by Al Maxey

Issue #333 ------- January 27, 2008
To doubt everything and to believe every-
thing are two equally convenient solutions;
both free us from the necessity of reflection.

Henri Poincaré {1854-1912}

Random Reactive Reflections
Multifarious Musings from the
Morphing Mind of Minister Maxey

Okay. So I got just a bit carried away with the use of alliteration. Even the big ape in the picture seems confused by the title of this current study. I doubt he's alone. More simply stated: the mind of man is a marvelous creation from our awesome God. It is in a constant state of motion and transformation; it is rarely still, even when the body sleeps. Such mental activity can be very positive if it leads us to greater reflection on and contemplation of the realities of our Father's vast physical and spiritual universe, and our place within these realms and in relationship to the Mind who created it all. The very purest form of reflection, of course, is that which leads to some degree of responsible reaction on our part to whatever stimuli initiated said season of contemplation. Reflection apart from any action and/or reaction leading to transformation is about as worthless as faith devoid of active, visible demonstration.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) declared, "Thought is the seed of action." Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) phrased it in the following fashion: "Thought is behavior in rehearsal." John Locke (1632-1704), in his now classic Essay Concerning Human Understanding, wrote, "The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts." The inspired biblical writings would certainly agree. "For as a man thinketh within his heart, so is he" [Prov. 23:7]. The Lord Jesus Christ said, "The things that proceed from out of the mouth come from the heart" [Matt. 15:18]. Our thoughts, reflections and contemplations will generally result in some form of action, and this visible evidence can be either good, bad or indifferent. One's actions, however, very rarely fail to have some degree of transforming influence ... even if it's only upon oneself, although it usually affects many others as well. But, having said all of that, please permit me to share with you just a few random reflective reactions I have had in recent weeks to some interesting stimuli from various sources. They may or may not prove interesting or enlightening to you, and you may or may not agree with them, but I hope they will at least serve as your own stimuli for further reflection on matters about which you may not have previously given much thought. If they only accomplish this, they will still have served a purpose.

"Backbones of Jello"

At present, we are witnessing a very serious falling out among the leaders, and the many leader-wannabes, of the ultra-conservative, legalistic, patternistic factions of the Churches of Christ. This is not unexpected, and is, frankly, a natural by-product of the CENI hermeneutic. When mere assumptions and deductions of men are elevated to the level of divine decree, taking on the weight of salvation and fellowship imperatives, division and schism are never far behind. Frankly, it is one of the major factors which will contribute to the ultimate demise of this misguided, militant movement within our faith-heritage. For example, the watchdogs associated with the publication Contending for the Faith are going tooth-and-toenail with the leadership of the Memphis School of Preaching. Both groups are extremely legalistic, but they are now at each other's throats over various particulars of this elusive "pattern." Although not a single one of these individuals will actually come right out and specify what constitutes the fullness of this "pattern" (and believe me, I know; I have been asking for it for well over 30 years), they will nevertheless fight to the death over various party particulars of that unspecified pattern. Such blood-letting is occurring at present, and such will continue until the battlefield is strewn with their carcasses and the people of God can finally enjoy some much sought after peace as they proclaim a loving Person rather than a legalistic pattern.

Such stalwarts of ultra-conservatism and legalistic patternism as Garland Elkins, Curtis Cates, Bobby Liddell and Goebel Music, each of whom is associated with the now beleaguered Memphis School of Preaching, have become "the enemy." They have "left the faith." They are apostates. They are "marked" and maligned. Why? Because they hold to views, advocate positions and embrace brethren "out of favor" with the Contending for the Faith bunch. Thus, the latter group has gone after the former. Frankly, it would almost be amusing (a bit of poetic irony), if it was not so heart-breaking. What a sad witness to the world this foolishness is! Is it truly any wonder that the world about us increasingly perceives Christians as irrelevant (at the very least), as well as material for mockery?! But, I'm sure we can all see the worth of delaying the evangelizing of lost souls so that these hardcore partyists may continue eviscerating their fellow factionists in the name of the Lord Jesus to the glory of God! How pathetic!!

