Salvation 2.0: Part 7.1: Falling away

grace5If it’s possible to become saved, is it possible to become unsaved? Can we fall away?

The Calvinist/Baptist position

The Calvinist position is that the saints will necessarily persevere, so that falling away is impossible in the NT. The Holy Spirit will so powerfully transform the Christian’s heart that he’ll ultimately choose to live as a Christian should and so be saved in the end.

There are certainly subsets among the Calvinists who teach that a Christian will continue to be saved regardless of his sinfulness and commitment, but most Calvinists argue that Christians will never so sin as to deserve to fall away. 

Most Baptists are not Calvinists, and yet most Baptists teach perseverance of the saints (POTS). That’s because the Baptists branched off the Puritans, who were indeed Calvinists. During the late 19th Century, it seems that many Baptists gave up most of the elements of Calvinism, but they retained POTS.

This is said to present a security and confidence — a feeling that I am saved and cannot fall away. Of course, my Calvinist and Baptist friends all know people who said the Sinner’s Prayer, were baptized, felt this sense of security — and then apostatized (fell away). Their conclusion is that such persons were never truly saved — which, if true, means that the feeling of security isn’t all that sure.

The traditional Church of Christ position

Of course, the Churches of Christ take the Arminian position that we can fall away even if really and truly saved. And I have to say that I think the Arminian view seems better supported by the scriptures. But the Churches of Christ tend to err in the opposite direction — thinking that any sin or doctrinal error can damn until repented of — destroying any sense of security at all. In fact, under traditional Church of Christ teaching, the best you can hope for is to be occasionally saved or periodically saved.

The traditional Church of Christ teaching — the one that prevailed in the late 20th Century — is that any unforgiven sin damns. Therefore, when we sin, we are damned until we confess that sin, repent of that sin, and pray for forgiveness. Of course, this teaching has led to a lot of praying for forgiveness.

This teaching is actually not biblical but taken from the Catholic Council of Trent. The only difference from Catholic teaching is that we in the Churches of Christ don’t need to confess to a priest. Confessing to God is enough.

The standard has gotten harder over the years. It came to be taught that a “public” sin has to be publicly confessed — by “going forward” and confessing to the entire congregation — making this that much closer to the Catholic teaching.

In addition, when divorce and remarriage is taught, it’s also required that you make restitution — that you undo your sin as well as possible — as a condition of forgiveness. Hence, you must remarry the spouse you divorced or who divorced you. And if that’s not possible, you must do the next best thing, remain single. And if you’ve remarried, then you have to divorce your new spouse to be forgiven of the sin of divorce. Really.

Well, this is not only very legalistic, it’s entirely unworkable. I mean, if your record must be 100% clean to be saved, then you must have confessed, repented of, and made restitution for every single sin you’ve ever committed. And this is impossible. In fact, if you’ve repented of every sin, then you’ve stopped sinning entirely. You’d be Jesus reborn!

Recognizing the unbearable burden of this doctrine, sometime in the  1960s (best I can recall), we added this gracious exception. If you’re “walking in the light,” then the blood of Jesus continuously cleanses you. Which is a true, powerful, and important teaching based on —

(1Jo 1:7 ESV)  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

It is correctly noted that “cleanses” is in the present, indicative tense in Greek, implying ongoing, continuous cleansing.

But, the preachers emphasize, this requires you to be “walking in the light.” And those who worship with an instrument or otherwise violate Church of Christ doctrinal boundaries violate this standard. In fact, any doctrinal error damns, because of —

(2Jo 1:9 ESV)  Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.

Which, of course, is precisely contradictory. Both readings of the scriptures cannot be true.


So how do we decide? Well, it’s really this simple:

(Joh 3:18 ESV) 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

(1Jo 5:13 ESV)  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. 

As we’ve already covered, all with faith in/faithfulness to/trust in Jesus will be saved. Period. But, of course, faithfulness requires a penitent, obedient heart — someone who intends to obey and follow Jesus. Not perfectly. Not with perfect doctrine. But with a heart turned toward Jesus.

It’s just that simple. I’ll cover some key passages in detail. But we make the simple complicated in order to damn people who disagree with us about instrumental music or whatever. But any teaching that takes us away from —

(Joh 5:24 ESV) 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. 

(Joh 20:30-31 ESV)  Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;  31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. 

