by Al Maxey

Issue #247 ------- May 3, 2006
I stand alone. All else
is swamped by Pharisaism. To live
life to the end is not a childish task.

Boris Pasternak (1890-1960)
Doctor Zhivago (Poems of Yuri Zhivago)

The Boles Manifesto
A Reflective Review of a Sectarian Speech
Delivered by H. Leo Boles on May 3, 1939

Henry Leo Boles was born into this world near Gainesboro, Jackson County, Tennessee on February 22, 1874. If one's personal heritage is any kind of indicator at all, this young man was destined to leave a lasting mark on the Stone-Campbell movement. His great-grandfather was the beloved leader "Raccoon" John Smith. His father, whose dear mother was the daughter of "Raccoon" John Smith, was also a very highly acclaimed preacher in the movement, and H. Leo Boles' own mother was a grand-niece of "Raccoon" John Smith (thus, his own father and mother were "kissing cousins"). Boles' father, Henry Jefferson Boles, was married three times and was the father of eighteen children. Henry Leo Boles was the third of six children born to the first wife (Sarah Smith Boles). NOTE: The picture of Bro. H. Leo Boles on the left side of this page was taken when he was 30 years old; the picture to the right was taken when he was 50 years old.

The education of the young Boles was somewhat sporadic over the years, and there were spaces of several years when he didn't attend school at all, having to help on the family farm. In 1894, at the age of 20, Boles married Cynthia Cantrell, who was described as "a lovely rural maiden." On July 14, 1895 a son was born to them -- Cleo Boles. Sadly, his wife Cynthia died four days later. The child was cared for by Boles' sister until such time as he could care for the boy alone. This series of events had quite a powerful impact on the focus of H. Leo Boles, and two months later, on September 27, 1895, he was baptized into Christ by W. T. Kidwell in a gospel meeting being held at the Olive Church of Christ in DeKalb County, Tennessee.

In January, 1898, he entered Burritt College, located in Spencer, Tennessee, a well-known and highly respected institution in the great Cumberland Mountains. He graduated June 3, 1900 and spent a couple of years teaching in Tennessee and Texas. On June 7, 1903 he preached his first sermon. His father introduced him, and he then spoke on the subject: "The Human Side of Salvation." About this event he would later write, "I spoke forty minutes. I was not frightened, but spoke rapidly. I knew what I was going to say, and I said it." On October 12, 1903 he moved to Nashville and entered the Nashville Bible School, graduating in the spring of 1906. This school would later be known as David Lipscomb College (being so named after the death of David Lipscomb in 1917). After graduation, he became a regular member of the faculty, where for seven years he primarily taught philosophy and mathematics. On September 23, 1906 he married Ida Mae Meiser, and to this union was born one son: Leo Lipscomb Boles. In 1913, David Lipscomb himself chose H. Leo Boles to be the new President of the school. During the next few years, in addition to his regular duties at the school, he worked toward his M.A. degree from Vanderbilt University, receiving it in 1920. He served as President of David Lipscomb College (continuing to teach Bible courses there) until 1932. It is estimated that over 1500 young preachers sat at the feet of H. Leo Boles during those years.

Bro. Boles was a voluminous writer, and produced several books, including classic commentaries on Matthew, Luke, and Acts. He spent almost forty years writing for the Gospel Advocate magazine, and even served as its Editor for a period of time. He was a powerful speaker, teacher, debater, and author. Boles was also a pioneer of the Sunday School movement, and a leading force for improving Bible study literature and curriculum. Indeed, as Bro. J. E. Choate pointed out, "It was through the efforts of H. Leo Boles that the Gospel Advocate Company has devised and prepared its own lesson materials since 1939" (Gospel Advocate, Feb. 2, 1967). There is no question that Henry Leo Boles was a great man and a devoted servant of the Lord; one who had a significant impact upon our own Stone-Campbell movement.

