The Maxey - Broking Debate

The Readers Respond

From Reflections #355
Introduction

On June 8, 2008, in message #11,609 posted to the Contending for the Faith Internet discussion forum (a gathering of roughly 125 persons largely consisting of the faithful readers of the publication "Contending for the Faith," which was originally edited by the late Ira Y. Rice, Jr., and is now edited by David P. Brown), Darrell Broking, an occasional writer for this very ultra-conservative publication, issued this appeal: "List, I would like to find an anti-patternist who would be willing to have a written debate with me. If you know one who denies that there is a New Testament pattern to which we must conform, then forward this email to him." To make a rather long, involved story short, and following a fair amount of negotiation between Darrell Broking, David Brown and myself, a formal written debate was agreed to on two specific propositions dealing with the concept of Patternism. They are:

The New Covenant writings ARE the divine pattern which
must be followed for both fellowship and salvation.

Affirm --- Darrell Broking
Deny --- Al Maxey

The New Covenant writings CONTAIN specific requirements
and expectations of our God, few in quantity, that are
essential for both fellowship and salvation.

Affirm --- Al Maxey
Deny --- Darrell Broking

Darrell and I will each be given four posts per proposition. Under the first proposition, Darrell will provide four affirmative posts, after each of which I will offer a rebuttal. This procedure will be reversed during the second half of the debate: I will provide four affirmative posts, after each of which Darrell will offer his rebuttal. Thus, there will be 16 posts in all, with a two week time limit between each. Although David Brown will be the moderator of this debate, since it is being placed on his Internet group Contending for the Faith, he has nevertheless agreed that he will not edit or modify our respective posts in any way. In an email to me dated June 13, David Brown wrote, "Absolutely nothing will be altered, changed or edited about them. The posts will appear on ContendingFTF just as they left each disputant's email to us." David Brown has further agreed to advertise this debate in his publication "Contending for the Faith." In an email dated June 18, he wrote, "Al, I will advertise your debates page address --- http://www.zianet.com/maxey/pattern.htm --- in Contending for the Faith as we have discussed advertising it. However, the advertisement will first appear in the July 2008 issue of CFTF. This is the case because the June issue is already in the mail." I've chosen to take this man at his word that he will indeed advertise this debate within his publication as he has pledged to do, though I have been told by several people close to me that they don't believe he will actually carry through with his promise; that his fear of exposing his readers to anything that Al Maxey might write will finally override his previous promise (or that he will bury the ad in some small, dark corner of his magazine so that few will see it). I suppose time will tell. However, until David Brown demonstrates otherwise, I will take him to be a man of his word. My suspicion, however, is that he most certainly will not give it the same prominence that I have in this present issue of my weekly Reflections (and which I will give it in subsequent issues). I am thrilled at the opportunity to engage in such a dialogue, and I want ALL of my readers to know about it, and to examine what Darrell and I both have to say. Is David Brown equally excited about sharing this opportunity with HIS readers? It would certainly raise some interesting questions if he isn't.

As many of you know, I have little use for oral debates, as I believe they are little more than grotesque public spectacles, not all that far removed from the appalling display of the ancient gladiators who hacked one another to death for the amusement of the crowds. I have never participated in such, and I never will. However, when two individuals agree to sit down and engage in a reasoned, respectful, rational dialogue with one another on some matter over which they differ, and they are willing to give this process ample time for responsible reflection, then there is great potential for good in such an exchange. Legalistic patternism has plagued the church for generations, and it is one of the causes of the schism and division we see today. The fragmentation of the Family of God is in large degree caused by this evil doctrine. Thus, I welcome the opportunity to expose it for what it is before the very crowd most influenced by it. Paul was willing to go wherever the Spirit led him, even into the midst of those who opposed him the most, if he could proclaim the beauty of God's grace and liberty in Christ Jesus. I am willing to do the same. I ask that you pray for me as I take advantage of this God-given opportunity to share the good news with those still enslaved to legalistic patternism. Pray that the Spirit will give me the boldness to speak as I should, and the words to convey His Truth, and pray that hearts will be softened and transformed, and that barriers that have divided us far too long will begin to crumble. Please bookmark the above web site for this debate (Darrell has already posted his first affirmative, and my first rebuttal is now online). Follow along in the months to come as the message of grace is taken into all the world via this medium.

From Reflections #356

From an Evangelist in India:

Beloved Brother Maxey, I wish you all the best in your debate on Legalistic Patternism. I pray that you will bring out the Truth in this debate and that it will open many closed minds.

From a Reader in Missouri:

Bro. Al, Wow ... Great Job on your rebuttal to Broking's first affirmative in your debate!! This should be quite interesting. I pray it goes well and that many will give what you say prayerful thought. I'm really excited to see the progress of this debate, and maybe even some good results from it.

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Brother Al, I have just finished reading Darrell Broking's first affirmative and your first rebuttal. Excellent!! When I first read the terms of this debate, I was afraid that I would have to become a member of David Brown's Internet chat group in order to follow along. That group hosted by David Brown is difficult to get on; he requires you to tell something about yourself, and if you don't "fit the mold," then you are denied access. Please make it clear to your readers, Brother Al, that they don't have to be on his Internet group in order to read this debate, but that it is also available to anyone on your own web site --- The Maxey-Broking Debate on the Doctrine of Patternism. Brother, I appreciate so much your willingness to take part in this written debate!!

From a Reader in Tennessee:

Brother Al, This is great!! I will be following this debate until its completion! Thanks so much for your efforts!!

From a Reader in Georgia:

Bro. Al, I will be praying for both you and Darrell: that the Lord will guide you both, and especially that He will soften and transform the hearts of those who read this debate. I will also pray that the scales will fall from the eyes of many as they hear the Truth. I am so thankful for your teaching and encouragement, Al. May the Holy Spirit continue to lead you on the path that He has chosen for you! Special Request --- I would also like to ask your readers if they know of a good Bible correspondence course that can be used for inmates in jail or prison; one that does not use CENI and does not declare that using musical instruments is sinful and damnable. If they know of such a series of lessons, I would love to hear of them.

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Brother Al, I have to disagree, up to a point, with your objection to oral debates. I have had several oral debates in years gone by. I do not approve of, and have not participated in, any that are the old "down and dirty" kind with lots of mud slinging and name calling. Mine have all been conducted with order, and where both disputants acted gentlemanly. That kind of debate can be very effective. I had a debate in the mid-70's with a Baptist preacher, and at the end of the discussion he said, "I lost this debate!" In fact, he was much kinder and friendlier to me after the debate than he had been before. That's just an old preacher's opinion.

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Brother Maxey, I really enjoyed your first rebuttal in the debate! Thank you for presenting the proper understanding that is so greatly needed to take the edge off the legalistic view of "religion."

From a Minister in Mississippi:

Hello Bro. Al, I appreciate you putting your debates on paper/computer (rather than oral). It allows several, like myself, to examine and re-examine all points while searching for Truth. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the debate.

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Brother Al, I have just read Darrell Broking's first affirmative in your present debate with him. While reading it, I prayed for you to be led by the Holy Spirit in your rebuttal. Of course, I knew that you had already written that first rebuttal, but I prayed for you for the entire debate. I also prayed for Darrell. It is so clear to see, from what he had written, that he is so shackled by legalism that there is a barrier he cannot see over. I was there once too. I know what a tool of Satan it is. I asked that the eyes and ears of his heart might be opened so that he may actually see and experience an explosion of Truth that would be so overwhelming that he would drop to his knees and praise God with his whole being. Then, when I went and read your first rebuttal, I was able to see that God's Holy Spirit is already at work in you, and was from the beginning. Praise God for His wonderful wisdom, and for His guidance of your writing. You are speaking Truth, and doing so in love and kindness. I am so glad. There are a lot of people I want to read this debate. Please keep up the good work, and may God bless you richly.

From a Reader in New Mexico:

Dear Bro. Al, It is going to be really interesting to see how this debate with Darrell Broking comes out. Hopefully, Darrell will be enlightened by this debate -- will see the LIGHT -- and will then become a true teacher of God's Word, changing the legalistic minds of those who are now following his teachings. If that becomes the case, then you will have hit yet another major home run (of which you already have many in your past record). We love you and Shelly, and we look forward to many more years of you both being here to change lives and attitudes, bringing us all much more together in the loving spirit of our God.

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Bro. Al, You are in my thoughts and prayers through the course of this debate with Darrell Broking, that the Spirit may give you direction and words to glorify God and encourage others, and that you may show the freedom from legalism that comes from Christ Jesus.

From a New Reader in Florida:

Brother Al, Please add me to your mailing list for Reflections. A friend sent me word of your written debate now in progress concerning patternism. I read the first affirmative with some dismay, and then read your response with great delight (as well as Reflections #84 -- The Doctrine of Christ).

From a Minister in California:

Dear Brother Maxey, I have just finished reading (for the second time) the first exchange in the Maxey-Broking Debate on Patternism, and although I am just a poor old country-boy preacher I found the thoughts of Darrell Broking on the Synoptic Gospels rather amusing. Anyway, I think the end result of this debate, which is already becoming obvious, will be that you will have this opponent backed into a corner that he can NOT get out of. The day is coming when there will be a great exodus from out of the legalistic herd, with many of these brethren either burying their legalistic opinions and accepting a long-awaited truce or just fading away into the sunset as legalistic "has-beens." Bro. Maxey, continue to proceed just as you began, bear down on Truth, and in the end this generation will begin perceiving the Truth they have never seen before, and with tremendous results ... all positive. God bless you for your efforts toward this end.

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Bro. Al, I just read the first two postings of your "Patternism" debate with Darrell Broking. When I read his statements about the "new covenant" being the 27 books of the New Testament canon, I had the same reaction you did. You would think that a person who takes on the responsibility of imparting God's Word to the world would have a better understanding of such things!! I get the impression that some of these patternists believe that just before Jesus ascended into heaven, He said to His disciples, "In a few days you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. When this happens, I want you to go out to Amir's farm. Go to his well and look under a rock beside the well. There you will find a book that will give you all of My new laws. I call it 'The New Testament.' After you read this book, go out and tell everyone about the new regulations that they must now obey." At one point, Mr. Broking indicated his belief that the "gospel of Christ" is the same thing as "the commandments of Christ." Doesn't he know that the "gospel" is simply the "good news" about Christ? -- the wonderful revealing of who Christ is and what He and our God have done for us? That isn't even close to being the same thing as the commandments of Christ. I learned what the gospel was in Sunday School when I was just a kid. How can this guy be so confused? I am really looking forward to reading the future installments of this debate. My prayers are with you, Al. You definitely have Truth and understanding on your side!!

From Reflections #357

From a Reader in Colorado:

Bro. Al, I am excited about your debate with Darrell Broking on patternism, and I'm pleased that it is being published on your web site. I am among the multitude praying for a special blessing on this particular effort you have undertaken!!

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Bro. Al, I just received the book you spoke of by Sheila Gibson. I've only covered 60 pages thus far, but I can see myself in her. How sad that many of us in the Churches of Christ have been so far away from the very One whose name we so arrogantly feature on our church signs. We knew how to paint it, but not how to receive Him or His Spirit into our lives. We lived in fear of breaking our legal code rather than finding that assuring peace taught by Paul, which should have ruled us. We allowed that code to discourage us, divide us, mold us into warring, unloving camps, and leave us wondering why we were so empty. May Sheila's number become legion! I also read Broking's first affirmative. Sadly, there was not very much meat there. When I read your first rebuttal, however, I was overwhelmed. I used to think that if I could become a debater, my star would rise in Israel. Although I tried to treat my opponents with respect and courtesy, I still had that "air" that most debaters had, and it very often showed to those on the other side of the fence. Although yours is a written debate, I can see no such "air" within your writings. May God bless this debate you are having, and may He help all to see that Darrell Broking, and others who believe as he does, are the true perpetrators of much of the division among us. May God use this information to draw those to Jesus who have previously been driven away from Him.

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, Thank you for recommending Sheila Gibson's book "Diary of a Believer." I ordered it from Amazon.com, and it came in yesterday ... and I read it yesterday afternoon! So, I guess you can truthfully say that I thought it was a good book. Again, thanks for recommending this book. Also, I just finished reading the first exchange between you and Darrell Broking in your debate. I just wanted to tell you that you did an excellent job. Your rebuttal was well-written and so very clear. Thanks for all the work you do in spreading God's Word.

From an Elder in Florida:

Bro. Al, I am very well-pleased with the way you are defining and applying "the will of God in Christ" for Christian disciples. I would wish that every conscientious member of the Body of Christ would visit your web page and follow along in your debate with Darrell Broking on "Patternism," as you examine this central core of Church of Christ theology. In my own judgment, this could very well be the most significant debate of the 21st century among the heirs of the Stone-Campbell Movement. No matter how "rigid" or how "flexible" one might personally feel themselves to be in their approach to discovering and following God's will, this debate is worth following carefully as it unfolds over the next months.

From a Missionary in Peru:

Brother Al, Your current debate certainly makes for some very sad reading, because Darrell Broking is certainly out of his depth. One can only pray that the Lord will take away the scales from his eyes so that he may see the glory of Christ and rejoice in His finished work. He is really no different from the legalist Saul before Christ revealed Himself to him on the road to Damascus. He is following a legalistic pattern on earth, whereas the true believer sees and knows himself to be seated with Christ in the heavenly places outside the claims of law or manmade commandments. They cannot see that their man-created pattern is an abomination before God, because they seek to justify themselves by works. They cannot see that by their preaching they are leading others away from Christ, and there can be no greater darkness or sin than that. I also agree with you totally concerning the nature and purpose of the New Covenant. I must say that I also enjoyed your good use of "sarcasm" which exposed the utter stupidity of Broking's teaching. Hopefully, this will be helpful to your readers. The Lord certainly chooses our place of service to fit our gifts. May the Lord be pleased to use you and your gifts to open the eyes of those deluded by legalism.

From Reflections #358

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Brother Al, I have really enjoyed your Reflections, as well as many of your other writings, through the years. I believe you are probably the most insightful writer in our fellowship. I am also enjoying your debate on patternism. I've written a workbook on the Holy Spirit, and quoted quite a bit from you in one of the chapters -- hope you don't mind. I envy your ability to turn out so much material, and am thankful for people in the church with your ability. Thanks again for your ministry.

From a Minister in Oklahoma:

Bro. Al, While we have not met (that I can recall), I am an admirer from a distance. Thank you for taking on this effort of engaging the legalistic patternists in public debate. Patternism has made our people a very mean-spirited (and in danger of being lost) sort. I am grateful for you as I read through this debate!

From a Minister in Alabama:

Bro. Al, Glad you are engaging in this debate. My prayer, in all such discussions/debates, is not for one or another to "win," but that the Truth of God's Word will be exalted in the hearts of all, and that the proponents will conduct themselves with integrity and love -- while presenting their views with an open heart. I pray that many brethren will be able to remove past prejudices and traditions so as to examine these matters openly. God is the one who will always win the victory for us when we seek Him.

From a Minister in England:

Hi Brother Al, It is best for you to get back to the Old Paths, and please remember: Them that ain't legal get to burn! So you'd best be legal in your obeying Christ. Have a great summer and reflect on this matter. You may be the one in deep error!

From an Elder in Missouri:

Brother Al, I really appreciate you putting the contents of this debate on your web site. I requested membership on the Contending for the Faith group, so that I could read the debate there, but was refused membership with no explanation. I am a member of other Christian groups on the Internet, so I don't understand this at all.

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Brother Al, Thank you for your scholarship. Thank you for your logic. Thank you for upholding grace. Thank you for your clarity of thought. Thank you for your attitude. Thank you for showing us the way.

From a Minister in Arkansas:

Brother Al, I hope you will always continue to fight the good fight of faith, and I pray that this man you are debating will come to repentance! All of us here have you in our prayers, brother.

From a Minister in California:

Brother Al, I just recently preached a portion of your Reflections article on "Figures of Speech and Thought." I titled the sermon, "But, That's What It Says!" With regard to your debate, you and Broking are clearly on different planets (even different galaxies) theologically, and I am curious as to how you are going to respond to some of his ranting. Frankly, I could never, ever debate someone who engaged in such illogical, nonsensical, accusatory ranting. Thus far, your two rebuttals have been masterful, especially considering that Broking is trying to get you to "chase rabbits." Please, Al, stay above the fray and do not jump down into the sewer of name-calling (as Darrell Broking is doing). Usually, the one who resorts to such ad hominem argumentation is the one who does not have any (more) substance to their argument, and so they attack the character of their opponent. Although I am advising you to refrain from such, nevertheless if I was in your shoes I would have already called him a lot of names I might have to repent of!! Brother, I greatly admire your willingness to engage these illogical, hermeneutically ignorant, people. We are praying for you here, brother. Your success in this debate is very much needed in the church today, and the positive effects of your teaching in this debate will hopefully be very far-reaching. God bless you!!

From a Minister in California:

Bro. Al, Truly, the spiritual eyes of Broking and those like him are blinded, and they are way out of step with the heart and soul of Christ and of those in a personal relationship with Christ. I pray that your involvement in this debate will open some blinded eyes. More power to you!!

From a Reader in Missouri:

Bro. Al, You did a great job on your second rebuttal. I think it was very precise, and it could not have been made any clearer. I truly hope that the truth of what you've said will dawn on Darrell Broking (as well as on others like him). Love ya, brother!!

From a Reader in Texas:

Good Morning Brother Al, I have just finished reading your second rebuttal to Darrell, and I want to encourage you in your writing. When I read Broking's second affirmative I just wanted to sit back and say, "What is the use?!" I know at times you must become extremely frustrated with all the nonsense that is written, but, Al, you are doing a great work by remaining in the church of your heritage and working for the changes that need to take place in our family. While you only need God to make a majority, I truly believe that the majority of the people out there can easily see how ridiculous Broking's position actually is when they read it. Al, you are loved by more people than you can probably imagine, and I know that your name is brought up in prayer by those (like promised unto Abraham) outnumbering the stars. Bless you, brother, as this debate continues, because I truly believe that by your efforts many eyes will be opened.

From an Elder in Texas:

Brother Al, Great second reply to Darrell Broking!!! His type of rhetoric has kept so many of us in chains for years. Thank you so much for providing thoughtful Bible study to some difficult questions that have been plaguing the church for years. When I was bound by the patternistic mindset, I knew that there were so many flaws in my thinking, but I simply could not articulate them the way you have so eloquently done. I praise God for men like you who can meet many of our legalistic brethren head-on with the Scriptures! Al, I am going to keep on reading your Reflections and this debate. Please don't ever stop writing!!!

From an Elder in California:

Dear Brother Al, I have been reading the information contained within your debate with Darrell Broking. We have been dealing with just such issues as advocated by Bro. Broking at our own gathering of the Body of Christ in ---------, CA. The doctrine that those of this persuasion use is one we have come to refer to as the "Christ plus" doctrine. In other words: Christ plus _____ = Salvation. It seems that none of them can agree on just what the "plus" is; each one having their own list of what should go in the blank. Bro. Al, I enjoy your Reflections. As with any man, I do not agree with everything that you write, but you always give me reason to study and to grow. I believe that's one of the things that we are all called to do. I will enjoy reading the rest of your debate as it comes. May God bless your efforts to show that true unity comes from loving God and each other, and not from a list of laws that we are no longer under.

From a Minister in Texas:

Brother Al, When participants in a debate exchange differing views in a kindly, sincerely earnest and studied manner, much good can be accomplished. However, when either of them approaches the matter with shallow, mean-spirited assaults on the other's person or comments, much harm may be done. And if both attack each other in that manner, then much harm is certainly done. I commend you for not lowering yourself to that behavior in your rebuttals to Darrell Broking.

From a Minister in Texas:

Dear Brother Al, Thank you for your work preaching the gospel of Jesus. It is my belief that you do a good job of exegesis and application of the text. As far as debates go, I like to read opposing views on some matter, but I do not like the personal attacks that usually happen in debates. As far as I can tell, debaters usually begin attacks on the other person when their arguments are weak, and then it seems to become personal and ugly. I got this feeling when reading Darrell's second installment in your present debate, and I lost focus on the issues and became over-focused on the attacks. On the other hand, I believe that you argued the text and did not attack anyone, so good for you. I can't stress enough that I really enjoy reading or hearing opposing points of view; it's good for one's soul. And I really like to hear and read good exegesis of the text. So, thanks for your work and your love for the Lord.