— is error.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

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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55 Responses to Salvation 2.0: Part 7.1: Falling away

  1. Price says:

    I like Faith… it is how we accept Grace according to Paul… It is what leads us to the obedience of baptism… and even with our less than stellar attempts to do what is right, it is our faith that God sees and rewards… I wonder how these verses apply… ” if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful– for he cannot deny himself. [2Ti 2:12-13 ESV]. P.S. Are you familiar with Wayne Grudem and his book Systematic Theology ? I’m pretty sure it’s what most “Baptist’s” would consider their theological songbook.. But, my experience suggests that most in the Baptist audience today didn’t come up Baptist… Not sure that would be applicable to the CoC… but don’t know. I’m thinking that even most of the mainstream “denominations” are so fractured in their teaching that the debate over what the Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, etc., teach might not be as viable today as it was 50 years ago ?/

  2. Mark says:

    I think the cofC had to figure out a way to get and keep people and so they came up with the idea that everyone else was wrong. This is why they would frequently rejoice over converting a Baptist. Otherwise, what would make them stand out besides no IM and no written creed? That said, the fear of hell was so great that it became paralytic. Now there is another issue I want to mention. Older people who gossiped and who were busy bodies and bore false witness were never called sinners. They did not have to admit those sins as they were old and were not to be upset. Meanwhile, the younger people were condemned to hell for everything they did including the sins of others. Blanket condemnation made a lot of younger people tune out and then wonder If the older people heard it too but were too scared to call the man down for it or secretly condoned it. When you are sitting there wondering who is on which side that isn’t a good feeling.

    Price said that the debates today might not be viable. That might be a good thing. It is hard to force individual churches to hold to the “official” teaching when they disagree with it. For that, the cofC should be happy in that even where there is a hierarchy, congregational autonomy is prevailing. Besides, who has the energy to fight the old battles for another generation? The worst thing for Christianity was when the people starting fighting each other.

  3. George Guild says:

    “No instrumental music in worship,(because it is a sin)” has become a part of the secret creed that many in the cofC subscribe to. This is just one of many sayings. Just because it is not a formulated and structured formula does not mean it is not a creed. “No creed but Christ,” looks good on paper, but the fact is we have all have added to this creed with other requirements. Such as “call Bible things by Bible names,” what about “Pulpit Minister, located minister or Evangelist that stays as a located minister?

  4. laymond says:

    “If it’s possible to become saved, is it possible to become unsaved? Can we fall away?”

    Yes it is possible to be saved, but no one will be saved before Jesus returns to judge.
    Mat 24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
    No it is not possible to “be saved” then become “unsaved” . you are saved only if you die in Jesus, by the grace of God. (dead men don;t sin) or you are alive in Jesus when he comes to collect his harvest.

    The following describes “the fallen away” they are not rooted in their belief strong enough to endure until the end.
    Mar 4:17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.
    Mar 13:13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

    I truly believe what Paul said in the following is happening in some of th churches of Christ today.
    2Ti 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching 2Ti 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

    The following is good advice, today as much as it was during Paul’s day.
    1Ti 4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

    prove your teachings by the bible, else don’t teach it.

  5. John says:

    The ironic twist I see is that falling away in the CoC is now limited to leaving the “true church”; that sins that are considered immoral are covered by grace that is found only in the church. The only perfection one is expected of is in the knowledge of true doctrine. This has become the CoC security of the believer.

  6. John F says:

    Heb 6:1-12
    Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do, if God permits. 4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. 7 For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; 8 but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.
    9 But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. 10 For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. 11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

    The passage could not be more clear: enlightened. tasted, partakers of HS, powers FALLEN AWAY . .. impossible . . . crucify to themselves . . . put to open shame.

  7. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    John wrote,

    The only perfection one is expected of is in the knowledge of true doctrine.

    Exactly. It’s dualistic worldview. The assumption is that, because moral perfection is impossible, grace is available, but because doctrinal perfection is indeed possible (and has been achieved by the CoC!), there’s no need for grace on doctrine. The intellect is perfectible, whereas the moral sense is not.

    On closer questioning, the CoC conservative will grant that some doctrines are unclear, and thus grace is available on uncertain questions. Typical example is whether the Spirit personally indwells or indwells representatively through the Word — but I’ve learned in the last few years of preachers being called “apostate” for teaching a personal indwelling is the sense of H. Leo Boles and McGarvey, that is, an “ordinary” indwelling that brings salvation and mediates our prayers but otherwise does nothing. Even that damns, to some, because any error damns.

    In the last few years, the Memphis churches have been torn up over elder re-affirmation — Dub McLish insisting that this not authorized and therefore is damning of the entire congregation.

    When you ask the leaders of this thinking how they distinguish error that damn from errors that don’t damn, you get sputtering and avoidance. A few would say that it depends on how “clear” the teaching is — meaning that if it’s clear to me, I should damn you for disagreeing, but if it’s uncertain to me, I can treat you as my brother — until I study harder and it becomes clear. Hence, my level of study and personal self-confidence define the borders of the Kingdom! Pray that such men study very little so that the rest of us may receive grace!

    Others would say that doctrinal error only damns if it leads to sin, but teaching error is a sin, meaning you can be wrong so long as you keep quiet on the subject.

    Todd Deaver has demonstrated in his excellent Facing Our Failure that the Churches of Christ have no doctrine defining what errors damn and what does not damn.

    It’s all very sad.

  8. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    John F,

    Post on that passage will appear in a couple of weeks.

  9. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:


    Quite right. In the 19th Century, a “creed” was a formal list of doctrinal positions used to test for orthodoxy. That is, you weren’t allowed to take communion unless you agreed with the creed. Hence, the founders of the Restoration Movement spoke of “No creed but Christ,” meaning that the only test of fellowship is whether one is in Christ by faith.

