“Muscle & Shovel”: Chapter 8D (Cornelius and H. Leo Boles)

muscleshovelWe are considering Michael Shank’s book Muscle and a Shovel.

Nick Gill commented earlier, and I completely misunderstood his question (my fault), and I wrote a 2,000-word reply to the wrong question. But the essay addresses issues that are being vigorously debated in the comments. And so I figure some other readers might be interested in my thoughts.

The issue I addressed (unasked) is whether the “baptism with the Holy Spirit” is in fact different from ordinary Christian baptism.

Contrary to traditional Church of Christ teaching, I think every saved person is baptized with the Spirit. This is just another way to say “receives the Spirit.” Therefore, I reject the notion that baptism with the Spirit necessarily involves miraculous manifestations.

Rather, there is one type or “measure” of the Spirit available to Christians, going back to Pentecost, but the gifts of the Spirit associated the gift (singular) of the Spirit (i.e., the Spirit) vary depending on the Spirit’s will, as described particularly clearly in 1 Cor 13. Continue reading

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“Muscle & Shovel”: Chapters 9, 10, and 11 (John 3:5 and :16; 1 Pet 3:21)

muscleshovelWe are considering Michael Shank’s book Muscle and a Shovel.

Chapter 9

In chapter 9, Randall thoroughly disproves the notion that the church was founded by John the Baptist. He is, of course, exactly right.

The library taught Shank the same thing –

The denominational history research revealed historical facts that none of the Baptist Pastors seemed to know (or they didn’t want to share with me). The Baptist Church began with a man named John Smyth, a Fellow of Christ’s College in Cambridge, who had broken his ties with the Church of England. Continue reading

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“Muscle & Shovel”: Chapter 8B (Landmark Baptists)

muscleshovelWe are considering Michael Shank’s book Muscle and a Shovel.

As promised, I need to tell the story of the Landmark Baptist movement, founded in the 19th Century and centered in Nashville, Tennessee.

Alexander Campbell famously debated the leader and a founder of the Landmark movement, James R. Graves, late in his career, with Graves trying to prove that the Restoration churches are all lost due to not bearing the true marks of the church and not being founded at Pentecost. (Really. Stick with me: it gets better.)

Consider these quotations taken from the Wikipedia article on Landmarkism – Continue reading

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“Muscle & Shovel”: Chapter 8C (Everyone Else Goes to Hell, Part 2)

muscleshovelWe are considering Michael Shank’s book Muscle and a Shovel.

This idea that the Church of Christ denomination is the only saved denomination is wrong on so many levels that I have to say a few more things before we move  on.

I’ve twice posted articles defending my view that damning everyone outside the Church of Christ denomination commits the Galatian heresy –

“Muscle and a Shovel”: In Reply to the Author, Michael Shank

“Muscle and a Shovel”: In Reply to Paul McGinty Continue reading

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“Muscle & Shovel”: Chapters 6, 7 & 8A (Everyone Else Goes to Hell)

muscleshovelWe are considering Michael Shank’s book Muscle and a Shovel. And having spent far too much time in chapter 5, dealing with baptism, we finally move on to –

Chapter 6

Shank soon found that his studies with Randall resulted in some criticism from fellow workers. In particular, they said that Randall thought his denomination was the only denomination going to heaven.

Shank asked Randall for a direct answer to this question, and Randall seemed reluctant to give one. He pointed out that the Churches of Christ are not a denomination. Finally, he said,

“The bible clearly teaches that everyone who’s not a part of the church that Jesus purchased with His blood, Acts 20: 28, will not be saved.” … Continue reading

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“Muscle & Shovel”: Chapter 5, Part 4 (James)

muscleshovelWe are considering Michael Shank’s book Muscle and a Shovel. And we’re continuing a consideration of the Bible’s teaching on baptism and faith, in particular, whether James teaches a works salvation that damns all who fail to be baptized in the exactly correct way.