In November, 1945, Bro. Boles was struck down with a severe case of phlebitis. In January, 1946, his physician advised that he "take to his bed." Sadly, he would never leave it. On February 7, 1946, Bro. H. Leo Boles passed from this life, just two weeks short of his 72nd birthday. His funeral was conducted at the Grace Avenue Church of Christ in Nashville on February 9, the very place where he had preached his last sermon just one month earlier, prior to being put on bed rest. His funeral was preached by N. B. Hardeman, S. H. Hall, and B. C. Goodpasture. He was buried in Woodlawn Memorial Park in Nashville. His tombstone only has these simple words: "At Home." The Gospel Advocate devoted the entire issue of March 28, 1946 to his loving memory, with seventy different church leaders and writers expressing their gratitude for the impact of his life upon them and upon the church. One writer said, "The grand symphony of Boles' life was played out to the very end. The themes were clear and distinct. With the poised pen or the lifted Bible on the pulpit platform, the performance was as good as the best."

The 1939 Unity Meeting

Thirty-three years after the 1906 census officially recognized the Christian Churches and the Churches of Christ as two distinct religious denominations, having gone their separate ways over a series of unfortunate circumstances, some disciples began an effort to unify these two groups who shared a common heritage within the Stone-Campbell movement. One such effort took place that year in the month of May in the city of Indianapolis, Indiana. [NOTE: Efforts at unity between these two groups are also being made this year -- the 100th anniversary of the 1906 census which officially chronicled our separation, although, in point of fact, we had parted ways much earlier. It is my prayer that these efforts will bear much good fruit, and that these brethren may once again enjoy sweet fellowship in One Body.]

Early in the month of May, 1939, the Christian Church hosted a unity meeting in Indianapolis between the two main segments of the Stone-Campbell movement. Leaders from both the Christian Church and the Church of Christ were invited to speak on the issues that had divided them, and ways to perhaps bridge the chasm that now existed between them so that once again they could be a united family in Christ Jesus. These men should be applauded for seeking peace with their brethren, just as faithful brethren today should also be commended for seeking to bring about a greater oneness and harmony among differing brothers and sisters. Among those invited to speak was H. Leo Boles. On the afternoon of May 3, exactly 67 years ago today, Bro. Boles delivered what many regarded as the most powerful, as well as the most controversial, speech of the entire event; one still being talked about today! In short, Boles made it clear that unity could only be achieved if all those in the digressive Christian Church repented of their sins, forever gave up their godless "innovations" (like instrumental music and the missionary society), and returned to the "one true church" (which, of course, was the group with whom H. Leo Boles associated). It was, sadly, one of the most sectarian speeches of the first half of the 20th century, and, in my opinion, had much to do with the failure of that "unity meeting" in Indianapolis to achieve greater fellowship between God's fragmented family.

Although we all freely admit that Bro. H. Leo Boles had many good qualities, and did much good for the cause of Christ during his life, the reality is that he also did much harm by his sectarian spirit. The fact that he was held in such high esteem by many within the Churches of Christ, and directly impacted close to 1500 preachers through his teaching, allowed this separatist spirit to permeate a large portion of this fragment of the Stone-Campbell movement. Frankly, history might have played out much differently for the children of God had it not been for men like Boles, and speeches like the one he delivered on May 3. The Christian Standard, on May 13, characterized Boles on that occasion in Indianapolis as being "outspoken in argument." A. T. DeGroot, in the Christian Evangelist, on May 11, said, "The strongest language employed at the conference, other than in the expected warmth of some exchanges in the open forums, came in the address of H. Leo Boles, of Nashville, Tennessee." W. L. Totty, who was from Beech Grove, Indiana, made this observation, "The meeting reached its zenith the afternoon of the second day when H. Leo Boles spoke for an hour and thirty-one minutes. He told them in no uncertain terms what had caused the division and what it would take to bring about unity, and that if they expected a compromise they were mistaken. Perhaps no greater address has been given since the Restoration, especially at a time when they were attempting to win us by smooth sayings." Obviously, Totty was of the same mindset as Boles, viewing those in the Christian Church as smooth-talking apostates who must be called to repentance.

