The recent series of articles in New Wineskins regarding the errors of patternism have triggered a response at the From God’s Breath blog edited by Scott Shifferd Jr. I was actually quoted! Shifferd’s posts responding to the articles are-
A Reply to “PATTERNISM IN CHURCHES OF CHRIST: A TEMPLATE FOR SIN” (actually replying to a blog post by Royce Ogle)
I’m not going to dispute his arguments here. Rather, I just want to observe the difference in publication names between the conservative and progressive writers. This blog is called “From God’s Breath” — which is tantamount to a claim for inspiration, isn’t it? Of course, we also have The Gospel Advocate — a claim that what is advocated is the gospel — and The Firm Foundation, which is a reference to —
(Eph 2:20 KJV) And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
If The Firm Foundation really is the firm foundation, then it’s the apostles, the prophets, and Jesus Christ himself! That’s quite the editorial board! Or maybe it’s a reference to the old hymn —
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
The hymn uses “firm foundation” to mean the word of God. And then there’s Truth Magazine, Bible Truths, and The Spiritual Sword. “Spiritual Sword” is from Eph 6:17, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” I mean, what’s the difference between saying “spiritual sword” and “word of God” or even “Holy Bible”? And don’t forget Words of Truth, Power (used as a synonym for “gospel” per Rom 1:16), and The Gospel Journal.
Now, compare these to New Wineskins, Grace-Centered Magazine, GracEmails, Reflections, Grace Digest, One in Jesus, Out Here Hope Remains, John Mark Hicks Ministries, Kingdom Living, God Hungry, aliens and strangers … not a single claim to inspiration in the lot. Rather, the emphasis in the progressive literature is on unity, grace, ministry, and life in Jesus, whereas the emphasis in the conservative literature is quite different.
Now, of course, the progressives believe in the Bible, believe it’s inspired, and believe they’ve interpreted it well. And certainly anyone who teaches about the Bible should intend to teach the truth, but it just seems that there are two very different approaches to truth here. You see, I don’t see progressives claiming authority, but it seems to me that the conservatives are doing just that.
For example, and I admit this is a bit extreme, but it makes the point — Shifferd writes,
You are a poor blind guide in this matter. What prejudice that you show in judging patternists by your own pattern! Don’t you know that we are to be imitators of the Christian example (1 Cor. 4:16-17, 11:1; Eph. 5:1; Phil. 3:17; 1 Thess. 1:7; 2 Thess. 3:7, 9; Heb. 6:12; 3 John 1:11))? Do you not know the words for example and pattern are the same (2 Tim. 1:13; Rom. 5:14, 6:17; 1 Thess. 1:7; Phil. 3:17; 2 Thess. 3:9; 1 Pet. 5:3)? Has Christ not set a pattern for us in worship? Do you not follow a pattern for baptism and the Lord’s Supper even if just simply calling them these names? Open your eyes. You who call others Pharisees! For the Pharisees were not patternists according to the Word. Their pattern was their traditions. These were man-made inventions, which went further to neglect God’s instructions (Matt. 15, 23, Mark 7). Pharisees were just as much liberals as they were legalists. Do not be a white-washed tomb and condemn churches for having the same problems that so many had in the 1st centuries. You’re not going to change any minds with this contempt.
It’s a transparent attempt to sound like Jesus — and while we should all seek to imitate Jesus, we have no right to claim his judgment or authority. And while Shifferd doesn’t make such an explicit claim, the claim is implicitly there when he declares that his words are “from God’s breath” and he writes as though standing in the sandals of Jesus.
I don’t know. It just doesn’t seem right, somehow. But maybe it’s just me.