Issue #446 -------
July 2, 2010
There are two parts in vainglory, namely
to esteem ourselves too highly, and
not to esteem others highly enough.
This past week I received two emails that were very similar in nature, both of which touched me deeply for a number of reasons. I don't think that it's any big secret (especially not from those who know me quite well) that I deplore with all my being the fragmentation of the Family of God that has become increasingly prevalent down through the centuries. The systematic dismemberment of the One Body universal has been a top priority with Satan and his evil forces. Christendom has been so divided and subdivided into denominations and factions that it's difficult to proclaim love and unity to the lost of this world with a straight face. And yet, more and more of us are remaining silent no longer; we are speaking out about this abominable situation and calling our brethren within the various sects to help tear down the walls that separate them and to embrace their spiritual siblings in sweet fellowship. We're not calling for disciples to goose-step to the drum beat of party patternism, but rather to celebrate their diversity within the parameters of the universal One Family of God in Christ! After all, you don't have to be my twin to be my brother -- we just have to have the same Father! In both these letters I received, this reality was increasingly being realized ... but not without some personal struggle (which is not surprising considering the denominational, factional and sectarian indoctrination we have all received at the hands of our religious handlers over the years, no matter how well-intentioned it may have been).
The First Letter
The first letter I received was from a young man whose family I knew quite well back in the early 80's when I was serving as the Minister for the American military congregation located in Kaiserslautern, Germany. At the time, this person was one of the young boys who was good friends with my own three sons. This person is now grown and married and a devoted father, as well as a devoted disciple of Christ Jesus. What a joy to have watched him grow into such a fine, spiritual young man. He, as well as his parents (whom Shelly and I love dearly), are on Facebook with me, and he just happened to notice a post I placed on my page a week or so ago about our congregation here in southern New Mexico hosting a Legacy concert, which is an a cappella singing group from Texas that tours the nation (and they are awesome, by the way). Although the concert was held at our building this past Sunday evening, we worked together with two other congregations in town to organize and present this concert to the community. Those two are both community churches: Cottonwood Christian Fellowship and Alamogordo Church. There are some wonderful Christian men and women and young people in these congregations, just as there are in our own, and we've worked closely together in a number of different community projects (such as the National Day of Prayer event on our Court House steps, the hospital chaplains program, and the like). Yes, we have differing traditions in some areas (such as worship style), but most within our respective associations are determined not to allow personal preferences to stand in the way of working toward greater unity among believers in our Lord Jesus Christ. When we learn to focus on HIM, rather than upon EACH OTHER, walls of separation between spiritual siblings will begin to crumble!
Such cooperative efforts among disciples of differing denominational affiliation, however, can be extremely troubling to some people. It is a major step outside the parameters of our zone of comfort. The above young man, who now resides in Alabama, wrote, "Dear Bro. Maxey, I don't mean to open up a can of worms, and I know your Facebook site is not the place to debate. However, I'm curious as to your thoughts as to who decides which denomination is okay to fellowship with. The divisions are so many, so where do we draw the line, if anywhere? As a follower of Christ, I know it's not my place to judge what the denominations do! I love them and worry about them; I try to show them what the Bible says; I encourage them to visit where I worship! It is not our place to ever say, 'We're the only ones going to heaven,' and I hate this stigma that the Church of Christ has. Only God decides that. Our place is only to share what the Bible says, and to lovingly show their errors."
As I read this letter, my heart truly melted. I know this young man, and know his family. They are some of the finest people on the planet. I detect in this letter some significant spiritual growth and development for a young man in his early 30's. Unlike too many within the various factions of Christendom, he has realized that God hasn't called us to pass judgment on those who may have been raised within a faith-heritage different than our own. Nor is it our place to pronounce such persons unfit for eternal life. Rather than condemn, he seeks to encourage. This is good. On the other hand, I perceive that there is still room for further spiritual growth and acceptance of others in Christ who may not be in a Church of Christ. This is the very thing with which the apostle John once struggled, for he sought to hinder a disciple of Christ "because he does not follow along with us" (Luke 9:49; Mark 9:38). The Lord Jesus had to inform John (and by extension: each of us also) that being in our little group of disciples is not what matters; what matters is if the persons in question are following Jesus. If they are IN HIM, then they are OF US ... even though they may not be "walking with us" in our religious tradition. This is a vital lesson that many need to learn today, just as John needed to learn it back then.
