by Al Maxey

Issue #365 ------- September 23, 2008
Again and again there comes a time in history
when the man who dares to say that two and
two make four is punished with death.

Albert Camus {1913-1960}

Dear Darrell Broking
A Reader's Insightful Appeal

In his third affirmative to the 1st proposition in the Maxey-Broking Debate, which was dated Saturday, August 9, 2008, Darrell Broking made the following offer to the followers of this dialogue: "If you want your comments to get through to Maxey's readers, send them to me at and I will try to find a place for your comments in my posts. Regardless of what is said, God's Word is what determines truth." One reader, assuming Darrell meant what he said, sent him a very insightful, as well as respectful, email. Apparently Darrell was unable, or unwilling, to "find a place" for these thoughts, for they never appeared. Therefore, I informed this writer that I would "make good" on Darrell Broking's promise to get his comments "through to Maxey's readers." It is not all that often that I choose to devote an entire issue of these weekly Reflections to the thoughts and insights of another person (although I have done so a couple of times previously), but I felt this brother from Texas had some things to share that would be of value not only to Darrell, should he ever choose to give them any degree of consideration, but also to the brotherhood of believers at large. I would be happy to pass along any of your comments to this brother in Houston, Texas, if any of you would like to write to him regarding the below letter. I'm sure that he would be more than happy to respond to you.

An Email from Houston, Texas

Dear Darrell Broking,

Thank you for the invitation to send comments to you about your debate on patternism with Al Maxey. This email is a little bit long, but I ask you to please read all of it. I do not think you will regret taking the time to do so. It is being sent to you in Christian love, with complete respect for your beliefs and the position that you have taken for this important debate.

Before I get to my comments about the debate, I would first like to tell you something about myself. I am 57 years old. I was raised in the Churches of Christ. My dad was an elder in the Churches of Christ. I currently attend a Church of Christ in the Houston, Texas area. For most of my life, I believed much the same way as you do about the inspired Word of God that we call the Bible. But then one day in 1999, I was having a discussion with an elder at the Church of Christ where I was a member about a certain passage in the New Testament writings. The elder claimed that this Bible passage was telling us about a particular sin that Christians must avoid. I pointed out to him that the actual words in the passage made no mention of such a sin. The elder's response was, "Well, it is implied." For many days after that discussion, I thought about what that elder had said. I studied the passage very carefully. I studied all the other Bible passages that pertained to the same subject. Eventually, I became convinced that this elder was totally wrong. What he believed and was teaching others about this "sin" was not in the Bible. The only way this elder could "create" this sin was to add words to the Scriptures. And then I realized that this "sin" was not even "implied" at all, as he had claimed. Instead, it was "made up."

And that's when it occurred to me: If this elder was teaching people about a "made up" sin, then how many other things were being taught within the Churches of Christ that were not really in the Bible, but were instead fabricated by the minds of mere men? I decided that I had to find the Truth for myself, and that I could no longer rely simply upon what I had always been taught to be necessary for man's salvation.

Thus, I suspended my beliefs about everything that I had been taught all of my life concerning Jesus, Christians, worship, salvation, sin, and each of the many other New Testament teachings. It was as though I knew nothing about what God expected from me. The only thing that I knew to be true was that I was created by a Supreme Being. And my faith in that Creator caused me to believe that He had chosen to communicate with me through the writings of certain men which were then compiled into a document that came to be known as the New Testament. Then I started a very careful reading of those New Testament writings, searching for the words that told me what was expected of me by my Creator. Here are just a few of the things that I found within those inspired writings.

My Creator loves me very much. So much so that He sacrificed His Son for me. He expects me to live my life in a very special way. He has described this lifestyle, and has sent His Son to earth as an example of such. He has given me some do's and don'ts. Everlasting life with Him is available to me as a gift from Him. He tells me clearly how to obtain that gift.

I also found out some other things during this careful searching of the New Testament writings. I discovered that many of the teachings of the Churches of Christ are not really found in these inspired writings. Of course, all the verses they use to "prove" those particular teachings are there. But, without the preconceived ideas about what those verses are "proving," it became very obvious to me that those verses do not prove their point of view at all. A person would have to add a lot of words to some of those verses before they would ever actually read the way I have been taught to believe them.

