by Al Maxey

Issue #447 ------- July 9, 2010
As certainly as water falls in rain on the tops of mountains
and runs down into valleys, plains and pits, so does thought
fall first on the best minds, and runs down, from class to
class, until it reaches the masses, and works revolutions.

Ralph Waldo Emerson {1803-1882}

Did Al Really Write That?
Readers' Questions on Issue #446

On December 1, 2002 I mailed out my inaugural issue of Reflections. In the almost 8 years since that day I have written and published 447 numbered editions of these in-depth studies, as well as 23 special editions. As many of you realize (who have followed the history and evolution of this ministry), these have generated some degree of discussion and debate throughout my own faith-heritage (and in other Christian fellowships as well). Some topics, quite understandably, created a much bigger stir than others. Some articles were met primarily with approval by the readers; others were perceived far less favorably. Those that tended to bring about the fiercest response, however, were the ones that challenged the validity of the various "sacred cows" of our various sects and factions. I usually know when I send out such a Reflections that my Inbox is about to be inundated with responses both applauding and attacking what I've written. Then, on the heels of that, come the phone calls!

Please don't misunderstand -- I am not complaining. Indeed, I'm thankful that God has allowed these studies to generate dialogue among His children, many of whom have been separated from one another far too long over these very issues that I raise. Walls are beginning to crumble and tumble, spiritual siblings are embracing one another again, and there is rejoicing in heaven as progress is being made to bring about the realization of our Savior's prayer in John 17 --- "Father, may they be one as We are one!" There is a tremendous sense of satisfaction experienced knowing that one's efforts are contributing to the achieving of this great goal. Therefore, any attacks from those opposed to such unification of all believers are quite easily endured. Indeed, they all pale in comparison to the joy of perceiving the universal One Body of Jesus Christ being increasingly freed from and healed of all that sought/seeks to dismember it and render it dysfunctional with regard to its calling and purpose.

My last Reflections -- "Tiresome, Tendentious Tug-of-War" -- was one of those studies that I felt rather sure would generate some serious thought, as well as discussion, among those who read it. It would be difficult to remain neutral to the positions and perspectives promoted. As expected, many of you wrote to express your delight that someone was finally "coming out and saying what we have all been feeling for years!" On the other hand, a good number of my more vocal critics wasted no time in expressing their continued concern over my "ever-increasing apostasy" and "determination to destroy the Lord's church." And I won't even repeat what some of the Contending for the Faith leaders had to say! Suffice it to say that you would have a tough time finding any of their phrases and characterizations within the pages of sacred Scripture, although you would most certainly run across them rather frequently within the "earthy" writings of our fallen world! However, within this cacophony of contentious castigation there existed a few legitimate expressions of Christ-like concern that I genuinely feel should be addressed so that my views might be further clarified for those disciples who are truly seeking greater understanding of that which I seek to convey.

It's All About Law

A reader from Tennessee was rather upset that I suggested our God might very well (given my understanding of His nature as revealed in Scripture) save a person who had died suddenly just seconds prior to baptism. I believe there is ample evidence in Scripture that God examines hearts, rather than seeking to determine if we have scrupulously followed every jot and tittle of law. This individual wrote: "Al, If one dies 5 seconds before they are baptized, are they saved? You know they are NOT. We're not talking about the heart, we're talking about LAW. Think about it. Surely you can see that. It can be no other way." Brother, you had better hope it is!! If our salvation depends upon getting His LAW right, rather than getting our HEARTS right, then we are all in a heap of trouble!! Indeed, even getting our hearts right will never be accomplished by our own effort, but by the transforming power of His Holy Spirit who indwells us. "By the works of law no flesh will be justified in His sight" (Rom. 3:20). "A man is justified by faith apart from works of law" (Rom. 3:28). To the disciples living in Galatia the apostle Paul declared, "If righteousness comes through law, then Christ died needlessly" (Gal. 2:21). "You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace" (Gal. 5:4).

