The Progressive Churches of Christ: Where to Go from Here?

progressiveSo let’s talk a little bit about the progressive wing of the Churches of Christ. We are in a tough place historically, and it’s time to stop looking in the rearview mirror and start looking more toward the future.

But where to start? Let’s start by looking at how the Churches of Christ presently break down. What sub-denominations are there within the larger Church of Christ denomination?

church_of_Christ_state (1)1. In an important article, Joe Beam breaks the Churches of Christ down this way.

The link is to a 2012 blog post, but the article was first written long ago, at Wineskins 2, 12 (May/June 1996):23-26. That’s nearly 20 years ago, and things have changed.

In particular, those in the middle — the Opens, the Cautious, and the Searching — have moved to the right or the left, so that there are fewer in-between congregations and more that are either exasperated or satisfied. I believe the Zealots are also in decline.

I would see it more like this:

1. Satisfied. Mainly born in the Churches of Christ and happy that the preaching is less damning and yet very comfortable that once a quarter there’s still a sermon on the Five Steps of Salvation, Five Acts of Worship, and a subtle, constant reassurance that we are the only ones going to heaven.

The Satisfieds have learned that others consider it distasteful for them to out-and-out say that everyone else is going to hell, and so they’ve learned to speak in euphemisms: We are Christians only but there may be others going to heaven, too (being those who happen to worship and teach exactly as we do, with a scriptural name and form of organization, but who haven’t yet gotten on the mailing list for the Freed Hardeman University lectureships).

This is the group often called “conservative.” They believe in marks of salvation or tests of fellowship tied to the form of church organization, the acts of worship in the assembly, and the name.

2. Political. This is the in-between church. The category doesn’t appear in Joe’s chart because he’s describing individuals and I’m describing congregations. And many Churches of Christ today are political churches.

By “political” I mean a church where the leaders cannot be honest with the members on vital topics because they are desperately trying to hold two different perspectives together in a single congregation.

Some members are in the Satisfied class and so have no desire for change of any kind. In fact, to them, change is threatening, digressive, and likely to lead to damnation.

But the church has members who are not only Open but anxious to change things up. They see a lack of evangelistic effectiveness and want to change that. They see that every effort to try something new is met is with resistance, so that everything is a fight or a compromise. Nothing is ever done just to be faithful. Every change is evaluated in terms of what horrible extreme it might lead to.

For example, the Freed Hardeman chorus comes by to sing for the church, and the elders feel compelled to dismiss the assembly before inviting the chorus to sing, to make clear that the performance by the choir is not an “act of worship.” When the youth minister introduces the chorus, he invites the congregation to join in and “worship” with the students. He is called in before the elders and chewed out for offending the sensibilities of many of the members. When he asks how singing song of praise to God isn’t worship, the elders don’t address the scriptural issues but the political issues.

The elders realize that a small groups program would be best for the church, but the Satisfied members wish to continue Sunday night worship, and so they ask their members to do both. Or the elders offer a choice, with the result that the small groups members and the Sunday night worship members fight over who gets to have the preacher at their event. The Satisfieds complain that Sunday night worship no longer has as many present. The small group leaders complain because, without strong support from the pulpit, participation is too low. The preacher desperately wants to push small groups, but the elders won’t let him. To the elders, small groups is a concession, not a strategy and certainly not a vision. In fact, the church has no vision because vision implies a desire to achieve goals, and goals imply change.

Purely secondary issues always turn into fights because they are seen by both sides as a proxy for a bigger issue. When a teenage girl participates in a chain prayer in a private setting with boys present, some become outraged having read articles in the Gospel Advocate declaring this a step toward apostasy. Other parents demand to know what scripture prohibits a girl from participating in a group prayer. Other parents want the church to take up a fresh study on the role of women — some pushing toward a greater role, and others pushing toward a lesser role. The girl who led the prayer and her family transfer membership.

The problem with a political church is that the elders can’t simply read the scriptures and follow. They must take into account the reactions of widely differing hermeneutics and a century of barnacled traditions resisting all change because important families are afraid of what any change at all might lead to. Other families are desperate for the freedom to lift hands toward heaven during the worship service, to let their daughters pray in mixed groups, to dedicate their babies — even to sing a song written after 1944. But a new song is seen by some as step in the direction of entertainment — the apostate community church direction.

