To “elide” is to omit something. We Southerners tend to elide our trailing g’s — that is, our trailin’ g’s. And some of our thought leaders have a habit of eliding critical steps in their argumentation.
An example is Kerry Anderson’s article in the March 2006 Gospel Advocate dealing with the proposed re-unification of the Churches of Christ and independent Christian Churches.
Second, I don’t think what I believe on issues like worship, roles of men and women, and baptism to be wrong. If I did, I would change and try to get others to change with me. But I still hold my beliefs and want others to join me. I am unwilling to relegate them to “don’t matter” or “non-salvation” status.
Did you see the skipped step? It’s obvious enough to a Church of Christ audience why baptism is considered a salvation issue. But how does his position on worship or the role of women become a salvation issue? What makes these issues questions of salvation — other than the fact that he has a position he wishes to defend? He doesn’t say.
Similarly, in the June 2008 issue of the Advocate, Neil Anderson argues that adding an instrumental worship service is “apostasy,” that is, falling away from salvation.
Error claims a preference for its judgments on all disputed points, resulting in apostasy.
Again, even if we were to concede that instrumental music is error, what makes this particular error damning? He doesn’t say.
Now, obviously enough our writing would be tedious indeed if we had to explain every single logical step every single time. The capable writer leaves some steps to common sense and implication. Nonetheless, the most critical arguments require the most careful explication. And there is no question more critical than who is saved and who is not.
And yet, our conservative Church of Christ brothers are remarkably reluctant to tell us the rules: how are we to decide which errors and which sins damn and which ones are covered by grace?
Although he is not the first to have notice this elision, in Facing Our Failure, Todd Deaver has offered the most comprehensive demonstration of the utter failure of the conservative Churches of Christ to answer this question. We have seen a few conservatives take up the challenge — and yet not a one has finished what he started. For some reason, the trend is to promise a clear refutation and to then leave the project unfinished.
Gil Yoder began a series criticizing Deaver’s logic, but when challenged to state how we should distinguish damning error from grace-covered error, he stopped posting.
And I’m still anticipating the continuation of Matt Clifton’s series at the7ones.com.
None of this is surprising. I’ve engaged in private email correspondence for years with prominent authors and editors asking just this question, and have received no guidance — other than: some sins damn and some don’t.
It is remarkable to me that we could have overlooked such a fundamental principle — dividing and damning over some sins and not others while unable to articulate a standard for how to tell the difference.