I am an elder (on leave of absence as I recover from a series of back surgeries), a Sunday school teacher, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a lawyer. I live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide. I’m a member of the University Church of Christ.
I grew up in Russellville, Alabama and graduated from David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University). I received my law degree from the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!).
I met my wife Denise at Lipscomb, and we have four sons, two of whom are married, and I have a grandson and granddaughter.
Hello, Jay! Mike Morrell asked me to contact you because he really appreciates your blog and thinks you’d be an excellent candidate for his Speakeasy Blogger Network. Do you like to review off-the-beaten path faith, spirituality, and culture books? Speakeasy puts interesting books in your hands at no charge to you. You only get books when you request them, and it’s free to join. Sign up here, if you’d like: http://thespeakeasy.info
I’m flattered. But I’m already a part of the SBN. Have been for several years. And I’ve reviewed several books for Mike — just not lately. He has a great program. I’m a fan and appreciate his letting me participate.
But I found myself way over-committed and have tried to limit my review commitments. (It’s really NT Wright’s fault. I’m going to read his books even if I have to pay for them, and he’s publishing faster than I can read them. I’m still trying to swallow Paul and the Faithfulness of God!)
Hello Jay. I love your article on 1 Cor. 8, beautifully written and concluded; and with your characteristic wit along the way. Very enjoyable and edifying. Causes me to look closer . . . what is The “Progressive” Church of Christ? That word is generally mis-used in Evangelical Denominations . . . and politics. I’m sensing a unifying, true gospel here.
Good to hear from you. The Churches of Christ drifted into legalism in the 20th Century after having been a unity movement in the 19th Century. There is now a movement within the Churches to escape fundamentalism/legalism and find a better path. We sometimes call it “progressive,” but it’s a very poor term. I’m continually looking for something better. “Third Way” has recently popped up, and it might catch on.
There is no one leader but rather an ongoing conversation regarding “what next?” I have written an article that will appear in a week or so based on a post by Josh Graves that addresses this directly but only in the context of how the different movements approach the Bible – hermeneutics. He uses “Third Way,” and it’s growing on me.
I will soon begin a series on the Atonement that seeks to lay out a better approach to that part of our theology, based on a book by Michael Gorman, who’s is in the Fresh Perspective camp along with N. T. Wright and others. (Even Wright has a problem labelling his views.)
Some progressive Churches of Christ have trended to be kind of generic Baptist-ish, but I think the larger, longer trend will be toward what Josh calls Third Way theology, that is, a theology informed by such theologians as N. T. Wright, Scot McKnight, and Michael J. Gorman. These men are heavily influential in other circles as well, but since the progressive CoC is aware of the need to find something better, we have less trouble seeing the advantages of their narrative, holistic approach to scripture. We’ve already seen that we need to change.
We’ll still baptize converts by immersion for the remission of sins and take weekly communion, but we will be more interested in serving our communities, in working with other churches even across denominational lines, less programmatic (lots of programs but more about personal transformation into servants rather than recruiting volunteers to serve — not that we’ll ever escape that).
I heard RIck Atchley, a prominent preacher in our movement, explain it this way. His parents would remember as their legacy a church with sound doctrine, teaching sound theology about how to be saved. He hopes his legacy will be people helped as they struggle to overcome AIDS, homeless shelters built and homeless people ministered to, people brought to Jesus to become not merely saved but followers of the Master, transformed hearts … You get the idea. It’s more about being than knowing.
It’s hard to summarize, and I really ought to think of a way to do that. In fact, Josh’s excellent article, which was aimed at something else but hit me here, has me reflecting on just what we “progressives” are about.
It’s a movement. And it moves. But right now, that seems to be trend. I think it’s extraordinarily positive for us, but I have no idea how to compare it to anything or anyone else.
Does that make any sense?
Mr. Guin, I’d like to thank you for taking time to share your professional opinion about tax matters of importance to missionaries working abroad. Extremely helpful. It is still not clear to me whether there is any way for a missionary to receive tax deductible donations without forming a non-profit corporation. If you can offer an opinion on that, it would be much appreciated. Thanks & blessings,
There must be an organization qualified under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3), such as a church, involved. Contributions to an individual are rarely deductible as charitable contributions, and then only if done as part of a program established by a 501(c)(3) organization. Prudently, you’d always want the money routed through a recognized 501(c)(3) — a church, a missionary support organization, that sort of thing.
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Hello, we were missionaries in Europe for 16 years then we needed to return home for a medical furlough that has lasted about 4 years. We believe the Lord is prompting us to go back, but some questions have been raised as to the mission agency that we were with not keeping up with the IRS laws, namely that they are not doing random audits of their missionaries. It’s been advised that we not use them until they change their current policy. I have a brother in law who has done missions work in India for years and he formed his own 501c3 and received the funds through that. I don’t know, forming your own 501c3 for missions work almost sounds like certain jail time if you’re caught. Is it OK to do that? Could you explain the pros and cons of forming your own 501 for missions work? Thanks 🙂
I can’t advise you on the particulars of your situation, except to say that you need the help of a qualified tax CPA or lawyer. It’s perfectly legal for someone to form a 501(c)(3) for mission work, but issues arise if it only supports one person. And I don’t see the point, but different denominations operate different ways. This is a structure that most Churches of Christ would find objectionable (long story and not worth telling if you’re not from among my particular tribe.)
