What Must the Church of Christ Do to Be Saved? Chapter 11

We’re working our way through Leroy Garrett’s book: What Must the Church of Christ Do to Be Saved? The paperback is $7.95, but it’s also available in Kindle edition for $0.99. For $0.99, it’s really an offer you can’t refuse!

Now, by “saved” Garrett doesn’t mean that he questions the salvation of the individual members of the Churches of Christ. Rather, he is concerned to save the Churches of Christ as a “viable witness to the Christian faith. What must it do to escape extinction in the decades ahead …?”

Chapter 11 is entitled “Recognize that we can’t be a first century church.”

Hanging about the neck of the Church of Christ like an albatross all these years has been the fiction that we are the first century church duly restored in name, organization, worship, doctrine, and practice. It is a fiction grounded on false assumptions, such as the church of the apostles having a particular name, which it did not, and that it had a uniform organization and clearly-defined “acts” of worship, which it did not.

But the first thing we must come to terms with if we are to rid ourselves of the weighty albatross is a proposition that can hardly be questioned: We can’t be a first century church! There is no ground for supposing that God ever intended for His church in each succeeding century for the past 2,000 years to be a first century church, even if it were possible, which it isn’t. That one simple fact, duly accepted and acted upon, would go far in saving the Church of Christ, to wit, that it is impossible to be a first century church in the 21st century. (pp. 129-130).

It is interesting that Alexander Campbell in his earlier years was misled by this fallacy. When a new method of doing the church’s work was proposed to him, he retorted with, “It is not commanded.” Experience taught him that the “silence” argument confines the church to centuries past and makes useful innovations impossible. By 1849 Campbell was ready for his congregations to pool their efforts in an organized missionary society and he served as its first president. He was by now asking different questions about a proposed innovation, such as whether it is in harmony with the plain teaching of Scripture, whether it is in keeping with the Spirit of Christ, and whether it will promote the cause of Christ in our age? (pp. 132-133).

Leroy begins by pointing out that even Alexander Campbell was forced to give up the idea that we are limited to the forms and structures of the First Century church. Late in his career, he campaigned for a national missionary society! Why? To replicate a pattern? No, but because no one congregation had the resources to send the missionaries that the world needs to find Jesus.

The mission defines the method. The American frontier was filled with lost people. The world outside the USA was filled with lost people. The need for missionaries was desperate! But transportation was expensive – it could take months to reach many foreign nations. How could the typical Restoration Movement church, having less than 75 members, hope to have the resources to recruit, select, train, send, and support missionaries? Obviously, the task requires that talents and resources be pooled.

Many in the 20th Century Churches of Christ have tried to insist that Alexander Campbell never approved the American Christian Missionary Society (or have tried to hide that fact), but the Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement states on p. 25,

Campbell wrote in the Millennial Harbinger of 1850 that from the very first volume of the Christian Baptist he had insisted that the church is the only missionary society. But to consider the missionary society as an instrumentality of the church, for which the church is represented in general convention by elected “messengers,” proved to be a different story. …

The December 1849 edition of the Millennial Harbinger contains Campbell’s regrets at having been denied the pleasure due to “an unusually severe indisposition” and his hearty endorsement, being “particularly gratified.”

His biographer and personal physician, Robert Richardson, recorded that Campbell “was accustomed to meet with the ACMS as its president regularly every year, delivering addresses and urging increased liberality.”

Our response to the demand for a changing church in a changing world should be a blend of common sense and vital piety, which does not call for a Bible verse for every modern innovation. The question ought to be whether all such things are in keeping with the Spirit of Christ, whether they are a proper use of financial resources, and whether they are used to the glory of God. The rule should be to use things and love people, not the other way around. That means we will use such things in order to be a servant church rather than a self-serving church. So, the church of every age since apostolic times should say to the world around it, “We are your servants for Jesus’ sake,” but ways of doing this will change.  (p. 137).

The gospel of the grace of God is forever, as are the ordinances of that gospel. Means, methods, and secondary matters, which are effected by cultural change, will vary with the generations. This calls for a responsible handling of Scripture by the church of every age lest we cling to the Book itself and lose sight of the Person.  (p. 139).

Indeed. The Churches of Christ split from the rest of the Restoration Movement as much because of the missionary society as the instrument. Both were hotly contested 120 years ago. But I recently asked the class I was teaching to tell me what a “society” is and why it might wrong. The class had members who’d been in the Churches of Christ all their lives and who are now in their 80s. And they didn’t know. No one did.

Only a few who’ve studied our history remember the split over societies (a 19th Century term for “nonprofit organization” or “parachurch organization”). But plenty remember the splits during the 1950s over orphans homes and the Herald of Truth. The argument was that the Bible does not authorize a congregation to use its funds to support either one. After all, if we needed to reject the missionary society, surely we need to reject orphanages supported by similar means.

My church has one of the oldest campus ministries in the Churches of Christ, founded in 1954. Back when we needed support from other congregations, we ran into two arguments:

1. A campus ministry formed as a nonprofit organization, apart from a local church, is an unauthorized organization, just like a missionary society.

2. A campus ministry that is part of a local church is unauthorized, as an eldership is given authority only over the work of the local church.

But such is the nature of making up your own laws: Everyone gets to have an excuse for not giving money.

Here’s the bottom line. Today, the average Church of Christ has 75 members. That means that over half our churches can’t afford to hire a fulltime preacher — much less support a missionary. Moreover, effective missions work requires expertise that even some large congregations just don’t have. Anyone in your organization ever study missiology? It’s a field of study that has learned a lot about how to be effective in the mission field, and virtually none of our churches have that expertise on hand.

As a result, we aren’t very good at missions. Many of our missions accomplish little. Those that do well often start with a bang and then plateau. Your missionary may have built a congregation of 50 in three years, but if he’s like most, he got so busy pastoring his members that he stopped doing missions and the church stopped growing. (Sounds a lot like an American church, actually.)

We’re getting better at it, but it’s because there are some great parachurch organizations that help local churches work together to be effective. They help pool skills, experience, and the contributions of multiple churches to do it right. They just have the good sense not to call themselves “societies.”

Now, obviously, there are good and bad ways to form a parachurch organization. But the mere fact that we are capable of being foolish doesn’t mean we can’t be wise at least some of the time. We should not let our patternism keep us from saving souls. That would be like … objecting to someone healing on the Sabbath. It would be forgetting why we’ve been saved. We can’t let a theological theory inherited from the Puritans keep us from seeking and saving the lost.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay Guin

I am an elder, a Sunday school teacher, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a lawyer. I live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide. I’m a member of the University Church of Christ. I grew up in Russellville, Alabama and graduated from David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University). I received my law degree from the University of Alabama. I met my wife Denise at Lipscomb, and we have four sons, two of whom are married, and I have a grandson and granddaughter.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized, What Must the Churches of Christ Do to Be Saved?. Bookmark the permalink.

73 Responses to What Must the Church of Christ Do to Be Saved? Chapter 11

  1. Royce Ogle says:

    Just wondering…. How will anyone be able to disagree with this post?

    One of my first questions when I started to become familiar with churches of Christ was how could anyone believe that the first Century church had been restored? If there were Christians around to begin the Restoration then the church was around and had been since the first Century. It didn’t make sense and still doesn’t as you point out.

    The other thing that puzzled me was the men who began the RM. By today’s Conservative criteria, the men (Campbell’s, Stone, etc.) who began the RM were lost, not Christians at all. They were each Denominational, had unscriptural baptisms, and were not members of “The Lord’s church”.

    Ignorance is forgivable but to be ignorant on purpose becomes a lie at some point, doesn’t it ?

  2. Price says:

    Two things…How can you not support an organization who is lead by a guy with a name like Batsell Barrett Baxter……. and “para-church”….is that sort of like “liberal” or “progressive”….you know…where we use a word to distort and negatively portray a position that we don’t agree with ??

    My buddy and former minister, Steve Watson oversees a college ministry at Campus View CoC in Athens, GA… ALL campus ministries have their challengers….and supporters… thank God he’s on your side… These young people desperately need something solid to hold on to today… I know it’s tough at the U. of Georgia…I can’t imagine how bad it is at Alabama…:)

  3. Adam Legler says:

    Though it was made up of the apostles, did the first century church not have a “headquarters” at Jerusalem that many things went through? Was that not a missionary society of sorts regardless of who was on it or not?

  4. Bob Brandon says:

    The old insider joke of the fellowship is: we’ve restored the first-century church, the problem is that it’s (fill in the blank: Corinth, Galatia, Rome, Laodicea…).

    So, as a backhanded truth: we are always both and never the first century church. We are, in the sense that we can see in the challenges and tests faced by our brothers and sisters back then the same ones essentially faced today. We are not, in the sense that we live in this time and age and the solutions which are accessible across the ages are – as a matter of necessity – modified to meet specific factual situations today.

    The Restoration plea, then, remains relevant: identify the essentials from the nonessentials, recognize where the early Christians did the same (after, Rom. 14 is the archetype of sorting out major and minors – one of the great ignored texts of our fellowship) and model ourselves not as witness to ourselves but to God’s wisdom across the ages through His Son.