From a Minister in Oklahoma:

Dear Bro. Al, You are making a difference in my overall outlook through your Reflections and your debate. Thanks a bunch! I am enjoying the freedom to think again!!

From a Minister in Arizona:

Dear Bro. Al, I reread some of Bro. Broking's last affirmative in your debate and noticed that rather than defending his position, he instead did a lot of attacking you personally. This is something that I have seen in most debates, and it seems to be counterproductive. Just my thoughts. Bro. Al, I love your weekly Reflections, and love you for your courage and great writing ability. Please keep on keeping on!!

From an Elder in North Carolina:

Bro. Al, In your second rebuttal in your debate with Darrell Broking you referenced Matthew 23 as an answer to Daniel Coe. Verses 33-34 read, "You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes." Sometimes, out of love for them, we feel that these misguided brethren in the legalistic camp are not in danger of losing their souls, but rather are just "mistaken." This verse, however, hints at them actually being in a more dire position than that, and that God therefore sends people like you to help them find their way. I sincerely feel that our God has commissioned Al Maxey as one of these "wise men" to help them escape their "sentence to hell." If this debate is truly going to be advertised in "Contending for the Faith," there will be many readers in the legalist camp that will find their way out of their present quagmire thanks to your wisdom. We've quietly been dodging their spears far too long, and it's now time that we confront them (out of love for them) with something that they have not had until now -- the Truth. Bro. Al, God has prepared you for what you are doing, and I don't believe there is anyone out there that can do it as effectively as you can. I love you, brother, and we continue to pray for you!

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Bro. Al, I just finished reading your second rebuttal in the patternism debate. I must say, you did an excellent job of pointing out the fallacy of those who use inferences and assumptions to create manmade "laws" for God's people. You would think that any legalist with even the slightest ability to reason and understand, after reading your second rebuttal, would just simply put down their pen (or, more likely, step back from their keyboards) and shout "I get it now!!" Frankly, it is hard for me to understand how the "Darrell Brokings" of this world would not realize the error in their thinking after reading your argument about these "assumptions of fallible men" being elevated to "divine command" status. You asked Darrell, "So, Darrell ... what assurances do we have that their inferences are not also fallible?! And we are to formulate a standard from this upon which all must concur in order to enjoy both fellowship and salvation?! And a part of this process of formulating this standard is to adopt the speculations of 'fallible men'? No wonder the legalistic patternists are so fragmented!! Their 'standard' is derived in part, by Darrell's own admission, from assumptions drawn from what God never said, and by men who are acknowledged to be prone to error by nature. Good grief. This would actually be laughable, if not so pathetic and destructive."

Excellent, Al. I can't wait to read his answer to that! What could he possibly say to this except, "I give, you win!!"? But, we both know that he won't ever say that. I've come to the conclusion that the reason that otherwise intelligent human beings refuse to accept the simple nature of God's plan of salvation, is nothing more than their pride. They cannot bear to admit that they have been wrong in their beliefs and teachings for all these many years. It would just be too embarrassing for them. Such a pity. Hopefully, the many readers of this debate that are still being deluded by those teachings will be the ones who finally shout "I get it now!!" Carry on, Al. I believe your efforts will bear much fruit.

From a Reader in North Carolina:

Bro. Al, We all have been needing an "Al Maxey" for such a long time!! Someone who is willing to wade through all of the twisted "reasonings" and inconsistencies of those who feel that they are the only ones that are right (saved). You have given me so much hope, since I would have personally been "down and out" had you not spoken up and met these "Pharisees" head-on. Thank you!

From Reflections #359

Update on the Maxey-Broking Debate on
the Doctrine of Patternism in the Church

In an email to me dated June 18, 2008, David Brown, the editor and publisher of the magazine Contending for the Faith, promised that he would advertise this debate on patternism within his publication, and that it would come out in the July, 2008 issue. I received my copy of that issue just the other day, and David was as good as his word. Indeed, I must admit, his promotion of this event exceeded my expectations. I honestly did not believe he would give it the prominence it needed, and I was wrong. For that, I extend to him my sincere apology. David actually devoted three whole pages to this debate, even including pictures of both Darrell and me. He provided the URL to my web site where the readers of his magazine could find every word of this debate, and he even wrote the July Editorial on this -- it is titled "Evaluating A Debate." It goes without saying that I don't agree with some of what appears within that article, but I appreciate his effort nevertheless. For those who don't get this magazine, you can read his article online. Just Click Here to go to this study. David Brown is also featuring every word of this debate on his congregation's web site -- the Spring Church of Christ, which is located about 25 miles north of Houston, Texas. I believe this to be a very courageous, and even noble, gesture on his part, and I thank him for it.

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Thanks, Bro. Al, for taking the time to engage in this discussion with Darrell Broking. On one hand, I find it inspiring, for the Restoration Movement was built on the assumption that when honest people with different points of view engage in dialogue in a God-honoring way (i.e., with gentleness and respect -- 1 Peter 3:15), Truth will eventually emerge. On the other hand, I find it discouraging, for, as much as I love this fellowship of ours, Darrell Broking is representative of the attitude that, in my opinion, is destroying us!! --- i.e., such people find it nearly impossible to admit it when they have been honestly mistaken. They begin every discussion with the pre-formed conclusion that Churches of Christ are closer to the NT teachings than any other fellowship. Therefore, every position they have traditionally held (such as opposing instrumental music in worship) must be the correct position. In my experience, such people who begin with such conclusions spend most of their time in these discussions misrepresenting the views of their opponents. Brother Al, I appreciate your attempts to rise above this. However, I find Broking's repeated misrepresentations of your views to be the antithesis of what Restoration was intended to be. Keep the faith, brother.

From Reflections #360

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Bro. Al, In your last Reflections another TN preacher wrote, "They begin every discussion with the pre-formed conclusion that Churches of Christ are closer to the NT teachings than any other fellowship." I would disagree with this good brother. They do not begin every discussion with the conclusion that they are closer to the NT teachings than any other fellowship, they believe that the Churches of Christ are THE one and only TRUE church of Christ. Even today, with our 26+ divisions, each division feels that it alone is the TRUE church, and that all the rest are apostate. That's the attitude they enter debates with. I fear Broking has this same attitude ("We're right, and we can not be wrong!"). I think it is interesting in his third affirmative that he is using letters/emails from brethren who support him as part of his affirmative. I thought he was supposed to show us from the BIBLE that his affirmations were correct.

From a Reader in Texas:

Bro. Al, I pray that you have a great Lord's Day! I started reading Broking's latest addition to the debate this morning (his third affirmative), but had to quit. I simply can't have that on my mind this morning as it will depress my thoughts!! Bro. Al, you are awesome, and a blessing to Christ on earth! Keep it up.

From a Reader in Mississippi:

Dear Brother Al, I just finished reading your latest Reflections article ("Debate Between Disciples"), and I want to say to you that you are in my prayers daily and that I admire your strength and determination. This article lets me know in a small way how you've suffered for what you are trying to accomplish. As you continue to stand strong and proclaim God's Truths to all of us, please know that we are behind you, and that we appreciate so much your hard, hard work and dedication.

From a Reader in Tennessee:

Bro. Al, I think the sad thing in this debate is: Broking and his peers actually think they've proven their points. He will be applauded for his stand. And, based upon a faulty hermeneutic, they will dig even deeper into their cocoons while the walls of their boxes close in and their churches continue to deteriorate. And the spirit of isolationism will continue, where only a select few in the Churches of Christ are "faithful" enough, obedient enough, and "right" enough. This is nothing but a religion of men. It's an assault on our freedom in Christ. It's a "Jesus plus" religion. As for me, I guess I'll just stand before my Creator, realizing all of my insufficiencies and sins and weaknesses, amazed at His grace, and pleading my cause based on the blood of Jesus. No more religion in a box. Just give me Jesus. That's enough. Bro. Al, I really appreciate your scholarship, as well as the fact that you have not resorted to the tactics that those who try to defeat straw giants feel they must resort to. I also enjoy your Reflections very much. May the God who loves us "anyway/regardless," bless and strengthen you.

From a Reader in Florida:

Brother Al, I am not a preacher, or an elder, or a deacon ... in fact, I'm not even a man. My voice never seemed to matter in any Church of Christ, but that's okay. God has blessed me with a decent amount of wisdom, and I am so thankful for that. I'm just so happy that I have the Truth. Poor Darrell ... I remember those days of living in fear, day after day ... always on the "hellivator," going down! It is so nice to finally realize that I don't have to be perfect; God isn't running some kind of impossible set-up. I love God and all that is good. And I have learned something else that was not often taught in the Church of Christ -- the heart DOES matter. My intentions matter; my integrity matters. No more hearing the words: "You can be sincere, but sincerely wrong!"

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Brother Al, Your entire third rebuttal in your debate was great, but your following statement takes the prize! Thanks for your work in this debate!! --- You wrote: "Thus, if Jesus Christ has commanded 'as often as,' and Acts 20:7 shows a singular example of Troas assembling on a particular day for this observance, the latter example (and any inferences we may draw with respect to such) does not have the weight to forever restrict or regulate all future observances of the Lord's Supper. 'As often as' still trumps 'on the first day of the week.' And yet, although Darrell, by his responses, gives lip-service to this principle, in actual practice he denies it. Notice how Darrell responds to this statement of mine: 'Observing the Lord's Supper on any day other than Sunday is a sin. True or False? True' [2nd Affirmative, July 22]. And by what authority does Darrell declare such to be SIN? You guessed it: inferences drawn by fallible men from a single example, which is then given greater bearing on establishing 'the pattern' than the very words of the Son of God Himself."

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Brother Al, I just finished reading your third rebuttal in the Patternism debate that you're having with Darrell Broking. How much more plain and simple could you have made it?! As you know, I have found my way out of the legalistic patternism "camp." I uncovered the man-made "laws" within the teachings of these ultra-conservative Churches of Christ several years ago through some very careful studying of the New Testament writings. Let me just say this -- if I had not yet made this discovery, I can guarantee you that after reading your postings in this debate so far, I would now be laughing at my own stupidity. Your arguments clearly would have brought me "into the light," and would have given me an understanding of the Bible that had been suppressed by a lifetime of listening to the clever manipulation of the Scriptures by such misguided brothers in Christ. It just absolutely amazes me that any rational thinking person can hear an explanation such as that which you have presented in this debate and still continue to believe it is acceptable to God to bind anyone's assumptions about His Word on their fellow man. Bro. Al, I may be just a foolish optimist, but I really do think that with the right words, at the right time, and from the right person, even someone like Darrell Broking himself could be convinced that assumptions (guessing) about something as serious as our path unto salvation is not something that God would ever expect of us. I pray for your success in your efforts to spread the Truth.

From a Minister in Florida:

Brother Al, I have been reading your debate with Darrell Broking. You are doing a great job, brother, and I thank God for you. I also thank God for this debate, because it has got to be taking up a lot of Darrell Broking's time, which is good because it keeps him off the streets and prevents him from polluting any more minds with the poison he is so pridefully full of. I'll keep praying that we can all stay the course with open minds, not empty ones!

From a Missionary in Peru:

Bro. Al, After reading your most recent rebuttal to Darrell Broking, it will be interesting to see how he can continue to hold to his views when, as you've shown, the Scriptures so clearly demolish and expose his false teaching. What a joyless and burdensome religion these people have!

From a Minister in California:

Brother Al, I've been reading along with your current debate on the issue of "patternism" -- a very interesting term, but appropriate. The other preacher I work with and I both believe that we are witnessing the rebirth of the Restoration Movement at this time. What I mean by that is: we are once again seeing large numbers of people who want to commit themselves to actually following the Bible, not just the opinions of brotherhood editors. So, your debate is interesting indeed. Like you, I frequently find people who really struggle with the idea that we can KNOW we are saved (in the 1 John 5:13 sense). The thing that seems to get them is the idea that they must be absolutely perfect in their keeping of the "patterns." Yet, as they grow in faith, their positions change and they're concerned that either they weren't saved before or they aren't saved now. It is discouraging to see such people, and yet it is a common sight. I have found it helpful to talk with such people about how Josiah "restored" the practice ("pattern") of the Passover in 2 Kings 23:21-23. In this passage it clearly states that no one observed the Passover in accordance with the law of God since the day of the Judges. Yikes! That means people like David, Elijah, Elisha and Nathan never, not even one single time, properly observed the Passover according to the pattern that God had established. Nevertheless, they were saved, and are said to have walked with God as faithful men. So, obviously, God did not require complete and perfect adherence to the "pattern" of the law in order to be saved. I wonder if you might bring this up in your current debate?

From a Reader in Florida:

Brother Al, Sorry to bother you, but you're one of the few people I ever knew that considers himself "Church of Christ," and yet sees past the dogma. Thus, I love sharing my thoughts with you. I was reading over the third exchange in your debate again, more slowly this time, and one part of it sparked another thought with me. Feel free to share this with your readers if you like ... it is real life. I got remarried when I was 27 years old. I had had two small boys from my first marriage. My second "husband" was a robot -- very rule-oriented, which is why he loved it when I introduced him to the Church of Christ. My kids were terrified of him, with good reason. One day we were going to have a rare family moment and watch a funny movie. My four-year-old was perched up under my armpit (hiding), on the opposite side of his step-"dad," and he whispered to me, "Are we allowed to laugh?" That broke my heart right there. "Of course you're allowed to laugh!" When I had my first grandbaby, who was born with multiple handicaps, it was a good eight months before I could bring her to church (being outside was such a health risk). I brought her to church one day, and we stood up to sing. I was holding her precious little body, that couldn't even support itself, and in a moment of heartfelt love I began to sway with the song as I sang and rocked her. I then immediately caught myself -- and the words ran through my head, "We are not allowed." We are not allowed to move or clap or do anything other than stand there like robots. Looking back, I'll bet that broke God's heart in the same way my little boy's needless fears broke mine. How wrong is that, Al? Seriously! May our Father be merciful to those legalists, like Darrell Broking, who cause His little ones to stumble!!

From a Reader in Kentucky:

Brother Al, I just thought I would chip in a few thoughts (for what they may be worth) on your debate with Darrell Broking. Perhaps it would do him some good if you could expound something of how Jesus approached Scripture -- He did so as a Jew who was faithful to God's purpose in the Old Testament writings and not as one who was primarily affected by post-Enlightenment Modernism as in today's Churches of Christ. By that I mean the way we were taught to read Scripture was according to the scientific, inductive-deductive (Baconian) reasoning method (thus the CENI hermeneutic), and not as the story of God revealing Himself as the faithful Covenant God through Jesus who is in control of all things now as Lord and King. I think it is high time that these self-confessed "conservatives" be identified as the true Modernists. The true conservative is one who is willing for the Scriptures to say what God meant for them to say to the first century disciples, and then bring ourselves into the picture to find how we are to be integrated into the overall story.

From a Reader in Georgia:

Brother Al, I am sorry, but I just can not keep my mouth shut with regard to this debate! I must point to Luke where the lawyer asked Jesus what he must do to be saved. Jesus asked him what the law said -- "how do you read it?" The lawyer said you must love God with all your heart, mind, spirit and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. To which Jesus said, "Do this and you shall live." From the lips of the Master -- "Do this and you shall live!" Seems to me that everything after this is just based on love. And I believe God will judge everything else we do, say and think in life based on this love we are to have for Him and others. Why can the patternists not perceive that the "pattern" is NOT as important as LOVE?!! Al, all this talk about patternistic details is no better than arguing over the length of a person's ear hair! It all diverts our attention from what God considers to be most important: Loving Him and each other! Instead, the patternists bite and devour one another over petty personal/party differences. God has allowed us the space to have preferences, and you're not going to hell because your preferences differ from mine. He simply commands us to LOVE, and everything after that is just demonstration of love. Sorry to bother you, but I just could NOT keep quiet. I promise to try to sit through the rest of this debate. I do appreciate your work, and love you, brother (and not just because I have to).

From a Reader in South Carolina:

Bro. Al, I am afraid that your opponent in this debate is not worthy. Is he the only one you could find to debate with? His material is extremely difficult to read and he does not explain his points well. When I can actually understand what he says, his logic makes very little sense. In fact, his thinking actually makes me angry with him. Also, he says, "It is wonderful to be able to discuss matters...," but then he goes on to belittle and condemn you. In fairness, you are taunting too, but at least you are clear and logical. Perhaps this is just the nature of the game. I do like the way you set him up with your questions to him, however! Like a golf ball on a tee ready to be whacked into the sunset.

From Reflections #361

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Brother Al, Since Darrell Broking says that every word of the NT writings is "the pattern," I wonder how he feels about Mark 16:9-20, which many of the best and earliest manuscripts do not have. Also, there are two different endings that are not in the earliest manuscripts. Apparently, some individual other than Mark penned these alternative endings. Therefore, it appears that Darrell Broking accepts manmade additions to Mark's gospel record. Since every word of the NT documents is the "pattern," which of the endings, if any of them, does he proclaim to be "the pattern"? Also, if Darrell is a KJV fan (as it appears), the earliest manuscripts of the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6 do not have the ending that the KJV shows. Again, some man added that part to the KJV. So, it looks like Darrell accepts manmade additions to God's Word. I wonder: which version does Darrell believe to be "God-breathed"?

From an Elder in Georgia:

Brother Al, While reading your debate with Darrell Broking, the alarming thought came to me that I grew up in, and even preached in, a flavor of the Churches of Christ that is even more ultra-conservative than Broking's group. He is considered "liberal" by them.

From a Minister in Texas:

Dear Brother Maxey, I continue to eagerly await your weekly Reflections, as they are some of the most well-researched articles coming out of the Churches of Christ today, and they further serve as a prophetic voice to our fellowship. I am also benefiting greatly from following your debate on patternism. I grew up in a congregation that was in close fellowship with a congregation that employed David Brown. Being in that environment led me to commit to going to a conservative preaching school and then serving three different congregations in the legalist camp. In the past few years, I have emerged from that environment with a newfound understanding of grace, the church, and God. Your writings, Bro. Maxey, have helped me in that transition. For this I thank you!

From a Minister in New Mexico:

Bro. Al, Darrell Broking wrote, "I answered his error and attempted once again to get him to deal with the importance and place of God's Word in the scheme of salvation and fellowship." We all need to deal with the importance and place of God's Word -- His Living Word who became flesh -- in the scheme of salvation and fellowship. This failing is at the heart of the divisions within all limbs of the Body of Christ that worship sola scriptura (the written word, rather than the Living Word). When disciples place the Book on the throne that belongs to God, and then begin arguing over His decrees preserved in writing, debates devolve into the confusion of Bibliolatry, which separates passionate men of reason by differences over manmade doctrines and traditions. In our zeal for knowledge, too often we forget the Good News that our Savior frees us from slavery imposed by religious fervor. Isaiah 29, as well as Matthew 15 and Mark 7, caution us about teaching human precepts as the doctrine of God. The cries of Luther and Campbell and others to "Go back to the Bible" certainly have the sound of wisdom, but at times it takes our focus off our Messiah. Our battle cry ought to be "Go back to the Living Word" as we unite to honor Him with greater devotion than we honor even the precious documents that describe God's love for those He created. God's Living Word shed blood, not manmade ink, to redeem us and save us. If we forget that truth, we revert to idolatry!

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Bro. Al, After Philip baptized the eunuch, I wonder what kind of music he proposed to others when he went back to Ethiopia, since he had never had a chance to read Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16 (they hadn't even been written). He had the OT writings only, and was reading from them when Philip joined him in his chariot. Also, it is my understanding that Bishop Ambrose of Milan was the first to introduce congregational singing. Since the early church met in homes, I assume that there was quite a bit of antiphonal singing, and I would think that the host, or hostess, would strum on a harp or some other musical instrument kept in their home when they sang the psalms, since many of these were to be accompanied with musical instruments. It grieves me that legalistic patternists want to go back to LAW keeping. The Gospel is the good news that Jesus died for us to take away sin. It is NOT a set of rules. God bless you, Al.