I am much more concerned that your mission work be supported by an experienced missions support organization that can help you not only with tax issues but also in church planting strategies and in supporting your work. I don’t believe missionaries should go into the field without experienced, qualified coaching and support. There are many organizations that do this. MRN is the one I’m most familiar with in the Churches of Christ. There are others.
The model my congregation follows is a sponsoring congregation, working with an organization such as MRN. The missionary works under the oversight of the sponsoring congregation, but the missionary receives training, coaching from MRN. It works well, and our missionaries seem very happy with this arrangement because it provides them with so much support and encouragement. (And it simplifies the tax situation quite a lot.)
While I too dislike the term “progressive,” and I consider myself one, the “third way” takes my mind to the “third wave,” a semi-Montanist movement? I have no suggestions as to a better one. I like to think of us as moving from a “doing” (works/legalistic) focus to a “becoming” (grace/spirit led transformed being focus, ontologically speaking, as we come to a deeper understanding of what it means spiritually
to be in Christ.
How about just “the way” or saint or Christian.
Thanks for the wonderful posts, the intriguing insights. I currently pastor a former CoC church plant in Missoula, Montana, and continually feel blessed by our rich heritage in Churches of Christ. Our church plant continues to change its DNA from a church with dogmatic emphasis, to a church with discipleship emphasis – in other words, a church on the ground and in the mess. The transition has been tough, and we may never fully arrive at our vision, but the rewards have been immeasurable.
The beauty of a heritage in CoC has been the common love we share for God’s Word, and the ability for the average member to have a general grasp on basic theology. And yet, we (those of us raised in CoC churches) are becoming more bold when questioning the validity of various “doctrines” we’ve been raised with. As a result, real questions are raised, answers researched, discussions erupt with graciousness, rather than the heat of proving oneself right. My father, a true theologian and former CoC preacher, half-jokingly refers to this new movement as “The Second Restoration.”
He feels that, across the Kingdom (which I personally feel includes many of our Calvinistic-based denominations as well as Arminian) there is a new awakening, a revived yearning to go back to Scripture – not to defend our “rightness” but to see doctrine restored through the lens of love, the grace of Jesus Christ. I regularly meet with many other pastors from various denominations/churches across the city, and I think he may be right. The walls seem to be coming down, churches are beginning to talk with each other, and new theological discussions are happening!
We live in exciting times! The Second Restoration!
Thanks again for your insights. They are a blessing to me.
Grace & Peace…
Thanks for the kind note. You wrote,
I love it! But how???
Yes, there will be Calvinists in heaven. And they are going to spend the first million years telling Paul that he’s semi-Pelagian and debating with him. It’s predestined and God’s sovereignty requires it.
(And then they’re going searching for the author of Hebrews to get him (or her) straight. I think it’s Priscilla and look forward to the debate between her and John Piper.)
Hey, Jay, I’m a new elder at The Hills church here in North Richland Hills and have very much enjoyed the ‘Advice to a new elder’ series. I want to share it with my other new shepherds….
But when I search on the topic (and I do get them all),they are in reverse order, i.e. the latest first…. Is there a way to make a ‘page’ with the articles starting Number one on top?
This would actually apply to all your great series, just a way to read them sequentially without having to go back several pages to start on the first one….
Ping me if I’ve confused the issue….
I also have found it very hard if not impossible to organize the topics into any kind of order to find a continuing flow of the subjects. It really would have seemed to me that we could click on the subject and all posts should line up from either earliest to latest or the reverse. I remember attempting to find what I had remembered as a wise quote by Jay upon a peculiar subject, I finally gave up, and decided not to paraphrase Jay’s quote.
II have bee wondering if you know any news about Brother Jim McGuiggan. I have not been able to contact his site. A brother here says he heard Jim is quite ill. I love your site. Thanks for your great efforts!
Dear Jay, Periodically I land on your site doing a search. I notice that very little reference is made to the Scriptures. Peter said, “If anyone speaks let him speak as the oracles of God” and he goes on to say that this is required so God receives the glory (1 Peter 4:11). Jesus said, “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory” (John 7:18).
You champion “Progressive churches of Christ.” Can you give me a Biblical definition of a “progressive church of Christ” being sure to speak as the oracles of God?
Sincerely, Roy Davison
Ray D wrote (Part 1),
You’ve not been reading very carefully. I suspect that I quoted more scripture in 2016 than any other Church of Christ author. In fact, starting in a couple of days, I’m going to post five posts that are nothing but a very brief introduction and the text of Rom 1 – 5 retranslated. If that’s not “as the oracles of God” I don’t know what is.
