by Al Maxey

Issue #445 ------- June 24, 2010
The soundest wisdom comes from experience,
but there is a nearer road to it almost as
sure -- reading and reflection.

Josh Billings {1818-1885}

Dr. Lewis Letig Pinkerton
The Melodious "Liberal" from Midway

Chester Bowles (1901-1986) served as a diplomat in the administrations of several United States Presidents, including Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy. He was Governor of Connecticut, Ambassador to India, and Undersecretary of State. He was a graduate of Yale University and quite a noted author. In an article for the New Republic dated July 22, 1946, Bowles made the following rather astute observation: "Fundamentally, liberalism is an attitude, the chief characteristics of which are human sympathy, a receptivity to change and a scientific willingness to follow reason rather than ... any fixed set of ideas." Clearly, Chester Bowles' observation is open to debate in both the political and religious arenas. Some see change as positive, and even necessary; others do not. Some believe one should follow reason; others find more comfort in following fixed traditions.

One man who certainly would fall under the definition of "liberal" as given by Bowles was Dr. Lewis Letig Pinkerton, who was born near Baltimore, Maryland on January 28, 1812. His father, William, was of Scotch-Irish descent, and his mother, Elizabeth, was of German descent. This Christian couple, in the near generations, would produce a dozen gospel preachers: five of their sons (including Lewis), six grandsons (two of whom were sons of Lewis), and one great-grandson (the grandson of Lewis). William and Elizabeth raised their growing family on a farm (actually, several farms in Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia), thus they were all well-accustomed to very rigorous work. Dr. L. L. Pinkerton would later describe much of his youth as being spent in "hard, incessant, ill-requited toil."

William was a Presbyterian, thus he brought up his children in the instruction of the "Decrees" of their faith's "Shorter Catechism." While still in his teens, Lewis read the entire New Testament in light of Wesley's published notes. He also chanced upon a copy of Alexander Campbell's Millennial Harbinger. After much study and prayer, Lewis rejected the Calvinistic teaching of his father; it simply was not consistent with what he himself was perceiving from his own study of the Scriptures. In September, 1830, Lewis was in the crowd as Alexander Campbell himself preached the Gospel at a nearby meeting! He was so moved by what he heard that day, that he approached Campbell, "made the good confession," and was immediately immersed by him. Campbell had occasion to spend some time with this upstanding young man, and to observe the evidence of his character. Thus, Alexander Campbell later wrote this endorsement -- "I have no hesitation in recommending him to the confidence and communion of the brethren. ... I think he might be very usefully employed as an evangelist." Campbell wasn't the only leader in our faith-heritage who took notice of Dr. L. L. Pinkerton. Over the years Lewis also had the privilege of being associated with such legends of faith as Walter Scott, John T. Johnson, and William Morton. Indeed, the second of these leaders would later write, "He is destined to do much good if he lives. I could sit and listen to him all the time." He also described him as an "earnest, eloquent, devoted and successful evangelist."

Before any of these accolades, however, the young Lewis Pinkerton had a decision to make. He was near the end of his teen years, he had rejected the teachings of his father's religion, and he had embraced the truths proclaimed by Alexander Campbell as better representing his own convictions regarding God's will. Now, what was he to do with himself? In 1831 he decided to leave West Virginia. After traveling through and visiting several different communities, he finally settled in Trenton, Ohio. Here he found employment as a teacher, and he also began his studies in medicine. Although he continued to study the Scriptures, and to meditate upon them, his primary focus at this time was in becoming a physician. From 1831-1838 he both studied and practiced medicine in Ohio, the latter few years in Carthage, Ohio, the location where Walter Scott labored for the Lord. On March 19, 1833, Lewis married Sarah A. Ball, with whom he enjoyed 42 years of wedded bliss!! They had nine children together, although two died in infancy. Even though Dr. Lewis Pinkerton had a thriving and lucrative medical practice by this time, he was also becoming noted for his speaking abilities. A member of the congregation at which Walter Scott preached, he had a number of occasions to preach, and his lessons were very well-received. In May, 1838, at the encouragement of a great many people, Walter Scott among them, Dr. L. L. Pinkerton sold his practice and entered into the work of an evangelist. It was a bold, courageous move; a genuine commitment of faith in the leading of God's Spirit.

