CENI: A Better Way — The Gospels

man-behind-the-curtainTake a deep breath and repeat after me: “The New Testament is neither a constitution nor a blueprint. The New Testament is neither a constitution nor a blueprint. The New Testament is neither a constitution nor a blueprint.”

Much of the Torah is in fact a constitution. Deuteronomy is written in the form of an ancient treaty. But the New Testament is plainly not written in that form. Therefore, we should not read it as a legal document.

I’m a lawyer. I know law when I see it. Deuteronomy is law. The New Testament is not.

Okay. One more time: “The New Testament is neither a constitution nor a blueprint. The New Testament is neither a constitution nor a blueprint. The New Testament is neither a constitution nor a blueprint.”

If the New Testament isn’t law, then what is it? Well, the Gospels and Acts are quite plainly stories — true stories or narratives, if you prefer — but stories. And the epistles are letters, written to deal with a particular situation in a particular culture. And Revelation, well, it’s apocalyptic literature.

Does that mean there are no laws? Well, it means we don’t start by looking for laws. Rather, we read for it is. And we let the Bible tell us what the questions are. The Bible gives us all the answers that matter the most, but only if we ask the questions the Bible was written to answer.

The Gospels

Let’s start by taking a very global view. If we purge our legalistic attitudes from our minds and read the Gospels, what do we find?

* All four are stories climaxing in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

* All four include Jesus’ teachings, which speak of a coming “Kingdom” in which his disciples will participate. They’ll love each other, quickly forgive, and spread the “good news” to others to bring them into the Kingdom as well. And faith in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah and Lord will be essential to citizenship in this Kingdom. And there are lots of warnings of coming persecutions for his followers.

* The emphases seem to be the resurrection, faith in Jesus as the prophesied Messiah, the Lordship of Jesus, sharing the good news, and a very high ethic for those following him, both in terms of personal morality and care for those in need.

* Jesus clearly wants his disciples to live together in community, working together to achieve his purposes. Jesus speaks much more of a “Kingdom” than a “personal relationship.”

* Jesus is deeply concerned about the poor.

What’s not in the Gospels?

* There’s not a word about an order of worship, but he does say his followers will worship “in Spirit and Truth” — which is about the Holy Spirit and the gospel, in contrast to the particulars of worship given in the Torah. Indeed, Jesus seems to say that worship will no longer be about obedience to positive commands but will instead be about transformation.

* Jesus says nothing about elders or deacons. He says that there will be no “lording over” in his Kingdom and the greatest in the Kingdom will be slaves of all others.

* There’s nothing about the name of the Kingdom, other than “Kingdom.”

* There’s nothing about women having a subordinate role in the Kingdom. In fact, he includes women among his disciples, which was an unheard of practice for a Jewish rabbi.

It’s rather astonishing how little concern Jesus has with ecclessiology (the theology of how to do church), isn’t it? God the Son comes to earth, teaches for three years, and surely tells us what’s most important. And ecclessiology is barely mentioned at all.

On the other hand, restoring and preserving relationship with God, with each other, and with our spouses is a paramount concern. So are missions and benevolence.

If you were to compile “marks of the church” from the Gospels, you’d generate a list something like —

* Faith in Jesus as the Messiah of prophecy

* Submission to Jesus as Lord

* Teaching the good news of the Kingdom

* Care for the poor

* Loving one another and showing that love through forgiveness, holding one another accountable, and submission to the community

That’s not all, and I’m not trying to be comprehensive — just fair to the text.

All this is so astonishing, so contrary to our expectations, that some of our preachers actually go so far as to dismiss Jesus as an Old Testament prophet — teaching for a dispensation that no longer matters. You see, Jesus has the audacity not to emphasize what we consider of central importance.

And that’s because we asked the wrong questions.

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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171 Responses to CENI: A Better Way — The Gospels

  1. Joe Baggett says:

    An aquitance of mine actually asked if the NT is not a blue print for the work worship and organization of the church then he really didn't know why it was written anyway. I told him that the the most significant purpose of the NT is to reveal the nature and character of God. Everything else flows from that single purpose. Only until we take scripture in this light we will be able to reprogram ourselves from the "Blueprint" Mentality.

  2. Tim Archer says:

    That's been one of my big complaints about the whole concept that the N.T. is a new law replacing the old. There's nothing remotely similar to the legal code of Exodus-Deuteronomy. As you state so well, the New Testament is NOT a legal document.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  3. Rich says:

    In Gal. 4:1-7, Paul gives us an analogy between the OT and NT. He contrasts the recipients. The OT was for infants (children). The NT is for adult heirs.

    For example, when our children were toddlers, the stove was completely off limits. We didn't believe they could tell when the burner was hot. As teens, we encouraged them to learn how to cook. My son is great at the grill.

    So what does this mean? Small children need detailed instructions with quick consequences because they can't discern the higher level issues. As adults, we have far more freedom and choices (theme of Galatians?). In either case, the principle of getting burned when touching a hot burner still applies.

    Jesus' teachings focused on the principles that apply in both the OT and NT.

  4. Alan Scott says:

    I think the hurdle to overcome is from our interpretation of Hebrews where thewriter states thatthe old covenant was inadequate, so God has given us a new covenant. What is meant is the relation between God and us, or more specifically, how we relate. But this unfortunately has been interpreted as Law, rather than as relationship.

    God bless,
    Alan Scott
    Sugar Land, TX

  5. But are all of the imperatives in the New Testament to be interpreted as commands? instructions? suggestions? Which ones are which? Just the ones from Jesus? Just the ones from Paul? Peter? John?

    The basic premise of conservative thought, I believe, is "We don't know (but we don't want to admit it), so to be safe, let's just say that all of them are commands." I can kind of respect that as a "safe" proposition, but the underlying assumption seems to be that God will always incinerate us with fire from above like Nadab and Abihu for any infraction of unexpressed commands. I can't buy that. That's not consistent with the nature of the God who gave His Son as a sacrifice for our sins and is not willing that any should perish.

    Are we really called to try to be safe sinners in the hands of an always-angry God? Or to be, at least in some measure, risk-takers with our hearts filled with His instructions (which speak of His love for us and His desire for us to have the best kind of lives)?

    The old law said stone the Sabbath-breaker (Numbers 15:32-36).

    Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man, not vice-versa (Mark 2:27) and He was Lord of it (v. 28). I agree, Jay; that's not stated as law (though it certainly put Him at risk!).

    To me, the question is: Do we have be on the edge of our seats in such fear of God's wrath that we must regard every imperative, every example in New Testament scripture as (potential? binding?) command … or should we trust God and trust also in Jesus? Did He come to make it more difficult to have a relationship with God (Matthew 5:48) or to point out that no one can be perfect, so He served as our atonement to establish that relationship (Romans 3:21-26).

    I tend toward the latter – and I know that makes me a damnable heretic to a good number of my brothers and sisters in Christ – but my sense of His teaching is that we're here to trust the Master, take some risks in order to do His will and help earn Him some results (Matthew 25:14-30), and if we don't do that, we are indeed in danger of being cast into the outer darkness.

  6. Ken says:

    * There’s not a word about an order of worship, but he does say his followers will worship “in Spirit and Truth” — which is about the Holy Spirit and the gospel, in contrast to the particulars of worship given in the Torah. Indeed, Jesus seems to say that worship will no longer be about obedience to positive commands but will instead be about transformation.

    It is correct that neither Jesus nor the apostles define a WORSHIP service in the modern sense of the word.

    In John 4 the Samaritan woman asked about PLACES for worship: Jesus said that it was always a fact that people worshipped in the PLACE of the human spirit in contrast to the PLACE of Mount Zion (Temple is on Mount Moriah) or Mount Gerezim once the Samaritan temple. The SUBJECT MATTER is called the Spirit of Truth and that defines God's Word: God never changed His mind about what the SPIRITUAL PEOPLE did on the REST day.

    In Paul's writings the only meaning of "worship" is in giving heed or our attention to "that which is written" or the Spirit or Word (Eph 5; John 6:63) or the Word of Christ in Col 3.

    The Temple as the Jebusite High Place was not the place where the masses worshipped: the Qahal, synagogue or church in the wilderness was for REST from religionists, READING and DISCUSSING the Word. This is called a Holy Convocation. In contrast none of the Levites (Old Dionysus people) were permitted to come NEAR any holy place without getting killed. So the temple as in all NATIONAL systems was a place to PARK their gods neither be heard nor seen.

    Even after the Return and the synagogue or CIVILIAN learning center continued, it was a WORD OF GOD ONLY assembly: Disciples go to school and not a worship center. Here is what happened as the disciples assembled in the courts and what had happened so that the Greeks understood the WORD as a teaching activity "where the people gather."

    Acts 15:21 For Moses of old time hath
    in every city them that preach him,
    being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.

    Jesus could not come NEAR any of the holy things so when he worshipped it was in the PLACE of His own Spirit. Jesus attended the synagogue to GIVE HEED to the Word: when He STOOD UP to read the Word He had the uncommon decency to sit down to allow for any question or explanation: preaching was outlawed: there was no praise singing in the Christ-ordained synagogue.

    Paul told Timothy how to hold synagogue:

    1Tim. 4:13 Till I come, give attendance to [public] reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

    That was always a systematic reading of the WORD ONLY: the Samaritan woman understood if most now don't: "When Messiah comes He will tell us ALL THINGS." Paul made it certain that worship IN SPIRIT is in the PLACE of the human spirit which is sanctified at baptism so that it can come before God:

    Phil. 3:1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.
    Phil. 3:2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.
    Phil. 3:3 For we are the circumcision,
    which worship God in THE spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in THE flesh.

    Paul was warning about the CYNICS who could be identified by their style of singing and were seeking whom they might DEVOUR.

    For instance, of the assembly in Numbers 10 the Latin defined the synagogue as an ACADEMY which was opposite the academy of the CYNICS.

    To reading and discussing the Word of God (only) Jesus ordained, Paul explained and the historic church maintained the Lord's Supper which was a weekly TEACHING about the Death of Christ.

    Both sermonizing as in telling Bible storys and singing as an ACT was not imposed until the year 373.

  7. Rich says:

    Great question.

    From Paul's example, we may have confidence,

    " in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. "Ephesians 3:12 (English Standard Version)

    Yet, even Paul took daily inventory of his own faith,

    "27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified."
    1 Corinthians 9:27 (English Standard Version)

    Both elements are real. God is gracious, and yet we can fall. I think the difference is that Paul's daily spiritual inventory was not based on fear but more on being thankful to God and wanted to please him in every way possible.

    (by the way, the NIV is my favorite version. The ESV is free on my PC).

  8. Jay Guin says:

    Exactly. One point of the Parable of the Talents is that those who are too scared to take a risk get thrown in gehenna.

  9. Nancy says:

    "Are we really called to try to be safe sinners in the hands of an always-angry God?" – Keith

    Safe didn't work out so well for the third servant in the parable of the talents.

  10. Nancy says:

    oops..sorry Jay. Our posts crossed in cyberspace. LOL!

  11. Jay Guin says:

    I personally prefer the ESV, as a rule, because it's generally truer to the Greek. But I bought my version of QuickVerse before the ESV came out so I muddle through with the NIV.

  12. Jay, if I can impose upon your good hospitality, I've expanded my thoughts above in a separate post: The Jesus Hermeneutic.

  13. Rich says:

    You may know already but the ESV comes free with the following free bible softwares:

    eSword: http://www.e-sword.net/


    BPBible: http://portableapps.com/apps/education/bpbible_po

    I like eSword better, but BPBible runs off a flash drive allowing me to use it wherever there is a PC.

  14. Jay,

    I agree with your statement, "The NT is not law…"

    I take exception to how you present it. In particular, the statement, "I’m a lawyer. I know law when I see it. "

    An immediate response is, "Well excuse me! I'm not a lawyer. I'm just a country bumpkin who reads the Bible. No wonder I didn't have the revolutionary insight that you do!"

    So much of the resistance to ideas is not the ideas, but how they are presented. Simple statements like, "I’m a lawyer. I know law when I see it. " can send lightning bolts of negative emotion through people. The ears close, the heart hardens, the venom spews.

    Please keep writing. Let's all keep conversing. Let's also take care with our words.

  15. Tim Archer says:

    I didn't respond in that way. When a shepherd talks to me about Psalm 23, I appreciate. I know we can all understand the psalm, but he's going to have some additional insights. Working as a translator (English-Spanish) has given me insights that I didn't have before about the nature of translation. A father will catch things about God as Father that he wouldn't have before. And so on.

    If Jay said the only way you can understand this is to be a lawyer, that would be different.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  16. Alan says:

    If the New Testament isn’t law, then what is it? Well, the Gospels and Acts are quite plainly stories — true stories or narratives, if you prefer — but stories. And the epistles are letters, written to deal with a particular situation in a particular culture. And Revelation, well, it’s apocalyptic literature.

    I'm not comfortable with the conclusions some people draw from similar assertions. The epistles were not *merely* letters written to address a particular situation. They were written to reveal Gods' will to the church. Romans 16:26 says God was revealing things through prophetic writings which call people to obey. Col 4:16 shows that the letters were intended to be circulated to other congregations. 1 Cor 4:17, 7:17, 11:16, 14:33, and 16:1 (for example) show that Paul's teaching was consistent across all the churches. 1 Cor 1:2 says that the letter was not just for that church, but all people everywhere who call upon the Lord. 2 Cor 1:1 says the letter was not just for the Corinthian church, but for all the churches in the region. James was written to all the twelve tribes scattered among the nations. 1 Peter 1:1 says the letter is written to God's elect in many nations.

    2 Pet 3:2 and Jude 1:3 shows that what was delivered was intended to be passed down. Titus 1:9 instructs elders to hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, and to pass it on as sound doctrine. 2 Tim 1:13 says that Timothy's teaching was expected to conform to what he had received. That should be enough examples to establish that the message was supposed to be passed along to others without modification.

    I say all that because I've often heard people use the "story" approach to excuse themselves from obeying what Paul commanded the Corinthian Christians (for example). The argument goes, "That was for them. That was then, this is now." Therefore people pick and choose what scriptures they will obey. I find that a much more dangerous and prevalent error than the supposed error of teaching obedience to passages that some folks think are archaic.

  17. Rich says:

    I totally agree Christians should take risks.

    May I suggest that we focus our risks on actions that truly advance the kingdom.

    My vision of Christian risk taking includes scenarios like passing out free food, clothes, medicines and teaching the gospel in a disease laden, civil war fighting region of a developing country with the aid of a body guard and his AK-47.

    On a related note, risk is when a native preacher volunteers to leave the safe city and moves to the area to nurture and mentor the seventeen new Christians. His only request was for us to find him a church/house with a block wall at least 3 feet high so he could sleep at night without fear of being hit by stray bullets.

  18. Heath says:

    The N.T. is LAW

    Rom. 8:1-2

  19. Heath says:

    Take a deep breath and repeat after me:
    “The New Testament is neither a constitution nor a blueprint. The New Testament is neither a constitution nor a blueprint. The New Testament is neither a constitution nor a blueprint.”

    Now that sounds like a cultic mantra.

  20. Ken says:

    The new testament is the Last Will and Testament of Jesus Christ: that means that when He returned to the Spirit real that record defines how He exercises control through the Apostles as executers of that will.

    The ONLY spiritual covenant was made by Christ in Spirit to Abraham. That is why Paul leapfrogs all of the PATTERNISM of the Law of Moses and puts into force the PROMISE:

    We are saved by faith
    When we are baptized into Christ (Gal 3)
    That makes us children of Abraham.

