by Al Maxey

Issue #380 ------- January 5, 2009
There is no change from darkness to light or
from inertia to movement without emotion.

Carl Jung {1875-1961}

Expressing Emotion in Worship
Does Emotionalism Negate True Worship?

A youth minister, and Reflections reader, who lives and labors in the beautiful state of Georgia, recently sent me an article that appeared in the May 4, 2008 issue of "View," which is a publication of the Folsom Point Church of Christ in Folsom, California. David Posey is the minister for this congregation, as well as one of the elders and the editor of "View." The featured article of this particular issue, which the youth minister from Georgia asked me to read and evaluate, is titled The Difference Between Emotions and Emotionalism in Worship. It was written by William Stewart (no other information about this person was provided in the publication, nor is he listed on the web site as one of the leaders of the Folsom Point congregation).

The youth minister wrote, "Brother Maxey, a brother in the church sent me this article about emotions during worship because I had declared one Sunday night in a sermon I preached that I longed for the day when we would become a church that is not afraid to outwardly express our inner emotions to God during worship. I gave three examples from the NT of people who had been changed by Jesus and acted outwardly because of that change. This article attempts to put a limit on our emotions. I was wondering (if you have time) if you would read it and maybe provide some insight on this in an upcoming issue of Reflections. Thank you!"

At this brother's request, I read the article in question, and I have since done some reflection upon the points presented therein. On the whole, I think William Stewart (the author of the article) did a fine job of presenting his views, and, frankly, I agree with much of what he had to say. For example, Stewart provides the readers of his article with the following quote: "Truth without emotion produces dead orthodoxy and a church full of artificial admirers ... On the other hand, emotion without truth produces empty frenzy and cultivates shallow people who refuse the discipline of rigorous thought." I found it extremely interesting that Stewart nowhere informed the reader of the identity of the person who wrote this statement that he felt to be so appropriate to his argument, although once the identity of the author is known it may become clearer why Stewart withheld the information. The man who penned the above words is the well-known Dr. John Stephen Piper, a Baptist theologian, pastor and author, who has served as the Senior Pastor of the Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota since 1980. He characterizes himself as "a Christian Hedonist," a phrase which has generated not a little controversy within the Christian community. The highest aim of man is "the pursuit of joy in God." The Westminster Shorter Catechism (composed in the 1640s in Britain) declared the "chief end of man" was "to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." Dr. Piper suggests this might far more correctly be phrased: "to glorify God BY enjoying Him forever." In other words, Pastor John Piper is a strong proponent of giving expression to our emotions in our worshipful praise to God, although he would have these emotions under the guiding influence of eternal Truth.

Clearly, William Stewart tends to agree with this thinking from Dr. John Piper (which teaching appeared in Piper's 1986 book -- Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist). I believe one can now see why Stewart was seemingly reluctant to acknowledge to his readers the source of his quote!! Stewart likely was hesitant to expose himself to the godless tactics of the legalists, who have a tendency to practice an extreme form of "guilt by association." I myself have experienced such vicious assaults, and they can be quite maddening! I quoted Helen Keller (of all people) in one of my Reflections, for example, and was immediately attacked by a preacher within the Contending for the Faith group for embracing this woman's theology. To be perfectly honest, I did not even know what her theology was -- I just happened to like the quote I used from her, and felt it to be pertinent to the topic under consideration, just as William Stewart apparently did with the quote from Dr. Piper (and as the apostle Paul did when, on occasion, he would quote non-Christian poets and writers ... clearly without having embraced every tenet of their theology by so doing). But, such are the tactics of these "heretic hunters," thus I can indeed sympathize with Stewart for hesitating to provide the source of the quote (if, in fact, that was the reason he failed to provide it, which to me seems likely). He simply prefaced the quote by saying, "One writer has said ..."