From a Reader in North Carolina:

Brother Al, I continue to be so intrigued by your debate with Darrell Broking, especially as I read the arguments presented by each side. I was so glad to read that you are not interested in "defeating" Darrell, but rather in providing some light to him so that he might perhaps come to find a more excellent way to God and thus stop burdening so many people with his own interpretation of the Scriptures. I only wish that Darrell's mission was the same -- to enlighten, rather than to defeat -- with the goal that we could all draw closer together and become more united. When I first heard about this debate, I tried to join the ContendingFTF Internet group so that I could learn, and so hopefully I could be enlightened through this exchange between you and Darrell Broking. However, I was denied. I felt like that wounded traveler on the road to Jericho (in desperate need of spiritual assistance) who had the priest and Levite walk right past him. Broking, and those others on ContendingFTF, felt it was more important to step right over me so that they could "go to worship" and commune ONLY with those who agree with them. Al, if you had not made this material available to the public, I would not have been able to learn about the differences, and then to make my own decision concerning this important subject. Thank you for making this debate available. Bro. Al, please keep on loving Darrell and the other legalists. Maybe, just maybe, they will one day learn to love us too!!

From a Reader in Alabama:

Dear Bro. Al and Bro. Darrell, Proverbs 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." This is exactly what you two are doing in your debate. You are also sharpening every one of us who read your debate. I know that you are sharpening me, so I want to take the time to thank you both. I know that you are very busy doing the work of preachers/elders, so I want to thank you for devoting some of your time to doing this debate. Darrell, it's great that you are willing to debate Al. There are a lot of people who refuse to discuss what Al, and others like him, think. A lot of people have told me that Al is wrong, but they refuse to explain to me why he is wrong! I've even tried to get them to study the Bible with Al, if they think he is so wrong. In fact, one time I was having a Bible study with an elder, whom I sensed was being rather hard-headed, and so I sought to bring Al into the discussion. That elder ran away like a dog and cowered in a cave. So, Darrell, I think it is great that you are willing to debate him. So anyway, Bro. Al and Bro. Darrell, as an unofficial spokesman for the readers of this debate, let me, on their behalf, thank you very much for having this debate!

From Reflections #362

From an Elder in Kentucky:

Dear Brother Al, I have been reading your Reflections and other material on your web site for the past year or so. I have found it to be some of the best material I have ever read!! Thank you so much for sharing your insights into various areas. The study you did on the work of elders in the church is absolutely priceless, and it has been a great help to me, as well as to the other three elders here. I have not found anyone else who does the depth of study that you do, and who shares this information with others. I recently bought your book Down, But Not Out, and I am also reviewing your debates on MDR and patternism. Would you please add me to your list of email subscribers for your weekly Reflections. Thank you!

From a Reader in Georgia:

Dear Brother Al, I am behind in reading the debate, but am now reading Darrell Broking's 2nd affirmative and just had to stop so that I could mention this to you! I suspect, in light of his approach, that it will be very difficult for you to remember to respond to him with love. However, I encourage you to read between his words and see a soul. I encourage you to write as though you really could convince not only him, but the others who are reading what you write. I encourage you to write your responses to him as gently as the Holy Spirit allows you to, while still realizing that at times the Holy Spirit does expect us to speak boldly using firm words. I am praying for both you and Darrell, and for all who read this debate.

From a Reader in England:

Brother Al, Keep up the good work of making us all rethink/reexamine our personal beliefs!!

From a Missionary in Tanzania, Africa:

Bro. Al, Just a note to say hello and thank you for your continued efforts to advance the cause of Christ. Your teaching has helped me personally: helping me to see the operation of grace in a broader sense. We are on the same page, brother. May God continue to bless your mission. There are so many forces at work to defeat the message of Jesus that it sometimes seems like an uphill battle. And yet, even though battles may be lost, we all know Who wins the war!! God bless you.

From a Missionary in Rome, Italy:

Dear Bro. Maxey and Bro. Broking, I am an Italian missionary with the Mediterranean Christian Mission. I am also the legal representative of an Italian Christian publication called L'Appello Cristiano ("The Christian Call" -- www.appellocristiano.it), in which we publish various Christian articles including some about the Restoration Movement. Recently, I have come across the debate on the biblical pattern for the church that brother Maxey has posted on his web site. As the legal representative of the above publication, I want to officially ask you if we may have your permission to translate your debate into Italian and publish it in L'Appello Cristiano. We believe that this type of debate, if done in Christian love, and with a common understanding that all of us are applying the Scriptures to our lives and to the church to the best of our abilities, can be both informative and helpful for those of us who are also debating in various ways these same issues and principles. Your permission, therefore, will be of some benefit to the Italian Christians. I hope and pray that God will continue to bless you and your efforts to please Him.

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, Not too long ago I stumbled across a blog site created and maintained by a graduate of the Brown Trail School of Preaching. Unfortunately, I failed to note the address, and I also failed to note the name of the author. However, he had the following comment regarding the "law of expediency" --- "It is difficult to understand how the 'law of expediency' can at the same time justify all of one's own traditions and yet reject all of the innovations of another." Bro. Al, as for your debate and your writings on the "law of silence," keep on keeping on!! Thank you for continuing to preach the "law of specificity."

From a Reader in Alabama:

Al, Name one thing that I practice where the law of Christ is silent. If there are many, according to your writings, then it will not be hard to name at least one. YOU are the one who is practicing silence, since you hide behind your computer and quote atheists and all kinds of goofy people like Martha (sic) Luther King, and very seldom make your point using only the Bible. Why is that? I'll tell you why. You can't make your point only on the Bible. I really feel sorry for you and the people you have duped into believing your false teaching. You will regret your teaching one day, for sure!!

From a Minister in California:

Dear Brother Al, What a masterful description you have given us in your last Reflections of the insidious "Law of Silence." Thanks!!! Being from the Independent Christian Church fellowship, I have held the position that you've expressed for a good many years now. While we do have pockets of legalistic patternism among us, they have pretty much isolated themselves from the rest of us, and they are mostly a non-force within our fellowship. What you have presented in "The Bondage of Silence" is far more complete, thorough, studied and artfully presented than anything I have ever heard or found that debunks the ridiculousness of this "Law of Silence." And even better, how heart-warming to read the many personal testimonies of those you've led out of the bondage of silence! Truly, God has called you to this ministry, and many will rise up and call you "blessed." May God go with you, brother! Carry on!

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Dear Brother Al, Thank you for standing strong and "contending earnestly for the faith" in the midst of a "namby-pamby" atmosphere. I'm glad to be your brother in Christ!!

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Brother Al, That was a great Reflections article on the "The Bondage of Silence." I really loved that last sentence!! By the way, one of the members of David Brown's ContendingFTF Internet group read my email to Darrell Broking that was placed on there, and he told me he is now starting to question the teachings of that group on the fellowship issue. He has begun to restudy this issue!! Al, the Truth is getting through to some of them via your debate!! Keep up the good work.

From a Reader in California:

Hey Brother Al, "The Bondage of Silence" was a great article. Also, I am really enjoying the debate you are having with Darrell Broking. One thing that strikes me whenever I see the harsh, unwavering stance of the patternists is that they seem to put all of their faith in their own ability to get things just right, and to never make a mistake in their interpretations or understanding. How can that be?! I am SO happy that my salvation depends on the blood of Christ, and NOT on the perfection of my own scholarship.

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Hello Brother Al, I grew up in a patternistic church, and over the years I have come to realize that we have freedom in Christ and the patternistic beliefs shackle us. I commend you on the good fight you are waging, and I pray that many eyes will be opened and many hearts changed. Thank you!!

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Brother Al, I've been sitting on pins and needles waiting for Darrell Broking's next installment, wondering how he is going to close out his affirmative position. By the way, I'm not allowed on their ContendingFTF Internet group, so I'm curious about how they are handling the distribution of these posts on their end. May I just say that I have a lot of respect for what you're trying to do and the grace with which you go about it. You might even say that I'm a fan.

From a Reader in Arkansas:

Brother Al, I have no desire to become enmeshed in the ongoing Maxey-Broking Debate on patternism, but I must comment that Broking's fourth affirmative is such an affront to cognitive communication as to defy comprehension, including his gross assumption of God's prerogative of determining who He will save. Such a practice is clearly opposed by Rom. 14:4, which warns against man's predilection to play God. Broking apparently has no compunction against doing this! It is part of the broader heresy of Legalism in our fellowship, originally inspired by Daniel Sommer's "Address and Declaration" in 1889, which you describe in Reflections #213. I know you have your plate full responding to Broking's latest 39 page "affirmative" (do you really think it is even worthwhile doing so?!), but I will offer you one paragraph of what I have written earlier about this issue -- The future division in our brotherhood will increasingly be between those who believe we are made righteous by our correct works of obedience to God's law, and those who believe it is through God's grace by our limited obedient response of faith in Jesus Christ. I see the two schemes as diametrically opposed for the Christian. I can not have it both ways. I must trust in my perfect obedience or in my imperfect faith. To the disinterested observer my actions may look the same either way, but the difference is in the motives. One is obeying a "written code" in order to receive the reward of salvation and avoid condemnation by following the proper worship patterns. The other is responding to the "new life of the Spirit" out of gratitude for receiving the gift of salvation by grace through faith, realizing that there is "no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus." I may not be able to observe the difference, but God can, and I will leave it up to Him to judge.

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Brother Maxey, Just a short note. I just read Darrell Broking's fourth affirmative in the debate. I hope that you can make some sense of it!! After reading his post, I did not understand about 75% of what he was saying (or trying to say). Maybe you can understand his ramblings more than I was capable of. Thank you again for trying to bring these narrow-minded people to God's Truth. May God bless you.

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Brother Al, I read Darrell's 4th affirmative and was dumbfounded. You just have to wonder sometimes if he even speaks the same language as we do. But, as we all know -- it is the readers that really matter in this debate. Changing Darrell's mind is not really the goal. Nevertheless, as frustrating as it is for me to read his "logic," I can only imagine the depth of disgust that you are experiencing from having to wade through his ramblings. May our God give you strength, my friend.

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Bro. Al, Can you believe that last affirmative by Broking?!! 39 pages!!!! I have tried to follow all these articles in this debate, but I only got through 10 pages of this one, then just scanned it to page 20, and after that just skipped the rest. Best regards to you, brother!

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Bro. Al, It took me quite a while to get through all 39 pages of Darrell's fourth affirmative. It was necessary for me to reread several parts to try and make some sense of it. It is amazing to me how someone can have spent so much time in study of Scripture, and yet remain so ignorant of its meaning!! He will start to make what seems to be a viable remark, and then turn right around and shoot himself in the foot. I have also come to the conclusion that Darrell pretty much accepts the KJV as the only "authorized" translation. I would like Darrell to sing Psalm 150, if he hasn't torn that one from his Bible. Al, I need your prayers to help me be more patient with "these types." I honestly don't know how you do it, except for the power given to you by the Master. Bless you, Al. You are doing a mighty work for the Lord, and if only one person sees the light from this debate, it was worth it. Thank you, brother.

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Bro. Al, Your fourth rebuttal to Darrell Broking was clear, logical, well-organized, and fairly easy to follow. When compared to Darrell Broking's fourth affirmative, it is a shining example of good communication. Thank you.

From a Reader in the Philippine Islands:

My Dear Brother Al, Your masterful handling of the various facets of the issue on patternism in your debate with Darrell Broking is such a great encouragement!! You have done a great service to the Churches of Christ and to Christianity in general for your bold, well-reasoned interrogation of this form of legalism. I am one of those many throughout the world praying that your ministry will continue to help more and more believers to be set free from the dungeon of sectarianism. Like some of your other avid readers, I don't think this dialogue with Broking and his ilk will budge them from their trench of legalism, but I do believe that the discussion will eventually help others see the futility of fighting alongside commanders who are more interested in preserving a man-made religious system than in promoting Jesus' message of liberation. More power to you, brother!

From Reflections #363

From Darrell Broking in Tennessee:

Al, after reading your material I am genuinely sorrowed that you feel the way you do about God's Word. Are you really sincere in what you believe? I will keep praying for you, Al. I know that you don't believe in a devil's hell, but it is real and I really don't want to see you, or anyone else for that matter, go there. I am so sorry for what you are going to experience if you don't repent and obey the gospel. Al, you so often misjudge my motives and I will leave that between you and God. Don't misjudge this, Al: I am literally at the point of tears over what you teach and how it affects you and those who refuse to accept God's Word. Please change before it is too late!

From a Reader in Louisiana:

Brother Al, I just read a good portion of your debate on patternism with that guy from Tennessee. I agree with you perhaps 99% of the time. My question to you is: why bother?! There isn't even a hint of a possibility that this man who trusts in his own personal righteousness for salvation is going to see things your way. Perhaps I am wrong, and I hope that I am. However, have you ever helped one of these men see the light of grace and the all-sufficiency of Jesus Christ? Al, I admire your scholarship and faithfulness to the clear teaching of the Bible!

From a Reader in Florida:

Dear Bro. Al, There is no possible way that you will ever know the full extent of the positive impact that this debate is making on the minds and hearts of the good people who are reading every word. Bless you for not only doing the massive research you have obviously done to increase your own knowledge of Scripture, but also for the patience and perseverance you continually show in sharing that knowledge with us. You have enriched our lives and helped us grow spiritually as you share the Truth with us.

From a Reader in California:

Dear Brother Al, I love the Reflections that you send out. I find them such a wonderful break from the legalistic Church of Christ that I attend. By the way, one of my best friends (who is a One Cup preacher here), has been sending out your debate on patternism to all the One Cup folks here in California. Some think we are nuts for reading what you say. One guy even went so far as to go to your web site for the purpose of trying to debunk what you had written there. After examining it all, the only thing he had to say is that you must think it is okay to kill, because there is a picture of you with a machine gun in Vietnam. What a NUT!! Crazy!! And to think: I grew up with this guy! Take care, brother, and may God rain His blessings down upon you!

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Brother Al, I too have waded through Darrell Broking's multi-paged "affirmative." What I thought was interesting is that Darrell quoted from the five passages in the NT writings that use the word "sing" or "singing," and yet two of those quotes are taken from the OT writings. Did the word "sing" in those OT passages quoted eliminate as being "sinful" the instruments that accompanied that "singing"? Why would the apostle Paul and the Hebrew writer quote passages from the OT writings with the word "sing" in them without giving a looong explanation as to why the word did not include, but rather excluded, mechanical instruments of music? Using the mentality of our patternistic brethren, it should have been a must. I thought Broking's statement, "However, conditions that are permanent are binding upon the church," lacked a very necessary clarification --- Just who will be our Pope to tell us what the "permanent conditions" ARE? Will it be Darrell Broking?! Bro. Al, Thank You for your work in this debate!! I continue to utter loud "Amen's" at your replies to Darrell. Keep up the great work. Your rebuttals, and also your future affirmatives, may go over the heads of our patternistic brethren (at least for now), but some of them will one day wake up due to your efforts. Thanks!!

From a Minister in Florida:

Dear Bro. Al, I've been enjoying your Reflections, and also your debate with Darrell Broking. I especially enjoyed your final rebuttal. I am so thankful that there are brethren like yourself who are willing to stand up and say those things that need to be said.

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Brother Al, I thought your fourth rebuttal was simply superb, and I wish to commend you for it. Your statement about God's acceptance of Cornelius is something that many within the Church of Christ try to sweep under a rug. But you are true to the Scriptures and to the universal One Body, and for that I am thankful.

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Brother Al, This past week the best friend I have ever had passed from this life after a long battle with cancer. He was born and raised in Germany and never knew anything but the teaching of Martin Luther. Yet, he "put on Jesus Christ" every day of his adult life, and I have yet to meet any member of our brotherhood who has lived a more loving Christ-like life! I am in full agreement that we have misunderstood baptism and what actually places us in Jesus -- it is a heart of obedience, and not a bath, that does it. As for your debate with Broking, it is exactly as I thought -- they will never publish your side without much editing!! To do so, they would have to admit error on their part, and Ego will forbid that ever happening. The best thing that will come of this debate is that some of their people will perceive their true nature, choose to go to your web site, and thus learn the Truth on their own! Keep up the good work!!

From a Reader in Kentucky:

Bro. Al, First, with reference to your debate with Darrell Broking, I agree with your correspondents regarding the mixed-up muddle that was his attempt to affirm his proposition. I did manage to struggle through all 39 pages, but it wasn't easy. On the other hand, your response was a masterpiece of lucid logic. Second, as to your current article ("Putting On Jesus Christ"), it is interesting that just this past Sunday (before your article arrived in my inbox) we were studying Romans 13:14, and the preacher opined that one "puts Jesus on" in baptism. I had to point out that these people were already in Christ, and that they were being instructed by the apostle to put on the character, mind and heart of Jesus. Thanks for the article which confirms my understanding of this passage.

From a Minister in Texas:

Brother Maxey, Thank you for adding me to your mailing list for Reflections. A friend of mine from Alaska has been forwarding various articles of yours on to me, and I have appreciated them all. I am in my 11th year of preaching, and am one of those who has appreciated your courage in going after the limited view of God that exists in segments of our brotherhood. I grew up in this climate, and have been thankful for the glimmers of grace that kept me pursuing the King. The more I study, the more saddened I am at just how many cling to the tenets of our tradition rather than leaping into the arms of a mighty and loving God. Brother, you have helped me to grow and to look beyond the walls that enslaved me and to find freedom in Christ. Thank you for this, and may God bless you.

From a Missionary in Peru:

Brother Al, The Holy Spirit gives patience ... and you certainly need an abundance of it just to read what Darrell Broking writes!! Of course, he never mentions the character of God in his posts. The lack of a true knowledge of the character and grace of God is the "strength" of legalism. It's the will of men at work without the divine Spirit. If he actually had a knowledge of God's eternal nature he simply couldn't hold to such nonsensical teaching.

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Bro. Al, I just finished reading your first affirmative in the patternism debate. Excellent job! It was clear, concise and to the point. I liked the trap that you set for Darrell in your fifth T/F question. Keep up the good work, Al.

From a Reader in Georgia:

Brother Al, Just read your first affirmative. True/False question #6 is priceless!! Good job!!

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Bro. Al, I just read your First Affirmative, and it is excellent. I had been looking forward to it since I had never read anything you wrote of this particular type, and I was not disappointed. Thank you for your work!

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Brother Al, You have my prayers for your part in the debate with Darrell Broking. I'm praying for the hearts of people who follow the debate also, that the eyes and ears of their hearts will be opened to receive Truth, and that they will come to experience the wonderful joy of freedom in Christ Jesus.

From a Reader in Mississippi:

Dear Brother Al, Your fourth rebuttal in the debate was the best one yet (with each one tightening the noose, so to speak). Also, it was with absolute horror that I read Darrell Broking's reply to your question regarding the person standing in the baptistery and dying before "the act" of immersion was completed. It is so sad and unbelievable that some people in the church today really DO believe that it is the "going under the water and coming up" that saves you, and that one's penitent heart and obedient faith have nothing to do with it. How can any reasonable person call our God loving and merciful and actually believe such things?! Very tragic! How wonderful that you are bringing light to people's eyes! Thank you!

From a New Reader in the Philippines:

Dear Brother Al, God bless you abundantly! May He also give you long life and more fruitful studies of His Word. I have read your studies on the "law of silence," and I am very impressed by all your scholarship and erudition. Your studies are the final nail in the coffin of this bankrupt CENI hermeneutic. Actually, those within the Church of Christ who still advocate this "law of silence" are very inconsistent in their application of it. To keep oneself from becoming intellectually dishonest, one must forgo this CENI hermeneutic and use a sound hermeneutic such as the historical-grammatical approach to interpretation. To blindly embrace CENI is to become an ideologue, and I believe that ideologues are idol worshippers. These people tend to make the Truth of the Christian faith a laughing stock among the ungodly and the unbelievers. Rigid CENI-ists are on very dangerous ground, and I hope and pray that these brethren will see the Light. Let me say, Bro. Al, that you are always in my prayers! Keep up the mighty work that the Savior has assigned you to do! Many thanks, and please add me to the list of regular Reflections subscribers.

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Bro. Al, It is so wonderful to witness the Holy Spirit working through you in the rebuttals you have given in this debate, and in your first affirmative. It seems like anyone should be able to understand the explanations you have given, but, as someone has said to me, "It makes no difference how good Al's presentation is. Unless God is drawing that person, he will not be able to 'hear.'" I think that is right. By the way, I wrote to Darrell Broking, informing him of my prayer for him: that the eyes and ears of his heart might be opened, and that he might experience a wonderful explosion of Truth so that he could have the joy of freedom in Christ. What I should have said (but didn't) was that I was referring to freedom from the bondage of legalism. You may have read my letter to him in his 4th affirmative. I really think he knew what I meant, but his answer referred to our freedom from sin.