    In the 20th Century, the argument against a “creed” was that it was unnecessary as the Bible was sufficient — while the same men wrote commentaries, Sunday school lessons, etc. We entirely forgot as a Movement why we adopted that slogan — and, of course, began to deny the truth of its original meaning by dividing over issues that have nothing to do with faith in Jesus.

  10. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:


    I’m aware of Grudem’s book but haven’t read it. I’m wary of systematic theologies, largely because they are invariably based on pre-New Perspective on Paul and so built on Reformation arguments and issues without the benefit of the most recent scholarship.

    Regarding —

    (2 Tim. 2:11-13 ESV) 11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful– for he cannot deny himself.

    V. 12 seems to clearly teaching against POTS. But what do we do with v. 13?

    The main thrust of this statement, however, may be that God’s faithfulness implies that he cannot acknowledge those who disown him. Some think this conclusion was not an original part of the hymn, but the moral impossibility of self-contradiction in God forms the basis of his faithfulness and is therefore necessary to complete the hymn.

    Donald Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale NTC 14; IVP/Accordance electronic ed. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 163.

    God’s faithfulness to his covenant does not depend on our faithfulness. That’s a major theme of Romans, borrowed from Deu and the Prophets. But that is speaking of God’s faithfulness to the church — envisioned as a continuation of Israel. It’s not a promise that no one will fall away, as plenty of the Israelites fell away while God was being faithful to his covenant. But God remained faithful to his chosen people. Hence, God’s eternal purposes for the church will be fulfilled. Even when it appears that no one is obedient, our hope of resurrection and the new heavens and new earth will be fulfilled. God will keep his promises. But some will not endure and receive those promises.

    As to your last comment, I’m confident that, at the grassroots level, the old denominational distinctives are being ignored. Christians are far more concerned about the quality of the teen program than the church’s views on apostolic succession or predestination.

  11. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Mark wrote,

    Besides, who has the energy to fight the old battles for another generation?

    No one. Certainly not me.

    My children find the Church of Christ doctrinal fighting incomprehensible and uninteresting. The next generation will have other concerns and priorities — all much better than what we grew up with.

  12. Royce says:

    If one can be saved then lost the question rises, “How many times can this happen?”

    If one is truly saved and then is truly lost, why does he not need to be baptized again if baptism is part of what saved him the first time. I have not found one coc person who says that one “coming back to the Lord” needs to be baptized again. Why? If he is truly lost again he is in the same state as before he was saved the first time.

    Where is the biblical teaching that a person can be saved then lost and saved again and then lost and….well, where does it end?

    In my view, leaning too heavily on the sinner, rather than the Savior leads to some warped thinking. Most people who energetically fight for the right to be saved then lost believe it depends on the sinner. They also believe salvation depends largely upon the sinner as well. It’s all about what he does or does not do. The emphasis should be on what Jesus has done on behalf of sinful people.

    I’m not trying to pick a fight, just trying to understand how to reconcile opposing views using the Bible, not using what I, or someone else thinks. I just read and reread John 10 and John 17 and I think of Romans 4 and Romans 8 and…well, there are dozens of passages that are hard to ignore.

    I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I have far more questions than answers.

    I do believe that my hope of eternal life and resurrection depends wholly upon the person and work of Jesus. If it depends on my I have no hope. I know me to well to think otherwise.

  13. David says:


    You are going to post on Hebrews 6:1-12 in a couple of weeks? You mean about the six original foundational teachings of the church, but we only have four and a half now since the Scriptures were completed?

  14. Dwight says:

    MAny in the coC will argue that they have no creeds and yet will turn around and say, “Speak wehre the bible speaks and be silent where the bible is silent.”, which is itself a creed that all of the coC’s abide by as a coC. They also argue that they have the truth and are the first century church, even while saying that the coC of some years ago was mistake on some things, such as arguing that they are the only ones gong to heaven.
    I had a discussion with my cousin who is ingrained in the coC and he asked me if we could do the Lord’s Supper on other days, to which I argued that we could partake of unleavened bread and wne or grape juice and we could remember Christ as well. This made him mad becuase he sees the mention of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week as excluding all other days. HE doesn’t see it as rememberng God more. Arguably, though, this means that if we remember Jesus on other days we would be sinning as that was what we are supposed to do on Sunday (only). This he rejected, but couldn’t say why.
    In the scriptures God commanded the Passover to be held on day one, then the week of unleavened bread, but Hezekiah, when they returned from thier captivity, was so impressed by the Passover events that he did it again the next week. God didn’t destroy them. It seems that God isn’t distressed by us worshipping him more. But in the conservative coC this is unthinkable that we have control over worship to God, as long as it is in spirit and in truth, and doesn’t break a command for or against.
    I have been in the conservative coC for many years and find myself seeing the inconsitancies that are within.
    This is a bit off topic, but truth isn’t proprietary to a church or church system. Truth is the scriptures, but not the explanation or intepretation of the scriptures. We need to read them more as doctrine and not force our conclusions on others.