Now, obviously posts that deal with church trends, for example, will not say a vast amount about the scripture because, well, they’re about church trends. So the volume of scriptural quotations varies with the nature of the subject. But on the whole, I quote a LOT of scripture. I just concluded a series in which I covered the entirety of 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and included the full text of both books. You’ve got to figure that quoting entire Bible books and chapters in full meets Peter’s standard.
So let’s talk about 1 Pet 4:11.
Taken hyper-literally, we should throw away our commentaries and Sunday school literature and just read the Bible. And our sermons should be nothing but the words of God, and the same for our hymns. In fact, many Calvinist denominations used to limit hymns to the psalms and forbade all human words! But the Churches of Christ have taken the “liberal” position on that question for a very long time. And I know of no preacher who only reads the scriptures.
And, I should point out, that Peter didn’t actually say “Frequently quote the Bible.” He said speak as though speaking for God — meaning make certain that your words are true to scriptures. Then again, he isn’t telling us to claim to be inspired or to be prophets. We aren’t required to pretend to have spiritual gifts that we don’t have.
If I’ve claimed that the Bible says something that it doesn’t say, I would encourage you to point out the flaw in my teaching.
I make no claim of inspiration or the like. I just a Bible class teacher who really enjoys teaching the Bible. That’s my qualification. It’s not much. And I enjoy reading what the readers say in the comments, especially when they disagree. I learn the most from those who disagree with me — either that I was mistaken or that I need to find a better way to explain myself.
Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Commentary, TNTC 6; IVP/Accordance electronic ed. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 183.
Daniel C. Arichea and Eugene Albert Nida, A Handbook on the First Letter from Peter, UBS Handbook Series, (New York: United Bible Societies, 1980), 142.
R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1966), 198.
Finally, we have this from Guy N. Woods in the Gospel Advocate Commentary series —
Gospel Advocate Commentaries – New Testament Commentary – A Commentary on the New Testament Epistles of Peter, John, and Jude.
Contrary to the majority of contemporary commentators, Woods believes this verse speaks solely to those with the gift of prophecy or inspiration — and so is not relevant to contemporary writing, preaching, etc. I’m not sure I agree, but neither would I be too insistent that he’s wrong. There are many who agree with him.
Roy D wrote (Part 2),
Are you contending that I can only quote scripture and cannot express my own opinion? I think you’re taking this badly out of context.
The ESV and NET Bible translators, for example, take Jesus to be questioning the authority from whom someone speaks.
Andreas J. Köstenberger, Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament, 2007, 452.
D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, PNTC; Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 313.
So, again, the text doesn’t say “Judge a writing by how often scripture is quoted,” although I believe strongly in quoting a lot of scripture. My reasoning is that I want the reader to read the scriptures for themselves and NOT take my word for it. Frequently quoting the full text is a good discipline to help me stay true to the text, since the text is right there for the readers to compare to my own comments.
On the other hand, I make no claim of inspiration or any particular expertise. I’m a Sunday school teacher who really enjoys teaching the Bible. Therefore, you won’t find me intending to contradict or dismiss the Biblical text. Rather, as I’ve often said, we don’t judge the text; the text judges us.
And I have great respect for the students of the Bible who’ve shared their understandings and thoughts over the centuries. I believe in using good commentaries and other such resources — not that they are in any sense inspired. Rather, the thought is that I don’t have all the answers, and I need to read what others have said to learn from others, to see how a scriptural text is read from a different culture or time, and such like. I think we should do group hermeneutics and not try to understand with no help from others.
Then again, I do make mistakes. I’m just a human commentator. I will inevitably err. Therefore, I encourage comments, generally don’t moderate them, and look forward to responding to those who disagree with me (as I have time and good health — both of which are limited commodities).
Roy D wrote (Part 3, final),
Did you not notice that “Biblical” is not found in the Bible? So why does it matter that “Progressive” is not found in the Bible? Is there some rule that says I must use the words found in an English translation and no other words? You’ve demonstrated no such thing, and if there is such a rule, you just broke it.
But I’m happy to answer your question. To me, as I use the term, a “Progressive Church of Christ” is a congregation of the Churches of Christ that honors Gal 5:1-6. That’s it.
Do you believe v. 6 to speak the truth? If so, in my definition, you are a progressive. If you pretend to honor this text but explain it away into nothingness, you are a legalist or a conservative, in my vocabulary.
To be progressive, you have to accept every word. That is, “through the Spirit” must mean “through the Spirit” and not “through the Bible.” And “Only faith working through love” must mean “only faith working through love” and not “faith, love, a cappella music, weekly communion, a plurality of elders, etc, ad infinitum.”
Either you accept the text as written or you don’t. And that to me is the difference between a progressive and a conservative.
I’ll give you another equivalent definition. Jesus said,
If you bind commandments not found in scripture as salvation matters, you are a legalist or a conservative. If you do not, you are a progressive.
And yet another. Paul wrote,
“Self-made religion” or “will worship” (KJV) is to impose regulations as salvation issues beyond those actually found in the Bible. If you bind as salvation issues anything that God did not command to be a salvation issue, you are a legalist and a conservative. If you refuse to be bound by human precepts and teachings as salvation issues and only be bound by God’s own salvation issues, you are a progressive.
