Apostasy Lists by Leaders Among Conservative Churches of Christ

by Jay Guin

On April 10, 2009, I wrote,

Really? You see, the thing is: I already have lists and lines of salvation aplenty. My bookshelves sag under the weight of checklists written by Daniel Sommer, David Lipscomb, H. Leo Boles, Thomas Warren, Bert Thompson, Goebel Music, etc., etc., etc. My conservative brothers have never been reluctant to draw salvation lines or offer checklists. They don’t agree with each other on just which doctrinal errors result in apostasy or why, but they do seem to agree on the drawing of lines and making of lists.

All I ask from Greg is the scriptural basis for his own published checklists. …

Greg’s checklists

Greg has published articles in which he lists certain doctrinal errors that damn (cause apostasy, cause one to fall away). I’m sure these aren’t intended as complete lists.

In response, Greg challenged me,

While Jay’s assertions are rhetorically nimble, they suffer from a lack of accuracy. I take exception to his claims on two fronts.

First, I challenge Jay to produce the checklists he asserts have been composed by the men he names. I cannot say that none of these men ever composed such a list, but I have never seen a list of this nature among our people.

I’m happy to provide the requested lists. I think we can learn several important lessons from them. But I need to make this one thing clear. As I said in my post, “I’m sure these aren’t intended as complete lists.” My assertion is that Greg’s list is of a kind with many other similar lists published by his conservative forebears. None of these lists is intended by their authors to be complete.

After all, the very nature of conservative theology is that you can’t make a complete list, as there’s no end to the doctrinal errors that can make one fall away–nor have our leaders come up with a way to make consistent lists. The following review of our history of list-making should serve to demonstrate the truth of that point.

Daniel Sommer

Sommer wrote in the Sand Creek “Address and Declaration” from 1892 —

Some of the things of which we hereby complain, and against which we protest, are the unlawful methods resorted to in order to raise or get money for religious purposes, viz: that of the church holding festivals of various kinds, in the house of the Lord, or elsewhere, demanding that each participant shall pay a certain sum as an admittance fee; the use of instrumental music in the worship; the select choir, to the virtual, if not the real, abandonment of congregational singing. Likewise the man-made society for missionary work, and the one-man, imported-preacher pastor to feed and watch over the flock.

Because of these disagreements, Sommer withdrew fellowship from those churches that taught what he considered to be error on these issues.

And now, in closing up this address and declaration, we state that we are impelled from a sense of duty to say that all such as are guilty of teaching or allowing and practicing the many innovations and corruptions to which we have referred, after having had sufficient time for meditation and reflection, if they will not turn away from such abominations, that we can not and will not regard them as brethren.

Thus, Sommer treated as damned all who, after having had time to meditate and reflect on their error —

  • raise money by charging admission to festivals of various kinds
  • use instrumental music in the worship
  • use choirs in worship
  • use missionary societies for missionary work, or
  • use the one-man, imported-preacher pastor to feed and watch over the flock

Now, it’s important to realize that the “preacher pastor” is a complaint against paid located preachers, such as Todd, Greg, and Phil. (This is not to pick on my preacher friends. Lipscomb was opposed to lawyers, but fine with preachers.)

David Lipscomb

Lipscomb is an interesting study. He was quite generous in many of his attitudes, and fought vigorously to treat Baptist baptism as sufficient to save. He permitted childless elders and unmarried deacons. He permitted women to teach men in class–just not during worship. And yet he considered quite a few things as damning.

The following quotations are from Questions Answered by Lipscomb and Sewell (McQuiddy Printing Co. 1920), a compilation of articles written by the two men over their many years of editing the Gospel Advocate.

Some people esteem blood pudding as a very great luxury; but no man can eat it, or anything else made of blood, without violating a positive command of God, and thus imperiling his soul. (p. 38)

On pages 111-114, Lipscomb criticizes the creeds of several denominations, rejecting all efforts at unity due to the doctrinal error found in the creeds. He first shows the Presbyterians and Methodists to be in error because they consider God a spirit “without body parts.” Lipscomb then cites the various passages referring to God’s body parts. He condemns the Methodists for saying that Jesus died to reconcile the Father to us, rather than us to the Father. These and several other reasons listed were declared sufficient to damn those who join a denomination.