Bro. B. C. Goodpasture (who later preached Bro. Boles' funeral), and who was for many years the Editor of the Gospel Advocate, had this to say about the speech, "Brother Boles has presented the only safe and acceptable grounds of unity. He has sounded the tocsin of war -- a war of extermination on all forms of innovation and compromise. It will likely be a long time before we see a clearer or more courageous presentation of the issues involved." Shortly after the meeting in Indianapolis, the entire speech was printed in both the Gospel Advocate (a publication of the Churches of Christ) and the Christian Standard (a publication of the Christian Church). It was later printed in tract form, and enjoyed a rather wide circulation. It went out of print for many years, but has since been reprinted by Bro. Garland Elkins of the Memphis School of Preaching. Bro. Elkins is so utterly enamored by this little tract that he has vowed: "I plan to keep it in print the rest of my life. I also hope that my wife and daughters or Billy Smith, my brother-in-law, will continue to keep it in print after my death."

On February 9, 2006, I received a 3 page letter from Bro. Garland Elkins (he was writing primarily to respond to a review I had done of one of his recent articles in which he advocated the "law of silence" as a valid hermeneutical principle. That article of mine to which he was responding was Reflections #228 -- The Silence Syndrome). In the course of this letter to me, Garland mentioned the tract by Bro. Boles. He wrote, "Al, brother Boles' lecture has been in print for well over one half of a century, and the 'Christian Church' has not been able to answer or set aside his arguments. I am confident that neither can you answer or set aside his arguments. Men who have possessed far greater ability than you have tried to do so, but have failed, and if you try you will fail, for truth cannot be overthrown." I wrote Garland and asked if he would send me one of the tracts for me to examine. I told him I would be happy to review the speech by Boles.

Garland wrote me a letter (dated April 7, 2006), saying, in part, "Enclosed you will find a copy of brother Boles' tract. In my judgment it is truly outstanding. As I told you, I am sending it to you free of charge. However, I am enclosing an order sheet in case you or others might want to order additional copies. Also, I was surprised that you said that you were a cousin to brother G. C. Brewer. I assumed that you were related to sister Brewer. Brother Brewer was truly an outstanding gospel preacher. I have heard him preach, and, as I am sure that you know, he was a genuine Bible scholar." I sincerely appreciate Bro. Garland sending me a copy of this tract. For those who would like to order a copy (and there is extra material in the tract; some written by Garland, as well as quotes from other Restoration leaders), the address for Bro. Elkins is below. Also, there is a web site given below where one may read the speech by Bro. Boles in its entirety (less the introductory material provided in the tract by Bro. Elkins).

The Infamous Speech

It is said of Henry Leo Boles that he was keenly aware of the "deadly dangers of creeping religious liberalism." Put another way, he had strong tendencies toward legalistic patternism, a theology vehemently opposed to any and all who dared to differ with the tenets and traditions of one's particular party. When the Stone-Campbell movement divided, the two fragments were perceived by those in Boles' half to be: the digressives (Christian Church), who were responsible for the division, and the faithful (Church of Christ), who remained true to God's Word. The only pathway to unity, therefore, in the mind of Bro. Boles and those like him, was for the "digressives," who had brought about this sad schism, to repent, give up those things that had fostered the fragmenting of the family, and come back to the "one true church." In other words, to paraphrase Bro. Rick Atchley in his recent DVD sermon "Learning Division" --- "We will have fellowship with you just as soon as you GIVE UP what we object to!" Thus, unity can only be attained, under such a philosophy, when all disciples of Jesus agree to surrender their freedom in Christ and bow before the sectarian shibboleths of the most narrow-minded among us! Brethren, that is not unity, that is uniformity. True unity is in a Person, not a Pattern. It is based upon divine paternity, not human practices. Boles failed to perceive this, and it was evident throughout his lengthy speech.

The Way of Unity between the "Christian Church" and the Churches of Christ --- This is the actual title of the speech by Bro. Henry Leo Boles. I find it rather interesting that quotation marks are placed around "Christian Church," which seems to strongly suggest that perhaps Boles, and those of like mind, doubted the assertion that this group was either the "church" or "Christian" in character. The fact that one group was placed in quotation marks, and the other was not, is evidence itself that one group was perceived in a vastly different light than the other. Such prejudicial characterization is the epitome of arrogance, and such attitudes are simply not conducive to the attainment of genuine unity among diverse disciples; indeed, it only serves to widen the rift between them.