Let's examine a little more closely the statement by Dr. Piper which was quoted by William Stewart in his aforementioned article. The first phrase of this quote is -- "Truth without emotion produces dead orthodoxy." I believe there is obvious merit to this observation. I have been preaching for well over 30 years now (and have been "in the pews," so to speak, much longer than that), and I cannot even begin to tell you how many men and women I have witnessed over the years sitting motionless and emotionless in their padded pews week after week, year after year, with expressions of pained resignation on their faces. Yes, they may have been in possession of God's Truth, but it hadn't moved them! "Dwight Moody used to say, 'People have just enough religion to make themselves miserable; they cannot be happy at a wild party and they are uncomfortable at a prayer meeting.' How true it is!! Many people have just enough religion to be miserable, but not enough to enjoy it. And so often this is because they have no idea what Christian life is really like" [Dr. Robert H. Schuller, Hours of Power, p. 111]. By employing the word "enjoy," Dr. Schuller has "flirted" with the premise of Dr. Piper -- "the pursuit of joy in God." The Christian life ought to be a joyous one, and this should include our worshipful expressions unto our Father. If your possession of Truth has produced no emotion in your life, you're in possession of a lifeless orthodoxy ... and few things in Christendom are more pitiful than that. Dr. Piper characterizes such people as "artificial admirers." There is a surface admiration of Truth accompanied by a spurious affectation of Truth. It is a sham, since Truth has not truly impacted the hearts and minds of the admirers, thus leaving their lives unaffected ("affected," by the way, means "emotionally moved" according to Webster's New World Dictionary).

"On the other hand," writes Dr. Piper, "emotion without truth produces empty frenzy." I'm reminded of a similar thought from the pen of Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931), who wrote, "Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul. If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas." Emotions can indeed manifest themselves in a somewhat "frenzied" state, however without the guiding influence of divine Truth, our emotions are adrift. Piper describes such people as "shallow" ... "who refuse the discipline of rigorous thought." In the words of Gibran, they are ruled by "passion" and not "reason." There is certainly nothing wrong with a disciple of Christ Jesus being passionate (having strong, intense feelings and emotions). Indeed, a disciple must be. But one's passions must be guided, controlled, channeled. This is where reason, thought and Truth come in. Truth without emotion, and emotion without Truth, are equally worthless in producing a fully functional and effective disciple of Christ capable of expressing himself or herself in a satisfactory and personally satisfying worship experience. There must be balance.

William Stewart, within his article in "View," quite correctly declares, "Without doubt, emotions have a place in worship. They are God-given, and when kindled and handled properly, worshippers are edified and God is glorified." I would agree completely. Worshipful expression devoid of any emotion is hollow and meaningless. It is nothing other than a robotic repetition of ritualistic rites performed at specific times in specific ways, and with such heartless, mindless, emotionless displays our Father is not impressed. Quoting from the prophet Isaiah, Jesus informed the scribes and Pharisees (the legalistic patternists of His day), "This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. In vain do they worship Me" [Matt. 15:8-9a]. Worship without emotion is worthless! Remove the heart from the One Body and it becomes lifeless ... and I'm sure we've all seen more than our share of lifeless congregations, completely lacking in heart and spirit. They are a pitiful sight, as is any individual disciple who feels he or she must suppress their emotions in order to be pleasing to their God.

Indeed, "worshipping God should bring a variety of emotions in us" [Stewart]. To state it another way: can worship even truly be worship if one's emotions are not engaged and evidenced?! I believe the answer is a resounding NO. Stewart rightly declares near the end of his article, "Emotion is necessary." In fact, he goes on to state, within his final sentence, that ideally, when God's people assemble in a corporate setting for times of edification and praise, "our emotions will most certainly be stirred, as will the emotions of all others" who have assembled together with us with right hearts! During such times of worshipful expression (whether corporately or individually) we should experience a wide range of emotions. We may well be moved to tears, for example, as we surround the Lord's Table and remember His suffering and sacrifice for us. We will certainly express our joy when one expresses a desire to embrace Jesus and turn from a life of sin. We'll lift up our voices, and perhaps even "holy hands," as we offer up songs of praise and prayers of thanksgiving and supplication. Again, whether alone or together with other believers, if our worshipful expressions are utterly devoid of heart and spirit (of emotion), they are worthless. Why? Because they are lifeless.

As one reads through the inspired Old Covenant and New Covenant writings, one will discover time and again the people of God evidencing their emotions as they come before their God in worship. In Acts 3 we find a man who had been lame from birth, and who, after being healed by Peter and John, "entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God" [vs. 8-9]. Is it acceptable in the sight of heaven to leap for joy and praise God at the same time? Apparently. At least there was no indication within the passage that God was displeased with this emotional display in the temple.

