by Al Maxey

Issue #116 ------- April 2, 2004
It is useless for the sheep to pass
resolutions in favor of vegetarianism,
while the wolf remains of a different opinion.

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954)

Pastor O'Rourke Puzzled in York
Questions on Church of Christ Doctrine

I never cease to be amazed, and sometimes even amused, at the nature and extent of misinformation pertaining to the beliefs and practices of those within the Churches of Christ. Those outside of our faith-heritage in the Stone-Campbell Movement are often confused as to who we are, what we stand for, and the focus of our teaching. Frankly, this is, in part, due to our own troubled history over the last almost two centuries; a period marked by growing sectarian squabbles, factional thinking, divisive attitudes, and outright division over countless personal perceptions, preferences and practices. What started out as a unity movement, hoping to unite the Christians in the sects, devolved into what some regard as one of the most divided and divisive religious movements in American history (largely attributable, in my opinion, to a legalistic, patternistic hermeneutic, known as CENI, whose inevitable result on its adherents and proponents will always be fragmentation into feuding factions). Thus, it is little wonder that numerous men and women in Christendom are greatly confused as to just who these "Church of Christers" really are! We ourselves often wonder the same thing!

This was brought home to me anew last week when I received a letter from Jeff O'Rourke (who informed me I was free to use his name), the Pastor of the Bible Covenant Community Church in York, South Carolina. Jeff indicated that he had come across my web site as a result of an Internet search he was doing on the phrase "fervent in spirit." When he got to looking around my web site he came across the Maxey-Martin Dialogue, which is a discussion I had in the summer of 2002 with David Martin, Pastor of the Solid Rock Baptist Church in Bartlett, Tennessee. Pastor Martin was also very, very confused about the teachings of the Churches of Christ. As Pastor O'Rourke examined this dialogue he became even more confused about our beliefs, and decided to write me a letter seeking clarification, for which I am appreciative.

Pastor O'Rourke then proceeded to list five areas (which I will discuss individually below) where he stated what he understood our "uniform" beliefs to be. First, as anyone who truly knows our history will readily attest, there is very little uniformity of belief and practice within our faith-heritage. Each congregation of believers is largely autonomous, which means there is no "headquarters" on earth which dictates doctrine or practice; each congregation determines its own course (ideally with the Bible, and the example and attitude of Jesus, as its sole guide). Needless to say, not all congregations will reach the same determination as to local practice and emphasis. This is made clearly evident in brother Mac Lynn's directory of Churches of Christ in the United States which, in the front, lists literally scores of differing factions within this group --- such as One Cup, Non-Class, Mutual Edification, Baptize in the Name of Jesus Only, Non-Institutional, Premillennial, Fermented or Unfermented Fruit of the Vine, One Loaf Broken before Distribution, One Loaf Broken by each Disciple during Distribution, Instrumental Accompaniment in Worship versus Non-Instrumental (A Cappella), and on and on and on ad infinitum. Thus, to suggest uniformity of teaching and practice is to show a lack of understanding about the history of Churches of Christ. We are very diverse in both doctrine and practice, and, due to an over-emphasis on patternism among many in the past, and some in the present, this has contributed to the division with which we have been plagued for generations.

Lest I be "taken to task" by my brethren for painting too negative a picture (and with regard to the factionalism and exclusivism it is negative), let me hasten to say that I dearly love my brethren in the Stone-Campbell Movement, and am devoted with all of my being to doing all in my power to help bring healing and harmony to my spiritual kin. Although some have demanded I "get out" and trouble them no more, yet, like brother Leroy Garrett, "I love them too much to ever leave!" Instead, I shall struggle until my final breath, regardless of the personal cost, to help bring fulfillment to our Lord's prayer in John 17. My brethren in Churches of Christ are good, honest, devoted disciples of Christ, for the most part .... many are simply misguided. They are in need of reform, and I firmly believe God is raising up disciples in this generation to call them to that reform, and to a renewed appreciation of His matchless GRACE. I am daily encouraged at the transformation I am seeing in my brothers and sisters, and in congregations of believers, around the globe. A new spirit is slowly, but very surely, permeating our fellowship and bringing much needed responsible change. May God be praised for not giving up on us!