In the fall of that same year Pinkerton made his first trip into Kentucky, spending a good many months holding evangelistic meetings. In the spring and summer of the following year (1839) he made his way into Indiana and Ohio. He was so enthralled with the possibilities in Kentucky, however, that in December, 1839 he and his family relocated to Jefferson County, Kentucky, making it their new home. It is estimated that in the next couple of years he baptized several thousand people at his Gospel meetings. In the summer of 1840, Lewis became the preacher for the church at New Union, KY. The following fall (October, 1841) he became the minister for the church in Lexington, KY. In late 1844 he relocated to Midway, KY. Here he would spend the next 15-16 years of his life preaching and teaching. After just ten years there, the congregation grew from 32 members to around 168, the vast majority of whom Dr. L. L. Pinkerton himself had converted to Jesus Christ. With regard to this loving assembly of believers, J. T. Johnson, who was intimately connected with it and Pinkerton, wrote, "If I wished to witness a specimen of primitive Christianity in its modesty, humility, piety, simplicity, order, devotion, intelligence and liberality in Christian enterprise in providing for the poor, the church at Midway would claim my attention."

Dr. L. L. Pinkerton had a "deep concern for social action," one which he was most certainly not afraid to display regardless of popular opinion. "He championed the causes of temperance and abolitionism," for example [The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement, p. 598]. While ministering in Midway, Lewis himself came up with the idea of a school for female orphans, because "at this time, girls were taught to read only so that they could read to their children when they became mothers. Female orphans were not even recipients of this basic knowledge and were usually destined for a life as a maid or laborer. As a solution to this situation, Pinkerton proposed a plan to educate these women in the liberal arts and to graduate teachers" [ibid, p. 517]. "When Kentucky Female Orphan School opened its door on October 3, 1847, there were fourteen students ranging in age from 3-15. The school had already received publicity through the Millennial Harbinger, and Alexander Campbell had praised Pinkerton and the motivation behind the school" [ibid]. Today this noble institution is known as Midway College, and it's still affiliated with the Stone-Campbell Movement (by the way, check out some great historical photos at their web site).

Dr. Pinkerton was also a strong advocate for the oppressed black slaves, and was outspoken in his hatred for slavery. This did not win him many friends in the deep south. Yet, he would not be stopped, and so he "established an independent congregation for slaves in Midway, Kentucky, in 1852" [ibid, p. 597]. When the Civil War broke out, Lewis Pinkerton took the side of the Union against the Confederacy, and dislike for him became even more pronounced. When Gen. Bragg entered Kentucky, he accepted an appointment as their surgeon and chaplain. When the white churches increasingly closed their doors to him, he devoted himself instead to mission work among the freed, but still impoverished, blacks of central Kentucky. Many of their churches today owe their roots to the work of Dr. L. L. Pinkerton, who was far more interested in a man's heart than his skin. Because many of the whites in the churches had turned against him, refusing to allow him to preach from their pulpits, and because the blacks were much too poor to support his ministry, Pinkerton spent a number of years with little income. Yet, he persisted in his work. In recognition of his sterling character, however, President U. S. Grant stepped in and appointed him Special Mail Agent in June, 1873. During the performing of his duties the next year (October, 1874), Dr. Pinkerton came down with a very serious affliction from which he could not recover. He passed from this life on his 63rd birthday: January 28, 1875. His final words were, "My Savior, my Savior, the Lord Jesus." He was buried in the Lexington cemetery.