  15. Dwight says:

    Royce, as an Isrleite you were a child of God and under covenant and if you sinned you were still under covenant and God expected you to cme back to reconcile under the covenant. When we become a saint we are under a covenant with God in that we have given ourselves to God, but we re not perfect and can still sin. Take Simon the sorceror, he was baptized and then almost immediately afterwards he sought to buy the gifts of the apostles of laying on of hands and was condemend and told to repent, to which he did, but he wasn’t told to be re-baptized. He was under Christ and under grace, but could fall away and be damned if he didn’t make corrections and turn back to God. But he was still in Christ, by faith and baptism, untill he rejected him by not turning back.

  16. Price says:

    Dwight, according to Rom 4, we are under covenant by faith not circumcision….

    Royce, exactly… being dunked equals forgiveness of sin or so the Acts 2:38 folks say… so when we sin and need forgiveness why don’t we have to keep getting rebaptized ? If that’s the only way in which we can have our sins forgiven…

  17. Dwight says:

    Price, never said they were under the covenant by circumcision as even Abraham wasn’t. Even Abraham was under faith.
    We must “walk in steps of faith” like Abraham, which means doing what God says in our faith.
    I still can’t help but go back to Simon the sorcerer. He was converted/ baptized, then sinned and was told to repent, but not be re-baptized. But those who had not been baptized were told to be baptized into Christ for salvation (Acts 2:38).
    The saints were told to repent and to pray to God for forgiveness. One had to pray through Jesus, the way and mediator, to get to God. Jesus stated, “If you do not know me…you do not know God.”
    There is a difference between those in Christ and those not in Christ as far as access to God.

  18. laymond says:

    Royce, baptism and the accepting of forgiveness of sin is a very serious action, and should be thought upon in that way, and if you are not ready to live the Christian life then baptism might be better delayed until you are.
    Yes you risk dying in sin, but you don’t risk tromping on the blood of Jesus Christ.

    Heb 10:26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

  19. Price says:

    Dwight… Abram was justified by faith before he took his first step out of Ur. Long before he was circumcised.. I believe Rom 4 clearly states that we are children of promise by faith and not by faithfulness.. Although, I would agree that obedience is certainly an indication of saving faith. Yet, one must also agree that if performance (faithfulness) is how we are saved then we’re all in trouble.. Thankfully, Paul put that notion completely to rest when he said through the inspiration of the Spirit that we are saved by Grace through faith..and not by faithfulness (works) lest any man could boast…

    The real issue I have with “falling away” is how far must one fall to be out of relationship with Jesus ? 50% unfaithful …75% ? 100% ? At what point did the prodigal son lose his “son-ship” ? At what point does Rom 8:1 not apply ? I guess I’m not able to make that judgement.

  20. Monty says:

    Christians who sin(trapped in a sin) and need turning back(restoration) to Jesus Gal.6:1 are to do what? Repent are they not? It’s not exactly spelled out in that context it’s taken for granted they know, or James 5:19-20 “if one of you wander from the truth and someone should bring him back(back from where?) remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way(not just a one time error but seems to suggest an ongoing thing) will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins. Physical death? Not hardly but spiritual death. If they are not brought back, finally. Jesus told the church in Pergamum to “repent.” He gave some Christians who were in Thyatira following the teachings of Jezebel time to repent or else he would punish them severely and strike her children dead. Not physical children but those who held to her false teachings with spiritual death. The church at Sardis is instructed to repent. Repent of their lethargy. Laodicea was told to repent for her self reliance and being lukewarm . Christ was going to vomit them out. Maybe that wasn’t really so bad, according to some. Of course we know from the O.T. what the Lord requires, a broken spirit and a contrite heart, those he will not refuse.

    As to why we don’t need a rebaptism, it ain’t that hard. Because we aren’t instructed to do so. Though I know of many who were rebaptized because they felt like they had been baptized for various reasons that weren’t proper, for example without truly repenting or because everyone else was doing it. Is God mad if someone did get rebaptized even if it was for good reasons the first time? I doubt it, even though it’s not commanded. Just like I doubt God is angry if a Baptist says the Sinners Prayer over again for the umpteenth time. as so many do, as a type of formula. One can put faith in the Sinner’s Prayer formula as well as the 5 step plan.

  21. Dwight says:

    Price, I think the problem is that we make too many judgments on when another falls and what it means to fall. When Paul confronted the issue of a man with his father’s wife in Corinth this was a sin that was on the books and not just a sin that man could imply. The people of Corinth were unwilling to call it sin and confront it as such.
    On the other hand we will confront things that we perceive as sin, even though there is no record of God making a law or command against it. We judge another like the Pharisees did on non-commands, even while committing sins like not helping the helpless, etc.
    We must be careful not to play God and only stick to sins that are sins.

