourselves where we are heading with the direction that some are taking. I still believe in restoration but I believe in restoration of the spirit found in the Bible where things like love and mercy and God's shalom rule the day rather than some questionable rules gleaned from questionable interpretation of verses that are being taken out of context.

    I am the preacher of a non-Bible class Church of Christ in Richland Hills. We are actually just around the corner from Richland Hills Church. But we are fairly progressive as are the majority of the non-class Churches (the class issue is no longer a salvation issue in the vast majority of our churches and hasn't been for at least 15 years). But we have to ask ourselves where we are going.

    Clearly, though, there is a split that has taken place and I question whether it will ever be repaired. Randy Harris has said that people are always willing to fellowship with people that they perceive to be on their right (this is why we progressives have been able to fellowship the Independent Christian Churches so well in the last couple years). The conservatives believe we have gone off in left field and they are not going to fellowship us unless we make significant concessions or unless they make significant strides.

    Anyway, enough rambling. Great job with the blog. I will try and get in on some of the conversations.

    Kent

  3. Jay Guin says:

    Alan,

    You're right, of course. I just struggle finding terms for the two sides that aren't considered insulting by one side or the other.

    I count myself an extreme conservative. My non-CoC friends would agree! It's only within the Churches that someone calls me "liberal."

    "Liberal" is a reference to those who deny inspiration, and so both insulting and inaccurate. And so "progressive" seems a better terms. However, the conservatives (less grace oriented) would argue we aren't making any progress at all!

    I used to say "rightwing" and "leftwing" but it sounded too much like American politicians. I'm rightwing politically. Well, sort of.

    I'm happy with "change agent," but not all who agree with me are working for change. Maybe we need to go back a century or two and use "old lights" and "new lights."

  4. Jay Guin says:

    Kent,

    You might enjoy the Humility Bubble Lesson. It's at http://oneinjesus.info/2008/02/13/the-humility-bu

    One of the clearest proofs of the error of the "got to have authority" argument is the fact that it always divides. If you and I disagree on kitchens in the building, those who allow kitchens treat those binding kitchens as saved. After all, they didn't do anything unauthorized.

    But those who bind kitchens see those who have kitchens as damned. After all, they did something unauthorized!

    Therefore, the authority argument prevents any real fellowship among those who disagree and pushes theology always toward making more and more rules, just to be safe.

    From where I sit, that proves it wrong, as true religion binds believers together in love.

  5. Kent says:

    Agreed Jay. On the one hand I am ashamed to be a part of a group in the non-class Churches of Christ (not to be confused, by the way, with the anti-institutional churches) because we have bound things on people in the past like Bible classes. However, I am proud that my group of which I grew up in and have just recently come back to has made such huge strides and has learned grace and no longer makes such things a test of fellowship, though many of our churches still do not have classes. I wish that some of the other groups who have split from the mainline churches would come to similar conclusions and would restore lines of fellowship.

    Kent

  6. Jay Guin says:

    Kent,

    I'm delighted to hear this about the non-class churches. Leroy Garrett wrote that grace was changing this segment of the Churches in his book the Stone-Campbell Movement. I'm thrilled that it's coming to fruition.

    And this should offer hope to those who believe our more conservative brothers in the mainstream are beyond our help.

  7. josh keele says:

    "The'“gospel' is the fact that Jesus is Lord, Son of God, and Savior and that he died and was resurrected for our sins. It is not the doctrine of divorce and remarriage or the 5 acts of worship." (Jay)

    This is where I'd like you to remember your appreciations for N.T. Wright. N.T. Wright makes the point that the Gospel "is the royal announcement that Jesus is Lord and Caesar isn't." Ok. So, if Jesus is Lord and Caesar isn't, what does that mean with respect to divorce and remarriage? Well, clearly it means that Caesar's rules on divorce and remarriage are garbage because only Jesus' rules matter since Jesus is Lord and Caesar isn't! So, Jesus' teachings on divorce and remarriage is part of the gospel since the gospel is the proclamation of Jesus' Lordship and since Jesus exercised his Lordship to give us his rules on divorce and remarriage which clearly contradict Caesar's rules on the same subject. N.T. Wright loves to dwell on how Christ and Caesar conflict with one another in their approaches. He talks a lot about Caesar as violent and killing anyone who stands in his way etc. but Christ as dying rather than killing. Well, he needs to add this one too: that Caesar is concerned with keeping his head on his political power not to mention keeping his shoulders and thus allows men to divorce their wives at pleasure so that they don't get mad and rise up against him, but Christ being "the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, Who alone has immortality" does not have to worry about such concerns and hence does not limit his legislative ability to concerns for his physical wellbeing as Caesar does.