Some wish to hang their doctrine of salvation on James’ teaching that faith without works is dead. It’s as though we can read these words and magically all of Paul’s theology just evaporates. Suddenly, because we said the magic James-words, Paul no longer teaches salvation by faith, not works.

And yet, even after we say the James-words, the Paul-words are still there. And they aren’t going away. Continue reading

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“Muscle & Shovel”: Chapter 5, Part 3C (Further on Baptism)

muscleshovelIn the comments, Gary asked,

Jay, is not baptism the re-enactment of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection? No one in the Ole Test. could be baptized for that reason. Are you saying we don’t need to be baptized. Maybe I missed the point.

Gary,

I’ll answer your second question first.

In my opinion, both the Church of Christ side and the Baptist side of the debate are wrong. I fit in neither camp — and so don’t bother asking which camp I’m in. Neither.

I believe the Churches of Christ generally exegete the baptism passages correctly and that salvation and receipt of the Spirit normatively happen at water baptism. I think that’s God’s intent. Continue reading

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“Muscle & Shovel”: Chapter 5, Part 3B (Reconciling baptism and faith)

muscleshovelWe are considering Michael Shank’s book Muscle and a Shovel. And we’re continuing a consideration of the Bible’s teaching on baptism and faith.

[Two posts today and nothing on Muscle & Shovel tomorrow. I figured the readers needed to read both parts before drawing conclusions.]

Honoring the baptism verses

Baptism is closely tied to salvation in several passages. Doesn’t saving all with faith write those verses out of the Bible? Do they mean anything at all?

Some hold that baptism is merely symbolic of a salvation that occurs when faith is first realized. That’s Zwingli’s position, and he’s been followed by most Calvinists and by denominations with Calvinistic roots, such as Southern Baptists.

I think most of the Church of Christ debating points against that position are right. I think we’ve interpreted Acts 2:38 largely correctly (except for those of us who ignore the gift of the Spirit).

But the Churches of Christ have been debating the Baptists on this point for over 100 years — so long that we assume that the only possible positions are our traditional view and the Zwinglian/Baptist view. We don’t even consider whether there might be a third way. But there is. Continue reading

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“Muscle & Shovel”: Chapter 5, Part 3A (Reconciling baptism and faith)

muscleshovelWe are considering Michael Shank’s book Muscle and a Shovel.

As promised, here’s how I reconcile the dozens of verses that promise salvation to everyone with faith in Jesus with the many other verses that teach that water baptism is the moment when God saves us.

The Old Testament evidence

It’s a rare study of baptism that considers the Old Testament. Indeed, we often mistakenly consider the Old Testament a dead letter — useful for digging out Messianic prophecies for a sermon on Christian evidences or for teaching middle schoolers moral lessons, but useless for such serious studies as the nature of God’s salvation. Continue reading

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“Muscle & Shovel”: Chapter 5, Part 2 (What is faith?)

muscleshovelWe are considering Michael Shank’s book Muscle and a Shovel. Up to this point, I’ve tried to keep the arguments free of Greek and such like, trying to learn from Shank’s popular (and effective) style.

But sometimes, you just can’t escape a little Greek. After all, the Spirit inspired the apostles to write in Greek.

In Church of Christ circles, the idea of being saved by “faith only” is usually treated with a sneer, because it’s assumed that “faith only” means “without obedience of any kind or for any reason.”

You see, Church of Christ theology has been heavily shaped by its many debates with Baptists, and Baptists teach “perseverance of the saints.” A few extremists even teach that you could live a sinful, rebellious life and yet be saved because at some point in your life you uttered the Sinner’s Prayer. But this is not standard Baptist teaching. Rather, the Baptists generally teach that a Christian who has committed himself to Jesus through the Sinner’s Prayer will receive the Holy Spirit and, as a result, will not fall away and will, instead, continue to live as faithful Christians to the end. (If he doesn’t, he never really had faith.) Continue reading

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