Last definition. If you can tell me how to decide whether a doctrinal issue is a salvation issue based on plain scripture, you are likely a progressive. If you can’t tell me how to distinguish a salvation issue from a non-salvation issue, this typifies the conservative Churches of Christ. I’ve yet to meet the conservative who could tell me how to tell the difference in a coherent, Bible-based way.
Dear Jay, Like Peter and Jesus I presumed readers would understand “speak as the oracles of God” and “speaks from himself”.
Discussing “trends in the church” also needs to comply with the oracles of God, since trends usually involve a movement away from or toward them.
You say, “a Progressive Church of Christ is a congregation of the Churches of Christ that honors Gal 5:1-6.”
I and the congregations I work with honor Gal 5:1-6. Is that “progressive”? We are just churches of Christ.
You clarify, “‘Only faith working through love’ must mean ‘only faith working through love’ and not ‘faith, love, a cappella music, weekly communion, a plurality of elders, etc. ad infinitum.'”
First, note that “only” is not in the Greek original. Inaccuracies in translation often result from false views of translators, and then in turn cause false views in uninformed readers.
So we have “faith working through love”.
Your definition then is that a progressive church of Christ does not require a cappella music, weekly communion, a plurality of elders, etc.
From my observations that is an accurate definition of “progressive,” but it does not follow from Gal 5:1-6. Each of these questions must be studied separately. You are begging the question.
Then you give Matt. 15:8-9 as an equivalent definition.
“If you bind commandments not found in scripture as salvation matters, you are a legalist or a conservative. If you do not, you are a progressive.”
Combining the two, you evidently think that a congregation requiring a cappella music, weekly communion and a plurality of elders is binding commandments not found in scripture.
People who consider themselves “progressive” can also be legalistic and this is an example. A study of how the word “commandment” is used in the NT reveals that it is not limited to “direct commands” but includes teaching by example. This is a distinctive characteristic of the New Covenant.
Matt. 15:8-9 is a two-edged sword. Teaching that a cappella music, weekly communion and a plurality of elders ARE NOT REQUIRED could also be a commandment of men.
Your argument based on “will-worship” in Col 2:20-23 suffers from the same weakness.
In both of these last arguments you introduce the idea “salvation issues.”
If something is not a “salvation issue” does that mean it may be ignored?
From my reading, people who are overly concerned about classifying things as “salvation issues” or not, are usually wanting to disregard some things they view as “non-salvation issues”! For them, that in itself might be a “salvation issue”! This reductionism oversimplifies grand themes such as faith, the faith, love and obedience.
You challenge me to tell how to decide whether a doctrinal issue is a salvation issue based on plain scripture. That’s easy. If it is part of the doctrine of Christ it is a salvation issue. “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9).
Jay, I am not answering for you, but just throwing in what I understand.
Roy, I am not answering for Jay, but throwing in what I understand.
Trends. If there is a trend away from pews to chairs, is this scriptural or unscriptural?
I don’t know of any scriptures that addresses that in which we sit, but as long as that in which we sit doesn’t defy God, it is scriptural, although not commanded or commanded against.
Unfortunately labels, which seek to clarify, only confuse.
All people are legalistic to a point and all people can be liberal to a point, depending on the points. Many wear progressive, conservative and liberal, in much the same way that the Jews had the school of Hillel and Shammai. These two Jewish schools employed two different ways of thinking in regards to the same scriptures. Although Jesus sided more with the school of Hillel more, but this was simply because they sided more with Him, but He never clamed to be of either school as they both were wrong.
The problem with “A study of how the word “commandment” is used in the NT reveals that it is not limited to “direct commands” but includes teaching by example.” is that people in the scriptures pick and choose their examples to follow as relevant or not. IF examples are commands, they are all relevant.
Example. Most if not all churches worship mainly in the morning sitting in pews. But the scriptural example is that Jesus partook of the Lord’s Supper around a table at the time Passover was done, in the evening. This is backed up by I Cor.11:23 where Paul says, “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread.”
“Matt. 15:8-9 is a two-edged sword. Teaching that a cappella music, weekly communion and a plurality of elders ARE NOT REQUIRED could also be a commandment of men..”
Could be? Does the scriptures actually use the word “a cappella” to define the singing? IT doesn’t have to. Let’s put this in real life terms. If your daughter came up to you and said, “Daddy, I am going to sing you a song.” and you say OK, then suddenly she pulls out a guitar and starts singing, did she lie? No, she I fulfilling the term “singing”, even though playing a guitar. When they sang in the OT, we know they used instruments, and it is possible that when they sang to God, even though instruments aren’t mentioned, that they were there.