James A. Garfield, who just six years later would take office as President of the United States, and who would be assassinated after only four months, and who was also connected with our faith-heritage, eulogized Lewis Pinkerton with these words, "Dr. Pinkerton belonged to that small class of men whose characters are much more the result of inherent qualities than of external circumstances. He possessed an intellect of remarkable clearness and strength. In his religious opinions, two ideas possessed and controlled him: his strong conception of the ineffable majesty and justice of God, and his abiding trust in the condescension and love of Christ. He was a man of a most positive and intense nature; his opinions were convictions. In social life, in the sweet companionship of books and friends, his spirit shone with the gentle tenderness and sweetness of a woman's nature. I have seen but very few men to whom children were so strongly attracted. In his nature was a rarest combination of independence, strength, courage, severity, gentleness, inflexible persistence, affectionate tenderness, sadness and mirth, I have ever known." A friend of his, Thomas D. Butler, observed, "Dr. Pinkerton was one of the manliest, purest, most self-sacrificing, and, therefore, most Christ-like of men. His moral qualities were quick and sturdy, and, like Paul, he was immovably fixed for truth and righteousness. While he looked up to no man, he never looked down upon any!! He was the impartial friend of his fellow-man." Prof. Shackelford, his almost daily companion for ten years, his biographer, and the man who preached his funeral, said of his friend, "His practical and ardent sympathy with the poor and wretched was a leading trait in his character. The cry of distress was to him the call of God. He had great sympathy with women in all their peculiar trials and sorrows, and all little children loved him."

Scaring the Rats from Worship

Sadly, and this will most likely surprise a number of you, the ultra-conservatives and legalistic patternists within our movement are completely oblivious to any of the above information regarding this good man's life. Most could not have told you about a single item that you just read. Worse -- these people, frankly, couldn't care less about any of these loving acts of self-sacrifice by this devoted disciple. They know the name Dr. L. L. Pinkerton, and the church in Midway, Kentucky, for one thing, and one thing only -- 'Twas here that this man introduced a melodeon into the worship assembly on a Sunday in the year 1860. As far as these rigid legalists are concerned, that marked the precise moment the gates of hell were flung open and the full weight of the forces of evil was unleashed upon the One True Church. John Waddey, in an online article about Dr. Pinkerton titled An Early Change Agent, wrote, "He was truly the grandfather of our current generation of change agents. They have copied his agenda almost 'to a T.' They should be rejected as was he." Yes, Waddey does mention several of the good things Dr. Pinkerton did, but they apparently mean nothing in light of "his heretical views of things sacred." What "heretical views"? He saw nothing wrong with instrumental accompaniment to our worshipful singing. "He claimed to belong to the church universal and was responsible to no particular congregation." Oh my goodness!! And they didn't burn him at the stake?! He even believed -- hold on tightly -- that various bodies of disciples could cooperate in various ministries and mission efforts, and even organize themselves to do so (the American Christian Missionary Society, for example). Clearly, the raging fires of hell will never be stoked hot enough for the likes of the heretic Dr. L. L. Pinkerton (or, so say the legalists). What Garbage!!

Yes, it is true -- Dr. Pinkerton decided to introduce a melodeon into the "worship service" of the church at Midway. Why? Because, in Pinkerton's own words, the singing of the brethren was so deplorable that it would "scare even the rats from worship." I've been in congregations like that, and I'm sure you have too. I've actually had people tell me over the years that they would never "place membership" in a particular congregation because the singing there was absolutely atrocious. Whether we like to admit it or not, our singing has a tremendous impact upon the dynamic of the entire assembly and everything that happens within it. If it is poorly done, it can bring everything else down with it. That is simply a fact, and those with any "smarts" will deal with this matter, rather than ignoring it. Dr. L. L. Pinkerton simply chose to try and deal with the matter in a way that would benefit the brethren in their singing, encourage and inspire the seeking as they came to experience the worship of the saints, and glorify the Father of them all. Since not a single, solitary sentence anywhere in all of Scripture even remotely hints at God's disapproval of instrumental accompaniment to singing, and since one can find plenty of passages in both OT and NT documents that quite clearly and without even a trace of equivocation, declare God's approval, Dr. Pinkerton had no reason whatsoever to believe he was acting "heretically" or contrary to God's declared will with regard to worshipful expression.