    The way we do things should never be mandatory; after all, for those who do differently, do so to the glory of God. Who are we to judge the servant of another? But the way we do things, when we do them graciously and with love, are useful and edifying to ourselves. And perhaps to others who have yet to accept the Gospel. And perhaps other believers of other traditions who are as able to accept the diversity that we have to offer in our fellowship as other Christians do in theirs.

    After all, there is no avoiding tradition and habit: if we gave up these that we are comfortable with, we would only invent new ones to take their place. I would prefer not to have to relearn what would become new old habits over the course of time; it is a waste of time to learn what would become new secret passwords and handshakes when I am already too aware of the usefulness and limitations of the ones I already know.

  5. Charles McLean says:

    I suspect that there are more than a few elders and ministers in the CoC who would agree with Garrett here. But, this “forward to the past” concept is just one of several for which support has eroded in the CoC. However, inertia traps the CoC in their gravitational field. It requires positive action to break this direction and to be free to move. Thinking and not speaking out will not suffice. I often speak with ministers in the CoC whose thinking rejects the old line distinctives. But when I ask how often they speak out on the subject, the answer is almost never. And so, the slow decaying orbit continues.

    If progressive members of the CoC are content with merely hoping to outlive their more traditional brothers, well, I guess that’s a strategy of a sort. Eat your fiber and get plenty of exercise, guys, and try not to die.

    Otherwise, it’s going to take actual official sermons from the Official Sunday Morning Pulpit. It’s going to take repeated categorical statements like,
    “We have acapella music because we like it, not because the Lord requires it.”
    “We are working to be effective as the church of the twenty-first century, and we are NOT trying to restore the church of the first century.”
    “Baptists and Pentecostals and Presbyterians et al are Christians, just as we are. Deal with it.”
    “A practice does not need to be found in scripture in order to have God’s approval.”

    The ministers I speak with who demur from preaching such things argue that such clear teaching would cause people to leave their church. This reminds me of the dysfunctional father who tries to tell his daughter that the whole world is evil and dangerous, in an effort to keep her under his wing. My brothers are trying to keep their local clubs together at the expense of their members’ spiritual growth. Ezekiel already told us what God thinks of this sort of thing.

  6. abasnar says:

    the fiction that we are the first century church duly restored in name, organization, worship, doctrine, and practice.

    Garret is right here. But in the light ofthe previous chapters I doubt we’d come to the same decisions. I say: The work of restoration has been left unfinished by the founders ofthe Restoration Movement. But their followers – as the followers of Lther and the other reformers – called their limited insights “orthodoxy” and stopped in the middle of the journey (or at the beginning).

    The discussions about missionary societies and other institutions are useless. When I look at some Christin Universities today I wish they had never been founded – but that#s unfair to the founder generation. In the beginning they did a great job, but as with all institutions they will be underkmined by a worldly attitude.

    The only “institution” Christ has founded was the church of Christ. Prove me wrong, if you can! But that means that all necessary missionary activities should be accmplished by local churches or local churches working together.

    I dislike Garret’s book and approaches. Even if I agree with this single quote. The problem i see is that churches of Christ did not continue the work of restoration – worse: They lost a lot on their way! Nonresistance and separation from politics is one of them. Here I really appreciated the discussion on Hauerwas a few weeks ago.

    But Garret’s views on women in ministry and “recent scholarship” are the opposite of Restoration.

    Alexander

  7. James C. Guy says:

    There is no “command, example, or necessary inference” to restore the methods of the first-century church. If there is, someone please point out the “book, chapter, and verse” for me.

    What God wants to restore is not church means and methods, but His RELATIONSHIP with us. If we get that as the real “Restoration Movement” then the methods will take care of themselves. Our relationship with God does not depend on restoring certain methods, but our methods will emanate from our restored relationship with Him.

  8. abasnar says:

    If there is, someone please point out the “book, chapter, and verse” for me.

    Here we go:

    2Th 2:15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.

    Jud 1:3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

    Rev 2:5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

    Besides a number of other clear texts that insist that all commands of christ are binding for all times, especially the last quote is a call to repent when we depart from the first works (not only the first love!).

    Alexander

  9. James C. Guy says:

    “…to restore the methods of the first-century church.”

    These were written DURING the first century church and do not refer to the things we consider “traditions” and “methods.” The restoration principle to restore the METHODS of the first-century church is a “latter day innovation”. Again, to restore our fallen / sinful relationship with God is the purpose of the whole Bible in the first place. When restoring OUR tradititions, means, and methods becomes our focus, they also become our gods!

  10. James C. Guy says:

    There’s no denying that we are to follow the commands of Christ. But Christ commanded us to spread the gospel. He didn’t command whether or not to do so by a “missionary society”.

    The point is, if we remember WHY we do what we do (whatever the particular issue), it may cause us to repent of putting the HOW ahead of the WHY.

  11. Royce Ogle says:

    Alexander’s quotes have nothing to do with what churches squabble about, nothing.

    About Christ having instituted only the “church of Christ”, I agree. The Christian church of Christ, the Church of God church of Christ, the Baptist church of Christ, etc.

    The way to learn if or not a church has been “restored” to first century standards will in part be people who want to be together with other Christians, generous to a fault with each other, always making much of Jesus, willing to die for the cause of Christ, taking care of widows and orphans, caring for the down and out, and saying very little about the local church. I have yet to find where those first century preachers invited people to church.

  12. Alabama John says:

    Charles,
    it was impossible to find a church of Christ that did what you propose around here all my life.
    Now there is one and its sure growing.
    Far more folks agree with this post of Jays and your response than is imagined.
    CrossBridge Church of Christ is the only one I know of anywhere near here.
    To get so much of this disagreement stuff off your mind and concentrate on simply worshiping God is unbelievable to those of us who were raised in the traditional Church of Christ.
    This direction and realizing our real history and being allowed, no, being encouraged to teach it rather than the one taught in so many churches is so eye opening.
    Most do not know the Presbyterians are where their heroes Barton Stone or the Campbells plus many others came from (and remained) much less the others that had a real influence on our beliefs and traditions and I am not talking about Bible figures.
    We like to think we are influenced only by the Bible writers, but actually we are far more influenced by men of the 1800’s and you can still see their influence in the partsd fo the USA where they taught and preached.
    Anyone seen a STONEITE lately? Not down in deep South, but in the lower midwest?
    There are people today that will not eat Campbell Soup for reasons most do not understand.
    When I grew up, the only time I saw church of Christ members mix with others from the denominations in a worship and prayer service was when they all met at a KKK rally!

  13. Alabama John says:

    That same fervor I saw at those rallies and other places where differences are thrown together is what we must get again, forgetting all differences and simply worship and pray together.

    That is the only hope I see for the church of Christ as we know it today.

  14. James C. Guy says:

    Good point Alabama John.
    The leaders of the Restoration Movement did not leave the Presbyterian church to “JOIN” (or “be added” if you prefer) the Church of Christ.

    I’m curious…Does anyone know of any historical documents where those same leaders were baptized into the cofC who were baptized in another “church” because they did not believe the first baptism in that church (Presbyterian, Baptist, etc.) “counted”? I have heard comments of such and examples of people’s baptism “for remission of sins” after studying with the group, but not of the leaders (Campbell, Stone, etc.) doing so. Anybody know of any?

  15. abasnar says:

    Doesn’t all of this show how differently we interpret the term “restoration”? Coming from Alexander Campbell i think of the “Ancient ORDER of things”. That’s one focus of my work – and it is not to be viewed higher than living in a loving realtionshi with Christ and my fellow people.

    But even if it is on a secondary level, it is still an important quest. As I undetrstand it, we all departed from NT standards more or less. How often we speak of cariung for widows and orphans, Royce! Just do it! And how often I and very few others bemoan the loss of the headcovering – just do it! NT church life is not only about the biggies, it’s about minors and majors. Both need to be in balance.

    Now, any “para-church-institutions” came into being because church life got out of balance! The NT church was most efective in both caring forthe needy and mission work – withoput any para-church institutions. It’s an easy way ouzt for a local congragation to delegate God’s work to institutions. There are so many ways to serve in the Kinbgdom, but most of our people just attend worship. And then – especially for women – the only ministry some contend for is that of eldership … Come on! You take the opportunities to serve from the local congregation and give them to some institution!

    I am even willing to admit that these institutions are far mor “effective” from a pragmatic point of view. But then i read Paul in his letter to Titus:

    Tit 3:8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

    Tit 3:14 And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.

    But I ask you: What is more proitable: When all members of all congregations learn to serve or when the service is delegated to institutions? Look at the NT-church and their heart for service – which Paul insisted must be developed by sound teaching and example! Where is a church today that can claim to be a “fully restored NT church”? Remember the discussion on the ministry of widows in the ancient church? All lost! Women are to be nothing but silent! That’s terrible! But make them preach is notr the scriptural solution! Good works, being fruitful is what we all are called to be!