A plurality of elders is like a plurality of apostles. We read about the apostles, which is plural. But then again Paul who was an apostles didn’t always travel with the other apostles, mostly didn’t. The problem with the plurality is that it doesn’t work in real time. In other words most elders are spread out in a city or region even if they go to the same assembly, but except for the 2-4 hours during assembly, they aren’t assembled. If a person goes to an elder who lives in this area, he is approaching him as an elder, but not approaching the elders. In most cases the elder will hear the person as an elder without having to bring all of the other elders together. The elder thus is going it alone as an elder. Either he can’t or he can.
There is only one salvation issue: Do you believe in Jesus? IF you do, then you do the things of Jesus. Repent, baptized, faith, etc all in Jesus, the savior.
Upon being saved, there are things that we do that can condemn us, but these aren’t salvation issues, but condemnation issues. Simon the sorceror, was faced with condemnation, but was still called a Christian after he was converted.
The trick is this statement: “You challenge me to tell how to decide whether a doctrinal issue is a salvation issue based on plain scripture.”
I have heard many lessons that took plain scripture and messed them up by all groups from conservative to liberal to progressive.
So what does this posit for those scriptures that aren’t so plain?
Plain scripture although written plain might not be so understood plainly.
Jesus spoke plainly to his disciples and yet they many times didn’t understand.
We must first come humbly to the scriptures understanding that we are not inspired, as Jay noted, and are capable of making mistakes.
To me it is plain that the Lord’s Supper was taken in the evening, but this isn’t held as important by the majority of congregations enough to override tradition. This might be one of those issues that are not a matter of salvation and can’t cause one to be lost, even though t is written in the scriptures pretty plainly.
” “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9).”
Roy you must know that context is key and in the context of the verse you quote it’s about acknowledging that Jesus came in the flesh. Those who were denying he did were anti-Christ and not abiding in the doctrine or teaching about Jesus being God in the flesh(having a real body). That verse has nothing to say about the traditions of the 20th century CofC that makes damning laws that Jesus nor the Apostles ever gave. IM is a most grievous sin according to you and your kind and damns a brother. I’m sure that seems logical to you as those that would condemn you for drinking the juice using multiple cups. Both assertions are based in necessary inference and example. But one brother’s non-binding example is another brother’s binding law. Eating in the church, paid located preachers, Sunday school or not, can we give to para-church organizations or not and on and on we go. Hence split after split after split. You end up with the only faithful ones are me and my little band of believers are “faithful.” And why? Not because we have faith is Christ but because our group faithfully extrapolated the right usage of examples and inferences that the others simply were not able to do because their hearts were not as noble as the Bereans(or ours). Necessary inference and example make for factious splits and the unity that Christ pleaded for goes by the way side. Not because some good brother denies a thus sayeth the Lord but because he violates some good brother’s interpretation of command and necessary inference. Give me, as they say, book, chapter, and verse and don’t give me some Philadelphia lawyer lingo to get to where you are.
You would think that something so egregious and heinous as using IM in worship(if true) would have been maybe at least mentioned one time as a doctrine of Christ never to be violated. . Funny how the God who never changes encourages worship of Him with it IM in the OT and the angels in heaven in Revelation have golden harps(whether symbolic or not) surely you don’t believe God would use imagery of the very thing that would send millions of devout believers to hell?
If your boss who limps shows you how he wants you to sweep the floor, you understand that the limp is not part of the example.
The meaning of the word example is such that not all happenings are examples. Also by definition, most examples are embedded in a happening that includes incidentals that are not part of the example. Most people can make the distinction, both in daily life and when studying the Scriptures. Check how the words “example” and “imitate” are used in the Bible.
In 2 John 9 a general principle is stated that is applied to a particular false doctrine in the context. The application of a general principle to a specific instance does not limit the principle to that instance.
There is a cute children’s book called, “Five silly monkeys jumping on the bed.” They fall off and bump their head. Mama calls the doctor and the doctor says, “No more monkeys jumping on the bed!” So the monkeys go to the living room and start jumping on the couch, “He didn’t say anything about jumping on the couch!”
“Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9).
Roy, a non-answer I see, monkeys? really? OK, fine. As far as your reply to Dwight,”Most people can make the distinction, both in daily life and when studying the Scriptures” I beg to differ, most members in the CofC or (any other Christian tribe) can’t properly understand what examples are binding(if any) and what inferences are necessary(if any). Hence the 25-30 different divisions within the CofC. It’s easy peasy in your mind but what do you attribute the mess we’re in in our “brotherhood?” Why the hundreds of different denominations? If it’s so easy? Would you say it’s just a lack of intelligence by those who damn others for multiple cups, Sunday schools, supporting orphanages with the budget, paid preachers,,,etc ? I guess if your hermeneutic is so easy to apply then what do you make of them? They eat, sleep, and breathe example and necessary inference. It’s funny because they believe you are the one who doesn’t know how to apply something so easy(for them) to see. It would all be quite comical if not so sad.