The brother from Tennessee insists that there "can be no other way" into the presence of our God except through obedience to LAW. If this is truly this individual's conviction, then I wonder if he would inform us as to what percentage of law one must keep in order to be saved. Is it 80%? Would observing 70% of divine law suffice? What about 53%? Perhaps we should let the brother of our Lord Jesus answer this -- "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it" (James 2:10). It sounds to me like justification by law requires 100% compliance, without a single transgression. No thanks, friend ... I think I'll stick with "salvation by grace through faith" (Eph. 2:8). If there is "no other way" than through law, then we're doomed. Thank God, however, that in Christ Jesus another way has been provided ... and it is NOT the way of LAW. When we stand before our Lord on that great day, He will not be replaying every action during every day of our lives with a large law book in front of Him ... He will instead be looking deeply into our hearts, and if He finds genuine faith there, we shall hear His warm welcome! Whether we sang a cappella or with instrumental accompaniment, whether we drank from one cup or multiple cups, whether we ate in a building or "ate on the grounds," whether we read from the KJV or the NIV, whether we helped orphans from the "treasury" or from our own pockets, whether we had Sunday School or not, fellowship halls or not, and a zillion other "weighty matters," won't amount to a hill of black beans on that day. What will determine our eternal destiny is simply His grace joined with our faith! Period!! And the sooner we realize that truth, the sooner we might start enjoying sweet fellowship with our spiritual siblings once again, instead of biting and devouring one another over personal and party preferences, perceptions and practices (most of which our God never even mentioned in Scripture).

Seeking Unity "Does Not Compute"

On the night of His arrest, Jesus prayed that His people might all be one; that they might be unified and harmonious, just as He and the Father were/are (John 17). For 2000 years the Body of Christ has struggled with itself. Brothers and sisters have separated from one another; fellowship has been severed; factions have been formed. Yet, throughout the years faithful brethren have been calling their spiritual siblings to abandon their foolish feuding and to focus instead on the joys of simply being Family. It is okay to be different, but it is not okay to be divided. A preacher from Alabama wrote and took exception to what I had written on this topic. He stated, "The 'One Body Universal' cannot be divided," therefore, "seeking unity of the Universal Body simply does not compute." At first glance, we would probably agree that this seems like a rather strange position to take, especially in light of the obvious division that exists within the Lord's church. However, this brother goes on to explain himself in his email, and I must admit that he presents a valid argument.

From the perception of the Throne of God, there is only ONE church, and it is made up of ALL those who are IN HIM. He knows who are His (2 Tim. 2:19), and no one can snatch them out of His hands (John 10:28-29). The universal One Body, therefore, remains intact, safely preserved in the loving grasp of the Father, Son and Spirit, and no force in the universe can overcome it (Matt. 16:18). Thus, it remains a unified whole; His One Body is not dismembered; His Family is preserved. This is the great eternal reality. The sad earthly reality, however, is that His children have spent the past 2000 years fussing and fighting with one another, and even separating themselves from one another, over some of the most ridiculous matters one can imagine. Yes, the universal One Body is still the universal One Body -- our shameful actions have not changed that eternal reality -- however, our behavior toward one another has presented a twisted perception of that One Body to the world around us. If the Father sees His Family as ONE, shouldn't we, who make up His Family, begin behaving as ONE?! In Romans 14, Paul spoke of brethren who differed with one another over matters of personal conviction, and who were allowing those differing convictions to divide them. He had to point out to these squabbling siblings that the Father had accepted them BOTH, thus they needed to honor that eternal reality by accepting each other. In Mark 9:38f and Luke 9:49f Jesus had to remind John that just because someone wasn't within their little band of disciples didn't mean they weren't one of His followers. The One Body remains intact, even though our human tendency may be to separate ourselves from one another over personal preferences, perceptions and practices. We must never allow the latter to hinder us from realizing, in the here and now, the reality of the former ... although, sadly, we have done just that.

My quest for unity with respect to the One Body universal, therefore, is not an effort to somehow restore the oneness of that universal Body -- it's already one, and there is no power in the universe that could ever alter that fact. Thus, my quest for unity with respect to the One Body universal is simply about trying to motivate the many members of this One Body to begin acknowledging one another as such, and cease their incessant strife with one another over religious minutiae. Brethren in the One Family have warred with their spiritual siblings for too long. It is time for the feuding to end, and for the Family to assemble together once more around the Table of their Father. This doesn't mean that we all have to assemble in the same building; it doesn't mean that we all have to agree on every aspect of our work and worship; it doesn't mean that our traditions must be cast off or our convictions compromised. What it does mean, though, is that we must begin loving one another and accepting one another, for the eternal reality is that we are ALL accepted and loved BY THE FATHER. When you and I finally realize this truth, the walls that separate us will come crashing down. Lord, hasten that day!