Similarly, Lipscomb wrote,

All are Christians that obey the gospel as it was preached by the Holy Spirit through the apostles; but they will not remain Christians long if they unite with denominations and practice according to man’s wisdom instead of the plain word of God. …

All in Bible lands have the word of God, and can have its light if they will read and study it; and if they do not, the responsibility will be theirs. (p. 175)

Those churches that believe they should cooperate through societies “lack faith in God” (p. 145).

A church in which majorities rule is not a church of Christ. In his church his law rules, and the elders see that it is enforced. While one violation of a law does not unchristianize a man or church, if it is repented of, yet a persistent adoption of another law than the word of God does place the church or individual out of Christ. (p. 234)

No one need wonder how Lipscomb would react to a church governed by a “business meeting” of the members. (See p. 422 as well.) And he certainly says that any persistent error in congregational governance or worship damns.

Withdrawing from a church in protest over a church’s fellowship of a divorced and remarried couple is to “withdraw from Christ” (p. 429).

Worshipping with an organ damns (p. 482).

Then were a man to come to me who has been reared in a beclouded atmosphere and had seen it was his duty to be buried with Christ in baptism, but under the influence of his former teachings could not yet understand it was necessary to observe the Lord’s Supper every Lord’s day, but manifested a determination to learn and do the whole will of God, I would baptize him. … If I failed to get him to see it, I would baptize him, trusting in his efforts to obey God he would learn this truth. It is not necessary to understand all truth before he obeys what he does understand. I did not say I believed he was saved. (p. 67)

Remarkably, if the convert were not yet persuaded on the weekly Lord’s Supper, Lipscomb would baptize him but not consider him saved until he later came to the correct doctrinal understanding!

H. Leo Boles

In his famous speech “The Way of UNITY Between ‘CHRISTIAN CHURCH’ AND CHURCHES OF CHRIST” (1939), Boles listed several grounds making the Christian Churches apostate —

Brethren, give up the Missionary Society and come back where you left the people of God and there will still be unity on this point. …

It is the duty of every Christian to stand firmly and loyally for the New Testament scriptures, and to wage a “stern, relentless, merciless, exterminating” warfare on anything and anybody that opposes the teachings of the New Testament on the purity of worship. …

Some of the leaders have compromised with denominational errors, and acknowledge that the “Christian Church” is just another denomination among the denominations of the world.

In short, Boles denies that the Christian Churches are part of Christ’s church because they support missionary societies, use instruments in their worship, and call themselves a “denomination.”

Thomas Warren

The following quotations are from Thomas B. Warren’s The Bible Only Makes Christians Only and the Only Christians (National Christian Press, Inc. 1984).

[T]here are some things about which a person must be right–if he is to spend eternity with God! … This means that in worship and work one must do only what is authorized in the word of God. (pp. 47-48)

Since every denomination exists without God’s authority (and exists only by human authority), then all who are in denominations (including apostate children of God who have entered such) must repent and come out of them in order to be saved. (p. 49)

Anyone baptized “because he was already saved” is mistaken and therefore not saved (p. 66).

Warren explains how to distinguish error that damns from error that does not —

They can, in effect, agree to disagree, with God’s approval, as to what time of day is best to meet.

On the other hand, there can be no approved disagreement in regard to matters of obligation.

Warren damns with respect to any “matter of obligation” (p. 69). He then lists several matters —

  • Committing adultery or fornication
  • Divorcing on grounds other than fornication
  • Being a member of a denomination
  • Believing or teaching that one is saved at the point of faith before and without being baptized

Warren thus considers as a “matter of obligation” not only what we do but our positions on doctrinal issues.

Bert Thompson

This material is taken from his book Non-denominational Christianity: Is Unity Possible? (Apologetics Press 1984).

Daily observance of the Lord’s Supper and instrumental music make one a “liberal” (p. 16).

Christians who join with a denomination are lost (p. 19).