    The reason I don’t like institutions is threefold:

    a) no NT precedent
    b) delegating good works from the church to the institutions
    c) institutions are more easily caught by a worldly spirit (especially theological seminaries)

    Think about it: It’s so easy to favor man-made concepts that are successful on a visible level (mega-churches); but look at how different all of this is from NT simplicity!

    Alexander

  16. abasnar says:

    I’m curious…Does anyone know of any historical documents where those same leaders were baptized into the cofC who were baptized in another “church” because they did not believe the first baptism in that church (Presbyterian, Baptist, etc.) “counted”?

    Not that I know of. Campbell was baptized by a Baptist, and the early disciples of christ fellowshipped with the Red stone Baptist Association and tha Mahoning Baptist Association (and maybe others as well). I think this fact alone answers the question.

    We in Vienna don’t rebaptize either because we see that baptism is in the name of Christ and not in the name of a church. And since at the time of our conversion our faith does not need to be bigger than a mustard seed a full theological understanding of baptism cannot be a requirement for the validity of baptism. But genuine faith in Christ and the willingness to follow Him is. Therefore we recognize all baptism that are based on such faith.

    Alexander

  17. abasnar says:

    P.S: None of them accepted their infant baptism – so Presbyterian sprinklings are not to be taken into consideration.
    To my knowledge the “Christians” (Stone-Movement) started baptizing in 1807 and the “Disciples of Christ” in 1812.

  18. James C. Guy says:

    Thanks abasnar.
    I wish more had that understanding of “baptism” who hold to the “restoration” of the “first-century church of Christ”. Often they “require” (for fellowship with them) to be re-baptized into the “one right church”. Truth is, as you reflected, that we are baptized into Christ. If we must be baptized into the right church group…..is that restoration to Christ, or to a “denomination”?

  19. Bruce Morton says:

    Jay:
    What I find distressing here is not the important discussion of “para-church” (which also includes universities), but Leroy’s bombastic beginning. As one voice, I hope those participating in this webforum increasingly realize how great is the threat when we think that OUR time is greatly different from THEN. It is one of the greatest deceptions we face.

    The spiritual challenges and struggles we face remain much the same 100… 500… 1000… and 2000 years later. Leroy’s suggestion of an “albatross” as he talks about apostolic teaching and its practical application leads us into a different form of legalism. And what is that? The rule that OUR day is so different that much apostolic teaching is negotiable. No, our congregations do not have to wear “church of Christ.” But is it an issue that they do?

    I am glad to share that one Baptist pastor, Mark Dever, has recently championed the need for multiple elders in Baptist churches, versus the single-pastor systems that predominates. His rationale? Attached is a quote:

    “In order to help Christians in this dark day to turn our soaring sermons and thundering denunciations into more than just a bunch of hot air but into incarnated corporate witnesses to the glory of Christ, we need help. And one crucial means of help God has given His church we continue to ignore to our peril — the provision of multiple elders to give careful, faithful, brave servant leadership to our churches in days filled with danger and opportunity.”
    (“Baptist Polity and Elders,” Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry 3 (Spring 2005): 37.)

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  20. Royce Ogle says:

    If a “para church” ministry is operated by true Christians then it isn’t outside the church is it?

    Bruce, many Baptist churches have had elders for decades, I think all Bible Churches have elders, and of course others. This isn’t exactly the latest news. In fact Deaver gave an address in 2004 about this issue. (http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=17638) And, I was a member of a church in Asheville, N C in the early 70’s that had elders.

    I don’t remember Leroy Garrett ever downplaying the spiritual challenges and struggles. He simply made the point, and correctly so, that 1st Century church has not been restored. In fact it never needed to be restored. Jesus is steadily building His church without our approval or acknowledgement.

  21. Price says:

    Bruce…I find it refreshing that I actually agree with you in that we face many, if not all, of the same spiritual challenges today that they faced in the first century. I would expect that until the Lord comes back that future generations will face them as well…

    I do find it odd that many in the churches of Christ however downplay if not totally discount the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives to combat the spiritual forces of evil. It seems many want to place the power of the Holy Spirit back into the first century by some exegesis of I Corinthians…It would be odd indeed if the Power that was used by the first century church to thrive and overcome in the face of overwhelming obstacles had been removed from us and yet the evil was allowed to continue. I would imagine that our hope of success would be greatly diminished if that were indeed true. Perhaps, one could look at the churches that are failing and notice that they rely heavily on what THEY do rather than depending on the power and guidance of an active and very much present Counselor and Paraclete… If there is any restoration, let it be in our trust in the Power of God…rather than in our own ability.

  22. Charles McLean says:

    Bruce opined: “Leroy’s suggestion of an “albatross” as he talks about apostolic teaching and its practical application leads us into a different form of legalism. And what is that? The rule that OUR day is so different that much apostolic teaching is negotiable.”

    This is a familiar non-sequitur, Bruce. It’s an old broad-spectrum augury that if we open ourselves to behaving in any way differently than our brothers of two millennia past that suddenly we declare ourselves ready to barter away the cross for a canoe, water baptism for seltzer down the pants, and the scriptures for a first edition of Archie Comics. This is simply not true. Yes, I am waxing a little hyperbolic, but what’s sauce for the goose…

    As to setting aside “apostolic teaching”, that accusation is made every time someone decides to depart from that which we hold dear, whether central to the gospel or not. No differentiation is made between salvation in Christ and acapella music, between the defending the diety of Jesus and defending the church pulpit from the female voice, or between the exclusive claims of the cross and the exclusive claim for the body of Christ as being limited to those who gather under one particular signpost.

    For me, I will gladly admit to departing apostolic teaching. Yep, I admit it up front. When I have stomach trouble, I DON’T drink wine, as Paul instructed, but instead I swig a little Maalox or Kaopectate. So, if that bold disregard for apostolic teaching makes me part of the apostate herd stampeding over the cliff of damnation, well, just wave goodbye to me as I thunder past.

    But on the other hand, if it IS okay for me to abandon the apostle’s doctrine of wine for stomach trouble, perhaps it’s also time for us to be just a bit more discriminating in our criticisms of proffered change instead of tossing out traditional broadsides better suited to intimidation than to illumination.

  23. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Price,

    Let me suggests as a text in support of your comment —

    (Eph 5:18 NIV) 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

    Still true.

  24. Bruce Morton says:

    Charles:
    Your hyperboles suggest that you are sure of your view of me. Not an easy judgement to make in a weblog where we only hear small slices of all that people believe. And I will note that they are not the best tools for building bridges.

    I will also suggest that “wine for the stomach’s sake” is quite a distance from the key issues on Leroy Garrett’s mind.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  25. Bruce Morton says:

    Price:
    I appreciate your post today. And yes I agree that when congregations cease to rely on the Comforter — in every way — then they run a great risk in the middle of a spiritual siege. For example it seems to me that at times some Restorationists have neglected to reflect on and teach about the important work of the Spirit as we pray.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  26. Bruce Morton says:

    Royce:
    Yes, I know the quote from Mark Dever is not late-breaking news to all. But it may be news to some visiting this forum. And to my mind it represents one more important voice speaking against Leroy Garrett’s note of critique regarding “organization.” I do not buy all that he is selling in his first paragraph.

    I continue to believe the simplicity of many/most churches of Christ in organization and worship reflect well what has been the guidance of the Spirit — for then and now.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  27. Bruce Morton says:

    Jay:
    I appreciate your post this evening. To my mind some (or many) congregations have neglected to reflect on and talk about the Spirit’s role in building unity and strength through our congregational song. Crucial counsel.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  28. abasnar says:

    We can’t be a first century church! There is no ground for supposing that God ever intended for His church in each succeeding century for the past 2,000 years to be a first century church, even if it were possible, which it isn’t. That one simple fact, duly accepted and acted upon, would go far in saving the Church of Christ, to wit, that it is impossible to be a first century church in the 21st century.

    Let me ask you: Doesn’t Leroy say “Restoration is [JFG: vulgarity deleted]?” (of course in much finer words). He may be part of our movement, but he is trampeling on our movement.

    Of course it is not about us, but about the church of Christ and her Head. Christ did not say that there would be different churches for different centuries and cultures. Since that’s so than the NT-apostolic church provides the standard by which all other churches need to be set up. By this I don’t mean – as some make fun of this – we should be like Corinth or like Jerusalem or like Laodicea, because all of these churches were (like ourselves) in the process of conforming to the Apostolic teaching.

    But I speak of Apostolic teaching and Christ’s teaching that is universal and transcends time and culture. I am very disappointed that Jay backed away from my objections in “Paul and Moses” where I tried with all my might ro prove his hermeneutical approach wrong. God’s commands were never intended to be a reaction to or reflection of a specific ancient culture in time. All of God’s words are binding as long as heaven and earth stand. As soon as we let go of this, churches can take any form and practice without any tool of discernment … unity disolves, obedience becomes arbitrary, worldly influences gain more than just a foothold, piece by piece God’s word will be declared as unreliable and irrelevant. Don’t you see this? Even in this thread this kind of reasoning is voiced loudly.