Jeff O'Rourke has identified five areas in which he is "perplexed" by what he perceives, or has heard, our beliefs and practices to be. They are salvation, baptism, church, works, and the Holy Spirit. I will reproduce Pastor O'Rourke's comments under each of these headings and then make some clarifying comments in response.

Perception Regarding SALVATION

There are a great many misconceptions contained in the above statement of understanding by Pastor O'Rourke. First, let's examine the concept that the five acts specified must be "in sequential order." This is partly true, simply based on logic, and partly untrue. Would you not agree, Jeff, that one would have great difficulty believing in something about which he had heard nothing? One would not likely come to a saving faith in Christ Jesus if he had never heard of Christ Jesus! That's just simple, elementary logic! Paul wrote, "So faith comes from hearing!" (Romans 10:17). The NIV elaborates somewhat on this thought -- "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message." Paul gives us further insight on this logical sequence of events when he informs the Roman brethren, "How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?" (Romans 10:14-15). Yes, few would deny that there is initially a logical sequential order in our coming to saving faith.

The same could be said for repentance and confession. How can one logically confess faith in the Lord Jesus unless he or she has first found that faith? Can one genuinely confess a faith he or she has yet to embrace? Yes, there are indeed some who profess a faith they don't have, but I think most of us would acknowledge that mere hollow profession alone, without the accompanying reality in one's heart and life, cannot and will not result in salvation. Thus, again, there is a logical sequential order. The same could be said for repentance, though there is some room for argument that this, as well as confession, is ongoing in one's life and not limited to any one specific point in time. Yes, initial repentance and confession will be acts which logically follow conviction in one's heart regarding the message heard. On the day of Pentecost the Jews who heard Peter's message, and who believed what they heard, "were pierced to the heart" and asked what they must do! Peter responded that they must "repent and be baptized, every one of you!" (Acts 2:38). Repentance will not genuinely occur until one has been "pierced to the heart" by the message heard and believed. Nor will one be willing to confess as Lord, and demonstrate that confessed faith in an act of obedience (immersion), unless they have heard, believed, and are willing to turn their lives around. Mark 16:16 reads, "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned." Why wasn't baptism mentioned in the second phrase? Simple logic -- if one does NOT believe, one is obviously NOT going to be immersed as an act of faith! If one DOES believe, however, one will want to do as the Lord instructs to demonstrate that belief. That faith is demonstrated in turning one's life around, confessing the Lord Jesus Christ, and evidencing the same in one's immersion in water.

Yes, Jeff, I believe there is, to a significant degree, a "sequential order" in our coming to the Lord Jesus Christ. Not only logic, but also Scripture, seems to indicate the same. MUST each of these occur "on the same day," as you indicated you believe we teach in the Churches of Christ? No, of course not! Some people, indeed most people, require time to absorb the message of grace. Few people hear a message and turn their lives completely around within a matter of hours. Indeed, some struggle within themselves for weeks, months and years before becoming convicted of the truth of what they have heard. Saul of Tarsus considered his encounter with the Lord Jesus for 72 hours before reaching a point where he was ready to receive instruction on how to proceed in demonstrating his faith. Yes, some do indeed respond almost immediately, due to fertile hearts (as we see with the Philippian jailer), but I find nothing in Scripture that demands hearing, faith, repentance, confession, and baptism must all occur "on the same day." I don't know of anyone in the Churches of Christ who teaches such a doctrine. What we do teach, however, is that when a person reaches a point of personal conviction, they should not delay in obeying the dictates of their Lord as to proper demonstration of that faith. As Saul of Tarsus was told by Ananias, "And now why do you delay? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name" (Acts 22:16).

Pastor O'Rourke suggested it was his understanding that we teach a person is not saved unless these five things occur under the auspices of "a Church of Christ member or preacher, and in a Church of Christ church." Sadly, I must admit that I have encountered a handful of extremists who do indeed teach such a dogma. Such teaching, however, is sectarianism gone to seed!! It is not characteristic of the vast majority of those within our Movement, nor can it ever be substantiated by an appeal to God's inspired word! It is nonsense, and I appeal to Jeff not to judge an entire body of believers based on the ridiculous ravings of a handful of misguided militants.