Garland Elkins wrote, in the Introduction to this tract, "Any church that employs instruments in their worship is not identical to the church of the New Testament." This, of course, is a true statement up to a point. If a congregation employs instruments of music as an aid or accompaniment to singing, then they clearly are not identical with those early disciples who did not. Such a view implies that disciples today MUST be "identical" to the disciples of the first century in order to be the "one true church." First, there is no place in the New Covenant writings that ever commands such! Second, if such an assertion is consistently enforced, then NO congregation of believers can ever rightly claim to be the "one true church," for not a single one of them is truly "identical" with congregations of first century believers. I believe I can safely say that Bro. Elkins himself worships with a congregation that likely employs countless "innovations" that would not be found in the early church. We all do; there is nothing wrong with this. The fallacy of legalistic patternism is that we are required to reproduce exactly the precise practice of the early disciples, rather than simply recapturing the vitality and essence of their faith.

It was with this very spirit seething within his breast that H. Leo Boles spoke for 91 minutes before a group of disciples who had assembled to seek common ground and greater fellowship with one another in Christ Jesus. In 91 short minutes he left that dream lying shattered in the dust. Perhaps this would not have happened if Bro. Boles had simply listened more attentively to the quote he read early on in his speech from "The Life of Elder John Smith" --- Elder Smith declared, "The gospel is a system of facts, commands, and promises, and no deduction or inference from them, however logical or true, forms any part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. No heaven is promised to those who hold them, and no hell is threatened to those who deny them. They do not constitute, singly or together, an item of the ancient and apostolic gospel. While there is but one faith, there may be ten thousand opinions; and, hence, if Christians are ever to be one, they must be one in faith, and not in opinion."

Bro. Boles then proceeds to declare at great length and with great vigor his own view of instruments of music and missionary societies, declaring their use or non-use to be absolutely central to the issue of unity and fellowship, and that the chasm between brethren will continue until those who see the matter differently give up their preferences and submit to his. Boles stated, "If there is to be unity with the 'Christian Church,' it must abandon the Missionary Society." WHERE in the inspired Scriptures do we find a single word about such, either pro or con? Where has God condemned such? Where has our God made such the basis of unity, fellowship or salvation? These are the very human deductions and assumptions that, no matter how logical or true, were stated should never form any part of the Good News (or so says the quote of Elder John Smith that Bro. Boles gave at the very beginning of his speech). Neither heaven nor hell is conditioned upon any such inference or deduction. After giving this lengthy quote, Boles actually said, "This is the ground of unity that was accepted in 1832 by the Stone and Campbell groups; it is the fundamental teaching of the New Testament ... it is where unity may be found now." So, WHY do we find Boles demanding of his brethren, for 91 long minutes, absolute surrender to his own preferences and perceptions, assumptions and deductions, when Scripture says absolutely nothing about the matter?!!

In his speech, Boles said, "The other alternative that many took, and still advocate, is to place the organ in the 'area of silence' or in the field of expediency. But if there is no stronger reason for using the instrument than the opinions and judgments of men, it is sinful to force the use of the instrument in worshiping upon God's people." I would have to agree with Boles here! He is talking about FORCING a personal opinion upon one's brethren, and that is indeed quite wrong. Those brethren who feel that the use of instruments as aids or accompaniment to singing is an acceptable practice in the sight of their God should NEVER seek to force their preference upon others, nor should they ever make their view a test of fellowship or condition of salvation. Boles is absolutely right! But, Boles didn't carry the principle far enough. The reverse is also true! Those who choose NOT to use instruments in their worship of God are equally at fault if they seek to FORCE their preference upon their brethren, making the NON-use of instruments a test of fellowship or condition of salvation. If it is wrong for one side to demand compliance with their view, then it is equally wrong for the other side. If not, why not?!

Boles says, "Those who use the organ in worship make it 'a test of fellowship'; they sustain the attitude that if you do not submit to the use of the instrument in worship, then you can have no fellowship with us." Bro. Boles is rightly offended by this attitude. But equally offensive is the attitude of those who take the other side of the equation, a point that Boles did NOT make in his speech, but should have. It would be phrased this way: "Those who do NOT use the organ in worship make its NON-use 'a test of fellowship'; they sustain the attitude that if you do not submit to the NON-use of the instrument in worship, then you can have no fellowship with us." Boles was offended by the former, but not the latter! WHY?! Let's restate yet another statement made by Bro. Boles (quoted above) -- "If there is no stronger reason for NOT using the instrument than the opinions and judgments of men, it is sinful to force the NON-use of the instrument in worshiping upon God's people." By removing "not" and "non" from this statement, Boles would agree with it. However, as amended, he would take great exception to it. WHY?!