Even if someone is not guilty of “rebellious, arrogant” sin, a Christian will be lost for disobedience.

Faith has two elements: trust, enjoined with obedience. No man trusts God until his trust is expressed in doing what God says [d]o, in the way God says do it, for the purpose God said do it. (p. 26, emphasis in original)

Christians are lost if they don’t “worship God correctly” (p. 27).

Thompson also offers a theory that distinguishes between error that damns and error that does not, quoting Bobby Duncan, “Error Which Does and Does Not Condemn,” Word of Truth (May 20, 1983),

There are two kinds of error: (1) error which does not deter one from a course of action in harmony with the will of God, and; (2) error which leads to a course of action out of harmony with the will of God. …

For one to be in error on some point that does not affect faithful performance of his duty to God is one thing. But it is another for one to hold to error that would keep him from faithful obedience to God. The former we may and should include in our fellowship. The latter we may not.

Thus, Thompson disagrees with Warren, only condemning over error that leads to sinful conduct. But then again, in Theistic Evolution (Lambert Book House 1977), Thompson damns those who believe in theistic evolution, once they’ve been twice warned.

Goebel Music

This material is taken from Music’s well-known Behold the Pattern (Goebel Music Publications 1991). I say the book is well-known because, for a while, any preacher deemed at risk of being a change-agent was mailed a free copy. My copy was a gift from a change-agent friend.

Music argues,

THERE CAN BE NO FORGIVENESS WHERE THERE IS NO REPENTANCE (Luke 17:3-4), and we need to know what repentance involves! For a man to be saved, he  must repent, since there can be no forgiveness without it … . Cannot we understand that God is not going to forgive a person, any person, who will not repent? (p. 480)

Repentance requires restitution (p. 470). And repentance requires that the Christian no longer commits the sin (p. 478).

In other words, any sin charged to our soul will remain unforgiven until confessed (p. 477), repented of, restitution made, and prayer offered to God (p. 477).

(How one can meet this standard short of being perfect is a puzzle.)

Beginning at page 550, Music lists sins that violate the “pattern” and so “reject the word of God [which] is to reject the Christ of God, his chosen.” (pages 551-552) —

  • Church organization. Music cites majority rule as an example of what is contrary to the pattern.
  • Christian unity, which he says contradicts the notion of unity in diversity.

And then he lists —

  • Marriage, divorce and remarriage.
  • New Testament doctrine.
  • New Testament worship.
  • New Testament assembling.
  • New Testament study and prayer.
  • New Testament honesty.
  • New Testament labor.
  • New Testament discipline.

Thus, if we are in error on any of the above points, we are damned.

Some Conclusions

It’s noteworthy that these leaders do not agree with each other. Indeed, by the standards of Music, Thompson, Warren, and Boles, David Lipscomb is burning in hell because he disagrees with them on baptism, the role of women, elders, and deacons.

According to Sommer, most of the other leaders mentioned are damned because they are paid, located preachers.

According to most of them, if any of the others teaches any doctrinal error at all, he is damned. Music and Warren seem particularly strident on this point. Thompson, at least, limits damning error to error that leads to sinful practice, teaching that grace will cover moral sin but not sin arising from doctrinal error.

Lipscomb seems “liberal” to some, as he approves baptism even if the convert believes himself already saved by faith. But, then, Lipscomb doesn’t consider the baptism sufficient to save someone who believes doctrinal error regarding the Lord’s Supper. It saves those believing error as to baptism – but not communion. And, no, I can’t explain it.

Music insists that sin damns until repented of by no longer committing that particular sin. This gives him the result he wants as to divorce and remarriage (the second marriage must be ended) but means that no one is saved unless he has repented of all sin by ending all sin in his life–an absurd standard that confuses a penitent heart (which God requires) with the cessation of all sin.

Forgive me if the theology of these men seems incoherent to me. They disagree as to which errors damn and which (if any) do not. And none announces a standard for doctrinal error that can be met by any of us–falsely presuming that we are capable of getting all doctrine exactly right or, in Thompson’s case, that we can have no doctrinal error that leads to a false practice. (But isn’t Thompson’s position another way of saying: grace covers sin, unless arising from error? Where is that in the Bible?)