Political churches are unstable. They are usually held together by a beloved preacher who is a skilled politician, who knows how to give the younger people just enough to keep them happy enough to stay and to never give so much that the older people stop giving.

He calls the Freed Hardeman chorus “entertainment” even though everyone knows it’s really worship. He calls small groups “zone meetings” because we had zone meetings in the 1960s and they were okay. He calls the woman on staff to work with the teens an “event coordinator,” when she is really hired to minister to the girls and so is really a minister. The bulletin is filled with euphemisms and half truths designed to keep it together for just one more fiscal year.

When the beloved preacher retires, the church falls apart because the members were never taught the skills needed to cope with each other’s needs and wants. Rather than learning grace and freedom in Christ, they learned how to negotiate, rationalize, and spin doctor.

The search for a new preacher inevitably leads to a search for a preacher who fits one side’s agenda, and the church finds it hard to find a preacher who wants to be a great compromiser. All the candidates fit in one category or the other, and so eventually one side wins, the other loses, and the members on the losing side drift away.

3. Progressive. The progressive churches are churches that are willing to break with tradition and do things that would be unthinkable in a Satisfied congregation. They might have an instrumental service along with an a cappella service. Women might be given far greater freedom to speak to the church. New songs are sung. The preacher freely speaks from the pulpit about the Holy Spirit’s direct operation on the heart. There hasn’t been a lesson taught against instrumental music in 20 years. Grace and the heart of Jesus are common themes in classes and sermons.

Now, nearly every Church of Christ has some of all three elements. Very few Churches are entirely free of political considerations, and that’s because very few have no members who are Satisfied or Progressive. Of course, Progressive members in a Political or Satisfied church quickly become Exasperated. They push for change and eventually either the church moves a bit in their direction or they leave. Just so, Zealots in a Progressive or Political church push for a return to traditional practices, and they eventually get their way or leave. Or they become Open and willing to reconsider their views. It happens.

There were far fewer Political churches 20 years ago than there are today. Most have had one side or the other gain control, and the other side has either transferred membership or formed a new church.

It’s fairly common for a group to leave a church unhappy, only to find that they can’t effectively form a new congregation because they were more united in their opposition to the old leadership rather than a common vision about how to be a church. Once they leave, they can’t agree on the details — how far right or left to go — and so they scatter, some returning to their old church, some leaving the Churches of Christ altogether. All are very hurt by perceived disloyalties and broken promises.

You see, it’s much easier to see the problems in other people than in yourself. It’s easy to reject the stern, bitter judgmentalism of the far right while wanting to cling to some of the products of that same mindset. That is, we may tire of the preacher damning the Baptists from the pulpit, but we get upset if he plans a joint communion service with them. Sometimes we just don’t like hearing what our beliefs sound like.

And so, sometimes, a progressive congregation finds itself more about what it isn’t than what it is. It’s far easier to reject the old legalism of our youth than to embrace a better alternative. As a result, progressive congregations tend to drift, certain that they don’t want to return to the old ways but unsure of where to go from here.

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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51 Responses to The Progressive Churches of Christ: Where to Go from Here?

  1. JES says:

    “where to go from here”?

    How about going to the Great Commission?

  2. Joe B says:

    I remember when this came out while back. Yes the spiritual reformists, I don’t like the word progressives, need to be more about what they are for and less about what they are not. If you look at the huge campaign the Catholics have been doing called “Catholics come home” with commercials and all kinds of advertising it did not appeal in a manner that claimed “they were only ones or had a monopoly on truth”. Rather is appealed through the identification that they lived out the gospel through educating, feeding, taking care of orphans, providing medical care, taking care of pregnant unwed mothers and so on. They also talked about how they had revised their theology and recognized some their old ideas had to be re-thought. I was astonished when I watched this commercial. I wonder what that same thing would look like the churches of Christ. The Catholics have lost more members and adherents in the USA as a whole number and a percentage than any other religious group period. The problem is to speak in generalities, the churches of Christ are so loosely affiliated it is hard to do something like this. My suggestion is that the spiritual reformists in the church need to figure out exactly what they are for like the Catholics did then through the best method possible publish that. My suggestion is that it needs to be gospel based not doctrinal, if it is intended for capturing the minds of the unchurched or those who have left the churches of Christ.