An Agenda for Change

A minister/author who lives in the state of Tennessee, an aged brother who has long been somewhat critical of my teachings, wrote an elder in North Carolina, after having read my latest Reflections, saying (in part), "In his latest Reflections, Al spoke of baptism as a demonstration of faith -- which is true. But he goes on to leave the door open for the possibility of remission of sins before baptism. What he fails to point out, or simply 'conveniently' overlooks, is that repentance is also a demonstration of faith, but does it come before or after remission of sins?! ... Al Maxey, in my opinion, has an agenda to change the churches of Christ. It begins with downplaying the use of the instrument, and proceeds to such things as Saturday night observance of the Lord's Supper." Many ultra-conservative brethren, and virtually all legalistic brethren, are convinced that those of us who differ with their convictions have an "agenda" to radically change the church into something virtually unrecognizable. Although there are undoubtedly some who do have such an "agenda," it is certainly not the case with me! My only "agenda" is to do the will of my Father to the best of my understanding and ability, and to help others come to know the joys of a relationship with the Lord. Do I seek change? Yes, I do. Change of hearts, change of focus, change of lives, change in our relationships. Changing our traditions or worship styles or organizational structure doesn't interest me in the least.

Is repentance a demonstration of faith? Yes, it is. So also is confession. Have I "conveniently overlooked" these two? Of course not. Indeed, I have devoted entire Reflections to them in the past. They simply didn't happen to be the specific focus of my latest article. Does repentance come before or after the remission of one's sins? Frankly, the answer is: both. The same is true with respect to confession (both of our sins and of the Lordship of Jesus Christ). Yes, it is essential that my faith leads me to the point of acknowledging my own sinfulness and my need for a Redeemer. My faith will also lead me to acknowledge Jesus as that Redeemer. These are obvious evidences of faith, just as baptism is an evidence of our faith (although the latter is a singular act, whereas the former are continuing acts). Even after we are saved, we each continue to stumble and fall as a result of our humanity. Therefore, as John points out in 1 John 1, there is the need for penitent believers to acknowledge these failings to our Lord, who is faithful to keep on forgiving and cleansing. There is also the need to keep on confessing Him daily unto others as the Lord of our lives. Faith without repentance is just as useless/worthless as faith without confession (and faith without immersion). Simply stated: a faith that refuses to demonstrate itself is a faith that stands by itself, and faith alone cannot save you! "Many even among the leaders believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God" (John 12:42-43).

Is repentance the precise point of salvation? Is confession? The apostle Paul wrote, "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe (have faith) and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved" (Rom. 10:9-10). Is our salvation therefore secured at the moment we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord? Why not? Did Paul "conveniently overlook" baptism here? Did he have an "agenda" for changing the "plan of salvation"? Such nonsense occurs when we miss the significance of the fact that "it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast" (Eph. 2:8-9). We are saved by grace through faith -- a faith that, as James says, SHOWS itself. It is NOT the evidentiary acts themselves, either individually or collectively, that save ... it is faith that saves!! However, if our faith is not of the sort that moves us to ACT, then it is not saving faith. Repentance, confession, immersion, loving others, self-sacrificial service, and the like, are evidences that we possess the right kind of faith.

The point I sought to make is that when we seek to tie our salvation to a specific point in time at which a specific evidentiary act is performed and completed, then I believe that we have missed the whole point of how God perceives our salvation. Some feel the need to pinpoint the precise split-second of salvation, and generally those who feel this way have determined that this occurs at the precise moment the nose breaks the surface of the water of the baptistery (i.e., the completion of this one specific evidentiary act). This perception leads to a theology that is anything but gracious and compassionate. God will "roast alive forever in hell" the poor penitent believer who slipped on the baptistery steps and bashed his head in and died as he was stepping down into the water to demonstrate his love for and faith in the Father. Brethren, such a view of God is blasphemous!! And, by the way, if you think such "hypothetical" accounts are "fanciful" and "far-fetched," you need to think again! They have happened, and I have documented some in my debate on this very issue -- The Maxey-Hughes Debate -- which I would urge you to examine carefully and prayerfully.