    Now “all men have sinned” and all men will sin, but when you come under Jesus you now have an avenue to God that wasn’t present before. Only a priest can go into the Temple and go to the Holies to Holies to talk to God and Jesus flesh was the veil and He is the great High Priest who makes intercession. Otherwise there really is no point in even Jesus if we can appeal to God without coming through Jesus.

  22. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Jay wrote:
    “In the last few years, the Memphis churches have been torn up over elder re-affirmation — Dub McLish insisting that this not authorized and therefore is damning of the entire congregation.”

    Interestingly, much of the drama between the conservative COCs arose due to two events:
    1. When Dave Miller took over Apologetics Press and
    2. When Dub McLish was fired from the Gospel Journal

    Jay, you have hit the nail on the head. Conservatives cannot agree on what error damns and what error is covered by grace. If it wasn’t so very tragic and sad, it would all be humorous. The Memphis SOP weekly publication (The Harvester, I believe) actually ran an article about the danger of drawing drawing one’s fellowship circles tighter and tighter. Imagine that for a minute.

    Dave Miller is no progressive by any stretch of the imagination, yet conservative congregations have largely drawn fellowship lines based on whether they support him or dis-fellowship him. At issue is Elder re-evaluation/re-affirmation (ERR) and the APPLICATION of a single example of MDR. McLish and his backers think both situations are “fatal error.” (Incidentally, “fatal error” is the subject of the upcoming Bellview Lectures in Pensacola, which features Dub and his supporters.) The ERR issue arose when Miller was in TX and an Elder voluntarily asked the congregation if they still supported him. The Elder had an arbitrary figure in his own mind, and when he didn’t receive the percentage of support that he desired, he stepped down. Dub doesn’t believe an Elder can do this, which is just asinine.

    The MDR situation is even more bizarre. A man married his own cousin (unlawful in itself) in a successful effort to enable the woman to remain in the country. As cousins, they never consummated the “marriage.” After the woman was allowed to remain in the country, the cousins divorced. Miller argued that the couple committed fraud and never intended to be married in God’s eyes. Dub thinks the cousins are to remain man and wife. Again asinine. Ironically, Miller’s teaching on MDR mirrors Dub’s almost verbatim. They only disagree on the application in this one isolated situation. Miller would allow “divorce” in cases where the couple (who is not eligible to marry in the first place) fraudulently marry to avoid deportation.

    Other equally asinine “fatal errors” according to some of today’s conservatives:
    -Supporting the COC Disaster Relief Fund
    -Speaking at a lectureship alongside another speaker who has been marked (by them of course)
    -Persistently using the term “church family” because that’s the “language of Ashod”
    -Using material in Bible Study classes that were authored by a “marked” individual or organization, specifically, using Apologetics Press materials. It doesn’t matter if the content is actually “sound” in itself. Using any AP material in Bible Study constitutes sin, and thus fatal error if one doesn’t publicly repent. I’m not kidding. I actually wrote a letter to the Pensacola preacher who authored the article and asked him if he ever used a KJV Bible, a Bible dictionary, Naves, or Strongs. Never got an answer back.

  23. Price says:

    @ Dwight.. you make a good point about the law being “on the books.” It’s actually a specific part of the Law from Leviticus.. Seems Paul thought that the moral laws were still very much applicable.

  24. Dwight says:

    From what I understand cousins married cousins in the OT, just as brothers married half-sisters, but could not marry direct sisters. The problem that they would have to deal with is the lying and the fact that they announced themselves as betrothed with no intent to marry. The problem comes with what do they or we consider binding.
    In today’s society not much is binding, but in God’s yes a yes is a yes and no is a no or should be. Oaths are oaths, even made in foolishness and were designed to be honored.
    Now it could be argued that both parties were under the understanding that there was no real covenant and thus they were not intending to hold one another to the covenant and the intent was to not. This might change the situation, since they both were not under the impression that the other was to meet the obligation of man and wife. They lied and that is all. This is serious, but would not constitute a real covenant. And yet when two people say something to the crowds that affirm them to man and wife, then how is that not an oath.
    Only man could create a quagmire that no one can escape like this.

  25. Price says:

    All I know is that it was a specific prohibition in the Law… see Lev 18

  26. Dwight says:

    I guess the distinction would be if your cousin was “near kin” or “far kin” as only “near kin” were forbidden.

  27. Price says:

    Jay should be able to share what they did in Alabama with all the cousins marrying there… LOL…

  28. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:


    I believe you have my home state confused with Arkansas. Around here, all the married-cousin jokes are based on Arkansas — I suppose because there are too many Mississippians here in West Alabama to make it safe to pick on Mississippi.

  29. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:


    Thanks for the info on the McLish/Miller controversy. I thought by now it would have settled down. Truly tragic and devastating to the church.

    “Church family”? The language of Ashdod? I had never heard that one. But here it is:

    I am astonished.

  30. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    David wrote,

    You mean about the six original foundational teachings of the church, but we only have four and a half now since the Scriptures were completed?