Although some like to blame the instrumentalists, or even the instrument itself, for the ultimate dividing of the Stone-Campbell Movement (one writer wrote about this melodeon, now on display at Midway College, "Many people travel long distances to see the little instrument that split a church"), while others blame those who demand strict observance of and submission to perceived precept (drawn entirely from personal assumption), neither side is entirely right. Yes, there have been, and continue to be, obstinate opinionists on both sides of the issue, and such persons will often allow their opinions to run roughshod over others (even to the sundering of relationships), which, by the way, is the literal definition of the concept of the Greek term we have rendered "heresy." The tiny wooden melodeon did not divide the movement, however, although divisive disciples used it, along with other things such as missionary societies, to justify their separation from one another. Division was in the works for our movement long before these "issues" ever came along, and that division was tied more to what was happening in our nation at this point in our history than to various petty particulars tied to Sunday singing and daily evangelizing. The United States -- our beloved Union -- was being rapidly torn asunder by various social tensions that would, in time, lead to the War Between the States. For those willing to do the study, one can make a very strong case for the split in the Stone-Campbell Movement following closely the lines of demarcation between the states!! Rick Atchley, in his DVD titled "Learning Division," has done a superb job of documenting this evidence. If you have never seen this DVD, go to your phone and call the Richland Hills Church of Christ (where Rick preaches) and order it. It is a must see, and also a real eye-opener. I was genuinely privileged to have breakfast one morning with Rick Atchley this past March at The Tulsa Workshop (at which he and I were both speakers). Since we were staying in the same hotel, Rick asked me to meet him in the lobby so that we could spend some time together getting to know one another better. I mentioned to him this particular DVD presentation, and how it had impacted so many lives, and we had a good visit about it. I regard it as one of the most important sermons delivered within the Stone-Campbell Movement.

The true nature of the division that occurred in the Stone-Campbell Movement was far more philosophical in nature -- it was over how one perceived God, how one perceived the church, and how one went about establishing authority. It had to do with one's approach to biblical interpretation, and how one's understandings were to be implemented and even imposed. And, as history shows, many of these philosophical approaches were drawn along the lines of North and South in our nation in the latter half of the 19th century. "By the end of the 1880s the majority of the Stone-Campbell churches in the North favored instruments" [Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement, p. 415]. "The a cappella practice, in turn, became part of the identity of the largely Southern Churches of Christ" [ibid]. In a great many ways, religious thinking mirrored the thinking of the divided nation, and it is no surprise that in a number of movements within Christendom in our nation division was the result. "Instrumental music and the missionary society became divisive only after it became apparent that the Stone-Campbell Movement contained two irreconcilable traditions: one defined by ecumenical progressivism and the other by sectarian primitivism" [ibid, p. 417]. The latter group, hermeneutically, believed that if the Scriptures were silent about the practice of something, then that practice was to be avoided. To practice it would be "Sin." Those less legalistic in their approach to Scripture, felt that "silence" neither prescribed nor proscribed anything, but merely called for disciples to examine all such things carefully and prayerfully; lovingly and responsibly; acting ultimately in the best interests of God (is He glorified by said practice?), the saints (are they edified by said practice?), and the lost (are they evangelized by said practice?). "Silence" is not a license to do as one pleases. Far from it. But, neither is it a LAW that forever limits, restricts and prohibits. For those of the former philosophy, the melodeon was simply an aid/accompaniment to heartfelt praise; for the latter philosophy, the melodeon was an idol that had totally negated worship. John Waddey declared that it is "viewed as Aaron's golden calf by those who are committed to doing Bible things in Bible ways." Frankly, had it not been the melodeon or missionary societies, it would have been something else. The real division had already occurred in the hearts of the people -- they were merely looking for a visible focal point ... and they found it.