The brother in Tennessee also worried that I am "downplaying the use of the instrument, and proceed(ing) to such things as Saturday night observance of the Lord's Supper." Quite frankly, I have no personal desire whatsoever to either promote or prohibit the use of instrumental accompaniment to our singing in an assembly of the saints. Worship style is simply not a matter that our God has placed in the "salvation/fellowship" category. Thus, neither shall I. If a congregation chooses to sing with instrumental accompaniment, I have no problem with that ... and I find no place in Scripture that even hints that God has a problem with it either. On the other hand, if a congregation chooses to sing without instrumental accompaniment, then I have no problem with that choice either. It is entirely a matter of indifference to me which one a congregation chooses. Since my God didn't make it an issue, neither shall I. As for frequency of observance with respect to the Lord's Supper, the only directive given in the NT writings is "as often as" you do it, do it in remembrance of Him. Jesus said it; Paul repeated it; that settles it. There is NO LAW given in Scripture that specifies either specific day, time or frequency. Our Lord Jesus Himself has left it entirely in the realm of the nonspecific. So shall I. I simply refuse to fabricate law and bind it upon my brethren with no greater basis or authority to do so than my own assumptions. I can regulate my own life by these deductions, but I may not seek to regulate the lives of my brethren. I must -- and I will -- grant them the exact same freedom to arrive at their own convictions, and subsequent practices, that God has granted me.

Salvation in the Twilight Zone

A reader in California wrote that he was "disappointed" that I would "take such liberties with the Scriptures." He was concerned with what he perceived my view of baptism to be. "It is my impression that you have strayed from the biblical teachings regarding the true role of baptism." He suggested that I was "soft-pedaling one of God's rules" by regarding our baptism as being little more than a "formality and technicality." He continued: "I get the impression from your words that you see salvation as sort of a fading in gradually into some sort of twilight zone setting." A minister and author associated with the Christian Church in Missouri, with whom I was honored to spend some time at The Tulsa Workshop, voiced much the same concern, even declaring that in my last Reflections "Al lovingly told the man to set aside his knowledge of Truth in order to please his wife!" All of which has left me truly wondering if these two dear brethren (for whom I have the greatest love and respect, and who have both been very supportive of my ministry in the past) actually read the same article I wrote! It is hard for me to fathom how they arrived at these conclusions as to my convictions. They are not even close to what I actually teach and practice.

First, let me stress that I will never "water down" or "soft sell" anything that our Lord God has commanded. God commands us to repent, for example. That is not optional. Those who refuse to repent will pay a fearful price for that refusal. We have been commanded to be baptized. We might debate any number of peripheral matters with regard to this act --- is it to be in running water only (some think so), may a woman baptize a man, are there specific words that must be uttered during the baptism by the one performing it, what if a foot pops out or an elbow doesn't go under, at what age may one be baptized, how much does one have to know at the time of his/her baptism, etc.? --- but there is no debate, at least not in my own mind, over its necessity. It is commanded; thus, it is essential. I have never taught otherwise. We might make somewhat of an analogy (although I realize most analogies break down at some point) to the OT rite of circumcision. It was commanded by God of His people. It was not optional. Indeed, those who refused this rite were to be cut off from the people. And yet, Paul, in Romans 4, makes it crystal clear that our God justified Abraham prior to his circumcision in order to demonstrate that we all come into a saving relationship with Him through faith. Did the fact that God accepted Abraham prior to his circumcision make the act of circumcision any less essential for Abraham? Of course not. Genuine faith, however, will always evidence itself in the manner prescribed by God. The Lord God knew that Abraham's faith was genuine; He knew that whatever he was asked to do, he would do. Therefore, from the perspective of the Throne, Abraham stood justified before God by faith, a faith that God knew would SHOW itself according to His revealed expectations. Our God is not bound to our space/time continuum; standing outside of it, God sees the outcome of our lives before our lives even begin. Thus, to try and pin down our God to a pinpoint in time and space with respect to our salvation is to fail to perceive salvation as GOD perceives it.