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47 Comments on “Apostasy Lists by Leaders Among Conservative Churches of Christ”

  1. ben Says:

    Jay,

    Thanks for taking the time to document what is certainly only a sample of the sort thing under discussion. I attended TN Bible College for a few years (where a few of the men you mentioned, taught for a while). We certainly had a checklist mentality. Not only did we have checklist, we had lists of those who violated the list. The president of the school often boasted of the long list of false teachers he’d compiled. We were encouraged to keep our own files, with documentation to support the error we’d observed, such as those who supported the use of women passing out the Lord’s Supper, women translators for the deaf in worship assemblies, to include anyone “sinful” enough to speak on a lectureship with someone guilty of either promoting some error or who had himself spoken on a lectureship with a promoter or “error.” He’d often illustrate it graphically, with a chain of fellowship. Anyone on the chain was guilty and damned. The only way out of the bog of error, we were told, was to break fellowship. Mark and divide! And we did it with uncommon zeal!

    The checklists are real. As you said, your list isn’t exhaustive. The world could not contain the all the pages needed to cite all the potential violations.

    ben o

  2. Doug Young Says:

    Jay…What a mess! Thanks for offering this stuff.

  3. Dusty Chris Says:

    WOW. I had no idea. It is almost overwhelming. Thank you for reminding me that freedom, grace and mercy are better than the alternatives.

    I grew up in a church that had the following list:

    Instrumental music (even classical, rock or country)
    Not attending church
    Going to any other church other than CofC
    Kitchen in the church building
    Church buses
    Supporting orphanages or overseas missions
    Women teaching a 12+ year old boy
    Women singing a lead part in a song
    Women serving communion
    Women wearing pants to church
    Women having short hair
    Mixed swimming
    Dancin’
    Cussin’
    Drinkin’
    Smokin’
    Divorce and remarriage
    Divorce
    Men wearing beards
    Sitting on a seat a woman just sat on (until it cooled)
    Long hair
    Saying ‘heck’ or ‘durn’
    Affairs (even though the preacher had one)
    Not following the order of worship (disorderly)
    Wearing shorts
    Wearing shorts to church (offended an elder)
    Jane Fonda (Just seeing if you were paying attention)

    These are sins that will send you to hell (saying or writing the word ‘hell’)…I have heard sermons on the evil of each of these. I began to feel choked just writing this list.

    I am interested in what is on others’ list.

    Dusty Chris

  4. Randy Lucas Says:

    This really brought a smile to my face ….. and then a tear to my eye.

  5. James Says:

    In Matthew 25.31 where what is known as the parable of the sheep and the goats, I believe this has been mischaracterized. Other than the references to how the group as a whole will be separated into two groups, the sheep and the goats, no other symbolism is used.

    It’s not going to be like this; it’s going to be this. So rather than the parable of the sheep and the goats, it’s just straight up prophecy about judgement day.

    If I were to grade myself on the determining criteria Jesus uses: Feeding the hungry, Clothing those needing clothes, Drink for the thirsty, Inviting in the stranger, taking care of the sick and visiting those in prison, can I expect grace to cover me if I refuse to do any of those things?

    I don’t believe I can according to Christ. Perhaps if I am taking care of widows and orphans instead, maybe I’d have a case. (James 1.27)

    Noticeably absent from the eternity determining criteria is the presence or absence of small groups on Sunday evenings, hand clapping, hand raising, frequency of Lord’s supper taking, which version of the Bible used, applause in the auditorium, located preachers, number of cups used, instrumental music in worship, whether an elder should have children or if one child will suffice, whether the invitation accompanying a song was offered at every service,etc, etc, etc.

    I believe when we allow these kinds of issues to destroy relationships the TRUE issue is a lack of love. Romans 14.3 speaks very specifically about those able to do things with a clean conscience are not to look down or dismiss their brother as an idiot. This passage also speaks very specifically about those unable to do things because it will violate their consciences are not to condemn their brother to the 7th level of HELL.