The young brother spoke of trying to encourage others to visit where he worships. Amen!! I love to have people visit where I worship, and I pray we will always be a source of great blessing to them; that they will leave our assembly encouraged, rather than spiritually deflated. But, what about you and I also going to visit where they worship?! Is this just a one way street? A one-sided invitation? Further, and this is where some honest self-evaluation is very much needed, what exactly is our motivation for wanting them to come visit us? Too often, I fear, our motivation may be to get them away from their "false worship" and show them "God-approved worship" (which, of course, is OUR worship style). Therefore, we "worry about them," and we feel the need to lovingly show them their "error" (which suggests to these people, whether we intend it or not, that WE have NONE). Come on, people -- what about OUR error?! Perhaps they worry about us! Brethren, the reality is -- not a one of us has arrived at perfect perception and practice of all Truth. And that applies to groups as much as individuals. The Church of Christ group is the one in which I was brought up by my parents, and in which I later made a conscious decision to remain. I love many of its traditions, and through personal study and reflection have come to believe many of its teachings. Further, I have no problem at all with continuing my association with this religious heritage. However, I do NOT confuse this group with the universal ONE BODY of Jesus Christ, which is infinitely vaster than the parameters of any one group, or any faction thereof. I am a member of the universal One Body, yet I am associated with that heritage found in the Yellow Pages under the designation Churches of Christ. Once again, I do not confuse the two, and I most certainly do not equate the latter with the former (as though one particular faith-heritage, or some faction thereof, IS, in its fullness and completeness, that universal One Body). I cannot stress enough just how important this distinction is!
"Who decides which denomination is okay to fellowship with?" Let me respectfully suggest that this question reflects a common misconception!! Christians do not fellowship "denominations" or "factions" or "sects;" Christians fellowship other Christians. Indeed, our fellowship with one another is based upon our common bond of being IN HIM. The beloved apostle John stated that he preached JESUS (the "Word become flesh") so "that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:3). If I bring you into relationship with the Father through the Son, then both of US, who are both in fellowship with the Father and the Son, are thereby in fellowship with one another. God has "called us into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ OUR Lord" (1 Cor. 1:9). My fellowship, therefore, is with anyone and everyone in fellowship with HIM ... regardless of their various differing traditions, worship styles, heritage, and the like. It is the ONE whom we share in common, not the countless personal/party preferences and perceptions over which we may differ, that forms the very basis of our fellowship. Thus, once again, I don't fellowship "denominations." Nor do I fellowship any faction of any movement. I fellowship fellow disciples of Christ ... wherever they may be found!! I may associate with (as far as working with, worshipping with, etc.) one group more than another, but this in no way speaks to the issue of fellowship, for THAT extends to ALL who are in relationship with the Father through the Son. I have dear brethren who are associated with the Baptist Church ... the Christian Church ... you know, I even have brethren associated with the Church of Christ church!! One's association, one's heritage, one's traditions, one's worship style, etc. do NOT constitute the basis of fellowship (although we sometimes allow such distinctions to destroy our fellowship in the Family of God).
The Second Letter
"Bro. Maxey, I would like to comment on your very thought-provoking article titled, The Lord's Supper: Focusing on Frequency (Reflections #30). I'm Baptist; my husband is Church of Christ; we have both been very solid in our faith. I have never felt that his religion was wrong, but I've never appreciated his one-sided, arrogant approach to mine!! With this background in mind, let me say that your above article has done wonders!! Thank you so much! After my husband read your article, it really did something to him! It actually caused him to open his eyes, and he has come to realize that there is truth to what I had always said: the Church of Christ is not wrong; what is wrong is for ANY group to declare that IT is the ONLY right way. My husband would now like to know what your thoughts are on instrumental music within church. We have them in the Baptist Church, and, of course, his church doesn't really believe in them. He also wants to know what your thoughts are on baptism. I believe one is saved then baptized; his church believes one is baptized then saved. It seems our beliefs are so opposite! If you have some free time, we would love to hear your thoughts on the matters listed above."