    Leroy promotes “modern scholarship”, and this rules out any quest for the 1st century church, because modern scholarship denies that the patterns and commands in the NT are still binding on us. Rather they seek for “eternal principles” that can be applied at will, and where they don’t find such principles they just dismiss one command after another. Are they servants of Christ’s church? Do we hear our Master’s voice through them? Or don’t we see that they are full of human rationalizations, doubt, scepticism and worldly philosophies?

    Look for yourself in the NT how often the universality of apostolic taching is stressed! One strong example – and I address it to any innovator:

    1Co 14:36 Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached?

    Holding fast (or returning) to the word of God is essential for unity. If we were the authors of God’s word – a claim made by the historical-critical theologians (the root of “recent scholarship”) – we may freely ad or take away according to our growing (or diminishing) understanding. But it did not originate with us, did it. It was handed down to us like a treasure we should preserve and pass on to future generation in perfect condition!

    If we were the only ones to whom the Word of God had come, then – at least – it would not destroy the unity of the church, if we change something here and there. But we aren’t the only ones, and therefore every departure from what is written, is divisive. Therefore I reject Leroy’s book and approach. It is not furthering unity, it does not save but destroy the church of Christ.

    Not – understand me right – because there are no true critical remarks in it (some observations are to the point, others reveal his “modern scholarship”! But because his medicine to it is poisonous.

    Alexander

  29. laymond says:

    “But the first thing we must come to terms with if we are to rid ourselves of the weighty albatross is a proposition that can hardly be questioned: We can’t be a first century church!”

    The modern day Church of Christ don’t want to be “The first century church” it seems they are striving to be like the 3rd century church, after it was co-opted by man, and the teachings of man instead that of God.

  30. Price says:

    Jay…Eph 5:18 is absolutely appropriate. I believe it would be better translated…according to some experts…as being “continually filled.” If that is Apostolic command then we should seek to understand how to abide by it unless one believes the Holy Spirit is cultural…:)

  31. Charles McLean says:

    Bruce, please forgive me if I said anything personal about you.. If I did, I did not intend to do so. I do not, however, step back from what I feel are accurate, if critical, descriptions of some traditional doctrines and arguments. Personalizing the argument into “you just don’t like me” is not only inaccurate, it justifies our lack of appropriate engagement, and excuses an unwillingness to address what was criticized. This is not a new phenomenon, as John 9:34 is an early example.

    I will confess that my recent criticism is not “bridge-building”. That was not its intent. My admitted hyperbole is partly because I try to write in a slightly-interesting fashion, but also because it is a fitting response to the hyperbolic argument I was addressing.

    You’re a good brother, Bruce. And I will accept your criticism about my lack of bridge-building in this dialog. But I can’t build a bridge to a place I don’t want to go. And this ersatz restoration ideal and its concomitant warnings against innovation and “leaving the old paths” is simply not somewhere the Spirit is leading me.

  32. laymond says:

    Jay, can you explain this verse, do you mean to insinuate that the “spirits” are stronger than the “Spirit” , and where do these spirits reside? Anyone?

  33. laymond says:

    Forgot to leave the verse in question.

    (Eph 5:18 NIV) 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

  34. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Alexander,

    I’ve deleted the vulgarity in your 12:30 am post. Please control your choice of words.

  35. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    “Be filled” is imperative present, which refers to continuous action — “keep on being filled with the Spirit” or even “be continually filled with the Spirit” — which is not the most natural way to say “be filled with the Spirit for one hour every Sunday.”

  36. James C. Guy says:

    abasnar,
    I agree with you that it is not about us and our focus should be on Jesus – the head. At the same time, that seems to be the focus of much of the comments, including yours (and possibly mine at times). I wonder how much better off we would would be if we had never identified a “movement” and just kept learning, growing, and returning to our “first love” and the first PRINCIPLES.

    I emphasize principles because I believe the teaching of Jesus and the Bible itself contain the principles that are indeed are timeless. Yet, those principles are applied differently depending on the culture, situation, application, and time. It is generally not the principles that are the points of the contention, but he application of the principles. When we make the application (form, method, practice) our focus, they then become our principles and we miss the purpose of them. That was precisely the problem the Pharisees had. They defined their righteousnes, not by their practice of the principles, but by the practices themselves.

  37. James C. Guy says:

    sorry…that last line should read: “…not by the principles behind their practices, but by the practices themselves.”

  38. abasnar says:

    It is generally not the principles that are the points of the contention, but he application of the principles.

    Actually it is both and. Because sometimes we don’t even agree whether X is a timeless principle or not. And on the other hanbd whether the scriptural application ofthe priciple itself is more or less timeless. Think about it: We still baptize and break the bread in a very literal way, don’t we? What is the difference between these two and many other “principles”/applications?

    As long as the scriptural applications have a long church wide tradition (I speak of apllication that were kept from the 1st century to the middle of the 20th century) i see no reason to depart from them. But it is strange that during the last 50 or so years scriptural applications have eroded, making room for alot of talk about principles that – strange again – struggle to find consitent applications (if the principles themselves are even recognozed as binding).

    I understand that “patternism” and “legalism” don#t seem ver attractive – but we don’t need to become either if we just plainl strive to be true to the word.

    Alexander

  39. Ray Downen says:

    It’s good to read of brothers who seek to restore our practice to practices of the early church. This is a good goal. Did the apostolic congregations meet for worship? What example is given of their doing so? Why does the apostle Paul urge that in Christian assemblies (1 Cor. 14:26) everything should be done for edification? Why is there a total lack of testimony that the congregations should when together do everything for “worship”? Are we sincere in our aim of restoring apostolic Christianity? Not if our real goal is to be like the church we grew up in. Alexander calls for us to strive to be true to the Word. Yes. Yes. Yes. But every human worship law over which we separate ourselves is no part of God’s Word. Every one of them is based on human wisdom rather than apostolic doctrine.

  40. Charles McLean says:

    I am going to agree with Alexander’s observation somewhat, but not with his conclusions. Garrett’s idea (oh, and he is far from alone) is in a way poisonous to the Restoration Movement. And if one is here to follow that movement, then such sedition must be ripped out by the roots. For eventually, there is little common ground between going back to an idealized “first edition” of the church, pristine in its faith and practice, and going forward in following the leading of the Holy Spirit, in the hope that we are indeed involved in that continuing brightening of the day which only dawned in the first century. One cannot ride the train in both directions. Restoration’s backward orientation presumes a failed church, a tree which needs to be cut down to the roots in hopes that from those first roots the true stock will spring.

    The rest of us see not a failed, but a flawed church, which needs not to be sawn down, but pruned. Painfully, in places, but with clear eyes toward bearing fruit. For us, even our past failures are part of the grace and mercy of God and are testament to his great faithfulness. Every scar is a lesson learned, a humility earned, a mistake not to be repeated. For WE are the church. The church is not a set of doctrines or practices. It is not a systematic theology or a well-defined orthodoxy. It is bumpy, lumpy, stumpy, grumpy sons of The Most High God, learning how to walk as the Spirit leads us, and confident that where he leads us is into the likeness of the Firstborn. We cannot go back, for we do not live back in the mists of history. We are here. Now.

    In the historic trunk of that very tree from which my Restorationist brothers so often distance themselves, we find various strands. Some rotten, some eternally fresh and strong. We as branches drink deep from those strong sources, and we must learn to forgive and show mercy to those that have been tainted or poisoned, for we know that ultimately it is the Life that flows to us to which we owe our own lives. Yes, I wish my forebears had done a better job. I am incredibly inspired by the lives of some and deeply ashamed of the actions of others. But they are part of us. They, too, are the body of Christ. And I will not saw them off or disown them or run them over in a misguided effort to return my own beliefs to some ancient order as though that order had the power to give life.

  41. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Charles,

    Thanks. Nicely worded.

  42. abasnar says:

    Well, Charles, you seem to undestand what I mean:

    Garrett’s idea (oh, and he is far from alone) is in a way poisonous to the Restoration Movement. And if one is here to follow that movement, then such sedition must be ripped out by the roots.

    Yes, that’s about how I feel and think about it. And I am glad that you summed up the main difference quite accurately:

    For eventually, there is little common ground between going back to an idealized “first edition” of the church, pristine in its faith and practice, and going forward in following the leading of the Holy Spirit, in the hope that we are indeed involved in that continuing brightening of the day which only dawned in the first century.

    Now for some questions:

    a) Does reading and studiying the scriptures for guidance and correction rule out the guidance of the Holy Spirit?
    b) And has not the Holy Spirit inspired the same scriptures so that they may be used for correction?

    I ask this because this is the same direct controversy between the reformers and the Roman Catholic Church! You may wonder why? Because the reformer insisted on the authority ofthe Scriptures and the Catholics believed in the ongoing guidance ofthe Holy Spirit – they call it “tradition”.

    Buit there is an enormous difference between the Roman Catholic undestanding of this guidance and the “progressive” understanding. In the Roman Cathlic Church they believe that it is still by the hierarchical authority that doctrines and traditions are settled. The have an infallible pope, bishops, councils that provide a kind of unity in all of the doctrinal changes they made over the centuries.

    But I doubt that you envision something like that. But in fact there is a “prostant alternative”: Theologians, “recent scholarship”. And there is an old Anabaptist saying (it doesn’t rhyme in English, however): “The more learned the more perverted.”