Some might well ask, "Brother Al, why do you care whether or not these two groups kill each other off? After all, both of them hate you with a passion. Why not just sit back and enjoy the show?! They're really doing us all a favor." True, the world, not to mention the church, would be a much better place without such evil displayers of spiritual dysfunction. And yes, one day the Lord will return, removing in an instant such evil from the universe! Oh, how I long for that day. But, until that day comes, their godless display of petty partyism is visible to all ... and it is making it very difficult to minister to the lost and promote unity among the saved. They are a cancer in the Body of Christ; an open, festering sore; and it is causing people to turn away in disgust. Why do I care that these malicious militants are daily engaging in battle with anyone and everyone about them? Because their attitudes and actions are reflecting negatively upon my Lord and His blood-bought Body. We can bury our heads in the sand and pretend they're not there, and hope they go away, or we can expose and rebuke these people for the godless rabble they've become. It is time the world perceived the children of God communing together in love around the Father's table, not engaging in endless food fights with one another. Brethren, we have tolerated this lunacy long enough. The lost deserve a better presentation of grace and faith than we have shown them. It's time for change!!

Part of that responsible change is bringing differing disciples together for respectful examination of the many issues that presently serve to divide them from one another. For communion to be restored, communication must be restored. We must cease talking about one another and begin talking with one another. For many years now I have been seeking responsible, respectful dialogue with the various factions within our Church of Christ fellowship ... as well as dialogue with those from other faith-heritages. It is not debate I seek, nor divisive diatribe, but rather an opportunity to genuinely engage these brethren of mine in the type of dialogue that might lead to greater understanding and, in time, greater acceptance of one another. Unfortunately, I have been met at almost every turn by slammed doors and brick walls. Such resistance to communication will never prove conducive to the establishment of unity and harmony in the universal One Body of our Lord Jesus. I have repeatedly sought, for example, to approach the Contending for the Faith Internet discussion group for the purpose of respectful dialogue. They have informed me, in no uncertain terms, that they have absolutely no desire whatsoever to study or communicate with me about any of these various issues that have brought separation within our movement.

This is why a statement made by Daniel Coe a few days ago really surprised me. Daniel Coe is the preacher from Arkansas who moved to my community here in southern New Mexico to bring "spiritual soundness" to our part of the state. He was here only five months before he had a falling out with his own little congregation of 7 people (and he left town suddenly). He now preaches for Trail Creek Church of Christ in DeSoto, Kansas. When Daniel got to town, I immediately went to meet him and to invite him to sit down with me for study of God's Word with respect to the issues about which he felt I was in error. Well, you guessed it -- he never took me up on that time of study. I have written him, and several others in the Contending for the Faith group inviting them also to a respectful, open Bible dialogue. They have ALL refused. Then, on Tuesday, January 15, 2008, in message #9014 of the Contending for the Faith Internet discussion group, which is owned by David Brown, the editor of Contending for the Faith magazine, Daniel Coe posted a statement to the group titled "They Cannot Defend Their Cause." It was primarily a condemnation of the Memphis School of Preaching bunch for refusing to engage Daniel and his buddies in dialogue about their differences. He refers to them as "spineless so-called defenders of the truth today." Daniel Coe then goes on to write, "We no doubt recall days gone by when men such as Cates, Elkins, Liddell, Music and others asked for, yea, longed for, opportunity to debate men such as Shelly, Lucado, Maxey and others. Those of us who love the truth cheered as those men who once stood for the truth pushed, pressed and strove for such debates. Those men who once stood for the truth could have and would have given the false teachers listed above a good old fashioned dose of 'what for.' But now? A sad shame exists. These same men who longed for a stage to defend the truth have developed backbones of Jello, or worse. These same men now cower, hide and dodge every challenge issued to them today by those who now stand for the truth. These same men are involved in the very same tuck tail and run antics of their forerunners." Coe goes on to say he has pleaded with these Memphis School of Preaching leaders to "come to the table of discussion to help resolve the many issues before us," but they refuse. He says they are responding just like the Shelly's and Lucado's and Maxey's have always done -- "they refuse to defend their cause, they refuse to come to the table of discussion, and they refuse to even respond to the many pleas issued to them. WHY?? Brethren, the answer is simple ... these men will not come to the table because they cannot defend the error in which they are involved and they well know it."

