by Al Maxey

Issue #458 ------- September 30, 2010
There is no such test of a man's superiority of character
as in the well-conducting of an unavoidable quarrel.

Henry Taylor {1800-1886}
The Statesman

Is This What You Believe?
Reflective Response & Clarification
Regarding What Some Say I Believe

I've always found it somewhat interesting that some people are convinced they know better than I what it is that I believe and teach. Even more interesting is when I inform these people that what they say I believe and teach is not what I believe and teach, and they then look me right in the face and insist, "Yes it is, and I don't care what you say; that is what you believe and teach." So, how does a mere fallible mortal respond to such infallible insight?! It's unnerving to witness such an assault; it's even more unnerving to be on the receiving end of it, as I have been on a number of occasions over the past 35 years of my public ministry! There are some of you who know precisely what I'm talking about, for you have experienced, or are experiencing, the exact same thing. Your every move is watched and analyzed; your every word, whether it be written or spoken, is scrutinized for anything that even hints of "error," "apostasy" or "digression;" all your many friends and family and companions are carefully examined for "soundness" so that if anything at all amiss is discovered you may be condemned "by association." It is truly heartbreaking!! But, such is the price one is often forced to pay for faithfulness to his/her calling and for taking a public stand for their spiritual convictions.

This past July, in Reflections #449 under the heading "Tragedy in Tulsa," I mentioned a very dear friend and close brother-in-Christ who took strong exception to some of my statements made during my speeches at the recent Tulsa Workshop (March, 2010). In recent months this beloved brother (and I still regard him as such) has unleashed a number of rather pointed assaults through his monthly newsletters, on his web site, and through private emails to some of his close supporters. I have tried repeatedly to reason with him, both in private correspondence and in face-to-face discussion, but to no avail. Just this past week this brother sent a long email to a close mutual friend, who is a minister in California and also a well-known Christian author. This brother sent me a copy of the email, and then asked me: "Al, are these charges true?! I've heard you say that we cannot obey enough rules to earn our salvation, or something like this. If so, then I agree! Would you deal with each of these?! Thanks!" I wrote this fellow minister of the Gospel back (and sent a copy to our mutual brother who made the charges) informing him that I would deal with them one-by-one in my next Reflections, which is the purpose of this present issue. It is my hope and prayer that this will put this confusion to rest. If it doesn't, then I shall continue to love and support my accuser none-the-less!! He is a genuinely wonderful man and an awesome warrior for the Lord Jesus, and has been for many, many decades. In whatever years this aged man has left to him, I pray God's richest blessings upon him.

The Accusations

My friend and brother-in-Christ, who has found fault with some of my teaching (or what he perceives my teaching to be), wrote the following (and this is only a part of the email) to our mutual preacher friend in California:

The Clarifications

One of the critical principles of hermeneutics, and I have stressed this time and again, is: context, context, context. If one's words are not given context, they can easily be twisted and used against you. Standing alone, the above statements that have been attributed to me could indeed lead one to assume that I had embraced somewhat questionable doctrines and practices. The 6th item, for example, sounds remarkably like "the sinner's prayer," and yet it is not a teaching or practice that I endorse (as I will note later in this response). Therefore, one must exercise great care is presenting what he/she believes another is teaching, as his/her assumptions may be based upon fragments of information separate from their context. Therefore, in some cases, my critic has indeed quoted me correctly, but has come to the wrong conclusion as to what it was I intended by the statement. Sadly, when I have explained my intent to this brother (and he is correct in stating, "Al can 'explain' each one," for I have done so to him personally), he just informs me that this is NOT what I "really meant!" Apparently, I am merely attempting to wrap intentional false doctrine in sheep's clothing for the purpose of deceiving, fleecing and feeding upon the flock. Again, how does one counter such a mindset?! It is already set in concrete. "I don't care what you say you meant, here is what I say you meant, and I know your heart and mind and motivation better than you do!" Brethren, I am afraid this is what I'm facing here. But, I am not a stranger to it, as I've also faced the same from the leaders of The Old Paths Advocate faction, the Contending for the Faith faction, and several others. Again, it's part of the price one pays for taking a public stand for his/her convictions. So, with all of this in mind, let's look at each of the statements given in the above email.