    Think about it: You take the scriptures away from the common reader and put them in the hand of popes and theologians. If you don’t want either or, then WHO is going to reinterpret the scriptures for our times? The Holy Spirit? I’ll gladly listen to Him! Buit is He speaking through you, Jay or Leroy? Or do I hear His voice in Clemet of Alexandria, Menno Simons, Alexander Campbell? How do I discern? By comparing everything with the Scriptures! There is no other way!

    But this then leads us to ALWAYS LOOK BACK TO THE BEGINNING! Unless we are “root-oriented” we’ll lose our “religio” (re-connection).

    Yes, there is a HUGE differnce between the restorationist view of doing things and the progressive way. they are utterly incompatible – and this I mean: The division has already happened. And it is NOT a division about IM, but a division on how to read and apply the scriptures. The way I understood Leroy’ book (in the quotes presented) he is not only very aware of this, but he is also very provocative.

    At least here we agree: We both see the clear line in the sand, don’t we. It’s a pity that we don’t stand on the same side … what do you think: Is the Lord taking sides? What about the positions the apostles would have taken? The church of christ of the 2nd century? The Waldenisans? The Anabaptists? The Early Restoration Movement? Don’t you see that the side you are on has been made up only a few decades ago? I would not dare to tread a road that the faithful ones of past centuries had not trod.

    Alexander

  43. Charles McLean says:

    Alexander, I’m glad I did not do violence to your view. Understanding one another is almost always useful. Now, you asked
    a) Does reading and studiying the scriptures for guidance and correction rule out the guidance of the Holy Spirit?
    b) And has not the Holy Spirit inspired the same scriptures so that they may be used for correction?

    a) No. b) Yes. All I ask is that you don’t draw inferences on my behalf from these two simple words. A full response would take more than addressing set pieces.

    Now then, you seem to have offered a dilemma which runs something like this: First, if we don’t accept a human organization (like the Vatican) as the authoritative guide for faith and practice, then we must find another authority. To which I would reply that this is irrelevant. I have not offered such central rule (yours, mine, or Benedict’s) as an alternative. In fact, this would be historically more closely-related to following the ECF than to what I would propose.

    You make some correlations and try to saddle us with them. I will have to object. You seem to suggest that to depend on the ongoing leadership of the Holy Spirit is to take “the Catholic position”. This is attempted “guilt by association”, not reason, Alexander. Just because brothers in the past have appropriated things that did not belong to them does not mean I have adopted them.

    But let us say, solely for the sake of argument, that “church tradition” IS “the leading of the Holy Spirit”. How is this different from the path you espouse? “Meet on the first day of the week to break bread.” This is church tradition, not apostolic command. It is simply recorded in scripture, just as is Paul’s descent in the basket. The fact that this tradition is recorded in the NT canon as occuring in two churches does not sanctify or inspire it any more than it inspires Paul’s cabernet dysentery cure, or the Ephesian holy kiss. Sunday meeting is simple church tradition. For you to hold to it as inspired puts you in the same exact spot as the Vatican, only holding to a different Magesterium. The “fence” may not be exactly where you think it is.

    You make the same objection to real-time leadership of the Holy Spirit as many do who do not believe Jesus’ simple dictum: “My sheep hear my voice and another they will not follow.” How do you know whether Jay is speaking by the Spirit, or I am, or anyone else? Are you yourself not the temple of the Holy Spirit? Does he not dwell in you? My toddlers knew my voice on the telephone long before they could write my name. How? From constant exposure to it. If you cannot discern the spirits, whether they be from God, is that somehow a structural flaw in the church and its theology or is it something more individual?

    The answer to “How do I know?” is “You are a sheep. Jesus said you would know.” Jesus also promised– in almost the same breath in which he promised a home in his Father’s house– that the Holy Spirit would “take what is mine and make it known to you”. Not “make it known to somebody else, who would leave you some information so you can figure it out for yourself.” Jesus’ promise does not read that way at all. Just as it does not read: “In my father’s house are twelve rooms…”

    As to antiquity making for more reliable practice, I would note that the earliest Christians variously rejected the Gentiles, practiced slavery, had all things common, met daily in the temple and from house to house, and bound limited Mosaic law on other congregations many miles away. Are you proposing to go back to that model? Or are you proposing to begin speaking in tongues and prophesying, as they did? I cannot speak for you, but so far in my experience with my Restorationist brothers, said Restoration is awfully selective and the original events have been edited considerably to match their current practice. Sort of “In Search of the Ancient Order, version 2.0″.

    I am reminded here of people who declare a desire to return to the good old days. But when they get there, they don’t want to retrieve polio or diptheria or racial segregation or child labor or the outhouse, nor do they wish to have to give up women’s suffrage or the Internet or the cell phone or modern medicine or the ubiquitous air conditioner. Their version of the “good old days” is a wholesale fiction spawned by dissatisfaction and offering a hazy future which mirrors a past that never really was.

  44. Ray Downen says:

    A brother suggests,

    The answer to “How do I know?” is “You are a sheep. Jesus said you would know.” Jesus also promised– in almost the same breath in which he promised a home in his Father’s house– that the Holy Spirit would “take what is mine and make it known to you”. Not “make it known to somebody else, who would leave you some information so you can figure it out for yourself.” Jesus’ promise does not read that way at all. Just as it does not read: “In my father’s house are twelve rooms…”

    When Jesus spoke to His apostles and John records what he heard, Jesus was indeed speaking to His apostles and not to everyone who later would read what He said in that conversation. It was ONLY the apostles who were promised they would receive baptism in the Spirit. It was ONLY the apostles who were promised they would be led into all truth. How comical it would be if all the differing views expressed on this blog and elsewhere were inspired by the same Spirit.

    We do well to not read INTO what the apostles wrote, and what other inspired writers in that day wrote, more than they actually said and did. There’s no record of them requiring disciples to meet for worship. There’s no record of the disciples ever meeting for worship in a “worship service” such as we’re all familiar with.

    But how odd it is to suppose that we all, with all our differing ideas, are led to think as we do by the same Spirit. Jesus inspires us all. We all seek to think as He would want us to think. But is He to blame for our differing opinions? Leroy is right on many things. He’s wrong in some things. He’s human. And so are we.

    I think restoring ourselves to the apostolic church is the right goal. But many read INTO apostolic writings some of the traditions they love, and then suppose the traditions are apostolic when they are not. It is surely RIGHT to want to be like the church as it was led by the apostles who were led into all truth. It is surely wrong to read into apostolic writings human traditions which we think everyone need to follow.

  45. Price says:

    Ray….Wasn’t it Peter who recalled Jesus’ words to the Apostles when he recounted the conversion of Cornelius by saying that he and his family were baptized in the Spirit just as they were ?? I believe that Jesus’ words that Peter remembered were in Acts 1….I’m not so sure that what you are saying is entirely correct…

    Alexander would probably even agree that for 500-600 years the ECF’s wrote about the gifts of the Spirit being evidenced in various and numerous ways…

    I do agree with you that many of the conversations were to the Apostles…the 70 being sent out to cast out demons and heal the sick is one that comes to mind…But the Holy Spirit was promised to ALL WHO BELIEVE…surely as our Counselor and Guide…

  46. Ray Downen says:

    Yes, indeed, the Spirit was promised as a gift to EVERY new convert to Christ. But BAPTISM in/with the Spirit was accompanied by signs seen by any onlooker. The gift promised to us converts is NOT baptism in/with the Spirit. There is ONE baptism for us who seek to enter the kingdom of Christ. It’s the baptism commanded by Jesus. It’s in water, when human hands lower the convert into the body of water and then raise the new Christian up out of the baptismal water. This is the case whenever a repentant believer is baptized as Christ commanded should be done. Only the apostles were promised they would be led into all truth following baptism in the Spirit. Only the apostles were also promised they would be enabled to remember what Jesus had taught them during His ministry on earth. Both promises were tied to the promise that they (the apostles) would soon experience the baptism John had prophesied.

  47. Price says:

    Ray… are you just ignoring Cornelius and his entire household or what ? How about Timothy ?? How about the congregation in Corinth…They were able to see into a person’s life and convict them by knowing things no one could possibly know unless guided by the Holy Spirit…Your argument could be right but it sure has thousands of exceptions…

  48. abasnar says:

    But let us say, solely for the sake of argument, that “church tradition” IS “the leading of the Holy Spirit”.

    Thanks for providing the correct term: Magisterium. The reason I used this example i that the RCC says herself that they may and shall develop their doctrine as the Holy spirit guides them. “Tradition” is tha classic term for this, but the concept is in fact quite similar to your proposal. And since the RCC is a prime example as to where that may lead, I pointed them out.

    Another big thing here is the issue of unity. The RCC more or les kept their unity by the Magisterium. This is crumbling in our days as well, since the same progressive spirit is causing turmoil in the RCC today – and the debates are very similar.

    Without a “central authority” I doubt that your approach can create unity – even now the progressive movement is all but one, there is a wide spectrum as is even isplayed in this Blog.