    Referring to Heb 6:4-6 dealing with our ability to repent from rebellious sin.

  31. Mark says:

    I’m from Arkansas. Only in certain towns there are family trees straight vertical lines. The rest of the state is normal.

  32. Mark says:

    And we thank God for Mississippi and the District of Columbia.

  33. Price says:

    LOL… @ Mark… Me too !!! Walnut Ridge… And Amen to MS and DC… LOL…

  34. Larry Cheek says:

    I was unaware of the McLish/Miller controversy. But, even though almost a lifetime ago I had a major controversy with Miller, basically I was a victim of the MDR teachings; I had recently encountered a work of his that I thought was outstanding. That being the message contained in the “The Silencing of God” DVD. The average Christian does not have the resources to assemble that information to support the founding of our government on Christian principles. With this much information available and in permanent carvings it does seem that many leaders of believers in Christ have avoided making a public exposition of those in government and the other forces on their presentations about separation of church and state. If there are other authors who have addressed the subject, I would like to know of their works.

  35. David says:


    I look forward to seeing your comments on Heb 6: 4-6. I would also like to see your take on Heb 6: 1-3 sometime. Specifically about the laying on of hands. If I read the passage correctly it is listed as a first principle of our faith. Been in the CofC for over fifty years and never heard it mentioned except as a bit of Biblical history. I know some CofC practice it, but I’m guessing that is relatively rare.

  36. Dwight says:

    I have been in the coC all of my life and have never seen a laying on of hands as it is related to miracles. It must be rare or limited to certain coC in places I have never been to.

  37. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    David and Dwight,

    Most Protestant churches do not practice laying on of hands other than Pentecostals, and they see it as a means of receiving miraculous gifts of the Spirit (some, not all).

    My church has, at times, practiced a laying on of hands by the elders on newly baptized converts, solely to follow the examples in Acts and as a commissioning — part of a prayer for the newly born Christian. Has nothing to do with tongues and prophecy, and we believe the Spirit is received whether or not hands are laid on the convert. But it’s a good practice that I recommend.

    First, it’s good for the elders to pray over anyone, esp. a brand new convert. It brings the convert together with the elders through touching — which is a powerful thing. Inevitably is followed by hugs. It’s just a great way to initiate someone into the kingdom and profoundly biblical.

    Second, it adds a ancient, mystical flavor to the baptism. Baptism itself is at least 2,000 years old, but it’s in a chlorinated, heated, modern tank of water. Something about hands takes us back to Acts. I mean, we’re restorationist and primitivist. Why wouldn’t we lay hands?

    Third, laying hands is commissioning for mission. And all Christians should be charged to be on mission for God.

    So I rather like the practice myself. The church seems to respond well to it, as do converts. I highly recommend.

  38. Price says:

    Jay, IMO it would not be improper to even suggest that in the laying on of hands that God, in His great mystery, could in fact impart some special gift, whatever it might be, into the new convert as he/she is accepted into the church. The spiritual gifts were never fully articulated much less limited to prophesy or tongues… All the things you mentioned were obviously appropriate but I think we sometimes shy away from what we don’t understand or have trouble explaining.. I like that you do it anyway.. Let’s just allow for God to be God and do today what He did back then.. Who knows.. He might just respond to the faith of a mustard seed.

  39. Royce says:

    I love this! It’s something I would like to see our elders do.

    Often people come for prayer and some of them request to be anointed with oil and have the elders pray for them. Every time the elders put their hands on the person and many people around them do too. I have never heard any teaching about laying on of hands but we practice it none the less.

    In small groups I and others have gathered around a person sitting in a chair and all of us touched that person as we prayed for their concern.

    God is so gracious! Many times our requests are granted in ways that can only be credited to Him.

  40. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:


    How ironic. The DVD that you mentioned, “Silencing of God,” is the exact same material that I referenced. See the article here (Nov 2008, page 5):

    Pretty depressing reading throughout this pdf. In this particular article, Michael Hatcher states, “…I cannot conscientiously recommend that our congregation view or promote this video. My reason is because this would be in violation of 2 John 9-11 and Romans 16:17. We would be fellowshipping a marked false teacher—Dave Miller…Even though we might agree with the contents of the DVD “Silencing of God,” to recommend or promote the DVD is to make oneself a partaker of Dave Miller’s false doctrines. (By false doctrines, I mean doctrines if believed and acted upon will result in one’s being lost eternally.) Sadly, the West Hunstville leaders have decided to be a partaker of false doctrine. We must continue to pray and teach these (and other) brethren the error of their ways before it is everlastingly too late.” What??

    Hatcher believes that viewing, recommending, or promoting this DVD – even though he agrees with the content – constitutes sinful error that will damn one’s soul. I wrote Hatcher a letter asking him if he ever read or studied or viewed theological material that had been authored by anyone outside of the Churches of Christ. Never got an answer from him, which is ironic given how quick this journal points out that someone didn’t answer their inquiry…it even happens in this very article with reference to Miller! What about lectureship books that included articles by Rubel Shelley when he was still at Getwell or his own Defender lectureship books? Surely, Hatcher has burned those books. Right. Greek lexicons? Gone. Songs written by anyone other than members of “sound” COCs? Banished.

