I’m not planning to watch the videos. I might change my mind, but I know watching would make me angry, and being angry is not good for me. In fact, I’m not sure I’m doing such a good job of controlling my anger even without watching.
You might be interested to know that Dave Miller, who has been damned by the Contending for the Faith (CFTF) crowd along with the progressives, is not at all progressive. He’s the author of “A Plea to Reconsider,” which declared Richland Hills Church of Christ damned for adding an instrumental service.
He is declared damned by CFTF for supporting elder re-affirmation, a practice that many Churches have adopted where elders must be periodically re-affirmed by the congregation or else must step down. You see, the CFTF crowd finds no authority for this practice, and therefore it’s not only unauthorized, it damns.
This, of course, is the same argument used by Miller in his book regarding instrumental music applied to its logical extreme. You see, there’s nothing in the “logic” of the Regulative Principle that limits its application. If it’s unauthorized, it’s unauthorized, regardless of its expedience.
To quote Paul,
(Gal 5:15) If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
The legalism Paul condemned in Galatians is the same legalism that infects much of the Churches of Christ today. And now we see one reason legalism is condemned by Paul in such severe terms — there’s no limit to rule-making and boundary drawing once you start.
And while we’re on the subject, you should check out this post on legalism at Jesus Creed. It’s very perceptive. And by remarkable coincidence, I also ran across this video from Mark Driscoll on 7 Ways to Tell If You’re a Fundamentalist earlier today —
It’s about 8 minutes long, but well worth the watch. (And, yes, I know Driscoll is a John Piper, Jonathan Edwards, TULIP Calvinist. And I’m a fan — warts and all. 😉 )
Now, regarding the significance of CFTF theology in the Churches of Christ — well, we are who we are, you know? They have significant influence — but they are not typical in terms of their attitude. But they have essentially the same theology as the rest of the conservative Churches; it’s just that most conservative Churches have enough of the Spirit not to be so bitter and caustic.
However, if you were to ask the thought leaders of the more mainstream conservative Churches — the guys who write for the Gospel Advocate, for example — whether they consider the men who have been condemned in these lectures to be in fact apostate, most would agree — although some would consider it bad taste to say so in such severe terms. Or some would refuse to say, responding that it’s God’s judgment, not ours — but even they’d say that these men have written things that will surely lead to apostasy.
Seriously: email a conservative preacher or writer you have a relationship with and ask him to declare CFTF wrong in their conclusion that these authors are apostate. Challenge them to say so publicly. I’d be very surprised — pleasantly surprised and thrilled to eat my words — but surprised nonetheless if we see a single conservative minister take a stand against these lectures.
However, I figure about half the Churches of Christ — in terms of membership — would be fairly characterized as progressive. Yes, as some readers have said, the grass is greener on the other side, but there’s an other side within the Churches of Christ. We’re not all like that.
Many, many conservatives have been persuaded to the progressive point of view. Others are uneasy with the conservative theology of the 20th Century and are looking for something better. And many of the leaders who are left are increasingly reacting by becoming all-the-more legalistic. And this pushes more members to re-think and re-consider the progressive viewpoint. I think progressivism is snowballing.
And so I may be being a bit Pollyanna-ish here, but I think God is showing the Churches how very wrong 20th Century conservative theology is by allowing these men and women to put their theology on full display. This is what 20th Century conservative theology leads to. If you are still within the Churches of Christ, you should prayerfully consider whether you should own or disown these lectures. Don’t walk by on the other side.
Finally, be in prayer for the men condemned by CFTF. Pray that God gives them courage to continue to boldly declare the truth — the true gospel of Jesus. Pray that their livelihood isn’t harmed and that, indeed, that God will prosper these loyal servants of his. And pray that the attacks they suffer won’t harm their relationships within their families or churches.
And buy their books. And buy an extra copy for your church’s library. And you might email them a kind word encouraging them. They’d appreciate it. I guarantee it.