    The answer to “How do I know?” is “You are a sheep. Jesus said you would know.” Jesus also promised– in almost the same breath in which he promised a home in his Father’s house– that the Holy Spirit would “take what is mine and make it known to you”.

    I proposed a different answer – maybe in the flood of my words it got overlooked:

    How do I discern? By comparing everything with the Scriptures! There is no other way!

    Although it is true that each one may prophesy, that is speak through the Spirit, all prophecy needs to be discerned, weighed (1Co 14:29 and 1Th 5:20-21). This means, the guidance through the Spirit gets always mixed up with what we ourselves think the Spirit would say. Spiritual discernment is a matter of grwoth and maturity, and none of us is perfect and infallible.

    Yet, this means, that “charismatic” leaders with spiritual insights may carry themselves and parts of the church away without being aware of it! If we just go by “the guidance of the Spirit” without comparing what is said with what is written, we’ll end up with a multitude of opinions of which each one is convinced: “That’s what the Spirit said to the churches!”

    There is a reason why the Bereans were especially commended:

    Act 17:11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

    I see no corrective element when Christ’s commands are being reduced to “principles” of which WE decide which ones are eternal and which ones not; and of which WE decide IF and HOW we apply them today. Based on chuch history I say this cannot work – it never has worked.

    Just to clarify my approach a little better. You wrote:

    How is this different from the path you espouse? “Meet on the first day of the week to break bread.” This is church tradition, not apostolic command. It is simply recorded in scripture, just as is Paul’s descent in the basket. The fact that this tradition is recorded in the NT canon as occuring in two churches does not sanctify or inspire it any more than it inspires Paul’s cabernet dysentery cure, or the Ephesian holy kiss.

    Thomas Campbell in his Declarationa and address speaks of commands and “Approved precedents”. Not all happenings in Acts are “approved precedents”. Such examples as you quote them are god for a lively discussion, but actually they are not leading us anywhere. The real question is twofold:

    a) shall we really follow scriptural examples as commands?
    b) How do we see if an example is just a description of a unique situation or of apostolic church life?

    As forthe 1st question, I see in the NT that we are called not only to obey the written word. Shocking?

    2Th 2:15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.

    We might say: “But we only have the written word today!” But this is not quite true. Each letter is based on oral teaching, yes sometimes clearly alluding to oral teaching or stating: The rest I’ll set in order when I come (1Co 11:34). In fact most apostles did not write anything, and still they are the foundation stones of the church – how can this be?

    It’s actually quite simple: They founded churches and the churches acted out their theachings. So descriptions of what the Early church did are indeed reflections of the oral teaching. And also reflections of the doctrinal struggles they had to deal with (as in Acts 15).

    If you had grown up in a church founded by the Apostles, led by an elder who was a co-worker of an apostle, you’d know a lot more of the oral teaching than we do. We have writings of such persons, and although the memory got weaker over next century, the writings of the 2nd century church are a tremendous help to discern whether a biblical example or description is an “approved precedent” or not.

    It is not an insignificat detail in Alexande Campbells education that he also studied church history. I am convinced that the Early church (pre-Nicene) is of great importance in order to se which of the examples are examples to follow. And also the attitude of the ECF is remarkable: “Untraconservative” is probably not the best word, but they were very very reluctant to allow or promote changes.

    So in short: we need to always look back in order to find the direction we are to go. The guidance of the Spirit and the voice of Jesus are important, but since we are also carnal, slow to listen, with limited and biased understanding, incomplete without the Holy Scriptures as the standard by which all needs to be examined. And this requires a consistent hermeneutics that rules out subjective ideas as good as possible.

    Alexander

  49. Ray Downen says:

    Price asks and comments: Ray… are you just ignoring Cornelius and his entire household or what ? How about Timothy ?? How about the congregation in Corinth…They were able to see into a person’s life and convict them by knowing things no one could possibly know unless guided by the Holy Spirit…Your argument could be right but it sure has thousands of exceptions…
    ————-
    RAY WRITES: I do not intend to ignore Cornelius and his entire household. Or Timothy. Or Corinthian Christians, which number included a few who were given exceptional insight by God. There are people like that in most congregations today, whether or not the Spirit is thought to be source of their wisdom. We do well to listen when wiser brother and sisters speak!.

    But nothing we hear or think should cause us to dispute with the truths revealed through the Spirit and the writers the early church leaders felt were “apostolic.” So I appeal to every reader to believe what the Bible says, and to seek each day to better understand the inspired writings.

    I protest when anyone speaks in opposition to what the apostles taught and practiced. None of them taught a baptism by the Holy Spirit. All of them practiced and taught baptism as commanded by Jesus and performed by us who love and serve Him. That’s immersion in water and being raised up into new life. And that’s the only baptism involved in present Christian experience. Baptism in the Spirit was past and extremely rare (two instances recorded). Baptism in fire is future after the final judgment. The ONE baptism for the church today is water baptism as commanded by Jesus.

    And the Spirit has spoken in books accepted by early church leaders as being apostolic. No differing doctrines are apostolic, regardless of how much we may like and approve of other speakers and writers.

  50. Price says:

    Ray…you said earlier…”It was ONLY the apostles who were promised they would receive baptism in the Spirit. It was ONLY the apostles who were promised they would be led into all truth. How comical it would be if all the differing views expressed on this blog and elsewhere were inspired by the same Spirit.”……..

    I was pointing out that Peter, quoting Jesus, said that the OLD WAY of baptism was what John the Baptist did…with Water… and that the new way would be by the Spirit…Now indeed he did speak that to the Apostles…but then the Holy Spirit causes Peter to recall and Luke to record that the message of being baptized by the Spirit was applicable to Cornelius and his entire household… It was NOT just for the Apostles…

    Paul later records in Romans 8 that if you don’t have the Spirit indwelling in you, then you don’t belong to Christ…

    I find it strange that we in the church have focused so much on H2O and have totally ignored the presence, indwelling, empowerment and gifting of the Holy Spirit that was the foundation of all that the church was in the first century…

    I then pointed out that being divinely informed was not just the privilege of the Apostles. I do believe they were the ones who were given doctrinal instruction for all people for all time but locally and within the church itself the Spirit informed others with a divine insight…Separate and apart from human wisdom is the leading and instruction by the Holy Spirit…

    Nor, was this limited to the church in Corinth but to all the churches…Apparently, the “pattern” of the first century church was to allow the Holy Spirit to be God among them. Wonder what that would look like today ?
    Who was it that said the first century church couldn’t have operated without the presence of the Holy Spirit but today no one would notice if He were there or not ?

    The Holy Spirit, speaking through Paul, encouraged ALL THE MEMBERS to EARNESTLY seek the ability to prophesy for the edification, exhortation and building up of the church…The prophetic words, divinely informed, were not Scripture, but personal words of encouragement…. How do you suggest we encourage people to do that today ??

  51. Bruce Morton says:

    Charles:
    My internet connection has been “down.” So, have been delayed in the conversation with you. Interesting discussion by all.

    In a nation focused on religious freedom, I am certainly aware that “Restoration” and a look at “old paths” seems seriously out-of-step. Interestingly, that same perspective seems to have threatened Iron Age Israel as it faced the pull of Canaanite cults over many generations.

    Fast forward to our day: I suspect every congregation of believers in North America whatever name they wear has “restored” itself from baptismal scrutinies of the medieval period and before. Correct? An outlandish example? Not to the people who were embedded in the issue, surrounded by it. Same for indulgences. It only gets to be “out-of-step” as we get further from the historical issue. But distance does not imply that our response should change.

    But Leroy Garrett has in mind issues that are part of the here-and-now. And they are not confined to churches or Christ. Brother Garrett’s suggestion that we “save” churches of Christ by essentially “sweeping out” restorationism represents too broad of a brush stroke. Likely he is doing it to gain a hearing; perhaps he is intentionally using hyperbole. I will find out soon, as we have an near-term plan to get together and chat. And I am going to give him a copy of a recently-released publication.

    I will offer the same to you. If you want to get to know me a bit better by some further writing, please feel free to send me an email at MortonBLSL7 at earthlink dot net.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  52. Ray Downen says:

    If God works only through the Spirit on earth today, we still are wise if we speak to GOD about our needs. Jesus taught His disciples to pray to the Father. When power is needed for us to serve Jesus well, power surely will be made available if we ask. But it’s not up to US to decide in what ways God should answer our prayers.

    It should not be overlooked that God gifts every new Christian with the presence of His Spirit to live within the Christian. But God is the decider of HOW the power will be available. Isn’t He?

    As for baptisms, I’m sure the ONE baptism sinners must experience as part of the new birth of water and spirit is immersion in water. Romans 6 spells it out. Out of baptismal waters we are RAISED up into new life, assuming repentance and faith in Jesus as Lord. And the apostles knew nothing about any baptism by the Holy Spirit. They practiced water baptism because Jesus said to do so.

  53. Ray Downen says:

    As for special spiritual gifts, Paul was writing to people upon whom he as an apostle had laid hands. Special spiritual gifts were and are transmitted only by the laying on of apostolic hands, which are very scarce in our day but which were frequent in the apostolic age.