In your world (and in theirs) not only do you have to live righteously(morally speaking), but much tougher (according to your view) God supplies no grace whatsoever to any believer or congregation for that matter who doesn’t get 100% right the proper(according to you) interpretation of example and necessary inference. Your view as Jay said, is legalistic to the nth degree. IMO it’s worse than the circumcision heresy. Seriously! At least with being taught as a Gentile in order to be saved you had to be circumcised(if male) that was one thing that could be debunked by proper teaching. Just imagine telling a new believer your faith in Christ is of no avail unless you properly decode Biblical examples and inferences the same exact way (we say) and not the way those other 25-30 subsets of the CofC do. Sad. God forgive us.
The monkeys knew they should not jump on the couch. They did it because they wanted to! Then, they used the legalistic argument, “But where does the Bible say you can’t jump on the couch?” I did read of a contemporary service at a former church of Christ where “they were up dancing on the tables.” I don’t know if any of them fell off and bumped their heads.
For such people we could have an “Anything-Goes Church of Christ.” Since “Church of Christ” turns many people off, however, we can drop “of Christ” and have an “Anything-Goes Church.”
Why so many denominations? Not because people do not understand examples and necessary inferences. It is because people do church the way they want to rather than according to the covenant of Christ.
Jesus said, “Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many” (Matt. 24:11). Various reasons are given: Lack of love for the truth (2 Thes. 2:9-12), spiritual blindness (Matt. 15:14) and lack of willingness to do the will of God (John 7:17) to name a few.
With regard to division in the church, Paul says “For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you” (1 Corinthians 11:19). It separates those who are approved by God from those who are not and enables one to tell the difference.
You say “our brotherhood” is a mess. I am not sure what you include, but the Lord’s church is not a mess and it is slanderous for you to say this about the beautiful bride of Christ.
Through the years I have experienced the unity that exists in Christ. I have been privileged to know and have fellowship with some of the most wonderful people in the world, people who reflect the image of Christ in their lives.
You blame 25 factions on legalism and a misunderstanding of examples and necessary inference. But division is also caused by liberalism and progressivism, by the leaven of both the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
But you surely have an opinion about which of those 25 are wrong and why. Your very negative statements about me (some of which misrepresent me – you might click on my name and read some of my articles) certainly indicate you think I am wrong. Are you being overly critical and exaggerating? Please list 25 factions and tell how many people you know personally in each and which ones you can fellowship and which ones not, and why. Which ones cause you a problem personally? Or from your viewpoint are they all one in Jesus?
“It is because people do church the way they want to rather than according to the covenant of Christ.”
In years of hearing moderate to hard legalistic cofC teachings, the way you “do church” meant far more than any aspect of being a Christian. So much effort was put into every sermon on doing church right that few knew about the incarnation of Jesus, the gospels (other than obey), or anything else.
Roy, “The meaning of the word example is such that not all happenings are examples.”
So examples are binding examples, except when they are not binding examples?
In the coC many commands aren’t followed much less examples that are clear.
I have grown up in the conservative coC, so I know of what I speak.
Take for instance I Cor.11, this is seemingly a direct command for coverings on a woman and not on a man, but most coC who go by CENI reject the notion that I Cor.11:1-16 was written for us to follow, but will accept that 17-32 is meant for us to follow.
This is called picking and choosing.
Another example is the Lord’s Supper. IT is clear by all examples that the Passover was done in the evening of which the Lord’s Supper was based on, and then Jesus was crucified at the same time in the evening and then in I Cor. 11 that “on the night he was betrayed, took bread”.
Very clear from multiple aspects and examples.
So Roy, do you partake of the LS in the evening?
But what we will press is that it must be unleavened bread, which is not even mentioned, we just know that it was unleavened bread because it was the Passover. But it must at least be bread by command as it must be fruit of the vine, even though we know it was wine they used.
This is where incidental become commands and commands and expressed examples become incidentals, simply because we make them so.
Then let’s take the venerable name of “Church of Christ”.
The actual word is ekklesia or called out which literally means congregation. The word church does not mean congregation and does not reflect ekklesia. Church is therefore unscriptural. Thus “church of Christ” is unscriptural. It should be congregation of Christ and in this way, it is not a name, but a definition, which means people of Christ. Those who press the law indicating that coC is the scriptural name are creating law.
It Is strange how you didn’t answer the questions brought up.
“Matt. 15:8-9 is a two-edged sword. Teaching that a cappella music, weekly communion and a plurality of elders ARE NOT REQUIRED could also be a commandment of men..”
Could be? Does the scriptures actually use the word “a cappella” to define the singing? IT doesn’t have to. Let’s put this in real life terms. If your daughter came up to you and said, “Daddy, I am going to sing you a song.” and you say OK, then suddenly she pulls out a guitar and starts singing, did she lie?
No, she I fulfilling the term “singing”, even though playing a guitar. When they sang in the OT, we know they used instruments, and it is possible that when they sang to God, even though instruments aren’t mentioned, that they were there.
So when we get to the NT and are told to sing, we fulfill that command if we sing, even with instruments. Singing isn’t an exclusive term that rejects certain forms of how we do it and includes other forms. We do not sing psalms as they did in the OT or NT, so we must be rejecting the command if inclusive of that form.