Religiously mixed marriages most certainly may pose some significant challenges to the relationship, especially when each partner is very solid in his/her convictions, as both of these individuals clearly seem to be. These challenges are not insurmountable, however, if there is a deep love and respect for one another, and if these are shown and strengthened daily!! It is also important to the maintaining of our relationships with one another that we come to appreciate the distinction between essentials and non-essentials in our walk with the Lord and one another. It is okay to have strong convictions; indeed we must. It is NOT okay to impose them upon others. This is especially true in matters about which the Lord has not specifically declared His will one way or the other. Too frequently, when the Father has said nothing (biblical silence), His children have plenty to say!! This has led to senseless sibling squabbling and separation more times than any of us can count. To be perfectly honest, and some of you may not like this, none of the "issues" mentioned in the letter above are "weighty" enough to warrant the severing of fellowship among believers or tension within a covenant of marriage. They have no bearing upon our standing with God, and thus should have no bearing on our standing with one another.
I have dealt with the matter of frequency with respect to the observance of the Lord's Supper in a number of in-depth studies, one of which was mentioned above. Others may be found on my Topical Index page under the heading "The Lord's Supper." I also deal with this matter in some depth in my new book: One Bread, One Body, which is now available for purchase (see the ad at the end of this article). Once the "light dawns" within our hearts and minds on this, it is amazing how less stressful our relationships become with one another, for we come to realize that we can be different and yet still be united. Us-Them becomes We -- Unity in Diversity -- and that is so liberating. Competitiveness and combativeness are cast aside; childish demands of "my way or no way" are put behind us as we move on to greater maturity; the compulsion to denounce and defame those who dare to differ with our dogma fades away as we experience growth in our understanding and application of love, mercy and grace. As Romans 14 points out, we can have faith and convictions that differ as dramatically as night and day, yet the freedom to continue in fellowship with one another is ours when we finally realize that God has accepted us both. Dear brethren, if God has accepted you ... and if He has accepted your brother or sister ... then it is time we accepted each other!
Yes, there are indeed some conservative brethren within the Churches of Christ who do not believe it is "Scriptural" to use instruments of music to accompany our singing in a corporate worship setting. It should be pointed out that there are some Baptists who teach the same thing (the Primitive Baptists, for example). There is also a growing number within the Churches of Christ who are finally coming to realize that the a cappella worship style is nothing but a human preference and a religious tradition. Nowhere in all the Bible (in either OT or NT writings) is there even a single, solitary hint that God disapproves of instrumental accompaniment to the heartfelt singing of His people. For someone to take that silence and use it to formulate a prohibitive command for the church, with both fellowship and salvation hanging in the balance, is an arrogant usurpation of our God's authority! Again, I have dealt extensively with this matter in a number of in-depth articles that may be found on my Topical Index page under the heading "Musical Instruments." I would greatly encourage the above husband and wife to read these articles together and discuss them carefully and prayerfully with one another. I believe such an exercise will help to further bind this couple together spiritually. I would additionally suggest that the husband examine (on that same index page) all the studies I have done on the so-called "Law of Silence." It is one of the most divisive interpretative devices ever formulated by man, and the utter inconsistency of its application is staggering to behold. Once a person's eyes are opened to the fallacious nature of this "law," they are forever freed to perceive God's written Word in a more rational, reasonable, responsible manner.