    Salvation is still conditioned on obeying the commandments of Jesus Christ. Part of that is that the ekklesia or synagogue is as always a School of the Bible. You don't need professional patternists to develop pro and con patterns: the elders as the only pastor-teachers as always:

    Preach Jesus
    Being read
    in the synagogue every REST or PAUO day: ;as always PAUO or SABBATH never meant worship services but rest FROM the burden laders.

    That is how Moses was PREACHED.

  21. Dan Smith says:

    Alan wrote:
    I say all that because I’ve often heard people use the “story” approach to excuse themselves from obeying what Paul commanded the Corinthian Christians (for example). The argument goes, “That was for them. That was then, this is now.” Therefore people pick and choose what scriptures they will obey. I find that a much more dangerous and prevalent error than the supposed error of teaching obedience to passages that some folks think are archaic.

    Dan replies:
    “That was for them. That was then, this is now” is the best way to approach the NT. Not only was every document produced to meet a specific situation at a specific time, ALL the writers of those documents were expecting Jesus' return, the resurrection and judgment to happen during the lives of their readers. While we might discuss what that means for us today, it is no less the fact of the matter.

    THEREFORE, we MUST read the NT as a "then" collection designed to meet "then" situations and then seek a "now" application. We will find tons of "principles" (no less demanding) that can be erived from the "commands" given to those "then" readers.

    Dan in Reno

  22. Alan says:

    Not only was every document produced to meet a specific situation at a specific time, ALL the writers of those documents were expecting Jesus’ return, the resurrection and judgment to happen during the lives of their readers.

    I believe the scriptures I referenced above contradict your reasoning. Those things were not just written for a specific situation and time. They were intended to be passed down without modification.

  23. Rich says:

    I'm sure that Paul and the other NT writers didn't understand all the long term implications of their work. However, we must remember that the words in the NT were given to the writers by the Holy Spirit who obviously did understand (1. Cor 2:13).

  24. Heath says:

    Those who say there is no N.T. pattern turn to Rick Warren for a pattern. hhhhmmmm

  25. Heath, can you be absolutely sure that Romans 8:1-2 is referring to the New Testament (which would not be canonized for another couple hundred-plus years)? Or is he talking about God writing his law on the hearts of those who live by the Spirit (v. 3ff; Hebrews 10:16)?

    Law is powerless (v.3).

    The Spirit is powerful (v.11), capable of raising the dead to life. If we are led by the Spirit we are not under law (Galatians 5:18). The law is not made for the righteous, but for lawbreakers and rebels (1 Timothy 1:9). The law made and makes nothing perfect; we needed a better hope – Jesus, through whom we draw near to God (Hebrews 7:19).

    The law of the New Testament is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus teaches it (Matthew 19:19). Paul teaches it (Romans 13:9-10). James teaches it (2:8). Love fulfills the law.

    If you can find any other law, described as such, in the New Testament, I'd really like to know where it is.

  26. Gary Cummings says:

    Why would Christ abolish one Law (Moses) to set up another Law (the New Testament)? Humanity could not keep the first, and we have not changed one bit. The OT story is our story as well. The NT is a covenant between humanity and God through the death and resurrection of Jesus and it is through faith alone, from start to finish. It about 40- 50 years to complete what we have now as the New Testament, those early believers realized that salvation is through God's grace, and not through a book. The early church did not have what we have in the form of a book, and knew that what mattered is a relationship with God through Jesus on the basis of faith. If the New Covenant is Law, like that of Moses, we had all better bail out now!

  27. Gary Cummings says:

    Head coverings for women: Then or now?
    agape meal: then or now?
    Holy kissing: then or now?
    Triune immersion ( 3 times, once for each name of the Trinity).
    Foot washing?
    Female prophets, deacons, elderesses, and apostles?
    PA systems, multi-cups, powerpoint, song books, church buildings. The approach of "obedience to passages" is always selective and highly subjective. The "trustworthy message" is the Gospel of Jesus which calls us all to faith.

  28. Gary Cummings says:

    "the pattern, the pattern, the pattern." Now that is a mantra! I guess my touchstone is faith, from start to finish.

  29. Alan says:

    Gary Cummings wrote:

    Head coverings for women: Then or now?
    agape meal: then or now?
    Holy kissing: then or now?
    Triune immersion ( 3 times, once for each name of the Trinity).
    Foot washing?
    Female prophets, deacons, elderesses, and apostles?

    I don't agree with the implied premise. We should determine whether the scriptures apply today without first checking to see if we want to do what they say.

    I'm as vocal in my opposition to CENI as anyone I know. But I also believe that what was sound doctrine in the first century is still sound doctrine. If not, at what point did it cease to be sound doctrine? And who says so?

    Just to pick an example… In the first century, sound doctrine held that homosexuality was a sin. (You can substitute your own controversial first century doctrine if you wish…) Paul taught it, and he insisted that others should teach it. And so he said in Titus 1:9 that elders should hold to the message as they had been taught, and pass it along as sound doctrine, refuting those who oppose it. In order for a first century elder to be sound, he had to teach what he had been taught. So at what point did it become ok for elders to stop holding that position, and to stop teaching it? If it was sin in the first century, but not today, then there must have been a precise time when, one day it was sin, and the next day it was not. When was that time, and where is the communication from God saying that it changed?

  30. Jay Guin says:

    Thanks. I tried it, but QuickVerse is much easier (I use the Windows 95 version). But because I'm such an ESV fan, I poked around and found the BibleToolbard add in for FireFox. Very cool and entirely free.

  31. Jay Guin says:


    8:1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death

    By what reasoning do you conclude that "the law of the Spirit of life" = "New Testament"? Much of the New Testament hadn't even been written at this time. Is there something in the context I'm missing?

  32. Jay Guin says:


    Have I argued such a thing? Has anyone commenting on this blog argued for such a thing? Who are "those"?

    By the way, I've not argued that there is no pattern. My point is that (a) the pattern is quite different from what we say it is and (b) we are wrong to treat the "pattern of worship" as a salvation issue. Details to come in a few days.

  33. Rich says:

    I agree, Quickverse for Windows 95 (I believe version 4) was outstanding. Unfortunately, the newer versions for Vista just don't cut it for me.

    Thanks for the tip on BibleToolBar. Let me know when it is updated for the latest version of Firefox.

  34. Heath says:

    "through faith alone"???

    Have you not read James 2:14-26?

  35. Heath says:

    Illegalist always belittle the "BooK". They must to advance their agenda of change.

    2 Tim. 3:16-17

  36. Heath says:

    What set us free? The gospel of grace (Rom. 1:16-17).

    Where is the gospel found? In the N.T.

    The N.T. was orally given before it was written.

    Example: the sermons in Acts were SPOKEN before they were WRITTEN.

    2 Tim. 3:16-17

  37. Heath says:

    Phil 3:17-18
    Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern .

    1 Tim 1:16
    However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.

    2 Tim 1:13
    Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.

    Titus 2:6-7
    6 Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, 7 in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility,

    “the pattern, the pattern, the pattern.” Now that is a mantra!"

    YES it's a N.T. mantra.

  38. Heath says:

    Infant baptism is unbiblical. TRUE or FALSE

    If TRUE then show me why from the Scriptures.

  39. Rich says:


    Not directly. However, my observation of the convergence of thoughts in your posts seem to be pointing to the particular brand of Christianity with which Rick Warren is affiliated. It's interesting that the 'join the church of your choice" group has probably had more splits in the last 100 years than we.

    Although I disagree with many of Rick Warren's doctrines, he does have some excellent ideas for methods.

    If you were to say that the cofC has too many antiquated methods, then I would agree whole heartedly. Let's discuss and figure out ways to be effective. For that reason, I have really enjoyed the words you have posted from Ed Stetzer (parts 2 and 3).

    However, the attack on doctrine is the wrong root cause of the problem and thus is just splitting us even more and preventing a true advance of the kingdom.

    Heath, sorry, you should give your own separate answer..

  40. Heath says:

    Of course it's not a salvation issue to worship God correctly. We can pray to God through Mary, right?

    Let's see how far your illegalist midset goes.

  41. Jay Guin says:

    You are arguing that that "law of the Spirit" = "gospel." I'm close to agreeing. But does "New Testament" = gospel? Or is the gospel revealed within the NT?

  42. Jay Guin says:

    So … the "pattern" is living as Paul lived? living as Jesus lived? a life of faith and love? a life filled with good works?

    I'm actually inclined to agree. That's just not the pattern we normally teach.

  43. Jay Guin says:

    You can't really defend the Churches of Christ of the 20th Century in terms of unity. The fact that others may be worse hardly makes our behavior acceptable in God's eyes.

    Have I attacked doctrine? Not in general. I'm just tired of my brothers using false doctrine, built on a false hermeneutic, to damn and divide contrary to the gospel. CENI has led to over a century of division. There are hardly two Churches in my home town that recognize one another's salvation.

    I'm just trying to point out that we need to get busy obeying the correct doctrine, which requires a much better hemeneutic than CENI.

    PS — I admire much of Warren's work, but I'm not an advocate for the church growth movement in most of its forms. The cure isn't Membership 101 and such as that.

  44. Jay Guin says:

    Are you contending that all errors in worship damn? Or just some? You seem to reason —

    * Praying through Mary damns.
    * Therefore, all error in worship damns.

    I don't see the logic at all.

  45. Alan says:

    Of course it’s not a salvation issue to worship God correctly. We can pray to God through Mary, right?

    That's fuzzy thinking. It assumes (without offering any justification) that every teaching is a salvation issue. So… does your congregation meet every day, according to the approved precedent of Acts 2? If not, why not? Is that a salvation issue? Why or why not?

  46. Rich says:

    "The cure isn’t Membership 101 and such as that."

    Hey, we agree on something! Playful humor intended. 🙂

    My point is that doctrine is not the cause of our problems. My reasoning is that very few Christian brands more than 50 years old are doing well regardless of their doctrine.

    Americans follow dynamic, charismatic leadership. That's at the core of the mega churches that are expanding. Our issue is lack of quality leadership. Those who have the talent have chosen to attack our core values rather than lead us into the 21st century. Arguing doctrine is much easier than demonstrating true leadership. Unfortunately, many of our most gifted have chosen the easier path.

    I applaud your posts dealing with elder training and leadership in general. Let's move on.

  47. Jay Guin says:

    We do need better leadership — much better. I'm very suspicious of building a church on charismatic leadership (in the worldly sense of "charismatic"). We do need leadership with charismata. (I can't wait for tomorrow's comments on that one!)

    I won't be talking about CENI forever. We're getting near the end. But to most effectively build the church, we have to get shed of some really, really bad teachings — and free about 1,000,000 people from legalism. There are plenty of leaders who are working to push the progressive agenda. There aren't many who feel called to reach out to those trapped in legalism to bring them into freedom.

    I do disagree with your statement that "doctrine is not the cause of our problems." It's just that our most serious doctrinal errors are shared by many among the Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians. And I'm getting there. Hang on.

  48. Rich says:

    If I understand Heath, he is just asking if everything is correct and all things are okay, therefore there are no wrong ways to worship God, even some that would seem strange to us like the one he mentioned. That is the logical conclusion from some of the posts here on the subject.

    There have been several attacks on the traditional hermeneutic like CENI but there has been little to articulate what is the right hermeneutic. Jay has said that he and other progressives are working on this. Maybe I should be patient.

    Anyone have any thoughts on F. LaGard Smith's 3 P's?

  49. Heath says:

    * Praying through Mary damns. TRUE or FALSE

  50. Heath says:

    Infant baptism is unbiblical. TRUE or FALSE

    If TRUE then show me why from the Scriptures.

    Thanks for your time.

  51. Heath says:

    illegalist see truth like this-

    5+5=10 but if you sincerely come to a different answer then who am I to judge. After all I'm not perfect.

  52. Randall says:

    As to the NT pattern – on one of the blogs I read some have suggested that Jesus is the pattern and we should be like him.

  53. Praying through Mary, and I assume this Mary the earthly mother of Jesus, is a mistake and a waste of time. Mary has been dead about 2,000 years and I don't find any indication that the dead, however righteous, hear prayers.

    I also don't find anything that leads me to believe that making mistakes and wasting time damns someone to hell. I believe rejecting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior damns me to hell.

    Some people pray through Mary because the only person to tell them about Jesus Christ told them to pray through Mary and they don't know how to read and they don't have a copy of the NT to read. They are ignorant, not stupid, not a Satan worshipper, merely ignorant.

    Praying through Mary damns. TRUE or FALSE, in many cases I would answer FALSE

  54. Alan Scott says:


    Would you provide proof or an actual example of youur accusation? Do you have something to contribute here other than your attacks ("illegalist") or your attempts at "gotcha" questions? If you disagree with your brother Jay's examples of where CENI has failed, or disagree with finding a better way to follow Jesus, then please contribute with your suggestions.

    God bless,
    Alan Scott
    Sugar Land, TX

  55. Heath says:

    There is very little help for those who say a person can pray through Mary and it not cause a person to be lost.

    Universalism is just a few steps away.

    1 Tim. 2:5

  56. Heath says:

    Read Dwayne Phillips reply for an example.

  57. Heath says:

    Infant baptism is unbiblical. TRUE or FALSE

    If TRUE then show me why from the Scriptures.


  58. 1 Timothy 2:5 – absolutely, amen, I agree 100%.

    That is why I write that praying through Mary is a mistake and a waste of time. It is like praying through a cup of coffee. It doesn't do anything but waste time and energy.

    I dont' know what "universalism" means. Please explain so I can understand.

    I don't understand the statement "There is very little help for those who say a person can pray through Mary and it not cause a person to be lost." I'd appreciate it if you would rephrase this so I might better understand.

  59. Heath says:

    Worshiping (praying) to anyone but God is idolatry.

    Idolatry is a sin. Therefore to pray to or through Mary would be a sin.

    If that sin is not repented of then it will lead to eternal damnation in hell (Luke 13:1-5).

    This is how logic works (ceni). It's the practical application of the Scriptures.

    I don't need a passage from the scripture that says "do not pray to Mary" for me to KNOW it's a sin to do so.

    That same logic applies to infant baptism and instrumental music in worship.

  60. Rich, Heath, Alan,

    My advice to you in regard to Jay's and other progressives hermenutics: “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Move along….”

    There is a false dichotomy: the either-or fallacy. That we either have faith in Jesus of faith in the Bible. Clearly we must have both. John 8:31-32, "abide in the words of Christ" – G. R. Beasley-Murray, in his commentary on John, he describes it as “A settled determination to live in the word of Christ and by it. And so entails perpeterual listening to it, reflection on it, holding fast to it, carrying out its bidding.”

    There is clearly now a very large, welling “progressive” element within the church that primarily, despite all their smoke and mirrors and side questions and diversions, it still comes down the old arguments and cry of trying to defend the idea that the use of musical instruments is permissible in Christian worship. Or at the very least, they allege, the issue is not one that should prevent fellowship between churches of Christ and denominational groups that use the instrument. I’m convinced this is a large motivating factor beyond much of their efforts, as sincere and as genuine in their faith and convictions as they are. This is really what its mostly coming down to. Once this “barrier” is removed, then you’ll really begin to see where this “progressive movement” wants to take us.

    Jimmy Allen, one of my favorite and most beloved professors I had during my studies at Harding, has written a post on his blog called, The Left and the Right. In it, he is greatly troubled and concerned about those on the “far left.”