  8. Alan says:

    Josh,

    Paul defined the term "gospel" in 1 Cor 15:1-11. And he didn't say anything there about marriage and divorce.

    By the way, Jesus' teachings on divorce and remarriage were correcting Jewish misinterpretations of the Law of Moses.

  9. Matthew says:

    This is a interesting treatment of the topic. I enjoy reading about people's thoughts on the development of the current church culture.
    http://www.matthewsblog.waynesborochurchofchrist.org

  10. Nancy says:

    Jay,

    I see your "quandary", especially as a leader in the church. You have a heart for the sheep that are miserable. A recent study of Matthew revealed to me something of the character of Jesus. Matthew has a good deal say about legalism. When confronted by the Pharisees over and over and over and over again, Jesus answered them and moved on. He didn't keep coming back trying to convince them. He was willing to leave them be even telling the disciples to "shake the dust off your feet" and move on. Jesus' example is a contrast to the Pharisees that I know.

    Forums like this and others are helping those that are or have been miserable. A thorough study of the scriptures will relieve a lot of misery too. It has been my experience that most are unwilling to do this. Even in our churches they prefer to study a secular pop culture book rather than the Bible. I just don't get it.

  11. Jay Guin says:

    Nancy,

    My experience is similar. Arguing with advocates for the 20th Century traditions rarely persuades them. However, it's at least an oppottunity to lay both theologies side by side for others to compare and study.

    Jesus knew who he'd persuade before he even tried. But he tried anyway, to educate those who were listening. And, of course, he did in fact persuade Nicodemus and others from among the Pharisees.

  12. Ray Perkins says:

    Jay,

    As a former minister in the Church of Christ and now part of the Independent Christian Church, I too have been burdened for quite sometime over the segregation and division that has taken place within the Stone-Campbell Movement and more particularly the Churches of Christ. I have struggled for years to come to some sort of rational grip with the rejection of fellowship that is the result of minutiae; things that have no bearing on salvation or one's faithfulness, but are couched as such. Worse yet is that Christians are forced to withhold fellowship over such.

    When my family and I decided to move into the ICC we were immediately branded as heretics and traitors. Relationships with family and friends suffered. Yet, when I offered to sit down and study through any subject or point of concern, no one was willing. I found it quite telling that many were quick to tell us how "wrong" we were, but none, not one, had the conviction to study the Bible with us. Seems to me this is symptomatic of the sectarianism that permeates the CofC, at least the radical right-wing branch. And that too is quite sad.

    Thanks for all your works here…I share them with many.

    Ray

  13. Kent says:

    Ray-

    I have seen what you speak of. The church I preached at previously in Louisville, KY had many people who loved to point out the error of others. But these same people never took any initiative to get out there and try and correct their brothers and sisters who they felt were wrong. It was like, they are wrong but we are not going to do anything to try and save them. If we see a brother or a sister who we feel is in error and is in jeopardy of losing their salvation shouldn't we do everything in our power to try and help them? Thanks for the post.

    Kent

  14. josh keele says:

    By the way, Jesus’ teachings on divorce and remarriage were correcting Jewish misinterpretations of the Law of Moses." (Alan)

    That goes on my list on the stupidest lies I've ever heard. I suppose you would also claim that "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also" is just a correction of a misunderstanding of the Law! Here is clearly contrasting the Law of Moses on the matter with his New Law on the matter, and so also with marriage: "It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery."