From a Minister in Texas:

Bro. Al, When I read through Mr. Broking's fourth affirmative I couldn't help but suspect that he was getting outside help with his assignment!! Do you know what I mean?!! It just seemed a little tooooo long, documented, organized, etc. Maybe I'm wrong, but it all just "smells a little funny" to me. Either way, keep up the good work. Keep shining a light for those who may be searching for a way out of their bondage. Soldier On!!

From Reflections #364

From David Brown, Editor/Publisher:
"Contending for the Faith" magazine

Al, I just hope and pray that the Lord will delay His coming -- for your sake and for the sake of others who love the wide gate and the broad way as you do. For maybe, just maybe, you and they will humble yourselves and realize your own failure to take responsibility for your sins. Maybe then godly sorrow could be created in your heart for your sins against Him. Thus, you might break down your own stubborn will -- the seat of all sin and rebellion against God -- and bring forth works suitable for repentance as the Bible teaches you must, that is if you truly desire heaven to be your home. It is sad to see someone such as yourself claim to love God and believe in His Son as his Savior while all the time displaying disbelief in and rebellion to Christ's Gospel system. You, Al, are what you are (a nutty false teacher) because you want to believe and practice that which is contrary to the Gospel of Christ. For some reason you hate the Truth and enjoy convincing yourself that you can disobey God and go to heaven. That is so sad, Al. But, that is the way you are and no one can change you but you. What a shame and great sadness it will be for you to meet your Lord in your present state of disobedience. Al, I love you more than you love yourself. So, it is my prayer, always saying not my will but God's be done, that, in the wisdom and good providence of God, He will give you even more opportunity to repent of the pitiful state of mind that you've chosen to create and nurture in yourself. Hopefully, your conscience is not so seared that all sensitivity to the Truth has been destroyed. Think evil of me if you will, Al, but I've only told you at least some of the truth about yourself. In Service to the Master, David Brown

From a Reader in North Carolina:

Dear Brother Al, I read Darrell Broking's comment to you (which appeared in the readers' section of your last issue of Reflections) with one eyebrow raised in amusement. You and I have heard that same type of rhetoric all of our lives -- "I'm gonna pray so that you don't go to hell." What a crock!! Anyway, keep up the great work, brother. You are an inspiration to me, and to countless others. I constantly forward your Reflections to friends and brethren who are still "trapped" in their legalistic congregations.

From a Reader in Alabama:

Dear Brother Al, Thanks for your service to the Lord in all that you do. I thought it was interesting that you allowed Darrell Broking to place a comment to you in the readers' portion of your last Reflections, and yet such is not the case on his ContendingFTF web site. They require that you join to post, and all membership requests have to be approved by the moderators. You are required to tell the group leaders all about yourself and why you want to join the group. A description of their group reads: "To discuss biblical, doctrinal, and current events issues confronting the Churches of Christ." And yet you have to be "approved" by them before you can have a discussion with them. What are they afraid of?!! I thought the Truth would stand on its own. "But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence" [1 Pet. 3:15]. May God bless those who seek to know God and are not afraid to learn of God, instead of just promoting a position that they hold as if they had all the right answers.

From a Reader in Canada:

Bro. Al, Who would ever have believed that one of these legalistic patternists would step up to the plate and debate you on their teachings!! And yet, I have never heard anyone, in my whole life, say so much to say so little, as has Darrell Broking. It is so strange, but this seems to always happen with them. They can talk in circles faster than a dog can chase its own tail. I have heard their rhetoric all of my life. We would all like to see them change their minds, but it is really their hearts that need to change first. I have now stopped chasing my tail and God has changed my heart. Saved by grace -- it is a gift. Now I boast in my God, not in my own accomplishments or in my rule keeping. The older I get, the more I have come to realize just how little I knew back when "I knew it all." I love you, brother.

From a Minister in New York:

Dear Brother Maxey, I just happened upon your web site today as I was researching an article from the Christian Chronicle about the situation with the Church of Christ Academy near Nashville and the Maury Hill Church of Christ. Your Reflections article was, in part, a critique of an article by Bro. Jimmy Jividen on the principle of "silence." I just wanted to say that I genuinely appreciated the way in which you conducted yourself, and also the good light you cast on Bro. Jividen in that article [Reflections #354 -- A Sectarian Shroud of Silence]. I grew up within the Church of Christ, and ministered with non-instrumental congregations until about seven years ago. It was at that particular point in time that I realized I had very little in common with most of these brethren, especially with regard to the silence of the Scriptures and our general hermeneutical principles. So I left the Church of Christ and have been happy within the Independent Christian Church. I've talked with people all over the country, and when I bring up my heritage in the Church of Christ and the Stone-Campbell Movement (my great-great-great-grandfather was baptized by Barton W. Stone) what I get is raucous laughter and derision. It truly saddens me to hear people dismiss those in Churches of Christ as "theological hillbillies," as one man put it. The reason the Churches of Christ are no longer growing (which even your church growth experts admit) is at least in part because of the hairsplitting legalism that is still rampant in that fellowship. I hope I don't sound mean-spirited in this email. It's not my intent. I love the Church of Christ, and would never have left it if I could have stayed there and not had to constantly deal with the legalistic mindset -- a mindset that for many ministers (if they would just admit it) saps all of the joy of ministry right out of their lives! Well, brother, let me restate that I really appreciated your Reflections article, and will return to your web site quite often, as I enjoy your writings!

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, Good article, as always! The phrase "to whom we gave no such commandment," even if it were textually sound, still would not be applicable to some "law of silence," since it would deal with men, and not God, issuing the commandment in question. Or did I miss something?! Keep up the good work, brother!

From a Minister in Louisiana:

Bro. Al, It's been a while since I've written to you about your various articles, but I must say that I have never seen the stretch by someone who would even begin to acknowledge to be a child of God, born under grace, cleansed by the blood of the perfect Lamb, who would then have the audacity to rape the Word of God with such self-righteous justification, as the individual who used Acts 15:24 to say that "silence" is authoritative. I say "rape" because what that person did was take something not his, use it in a manner never intended, destroy the pure innocence of it and take the God-given beauty of it and turn it into something that rips the heart out of the very essence of life. To give an illustration -- how could a parent punish a child for doing something "wrong" when the parent never said it was wrong in the first place -- never even made reference to the subject in any way? We as parents would think another parent a lunatic for doing such. So, why in the Sam Hill would we think God would do something just as ridiculous? Sorry for some of the country tirade, but that pathetic attempt to justify a doctrine that these legalists can't/won't even apply with consistency got my goat. Brother Al, be careful not to cast the pearl (God's Word) before the swine!

From a Minister in New Jersey:

Dear Brother Al, Greetings from the far left in New Jersey. I continue to enjoy your weekly Reflections, and also the debate (although I am behind in my reading of it). The fourth affirmative by Darrell Broking has been a little discouraging ... as well as tiring. I'll catch up one day before it is over, however. On another matter, as you seem to have a particular interest in "our history," I found a book I thought I would pass on to you if you are interested. It is the Biography and Sermons of Marshall Keeble, Evangelist, edited by B. C. Goodpasture and published by Gospel Advocate in 1964. If you have an interest, I'll send it to you. Now back to work -- both of us!! Have a blessed day!

From Reflections #365

From a Missionary in Peru:

Brother Al, With regard to the response by David Brown that you included at the beginning of your last Readers' Reflections section, his words obviously will not intimidate you, but they do intimidate those who are under the shackles of legalism. These leaders, like David, tell a person they are going to hell if they don't submit to their teachings and interpretations, and then they tell you that they "love you"!!! You can almost smell Satan in those words! I really do feel compassion for those living under their tyranny.

From a Missionary in Bulgaria:

Bro. Al, I am a faithful reader of your Reflections, and also of your debate. I don't know if you saw the animated movie of a couple of years ago titled "Ice Age," but in it a group of dodo birds march in lock-step and malevolently pronounce "doom on you, doom on you" to some prehistoric animals as they themselves then march off a cliff to eternal extinction. That scene from the movie jumped into my head after reading Darrell Broking's and David Brown's pronouncements of doom on you for your faith and teaching. Well, we all know the fate of the dodo's, don't we?!! Have a good week, and keep the faith, brother!

From a Reader in the Philippines:

Dear Bro. Al, Your article "Believers in a Box" was a good study and reflection on the evils of patternism and legalism. Only those who are free in Christ can truly worship God, and I am afraid that those "in a box" are just worshipping an idol rather than God. May God bless you, brother Al.

From a Reader in California:

Dear Bro. Al, When I tried to read Darrell Broking's .pdf file (all 39 pages of it), I gave up after about page five! I couldn't believe all the gobble-dee-gook I was reading!! It made no sense at all; it was all over the universe!! Can you imagine hearing sermons as a kid that sounded just like that?!! I did. It defied logic. His post was ridiculous. However, your response to him was perfect. It was easy to follow, logical, and filled with Truth. God is clearly working through you, Bro. Al, and I pray that the readers of this debate will see the Light.

From a Minister in New Jersey:

Brother Al, I owe you an apology! I failed to do what I said I would. I tried to get through Darrell Broking's 39 pages, but just could not do it. I did enjoy your first affirmative to the second proposition, though. Nevertheless, I think your fourth question to Darrell Broking needs a bit of clarification. Is the hospital chaplain you mentioned a member of the One True Church of Christ? Does he practice "sound doctrine"? Has he been approved by the Contending for the Faith Board of Inquisition? These facts must all be determined before one can know whether the patient is responding to the true, complete gospel. (Ouch! I believe I just bit my tongue!!) By the way, your books are in the mail.

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Brother Al, I think your debate with Darrell Broking falls under the category: "Don't cast your pearls before swine." Brown, Broking, et al, have no intention of giving your arguments any serious consideration. Consequently, they don't understand what you are saying, and clearly are intent only upon slandering you. They are so warped by their legalistic interpretations that they are beyond hope. Fortunately, their disciples are few. Surely there are defenders of the "conservative" view that would have been much more of an able and honorable opponent than this Darrell Broking! I've now lost almost all interest in reading any of Broking's stuff. I'm not really interested in all of his hoorah about who said what. These guys really do go berserk in trying to prove that they are right in every infinitesimal detail. If only he would stick to the issues, then maybe what he says might be of some interest. Yes, I suppose that hidden away somewhere in all that garbage he might make a point or two, but who wants to wade through it all to find it?!

From a Reader in North Carolina:

Brother Al, My wife and I, along with two other couples, have recently left the Church of Christ for the Christian Church after 60+ years for two of us and 30+ years for the other couple. The legalism simply became unbearable for all of us, and the most frequent comment lately has been -- "I really feel good when I leave church on Sunday morning." What a change! I still like a cappella singing, but the pleasant atmosphere makes up for it. You may not remember, but I had been an elder for about three years. I first got in trouble when I stated from the pulpit that our worship should not be a one hour a week event, but should be every moment of our lives.

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Brother Al, You certainly made some valid observations in your latest Reflections ("Believers in a Box") concerning the need for God's people to wake up and get to work fulfilling the mission God has given us. Some, perhaps many, but certainly not all, congregations are in a Laodicean slumber, content to go along in the same old rut they've been in for years. However, it is not just what you style as "legalistic patternism" that is killing some congregations, but "liberal" attitudes that denigrate the authority of God's Word are also killing some congregations. So, it is not just those congregations beset with "legalistic patternism" that are dying.

From a Reader in South Dakota:

Bro. Al, I read David Brown's comments to you. What an astonishing display of hubris, and what an unbelievable lack of empathy. He really does seem to believe that everyone on earth who disagrees with him is a "hypocrite." Such a bizarre perspective explains why David Brown and his cohorts have such trouble attracting a following. Most of his preaching compatriots minister to just a handful of malcontented congregants meeting in some back room somewhere. I also found the tenor of Brown's last sentence interesting. He seems to be saying, "But if you want to, Lord, go ahead and zap him. I'll understand and hold Your coat." This kind of stuff is NOT Christian!!

From a Reader in Indiana:

Good Morning Bro. Al, Thank you for your clarity of thought, skill, and succinctness in addressing the issue of legalistic patternism. Also, I thank you for spreading the Light. I have just printed out all of your debate with Darrell Broking so far, and plan to mail all of it to a friend who doesn't have a computer.

From a Minister in California:

Brother Al, I just wanted to say that I have the very highest admiration for you for "putting yourself out there" where the legalists continually "character assassinate" you and say all manner of evil against you. Please keep up the good fight of faith.

From a Reader in New Mexico:

Dear Brother Al (that sounds weird), In your last Reflections you wrote, "Let's shake their box until they spill forth from it, so that they might start being the church, rather than going through life just going to and doing church, neither of which are biblical concepts. It is time for us to take the Light into the darkness, rather than merely cursing it from behind our sectarian walls of exclusion. Salt cannot flavor and preserve while in a crystal shaker, and yeast does not do its work unless mixed in with the dough. Sealed in a protective wrapper, it is useless. So too with the genuine disciple of Jesus Christ." I would just like to say AMEN to this. It seems like "church" has just become a time for people to show up and put on a mask in order to pretend to be something they are not. It's really sad that people complain that their congregations are not growing, and yet all they do is show up once a week to be fed. You also wrote, "These personal and party preferences (now elevated to precepts) are paraded as The Pattern for fellowship and salvation." I would just like to congratulate you on a fine use of alliteration. In Christian love, your favorite son/brother.

From a Reader in California:

Dear Brother Al, I am of two minds regarding your debate with Darrell Broking. On the one hand, I am extremely heartened that someone, such as yourself, has the courage to stand up to those who would enslave people to the mental bondage of legalistic Christianity. For far too long, Christians have been afraid to stand up to these badgering bullies. On the other hand, I doubt you're going to convince those hardened legalists who side with Darrell Broking's perspective. More than likely, most of those folks are reading your posts and thinking you are completely off base. From their point of view, you haven't laid a hand on him! I guess that my own perspective on the debate is: the positives far outweigh the negatives. I believe that far more people are being positively impacted by what you are writing than are being negatively impacted by what he is writing. Once someone has truly seen the Light, it is very hard to advocate going back to the darkness. Perhaps this is why these legalists are so deathly afraid of people expressing opinions that differ from theirs. They are trying to stop the steady flow of folks seeking a more grace-centered gospel.

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Bro. Al, In response to what David Brown wrote you ("It is sad to see someone such as yourself claim to love God and believe in His Son as his Savior while all the time displaying disbelief in and rebellion to Christ's Gospel system."), I don't recall the Scriptures ever saying anything about Christ's "Gospel system." Sounds like some man-made doctrine!! Also, he didn't specify what your sins are. I'll bet that if you backed him into a corner the accusations would be vague at best. He clearly doesn't love you enough to enumerate them! Bro. Al, please continue to do what you are doing!! I am copying your article "Believers in a Box" and sending it to the members of our last congregation who spent every dime of their collected money on the building, while they had poor members suffering and unable to get treatment. Thank you for blessing us with your wisdom and courage!

From a Minister in Kansas:

Dear Brother Al, One Cup man here. I'm sorry that I haven't written in quite some time, but I continue to read your Reflections, and also the debate with Darrell Broking. You are right, brother -- it is time for Christians to stand up and be counted. The ultra-legalistic patternists will rule and reign only for as long as they are allowed to. In the One Cup group the Old Paths Advocate power brokers are now losing their ability to control and manipulate congregations. Once brethren get a taste of freedom in Christ they will never turn back. Thank God!! I'm really enjoying your debate. I thought the One Cup group was the only segment of our faith-heritage that had ultra-legalistic patternists within it. I stand corrected. The "brethren" you are having to deal with make these One Cup legalistic patternists look like Sunday School kids. Ooops, did I really say "Sunday School"? Forgive me ... the Bible is "silent" about Sunday School, so clearly it cannot be acceptable in God's sight. Keep up the good work, Al. May God bless all who seek unity!!

From a Minister in California:

Brother Maxey, What's the deal with Broking using the .pdf format for his debate posts?! Why is he doing this?

From an Elder in Texas:

Dear Bro. Al, I noticed that the vast majority of Darrell Broking's first rebuttal to the second proposition -- in fact, about 16 or so pages of it -- was an attempt to show why he and David Brown absolutely would NOT approve of the evil Al Maxey ever providing a link to the godless Reflections articles in his posts, as it would send readers to other things you had written. They went on and on and ON about how this just could NOT be allowed, and how horrible and wretched that apostate Al Maxey was for doing so, when they had "made it clear" that they didn't want this to happen. AND THEN, dear Darrell himself, in his section "Sources Cited," provides the full URL to three of your Reflections articles (which he's also done in his previous posts)!!! HE does what he condemns YOU for doing!! Am I the only person who has noticed the unbelievable lunacy and hypocrisy of this?! Are these people really that stupid?! Or, do they just think WE are, and that we won't notice?!!

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Bro. Al, I was reading your debate with Darrell Broking and could not help but respond to your fifth question to him in your first affirmative (the one dealing with the missionary to the remote island in the South Pacific). You see, I have Celiac disease, as do my three children, one of whom is a baptized believer. We can't eat wheat or any grain such as barley or rye that has the gluten protein. We bring our own rice-based wafer that we partake of during the Lord's Supper. This disease is a much bigger problem than you might be aware of. There are many believers that can not eat wheat-based communion wafers. Sadly, this topic was brought up at a congregation I recently attended. I asked the elders what I should do regarding my inability to eat wheat. They replied, "Well, can't you just eat a little of it?" The answer is: No, I can't! It did kind of bother me initially that I could not eat the same bread being passed around during the Lord's Supper that all the other members were eating. However, your Reflections articles, and a gradual maturation on my part, have assisted me in my transition away from a works-based salvation where I must dot every "i" and cross every "t." I thank God regularly that I was introduced to your web site. Your writings have really stretched my brain in a way that it needed stretching. Thank you for the time you spend studying and writing each Reflections article. You'll never know just how much influence and impact you are having on the populous!!

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Brother Al, What an awesome second affirmative in your debate with Darrell Broking!! May God bless your walk with and work for God.

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, We were without power here in Houston for a while, but it is now back up in my area, although my mother is still without power. Following the storm, God provided an "untimely" cool front which brought temperatures down to the low 60's and high 50's. He has really been good to us!! Brother, I am encouraged greatly by your writings. Also, I want you to know that what you're writing to Darrell Broking is making a big difference with those I know who are following this debate. Many of these people are believing what you write, and part of this is because they continue to see Darrell speaking in the place of God, and they can't find God confirming in the Scriptures what Darrell is saying. Brother, believe me, you are making a BIG DIFFERENCE. Please continue to stay strong!!

From Reflections #366

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, I only have one thing to say about Broking's second rebuttal -- IS HE JOKING????!! I doubt that he will ever come to the Truth, nevertheless I thank you for continuing with this debate, and for your time and effort. I have learned a great deal. Please know that many people do appreciate the Truth you teach. May God bless you and Shelly.

From a Reader in Arkansas:

Dear Brother Al, I just finished reading Darrell's "poor excuse for not doing his homework," and just wondered why he didn't go ahead and say, "The dog ate it." Seriously, I think he knew that he simply couldn't answer your affirmatives!! I believe most honest readers of this debate will see through his tactics, and they will also see how often he attacks you rather than just stating his own arguments. He should go into politics, because it just amazes me how he can write so much and say so little! Al, I want to compliment you on your third affirmative. Very well-said, and it was clear enough for anyone, whose mind and heart still remain open, to understand. As I read through all of Darrell's writings, I get somewhat depressed at all the legalism. But then when I move on to your writings, and read about love and freedom we have in Christ, it just fills me with joy. Thank you so much for doing what you do. Your writings have helped me tremendously the last two years. Please keep on keeping on as long as possible. You are bringing glory to our Father and encouragement to many believers! May the Lord continue to shower His blessings and guidance upon you.

From an Elder in Florida:

Brother Al, In my humble opinion, your third affirmative is the clearest, most concise response that you have made yet to your "pattern brothers." Their reasoning and attitudes are fear-based, which clearly explains why they have painted themselves into a very narrow corner over the past two hundred years. Your thoughtful approach would be excellent sermonic material for any of your readers to use!