  3. laymond says:

    Jay, question; How come it is you always mention “the Baptist” when comparing the branches of the CoC. As far as I can see the CoC and the Baptist have less differences than some of the older, and newer branches of the CoC.
    Why not mention some of the worship practice of the Pentecostals, or “The church of God” “The Methodists” “The seventh Day Adventist” Don’t all these people claim to be Christians?
    As far as I remember, I never once heard a CoC preacher degrade a Baptist congregation from the pulpit. I have read where some branch of the Baptist church call CoC names such as “waterdogs” .
    (referring to our practice of being cleansed of sins, so we are acceptable in God’s sight)
    You speak of the heart of Jesus, Jesus heart was exactly as our own should become, to do the will of his God and our God.

    It just seems to me that the progressive branch of the CoC prefer the Baptist, over the conservatives of their own church. My question still remains “Why not worship with the Baptist.?
    They prefer instruments in worship, they say baptism is not necessary, they eat of the supper seldom. and the name they prefer is “Baptist” not Church of Christ.

  4. Your title does taunt with a question, though the text summarizes the current dilemmas.

    Many of my younger preaching friends are enthusiastic about church planting, which offers wonderful opportunities for the evangelism they were trained (and yearn) to do, but solve none of the difficulties within the sponsoring congregations.

    I’m serving in a tiny church that has shrunk from 35 to 12 in the last year, and there are still elements of all of these points of view present.

    Our working solution is to have family meetings and talk when possible, propose and make compromises, ease into some changes (we’ve traded out preaching for interactive discussion during our worship hour; women read scripture and add to the discussion), but above all else we love each other deeply, pray for each other, and hang on for dear life together as a church with a building too large for us, two houses and another building in a different town rented to a charismatic church.

    It’s not a complete or ideal solution, but it is working.

    Where do we go from here?

  5. tb says:

    Thank you for your thought-provoking comments. Being somewhere between comfortable to political range myself I might suggest some revision of your categories. There are larger groups of churches than perhaps realized that are not still hanging onto the traditional banners, who are reevaluating steps of salvation within the light of grace/faith, and who don’t see GA or FHU as the bulwark of the brotherhood. The Holy Spirit is an active part of our congregational preaching/teaching and slowly becoming a part of inner-member dialogue. We do not use instruments, have group lead worship, or women in formal leadership roles — although many women have taken on informal roles in some areas. I serve under an eldership that is ethnically and doctrinally diverse. We actively seek to increase inter-congregational unity and build relationships between non-intuitional (which we have found a new generation that is not fighting for their teachings and is open to building unity), predominately African-American, and progressive congregations.

    The point being, while we don’t have every characteristic of a progressive congregation, nor would we consider ourselves one, there is more variety within churches that are sometimes considered “conservative.” I would argue that a “new mainstream” is developing that cannot be categorized by the negativities that have often plagued conservative-leaning and radical right churches in the past. The reason I say this, is that there are a number of growing churches (mostly east of the Mississippi) that I am familiar with that cannot fit into these categories. These churches may not incorporate progressive practices relating to worship or women, but you will find that the doctrinal vibe is less dogmatic and aiming more-so to truly “speak the truth with love.”

  6. GATidwell says:

    Always find your analysis to be thought provoking. Glad you took note of the Gospel Advocate – I had almost thought you had forgotten about us.

  7. Dwight says:

    Joe B, makes a thourght provoking point that we should all look at. What we are as opposed to what we aren’t, which is usually, well we aren’t like them.
    The Mormons, as strange in doctrine as the BoM, PoGP, etc. is, try to bridge the gap by including the Bible, even if their teachings are many times in oppositon to it. The point is that they don’t focus on the differences between them and other religions, but focus on the positives of getting into Jesus. And they focus little initally on Mormon, or Latter Day Saint naming conventions. They convert many more than traditional religious groups.
    Laymond, I would not have used to, but now will congregate with some Baptist as many of them are closer to God than many in the coC, but then again some aren’t either. I hate the descriptives such as liberal, conservative, progressive, as it just seems to say, “look this is what we stand for as opposed to the other people”, even though I do use the terms to explain a certain thought pattern. Christians should technically be liberal/conservative/progressive in thinking.