So, as history records, Dr. L. L. Pinkerton introduced a melodeon into the worship at Midway, Kentucky. This didn't just suddenly happen, however. Nor was the use of an instrument the first thing Lewis thought of to try and improve the singing of the congregation. Indeed, it wasn't his idea initially at all. For a time, he invited the members (as many as wanted) to meet in a private home on Saturday evening to practice the songs for the next day. To set the proper pitch for the hymns, they would use a little melodeon. In time, some of the women in the congregation who could play would accompany the practice singing with the melodeon. The group meeting in the home was so impressed with how much this improved their singing that they asked their preacher (Dr. L. L. Pinkerton) if he thought it would be okay for them to bring the melodeon with them to the building the next day for the worship assembly. He told them he saw no biblical problem with such a thing, so they did so. A man by the name of Thompson Parrish played the instrument as the congregation sang their hymns from the depths of their hearts to their Father and one another. It seemed the rats didn't need to flee anymore!

As is often the case, however, when any significant change occurs in the traditional way a "worship service" (a phrase never found in Scripture) is conducted, even though many may be spiritually uplifted, a few will always find fault. They may realize they don't have the numbers with them to stop what they "don't like," and they may realize that they don't even have any Scripture to support their dislike (which is why they will often flee from dialogue with you about the matter), but this won't stop them from opposing it. At Midway there was a man named Adam Hibler (one of the elders, in fact) who was not happy about the addition of the melodeon. His solution to the "problem" was to go to the church building late one night with his black slave named Reuben (hmmm ... he opposed the instrument, but he owned slaves?!). While the elder held one of the windows open, his slave entered the building and handed the little melodeon out to Hibler (he referred to the instrument as "the instrument of Satan"), who then took an axe and chopped the instrument to pieces on the front lawn. The people of the congregation were furious that someone would dare to do such a thing, so they got a new melodeon and placed it in the building. Again, late one night, Adam Hibler and his slave Reuben went and got the melodeon, this time hiding it in his barn. A third melodeon was purchased and placed in the building. It became obvious that this was the desire of the majority of the congregation. This time, though, the instrument remained. Many years later the building burned to the ground with the third instrument in it. Later, when Hibler's barn was being cleaned out, the second melodeon was found hidden there!! This instrument was cleaned up, and it is now on display inside a protective glass case within the library of Midway College. The destroyed church building was rebuilt, and the brand new auditorium at the Midway church was dedicated in 1896. It contains a nice stained-glass window bearing the image of Dr. Lewis L. Pinkerton. John Waddey had this to say about that: "To this day, those who visit the church can see the doctor, looking over the congregation he made famous by his disobedience to Christ's will." Good Grief!

Contentious for the Faith

For some strange reason it appears I have become the favored "whipping boy" of the leaders of the "Contending for the Faith" bunch. That is fine. Jesus said, in His Sermon on the Mount, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all manner of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matthew 5:11-12). The most recent attack came through an email sent out by David P. Brown, the editor/publisher of the journal "Contending for the Faith." This email was sent on Friday, June 11 to several of his supporters (with a copy sent to me for my edification, I suppose). He then sent me an email privately in which he wondered if I had the courage to let my readers see "what I wrote in my last email wherein you and your apostate flock are correctly described. It would be interesting to read what your motley spiritual crew have to say about it -- provided you can guarantee that none of the foam from their mouths will come through on their printed comments." So, after some thought, I have decided to share this correspondence from David Brown to his followers. I've done so for one reason -- Paul has commanded us to expose (shine a light upon for all to see) the shameful, fruitless deeds of darkness (Eph. 5:11-13). Brethren, we need to SEE what these people are really like, for it speaks volumes to the nature of their spirit. Such evidence of the nature of the spirit of such persons also serves to validate the importance, and even necessity, of our lifelong quest to help rescue disciples from the clutches of these servants of darkness. May God give us each the power and resolve for the battle ahead. (Note -- I have left the below unedited; leaving the misspelled words, names and grammatical errors. The final paragraph was the text of a second email sent to the same readers less than 5 hours later on the same day. I merely combined the two.)