    The lack of any critical thinking skills by Hatcher is truly astounding.

  41. David says:

    Thanks Jay and Price. I agree 100% with both of you. Touch is a powerful thing, maybe even miraculous. I joined with Pentecostals in laying on of hands and prayer for my comatose father-in -law who would “not live through the night” because of his massively damaged heart. No instantaneous cure. It took all of eight hours for him to wake up and begin talking. And if I remember correctly, he left the hospital a day or two later. He lived another five or six years. I went into his hospital room skeptical of laying on hands, but it did not take long for me to become a believer. P/S :We laid hands on his feet and arms and prayed, not his head.

  42. Mark says:

    Interesting that the Anglicans still put hands on most people when giving out the host every Sunday and when hearing confession before being given communion for those who responded to the unspoken invitation (altar call).

  43. Larry Cheek says:

    Thanks for that link, I was unaware of most all of these communications even though I am not far from Sunny Slope in Paducah Ky. After reading some of these publications, I see it is no wonder why most of the brethren in the pews are leaving the churches. I don’t see any of Christlike attitudes displayed in the communications. Name calling, back biting, demeaning other brothers in Christ all without addressing the scriptural content of the subject matter. Christ or none of his Apostles communicated with these attitudes and who are we supposed to appear to be like to the world? If the world read these communications they would readily recognize the source of the attitudes expressed.
    I really should not have used the concept that I was a victim in the earlier post, that made it sound like I had been divorced and that was the reason to be a victim. The event was because I apposed Dave on his teaching on MDR. He was advising some couples in the congregation because they had married a divorced partner, to get another divorce and was requiring that they would have to live a single life to be saved. One of the sisters in the congregation had married a man who had been divorced 5 times, they had two children. She was sure that she could not rear them by herself, after much distress, Dave told her that they could live in the same house as long as they had separate bedrooms and of course never slept together. There were no Elders at the church. The man with credentials and powerful speaking abilities always wins in a confrontation such as this, therefore I was disfellowshiped for being a false teacher.
    .Actually, I have seen a great value in the event that was done to me, because as a result I have been able to avoid being brainwashed in some of the doctrines that were being taught in churches during my youth.
    It really is a horrible situation to condemn good teachings because the teacher has believed some wrong ideas. Actually, this carried to the extreme would destroy all teaching unless the teacher was sinless. Which would back fire upon those who are casting stones.

    I still hold to the concept that Dave did a good job in this DVD and would recommend it to anyone Christian or not, it really should enlighten anyone who has no roots in Christianity. I also was impressed as Dave considered those who were founding the government and writing the documents as Christians explaining that they were Christianity in action. Yet, understanding that they were not known as members of The Church of Christ, that term or name for churches was not in existence at that time. He readily stated that most of these were Anglican, some Protestant. My first thought was these are not condemned men because they were not members of The Church of Christ as most all of our preachers have taught. These men stood up for Christianity in a powerful way, puts most Christians I know to shame. My brother must have grown more than I could imagine, he really considered them brothers, Praise God! .

  44. Dwight says:

    Larry, I have had a similar thing happen to me, but not to the point of disfellowship. I created a study on MDR, that was I admit a different slant on the whole concept and sent it to a well known preacher asking him to critique it. I considered him because he had edited books and wasn’t anybody I knew, thus no personal bias. He disagreed with the study and pointed out some grammatical errors, but couldn’t answer me why it was wrong. He offered no logical help or any scriptures. I then had a meeting with the preacher of my congregation over another issue and then was presented with this study and told I was wrong. Somehow the other preacher found our where I worshipped and contacted my preacher and sent him the document that I had asked the other preacher to critique. I was summarily scolded for teaching error, even though I never approached that preacher in a teaching way, but as one to be taught. My preacher however couldn’t lay forth a scripture to why my position was wrong, but just told me that “everybody knows that marriage isn’t like that.” I later found this not to be true…especially among the Jews.
    The point is that there is a push to mark another rather than discuss. It is shoot first, then don’t ask questions later. We want to crush another into submission and shut the ears of others.
    I fear Jesus wouldn’t have gotten anywhere in our environment and would have been condemned as well.

  45. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:


    Our most senior elder explains that God sometimes chooses to work through the laying on of hands. I don’t want anyone to conclude that the Spirit can only be received by hands — as some would question their salvation for lack of this apostolic practice. That should not be a worry. On the other hand, there’s something about laying on hands that the Bible seems to favor. Who am I to tell God what he can or cannot do? I just follow the examples I find, and the worst possible outcome is the new convert is welcomed into the church by the touch of his or her elders.