I find this whole post by Daniel Coe absolutely fascinating in light of the fact that I myself have issued those same pleas to Coe and his fellow contenders for the faith, and have received the exact same response (or lack thereof) that he now condemns in the Memphis School of Preaching bunch!! Coe writes near the end of his post: "Anyone who loves the truth, or claims to, has not one reservation about defending the truth." I would agree. So why did Coe refuse my offers? Why is he refusing still? Why are ALL the leaders of the Contending for the Faith group refusing these same offers by me to engage them in respectful dialogue over an open Bible? Dare we assume Coe may actually be right in his proffered explanation? -- "they cannot defend the error in which they are involved and they well know it"?! He may just have something there! Daniel concludes his post by implying he will not hold his breath waiting for the Memphis bunch to come to the table. Nor shall I hold mine waiting for Coe and his buddies to do the same with my offers.

I bring this sad circumstance up merely to shine a spotlight on the worsening lack of unity and harmony among disciples of Christ Jesus in our own faith-heritage. This has to change. Daniel Coe is right about one thing -- we must persist in our efforts to get brethren to "come to the table" for loving dialogue with one another about those matters which have divided them for far too long. Failure to communicate only leads to continued severing of communion. My passionate plea to my brethren all across the theological spectrum is to cease this factional feuding and sectarian squabbling. In the spirit of Reagan's plea to Gorbachev, "Tear down these walls" that divide us. We are breaking our Father's heart, shaming His Son, and grieving His Holy Spirit. If we hope to see heaven, we had better start doing better here on earth!! My offer to come to the table at the Contending for the Faith web site still stands. I am more than willing to sit down with them and to begin that process of loving dialogue. This pertains equally to the leadership of the One Cup publication Old Paths Advocate and to the leadership of the Non-Institutional Internet group Mars-List. I have offered repeatedly to dialogue with them over the years as well. And yet, they too have fled for cover. Nevertheless, my offer to communicate stands. Will they allow it? We shall see.

"Unwholesome Words"

A good many of you have expressed righteous indignation over the unwholesome words that were uttered in a recent sermon by Brian Yeager, who preaches for the Sunrise Acres Church of Christ, an extremely militant Non-Institutional group in El Paso, Texas. I provided the web link to that sermon, where it could be heard, in a recent issue of Reflections. In that sermon he referred to me as "Al Maxi-Pads" (a reference to a feminine hygiene product). In that 1 hour, 48 minute ministerial marathon he also referred to another preacher in the area as a "queer." I have reflected on this "preaching style" quite a bit lately, contemplating whether such characterizations are truly "proper for the pulpit." I then discovered that Brian has placed yet another audio presentation on his web site that, in many ways, is equally disturbing. He had demanded a meeting with a preacher in the area by the name of Yates, a man he believed to have said something negative and/or untrue about a recent case where they had disfellowshipped a couple from their little congregation. Apparently, Brian gave this preacher two choices -- either come to a meeting with Brian and some of his disciples, or they would descend upon this other congregation on a Wednesday evening and confront them as they assembled for Bible study. Well, most responsible leaders will seek to shield their congregations from such terroristic tactics, so Yates met with Brian. Brian taped the whole meeting and then immediately placed it on the Internet for the entire world to hear. On that web page, where he posted this meeting, he wrote, "Thus, to the world wide web, I submit the following four audio files in the hope of showing others who have big mouths and closed Bibles what will happen if they keep being divisive towards us." Eight minutes after the start of this 35 minute meeting (just click on "Men At Sunrise Meeting With Yates," at the link just given, if you want to hear the whole meeting), Brian indicated that if anyone dared to take on his congregation, then "I'm going to squash the crap out of it, because I'm set for the defense of the gospel." Again, one has to wonder at the choice of words!

