Mark Love: Why I Don’t Leave

MarkLoveWe’re continuing to consider some posts from Mark Love’s blog Dei-liberations. This will likely be the last post until post-surgery.

Today, we consider Mark’s post “Why I Don’t Leave Even Though …” (ellipsis in original).

Now, Mark’s post is about his egalitarian views on the role of women, which is very much a minority view in the Churches of Christ, although less and less so.

I don’t want this to be about the role of women, however. Rather, the aspect of the post that intrigues me is Mark’s very honest reflections on why he should stay in a denomination when he finds himself in a minority position on an issue dear to his heart.

I mean, that’s true of nearly all of us. There are so very many “issues” that we nearly all find ourselves in the minority on something.

As to myself, well, I get invited to leave on nearly a daily basis. The theory is, “If you don’t like what we believe here, why don’t you leave?” And sometimes … sometimes … I ask myself the very same question.

Mark writes,

In fact, I think some who leave serve the interests of change within the tradition they are leaving. Change will require that some leave and that some stay.

But I stay.

If I want to see change, would it really help to leave? I mean, I can see where it might help me, but would it help the Churches of Christ for me to leave?

Of course, we in the Churches aren’t the only people on the planet who matter, but I don’t see the benefit to the Churches themselves when those who want to see change leave. Doesn’t that just yield control to those who disagree? Doesn’t that create a one-sided debate? How would that help?

And surely, in part, it’s because this is my tradition. These people taught me to love God. It’s what I know and these are the people I’ve learned to love. More, I’ve been around enough to know there are no easy fits for me elsewhere. I’m not an evangelical. I’m not Reformed. I’m not episcopal in terms of polity. So, it’s not obvious where I’d go.

But this is not why I stay.

Indeed. Tradition may be tradition only, but it’s still my tradition and where I feel most comfortable and at home. It’s where I know my way around. It’s where God put me — perhaps for a reason.

And like Mark, I have no desire to join a Baptist or Methodist congregation. They have their own issues, and I’m too old to deal with someone else’s battles.

I stay because I recognize the journey this has been in my own life. I haven’t always held this position. This journey was one I made over time and with the best resources in front of me. … There was grace for me, in other words, all along the way.

So, I stay because I want to allow this to be a journey of grace for others as well, a journey that may be more difficult for them than it was for me. … I know that many of these people are better Christians than I am and that I still have much to learn from them.

It took me time and study to reach my current positions. And a whole lot of hard work. Why should I abandon others who are on the same path but not as far down the road. That would be … graceless.

And I stay because I have seen people like this consider and listen and engage, and some even change their views. I used to think that people who didn’t agree with me were just closed-minded. …

Exactly. God is patient with his people. We have to be patient with each other. We should not commit the Fundamental Attribution Error, that is, assuming that I am the only one in the room with good excuses for my failings.

And I stay because progress is being made. … Is it enough? Is it fast enough? No. But change is happening.

Indeed. Not everywhere. And achingly slowly at times — oftentimes. But the Spirit is moving powerfully, often invisibly, like the wind behind a window, but his movement is real.

Good stuff. (What a great writer Mark Love is!)

Mark followed that post with a post called Observations on a chord/nerve struck. Much of this second post is a follow up about the role of women issue — which is important to me but not today’s topic. He also wrote,

I want to be clear that in my own practice of ministry, it’s not my goal to have everyone think like me or to have churches do what I think is right. My goal is to create an environment in congregations where the Spirit of God can move and the congregation can discern together what it is that God is calling them to. None of the congregations that I have served fully embody my doctrinal preferences and that shouldn’t be my standard for success. The ability to talk about things in open, careful, and honest ways, however, is a goal of mine. If it is not even possible to talk about issues related to gender, and other topics, then I can’t in good conscience serve there.

Exactly. Exactly!

I’m an elder. That gives me more influence than most. But my goal is not and never has been to use my authority to impose results on an unwilling congregation.

To me, what’s critical is that the topics be open for discussion — but not merely in the abstract. We have to be willing to discuss real things as real things. That is, if we reach a conclusion, we need to be willing to act on that conclusion — even  if it hurts our reputation or makes our parents mad or ruins Thanksgiving Dinner with our siblings or someone says something hateful about us from a pulpit or in a bulletin.