About midway through his speech he says to the assembled crowd, "Surely it now begins to dawn upon some of you the only grounds of unity with the churches of Christ." Yes, I'm sure many were getting the message quite clearly ... even painfully. The only grounds of unity that would be acceptable to those in Boles' camp would be the complete surrender of the opposing camp to their own preferences, perceptions and practices!! The "Christian Church" must cease to exist, and the members must repent and return to the "one true church." THEN we shall all have unity! Boles said to those in the Christian Church, "You know where you left the churches of Christ, hence, you know where to find them; come back and unity is the inevitable result. There will be no compromise or surrender on this point." He then had the audacity to say, "Do you now see the way to unity?"

One's lower jaw almost smacks the ground in disbelief as Boles then returns, in his speech, to the area of "silence" and man's opinions inserted into that silence and then elevated to LAW. Of course, he doesn't see himself doing this, only those in the Christian Church. He said, "When brethren began to claim the authority to speak where the New Testament is silent, and impose their opinions upon other brethren, division and separation were the inevitable results." Truer words have rarely been spoken!! Boles even objects to a statement by W. R. Walker who felt that man's opinions in the area of silence are of equal force with the Word of God. I stand with Boles in that objection. Boles said, "There can be no unity in the 'area of silence.'" Amen! He continued, "Neither the 'Christian Church' nor the churches of Christ can have the liberty of opinion, in the sense that they make their opinions the basis of action for themselves and for the church. One will have his opinions tyrannized over by the other." He adds, "Man is unable to keep his opinions in the 'area of silence' -- he thrusts them into the realm of revealed truth; he makes them invade the areas of faith." Bro. Boles further observes, "It is not the duty of all, nor of any one, to listen to an opinionist in his efforts to dogmatize or establish his opinions. ... We cannot introduce our own opinions and impose our own judgments on the people of God and have unity. ... It is unscriptural, illogical, divisive, and damnable to exalt our opinions and force them upon others." He concludes, "When an opinion invades the realm of divine revelation, it is to be opposed by the loyal child of God." Again, I could not agree more!

So, WHY was Henry Leo Boles demanding that those within the Christian Church must abandon their opinions, judgments and assumptions in the areas of divine silence, and embrace his own, in order to enjoy sweet fellowship and unity in One Body with him?! The inconsistency of his argument throughout his speech was glaring. He was, in point of fact, guilty of the very thing he condemned in others -- elevating his own personal judgments, deduced from the silence of the Scriptures, to the status of divine decree, and making these personal convictions conditions of unity, fellowship, and even salvation. He sought to force his views upon the rest of the family of God (the very thing he condemned in others), and was not even willing to characterize those who differed with him as "Christian" until such time as they abandoned their views and embraced his own. This is nothing but sectarianism, and such a mindset produces only one certain result: continued separation of spiritual siblings!

Had Bro. H. Leo Boles preached Truth that day in 1939, instead of Tradition, history might have recorded a much different outcome from that unity meeting. Boles was in a position to influence many people for good; instead, he used the opportunity to place a barrier in the pathway to peace. Brethren, may we learn from the mistakes of history ... and may we not repeat them! God's family should be united and in harmony, something for which our Lord prayed in John 17. It can happen, but only when we rally around HIM, and not around the endless speculations and shibboleths of fallible factionists. May God help us, on this 100th anniversary of the official record of our separation in the Stone-Campbell movement, to begin the journey back toward genuine unity in Christ among the members of the family of God.