I would question the appropriateness of such speech by a Spirit-filled child of God anywhere, but I especially question such language from the pulpit by one who professes to be a preacher of the gospel. Such speech, it seems to me, is, at best, crude. What troubles me more, though, is that corrupt speech may well reflect a deeper corruption, and that can prove eternally costly, both for the person himself and all those over whom he may have influence. Such language also seems to be contrary to the teaching of the apostle Paul, who wrote to the Ephesian brethren, "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear" [Eph. 4:29]. I'm not sure that "Maxi-Pads" and "Crap" qualify. "Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, while the lips of a fool consume him" [Eccl. 10:12]. "Let your speech always be gracious" [Col. 4:6]. There are any number of reasons for this, not the least of which is the impact upon those who hear you, but it should also be noted that one's words reflect the state of one's heart. Jesus Christ said, "The things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and these defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man" [Matt. 15:18-20].

"They're Not Really Christians"

There's a third thing one can count on besides "death and taxes" -- if anyone dares to suggest, or even imply, that someone not a member of the "Church of Christ" group just might be a child of God and saved, you can count on the ultra-conservative legalists foaming at the mouth in anger. Fanny Crosby -- Reflections #188 -- was not a member of the Churches of Christ. Therefore, she is lost. Period. Yes, she was a good woman; yes, she wrote thousands of hymns proclaiming the love of God; yes, she devoted her life to serving Him and her fellow man. But, she wasn't "one of us." Thus, she will forever burn in hell. Period. End of story! As strange as it may sound, some of the fiercest attacks against me have come as a result of my articles on people like Fanny Crosby, Horatio Spafford [#331], Philip P. Bliss [#283], and others. How dare I portray these people as Christian men and women!! A reader from Texas said, "You spoke of Horatio G. Spafford as if he were a man who loved God, and as if he were a man of God. Yes, it is a sad story of how he lost his four daughters, but if he was really a devoted student of the Word of God, then how could he be a Presbyterian?!!" A minister in North Carolina wrote, "Can you honestly say that 'it is well' with the souls of people like the Spaffords who have not obeyed the gospel? My, my, how far away from the Truth you have gone!!" This latter individual accused me of being a false teacher and demanded that I remove him from my mailing list. While teaching a series on the lives of our great hymn writers to a Wednesday evening adult class, I even had one individual demand that these studies be halted immediately.

Tragically, such harsh judgmentalism is one of the characteristics of legalism and sectarianism. When one believes salvation is inextricably tied to one's very own personal or party perspectives and preferences, then all those who differ with such a one are ipso facto LOST. Yet, when one studies the lives of some of these historical figures, one quickly discovers that, although far from perfect, they nevertheless led lives that exemplified a lifelong commitment and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, their faith and faithfulness at times puts to shame our own; challenging us and encouraging us to give ourselves more fully to our Lord. If their lives seem to indict ours in many ways, then such makes it more difficult to maintain the profession that we are saved, but they are lost. Those who are outside our own group must be portrayed as apostates, heathen, and godless, self-serving wretches who are all, without exception, fodder for the fires of hell. Therefore, any in-depth examination of the lives of those outside our group that contradicts this perception must be attacked and abolished most expeditiously, for such teaching exposes the dogma that WE, and we ALONE, are the ONLY ones going to heaven. If the legalists and sectarians lose that, their whole theology is called instantly into question. They cannot allow that to happen ... and thus they attack! If you've ever known such persons, you know they tend to be a very bitter, discontented, frustrated bunch, and they can spot a negative a mile away, but often stumble over the positive right before their eyes. Pray for them, brethren. They truly need to come to an appreciation of God's grace, and they need to experience the joy of freedom in Christ Jesus. Frankly, they don't have a clue as to the nature of either.

"Contacting the Blood"

I received the following email the other day from a brother who lives in the same town in Missouri as our middle son and his family. He wrote, "Dear Bro. Al, I discovered your web site through a link I found on Jay Guin's web site, and I'm so glad that I did, as I am greatly enjoying your Reflections. I would like your comments on the fact that many of our preachers use the phrase 'we contact the blood of Christ in baptism.' Is this accurate? I have read K. C. Moser's book 'Justification by Faith,' and he seems to oppose this statement. I understand that it is just a metaphor, but I am still puzzled by it somewhat. I will await your reply. Please keep up the great work."

When I was preaching in Santa Fe, New Mexico (1984-1992), I had an associate minister who constantly used this expression. That was the first time I had ever heard it, and personally never saw any point in using it, although I believe I know what he had in mind when he used it. Jesus Christ came as our atoning sacrifice; His blood shed upon the cross paid the price for our sins. The question, of course, becomes: "How does one avail himself of the benefits of this shed blood?" Or, to use the expression given above, "How does one come into contact with that blood?" The standard answer we have always given is: baptism. The blood of Christ Jesus will do absolutely nothing for you until you submit to baptism. This has always been the doctrine proclaimed. Certainly, I would agree that one's faith must be demonstrated for that faith to be efficacious. Those who believe, but who then refuse to demonstrate that faith via repentance, confession, immersion and lives of faithfulness, cannot expect their belief alone to be salvific. I would personally, however, not choose any one of these evidences of faith as the exclusive "point of contact" with the blood of Jesus. Indeed, I'm not sure it is even proper to try and establish an exact moment in time when that "contact" is made. It is God Himself who covers us with the blood of His Son, cleansing us and bringing us into His embrace. At what precise split second does this occur? Is it when our nose breaks the surface of the waters of the baptistery? This can quickly become ridiculous.

Therefore, I leave the "point of contact" in the hands of God. What I will preach and teach instead is that God's matchless grace has extended unto us the gift of the sacrifice of His Son, and we accept that gift by faith. This is a faith that is expressed in a number of ways, including a turning from sin, a confession of His Lordship, and a demonstration of this inner resolve by being immersed. At what precise point God looks into our hearts and sees our faith as being sufficient unto salvation is not my main concern. However, I am convicted that God is far more concerned with the depth of conviction within our hearts than He is with the preciseness of the specifics of our response. In other words, if a man has come to a deep faith in the Lord Jesus and has determined within his heart to demonstrate that faith by being immersed, and he has set out to comply, but dies suddenly before that compliance occurs, I have no doubt in my own mind that he has still "contacted the blood of Christ" by grace through faith. Those, however, who insist that this contact only occurs at baptism, will also insist that unless that man "gets to the water" he is NOT saved. I actually had a person tell me that if a man died of a massive heart attack after being lowered into the waters of the baptistery, but prior to his nose breaking the surface of the water, he would go straight to hell. Such a view of our loving Father, in my opinion, borders on blasphemy. Thus, I shall continue to avoid using such a phrase as "we contact the blood of Christ in baptism." Instead, I prefer to employ the language of Paul himself: "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast" [Eph. 2:8-9]. For those readers who would like to examine this matter further, may I suggest a reading of The Maxey-Hughes Debate -- Baptism and Grace: Regarding the Application of the Latter to a Special Circumstance Involving the Former.

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Readers' Reflections

From a Missionary in Tanzania, Africa:

Bro. Al, Keep the excellent articles coming!! My wife and I have now moved to Africa, after having made many trips over here during the years, and now live in Tanga, Tanzania. We have started construction on a new medical clinic right in the middle of a Muslim area. This will be our witness for Jesus. Please come over and visit us sometime. You will always be welcomed to stay in our air-conditioned house. By the way, my African brothers here are still reading each one of your Reflections articles!! May God bless you.

From a Minister in Donetsk, Ukraine:

Dear Bro. Al, Your article about Horatio Spafford was a masterpiece! I had read the story of his life before, but it was not nearly as emotional as yours. I couldn't help but cry. What really broke my heart, however, was the response of a few of your readers to this article. I guess, in their view, it simply could NOT have been "well with their souls" simply because this family had attended a Presbyterian church??!! I pray for such people still in chains of slavery to their traditions!! Blessings to you, brother. Keep up the good work.

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Brother Al, I have just finished reading your Reflections article "A Sanctuary of the Spirit." As usual, it was well done. A big Thank You! I would also like to say "shame, shame" to those readers who criticized the article on Horatio Spafford. Come on, people!! Stop throwing stones and let the love of God get into your lives!! Brother Al, please keep up the fine work that you are doing. We all, each one of us, need the teaching that you provide each week, and even once in a while to have our wrists slapped, so to speak. Soldier on, Brother Al.

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Brother Al, As for that poor deluded soul in North Carolina who condemned Spafford for not adhering to the "pattern" that neither he nor anyone else can set forth in plain English, I would be willing to bet that his congregation has sung "It Is Well With My Soul" more than once, along with hymns by a great many other very fine people, and all without a second's thought as to whether the authors of said hymns were "members" or not!! The fact is -- very few of the hymns we hold dear were written by those within our faith-heritage. It is amazing how such ones can embrace what they like, but then condemn as "false doctrine" that which they don't. And, by the way -- just how does this man know that the Spaffords did not "obey the gospel"?!

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, I just finished reading your latest Reflections -- "A Sanctuary of the Spirit." As usual, I found it informative and edifying. You already know what a fan I am of your writings!

From a New Reader in [Unknown]:

Brother Maxey, Please add me to your email list for Reflections. I received one of your articles from a friend and I am hungry for grace-centered teaching!! Thank you.

From a Reader in California:

Bro. Al, I really enjoyed your article on the indwelling Holy Spirit this week. The teaching on the indwelling is so simple if one is open to the Truth and instruction. But it is so complicated if one has preconceived ideas stuck in his head, or if one has an aversion to having Jesus Christ living inside him. The indwelling Holy Spirit has always been a bone of contention within the One Cup churches, mostly because "someone else" got to the people before the Good News got to them -- thus keeping them in legalism and away from the New Birth. Keep up the good work, Al. Many, many, many people are reading your writings and turning to the Truth.

From an Elder in Missouri:

Brother Al, Once again you have selected a topic that is very much needed. And not only that, but you hit the nail right on the head. The indwelling and empowering of the Holy Spirit has been a "bone of contention" many times with elderships and members with whom I have worked in the past (when I was preaching full-time). In fact, this very topic became such a "hot button" issue at one point that we had to part ways (sadly for all concerned). To deny the empowerment of the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our lives seems very close, at least in my mind, to blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. You made the distinction between the personal and the corporate indwelling, something that has always seemed so very clear in my mind, especially as one looks at the Greek (the number of the verb -- "you" plural vs. "you" singular). Both aspects of the indwelling and empowering are necessary. Excellent study, Al. Thank you for your continued challenging of our doubts and fears, and for speaking the whole Gospel.

From a Reader in Arkansas:

Brother Al, I am late in reading your article on Horatio Spafford as I was traveling abroad. What an incredible, incredible story! After reading your article, I had to look at various other accounts of this man's life on the Internet, and yours is by far the best. Thank you for that article. "It Is Well With My Soul" has now taken on a new and very profound dimension!!

