Legal Conclusions from Licking Baptist Church, Part 3

An element of the Licking Baptist Church case that’s not been commented on in the media is the significance of 1 Corinthians 6 on such disputes —

(1Co 6:1-8 ESV)  When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints?  2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?  3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!  4 So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church?  5 I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers,  6 but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?

Paul urges the Corinthian congregation to follow the model of the Jewish synagogues and try their own disputes. The elders of the synagogues served as judges in the Moses/Abner tradition, settling disputes among Jews of the same synagogue, refusing to go before pagan courts. Continue reading

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Legal Conclusions from Licking Baptist Church, Part 2

As we considered in the last post, after the girls raped or molested by the associate pastor of the Licking Baptist Church were disfellowshipped by the church, the pastor pled guilty and served seven years in prison. The girls, when they became adults, filed suit.

The events were so traumatic to the girls — now in their young 20’s — that even after the pastor had pled guilty and served a 7-year sentence, they didn’t feel vindicated. They’d never had their day in court, you see. Evidently, the church had not given them a hearing before disfellowshipping them! Continue reading

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Legal Conclusions from Licking Baptist Church, Part 1

Licking Baptist Church is a small congregation in Hebron, Ohio, founded in 1807. It has no website that I can find.  And some terrible things happened there.

As one blogger explains,

In 2005, Pastor Lonnie “Joe” Aleshire Jr. admitted to raping one teenage girl at a Hebron, OH church, and molesting her sister.   In all, the 41 year-old pastor pleaded guilty to rape and nine other sex charges. Continue reading

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Thought Question: How Should Retirees Live for Jesus?

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Churches of Christ in Decline: Lessons from Liberal Christianity

Ross Douthat has published an intriguing piece in the New York Times Sunday Review dealing with the demise of liberal Christianity in the U.S.

Now, the usual reaction to such reports from the Churches of Christ and other conservative denominations is to point out how we conservatives haven’t made those same mistakes — that is, to gloat — but Douthat reaches more challenging conclusions.

[T]oday the Episcopal Church looks roughly how Roman Catholicism would look if Pope Benedict XVI suddenly adopted every reform ever urged on the Vatican by liberal pundits and theologians. It still has priests and bishops, altars and stained-glass windows. But it is flexible to the point of indifference on dogma, friendly to sexual liberation in almost every form, willing to blend Christianity with other faiths, and eager to downplay theology entirely in favor of secular political causes.        Continue reading

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The Books that Most Influenced Me: Summer Beach Reading for the Theology Junkie

Over the years, I’ve had a number of readers email me to ask what books have been most influential in my studies.

Well, it’s hard to put a finger on just a few, as I’m a compulsive reader. I have a pretty huge personal library.

So I’ve had to think about it for a while. I’ll list these in chronological order — that is, in roughly the order that I encountered them. And maybe you’ll want to read two or three of these during that last summer trip to the beach. Continue reading

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Atonement: Two Stories

Here’s how I was taught the atonement in countless revival sermons:

God is our judge, and we stand before him with countless sins charged against us. His holiness is so far above our own that we can’t imagine how wicked we appear in his eyes. Therefore, we deserve nothing but condemnation and eternity in hell.

We stand before the bench, and God has heard the damning evidence against us. There is no defense. His gavel swings down, but just before he hammers his bench and pronounces sentence, Jesus comes forward — the judge’s own Son — and announces that he will accept our punishment for us.

The judge, moved by the son’s sacrifice and love, allows him to accept the punishment that we deserve — but only if we believe  …….

It doesn’t ring true. The emotional appeal is powerful, but it doesn’t seem quite right. Continue reading

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Atonement: Putting It All Together

Okay. As I said at the beginning, I’m making this up as I go along. Maybe if I’d read more books and learned more vocabulary words, this would all make better sense to me. But I must say I don’t feel entirely satisfied with where things are.

Any theory that presumes that God and Jesus have different purposes is wrong. That’s not how the atonement works.

Therefore, the idea that God wants to damn humanity but Jesus steps in to rescue us by offering himself in our stead is simply not true. There are elements that are true, but it can’t be exactly true because God never wanted us damned in the first place. Continue reading

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Atonement: Reflecting on the New Covenant Model

Reflecting on the New Covenant Model

Gorman does not seek to explain how the cross brings forgiveness. Rather, his goal is to explain that the cross brings much, much more. He wants to teach what the atonement is more than how it comes into effect.

And he effectively argues that the cross brings about far more than mere forgiveness. It’s about far more than attaining heaven. That’s not to dismiss or minimize these things so much as to avoid the temptation to reduce Christianity to getting saved or how to get to heaven when we die. Continue reading

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Atonement: The Lamb of God

So as we ponder the meaning of the atonement, we have to take up what is likely the most pervasive metaphor for Jesus’s role in the atonement — Jesus, the Lamb of God.

What does that mean? What are we to learn from the repeated references to Jesus as a “lamb”?

Let’s see. Continue reading

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