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Readers' Reflections

From a Reader in West Virginia:

Al, I just returned from a ten day trip (with about 40 other Christians) to help the poor folks of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. I am catching up on my reading, which always includes your Reflections. Thanks for your commitment to writing. While in Honduras I had the great privilege to work shoulder to shoulder with believers from different "tribes" (churches). I am sure we could have found quite a list of issues to disagree on, had that been important to us. It was not! We were united in showing the love of Christ to both the churched and the unchurched of Tegucigalpa. With that in mind, I believe the prayer of Jesus for all believers in John 17 is often overlooked when all the "Greats" are gathered together as Rick Warren did in his statement, "Although many passages describe what the church is to be and do, two statements by Jesus summarize it all: the Great Commandment (Matt. 22:37-40) and the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20). Together, they give us the primary tasks the church is to focus on until Christ returns." It is too bad that this beautiful and still active prayer of Jesus (John 17) for us all to be one did not include the word "Great" so that it might be included in such statements also. Is it unreasonable for me to look at these three concepts in this way? -- The Great Commission defines our relationship with the unchurched. The Great Commandment defines our relationship with all mankind. The Great Prayer defines our relationship with all believers, the sons and daughters of God.

How wonderfully effective we simple believers were in Honduras when the people we were serving were not being distracted by our incomplete personal interpretations and traditions. We just preached the love of Christ, and it brought tears to the eyes of those we served. We gave them food, we built them homes, we washed their feet and gave them new shoes, and we threw our arms around their necks with the simple love of Christ. Across the language barrier they understood: Jesus Cristo Viva. It has become my personal mission to become one with all those who profess Christ. I may discuss our various interpretations, but I will not divide over them; I seek better understanding as to why others have come to their own particular conclusions, but do not demand uniformity with mine. Because of this I have learned more about my Savior and my faith has grown. I pray that I am an answer to my Lord's prayer on His last night in the garden. I appreciate you, brother!

From a Reader in Texas:

To Brothers Al Maxey & Edward Fudge, I'm trying to get some idea of the extent of publicity we were able to obtain here at Richland Hills for Rick Atchley's "Learning Division" sermon. Would you share with us the number of readers you have (not who or where, just the number)? Through your efforts the demand for the DVD of that sermon was the highest ever of any of Rick's sermons on either tape or DVD. Orders are still coming in, and our web site has been getting 10,000 hits per week!! The responses I have received are 99% favorable so far. I had only two negative responses come in, and both were from local area Church of Christ preachers. One of them was actually hateful. I do believe the brotherhood is tired of arguing with each other, and the time is now ripe to undo the sins of our separation from one another. We need to "wage unity" in every way we can. It will not happen in my lifetime, but I hope to spend the lifetime I have left in answering the prayer Jesus had in the garden that we be ONE. I do appreciate the efforts you two are making in this direction!!

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, Thanks for your studies. I enjoy receiving them and being challenged, as Christians should be. I find that I agree with you on most, if not all, of your conclusions. I was introduced to your Reflections by -------, who lives in Cloudcroft, New Mexico (very near you). I have enclosed a check for the three CD's containing all your articles, and I look forward to having them as reference and study materials. Thanks again!

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Bro. Al, Thank you for doing your Reflections. I always learn something from them, if only that someone more knowledgeable than me agrees with what I figured out. Other times you make me think. May God continue to bless you with your ability and efforts, as I am very blessed by them.

From a Reader in Indiana:

Dear Al, Your thoughtfulness in your last Reflections article -- Calling Upon The Lord -- was really appreciated. I especially appreciated your telling how faith is distinct from other things. The three paragraphs just before the Conclusion were the best. Thank you for all your efforts. They really help. I especially want to memorize the Alfred, Lord Tennyson quote.

From an Elder in Arizona:

Al, I have been thinking about your Reflections article on discipline. Since the One Body is so sorely fractured today, there is a very wide difference between what it meant in New Testament times for someone to be put out of the Body, and what it means today. Then, Christians were a definite minority and it would be a disaster of major proportions for Christians to put out of that body a person who was not behaving as he should. These days, and it's been going on for more years than I like to think, when a person is disciplined by a congregation, that person can easily leave Northwest church and go to the Southside congregation. Or, if he is disciplined by the Southside church, he can easily go to the one on West Olive, etc., etc., etc. That happens all the time. Bible discipline is important, but the way it's done in 2006 probably is not as effective as the information and instruction on it in A.D. 56. If someone has a solution for these days, I've never seen it. And, of course, nobody is going to talk about it in one of our lectureships around the country. Maybe none of us knows the answer. And then again, maybe Al Maxey does.

From a Reader in Texas:

Hey, brother! Praise God for your article "Calling Upon the Lord"!!! I thank Him for your beloved gift of expressing and explaining His Word so plainly and wonderfully! Brother, you are such a blessing to me! Thank you.