  15. josh keele says:

    Also interesting, speaking on Ernest G. Wright, Valentine (from the Marcion and OT post above this one) says "Wright states plainly, and correctly, 'this represents the paganizing of the Gospel … This Gospel is no scandal nor stumbling block' (p. 23). It is a reversion to 'pagan normalcy.'" Does the notion that Jesus died for you and all you have to do is beleive that fact and poof you're saved really offend anyone? Or is the offense really that people recognize that there's a catch, that behind the nice "here you go" Jesus requires obedience to his teachings? As Jesus indicates in the parable of the builders. The builder who built his house on the sand and watched it fall when the storm came is he who heard Jesus' teachings but didn't do them. Did he beleive in Jesus as the Messiah the same as the guy that built his house on the rock (that is, the one who heard Jesus' sayings and did them)? Clearly he claimed to. After all, Jesus gave this parable as his explanation of the question in Luke 6:46 "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" If we truly beleive that Jesus is Lord, that is, if we truly beleive the gospel, then we will do what he says. Those who say that divorce and remarriage doesn't matter, do not beleive the gospel, do not beleive that Jesus is Lord. Those who read that Jesus took a loaf and a cup and said 'do this in remembrance of me' but choose to rather take a couple thousand crackers and a couple thousand cups, do not beleive the gospel, do not beleive that Jesus is Lord. Those who do not beleive that a person must be baptized specifically for the remission of sins do not beleive that Jesus is Lord. etc. etc.

  16. Alan says:

    Alan wrote:
    By the way, Jesus’ teachings on divorce and remarriage were correcting Jewish misinterpretations of the Law of Moses.

    and Josh replied:
    That goes on my list on the stupidest lies I’ve ever heard

    I'm quite capable of saying stupid things. But this wasn't one of them. See Matt 19:7-9 for example.

  17. Ray Perkins says:

    Josh,

    To be consistent with your position, then those who build church buildings, print bulletins, use the collection for anything other than benevolent work, etc. are also denying the Gospel and Jesus as Lord as there is no Scriptural evidence for those things either. The example is meeting in homes, spread news and message by the spoken word, taking up a collection to aid suffering Christians. So, if you hold true to your theological directives, when are you going to sell that church building? (Oh you better not do that as you cannot add anything to the treasury that is not a free-will offering. So you better give it away.) And you better stop paying insurance, utility bills, purchasing literature, etc. with the treasury while you are at it. The point is that your position that you attempt to bind on others is not one that I suspect you would not apply completely to yourself.

    Ray

  18. Mark says:

    Josh,
    I think you are mixing different concepts together. When we acknowledge Jesus as "Lord," we are confessing that he is the ruler of our lives and that we are in a position of submission and obedience to him. Part of the process of disciple-making is to teach everything that Jesus commands, including our best understanding of his teachings on divorce.

    However, it is not correct to say that his teachings on divorce or on riches or on judging others or anything else is part of the content of the gospel message that we proclaim for the salvation of men. The gospel, the good news, is that Jesus died for our sins and God raised him to life, so we may have forgiveness, salvation, and life in his name.

    In some form or another, that is the gospel Peter preached on Pentecost, and it what Paul describes as matters of "first importance" in 1 Cor 15.

    To answer your earlier question, yes, the gospel message is offensive. It is a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. It exposes all of us as people deserving of God's wrath and in desperate need of his forgiveness, and lots of people don't like to admit that about themselves.

    A decade or so ago, Ted Turner was scoffing at the Christian faith, and he said, "I don't need anyone to die for me. I've had a few drinks and a few women. If that's going to send me to hell, so be it." The gospel is foolishness to him and many others like him.
    Mark

  19. Nancy says:

    Mark,

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!

  20. Mark says:

    For what it's worth, the text doesn't say that Jesus took "a loaf." It says he took "the bread." The text would be accurate if Jesus took the only piece of bread on the table, and it would be accurate if he took one of several pieces in a basket of bread.

    Also, I believe Alan is correct that Jesus was responding to Jewish controversies as to what constituted a "scriptural" divorce.
    Mark

  21. josh keele says:

    Before I deal with your "ad hominems" I will deal with the gross misrepresentationss of Scripture. The Greek does say ton arton, "a loaf." Besides its obvious that he didn't take a basket full of disjoint pieces of bread (as you suggest), since it says "he took bread (or a loaf), and when he had given thanks he broke it"–If it was already broken and disjoint then he wouldn't have needed to break it, right Mark? And if Jesus was responding to Jewish controversies over what constituted a scriptural divorce, then he would not have framed the answer as he did "Moses allowed x, but I say y." If Jesus was teaching something different from what Moses allowed (as he claims to be doing), then Jesus was not simply interpreting Moses but giving a new teaching.

    Now to your "ad hominems." I recognize that the gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. And when preaching to a non-Christian that is of first importance and they can learn everything else later, as Jesus says at the end of Matthew, "Go teach all nations, baptizing them…and teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded…." meaning that first men learn the gospel and are baptized then learn the commandments of Christ that regulate their lives. However, these commandments are part of the gospel in a way, and those who are already Christians or claim to be, ought not ever say that these commandments do not matter.