A plurality of elders is like a plurality of apostles. We read about the apostles, which is plural. But then again Paul who was an apostle didn’t always travel with the other apostles, mostly didn’t. The problem with the plurality is that it doesn’t work in real time. In other words most elders are spread out in a city or region even if they go to the same assembly, but except for the 2-4 hours during assembly, they aren’t assembled. If a person goes to an elder who lives in this area, he is approaching him as an elder, but not approaching the elders. In most cases the elder will hear the person as an elder without having to bring all of the other elders together. The elder thus is going it alone as an elder. Either he can’t or he can. While being and acting as an elder, he isn’t working with the other elders in plural at that time.
The very statement of “It is because people do church the way they want to rather than according to the covenant of Christ.” means that you do not understand the congregation to be the people of Christ, but to be an institution tied to a place and time. Those who are baptized into Christ are in Christ and in the congregation. We cannot do church as we are the church where the names are written in heaven. We are members individually. Now the congregations in the towns of Corinth, Ephesus, etc. had issues and yet they were still called brothers and sisters in Christ and part of each other. They assembled within the towns into homes.
Going back to your comment on examples, there are no examples of congregations that look like how we do our congregations today. None.
Except those that meet in homes that gather around tables in the evening for the Lord’s supper.
Unless we do that we all fail at following the biblical examples.
Roy quotes me then says:
“You say “our brotherhood” is a mess. I am not sure what you include, but the Lord’s church is not a mess and it is slanderous for you to say this about the beautiful bride of Christ.”
Roy, just one more question for you. In your expert opinion ( “you might click on my name and read some of my articles”) is anyone going to be saved who doesn’t hold to every doctrinal salvation issue that you do? In other words do you give any group in the CofC or outside the CofC any reasonable chance that they will see God if they get even one doctrine wrong? What doctrines derived from example and inferences could they mistakenly make? Any? And would you share your list of salvation issues with us since it is so important that everyone abide in the “doctrine of Christ” that you have extrapolated to mean not just believing Jesus came in the flesh(which was a thus sayeth the Lord statement) but as it pertains to all necessary inferences and examples which by some man’s interpretation become a “thus sayeth the Lord” in your opinion.
I mean in your opinion this isn’t terribly hard stuff to discern, correct? I don’t want to put words in your mouth but I conclude by your comments that interpreting every scripture is something the average man on the street could do(if his heart is in the right place and not deceived) or else God wouldn’t hold him accountable for something that was just too hard to figure out. Am I wrong?
As far as personally attacking you I don’t believe I have. If so please list the attack. I have attacked your stance on the scriptures which obviously you feel the same compulsion(doing as commanded right?) to come on a progressive website and offer your dissent of the editors comments. That’s fine. Jay, unlike many editors encourages dialogue with well intentioned folks who disagree with him. Come let us reason together. However, I don’t sense that in your words. Oh that you would give direct answers to direct questions without trying to tippy-toe around them without talking about the “leaven of the Pharisees” and offering a misquote of “abiding in the doctrine of Christ” and talk about monkeys, then we might actually get some where.
Dear Jay, Dwight, Monty & Mark,
My question was for Jay. I really appreciate the time he took to reply. I asked under “About the Author” since my question related to a central aspect of the site.
When others joined in, I considered ignoring them, since I wanted to know Jay’s viewpoint.
Although they were assuming things about my views that are not true, using much prejudicial, derogatory terminology and making off-topic comments, I decided to give brief replies to the essence of what they were saying.
I was favorably impressed by your reply, Jay, and I welcome further response if and when you have time. I will allow your response to my second post to be the final post unless you ask me specific questions. No hurry because I know you are busy. I publish 25 websites in 7 languages, so I know how much time it takes to keep up with a website.
I am also willing to reply to arguments of the others to which I have not yet replied, but only by email. I would suggest that they first read a few of my articles, however, so they are responding to what I really believe rather than to their own uninformed assumptions. My articles and email address can be found by a search on my name.
“One in Jesus” is a great name for a website. But unity, and even serious discussion, are not advanced by people who label anyone who disagrees with them as a “legalist”.
Roy, You said, “Although they were assuming things about my views that are not true, using much prejudicial, derogatory terminology and making off-topic comments.”
I personally was only discussing those things you wrote, so I assumed what you wrote was believed and it wasn’t directly addressed to you, but just a general commentary on what you wrote.
I don’t know of any “prejudicial or derogatory terminology statements made or off-topic comments.”
But then again this is an open site, so many things do off-topic.
I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable and wasn’t trying to attack you.
I’m sorry if you felt that way.
From what I read Jay didn’t call you a legalist though, as he was offering his thought on what he thought the difference was between a legalist and a progressive was.
Jays said, “If you bind commandments not found in scripture as salvation matters, you are a legalist or a conservative. If you do not, you are a progressive.”
So this was an “if” statement connected to “binding commandments not found in scripture”.
If you don’t bind commandments not found in the scripture, then he would consider you a progressive, even though you might consider yourself something else.