    Dr. Allen says:

    “I have been a Christian 55 years. Never during that period have I seen our people as polarized as they are now. In my judgment, there are those on the left and the right that need to rethink their positions in light of the Bible and move back toward the center…..”

    He goes on to say about instrumental music:
    “I can assure you that if we were to have a vote among our students as to whether instrumental music in worship (i.e. when we sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs – Eph. 5:19) is authorized, those who believe it is not would be out-voted by at least three to one. This does not mean the majority would introduce it in their local churches but it does mean they have no Biblical opposition to its use. Last year, I taught a class of 19 who were studying to be preachers (the one exception was a girl in the class). I asked if the instrument in Christian worship was authorized. One did not vote. Of the other 18, the vote was 9 “yes” and 9 “no.” The people in our school do not generally hold these views…”

    Brother Allen concludes by saying:
    “In my thinking, there are some core truths concerning the New Testament church that must be upheld if we plan to maintain our identity. They are the role of women, the gospel plan of salvation, acappella singing, the weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper, leadership of elders and deacons, and the autonomy of the local church. In these areas, we cannot compromise. If we do, in my judgment, we might as well close our doors and practice full fledged denominationalism.”

    I completely agree. Many others do. But I fear we are becoming the minority.

    In the coming years I fear we will see more and more churches begin incorporating the instrument into their services. An even greater number contends that the matter is of no consequence, and there is little doubt that these will have the instrument in the not-distant future.

    It once was the case that those who advocated the instrument attempted to make arguments that were at least remotely related to the biblical text. But those arguments proved to be so baseless that most of them have been abandoned.

    Speaking of mantras, the Mantra now appears to be that stale quip, “The Bible doesn’t say, ‘don’t do it.’”

    One cannot but believe that with some of these progressive folks it would not matter if the Bible explicitly stated, “You must not use mechanical music in Christian worship.” They would do it anyway. Some of them, not all now, but some are “will-worshippers” (Col. 2:23) who are enamored with carnality, rather than truth.

    The issue is one of authority. Progressive don’t even see the New Testament as being anything remotely as “law”, “blueprint” or “pattern” for the church today. It was all about back “then” and really doesn’t have much for us in the church today, except principles. Now, many of us recognize that there are many laws in the Bible that are explicitly negative, one may not draw the inference that everything is permitted that is not specifically condemned.

    In the table of the Ten Commandments, the Lord said regarding “graven images,” i.e., idol gods, “you shall not bow yourself down to them” (Exodus 20:5). I wonder if some renegade Hebrew simply “stood” before an idol and prayed? Do you suppose that if he had done such, and made the defense, “He said, ‘don’t bow’; he didn’t say, ‘don’t stand’”? Do you suppose the Lord would have been impressed with such a depraved defense?

    Today, it seems like people want to practice a "create your own religion/Christianity" and how dare anyone question or examine the validity of such religion in light of Scripture. People seem to want to have a religion and Christianity that pleases them, makes them feel good, practice and believe what they think is right, etc. instead of what pleases God or what Christ commanded. What really seems to be driving most people in religion and "church" is tradition and personal preference. There just doesn't really seem to be much interest in asking "is it Biblical?"

    And why should we then, after all, we are being told that the New Testament and Paul's letters were only addressing specific congregations with specific issues and don't apply universally for all the Lord's church. 1 Timothy 3:15 is out the door.

    I often find myself wondering and thinking about my future preaching and ministry work. I cannot accept the liberal progressive movement in churches of Christ, but have no desire to embrace the far-right.

    I find myself standing in the middle between two extremes. I do believe I can clearly see the ditch on either side. Being unclear as to which “camp” you fit into is a lonely place. I do feel much of what is called ‘old paths” is simply old opinions. I understand that not every religious issue is black or white. (Rom. 14;1; 1 Cor. 8,9, 10). Thankfully, the apostle Paul new the difference between a different gospel (Gal. 1:8-10), and a different opinion. (Rom. 14:14ff) There was a time to deliver one over to Satan (1 Tim. 1:20), but there was also a time to meet a person half-way. (1 Cor. 9:22; James 3:17)

    I do believe there is some room in between what is called “the new hermeneutic” and CENI and believing that any divergent opinion on anything related to the church is tantamount to fallen from grace. All change is not the result of “change agents.”

    I’m trying very hard in my ministry to resist the temptation to jump into a comfortable ditch. While standing in the middle, some will perceive us as a liberal needing to be “marked.” Oddly enough, the other side will think of us as the old guard with nothing “fresh” to offer.

    I hope and pray that there are others in the church of Christ who think as I do in this regard. I seek balance without doctrinal compromise.

    Robert Prater

  61. Nancy says:

    "If that sin is not repented of then it will lead to eternal damnation in hell (Luke 13:1-5)." – Heath

    Can you expand on this?

  62. Rich says:


    I must commend you for offering such an interesting blog. My email was filled this morning with all the entries.

    Seriously, it is very well organized showing your attention to detail and work ethic.

  63. Rich says:


    You stated my understanding and feelings on the subject very well.

    Before taking on a job in another state 9 months ago, I was deacon and educational director for a conservative cofC that has grown 40% in the last ten years to about 400. Admittedly, they have plateaued in the last three years due to people moving away from the poor economy in Michigan. I guess that includes my family. (we are back for the summer).

    My events this morning were very indicative of your comments on dichotomy. I enjoyed breakfast with a brother who has started his own worship group in his home because he is "bored" with our worship services. He grew up in the cofC. He is questioning all of his beliefs. He says he enjoys talking to me because I provide rational reasoning in my understanding of the Bible. I told him he hasn't done anything wrong but that he is taking a very scary approach. We plan to continue meeting weekly.

    Following that, I had a 30 minute telephone conversation with a 30-something brother who was baptized 3 years ago. He really enjoys our worship services and the camaraderie they represent. He was asking to resurrect our home bible studies. We need more fresh blood like him to help rejuvenate our enthusiasm.

    I applaud your efforts as a minister. I thought about becoming a preacher at one time but self assessment said I needed to stick to the math that comes much more naturally, so I became an engineer. I believe you have the more valuable vocation.

    Your words are very encouraging to me.

    God bless,

  64. Alan Scott says:

    So, Heath – your reply does not offer your suggestions – your merely point at somebody else's comment. Your replies have offered nothing other than attacks and attempts at "gotcha" questions. Is this how you obey the command to let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone?

  65. Heath says:

    Any takers on this???

    Infant baptism is unbiblical. TRUE or FALSE

    If TRUE then show me why from the Scriptures.

    Thanks for your time.

  66. "Worshiping (praying) to anyone but God is idolatry."

    Yes, I agree 100%. The earlier post asked about praying THROUGH Mary, not praying TO Mary. Perhaps I read too much into the difference in "through" and "to."

  67. The same logic applies if the infant baptism or instrumental worship as God. Not a very common misconception.

    Nor do I believe that we need to begin a conversation with someone who has been taught differently by saying "What you believe about ___ will famn you to hell!"

  68. I can find no mention of immersing infants for the forgiveness of sins in the Bible. So, TRUE "Infant baptism is unbiblical."

  69. I'm clearly coming into this a little bit late. However, as I read through the gospels, I find something very interesting from Jesus. I find that He didn't simply do whatever He wanted. He felt He needed authorization before He acted.

    According to John 8:28, Jesus said, “I do nothing on My own authority, but speak just as the Father taught Me.” In John 5:30, He said, “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.” If I want to be like Jesus, I must not act from my own authority but from God's authority.

    Interestingly, as I read about the life of Jesus in the Gospels, which provide a better way, I begin to notice how Jesus found authority.

    In John 12:49, Jesus said, “For I have not spoken on My own authority, but the Father who sent Me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.” Very interestingly, Jesus found authorization through the Father's command. I guess I can find it there too.

    In John 5:19, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of His own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” Jesus claims He found authorization by looking to an approved example. I guess I can find it there too.

    In Matthew 12:9-13, Jesus was asked about authority to heal on the Sabbath. He did not demonstrate a Direct Statement nor did He appeal to an Approved Example. Rather, He noted a Necessary Inference (conclusion) based upon Exodus 23:4-5 and Deuteronomy 22:4, which both commanded the Israelites to save a brother’s fallen animal. Jesus inferred that command applied on the Sabbath as well as any other day. Further, He inferred that if He was authorized to rescue an ox on the Sabbath, He was necessarily authorized to rescue a man. Jesus found authority by inferring logical and necessary conclusions.

    I can't help but notice that in the Gospels, Jesus demanded authority for His actions. I also can't help but notice three methods He used–commands or direct statements, approved example, and necessary inference.

    Don't misunderstand, just saying this doesn't answer all the questions we have about what is or what isn't authorized. It often seems to me that we have some mistaken notion that if we ever come up with the right way to study the Bible then there will no longer be division. Jesus himself said only few will follow his strait path into the kingdom. The fact that a particular hermeneutic hasn't ended division doesn't mean the hermeneutic is wrong. Further, it is simply arrogance if any of us thinks we'll find the right hermeneutic that will end division.

    In conclusion, I'm not sure how anyone can say the Gospels offer something better than using commands, examples, and inferences as a hermeneutic when that is the exact hermeneutic Jesus offered and used in the Gospels.

  70. Since "biblical" means "of or in the Bible" and "un" means not. The answer seems quite simple. There is not one statement about baptizing infants in all the Bible. There is no example of baptizing infants in all the Bible. There is no principle in all the Bible that suggests we are to baptize babies.

    For those reasons, I believe baptizing babies is unbiblical.

    The great question is if someone believes baptizing babies is biblical, they need to show why from the Scriptures.

  71. Alan says:

    Brother Allen concludes by saying:
    “In my thinking, there are some core truths concerning the New Testament church that must be upheld if we plan to maintain our identity. They are the role of women, the gospel plan of salvation, acappella singing, the weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper, leadership of elders and deacons, and the autonomy of the local church. In these areas, we cannot compromise. If we do, in my judgment, we might as well close our doors and practice full fledged denominationalism.”

    I also believe he is exactly right. Many (if not all, by definition) conservatives hold that the doctrines which distinguish churches of Christ from all other churches are non-negotiable. That doesn't mean they are right on every one of those doctrines. It just means they cannot, or will not, open their minds enough to understand the other side of the argument. Maybe some of those churches will close their doors. If they won't learn from their erroneous dogma, maybe that would be best.

    BTW, Dr. Jimmy Allen wrote a book in the 1990's titled "Rebaptism? What one must know to be born again". The message of the book is that baptism "counts" whether the baptized person understands the connection to forgiveness or not. He believed strongly enough about that, and cared deeply enough about that, to write a book that he knew would bring many harsh responses upon himself. So, do you accept what your favorite professor teaches on that topic?

  72. Alan says:

    Unfortunately I clicked on the "Reply" link to the wrong message… this was intended as a response to Robert! Sorry for the scrolling error

  73. Alan says:

    Robert, I accidentally posted my response in the wrong place… You can read it here

  74. Orion says:

    Thank you for laying out your logic so clearly on praying to Mary.
    Logic has never been one of my strengths, so would you please lay out your logic on the instrumental music issue you mention. Please include scripture references?

  75. Stephen says:


    I know your hard heart, I was you. Give me your examples of singing in a new testament worship service. I want the scripture showing a precise example of how singing was done in a worship service with only the Bible. Do not show me your proof texts, because in the correct context you will find that they have nothing to do with a worship service. I want to see in writing a detailed command on how your worship service is done exactly like the new testament. I mean everything from the order to the way you do the Lord Supper to the way that prayers are said. Because according to you if even one thing is different then it's a one way ticket to well you get the picturte.

  76. Gary Cummings says:

    I have faith in Jesus Christ and the Bible. The COC has neither. They teach a false gospel of salvation by works and a false Bible understood through their convoluted and highly selective CENI interpretation. For over a 100 years the Churches of Christ was a white racist sect, while claiming to be the "Lord's True Church". I guess they missed the "pattern" on racism!

    Give it a rest. True Christians do not care a whit about COC legalism or CENI.


  77. Alan says:

    Give it a rest. True Christians do not care a whit about COC legalism or CENI.

    Gary, you staked out your position with unmistakable clarity. I'm not a fan of the COC brand of CENI either. But I do care more than a whit about this conversation and others like it. Some kinds of comments are just not constructive.

    Jas 3:17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
    Jas 3:18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

  78. Heath says:

    Question: What is Legalism?

    Answer: Legalism is defined as, "Strict adherence to law, especially to the letter rather than the spirit". (Random House College Dictionary, pg. 765)

    God’s law must be obeyed. Frankly, we are living in a lawless, rebellious age. This antinomianism (against law) is also witnessed in religion. There is little regard for religious authority today (God’s word). People believe what they do primarily because "it makes them feel good." Hence, the philosophy, "if it feels good, do it" is not absent in religion! Sincere Christians desiring to obey God and, out of love, point out religious error, are accused of being legalists. However, God’s law must be obeyed: Heb. 5:8,9, Jas. 1:22, Matt. 7:21-28, Rom. 2:6-10, 10:16, Lk. 6:46, etc.

    God rejects mechanical, meritorious obedience. Mechanical obedience is "obeying the letter rather than the spirit" of the law (Legalism). The Pharisees were guilty of this (Matt. 19:1-8, Lk. 18:10-14, Matt. 23: 15-33). It is impossible to merit salvation (Tit. 3:5, Lk. 17:10). To mechanically obey is to "obey" without love and true motivation (I Jn. 5:3, Rom. 6:17,18). But notice – obedience is still required!

    Legalism and Matthew 23:23. In Matthew 23:23 Jesus explained that the Pharisees were very exact. Even in some of the smallest of offerings. Jesus did not condemn this exactness. "…and have omitted the weightier matters of the law," Jesus denounces. Listen, beloved, to Jesus: "these (smaller offerings, dm) ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone." Is obedience required? YES. Can one "obey" without the proper spirit and motivation? YES. Is such obedience acceptable to God? NO. Is such legalism? YES. Does the possibility of implicit obedience involving legalism mean we should not obey God’s law? OF COURSE NOT.

  79. Heath says:

    Question: What is liberalism and conservatism?

    Answer: A clear distinction between these two mind-sets would be liberalism is a mental posture which advocates freedom from authority and conservatism is essentially, in contrast, an attitude and practice which conforms to established authority.

    Liberalism in the civil and religious world. Political liberalism often involves the determination to change or ignore our constitution. Liberalism, as herein viewed, is a flagrant disregard for restraint and an inordinate desire to be immersed in what they term liberty. Liberalism abounds in the religious world as well. Liberalism manifests itself in the rejecting of the scriptures as the infallible will of God. Those who embrace liberalism often advocate Jesus was not born of a virgin, was not really God in the flesh, and does not really have to be obeyed. They practice what they do because "it feels good" or "I want to." Of such John wrote: "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God" (2 Jn. 9).

    Conservatism and the civil and religious world. As mentioned, conservatism is basically the disposition to conform to authority. Instead of trying to change our constitution, conservatism is trying to enforce it. The religious conservative believes in and upholds the scriptures as authoritative (I Pet. 4: 11). He believes we must obey God’s word (Rom. 2: 6-9). Of such John wrote: "…He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son" (2 Jn. 9).

    Beloved, the attitude we possess is very important. In fact, our thinking determines what we are (Prov. 23: 7). Our country and religious community are in serious trouble. We hope and pray that some of the new present "trends" are indicative of change for the better and will affect the religious world as well.

  80. Heath says:

    Question: Can you comment on music in praising God?