Perception Regarding BAPTISM

Many of the misunderstandings enumerated above have already been adequately dealt with in my previous discussion, so I will not repeat them. However, I would like to address Pastor O'Rourke's comments about immersion and the washing away of one's sins, and also the relationship of immersion to one's salvation. Jesus said, "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16). I am confused, therefore, Jeff, as to why you seemingly question the place of immersion in the salvation process! Why one would REFUSE to be immersed, in light of the clear biblical teaching as to its worth as a visible demonstration of our faith, and the many biblical examples substantiating the same, is "perplexing" to me! By examining all the evidence in the inspired writings which pertain to the process leading to our redemption, I find immersion to be a significant and consistent aspect of that process. Simply put, undemonstrated faith is NOT a saving faith (see: James 2). Repentance, confession and immersion are ALL demonstrations of the faith we profess to possess. One must be willing to evidence that faith for it to be efficacious. "Many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God" (John 12:42-43). Did their faith alone save them, Jeff? Shown faith saves, and the Lord has instructed us as to how to show that faith.

As for the biblical connection between water baptism and the washing away (forgiveness, remission) of sins, I would like to notice first the following statement by Ananias to Saul of Tarsus -- "And now why do you delay? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name." Notice carefully the Greek grammatical construction here, Jeff. The phrase is literally:

anastas baptisai kai apolousai tas hamartias sou

This would literally be translated "Rise up, be baptized and wash away your sins." The word "apoluo" conveys the concept of procuring cleansing through an act of washing. That washing would be a reference to the act of baptism. Both "baptize" and "wash away" appear as 1st Aorist Imperatives (2nd person singular), and they are connected by "kai." Thus, the two are inseparably linked together in this grammatical construction. Paul is commanded to rise up and cleanse himself of his sins via the washing of baptism.

The apostle Peter, in 1 Peter 3:21, likens the waters of baptism to the waters of the flood through which Noah and his family were brought to safety. Peter declares, "And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you." Peter is quick to point out, however, that it is not "getting wet" that is efficacious. There is no magical power in the water. Rather it is the evidence of the inner conviction (the faith) of the one being immersed, and his visible "appeal to God" from a good conscience. Our baptism is not a work that earns us our salvation. We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). However, our willingness to comply with this command to be immersed is a visible, outward demonstration of an inner willingness to submit in simple, trusting faith to the One who does save us and wash us clean of our sins -- Jesus Christ!! It is a demonstration of our faith required of us, and thus we comply willingly.

Perception Regarding THE CHURCH

Once again, I must sadly acknowledge that many within the Churches of Christ do indeed believe and proclaim such (as, indeed, many do in other groups, as well). I am greatly encouraged, however, by the fact that my brethren are becoming increasingly enlightened to God's grace, and, as a result, such a sectarian dogma is diminishing among us. Paul clearly informs us that "there is ONE body" (Ephesians 4:4). Thus, I agree that there is only one "true church." It is the church of our Lord Jesus Christ ... after all, is He not the Head of this body (Ephesians 5:23)? Where I part with sectarianism, however, is in the view that this "One Body" is to be identified exclusively with some particular group or movement, or with a small faction thereof.

The Pharisees were the religious separatists of Jesus' day, and some of His most scathing rebukes were leveled at these rigid religionists who believed that none were truly saved except those who subscribed to their narrow, sectarian dogmas. In like manner, there are those within the Church of Christ (as well as in other groups, such as the Baptists, for example) who are separatists, isolationists, and exclusivists. Further, there are some of these who will even go so far as to declare that unless you are a member of their particular little faction within the Churches of Christ you are bound straight for hell. Frankly, I believe the parameters of the one, universal Body of Christ on earth are much broader than any one faction of any one group of any one movement within Christendom. The Body of Christ is composed of ALL those who have come to a saving faith in Him, and who have demonstrated that saving faith by repentance, confession and immersion. Those who have done this are my brethren in Christ, wherever they may be found. Does that mean I will agree with all these spiritual siblings on every matter of conviction? Of course not! Does that mean some of my siblings are "brethren in error"? Absolutely! Indeed, who among us is NOT a "brother in error" on some point of interpretation or practice? Nevertheless, wherever my Father has a son or daughter, I have a brother or sister. You don't have to be my twin to be my brother. It is by paternity, not pattern, that brotherhood is determined. If you're a child and I'm a child ... we be brethren! I am a grace-oriented, Jesus-focused, non-sectarian, and I shall forever stand opposed to those who are not!