How can one keep from thinking of King David (a man after God's own heart) "leaping and dancing before the Lord" [2 Sam. 6:16], and "dancing before the Lord with all his might ... with shouting and the sound of the trumpet" while offerings and sacrifices were being made to the Lord God Almighty? Was our God displeased with this emotional display? No. But, Michal, David's wife, was, and "she despised him in her heart" for it. In fact, she later rebuked him for making a fool of himself [vs. 20]. However, David responded to her, "It was before the Lord ... therefore I will celebrate before the Lord" [vs. 21]. Who ended up being punished by God that day? "And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death" [vs. 23]. There are many lessons here, but we should not overlook one of the more obvious: God does not disapprove of emotional displays by those who come before Him with hearts fully devoted to Him. Indeed, it quite often tends to go rather badly for those who dare to criticize such emotion within worship and praise. Speaking of emotions in worship, remember Job?! After receiving the bad news that his children and their families were dead, "Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshipped" [Job 1:20]. What a powerful display of emotion in worship. Such an "outburst" would probably prompt a quick rebuke from the elders in many ultra-conservative congregations today! It didn't prompt one from GOD, however! Quite the contrary.

Somewhat reminiscent of Dr. Piper's belief that the highest aim of man is "the pursuit of joy in God," the inspired psalmist wrote, "Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, and His praise in the congregation of the godly ones. Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the sons of Zion rejoice in their King. Let them praise His name with dancing; let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre. For the Lord takes pleasure in His people" [Psalm 150:1-4a]. Sounds to me like our Father enjoys seeing His children enjoy being in His presence. Emotional displays during our worship before Him? Absolutely!! If GOD likes it, then that's good enough for me! Old Bro. So-and-So, who thinks we should all sit on our hands, wipe the smiles from our faces and stare straight forward can just "get over himself." In the early days of the American colonies, the Puritans used to whip people for smiling "in church," and one woman was even shipped back to England for daring to laugh out loud during "worship." I think some of our number would like a return to those "good old days." Somehow, I don't think our Father would approve!

I find it somewhat interesting that this youth minister in Georgia stated, "Brother Maxey, a brother in the church sent me this article about emotions during worship because I had declared one Sunday night in a sermon I preached that I longed for the day when we would become a church that is not afraid to outwardly express our inner emotions to God during worship." I get the impression from this statement that the brother who sent the article to this youth minister felt the article would serve as a rebuke to this preacher about the folly of emotion in worship. If that was his intent, then he picked the wrong article. William Stewart does NOT write against the display of emotions in worship. Just the opposite. He points out that they are absolutely necessary. He does caution the reader, however (and rightly so), that any good thing CAN be taken to irresponsible extremes and thus abused. This is certainly true of emotional displays in a corporate assembly designed for edification and praise. Stewart characterizes the negative side of this issue as "emotionalism." Emotions are good, he says; emotionalism is not. Stewart stated, "Webster's defines emotionalism as '...undue indulgence in or display of emotion...' When 'undue indulgence' is given to emotion, the result is more akin to a circus of giddy drunkards than a worship assembly." This, says William Stewart, is nothing other than "profane worship" ... "stirred by human manufacture." In Webster's New World Thesaurus, the primary synonym given for emotionalism is "hysteria," which is rarely perceived in a positive light, as we know that some have a talent for whipping up the emotions of a crowd to the point of hysteria (the Jews are seen doing this time and again against the Christians in the book of Acts).

I think most will admit that Stewart has a valid point here, although it must be acknowledged that there's clearly an element of subjectivity involved. In other words, what one particular group perceives to be a respectful, restrained display of valid emotions, another group may perceive to be a completely inappropriate display of emotionalism. In worshipful expression of emotions, one size does not fit all. There are many factors involved in what may or may not be an "appropriate display of emotions," including ethnicity, culture, faith-heritage, and the like. Displays that might seem tame and "reserved" among disciples in a small, remote village in Africa, could very well generate a case of the "vapors" among the "refined folk" of the more affluent suburbs of a large southern city. In other words, appropriateness with regard to emotion in worship is relative. No one group may make that determination for another group, and no single standard governs all (except for the standard of LOVE).

The apostle Paul makes it very clear that we should all be cognizant of how others might perceive our worshipful expressions, especially when these are displayed in a public setting. If the very people we are seeking to win over to a saving relationship with the Lord perceive us to be "out of our minds," our "witness" to them may well be jeopardized. Such can be the grave danger of irresponsible emotionalism (to use the word employed by Stewart) as opposed to the responsible display of natural, God-given emotions, guided by and under the influence of divine Truth. The apostle Paul dealt with this very issue within a corporate assembly of the saints in chapter 14 of his first epistle to the Corinthians. "If therefore the whole church should assemble together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad?" [vs. 23]. This is not speaking of emotions, per se, but the principle certainly applies. Perception is a powerful force, and how others perceive us will largely determine how spiritually influential we are allowed to be in their lives. Thus, urges Paul in much of the remainder of this chapter, "let all things be done for edification" [vs. 26]. Paul is most certainly NOT declaring here that tongues, psalms, teachings, revelations, interpretations and the like are inappropriate in the assembly. Far from it. He encourages such ... just as he would the display of emotions. He is simply advising that things be done in an "orderly," rather than a "confused," manner. "But, we cannot control our emotions," some might argue. Oh, yes you can! "For the spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets" [vs. 32]. Your emotions CAN be controlled, and thus expressed appropriately, rather than inappropriately.

Some would suggest (indeed, insist) that any display of emotion in worship is inappropriate ... and even sinful. This is NOT the teaching of Scripture, however. Can emotion deteriorate into emotionalism? Of course it can. Thus, we need to exercise care in the expression of our emotions in worship. But, nowhere does Scripture dictate that our emotions be suppressed in worship. Just the opposite, as a matter of fact. However, those who seek to manufacture or manipulate the emotions of others, and to do so for a showy display of "perceived piety," have utterly missed the point of the purpose and place of emotion in worship. Emotions should arise naturally from one's inner being during worship, they should not be fabricated and foisted upon another in an attempt to "create an atmosphere" of worship within an assembly. When hearts are genuinely touched and moved by the Spirit of the Lord, emotions will be exhibited. They do not need to be coerced from a crowd by skilled worship leaders. Much too often our assemblies become little more than carefully orchestrated performances, rather than participatory events where man communes with his Maker. When the latter occurs, we truly find what our Father intended -- "True worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshippers" [John 4:23]. I would urge the reader to refer to Reflections #112, where I examine the meaning of this passage in quite some depth. The terms "spirit" and "truth" do not convey what we have traditionally been taught from our pulpits and papers by well-meaning, but misguided, evangelists and editors.

We should also note from our Savior's statement to the woman from Samaria that some degree of knowledge is very vital to acceptable worship to our God. He informed her, "You worship that which you do not know; we worship that which we know" [John 4:22]. Some feel this may refer to knowledge of proper worship "patterns" and "forms." I seriously doubt that is what our Lord had in mind. More likely is a "knowing" that signifies relationship. "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never KNEW you'" [Matt. 7:22-23]. All the worshipful emotions in the world will avail little if they are not directed toward One whom we know, and with whom we seek deeper relationship. If you want to read an account of a great display of emotion in worship that was void of knowledge of the One True God, and devoid of any relationship with Him, and the end result of such emotion-filled worship, I would refer you to the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18. These men were certainly emotional, and undoubtedly sincere, in their worship, but it was entirely misdirected ... and it cost them their lives!

We should probably also note, just in passing, that there is just as much danger from the abuse of tradition in our worshipful expression as there is from the abuse of emotion. Both of these have a legitimate purpose and place, but neither ought to be the primary focus or vehicle for worship. Just as valid emotions can devolve into emotionalism, so can valued traditions devolve into an invalidating traditionalism. Jesus rebuked the legalists of His day, saying, "you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition" [Matt. 15:6]. "In vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men" [vs. 9]. I fear that there is much within our traditional "worship services" that has precious little to do with God's expectations, and far more to do with our own. Thus, those ultra-conservatives who are upset over "emotion in worship" may just be the very ones most distant from the Lord by their "tradition in worship." "Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you" [Matt. 7:1-2].

To sum up, it is my studied conviction that worship devoid of emotion (whether that worship be corporate or individual) is worthless. Worship, according to B. W. Moore, is "the expression of the adoration of one's heart." I like that definition, and believe it to be biblically-based. Thus, our worship may take many forms, and men should be free from unnecessary restraint in their expression of the adoration of their hearts. Are there potential abuses possible when such freedom is granted? Of course. Any good thing can be abused. However, the dangers of a rigid regulation and restriction of one's freedom to express the adoration of their hearts are far greater, as such can lead to a cold, lifeless formalism and traditionalism in worship, and we know how our Lord feels about that. Therefore, let us come before the presence of our Lord with a responsible display of our God-given emotions, worshipping Him with our hearts and minds and bodies, in spirit and truth. "For such people the Father seeks to be His worshippers" [John 4:23].

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Down, But Not Out
A Study of Divorce and Remarriage
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Readers' Reflections

From a Minister in Arkansas:

Dear Brother Maxey, Enclosed is a check for all your Reflections CD's. If they are still available, I would certainly love to have the bonus CD's too. Thank you so much for your scholarly approach to the Scriptures!

From a Minister/Author in Tennessee:

Brother Al, I have noted your ad for your 2008 PowerPoint Sermons CD, which includes various additional Bible lessons. I would like to place an order for it. I am especially interested in your lessons on "The History and Transmission of the Bible." You and I do not see eye-to-eye on various matters, but that does not keep us from loving and respecting one another, and, hopefully, learning from one another! "We be brethren." For 2009, I wish for our nation and our world a higher level of morality. For the precious church of our Lord Jesus Christ, I wish for a greater commitment to "the simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Cor. 11:3). For you, I wish that all will be well with you and yours (3 John 2). I shall look forward to receiving your 2008 CD.

From a Reader in New Mexico:

Brother Al, Your study of "The Comma Johanneum" (Reflections #379) was a great article on a blatant shortcoming of the King James Version. An enlightened Church of Christ friend of mine has started a manuscript on some other KJV problems, pointing out the Catholic background of many of the translators and some of the accompanying baggage. Even though I have used the ASV for years, I cannot believe how closed-minded we in the Churches of Christ have been to newer or improved translations and versions. Again, thanks for your highly informative message.

From a Reader in North Carolina:

Brother Al, "The Comma Johanneum" was another fine Bible study! I want to wish you and your good wife Shelly a very Merry Christmas and God's blessings on you and your ministry in the coming New Year. As for those who are so brazen in their bold condemnation of you to hell --- they have their "reward" coming too. God's peace and good will for you, brother.

From a Reader in Washington:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Brother Al, and thank you for a very interesting and informative 2008. It is exciting to think about what the Lord has in store for us in the new year to come! May His star always shine on you and Shelly.

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Dear Brother Al, Great article! I have always found the KJV to be confusing. No wonder, when parts of it are based upon forged documents! In your article you wrote: "In time, hopefully, this spurious addition to God's inspired Word will be eliminated entirely from all versions. This will only come about when people are willing to open their eyes to Truth, and dare to stand firmly for that Truth regardless of the consequences. That forward progress is only hindered by the stubborn resistance of those entrenched in their tradition. May God help us all to increasingly counter such ignominious ignorance." Brother, it will take either an act of divine intervention (not going to happen) or the death of a few generations of legalists before we reach a state of searching the Scriptures for Truth rather than using them as a means for justifying our traditional ignorance!

From a Minister in Arkansas:

Dear Brother Al, The quote you used from Charles Seymour is wonderful --- "We seek the truth, and we will endure the consequences." I will have to repeat that one! More than once I have asked the "KJV Only" folks: "If translators are working in a country or region where the Bible has never been translated into the local language, should they translate the KJV or translate the best available Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek manuscripts?" While the KJV has been a great blessing to the world in a great many ways (and it was a thrill for me, in 1980, to sit in the Jerusalem Chamber in Westminster Abbey where King James met with the translators and accepted their finished work), nevertheless there are many other fine translations today which serve us far better. Thanks again for your studies, and may God bless you.

From a Minister in Florida:

Brother Al, I am amazed that you chose to write on the problem of the "Comma Johanneum," and even more amazed that you could succeed in making it so lucid!! This causes me to recall the remark Dr. Rodney Cloud made as a matter of record to his Hebrew class at Lipscomb. His reply to the smart-aleck campus cop who asked him, "Do I need to know Hebrew to get to heaven?" was classic -- "No, but somebody does!" Meaning: someone needed to handle the text competently so that it might be translated into a language that meant something even to thick-headed campus policemen! My contention with the KJV Only crowd, who are mostly preachers, is twofold -- (1) Preachers like the KJV because the masses have to come to them to have it explained, which makes these preachers feel important and necessary, and (2) Reading the KJV produces a religious euphoria, a sense of piety, if you will, that does not necessitate taking the message seriously, because one has such trouble hearing the language with any direct sense for application. One feels religious, but otherwise unresponsive. That is all some people want: sentience without sensibility. Well, it's time to stop (as I'm beginning to make sense even to myself). I am always blessed by your thoughts.

From a Minister in Texas:

Brother Al, I must confess that due to time constraints caused by my two jobs of preaching and home building, I do not always have time to read your Reflections. But, "The Comma Johanneum" really got my attention. Now, I am really reflecting on your Reflections. May I have permission to post this article on my web site? Brother Al, thank you so much for all you do. I have no idea where you get the time or energy to do all that you do, but please don't burn out! We all need your thoughts, your life and your work!! May God bless you and yours!

From a Reader in Kentucky:

Brother Al, I was raised a Catholic, was converted and became a Southern Baptist at age 35, and then on to the Church of Christ about three years ago. I was attending at a Non-Institutional congregation here in Kentucky until just recently, but I no longer have a desire to be a part of this group. Let me explain --- I had been doing a lot of research on the Churches of Christ and stumbled upon your web site. I then began reading your Reflections articles ... and they have floored me!! You were talking about a lot of the very issues that I had already begun thinking about and questioning in my own mind, but never guessed that someone in the church was actually courageous enough to speak out about in public. If someone ever spoke as you do in this area of Kentucky, they would be attacked. I was told by the elders of this congregation that nobody is "as sound as we are," and that if others don't do things the way "we do" (the pattern), then they will lose their souls eternally. I am now trying to show these people that they are binding laws upon men that the Lord has not bound, and they are trying to "win me back." Brother Al, you have really helped me! Thank you for your Reflections articles!! Sadly, the Church of Christ, as I have experienced it thus far, does not go into all the world to preach the gospel, they just sit in their little buildings and "rip to shreds" all those around them. Thank you again for your service to Christ, and thank you also for your service to our country! May God bless you and your family.

From a Minister in Texas:

Brother Maxey, I have been a member of and preacher for the Lord's church now for many years. With respect to the Sons of Demas Internet discussion group, which is run by Keith Sisman, a preacher in England at the Ramsey Church of Christ, the tone and tenor of many of the discussions on there is humorous and good-hearted ... UNTIL there is something "doctrinal" brought up, and THEN, it seems, this group tends to revel in vilifying other brethren. They actually become almost giddy when they have something new to discuss that someone has taught "incorrectly." Your name has been brought up repeatedly! They are attempting to portray you as someone who is in "obvious error," but what this has done, however, is to help me begin to think about a whole lot of things differently than I have ever thought about them before!! You are obviously a busy man, but I want to reach out to you and see if I can learn a few things from you. I'm trying to see things in Scripture for what they are, not just the way I have been taught them for years. When I read the Sons of Demas discussions, I am actually scared by what I see there. I do not perceive Jesus and His love and devotion for saving men. What I see are vilifications and hatred and loathing for one's fellow man. When I read some of your own quotes from your writings that were placed on that list, and when I followed the links to your own web site, what I discovered was a man willing to present Jesus as the Savior that He is, and not the "heretic" some have tried to make you out to be!! I can tell you this --- a LOT of what YOU say makes a lot more sense in the context of the New Testament Scriptures than the legalistic doctrines and practices I've struggled to defend for years!! So, if you have some time to help me, please let me know.

From Darrell Broking in Pensacola, Florida:

Al, I really believe that when a false teacher like you (or like the prophets Elijah took care of) influences people to the degree that you have, that, like the prophets of Baal, you need to be mocked so that your error can be seen in its stupidity and ignorance. I believe that by demonstrating that you are a dufus in your error that the hearts of some will be directed back to God -- and I have already seen that happen. If we were under the Old Law I believe that an Elijah would run you right down to the Kishon and fix your problem for good. You have influenced many to sin unto death, and so I pray that you will continue to show your stupidity so that Daniel Denham can continue to show how ignorant you are when it comes to the Scriptures, and so that I can have more stuff to place on my web site so others can also see what and who you are. I really wish that you would repent, but if you won't, then I will help others see the stupidity of your ways.

From Daniel Denham in Newport News, Virginia:

Al, Are you going to include a warning on your CD's like the Surgeon General's warning on cigarette packs? -- "Warning: This lie-filled poison is dangerous to your spiritual health. If you listen to Al Maxey and obey his message you will wind up in Hell." Truth in advertising, Al.

From Daniel Coe in Shawnee, Kansas:

Al, Do yourself a favor, OK? Open your Bible (if you have one) to Isaiah 1:10-17. Now, listen real close, OK? Yes, we do know it is very hard for you to listen to God's Word, but give it a try, Al. Just this once, OK? Open your Bible to Isaiah 1. If you can't find it, then look in the index -- it will tell you what page Isaiah is on. Now, real carefully, read verses 10-17. Where you see the words "rulers of Sodom," replace them with "elder at Cuba Avenue." Where you see the words "people of Gomorrah," replace them with "author of Reflections." Now, in verses 11-17, when you see words like "offerings," "oblations," "sacrifice" and "new moons," just replace them all with "Al Maxey's doctrine." Doing this will help you to get a really good idea of just how God regards you and your damnable doctrines. Now, Al, once you get this done, go back to verses 4-6 and replace words like "sinful nation," "evil doers" and "children" with "Al Maxey." Once you have completed all this (if you can even read), then read once again verses 4-6 and "reflect" on just how bad the condition of your soul is. Al, these are all things upon which you will have much time to "reflect" in Hell.

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Brother Al, I hope this finds you doing well. I'm so sorry about the evil tongue of your enemies. I know David Brown, and am very familiar with the ways of these people. They will turn on you in a minute. As of several years ago he wasn't even in fellowship with his own son-in-law. That being said, they are NON-factors, so let them beat their divisive drums. Peace be with you, brother. Also, I need a copy of your book Down, But Not Out, please. Thanks!

From an Elder in Louisiana:

Brother Al, It has been a while since I corresponded with you, but I can wait no longer to thank you for the enrichment from God's Word which you have brought into my life. I always read your weekly Reflections, and I have also read your book Down, But Not Out. Both are so outstanding, and they have helped me over some difficult situations. Thank you sincerely for your dedication, knowledge and scholarship! I pray for God to continue to use you to sustain me. You are truly a solid rock that has been able to withstand the onslaught of all the LIES from these legalistic, patternistic "men" who constantly hound you. Al, I have been in the mental health profession for many years, and these people are certainly mentally ill. You and Shelly, however, are such gracious and dedicated people, and I can hardly find the right words to thank you enough. Please know that you both are loved immensely and that our prayers go out for you daily. God bless you, brother and sister!

From an Elder in Oklahoma:

Dear Brother Al, Unfortunately, I'm way behind in my reading, so I've just now read Reflections #375. I will have to admit that I was surprised, actually somewhat amused, by the things Daniel Denham had to say to you. I actually had to laugh when I got to the "Sieg Heil" quote ... but then, I stopped and just shook my head. I just don't know what to say!! Unbelievable!!

From a Minister in California:

Bro. Al, Best wishes to you and Shelly for an awesome Christmas with your family. May your holidays and the New Year be filled with those priceless values that no amount of money could ever buy -- love, grace and peace from above. Many thanks for your incredible ministry of grace that is making an eternal difference in thousands of lives every year. While you've accumulated plenty of bitter enemies, you have a much larger army of grateful friends and loyal supporters. Blessings, brother! Stand tall and carry on! We've got you covered.

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Thank You, Bro. Maxey, for being the light at the end of the tunnel for me! I found your web site about 10 years ago, and for many years you were the only hope I had. My husband and I searched for a church for so long, but the traditionalists & legalists didn't want us because of divorce and remarriage. So, I held firm to my faith and to your web site. Many a Sunday your weekly Reflections were our church service here at our house. It took us eight years, but we finally found a church; a church that opened its arms to us. I know one reason that it took us so long to find a church home -- because God wanted me to study with you so that I would be brought out of the "bondage" of legalistic thinking. Thank you, Thank You!! I may not ever meet you in this life, but when we get to Heaven I am going to look you up and shake your hand. Matter of fact, both my husband and I will give you a great BIG Christian hug!!

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