by Al Maxey

Issue #480 ------- March 18, 2011
Many men would have arrived at wisdom had they
not believed themselves to have arrived there already.

Seneca the Younger {5 B.C. - 65 A.D.}

The Iron Duke of Restorationism
Reflecting on the Life of Jacob Creath, Jr.

In my previous issue of these weekly Reflections, which was titled "The Great Restoration Fallacy," I included the following vital observations --- "Restorationists or primitivists who find in Scripture a fixed pattern for the church are tempted to impose their interpretation of 'The True Church' upon others!! This is a good description of legalism, which has divided the church into hundreds of warring sects" [Dr. Leroy Garrett, The Stone-Campbell Movement, p. 349]. It is a fact that "those who emphasize restoration tend to neglect unity. ... Restorationism by its very nature has been divisive throughout the history of the church, spawning scores of sects, and was a major cause in dividing the Stone-Campbell Movement" [ibid, p. 7]. Dr. Leroy Garrett, in another book, observed, "Restorationist groups always divide again and again and again, for restorationism by its very nature is divisive" [Carl Ketcherside & Leroy Garrett, Our Heritage of Unity and Fellowship, p. 158].

Legalistic patternism and restorationism go hand-in-hand; where you find one, you will invariably find the other. They also tend to draw a certain type of person into their web of delusion and deception -- caustic crusaders committed to imposing forever their personal or party perceptions, preferences and practices upon the remainder of the Family of God, declaring their decrees to be of divine origin! Such persons have been a blight upon the One Body from the very beginning, and we can easily attribute the dismembering of the Body of Christ down through the centuries to the handiwork of their sharp, shiny, sectarian scalpels. One such skilled sectarian "surgeon" was Jacob Creath, Jr. Some characterized him as "The John Knox of Restorationism;" others called him "The Iron Duke." He was hardened in his resolve to "restore" the church; as inflexible as iron when it came to imposing his convictions upon others! He was so demanding and dogmatic that on a number of occasions people actually plotted his murder. In his later years, he even turned on his former close companions in the church, viewing loyal friends as "apostates" ... as the "enemy." What is so tragic here is that I know of people just like this today. Generations come and go, but Satan's tools remain remarkably the same. It's heartbreaking to see the toll on human lives ... and the toll on the unity and harmony of the church of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jacob Creath, Jr. was one of sixteen children born to William and Lucretia Creath. He entered this world on January 17, 1799 at Butcher's Creek in Mecklenburg County, Virginia. His father, William (born December 23, 1768), was born on a ship as his parents (Jacob's grandparents) immigrated from Dublin, Ireland to Nova Scotia. Jacob's paternal ancestors were all Presbyterians, although his father converted to the Baptist Church in 1787 in the state of North Carolina. After a time of formal training, William Creath became a Baptist pastor, of the hyper-Calvinistic school, and was said to be quite powerful in the pulpit, moving people to tears by his stirring sermons. One man once remarked that there were only two things in life that could move him to tears -- "shaving with a dull razor and hearing William Creath preach." Jacob's maternal ancestors were from Virginia, and were of English descent. His mother, Lucretia, the daughter of Thomas Brame, was "a woman of strong physical organization, very sound common sense, great energy of character, decided in purpose, prudent, candid and modest." William & Lucretia Creath trained their sixteen children in the knowledge of the Scriptures, maintaining a very strict Christian home environment. So devoted to the church was this family that 5 of the 9 sons became gospel preachers (Jacob being one of them). He was named for his uncle, Jacob Creath, Sr., who was one of the early leaders in the Stone-Campbell Movement. The older Jacob was a very peace-loving man with a non-sectarian spirit -- the younger Jacob would evidence a much different spirit.

The young Jacob was raised on a farm in Virginia, and would spend much of his time plowing and planting and working with the animals. However, his passion was for learning, and he was reading and writing extremely well by the age of eight. Often he would be found out in the pasture under a tree reading and studying from his books while the cattle and horses were grazing. Jacob was baptized by his father in May, 1817, becoming a member of the Baptist Church. Jacob delivered his first sermon that same year, at the age of 18, and on Feb. 15, 1818 he was licensed by the Baptists to preach! He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, studying Latin, Greek and Theology. In September, 1820 he was ordained a minister of the gospel. He later attended Columbia College, which was in Washington, D.C. After completing his formal education, he moved to Lexington, Kentucky. The Baptists welcomed him as a "much beloved and worthy brother," who had "respectable talents as an orator, an aptness to teach, and admirable qualities which constitute a faithful minister of Jesus Christ."