Charge One --- Yes, it is true that I preach and teach that you and I are utterly helpless to bring about our own salvation. Just think about this for a second --- if indeed man could say or do something that would bring about his salvation, then what need was there for the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ? We were all "dead in our transgressions and sins," and so "it is by grace you have been saved" (Eph. 2:5). Just a few verses later Paul declares that if salvation were by our own effort we would have reason for boasting. But the opposite is true: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works" (vs. 8-9). Psalm 49 declares this truth quite well: "Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life (for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice), that he should live on forever and never see the pit" (vs. 7-9). Nothing that I have to offer can ever suffice to make payment for my sins (or for the sins of another). Thus, while still helpless, while still a sinner, while still an enemy (Romans 5), Christ died for me!! The GIFT of God's GRACE!!

Some people seem to be of the opinion that God's grace is like "gap insurance" --- we work our way as close to God's presence as we can get, and then His grace "closes the gap." Thus, my best effort at goodness and righteousness, plus His love and grace covering the deficit, results in my salvation. Brethren, I believe that to be untrue, and a gross misrepresentation of His grace. There is absolutely nothing I myself can do to ever earn or merit God's salvation. Human effort is NOT the basis of salvation!! What can a corpse do to raise itself from the dead?! That is what we were --- dead in our transgressions and sins. And WHILE we were dead, God made us ALIVE in Christ Jesus. When Jesus called to Lazarus, who was rotting in the tomb, Lazarus heard the call and got up. Had the Lord never issued the call, Lazarus would have remained dead. A corpse has no power to raise itself. When Jesus calls us, and we hear that call and respond to it, we too come forth to new life. But, apart from His gracious call, we remain dead in our sins ... and corpses do not raise themselves. They CAN hear and respond to the call of the Lord, however (see: Ezekiel 37). And that is where our individual faith comes in!! We respond to the call of our Lord by means of our demonstrated faith. Our response of faith, however, is not a meritorious work that in some way earns the favor of God. His favor is a gift, we merely receive it by faith.

Charge Two --- The second statement is a bit misleading (as worded and if forced to stand alone), and thus could easily leave the wrong impression. That is why context is so critical. Are there divine commands connected with how one enters into a state of salvation? Of course there are! Jesus said, "Unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins" (John 8:24). "Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is" (Heb. 11:6). Thus, I would say faith is commanded, wouldn't you?! Is faith by itself sufficient? No!! James says faith that stands alone -- i.e., that refuses to SHOW itself in an active, visible manner -- is dead. "Can that faith save him?," James asks (James 2:14). Apparently not. Anybody can SAY they believe. God wants you to SHOW it. One way that we can show this is by turning from our previous way of life (repentance). "Bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance" (Matt. 3:8; Luke 3:8); "performing deeds appropriate to repentance" (Acts 26:20). Again, anyone can say they have repented; God wants us to show it. Yet another visible demonstration or evidence of our faith is baptism (immersion). The act itself is not some magical religious ritual or holy rite that has the power to impart grace; it is not a sacrament. Rather, it is a visible testimony of a penitent sinner's inner commitment of faith to the One who freely bestows the gift of life! Is this demonstration of faith commanded? Yes, it is. Just as repentance is commanded. If a sinner says he believes, but REFUSES to either repent or be immersed, is that sinner saved? No, he is not. Is it just because they failed to complete some ritual? No, it is because of a stubbornness of heart that is in a state of rebellion against God!! "For Thou dost not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; Thou art not pleased with burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise" (Psalm 51:16-17). It's not about wet bodies, it's about willing hearts. A willing heart will gladly, even quickly, show its faith! A rebellious heart will not. It is the former heart that God will accept. Are the evidentiary acts themselves salvific? No. But, on the other hand, neither is a sinner accepted if he/she adamantly and willfully refuses to demonstrate his/her faith by these acts. The acts show forth a willing faith; refusal to act shows forth an absence of genuine faith!

