Bobby Valentine: The Stoned-Campbell Disciple

bobbyvalentineWhere to begin? Let’s see …

Several, several years ago, I began my journey into Christian blogging. The first thing I did was Google the then-existing Church of Christ websites to see whether there was room for one more blogger.

I quickly learned that the field was already crowded with talent and deep spirituality. Edward Fudge and Al Maxey had large audiences but weren’t blogging (and still aren’t), John Mark Hicks was on hiatus (no longer, thank goodness), and this outrageous preacher in Arizona was brilliantly blogging on theology, the history of the Stone-Campbell Movement, and life in ministry.  I  figured that anyone with the audacity to call his blog “The Stoned-Campbell Disciple” could not be long for the Church of Christ world. I immediately subscribed to his blog.

Bobby explains the “stoned” part of his blog’s title in this 2006 post (think “stoned” in the First Century biblical sense). The “Joe Camel” logo idea did not last long (thank goodness) and was soon replaced with the Bobby-on-motorcycle logo above (or something very close to it). Of course, now the web site is downright Spartan, with no picture or logo at all. (Surely, this cannot last.)

And, I’m just guessing, but I suspect that I’ve linked to Bobby’s writings more than any other blogger in the several years that I’ve been doing this. Bobby doesn’t write all that regularly, but when he does, he says something well worth reading — and often very memorable.

He and John Mark Hicks are close friends (despite having very different personalities), and they both have done great work in digging up fascinating lessons from Restoration Movement history — but not just history, deep insights into the scriptures from our spiritual antecedents. Indeed, no contemporary historian could properly teach the history of the Movement without reference to their work.

This is from his August 20, 2013 post “Paul and the Unquestioned Authority of the Old Testament.”


When Paul has a question he naturally turns to the Scriptures (not the Old Testament) for the answer. Rarely does Paul say “I” declare this by the authority given to me as an apostle.  Paul simply does not do that.  Paul uses, and argues from, Scripture for everything.  Just a few interesting statistics to tickle your fancy and as an effort to just show how frequently Paul does resort to the ‘Old Testament.”  In many English translations it is hard for the reader to know that Paul is not using his own words but those of the first 76% of the Bible.  It would be helpful if a modern translation put every direct quotation in a different font or italics.

In the epistles with Paul’s name on them, however, there are more than 180 quotations or references to the “Old Testament” by the apostle.  That is a lot but even that does not give the full extent of the story.  The single book of Paul’s that many preachers assume shows that Paul is doing away with the Old Testament, Romans, has the highest number of references with 84.  The second highest is the one that some preachers still believe Paul wrote (but didn’t) is Hebrews which has 83 quotations or references to the “Old Testament.”   Beloved that is a lot of Old Testament.  Certainly way more Old Testament than what I am exposed to in most restoration or evangelical pulpits. When was the last time you heard a sermon with 84 quotations from the “OT?”  First Corinthians (if I am counting right) has 26. Galatians has 14 and Ephesians has no less than 12.  Craig Evans in his Noncanonical Writings and New Testament Interpretation lists 31 pages of quotations, references, and allusions to the OT, what Protestants call the Apocrypha and related writings in the NT … that is 31 pages! (see Appendix Two, pp. 190-219).  That is a lot of information Paul and the other writers of the NT are using and expect their readers/hearers to know.  Even if one argued with the validity of this or that reference the sheer cumulative evidence demonstrates that Paul, and the rest of the “NT” writers assumed that their readers/hearers would catch a large number of ideas that simply go unnoticed by us today … it’s like having only one out of every five words not blacked out to us! We get so used to only seeing every fifth word that we actually begin to think it makes sense.


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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15 Responses to Bobby Valentine: The Stoned-Campbell Disciple

  1. Price says:

    Bobby is a good man… He’s such a student of the “first” covenant as he likes to say..really brings it to life.. One question brother Jay…I hear people say all the time that the “audience” or the “readers” of Paul’s or Peter’s letters would have understood this or that from the first covenant language… Why is it assumed that the early Christians were such students of the scriptures? Were they really that well versed ?

  2. Good question, Price. I know one thing. Their memories were far better trained than ours. They, at least the Jewish part of Paul’s audience, knew the Old Covenant stories. The psalms formed their hymn book, and the prophets gave them their hope. Of course, the Gentile audience would not be as well versed, but it’s not hard to believe that on conversion they would have quickly learned – until someone like Marcion would come along and tell them the OT was irrelevant. (Does that concept sound familiar? It should, for I’ve even heard some say the gospels are irrelevant since they are about what occurred prior to the cross.)

  3. Gary says:

    My paternal grandmother was a devout Southern Baptist. When she was growing up a man lived in her rural community who was either CoC or Christian Church. She remembered all her life how he had no use for the OT and freely told everyone that there was no longer any reason for Christians to study it. She found it odd and so did I although I have heard CoC members even in recent years dismiss inconvenient truths by saying that some principle is from the OT.

    This may be an oversimplification but my approach has long been to recognize the OT as a source of much wisdom and to affirm that every principle found in it is still true. But I have also long recognized that the specific ethical instructions in the Law of Moses are woefully inadequate and have been superceded by the teachings of Jesus especially in the Sermon on the Mount. For example, putting the question of slavery aside, can any of us reconcile with our faith today the provision of the Law that slave owners could beat their slaves without penalty as long as the slave did not die from his injuries? Would any of us advocate the stoning of a rebellious child as being in any way wise or Christlike? An interesting historical study is how the rabbis and Jewish scholars through the centuries reinterpreted so much of the Law to avoid the harshness that comes across on a first reading of it.