    I see violation of the spirit of this scripture coming from both directions condescension from progressives toward conservatives and condemnation from conservatives toward progressives.

    Paul is scripturally right to be able to eat meat sacrificed to idols, but is willing to sacrifice eating meat altogether to preserve or restore the relationship with his brother. God through Paul is saying the relationships are MORE IMPORTANT than who is right and who is wrong on issues such as these. I believe Jesus was specifically saying in Matt. 5.23-24 that relationships were MORE IMPORTANT than worshipping God, or at the very least that it was impossible for me to properly worship God while I’m at odds with my brother.

    I don’t see either side willing to give an inch in the name of saving relationships. Most demand compromise from the OTHER side, whoever that is.

    I am guilty of both sides of the condescension/condemnation equation as well. I don’t want to give in even when I’m scripturally wrong, much less when I am scripturally right.

    It may sound as if I’m advocating an “Anything Goes” policy when it comes to worship services. Rest assured I’m not, but I would be honored to be thrown into the same category as those slanderously accused in the past. Rom. 3.8

  6. Gene Says:

    It would be good to hear a coherent explanation from Phil and Greg as to how to decide what matters are damning and what matters are not.

    It seems parallel to the old “matters of faith” vs. “matters of opinion” discussions I used to have with my brothers of the non-congregational-support-of-orphan-homes persuasion. The problem always was, what I viewed as a matter of opinion was a matter of faith to my brother. How does one conclusively show which is which?

    Greg/Phil, you both know me, perhaps too well. 🙂

    Why are disagreements over divorce/remarriage (as Todd documents in his book) not damning but disagreements over IM are?

    Is there an answer to that?


  7. Well, dang. (Is ‘dang’ okay?)

    Glad I haven’t smoked, or I’d be 100% on that list.

  8. Orion Says:

    Smokin’ was ok at my little Tennessee c of C because most of the elders grew tobacco.


  9. My home church had almost the same list.


  10. My church had almost the same list


  11. I posted in wrong spot. Does that qualify as being on the list?

  12. Dusty Chris Says:

    Dang is on the list…sorry.

  13. Dusty Chris Says:

    Luckily for you, this is an area where grace applies. Honest mistakes are accepted unless the honest mistakes are a part of the below list. Then they are considered to be in the ‘not so saved category.’ I hope that clears it up. 🙂

  14. Weldon Says:

    “We were encouraged to keep our own files, with documentation to support the error we’d observed, such as … women translators for the deaf in worship assemblies.”

    There is a lot of sheer lunacy that gets brought up in these types of discussions, but thinking about this one makes me feel physically ill. If there’s no one who knows sign language and has XY chromosomes we’re going to disenfranchise the hearing impaired? Really?

    This notion falls somewhere between absurd and evil.

  15. Wayne McDaniel Says:

    Dusty,
    Everyone but those who want to control others are being blessed by a good laugh at what you have written.

    I would love to know the location of the church
    where the Spirit came to give blessing. When the Spirit begins to reveal the secrets of our hearts, the Answer Men might bolt for the doors.


  16. Jay, there are also folks who would certainly strongly imply (“traitor to the cause of Christ) that anyone who does not point out error to the errant is apostate (and, one would assume, point it out to everyone else for good measure).


  17. Conflab it, Dusty Chris ….

  18. Jay Guin Says:

    Dub McClish has been pounding the drum to damn Dave Miller over his alleged support for elder re-affirmation — the practice of elders agreeing to resign if they lose the support of the congregation. (That’s right: the same Dave Miller who damned Richland Hills over their instrumental music).

    As a result, McClish endorses a creed at http://apostasy.ws/DUB-GBN.pdf, listing essential doctrines to be “sound” — making it clear that no one should teach at a lectureship with unsound men — or support works that fellowship unsound men.

    Not too long ago, the elders in my sister’s church demanded that she sign a creed as a condition to teaching cradle roll. The elders were evidently concerned that the 1 year old children might be taught error as to the age of the earth.

    And I know of at least two ladies classes that weren’t allowed to rotate teaching responsibilities among the women unless they all signed a creed.