Perception Regarding WORKS

Are there some among us who are works-oriented? Yes, there are. I have been preaching and teaching against this view for many, many years. It is a view, in my experience, largely rejected by most within the Churches of Christ. Nevertheless, there are legalistic and patternistic factions among us who have elevated Law/Works over Grace/Faith. As you suggest, it is a pathetic theology which bases one's "hope" of ultimate salvation upon perfection of perception and preciseness of practice. I actually had one such minister in the Churches of Christ tell me that all of us were "only one unconfessed sin away from eternal damnation." He said if he committed a sin and died before he could "send off a prayer of confession," he would go straight to hell. The example he gave was going 10 mph over the speed limit, and dying in a car wreck before he could say his obligatory prayer! Indeed, there is "little assurance of salvation" among such folk. I have rarely seen a more miserable group of people than these who feel they must merit their grace, and that a single slip will send them head-over-heels into hell. Such persons have ZERO concept of God's GRACE!

Rather than expound at length upon this false doctrine, I will instead refer Pastor O'Rourke, as well as all others reading this issue of Reflections, to previous issues where I deal in-depth with this misguided theology. Please carefully and prayerfully consider the following:

  1. Against Such There Is No Law
    Reflections #36

  2. Law/Works or Grace/Faith
    -- By Which Are We Saved?
    Reflections #37

  3. Traditional Proof-Texts
    For Works Based Salvation
    Reflections #39

  4. Rigid Religiosity
    Reflections #40

Perception Regarding THE HOLY SPIRIT

This has indeed been one of the "hot issues" debated within Churches of Christ for generations. I honestly couldn't tell you what percentage believes one way or the other, although I suspect, based on my decades of experience within this fellowship of believers, that those who take the view that the Spirit does not dwell personally within us are much fewer in number than those who believe He does dwell personally within us. I am of the latter conviction, as is most everyone with whom I associate. Thus, once again, it is fallacious to assert that this is the "uniform" teaching of the Churches of Christ. It most certainly is NOT, but is only the teaching of some within this faith-heritage (generally the same bunch that take the other extremist views enumerated above).

"You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you" (Romans 8:9-11). I don't know about you, but that tends to settle it in my mind!!


I am a firm believer in the advice proffered by Peter -- "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander" (1 Peter 3:15-16). I have sought to "give an answer" in this current issue of Reflections to a Community Church Pastor who has some severe misconceptions about the beliefs, practices and convictions of those of us in the One Body who work and worship with Churches of Christ. I pray these thoughts will be received by Jeff in the same spirit with which they are given -- with love and respect for him as a fellow seeker of ultimate Truth. May our merciful Father help us all to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18), and to keep fervent in our love for one another (1 Peter 4:8).

Reflections from Readers

From a Reader in Texas:

Greetings, my brother! Wonder how our church history would have been altered if the good sister from Lunenburg hadn't written her provocative letter? Bro. Campbell admitted to using it to instruct a wider audience. Interesting to wonder whether, when the dust settled, he thought the exchange helped the cause of Christ, hindered it, or had little effect. It's really hard to understand why we will often accept with open minds differences in other areas so much more willingly than we will in the administration of the amazing grace of God. It's as though the cross didn't quite cover sins of differences in understanding. The wisdom that "comes from above" is not academic. God is more interested in the heart's IQ. Al, your work stimulates, prods and encourages deeper consideration of the deep things of God. Thank you!

From an Elder in Missouri:

It has been quite some time since I gave any thought at all to The Lunenburg Letter, however I continue to study and think on the central question asked by the dear lady, which essentially is: What makes one a Christian? Who is a Christian? My faith in Jesus has gone through several transformations since that night many years ago when as a teen I asked (no, insisted) to be baptized. My understanding of what it means to profess Jesus has also changed. Back then it was a simple "I believe that Jesus is the Son of God," while now it means more about the Lordship of Jesus and His ruling my life, and about my actions. My understanding of the results of being immersed has also grown, from the mere obedience to the plain/simple command for forgiveness of sin to many other things (being part of Jesus, at one with God, being given the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as a guide/leader of my life, being granted a taste of the divine nature, etc.). Does this growth and change in my understanding invalidate my actions as a teen? I would hope not. If so, then each time I came to a new understanding, I would need to "go through it all over again," and would need to be spending a lot of time going into and coming out of the water. Is there an allowance for differences of understanding and progression beyond the basics --- I would certainly hope so!