"He also wants to know what your thoughts are on baptism. I believe one is saved then baptized; his church believes one is baptized then saved. It seems our beliefs are so opposite!" On the surface, they most certainly appear to be. However, when these two perspectives on baptism are examined much more closely, and with a greater appreciation for what God is really teaching in the Scriptures, I'm not convinced that they are all that far apart. Both husband and wife, even though raised in groups with differing religious perspectives and practices, nevertheless acknowledge the need for an individual to be immersed. Those who profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are expected by Him to demonstrate that faith in their daily lives (which is exactly what James talks about in James 2). Neither group will argue against showing one's faith, nor will they argue against baptism being one of many such evidentiary acts on the part of those who profess faith. The Baptists have often been accused of promoting the theology of "faith only," but if you really discuss this with them you will see that they acknowledge the need for one to show his/her faith in their lives. These are NOT "works" that merit salvation, but rather "acts of faith" that simply show forth the reality of one's profession of faith. Those in the Churches of Christ are often accused of promoting a "works-based" theology of salvation, and yet if you really discuss this with them, most today will acknowledge that our various "works" are not for the purpose of earning one's eternal salvation, but are instead simply "acts of faith" that show forth our gratitude and thanksgiving for the fact of our salvation. Really, both groups are saying very much the same thing, if each will just stop to truly listen to the other.
Yes, there are indeed some within the Church of Christ who believe one must DO certain things to EARN one's salvation (although they might hesitate to use such terminology). Some will even go so far as to declare salvation to be baptism-based, and will state emphatically that one is not regarded by God as truly saved until their nose breaks the surface of the water in the baptistery. On the other hand, there are indeed some Baptists who will firmly declare that a person is saved by faith alone, and that a believer doesn't need to ever actually SHOW that faith in any way, shape or form. Both positions are theological extremes, and both are rejected by most disciples within both religious heritages. The real issue between the two groups, and this is an important one, is: at what precise point in time does our God regard a person to be saved? In my view, this is entirely the wrong question, for it seeks to impose the limitations and parameters of our own space-time existence upon God, who dwells outside of both. For mere men to seek to determine the "split-second of salvation" is to completely miss the point of how God perceives our condition. God judges the willingness of the heart; man judges the wetness of the body! One is qualitative in nature, the other far more quantitative. I have dealt with this very issue in Reflections #348 -- The Split-Second of Salvation: Is it Imperative for Us to Perceive the Precise Moment of God's Acceptance? I would strongly urge the reader to take a few minutes to examine this study, as it is critical to a better understanding of God's will in this matter.
Let me conclude by just asking the reader to give some thought to the following people and their relationship with the Father as it pertains to the precise moment of their acceptance by Him. Apollos. In Acts 18:24-25 we read that he "was an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures. ... instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John." Here was a man who was genuinely on fire for the Lord; one who was speaking boldly in the synagogue (vs. 26), "showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ" (vs. 28). He had a considerable amount of knowledge, he was "mighty in the Scriptures," he was devoted to the Savior, and so in love with his fellow man that he witnessed to them boldly about the Savior who could redeem them. His life was completely focused on the Lord Jesus. But, his knowledge was not perfect (is mine? ... yours?). Priscilla and Aquila took him aside and "explained to him the way of God more accurately" (vs. 26). Was this man saved before being taken aside by this couple? Had God accepted Him? Or, was God waiting for that split-second on the space-time continuum when the nose of Apollos broke the surface of the water in a baptistery to declare him "saved"? What if Apollos had died just minutes prior to his baptism? Would he have been eternally rejected by God? I have dealt with this matter in a published debate that the reader may find enlightening: The Maxey-Hughes Debate.
Cornelius. In Acts 10:2 we are told he was "a devout man, and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people, and prayed to God continually." Verse 22 characterizes him as a "righteous" man, and in verse 31 an angel informs him that his prayers were heard by God and all his deeds of charity duly noted. The Lord sent the apostle Peter to inform this godly man about the good news that the long-awaited Messiah had come, and that His name was Jesus. Peter confessed to Cornelius, "I now understand that ... in every nation the man who reverences God and does what is right is welcome to Him" (vs. 35). In fact, the apostle Paul says virtually the same thing in Romans 2:14f, indicating that men will be judged by their hearts, and their response to available light, rather than a strict judging based on law [I would encourage the reader to carefully consider Reflections #158 -- Grace and the Caveman: Pondering the Parameters of Divine Acceptance of Human Response to Available Light]. While the apostle Peter was still speaking to Cornelius about God's lack of partiality with regard to whom He embraced, "the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message" (vs. 44). The Jews that came along with Peter were amazed, for "the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon" these individuals, and they were "speaking in tongues and exalting God" (vs. 45).
Let me ask a serious question -- was Cornelius LOST at this point? If he had died right then, would God have cast him headlong into hell, torturing him without end in a raging fire (as some falsely believe the nature of hell to be)? Had the Father accepted this man at this time? Was the pouring out of the Spirit upon him evidence of the fact that God regarded this man as one of His own children? I believe it was. Further, did God only embrace him at the precise moment of the outpouring of the Spirit, or was this outpouring far more for the benefit of those Jews assembled that day in the home of Cornelius? Did these Jews need to come to the realization that God had already accepted this man? Later, back in Jerusalem, Peter stated, "If God therefore gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way?" (Acts 11:17). Good question!! Let us return to Cornelius' house. Peter declared, "Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?" (Acts 10:47). Well, of course not!! Therefore, these people were baptized. What was the split-second of Cornelius' salvation? Was it when his nose broke the surface of the water? If Cornelius had died suddenly prior to that precise moment in time, would this righteous man exalting God by the power of God's Holy Spirit be forever lost? I actually know people today who say with great conviction that God would have cast him straight into hell if he had died before being baptized. Frankly, I believe this reflects a spiritually impoverished perception of our Father and His matchless grace! You and I may look at stopwatches, but our Father looks at hearts!! "God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7).
Abraham. Although this man lived many centuries prior to the time of the New Covenant, and thus baptism would not have applied to his situation, nevertheless we can see something of the nature of God's acceptance of this man as it pertains to the act of circumcision. Notice what God said to Abraham, "Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and all your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you too shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you" (Gen. 17:9-11). The Lord even went on to point out that those who were not circumcised "shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant" (vs. 14). This was certainly a "religious rite" that our God considered essential. Those who had faith in Him would comply with this command. However, at precisely what point did God regard Abraham as justified in His sight? Was it at the precise split-second the foreskin was removed? In Romans 4:10, the apostle Paul tells us that Abraham was reckoned by God as righteous NOT based on his act of circumcision (even though he was expected to perform this act of faith), but based upon his faith -- "Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before!" Paul then immediately points out that Abraham's circumcision was an evidence of faith, not a meritorious work; if it had been the latter, then he would have had something to boast about (vs. 2).
Salvation is by grace through faith, not anything that we ourselves accomplish ... or ever could (Eph. 2:8-9). As those saved by faith, however, we are expected to Show Forth this faith in our daily lives, and we evidence this faith in a number of ways -- baptism being one of those ways. Is immersion essential to the salvation process? Absolutely. Is it the "precise point of entry" into a saving relationship with our heavenly Father? No, I do not believe that it is. However, if one REFUSES to be immersed, then that one is NOT in a saved state, for he/she is in rebellion against God, and such is not consistent with a profession of faith. If we say that we have faith, says James, then Show It. If you refuse to show it, however, then you don't have it. To this couple I would simply say: You both have faith in Him ... you both have demonstrated that faith in an "act of faith" known as baptism ... you both are seeking to live for Him in your daily lives!! Rejoice in your relationship with Him and one another, embrace your fellow spiritual siblings, regardless of their religious association, and continue in your walk with Him as "fellow heirs of the grace of life" (1 Peter 3:7). Be blessed!!
One Bread, One Body
An Examination of Eucharistic
Expectation, Evolution and Extremism
A 230 page book by Al Maxey
Order both books from Publish America at:
www.publishamerica.com or (301) 695-1707
From a Minister in Tennessee:
Brother Al, Why am I not surprised by David Brown's letter?! It is sad that he and others sincerely believe they are defending the faith delivered to the saints (Jude 3). It just goes to show how many times those who consider themselves so "sound," are merely soundly deluded. "Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor. 10:12). My heart is saddened to think that such brethren, without even realizing it, have placed themselves in such a precarious position that they may actually receive against themselves the very judgment they so freely imposed upon others. As for your article on Dr. L. L. Pinkerton -- thank you very much! What a great man! By the way, I purchased Rick Atchley's "Learning Division" DVD a year or two ago. Tremendous and True! We were privileged to have Rick in a meeting about two or three years ago, and he did an excellent job of delivering the Gospel. Sad to say, though, some people would not attend, as they thought they would be "infected with heresy," and thus they missed the grace that blessed our hearts! May God continue to bless your ministry, brother.
From a Reader in Texas:
Brother Al, More than anything, I really feel sorry for David Brown. It is almost as if he truly does not realize that he too has sin in his life. You rightly mentioned in your closing remarks to pray for him, because we all need the grace of God. We are all sinners saved by grace, and for any of us to be expending time and energy focusing on the flaws within others is not only a waste of time, but disgraceful. We are only given one way to recognize those who belong to the Lord, and it is not a person's ability to come up with all the "right answers" to various doctrinal questions. Rather, it's the fruit of their lives as they represent Christ Jesus to a lost world. Brother Al, please take comfort in knowing how many of us love and look forward to your weekly Reflections. Also, be aware that your readers are vastly greater in number than those who follow the system of destruction aimed at God's children espoused by Mr. Brown.
From a Reader in North Carolina:
Dear Brother Al, Thank you so much for this great article on Dr. Lewis Pinkerton. As for the second part of your last Reflections, David Brown and the rest of the Pharisees in the "Confusing of the Faith" crowd are wasting their time if they think they are ever going to bully those of us who have been freed from the chains of legalism! God strike me dead if I ever return to that "prison" from which I have been set free. As I have said before, I will not pray for them, as it's a waste to throw one's pearls before swine. Besides, they don't covet our prayers; they don't even believe God hears our prayers. They merely seek validation for their self-righteous behavior. Keep the faith, my brother! You are always in my thoughts and prayers.
From a Reader in Texas:
Brother Al, I loved your historical article about Dr. L. L. Pinkerton and was outraged by the audacity of David Brown. Who died and made him God?! Don't let such boneheads ever get to you, brother!
From a Reader in Arkansas:
Brother Al, The article on Dr. Lewis Pinkerton was superb! Thank you for introducing me to this outstanding brother of long ago. I would also love to see an article on President James A. Garfield, if you have the time.
From a Reader in California:
Brother Al, I had never heard of Dr. Pinkerton, but it was a most interesting article. As for David Brown, I'll not even waste my time with any comment regarding his "trash talk." If he is an example of one "grounded in Truth," then I am proudly among the "apostates" -- i.e., those loved by the Lord and saved by His grace!
From a New Reader in Saskatchewan:
Brother Al, My son-in-law forwarded one of your recent Reflections to me, and now I would like to receive these writings weekly. Thank you!
From a New Reader in England:
Dear Brother Maxey, I am in the process of writing articles for a web site I intend to provide for my own area on the southern coast of England. I fell into your web site during one of my many searches, and I spent a good deal of time reading your pages. I was delighted to read such as I myself have been saying for some years now (although it seems I have been speaking into the wind for all the good it's done here). Thank you for your efforts, but more -- thank you for the content of your writing, which I feel is such a must read today, given the contemporary religious mindset of so many. My very best regards to you!
From a Minister in Nepal:
Dear Bro. Al, How sad that some like David Brown speak sermons about other people rather than speaking about Jesus and His Gospel. Thank you, brother, for helping focus people on Jesus. Our Lord will reward you for what you are doing. Who are any of us to judge the servant of another?