    Overall the Prophets are more valuable for us today than the Law (although study of the Law is also valuable). The teaching of the Prophets (and to some extent the Law) regarding economic justice and treatment of the poor is sadly ignored today by so many Christians as a result of political ideologies. How Christians can show disdain for the poor without recognizing the inherent conflict of such attitudes with both OT and NT teaching is beyond me.

  4. Randall says:

    Bobby Valentine has a great blog and it is worth following, even for those that are not CofC. Thanks for recognizing some of his contributions.

  5. Al P. says:

    I was one in the CoC’ers who thought the OT was not necessary , but since leaving that tradition for the Christian church and a more open mindset I realize that the OT is the best (only? ) proof that Jesus was who He said He was. We really need to study it more.

  6. John says:

    Once I stopped reading the Psalms and the Prophets like a text book and started reading them with my soul, they became my favorite along with the Gospels. The Psalms are part of my daily reading in the NRSV, but I keep my KJV handy for Saturday morning Psalm reading before my wife wakes up.

    Gary, you are so right. The Prophets are so valuable in awakening and shaping a church and a nation. They are so moving, but the approach of the CoC over the years made then feel like choking down dust.

    I believe the sermons and the preaching of an individual who spends time in the Psalms and the Prophets become artistic creations. But, unfortunately “art” is something much the CoC and a few other fundamentalist churches see as the playdoh of the devil. They have a long way to go before inviting the whole person into their fellowship. Until then, it is solely Paul for the head, and a few quotes where Jesus “agrees” with him.

  7. Jay Guin says:


    Lately, I’ve found the Law to be extremely valuable for my NT studies. For a while now, I’ve often referred to Deuteronomy to explain the character of God, the curse on Israel that led to exile, and the promises of Deu 30, esp v.6, for the coming Kingdom.

    And the prophets routinely refer back to the Law.

    Paul often builds his case on Genesis, Exodus and/or Deuteronomy. Oh, and I’ve developed quite an affection for Exodus. I admit, however, that Numbers is another matter altogether. It can be like reading a phone book in many of its chapters.

  8. Jay Guin says:

    Price asked,

    Why is it assumed that the early Christians were such students of the scriptures? Were they really that well versed ?

    We have no direct evidence, of course, but it’s hard to imagine Paul intending to not be understood. Moreover, as Jerry says, in those days, no one had to bother learning algebra and British literature. They memorized the OT.

    The “God fearing” Gentiles are not well known by us. They appear to have attended synagogue without converting. It’s hard to imagine spending much time in synagogue and not picking up a whole lot of OT. Acts 13:16, 26. And it seems likely that the bulk of Paul’s Gentile converts were often from among God-fearing Gentiles.

  9. GATidwell says:

    Bobby made me eat at a Taco Bell — the only time I have ever done so. I have not forgotten it.

  10. Jay Guin says:


    Bobby is obviously capable of great cruelty — and why would someone who lives in the Land of Saguaros and Scorpions take you to such a place?

    Now, when you’re next in Alabama, I can take you to Taco Casa — which is a local addiction. Even people who’ve worked there love it. Two of my sons worked there, and when they come back home, they stop at Taco Casa before they visit their parents. And many other parents here have experienced the same thing.

  11. Gary says:

    Jay, I agree that there are many rich lessons for us in the Pentateuch and especially in Deuteronomy. The most powerful sermon on God’s grace I’ve ever heard was from Franklin Camp in what was then Alumni Auditorium at Lipscomb during the summer lectures. It was a profound and masterful lesson and it was based on the book of Deuteronomy. Sadly only a handful of people were there to hear it. My concern is with the temptation to take specific provisions and commands of the Law and to apply them uncritically to Christians today. A far more productive approach I believe is to examine the underlying principle and then to consider how that truth can best be expressed and lived out today in light of the ethic Jesus revealed in the Sermon on the Mount.

  12. Alabama John says:


    I too enjoy the Psalms and one we read, appreciate and use often is 56:8. God puts every tear of ours in a bottle and writes it in His book.

    How comforting to know how he cares for us and keeps up with us far more than most realize or willl admit.

    Something to ponder.

  13. Ray Downen says:

    It was commented

    When was the last time you heard a sermon with 84 quotations from the “OT?”

    Surely it was appropriate to cite the Old Testament during those years before the NEW Testament writings were available. At that time, the only Scriptures known by most Christians were the Jewish writings. Surely it’s more appropriate NOW to cite the writings of apostles of Jesus and others who spoke for the apostles (Mark and Luke).

  14. Kevin says:

    I’ve been in Churches of Christ all my life (45 short years), and I have never heard a preacher diminish the value of the OT. On the contrary, I’ve always been exposed to a steady diet of OT study and lessons from both Bible Study and the pulpit. I am currently listening to a series of excellent lessons by Jeff Jenkins called the Genesis Project. MP3s are available from the Lewisville Church of Christ podcast in iTunes.

  15. I think the more distressing issue I find (and not just in the CoC) is the once-over-lightly treatment of Jesus’ own words as recorded in the Gospels. His words are given similar treatment as much of the earlier scriptures. That is, it’s okay to draw broad general principles from them, but there is little insistence that we live according to what Jesus actually said. We are much more adamant about “I do not permit a woman to speak” than we are about “take no thought for tomorrow”, and we unconcernedly ride our fat American camels headlong toward the needle’s eye. We water down “lay down his life for my sake” into “attend the church of my choice” and never once consider letting Jesus make our major life decisions for us. We who are not without sin throw our share of stones, right here in this comments section. And we take “if a man strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also” as something between a joke and a childish stupidity.

    We cut and paste an operator’s manual from every stray bit of counsel we can extract from Paul, and chatter endlessly over James, but I think Jesus is far too radical for American Christians.

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