In October, 1826, Jacob Creath, Jr., along with his cousin, Albert Creath (who was the son of Jacob Creath, Sr.), departed Kentucky and began a preaching tour through several southern states. At this time, Jacob developed his style of attacking the various religious groups with whom he differed, castigating and condemning them with great vigor. Thus, "he was no stranger to controversy" [The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement, p. 250]. Indeed, he was "burned in effigy early on at Natchez, Mississippi" [ibid]. "Jacob Creath's preaching aroused such violent opposition that he was compelled to publish a pamphlet containing letters of recommendation to vindicate his character" [Earl Kimbrough, The Gospel Guardian, vol. 20, no. 6, June 6, 1968]! His friends were quite concerned for his life, but Jacob said he wasn't afraid of all the "heretics." This compelled his friends to write him the following words: "Well, you ought to be; for, be assured, your life is in danger, and but for the protection afforded by the civil law, you would ere this have been hung" [ibid]. His primary targets at this time were the Methodists, the Presbyterians, and the Episcopalians.

After this tour of preaching, he made his way to Bethany to spend some time with Alexander Campbell, whose writings he had come across, and which writings (in the Christian Baptist) were causing him to do quite a bit of thinking. While there, he wrote an article titled "A Blow at the Root of Popery" (which, again, reflected his combative spirit). After this, he returned to Kentucky where he was asked to preach once a month for the Clear Creek Baptist Church in Woodford County. However, Creath "grew increasingly at odds with many of His Baptist brethren" [The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement, p. 250]. In time, he was run out of the congregation, and he began preaching in the woods near the meeting house, drawing a number of the congregation out into the woods with him!! The Baptists finally had enough of Jacob, and they tried him for heresy in 1829. The result was: he was "expelled from Baptist fellowship in Kentucky in 1830" [ibid].

It was during this very critical time in his life that Jacob (along with his uncle, Jacob Creath, Sr. -- who had also been expelled by the Baptists) met "Raccoon" John Smith, who would become one of the great leaders in the Stone-Campbell Movement. Jacob struck up a friendship with Smith, who shared some of Jacob's same concerns. Alexander Campbell arrived on the scene and Jacob left Kentucky with him on a preaching tour through Tennessee. On his return to Kentucky, he began a monthly paper in Lexington called "The Christian Examiner." In September, 1831 he married Susan Bedford, who had recently become a widow. They lived and worked on a farm, but Jacob would spend weekends preaching wherever he was allowed to speak. Creath was a good family man, and he and his wife raised their children as he had been raised by his parents -- they had three Bible devotionals per day, and a lot of time was spent as a family in prayer and praise!! He also read the Bible through every year, and by the end of his life claimed to have read it cover-to-cover more than fifty times!

In the fall of 1839, Creath moved his family to Missouri, and it was here that he would live for the remainder of his life. Again, he and his family worked the land, but Jacob would often travel great distances to preach (even in other states). Tragically, his wife, Susan, suffered a fall from a horse and was rather severely injured. On July 16, 1841 she died of complications from that injury (in some accounts she is said to have died of consumption). She was only 32 years old. Jacob continued preaching, and not too long after his wife's death, while preaching in Kentucky, he met Prudence Rogers, who became his second wife in March, 1842. He referred to her as "a precious jewel of a wife," as she took charge of the care of his children by his first wife. She remained a faithful and true wife to Jacob for the remainder of his life.

Jacob Creath, Jr. was a rather large man, standing tall and straight, and weighing well over 200 pounds. In the year 1877, when Creath was in his late 70's, John A. Brooks wrote of him, "He is a man of magnificent proportion, and under the weight of nearly eighty years stands as erect as an Indian." He had brown hair (although it was a wig, as Jacob was bald), gray eyes, and a voice that was said to be "strong and clear." Those who knew him called him a man of deep personal conviction, who was both "energetic and excitable." It was the latter quality that contributed to Creath's infamous ranting and raving against those who dared to differ with his religious convictions, which, again, is a rather common trait of those who are rigid restorationists. "Creath's virtues and vices were often two sides of the same coin: he was a serious man of passionate conviction and fiery temper; devout and rigid; candid and combative" [The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement, p. 250]. Jacob preferred what he called "the old paths," and he "vigorously opposed what he viewed as illegitimate innovations, like missionary and Bible societies and instrumental music in worship" [ibid]. Just as he found himself "the enemy" of the Baptists, as well as many other denominations, "so too was he quickly at odds with many within the Stone-Campbell Movement" [ibid]. Near the end of his life he observed, "I have withstood papists and sects more than fifty years, and now I have to withstand our own people, just before I leave the world." This "contender" for the faith had, in fact, only succeeded in becoming "contentious" for his faith.