Jay calls himself a Progressive. I believe you would refer to he or anyone else for that matter who believes IM isn’t a salvation issue as a Liberal? Am I correct? And your definition of liberal (would be from scripture (I assume), as conservatives say “as anyone who has “gone ahead of the scriptures.” I think you would be firm in that regard. Am I wrong? You didn’t lay your cards on the table so to speak but it’s what you believe? Am I wrong?
I think you would agree as Jay said “Self-made religion” or “will worship” (KJV) is to impose regulations as salvation issues beyond those actually found in the Bible. If you bind as salvation issues anything that God did not command to be a salvation issue, you are a legalist and a conservative.” Am I wrong? The only question is whether You (or I) do this.
As soon as you go giving your “interpretation” of a verse and make it a damning doctrine you IMO haven’t spoken as the oracles of God. “Sing making melody in your heart” gets interpreted as cannot have singing accompanied with instruments; that violates the principle. That becomes a deduction on your part. If you were literal with that verse as you try to be then you wouldn’t even make a sound because the melody would be literally “in” (en- greek) your heart. Strong’s: Short Definition: in, on, among. Paul is giving the attitude to sing with and not the mode it’s actually produced with(vocal chords) or if accompanied or not. When a Christian sings with the proper attitude he accomplishes this command(more of an encouraging instruction.) Like “Let not your hearts be troubled, be of good cheer.” It’s not so much a law command as it is a word of encouragement on having the right attitude. It’s meant to edify the hearer, not condemn him to hell if he does it improperly. If so, then why wouldn’t singing with the wrong attitude (something I see periodically, not cheerfully) not condemn a soul to hell? We don’t even focus on what the verse is saying, instead we focus on what Paul never intended to address.
The point of the verse is not songs can’t be accompanied by instruments but to sing from your heart(joyfully). If I told my daughter to sing me a song joyfully or from her heart and she said, “OK dad” and she pulled out her guitar and started singing I wouldn’t stop her and say, “No I told you to sing from the heart.” “Go to your room young lady!” Much less condemn her to hell. That would be crazy and ugly on my part. And why? Because I could have just as easily said(if it was so critically important to me) something like “Would you sing me a song “a cappela” or “Would you sing to me without playing your guitar”.
According to how some interpret scripture they make God out to be a monster. God was very specific in the OT, do this, and not that. For example : “Don’t boil a young goat in his mother’s milk.” But somehow God gave a verse (what 2 verses) about singing and never said a word about “IF you sing with instrumental accompaniment you’ll lose your salvation by grace” but he addressed the attitude to sing by. My point is, He made it crystal clear about circumcision that you would fall from grace if you added to salvation is by faith in Jesus as Messiah (Lord and Savior, Son of God) but somehow(according to some) he left off the musical accompaniment part to singing. That makes no sense. If he can say “liars go to hell” then he could do the same for IM. As Jay said, “it’s not Jesus + a Capella, or plurality of elders”, or Sunday schools or how many cups or any other derivative of Example or Inference. Our trust is in Jesus, and not in our ability to properly decipher law as the Jews did the OT coming up with over 700 rules. I don’t expect a response but I do hope you read this. I used to be in your shoes.
Time as we experience it can be a time of awareness or time we are not aware of. Having had surgery several times I have tried hard with determination to remember time relative to the length of time the surgery was in progress. I told myself, “They aren’t going to do it to me this time. I’ll remember something about it.” Every time I was wrong. In an instant I woke up in the recovery room. Isn’t this what happens to people that die? The next thing they are aware of is everything relative to Jesus’ return. The redeemed fly to meet Jesus in the air and return with Jesus to where He was with the Father. Those condemned are punished relative to God’s perfect judgment and are removed from existing. Only those God considers worthy will have a part in the age of the resurrection. They are those that cannot die again, God’s children. (Luke 20). Those God considers unworthy will have perished, having suffered the second death. Those with no name in the book of life will no longer have life. This is what I’ve taught prisoners since 1996. They get it.
Monty, I believe I have said the same things along the way.
Who would turn their daughter away or scold their daughter for saying they are going to sing and then they use an instrument to do it with. Was she lying? Did the instrument erase her singing? We distance ourselves from the reality of the matter.
We are told to sing….but as I write this I am not singing, so am I going against command.
I hope not.
So to play an instrument to God is to do it to God.
And to sing to God is to sing to God.
But all things, according to Rom.14, ” For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”
So in reality even if we play music “secularly” we are still doing it as to God, because we are to do all things in the context of God.
And secondly as you note:
God is not vague. When God wanted to comment on something, for or against, he didn’t hint at it, he said it out loud and very clear. We somehow believe that a God who can articulate what animals to not eat by hoof type, etc., cannot or can’t be bothered with saying, “don’t use instrumental music”.
Again God is and has never been vague about something he wanted about or something that he was against.
I agree. We die and to the world we seem to sleep. Time passes for those who survive us. But the dead person passes straight to Judgment Day because he passes from the created time-space continuum to God’s world, where there is no time (as we experience time). Time is a created thing, part of the fabric of the universe. When we die, we pass to a place with different physics, outside of earth-time.