Yes, you and I, being human (and because we do dwell within the parameters of a space/time continuum), have visible markers (points of reference) along the way to serve as reminders or memorials. It is not that our GOD needs these points of reference, but WE do! Baptism is one such visible point of reference; a marker so important to His people that our God has commanded it (just as He did the visible markers of circumcision in the OT and the Eucharist in the NT). Does the marker itself become the precise point of entry into our relationship with the Lord? Is it a sacrament that dispenses grace? I have studied this question for many years, and at present I sincerely do not believe that it does. If we refuse to obey these commands, however -- such as repentance, confession, immersion -- it speaks volumes about the nature of our faith. I can't go so far as to declare we are regarded by God as saved at the precise split-second of repentance or confession or immersion. However, I can quite confidently declare that one who professes faith, and yet who willfully refuses to repent, confess or be baptized, is not saved. This isn't about precise points of entry, it's about the very essence of our faith -- is it willing to SHOW itself in the manner prescribed by our Lord? If it is THAT kind of faith, then it is SAVING faith ... and, yes, I believe God regards it as such prior to the actual acts of faith themselves. If it's NOT that kind of faith, then it matters very little how many times you mouth words of repentance/confession or how many times you "get wet." The acts themselves aren't what bring salvation ... they merely reflect that reality. Does this reduce these acts to mere "formalities and technicalities"? Of course not. They are vital to our salvation, but they themselves are not the foundation and/or basis of our salvation. They are responses of faith, and as such are essential aspects of the salvation process (i.e., saved by grace through faith).

No, my view of salvation is not that the lost somehow "gradually fade into a twilight zone setting." Salvation is a powerful transformation from the realm of darkness to the realm of light; from death to life. Can any of us specify that precise moment in time when faith took root within our hearts and began to grow and develop in understanding and expression? In a similar vein, at what precise moment in time did I fall in love with my wife? When did that love take root and begin growing and developing to the point that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her? At what precise split-second did that love transform into a life-altering commitment? Can any of us pinpoint the onset of such deep emotions that precisely? However, we can all probably point to visible markers (points of reference) that SHOW this love was present and growing. Did I enter covenant with Shelly when I put a tux on and said "I do" in front of a few people? Did I enter covenant with her when I signed a document and turned it into the County Clerk? No. These were "visible markers; points of reference" ... but she and I were fully committed to one another prior to that ceremony. The wedding ceremony itself acknowledged to the world, in a dramatic and visible way, the reality of our commitment ... that commitment didn't suddenly drop down from heaven on us at the moment we said "I do." This event most certainly became for us a lifelong point of reference, but we were one prior to that event. A ceremony ... a signed document ... a stamp and/or a seal on a paper by a clerk ... didn't suddenly launch us into a covenant of marriage. We made that commitment of love prior to these events. Were these events important in our present culture and society? Yes, they have their place and they serve a purpose, but they are covenant-markers, not covenant-makers.

I hope and pray that these few thoughts expressed in this follow-up to my previous Reflections may serve to clarify some of my thinking on these matters. For some it probably will. However, I am enough of a realist to know that it will likely only further incite a few people to further criticism of and contempt for my teaching and me. Nevertheless, I felt it was important to try. In the final analysis, though, whether we all agree on every issue or not is really not all that critical to our eternal well-being. No two people will ever agree fully on all matters. So, we must learn to accept one another, differences and all, and learn to love one another, even when we may at times be hard to love. God help us to "accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God" (Rom. 15:7). May the Spirit help us to glorify the Father in our every attitude and action, especially in our interactions with our fellow disciples.

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

A 193 page book by Al Maxey

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: or (301) 695-1707

Readers' Reflections

Special Announcement --- I was notified by my publisher a few days ago that my new book One Bread, One Body has been selling so well that it made the publisher's Top 20 Bestseller List for Non-Fiction this week (and that doesn't even include the many personal orders I've received for signed copies). I want to sincerely thank everyone who has bought a copy (some, I know, have bought multiple copies for friends, family and church libraries), for you are helping to make this important new work a huge success. May God bless all of you who read it, and who also tell others about it. -- Al Maxey

From a Reader in Australia:

Dearest Al and Shelly, It seems ages since we were together at The Tulsa Workshop in March. How I wish that time could be repeated. You all continue to be in my prayers, along with the folks that I met from your congregation in New Mexico who were there with you. Would you pass on my greetings to these brethren -- I really valued meeting them, and I enjoyed the talks we were able to share. I see from your Reflections that you must have been refreshed during your holiday as the material continues to reflect deep insights and challenging truths!! And you have a new book out as well -- how do you make the time to produce so much insightful material?!! I have greatly appreciated all the material you gave me in Tulsa, and have been reading and reflecting on these truths. My brother, you are a very special friend, and I value you and the work that you are doing for the Lord Jesus Christ. I'm sending a special hug for Shelly as well. By the way, whenever I think of Tulsa it brings back to mind your illustration, in one of your three speeches, about the "Speaker's Platform, the Tables, and the Table Coverings." It was such a powerful illustration, one that will be remembered by all who were there! Your three messages, and one of the ones from Don McLaughlan, are the ones that stand out in my mind from that whole workshop. I certainly hope that they have invited you back for the 2011 Tulsa Workshop, as I would love to bring my wife across the ocean for that one. Thank you again for your teaching and your friendship!

From a Reader in Arizona:

Dear Bro. Maxey, Your book Down, But Not Out has been an answer to my prayers regarding my study of marriage, divorce and remarriage. I discovered your book when discussing this subject with a good friend here in Arizona. She told me that she knew a man that she respects very much who had written a book on this subject, and so she ordered one for me and for my son. That man, of course, was you. I have read your book three times, and I study from it often. In fact, I have ordered three additional copies! I appreciate you and your writings so much! Thank you!

From a Nurse in California:

My Dear Bro. Al, I am really looking forward to reading your newest book One Bread, One Body. I would also love to see you do a book on the whole legalistic patternism and "law of silence" thing (which never made sense to me, even when I was a child). This information you have shared in your Reflections over the years MUST be proclaimed from our pulpits, classrooms, small groups, etc. Your writings are so clear, and so logical, and so filled with a healthy dose of common sense (not to mention your extensive research). If you wrote such a book, I would pray for the resources to do an "Oprah" and place free copies beneath every chair in every church, urging them to spend time studying this book along with their Bibles! Then I would spend a great deal of time on my knees praying that folks will open their hearts and minds and read this book!! Okay, that's my dream! So, what do you think? Is this just my "pipe dream," or is this something that you might do? Al, I am so glad that you are now back from vacation, although I'm sure you needed it. I don't know how you function --- you're a preacher, elder, teacher, researcher, author, and no doubt an amazing husband and father. And you're so bold, like Paul ... and we're so much richer for that! God has given you an abundant gift, and I can't even begin to tell you how much you have changed my life through your wonderful Reflections. I will continue to keep you in my prayers. Love and blessings always from your sister-in-Christ.

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, Thank you for all the Reflections that you post for us. It has been such a blessing for me to see the other side of the many arguments that many make in the Churches of Christ. Thanks also for your example as a Christ-follower. You don't know me, but you have really made a difference in the way I present myself to others. Thank you for loving all people, and please continue striving to be the great man God wants you to be. Also, please continue to pray for me as I finish out my last year here at -------- School of Preaching. Pray that I might leave here and be a blessing unto others, and that I might continue relying on the grace of God rather than relying on the things I do or the place where I worship. We all love you so much, brother.

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Dear Brother Al, I just finished reading "Tiresome, Tendentious Tug-of-War." More and more I find myself simply being grateful for the magnificent devotion to the pursuit of unadulterated Truth that you demonstrate consistently in your teaching. I also finally read the article on Dr. Pinkerton, which, by the way, is an interesting glimpse into the life and times of a fabulous servant of Jesus. At the end of the article I found, and read, David Brown's email to his followers (and to you). I could barely wade through all the hate-filled words of this man who must truly be tragically miserable in his day-to-day existence. The linking of Pelosi, Frank and Clinton to you within the closing paragraph of his email, and the conclusions he draws, are shameful. It reveals the workings of a very sick and dark mind. Mr. Brown may think that he's being coy, even "cute," but I think he is only revealing his absolute ignorance of both the Word of God and the spirit of Jesus. He needs professional help. The "sound doctrine" tree he's hiding behind is nothing other than adherence to human tradition and gross manipulation and misapplication of the sacred Word. Paul has something important to say to the likes of Mr. Brown in the book of Galatians! Bro. Al, thanks again for your work. Keep on lifting up the risen Christ -- that is what really matters!!