We weren’t put here to play and posture and piddle. Rather, we should talk. Try to reach a consensus on what God wants. And then do what God wants — whatever that is, whatever the price may be.

But if we enter into the discussion with preconditions, if we insist that change which we admit is needed can’t happen because the price is too high — then we’re idolaters. If it’s more important that the church of my childhood think well of me than that God think well of me, then I’m worshiping the wrong God.

It really is just that simple.

But it’s never, ever about authority or power — whether exercised by an elder or by a gossip. After all, the power to tear down with lies and innuendo and passive-aggression is just as authoritarian as the power to command from the elders’ conference table.

No, Christians are to act like adults — adults who love each other. And adults are able not only to discuss tough issues, but also they are willing to make hard choices when they’ve come to see the need for a decision.

Oh — and I must keep reminding myself of this — adults can live with being outvoted or overruled. Adults know that in every organization that there is, not everyone gets his or her way. Not even me.

And that’s good, because I’m not the only person who matters or the only person who cares about God’s will. Or even the wisest man in the room. Therefore, I should expect — even hope — not to always get my way.

And when I don’t get my way, I won’t leave. That decision was made a long time ago. But sometimes it helps to remember why.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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27 Responses to Mark Love: Why I Don’t Leave

  1. Price says:

    I think legalistic churches have a much greater struggle with open discussion.. If it’s not “approved” theological doctrine passed down from the generation before then it’s not open for “discussion” except to condemn it. It’s the Law taking precedent over Grace. We stopped practicing the art of listening..expecting only THEM to listen to US.. We stopped studying because we Obviously had it all down perfectly. And once fully arrogant we began to diminish the importance of any other believer (so called) because they differed with US. We built our own buildings to secure our territory and to protect us from the voices of the “progressives and liberals.” We threatened peopl e with expulsion and on occasion kicked some of the rebels out… scripturaly of course.

    It may have been a struggle for Mark to stay with the congregation once they made their voices heard on various issues like women’s roles but imagine what it was like for the WOMEN who didn’t agree.. It’s one thing to be on the outside looking in and quite another to be primary point of contempt..

    I think we should be able to speak our “version” of the truth in love.. open to being corrected by wisdom and a fuller understanding, or prepared to accept the responsibility for the change… But, without open dialogue, one is wasting their time.. We can’t change people..only God can. Once they refuse to listen to God and kick the Holy Spirit out of church, what’s left ? Leave !! Shake the dust from your shoes.. When God and Elvis have left the building its time to go.

  2. Gary says:

    So many factors enter in to a decision to leave or to remain in Churches of Christ. After spending years in a congregation agonizing over the role of women only to have families leave over just having women serve communion, read Scripture and usher I know I would never be able to go through that again. I have an anxiety disorder and it would literally be too injurious to my health to be in a situation of conflict like that again. The details vary from person to person but many members upon moving are determined to not repeat stressful and traumatic church experiences.

    As a slowly shrinking denomination Churches of Christ lose many members due simply to moves. Outside of the CoC Bible belt it is usually not possible to find the Church of Christ of your choice/preference. Where the congregation back where you came from may have been a perfect fit the one near your new home might be quite different doctrinally, culturally and in terms of size. I remember one family who moved from their Nirvana in Jacksonville, Florida with a largeCoC to a small city in Maryland with a small congregation. After a few visits they never darkened the door again and dropped out of church altogether. The father was quite frank. They wanted a large church where they could come when they wanted but not be missed when they didn’t come and, above all, where no one would contact them about being absent.

    In situations where there is not a good fit with a congregation in the new area I would oversimplify only somewhat by putting CoC members into three categories. CoC loyalists will soldier on in almost any CoC no matter how awkward the fit. Progressives/Liberals will try Christian Churches or an entirely different tradition. Conservatives are actually the most likely to drop out altogether finding that preferable to the unimaginable worshiping with a “denominational” or “unsound” church. I knew a noninstitutional couple once who did exactly that. They found it preferable to not go to church than to compromise their noninstitutional beliefs by worshiping with the mainline congregation which was the only one in their county.