  8. DL says:

    Whether you are holding on to tradition (conservatives) or fleeing from it (progressives/liberals), it’s still tradition that is calling the shots.

  9. laymond says:

    Dwight, If we are looking for the perfect “church” we will never find it. If we are looking for the perfect God many will find “HIM”. but as you say “not all”. When we stray from biblical teachings we lessen that chance. I truly believe if we can stand before Jesus and confess Lord I know I am not perfect, but I did my best. I believe we will be forgiven, I don’t believe any will enter without the grace of God, and the forgiveness of God’s Son, The Christ. We will all be judged as individuals not as members of the best church.

  10. Dwight says:

    DL, sometimes, but there are different types of tradition (Jesus/ apostolic and man’s) and only one of them is wrong if imposed as God’s will.

    Laymond, Good points. I do know many who both confess to be imperfect and yet be right doctrinally, which means they are hypocrits if they think about it.
    But I do believe the perfect church exist, which is the congregation of God, but we often focus on our “church” and since it is composed of people who think in terms of “our church” it will be imperfect the more we interject us into it. We should think on God’s scale and where we, as in me, stand.

  11. Randy Lucas says:


    “Always find your analysis to be thought provoking. Glad you took note of the Gospel Advocate – I had almost thought you had forgotten about us.”

    Not forgotten. We all know to check your blog or the GA to find out what is, or is leading to, apostasy.

  12. Monty says:

    . Joe Beam’s article, points out that in a larger mainstream CofC you have all the different categories of people listed present. Exasperated to zealots, so I want to repost a post I made the other day under “Churches of Christ in America.” Beam’s and Jay’s article are what I was talking about when I posted it. So, here goes: ” Question a church of 200 COfC members with 50 or so hard questions and you will see a lot of different answers. However, insert a different set of 50 questions to a 200 member progressive COfC and you may end up with as many divergent answers as the conservative group. I guess my point is this: I know of many that attend mainstream CofC’s who in their heart don’t adhere any longer to what the preacher or Bible class teacher is espousing, but they- a) don’t have a progressive option near-by (so some leave and attend the “happening” group in town). Or b) I believe there are others who would gladly move in the direction of progressivism if they were more sure where that was taking them. WHere are the boundaries? It’s just too trite to say, “whatever the scripture teaches us.” Every group makes that claim.”

    Jay responded in turn with a well answered post about “faith” is where the boundaries are. Which of course is the correct “Cliff’s” notes version. For someone who has thought this thing through for years that is a “no-brainer” , I’m sure. But for someone who is in a traditional congregation but who is a seeker, just starting to consider wider boundaries than before, for example, he may like some of the freedoms mentioned in Wineskins or on Jay’s blog, or something he has heard or seen visiting another innovative congregation, but even in the innovative congregations there are the “Cautious”. So again, there are some(perhaps many) in traditional congregations who are cautiously seeking(can I combine the two?). My point, I believe, is valid, what do the innovative groups stand for? Where are the boundaries? Where are the tent pegs, other than Jesus. If you don’t believe there are more tent pegs than just faith in Jesus, then why do the exasperated leave for community churches? Is baptism necessary? Is women leadership(preaching and eldership)acceptable? It’s OK to say we’re not like the traditional groups, OK fine, what do you believe, and what makes you different than a community church or a Baptist church, if it’s all just “faith in Jesus”. Of course it’s faith in Jesus to be saved but we live in a religious climate where everyday doctrine is being run roughshod over(homosexuality accepted, openly gay leadership as an example) in some churches, so why go through all the angst(losing friendships, being thought of as an apostate) of moving from traditional methods and beliefs to more progressive ones in the CofC, if there are no differences between Progs and the community churches, and they are doing church better anyway? Once there are no more seekers in traditional congregations (as they draw ranks with the more conservatives, according to Beam),to syphon off, what then? I hope this makes sense.