When I completed this thorough study of the New Testament writings, I realized something very profound. The Church of Christ was teaching man-made "laws" as the commands of God. Now, let me make this clear: I came to this conclusion on my own. I was not aware at that time that Al Maxey, or any other person in the Churches of Christ, had already come to the same conclusion. In fact, for a while I thought that I might be the first one to have reached this conclusion. I was wrong, of course. But the point here is that the evidence is right there in the New Testament writings for everyone to see. You just have to read it for what it is, and not attempt to make it something that it is not. More on this later.

I decided that my next step would be to actually visit the worship services of some of the other Christian denominations just to find out what was going on there. Up until that time, of course, I had never attended any of those other places where people gathered on Sunday mornings. That would have been contrary to what I had been taught all of my life. I could go straight to hell for even visiting one of those places and for listening to their "false teachings," right?! And let's not forget about their "evil instrumental music." But, I took the risk. I visited several of the larger "name brand" denominations, and a few of those "new fangled" churches that do not claim to be affiliated with any big organization. What I discovered, in every single case, were people worshipping God in ways that were obviously very sincere and heartfelt. Their worship services were clearly a bit different than what I was used to, but in many ways they were very similar to the worship service at a Church of Christ.

Then I started doing some research on all of the different religious denominations to find out what each of them believe about the Bible. Did you know that most of them claim that the whole Bible is the inspired Word of God, and that man should not add to or take away from these writings? I even found a few denominations that claim they can back up everything they believe with "book, chapter and verse." Now, where have I heard that before?! And yet, even with this attitude toward the Bible, they all believed and worshipped just a little bit differently from the Churches of Christ, and from each other. And so I wondered: exactly how does that happen? But then the answer came to me. When all of these Christian groups, including the Church of Christ group, are confronted with Bible passages that aren't clear, or that seem to be missing some pieces, they just make something up.

Well, after a few months of doing this research and "field work" on these other Christian groups, I returned to regular attendance at a Church of Christ. You might wonder why, and I would answer you this way: because, in my opinion, most of those other Christian groups have some misguided beliefs on subjects about which I personally believe the Bible gives us very clear guidance. Baptism (the when and how of it) happens to be one of those subjects. Now, wouldn't it be great if the people of the Church of Christ group could help those in the other groups to correct those few errors in their doctrine? But, this cannot happen at the present time, and I will tell you why. The numerous man-made "laws" that are taught by the Churches of Christ have destroyed the credibility of this group of Christians. Their preposterous claim that the fires of hell await all those who do not follow their particular fabricated "pattern" causes almost everyone outside that group to dismiss everything else that the Churches of Christ teach.

The reason that your debate with Al Maxey is so important, is that it will help to expose these man-made "laws" to that Christian group (the Churches of Christ) that really does have something important to offer the world. The Church of Christ group must stop trying to bind their assumptions upon other Christians. If this group could ever come to realize its mistakes and make some necessary changes in what it teaches, it could be much more effective in its efforts to spread the true message of the gospel to the rest of the world.

Let me attempt to demonstrate something for you with the following illustration. Let's say that I have a small box with something hidden inside of it. I ask you, along with two other people, to guess what is inside this box. But first, I give the following three clues to each of you:

  1. It comes from a plant.
  2. It is a key ingredient in a refreshing drink.
  3. Many people love to have this drink with their meals.

Now, you might say that the obvious answer is "tea leaves." Truly, that does indeed fit all of the clues ... especially if you are a tea lover, which includes most people that I know. You are thus convinced that the box must contain tea leaves. One of the other two people, however, says that the box contains a lemon. Well, let's see -- lemonade is a refreshing drink made from something that does come from a plant. But, what about the last clue? Do "many people" love to drink lemonade with their meals? Well, I suppose that depends on what is meant by the phrase "many people." That might mean 100 to me. But, it might mean 1000 to you. There is no definite number that defines "many." Therefore, it cannot be denied that there may be "many" people who like lemonade with their meals. So, the box could contain a lemon. The third person steps up and says that his guess for the contents of the box is barley. So, how did he come up with that? Well, he must be thinking about beer. But, you think, "That can't be right." Why? Because beer is not a refreshing drink to you, and you would never consume beer with your meals. Nevertheless, beer easily fits all the clues, even though it would not agree with your interpretation of the clues. Then I declare, "The game is over," and start to walk away. "Wait," you cry. "What's in the box?" To that I reply, "What is in the box is not important. I have decided not to specify the contents. What you should remember, however, is this -- it's important to drink plenty of liquids; it's good for your health." Later when someone asks you what you learned from the game, you inform them that you learned drinking liquids is important to one's health. And then you declare to them that the box contained tea leaves, and thus we must all drink tea with our meals.