I don't know how many of you noticed this, but Mr. Brown made a most revealing statement in his personal email to me: "It would be interesting to read what your motley spiritual crew have to say about" the little missive he sent forth to his little band of supporters. This reveals one of the primary aspects of all such personality pathologies: they desperately crave the attention that comes from their abusive behavior. Even if the attention they receive is entirely negative, nevertheless they find some pathetic validation therein. What they do NOT crave, however, is the exposure of their pathology. That is why Mr. Brown, in his personal email to me, also asked that when/if I printed his missive, that I do so "without comment." He knows that I know what motivates him, and thus he would rather not have this revealed. One expert on such behaviors wrote that such persons "harbour a particular hatred of anyone who can articulate their behaviour profile, either verbally or in writing, in a manner which helps other people see through their deception and their mask of deceit. The usual instinctive response is to launch a bitter personal attack on the person." Although some believe these persons with this type of personality disorder "lack insight into his or her behaviour, seeming to be oblivious to the crassness and inappropriateness thereof; it is far more likely that they know very well what they are doing but elect to switch off the moral and ethical considerations by which normal people are bound."

Although, in some respects, printing the above missive does indeed feed the craving for attention sought by those afflicted by such mental pathologies, on the other hand it serves to expose that very pathology, which is what such persons fear the most. Thus, Mr. Brown challenged me to print the little piece so he could see the response, but he did NOT want me to make any comment on it. Both requests reflect the classic nature of his disorder. Brethren, I harbor no feelings of ill-will for Mr. Brown. I don't like his behavior, nor his tactics, and I deplore his theology, but at the same time he's just as much in need of God's love and grace as I am, and I would love to share both with him so as to see him transformed into something far more Christ-like. Pray for this man, as well as those who are his "toadies" and victims, that God may work a miracle of grace in his life.

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

A 200 page book by Al Maxey
Order from Publisher: (301) 695-1707

Readers' Reflections

Special New Book --- I want to make all my readers aware of a new book that has just been published by Michael Stinsen, a dear friend and faithful supporter of my Reflections ministry. The book has been published by One Body Press (and it may be purchased from that site). It is titled Father, Make Them One: A Prayer of Jesus. It is 165 pages long and sells for $11.95. The author's graced me by allowing me the honor of writing the Foreword to this work, as well as by quoting from a number of my writings throughout. One Body Press is one of the arms of One Body Ministries, a great group of disciples who have a vision and mission to help bring to reality the prayer of Jesus in John 17. I urge you to support this work any way you can, and especially through prayer! Michael sent me a free copy of the book, and wrote, "I really do appreciate all your help with this book. It would not be the book it is without your input, both in the book itself and in my own early writing days. You've had a tremendous impact on me, Al, and I am very much appreciative."

From a Reader in Missouri:

Brother Al, Thanks so much for your service in the Kingdom! After graduating from Lipscomb, I stopped going to church for 10 years. I gave up. I stumbled upon your Reflections archive this past December, and everything has changed for me. I can't tell you how many people (just since December) that I have now helped to start breaking free of legalism (though it is probably 15-20). Even in the church of my upbringing (which was the Contending for the Faith ilk), I now have people that are listening to a healthy, grace-centered and Christ-focused message. And your writings were the very first thing that gave me that glimmer of hope!! For all of that December and January, I consumed your Reflections. I'd go to bed, not be able to sleep, so I'd get up and start reading them again. So, yeah, I am thankful. Obviously, God is the One who draws us, but I have no trouble declaring that you were the tool that He used to bring my soul back to Him! I have since used your writings, and things I have learned from them, to soften some very, very hard hearts. Anyway, I just wanted you to know how you have helped me. Thank you, Al.

From a New Reader in [Unknown]:

Dear Brother Al, Would you please add me to your distribution list for Reflections. I recently stepped down after 20 some years in the eldership. Yes, we do need time away! I appreciate your attention to Scriptural detail, and also to your thinking outside the box that we have been pounded into for so long. May God continue to bless your efforts.