    After reading Joe B’s post above, maybe the question is, which will it be ? Syphon off(bad analogy maybe) but pull from seekers by holding to some of the tenets of the CofC and “swell” , or to (as Joe B. suggested) move away from being doctrine based and to a more “gospel” base?

  13. Bob says:

    “Where to go?”
    (1) The First and Second greatest commandments (then go to the Great Commission if you must, but I suspect that if you pursue the unconditional love of your neighbor as yourself, the gospel appeal takes care of itself).
    (2) Turn fresh eyes on the Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery. Probably time to write a Revised Will with updated language.

    There is little difference between what passes for “progressive” thinking in our fellowship such as at Otter Creek than what was pursued at Madison 50 years ago. Both involve primarily recruitment – “swelling” as it were – and not evangelism, the only difference now being where one draws the line of fellowship for purposes of targeting the marketing outreach.

  14. I have found there are very many who are unchurched now, either “kicked out” or finally sufficiently mature to make their own decisions about the meaning of the scriptures… and their discoveries are important. These are liberated from law but not lawless. Free in Christ but slaves to love. Understand the traditions and history of the restoration but convinced no one needed to restore the unshakable kingdom of God. They attend many churches without fear of wrong doing and are making new friends while speaking clearly of their own understanding of repentance, confession and salvation. I think on the chart of growth, these have reached the Maslow’s hierarchy of need called transcendent persons.

  15. Dwight says:

    If the church is the people, then when they worship in spirit and truth, they are worshipping rightly, even though they might be worshipping with those who don’t 100% or 80% believe like them, but don’t have obvious sins among them such as committing adultery with your father’s wife. Most of the congregations in the NT which were in towns had issues, but even as they were told to correct themselves, the people were not told to go seek another town or group.
    What unfortunately happens within most churches is that the preacher who has one thought and the most authority and the loudest voice speaks for everyone and no one else has a voice and if they do they are immediately shut down, even with a good argument behind them. Keep the order and no wave making and no individual control over thier life. Well, the early church grew with wave making and disorder around them and individuals acting, so we shut ourselves down. So what happens is that people who don’t want to be shut down go towards people that think more like them, even if not 100%, but at least they have a voice and they don’t have to deal with the inconsistancies in teachings. And yet this isn’t a great answer because what happens is that none of the groups see each other as worthy of being seen. We are now competitors and opposers of each other, instead of all united in Christ. A. Campbell’s unified dream has become a nightmare due to sectarianistic thinking.

  16. John says:

    It is submitting to apostolic example / precedent / tradition with which that some (many?) have a problem. And yet they were instructed by the resurrected Lord on the things of the kingdom.

    Acts 1:3
    To these (apostles) He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. NASB

    We don’t have the course outline (graduate level no doubt?) from Jesus over those forty days. We can rightly assume that the apostles spent the rest of their lives implementing the things concerning the kingdom and the gospel message (I think there are discernible differences).

    We ignore apostolic precedent at some risk. To whom or where else would we look for messages concerning the kingdom. They knew how to “do church” (I know it is a bad phrase) so much better than we.

  17. Price says:

    Any church, regardless of denomination, if it’s going to continue to exist has to become and remain relevant. That means what is going on IN the building has to become less important than what it is leading OUTSIDE the building.. Theological arguments have bored many away from the CoC.. Time to get outside and start BEING the light that people can see instead of hiding it under a pew. Just my opinion.

  18. Mark says:

    The gospel says to be light and salt. Light is seen from a distance and salt exerts its effects by coming in contact.

    Also, another topic that has to be discussed (re-evaluated) in some of conservative Christianity is women’s issues. This is everything from women praying in mixed comany to girls going to the pulpit like their brothers do. A lot of women are saying that they will not teach their daughters that they can be Fortune 500 CEOs but can’t speak in church. Thus, families with children have left and gone to other churches. The younger generation of men who believe in equality are supporting their wives in this decision.