    Now you say "To be consistent with your position, then those who build church buildings, print bulletins, use the collection for anything other than benevolent work, etc. are also denying the Gospel and Jesus as Lord as there is no Scriptural evidence for those things either." Except that there appears to be Scriptural evidence, when Paul rebukes the Corinthians for holding their potlucks during the worship service, he asks "What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not?" Now, if they were meeting in individual homes they could easily answer "yes, we have houses, and since we hold the worship service in a private home, your rebuke it pointless. We are eating in our private home because the worship service is taking place in our private home." Paul's query as to whether or not they had homes, is indicative that the Corinthians at this time had a separate building for the worship and did not meet in private homes, and he is telling them that their potluck ought not to be part of the worship, and really they ought to do it in a private home.

    "And you better stop paying insurance, utility bills," things that are basically equivalent to taxes and customs, and Scripture says "Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due;" or "taxes to whom taxes" and "custom to whom custom;…" (Rom 13:7)

    "purchasing literature, etc. with the treasury while you are at it." Did the church not pay for copies of the letter that was sent to all the Gentile churches in Acts 15? Sure it was written by hand since they had no Xerox, but did they pay for the paper?

    "The point is that your position that you attempt to bind on others is not one that I suspect you would not apply completely to yourself." These things are not even on a par with purposefully observing the Lord's Supper in a manner other than that which Jesus established. YOU WILL NOTE, that this is not even a matter of silence to begin with! The Bible clearly shows Jesus take a loaf and a cup and say 'this do in remembrance of me.' This isn't like the question of buildings because there is both a positive example and a command, PLUS he assigns symbolism to each item, (1) of the bread, 'this is my body' (2) of the contents of the cup 'this is my blood of the new covenant' (3) of the cup itself 'this cup is the new covenant ratified by my blood' — it is impossible to get away from.

  22. Ray Perkins says:

    Josh,

    You wrote: “Except that there appears to be Scriptural evidence, when Paul rebukes the Corinthians for holding their potlucks during the worship service, he asks “What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not?” Now, if they were meeting in individual homes they could easily answer “yes, we have houses, and since we hold the worship service in a private home, your rebuke it pointless. We are eating in our private home because the worship service is taking place in our private home.” Paul’s query as to whether or not they had homes, is indicative that the Corinthians at this time had a separate building for the worship and did not meet in private homes, and he is telling them that their potluck ought not to be part of the worship, and really they ought to do it in a private home.”

    That is reading into the text something that is not there. You fail to take into account that the early church enacted communion within the midst of a meal which they called a Love Feast. The historical evidence supports this. Therefore there is no prohibition against a “fellowship meal” as you call it from Paul’s pen in I Corinthians 11. He is addressing the problem of those who ate up everything before everyone had a chance to eat. In no way can one prove a separate building paid for by the collection from that passage. To do so violates the context.

    “’And you better stop paying insurance, utility bills,’; things that are basically equivalent to taxes and customs, and Scripture says “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due;” or “taxes to whom taxes” and “custom to whom custom;…” (Rom 13:7)” Simply stated, this is beyond the pale of credibility. Where in the world can you substantiate such an equalization of two totally separate things? There is no way a voluntary luxury like insurance and utility bills are equal to a mandatory requirement like taxes.

    “Did the church not pay for copies of the letter that was sent to all the Gentile churches in Acts 15? Sure it was written by hand since they had no Xerox, but did they pay for the paper?” Is there actually textual proof of this? Or did you conjure it up like the building reference in I Corinthians 11? There is just as much evidence from this passage that Paul or Peter or one of the elders purchased the paper out of their own pockets as there is that the church treasury paid for it.

    The overall point is that you are comfortable binding a hermeneutic upon people when it relates to a pet issue, but unwilling to apply it across the board. Take a look at the parallel passages for the institution of the Lord’s Supper. What does one do with Jesus telling the apostles to divide the cup among themselves as they partake? This seems to indicate they would have poured it into different cups. How do you get the idea they all drank from one cup from that passage?

  23. josh keele says:

    "That is reading into the text something that is not there. You fail to take into account that the early church enacted communion within the midst of a meal which they called a Love Feast."