    Alexander Campbell’s work as a restorationist began when his church required him to affirm belief in their creed as a condition to taking communion. He refused to participate in a communion conditioned on such a thing.

    (My sister and the women I mentioned followed Campbell’s example and refused.)

    We are becoming the very thing the Restoration Movement was founded to oppose.


  19. It does seem there are a lot of folks who spend a good deal more time pushing out the saved from the fellowship of Christ than they do about bringing in the lost.

  20. Dusty Chris Says:

    I read this with the most profound sadness I have felt for the church. I was unaware of the CofC branch of the CIA and it hurts my heart to know this.

    Perhaps only those who know grace from experience should be allowed to teach or pontificate on it. Otherwise it is just an intellectual exercise of futility.

    Anyone out there experienced grace? Really?!?

  21. K. Rex Butts Says:

    Jay,

    I glanced through that “apostasy” document from McClish…very sickning!

    Your brother in Christ!

    Rex

  22. Bob Brandon Says:

    I would suggest that “we” is limited to an increasingly diminishing circle of brethren all in a circular firing squad of accusations and disfellowship and who are as corresponding in influence.

    If I read the inspired text accurately, it appears that Jesus’ list had two items (and I paraphrase):

    1. Love God with all your being.
    2. Love everyone else the way you would love God.

    Much simpler; far, far more challenging.

  23. Dusty Chris Says:

    It meets in my home. We focus on praise and worship then we go where the Lord leads us in prayer. No sermons. No fluff. It is simple, beatiful and powerful. There is more about it on my blog.

  24. Wayne McDaniel Says:

    Dusty,
    I did not know you have a blog. Please provide
    its address, for I would love to visit.

  25. Charles McLean Says:

    Jay notes: “Dub McClish has been pounding the drum to damn Dave Miller over his alleged support for elder re-affirmation — the practice of elders agreeing to resign if they lose the support of the congregation. (That’s right: the same Dave Miller who damned Richland Hills over their instrumental music).”

    Same spirit, different subject. Sad. The religious spirit at work here cannot do anything but divide us– and has been heart-breakingly effective in its work.


  26. Is there an unwritten creed? “No creed but the Bible” has long since lost its value to the “conservative traditional” view in the church. It has become simply words. Sad……

  27. Rich Wells Says:

    Yes, we seem to have an extreme faction among us who love to stretch and distort lists. However, the other extreme where there is no accountability is just as wrong. The Bible contains several lists (1 Cor. 6 and Gal 5). God teaches accountability throughout the scriptures.

  28. Dusty Chris Says:

    Wayne,
    You can just click on my name and it will take you there…or if you want, go to experiencethefire.blogspot.com

  29. Joe Baggett Says:

    As Rich Wells says the extreme of having no foundation at all is the fear of the traditional folks. But I have yet to find in all the progressive churches people who advocate that “anything goes”. There are those who profess to longer follow CENI as the only approach to understanding the Bible. But for the traditionalist CENI and it’s cohorts are the only way to properly understand the truth. This is why they are hesitative in responding to Jay’s question of how to establish damning and non-damning error.

  30. Wayne McDaniel Says:

    Joe,
    You have ID part of the reason those who bind burdens on others have not produced their criteria for knowing damning error — their CENI is inadequate.

    Their life-threatening problem is beyond their line of sight, but was well expressed by Royce Ogle yesterday:

    “The doctrinal error that damns is depending on yourself, being right on doctrine, being in the right church, doing the right stuff at the right time, etc, etc.
    Only those who are actively depending on Jesus (and not themselves) have eternal life.”

    In Gal.5:4 Paul wrote: “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by law.”

    The time is always “today”, to make those who bind burdens for others aware that THEY are the ones in danger of the Lord’s wrath. They are the ones who trample the blood of the new coveneant under foot
    with their arrogance to pronounce anathema upon others for differences in understanding and practice.

  31. Rich Wells Says:

    If this comment is off topic, please forgive me and you have my permission to delete.

    Concerning liberal vs. conservative. In my experiences if I portray a slightly liberal view on a topic, then 9 out of 10 people will go farther toward liberal than I intended. If I portrait a slightly conservative view, then only 1 out 10 will go farther toward conservative than I intended.