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, Thank you for taking care of your physical and mental and spiritual health. A person cannot share with another if they don't have it themselves. You are such a profound thinker that it must be really hard for you to walk away from your work for a period of rest. Praise God, however, that you do. Sunday, during the message from our young minister, he made a statement that has cheered my heart very much. We've been studying about connection with God and His people. He said, "We should be a Church like Christ, not just a Church of Christ." How simply put, but how powerful. I just wanted to share that thought with you, as I believe you also teach and lead as if you are part of a Church like Christ. Praise God for you and your precious family. I also want you to know that I love the pictures you put on your Facebook page!

From a Missionary in Peru:

Bro. Al, The matter of the inspiration of the Word of God has been used by the enemy to bring division and confusion to the Body of Christ. The King James Only adherents, who exalt the KJV to a position of reverence that is untenable when one truly studies these matters, are a really good case in point. Too many believers simply don't have the knowledge of history and the relevant information about the thousands of Greek manuscripts to make a reasoned judgment. Thus, a few guide the ignorant to false positions that just don't stand up when properly examined. The devil can and does use anything to bring division.

From a Reader in Canada:

Brother Al, As always, I very much appreciate your work for the Lord Jesus. Keep on keeping on holding fast to all God has given you, and may He increase your understanding of Himself and His beloved Son Jesus as the end approaches.

From a Reader in Washington:

Bro. Al, I am glad that Shelly and you had a relaxing time "away from it all." Your weekly words were sorely missed, though. I hope you don't mind me mentioning Shelly first, but if you're anything like me, your wife is far more important than you.

From a Minister in Florida:

Dear Brother Al, Thank you for your overview of the issues involved in 2 Tim. 3:16. Also, welcome back from your vacation! You might also note that, in addition to Peter's recognition of the epistles of Paul as being Scripture, Paul recognized the gospel account of Luke in 1 Tim. 5:18, quoting from Luke 10:7 and Deut. 25:4 and calling both of them "Scripture." Therefore, if Paul considered the gospel of Luke as being Scripture, there is a strong case to be made for Acts being counted as Scripture also. Between the explicit statements of Peter and Paul we've got internal definitions of Scripture that cover a big part of the NT writings as we know them today.

From a Reader in Connecticut:

Dear Bro. Al, I am so glad to hear someone finally say it -- ALL Scripture is given by God. Far too often I have heard my brethren quote Paul more than any other apostle, prophet ... or even Jesus. The "Scripture" he referred to in 2 Tim. 3:16 was indeed talking about the OT -- it was the only thing available at the time. I think we sometimes tend to forget that. Further, we should be very careful lest we become guilty of "bibliolatry" (i.e., worshipping the Bible in lieu of God Himself). While the written Scriptures are to be treasured, believed, honored and obeyed, they are not to be idolized. We can each find positive Christian principles that we can and should apply to our lives in other sound sources, as well -- like the reasoned and thoughtful ideas and principles I find in each issue of your Reflections, the valuable historical writings of other great church fathers, like Polycarp, just to mention a couple.

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, Your article "All Scripture is God-Breathed" was wonderful, and, whether it was your intention or not, you've confirmed with this issue of Reflections something I have come to believe very strongly. I think I have told you before that I believe your writings are being led by the Holy Spirit of God, and therefore are God-breathed writings. What you write has its origin and basis in/from God, and is good and profitable for those of us needing encouragement in the Word. I have long had a spiritual mentor who, when I questioned him some years ago about the things I was coming to believe, told me to go check out the writings of Al Maxey, because I was not the only one coming to these conclusions. He was basically telling me that what Al Maxey was teaching he considered to be God-breathed, and, as a result, profitable for hearing, because such men are being Spirit-led in their writings.

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, Welcome back to the real world. We all really miss you whenever you leave on vacation, but totally understand your need for refreshing your body and spirit. May God continue to give you the incredible insight that you have, coupled with the love of God's Word that you need to keep us all going.