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, I just want to commend you for your approach and control in your debate with Darrell Broking. I found Darrell guilty of wasting much time with all the emails posted at the end of his first rebuttal. Anyone reading those emails can easily see that these guys are guilty of altering your texts!! As for the debate itself, everywhere I go I find lots of people discussing the teachings you are presenting! Even our teens in our church have their Bibles out and are working through your points. I believe your constant work to bring down the walls that divide us is working. Jesus sought to call the Pharisees back to God, and I see our God using you to call the religious leaders of our day back to God. May God bless you with all the skill needed to bring down these walls of separation between brethren.

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Brother Al, Thank you so much for using my letter to Darrell Broking in your last issue of Reflections. And thank you also for the kind words with which you framed it. I hope it will benefit some people. My power is now back up here in Houston, and so I was able to catch up on the postings to the debate. I really thought your second affirmative was your very best post so far!! Very clear and concise. But, what was that mess Darrell put at the end of his first rebuttal?!! Of course, I had to read it all. But, after I did, I felt that I had just wasted a lot of valuable time on something that had no place in this debate. It was just a burden to those many souls who are possibly using this debate to help them with some important decisions about their lives. I just don't know what to think about those guys (Broking, Brown, etc.) sometimes.

From a Missionary in Bulgaria:

Bro. Al, I just read your third affirmative in the Maxey-Broking debate. There's not much I can say but "AMEN!" His second rebuttal was thankfully brief, while at the same time unnecessarily shrill. I think Darrell is on the ropes, and he knows it. Honestly, you set him up and he walked right into the trap you patiently laid for him. Everyone saw it coming but him!! He quite frankly can't defend his outrageous affirmatives, and I think now he knows it. Several years ago I was attending a congregation in North Texas. The teacher for the Wednesday evening class was one of the deacons of the congregation. His lesson one evening was really nothing more than a rant about how we "must obey all the commands of Christ." He implied various scenarios of doom for us if we didn't obey "all the commands of Christ." At no time during his lesson did he list even one of the "commands of Christ" we had to obey in order to avoid this "doom." At the end of the class, and before we were dismissed, I spoke up and asked him if he would compile an exhaustive list of ALL the commands of Christ listed in the Bible for the next week's class so that we would all know for sure what we had to obey in order to avoid this doom he had warned us about. He looked at me as if I was a trouble maker, or as if I was trying to put him on the spot. I assured him I was very serious about wanting an exhaustive list so that I could avoid "certain doom." He said that he would compile the list. The next Wednesday night came and, with no surprise to me, he started the class by confessing, in a very humble tone, that much to his surprise there was NOT a long list of commands given by Christ. As a matter of fact, he said that he had found only a very FEW direct commands from Christ Himself for disciples today, and those were to love God, love each other, and to eat a memorial meal to remember Him. Now, how about that?! Just thought you'd like to hear about my experience with this issue and how it turned out for me. Keep up the good work, Al, and may God bless you.

From a Missionary in Honduras:

Brother Al, Following your debate with Darrell Broking has been interesting. It is amazing to me that there are so many that have such a difficult time seeing the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus! Given the opportunity, I would love to ask Darrell a few questions of my own!!

From a Reader in North Carolina:

Bro. Al, That good brother's email ("Dear Darrell Broking" -- Reflections #365) was astounding!! I wish that every member of the Church of Christ -- all of the branches -- could read that email. A good friend told me years ago that he had "stopped listening to the church of Christ and had started listening instead to the Christ of the church." I took his advice and did the same, and my life has been forever changed for the better!! Praise God!

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, Please send my best regards to the author of that letter to Darrell Broking. It was written in love and was definitely well thought out. It makes a point without throwing someone under a bus!!

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Bro. Al, I can see my own journey in the email of that brother who wrote to Darrell. I pray that more and more will open their eyes and see the cultish fašade too many of us have accepted, while denying its existence. May God bless your efforts.

From an Elder in Iowa:

Bro. Al, Thank you for including that letter from the brother in Texas to Darrell Broking. I too, when I was in my 30's, tried to do what he said that he did. The trouble I had, however, was my CENI background, which caused me to understand Scripture in a certain way. I was troubled with those rules of interpretation for many, many years as I continued to change my understandings of what the Bible actually taught. Finally, after reading several different books, each of which sought to set forth different rules of interpretation, I read a book by three teachers from Abilene Christian University called The Crux of the Matter. That book really helped me see a better way to understand the Bible. But, this brother from Texas is right when he tells us we need to just read what is there, NOT what we have always been taught about what is there. The CENI "rules" are just too nebulous to ever be real rules. Anyway, thank you for sharing not only this man's letter, but also for the fruit of your own labor as well. Keep up the good work!

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Brother Al, My own awakening was quite similar to the letter writer's from Houston. Upon retirement, I moved into a rural, conservative church where I frequently heard this comment, "Acts 20:7 commands us to observe the Lord's Supper every Sunday ... and only on Sunday." Although I was still quite conservative myself then, my reaction was, "That's not a commandment." This led me to begin questioning some things, like -- are examples binding? And, if every Sunday and only on Sunday were so important, then why didn't God give us a clear, explicit commandment?! One thing led to another in my studies. I read a book by Fred Peatross, and then I began reading your Reflections. I guess my stand against instrumental music was the last thing I gave up. Like the letter writer from Houston, I was well on my way to freedom when I started reading your Reflections. However, they have been very enlightening.

From a Reader in Washington:

Brother Al, I just read Darrell's short second rebuttal. I can only equate it to Matthew 13 where Jesus quotes Isaiah 6 -- "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand." God bless you, Al.

From a Reader in Nevada:

Brother Al, Thank you for what you are doing for the cause of Christ. My wife and I love you and pray for you often, and we are making it our goal to come out there to see you within the next year. I'm sending you a copy of an email I sent to Darrell Broking a few minutes ago. I just couldn't sit here any more and watch Darrell try to match wits with you while sidestepping and dancing around your questions.

From a Reader in Virginia:

Dear Brother Al, Thank you so much for including in your last Reflections that letter to Darrell Broking by the reader from Houston, Texas. His comments were awesome, well-thought-out, and I believe they just may help others who are struggling to break free from the chains of legalism. Al, please keep up the great work. While Darrell will never concede to your points, there are others out there who are sincere of heart. Darrell has been given such a strong delusion that he cannot perceive the folly of his position. Thus, he has resorted to babbling (39 and 22 pages of insincere rhetoric) and to tampering with your links. I will continue to pray for you, Al ... and also for Darrell. More importantly, I will pray that Jesus is glorified through this very important debate!!

From an Elder in California:

Dear Brother Al, I want to begin by adding my thanks to you for your studies. Initially, I questioned the concept of a debate, even a written one. As a young man, I went to a few, and I always came away with a bad taste in my mouth. However, I believe that the cyber-world has changed things considerably. Everything that we say or do on the Internet is scrutinized by innumerable people. Many people will look objectively at the efforts of both you and Darrell Broking, and they will be able to distinguish between biblical Truth and blind loyalty to long-held doctrine/dogma.

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, You have topped yourself again. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your third affirmative in the debate. It gave me a really good feeling. Excellent ... and I mean EXCELLENT ... job!! Thank you for all that you do to encourage me. I admire you, brother, for being willing to take on this task of debating one of the most stubborn, closed-minded people around. I can't understand how these people's minds work. How can they just close their minds to reason and logic, and keep on believing the lies that they have been taught? Don't they have any desire at all to question the assumptions of fallible men?! This task you have taken on would be too frustrating for me to handle!! God bless you, brother, and may He give you strength.

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Brother Al, Never have I witnessed legalism so dramatically and clearly exposed as in your rebuttals and affirmatives to Darrell Broking. I have many loved ones who have long ago given up on "religion," because this is how they/we were reared. Anyone who is seeking the Truth can surely see (if the scales will just fall from their eyes) that what Jesus was saying to the Pharisees in Matthew 23, He is saying right now to the legalists!! These men demand that their own rules be followed, rules that they continue to make up as they go along! Darrell Broking's responses are utterly beyond belief!! I was raised up in a pretty similar environment, and I endured his kind of preaching for many years. I think Darrell takes the cake, though. No wonder so many people believe that the Church of Christ is just a cult. My prayer is that people will wake up because of your fearless and thoroughly capable methods of expressing the real Truth. You have stated what so many of us do not have the ability to express! THANK YOU!!!

From a Missionary in Albania:

Dear Brother Al, What a brilliant third affirmative!! It was a pleasure to read. Thank you for expending the effort to expose the preposterous premises of Darrell Broking's destructive dogma! I suppose I should thank Darrell himself for evidencing so plainly the Pharisaical propensities of patternism's puffed-up proponents! By the way, I've also long appreciated the art work that goes along with each of your weekly Reflections.

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, Congratulations for producing a wonderful third affirmative in the debate. You continue to bring great joy to so many who have struggled with legalism, and I thank you for interacting with me on a very personal level. I may just have to take a little vacation with a retired friend and make it over to Alamogordo this coming May to meet you!

From an Elder in Oklahoma:

Brother Al, After reading it twice, my own personal observation is: (1) your third affirmative made your position very transparent, and it was well-documented. (2) If Darrell Broking is truly a "lover of Truth" then he will acknowledge your arguments and point out their fallacy (if there is any). If Darrell is just a "debater" then he will ignore your arguments, put up a smoke screen, do some finger pointing, ridicule you, and move on to his own agenda. (3) In order to clarify his own position and show the contrast between the two of you, he should at least give a list of biblical reasons why he cannot fellowship you and how he knows that you and others who believe in Christ, love God and their fellow man are condemned. Brother Al, may the Lord bless thee and thine!

From a Minister in Kentucky:

Dear Brother Al, I will not even attempt to add anything to what you have written in your third affirmative in your current debate with Darrell Broking --- it would only detract from what you said. The only thing I will say is "Amen!" and "AMEN!!" Why the Brokings of this world can't or won't "get it" I will never understand. But then, it was only after laboring under, and trying to preach, that very same delusion for 30 years that I myself finally began to break free from it, so I can indeed, in some ways, understand where they are coming from. It was ultimately the inability to reconcile the legalistic concepts I then held with plainly stated Truth that our Christian responsibility is summed up in one simple, yet infinitely profound, concept: LOVE, that caused me to turn from legalism to liberty. God bless you, Bro. Al, for your ability to make this Truth so plain!!

From Reflections #367

From a One Cup Minister in California:

Brother Al, Your third affirmative in your debate with Darrell Broking was masterful!! I was so afraid that you were going to be lured into a "Law cesspool" by attempting to provide a list of particulars that we are to abide by in order to be saved. I was so relieved and so delighted that you simply "listed" -- Love God and Love Your Neighbor. That was completely masterful.

From an Elder in Florida:

Bro. Al, I fear that Darrell Broking is storing up all the "many errors" he considers you to have made, along with a ton of just plain old "hateful spite," that he will then dump on you in his final rebuttal (when you are unable to make a response) to make a show that "he won!" However, this debate should not be about winning or losing, but about opening minds to Truth and righteousness. I know that you are probably already aware of his tactics, but I am earnestly praying that you will be able to write a fourth affirmative that will leave no room for any legitimate biblical rebuttal. I've noticed that Darrell has been increasingly condescending to you in his posts, while you continue to remain encouraging, loving and kind. He keeps saying "Maxey" this and "Maxey" that. Brother, please keep a loving frame of mind in your final affirmative; describe your love for Darrell and those who side with his views, call him "brother," but stand firm in your call for him and others to cease making law where God never intended there to be law. Al, you are in my prayers!!

From a Minister in Florida:

Brother Al, I have emailed Darrell Broking and begged him to reconsider his views. I told him that many of us, as members of the Churches of Christ who have reformed, have had to swallow our pride and admit that we had been wrong about many things. I really believe Darrell would love to change his views, but I am afraid he is not willing to swallow that huge chunk of pride in his mouth!! It is a difficult thing to do ... I know ... but once it is down -- Wow! What a relief it is!! I told him that I knew how difficult this would be for him, since this debate is literally being read all over the world and he has voiced his views in their hearing ... but, it is something he needs to do. I also told him that genuine brethren would NOT laugh at him or mock him for changing his views, but would rather praise God that the Spirit had reached his heart. We should ALL be praying for Darrell Broking in the hope that God will soften his heart to receive the Truth. I honestly believe Darrell wants the Truth, I really do! I just feel that it is now a matter of pride. Keep fanning the flame, Brother Al.

From a Minister in Kansas:

Brother Maxey, I am the son of a Church of Christ preacher, and there are a good number of Church of Christ preachers within my family. I grew up "hard and heavy" under the CENI "silence is prohibitive" model, and, having difficulty with this view from the beginning, I studied it in great depth. My study led me away from the restrictive view of silence. After much deliberation, I recently (just within the past two years) accepted an invitation to become the preacher for an Independent Christian Church, as I felt this was best for my own spiritual growth, as well as that of my family. In the course of the past year, the rest of my family, including my parents, have labeled me a "false teacher" who is "deviant from the truth of the gospel," and they have threatened to "disfellowship" me! I tell you this because I just want to say -- our freedom in Christ Jesus is worth the persecution!! I fully believe there are many gospel preachers within ultra-legalistic Churches of Christ who continue to babble out the restrictive view of silence without being fully convicted of this so-called "truth." Yet many of them continue on this pathway out of fear of what their own friends and family might say or do if they spoke out against it. I was once there!! For those who do choose the pathway of freedom, I just want to offer this word of encouragement --- It is worth it. So, for those who may be struggling with fear, I simply say, as one who has been there and done that: fear not what men may do to you; it is a fight for freedom well worth the battle scars you will receive. Thank you, Brother Maxey, for your web site and for your insights! I appreciate all that you do to help others become free in Christ.

From a Minister in Oklahoma:

Bro. Al, I've just caught up on the debate between you and Darrell Broking since getting on your mailing list a few days ago. It's my observation (and it's probably that of others as well) that until a patternist experiences the gift of God's grace, he/she is incapable of being inculcated by the Spirit of Christ. How can the Spirit of Truth actually teach them unless that person is at least minimally prepared in heart to receive that teaching?! I imagine you can see the conclusion I would come to about the spiritual condition of such a legalistic patternist.

From Reflections #368

From Darrell Broking in Tennessee:

Al, You might be interested in the sermons at -- http://www.bellviewcoc.com/meeting.php. You are mentioned in many of them, especially the sermon on "The Day of Judgment." I agree with everything that was said in this series.

From a Minister in California:

Bro. Al, I was reading the Readers' Response section of your last Reflections, and your response to the minister in Florida struck a chord with me. You mentioned that there were those who wanted to kill the apostle Paul. That fact really got me to thinking -- just what was Paul doing to stir up this type of anger? He was simply preaching Jesus -- that He was the Messiah, the Son of God. Wow!! This is still happening today -- there are those who still want to destroy those with whom they differ, only now they use character assassination, firing preachers, and seeking to financially destroy a man and his family. Brother Al, thank you for your courage, wisdom, knowledge and work in the face of such people!!

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Brother Al, Since Darrell Broking concludes (from CENI?) that one who has an allergic reaction to the elements of the Lord's Supper is therefore not bound to its observance, and since he concludes that one without vocal cords is not required to sing, then Darrell must also conclude (if he truly believes he infers the above correctly) that the quadriplegic in the hospital who can't get anyone to immerse her also gets a "pass." Darrell's own logic, if carried to its ultimate conclusion, must further conclude that one is not required by God to obey the good news if they have never been exposed to it, and such persons are therefore not accountable in the same way as those who have heard. Darrell's inferences are taking him down a road he probably does not wish to travel. How will he ever get out of this one?! It looks like he has hung himself with his own rope!

From an Elder in Pennsylvania:

Bro. Al, I think that you are doing great in your debate with Bro. Darrell Broking (and I cringe a bit when using the term "brother" in referring to him, as I believe brothers should be behaving in a brotherly fashion). We all need to be able as brothers to openly discuss our differences and how our inferences have led us to our differing positions. Maybe with the right attitude, one brother might convince the other, or both might change, or maybe they will just agree to disagree. In any case, we should not look down on a brother. I really like your Reflections, as they are a great aid that helps show us where our thinking and our inferences just may have been faulty. Keep up the good work.

From Reflections #369

From Daniel Denham in Virginia:

Al, Your foolish doctrines were brought up in my lessons (during the recent meeting held in Pensacola, Florida) because they provided easy targets to show just how dumb some brethren are in what they have swallowed, and also in what they have expected others to swallow, from their post-modernistic nonsense. Your goofy ideas and teachings are perfect illustrations of ignorance gone to seed -- and sprouted! Thus, they made perfect illustrations as to what not to believe and teach if one seeks to avoid the very fires of hell, which you, in your blind arrogance, deny.

From a Reader in Louisiana:

I am praying for you, Brother Al, as it appears you are under attack by our Enemy, who is using humans that are supposed to be your brothers. Hang in there, Al, and soldier on!!

From a Minister in Florida:

Brother Al, I just cannot for the life of me understand how men can be so closed-minded, and yet still think that they are God's gift to proper biblical understanding. I thank God for men like Dr. Dallas Burdette, who is like a father to me, and for Al Maxey, both of whom have a gift for working within the cultish confines of the Church of Christ. God be praised forever for your diligence and patience and ability to stomach the putrid stench of legalism, patternism, cultism and hypocritical, dogmatic Phariseeism. Brother, please keep up the good work, because I know that our God is proud to have you working for Him! I am very proud to know that there are men like you who are gifted by God, and are not wasting those gifts, though at times it may seem so when you have to deal with some of the brain-dead people in the Stone-Campbell Movement. I know there must be tremendous satisfaction in your work when you are able to finally reach one of these people and pull them into the Light. Keep pulling as long as you can, and I'll keep praying for you on this end.

From a Reader in California:

My Dear Brother Al, I doubt if you will ever know how much of a privilege ... and a joy ... it is for me to be able to just sit down at my computer and communicate with you -- someone I've never met before, but feel I know so well through your amazing Reflections. Oh, the things I have learned, and the depth of feelings from being validated by your rich, wise thoughts! Thank you so much for your article "Reporting for Marriage, Sir." I am absolutely thrilled that you have shed light on the timelessness of Jesus Christ's and the apostle Paul's true intent on the subject of marriage, and that you've courageously come to the defense of women when they are in relationships that are destructive, humiliating and lacking in respect, especially when so-called "Christian" men cannot seem to fathom how God wants them to regard their wives. On another note, I just hope that Darrell Broking is being inundated with emails from people who are trying to help him "see the light." I sent him one in which I said that I will be praying that he will be able to swallow his pride and shed his fear. I see these two factors have been mentioned more than once in the letters you present at the end of each of your weekly Reflections. I also told him that true faith is like jumping off a cliff and knowing that God is not going to let you "crash and burn" at the bottom. Instead, one learns that one is given the ability to fly spiritually. Now that's freedom!

From Reflections #370

From Daniel Denham in Virginia:
(sent to his Contending for the Faith cohorts)

Folks, As many of you already know, I am in the process of writing a book on MDR (marriage, divorce and remarriage) that is principally based upon the Hebrew and Greek texts that are central to the subject. I have decided that one chapter, because that is all it will take, will be dedicated to Al Maxey's book of lies [Down, But Not Out], and I am going to title the chapter "Down for the Count." Al Maxey misrepresents (and I believe knowingly so) the sources and references he cites in support of key points in his "argument." It is clear that either the man cannot read or he is dishonest.

From a PhD in Texas:

Bro. Al, I read your Reflections often, and have recommended them to many, who now read your thoughts regularly. I pray for your work and rejoice in its solid solutions to legalism. I pray it flourishes. I really enjoy your work, my fine brother, and always look forward to your next offering. Also, and I hate to even ask you to take up your time reading anything I write, but I am working on some material that I plan to publish one day, and I am requesting of a few independent thinkers whom I trust, such as yourself, Lynn Anderson, Max Lucado, Rubel Shelly and Leroy Garrett, that you review this material and advise me. I know that I shouldn't ask this of you guys (as you are so busy), but there are so few whose insights I trust.

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Brother Al, Your response in your latest Reflections to the question of "faith only" is the best I have ever read!! You have made it crystal clear from the Scriptures that salvation is a love/heart matter. Certainly, the act of baptism is important, but without that saving love and faith it is nothing more than a bath. I have seen way too many "Christians" who have been "baptized" who then spend the rest of their days hating any and all who have the gall to disagree with them. You, for example, are constantly being attacked by these ignorant "brethren" who have set themselves up as the "defenders of the faith" --- yet they don't have a clue what faith really is!! Keep up the good work, my brother, we need men like you to shine a light on a very dark world.

From a Minister in Kansas:

Brother Al, One Cup man here. How could anyone actually believe that you teach a "faith only" salvation?! I've been reading your material for several years now, and I have never noticed that view being presented in any of your writings. As for Daniel Denham, I didn't realize his name was really Jesus!! He and Darrell Broking should stop attacking you and simply try to answer the arguments you've presented. Keep up the good work, brother, and may God bless all who seek unity.

From a Minister in Georgia:

Bro. Al, Great information in your last several Reflections. I enjoyed them tremendously. With regard to Darrell Broking, I do not think he can touch you as far as this debate on patternism goes, so Broking has decided instead to accuse you of saying things you never said. His attempt to shift to different gears is simply not working, at least not with those who have an open and intelligent mind. I sent him an email, which he did not respond to, asking why he assumes the role of GOD in pronouncing judgment on you, when it is clearly not Darrell who decides our eternal fate. I also asked him why he misquotes you in almost every document he has written in this debate. His complete silence to you, and to me, and I'm sure to many others as well, is a sign of his certain demise. Thanks for all you do, Al, and for all you stand for.

From a Minister in Kansas:

Brother Al, It seems to me that LOVE is the ultimate litmus test in Scripture. When John says "test the spirits," it seems that, in context, love is part of that test. For John, baptism was just "assumed," because no one back then would have argued with it. It wasn't an issue. Love is also a fruit of the Spirit. Out of faith, hope and love, love is the greatest. If the object of one's faith is baptism, then that becomes the center of one's theology, and it will probably be a works-based theology. If the object of one's faith is Scripture, then one will probably descend into what some have termed "bibliolatry," which leads to the legalistic, patternistic Pharisaism Jesus dealt with in His ministry. Jesus said that the Scriptures testify of Him, and so it is in Him that we have life. The object of our faith is supposed to be Jesus, the One who gives life, the One who immerses in the Spirit, the Way, the Truth and the Life, the Creator, Redeemer, Lord, Savior, the I AM. I believe that if the object of our faith is Jesus, then not only will our faith be based on a proper relationship with our Lord, but everything else will start to fall into place. I believe that God is inherently relational (one of the implications of a Trinitarian theology), and that all He does is unto relationship, and so in order to reflect His character we need to do the same. Thanks so much for your writings!!

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Brother Al, Your fourth affirmative in your debate with Darrell Broking was powerful. One of the arguments I have proposed is what I call the "common sense" argument. Without any regard as to technical situations, just ask yourself: "Do you think God really cares how many cups we use in the Lord's Supper, or how we feed and clothe the orphans, or whether or not we clap in the worship assembly? Do you really think that matters to Him?" I think not. May God bless you in your work, brother.

From a Reader in Florida:

Brother Al, I was astonished that Darrell Broking devoted twice as much space to various emails (mostly filled with garbage) than to any substance pertaining to the debate. It made me think of Col. 4:6 -- "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt." Much of what he included was "salty" speech, alright ... but not in the sense Paul was urging! I was also astonished when he spoke of things that he would have more to comment about within his 4th (and final) rebuttal. Isn't one of the "rules" of debate that the final summation does not introduce new material?!

From a Reader in New Mexico:

Brother Al, You have done a great job in this debate. As I see it, Darrell Broking has not analyzed any of the points you have made in this debate, and thus can't see the validity in what you've said. May he take your comments to bed with him, and think upon them, and may he see the error of his ways so that he might come back to the Light. Al, you've hit another home run in this debate with Broking, and the comments from your thousands of followers have shown that you are on the right track for sure! Continue to keep on keeping on. May God continue to bless you and Shelly. We love you both!

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Al, It is evident by your comments in your debate with Darrell Broking that you do not believe the Scriptures. Either that, or you cannot count to one. Ephesians 4 says there's only "one God." So, if there can be more than one church, then there can be more than one God. So, which God are you serving??? Even little children know more than you do, Al. At least little children can count to one. Church of Christ and Baptist Church make two churches, not one. So, the Baptists are false. You should probably go back to school, starting in the first grade, and learn to count.

From a Minister in Kentucky:

Brother Al, I just read Darrell Broking's third rebuttal. Wow! Just, wow! That's all I can say. That's the saddest, poorest excuse for a response that anyone could have possibly offered. All I can say is: this response speaks volumes to Broking's character and intellectual capacity. I find it difficult to believe that anyone would subject themselves to this man's preaching and applaud his example. Blessings on your work and life.

From a Reader in Florida:

Brother Al, In your fourth affirmative in the Maxey-Broking Debate you stated, "'God is not the author of confusion' (1 Cor. 14:33, KJV), which passage alone ought to inform us that the whole legalistic, patternistic system, in all of its vast, confused complexity, is fallacious. Divine expectation is simplicity itself --- love God and love one another. This, according to both Jesus and Paul, is absolutely the fulfillment of all law. By embracing those two divine specifics, all else becomes truly unnecessary. Indeed, to formulate law around and impose law upon these two basic eternal principles only serves to hinder, limit and ultimately restrict the full and free expression of our love and the evidence of the indwelling and empowering of God's Holy Spirit in fruit produced in our daily lives (which is precisely why the apostle Paul declared, in Gal. 5:23, that 'there is no law' given by our God that arrays itself against such daily spiritual expressions of love and devotion to God and our fellowman)." Bro. Al, you've just answered my most recent prayer for wisdom. This is exactly what I have known in my heart, yet could never put into words in the way you have. It says it all. Anything that the opposing camp wants to debate is trumped by your paragraph above! CHECKMATE!!

From Reflections #371

From a Reader in Washington:

Dear Brother Al, I pray you're having a blessed day. It was very difficult to get Darrell Broking's third rebuttal to open. He used a .doc file, and it kept coming up as "locked out" because there were "too many errors in it." I have a friend who helped me download some new software, and so was finally able to get it to open. I wish now that I hadn't. What a ridiculous pile! I think my computer was right in the first place -- "Too many errors in it." Also, just who IS this poor excuse: Daniel Denham? Boy, with a fiend like that, one needs no enemies. I would imagine that you're glad the debate is over (or just about over). You need to get a breath of fresh air after having to breathe all of that fire and brimstone. If Darrell is looking for a church in Florida, I know of one he would fit in with nicely: they had a note in their bulletin for the "proper dress" of those men serving at the Lord's Table on Sunday. I think it came from one of those Scriptures that Darrell Broking often uses. You know, the ones from the 3rd chapter of Jude! I'm sorry to be so cynical this morning, brother, but these folks just strain my good nature. I love you, and I hope and pray for your good health and steadfastness in His work. You are a true warrior.

From a Minister in Florida:

Brother Al, I would like to inform Daniel Denham, who is currently writing his book on MDR (with a chapter about your own book), that we have a fuel shortage here in Florida and I may be interested in purchasing great quantities of his ramblings to use as "fire wood." We've had such a building boom in Florida over the last several years that our trees have been cut down and houses built in their place. And since gas is too high to heat with, we could really save some money by burning useless books written by closed-minded space travelers. Yes, it does get cold here sometimes, and we'll need that burning material this winter. So, pass the word: "Buy Denham's Books, Save On Fuel." Brother Al, I just wanted to cheer you up today! I know that you likely get thousands of emails thanking you for your efforts, but I know from experience that it only takes one or two bad ones to make a person feel "down." Don't let these people get you down, Al. You are on the right track. You are making a huge difference in this world. God has given you a wonderful gift, so keep on using it for Him. By the way, your article on the Pledge of Allegiance was great. I forwarded it to a brother who doesn't believe in standing up and honoring the flag. I had tried to explain my feelings to him a few weeks ago, but not as well as you expressed them in your article. Thanks, brother!

From a Minister in Oklahoma:

Dear Bro. Al, I deeply appreciated your Reflections on the Pledge of Allegiance, since I retired from the military after 20+ years. I noticed in your readers' section the comment by the "wannabe author" in Virginia, Daniel Denham, who is writing a book on MDR, and my first thought was: "just what we need ... another book on that subject advocating some dogmatic position and thus confusing the issue." A wonderful man by the name of Abe Lincoln, now deceased, who was a former instructor at Sunset School of Preaching, offered up one of his insightful "Abeisms" which I will remember for a long time. He commented, "When the great minds of our brotherhood cannot agree on an issue, it is not the time to get dogmatic about it." If this "wannabe author" is not better educated and more insightful than Roy Lanier, Sr. and Thomas B. Warren and Roy Deaver, all of whom were great thinkers of our time, then this would probably be a good time for someone to do us all a favor and steal his typewriter! Brother Al, you are doing a great job of encouraging deep thinking, so please do not let the detractors pull you down.

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Brother Maxey, After reading the latest issue of your Reflections, I am at a complete loss over Mr. Denham's words regarding your book Down, But Not Out. I don't have a clue where he comes up with his information!! Apparently it isn't from the Bible!! Thanks again for all you do, brother.

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Brother Al, I have just read your article on the Pledge, and I find it very informative. Not mentioning any names, but there are some who are running for office today who should bear in mind what you say! It really rubs me the wrong way to see people doing everything except standing at attention when the flag passes by and giving it the proper salute. I guess being in the service through both World War II and Korea has had that effect on me. Al, please keep on writing, as maybe in time a bolt of lightning will strike the likes of Darrell Broking and Daniel Denham, awakening them to the real Truth of the Bible. You do such a wonderful job with your writings. Soldier On, brother, and may God bless you.

From a Minister in Kentucky:

Dear Brother Al, Like so many of your correspondents, I know how busy you are, and so I do not write nearly as often as I would like to. However, your current article on the Pledge of Allegiance brought tears to my eyes! And your previous Reflections on "The Assurance of Faith" was truly great. But I want to particularly commend the minister from Kansas whose email you included in your last readers' response section (the one that began with the comment about love being the true litmus test of the Scriptures). This brother proclaimed more Truth in his short letter to you than all the Darrell Brokings and their ilk ever dreamed of in all of their combined lives!! Thank you so much for passing this brother's thoughts along to the rest of us.

From a Minister in Indiana:

Brother Al, I have been following your recent debate with Mr. Broking, and have appreciated your point of view. But, I'm really writing to thank you for all your many articles over the years about the Lord's Supper. I have accessed them from your Topical Index and they have been very helpful in my personal study. I have even given you some "props" in my latest post to my Blog Site. I appreciate your ministry!

From Reflections #373

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Brother Al, You clearly have the patience of a saint! There is no way that I could have tolerated the despicable actions of Darrell Broking and Daniel Denham, men who claim to be "Christians." Even though they might disagree with those of us who have left bondage, the manner in which they have set about to destroy you (which will never happen, by the way!!) is so shameful that I fail to see how they can even look themselves in the mirror, let alone actually profess to be "elders" in the Lord's church!! While I have never been a proponent of debates, in this case the evidence submitted by you demonstrating just how far off base these legalistic patternists are has been so overwhelming that anyone reading your posts with even half an open mind could not help but be made to think. Brother Al, your love for the Lord and His Truth will win out! Keep up the good work and rest assured that absolutely nothing said by these clowns has changed anybody's mind about you. Their words have merely exposed their own ignorance!

From a Reader in Washington:

Brother Al, I have read and reread the quotes from Broking, Denham and Hatcher mocking your service in Vietnam, and it infuriates me more each time. These vermin have stepped in it this time. To disagree and debate with you is one thing, but to try and drag your military service through their muck, of which they haven't a clue, is totally unacceptable. You and I have never met, but I happen to KNOW what you went through as a door gunner on a UH-1B helicopter gunship. I was a commissioned officer and FLEW them over there, not to mention I commanded a gunship platoon. We once had a young man, who had been a "point man" for the 101st Airborne Div., extend and volunteer as a door gunner because it was too dangerous to be a "point man." He lasted about a month and quit, saying, "I'm going back to being a 'point man.' There ain't no place to hide in a helicopter!" Needless to say, I've seen a lot of young men doing their jobs in harm's way. These maggots you've been dealing with wouldn't make a good pimple on one of their butts!! Sorry, Al, but I just don't have a real warm place in my heart for this slime. I know there are other vets who feel the same way that I do about this and would like to slap their faces ... or worse!!! You must have pretty thick skin, Al (thank goodness), and thank God for Shelly for helping you in that regard. Just to let you know, you two are not alone. Besides GOD being on your side, there's the US military as well. God bless you brother!! I think you had better pray for me ... I have really bad feelings toward these animals!!

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Brother Al, I really enjoy your Reflections and appreciate your points of view, even though I do not always agree with you. I'm sure you don't mind that, as long as you can cause a person to think for themselves and to seek the Truth. As for the comments about you by Broking, Denham and Hatcher, they hit me in the pit of my stomach ... literally. I felt as if I wanted to throw up. "Egregious" (your word for them) is not a strong enough word, nor are there any others that I could find in the dictionary to express the negative impact of their words in their emails to you. The contemptuous tone of their comments are diametrically opposed to what the Lord expects of His followers. I wonder how many people have been turned off to Christianity because of their kind of behavior?! As for the sarcasm in Darrell's closing remark about you ("You are such an example of love") -- what he actually did, without meaning to, was to actually point out the truth!! In this debate you exemplified the qualities of love listed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13. You took the high road, and in so doing exposed the kind of people these others are. Shame on Darrell Broking, and shame on his associates who are in cahoots with him. May God bless you and yours, Al.

From an Elder in Arizona:

Bro. Al, The last time I sent you an email, I had stated that I was pessimistic about your upcoming debate with Darrell Broking. Now that it is over, however, I'm happy to hear about the responses from all the people who are saying that they are leaving legalistic churches and moving to where there is freedom in Christ Jesus! Years ago, when I was preaching, I also made that transition, and I was attacked (although in a much, much smaller way than you have been). One member, much older than I was, moved away. A good while later he showed up at my front door. I welcomed him in and asked what he was doing back in town. He said, "I have come to save your soul." The discussion ended when I told him that Jesus was my judge, not him. He abruptly got up and left!! Keep preaching the Word, brother!

From a Reader in North Carolina:

Brother Al, Great article last week on Sister Silena Moore Holman, and your debate summation was fantastic in this week's issue of Reflections. I'm not surprised at all at the tactics Darrell Broking and the other patternists (I refuse to call them "brothers in Christ") employed in their vain attempt to hide their inability to admit that they are wrong. What scoundrels!! The blind stupidity of people never ceases to amaze me. Why anyone would give Broking, or any of these other modern-day Pharisees, the time of day is beyond me! Preach the Word and be of good courage, my brother!

From an Elder in New Mexico:

Brother Al, Thank you for NOT lowering yourself to the level of Darrell Broking, Daniel Denhem, Daniel Coe and all the others like them. They will truly be known by their fruit. I read to my wife this evening some of what you had written, and she became irate at the nerve of those in the other camp. Don't give up, my brother!!

From a Reader in Alaska:

Dear Brother Al, I was delighted to see your post-debate comments addressing the breach of basic debate decorum that was committed by Darrell Broking. I really appreciate your discipline to adhere to specific topics and use your talents to present logical, reasoned thoughts in a succinct manner. I also like that you post comments from your Reflections readers, as indirect blessings occur to other readers through these. For example, the comments by the elder/preacher from North Wales, Great Britain motivated me to actually click on your Maxey-Thrasher Debate, instead of continuing to bypass it (as I have done for months). Also, after reading the comment from the brother in Texas in which he introduced his articles on Gender Equality in the Churches of Christ, I found and read a very well-written article, which I may never have found without that link in your Reflections. Something in that article spurred me to have a deep, lengthy discussion with my husband as to God's purpose for me/us as we seek His plan for us in our current location and circumstances. Thank you!!

From an Elder in Florida:

Bro. Al, I really want to thank you for the excellent job you have been doing in your Reflections and in your debate with Broking. I thank God often for people like you who help give us hope and encouragement about the grace and love of God, and about His concern for His people. Thank You!!

From a Minister in Florida:

Brother Al, I am so sorry that the mud-slingers are doing everything they can to hurt you in some way. Don't let them get to you, brother! Over the last few months of reading your material I have come to know something about you. You are genuine! You are the real deal! It is easy to spot those who are fakes in Christianity, and, brother, you are not a fake! I know that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is leading you; it is clear by the writings you send out. The Holy Spirit is inspiring you to write what you do. Brother Al, I am not personally impressed by celebrities, like movie stars and rock stars. They do not give me goose bumps when I see one, nor do I get all goofy. But when I receive an email from you, or when I get to write to you, I honestly feel as though I am communicating with God's precious Spirit on the other end of the line!! Keep your head held high, Al ... you are reaching many people. You are not, most likely, going to win Darrell Broking or his brain-dead friends to your way of thinking, because they're not interested in Truth. Their pride will never let them agree with you. And yet, you have done a magnificent job in the debate, and in my opinion have won hands down. Let me say again how much I appreciate you. I was raised in the legalistic mindset from an infant, and am so thankful that God put you, and others like you, into my life. Without men like you this world would truly be a dreary place. God's light is shining through you, brother, to brighten up this old world. Hang in there!! God will reward you!!

From a Minister in California:

Brother Al, I am excited that you are hearing from readers of the debate who are now leaving legalistic patternism for the joys of a grace-based church family! This is the fruit that makes your participation in this debate such a success. I admire your commitment to your life's mission of exposing the deeds of darkness, and also your willingness to pay the price for such commitment. You truly inspire me to live the grace I believe and preach. Thanks for your dedication to the glorious grace of God.

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Brother Al, Many years ago Bro. Marvin Phillips told me, "Never wrestle with a pig. You will both get dirty, but the pig enjoys it." I had just about accepted that as good advice for interacting with the likes of Broking, Denham, et al., until you pointed out to us the absolute necessity of identifying and exposing these evil false teachers. It is shocking to find so-called "Christians" acting in this fashion!! I know that it must hurt to be called names by these people, even though you know what they say is not true (your readers also know these things are not true). Brother, thank you for sharing with us, and also for fighting our battles.

From a Reader in Missouri:

Bro. Al, I am thankful that Shelly was able to be a support to you, as well as being able to encourage you to hold fast to a higher ground than Darrell Broking. I want to thank you for this debate. I know it was hard, and must have felt like a losing battle, but I pray that many who followed along have learned much and have been made to reconsider some previous stances. I also think you showed great restraint when the other side made it personal instead of remaining on track with the Scriptures. We love ya!!

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Dear Brother Maxey, I do so appreciate your good spirit, and the helpmeet of your sweet wife, Shelly, in helping you to avoid the pitfalls with which we all struggle. Thanks for being who you are: a student of the Word, and devoted to serving our Father. It is so sad that some people, who profess to be "brethren," seem to find a perverse delight in fighting and being ugly. Please know that I love you and will keep praying for you and your family and your work to glorify God. As for me, all of these vicious attacks upon you by people like Broking and Denham simply demonstrate their lack of love and respect, and show me they have no evidence to prove you wrong. Name-calling and taunting only shows their own immaturity and boldness to do evil. They should know better. I feel sorry for them! God bless your efforts; keep it up. I really enjoy reading what you write; it has helped me a great deal.

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Brother Al, Thanks for your part in the debate on legalistic patternism. The language used by Denham, Broking, and others, is nothing new. I have seen it for the past 40+ years, and even, to my shame, was part of it for a time. Such behavior was one of the factors that led to the opening of my eyes!!

From a Minister in Kansas:

Brother Al, One Cup man here. Thank you so much for the information you provided during your debate with Darrell Broking. Legalistic Patternism is falling by the wayside as more and more disciples allow the LORD to direct their lives rather than LAW. The brethren who hold to this suffocating view of the NT are pulling together in their attempt to destroy all who oppose them. Any tactic (and character assassination is the weapon of choice) will be employed to silence brethren who do not subscribe to their own plan for the church. I have been a member of the Body for 30 years, and I've seen the damage done by the legalistic patternists. They have driven good people from the church and ruined the good names of others who, thank God, chose to stay rather than hand the church over to them. Brother, I think you did a great job in addressing the errors of Legalistic Patternism in your debate. I'm thankful for your service to the King and His kingdom. May the Lord continue to bless you in His service, and may God bless all who seek unity.