From a Missionary in Bulgaria:
Dear Brother Al, I just read the letter that David Brown sent to you and his "flock." I shouldn't be surprised about this sort of thing, but these guys do still continue to stun me with all their vitriol. Don't they have anything better to do?! Of course, that was a rhetorical question. I've been "up close and personal" with this sort of behavior before. I was once a Campus Minister in Texas. This ministry was supported by about 18 congregations from the area around the campus. On Sundays I usually preached at different supporting congregations. During one meeting of the many elders from these various congregations I was charged with "never preaching against any one or any thing," and "only preaching about love and Christian fellowship." My response was, "I simply don't have enough days left in my preaching and teaching life to thoroughly exegete everything that IS in the Word of God, let alone preach against people and things not even mentioned there." I guess that is why I like and appreciate what you do, brother. You stick to the Word!! Preach on, Al.
From a New Reader in Alabama:
Dear Bro. Maxey, I have been reading some of your Reflections, and they are very encouraging. In fact, I had actually asked my grandfather (who is one of your longtime subscribers) how I could be placed on your mailing list. Coming from a "mainstream" Church of Christ, as I do, it is really refreshing to read your weekly studies. I am used to the constant preaching of doctrine. Doctrine is good to know, but I feel as if we have become too much like the Pharisees: forgetting why we serve God and instead merely trying to be "better Christians" than those in the "denominations." With every issue of Reflections you write you encourage people like me to keep fighting the good fight, and to keep letting everyone know that our Lord is a Lord of LOVE.
From an Author/Leader in Texas:
Brother Al, I am very sorry about the scathing attack from Mr. Brown. I would suggest suing for libel, but you would need to prove damages, and, frankly, I think his "rabid rants" actually increase your standing in the eyes of God's grace-filled followers. Still, I know such constant attacks can be hurtful and wearying, and I do lift you up in prayer daily. Every day at 2 p.m. I go to the hospital chapel and pray. You are always at the top of my list. I will add Mr. Brown to my list as well. He is soooo in need of God's grace!! I will pray for his heart to be softened and his eyes to be opened to God's wondrous love. I will also pray for God's strengthening hand to hold you up.
From a Reader in Alabama:
Dear Bro. Al, I hope you are well. I read your most recent Reflections about Mr. Brown. This man may have an actual clinical mental illness, which is all the more reason to pray for him. He must be a very sad and tortured person. As for Dr. L. L. Pinkerton, I'd never heard of him. He sounds like a wonderful man. I seriously doubt that he spent any time saying degrading things about those with whom he disagreed. What a contrast between him and David Brown!! I really look forward to meeting Dr. Pinkerton, as well as all the other faithful ones of God, some day. Keep up the good work, brother.
From a Reader in Texas:
Dear Bro. Al, You're correct that David Brown needs God's love and grace. But I believe he could also benefit from some professional treatment by a psychiatrist. His email clearly reveals a person suffering from some sort of mental illness, due to the extremely high levels of hatred he displays for those with whom he disagrees. This is not normal, and it could even prove to be a very dangerous mental condition!! We should all pray that David's friends and family will come to recognize his condition and convince him to get some help before it is too late. People like this are walking time bombs just waiting to explode!
From a Reader in California:
Dearest Bro. Al, The statement by David Brown was so vile that I could hardly stand to read it. Judgmental, critical, hate-filled people like him show their fear and loathing of others so openly and brazenly that I honestly do not know how anyone who sits inside their buildings can do so without actually fearing retribution raining down on their buildings from God while these men are speaking. Does David Brown truly think it is acceptable to use such language? Why, I haven't heard the term "faggot" since we left the Old Paths Advocate "approved fellowship" almost 30 years ago! I had hoped never to hear such name-calling again, and yet there it is -- right from the mouth of someone who clearly knows nothing uplifting, helpful and loving to say unto others (and he's an elder and preacher?!). So sad!
From a Reader in Oklahoma:
Dear Brother Al, I had put off studying your recent Reflections on the inspiration of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16a) until I had enough time to give it adequate attention, as I thought it would probably be difficult. But, as usual, you did a great job of making it very understandable. Thanks for your good work!! As for David Brown's pathetic missile -- what he wrote is so disgusting it defies description! Al, if we are blessed when men revile us, then you are undoubtedly destined to have a great shower of blessings in Heaven (and maybe on this earth also). Most people are turned off by their tactics, and their groups grow smaller and smaller. While I realize that the approval of the majority is not a prerequisite to being saved, nevertheless Jesus attracted large multitudes, and Christianity has spread throughout the earth with large numbers of followers. Your large following, Al, also shows the power and attractiveness of the Gospel when it is presented truthfully in love. I appreciate your work so much!!