    Answer: The fact that God desires man to worship Him in song is evident in many verses in the New Testament. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom," wrote Paul, "teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (Col. 3: 16). Since God is the object of our worship, He has the right to tell us how to worship Him in song (John 4: 24). This fact is harmonious with the general teaching of having Bible authority for all we teach and practice. "Prove all things, hold fast that which is good" and "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God…" are commands which are reflective of the attitudes we must have (I Thes. 5: 21; I Pet. 4: 11).

    Kind of music authorized in the New Testament. The Jews used numerous instruments in their worship (cf. Ps. 150). However, the harp is replaced with the human heart in the New Testament (Eph. 5: 19). The New Testament, under which we now live, only authorizes, in teaching and example, vocal music (Acts 16: 25: I Cor. 14: 15; Eph. 5: 19; Col. 3: 16; Heb. 13: 15; Jas, 5: 13). The Mosaic Law, containing many types such as mechanical music, has been done away (Col. 2: 14). "Musical instruments in celebrating the praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting up of lamps, and the restoration of the other shadows of the law…," wrote John Calvin (Commentary of Psalms 33).

    Manner of rendition. Our singing is rendered "unto God" (Acts 16: 25). While we are to "teach and admonish one another" in our singing, the singing is not for human entertainment (cf. Col. 3: 16). Singing is to rendered "with the understanding" (cf. I Cor. 14: 15). The types of songs are "psalms" (praise of God), "hymns" (teaching), and "spiritual songs" (inspire devotion, see Eph, 5: 19).

  81. Heath says:

    Question: When is an example binding?

    Answer: The question reflects some understanding of Bible authority. Indeed, the Bible is our authority in religious matters. We are going to be judged by the Word (Jn. 12: 48). The Word determines those whom we fellowship (2 Jn. 9-11), what we believe (I Thes. 5: 21), and how we live (Gal. 2: 14).

    How we establish Bible authority. As we have considered in answering previous questions, there are three proven methods of arriving at the teaching of God’s word. They are: (1) express command, (2) necessary inference, and (3) approved example. When a command which is not limited by the verse, context, or remote context is encountered, then Bible authority in that area is determined (see Acts 2: 38). Language which requires an inference can be used to establish Bible authority. We necessarily infer (not expressly stated) that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are alive (conscious) when Jesus spoke (Matt. 22: 32). Hence, the authority for life after death. Regarding Bible examples, how do we know when an example is binding?

    Determining when an example is binding. Example is in fact one method God used to articulate His will to man (I Cor. 11: 1; Phili 4: 9, 3: 17). There are examples which are condemned (Gal, 2: 11-14). There are incidental examples. We determine an incidental example when we find the same activity done in a different way elsewhere (with approval, cf. Acts 20: 8, 16: 13 – the upper room is not binding). There are also examples which have peculiar application in view of an endemic custom (cf. I Cor. 11: 3-16).

    Beloved, an example is binding when it is shown to be proper, not incidental, and not limited because of a special setting. Binding examples are exclusive, the only way done (Acts 2: 38, 22: 16).

  82. Gary Cummings says:

    Is racism a sin? True or false. The COC was racist from its inception in 1898 to the "repentance" about 2002 at ACU. That is a 100 years of racism.

    I believe infant baptism is of no consequence. Faith in Jesus saves. racists baptized by immersion are still damned.


  83. Alan says:

    is racism a sin? True or false. The COC was racist from its inception in 1898 to the “repentance” about 2002 at ACU. That is a 100 years of racism.

    I wonder how you could make such a sweeping accusation against the thousands of autonomous COC congregations. Do you have personal knowledge of each one? If not, maybe we should discuss whether slander is a sin.

  84. Heath says:

    The church of Christ did not start in 1898.

    Thou knowst not of what thou speaketh.

  85. Rich says:


    I hope you don't mind if I respectfully give an answer to your questions as I understand the scriptures. Heath can chime in if he wishes.

    You asked,
    "I want the scripture showing a precise example of how singing was done in a worship service with only the Bible. Do not show me your proof texts, because in the correct context you will find that they have nothing to do with a worship service."

    Ephesians 5:19 clearly refers to public worship by the wording (context) within the verse. It says for us to speak/sing TO ONE ANOTHER which means it is referring to group settings. We are to make music in our hearts TO GOD which means a purposeful action directed toward God which fits within what is considered worship. Therefore the verse does indeed refer to the public worship service. The bigger context (verses 15 to 21) is a series of short pieces of various items of advice for living the Christian lifestyle which certainly would include worship. Does this answer you question?

    You requested,
    "I want to see in writing a detailed command on how your worship service is done exactly like the new testament. I mean everything from the order to the way you do the Lord Supper to the way that prayers are said."

    I am not aware of any precise order of worship given in the Bible. I don't think I have ever seen any two cofC's use the exact same order for all elements. The place I attended in my teen years consciously changed the order every week to be sure we members understood the difference between content (where there is example and command) and order (where there are no examples to follow) and thus we have freedom to choose. I personally wish more places would change their order each week. I thought it was a wise practice.

    Please let me know if I missed your point.

  86. Alan Scott says:


    Ephesians 5 most ceratinly is NOT referring to an assembly of Christians. The entire context is referring to how we live our lives and relate to one another in our daily activities. Vss 18-20 are just part of a long list of examples on imitating Jesus that begions in chapter 5 of Ephesians and continues through chapter 6:
    1. we should not have even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed
    2. we should have no obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking
    3. we should not be partners with those who practice #s 1 & #2
    4. we should have nothing to do with these fruitless deeds of darkness
    5. we should be very careful how we live
    6. we should make the most of every opportunity
    7. we should not get drunk on wine
    8. we should be filled with the Spirit
    9. we should speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs
    10. we should sing and make music in our hearts to the Lord
    11. we should always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
    12. we should submit to one another out of reverence for Christ
    13. Wives should submit to their husbands as to the Lord
    14. Husbands should love their wives, just as Christ loved the church
    15. Children should obey their parents in the Lord
    16. Fathers should not exasperate their children
    17. Fathers should bring their children up in the training and instruction of the Lord
    18. Slaves should obey their earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart
    19. Masters shoud treat their slaves in the same way
    20. we should be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power
    21. we should put on the full armor of God

    When you look at the enire list in its context of how we are to live as examples of Christ in our daily activities, it is impossible to see the Apostle Paul suddenly switching from daily to occasional then just as suddenly switching back to daily. The whole context of the Apostle's words, including those on singing, are in the context of daily imitation of Jesus in how we relate to one another.

    God bless

  87. Pat says:

    Thank you, Alan Scott. Well said!

  88. Orion says:

    Heath, Lets look at each one of your proof texts.

    Acts 16:25 – Paul and Silas are in jail, praying and singing while the other prisoners are listening to them. Hardly an assembly of the church. Why do we not also say this text authorizes choirs since everyone else was listening to Paul and Silas sing.

    I Corinthians14:15 – In the midst of a discussion of spiritual gifts. If you are going to use verse 15, why do you leave out verse 7? Hardly a prohibiton on the use of harp and flute. Do you also practice tongue speaking, interpretation, or prophecy?

    Ephesians 5:19 – Appears to be in the middle of a discussion of how christians are to live not on how the assembly is to be ordered.

    Colossians 3:16 – Once again appears to be in the middle of a discussion of how christains are to live.

    Hebrews 13:15 – Again and admonition on how the christians are to live "outside the camp". Continually offering God a sacrifice of praise. No mention of the assembly.

    James 5:13 – Comes at the end of how to deal with suffering. This is not dealing with the assembly. Only an admonition to sing if you are happy.

    I find your proof texts to be unconvincing as the only reference to instruments are the harp and flute in I Corinthians 14:7 which is not a prohibition.

    I also see no authorization for song books (as opposed to singing the Psalms) in any of these passages, yet every c of c I've been in uses them.

    Praise God for his grace that covers all our sin.

  89. Anonymous says:


    Does the law save us or do we stand condemned as sinners by the law?

    Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
    Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is knowledge of sin.

  90. Alan,

    Of course, I know about brother Allen's Rebaptism book! Spend many hours discussing it with him, listening to his view, debating & challenging many of his assertions.

    I always had fun with him saying, in his case, with his teaching and preaching being so clear and powerful, NOBODY would ever study, hear a class or sermon preached by Jimmy Allen on the plan of salvation and not be taught the truth that baptism is essential for salvation and is the point in time in which sins are forgiven:)!!

    I do think some of his positions have been taken out of context and abused, misused and misapplied and distorted. Just a few years back when I was on the Harding campus, and stopped by and visited him, we talked about the far left progressive movement in the church and how many of them are taking his position and go beyond what he was saying.

    He was and is greatly concerned about this to this day. Jimmy would never admit it, but I sense some possible regret he has over writting that book now knowing how some have taken his views and used them to launch into great error – teaching baptism is really no longer then essential for salvation, that God will indeed accept the unimmersed, being baptized to only simply "join a church" (i.e., denomination)

    Even Jimmy in his Rebaptism book answers some objects that are now being advocated by progressives. Some of them being advocated on blogs such as Jay's.

    On page 194, in responding to an objection about "why can't you also accept one as to scripturally baptized who has changed its mode (i.e., sprinkling rather than immersion)?

    Jimmy says: "As I do not believe that one can change baptism's fundamental purpose (i.e.e, obedience to God), I certainly do not believe one can change its mode. Baptism is immersion, not sprinkling. Anyone who has received sprinkling has not obeyed God."

    Jay, and others on this blog and other progressive blogs would say, "No! If they did it with a pure, sincere heart, they have obeyed God! They are Christians!"

    He further says about another answer about his approach with immersed outside our fellowship: "The questionis always raised about why the individal was immersed. If he says he attached little or no importance to baptism but did it only to join a sect, as best I can, I show this is not Bible baptism. If the individal states that baptism was an obligation he had to fulfill in obeying God, I do nothing to undermine his immersion." (p. 211-212)

    Many progressive today are going beyond Jimmy's view in this regard.

    He later also says: "One must know why he is being baptized! About this, there is no doubt. The individal who is immersed for no biblical reason has not pleased God……..The concept upheld in this work is that one must be baptized in a surrendered, submissive, obedient attitude to please God or fufill righteousness (Matt. 3:15)…….That sincere soul who genuinely believes in the risen Lord, repents of his sins, and is immersed because God said to do it is saved from past or alien sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38)

    He then qotes David Lipscomb who responded to this same kidn of criticism as follows:

    "I always believed that an understanding of the general end and purpose of any service is essential to acceptable obedience to God. I never saw the day after I began to preach that I was willing to receive one from the Baptist Church of other church where the teaching was faulty without evidence that he understood the purpose or end of teh oridinance of baptism in some of its leading features. So I always explained to them that we put on Christ in baptism, are baptized into his name to fulfill all righteousnes, for the remission of sins, and that we are consecrated to God in baptism, and insisted that it must be submitted to with some of these ends in view to make baptism acceptable to God Some went to the extreme of receiving persons so they were satisfied, whether they had any understanding of the meaning of the service or not. It is not surprising that such persons should run from one extreme to the other. These brethren, I think, made the mistake of exalting one fruit or end of baptism and ignoring others." (Gospel Advocate, Jan. 2, 1896)

    He then concludes by quoting and agreeing with F.D. Srygley who wrote:

    "All Christians are in the one body because they are they Christians, and no Christians has any scriptural authority to join anything else. Every Christian who is in any denomination ought to leave the denomination he is in, be nothing but a Christian, belong to nothing but the one body, and preach and practice nothing but what Christians preached and practiced in the New Testament times. (What is the New Testament Church?–A Discussion Between F.D. Srygley and J.N. Hall [Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate Co., n.d.', p. 37)

    Jimmy said early in the book about his approach in studying and doing personal evangelism: "I believe in studying the verses which teach baptism's essentiality. When the study is finished, the one taught must decide if the the immersion he was already experienced is biblical. If he is convinced he was baptized to obey the Lord, I do not insist that he go to the water again. I do plead with him to forsake denominationalism and take his stand as a Christian only." (p.4-5)

    He says on page 5, " I do not believe that one who has been immersed simply to join a sect or a denomination is among those spiritually reborn. This is true even if he was baptized just to become a part of something named "Church of Christ."

    He further says on page 6, "I believe one who consciously or deliberately rejects any Bible truth about baptism cannot, with that attitude, be scripturally immersed."

    In his section on Why Write This Book? Brother Allen says the following:

    3. "To lead anyone to surrender the plea to restore New Testament Christianity…." (p. 12)

    4. "To soften up our people for the acceptance of instrumental music in worship…." (p. 12)

    5. "To influence those with whom I am identified to blend into the religious scene and lose their identity as a distinctive people…" (p. 13)

    6. "To urge the born-again in denominations to remain as they are. They, along with the rest of us, should stand simply as Christians….." (p. 13)

    7. "To teach unity at any price….." (p. 14)

    8. "To line up our people behind the emphasis given by brethren Lerory Garrett and Carl Ketcherside over the past twenty-five years. If this were done, I think we would be set adrift from the restoration ideal. Those who review this work would do well to refrain from identifying me with these two men….." (p. 14-15)

    I mention this espeically in light of Jay's recent "gushing" praise over brother Ketcherside.

    11. "To advocate acceptance of the 'new hermenutic' now being discussed among us. In a letter from a former student who preaches in Texas, he stated a difference between the two of us as follows: "Your basic hermenutic is patternistic. Mine is centered in a person–his spirit, his style, his words, and his call." It seems to me that one can be "patternistic" and also be "centered" in the person of Jesus Christ. At least, this is what I am striving to do. I know that aruging for some correct practice in religion is no substitute for a vital relationshp with the Savior. To deny the principle of exclusion and the necessity for pattern in interpreting the New Testament is beyond my present understanding. It appears to be impossible to restore the first-century church without these tools…." (p. 11-12)

    Finally, in brother Allen's Preface, he talks about those on the far right and those on the far left. When he talks about those on the left he says the following: "These are not concerned about maintaining a distinct identity for the local church as they feel all that is necessary in pleasing God is being born again or entering the kingdom. According to their reasoning, to attempt to bind anything as essential to fellowship beyond an acceptance of these first principles would be to preach another gospel."

    In another article "The Restoration Plea" Dr. Allen posted on his blog he said the following about the direction in churches of Christ:

    "My claim to fame is travel. I have spoken in forty-two states and seven foreign countries. Furthermore, travel has brought many of my students from other parts of the world to Harding. From my experiences away and in the classroom, as well as what I read, I have concluded that the winds from the left are blowing far harder than winds from the right. We had a scrap here in 1969 which was simply a precursor of what is now taking place across our brotherhood. These winds blow not only on the churches but also on the schools. Because of its attitude toward instrumental music in worship, in my judgment, we have already had one of our schools to take at least one step away from the Restoration Plea."

    He then concludes with the following:

    Dr. David Burks, president of Harding University, wrote an article dealing with “Core Beliefs.” In it, he stated that we could not give up our stand in favor of acappella music. He also mentioned other doctrinal matters. I complimented him on the article. In reply, he said, “Jimmy, the only ones who have said that to me are older people.” That is frightening to me.

    Dr. Milton Sewell, president of Freed Hardeman University, said, “We’re not going to worship with the instrument, and we are not going to promote it here.”
    I think Burks and Sewell are right. Do not be blown off the foundation of the Restoration Plea by the winds from the left. The music issue is just the beginning."

    Anyway, Dr. Allen is getting a little older, but I hope he's around for a while. They don't make them like him any more.

    I don't fully agree in every way with his Re-baptism view, but I do in some areas.

    I've notived that many who write and post on this blog and other progressive blogs, most defintely move far beyond just accepting denominational immersion and are opening accepting the "pious unimmersed" as brethren. I've heard it from the likes of Joe, Jay, Rex, Royce, etc. on this blog say such things besides on top of everything else they advocate such as instrumental music bein a non-issue, role of women in worship, Lord's Supper, elders and deacons being scritpural pattern for the church, etc.

    I believe in less than a generation we will see many of our progressive friends completely adapt the Baptist view of baptism (important to obey, not not essential to be saved).

    That's a far cry and move away what Jimmy's Rebaptism book advocates.

    So, Alan, you and Jay and other progressives may like to quote Jimmy's Rebaptism book, but Jimmy does not fit in with your progressive theology and hermentuics.

    I encourage other readers of this blog to please carefully -re-examine and -re-consider the direction where the progressives have and want to continue to take churches of Christ. Most of them have already completely abandoned any effort to restore first centruy New Testament Christianity.

    For a love of Christ and the truth,
    Robert Prater

  91. Drake Clark says:

    Good post, Orion… best of luck getting a response. 🙂

    Forget instruments in worship, I've been waiting for years now for someone who subscribes to this hermeneutic to give any scriptural justification for a church building. Oh, and as hard as I try, I can't find the words "expedient" or "necessary inference" anywhere in the Bible… Odd, one could almost conclude they're not there.

  92. Drake Clark says:

    Fascinating… let me see if I can try this "logic" for myself.

    Refusing to follow God's commands is a sin. The Bible clearly tells us that we need to "lift up holy hands in prayer" (1 Tim 2:8), and "wash one another's feet" (John 13:14). The Bible also clearly tells us that the true church met and taught publicly and "from house to house", and met in houses (1 Cor. 16:19, Acts 20:20, Philemon 1:2) The Bible says it, therefore to not do these things would be a sin. If that sin is not repented of then it will lead to eternal damnation in hell (Luke 13:1-5). This is how logic works (ceni). I don't need a passage from the scripture that says "do not buy a church building" for me to KNOW it is a sin to do so. The same logic applies to head coverings for women, long hair on men, and holy kissing.

    So Heath… you advocate house churches, holy kissing, lifting holy hands in prayer, and crew cuts, right?

  93. Heath says:


    Rom. 8:1-2

    What sets us free?

  94. Heath says:

    Song books do not change the nature of the act of sing. Just like plates and cups do not change the nature of what is taken during the Lord's Supper.

    It is a historical fact that the N.T. church did not use instruments in worship. Why? They understood the verses about singing to mean-SING.

    Col. 3:16 and Eph. 5:19 are speaking to CHURCHES with corperate action involved.

    John Calvin (Presbyterian, Commentary on Psalm 33) – "Musical instruments in celebrating the praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting of lamps, and the restoring of the other shadows of the law. The Papists (Catholics)…have foolishly borrowed this as well as many other things, from the Jews."

    Charles Spurgeon (Baptist, Instrumental Music, page 176) – "Israel was in school and used childish things to help her to learn; but in these days, when Jesus gives us spiritual manhood, one can make melody without strings and harps…We do not need them; they would hinder rather than help the praise (cf. Psalm 33:2). We might as well pray by machinery as to praise by it."

    John Wesley (Methodist) – "I have no objection to organs in our chapels, provided they are neither seen nor heard."

    Martin Luther (Lutheran) – he called the organ in worship to God "an ensign to Baal."

    Emil Nauman (The History of Music, Volume I, page 177) – "There can be no doubt that originally the music of the divine service was everywhere entirely of a vocal nature."

    BARNES "Psallo … is used, in the New Testament, only in Rom. 15:9 and 1 Cor. 14:15, where it is translated sing; in James 5:13, where it is rendered sing psalms, and in the place before us. The idea here is that of singing in the heart, or praising God from the heart" (Albert Barnes, a Presbyterian, Notes on The Testament, comment on Eph. 5:19).

    CATHOLIC "Although Josephus tells of the wonderful effects produced in the Temple by the use of instruments, the first Christians were of too spiritual a fibre to substitute lifeless instruments for or to use them to accompany the human voice. Clement of Alexandria severely condemns the use of instruments even at Christian banquets. St. Chrysostum sharply contrasts the customs of the Christians when they had full freedom with those of the Jews of the Old Testament." (Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 10, pg. 648-652.)

    GARRISON "There is no command in the New Testament, Greek or English, commanding the use of the instrument. Such a command would be entirely out of harmony with the New Testament." (J.H. Garrison, Christian Church)

    GIRADEAU "The church, although lapsing more and more into deflection from the truth and into a corrupting of apostolic practice, had not instrumental music for 1200 years (that is, it was not in general use before this time); The Calvinistic Reform Church ejected it from its service as an element of popery, even the church of England having come very nigh its extrusion from her worship. It is heresy in the sphere of worship." (John Giradeau, Presbyterian professor in Columbia Theological Seminary, Instrumental Music, p. 179)

  95. Rich says:


    Thank you for your feedback. I think we both agree that "The entire context is referring to how we live our lives and relate to one another in our daily activities."

    Most of these verses contain separate but important tidbits of the daily Christian walk. Some are things to avoid like obscenity and drunkenness. Others are positive instructions like being a good husband. It seems natural to me to include an aspect of worship in the list (v. 19). Afterall, among other thins Acts 2:42 talks about the early Christians who gathered together daily for worship and friendship.

    The verse applies any day and any time people get together to praise God. This can be in small informal group setting or the major production worship services that occur two or more times a week at most places..

  96. Heath says:

    SCHAFF "It is questionable whether, as used in the New Testament, 'psallo' means more than to sing . . . The absence of instrumental music from the church for some centuries after the apostles and the sentiment regarding it which pervades the writing, the fathers are unaccountable, if in the apostolic church such music was used" (Schaff-Herzog, Vol. 3, p. 961).

    ROBERTSON "The word (psalleto) originally meant to play on a stringed instrument (Sir. 9:4), but it comes to be used also for singing with the voice and heart (Eph. 5:19; 1 Cor. 14:15), making melody with the heart also to the Lord" (A. T. Robertson, Baptist Greek scholar, Baptist Studies in the Nestle James, comment on James 5:13)

    POSEY "For years the Baptists fought the introduction of instrumental music into the churches…Installation of the organ brought serious difficulties in many churches" (Wm. B. Posey, Baptist, The Baptist Church In The Lower Mississippi Valley).

    PRESBYTERIAN "Question 6. Is there any authority for instrumental music in the worship of God under the present dispensation? Answer. Not the least, only the singing of psalms and hymns and spiritual songs was appointed by the apostles; not a syllable is said in the New Testament in favor of instrumental music nor was it ever introduced into the Church until after the eighth century, after the Catholics had corrupted the simplicity of the gospel by their carnal inventions. It was not allowed in the Synagogues, the parish churches of the Jews, but was confined to the Temple service and was abolished with the rites of that dispensation." (Questions on the Confession of Faith and Form of Government of The Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, published by the Presbyterian Board of Publications, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1842, pg. 55.)

    MCCLINTOCK "The Greek word 'psallo' is applied among the Greeks of modern times exclusively to sacred music, which in the Eastern Church has never been any other than vocal, instrumental music being unknown in that church, as it was in the primitive church." (McClintock & Strong, Vol. 8, p. 739).

    NAUMAN "There can be no doubt that originally the music of the divine service was every where entirely of a vocal nature." (Emil Nauman, The History of Music. Vol. I, p. 177)

  97. Heath says:

    Veils, Footwashing, and the Holy Kiss
    by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

    The average American feels that truth is unknowable, and therefore everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. He or she feels that one viewpoint is as good as another, and no one should be so arrogant or judgmental as to say that one view is correct and all others are wrong. After all, one cannot be certain as to what is ultimately right and what is ultimately wrong. And who is to say who is right and who is wrong? How can we be so sure that we have all the answers?

    This cultural inclination has infiltrated the church. It manifests itself among those who insist that we in the churches of Christ have been too narrow and dogmatic about our doctrinal positions. They say we have assumed that we’re right, and that other religious groups are wrong; we have made too much of some issues, and too little of others; and our rigid doctrinal stance has, in turn, caused us to be unloving and intolerant of alternative viewpoints and churches.

    Of course, this entire line of thinking proceeds from a humanistic, pluralistic mindset. It constitutes the classic attempt to dodge accountability and responsibility. When Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32), He was showing that we must be right about certain matters. We do not know everything. But we can know some things—those things that God expects us to know. We can know truth! We can know that we know (1 John 2:3). We can know which things we have to know, and we can know which things we do not have to know. But we must analyze each matter logically and scripturally.

    For example, some have concluded that God wants women to wear head-coverings when they worship in the presence of men. They believe this conclusion follows from the teaching of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. However, the wearing of a veil in Corinth conveyed a meaning within Graeco-Roman culture that is not conveyed in American culture. It was a cultural phenomenon (“judge in yourselves”—vs. 13). To them, the veil symbolized a woman’s submission to male authority (vs. 10). The removal of the veil symbolized a woman’s rejection of male authority, and was equivalent to the shameful practice of shaving the head—an act done by women of ill-repute (vs. 5-6). Since the symbolism of the veil in Corinthian culture was in harmony with the abiding principle of female submission to male leadership, Corinthian Christians were admonished to conform to the cultural practice.

    The application of this injunction is that Christians, who find themselves in cultures today where a particular cultural symbol undergirds an abiding biblical principle, should conform to that cultural propriety. Head coverings have no such significance in American culture, and vary throughout the world (cf. Genesis 24:65; 29:25; 38:14-15; Song of Solomon 4:1,3; 6:7). If Paul intended for veils to be enjoined upon all Christian women in all cultures for all time, then three conclusions follow: a hat is no substitute; veils must be worn outside the worship assembly as well; and those who refuse must be urged to shave their heads.

    Another area of confusion about which the truth may be ascertained is the “holy kiss.” Both Paul and Peter urged first-century Christians to greet each other with holy kisses (Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; 1 Peter 5:14). Was this injunction intended to be an abiding feature of Christianity? Does God want Christians today to practice a “holy kiss,” even as He desires that baptism, prayer, and the Lord’s Supper be observed?

    Kissing as a greeting predated Christianity (1 Samuel 20:41; 2 Samuel 20:9; Matthew 26:49; Luke 7:45; Acts 20:37). Americans typically have been unable to relate to kissing as a standard form of greeting. They shake hands or offer a pat on the back. However, hugging has become increasingly prominent in recent years. Paul could not have been commanding Christians to start kissing each other as a form of greeting—they were already doing so! Rather Paul was applying Christian principles to the existing and widespread cultural practice of kiss-greetings by urging them to keep their greeting holy. Far from enjoining kissing, he was requiring holy kissing. He was telling Christians to make their kiss-greetings a sanctified activity—set apart for, or in line with, proper Christian living. He was instructing them, “Since you kiss, when you kiss, make it holy—greet one another with a holy kiss.”

    A third practice that requires clarification in order to understand its proper application is foot washing. Jesus literally startled and shocked the disciples on the occasion when He insisted upon washing their feet (John 13:1-20). It is nearly as surprising to find religious groups today who believe that Jesus was instituting an abiding occurrence—a worship act to be observed ritualistically in the practice of Christianity.

    As a matter of fact, the washing of feet in first-century Palestine was a common cultural amenity that was necessary due to the dry, dusty road conditions and the footwear of the day (i.e., sandals—Genesis 18:4; 19:2; 24:32; 43:24; Judges 19:21; 1 Timothy 5:10). In a typical middle-eastern setting, several social courtesies were ordinarily extended to guests. These expressions of hospitality included the kiss greeting, anointing, and caring for the guest’s animals, in addition to providing food and shelter (Genesis 18:4-5; 24:32; Judges 19:21; Ruth 3:3; 2 Samuel 12:20; Psalm 23:5; Ecclesiastes 9:8; Daniel 10:3; Matthew 6:17; Luke 7:44-46). Western culture typically has a completely different list of social amenities, including taking a guest’s coat, offering something to drink, and asking the guest to be seated.

    In a culture where household servants were in abundant supply, the task of washing a guest’s dusty feet normally would have been performed by a servant of the host. This fact is what made Jesus’ action so repugnant to the disciples. They were disgusted that Jesus would lower Himself to perform such demeaning labor.

    Since the disciples of Jesus already were practicing foot washing, Jesus was simply using the cultural custom to teach a spiritual principle. That is why He prefaced His action by noting they would not understand the significance of what He was about to do (John 13:7). That is why, when He finished, He asked, “Do you know what I have done to you?” (vs. 12). Obviously, they knew that He had washed their feet! If He was merely urging them to continue this common practice, they would have understood His injunction instantly. But that was not the point He was attempting to get across to them. He was teaching self-humiliation and forgiveness. We, too, must be humble enough to correct our mistakes and receive the forgiveness that Jesus offers. We must be willing to treat others better than ourselves by serving them and showing concern for the fulfillment of their needs. It would be a simple matter if we could fulfill this edict by ritualistically washing another’s feet. However, Jesus was conveying the fact that the humility and unassuming, servant-attitude that He wants us to display require a far more diligent, consistent dedication of one’s daily behavior.

  98. Alan says:


    Thanks for a very thorough and thoughtful response.

    In settings like this one, people tend to categorize the participants into two groups and respond as though everyone in each group shares exactly the same views. And since the discussion tends to focus on the most extreme views, we tend to assign those views to everyone in the group, although not everyone in that group would hold those views. I think that is happening here.

    Jimmy Allen's book was not extreme — unless you count as extreme his great carefulness with the scriptures. We would all do well to be extreme in that.

    Dr. Allen's main point in the book was that awareness of the specific purpose of forgiveness of sins is not explicitly necessary in order to receive forgiveness through baptism. He repeatedly wrote that being baptized for any of the biblical reasons is sufficient in order to receive all of the benefits of baptism. I don't know if he's right about that, but I think it is quite reasonable.

    If some are trying to use his book to justify salvation apart from baptism, they are mistaken. Dr. Allen did not say that.

    As for me, I read Acts 2:38-39 and am thereby convinced that all who do what that passage says will receive the promises it makes. That passage authorizes us to extend the promise on God's behalf to everyone who will respond ("to all whom the Lord our God will call.") There's no equivalent statement for any alternative means to salvation, so I will not presume to offer different terms, which God has not authorized me to offer. OTOH I fully acknowledge that God is not constrained by that passage. He can forgive anyone he chooses, on any terms he chooses. Will he forgive the penitent unimmersed? I don't know. And neither does anyone else. God has not said.

  99. Rich says:


    May I attempt to answer one of your questions.

    Many, many, many good people have missed an important point concerning meeting places in the Bible. In reality several met in the Temple daily to worship (Acts 2:46). The temple was actually a very large place with several rooms or corners for people to meet in semi-privacy. We also know that many Christians met in each others' homes. The conclusion is we have many acceptable options in choosing appropriate places of worship.
    My wife and I have bible studies in our home quite often. We also go to other homes for similar purposes.

    Those dealing with lifting hands, washing feet, holy kissing have to do with understanding whether these are metaphors (my understanding) or extremely literal. I prefer not to spend time on these at the moment.

  100. Alan Scott says:

    Your thoughts, Heath, not David Miller's. He is not here and can be asked questions. You are and can.


  101. Alan Scott says:

    I mean David can NOT be asked questions here. SO please provide your own thoughts, not just a parrotting of someone else's.

  102. Alan Scott says:

    Thanks, Rich. The point of the Apostle's context is important. This is how we live every day and with everything we do and with everyone one we relate to. What those who do not understand this passage, and its parallel in Colossians 3, fail in their interpretation is that if the specifics on music in vss 19-20 forbid instruments with the music then the context demands that it be forbidden in all we do – every day, with everything we do, and with everyone we relate to.

    Just as sexual immorality, any kind of impurity, greed,
    obscenity, and drunkenness are to be avoided every day, with everything we do, and with everyone we relate to, the context requires that either instrumental music should be avoided every day, with everything we do, and with everyone we relate to, or the context requires that such a prohibition is not required every day, with everything we do, and with everyone we relate to.

    We can not just pick and choose when we are going to be sexually immoral, impurite, greedy,
    obscene, and drunk; and neither can we just pick and choose when instrumental music is OK and when it is not. The context of Ephesians 5-6 does not allow for this.


  103. Alan Scott says:

    I would add something more. A liberal is also one who binds where the scriptures are silent. In other words, a liberal binds human interpretations and elevates them as commands of God.

  104. Rich says:


    Let me take a stab at some of your comments.

    Since some NT Christians met in the temple and others like Paul infiltrated the dispersed synagogues, we know we are not limited to our homes for our worship services.

    The word 'expedient' is used in the King James Version, 1. Cor 10:23. Other versions use: NIV-beneficial, NKJV-helpful, ESV-helpful, NLT-good. It seems to refer to the concept that even though we Christians may have wide freedoms (opinions) we should focus on doing what is most beneficial and edifying for our fellow Christians. This is a very biblical concept that some people have taken too far and thus try to bind what might work well in one situation to other situations where it isn't useful.

    Necessary Inference was originally the concept of hermeneutics itself (how can we logically figure out what the Bible is saying to us). However, I have seen this abused also to the point I am not as big a fan as I am in direct command and example. I think using common sense logic goes with the territory and isn't necessary to list out separately.

  105. Drake Clark says:

    "Song books do not change the nature of the act of sing."

    Interesting opinion. In my opinion, instruments don't change the "nature" of singing either… It's still singing.

    "It is a historical fact that the N.T. church did not use instruments in worship. Why? They understood the verses about singing to mean-SING."

    It's interesting to me that people tend to think of the "early church" as a cohesive group of individuals who understood and practiced their beliefs uniformly. In my opinion, reading the epistles and other early writing, this is not the case. Given what we do know about their activities and what scriptures have to say on this subject, it seems just as likely that they were simply following a tradition.

    "Col. 3:16 and Eph. 5:19 are speaking to CHURCHES with corperate action involved."

    Where is the word "corporate" found in the Bible?

    "John Calvin (Presbyterian, Commentary on Psalm 33)…"

    Here we have an attempted argument from authority… the authority is John Calvin, of all people. As a product of the restoration tradition, Heath, I seriously doubt you subscribe to Calvin's theological views, but while he's (no doubt) wrong on virtually every aspect of his theological position, you're still willing to quote him here because he happens to seem to agree with you on this issue. Sorry, is the call to go "back to scripture", or "back to Calvin"? If it's Calvin, we have a lot of changes to make.

    (Snipped the rest of the arguments from authority / "doctrines of men".)

  106. Drake Clark says:


    Thanks for the reply. I didn't mean to say that the early church ONLY met in homes, I understand we're given examples of public places… To clarify for anyone reading this thread, my intent was trying to demonstrate the subjective nature of what most people call "CENI". For many from the restoration tradition, "authority" must be given for every undertaking associated with what we call "church", but the subjective nature of this approach is rarely examined. The examples I (and others) cite will hopefully cause others to reconsider their positions.

    Thanks for the KJV reference to ‘expedient’, I've never seen that. I agree with the rest of your assessments…

  107. Orion says:

    I find it interesting the lengths you traverse to justify your preferences.

    You cite many uninspired sources (that many in the c of c claim to be apostate) to show that IM ( a topic not specifically mentioned in scripture) has not historically practiced. And thus is wrong and if practiced will condemn.

    Then you turn to another uninspired source to show why Biblical examples of foot washing, veils, and the holy kiss are not binding examples, but merely cultural practices.

    How is an unsophisticated person such as myself supposed to be saved based on this inconsistent rule keeping model that is so inconsistently applied? Does judging the salvation of others based on this model bother you? May God be merciful.

    Praise God for his grace that covers my sin.

  108. Alan Scott says:


    Thanks. It is also interesting to note that not only did the early church fathers give a diversity of reasons why they did not want to see intruments in the assembly, it is even more interesting that none of them appealed to silence of the scriptures nor to Paul's letter to Ephesus or Colossae; nor did they proclaim use of instruments as a damnation matter. They may not have liked them nor used them, but their arguments appealed to culture and human reasoning, and not to a command from God.

    God bless

  109. In response to Alan's discomfort with the "story" approach, as he calls it, above:

    Somewhere between the belief that all of the works of the New Testament were intended to be law for all churches for all time and the belief that the epistles of the New Testament dealt only with instructions for individual churches at that time is the more realistic point of view that some passages are universal in their purpose and intent and some are targeted.

    I think too many folks posting here are calling into play the "it must be one or the other" reasoning that is a major logical fallacy – and leads to even more major logical fallacies.

    ("Illegalist," used in another comment here, is such a term. Not only is it pejorative and inflammatory, it's based on faulty logic generated by the saying "I'd rather be a legalist than an illegalist any day." As siblings in Christ, we have no business using labels as insults, and we do not make our points by using flawed logic.)

    As I agree with Alan that homosexuality is clearly expressed as a sin in both the Old and New Testaments, I can't speak to his example. But Gary (also above) raises reasonable objections. Upon what basis or bases do we accept or reject the practices he mentions?

    Jay's original post proposes that we concern ourselves first and foremost with what Jesus was concerned about first and foremost.

    I can't help but think that if we really put ourselves to that proposition on a 168-hour-a-week basis, we'd have very little time left to waste asking the wrong questions, as he puts it.

  110. Heath says:

    And you post an uninspired post in reply.


  111. Heath says:

    "In my opinion" you say.???

    I give biblical and historical FACTS.

  112. Alan Scott says:

    Heath – all you gave is your opinion when you said, “Song books do not change the nature of the act of sing." Even your selective use of historical records were those that you opined best supported your position. Your entire post was your opinion, except for your posting of Dave Miler's writings, which were his opinions and not yours.

    Facts are the whole of the matter – NOT just what you think supports your position. And when ALL of the facts are considered, your opinion is just that – an opinion, and one that is NOT supported by all of the facts.

    God bless

  113. Gary Cummings says:

    Faith saves from first to last. James is not saying that legalistic works save, but that true faith works.

    Maybe you think you are saved by works, of that is so please reconsider.

    I have a lot of respect for the inerrant Word of God-the Bible. I do not belittle the Book of God, rather I reject the works-righteousness slant of the sect called the churches of Christ, which was a white racist sect for about 100 years.


  114. Gary Cummings says:

    The theme song of COC legalists: "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Pattern tells me so."
    How sad.
    Repent and believe the Gospel.

  115. Gary Cummings says:

    Who made Jimmy Allen the Pope?
    Is he an inspired apostle?
    Did he write any of the NT documents, which allow for instrumental music?
    The religious Right of the COC is wrong. They cling to a highly subjective, highly selective Pattern to understand the divine revelation of God in Christ.
    There are good doctrines: the deity of Jesus, His atoning death on the cross, and His bodily resurrection, which are salvation issues. If these are not believed, one is damned.
    Then there are the standard bad COC doctrines: baptismal regeneration, acapella music only, Patternism, and the rest of the hideous bag of ridiculous and blasphemous doctrines based on a rational acceptance of the Word of God. "If your understand it right ( as we the COC say), then you are saved." That is exactly like the teaching magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church; they , like the traditional COC, will tell you what the truth is. If you disagree, you are damned.
    Well, a plague on both houses. It is faith in Jesus that saves: nothing more and nothing less. You COC pharisees have turned acapella music and baptism into "works", therefore you think you are saved by works and are damned.


  116. Gary Cummings says:

    Who what? Liberals generally refrain from binding. it is the conservatives who seem pretty good at that: segregation, Jim Crow laws, religious intolerance, elevating a conservative opinion to divine status. The New Covenant is a relationship with God through Jesus, not through a book. The book-the Bible is inspired, but it is not the mediator between God and humanity-Jesus is the only mediator. Without political liberalism, we would not have Social Security, Medicare, women's right to vote, unions and child labor laws. The "conservatives" opposed all of this (some still do ) in the name of the US Constitution. They forget the Constitution is a living document-to be reconsidered in each generation to interpret the law. The New Testament and the Bible as a whole is "living" and a "Two -edged sword", and the Spirit of God interprets the Word of God to us in each generation for the new challenges. the so-called restoration Movement is just that-s crackpot scheme devised by Daniel Sommer, who hi-jacked the Rest. Movement from the Disciple of Christ, and turned it into the rationalistic, divisive movement called "the Churches of Christ". COCism is bad Bible, bad hermeneutics, and devoid of the Spirit of Christ. repent and believe the Gospel.

  117. Gary Cummings says:

    I really do not think Jay was being arrogant or rude here. He is a lawyer and much of the OT, like Deuteronomy is law. It is easy for him to recognize that fact. That is all he meant. if I read an article about medicine, I would easily recognize it as such, as I am a Registered Nurse. Too many people try to fit the Gospels into the category of Law, as they fail to see the difference between Law and Gospel. The Law damns, and the Gospel saves.

  118. Gary Cummings says:

    The NT is Gospel or Good News.

  119. Gary Cummings says:

    I beg to differ. We are saved by faith when we believe in Christ. Salvation is not inaugurated by baptism, only proclaimed. We are baptized because we have been saved, not to be saved. This is where the COC gets it wrong. They turn baptism into a work.

  120. In some ways this discussion is quite humorous, not so in other ways.

    I am puzzled about the disagreement on what is a fact and what is an opinion. But it is only my opinion that there is a disagreement on fact and opinion as from this discussion I cannot prove that there is a disagreement. (did that make any sense?)

    I am intrigued by the comment "the churches of Christ, which was a white racist sect for about 100 years." I am more intrigued to see brothers who seem to disagree about many things rallying together to defend the churches of Christ. It is almost as if Gary Cummings wrote that statement in an effort to help us find common ground.

    Truly fascinating.

  121. Alan says:

    Gary, it seems you have a fixation on this "white racist" issue you allege. You have brought it up repeatedly in a conversation on a completely different topic. If someone has sinned against you personally in that way, you need to go to that person and seek reconciliation. If not, maybe you need counseling. You don't need to confess someone else's sins, whether here or anywhere else.

  122. Orion says:


    Am I to draw from you flippantly sarcastic reply that you too feel you have a weak argument?

    I am not claiming infallability. I am interested in learning why biblical examples are not binding (i.e. cultural) and yet an inference on IM leads to condemnation.

    How do you decide what condemns and what is ok? Are there rules? What are they? It all seems so random to me.

    BTW, A reply to the gist of a post rather that ridiculing one phrase is generally better for maintaining meaningful dialog.

  123. Rich says:


    If you know a more objective means of determining modern day applications from the Bible, then let's discuss them.

    I remember overhearing a conversation between two people who seemed to be having issues at their church. One of them said, "I wish the Bible would tell us how to organize the church." I was thinking, it does. Just look at all the precedents (examples). The Bible provides far more answers to today's burning issues than most are willing to accept.

  124. Rich says:

    Please see below.

  125. Rich says:

    Sorry, my posts aren't going where I want.

  126. Rich says:


    I didn't realize you were putting such a precise emphasis on the word 'daily' in our discussion of context. In that case, I'll change my description to include words actually from the text. The context is our Christian WALK (LIFEstyle) from verse 2. Certainly worship, both small group and large, not only fits but should be included in a description of our lifestyle.

    The verse refers to singing that is directed toward God. This does not include secular songs like is typical in country, rock, hip-hop, classical, etc.

    Am I understanding your comment?

  127. Alan says:

    Hi Rich,

    Thomas Campbell proposed a better way in the Declaration and Address. In his sixth of the thirteen propositions, he wrote:

    That although inferences and deductions from scripture premises, when fairly inferred, may be truly called the doctrine of God's holy word: yet are they not formally binding upon the consciences of christians farther than they perceive the connection, and evidently see that they are so; for their faith must not stand in the wisdom of men; but in the power and veracity of God–therefore no such deductions can be made terms of communion

    I don't know if that is a perfect answer to the question, but I think it is absolutely a better answer than the way CENI is applied in conservative churches of Christ.

  128. Rich,

    Thanks for the encouraging words. That mean a lot to me. You seem to truly love and respect the Lord, His church and church. So many today only want to bash and trash us in churches of Christ. I think Gary's recent comments demonstrate such. I do not mind honest criticism about churches of Christ, and we indeed deserve some, but this disdain and almost hateful attitude that seems to come out of many progressives is very disheartening. I mean they act like we are the only religious group at times who has a less than perfect history. And that in fact, we aren't doing anything right and we don't have any truth and something uniquie to offer our religious neighbors.

    Anyway, most of the times I'm having to answer questioners from everyside with most seem to have very little "tolerance" for more conservative minded folks like myself. For all progressives talk of "openeness" they seem to only cut me and others down, judge us as being unspiritual, and mostly just legalists! They seem to more in common with those in denominations than with those of us in the church.

    Anyway, I'd better stop before the knives come out on me:)! If you ever get a chance, stop by my blog at: http://www.preacherprater.blogspot.com

    God bless you,
    In Christ,
    Robert Prater

  129. Rich,

    Thanks for the encouraging words. You seem to really have a great love and respect for the Lord, HIs word and the church. So many only want to bash and trash us in the churches of Christ. Kind of like Gary's been doing lately in his comments. Enough already on the racist cofc accusations!! Anway, I don't mind fair and honest criticism and we certainly deserve our fair share of it, but I just have little patience for those who only want to tear us down.

    Anyway, your comments meant a lot to me. I don't get many on the progressive blogs who agree with me on much. Again, the church is becoming more and more polarized by the far right and far left. Extremes are all around us!

    Stay faithful to the Lord and don't back down from the ideals of the restoration movement. We have something unique and very special to offer our religious neighbors. Many of the progressives have become ecumentical and are now openly embracing the concept of denominationalism and the church, even reguarly calling the church of Christ are full fledge denomination. I have no desire to be a part of anythign but the church we read about in the Bible.
    If we do what they did in the first century, we'll be what they were. Christians only. Members of the church that belongs to Christ.

    If you ever get a chance, check out my website at: http://www.preacherprater.blogspot.com

    God bless,
    In Christ
    Robert Prater

  130. Rich,

    Thanks for your encouraging comments. They mean a lot to me. If you ever get a chance, stop by my blog at : http://www.preacherprater.blogspot.com

    God bless,
    Robert Prater

  131. Rich says:


    Thanks for the reflection and research. I always want to learn more and this helps.

    "when fairly inferred" seems to be the source where we get the NI part of CENI. I think this is consistent with my previous posts on NI. I'm not a big fan because it is so easily abused.

    I am a big fan of C & E. Although I like the way F. LaGard Smith describes them (and changes the names accordingly) in "The Worldly Church". Unfortunately, I can't properly quote it right now because my copy in is one of 300+ boxes in a storage locker (in the process of moving to the South from Michigan).

    Does anyone have any comments on F. LaGard Smith's 3 P's?