From a Reader in Texas:

Good Morning Brother Maxey, I just had to make a few comments on your latest Reflections. I must say that after reading some of the behind the scenes activities of Darrell Broking and his buddies, it is scary! I just cannot believe that these so-called "Christians" feel that they need to conduct themselves in this manner. I do not believe their attitudes or actions display the HEART of a true Christian at all. I understand that disciples are going to have disagreements and differing opinions, but I do not believe God would approve of the type of attitude, or of the hatred, that these people display against other people who do not agree with their views. Since I have been trying to live as a Christian should (starting about 2 years ago), one thing that I have learned is that some of the people within the religious world can be some of the most hateful and ruthless people I have ever come across. Such are the people you have been dealing with in this debate! I just wanted to say Thank You for participating in this debate, and especially for maintaining the level of professionalism which you maintained throughout the debate. You kept a much cooler head than I would've been capable of, and I know that Shelly must have been a great voice of support for you during this. Please thank her for me. Just one more note -- I guess that these guys just cannot stand that you have already proved them wrong twice in their accusations against your book Down, But Not Out. I don't blame you one bit for not debating with these people on any further topics. Frankly, you have endured much more of their hateful verbal abuse than I could have. Hang in there, brother. There are many true Christians out there who greatly appreciate what you and Shelly are doing!! May God bless you and Shelly.

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, Thank you so much for all the hard work and the excellent posts during the debate, as well as for your excellent evaluation of the whole thing in your last issue of Reflections. It must have been really hard typing your evaluation with just one hand, while using your other one to hold your nose against the stench coming from Broking's foul camp. Doubtless you were also wearing hip boots!! Keep up the good work of seeking to clearly present the saving Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

From a Minister in Oklahoma:

Brother Al, I have followed the debate between you and Darrell Broking because I had a need to be reminded anew of just what my faith-walk has allowed me to leave behind (i.e., legalism). Never have I appreciated my freedom in Christ more as I witnessed all the tired old defenses of patternism taken out of the "fear file" of the legalists and flung in the face of those believers who now subscribe joyfully to salvation by grace through faith. I have two children who suffer from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), which has its roots in the unrealistic fear and dread that bad things will happen to them if they don't ward them off by repeating certain patterns of ridiculous behavior. That is exactly what the legalistic patternists seem to be suffering from -- an OCD theology!! It's unhealthy, and it can't be reasoned with. Believe me, I know.

From a Reader in California:

Brother Al, Thank you for your update -- "A Post-Debate Evaluation" -- and for exposing therein the ridiculous and childish exploit of Darrell Broking. Most of all, thank you for upholding the banner of Truth; not just in this debate, but for years in your writings and teachings. And by the way, thank Shelly for keeping it on track. I'm with you ... I'm not sure I could have contained myself. All in all, I found the debate helpful, instructive and interesting ... and even entertaining at times! God bless your work.

From a Reader in New Mexico:

Brother Al, You have shown a great deal of patience toward Darrell Broking and Daniel Denham. Their diatribe against you is ungodly. How can they even call themselves "Christians"?! Their remarks make me sick to my stomach. I am truly frightened of the impact that these men are having upon God's people. I have been praying for them, however, even though I fear they are so hardened by their hatred that there may be no hope left for them. But, I will pray anyway that their hearts will be changed. Wouldn't it be wonderful if they would spend their time bringing souls to Christ instead of using all their energy trying to destroy you?!! They won't be successful in that endeavor, though, because you have God on your side, and there are many, many prayers being lifted up on your behalf.

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, I think you did the right thing by not including the two appendices with Darrell's final rebuttal in the debate. As you indicated, the information contained in those two documents had nothing to do with the subject matter of your debate on patternism. It seems to me that the conspiracy hatched by the "Contending for the Faith" bunch is very much in keeping with the questionable character of these men. Having grown up in the Church of Christ, I've known for a long time that there is a good amount of arrogance and stubbornness among the more hardened of this "brand of believers." And yet, I was somewhat naive about just what they are capable of. After reading some of Darrell's vicious attacks on you during this debate, however, as well as the unseemly emails from Denham and Brown and Hatcher and the rest of the crew, I was shocked that men in leadership positions could be so mean and hateful to another human being!! And these are the people who are supposedly letting their light shine before men??!! This is just SAD. Brother Al, I must say that you did an excellent job in the debate with Darrell. I truly believe the words that you wrote will help a lot of Christians discover the Truth, and will bring the disciples of Jesus closer to Unity. May God bless you, Al. Keep up the good work.

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Brother Al, There is no way to outdo an ultra-conservative, patternistic brother ... especially those of the "CFTF Forum" variety. I found that out the hard way. I wanted to try and help a few of them ten, fifteen and twenty years ago, but they considered my help as an attack on God Almighty. You simply can't help someone who doesn't want your help, who can't appreciate what you are attempting to do, and/or who feels that if they ever actually listened to you they would be captured by the devil himself and be hell-bound with absolutely no opportunity of salvation!! Somehow, I cannot help but wonder if that attitude isn't getting very close to the unpardonable sin!! I admire your defense of the Truth in spite of the arrogance of these legalists. What their arrogance shows me is that you did such an outstanding job in your debate with Darrell Broking that they now have to put up a smoke screen to cover that fact.

From a Reader in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:

Dear Brother Al, Of course Darrell Broking could not possibly provide you with a comprehensive list of the "pattern," because if he did he would be cutting down the branch he is sitting on. Not only that, but he would also immediately offend all other patternists who would never agree with all of his list. In other words, the NT contains (as you stated) a pattern, as opposed to declaring the NT writings ARE the pattern.

From Reflections #374

From a Reader in Barbados, Caribbean Islands:

Dear Brother Al, As usual, I follow your Reflections with much eagerness. I like your balance and your patience, qualities I believe you have developed over time in your walk with Christ. I also believe that you're honest and full of humility and care not to divide the glory between the Lord and yourself. You always appear to give the Lord Christ all the glory. It is a pity, however, that one of your readers, and clearly an ardent supporter, did not follow your example. I make reference to the reader from Washington whose comments appeared in the readers' section of your last issue of Reflections. There's no doubt he was hurt and infuriated by the apparent assault upon your Christian character and your service in the military. However, as Christians, we must, like you have done constantly, take the high road even when persons attempt to sully our name and imply other than gracious motives to our character and our dealings. In my humble opinion, the language used to convey his anger was very unchristian, to say the least. I trust that, as this brother reads this, he will take a leaf from your book and express his feelings in a manner that keeps the door open to reconciliation, even if others appear to have closed it. In the final analysis, what ultimately matters is our Christian witness, especially to those who appear to be short of the mark. May God continue to richly bless you and yours as you champion His cause and purpose!

From a Reader in California:

Dear Brother Al, You mentioned that the Maxey-Broking Debate has resulted in the departure of several readers from congregations with a "Contending for the Faith" (ultra-legalistic, patternistic) mindset. It seems to me that even if one did not take note of a single argument within the debate, nevertheless the nasty, vindictive arrogance of Darrell Broking and his cronies would be so utterly repulsive to their own members that they would see that this is NOT God's movement, and thus they would be constrained to go elsewhere!! I really, truly believe that disciples who have godly spirits will NOT stay with that bunch. On the other hand, too many of their members seem to have the exact same unloving, cantankerous spirit as their leaders. In those cases, it is just as well that these people remain with their own ilk, instead of messing up other congregations!!

From Reflections #375

From Daniel Denham in Virginia:

Al, you are lower than a snake's belly in a wagon rut and just as venomous. Hypocrite!! Judgment is coming, and the Hell you deny is awfully hot! It is pretty clear that you belong to the postmodernistic Emerging Church Movement, or the "Church of Make-Believe." You all write about "grace," "the cross," and "love," but you actually root none of these concepts or items in New Testament teaching. You've merely co-opted the imagery to fool folks into accepting your leadership on your journey into theological oblivion and subsequently into the abyss. Blind leader of the blind!! Folks like you are Socialists and Marxists in their social views as well, which is where you will eventually wind up - in the political camp with the far left of the Democratic Party. You're all a bunch of half-baked, ultra-ultra liberal New Age hippie freak-types who have more in common with the philosophies of Friedrich Nietzsche, Albert Camus and the Nazi Martin Heidegger. By the way, Al, the Nazi Heidegger, your philosophical godfather, says "Sieg Heil" to you in your bunker! We were close to the truth about you when we were ragging on you about the military.

From Morris Bowers in Alabama:

Al, you need to be arrested for impersonating a preacher of the gospel, since you do not use the gospel of our Lord!

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Bro. Al, I applaud you and Shelly both in restraining your retaliation against such spiritual thugs as Denham, Broking and Hatcher. They bring to mind the cowardly members of a street gang aligning themselves together. I almost picture them in sagging pants with their caps turned sideways and pistols at their sides as they type their little emails about you. What they represent is no less despicable than the videos we have seen recently of monks fist-fighting in Jerusalem. They not only believe that they have it all down just right, they think that they must inflict suffering on all who disagree with their theologies. I grew up listening to Michael Hatcher spewing forth his venom from the pulpit many years ago. Allow me to say this: He doesn't just try to inflict suffering upon those who are outside his church walls. He, and several others like him, almost succeeded in driving me away, not only from "organized church," but also from our Lord as well. He was an arrogant bully back then, and he has seemingly only honed his skills even further since. I have wondered to what extent our Lord was rolling His eyes as those monks were knocking out one another's teeth. Probably no less than He has been throughout the many years of listening to all the Hatchers, Denhams and Brokings making fools of themselves "in His name." God bless you for your patience! And, oh yes, THANK YOU for every minute of your service to our country!!

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Dear Bro. Al, When I read the exchange between yourself and the reader from Barbados (which appeared in the readers' section of your last Reflections), I went back and read the comments from the veteran from the state of Washington. I read that he had mentioned the insults from Broking, Denham and Hatcher, but I guess I had just lumped them in with all the others that you receive from these people. Obviously, that was a mistake on my part. There is no comparison with the stresses and danger one faces in combat. We have a brother in Christ locally who was a gunner in a B-17 in WWII. He won't even talk about his experiences, and I can understand why, and I greatly respect his service. Also, brother, you brought out some thoughts that were new to me on the widow's two mites. Thank You for a great issue of Reflections.

From Reflections #376

From a Reader in Canada:

Dear Brother Al, God has truly blessed you with a measure of forgiveness and patience that I myself will never know!! I read the trash that people like Denham, Broking, Brown and Hatcher (the whole Contending for the Faith bunch) write about you and others and it makes me so mad that I literally start to shake. Al, you have blessed my life in more ways than you will ever know on this side of Heaven. Even if you were teaching false doctrine (and I know that you are NOT), it would still be more godly than what they are teaching, and your attitude is certainly far more godly than theirs! I would take great pleasure in standing by your side and defending you, and the gospel you teach, any day (but you might need to gag me and cuff my hands because of what I would be tempted to do to these people who are so vicious in their attacks against you). I love you, brother! Keep up the great work, and keep it out there where we all can continue to examine and grow from what you teach. God bless you and your family!

From a Minister/Author in California:

Dearest "Lower than a Snake's Belly in a Wagon Rut!!" Wow!! What vicious UN-Christ-like attacks these people have leveled against you! Actually, these slimy devilish attacks upon you would be downright hilarious if they weren't so damning to the souls of these guys who have written them!! Please don't lose any sleep at night over these vicious, ungodly attacks. It just shows how powerful and truthful your writings are!! On another topic -- Al, Thank You Very Much for mailing me your 2007 PowerPoint Sermons CD. I have looked at them and, I must say, they are terrific. They are so biblical and edifying. I can't wait to put them to use. They are beautifully done. Again, Thank You, my brother! Give our love to Shelly. One of these days my wife and I plan to come to visit you there in Alamogordo!

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Brother Al, I really admire your strong stand in the face of the abusive and stupid remarks thrown at you. It is going to be interesting to see how people are going to answer when God asks them what they have contributed to His cause!! Please keep up the good work!

From a Minister in New York:

Dear Brother Al, I was really enjoying reading, and was saying "Amen" to your thoughts in, your article "When Disciples Doubt." And then ... I scrolled down to the readers' comments. Talk about lower than a snake's belly!! I felt like I had been bit by the Serpent and invaded by his poison as I read the comments from Daniel Denham. Unbelievable! I truly can't believe the HATE that arose like smoke from these comments. How sad that the words "Grace" and "Love" and the message of the Cross are used as the vehicle for this expression of hatred toward you. I can only feel pity and compassion for this kind of blindness. Oh, if only God would speak with a thunderbolt and wake them up before it is too late!! Brother Al, continue to arm yourself with the full armor of God as you continue your ministry. You know that you have the prayers of God's people!!

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, After reading this Daniel Denham fellow's puerile name-calling and childish insults, I decided to find out just who he is. Imagine my astonishment when I discovered what he does for a living -- working as a pulpit minister in Virginia for a church that purports to have "edification" as one of its three pillars of its mission to "seek and save the lost." I am nearly speechless!! To each of my fellow readers I would simply say -- if any of you is involved in the Newport News Church of Christ, then I would strongly urge you to examine what your pulpit minister has been writing about Bro. Al Maxey, and then honestly evaluate whether or not Mr. Denham is modeling the character of Jesus. If you conclude that he is not -- and how could anyone honestly conclude otherwise? -- it would be the better part of wisdom for you to reevaluate your affiliation with him, and also with the elders who apparently sanction what he says and does. What a terrible blight his behavior is on the Stone-Campbell Movement, and on the community of Christian disciples in general.

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Brother Al, After I read Daniel Denham's email to you, which you included in your last Reflections, my first thought was, "Is this guy eight years old?!" Mr. Denham appears to be lacking an adult portion of maturity. Furthermore, I think we could call into question his level of intelligence, considering he obviously does not realize how bad he makes himself look when he writes these nasty emails to you. Try not to let their harsh words bother you, Al. The evil in the hearts of these men is clearly evident in their words and deeds. The Lord will deal with them in time. You have more important things to do. So keep spreading the Truth, and may God bless you!

From a Reader in Arizona:

Brother Al, From one soldier unto another, Thank You for your service to our country in difficult times. I am a retired US Army Colonel (retired March, 2004). I had three friends with whom I grew up and with whom I played Little League baseball (on the same team) who were all killed in action in Vietnam (1967, 1968 and 1969 -- all three US Marines). There isn't a Memorial Day or Veteran's Day or the burial of a young soldier from today's conflicts that I don't think of Don, Jim and Michael and of their ultimate sacrifice in the war in which you yourself fought. Thank you for all you've done for this nation, and also thanks for your writings and your work in God's Kingdom.

From a Reader in Colorado:

Brother Al, The phrase we often use - "Freedom isn't free" - recently came very clearly into focus for me. My wife and I recently returned from a once-in-a-lifetime vacation traveling to Italy, France and England. The highlight of the trip for me was a full day tour of the American landing beaches at Normandy. I have never been more proud to be an American. I have never been so humbled regarding the sacrifice of our military. Not just on the landing beaches at Normandy, or in the Pacific in WWII, but also in Korea, Vietnam and now in the Persian Gulf region. Therefore, I was saddened to hear of your heroic service to our beloved country mocked and maligned by certain people who simply disagree with you on points of biblical interpretation. Brother Al, Thank You for your military service; for answering the call to defend freedom. Thanks also to all of your readers who have served. I proudly salute you and thank you!!

From an Elder in Florida:

Brother Al, Maybe I am naive, but I really would have expected even the most rigid within the Churches of Christ to have grown and matured beyond that "brood of vipers" type of judgmental bigotry that was displayed by Morris Bowers and Daniel Denham in their remarks to you. While I really do not know you, I am still very deeply pained for you over such abuse from these people. Satan must be overjoyed at such hypocrisy on their part. Just now I have been on my knees praying for your comfort and strength, and I have also prayed that these two men might be touched by the Lord's hand of discipline, along with His hand of grace and mercy and forgiveness, because truly they do not know what they are doing.

From a Reader in Maine:

Bro. Al, Thank you for your example of patience with those persons who have not yet found their way out of extreme literalism and legalism. Keep on keeping on!

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Dear Brother Al, Let me express my distress upon reading the vitriol spread in the two replies by Bowers and Denham. I'm so sorry for this behavior against you. God bless you and your family as you continue your gracious work in Reflections.

From a Minister in California:

Brother Al, Excellent article ... again!! "When Disciples Doubt" was true, practical and transparent. Concerning the astounding venom spewed at you by Denham and Bowers -- in elections, I often look closely at who's opposed to some proposal or candidate, and then vote for it or him. I look at these guys who are throwing such tantrums in their opposition to you, and immediately decide that I'm voting for YOU. If such people as that liked you, then I'd vote against you. Al, I honestly do not know how you can take all of those hateful broadsides from Satan's guys and not suffer some kind of emotional trauma. Please, just consider the source of their statements, and then be grateful that you are not one of them!! Al, you are a hero to a whole lot of folks who have been disenfranchised by these guys who are so full of themselves! Carry on, brother ... I'm still voting for YOU.

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, I am proud of you for printing statements like the one from Daniel Denham in your Reflections. We need to see the true nature of these people. And yet, I am very deeply saddened that men who call themselves "Christians" would actually write something like this! He not only calls you names, but he accuses you of having destructive motives in your ministry. You are accused of attempting to "fool" us into following you as a leader instead of Christ. I can see you only pointing others to Jesus Christ, and attempting to help those like myself develop a much closer relationship with Him. I believe the man who wrote this is doing great harm to the message of God. Al, you continue to be a tremendous source of encouragement to me and others! I hear your name mentioned often by those who are looking to Christ Jesus in their personal study time, and I also continue to pass along your great work to others. I hope soon to begin a study of your work, and also that of Edward Fudge, on the nature of man and the final punishment of the wicked at Judgment, because you two are very open to understanding the difference between what we have always been taught in our tradition and what is actually being said in the Bible. Al, may you continue to find strength for your work, and please know that you are making a tremendous difference in the lives of others for the good of our Lord. It can be depressing to be condemned by your fellow man on a regular basis, but I believe you're experiencing this for being a good advocate of Christ. You are suffering for a great cause, and there is much value in the suffering you face because of Christ Jesus. Our Lord told Peter that he would face similar persecution. Bro. Al, your persecution from those who should be lifting you up, is not going unnoticed by Christ! You are awesome, and I appreciate the gift God has given you in being so courageous for Him in the face of such fierce opposition!

From David Brown in Texas:
Editor/Publisher of Contending for the Faith

Al, Can't you see under your own sheep skin to the real animal hiding underneath there? I can only hope that time continues for you so that you will be given even more opportunity to repent. The Lord is being very good to you in giving you as much time as He has to repent. Obviously, you despise those of us who scripturally and logically hold your feet to the fire, but this we would not be forced to do if you did not teach doctrines that are so foreign to the teaching of the New Testament. Until you decide to repent, we will take advantage of every opportunity to use you exactly like God did Pharaoh -- showing people what error does to people and how Truth always wins over error. I'm really sorry that you can't see that, but I really would not expect you to until you decide to pursue Truth rather than deceiving yourself all the time. But, when you spend all of your time giving heed to doctrines of demons, that is what happens. And look at all the people who support you and encourage you to continue down that broad way unto destruction. Why, none of them know enough about rightly dividing the Bible to fill a gnat's thimble. It is a sad fact that in your teaching you are always telling people how to disobey God and feel good about it. I continue to wish that you would change. But, of course, if you have a seared conscience, then there is nothing anyone can do. Loving Your Soul More Than You Do, David Brown

From a Reader in Georgia:
[The following is a copy of an email that was
sent by a beloved brother-in-Christ to Daniel
Denham in Newport News, VA on Nov. 26]

Dear Daniel Denham,

I would like to comment on your recent remarks to Al Maxey (which appeared in the readers' section of Reflections #375). It is not unusual for some people who are clearly unable to defend a position to which they have so zealously dedicated their lives promoting, to become angry, fearful, frustrated, belligerent, sarcastic and hostile. This type of behavior is more readily seen in children since they lack the maturity to properly evaluate and check their emotions and thought processes. We expect a child to behave immaturely, so we therefore correct and teach him until such time as he learns the greater values and thoughtfully processes information that leads to a mature, proper and loving response. At most, your remarks, as an adult, characterize your behavior as self-absorbed, arrogant, mean-spirited, hateful and judgmental, behavior that could be prone to violent episodes. It is clear from your despicable diatribe that you have some serious personal issues. However, I'm not that concerned about your childish name-calling. This just tells me that you have not yet achieved psychological manhood. I want to think your vile rhetoric is not a condition of the heart, but rather a temporary lapse into immorality. My primary concern is your unbridled hatred and irrational remarks. I hope you will soon get the help and counseling you need. You must indeed be an unhappy, tormented person.