    Also, the political conservatism in some churches has spilled over into some hard-core conservatives wanting to restrict women’s health care choices and this can be seen as a slippery slope to restricting medical privacy and reproductive rights. There are more than a few pro-choice women in churches who cringe when some man gets up and rails against the pro-choice crowd. Some faithful Christian women want to keep abortion legal although they themselves would not ever have one. This is one place that men just don’t know what they are talking about as they have never been in the situation.

  19. Jay Guin says:


    I’m still a subscriber and reader.

    I must give credit where credit is due. It’s the GA that published Yeakley’s Why They Left, highly recommended. Why They Left: Listening to Those Who Have Left Churches of Christ (You really should drop the price of the Kindle version to something less than the paperback price.) (See /category/index/churches-of-christ/churches-of-christ-in-decline/ for a series interacting with the book.)

  20. Jay Guin says:


    This is such a good comment that I’m going to do a post on it. I hope you’ll interact with me as I discuss it. You see, I believe everything you say about your church, but I believe that such a church serves a temporary need and cannot last as it presently exists. I’ll explain more in a couple of days.

  21. JimmyT says:

    Not sure I see an answer to the question you pose in the title, but questioning why you spent so much time degrading the “political” category? 12 paragraphs compared to a few sentences detailing the progressives -the main topic of your article?

  22. Tom O'Brien says:

    You may or may not consider those of us outside your niche of the brotherhood Christian. No matter. We, who may be considered outside your circle, still love you! “You don’t have to be my twin to be my brother.” Where do you go from here? God can and will lead you in the direction you should go. What do you like to say, “Speaking the truth in love…” (You can re-examine some issues and hold on truth. While God’s Word doesn’t change our understanding should. Yes, it really should as we grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  23. John says:

    RJ: “the Apostles never asked us to conform to a pattern but to emulate a role-model-Jesus!”

    Philippians 3:17-19 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. 18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. NASB

    Philippians 4:9
    9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you.

    2 Thessalonians 3:6-9
    6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep aloof from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we might not be a burden to any of you; 9 not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, that you might follow our example. NASB

    Care to clarify your earlier comment? Certainly seems to suggest “emulating a pattern”.. The larger question and which is not often considered in depth is ” to what extent is apostolic example and authority to be emulated?”

  24. Dwight says:

    I guess the question would be what is the pattern vs what is the pattern? I have seen things that are clearly patterns discarded and then things that are barely patterns enforced as law. We don’t often follow direct commands well.
    Perhaps the clearest pattern we have is of Jesus and how he lived and how he helped others and showed compassion. I guess the question is…are patterns law, except when we are told to do that pattern in that way and/or for this reason. Now to follow patterns based in the NT should be on our minds, but can we condemn others when they or we do not follow the pattern and veer off? IF so, then most of the churches that have the LS in pews facing one way not at a table are condemned. While I would always argue that to do the LS as the apostles and early saints did them is best at a table, I am not sure that we can enforce this as law. But we often times try.

  25. Price says:

    @ Dwight.. exactly… Perhaps the pattern isn’t what we should follow as much as the principle.. we are so far removed from some cultural norms that to do them today would be silly.. and yet the principle would be in tact. example.. braided hair and gold jewelry.. Like we’d make a big deal out of that today !! but modest appearance as a principle is still very much in vogue.

  26. We need to ponder well the parable of the tenants who did not give the owner the fruit of his field and abused those who called them to do so. Yes, the Jewish religious leaders correctly discerned that he spoke it against them, but nevertheless the conclusion was that if you won’t be fruitful, the kingdom will be taken from you and given to those who will.

    Is the husbandman pruning his vine again (to introduce another parable) so that his followers will again be known by their love like Jesus’ love for them, which is like the Father’s love for Him.

  27. Dwight says:

    Price, this wasn’t exactly where I was going. I think we should follow a pattern as a matter of principle if possible, but that the weight of law doesn’t bear on our interpretation of the pattern when we pick and choose. Following a pattern is good when we see the pattern, but placing the pattern as doctrine that is used to condemn other is not, especially when there isn’t a command with it. Jesus placed forth a command in the Lord’s Supper that was done on a pattern level, until someone deviated from it. It is good to do the Lord’s Supper in any form, but many elements are missing that would enrich it and add meaning and depth.
    Jesus not only commanded love, but lived it and in living it placed forth many examples of how to do so. Paul argued for following him as He did Jesus. But only commands were commands, patterns were ways of doing great things for great reasons within context.