  132. Rich,

    In his book, which I believe is entitled, "The Cultural Church", LaGard Smith proposes three different terms: purpose, principle, and precedent. First, he says, we must understand the purpose the original author had in mind. The we must determine whether there is principle which should apply to us. Finally, we ask whether there is a precedent. This latter term he uses to suggest something a bit more restrictive than example since many examples are not binding. There is merit to Smith’s proposal, but if "command, example, and necessary inference" are properly understood and utilized, the outcome would be the same as his purpose, principle, and purpose.

    Now that was a few yeas back and I don't know if brother Smith holds such a hermentical view now.

    By the way, I greatly appreciated your encouraging words to me in your response to my last post. It meant alot. I don't often get such comments on these more progressive blogs.

    Robert Prater

  133. Rich says:


    Thanks for the information. You helped my memory a lot (including the title). I read the book when it first came out (8-10 years ago?) and it is now in a box in storage so I couldn't look it up (part of a moving out of state transition)..

    I talked to Bro. Smith a few years back when he was visiting Ann Arbor, MI (just before his "Radical Restoration" was published). I asked him what has happened with the 3 P's, I thought that concept would really take off. He simply replied, "I thought so, too."

    From memory, I felt the 3 P's addressed many of the criticisms on this blog concerning CENI but still leads to similar conclusions as you say. Purpose tells us to include context, among other things, to help us understand the original intent. Principle helps us understand the why's (what several people are asking), and Precedent is a more objective form of example. Common sense logic (necessary inference) is needed in all.

    Rich Wells.

  134. Alan says:

    Interesting thoughts, Rich.

    The difficulty with any hermeneutic is that interpretation requires judgment ("common sense"). That's where almost all of the differences we are discussing come from. It would be nice if we could discover a hermeneutic that eliminates human judgment from the formula, because with such a hermeneutic everyone would have to concede the resulting interpretations. But that is not the real world. Therefore, any hermeneutic needs to come with some ethics of tolerance. Those ethics need to allow for people to have different interpretations without condemnation.

    There will obviously be some boundaries of interpretation that a given individual is not willing to cross, and those boundaries are subject to be different from person to person. So I wonder whether it is even possible to reach a state where every honest, genuine, penitent Christian accepts every other honest, genuine, penitent Christian without reservation. But surely we can get closer to that goal than we are right now.

  135. Gary,

    Do you enjoy spending your time "bashing" and "trashing" the CofC?? Just curious becasue you seem to have no love and kindness towards us. But, to your credit, you at least had the integrity to leave the CofC becasue of your, however, wrong and deceived faith alone beliefs (try reading slowly again James 2:24, 26) might be, you were apparently honest and sincere in such convictions against us.

    But that is at least more than I can say for some CofC's who spend all their time "within" the Church of Christ "throwing stones," dividing and running down local congregations.

    I think you've had your "15 minutes" on the racism charge. Enough already. By the way, which "Christian" body in America doesn't have some dirty and blood hands when it comes to the race issue in the last century?? We're not a perfect people. And neither are you! The fact that in many Christian universities and local conregations we have changed and repented and turned on the the evil bigotry and racism says we are committed to being like the church God intends for us to be. Again, your 15 minutes is up!

    By the way, in a related matter, since you took some "cheap shots" are Jimmy Allen, why don't you read up and study the historical record about all the good Jimmy Allen did in churches of Christ during the late 50's, 60's and 70's advocating equality and racial harmony and acceptance of blacks and whites both in the body of Christ and in a smaller scale, during the civil rights movement.

    It would serve you a good dose of education, humility and correction in your vile attacks against us in the CofC!

    Okay, I've said what I've wanted to you.

    In Christian love,
    Robert Prater

  136. Rich says:


    I understand your points. However, I have to let God be the judge of people's hearts. I can only observe their actions. If he is more lenient that I predict, then great. When it comes to heaven, the more the merrier.

    Here is an example that I have a hard time assessing.

    On a recent business trip, it came out during a dinner conversation that my traveling colleague was a member of the Christian Church and I the church of Christ. We discussed many of the similarities. He then asked me why we don't use musical instruments in worship. I tried to keep it simple and respectful. His response was something like this, "Wow, I've never looked at those scriptures like that before. You might be right, but I love my music too much to ever give it up."

    The conversation was totally respectful and cordial at all times.

    The thing is, there is obviously an element of selfishness in his answer. He plans to worship God with the attitude of the way he wants rather than the way God might want. The issue (musical instruments) was just the example. Any thing, even baptism or giving, could be entered here.

    So how do you perceive this situation?

  137. Drake Clark says:


    Yes, I'm here expressing my opinion, just as you are (whether you realize it or not). Like the rest of us, you're also prone error and bias. Bias is especially insidious, as it's a cognitive trap that is extremely difficult to detect and avoid even when one is aware of the danger. When a person is unaware of the fallibility of their opinions by being unable or unwilling to admit that they may be biased (or flat out wrong) in their interpretations, escaping the trap is virtually impossible.

    More specifically, the very act of reading the Bible (or any text) requires interpretation. For the Bible specifically (if you're reading an English translation) it was translated by a group of people (or, less ideally, by an individual) who by necessity were not only required to "simply" traverse the linguistic nuisances and differences, but also had to attempt to interpret the intent of the authors. This is not an easy process – there's a reason it's generally done by groups rather than by individuals.

    If you really think you have no bias, that you're simply "presenting facts", ask yourself why you choose to ignore almost all of the comments/questions in this thread that are contrary to your established beliefs. I'm not asking you to answer here, this is not a challenge… I'm simply asking you to consider why you may be ignoring these points. It can be a difficult question to consider, but I promise it is vital.

  138. Rich,

    I like this quote from brother Smith:

    'When push comes to shove, there are only a limited number of ways to interpret anything! In fact, whenever we want to understand someone, we generally look to two things: What a person says and what a person does. What could correspond more to our everyday, automatic, built-in hermeneutic than "commands" (sayings) and "examples" (doings)? When we instinctively look to precept and precedent, we're simply doing what comes naturally.' (The Cultural Church. F. Lagard Smith p. 44)

    Although CENI is never to our only hermentics, don't let the progressives turn you completely away from it. They want to take us to a place that is illogical and unscritpural. John Mark Hicks, who is a brillant writer and thinker, proposes such nosense as this:

    Don't let Jay and other progressives turn you against it. We must look for direct commands and examples that either demand, permit or forbid a belief or activity. And then we look for logical conclusions that are demanded from such commands and examples, i.e. necessary inferences. Regardless of what Jay and other progressives want to say about how Alexander Campbell and his modern Baconianism shaped how Scripture was used in Churches of Christ. Don't swallow it. Don't buy what they are selling. It's a bill of goods. A straw man argument they love to tear down.

    The use of CENI in discovering God’s will for us are valid if we have first used other basic principles to understand a passage.

    Many important principles must be used in interpreting the meaning of scriptures. But I do believe that the use of CENI is an important tool for making application of scripture to our own lives once we have determined what the passage meant to those who first received it. The use of CENI were not invented by the Restoration Movement or by any theologian. They are processes of thought common to man and which God expects us to use as we come to scripture. Like all processes of interpretation, they must be used carefully and one can use them to come to right conclusions or misuse them and come to wrong ones. Because they can be abused, however, we must not cast them aside. We must use them correctly.

    I've said it before, I believe the middle ground among those of us in CofC is where grace and faith meet. Extremes on either end must be rejected and avoided.

    God bless you,
    Robert Prater

  139. Alan says:

    So how do you perceive this situation?

    Well, since there are two Alan's on this thread I'm not sure, but I think you're responding to me (sorry for contributing to the confusion!) Anyway, it's unfortunate that your friend loves anything too much to give it up for Christ. OTOH I appreciate his honesty. I'd caution against presuming that his attitude is representative of all others who practice instrumental music in the church. Some of us actually have studied the subject in some depth, and arrive at our conclusions from a biblical base.

  140. Pat says:

    "They are processes of thought common to man and which God expects us to use as we come to scripture. Like all processes of interpretation, they must be used carefully and one can use them to come to right conclusions or misuse them and come to wrong ones….We must use them correctly."

    Please overlook my simplemindedness, but I must ask where the scripture says we are expected to use CENI, and who determines if they are used carefully and correctly?

  141. Rich says:


    Thanks for the comeback. I think the other Alan includes his last name. That helps keep you straight. As long as you both stay consistent then no problem. I have found the last couple of days that hitting the reply button underneath a particular post isn't guaranteeing my post goes underneath the original like it was. So much for computers I guess :).

    For the record, the other individual and I left the dinner with high respect for each other. I feel that is safe to say because we worked on the same project together the next two years quite effectively.

    When it comes to individuals, I feel I am quite lenient, forgiving, always giving the benefit of the doubt. At least, that's the feedback I get a lot and my wife says I am too easy going with people sometimes.

    However, when it comes to organizations and/or people representing belief systems I can become very firm. The difference is the level of influence that is represented.

    You made some good points on assuming too much about other people's motives when we disagree with them.

    Rich Wells

  142. Rich says:


    Thanks again for your insightful comments.

    Against my parents' belief system, I was baptized as a teenager. Yet, while attending a very secular engineering college, I questioned nearly every principle and teaching of the cofC. The conclusion was that although we have room for improvement the cofC is closer to following God's word than any other groups or systems I had studied. I did a deep dive into Restoration history and the like and other fundamentals while in my twenties (1980's).

    Then in the 90's I discovered short term missions. I was hooked. I changed my emphasis from studying the fundamental theories (hermeneutics, doctrines, Greek, etc.) to the more practical (how to better serve, mission activities, improving classroom quality, etc.).

    Recently, I have been more exposed to progressives and their thoughts. So I have decided to go back and revisit the fundamentals. I prefer to get information straight from the horse's mouth rather than just study what other people say about the other groups. Thus, I landed on this and other similar blogs in the last two weeks. The advantage of this is to insure one receives accurate information about the progressive thought. The danger is one may like what they see and change. But if truth is discovered, then it is a good thing.

    The irony of it all is that I now have a higher confidence in the CENI concept than I did before reading this blog. Today's entry, subtitled: Eden Hermeneutic, is a great supporter of the CENI thought process. Jay, inadvertently used CENI and quoted how the Apostles used CENI to determine proper Biblical marriage.

    I gave Jay the opportunity to accept that our problem was using CENI for procedural issues rather than higher level issues like Christian love and relationships. I thought that would have been very consistent with all of his previous posts I have read. However, he chose to deny having anything to do with the CENI process even though his reasoning was totally laced together using CENI.

    I also found a lot of quotes from Alexander Campbell used out of context. AC later tried to better explain himself because people were using what he had earlier published to make it look like he believed things that folks on this blog believe. He was emphatic that was a wrong conclusion.

    In conclusion, don't worry. The progressives on this blog have reinforced my confidence in CENI.

  143. Maybe I'm not a "real" progressive, but my only opposition to CENI is trying to use it to determine law where no law was intended, or worse, using it throughout scripture as if the sole intent and purpose of it is to communicate law.

    That's like using a hammer to magnify a printed page, or a thermometer to measure volume.

    My objection is the assumption that scripture was intended by the Holy Spirit to be an all-law all-the-time radio station format, because that really does (as Jay points out) suck all the joy right out of it.

  144. Good grief! Comments on this post are likely to end up ANYWHERE!

    I hope this one is a reply to Robert.

    I think there's a quote from John Mark Hicks missing in your comment …?

  145. Rich,

    I would just continue to encourage you to stand for truth in a balanced and loving way and have no desire to run full stream and embrace the far left progressive view of truth (which in many instances demonstrates many are infected with postmodern thinking).

    For the past few months I’ve been engaged with progressives bloggers like Jay and others and it has been very eyeing opening to see just how far down the road many in the church are. They seem to exalt and glory in their “doubts and diversity” in teachings and practice in the body of Christ and seem to think that little if any error will condemn souls. There really is a spiritually “arrogance” demonstrated in their attitude I’ve noticed that somehow they’ve been “liberated” and “set free.”

    One thing that's been most eye opening has been to see how the "progressive" Church of Christ people have just as much ability to be close minded as they accuse us more conservative minded brethren to be. It's very easy to believe that you're more advanced in theology and relationship to God than "those poor conservatives." Progressives have to be charitable in working with other churches of Christ, as well as denominations. Spiritual superiority complexes have no place in the Kingdom.

    But make no mistake about it, the one thing I’ve learned about the strategy and approach of “progressives” is that their “openness” and “genuine dialogue” is carefully coughed in their steadfast zeal to change the conservative brethren and churches of Christ. They talk big on gaining “mutual understanding" but what most of them seem to really desire is that if you listen to them enough, you will convert.

    But how much of this "understanding" goes the other way? I would bet none. Of course there are issues within the church that we need to have “mutual. As far as discussion goes, though, perhaps if the conservative brothers do well, they might dissuade someone trying to learn more about these issues from jumping off the doctrinal deep end.

    And so I do stay in “the ring” (although less and less) because there are hopefully lurkers (people who read but who never post) who might be persuaded by the arguments presented. As far as the opponents goes, our arguments generally fall on deaf ears

    Overall, I do think it is interesting that they are calling themselves "progressives" when they are actually "digressors". True progressive people work toward holding up the inspired Word and inspired model and patterns, spreading the seed to progress the momentum of the church to the glory of Christ. Unlike the other, which seeks to dilute, dismiss and reason people into confusion and ultimate spiritual death.

    Most of these “discussion” blogs such as the Graceconversation site has been very disappointing. What It has been a platform for wondering brethren, who want us all to be like them to launch their man made agenda. I know they say we have an agenda and we do, I hope God's agenda to say and do nothing outside of what we read our God desires of us.

    I want to leave you with some thoughts by Richard Mansel, managing editor of Fortright Straight. Although at times he is a bit more conservative than I'd like, he made some very right on observations in a series of articles earlier this year entitled: “Where Do Progressives Want to Take the Church?

    He said in part one mantra of the progressives is in part:

    “We don’t judge those who believe differently than we do.” This idea focuses on the person, not the doctrine. If hearts matter more than God’s will, then we will find a way to make the person right, no matter what it takes.

    He then quotes liberal denominational theologian, John Shelby Spong, while extreme, outlines an agenda of victory for progressivism. It involves altering the language and meaning of terms within Christianity, the abolition of sin as an antiquated notion, stripping the divinity from God and Jesus and the miraculous from Scripture and eradicating any boundary to salvation and happiness. In short, demolish and reorient all that characterizes Christianity until it is safe, harmless and, ultimately, worthless.

    Richard continues: “In the Lord’s church, many are accepting a diluted version of this agenda, often without realizing it. They may never approach the level of digression that Spong advocates, but any measure of it does serious damage.”

    Mansel further makes the interesting observation:

    “When we hear theological terms uttered by progressives, we cannot blindly agree with their usage. They quite often mean something very different from what conservatives mean. For example, a conservative in the church uses the term baptism to mean immersion for the remission of sins ( Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16, et al). However, progressives in the church often employ a smarmy form of the word that is elastic enough to allow immersion for any reason, or even sprinkling, if the person desires. Unity, grace and fellowship are three other terms that are undergoing rapid redefinition under progressivism.

    Mansel concludes by saying:

    “Progressives in the Lord’s church have not been as digressive as those in the religious world, as a whole. These brethren emulate and admire the denominational progressives. They borrow their methods and vocabulary and, in a lesser way, follow an adapted version of their progressivism. However, a bit of poison is still poison. Remaining true to God’s Word in the face of such an onslaught will require a steel spine and a resolute faith. The culture abhors absolute truth and this heresy is being welcomed into the church with alarming alacrity. Books espouse it and blogs enunciate it. It is like a locust plague that devours everything in its path.
    It is well past time for brethren who love truth to stand up and stand out in the church. We must not compromise to keep peace, no matter how much we are challenged to do so. Name-calling may buckle our knees, we must resist. We will be mocked and ridiculed, we must shut our ears and listen, instead, to God’s Word ( 2 Timothy 3:12). “

    God bless,
    Robert Prater

  146. Alan says:

    But how much of this “understanding” goes the other way? I would bet none.