  54. Alabama John says:

    It has always seemed odd that none of the apostles water baptism was recorded.

    Their receiving the Holy Spirit or the (gift of ) enabling them to either be heard by speaking everyones language present all at one time which seems very confusing and hard to be understood. Or, by the Apostles speaking in their language and each of the hearers hearing in their own language, either way was a miracle.

  55. Price says:

    Ray, I missed the verse that said the Holy Spirit “special gifts” were ONLY given through the laying on of hands by an Apostle…Please help me out and quote the BCV on that please…Thanks.

  56. abasnar says:

    I think it is save to say that as a “general rule” we receive the Holy Spirit when we are baptized in water. Therefore Paul could ask:

    Act 19:2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
    Act 19:3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?”

    A baptism that did not result in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was odd to Paul. Now, after having heard that they knew only of the baptism of John, he rebaptized them in the name of Jesus:

    Act 19:5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
    Act 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying.

    We see two “distinct” actions here, that belong together: Baptism in water and laying on of hands. While normally only baptism is mentioned, I think this is a fuller description of the usual practice. I belive that, because of Hebrews 6:

    Heb 6:1 (ASV) Wherefore leaving the doctrine of the first principles of Christ, let us press on unto perfection; not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
    Heb 6:2 of the teaching of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

    He is talking about some basic doctrines: Repentance, faith, baptism, laying on of hands, the resurrection and the judgment. Strange enough., we only hold to five of these six, don’t we? Laying on of hands somehow got lost.

    Now, if laying on of hands is connected with baptism and the receiving of the spirit, I think we might miss something very important. But before confirming that, we should ask: Is this really true that all baptisms should include laying on of hands?

    One might say: in 99% of the verses that speak of baptism laying on of hands is not mentioned. Which is as true as the statement that 150 verses that speak of salvation by faith say nothing about works. And I think it is obvious that such reasoning cannot convince. So whenever baptism is mentioned, it is most of the times only mentioned, but not described. Therefore this one incident in Ephesus where Luke goes into more detail is significant, especially in the light if Heb 6.

    Paul wrote to Timothy:

    2Ti 1:6 For which cause I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee through the laying on of my hands.

    but also

    1Ti 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

    It’s hard to say whether both verses describe the same situation or two different ones. I think that Paul on his first mission journy to Derbe baptized Timothy and laid hands on him. When on the second mission journey he returned to Derbe, the church there was more established and had elders (which he appointed towards the end of his first journey) who – as they sent out Timothy as a c-worker of Paul on the mission field – again laid hands on him to equip him spiritually for this service.

    Thi leads me to the conclusion that laying on of hands is always connected with being equipped with spiritual gifts – which should be th case at baptism already, but also when being appointed for a special service in the ministry. One or two more example for each of the two from Acts:

    Act 6:5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus a proselyte of Antioch;
    Act 6:6 whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands upon them.

    Obviously this laying on of hands was not forthem in order to receive the Holy Spirit since they already were spirit-filled persons. But it was clearly a significant act at the beginning of their ministry.

    The same is true at the beginning of Paul’s mission journeys:

    Act 13:2 And as they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
    Act 13:3 Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

    Paul already had the Spirit, but now he was especially equipped for a specific ministry.

    Act 8:14 Now when the apostles that were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
    Act 8:15 who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit:
    Act 8:16 for as yet it was fallen upon none of them: only they had been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.
    Act 8:17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

    This unique situaion in Samaria contains an important lesson. I think God allowed this “anomaly” (in contrast to his promise in Acts 2:38!) in order that we don’t just take the Holy Spirit as a given. Look what the apostles did: They first prayed that they may receive the Spirit, and then they laid hands on them – and only after that the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit. Maybe Philipp was a bit “superficial” in his mission workl assuming that water-baptism automatically effects the indwelling of the Spirit – after all he was a fiery evangelist, a “go at it!” type of man. This lesson may well have been for himself.

    On the other hand, God allowed another “anomaly” in the house of Cornelius where the people listening to Peter received the gift of the Spirit without laying on of hands and prior to their baptism. Nonetheless Peter made it clear that the Holy Spirit and baptism belong together, and so he issued:

    Act 10:47 Can any man forbid the water, that these should not be baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit as well as we?
    Act 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

    We know from the previous verse that the lesson here was for the Jewish Christians:

    Act 10:45 And they of the circumcision that believed were amazed, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    In fact the first pouring out of the Spirit on Pentecost was also without laying on of hands – and obviously disconnected from water baptism. Here God “repeated” Pentecost in order to teach the Jewish Christians that also the Gentiles were called into the Kingdom. And they saw this connection clearly:

    Act 11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them, even as on us at the beginning.
    Act 11:16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit.
    Act 11:17 If then God gave unto them the like gift as he did also unto us, when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I, that I could withstand God?

    Pentecost is called a baptism with the Spirit. In fact this is the only instance of receiving the Spirit apart from baptism – and Cornelius’ experience is liked to Pentecost. So I see them both as one event in nature. Cornelius can not be seen as a pattern therefore, neither the anomaly in Samaria.

    But anyhow: Both events show clearly that God is souvereign and bestows the Gift of the Spirit as He seems appropriate. This does not mean that there is no “general rule” as to how we are to perform baptisms, but that God is greater than these rules.

    What should make us think:

    Luk 11:13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

    Do we ask for the Holy Spirit in our baptisms? Or do we just take it for granted? And if Heb 6 tells of six important doctrines, why do we neglect one of them: Laying on of hands?

    Alexander

  57. abasnar says:

    P.S. Of course the ECF practiced laying on of hands in the sense I summed it up above – and this is a confirmation we should not lightheartedly dismiss as uninspired and irrelevant. The scriptures above are inspired, and the application is actually quite clear … and this is being confirmed by those teachers and churches closest to the apostles:

    Tertullian: On Baptism Ch VIII

    In the next place the hand is laid on us, invoking and inviting the Holy Spirit through benediction. Shall it be granted possible for human ingenuity to summon a spirit into water, and, by the application of hands from above, to animate their union into one body with another spirit of so clear sound; and shall it not be possible for God, in the case of His own organ, to produce, by means of “holy hands,” a sublime spiritual modulation? But this, as well as the former, is derived from the old sacramental rite in which Jacob blessed his grandsons, born of Joseph, Ephrem and Manasses; with his hands laid on them and interchanged, and indeed so transversely slanted one over the other, that, by delineating Christ, they even portended the future benediction into Christ. Then, over our cleansed and blessed bodies willingly descends from the Father that
    Holiest Spirit. Over the waters of baptism, recognising as it were His primeval seat, He reposes: (He who) glided down on the Lord “in the shape of a dove,” in order that the nature of the Holy
    Spirit might be declared by means of the creature (the emblem) of simplicity and innocence, because even in her bodily structure the dove is without literal gall. And accordingly He says, “Be ye simple as doves.”

    Cyprian, Epistle LXXII To Jubaianus, Concerning the Baptism of Heretics.

    And therefore, because they had obtained a legitimate and ecclesiastical baptism, there was no need that they should be baptized any more, but only that which was needed was performed by Peter and John; viz., that prayer being made for them, and hands being imposed, the Holy Spirit should be invoked and poured out upon them, which now too is done among us, so that they who are baptized in the Church are brought to the prelates of the Church, and by our prayers and by the imposition of hands obtain the Holy Spirit, and are perfected with the Lord’s seal.

    Again: Why do we omitt it?

    Alexander

  58. Royce Ogle says:

    And to be consistent, why would you not also include healing the sick?

  59. Alabama John says:

    I highly recommend a book by Chuck Colson and Nancy Pearcey ‘HOW NOW SHALL WE LIVE?”.

    It is about through time since the NT, Christianity has influenced the world.

  60. abasnar says:

    And to be consistent, why would you not also include healing the sick?

    Yes, in the way we are called to do it:

    Jas 5:14 Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
    Jas 5:15 and the prayer of faith shall save him that is sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, it shall be forgiven him.

    It’s interesting that some brothers actually frown when you quote these verses. But I doubt that we should frown at God’s word. We should just do it and see God work according to our faith.

    Alexander

  61. Ray Downen says:

    I suggest that anyone who thinks unusual spiritual gifts were given in another way than by the laying on of hands by an apostle should point to book, chapter, and verse where this different way is taught. Any Bible reader can see where the gifts WERE given by apostolic power through laying on of hands.

    Acts 8:18 (ESV)
    Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, [in Samaria, two apostles]

    2 Tim. 1:6 (ESV)
    For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, [by the apostle Paul]

    Hebrews 6:2 (ESV)
    and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

  62. Ray Downen says:

    It is true that there is no mention made of when the apostles other than Paul were themselves baptized into Christ. That they were baptized is likely, but is not stated. Since none of us are apostles, it’s not clear why we would concern ourselves about the question. Jesus makes clear that every convert TO Him (whether won by word from an apostle or a non-apostle) should be baptized. It’s obvious the baptism is to be in water. What has always seemed odd to me is why people think they know more about the matter than did Jesus.