Are there Christians within the various sects, denominations, and groups? I believe there are. Yet, I also believe that there are many within the ranks of the Church of Christ that will be surprised on the last day to hear the words "Depart from me!" I also believe that as a Christian I must continue to grow in my understanding and in my maturity in following Jesus. I must challenge my beliefs, and when they are found to be lacking or contrary to the Word, I must change them. I too long for unity among all who are Christians. I too try to focus on similarities rather than differences. But, at times, the differences are so clearly defined, and so obvious, and so many, that they seem to be insurmountable. How to resolve this dilemma? For me it is to teach the simple truth with the best understanding I have, to do so with love as taught by Jesus, to do so without a heart of condemnation or judgment, and ultimately to totally depend on the grace of God to take care of my poor understanding and ability to explain or teach all of it properly. May the Lord bless you.

From a Reader in Texas:

I found Bro. Vick's reaction typical of those who embrace a slogan not fully understood ("We are New Testament Christians"). Had he made the comment about Psalm 107 in the first century, they would have looked at him in a strange way. The Scriptures of the New Testament church, and the Scriptures the Bereans searched carefully, was the Hebrew Bible, or the Greek translation of it. I think we need to take another look at this "we are New Testament Christians" idea and realize that we have made it a slogan, but that the truth of the matter is that New Testament Christians didn't have the New Testament writings until late in the first century. Paul, in defending himself, said that he taught what Moses and the prophets taught (Acts 26:22f). I also think it is unhealthy to brush aside the Old with a slogan. There is much to learn from the Old, including things about God, suffering, grace, and much more.

From a Preacher/Editor in Arizona:

In every generation those who have grown weary of walking the old paths of New Testament Christianity have sought to justify their departure therefrom by citing correspondence of Alexander Campbell called the Lunenburg Letters. ... We would not question that there are many devout, god-fearing souls scattered in the denominations. Most who have spent their lives in evangelism have encountered such devout people. When an honest and humble believer, who desires above all else to serve God, sees the error of his association and finds the true church of Christ he will gladly abandon the inferior for the true and genuine. ... Change agents have presented Campbell's opinion as a doctrinal standard and promoted it whether solicited or not.

Over a century ago the liberal element of the restoration brotherhood rediscovered Campbell's Lunenburg letters. With them in hand they justified abandoning the premise of restoring the one true church of Christ and chose to seek acceptance as a denomination among the family of denominations. ... Some forty years ago, Carl Ketcherside and the first generation of our modern change agents found them again and put them to similar use. Bro. Rubel Shelly's book, I Just Want to Be a Christian, was built on the premise of these letters. Today, in the absence of Scripture, they are cited by our change agents as their authority to embrace denominationalism and those not born of water and the Spirit as their brethren. ... If the premises of our change agents are true, the noble thing for them to do would be to immediately present themselves to their denominational neighbors and ask for their forgiveness for standing apart all these years. They should disband and cease to exist as a separate body of people and ask for admission to their nearest denominational church. ... Change agents and their churches freely acknowledge themselves to be denominationalists. Therefore they are wrong and stand condemned by God. ... Change agents doggedly cling to these letters because they seem to justify their prior decision to abandon the old faith and seek a new home in the ecumenical world of Protestantism. They provide balm for their consciences and give them a cloak of respectability as they bid the Bible way goodbye.

From a Reader in Texas:

Al, thank you for the article about Alexander Campbell and the "Lunenburg Letter." It was informative and helped me to understand the root cause of some of the division within the church. I always enjoy reading the Reflections from Readers, but I was disturbed by the two responses from the Minister/Elder in Indiana and the Critic in Alabama. Those guys appear to have a lot of pent-up anger. They must have a lot of unresolved issues in their lives. Your response to the Alabama critic, quoting John 18:23, reminded me of two movies which I recently had the privilege to see: "The Gospel of John" and "The Passion of the Christ." Both had powerful scenes in which Jesus is being accused by His critics and He responds by saying, in essence, if I've done something wrong, provide the evidence. The silence (by your critics) is deafening. Keep up the good work, Al. You are very much appreciated.

From a Reader in Texas:

I just printed out Reflection #115, and, as usual, I flipped to the back to read "Reflections from Readers" first. I was saddened to read the response you got from Mr. Vick. It is people like him who are hurting Christians and the church. Please know that there are many people who read your work who are very appreciative of it and do not feel like him. I am sorry he "lambasted" you so, but then I know you realize that not everyone is going to appreciate your thoughts. I am one who does, and I pray you keep up the good work. You have helped me tremendously!