    We must not compromise to keep peace, no matter how much we are challenged to do so.

    This conversation really doesn't have to be so polarized. We agree on many things… and, I think, on the most important things.

  147. Alan says:

    Trying again to connect my reply to the right comment….

  148. Those are serious accusations, Robert. Care to document the accused "arrogance" with actual instances, rather than just hit-and-run, and then quoting someone else who agrees with your estimation?

  149. Rich says:


    This blog's leader, Jay, has set the stage by consistently inserting insults and condescending comments about other people's motives throughout most of his initial posts that I have read.

    As a case in point, look at advice number 13 in Jay's otherwise very informative post on how to lead a blog:

    "13. Link to the site you’re talking about; Cite the book or article you are criticizing

    There’s an odd difference between progressive and conservative writers in the Churches of Christ. The conservatives often criticize books and articles without giving the name of the author or the link to the site. It’s very annoying and even a little dishonest. I mean, if I don’t know who you’re talking about, I can’t read what that person wrote to let him defend himself.

    Progressives are generally pretty good at linking or citing to whomever they are criticizing. Which is how educated people are trained to do it and how people who aren’t afraid of being fact checked will want to do it. Right?"

  150. I don't believe linking to someone's blog when criticizing them is exactly the right interpretation of Jesus' instruction to "go to him (a brother who sins/has something against you)" (Matthew 5:23; 18:15ff), no matter who's doing it.

    Deflecting the attention away from Robert's responsibility by making further accusations is hardly worthy of the conversation. How is Jay's advice insulting or condescending? Neither of you cites examples or hard data to support how many people you think are linking/citing the person they're criticizing.

  151. Drake Clark says:


    Once again, I've probably done a very poor job of articulating my thoughts. Regarding a "more objective" hermeneutic, I admit that given the terms of your question I don't know of a more objective process… but such a confession doesn't speak to the relative objectiveness of CENI. I still maintain that (as I've seen it practiced), it is applied in extremely subjective ways, and is generally most often presented as "THE truth" by people who have no ability and/or willingness to understand how subjective their beliefs really are.

    I would like to discuss the terms of your question, however, if you'll forgive me for questioning your question… It seems that you view hermeneutical objectivity as a virtue, perhaps even THE virtue in approaching the Bible. Before I simply accept the question and go off looking for some approach more objective than CENI I have to ask, why are we searching for the objective in the first place, unquestioningly, as though it is the high standard for any hermeneutic?

    Ultimately, am I potentially missing "the point" by asking the wrong question? What do you think?

  152. Drake Clark says:


    Amen… one of the best comments I've seen on the topic.

  153. Rich says:


    My point is this blog is intended to allow people to express their opinion. Many are following the same style that Jay uses.

    In the case of Jay, his generalizations said that this conservative with two masters degrees (engineering and business) and the PhD's and medical doctors I know who are more conservative than I are uneducated but most progressives like him are educated.

  154. You'll have to take that up with Jay. I can't speak for him, but I think you may have taken something personally that he meant as a generalization.

    I just wish all of us – myself included – used fewer generalizations and more specific instances to support our opinions, so there would be less confusion. And perhaps less opportunity to take things personally which aren't necessarily meant that way.

    I wish we would completely eschew labels like "conservative" and "progressive," which too often become epithets and insults and reasons to divide the body of Christ … when we can't even agree on how to define them.

  155. Orion says:


    Your post included the following: "There really is a spiritually “arrogance” demonstrated in their attitude I’ve noticed that somehow they’ve been “liberated” and “set free.” "

    We have been "set free". In John 8:32, Jesus tells the Jews who believed, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

    Read the next few verses, freedom does not come from being a child of Abraham. Nor does freedom come from keeping the law. Galatians 2:16 says, know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ."

    Now, I believe that freedom should generate a great humility, not arrogance. However, those against that freedom may interpret confidence as arrogance.

    I Peter 2:16 warns us, "Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God." I have never hear a "progressive" argue that we should go on sinning that grace may abound.

    I see honest searching of God's will in light of the freedoms we have in Christ.

    To provide an example using IM. I attend an acapella c of c. My view on IM is that God does not forbid instruments but admonishes us to sing. I believe if we sing we are being obedient whether an instrument is used or not.

    However, I would not dream of making my brothers use instruments in violation of their conscience. I do not exercize my freedom because of my love for my brothers. My question is, Why do some feel the need the not fellowship fellow Christians because they disagree on an issue on which there is no clear command?

    Praise God for his abundant grace.

  156. Rich says:


    I don't know if I have seen a clean, simple criteria. I know in my studies I look for a spiritual significance.

    For example, meeting in an upper room. Yes, Jesus and the apostles met in an upper room for the passover and the church at Troas met in an upper room (Acts 20). However, 1) I can't think of any spiritual significance, and 2) early Christians worshiped in the temple which probably did not include an upper room. this indicates to me that location isn't the issue.

    I admit I need to work on how to communicate this better. Please be patient.

  157. Once again, my original reply has attached itself randomly to another comment. I still think you might be taking something personally that Jay did mean personally, and only he could answer that.

    I will add that if there are folks leaving comments in the same tone that they feel it is wrong for Jay to use, then they surely cannot believe it is right to reply in kind ( or wothout kindness).

    For instance, I'm not a lawyer but I think I know law when I see it. It doesn't really take a lawyer to know law when you see it ( which I took to be Jay's point,humorously made). A commenter was put off by Jay's remark. My point is that, even if we choose to use emoticons – disclaimer: I am NOT advocating it! – we can still misunderstand and be misunderstood in a written communique which doesn't feature vocal or visual cues to intent or meaning.

    We just all need to be more careful in expressing our thoughts this way, including ( okay, ESPECIALLY) me.

  158. Jay Guin says:


    I'm very sorry if my comment came across as arrogant. That was certainly not my intent. (I would "amen" Gary's comment.)

  159. Jay Guin says:


    I've set the comments to nest 2 deep rather than 3 deep, in hopes of helping commenters find the right spot. You're not the only one who's had problems with the WordPress comment structure. I hope this helps everyone.


    It helps others follow the comments if you begin your comment with a salutation ("Keith,") so there's no doubt as to whom you are addressing. It's especially helpful to me as it's often hard to know if someone is commenting to me as author or the preceding comment.


  160. Jay,

    This often snares us. We begin a discussion of scripture with "I am a" or "I studied at …"

    "I'm an engineer, and my analysis of this passage leads to ABC." the reply is "Well, I know a dozen engineers and their analysis all leads to XYZ."

    In a similar fashion, "When I studied at Harding (or where ever), we concluded ABC" the reply is "Well, I know a dozen people who studied at Harding and they concluded XYZ."

    We aren't discussing the scriptures anymore. Instead we are appealing to pride and discussing bona fides and such.

    Instead, let's point to scripture. See how many times the word "law" appears in Exodus as an example (The same law applies to the native-born and to the alien living among you.).

    Now let's find cases where a "law" is given by Jesus. I'm still looking and can't find one.

    Here we are discussing scripture, not human qualifications. Easier said than done.

  161. Todd Collier says:

    OK here's my problem. I am a strict constructionist when it comes to my Bible reading. Unless there is a clear "Thou Shalt" or "Thou shalt Not" I refuse to bind anything on any person. By that standard I reject the reasoned conclusions of man that add to God's law. There are clear "thou shalts" for baptism, congregating in large and small groups, keeping the Lord's supper, Holy Kissing, raising hands in prayer, singing in our daily experience, studying the Word (All of it), loving God, loving others, loving each other, evangelism, taking care of the poor, widows and orphans.
    There are clear "thou shalt nots" for dividing the body over man made theories, preferences or opinions, changing the given means of salvation in Christ, turing back to a salvation based upon law keeping, adding to God's law, taking away from God's law, and a host of moral sins such as greed, adultery, homosexuality, pride, etc.

    Strict rules as to IM or not, weekly Lord's supper or not, strict congregational autonomy or some cooperation, permanent ministers or not, name by which a congregation is identified, etc are not provided. I can have good ideas or even convictions on these points, but I cannot enforce them without the authority to do so.

    So my view of scripture makes me an arch-conservative while my outcomes make me liberal?

    I find it sadly funny. Because I disagree with the conservative camp I and told that I reject authority, reject truth, reject the deep roots of the church. And yet these roots we have discussed are not even to be found in the text. Paul did not preach on IM one way or the other, and I have to think that if it was such a big deal he would have. His world was full of it. the Temple worship was full of it. The pagan world was full of it. He taught against their sexual license and discussed the status of their sacrificed meat and yet was strangely silent on their music. And apologies to Ken but they are not by any stretch of the imagination the same thing.

    He did not preach on autonomy but attended a major church conference to hash out church-wide problems. Though the magesterial bishops that would devekop and lead many astray by greed and worldliness are absent in the text the strict autonomy we preach isn't there either.

    His take on the role of women is not exactly so cut and dry. He demands silence and yet also gives instructions for their behavior in public praying and teaching. And this in the same letter. And he also clearly acknowledges women who were deacons and prophetesses in the early church. Obviously he knew what he was doing even if we don't.

    So are we "progressives" so dismissive of scripture and its authority or do we demand that God's Word stand on its own shorn of a hundred years of man made accretions? Do we reject Jesus and the apostles or simply the popular teachers and editors of the past several decades?

    By the definitions Heath has provided who are the real conservatives here when it comes to the scriptures?

  162. Rich says:


    Good point. I mentioned my occupation to help people understand how I think. I'm also curious how many who post are preachers vs. secular occupations. You bring up a good point on how others might perceive such a post.

    Thanks for the advice.

  163. Alan says:

    Todd Collier wrote:

    OK here’s my problem. I am a strict constructionist when it comes to my Bible reading. Unless there is a clear “Thou Shalt” or “Thou shalt Not” I refuse to bind anything on any person

    Excellent comment, Todd. That's worthy of being its own article.

  164. nick gill says:


    It would also help, once you know that there is another commenter that shares your given name, if you'd sign your comments, so we don't have to try and do linguistic analysis to figure out who is arguing with who! 🙂

    in HIS love,
    nick gill

  165. Gary Cummings says:

    What. I grew up in the white racist Jim Crow South, and went to Jim Crow Churches, both Baptist and Church of Christ. That is just plain history. I am a old white guy, and I am quite aware of what I saw in my life experience. Racism is part of the heritage of the Churches of Christ since it started in 1898. I remember my white racist professors at the Christian college I attended. Thanks. If anybody needs some counseling, it is not me sir. It is a good thing that Royce Money gave his historical apology for ACU and its participation in the racism of its culture from 1906 until that apology in 2002 (+/-).
    Try reading some Don Haymes and his study of racism in the Restoration Movement. Very interesting reading. I live in the South and I love it, it is my home, but I acknowledge the history of racism and its absolute evil. Too mad you don't, and cover up the racist dirt in the churches of Christ.


  166. Gary Cummings says:

    The history of the traditional churches of christ-the Sommerite sect-is vile enough. You don't have the guts to face it and be honest. Yeah, I guess its okay that the churches of Christ were foundationally racist from 1898 tp the apology by Royce Money. There were always a few brilliant exceptions, thank God.

    The love of Christ and His Spirit is not in you sir, or you would not defend a demonic church-the Sommerite Sect.


  167. Jay Guin says:


    I don't see where Robert has defended racism in any form.

    I would also point out that the Churches of Christ, while having a sinful, racist history, also have examples of prominent men who worked diligently against slavery and for racial reconciliation.

    To be fair, both aspects of our history need to be acknowledged.

  168. Alan says:

    Gary, I won't deny your experiences because I wasn't there. I'm only speaking for mine. I think you go to far in indicting all churches of Christ however. And I stand by my comment that you shouldn't be confessing someone else's sins. "Do not speak evil against one another, brothers." (James 4:11)

  169. Gary Cummings says:

    If one "can't really defend the Churches of Christ of the 20th Century in terms of unity", can't it also be said that one "can't really defend the Churchs of Christ of the 20th Century in terms of "race [mine]"?

    Sure there were some great people ( a handful out of ?), who did the best they could against the Bullying Sommerite Sect. David Lipscomb, I believe was a great man of God. He was an abolitionist as well as a pacifist. Too bad his stances did not become mainstream in the COC. Daniel Sommer and his followers, especially in South followed Brother Jim Crow. instead. I remember racist preachers, elders, members and professors from my experience with the COC from 1965-1971. The thrust of the COC was racist. Don Haymes has done a lot of work on this black hole in Restoration History.
    My father was a racist, did not consider the blacks human, and voted for George Wallace. I found no difference in my dad's thinking and the ideology of the "churches of Christ".
    I remember George Gurganus, the great mission brain of ACU, he was against all of the segregation he saw in the South, we talked about that a couple of times. He was upset about it, but told me he had to be covert about his activities, so as not to upset the powers at ACU and the local elders of Abilene, Texas. Then there was the great ACU professor who gave the challenge at an ACC lectureship against racism. He was quitre famous about this, and caused quite a stir. This was Carl Spain. He accused the COC of his day of the oxymoron of being overtly racist and claiming to be the Lord's Church at the same time. I am sure I missed some great folks who spoke against all that racist jazz. I am glad there were some.
    But, I will say from my reading and experience of growing up in the Texas of the 50's and 60's, that Southern society and its churches-including the Churches of Christ was racist to the core. There were always exceptions of course. Thank God for that. Will Campbell and Clarence Jordan were great anti-racist leaders.
    You are a bit younger than I am, but I am sure you saw a lot of this racism in Alabama. Let's just be honest with folks and let the people who did not come of age in the 60's know what it was like then, and how that made a chruch which claimed to be the only true Body of Christ on Earth sound rather hallow.

  170. Randall says:

    While no one on this site has expressed a racist view Gary is pretty much correct about our history. Richard Hughes has some interesting material in his history and Bobby Valentine has just posted (last Monday) a substantial piece on his blog.

    I visited the south regularly in the 50s and 60s and know some that were closely involved with Marshall Keeble. But I never heard of Fred Gray until a few years ago. Seems he was ignored by the folks I knew. I also visited the north regularly and saw plenty of racism there too, it just wasn't quite as overt as in the south.

    When I was a student at ACC a fellow student told me his father was a real somebody in the KKK in Arkansas and his uncle was the number one guy in the Arkansas Klan. A wonderfully humble black student (Bible major) from the deep south told me blacks were quite literally turned away from attending the white CofC where he was from. I believe he is currently a preacher in north Texas. The preacher where I attended in Abilene for a while told us there should be no inter racial dating … I could go on, but I'm sure the older ones here could add their own stories.

    Carl Spain was one of the few that was vocal about the issue. I remember others agreed with Spain, but don't recall their specific comments at this moment.

    As to this comment posted above:
    "I would also point out that the Churches of Christ, while having a sinful, racist history, also have examples of prominent men who worked diligently against slavery and for racial reconciliation.

    To be fair, both aspects of our history need to be acknowledged."

    Yes I agree! Both aspects do need to be acknowledged and perhaps in proportion to the way in which both aspects were representative of our history. For what it is worth, Bobby Valentine does show both.


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