    This is why I am much concerned with the ‘progressive’ descriptions here. I may agree exactily with the progressive moderators here on a particular topic, but I predict the next generation will be significantly farther away.

  32. Jay Guin Says:

    Rich,

    Believe it or not, I agree with you. I think we progressives have sometimes done a pretty poor job of laying out our theology, opening the door for serious mistakes down the road.

    The natural tendency for the progressives is to content themselves with criticisms of the conservative view, but as Jesus said, sweeping out one demon only opens the door for seven more to move in.

    In other words, it’s not nearly adequate for progressives to point out the mistakes of others. We must find a way to lay out a better theology that’s built solidly on the scriptures. If we can’t do that, we have no standing to criticize others. I pray that as Todd and I progress in this discussion, we can do just that.

  33. Josh Kraft Says:

    Our liberal brethren have a list as well (i.e., the Deity of Christ and about two or three other points). Unfortunately, it’s a mite shorter than God’s own list.

    If you don’t mind I’ll just stick with God’s list rather than the one prepared by our unbinding brethren. 😉

  34. Bondservant Says:

    If I want someone I love who lives in another state to forgive me wouldn’t the loving thing to do be to turn to that person and acknowledge that I messed up, not as a rule to be forgiven but out of love. When I wanted Jesus’ to forgive me I repented and turned to Him because of my love for Him.

  35. Josh Kraft Says:

    Love does not exclude commandment keeping (i.e., rules) (John 14:15; 1 John 2:3-4; 5:3).

    (BTW notice in those passages that it is “commandments” (plural) and not “commandment” (singular). Loving one another is a commandment. But there are others as well, my liberal brethren.)

  36. Josh Kraft Says:

    I should add that not only does love of God and Christ not EXCLUDE commandment keeping, but–according to Jesus and the apostle John–it most certainly INCLUDES it.

  37. James Says:

    Josh Kraft,
    Which commandment is greater than Love God and love your neighbor as yourself? I want to place any number of commandments above these, i.e. applause in the auditorium, eating in the building, which song books or version of the Bible is to be used, etc. etc. etc.

    Aren’t I lowering one of those “…no commandments are greater than these..”

    or are these commands no longer the greatest?

  38. Rich Wells Says:

    Jesus did not say that Love God and Love others are the only commandments. He said that these describe and summarize all of the others.

    In His words, “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

    Matthew 22:40 (English Standard Version)

  39. Dusty Chris Says:

    Perhaps being damned by Dub McClish isn’t all bad. I have found that when one is doing something right, even doing the will of God, someone is going to hate it.

    I ascribe to the 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 Theory. I want a third of the people to hate me, a third of the people to love me, and a third of the people to be apathetic toward me. If you look at the life of Christ, he had the same numbers. He really didn’t care if people hated him. He just did what his Father wanted he to. I would just place Dub in the appropriate 1/3 and then do what God is leading me to do.

  40. Jay Guin Says:

    Dusty,

    It’s a sad commentary of the state of the Churches if those who do right can expect 1/3 of the Churches to hate them.

  41. Dusty Chris Says:

    Jay,

    Even sadder would be to allow an intellectual malcontent to set the tone and limits of our ministry and mission of our churches. I went to church in Denton, TX when a certain minister was churning out his anti-Holy Spirit, anti-progressive, anti-grace, anti-growth, anti-whatever propoganda that all but killed Pearl Street Church of Christ. Those who want to go on apostasy witch hunts is just sad to me. Do we want all our churches to only spew out judgement of others for doctinal perfection while a lost and dying world goes into further decline? If we do that, we deserve to turn into a “Blue-hair only” denomination that ages then dies instead of a dynamic, growing body of Christ.

    I would much rather err on the side of grace, mercy, love, the Great Commission, Holy Spirit gifting, and freedom. If a third of the people were drawn to that, we would be the largest denomination in the world…and I like those numbers.

  42. Alan Scott Says:

    If we have to follow a creed, I prefer the Nicene to the Dub. At least the former is Biblical:

    I believe that Jesus is the Son of God (Matthew 16:16).