  28. Price says:

    The example of the Lord’s Supper seems not to be so much a “pattern” as it is a command.. The frequency seems undefined and open to the freedom one might employ.. Can you think of another “pattern” that isn’t accompanied by a command that you believe we should emulate to such a fine degree versus just the principle ?

  29. Dwight says:

    My thought on the Lord’s Supper is that the command set the practice and thus the pattern by command. Beyond that patterns are not commands, but patterns, which might be good in nature, but not a measure of condemnation. But then we have the taking of the collection on the first day of the week. To my fellow conservatives this is a command that begs a pattern, but this was a command after they were giving at certain times and was for a particular reason tied to a particular person, Paul, coming to get the funds at a particular time among the Corinthians. It has been codified into law that to collect funds any other time is sinful and but the funds collected by the Corinthians went to the needy saints in other locations, and yet, and yet the funds that we collect by law on the first day of every week do not all go to the needy saints, but also go towards the building fund. This is hypocritical to say the least. Paul simply commanded them to collect the funds so when he showed up they would not have to do it later. This was a specific command not meant to be a pattern for all time, as they also collected at other times according to Acts.

  30. Price says:

    I agree that the collection that you mentioned was neither a command to be for all men for all time as it was a specific function at a specific time for a specific reason…all of which is clearly stated… It is neither a pattern because their is no “pattern” per se, if one considers a pattern a series of similar events. I still don’t see anything that was a pattern rather than a command. But, I may have missed something.

  31. Price says:

    It just seems to me that in order to develop a “pattern” theology that a pattern has to exist… I’m not seeing any… the only one I can think of is meeting on the first day of the week.. but then they also met on nearly every other day of the week…and depending on one’s definition of “breaking bread” they seem to have taken the LS on as many days as they met… But, the command in this instance was “as often as” which then means an example or pattern need not apply if the command allows for all kinds of variations…

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  33. Price says:

    Larry, you lost me… perhaps you were comment on the “pattern” of meeting on the first day of the week ? If so, the “pattern” was established long after Christ’s birth… But, you know that so I’m still in a quandry as to what you meant..

  34. laymond says:

    Joe Wheatley says:

    March 10, 2015 at 7:47 am

    laymond wrote, “I never once heard a CoC preacher degrade a Baptist congregation from the pulpit.”

    I hear it all the time from the pulpit and in Bible class, most recently last Sunday. Baptists are included with other heretics such as Catholics and Presbyterians.

    Joe, I can only speak from my own experiences , not placing any doubts on yours.

  35. Mark says:

    But the “on their way to hell” Baptists frequently sang in the cofC choir which was only convened for a funeral in the cofC building. Convening of said choir for a funeral was an exception to the rule (see Jay’s cofC franchise agreement for the actual rule #) prohibiting the use of a choir.

  36. Larry says:

    We can be who we are in Christ when what we do and the way we do them in organized Sunday worship are not our identity.
    My identity is Jesus Christ and Him crucified, resurrected, and coming again.

  37. Jay Guin says:


    If anyone is interested, here’ the link to the Official Church of Christ franchise agreement: /2009/03/its-friday-the-franchise-agreement/

  38. Larry Cheek says:

    I am sorry, I really did not intend to cause confusion in your understanding. Since you did not understand maybe there are many more who are equally confused. Those shepherds to which I referred were those who had attended the event Day of Pentecost and committed their lives to Christ. I was of the opinion that a there was a large segment of the Jews who’s occupations were shepherds. There were many who committed to Christ on that day that stayed in Jerusalem but many quickly returned to their occupations. These are the Christians to whom I referenced. Their occupations demanded their dedication of long hours and months of continual care of the flock. Their dedication was recognized by all and even was used as an example and title of the duties of leaders in the Church, an honorable occupation. Were they able to meet each first day of the week?

  39. Price says:

    Ah so Grasshopper !! I agree.. And, later, it was not so great to have open revivals in Rome !! Lions, Tigers and Bears, burned alive, etc…

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