From a Reader in New Mexico:

Al, Thanks for the latest Reflections! -- "The Lunenburg Letter." This one meant a great deal to me personally, and also helped explain discontinuities I have encountered over the years regarding the unfolding of the Movement. Thanks again!

From a Reader in Florida:

The first part of your article -- The Lord's Supper: A Brief Historical Overview (Reflections #114) -- uses Catholic men only on the history of the Lord's Supper. These men where not part of the true Church of Christ spoken of in the New Law. Could you not find elders from the New Law period as delivered by the apostles?

From a Reader in West Virginia:

Al, It was sad to read the excerpt from Brother Vick's response to your article on testimonies. Is this what brothers should be divided over? But how ironic for a preacher to be against testimonies, since nearly every one I have heard regularly uses personal stories in their sermons. Brother Vick wrote, "Do I need to remind you that this verse (Psalm 107:2) is in the Old Testament?" I would humbly ask Brother Vick to read his Bible more carefully. Jesus never referred to the whole of scripture as the "Testament or Covenant." The Old Covenant or Old Testament is a specific document written on tablets of stone. (Read Ex. 34:28; Deut. 4:10-14; Deut 9:9,11,15) The Old Covenant is the Ten Commandments and nothing more! (Deut. 5:22) Our poor understanding of the covenants, our inability to "rightly divide" them, leads us to ridiculous conclusions. We are quick to disregard many scriptures as "Old Testament" because they are found in the books Jesus referred to as "Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms" (Luke 24:44; Matt. 5:17; 7:12; 22:40). The truth is that God's covenant with Abram (Gen. 12:1-3) contained two promises: a national blessing (fulfilled in the law of Moses and the nation of Israel), and a spiritual blessing (fulfilled through Jesus, a blessing to all the people on earth). Both of these covenantal promises are discussed in the Prophets and the Psalms! We must be able to use our interpretive skills to sort out the Old Covenant requirements fulfilled in the doing and dying of our Savior from the verses which relate to the eternal character of the great I AM or the New Covenant blessings.

Specifically addressing the verse you chose in Psalm 107:2, "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so," we should first ask, "Who are the redeemed?" The "redeemed" are those who have kept perfectly the Ten Old Covenant commandments. That is only one person! The "redeemed" would also include those who are "the children of Abraham," "justified by faith" just like Abraham, to whom was "announced the gospel in advance" (Gal. 3:6-9). The "redeemed" are the New Covenant believers, credited with righteousness by faith, just like Abraham. Now I would ask, "Is this verse in Psalm 107 an Old Covenant or a New Covenant scripture?" Since one can only be "redeemed" by faith, I would contend that this concept is referring in some sense to the New Covenant even though it is found in the Psalms. If we stop and think, we will discover that there are many New Covenant scriptures in the books of the Prophets and Psalms! Could we not encourage a person to become a New Covenant believer while limiting our teaching to Isaiah chapters 51 to 54? The New Covenant itself is recorded in Jeremiah 31:31-34, which the writer of Hebrews references (Heb. 8:7-12; 10:15-17).

Brother Vick's last statement was, "I am not interested in receiving your regurgitated Ketcherside doctrine in your Reflections." Many criticize Carl Ketcherside without reading him. Because I have read and studied his book, "The Death of the Custodian," I understand the concepts I have detailed above! Although he may stubbornly refuse, in all sincerity I would suggest that Brother Vick read this book. Ketcherside was years ahead of his contemporaries in the Churches of Christ because he had the courage to question his own understanding and let the truth of God's word re-shape him. I am saddened by the hatred still directed toward Brother Ketcherside. I might suggest that perhaps if Carl had been born in the 1950's he would be taking no more flack than you are, Al. Keep up the good work! You are an inspiration to many. And by the way, Reflections 115 was excellent. I pray for a true unity of all believers -- on God's terms!

If you would like to be removed from or added to this
mailing list, contact me and I will immediately comply.
If you are challenged by these Reflections, then feel
free to send them on to others and encourage them
to write for a free subscription. I would also welcome
any questions or comments from the readers.
The Archives for past issues of Reflections is: