by Al Maxey

Issue #389 ------- March 7, 2009
He that flings dirt at another
dirtieth himself the most.

Thomas Fuller {1654-1734}

Fiery Factional Fomentation
Answering an Attack from Alabama

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910), better known to most as Mark Twain, in his classic novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, penned: "The minister gave out his text and droned along monotonously through an argument that was so prosy that many a head by and by began to nod --- and yet it was an argument that dealt in limitless fire and brimstone and thinned the predestined elect down to a company so small as to be hardly worth the saving" [chapter five]. I have a strong feeling that we have probably each encountered such fiery factionists who felt "called of God" to call down fire from heaven upon all those who dared to differ with their infallible insights. Rather than a noble ministry of reconciliation, such efforts far more resemble a ministry of incineration. Many a kind, loving, grace-centered, Christ-focused heart has felt the flames of these caustic accusers.

At times, these fierce warriors may simply be honestly misguided, rather than motivated by an inner, untempered evil. Saul of Tarsus persecuted the disciples of Christ without mercy, and yet genuinely believed himself to be serving God by such acts of violent aggression against others. "I was formerly a persecutor and a violent aggressor, and yet I was shown mercy, because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief" [1 Tim. 1:13]. Paul later would state, "I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth" [Acts 26:9]. In Luke 9 we find the apostle John seeking to hinder another servant of Jesus Christ, all because this other person wasn't in his own little band of disciples [vs. 49], and then just a few verses later he and James were ready to call down fire upon an entire village of Samaritans [vs. 54]. Jesus "turned and rebuked them, saying, 'You do not know what kind of spirit you are of'" [vs. 55]. Yes, I do believe that there are indeed some sincere servants of the Lord Jesus Christ who are abusing their brethren out of sheer ignorance. Such people can be reached, as long as we approach them in the proper spirit.

On the other hand, there are some men and women who genuinely enjoy the sight of heretics burning at the stake. Indeed, they are more than happy to put the fire to the wood themselves. There is an insatiable blood-thirst within them that daily cries out for more victims. They have devoted their entire lives to making the lives of others a living hell ... and they are good at it. And why not? -- they are led by the master: Satan! Paul spoke of those who were "preaching Christ from envy and strife ... out of selfish ambition, rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress" [Philp. 1:15, 17]. Their ministries were a "pretense" [vs. 18], and Paul characterizes such people as "false brethren" [Gal. 2:4], "false apostles, deceitful workers" [2 Cor. 11:13]. Their efforts were directed at hindering and harming the true servants of the Lord, and they went about this task disguised as "angels of light." Anyone who has been in ministry for any length of time, or who has dared to take a public stand for Truth, has soon encountered these malicious militants and felt the full fury of their fiery assaults. Believe me, it isn't pleasant, and yet it is part of the price that one pays for seeking to push back the darkness and rescue the perishing. Jesus said, "If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. ... And all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me" [John 15:20-21].

Over the years I have collected a cadre of caustic critics from various locations around the globe. These are individuals who, to be perfectly blunt, are pathologically obsessed with Al Maxey. Frankly, it's a sickness; a mental illness, and several have sought to encourage a few of these people to seek professional help. For years they've watched me like a hawk, following my every move, examining my every statement, and broadcasting far and wide every perceived failing or flaw in my life, ministry and teaching, and doing so gleefully, I might add. Not a day goes by that I don't hear from at least one of them. They just want me to know that they're out there ... watching ... waiting for that opportunity to forever silence me. One poor soul in Indiana even went so far as to inform another person in Texas (who wrote and shared that statement with me) that he was prepared to LIE, if necessary, to bring an end to my ministry. I suppose this signifies that I must be doing something right, otherwise Satan's henchmen would not be spending this much time fretting about me (even to the point of creating web sites [of which there are several] solely for the purpose of seeking to destroy my ministry).

Obviously, there is little purpose in seeking to respond to each and every personal assault. That would simply be playing into the hands of the enemies of Truth, as it would require all of one's time and energy, which, in turn, would detract and distract one from the far greater work of sharing God's matchless grace with those who are lost, as well as those who are spiritually misguided and enslaved to legalism. Nevertheless, there IS some genuine value to occasionally informing others around us (especially the latter group above) of the tactics and strategies of these vicious, malicious religious militants who are doing so much harm to the cause of Christ by their fiery assaults against those simply seeking to proclaim Truth over tradition and grace over law. We are all urged by the apostle Paul to "expose ... the unfruitful deeds of darkness" [Eph. 5:11], and Paul was certainly not averse to shining a bright light upon such persons and their actions if such exposure would assist people in avoiding the traps and pitfalls they were preparing for the unenlightened souls they sought to deceive and defraud.

One of my more determined detractors is an elderly man residing in Athens, Alabama by the name of Morris Bowers. For years he has been sending out material to a host of people on his mailing list seeking to convince them of the egregious errors of that horrible heretic Al Maxey. His most recent effort along these lines was a brief article titled "How Truth Changes," which I have saved as a two-page Word document (only 30 KB) and will be happy to send to anyone who requests it. It is a rather rambling, disjointed, poorly written piece (as many of these diatribes are), but it reflects well the type of unsubstantiated accusations and assertions that these people regularly spew forth in their efforts to defame and destroy all who dare to differ with their personal and party preferences, perceptions, practices and patterns. Within his article Bowers presents a number of wild assertions as though they were absolute fact, and yet not a single one of them are substantiated. They are simply tossed out with the assumption that his readers will "drink the kool-aid" without question. This, by the way, is a common expectation of these men, and, sadly, their readers generally oblige them, gullibly and gladly gulping down whatever is handed to them. However, if the followers of these men ever decided en masse to actually question or challenge them, their treachery would quickly be exposed and their tyranny terminated. Which is why, in a totalitarian nation, the first people to be purged from society are the intellectuals. Thought can never be tolerated by totalitarianism. This is equally true of legalistic patternism. Parrot the party shibboleths or perish!

Mr. Bowers begins his article with the following declaration: "Progressivism (Maxeyism) in the denominational world seeks to move past Scripture and to be free to find truth in a variety of methods and resources. We see a measure of this growing within Churches of Christ. Progressives (Maxeyism), as a whole, do not wish to be restricted from finding truth wherever and in whatever form they desire. Freedom is the centerpiece of their hermeneutic." First, it would be beneficial to thinking readers if the author would take some time to actually define his terms. To non-thinking readers, however, these are merely common inflammatory terms that are tossed about by their leaders for the purpose of intimidation. Stay clear of all those "progressives" and "denominationalists," is the message. But, just who and what are they? When pressed on the matter, these factionists are finally forced to acknowledge that they are "all who differ with us." What is the "freedom" they promote and practice? It is simply the freedom to move beyond the parameters of someone else's party. Such persons dare to believe that ultimate Truth is not limited to the perspectives of a particular faction within some religious movement. Yes, eternal Truth IS far greater than any one party's preferences and practices, and, frankly, it is not heresy to proclaim such! Indeed, we'd be irresponsible if we didn't.

As for the bold assertion that "Maxeyism" is based upon some desire "to move past Scripture" in order to find truth (suggesting that I'm either by-passing the Bible altogether, or adding to it in some manner), I would be interested in seeing some concrete substantiation of this charge in the form of direct quotes from my writings and teachings. Time and time again within my writings I have proclaimed my high regard for the inspired OT and NT Scriptures. In them we have revealed to us the will of our Father for us, as well as His matchless love and grace (exemplified and personified in the sending of His Son). Yes, Truth is to be found in these writings, but let us not forget that the One revealed to us within these writings has declared that He Himself is the Truth [John 14:6]. One of the greatest mistakes the Jewish leaders made was in thinking life was to be found in searching the Scriptures for laws to obey, a focus that prevented them from perceiving that these writings were designed to show them the Savior Himself [John 5:39-40]. Yes, Scripture reveals Truth, but that Truth is JESUS. Salvation is IN HIM, it is not within the writings themselves. That is a mistake the legalists continue to make to this very day. Paul wrote to Timothy, "From childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" [2 Tim. 3:15]. Bowers accuses me of moving past Scripture to find truth -- well, only in the sense that Timothy did, and only in the sense that Jesus Himself urged the Jews to -- i.e., by perceiving THE ONE revealed in Scripture and following HIM. The Bible is not a book of law, but a book of love -- God's love for mankind in sending His Son. HE is the Truth! It is HE we must follow. The writings that show forth God's Son are far more revelatory than regulatory in nature. That is their purpose.

Yes, I firmly believe the inspired Scriptures are invaluable as a source of information and insight into who Jesus is and what He expects of us. I come to know Him through these marvelous writings, and I will seek to imitate Him in my life, just as Paul said he did [1 Cor. 11:1]. In the hymn "Where He Leads I'll Follow," written by William A. Ogden in 1885, we sing, "He the great example is, and pattern for me." JESUS is my pattern, and thus I shall seek to pattern my life after His, as best I perceive those attitudes and actions of His to be through my study of the Scriptures. Where I clearly differ from the legalistic patternists is in their insistence that the "pattern" is the NT writings themselves. I utterly reject that entire premise as being false, which I have sought to demonstrate in my recent debate on patternism -- The Maxey-Broking Debate. I would extend an invitation to Mr. Bowers to take each of my points in that debate and refute them, if he can. If he is unwilling or unable to do so, then I would invite him to do some serious rethinking of his own position and of his misrepresentation of mine.

Mr. Bowers wrote, "Freedom is the centerpiece of their hermeneutic." Jesus said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" [John 8:32]. What is truth? It is Jesus Himself. "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me" [John 14:6]. In relationship with Jesus we are free. Indeed, Paul wrote to those steeped in legalism, "It was for freedom that Christ set us free" [Gal. 5:1]. "For you were called to freedom, brethren" [vs. 13]. Yes, I would have to say that freedom is an extremely important aspect of our walk with Jesus, and, subsequently, of our approach to the very Scriptures that reveal Him to us. As for freedom being the "centerpiece" of our hermeneutic, however, I would have to disagree. Jesus is the centerpiece. My approach to the Scriptures, and to their interpretation, is to know Him. And, of course, in coming to know Him, I find freedom! Therefore, I shall "stand firm," and I shall "not be subject again to a yoke of slavery" [Gal. 5:1] which these legalistic patternists seek to place about my neck and upon my shoulders. If that means I must continue to suffer the "slings and arrows" of their disfavor, then so be it. It is a small price to pay.

Morris Bowers, in his article, declares that there are two great "opposing perspectives" in the world about us: "One is the truth of revealed scripture and the other is the gospel according to Maxeyism." I would agree that there is objective Truth that we must embrace, and I agree that the inspired Scriptures are our guide to this Truth. I am confused, however, as to what Mr. Bowers perceives "the gospel according to Maxeyism" to actually be. He nowhere defines it; he nowhere specifies the particulars of this "gospel" of mine. Frankly, I wasn't aware that I had one!! The only gospel I preach is the "good news" of what God has done for us in the gift of His Son. What possible "good news" could Al Maxey (or anyone else, for that matter) have that would even begin to compare to the magnificent gospel of Jesus Christ?! Of course, having dealt with legalists for decades, I know very well what Bowers has in mind here. For them the "gospel" consists of every single law and regulation and pattern they can find within the pages of the NT writings. Anything less is "another gospel." I find it somewhat ironic, however, that when the apostle Paul speaks of "another/different gospel" (see Galatians), he is referring to these legalistic additions to the simple "good news" of salvation by grace through faith. Thus, if anyone is preaching "another gospel," it is the legalistic patternists, who are the philosophical and theological descendants of the very people against whose teaching Paul penned the epistle of Galatians! I would urge the readers (and also Morris Bowers) to review my following two studies -- Epistle to the Galatians: Magna Charta of Christian Liberty (Reflections #202) and Embracing Another Gospel: Analyzing Apostolic Authorial Intent in the Admonition of Galatians 1:6-9 (Reflections #215). Again, I invite Mr. Morris Bowers to attempt a reasoned refutation of each of the points presented in those studies. I shall be awaiting that detailed refutation.

In his article, Mr. Bowers further observes, "Sadly, progressives (Maxeyism) are being successful in their methods because many are being influenced into accepting the liberal worldview on ethical issues." I'm not sure what he means by "their methods," nor what he perceives to be the standard for measuring successfulness, since Bowers nowhere clarifies or specifies these particular statements. Although he doesn't really go into any detail as to what "the liberal worldview" is on ethical issues, he did previously in this article talk about homosexual activity, premarital sex, illegitimacy, abortion, doctor assisted suicide, polygamy, adultery and cloning humans. If Mr. Bowers is suggesting that perhaps I support any or all of these practices, then he clearly doesn't know me at all. Not only do I not support these things, but I have written and taught against them for years. But, being factual is not of any real concern to those determined to undermine another person. By lumping Al Maxey into the same group as those who promote the above, even though he has provided ZERO substantiation for such a charge, he has succeeded in instilling fear and doubt in the hearts of those who read his writings, knowing that very, very few of these people will ever bother to "check it out" for themselves to see if it's true. So, in other words: mission accomplished.

"Everyone (disciples of Maxeyism), it seems, is beginning to do what is right in their own eyes." Or, so says Morris Bowers in this article. The implication is that this is the end result of my teaching. Those who listen to Al Maxey will completely abandon Truth and simply begin "doing what is right in their own eyes." Well, there's no question that a great many people in this world are indeed pursuing selfish interests and seeking to justify it any way they can. Undoubtedly, some I have taught will fall into this category. My guess is that some Mr. Bowers has taught are in that group as well. Even in the OT writings, thousands of years ago, men and women were doing as they pleased and justifying it as "right." Now, if I was actually teaching and promoting such a lifestyle, then Morris would be right in suggesting such people were "disciples of" that horrible Al Maxey. I do not teach this, however, and I challenge Mr. Bowers to provide the direct quotes from my writings where I've done so. Again, I await that information and will report to you all in a future Reflections whether he ever provides it (or if he responds to any of my other pleas and challenges). Here's a tip -- don't hold your breath!!

But, Morris Bowers is just getting warmed up. He continues: "As the culture (Maxeyism) changes, their truth evolves to match up with the new reality. Accordingly, they try to get Scripture to accommodate the changing views related to the culture." First, I believe it is very likely that Mr. Bowers may have mistakenly misplaced the parenthetical "Maxeyism" in the above statement. I doubt that he's really suggesting that "culture" and "Maxeyism" are the same. My guess is that he intended to suggest that the accommodating of Truth to culture, with the latter determining the nature of the former, is "Maxeyism." In other words, Truth is not absolute, but is rather flexible, evolving over time and according to the dictates of the various societies within which it may appear. Once again, I've never in my life proclaimed such a doctrine, and, once again, I challenge Mr. Morris Bowers to provide the evidence that I have. If he can't or won't, then he needs to send forth to his mailing list a retraction and an apology.

Eternal Truth is just that -- eternal. It doesn't change! Truth is constant; it is reliable; we can count on it ... yesterday, today and tomorrow. How Truth is conveyed to those around us, and how eternal Truths are evidenced in our daily lives, IS flexible, however, and IS influenced by a number of factors, including culture. Giving honor to whom honor is due is an eternal Truth. How one goes about showing honor to another will very likely be quite different among the primitive peoples of the Amazon and the residents of New York City. Truth itself remains constant, but its manifestation will vary. That is the beauty of Christianity, by the way. It can be experienced and evidenced in ANY culture, and the expressions of love and joy, though they may differ dramatically, will be in perfect accord with divine, eternal Truth. One of the large problems within the early church was the coming together into One Family of both Jew and Gentile. By one of these groups demanding that the other become its clone with regard to preference and practice, division was absolutely assured. It took some tactful teaching to convince the one group that the other did NOT have to be their twin in order to be their brother. I think some brethren still need convincing today. We can be diverse, and still be unified IN HIM. That is "unity in diversity" -- yet another "false teaching" of "Maxeyism," according to the legalistic patternists.

"Satan is the father of lies and he has an endless supply of tricks to use to pull people from the truth. The denunciation of absolute truth is becoming one of Satan's (Maxeyism) greatest ideas," writes Bowers. Again, I think he has misplaced his parenthetical "Maxeyism." I doubt that he is suggesting I am Satan (but, who knows; maybe he is). More likely, however, is that he is suggesting that "Maxeyism" is nothing other than the "the denunciation of absolute truth," which is most certainly one of Satan's devious devices. Either way, Bowers offers absolutely no evidence for such an assertion. He simply pours the kool-aid and expects his readers to drink it down without question. And, many will ... mission accomplished! This also is a devious device of Satan. No need for facts, no need for substantiation ... just throw it out there, and people will line up to believe it. Damage done; goal achieved. The legalists used this tactic against Jesus repeatedly. As He stood before the Jewish authorities following His arrest, and as He heard the ridiculous charges leveled against Him, Jesus issued this challenge, "If I have spoken wrongly, bear witness of the wrong" [John 18:23]. In other words, "You guys have made all of these charges against Me ... NOW PROVIDE THE EVIDENCE." Well, you guessed it, that evidence was never provided. My guess is that Morris Bowers won't be providing any either! Things haven't changed much in 2000 years, have they? The wicked LIE, the righteous DIE.

Morris Bowers ended his brief treatise with the following statement --- "When you abandon the revealed scripture of God, you have nothing which to turn for the basis of your 'spiritual' authority. That is exactly what Al Maxey, Edward Fudge, Max Lucado and many, many more men like them are doing. Under the name of gospel preachers they are only 'wolves in sheep's clothing.'" This statement is more than just grammatically clumsy, it is also a revelation of the character and focus of the author. If someone is going to be so bold as to assert that another person has abandoned Scripture and Truth, then that individual had best be prepared to provide the evidence. Slander and defamation are frowned upon, not only by God, but by our own society. Mr. Bowers, I harbor no ill-will toward you at all, although I do find your attitudes and actions less than honorable. Nevertheless, please know that you are in my prayers. May our Father help you to find a more positive way to spend your remaining years.

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Readers' Reflections

From Lanier Stevens in Texas:

My Beloved Brother in Christ, I don't mind you using my name ever, at any time, in my endorsement of you and your work, because I believe with all my heart that any who are truly intellectually honest truth-seekers can benefit and grow from reading and studying your writings. You never cease to amaze me, and I just want to say that I'm surely glad that I have had the privilege of being a contemporary of yours, and thereby able to witness the awesome power of your concise writing and analytical skills. God has blessed His people all over this world through you, my brother, in ways that only eternity will reveal. Your "polemic platform" is right here (in your Reflections) for everyone to examine in light of the Scriptures week after week, and I pray that you will never allow the rantings of smaller and lesser men to silence your voice. Also, welcome to Sexagenarianism! I've been there almost 8 years now, and am anxiously awaiting Septuagenarianism! The forties were the best. That was when I got my first pair of glasses: the nearest thing to being "born again" besides actually being born again! I'll never forget the drive home from the optometrist's office. I had no idea what all I had been missing! --- Much like I felt after I had read my first few Reflections by Al Maxey. Again, I'm thankful to God for your honest and effectual work.

From a Reader in Florida:

Brother Al, I thank God for your faithful study of His Word, and also for your boldness in getting it out to others. In spite of what our legalistic brothers might say, the written exchanges that appear on your web site are far more effective than the possibility of harmful "showmanship" of a public debate (in which David Brown is wanting to engage you) with all of the venom that can easily get spewed out. God bless you, my brother!

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Brother Maxey, I can't tell you how much I learn from your Reflections. Many times they give me great satisfaction in gaining a much better understanding of something in God's written Word. Again, I would like to say Thank You for your continued efforts in helping a great many people to gain a better understanding of God's Word. Just out of curiosity, I watched the video of Darrell Broking's recent presentation on MDR at the Contending for the Faith lectureship (seen on the Spring Church of Christ web site). I would like to share just a few of my observations on it. The first ten minutes of the presentation really had no substance at all regarding the subject under discussion. Also, Mr. Broking seems to pick and choose only certain passages related to the subject, and yet very conveniently never mentions other passages relevant to the study --- such as 1 Cor. 7:27-28 [**I noticed this also. Passages that clearly refuted his premise were conveniently left out of his presentation, and I know that he is aware of them because I have pointed them out to him in my debate with him on MDR. -- Al Maxey**]. In all of my studies I have never heard a twist on 1 Cor. 7:15-16 quite like Mr. Broking gives on these verses. And finally, and this is just my opinion and I don't mean to come across as hateful, but I am certainly thankful that I don't have to sit and listen to this man preach week after week!!

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Brother Al, Congratulations on joining the club! I am approaching my 67th year of life and my 48th year of ministry. Like most preachers, I have had my share of problems with some brethren and with some elders, but the vast majority of my brethren have been very gracious to me, and far more encouraging than I probably deserved. Had it not been for that, I'm sure I would not be preaching today. I tell my kids that ministry is much like the sign one sees driving into town: 600 Happy People and a Few Old Grouches!

From a Missionary in Bolivia:

Brother Al, Thank you for your most recent Reflections --- "Musings of a Sexagenarian." The title of this issue caught my eye, because I knew that you would be sharing some of the things you have learned throughout the years. Thanks for sharing this with us. At only 30 years of age, I believe I am at about the same age you were when you realized that you could only, and should only, seek to please God and not men. What a word of encouragement and clarity at precisely the right moment in time for me!

From a Reader in California:

Bro. Al, Your latest Reflections was riveting. The dishwasher got started, and without soap, thanks to you. While I have ten years on you, it has just given me ten more years to view the ugliness that is apparent within unregenerated people. Thanks for putting into words for us what is in our hearts, but which many of us have trouble verbalizing.

From a Reader in Arizona:

Brother Al, I have been wanting to write to you for a long time and tell you how much my husband and I enjoy your weekly musings. Thank you, and please keep up the good work. Also, aren't we all glad that the legalists are not able to remove our names from the Book of Life?! They can take them out of manmade books all they want to, but what harm can they ever do to us who believe the Truth?! Thanks again, brother.

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Brother Al, Happy Birthday! At 60 you are now almost grown up!! Al, you have a degree of maturity and depth of biblical understanding that is the envy of many! Continue your fight against the legalists. You are making much headway. We may never get the fanatical leaders to see the Truth -- their egos will never allow it -- but many of their followers are opening their eyes and beginning to see the many inconsistencies and lies they have been fed over the years.

From a Minister in Kentucky:

Bro. Al, I have just read your latest Reflections. Your comment about "rocking the boat" brought to mind the rephrasing of that old saying by a dear friend of mine in the great state of Georgia. He used to say, "Don't just rock the boat -- turn it over!" Truly, there are many boats today that don't just need rocking, they need to be completely blown out of the water! It never ceases to amaze me what flimsy craft people will often put their trust in as they embark upon their journey toward eternity. How sad it is when they refuse to listen to people with the wisdom and insight to warn them of the certainty of disaster should they continue trusting in the frail boats of their own construction! Have a very good day, brother!

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, May our loving Father God grant you many more years of service in His earthly Kingdom. You are a source of inspiration and encouragement to me. You help me to see beyond my own ignorance and arrogance -- even when I don't want to. Once your words have been seen by me, I can't put them out of my mind. Truly, Paul plants, you water, and God grows the seed. Al, may the words "Thank You!!" be big enough to tell you just how much I appreciate all of your hard work!! Have a happy birthday.

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Bro. Al, Thank you for your most recent Reflections titled "Musings of a Sexagenarian." I wish you a very happy 60th birthday, and many more years of effective writing about and preaching of the Gospel of Grace. Having celebrated my 66th birthday a few months ago, I have observed firsthand the uncivil treatment of the proponents of salvation by grace through faith and of Christian scholars (which remains all too common among many strains of the a cappella Churches of Christ, with their pseudo-hermeneutics advanced to coerce uniformity). I very much appreciate your inclusion of the letter from Dr. Don Givens demonstrating Homer Hailey's gentleness and sense of fair treatment of others. Though I never met him, two conversations about Bro. Hailey stand out in my memory: the first with one of his former students at Florida College, and the other with one of his former colleagues at Abilene Christian. Both of these brothers talked about his great love for his fellow Christians, and each of them told a story illustrating his non-controversial nature!

From a Reader in California:

Happy Birthday, Brother Al. May our Lord grant you many, many more in His service. In one of your responses to a letter sent in by a reader, you correctly stated that men are unable to change the mindset of these legalists. I have faith, however, that our dear Lord loves these people far more than you or I ever could. Thus, I pray that the Lord will continue to work within their lives so that the scales will fall from their eyes. After reading their vitriol, however, the only conclusion that I can come to is that they must be absolutely miserable inside of their own skin. It must also be very uncomfortable to "kick against the goads." As we have seen several times throughout history, some of these men can change and come to their senses. In almost every case, however, it will come through the intervention of our loving Savior.

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Bro. Maxey, I recently picked up the book "The Twisted Scriptures" by Carl Ketcherside. I am almost finished reading it, and consider it to be amazingly relevant -- even prophetic at times -- to today's Churches of Christ, many decades after its writing. Your most recent Reflections article captures the very same spirit with which Carl Ketcherside wrote -- it unapologetically places our focus upon the oneness to which Jesus has called us (particularly in John 17). Since Ketcherside was about as controversial with respect to the "orthodox" positions in Churches of Christ as you are, I'm sure you will take these words of mine as they were intended -- as a compliment. Thank you for your writings, brother, and Happy Birthday.

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Bro. Al, As usual, your latest is a masterpiece. Thank you for your work. Keep it up. Al, the legalists are brainwashed. Some of them will never leave that system of law, and they'll never accept the grace of Jesus Christ because of this. However, I thank you for your attempts to show them the way. There are some who will open their minds and leave that evil. Paul has said it best: "So Christ has made us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don't get all tied up again in the chains of slavery to Jewish laws and ceremonies" [Gal. 5:1, TLB].

From a Minister in Oklahoma:

Dear Brother Al, Your "Musings of a Sexagenarian" were most insightful. In fact, your thoughts at your 60th year are almost identical to those of my 65th year. It is indeed most liberating to come to realize that you can't please all the people all the time, and that it is even futile to try. So many years were wasted trying to do just that. So many years of wasted energy by feeling I had to have all the answers to all the questions right on the tip of my tongue. Having forsaken the path of pleasing all the people all the time, and seeking to be pleasing to the Lord instead, has given me far more peace in these last five years than I have known in all the others put together. I am free, I am loved, I am alive in the Lord. Something I have not appreciated for many years. Thanks for the hand up to liberty in the Lord, brother Al.

From a Reader in Alabama:

Bro. Al, I read your Reflections article "Musings of a Sexagenarian" twice. As you may recall from previous contacts, we share the same birthday. The difference is that I am 76 and you are only 60. In addition to the same birthday, I share with you several attitudes toward life and the Scriptures. I've got a few aches and pains I didn't have at 60, but I feel I have the outlook on life of a much younger person. I am thankful for that. I wish for you many more good years.

From a Reader in Texas:

Bro. Al, Your latest article on turning 60 has helped me reflect on my own life. I am 71, yet it seems I think I am still 40 (although my body tells me I'm not). I have read your thoughts over the years, as well as the letters which you include from others, and it is truly sad that some seem to disagree with you in such a hateful and ungodly manner. I want to reassure you that I pray for you daily, and I petition God on your behalf every day that your wonderful, helpful writings may continue to help folks like me. Your encouraging words about the need for the Body of Christ to come closer together in these very dark days in the history of our nation mean so very much to me. I love the USA, I love New Mexico, and, of course, I love Texas. I think every single day about America demanding that our God get out of our schools, government and lives. God has certainly been patient not to bring His wrath down upon us. I thank Him for the remnant of godly people still out there. Remember, brother, I pray for you daily. Please keep putting out the weekly encouragement we need so desperately in today's world.

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