    You fail to realize that that's a fable. If this fable were true then Paul would not have said "what? don't you have houses to eat in?" He wouldn't have tried to move their practice OUT of the assembly if it was supposed to be there! His precise point is obviously that their feast is misplaced. Jude mentions "feasts of charity" in Jude 12 but there is no reason to beleive they were part of the assembly, especially since the apostle Paul tells the Corinthians to take their potluck (or love feast, feast of charity, whatever you want to call it) out of the assembly!

    "There is no way a voluntary luxury like insurance and utility bills are equal to a mandatory requirement like taxes." Insurance is not a luxury, but a fee imposed by the government. As to utility bills, it's obvious to everyone that as reading the Bible is necessary to a worship service, you need light. Whether you are going to buy candles or pay for electricity, you're going to be using money for light one way or another.

    "Is there actually textual proof of this?" You want textual proof that they didn't have Xerox's? But as to your suggestion that Paul or one of the elders payed for the paper and not the church. Ok. We are talking about expedients here anyway, not adding things to the worship or changing things that are clearly defined by Christ. Whether the church pays for paper to send a letter on or not is not like asking whether a man may usurp the Lord's authority and change the bread in communion into fried chicken or add instruments of music to singing. The fact that we have to have bread and the fruit of the vine would necessity after all that someone buy them–may the church? Well, they are necessary to the worship so I should think so. But may the church buy an organ? It is not necessary for any purpose, so no. Is this not part of the point in Galatians 6:8 "For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." The context is about money even the treasury as verse 6 would show. If the church uses the treasury to buy things necessary to the worship and work of the church does it not sow to the Spirit? But it uses the same money to buy an organ to please the inner Pagan, does it not sow to the flesh?

    "What does one do with Jesus telling the apostles to divide the cup among themselves as they partake?" One with any honesty about him will note that this was BEFORE the Lord's Supper, firstly. That it was before the bread and was merely part of the Jewish Passover. The institution of the Lord's Supper begins in verse 19 with the bread. Then in verse 20 he takes a cup AFTER the bread (the Lord's Supper cup) and says "This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you" with no mention of dividing. After all, why would he command this cup to be divided after proclaiming it to be the New Covenant? What does one do with his saying "This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you"? Ignore it is what is generally done by those who use multiple cups. But that you would take a cup BEFORE the bread and say "aha! he says divide it" and try to apply it to the cup after the bread shows how in poverty you are for a way to justify your changes.

    Besides that, and here's the real point of the whole issue, since it is so manifest that Jesus took a cup, as it is always spoken of in the singular in the New Testament, why in the world can't you (multicuppers in general) just yield to the scruples of the church for unity's sake? It is a marvelous thing that while thinking it could be done either way you insist on doing the way that is different from the one in the Bible, and hence cause and perpetuate division! There is a simple way for division to cease–that being for those who think multiple cups and one cup are equivalent to just use one cup for the sake of unity. Those who beleive only one cup is right cannot use two or two hundred for the sake of unity because that would violate their conscience. But those who think it doesn't matter could use just one for the sake of unity! Yet they do not, and I think that says something. If I was a person that believed it didn't matter and I wanted unity, I'd use one cup. Yet, the multicuppers are opposed to this course of action—–why?

  24. Ray Perkins says:

    Josh,

    There is simply no way to prove that Paul is telling the Corinthian church to “take their potluck (or love feast, feast of charity, whatever you want to call it) out of the assembly!” Read the entire context. He never says that. He states that #1 they are not discerning the Body and Blood of Christ when they eat, and #2 some are left out altogether because everything was consumed by a greedy few. His point is to share it all and not eat to fullness; one can/should do that at home. To do otherwise is to abuse the feast. Also, the existence of the Love Feast is not a fable; Pliny and Clement of Alexandria, to name a few, record it. That is just merely a cheap dismissal on your part.

    Insurance is a fee imposed by the government? That is news to me. We meet in an elementary school and we do not carry any insurance. In fact unless there is a mortgage involved insurance in not mandatory. “As to utility bills, it’s obvious to everyone that as reading the Bible is necessary to a worship service, you need light. Whether you are going to buy candles or pay for electricity, you’re going to be using money for light one way or another.” Surely you are not serious? Really?

    You still have not answered my question about justification to use monies collected into the church treasury for anything other than benevolence. If you are going to be so restrictive concerning one cup, you must apply that hermeneutic across the board. According to your restrictive hermeneutic there is no authority to do anything with those funds except benevolent work. None. At least be consistent in the theological directives you utilize. Do not pick and choose the pet issues you apply it to.

    “You want textual proof that they didn’t have Xerox’s?” No I want textual proof to back your previous claim that the church purchased the paper, or parchment, used to circulate this letter with monies from the church treasury. Please provide that to back your textual assertion of this.

    In Luke 22 it is the same cup in both verses: the one divided is the one he blesses, their portions, and they partook it. Same terminology in both verses. Besides, if using multiple cups damns a person then so does any deviation from any CENI, like the aforementioned treasury issue. I would counsel you to consider Matthew 7:1-5, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Defining righteousness by a flawed hermeneutic that demands one cup will also be measured back to you with the treasury, buildings, etc.

    I would gladly provide one cup for those who want it. They are free to communion in that way. Would you be willing to allow the faith of others the same freedom? After all, didn’t Paul state that “if it is not of faith it is sin.” In other words, the forcing of something upon a person that is not believed in causes them to sin. And can you really believe Jesus would care about one cup or multiple? Isn’t the whole point to remember His sacrifice and proclaim His death until he returns? Isn’t something being missed when gnats are strained and hairs split over such minutia? I think it is.

  25. Mark says:

    It seems to me that some people like to impose funky rules on the interpretation of Scripture that we would never use in real life.

    All three of the synoptic gospels say that Jesus took "arton" (bread). My earlier post wasn't correct. He didn't take "the" bread. There is no article in the Greek text. He just took "bread." Why would we assume that there was only one piece of bread (whether we want to make it a loaf or flatbread or whatever) for a table with 13 guys around it? He took bread.

    One day, I was at the Olive Garden with my family, and I said, "Pass the bread, please," and my daughter handed me a basket with six breadsticks in it. Recently, I was at another restaurant with a couple of ministers. I said, "Pass the bread, please," and one of them handed me a basket with four different varieties of bread in it. On another occasion, I was at Outback or Steak and Ale, and the bread was one loaf with a knife sticking out of it.

    But we want to read Scripture, and where it says "Jesus took bread," we know for certain that it was the one and only loaf on the table and that he was setting a precedent for one loaf for all time. We should have had somebody from the Guinness Book of World Records there for the first communion after the 3000+ were baptized on Pentecost. That must have been one humongous loaf!

    And how would you like to have been number 3,056 taking a drink from "the cup" which had been refilled about 700 times? When I was in graduate school, I read an article from Lard's Quarterly, back in the late 1800s. The writer was complaining about the practice of using one cup because several of the men in the congregation chewed tobacco, and the writer was repulsed by the "effluvium" the chewers left on the cup. There, my friends, is a compelling argument for multiple cups!
    Mark

  26. Nancy says:

    Mark, Thanks for asking about one cup being refilled. I've been wondering how you would accomodate a large number of participants. I'm thinking you can't you a jug, you have to use a cup right? How does that work? Where I worship, they offer both options, I chose the little cup. But, I only drink from one cup. Hmmm. I'm still wondering about the procedural issues of a large group.

  27. josh keele says:

    "Mark, Thanks for asking about one cup being refilled. I’ve been wondering how you would accomodate a large number of participants." (Nancy)

    To refill the cup would be tantamount to saying that Jesus didn't shed enough blood the first time around and had to get crucified a second time. To accommodate a large crowd, you would have multiple smaller congregations. Do you really think that the Lord ever intended for there to be one super-large congregation with 5000 or so people where nobody knows anyone else? This in fact seems to explain why the church in Jerusalem met from house to house early in Acts. There were so many Christians in that one city that it was impossible to all commune in one congregation, so they formed into several smaller congregations and met house to house.

    Now, Mark, does Paul say in 1st Corinthians 10:17 "For we being many are many for we partake of the many wafers?" or did he say "For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread"? Please stop twisting in order to justify the use of multiple wafers instead of one loaf. Your arguments are no better than when the Catholics used the exact same ones against the Protestant Reformers on the same issue trying to justify their individual wafers. It is sad how far the liberal churches of Christ have fallen! But at least the Catholics have a reason for using multiple wafers, that being that they think the bread is literally Christ and seeks to avoid chewing him since he might feel it (such is their superstition). You on the other hand seem to use individual wafers merely for the express purpose of rending the church of Christ.