Similarly, we do not spend the remainder of our lives focused on command keeping as a way to maintain our relationship with the Lord, with a certain percentage rate of successfully having done so in life resulting in a punched ticket straight to paradise at the end of our journey. Just as command keeping was never designed to get one saved, so command keeping was never designed to keep one saved! We no longer live under a system of law, but under grace. If we were still under law, then command keeping would be (and indeed it was) a critical aspect of that covenant. Under a covenant of grace, however, we are now free. Those with a worldly perspective will immediately perceive such freedom as license to do as they please; those with a spiritual perspective will perceive this freedom as a wide open door of opportunity for even greater expression of love and devotion for their God and their fellow man (both saved and lost). Are there certain commands to obey in our daily walk with the Lord? Absolutely. Love God and love one another come to mind!! In fact, in the words of Paul, this pretty well covers it (Rom. 13:8-10). I'll tell you what "commands" are conspicuously absent -- Thou shalt not eat in a church building ... Thou shalt not have a fellowship hall ... Thou shalt not use tiny multiple cups ... Thou shalt not sing in four part harmony ... Thou shalt not use musical accompaniment to singing in worship ... Thou shalt not have Sunday Schools ... Thou shalt not clap in the assembly ... Thou shalt not show a video during the Communion. Yes, I can confidently say that these "commandments" (and about a thousand more just as ridiculous) are NOT to be found in the Scriptures. As one who is saved, I observe those FEW commands -- and they are VERY FEW -- not out of a sense of obligation or duty, or out of a fear of losing my salvation if I don't -- I observe them out of love and appreciation and gratitude for the One who has saved me. I desire to do His will. Not in order to BE saved, or to KEEP saved, but because I AM SAVED!!! Walking in His will is a result of our LOVE for Him; those who love Him would find it unthinkable to do otherwise.

Charge Three --- Does my relationship with the eternal Father or His Son depend upon command keeping?! I suppose that depends upon what one means by "depends upon." My relationship with the Lord Jesus depends upon my loving Him with all my heart, body, mind, soul, strength, etc., and if that love is genuine and honest, then it will demonstrate itself. One way my love is evidenced is in my daily walk with Him, which will involve ordering my life according to His expectations. My compliance with His will is NOT done in order to save me, or to keep me saved; it is done out of gratitude to the One who has already saved me by His grace through my faith. Thus, my relationship after my salvation does not depend upon these evidences, but rather these evidences are motivated by my relationship with Him. My saving union with Christ is by grace through faith, and not of anything I myself could ever accomplish. Thus, my relationship depends upon the former (by grace through faith), and not by anything that may fall within the parameters of the latter (which only evidence the reality of the former state), with the exception of LOVE -- which is the command our faith will motivate us to evidence obedience to in our every action throughout our lifelong journey with Him. Command keeping in order to be saved, however, removes us from the realm of grace and enslaves us once again within the realm of law. Therefore, like the apostle Paul, I will never promote such dependence upon LAW for my relationship with the Lord. To do so would not unite me with Him, but would rather sever me from Him (Gal. 5), as well as causing me to fall from grace. I have chosen not to follow that deadly course, and hope to help others make that same life-affirming choice.

Charge Four --- In my email exchanges with my beloved accuser prior to my appearance at The Tulsa Workshop this past spring, emails in which he sought to convince me of the "sad digression" of some of the leaders of that workshop, chief among them Bro. Terry Rush, so as to warn me away from such associations, he spoke of his perception of their beliefs with respect to the Holy Spirit. At that time I had never met Terry, nor had I ever met Edward Fudge, though I knew of both men by reputation, and I knew of Edward especially via his writings. I had, and still have, the greatest respect and love for both. I did not know then, nor do I know now, the entirety of their thinking with regard to the subject of the Holy Spirit, though I know some of what they teach. I doubt there is any man with whom I would claim 100% agreement on any subject or issue, but with respect to what I do know about the thinking of these two men with respect to the "direct operation" of the Holy Spirit, I would tend to agree with them. I have made my own position on the subject rather clear in a number of studies, one of which has even been published as a tract, and which probably speaks most clearly to my thinking. That in-depth study is titled Indwelling and Empowering: Reflecting on Questions Relating to the Holy Spirit's Interaction with Our Lives (Reflections #204). I've tried to provide plenty of biblical substantiation for my teaching within that study, and therefore I believe what I have presented represents the Truth of God's Word. Those who perceive the Scriptures in the same light will be in agreement with me on this topic. If that includes Terry Rush and Edward Fudge, then I'm pleased that they have come to the same convictions I have through their own independent study. If their views are somewhat different, I will love them no less.