From a Minister in Alabama:

Wow!! Brother Al, you have really outdone yourself on Issue #246 -- "Calling Upon The Lord." It's chock full of great writing and reader comments. I'm going to read it again and really let it sink in!

From a Minister in New Mexico:

Al, Thanks again for serving so well in your Reflections ministry. You are bringing much light and encouragement to many readers through this service! Your in-depth look at the meaning of "calling upon the name of the Lord" came just a couple of days after a Baptist pastor stopped by our home for a visit. This particular pastor told me he could not accept my invitation to visit our local Church of Christ because of his impression that we teach "baptismal regeneration." I have since shared with him your Issue #217 -- Salvation by Immersion -- and also provided a link to your Reflections, suggesting that he could learn what Churches of Christ really teach by reading these studies. If our Baptist brother reads your analysis of "calling upon the Lord," he'll no doubt gain a much deeper understanding of what it means to call upon Him. So, your latest Reflections was a very timely one!!

From a Doctor in Kentucky:

Al, I did some web surfing last night. Wikipedia is an online dictionary that I utilize at times. I found it interesting that this site gives lots of history on the Churches of Christ, and tells of all our divisions. It also describes, to some extent, the "Emergent Church of Christ," which, apparently, is the more progressive churches. It says this is not a formal division, but is a growing movement within a larger body. It gave several links that apparently serve as examples of this "emergent" church -- the Norway Avenue Church of Christ [Huntington, West Virginia] was among those links. I reviewed this web site and found it quite interesting. They have been studying whether or not to adopt instrumental music in the Sunday morning assembly. They have already introduced it on Wednesday nights and Monday nights. The elders of this congregation wrote quite a lengthy Letter to the Members [12 pages in .pdf format] explaining the fruit of their study from God's Word. I thought it was quite well-written. The only thing I would have included is that silence is just silence; specificity is what excludes! Other than that, the elders there wrote an excellent piece. Please read it for yourself and let me know what you think of it! I personally thought they made an excellent point about how a cappella singing was based on the Synagogue system [a system about which the Bible is silent, as per your Issues #13 & #124]. In their current view, a cappella singing is based on rabbinic (human) tradition and the silence of God. Interesting.

From a Reader in Arizona:

Excellent study, Al! I studied this phrase, as well, some time ago. I looked for my notes on it, but can't at the moment find them. I'm sure my study was not as thorough as yours, but one of the conclusions I remember coming to is that those who call on the name of the Lord are those who live in submission to God, relying on and calling on God to supply all their needs. Truly children of God, with all the sense of dependency that goes with being children. This seemed the meaning even from the first mention in Genesis 4, when "men began to call upon the name of the Lord." Keep up the good work, and may God bless you.

From a Minister in Kentucky:

Al, Your comments on "Calling Upon The Lord" were excellent. The way I see it, the contrast between just being baptized and "calling upon the Lord" comes down to the same old issue of whether God is looking for external, mechanical obedience from us, or obedience "from the heart." It is this difference that Jesus confronted in the Pharisees that caused them to want to kill Him. It is really the same thing that marks the difference between all true Christians and self-righteous sectarians, regardless of what the latter choose to call themselves. True obedience is never a matter of just "doing the right thing," but rather of doing the right thing for the right reason.

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Bro. Maxey, The letter from the Texas reader in your last Readers' Reflections, where he told about the elders who had made a policy to disfellowship members for missing three church services in a row, caused me to go back and read once again your article on church discipline. I'm left wondering: into which of the nine categories provided in the Bible would "irregular church attendance" fall?! It seems to me that these elders might be far more interested in controlling than in leading. Thanks for your Reflections. I always look forward to their arrival.

From a Reader in Arizona:

Al, I have a friend here in ----- who goes to church where I go, and her son (age: 40) has just now started studying the Bible. He called his mom and asked her, "Where in the Bible does it tell us where black people come from?" I have had studies on this subject, but it was years ago and I have forgotten. Can you help her? Please let me know!

From a Reader in Tennessee:

Al, Great article! I've heard so many times in our fellowship that "calling on the Lord" means baptism. Any thinking person can see otherwise!

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