    "I would gladly provide one cup for those who want it. They are free to communion in that way. Would you be willing to allow the faith of others the same freedom?" (Perkins)

    Ray, you know good and well that you are twisting the point. Those who don't see anything wrong with doing things in a way different from Scripture ought to be the ones to put their think-so's aside for unity. Those who are sticking with Scripture aren't to throw the Bible out the window to unite with the Scripture-breakers. Your statement here is like a Catholic saying, "I will allow you to not pray to Mary–will you allow me to pray to Mary?" or again, "I'll allow you to be baptized as a believer–will you allow me to be baptized as an infant?" or "I'll allow you to go by the Bible–will you allow me to go by the Pope?" What's the difference here, Ray?

    As to all the jangling about money and whether the treasury can be used for this or that or 'thother,' this is something that generally is out of the control of the masses, wouldn't you say? I have control over whether the congregation I attend observes communion properly, because I can always find one that does if this one ceases to. But will I always be privy to how the money is being spent? and will I always have a voice in it? No. Its not the same issue at all. I am actively involved in the communion, but not so much in determining how the money is spent, so whoever is making those wrong decisions if they are wrong, that's between them and God. But that which I am actively involved in, I will be sure that I do not violate my conscience in it.

  28. Mark says:

    We who are many form one body, but there are still many of us. In Christ, there is no longer male and female, but we look around in the church, and what do we see? Males and females. Christ destroyed the dividing wall between Jews and Gentiles so that out of the two he could make one man. But there are still Jews and Gentiles.

    When my family and I were at the Olive Garden, we each had our own breadsticks, but we all partook of the same bread.

    Josh, just for the sake of my curiosity, how big did the Lord intend for congregations to be? What would happen if you miscalculated the number who would be in attendance, so the cup ran dry? You can't refill it because that would mean Jesus didn't shed enough blood, but the believers who are present have to partake, so what do you do? What a dilemma!

    Just when I thought you blamed the Baptists for everything, you have gone off on the Catholics. In both cases, you just dodge the issue by telling me and others that we are no better than the Baptists or the Catholics. Your arguments about "proper" communion are linguistically suspect and logically indefensible. Instead of dealing with that, you want to talk about praying to Mary and following the Pope. It isn't working.

  29. josh keele says:

    "Josh, just for the sake of my curiosity, how big did the Lord intend for congregations to be?"

    As big as unity (and proper worship) will allow.

    Calvin instead of me from now on, for Calvin says on chapter 10 and verse 16:

    "Just when I thought you blamed the Baptists for everything, you have gone off on the Catholics."

    Mark my friend, it is sad for one who claims to be a member, nay even a minister, of the church of Christ to not be able to read the Bible any better than John Calvin, who himself saw that the apostles used one loaf, and said so in his commentary on 1st Corinthians 10:16, as follows: The bread which we break. From this it appears, that it was the custom of the ancient Church to break one loaf, and distribute to every one his own morsel, in order that there might be presented more clearly to the view of all believers their union to the one body of Christ. And that this custom was long kept up appears from the testimony of those who flourished in the three centuries that succeeded the age of the Apostles. Hence arose the superstition, that no one dared to touch the bread with his hand, but each one had it put into his mouth by the priest.”

  30. josh keele says:

    wow, that's a bad pasting job. That fragment "Calvin instead of me from now on, for Calvin says on chapter 10 and verse 16:" was from something I posted elsewhere, concerning your mocking of the one loaf "let him mock Calvin instead of me…"

  31. Mark says:

    Josh,
    Why would you leave me hanging on such an important question? How big a congregation will unity and proper worship allow? Is it dependent on the size of loaf we bake and the size of cup we use? Or is there some other determining factor?

    Out of one side of your mouth, you cite Calvin as a supporting authority. Out of the other side of your mouth, you suggest that any member of the Church of Christ ought to be able to read the Bible better than Calvin. Maybe you're right, and you should start listening to me instead of Calvin! 🙂

  32. josh keele says:

    No, Calvin definately has you beat here. See how so on the "Are we Sacramentalists?" page And I think my answer to your question on size was sufficient the first time.

  33. josh keele says:

    Calvin definitely has you beat here. (See how so on the are-we-sacramentalists page.) And I do beleive that my answer on the size question was sufficient the first time.

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