  3. mark says:

    I am glad this matter is finally being discussed though I have a feeling it is merely boiling over. I am grateful that Dr. Love is one more reasonable voice who is standing up for this matter. It is not so much a discussion of the role of women as it is a discussion of the continuing refusal to re-think and discuss old positions, of which the role of women is one of many and likely the most concerning. I know the women who say that they will not tell their daughters that they can’t lead a church or even speak from the pulpit when women can lead public companies and nations. I have heard the hard-line conservatives say that if even one policy changes, it might cause a brother to stumble (lose his faith) or wonder what else might change. We are not debating the Messiahship of Jesus. We are not questioning the credibility of the scriptures. This refusal to discuss old policy means that nothing can ever change. Thus, the cofC has become the church of grandpa. The real question for them is “To what did you convert this person?”. Did you convert the person to Christianity or the church of Christ? There is obviously a difference.

    There is a large contingent of female M.Div. students and D.Min. candidates who are going to be graduating soon. Most of them are rebels given the history of women in the cofC. However, someone has to go first. They are going to be seeking positions in churches and universities in the next few years. I am not advocating for the reversal of congregational autonomy. However, if these issues can not be openly discussed in individual congregations, then there is a major problem. I really think that these young women might help retain and bring new members, especially young professionals and families, and life in to churches.

  4. What I was sorry not to hear was the idea that Mark still might have something to learn from others. I pointed this out on his blog. It’s easy to fall into language which communicates, “If everyone would really study this, they would come to the same conclusions I have.” I’ve been guilty of such.

    One of the reasons for staying where others disagree with you is that remote possibility that you might be the one that’s wrong!

  5. John says:

    Like most others on this blog who have left the CoC I could give a long list of reasons. But being that we are entering the holidays I will simply give my experience in regard to Christmas and Easter.

    When I was a minister I always tried to bring some of the Christmas and Easter spirit into the worship. As most of you can guess that did not sit well with many. I was blasted at the back door for even mentioning the words Christmas and Easter, reminded that they were not in the Bible. When I reminded my critics that neither is Vacation Bible School found in scripture, I immediately got “the glare”.

    This time of year is a beautiful and wondrous time. Every society needs a Christmas, every society needs to have that time when God announces through all swelling hearts, “A child is born”; I need that time, while the last thing I need is the “angry faithful” giving me, or any other person whose heart is being filled by the spirit, “the glare”.

  6. ZBZ says:

    My wife and I have three small children (seven, five, three). Because we don’t want our kids (especially our daughter) to be raised in such a close-minded and oppressive environment, we have chosen to leave the conservative CofC. We believe establishing our young children’s life-long spirituality is far too important for us to patiently wait for the conservative church to change. By then it may be too late – our children will be raised and gone!

    Empty-nesters like Jay and Mark Love should stay and disciple the members of their congregations. Having already raised their kids and sent them off, they now have the time, patience, and freedom to help move their churches at a glacial pace. But younger families raising children have only 15-20 years to get their kids on the right spiritual trajectory. For now, my priority is rescuing my three little ones from legalistic oppression; then after they’ve left home, I’ll focus on the rest of the church.

  7. laymond says:

    Tim, I don’t have anything to say to Brother Love except, why not publish all the comments he gets, not just the complementary ones. That must be a rule at Rochester I knew a preacher there once that did the same thing. I have never in my life heard a more judgmental comment than the one Mr Fudge left there. I don’t bother to leave a comment there, I would never get published. If you don’t publish people who differ with you, you are always right.

  8. Gary says:

    Laymond, your comment prompted me to read Edward Fudge’s comment. I was kicked off his blog for advocating that homosexuality is not sinful. We all have blind spots and this is one of Brother Fudge’s. I hope someday he might see that he has a lot in common with those who tried to silence Bill Love who certainly was in my opinion one of our great preachers. As our old debaters used to say, “Verily the legs of the lame are unequal.”

  9. To Jay’s statement, “I don’t see the benefit to the Churches themselves when those who want to see change leave,” I would refer Jay to the previous post about Mark’s book. Sometimes it is that very exit which is the anomaly which the congregation needs to catalyze change. If I become so intransigent and unyielding with my own children that a couple of them tell me that, regretfully, they won’t be coming to my house anymore, that has a lot of power to cause reflection on my part. “What did we do wrong?” is an appropriate refrain.