From a One Cup Minister in Missouri:

Bro. Al, I am a minister with a congregation that has always used one cup in the Lord's Supper. I was especially interested in the readers' comments at the end of your article on Spafford. First, with regard to the reader in Arizona who asked about One Cup congregations and whether or not they use individual or pre-broken bread -- to the best of my knowledge none of the One Cup congregations would even consider using individual or pre-broken bread. We feel very strongly that there should be One Loaf representing the One Body of Christ. It is true that One Cup congregations are divided on whether or not the bread is to be broken by the one presiding at the table, or whether each member is to break off a piece for themselves. I was a party to some unfortunate debates over this issue many years ago, which I now regret. Second, with regard to the One Cup minister in Kentucky who reacted with such unChristian vitriol to your very good exposure of the legalism of One Cup adherents, he obviously does not believe you are saved; simply because, I suppose, you choose to use individual cups in the Lord's Supper. It is so very sad to see someone elevate a Christian practice to the level of a salvation issue. There is no place in the gospel message where the number of cups on the table stands between a sinner and salvation. The minister in Kentucky has evidently not done his homework on the number of cups on the table the night when Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper. We know there were at least four. Also, it is completely disingenuous for this brother to state, "We do the Lord's Supper the way the Lord Jesus gave it and the apostle Paul delivered it." This is certainly not the case for several reasons: (1) only men were present when it was instituted, (2) it was instituted in an upper room, (3) it was instituted on a Thursday evening, and (4) it was instituted among a group of men who were reclining. None of the One Cup congregations would agree to observe the Lord's Supper in any of these ways, and yet they insist that they "do" the Lord's Supper the way Jesus did. Bro. Al, I commend you for taking the time to expose the One Cup controversy for what it really is. While you and I differ on this issue, you are still my brother!! Keep up the good work!

From a Minister/Author in California:

My Dear Abused Brother in Christ, With reference to the crude statement made by Brian Yeager before his little congregation -- that was certainly about as low as any professing Christian minister could ever stoop!! How a group professing to be Christians would ever tolerate such disgusting statements from their preacher as part of his sermon is beyond me!! It was a very insensitive statement, and it seems to me it would have been embarrassing to the women present. May God have mercy! How a person with his worldly vocabulary could lie down at night with a clear conscience is beyond my imagination. As for that reader who questioned the faithfulness of Horatio Spafford because he was a Presbyterian, I have to wonder: when did this man become another's Judge, Jury and Executioner?! By the way, I really enjoyed your article this week on the Holy Spirit.

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, When do you think the church stopped teaching the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? Was He "quenched and grieved" into silence? It must have been many years ago because I am 86, and I was taught that He only operated through the Scriptures. Of course, I was taught a number of other legalistic ideas also. I began to study myself out of them about the time Reuel Lemmons was the editor of Firm Foundation. He and I painfully "came of age" spiritually about the same time. Denying the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit yanks the very heart out of the Gospel. What took us so long to realize this?! Oh, how I pray the Light will shine in every dark corner where Truth is being denied. Thank you, Bro. Al, for your dedicated effort to that end.

From a Reader in California:

Brother Al, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your Reflections article titled "The One Cup Fellowship" [Issue #330]. I am a member of the One Cup Churches of Christ, and Don McCord is a family friend. He has been attacked by a lot of our brethren, and it has opened my eyes to so very much!! I am so close to Don -- he baptized my mother, and he is also responsible for me coming back to the Lord. I continue to go to the One Cup church because I know that I will be able to help others open their eyes as well. Don has done that for me, and I love the man for it. I know that there are a great many of us in the Church of Christ who believe the same way you do, Bro. Al, but we can't say anything openly, as you are able to do, because we have family that would not understand or because they would have the elders coming after us. So, I truly thank you for your words in your Reflections, brother, and I pray that God blesses you with many more years of service to us!

From a Reader in Maine:

Thank you, Bro. Al, for blessing folks even up here in the "tailfin of the nation" with your Reflections.

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