Hopefully, you would not really bind upon others such assumptions. But, can you not see that this is the exact approach you are taking with the Bible? You take passages in the New Testament writings that do not make clear, specific statements about God's plan of salvation, and so you look for other clues. You find clues that fit your way of thinking, and that then becomes the meaning of the passage in your own mind, and everyone else must accept your meaning or they will surely be committing sin. And yet, can you not realize that it is just as easy for someone else to come up with a different meaning about the same passage based on some other clues that they have found? Instead of trying to understand passages that are vague and not clear in their meaning, you should forget about those passages, and instead just look at the ones that clearly specify what we are to do. They are the ones that are important.

The Bible is not a book of secret codes with hidden clues that must be discovered in order to find our way to heaven. A person does not have to be a Bible scholar, or even be instructed by a Bible scholar, to find out how to please our Creator. Remember: Those who profess to be wise, may actually be fools. The Bible is easy to understand when you stop trying to make every verse into a command. The New Testament documents are a collection of stories and letters that were written by several men to the people of their own particular time. They had no idea you and I would be reading what they wrote 2000 years later. But, God knew. And so He guided their thoughts and their pens, and He made certain that everything we would need to know would be put down in writing for us to read. These writings give us everything that we must know about salvation. And it's all stuffed right in there between Paul cutting off his hair because he had taken a vow and the very detailed description of his ship's crew battling the storm, and their subsequent shipwreck on the island of Malta. It is squeezed in there between Paul's greetings to his many Christian friends at the end of his letter to the Romans and all the seals, trumpets and bowls that we read about in the book of Revelation. Seriously, Darrell, do you really believe that the entirety of the New Testament writings (every word of them) must be understood by us today, and that every single passage gives us some sort of instruction regarding salvation?

We are given plenty of information that tells us what we should and should not do. For instance, we know for certain that murderers, liars and thieves are not on the list of those going to heaven. We know the importance of baptism for those seeking salvation, and we know that we should be helping the poor and the needy. You see, we have commands and instructions that we must obey. But not every single word in those inspired writings of the New Testament was written to us. Can't you understand that if God had wanted to write a "rule book" for us to obey, He could have done so just as easily as He gave Moses the Ten Commandments and the multitude of other laws that were given for the Israelites to follow? Now, surely you know that the Scriptures tell us that we are no longer under law?! That means there is NO rule book. But God has given us some clearly defined commands. And He doesn't expect you, or any other person, to have to search for clues and piece together a puzzle to uncover additional commands or some hidden pathway that leads to our salvation.

I would challenge you, Mr. Broking, to do just what I did. I challenge everyone who believes the way that you do. Forget about everything you have been taught regarding our God's expectations of you. Then read the Scriptures and find out what they say for yourself. Do not search for "proof" of things you already believe. Search for things to believe, and then formulate your beliefs only on the words that you find in the New Testament writings, not the words you must insert in order to get the meaning that you want. If you will do this, you will realize that you have been obeying "commands" that have not really been given to us by our Creator. You will discover that "laws" have been created by ordinary men. These men had good intentions, but they were fallible men. They got some things wrong! They made assumptions and taught them as commands. And their teaching has continued down through many generations. You came by it honestly. But now is your chance to correct those errors. When you discover the Truth contained in the Bible, and realize that God's plan of salvation is simple, and has been communicated to us in clear and very defined terms, it will make you feel wonderful. And you will want to share that knowledge with others. The Truth will most certainly set you free!

Near the beginning of your third affirmative to the debate with Al Maxey you said that you would try to include your readers' comments within the body of your subsequent posts. Now, I know that this is a very long email, but I do believe your supporters, and others who are following this debate, could benefit by some of the things I have included in my comments here. Thus, I truly hope that you are able to make good on your offer, and that you will include this response, or at least some of it, within your next post. Thank you again for your invitation to respond to you, and thank you for taking the time to read my comments. Please accept the challenge!