Who am I, you ask? I am just a Spirit-led child of the living God, and a disciple of our Lord Jesus. Like so many others, I have been prayerfully reflecting upon my relationship with the Lord so that I might come to a far better understanding of what His will is for me, and for all for whom He died. I am still learning and desire to continue learning until I pass from this life. I will not presume that I can say anything in this email regarding the Faith that will change your mind, so I will refrain from a Bible lesson. Permit me to say, however, that I am certain we both read from the very same Bible, yet your behavior reflects a lack of understanding, acceptance and application of that divine authority. Please know that I am completely familiar with your views. There was a time when I also was very legalistic, dogmatic and divisively sectarian, just like too many within the ultra-conservative factions of the Churches of Christ.

Approximately three years ago, I was introduced by a Christian friend to Al Maxey through his publication Reflections. I was surprised to read so much that I had also independently concluded for myself after carefully studying and examining the Scriptures. Because it was so important to me to learn the Truth, and to know if I was truly moving in the right direction, I made a point to contact brother Al Maxey via email as part of my journey to learn more, since his writings reflected some of the very same conclusions that I myself had reached. He was responsive and kind. I asked if I could meet him to ask more questions and to help myself validate that I was truly moving in the right direction. I wanted to know if he was genuine. After all, we learn so much more about a person when we have dialogue face-to-face and truly get to know them. Though he and I did not even know each other, he immediately let me know that my wife and I were welcome to come to Alamogordo, New Mexico to meet with him. We spent a great weekend in Alamogordo; we broke bread in his home, met his wonderful wife Shelly, attended a prayer service, a Sunday morning Bible study, worshipped with the congregation where he is the preacher, as well as one of the elders, met and spent time with the other elders, and were greeted by a sweet congregation of fine Christians!! The hospitality shown to us was open, warm and loving.

No, Mr. Denham, Al Maxey is not at all the man you described in your hateful, nasty email. He is a humble, caring, loving, courageous man of God who is deeply concerned for the cause of Christ Jesus and for all the precious lives around him. Knowing Al as I do through my visit, and through much correspondence over the past few years, I know that he loves even you, although you have shown nothing but bitter, misguided and malevolent wrath toward him.

Let me close this by saying that Al Maxey is a true patriot of our beloved country and served honorably in combat during the Vietnam War. I lost family and friends during that time, and I am genuinely indebted to Al Maxey, and to all who have served and are serving in our armed forces. You should be ashamed of yourself for your vile "ragging" (your own words) about his unselfish service to our country. Of course, such self-sacrifice as that made by Al, as well as by all of our honorable, brave military men and women then and now in defense of our freedoms, have made it possible for you to have the freedom to speak out, no matter how disgusting your comments. You should at least retract in writing your unconscionable, unappreciative remarks about Al's military service. It is an ungrateful, disrespectful slap in the face not just to him, but also to all of our military men and women who have defended our freedoms. I for one am grateful for his service, and I honor him for his willingness to lay down his life on the line for the country he cherishes. And imagine just how much more he loves God and all whom God loves!!

Al Maxey more than capably speaks for himself, but he is my good brother, so I have spoken up to defend him. As for you -- I pray inheritance in the Kingdom for you, and not a consignment to hell (to which you, in your ranting and raving, consign Al Maxey, as well as each of us who earnestly seek to serve the Lord). By His mercy He forgives us, and by His grace we are saved. By the way, based on your comparison of Al's beliefs (which you have inaccurately stated) to postmodern philosophy, it is clear that you do not understand postmodernism. In fact, I would be curious to know your definition. Pseudo-intellectualism is unbecoming, and it is always apparent.

From a Reader in Nevada:

Bro. Al, Regarding Daniel Denham's remarks to you -- what kind of adult makes points in this manner? That has to be the most ridiculous juvenile display I have ever read. What's next?! How does Daniel top this?! Maybe he'll leave a burning bag of dog poop on your doorstep, ring the bell, and run away! Will he come up behind you and give you a "wedgie"? Every time he writes you, this man just reveals even more of his imbalance. He will be reined in soon. Those in his group with cooler heads will insist that he stop communicating with you. They will make it sound to Daniel like this decision is because he is not making any headway with you, but in truth they will rein him in out of embarrassment. Keep an eye on the ContendingFTF Internet discussion list and just watch this man being reined in. Keep up the good work, Al. We love you, brother!

From Reflections #377

From a Reader in California:

Bro. Al, Your debate with Darrell Broking was very effective in revealing the twisted mentality of the Contending for the Faith group. However, the two brief messages in Reflections #375 from Morris Bowers and Daniel Denham revealed the true mean-spirited attitudes of the leaders of this group far more succinctly, clearly and starkly than did the debate!!

From a Reader in New Mexico:

Dear Brother Al, I recently found Darrell Broking's web site he created to tell people "What Al Maxey Does Not Want You To Know." Is this guy serious?! Is this even legal?! Isn't this defamation of character?! I read through the comments he has posted and most of them are his own, or from other people, not from your own writings! Does he really expect people to believe what he says simply because he's said it? -- Unbelievable! This man is obviously not a Christian because a Christian would not do this sort of thing. Also, my guess is that nobody that agrees with you will ever be allowed to sign his guestbook, even though you have put their crazy emails to you in your Reflections! Again, unbelievable!

From a Reader in Maine:

Dear Brother Al, I'm pleased to be one of those described by David Brown as "the people who support you and encourage you to continue down that broad way unto destruction." None of us, according to Brown, supposedly "know enough about rightly dividing the Bible to fill a gnat's thimble." In point of fact, however, it is an honor to hold membership with so many of your other readers in The Order of the Gnat's Thimble --- I guess because we are all simply "fools for Christ's sake" (1 Cor. 4:10). Blessings to you, brother!

From a Reader in North Carolina:

Brother Al, I chuckled several times while reading David Brown's comments to you in the readers' section of your last issue of Reflections (i.e.: "The Lord is being very good to you in giving you as much time as He has to repent," and also his comment about "a gnat's thimble"). Very patronizing, and just downright pathetic. Wouldn't it be nice if people like this David Brown spent more time teaching the lost than trying to "reteach" brethren who are already saved?! Please keep up the great work, brother! Your example of "faith under fire" is an example to us all.

From a Reader in California:

Brother Al, Sometimes I just have to shake my head at these Contending for the Faith types. However, I think I'm beginning to understand why the attacks from these twisted individuals don't really bother you. Anyone who has faced Vietcong bullets probably isn't too worried about a few nasty comments from cowards who lob verbal bullets from afar. I believe the Lord has sent you "through the flames" of military service in war so that you could hold His banner ever higher without fear. Continue using the talents the Lord has given you, brother!

From Reflections #378

From Michael Hatcher in Florida:
Minister of Bellview Church of Christ in Pensacola

Al, Nothing you say has any influence on me. I really don't care what you or your mindless robots think. As to your prayers for me: they do not get anywhere past the ceiling of where you "pray" them since God's ears are only open to the righteous, and your teachings are demonic. You have been Satan's servant, by teaching his doctrines, for years. You, along with those who follow your pernicious doctrines, are going to spend eternity in torment. Even though you don't believe in hell, it is still a very real place, which, sadly, you will find out one day. Please do not pray for me, Al, because the only "spiritual father" you have is Satan. You are of your father the devil. You do the works of your father. Like you, he is a liar. Additionally, Al, you are a yellow-bellied, hypocritical coward who is also a liar and a fraud. All you need to do to change that is to change everything about yourself. You need to repent, and our loving God will forgive you for all of your wickedness (and that includes being a yellow-bellied, hypocritical coward who is a liar and a fraud).

From a New Reader in [Unknown]:

Dear Brother Al, Please add me to your mailing list for your weekly Reflections. I have studied your debate with Darrell Broking on Patternism, and it has been very helpful to me. My greatest desire is to be a consistently kind, faithful, well-versed Christian capable of leading others to Christ. My worry is that by following unscriptural patterns in the past, I may have hindered myself from being the kind of teacher that simply allowed the Word to draw others to the Lord. May God bless your efforts in His service, brother, and if you have a moment please pray for my understanding! Thank you!

From Reflections #379

From a Minister in Kansas:

Bro. Al, One Cup man here. 2008 is almost gone, and I must admit that I'm a little disappointed -- the Lord has not returned! Nevertheless, 2008 has been a good year thanks to you and many others like you. Great progress has been made in helping our brethren understand the dangers of Legalistic Patternism. I'm pleased to report that a great many within the One Cup segment of our faith-heritage are now reading your Reflections and they're taking another look at their approach to the fellowship question. Your efforts are truly appreciated. As for those who continue to attack you, rather than answer your questions of them, I will pray for them. The horrible, ungodly attitudes manifested by these men speaks volumes about their promotion of a system of religion utterly unknown to the New Testament. May God have mercy on them. May God bless you, my brother in Christ. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Dear Brother Al, Your article on Lot's wife was an excellent piece of writing. However, I was shocked by the person who identified himself with the Lord's church in Pensacola, Florida (a person named Hatcher, as I recall). I have to wonder if he has ever read the Lord's cautions found in His Sermon on the Mount --- Jesus talks about calling your brother a fool, or worthless, or some other derogatory term. It truly scares me to think that "by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned." Can anyone who calls another the things that Hatcher has said about you really expect to escape the very condemnation to which he has assigned you?! Brother Al, please keep your eyes and your heart fixed on the Lord, and keep on teaching the Word of God. Some of us really need lots of thoughtful instruction.

From a Minister in Mississippi:

Brother Al, Great study on Lot's wife!! I am glad that you brought out the question regarding his daughters (how many). I was talking about this very thing the other day, and it shocked some folks. Thank you for taking the time to reflect upon this woman. As a side note: When I question you, in order that I might learn, or when I simply disagree with you on various matters, I hope you will never, ever group me in the same class as people like Broking, Hatcher and Denham. These guys need to repent! I cannot understand why they keep coming back to aggravate you. I'm really sorry for the way they treat you. Al, I just want to thank you for your contribution to the Christian cause!! Grace and peace to you.

From a Reader in Colorado:

Bro. Al, I just read your article on Lot's wife, and also read the readers' comments. Do those people who call you names like that really think that they are following a Christian "pattern"?! Maybe they should be zapped into a pillar of salt. I'm really sorry you have to put up with all of that. I will gladly be a "gnat" in your "Royal Order." People probably think I am anyway!! Just keep on keeping on ... or: "Soldier on!" I always liked the story of Elisha and the man who was fearful because they appeared to be outnumbered by the enemy. Elisha said to him, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them" [2 Kings 6:16]. So Elisha said, "O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see" [vs. 17]. The man's eyes were opened and he saw that "the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha" [vs. 17]. Al, those who are for you are far greater than those who are against you. God's forces and people are all around you!! Someone needs to open the eyes of your critics to this fact.

From a Minister in Florida:

Dear Brother Al, It has been a while since I have written to you, although I have been reading all of your articles, but let me say now that I really enjoyed the article on Lot's wife. Thank you! As I read the comments at the bottom from your readers, however, I noticed a scathing rebuke by one of the "loving brothers" from the "Contending for the Faith Churches of Christ." Michael Hatcher sounds like he is possessed by an evil spirit. I think you need to write him back and inform him that your many "puppets" (or whatever he calls us: your readers) have banded together and we are all going to pray for him. You might also tell him that I live only a few miles down the road from him, and I would be glad to go to Pensacola and "lay hands on him" until he feels released from whatever evil spirit is making him so mean! Sometimes that special "laying on of hands" can really change a person's attitude! Hang in there, Al. You are doing a great work for the Lord, and I know our God is happy with you. I know this because of letters like those from Michael Hatcher. Their hate-filled letters just prove that you're doing God's work, since Satan is using them to attack you. God bless you, brother!

From a Reader/Author in Texas:

Brother Al, Have you ever felt like the world's biggest fool? That is how I feel at this moment. I read the nasty letter written to you by Michael Hatcher. In it he referred to you not believing in an eternal hell, which grabbed my attention. Then, just an hour later, as I sat in our Bible discussion class (after praying on the way there that God would reveal something NEW to me that day), a man nonchalantly stated something about hell being a "myth." Well, God had certainly grabbed my attention! So, I diligently set out to study the matter for myself, and along the way I turned to your Topical Index, examining your eighteen studies listed under the heading "The Nature of Man and Final Punishment." Brother Al, how could so many of us have willingly bought into such an enormous LIE as that presented in the traditional view of hell?! It is like believing the world is flat. Thankfully, the ill feelings of stupidity have been more than conquered by the extra spring in my step that has resulted from having so many questions now answered!! Thank you.

From a Reader in Alabama:

Brother Al, I finished reading the Maxey-Broking Debate on Patternism. This whole subject was new to me (although I have been a member of the church from boyhood), so I am still trying to absorb these ideas and let them soak into my brain. It is obvious to anyone who is familiar with the Churches of Christ that we are not very well thought of within the general religious community, although we are really not as much different from other denominations as they are from one another. I am not saying there is NO difference, just that to the casual observer, most doctrinal differences are not all that self-evident. Why then are we regarded so poorly so often? I think that it may have something to do with this Patternism issue, which seems to lend itself to a judgmental and self-righteous attitude by some of its major proponents. If we, as a church, continually emphasize what one must achieve to be saved, rather than emphasizing the One who has already achieved our salvation for us, then we will most likely continue to generate little interest in the message of the gospel. As someone who has done marital counseling, I know that it does little good to emphasize to my clients all the things they must do or not do to remain faithful to their spouses, if I don't first assist them to fall in love with their spouses again. I will continue to prayerfully study this matter. May God bless you.

From a Reader in Arkansas:

Brother Al, Merry Christmas to you ... and to Shelly, too. May God bless you and your family, and may He give you strength to continue in your ministry. You've helped me tremendously in my walk with the Lord. I read with great interest your debate with Darrell Broking, and have also read the vicious email attacks from him and his cohorts. It saddens me to see the damage they have done to countless souls who may be turned off from seeking Christ because of their negative, cruel and judgmental attitudes and actions. Thank you for not stooping to their level. You will be blessed for this.

From Reflections #380

From a Reader in Kentucky:

Brother Al, I was raised a Catholic, was converted and became a Southern Baptist at age 35, and then on to the Church of Christ about three years ago. I was attending at a Non-Institutional congregation here in Kentucky until just recently, but I no longer have a desire to be a part of this group. Let me explain --- I had been doing a lot of research on the Churches of Christ and stumbled upon your web site. I then began reading your Reflections articles ... and they have floored me!! You were talking about a lot of the very issues that I had already begun thinking about and questioning in my own mind, but never guessed that someone in the church was actually courageous enough to speak out about in public. If someone ever spoke as you do in this area of Kentucky, they would be attacked. I was told by the elders of this congregation that nobody is "as sound as we are," and that if others don't do things the way "we do" (the pattern), then they will lose their souls eternally. I am now trying to show these people that they are binding laws upon men that the Lord has not bound, and they are trying to "win me back." Brother Al, you have really helped me! Thank you for your Reflections articles!! Sadly, the Church of Christ, as I have experienced it thus far, does not go into all the world to preach the gospel, they just sit in their little buildings and "rip to shreds" all those around them. Thank you again for your service to Christ, and thank you also for your service to our country! May God bless you and your family.

From a Minister in Texas:

Brother Maxey, I have been a member of and preacher for the Lord's church now for many years. With respect to the Sons of Demas Internet discussion group, which is run by Keith Sisman, a preacher in England at the Ramsey Church of Christ, the tone and tenor of many of the discussions on there is humorous and good-hearted ... UNTIL there is something "doctrinal" brought up, and THEN, it seems, this group tends to revel in vilifying other brethren. They actually become almost giddy when they have something new to discuss that someone has taught "incorrectly." Your name has been brought up repeatedly! They are attempting to portray you as someone who is in "obvious error," but what this has done, however, is to help me begin to think about a whole lot of things differently than I have ever thought about them before!! You are obviously a busy man, but I want to reach out to you and see if I can learn a few things from you. I'm trying to see things in Scripture for what they are, not just the way I have been taught them for years. When I read the Sons of Demas discussions, I am actually scared by what I see there. I do not perceive Jesus and His love and devotion for saving men. What I see are vilifications and hatred and loathing for one's fellow man. When I read some of your own quotes from your writings that were placed on that list, and when I followed the links to your own web site, what I discovered was a man willing to present Jesus as the Savior that He is, and not the "heretic" some have tried to make you out to be!! I can tell you this --- a LOT of what YOU say makes a lot more sense in the context of the New Testament Scriptures than the legalistic doctrines and practices I've struggled to defend for years!! So, if you have some time to help me, please let me know.

From Darrell Broking in Pensacola, Florida:

Al, I really believe that when a false teacher like you (or like the prophets Elijah took care of) influences people to the degree that you have, that, like the prophets of Baal, you need to be mocked so that your error can be seen in its stupidity and ignorance. I believe that by demonstrating that you are a dufus in your error that the hearts of some will be directed back to God -- and I have already seen that happen. If we were under the Old Law I believe that an Elijah would run you right down to the Kishon and fix your problem for good. You have influenced many to sin unto death, and so I pray that you will continue to show your stupidity so that Daniel Denham can continue to show how ignorant you are when it comes to the Scriptures, and so that I can have more stuff to place on my web site so others can also see what and who you are. I really wish that you would repent, but if you won't, then I will help others see the stupidity of your ways.

From Daniel Denham in Newport News, Virginia:

Al, Are you going to include a warning on your CD's like the Surgeon General's warning on cigarette packs? -- "Warning: This lie-filled poison is dangerous to your spiritual health. If you listen to Al Maxey and obey his message you will wind up in Hell." Truth in advertising, Al.

From Daniel Coe in Shawnee, Kansas:

Al, Do yourself a favor, OK? Open your Bible (if you have one) to Isaiah 1:10-17. Now, listen real close, OK? Yes, we do know it is very hard for you to listen to God's Word, but give it a try, Al. Just this once, OK? Open your Bible to Isaiah 1. If you can't find it, then look in the index -- it will tell you what page Isaiah is on. Now, real carefully, read verses 10-17. Where you see the words "rulers of Sodom," replace them with "elder at Cuba Avenue." Where you see the words "people of Gomorrah," replace them with "author of Reflections." Now, in verses 11-17, when you see words like "offerings," "oblations," "sacrifice" and "new moons," just replace them all with "Al Maxey's doctrine." Doing this will help you to get a really good idea of just how God regards you and your damnable doctrines. Now, Al, once you get this done, go back to verses 4-6 and replace words like "sinful nation," "evil doers" and "children" with "Al Maxey." Once you have completed all this (if you can even read), then read once again verses 4-6 and "reflect" on just how bad the condition of your soul is. Al, these are all things upon which you will have much time to "reflect" in Hell.

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Brother Al, I hope this finds you doing well. I'm so sorry about the evil tongue of your enemies. I know David Brown, and am very familiar with the ways of these people. They will turn on you in a minute. As of several years ago he wasn't even in fellowship with his own son-in-law. That being said, they are NON-factors, so let them beat their divisive drums. Peace be with you, brother. Also, I need a copy of your book Down, But Not Out, please. Thanks!

From an Elder in Louisiana:

Brother Al, It has been a while since I corresponded with you, but I can wait no longer to thank you for the enrichment from God's Word which you have brought into my life. I always read your weekly Reflections, and I have also read your book Down, But Not Out. Both are so outstanding, and they have helped me over some difficult situations. Thank you sincerely for your dedication, knowledge and scholarship! I pray for God to continue to use you to sustain me. You are truly a solid rock that has been able to withstand the onslaught of all the LIES from these legalistic, patternistic "men" who constantly hound you. Al, I have been in the mental health profession for many years, and these people are certainly mentally ill. You and Shelly, however, are such gracious and dedicated people, and I can hardly find the right words to thank you enough. Please know that you both are loved immensely and that our prayers go out for you daily. God bless you, brother and sister!

From an Elder in Oklahoma:

Dear Brother Al, Unfortunately, I'm way behind in my reading, so I've just now read Reflections #375. I will have to admit that I was surprised, actually somewhat amused, by the things Daniel Denham had to say to you. I actually had to laugh when I got to the "Sieg Heil" quote ... but then, I stopped and just shook my head. I just don't know what to say!! Unbelievable!!