    But the CoC has a lot of practice in forestalling change. Some threaten change agents and run them off. Others just let ’em squawk- as long as it’s not too loudly- because it doesn’t hurt anything or change anything. But let the elders’ adult children and families leave the congregation for more amenable surroundings down the street, and suddenly we have one of those anomalies that can promote reflection and even change.

  10. mark says:

    Dr. Flavil Yeakley has a book Why They Left. I can’t figure out italics on here but I know it should be used. Anyway, he asks the questions and doles out advice and criticism to both sides. You’re correct when you say that it is when the elders’ adult children leave that it becomes real. Also, it is when one Sunday someone finally takes note that there is no one younger than 50 unless someone brought the grand kids that Sunday. Perhaps someone was needed to serve the communion or say the prayer and then it sets in that you just don’t have people left. By then it is usually too late.

  11. laymond says:

    Gary people like Fudge, and Love have no confidence in what they spout, so they restrict dissent as much as possible, because ” the legs of the lame are unequal.” and their arguments are about as lame as they come. Not supported by scripture anywhere, but we were warned about this kind of teachings by Paul, another gospel. If it is not found in scripture, it can be described in no other way.

  12. Nancy says:

    I get it. I understand why you stay. For me personally, I was called to leave. It would have been so much easier to stay. But, I believed then and I believe now that I was being called to leave. I felt like if I stayed, I was giving tacit approval to what I knew was a false gospel. I needed to leave to be obedient. Really, it would have been so much easier to stay, soooo much more comfortable. We aren’t promised easy and comfortable though.

    Just thinking about the idea of staying is causing a little nauseousness even as I type this.

  13. qinhan says:

    I have outgrown the idea that I need to make any particular group change. If they are comfortable being who they are, then what business is it of mine to tell them they ought to be something else? In this instance, if the women in the Church of Christ are comfortable in such a subservient role, then it’s none of my business. I certainly don’t subscribe to that belief, and that is one reason I left and went to a place that doesn’t practice in such a way.

    I was raised in the Church of Christ, was very active in it, and was also a full-time pulpit minister. My tradition runs very deeply in that church. But I refuse to let sentimentality tie me down to that tradition for one nanosecond. The fact of the matter is that I no longer believe in the majority of doctrines that the Church of Christ holds dear. Therefore, I do not preach for them, do not attend with them, and do not attempt to mold them into my image. Those of us who are “grace-oriented” no doubt believe Church of Christ members to be saved. So why are we trying to “convert” those who don’t wish to be converted? It may be just a little arrogance on our part, I’m afraid.

    I believe it’s OK to use instrumental music. I believe that not only may a woman pass communion, she also can preach and do anything else a man can do, apart from urinating in the standing position. I believe it’s not a sin to be gay. I believe one can take the Lord’s Supper every Sunday, every other Sunday, on Thursday or not at all and still go to Heaven. These are all doctrines that would go against Church of Christ preaching, and there are already groups of believers out there who embrace them. So I choose to go with them, rather than stubbornly trying to drag my old horse to the proverbial watering hole and drowning him in it whilst trying to compel him to drink.

    If someone in the Church of Christ has the desire to see the flaws within the church and chooses to study his way out, then that’s fine. More and more people are obviously doing so, with or without my help.

  14. Gary says:

    I am curious as to why Mark Love overlooks Disciples of Christ when he indicates that there is not another group that would be a good fit. Disciples share with Churches of Christ not only a common ancestry but also congregational autonomy, Arminian theology, believers baptism by immersion and weekly communion. After coming out as a gay man I now am a member of a wonderful Disciples congregation. It actually reminds me a great deal of the Church of Christ I remember growing up in as a young child but minus the problematic conservatism. I’m not saying all Church of Christ liberals should do what I have done. I still love Churches of Christ but felt that my presence as a regular worshiper there would cause problems even in a moderate congregation. But I am surprised that Disciples are so often not considered by liberals and progressives who decide to leave Churches of Christ. As long ago as the 1950’s dozens of Church of Christ ministers changed to Disciples of Christ so it is a mystery to me that few seem to be making that change today.

  15. laymond says:

    Gary said, “As long ago as the 1950′s dozens of Church of Christ ministers changed to Disciples of Christ so it is a mystery to me that few seem to be making that change today.”