From a New Reader in Texas:

Dear Bro. Maxey, I just wanted to thank you for your web site. I accidentally stumbled upon it while writing a paper on Haggai. It was the final paper of my studies while attending Brown Trail School of Preaching. After looking at your excellent research on The Prophet Haggai, I then spent some time looking around your web site for a while. I thoroughly enjoyed your debates and dialogues, especially the one with David Martin. This Baptist pastor seemed to be very misinformed about the Churches of Christ, yet what I read of your side of the dialogue was both enjoyable and sound in nature. Thank you for "contending for the faith" in such a loving manner. I am very excited, for after two years of study at this preaching school, I am graduating this Sunday. Thanks again for such a good web site. I truly appreciate it.

From a New Reader in Colorado:

Bro. Al, Please add me to your mailing list for Reflections. I, like you, feel very strongly that Apollos was the author of the book of Hebrews (as per your study of this at Reflections #128). It is truly amazing to me that so many centuries passed by before anybody thought that Apollos might have written it. To me it's only too obvious!

From a Reader in Nevada:

Greetings, dear brother! Your Reflections continue to interest and instruct me! With regard to your last article, in light of the context (writer/audience), I believe that the more proper translation is "All God-breathed writing is profitable..." (I prefer the generic "writing," rather than "Scripture," and the "is" after "God-breathed," not before it). Paul, most certainly, had been exposed not only to the Torah, but also to many Second Temple writings (like the Apocrypha, etc.), and so Timothy could have been exposed to some of these texts by either his mother and grandmother. That being the case, Paul realized that many of these writings, which were so very important to first century Jews, were nevertheless not God-breathed, and thus were of very little value to Christians (whether Jew or Gentile). Please keep up the good work, Al, and give Shelly a big hug from my wife and me!

From a New Reader in London, England:

Good Morning Dear Al & Shelly, and greetings from London (UK). I am in the middle of reading your fantastic debate --- The Maxey-Thrasher Debate. I must say that I am being completely captivated by this debate, simply because it's now been at least six months that I have abandoned the traditional view of hell and the afterlife. It all began when our son threw some leftovers of chicken into our rubbish bin, but he forgot to wrap it up properly. This caused many maggots to suddenly appear, and I was left to clean the mess. That is when the Scripture came to my mind about the "worm that dieth not." Immediately after having finished my cleaning job, I went to my Bible, and also to the Internet (where I found your article titled Message of the Munching Maggot), and started studying on this subject, and I haven't stopped ever since. I don't believe that I will ever again receive as truth what traditionalists believe about eternal torment and the intermediate state, thanks to inspired teachers such as yourself.

From a New Reader in New York:

Dear Brother Al, I stumbled upon your web site by accident. I do articles on hymns for The Salvation Army in Spanish, among other things, and I was looking for information on Daniel Webster Whittle, which is how I came upon your study of his life (Reflections #399). As I printed it up, the last four pages were Readers' Reflections. So, I started reading some of the other articles you had written, and about which the readers were speaking. Brother, you make sense!! I am a Major in The Salvation Army, and we too have our share of people who are not compassionate, or who treat those who need to be shown God's love, mercy, grace and forgiveness as outcasts, and those who interpret Scripture in a manner that condemns those in need of being restored. But, I am writing just to say Thank You for your compassion, reason and courage to speak out. May God continue to bless, use and encourage you!

From a Reader in Louisiana:

Dear Bro. Al, We certainly do appreciate all of your intensive work that you send out in such readable form. How can we, the readers, ever show our appreciation for what you do for us?! If you have any idea, please let us know, for your generosity is amazing! What about a fee or gratuity that we should pay for your writings? We certainly do not expect you to spread your wonderful talent around without some remuneration. I am very serious about this, Al. I really want to know how we can reimburse you for your labor. If you won't accept money, what else can we do for you? Your writings are all so tremendous; you must spend hours doing your research. Please give us an answer to these questions. Many are wondering.

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