Concluding Thoughts

I genuinely appreciate the thoughts of this dear brother from Houston, and truly hope that Darrell, as well as others, will give some serious consideration to what he has written here. He offers some good insights. Although his analogy of the box with something hidden inside has some obvious difficulties associated with it (most analogies break down at some point), nevertheless the point he has sought to make is a valid one. There are simply some things within God's written revelation that are not specified. In many areas of life we are given the freedom to form our own judgments as to what specific attitude or action might bring the most glory to God and prove the most beneficial to those about us. Guided by those principles and precepts that are clearly specified, we employ our hearts and minds to choose the best options our understanding, opportunity and ability afford to us. In such areas, there are no right or wrong options (unless they clearly are in direct opposition to those guiding precepts and principles, as well as contrary to the nature of our God as revealed to us). The problem that has promoted division in the Family of God, of course, is that we too often assume our choices in such areas of divine silence constitute the will of God Himself. Thus, we seek to bind our choices upon the rest of humanity as terms of fellowship and conditions of salvation. When others refuse to surrender their freedom in Christ to our deduced decrees, we "mark" them as "apostates" and separate ourselves from them. This has generated literally hundreds and thousands of feuding factions within the Family of our Father, for each party perceives its own choices to be infallible, as well as indicative of the divine will. They are neither.

This brave brother has challenged Darrell to employ a healthy dose of Paul's advice in 1 Thess. 5:21 -- "Examine everything carefully, and hold fast to that which is good." I have been issuing this same challenge to my brethren for years. Hand-me-down "truth" can be tainted by the personal perceptions and preferences of past generations, who may have meant well, but whose understandings were still those of fallible men. We should never blindly embrace the thinking and practices of others, no matter how dear those persons may be to us, or how cherished their traditional practices have come to be regarded. Everything must be set aside, and we must approach the Scriptures afresh, with a prayer to the Father that His Spirit might guide us into an understanding of His will for our individual lives. In those areas where He has specifically commanded some attitude or action, we must comply without question. However, in the countless areas of genuine biblical silence, where He has left much UNspecified, we must use our best judgment in light of His guiding principles and precepts (such as the need to love, to be compassionate, to be benevolent, etc.). In such areas of personal choice, we must never assume our choice is His decree. Yes, we are individually bound by our own perceptions, but we have no right to bind them upon others. "The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God" [Romans 14:22]. Others may have differing convictions. They are bound to live by them. Neither you nor they, however, may judge or condemn the other; rather, you must accept each other. This is unity in diversity, and this is the principle taught in Romans 14. It is time that we, in the Family of God, learned this lesson ... and began practicing it.

Jesus Christ took a very dim view of those legalistic patternists of His own day who sought to promote a rigid regulation of others according to the perceptions and practices of their party. Some of His harshest words were spoken to these sectarians who were steeped in their own self-righteousness. Indeed, He declared their worship of God was in vain. They didn't have a clue!! Paul was equally hard on those who sought to impose law upon those free in Christ. He declared them to be accursed, fallen from grace and severed from Christ. Indeed, he stated that he wished those who were troubling the church from the "circumcision party" would just go all the way and castrate themselves!! An unpleasant thought -- tough language -- but, these people were destroying souls. You don't coddle such perverters of Truth; you deal with them as they deserve. These perverters of Truth and murderers of saints (spiritually speaking) still exist today, and they need to be exposed for who and what they are. It is this I seek to do, in large part, through my writings (as do a great many others). The debate with Darrell Broking is serving to shine a light upon the teachings, practices and even the character (or lack thereof) of these practitioners and promoters of legalistic patternism, the theological offspring of the Pharisees of old. May God the Father, through the indwelling and empowering of His Holy Spirit, grant unto us the courage of conviction to stand firm against their pernicious doctrine, and may the eyes of those they have misled be opened to God's grace and the freedom He offers in Christ Jesus His Son.

Down, But Not Out
A Study of Divorce and Remarriage
in Light of God's Healing Grace

A 200 page book by Al Maxey
Publisher: (301) 695-1707
Reflections on the Holy Spirit
A Published Tract by Al Maxey
Order From: J. Elbert Peters:
The Maxey-Broking Debate
on the Doctrine of Patternism

{This debate is now in progress}
Readers' Reflections

From a Missionary in Peru:

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

From a Missionary in Bulgaria:

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

From a Reader in the Philippines:

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

From a Reader in California:

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

From a Minister in New Jersey:

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

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

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

From a Reader in North Carolina:

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

From a Minister in Tennessee:

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

From a Reader in South Dakota:

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

From a Reader in Indiana:

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

From a Minister in California:

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

From a Reader in New Mexico:

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

From a Reader in California:

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

From a Reader in New Mexico:

Dear Bro. Al, Hooray for the thought of burning down all the church buildings (boxes)! Three times I have been with congregations meeting in temporary quarters and without the aid of a preacher -- the zeal was contagious, visitors abounded, and everyone participated. But, they couldn't wait to purchase real estate and hire a professional preacher so they could all go to sleep in their padded pews. Two of those three groups have declined dramatically since moving into a building and hiring clergy. I spent five years in a home church and learned more Bible there than during 45 years of pew sitting.