    Gary, let me tell you why, they tolerate people like me, over people like you. The majority of so called “progressive members” see me as wrong, they see you as flawed. I might be fixed, you not so much. I thought you might have seen that in the discussion held here a while back.

  16. Gary says:

    Laymond I only know you of course from your comments on this site but you have struck me as more of a traditionalist with theological leanings like those of Barton Stone than as a conservative in the Church of Christ sense. Whatis your primary disagreement with Church of Christ progressives?

  17. tmclure says:

    Would that “doctrine” were the only issue to consider! That would simplify matters. 1 Timothy 4:16: “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” Paul (assuming his authorship) notes two categories for self-examination, “life” and “doctrine.” Paul ties each to salvation. Jesus set of letters in Revelation 2 & 3 appraises churches along these two lines. Those two chapters invite close study and eventual application to the theme of this post. At times, a church “leaves” him.

  18. laymond says:

    Gary, you are right when you say you see me as understanding the bible closely to what Barton Stone saw it, and as I see it there was not room for even a small argument between that of Stone and Campbell. No I would not join a congregation of the sort described as an Alabama Conservative. But I am equally opposed as to what the Alabama progressives teach. I am a moderate in religion as well as politics, I don’t see how you can change your true beliefs over the short distance between religion and politics I try desperately to let Jesus Christ guide me in both. I believe in faith as much as the next person, I just believe in faith in God through the message he sent by his son Jesus, I do not believe we were freed from any responsibility of or own by Jesus’ death on the cross, I believe we were given another chance, by the grace of God we were given that chance when God gave his only begotten son so that we might be saved, and I stress might.
    well I could preach a sermon, but I’m sure you already know more than I can say.
    I believe with my ignorance, and your flaws God loves us both. We shall see. God Bless

  19. laymond says:

    Gary asked, “What is your primary disagreement with Church of Christ progressives?”
    After I read my reply I realized I didn’t answer the question. My primary disagreement, is that the bible also disagrees with them on most of the “progressive teachings” I have never found where we are saved by “grace and faith alone” I have never found a place where it is said that God the creator came to earth in the form of Jesus Christ, I have never found where it is said God is three acting as one. I have never found where it says baptism is only a tradition. etc. my primary disagreement is what they teach is not from the bible, most of it comes from books written on their interpretation of what the bible could have meant. This blog is a good example, how many books written by men of Jay’s persuasion have we discussed lately?

  20. Gary says:

    Laymond, in response to your prior comment, I sincerely believe we need all the moderates, both religiously and politically, we can get. We are suffering in this country from the collapse of the moderate middle. Please don’t take offense but Alabama especially needs a multitude of moderates as does my native state of Mississippi!

    In response to your second comment I believe so many disagreements, although certainly not all, are due to the choice of words used (semantics), and differences in emphasis, culture, motivation and background. I was a lifelong moderate who is really pretty much a liberal now but I do not at all see baptism as a mere tradition. It is an essential part of the Great Commission. Beyond that I do leave final judgments in God’s hands where they are anyway! I see our good works as the evidence of our faith and so in that sense essential to the Christian life. I’m more of a Nicene Creed trinitarian but I think that subject is definitely in the realm of opinion. Many in both Churches of Christ and Disciples of Christ do not consider themselves to be trinitarians. There was much flexibility in the second century church on the doctrine of Christology. Some of the second century Church Fathers would have been rejected as heterodox if they had lived in the fourth century. Once we get past the hot button issues of the day I believe all followers of Jesus have so much more in common than what tends to divide us. Thanks much for sharing so honestly.

  21. laymond says:

    I didn’t intend to leave the impression that I now or ever lived in Alabama, that is one of the states I have never visited, living through the race wars of the 50s and 60s I just never had a yearning to travel there. I have been based in Texas for most of my life and am satisfied to stay where I am. I mentioned Alabama churches because Jay mentions them in his writings, If he gives a true description of them (and I have no reason to believe that he don’t) I am not desirous of attending one.
    Good talking to a brother believer, God bless

  22. qinhan says:

    Gary, I absolutely agree, and don’t know why the Disciples of Christ are overlooked. I have found great joy and comfort with the Disciples, and there are people of every political and social stripe there, conservatives and liberals.

  23. John says:

    Gary an qinhan,

    I believe the reason CoC progressives shy away from the Disciples is simply because most CoC progressives today, much unlike the progressives of the 50s and 60s, are still very much theologically and socially conservative. That is the reason other conservative denominations appeal to them. Their openness is pretty much in regard to Biblical interpretation, while their entire view of scripture is still quite literal. This keeps them allied with groups like the Southern and Independent Baptists, Assemblies of God, and even the conservative Presbyterians, while the Disciples, Methodists and Episcopalians are too much to the Left for their social and theological tastes.

    I pray that the CoC progressive movement can recognize what the Disciples, Episcopalians and others like them have to offer, and I believe that some of its leaders have. But my concern is that the movement in certain parts of the country is stuck in its political fears and is letting those fears starve it to death.

  24. Gary says:

    John, I think you’re right. Church of Christ progressives are drawn towards Evangelicalism and Church of Christ liberals are drawn to Mainline Protestantism. It’s hard to imagine the Mission Journal constituency taking conservative stances on the social and political issues of today. Rick Atchley is one of our finest preachers today in my opinion but he illustrates this difference between CoC progressives and liberals. He has been enthusiastic about ties with Christian Churches/Churches of Christ but, unless he has changed in the last few years, he has been cool towards Disciples. One wellknown CoC professor characterized him in the last decade as a fundamentalist. When all it has taken in Churches of Christ to be considered a “liberal” is to believe that instrumental music is not sinful the CoC left wing necessarily covers a lot of territory.

  25. Gary says:

    John, you seem to have a longer background with CoC liberals than I do. To what do you attribute the difference between the CoC progressivism of the ’50’s and ’60’s and that of today? I wonder if so many true liberals left Churches of Christ in the last half of the 20th century that there just aren’t that many left. I was surprised some years ago to read in Ronald Osborn’s The Spirit of American Christianity (1958) that about twenty CoC ministers a year in the 1950’s were switching to the Disciples of Christ. This seems to have been a fairly wellknown phenomenon. An older Independent minister friend mentioned to me years ago his curiosity that so many CoC ministers passed over Independent Christian Churches to become Disciples ministers.

  26. John says:


    You may be on to something regarding all the true liberals having already left. However, I am praying that many who call themselves progressive at this moment will actually progress beyond, what has been called by others, a “bland evangelicalism”.

    While I am truly thankful for the new emphasis on Grace within the CoC I am afraid that with many it has become, “I now believe in grace, which means I no longer believe that the folks down the street are going to hell, so I can relax.” Granted, once the weight of judgement has been cast off it is a relief. I know the feeling. But if people lose their hunger to grow and become, they as individuals and as a church can become stuck in limbo. And just as a trust in works can make one judgemental and hard, new found grace can make a person lazy. But it does not have to as long as the experience of grace blooms into the freedom to read, search and think, which we growing up in the CoC did not have, at least not openly.

    While I still love the feel of a book in my hand, the internet has opened the door to great reading of writers who would have been a universe a way not many years ago. My challenge to those who call themselves progressive is to keep reaching beyond themselves in their reading and questioning. And the irony of it all, once they do they will again have that feeling of “I’m not supposed to be doing this” tinge of guilt they had when climbing out of legalism. But to be honest, that is part of the excitement of growth.

  27. laymond says:

    John said, “While I am truly thankful for the new emphasis on Grace within the CoC I am afraid that with many it has become, “I now believe in grace, which means I no longer believe that the folks down the street are going to hell, so I can relax.” ”

    First of all we need to understand grace, and what it means. Grace is a blanket that has already been spread , what we need to do is crawl under it. That blanket was spread for every person, it is laying out there, what we need to do is pull it up over us, and that is absolutely left up to the individual. Jesus is that blanket of grace that was unfurled on the cross in plain sight for everyone to see. As we see God’s grace does not extent to those who do not accept, and welcome it. God’s grace does not extend to those who choose not to recognize God’s Son Jesus as their Lord, their King their master, and their Savior. Now pray tell, how can one claim Jesus Christ as their King and say we really don’t have to obey his commands, to work . Yes grace was given freely for all to accept, but once it has been accepted we must work for the King in order to remain under the protection of the blanket of grace Jesus Christ. How can we be subject unto the King and ignore his commands?

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