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Brother Al, David P. Brown's theological anger seems to be anger for anger's sake. However, when he adds his political anger into the mix he truly appears to be dangerous. This man seems to feed on anger -- actually needing it in order to justify himself. Ohhh, to feel that you are so close to God that you can act for Him in judging others!!

From a Reader in Texas:

Bro. Al, My view, and it has been for years, is that "churches" are one of Satan's favorite tools! He loves it when people feel good, and even "holy," because they have "been to church" and gotten their "card punched" for another week. Too often our focus is on "church" and what happens in a building: doing ceremonies "just right" at the "right times" --- participating in the "right" programs and "being right" --- instead of focusing on our Lord Jesus. The devil loves this, for it makes his job easier. Keep up the good work, my brother!

From a Reader in Connecticut:

Brother Al, You truly have a gift! I appreciate so much the way you approached your latest topic with love, genuine concern and candor. Above all, you never fail to back up all your statements with hard evidence. Thus, you force me not to be just a "surface thinker." In our sectarian tug-of-wars too many brethren are losing limbs because they have their hands wrapped so tightly around that rope (the traditions to which they tenaciously cling for dear life).

From an Elder in North Carolina:
(To a conservative preacher in another state)

Good Evening -----, I'm happy to note that you are still reading Al Maxey. It gives me hope that one day you will be able to see what it is that he is saying that is so important and so encouraging to so many people in our little corner of the kingdom. His "fans" include many elders, preachers, authors and longtime members of the mainstream fellowship (hardly "lemmings" and/or "ditto heads," as you suggest; nor can I accept your thesis that Al Maxey's readers have all been deluded by him). It is obvious that Al's popularity bothers you, just as it does the infamous David Brown. You might want to ask yourself why that is! I would suggest that you might benefit more by reading to understand the main thrust of his writings, rather than reading to find something with which to differ or quibble. As for me and my house, including a growing number within our congregation, we are delighted to have such a powerful servant of God reaching an ever-expanding audience!! I would really have liked to have been at The Tulsa Workshop where Al was on the program this past spring. However, I'm hoping to see him at the Pepperdine Lectureship soon, where my wife and I attend every year.

From a Reader in Missouri:

Brother Al, I haven't talked to you for quite a while, but I just wanted to say that your last Reflections ("Tiresome, Tendentious Tug-of-War") really hit home, and the two letters that you dealt with reminded me so much of my own struggle. I have learned that by talking with and truly listening to people who happen to have different ideas than mine we were not really as far apart as I had often been led to believe. The Lord has led me to see that He has a lot of children in this area who are just as devoted to Christ and just as in love with Truth as I am --- they just happen to have different traditions and different approaches to some things. What a joy it has been to work and worship with them the past three years. Thank you, Al, for what you do to open our eyes to these amazing truths. You have been such an encouragement to so many who are now free in Christ because of your efforts.

From a Reader in Louisiana:

Dear Al, I did not refer to you as "Brother Al" as that, in my clinical personality, seems a bit too formal, especially since I now consider you to be a very dear friend. I think of you prayerfully every day, and read your Reflections over and over before I send special copies to my friends who are ready and very anxious to receive them. Al, I want you to know that I am so grateful that God had His hands on you when you were in that terrible Vietnam War, and that God preserved you so that you can now impart all your knowledge to us in your own inimitable way. I can truthfully say that your skill traps me so that I read your Reflections repeatedly, and with each reading I find new material that I can use to enrich my life. I can "feel" your compassion in the material that you so graciously feed to us. Thankfully, I have been able to cleanse myself of the trash that troubled my soul for many years, so I can relate easily to the two people in your last article who requested your advice regarding their problems with legalism that was creeping into their lives. I must say that I think you discussed their problems with dignity and wisdom. Legalism is a devil that presents ever-increasing problems to those who have been indoctrinated in it. Again, I thank you for your kindness and "humanity" toward those in need of your help.

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