  63. Ray Downen says:

    The gospel is good news about what Jesus did and will do. The gospel is the message preached by disciples in the first century. The church then and now was and is built on JESUS as the foundation and power. There is no promise anyone could find in inspired writings that would have every Christian inspired to know all truth or to remember all that Jesus taught the apostles while He was with them. The more we lift up (honor) Jesus, the more we please our God and His Spirit. It’s by learning about JESUS that we learn to know the mind of God. The way we honor the Spirit (of God the Father and God the Son) is by speaking well about Jesus and what He taught personally and through His apostles. Anyone can claim to have been inspired by the Holy Spirit. But those who WERE inspired proved it by unusual gifts “of the Spirit” or by contemporaries who compared their speech and writing with that of the inspired apostles.

  64. Alabama John says:

    None of us are Jews or lived back in the first century but we study every day to understand everything they did and how it possibly could apply to us. Necessary Inference.

    Just seems curious that only Paul was mentioned as being baptized and the 14 others were not. Especially since Timothy had to be circumcised just to be better accepted. Given a choice I would much rather go to those we wanted to baptize after doing so myself than be circumcised in order to go to those having been circumcised.

    We come up with some doozies that are a part of our tradition.
    Like we practically all say when we die we go up to heaven. When the Bible says heaven comes down to us.

    We even sing a song about it.
    ‘Heaven came down and Glory filled my soul”.

    Nothing wrong with curiosity and questioning especially when that is exactly what we want others to do.

  65. Price says:

    Ray…what gift was imparted to Timothy by the laying on of hands by the Elders ?? I Tim 4:14 ?? Interesting that the Elders were able to impart ANY gift by the laying on of hands if it were a necessity that they be Apostles… Any suggestion as to how this occurred ??

    Another inconsistency seems to be in I Tim 5:22 when Timothy is urged by Paul to be careful before laying on hands in the selection of church leadership…But since administration and teaching and such are also included as Spiritual Gifts imparted by the Holy Spirit one can’t discount Paul’s obvious belief that Timothy was able to “lay hands” on people… Is there a different terminology that would separate Timothy’s “laying hands on” versus say Peter’s ??

    Also, Cornelius throws another wrench in the gear because he and his family received the Holy Spirit while Peter was still speaking…no mention of laying on of hands…

    It seems once again there are several exceptions to the thought that ONLY Apostles could lay hands on someone… Especially, the Elders….was this “power” transferable ?

    And, once again, the ECF’s spoke of the evidence of an active Holy Spirit for almost 500 years after the last Apostle had died… how would that happen ?

  66. Charles McLean says:

    Ray wrote: “But those who WERE inspired proved it by unusual gifts “of the Spirit” or by contemporaries who compared their speech and writing with that of the inspired apostles.”

    This is news to me, Ray. How do we know this? I don’t think I know what an “unusual” gift of the Spirit would be. As the writer of Hebrews has never been identified, it seems hard to imagine how the church verified its inspiration by “unusual gifts”. As to writings being congruent with “inspired apostles” (I don’t know what that desgination means, either), I have a number of writings which may well fit that bill.

  67. abasnar says:

    I suggest that anyone who thinks unusual spiritual gifts were given in another way than by the laying on of hands by an apostle should point to book, chapter, and verse where this different way is taught.

    Price corerctly pointed to the verse in 1st Timothy. Just to save us the “trouble” to look it up:

    1Ti 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

    Each gift ofthe Spirit is “unusual”, because it does not originate in us but in God. There are gifts that were given for a special purpose, called signs and wonders:

    Mar 16:20 And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word by the signs that followed. Amen.

    Heb 2:4 God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will.

    These to me seems that such signs indeed were limited to the Apostles whose message God confirmed. I doubt that He would confirm the disagreeing utterances of a divided church today. But thats up to Him.

    Then there was a sign, the tounges – that were especially for the Jews:

    1Co 14:21 In the law it is written, By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers will I speak unto this people; and not even thus will they hear me, saith the Lord.

    Yet, Paul does say we should not hinder people speaking in tongues in the assembly – as long as they are being translated. The noisy mess in many charismatic churches is definitely not the way it should be done.

    And then there is a gift we are all called to seek eagerly:

    1Co 14:1 Follow after love; yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
    1Co 14:2 For he that speaketh in a tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God; for no man understandeth; but in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.
    1Co 14:3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men edification, and exhortation, and consolation.

    This gift was especially given for the edification of the church.

    All of these gifts are temporary:

    1Co 13:8 Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away.
    1Co 13:9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part;
    1Co 13:10 but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away.

    But that which is perfect is not the Bible but the Kingdom when Christ comes in glory and power. Until then we desparately need edification, guidance through the Spirit – but according to His word. Both work hand in hand.

    Now, that we are somewhat “afarid” of these gifts, we created a “comfortabel” theology that practically says: “Lord, we don’t really need these gifts, because we are perfectly happy with just the Bible.” In fact we mean: As long as WE interpret the Bible on our own, we are in control.

    Alexander

  68. Charles McLean says:

    Alexander identifies, correctly I think, our desire for control. This is a most natural thing, and as such, is antithetical to our experiencing the supernatural.

  69. abasnar says:

    Exaclty, Charles. But for a balance, Paul also says:

    1Co 14:32 and the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets;

    Alexander

  70. Charles McLean says:

    True enough, Alexander. I think this statement was Paul trying to short-circuit an excuse that one speaking prophetically is excused from a need for wisdom and discipline, specifically when in a group setting. I suspect there was some of what we call “popcorn prophecy” going on, with folks hopping up excitedly and chattering without discerning the needs of the group. In other words, Paul was saying, IMO, “Don’t say ‘I just have to say this right now!’. That urgency is soul, not spirit. Hold up until you can speak in a way that builds up the folks around you. It’s not about you, anyway.”

  71. abasnar says:

    That’s what I think, too, Charles. Interesting question: How does our worship format allow:

    teaching one other in song (Col 3:16 and Eph 5:18-19)
    prophesying fur mutual edification (1Co 11:2-16 and 1Co 14:26-34)?
    In short: The guidance ofthe Spirit?

    As you said in another post “one another” goes against our usual tendency – and here it goes against our usual understanding of a “worship service”.

    These instructions have a background:
    Rather small house-sized groups of Christians
    Time enough, beginning with a supper (which included the breaking of the bread – that’s why it is called Lord’s Supper BTW) and lasting sometimes until midnight. Just to mention: The 1st day ofthe week was an ordinary work day back then.

    Unless one has experienced a Christian assembly like that, he might think that this won’t ever work. And then come such “funny” excuses like: “But Paul condemned eating together.” (which he in fact did not). Then we don’t allow kitchens in the same building as in the fellowship hall and the like – all the time overlooking that basically our complete practice of worship has so little resemblance with the original in the NT!

    It’s true, if we just try to incorporate some elements of NT assemblies into our “mega-church system” we must fail and be disappointed. And this seems to confirm those who hold fast “to the tradition of the elders”.

    But the whole topic of spiritual gifts and their application in edifying the church is embedded in the structure of a NT house-church. Like a deer belongs in the woods as its natural habitat, so prophecy belongs in house churches as its natural setting. 1Co 14:26-33 is simply not applicable in a church of more than fit in a house. Or could you imagine that someone in church would stand up and ask questions? Or another one would stand up and confirm or correct what the preacher just said? Or that we’d have two or three shorter sermons by the “prophets” (which were the church leaders prior to the appointing of elders)? And what becomes of the “pulpit minister”? And of the pulpit?

    But once you experienced worship a la NT, you would not have it any other way.

    Alexander

  72. Charles McLean says:

    Alexander, you point out the dilemma. “How can we allow propehcy when it does not fit our format?” Which is to change, the format or our acceptance of the gift?

    I think that one problem is that we have reduced ourselves to a single format: the lecture with prelude. And we expect it to serve all purposes. We vary it slightly from Sunday morning to Wednesday night, but not much. If our formats were not so limited, we might well find ourselves receiving more. Why not experience a combination of home-sized gatherings, large worship celebrations, academic classes, periods of intercession and simple fellowship? It is our one-size-fits-all approach which reduces our toolbox to a Boy Scout knife– a set of tools which do nothing very well, but which do fit neatly in our pocket, and do look just like everyone else’s tools.

    I have experienced prophetic ministry both in small and in large. Frankly, it can fit in both formats, but operates differently in each. Once we stop trying to protect our chosen format, it is very interesting to see just how free we are to experience what the Spirit is doing.

  73. abasnar says:

    Which is to change, the format or our acceptance of the gift?

    Both.

    If there should be room for all to prophesy – which is to be distinguished from the two or three prophets that shall speak! – then the assembly should be small enough that actually all can participate. And I mean all, because although women may not teach, they still may pray and prophesy with their sign of submission, There is a fine line between prophesying and teaching – but it is a line.

    I have been in assemblies of the Plymouth brethren for quite some time. many of the congregations decide to split in half as soon as two many people assemble which would not alow all to participate, And I have seen large agtherings with open participation where always the same people stand up.

    It’s a very practical issue … But you spoke from my heart!

    Alexander

Leave a Reply