by Al Maxey

Issue #317 ------- September 20, 2007
There are only two kinds of people:
those who accept dogma and know it, and
those who accept dogma and don't know it.

G. K. Chesterton {1874-1936}

Take Care How You Build
Will Your Work Survive The Fire?

I received an email from a brother in Virginia a couple of weeks ago. I spent some time in this beautiful state back in the spring of 1969. I was attending the Counterinsurgency School and the SERE School (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) at the Navy base in Little Creek, VA. It was some pretty rigorous training, but very vital as I was sent to Vietnam in June, 1969 as part of a new helicopter attack squadron (the HAL-3 Seawolves) in the Mekong Delta. We were at a little base called Binh Thuy. I would spend the next two years in Vietnam. But, that was "many moons ago," as the old Indian chief might say. Getting back to the good brother from the state of Virginia, he requested that I provide a reflective analysis of a rather difficult passage of Scripture: 1 Cor. 3:10-15, with especial consideration of and emphasis upon exactly what Paul may have meant in verses 12 and 15.

Contextually, this very powerful passage appears within a much larger body of teaching in this epistle to the Corinthian brethren, one dealing with the growing problem of schisms and factions forming within the church at that location. In large part, this had to do with their misunderstandings regarding ministers of the gospel and the nature of their work. Party loyalties were being built around particular preachers, and the seeds of division were being planted. Some regarded Paul as superior to Apollos, and vice versa. There were others who clearly preferred Peter. Therefore, in the first four chapters of this epistle to the saints in the city of Corinth, the apostle Paul repeatedly emphasized the primacy of Christ Jesus over those mere men who individually served as laborers within His kingdom. This passage in question, therefore, must be interpreted very carefully in light of this overall context of "ministers and their ministry," and the problems that can occur when either are misunderstood. Removing it from its context will only prove disastrous to its ultimate interpretation and application (which, indeed, has occurred in the past with regard to this passage: the proponents of the false doctrine of Purgatory, for example, appealing to this text for validation, as we shall later note).

The apostle Paul introduces the teaching of the third chapter by indicting these squabbling siblings for their lack of spiritual discernment. "I could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ" [vs. 1]. These brethren are still drinking milk from a bottle, thus are incapable at this point of digesting "solid food" [vs. 2]. Why is this so? "For there is jealousy and strife among you" [vs. 3]. "For when one says, 'I am of Paul,' and another, 'I am of Apollos,' are you not mere men?" [vs. 4]. There is a woeful lack of spiritual maturity in Corinth, and this is being evidenced in their attitudes and actions toward one another. Thus, in an effort to bring greater spiritual enlightenment to these disciples, Paul immediately begins by instructing them as to the true nature of ministers and their ministries. "What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building" [vs. 5-9].

There are many fabulous insights contained within these few verses! The apostle Paul characterizes himself and the eloquent Apollos, both of whom had effective ministries in Corinth, as "servants." This is the Greek word diakonos, from which we get our word "deacon." It signifies that these men rendered voluntary service to their Lord and Master. They were not slaves who labored against their will, but rather men who willingly offered up their lives in service to another. One of the points here is: Paul did not want the brethren in Corinth viewing him (or Apollos) as any kind of lord to whom they owed some special allegiance. They were not to be placed upon a pedestal, nor to be revered. They were simply to be seen as servants of the Lord to whom He had entrusted the work of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Unto each of them was given opportunity to employ their unique abilities in service to Him, and to those whom He had called. Properly perceived, no minister of God's grace would ever be elevated to the status the Corinthian brethren were elevating Paul, Apollos and Peter.

Paul further notes that he and Apollos did not have the same abilities, nor were they called by God to perform the same tasks. One planted the seed, whereas the other nourished it. The labor of both these servants was essential to the production of a spiritual harvest, yet the labor of neither was superior to the other. Each merely accomplished the task for which the Lord had equipped him. The real credit went to their Master, and not to them personally. "I planted, Apollos watered, but GOD was causing the growth." For mere men to take credit for spiritual or numerical growth in the kingdom of God is the epitome of presumption. And for men to ascribe such to others borders on idolatry. The latter, tragically, was occurring in Corinth, and Paul wastes no time in seeking to halt this nonsense. "Now he who plants and he who waters are one," observes Paul. Neither minister was above the other; they were one in their purpose and mission. Thus, for the Corinthian brethren to be making distinctions between them was inappropriate. Yes, Paul and Apollos were different. They had different talents and different tasks, yet neither was more or less vital than the other. They were each faithful to their own calling, and God, working through each, provided the increase! "And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly" [Rom. 12:6]. "There are varieties of ministries, but the same Lord" [1 Cor. 12:5]. Yes, there is great unity in diversity. We are not the same, but we are one!

Referring to Apollos and himself, and also by extension to all ministers of the gospel, the apostle Paul writes, "We are God's fellow workers" (NASB, NIV). There are a couple of ways to interpret this statement and scholars are divided as to which Paul had in mind. The question is: with whom were Paul and Apollos "fellow workers" -- with God or with one another? Either is grammatically possible. The context seems to suggest, and most scholars agree, that Paul is seeking to stress to the Corinthians that he and Apollos are united together in their service to God: they are "fellow workers" of their Lord and Master. Such a message would be quite critical to a people seeking to make distinctions between the two. "Men like Paul and Apollos are not in opposition to each other, but colleagues" [Dr. C. K. Barrett, A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 86]. If these two ministers are united, then why are those to whom they have preached the gospel divided?! This was a question the factionists in Corinth needed to carefully and prayerfully consider.

Turning from those individuals who labor as ministers to those who are being ministered unto, Paul uses a couple of metaphors to describe the people of God: "You are God's field, God's building" [vs. 9]. Ministers of God labor in the field of the Lord seeking to bring about a harvest of souls. They also serve as builders, erecting a structure upon the firm foundation of Jesus Christ. "For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ" [vs. 11]. The structure being built (and Paul, in this third chapter, focuses primarily on the metaphor of a building, rather than on the field) is to be a dwelling of the Holy Spirit. "Do you not know that you are a temple (literally: naos = sanctuary) of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" [vs. 16]. This holy dwelling is the Lord's church, which is simply made up of His people. "You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" [1 Peter 2:5]. The ministers of God, therefore, are builders. They are constructing this dwelling of the Spirit out of living stones (i.e., the various types of people who embrace Christ Jesus). Thus, in one sense, the building materials used by these builders are the men, women and young people that constitute the living stones of this living edifice.

Such labor, however, requires dedication and skill. One does not just haphazardly throw together a house and expect that structure to withstand the storms that will come upon it. One must take care how one builds upon this Firm Foundation. If one builds carelessly, one's work will reflect that lack of skill and care. Paul states, with respect to these ministers of the Lord, "each will receive his own reward according to his own labor" [vs. 8]. Paul will not be judged by the labor of Apollos, nor will Apollos be judged by the labor of Paul. Each man will be rewarded according to the nature of their own ministry. Did they build with skill, or did they fail to give it their best effort? That which they build will ultimately reflect their worth as a builder, and they shall be rewarded accordingly. Paul says each minister must "be careful how he builds upon" the foundation of Jesus Christ [vs. 10], for "each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built upon" this foundation "remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire" [vs. 13-15]. The apostle Paul additionally declares that some builders will build with gold, silver and precious stones, whereas other builders will build with wood, hay and straw/stubble [vs. 12]. All of which clearly speaks to the quality of one's work, and the materials one uses to construct this spiritual dwelling (the church).

Several difficult questions arise in the minds of biblical scholars with regard to this passage. First, what exactly are the materials Paul refers to when he speaks of gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay and straw/stubble? If it refers to people, what is Paul saying about these people by using these terms? If it does not have reference to people, then what does Paul have in mind? Second, what exactly is the reward these ministers will receive? What is the loss they will suffer? What is meant by a minister's work being destroyed, but he himself will be saved in spite of that fact? Third, what is "the day" and the "fire" that will test these works and expose them for what they truly are? These are some very confusing statements in the minds of many disciples of Christ, and they've led to some rather confused theology over the centuries, as well. As Adam Clarke observed in his classic commentary on the whole Bible, "There is much difference of opinion relative to the meaning of the terms in these verses" [vol. 6, p. 204].

The building materials mentioned by Paul fall into two separate categories: precious and imperishable, common and perishable. Obviously, edifices have been made of all of these. Ancient temples were often constructed of very costly stones, frequently overlaid with precious metals and jewels. Some of these ancient structures are still standing today. On the other hand, homes for common folk are frequently constructed of lesser materials, such as wood, if good quality wood is available, or even hay and grass structures, or perhaps mud bricks formed with straw and stubble. These are clearly less durable and more easily consumed by the elements. In his discussion about ministers building this spiritual edifice (the church), Paul does not really describe its architectural design or the blueprint being followed, but rather focuses upon the materials employed by the builders. "Instead of talking about the details of the building itself, Paul turns his attention to the kind of materials Christian workers are using" [The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 10, p. 207]. The two major theories regarding the identity of these materials are: disciples and doctrines. We shall examine each.

Building with Disciples

As previously noted, the apostle Peter likens the redeemed in Christ to "living stones" that are being used to construct a dwelling of God in the Spirit. Therefore, it naturally seems to follow that the building materials to which Paul refers may well be the members of the One Body of Christ Jesus. This is the view taken by David Lipscomb in his commentary on Paul's first epistle to the Corinthian brethren. "The church is compared to a building into which may be builded both good and bad material: gold, silver, costly stone, wood, hay, stubble. The members who are built into the church are compared to these two classes of material" [p. 51]. David Lipscomb continues, "When a laborer builds wood, hay and stubble upon the foundation, all such will turn back to the world, yield to its temptations, and thus be overcome by fiery trials; and in such cases the laborer loses his reward. On the other hand, those of his converts who prove themselves to be like gold, silver and costly stones in the service of their God will be admitted 'into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ' (2 Peter 1:11), and this will be a reward to him" [p. 52].

In 1 Cor. 9:1, the apostle Paul makes this statement to the Corinthians, "Are you not my work in the Lord?" This certainly seems to lend some validity to the view that the members themselves, who have been added as living stones to the spiritual edifice being constructed by Paul, Apollos and others, are indeed the building materials of his work for the Lord. Paul's great reward, therefore, would consist of seeing his many converts to Christ, on that great Day of the Lord, withstanding the probatory fire and being declared faithful and true. He speaks of that coming day when "the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire" [2 Thess. 1:7]. It will be a day of retribution and eternal destruction for those whose lives are composed of wood, hay and stubble, but a day of glory for those made of gold, silver and precious stones. These latter shall endure unto everlasting life, a great reward for Paul, whereas the former will be consumed in the flame, a true loss for those workers and builders who sought to bring them into the church. Yet, the workers and builders themselves will be saved, though they themselves, like those they taught, will experience that same testing flame. Their own salvation, therefore, rests upon the quality of their own relationship with Christ Jesus, whereas their reward or loss rests upon the quality of those persons they led to Him. How sad it will be for a minister to see those with whom he labored so diligently lost, and yet how wonderful it will be to see those with whom he labored saved. This may very well be what the apostle John had in mind when he wrote, "I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth" [3 John 4]. The faithfulness of one's converts -- who are one's "work" in the Lord -- is truly a great reward. They demonstrate by their lives that they are gold, silver and precious stones. They will endure the testing flame.

Professor T. R. Applebury, in his insightful work, "Studies in First Corinthians," also embraced this view. "The apostle warns other faithful teachers to take heed as to the kind of building materials (disciples) they use" [p. 54]. "These building materials represent two classes of disciples a teacher may have. Some are like fireproof materials for they will withstand the fiery trials through which they are to pass. Others are like wood that can be destroyed by fire. They will not stand the trials that come upon them to prove them" [p. 55]. "The reward that the faithful teacher receives is the joy of knowing that he has been faithful to the Lord, and also the joy of seeing those whom he has instructed serving Christ, remaining true to Him through the trials of life. ... The loss may be grief over the unfaithful ones as opposed to the joy over those who remain true; it may be the loss of time and effort that could have been spent on others who might have responded much more favorably. It is a hard thing for a teacher to know when to apply the rule Jesus gave when He said, 'Give not that which is holy unto the dogs; neither cast your pearls before swine, lest haply they trample them under foot and turn and rend you'" [p. 56-57]. Applebury sees the "fire" as being the trials of this present life, and the reward and loss as also being in the here and now. However, he does agree that the materials used by these builders represent those persons with whom they labor.

NOTE -- Perhaps it would be good at this point to take note of a horrendous false doctrine that has been built around this passage. When Paul says, "If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire" [1 Cor. 3:15], it is felt by some theologians (primarily within the Roman Catholic Church) that this fire is refining in nature, and that, after it purges all the dross from one's life, he or she may then enjoy eternal salvation. This came to be known as the doctrine of Purgatory. Jimmy Allen observes, "This section says absolutely nothing about refining one's character through the fires of Purgatory. The passage does not even remotely imply that lying, stealing, swearing, adultery, etc., will be destroyed while the participant in such activity will be eternally saved" [p. 48]. "The doctrine of Purgatory has been in some measure founded upon this particular verse (as per the Council of Florence in 1439 A.D.), but such a view of it cannot be maintained" [The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 19, p. 94]. Needless to say, I agree.

Building with Doctrines

Although the above interpretation of the passage seems to make very good sense, it is, interestingly, not the understanding of most biblical scholars. The majority view is that the materials enumerated by Paul (gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw/stubble) have reference to the doctrines being proclaimed by these ministers. The apostle Paul "is not referring to the believers that make up the temple of God so much as to the doctrines by which they are won for Christ" [Dr. Paul E. Kretzmann, Popular Commentary of the Bible -- The New Testament, vol. 2, p. 100]. "These six materials denote doctrines, or rather the substance of the teaching employed by the ministers of the church. Thus, gold, silver and costly stones are the teaching of the wisdom of the gospel which is full of the everlasting truth; wood, hay and stubble are teachings and church practices that are devoid of this wisdom and this truth" [R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul's First and Second Epistles to the Corinthians, p. 140]. Adam Clarke firmly believes that "by gold, silver, and precious stones, the apostle certainly means pure and wholesome doctrines; by wood, hay, and stubble, false doctrines" [Clarke's Commentary, vol. 6, p. 204]. This figure is certainly not an uncommon one, for in the Jewish Midrash "the words of false teachers are compared to hay" [The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 19, p. 94].

"In what the apostle Paul says of the different ways in which men build, he probably has religious teachers and the quality of their teaching specially in view" [ibid, p. 123]. "The gold, silver and precious stones represent pure, scriptural teaching. Such doctrine as this is precious and abiding, like its Foundation. The wood, hay and stubble represent human opinions and speculations put in the place of God's truth" [ibid, p. 117]. In this theory there is clearly a significant difference between those ministers who are intentionally and willfully and maliciously teaching that which they know to be false and those who, like Apollos in Acts 18:25-26, do so out of ignorance or honest misunderstanding. The stark reality is: there are none of us serving in ministry who have a perfect perception of the fullness of God's Truth. We are all mistaken in some areas, and yet, hopefully, we are all honestly seeking to grow in our understanding and application of His Word every day. Praise God for His grace, otherwise, if salvation depended upon perfection of perception and practice, we would all be lost.

If a minister of the Good News has "sincerely and conscientiously believed what he preached, and yet preached what was wrong, not through malice or opposition to the Gospel, but through mere ignorance, he shall be saved; God in His mercy will pass by his errors, and he shall not suffer punishment simply because he was mistaken" in some matters of doctrine or practice [Adam Clarke, Clarke's Commentary, vol. 6, p. 204]. B. W. Johnson, in his monumental work "The People's New Testament," states that such a minister, who may not have fully grasped all Truth (and who among us has), "is saved, because he intended well" [vol. 2, p. 84]. A good ministerial builder, however, will constantly be reviewing his work and his teaching, daily seeking to become more and more in harmony with ultimate Truth, never satisfied that he has "finally arrived" at perfect understanding of all Truth. Thus, the good builder will always be open to responsible change, both in who he is and what he proclaims and practices. "Let each man test his ministry, his teaching, his influence, now, while he may correct his errors, and begin to do better things in a better spirit" [The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 19, p. 130].

Concluding Thought

There are some biblical scholars who feel both the above theories may be valid, and that one view does not necessarily exclude the other. In other words, they may be somewhat complementary to one another. I tend to agree with this, although if I had to choose between them I would take the disciples view over the doctrines view. By way of example, Dr. W. Robertson Nicoll, in his inspiring work, "The Expositor's Greek Testament," rightly declares the following -- "These views are not really discrepant. Teaching shapes character, works express faith, unsound preaching attracts the bad hearer and makes him worse, while sound preaching wins and improves the good. Thus, the materials of this house may denote persons molded by doctrines -- the doctrine of Christ exhibited in concrete form" [vol. 2, p. 791]. A very similar view to the above is taken by B. W. Johnson: "The church will be of the character of the material that is built upon the Foundation. If this material be precious and imperishable, if apostolic doctrines and men molded into the image of Christ be this material, it is well. If erroneous doctrines and unstable men (wood, hay, stubble) be this material, this will all be revealed in due time" [The People's New Testament, vol. 2, p. 84].

As one looks at the overall context of the early chapters of Paul's first epistle to the Corinthian brethren, it becomes quite clear that the emphasis of Paul is upon the tragic seeds of sectarianism being sown among these brethren over various personalities and positions. Thus, the apostle Paul wastes no time in putting the work of ministers in its proper perspective, which is largely the focus of chapter three. "After the long digression on Wisdom (1 Cor. 1:17 - 3:2), occasioned by the Hellenic misconception of the Gospel underlying the Corinthian divisions, the apostle returned in 3:3ff to the divisions themselves, dealing particularly with the rent between Apollonians and Paulinists. His first business was to reduce the church leaders to their subordinate place, as fellow-servants of the one Divine cause. They are 'temple-workmen' -- not himself and Apollos alone, but all who are laboring on the foundation which he has laid down -- and must therefore take heed to the quality of their individual work, which will undergo a searching and fiery test" [Dr. W. Robertson Nicoll, The Expositor's Greek Testament, vol. 2, p. 789]. Brethren, let me conclude with this admonition: "All Christian pastors and teachers are building upon Christ. The question for them to ask is this: Are we building into the walls of the temple such material as will endure the test of trial and the test of time?" [The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 19, p. 107]. My fellow ministers of the Gospel, this is worthy of some serious reflection by each of us!

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Readers' Reflections

From a Reader in California:

Brother Al, I have never written to you before, although my wife does regularly. She always shares with me the pearls which you send out. We grew up in the One Cup Church of Christ (third generation). I was thoroughly schooled in that doctrine, and had risen to a leadership position in our local congregation. Without going into great detail, let me just say that I know very well the men of whom you speak in your articles, and I have known Don King since he was in knee-pants. Alan Bonifay was a guest in my home on various occasions as a young preacher. He has attacked my wife and me many times in the past several years (clandestinely), never having the courage to confront us to our face. I agree with you -- their modus operandi is to run and hide and lob derogatory mortars from afar, writing you off as not even worth their trouble. I can attest that when my wife and I made the decision to question some of the doctrines and "laws" of the One Cup church, we immediately became "suspect." Then, as we progressed in our learning (led by the Holy Spirit), it soon became quite apparent that we were very much persona non grata. When we finally made the decision to separate from this fellowship, we were vilified in a most unceremonious manner. I sincerely believe that had it still been acceptable to burn heretics at the stake, my wife and I would surely now be enjoying the glories of heaven!! Bro. Al, keep up the good work. There are cracks in the dam, and, as we are still privy to a lot of goings on in the One Cup fellowship, let us assure you that you are winning souls to the Lord's side from that group! Thank God for men like you!!

From a Reader in Nevada:

Brother Al, I truly do not want any spiritual harm to come upon the many good folk in the One Cup segment of the church. However, I am always happy to see the ungodly, self-appointed dictators brought down, and I can only hope that they will then be brought to God. Please keep up the good work!

From a Minister in Texas:

Brother Maxey, Thank you for your thorough and thoughtful treatment of my question about allowing my four-year-old daughter to partake of the communion. The factors you mentioned are the ones that I have always been taught. You have confirmed them sufficiently for me to refrain from allowing my daughter to partake at this time. You called me back to a grounded view of the question that I asked, and for this I thank you. However, I still have some questions that plague me on this issue. For example, we don't keep our children from singing in worship, even though they don't understand the meaning of the words they sing. We don't keep them from praying, even though they don't understand prayer. We most certainly don't prevent them from participating in the offering, although they don't understand any of the theology behind it. I agree that the Bible teaches a deeper meaning behind the Lord's Supper than my daughter can even come close to comprehending at this point in her life. On the other hand, I believe the Bible also teaches a deeper meaning behind singing and praying than she is able to comprehend. Why, then, do we forbid the Lord's Supper but not these others? Your further thoughts would be appreciated.

From an Elder in Oklahoma:

Brother Al, Thank you for addressing this topic. "Toddlers at the Table" was an excellent article; very thought-provoking. It appears to me that the man raising the question, as well as your wife, Shelly, were both striving for the same goal: age appropriate and/or developmentally appropriate training. I admire both of them for thinking. Your presentation of the seven aspects of Communion was excellent. It makes the Lord's Supper infinitely more meaningful than the "ritual" so many of us practice. You said that four-years-old was too young, but it appears to me that maybe you have left the door open for participation in the Communion prior to immersion. May the Lord bless thee and thine!

From an Elder in Missouri:

Brother Al, I see a much deeper problem with the entire question, and I believe the words of your questioner shine a light on that. He said, "I want my daughter to learn the meaning behind the rituals that we go through on Sunday." At issue here is the concept of rituals. Many actions of worship "performed" in our assemblies have become rituals. A "ritual" is performed with little thought to the intent and purpose behind the act. I fear that often this is the case with much that is done in the assembly. Therefore, I must exercise strict discipline to prevent myself from performing some things, without thought, as mere ritual. Also, I have had young people approach me about being baptized, and when I questioned them about their reasons, I have been told, "So I can partake of the Communion!" They got the message somehow that baptism allowed them to partake of the Lord's Supper. This makes a mockery not only of baptism, but also the communion/fellowship with our Lord that occurs in the Supper. Thanks for your article, Al. Another job well-done!

From a Reader in Kentucky:

Brother Al, I appreciated your treatment of this subject. I distinctly remember the great excitement I felt about participating in this "adult ritual," and I less distinctly remember desiring to truly share in the body and blood of Jesus Christ with the other saints. In other words, I sometimes wonder just what, at age 12, I really had on my mind when I partook of the Lord's Supper. I just can't remember. But, I do remember being excited to take it. What bothers me is that it may have been the excitement of finally getting to do it that was my more important motivator! So, for this reason I have allowed my children to eat the bread and drink the cup most of the time if they are interested. They are young, but they understand far more than we may realize, and one day they will understand more deeply that relationship behind the action. In the meantime, I will have "demystified" the Communion and taken away some of the false incentive that I had for partaking of it. Just a thought from another parent.

From a Reader in California:
A Question for the Other Readers

Brother Al, I am now part of a group that was formerly part of the International Churches of Christ [aka: The Boston Movement], but is now independent. Its origins were in my home in 1982; we later joined with the Los Angeles Church of Christ when Kip McKean came out here. Reflecting on my Church of Christ background, we have remained almost exclusively a cappella in our music. There is growing pressure to introduce instruments, however, beginning with the idea of a "quiet guitar" in the background. One of my main fears is that this might grow into the loud bands that have become fairly common in various other former ICOC groups. I am wondering if it would be appropriate for you to ask your Christian Church readers how they have managed to keep their music (instrumental) from becoming a dominant distraction in their worship (assuming that they have managed to do so). Thanks!

From a Reader in Texas:

My Dear Brother Al, You just keep on getting a bull's-eye with each new article. This last one -- "Toddlers at the Table" -- is no exception. It is on the money. I couldn't have said it better myself. Al, I am of the opinion that no person has the right, or possesses the authority, to prevent another person from partaking of the Lord's Supper. Nowhere in the Bible is there ever found such a law or commandment setting forth this right to forbid another in this matter. Because of my wife's health, she often is unable to attend the services. When I get home from church we have Communion here at the house, and I partake of it again with her, even though I've had the Lord's Supper a short time earlier. Jesus Christ said, "As often as you do it, do it in remembrance of Me." This memorial represents the very backbone of our faith: Christ crucified. As always, I look forward to the next Maxey "note." All I can say is: Soldier On, dear brother!!

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