From a Reader in Virginia:
Brother Al, David P. Brown has spoken "all manner of evil against you," but he has failed amid his tirade to produce ANY substantive example or proof of a single accusation he has made against you! He's conceived and built a bogus argument (based on his own pathetic and profane use of Scriptures ripped from their context) in a misguided effort to besmirch your good name and work. He has instead completely soiled himself in his attempt to do such to you, and has laid open for all to see his pornographic mindset, as well as his inability to "speak the truth." It is time the dust is shaken from our feet of the likes of childish "men" such as Brown and his cohorts. After all, in a few years he and his contentious curmudgeons will have all gone the way of the Dodo.
From a Leader at New Wineskins:
(Check out my article in the current issue)
Brother Al, My reaction to David P. Brown's character study of you is that it is vicious, personal, insulting, unChristian and composed entirely of opinion! There is not one accusation --- substantiated or otherwise --- regarding how or where or on what occasion or because of what belief you might have transgressed. It would be inadmissible in a court of law, except as evidence of slander committed by Mr. David P. Brown himself. You have humored him sufficiently, in my opinion; and generously given him more publicity than his words deserve. Time to go back to ignoring him, I think.
From a Reader in Texas:
Brother Al, Goodness gracious!! I find it hard to believe that David Brown actually wrote that email. It seems more like a caricature of the imperative personality and its application in religion! The last paragraph is absolutely astonishing!! The references linking you to Barney Frank are just bizarre, to say the least. The venom coming from Brown seems thinly veiled (if it was even intended to be). Keep up the good work, brother!
From a Minister in Florida:
Brother Al, I have been preaching for 37 years -- 30 years with the Church of Christ, in which I was graciously led to Christ and trained for ministry, and the past 7 years as a Senior Minister with the Christian Church, which has been a genuine blessing. You, Bro. Al, for the past several years, via your writings, have "taken me to school" on so many essential Truths! I am truly thankful to you! I have especially been studying your work on man's nature and destiny (including the doctrine of eternal punishment) with much interest. Your teaching on this topic is so important, and such a huge shift from the traditional, mainstream thought. I for one had painted an unfair and mean-spirited picture of God in the past through the traditional teaching on this, and yet had always had some serious reservations about the "endless torture" doctrine. Thank you and God bless you, brother.
From a Reader in California:
Dear Bro. Maxey, Enclosed is a check for an autographed copy of your book Down, But Not Out. I am a subscriber to your Reflections and want to thank you for your ministry. I have learned so much from your expositions. I grew up in the "One Cup, No Sunday School" tradition (affiliated with the Old Paths Advocate group). A few years ago, my husband and I found ourselves frustrated because we were not being spiritually fed at worship services. Some time back a dear and wise sister-in-Christ had told me that she often prayed to have "a love of the Truth" in her heart. I started praying for the same thing, and within a year of beginning to pray for this, it became increasingly obvious that my husband and I would have to find another congregation with which to worship, which we did. However, this new congregation is not in the tradition in which I grew up. It is a Church of Christ, but it uses "multiple cups" during Communion and has Sunday School classes, among other "differences" from what I was used to. This was a hard transition for me! It was at this time, while I was struggling with this transition, that I found your web site (I don't even remember now exactly how I found it), and it has been of tremendous importance to me to be able to read your studies that have not twisted the Word to fit a religious tradition. I am now confident that God has answered my prayer for "a love of Truth" in my heart, because I truly do not believe that I had the Truth in the tradition in which I was raised. Again, thank you so much for your weekly Reflections! They have been a tremendous help to me! I am sure that it was GOD who led me to your web site!!
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