The Progressive Churches of Christ: Sinking into Unity with the Body, Part 2

progressiveLet’s start with the obvious. The church is called by Jesus and God to be united. Moreover, this unity is part of our testimony to the truth of the gospel. Disunity is sin.

(John 17:20–21 ESV) 20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

“So that the world may believe” was a major theme of the early Restoration Movement, and the goal wasn’t merely that this new denomination be united, but that “those who believe in” Jesus be united — just as Jesus prayed.

How is this to be accomplished in a world in which the church is divided into warring denominations, dividing from each other and dividing within each other? Continue reading

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Progressive Churches of Christ: Taking a Sabbath

I posted two posts the same day yesterday by accident. That gives me the day off.

And that leaves time for some of the greatest music of all time —

Bach composed for a limited ensemble of instruments. The piano had not yet been invented. Many orchestral instruments were in a relatively primitive, limited form. And Stokowski brought his orchestrational genius to Bach. So much better than a harpsichord or organ.

For those who wonder why there is pressure now for instrumental music in the Churches of Christ, it’s not the Emerging Church, moral relativism, or a desire to be like “the denominations.” It’s the fact that organs have been replaced with better instruments.

(And, yes, my musical taste was heavily influenced by Disney’s Fantasia as a child.)

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The Progressive Churches of Christ: “Seek the welfare of the city”


(Jer 29:1-7 ESV) These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 This was after King Jeconiah and the queen mother, the eunuchs, the officials of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the metal workers had departed from Jerusalem. 3 The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. It said:

4 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”

The background of this letter is well explained by John Calvin —

Here the Israelites, plundered of all their property, torn from their homes, driven into exile, thrown into miserable bondage, are ordered to pray for the prosperity of the victor, not as we are elsewhere ordered to pray for our persecutors, but that his kingdom may be preserved in safety and tranquillity, that they too may live prosperously under him.

John Calvin and Henry Beveridge, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1845), 3:550. Continue reading

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Progressive Churches of Christ: Sinking into union with the Body of Christ at large

progressiveBack in 1804, the churches that made up the Springfield (Illinois) Presbytery decided to leave behind the then-sectarianism of the Presbyterian Church.

Among their leaders was Barton W. Stone. The events at the Cane Ridge Revival had persuaded him that salvation wasn’t found only in the Presbyterian or Reformed Church. As a result, he and others were tried for heresy. And so the church leaders signed “The Last Will & Testament of the Springfield Presbytery,” saying,

Imprimis. We will, that this body die, be dissolved, and sink into union with the Body of Christ at large; for there is but one body, and one Spirit, even as we are called in one hope of our calling. Continue reading

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I Am They: “We Are Yours”. “Awake My Love”, et al.

Debut album available from Amazon.

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The Progressive Churches of Christ: On the Meaning of kataginōskō

progressiveRegarding my post on April 1, reader RJ commented,

In 1 John chapter 3:20-21, the Greek word kataginosko is used in a non-damning way. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think this is the term to use for an Apostate.

It’s an entirely fair comment, and I must admit that the ESV rendering is not accepted by all translations. Continue reading

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Josh Garrels’ new album: “Home”

New album to be released April 7. I can’t wait. I admit that Garrels is something of an acquired taste — like coffee. And like coffee, it’s unthinkable not to always have some Garrels close at hand.

This is not on the new album but still a great song —

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The Progressive Churches of Christ: Unity, Part 2

progressiveHowever, I don’t think race or socio-economic status is the biggest unity challenge among Churches of Christ. Our big problem is overcoming our sectarian past.

We may no longer think that the Baptists and Catholics are going to hell, but we still act that way. After all, we may have a member or two who would get upset if we were to actually behave as though the denominations are saved, too.

I keep getting drawn back to —

(Gal 2:11 ESV) But when Cephas [the apostle Peter] came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.

The translation “stood condemned” is controversial, but it carries the weight of scholarly consensus. Continue reading

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Bible Study Software: Updates

logosBibleWorks2accordanceI’m badly spoiled and ridiculously privileged, being able to do Bible research with each of the BibleWorks, Accordance, and Logos software packages.

I received all three for free to allow me to post reviews, but since receiving them, I’ve bought upgrades and additional resources for all three. And I keep learning more about how to best use each one.

For example —


Going faster

Logos is the biggest program. It has the most features, bells, and whistles. But it is a huge resource hog on computers. It can run very slowly.

I recently joined a number of Facebook groups dedicated to digital Bible study, and I quickly learned that even the experts insist that you should run Logos on a solid-state drive (SSD), to get reasonable performance. Continue reading

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The Progressive Churches of Christ: Unity, Part 1

progressiveI graduated from law school in 1978 and immediately began my career of teaching Bible classes. And early on, around 1980, I taught a Wednesday night class about the Restoration Movement — which is when I began my Restoration Movement (RM) studies.

I graduated from David Lipscomb College in 1975, a school named after a RM leader, with dormitories named after Tolbert Fanning, E.G. Sewell, and someone named “High Rise.” Anyway, the school was filled with paintings and names honoring our RM heritage — and yet despite taking a daily Bible class and attending a daily chapel service long enough to earn a four-year degree, I managed to graduate knowing nothing about the RM — not even who David Lipscomb was. Continue reading

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