    I believe that Jesus poured out His blood for the forgiveness of sins
    (Matthew 26:28).

    I believe that we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:4-10).

    I believe that our faith must include turning from trusting whatever
    we did in our old life to trusting in Jesus (Acts 2:38).

    I believe that our faith must include being immersed in water in the
    name of Jesus as a representation of His death, burial, and
    resurrection to be raised to a new life so my sins will be forgiven
    (Acts 2:38; Romans 6).

    I believe that there is one God the Father, maker of heaven and earth
    (Genesis 1 & John 1).

    I believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Word, who was
    incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and was made man
    (John 1, Matthew 1, Luke 1).

    I believe He suffered crucifixion, was buried, rose again on the
    third day, ascended into heaven, and will come again to judge the
    living and the dead (1 Corinthians 15: 1-8; Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:9-
    11; 2 Timothy 4:1).

    I believe in the Holy Spirit whom God has promised to give to dwell
    in the hearts of all Christians (John 7:38-39; Acts 2:38-39; Acts
    5:32; Romans 5:5; Romans 8:9-11; 1 Corinthians 6:18-20; 2 Corinthians
    1:21-22; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 1:13-14; Ephesians 3:14-21).

    I believe in the one Church, the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27;
    Ephesians 5:23).

    I believe in and look forward to the coming resurrection of the dead
    and eternal life (1 Corinthians 11:26; Hebrews 9:28).

    God bless

  43. Dusty Chris Says:

    Very cool, Alan. Those things are the foundations of faith that would draw the lost to Christ. Any more than these fundamental premises and we lose the simplicity of the gospel. Any less, and we lose the power of the gospel.

  44. Rich Wells Says:

    Alan,

    This looks like a good starting point. However, to read the words (and I’m sure not your intent) I would say it is okay to commit adultery. There is no mention of pure religion that includes “to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted from the world” James 1:27.

    It is typical 21st century post-modern thinking to only talk about the positive. I know for motivation reasons, we shouldn’t focus on the ‘thou shalt not’s’ but they are real and important and shouldn’t be forgotten. At least not if we want to truly respect and show God our love for Him.

  45. Rich Wells Says:

    About a year ago, I started a list in an adult bible class.

    I wrote on the board:
    1) Believe in God – all seemed to agree
    2) Believe in Christ – all seemed to agree
    3) The Bible is the infallible word of God – no outward objections to this one in this crowd.
    then I wrote…
    4) Live a pure life – the vocal objections were extensive. “What do you mean by that?”. “You can’t tell me what to do” “You’re drawing a line that isn’t right”, etc. (literal quotes to the best of my memory).

    I was flabbergasted and shocked at the level and emotion of objection. It was then near the end of the class period. I read James 1:27 and said all I meant was whatever God meant here. Several told me after class I better not bring it up again.

    This is what concerns me with many of the comments on this forum. There may be pure motives in the objections to the ten percent in the cofC who are overly nitpicky. However, the reaction to move to the other end of the spectrum seems to reflect the influence of the bigger societal objection to anything that even smells like authority and/or absolute truth. Yet, these are both strong and real concepts taught by Jesus.

  46. Alan Scott Says:

    Rich,

    Of course this was not my intent 🙂

    But we must have a stting to point in what we are to believe, and even Paul when speaking to the jailer at Philippi left out a lot. He did, however, focus on the primary goal – believing in the Lord Jesus as the Christ.

    In the case of Nicea, the Christians then ceratinly did not approve of committing adultery, and were highly keen on looking “after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted from the world” But that was not their goal. Their goal, and my intent, was to provide the foundation on which all could agree and believe. As Jay has pointed out on his blog, the looking after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted from the world comes once one has become a Christian as a result of one’s faith.

    God bless

  47. Ron chandler Says:

    What if the list looks like this:

    Buddhism
    Islam
    New Ageism
    Agnosticism
    Hindu
    Judaism

    Would it be wrong to at least draw lines this way? Or does anything go? If it’s ok to draw these lines, why?


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