Charge Five --- I am not foolish enough to think, nor arrogant enough to claim, that the only people on earth who genuinely love the Lord and are seeking to the best of their ability, opportunity and understanding to serve Him faithfully in their daily lives are to be found exclusively within the faith-heritage known as Churches of Christ. I know there are some within this fellowship who feel this way, just as there are some within other fellowships who feel the same about their groups. My perception of the Family of God is not that narrow!! Yes, I have spiritual siblings who meet and worship and work with those who denominate themselves "Church of Christ." I also have spiritual siblings who meet and worship and work with those who denominate themselves by other terms or phrases. Wherever my Lord has a son or daughter, I have a brother or sister. To assume that the entirety of the One Body of Christ on planet earth is to be found in some little faction of some little segment of some little movement of Christendom is arrogance of such abominable depth that it staggers the mind. My accuser characterizes those outside of his little circle as "denominational people." And he thinks we're NOT?!! Wake up, brother!! We are just as "denominational" as they ... and frankly in some ways worse (at least most of them admit to it).

There are many religious associations that have been formed around personal and party perceptions, preferences and practices. This is just as true of the Churches of Christ as it is of the Baptists, the Christian Church, the Methodists, and countless others. When the Lord returns for His bride, He won't be coming for any one named group (or any little faction thereof). He'll be coming for individual saints, and these will be found scattered throughout the earth in all manner of associations. I have no doubt that there will be "Church of Christers" called to inhabit the new heavens and earth. I also have no doubt that there will be a host of saints who did not meet, worship or work with our faith-heritage. What we will ALL have in common is that we were IN HIM. It is time we began looking beyond our four walls for our brothers and sisters. They are going to be at the Father's table one day, perhaps seated right next to you, so perhaps you might want to start learning to love and accept them NOW.

I would like to quote something that was sent to me by a very, very dear brother-in-Christ within the Christian Churches who lives in Joplin, Missouri. His name is Ray Downen, and he is the driving force behind Mission Outreach. I have known Ray through his writings for many years, and got to meet him and visit with him for the first time at The Tulsa Workshop this past spring. He and I do not always see eye-to-eye, but, as I have often stated, "You don't have to be my twin to be my brother." He and I stand boldly together in our opposition to the evils of sectarianism, and I appreciate what he sent out to some of his readers this past week (a portion of which is quoted below):

Charge Six --- This accusation is the one I personally find the most disturbing, as my accuser has implied rather strongly that I both teach, and I have personally embraced as a practice, the so-called "Sinner's Prayer." Frankly, nothing could be farther from the truth. Almost two years ago I wrote -- The Sinner's Prayer: A Reflective Examination (Reflections #373) -- which I would fervently plead with the reader to examine very carefully if he/she desires to know what Al Maxey really believes and teaches about the so-called "Sinner's Prayer." As with most false accusations, there is an element of fact present that may confuse the issue for some people. That is the case here with respect to this sixth accusation. My friend wrote: "Several years after Al was baptized for the remission of sins, he felt that he needed to pray and invite Jesus to come into his heart and life. He said that after that Christ was much more real in his life." Somewhat coincidentally, I was just talking about this very experience in my life the other night with a couple of my fellow elders at the Cuba Avenue Church of Christ. Yes, there is some element of truth to what my accuser has said, but he completely failed to grasp the point I was trying to make to him. Thus, I need to provide some clarification in the hope that it will help him to perceive my true intent.

I was baptized at the Church of Christ building in Gallup, New Mexico by Bro. Arthur Golden (who was the preacher there at the time) when I was only eleven years old. That was fifty years ago! At that time, due to my age and maturity level, my appreciation for what I was doing was at a very basic stage. I was "raised in the church" (what a strange expression), thus I was familiar with the teachings of my faith-heritage. I knew about God and I knew about Jesus, His Son. I doubt that I knew anything about the Holy Spirit (He wasn't mentioned much within the Churches of Christ back then). I knew that I was supposed to get baptized, that we weren't supposed to use a piano, and that all those people in the other church buildings were going to hell. So, basically, I had the "essentials" covered. At the age of eleven I can safely say I knew about Jesus, but I can also tell you that I really didn't know Jesus!! He was a notable personage in my religion, but Jesus had not yet become a real and relevant person (alive and active) in my daily reality. He was Someone I studied, but not yet Someone I served. I believe that I was saved at the time; He had accepted me ... but I had not yet fully embraced Him as Lord and Master of my daily life. I was just a kid, after all. Yes, I had demonstrated my faith in Him, and thus He was my Savior; however, I had not yet fully surrendered my life to Him, therefore He was not yet fully my Sovereign. This didn't happen until years later. Some of you will know exactly what I'm talking about, as you probably had a similar maturing process; others will likely think I've lost my mind, and will have a difficult time grasping the very real distinction between Savior and Sovereign. The two realities in one's spiritual journey do not necessarily come at the same moment in time. They didn't for me.

In Ephesians 3:17, the apostle Paul, speaking to Christians, prays that "Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith." Dr. Kenneth Wuest, in volume one of his now classic Word Studies from the Greek New Testament, points out that the word "dwell" (katoikesai) means "to settle down and be at home." Dr. Wuest goes on to observe, "The expanded translation is: 'that Christ might finally settle down and feel completely at home in your hearts.' Dr. Max Reich once said in the hearing of the writer, 'If we make room for the Holy Spirit, He will make room for the Lord Jesus.'" Dr. Kenneth Wuest continues, "This at-home-ness of the Lord Jesus in the heart of the saint is 'through faith.'" In Rev. 3:20 we see Jesus Christ portraying Himself as One who is standing at the door of the hearts of His beloved people. For many, He truly is Savior, but He has not yet taken His seat on the throne of their hearts in their daily lives; He is not yet Sovereign. He desires not only to walk with us through life, but to "settle down and be at home" in our hearts!! When we progress to the point where we truly come to KNOW Jesus, and not just know about Jesus, our relationship will become far more intimate. We will truly open our hearts and lives to Him in a way we had not done before. For some disciples of Christ this might come at the point of faith, for others that full surrender might take some time (and I think this is especially true of those of us who came to faith as children; the maturity needed for a full surrender was just not there at the time).

I can remember many years later, when I was married and in graduate school, that I came to realize that there was a genuine emptiness within me. Yes, I had plenty of "book knowledge" about theological matters; I knew Jesus in my head, but I didn't really know HIM deep down in my heart. But, I wanted to, and I knew that I really needed to. He was my Savior, but He hadn't yet genuinely become my Sovereign in all areas of my life. There came a day when I made the determination that this was going to change, and so I approached the Father in prayer about the matter. I wanted the Lord to reign within me, and USE me, in ways I had not allowed previously. After that, my life truly did change, and Jesus became much more "real" to me. He was not just a personage to study, but a person to serve! He became a true friend; a life companion. It is this experience of which I have spoken on occasion, and which my friend has woefully misunderstood. I pray that this personal testimony has helped enlighten him.

Charge Seven --- I believe it's extremely important to recognize the distinction between the universal One Body of our Lord Jesus Christ and the group found in the Yellow Pages under the section "Church of Christ." For some within this latter group there is no distinction between the two. You cannot be in the former unless you are part of the latter ... or, so they believe. For them, the two are one and the same!! They, and they alone, ARE the "one true church." THEY are the genuine Christians, all OTHERS are hell-bound "denominationalists." Brethren, I made the determination a good many years ago that I would no longer be a party to such nonsense!! No one group or movement or faith-heritage, or any small faction or schism thereof, constitutes the universal One Body of Christ in its entirety on planet earth. His parameters of His people are much broader than the narrow circles of fellowship we all tend to draw around ourselves and our traditions.

So, am I still "Church of Christ"? If you mean by that phrase, "Are you part of the universal One Body, which includes ALL who are IN HIM?" -- Yes, I am part of that called out body of believers. If you mean by that phrase, "Are you part of the group denominated Church of Christ?" -- Yes, that is my faith-heritage, and that of my parents and grandparents. I have made the conscious choice to continue my association with this particular group; to work and worship with them. However, I have made it very, very clear that my spiritual identity is with the universal One Body. I am part of the Family of God, and my brothers and sisters are ALL those who are in relationship with Him. My religious association, on the other hand, is primarily (though not exclusively) with the group that is denominated "Churches of Christ." I am well-established with this group, and have chosen to maintain my affiliation with it. However, I do NOT equate this group with the One Body universal. The former is merely a gathering of disciples of Christ who have shared traditions. I agree with much of their theological thinking, but not all of it. I like some of their traditions, but not all of them. However, it is what I grew up in, and I have close friends and family within this heritage, so I have chosen this association of brethren as the platform from which to serve my Lord and His cause. So, it's with respect to my spiritual identity that I now no longer consider myself to be of any particular group or faction!! Patrick Henry, in a speech at the First Continental Congress (Philadelphia, October 14, 1774), stated, "I am not a Virginian, but an American." What was Henry saying here? Yes, he was indeed a Virginian; he was from Virginia, after all. However, he wanted people to know that his citizenship was broader than just a particular part of the whole. He was not just a Virginian, he was an American. Similarly, my identity is not tied to a small part of the whole; I identify with the entire One Body of Christ. Although my base of operations for the Lord Jesus is with my personal faith-heritage, my Christian associations reach well beyond its borders, extending to ALL those who are in Christ Jesus our Lord. May God hasten the day when we all appreciate this distinction and thus work to tear down the walls that separate brethren from one another!!

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

SIGNED COPIES may be ordered directly
from the author at a reduced price. Click on
the two book titles for details on how to order.

Readers' Reflections

From a Reader in Mississippi:

Dear Brother Al, Thank you for writing One Bread, One Body. I knew the book would be good, but it turned out being a lot better than that! It was filled with so much information, as well as common sense and wisdom. I previously had purchased your book Down, But Not Out, but before I finished reading it, I loaned it to someone who was going through a very traumatic divorce. He read your book (and was able to move on with his life!!), then he wanted to pass it along to another divorced person. So I have never gotten it back!! I'm sure the same thing will happen if I ever loan out your new book ("One Bread, One Body"). Thank you for all that you do.

From a New Reader in Georgia:

Dearest Bro. Al, Thank you for your willingness, and also your continued efforts, to present the Word in a sensible, contextual and logical manner. Please add me to your mailing list for Reflections. I look forward to more of your weekly communications. May God continue to bless, guide and keep you.

From a New Reader in Tennessee:

Dear Bro. Maxey, Several members within our congregation have shared your Reflections articles with me on a number of occasions!! Would you mind adding me to your Reflections mailing list? Thank you!

From a Missionary in Peru:

Dear Bro. Al, I just think the Lord spoke to Noah in the imperative mood and simply said, "Go for wood!" Seriously, though, the far more interesting part of the passage is not the wood itself, but the covering of the ark both inside and outside with pitch. The wood that Noah used was to be made waterproof and resistant to decay by impregnating the wood with pitch. The Hebrew word Kopher is the regular Hebrew word for "atonement." So, in one sense, this is the first mention of atonement in all the Bible. It was a perfect covering that saved Noah and his family from the divine wrath! The blood of Christ is likewise a covering/atonement that shields and protects every believer from the just wrath of God against human sin and rebellion. Jesus Christ is the Ark of our salvation when we're in Him. We have an impregnable covering!!

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, I just read your last Reflections --- An Ark of Gopher Wood. I always enjoy reading your well-thought-out and well-written articles!! Several people commented on David Brown's and Dub McClish's emails to you. So, I went back and looked at the previous issue of Reflections and read their comments. As I did so, the following occurred to me -- their emails fit into one of two categories: "Works of the Flesh" (enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy) or "Fruit of the Spirit" (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness). A certain passage came to my mind: "Thus, you will recognize them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:20). Keep up the good work, brother!!

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Brother Al, As always, I really enjoyed your last article. I also enjoy reading the readers' comments each week as well. Being a middle school teacher myself, I especially agree with the comment from the reader about Brown and McClish sounding more like 6th grade boys on a playground than grown men who claim to be teachers of God's Word. As still another reader pointed out, their words do nothing to bring souls to Christ, but they DO succeed in exposing their juvenile and unreasoning hearts.

From an Elder in New Mexico:

Brother Al, The problem with letting the anti-IM people set the stage of debate is that we get ourselves caught up in arguing over words. The simple fact is that the contexts of the texts that have been used to outlaw IM are not even dealing with singing as their primary import. Rather, they deal with either the Christian life or the speaker's desire to praise God for His greatness. Singing -- with or without IM -- isn't even the point. Thus, we've been arguing the wrong point from these texts!

From a Reader in Australia:

Brother Al, Greetings from South Australia! Thank you for posting the information on The Minor Prophets. I use a MacArthur Study Bible, and his introduction of Nahum left me wondering what other scholars thought of Nahum being an Elkoshite. You provided at least four possibilities, along with a heap of other fabulous information on Nahum (as well as on the other prophets). Again, thank you!

From a Reader in Florida:

Brother Al, I listened to your three lessons from The Tulsa Workshop last night, and then I listened to all three again this morning (taking notes on them). I thank God for men like you!! I thank God that you preach Truth in such a manner that we can understand it. I also hope that you will consider speaking at The Spiritual Growth Workshops held in Orlando, Florida every other year in July (the next one is scheduled for 2012). We need you in the Southeast!!

From a Reader in California:

Brother Al, Many years ago my wife and I took a couple from Cocoa, Florida up to the Daytona Beach area to hear a friend of mine preaching a "gospel meeting." The husband was a new Christian, although the wife had been raised in Churches of Christ. The "good news" proclaimed that night was on the subject of why we do not use instrumental music in worship. As soon as I realized what the topic was, I wished we had never made the almost 70 mile trip. But, we were there, so we stayed, and my friend preached his heart out, telling us the same old contrived arguments of the "Law of Silence." Although I was raised in the Churches of Christ, I never thought any of those arguments made any logical sense at all. In my family the use of instruments was simply a non-issue. Anyway, as we were driving home that night from the meeting, my friend broke the silence with this question: "So, if I understood that preacher tonight, the reason that Churches of Christ do not use instrumental music is because Noah made the ark from gopher wood?!" As stupid as that sounded, yet I had to reply, "Yes, that's what he preached. Doesn't make a bit of sense, does it?" Though we enjoyed our conversation during our 2+ hours drive there and back, we all agreed that it was basically a complete waste of time to have gone to hear that "sermon." And I still think it is a waste of time for "preachers" to spout that stuff from the pulpit.

From a Minister in Ohio:

Dear Brother Al, I would like to commend you for the gracious nature of your response to the comments made by David Martin and Ray Meier (The Maxey-Martin Dialogue). Your professionalism and civility and maturity were outstanding!! Keep doing what you're doing. It saddens me greatly to see the immaturity of people in the way that they treat each other while holding biblical discussions. God bless you for keeping your cool, as well as for being a real example of patience and longsuffering.

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Bro. Al, Thank you for your most recent issue of Reflections. I'm not a subscriber, but I do go to your web site and read your Reflections quite often. Your studies about legalism have been extremely helpful to me in coming out of the conservative, legalistic and spiritually dead congregations of the Church of Christ. I've read quite a few of your musings, and they really make a lot of sense! I am simultaneously amused and saddened by the pedantic, pitiful antics of David Brown and Dub McClish, although I take heart in knowing that these "old boys" spheres of influence are ever shrinking. Like all schoolyard bullies, the fact that they are hollering so loudly and posturing in such a way tells me that we are closer than ever before to toppling their house of cards!! By all means, brother, keep turning over their tables in the temples! God bless you, Al, and thank you for using the gifts God gave you to minister to people like me.

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