  46. Larry Cheek says:

    With experiences like ours we really learn to trust preachers and elders don’t we. I will have to admit that I do not know any preachers or elders that I would dare to communicate some of the subjects that we can discuss here, Jay has not shown that he would gather other elders into a force to attempt to disfellowship anyone who disagrees with him here. Actually, he is the only one I would trust in a congregation setting. But, then the majority of my fifty five + years since obeying the gospel the churches that I have attended did not have elders. When I was attending where there were elders they only did deacons work and did not appear to understand their role as spiritual leaders. But, then I was disfellowshipped twice by churches which did not have elders, just the preacher and his clan. And we call congregations like that the Lords Church. Then I get to read about one body of elders who withdraw fellowship from another body of elders (like in the link Kevin provided) and wonder where there is an example in scripture that portrays those actions in the church of the scriptures. All this really supports another concept about the church which God added me to (that Spiritual Church the Kingdom that Jesus said was not of this world). Are you in that one too.

  47. Dwight says:

    I don’t consider myself in the coC, even though I attend with coC people, but rather in the congregation of Christ or kingdom of God at large. Many elders and preachers fall into the protectionist realm, where they are protecting the system or their church from not being looked down badly by other coC churches. An interesting thing about Revelations is John writing to the 7 churches in Asia and telling them to handle their issues, but the better off churches weren’t told to break away or look down on the other churches who were having trouble. And they weren’t told to separate from the church in Corinth who was having many, many issues. We have become reactionary to the extreme.

  48. alegler says:

    Grudem is all about Calvinism and it comes through in his writings. Especially systematic theology. He has concepts in there I have never seen in the bible.

  49. Monty says:


    That’s a powerful story about your dad. Of course most in the Cof C(not me) would just say your prayer (not the Pentecostal’s) was what did it. God gets the glory. I had a situation where I befriended a man through a benevolence call, helped him with some bills, he had many health issues. I prayed with him, baptized him(over the course of weeks) and continued to help with food and bills. He then got a bad staff infection in his leg and was in the hospital, I prayed with him ( he was told if he wasn’t better by morning they would have to take his leg. That afternoon a Pentecostal preacher came by and asked to pray with him, he told him he was first going to pray in tongues(not to alarm him) so he prayed in tongues which completely floored him, then he prayed in regular speech. He told him he was not going to lose his leg and sure enough he got better that night and kept his leg. This brother gave credit to the Pentecostal preacher for “saving his leg” I suppose because he spoke in tongues. We had both prayed. But he spoke in tongues. I find that interesting. I wasn’t after the credit. But my prayer had been just as heart felt. I am happy the Pentecostal preacher prayed with him, perhaps it was his prayer, or both our prayers, that helped. Whichever, God gets the glory!

  50. Larry Cheek says:

    It is defiantly a hard line to draw when a preacher seems to be able to command healing and gets results, ( I said command because as you listen to many of their prayers they are very demanding that God provide their request, even to the point of intimidating God). I have never believed that God would submit to that type of a request from man, but it is very hard to convince someone who has received a benefit that there is another source under heaven that has enough power to perform these good deeds to confirm his deceptions. We are warned and given examples of men expecting their reward because they were involved in these miracles performing them in Jesus name.

  51. David says:


    Thanks for your story. This was my wife’s stepfather, who had several brothers and sisters, all Pentecostal. The thing of it was, I did not have enough faith to go to his room and pray. The family asked if I wanted to go in with them. It certainly was not my prayer alone that raised him. I rode the fence about those things, and actually, to myself, made it a test. I saw results, so to be true to myself and God, I must believe that God works through prayer and laying on hands, even among Christians with whom I somewhat disagree. There were no tongues, just touching and almost inaudible prayer.

  52. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry wrote,

    Jay has not shown that he would gather other elders into a force to attempt to disfellowship anyone who disagrees with him here. Actually, he is the only one I would trust in a congregation setting.

    I’m saddened that you’ve not been around elders whom you could trust to discuss such issues without fear of disfellowship. I’ve spent a lot of time with elders of many other churches — admittedly fairly progressive Churches of Christ — and I’m rarely the least threatening person in the room. I mean, I’m nowhere near as nice as most of the other elders I know. So my world is very different from yours. I believe every word you say. It’s just sad that you’ve not been around some of the great elders I’ve gotten to know over the years in many different churches.

    If you’ve never done so, you should visit some of the more progressive lectureships — Pepperdine, Abilene, Tulsa, Lipscomb, Rochester — and just hang out with the men there. I went to Abilene one year and went to not a single class. I spent an entire day in the vendor display room talking to preachers, elders, missionaries, and just absorbing all the wisdom walking through the aisles. I guarantee an uplifting experience.

  53. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Dwight wrote,

    An interesting thing about Revelations is John writing to the 7 churches in Asia and telling them to handle their issues, but the better off churches weren’t told to break away or look down on the other churches who were having trouble. And they weren’t told to separate from the church in Corinth who was having many, many issues.

    Excellent point! I wish I’d thought of it.

  54. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:


    Thanks. I wonder if anyone has attempted a New Perspective systematic theology?

  55. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:


    Thanks for the story. Very encouraging.

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