From a Reader in Georgia:

Dear Brother Al, I have been reading your Reflections since you first started them back in 2002, and enjoy reading them. I served for 13 years in Zimbabwe and then 7 years in the UK as a missionary, and those that disagreed with me were at times very critical and seemingly self-righteous in their judgments. You get that all the time, however, and so I've been praying for you to have patience! Please keep up the good work, and thank you for your continued faith and perseverance in the face of much undiluted criticism.

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

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

From a Minister in Kansas:

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

From a New Reader in Tennessee:

Dear Bro. Al, Thanks so much for adding me to your mailing list for Reflections. I was introduced to your writings by a friend. I especially agree with your findings on the topic of marriage, divorce and remarriage. I've been leaning that way for years. The Lord added me to His church at the age of 13. I have been a teen and adult teacher for years, led singing for 37 years, and also spent 14 years preaching at a small congregation here in Tennessee. There are things I believe to be true that, sadly, I cannot profess from the pulpit or in a classroom. I do encourage all that I teach to be thinkers, to ask questions, and to develop their faith. However, at the congregation I am now at we have elders and a preacher who are very rigid in the tradition of the Church of Christ, and they are very vocal in condemning anyone or any church that dares to stray from that tradition. Thanks again for your work, and may God bless you.

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Brother Al, I soooo appreciate your work, and the gifts God has given you! I have read all of your debates, and even sent Pastor David Martin -- The Maxey-Martin Dialogue -- an email asking him several questions. He wrote back (and these are his words), "I don't know how you can read anything Al Maxey writes. He's so confusing and boring." And, no, he never even answered my questions ... but, whatever! I appreciate you!! I was raised in a very legalistic church, but was blessed to have "escaped" during my college years! Thanks again, Bro. Al, for your heart, and for your desire to serve God first -- and not be bound to a "Church of Christ" doctrine/dogma. I truly love our heritage, but I despise our rigid clinging to traditions and "old teachings" that do not reflect the true heart of God. Keep up your wonderful work!

From a Minister in California:

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

From an Elder in Texas:

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

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

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

From a Reader in Scotland:

Dear Bro. Al, I was a member of a Church of Christ here in Scotland for around 20 years, and I was always taught by them that instrumental music was "wrong" and that God was "displeased" if one practiced it. One brother actually told me that it is a sin worthy of being sent to hell for. I believe God is much bigger than that, however, and that He is a loving Father. The stupidity of this campaign against instrumental music used to accompany songs of praise unto God was highlighted for me one summer around ten years ago when a young man (about 19 years old) from a Church of Christ in one of the southern states of America stayed with us during a "Mission Campaign." He had brought with him a CD player and a bunch of CDs to listen to. This young man was listening to music that had ungodly lyrics and was peppered with bad language. Yet he insisted that it was wrong of me to listen to my CDs of uplifting and praise songs because they included instruments! My family left the regular meetings of the Church of Christ nearly five years ago. It was heart-breaking, but we believe it was vital to our spiritual survival. With regard to their view of those outside their group there persists an almost snobbish sense of "serves them right; they deserve to go to hell; they don't love the Truth like we do; we must be the 'Chosen Ones' because we have the Truth, and they don't; they are just deluding themselves by thinking that they have a relationship with God; we have all the correct doctrine, not them." It is my hope that all of those who are now caught up in the "rules" game will find that Jesus has come to set them FREE. May God bless you, Al Maxey, as you continue the good fight!!

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

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

From a Minister in Florida:

Bro. Al, I just received a phone call from a fellow Christian in Missouri. He was dealing with the anti-Sunday School issue. In searching the Internet I came across your web site and Reflections #184 -- Raikes' Ragged Regiment: Reflecting on the Sunday School and Non-Sunday School Movements. I will pass this article and web site along to my friend in Missouri, who also served in Vietnam around the same time that you served there. He was a crew chief on the helicopters. By the way, I worshipped with the congregation in Kaiserslautern, Germany in 1960-62 (the same place you preached about 20 years later). Hans Nowak was the minister then. I really like your web site and plan to use some of the material. I would also like to be put on your mailing list for your weekly Reflections.

From a Reader in Texas:

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

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