One biographer characterized Jacob Creath as "a scourge and a terror to all innovations that have sought to make inroads upon apostolic precedent and practice." Another declared, "With the clarion voice of a Jeremiah, he has sounded the alarm of departure and innovation the length and breadth of the 'Reformation,' and with the keen vision and spiritual perception of an Ezekiel he has, as with the light of a flaming torch, laid bare the moral deformities and reckless apostasies of his own brethren." Jacob was also strongly opposed to any participation in politics or to serving in a country's military. He spoke out emphatically against war of any kind, and stated, "A hatred of war is an essential feature of practical Christianity." His views were considered very "unpatriotic" by many of his fellow countrymen, and he suffered persecution for being so outspoken on this matter. He was also strongly opposed to the use of instruments of music in a worship assembly, and he was just as strongly opposed to "colleges sustained for the education of preachers," insisting that such institutions "are not in harmony with apostolic teaching." In a word, he was very non-institutional in his thinking, which, again, goes hand-in-hand with the concept of restorationism. Sadly, many a leader in our movement was said to have "spent some time in the woodshed with Jacob Creath" -- receiving verbal and/or written "floggings" from this strongly opinionated and colorful individual. I am saddened to report that those "woodsheds" are still being employed by equally vicious "contenders" for their personal and party perceptions of "the faith," and many a good disciple of Christ has "taken a beating" from these contentious, cantankerous combatants.

Jacob Creath, Jr. laid down his weapons of warfare against his own brethren on January 9, 1886 in Palmyra, Missouri, the place he had called home for 40 years. He had instructed his wife that there must be NO funeral service for him (as there had been none for the apostles --- thus, he was a "restorationist" to the end). This final request was honored. Therefore, "He was buried, without a funeral service, in a plain coffin with his New Testament and a copy of Campbell's Living Oracles as a pillow" [The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement, p. 251].


No Reflections Next Week
As I will be speaking again at
The Tulsa Workshop
Wed., March 23 to Sat., March 26
I Hope To See You There!!

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)

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Readers' Reflections

From a Missionary in the Fiji Islands:

Dear Brother Al, I downloaded the little tract Crossing the Line (which you had mentioned in Reflections #476 -- The OPA Strikes Again). After reading it I had neck problems from shaking my head so much!! Mr. Battey IS batty! Where do they come up with these beliefs? I am sure all the Pharisees that ever were are nodding their heads in agreement over this tract (since, of course, it would be wrong/sinful to clap their hands). The whole thing is ridiculous! It would be nice if this brother, and others like him, would get his head out of the sand and get real. I am sure you know this, but I just shared your study with the brethren here in Fiji, and also on Vanuatu, who for many years had been brainwashed by the legalists!! I used to have the following poster hanging in my print shop (which sounds a lot like the OPA people and George Battey's tract) -- "The flogging will continue until the morale improves!"

From a New Reader in Indonesia:

Dear Bro. Al, Thank you for adding me to your mailing list. I had just opened some of your previous issues of Reflections on your web page this morning and have really enjoyed reading several of the topics! I am excited to now be one of your subscribers, and am looking forward to reading more of your writings. I appreciate you for sharing your good articles. I pray that God will continue to bless your work, both as a gospel preacher and as an elder.

From a Missionary in Belgium:

Dear Brother Al, I just wanted to write and let you know that your package filled with all your CDs arrived just in time for our trip. We took your 2 CD set of 2010 MP3 Audio Sermons with us and listened to them as we drove to Vienna, Austria and back. We alternated between your sermons (two or three at a time) and the Eagles' Reunion Tour on CD. I am really enjoying your sermons so far, and am looking forward to listening to the remainder of them. Kind thanks, brother, and may your focus on the mission be blessed today with a sunny ray of gratitude and fulfillment from some unexpected corner.

From a Ph.D. in Virginia:

Dear Brother Al, I am so blessed every time I read one of your Reflections. If only the entire Body of Christ would heed your teaching!! I grew up in the One Cup, "salute with a holy kiss," and "baptize in Jesus' name for the remission of sins" segment of the Churches of Christ, so I can most definitely relate to the sad teaching that unless every person is exactly like us they are missing the mark. I am now with a Disciples of Christ congregation, but am still very committed to the plea of the Stone-Campbell tradition, and will be until the Lord calls me home, or comes to get us all. Thank you, Bro. Al, for your great work!

From a Minister in Kansas:

Brother Al, I've followed your Reflections from the very beginning, and I must say that "The Great Restoration Fallacy" is in fact your very best work to date!! You have always been one who thinks outside the box, and this is certainly no exception to that rule! Too many of us have in fact taken the focus off the Man (Jesus) and placed it on Methodology. Shame on us!! When will we ever learn? When will we ever break these chains of legalism? Hats off to you, Al. Thank you so much for this bold and refreshing article! I am looking forward to seeing and hearing you at The Tulsa Workshop. A big Bravo and a High Five, my friend!!

From a Reader in California:

Dear Brother Maxey, Your latest Reflections, "The Restoration Fallacy," was not only inspired, but was one of your very best!! Of course!! -- Why didn't I see it before?! -- How can one "restore" something that was not broken in the first place?! It is amazing to me how you never cease to amaze me! I'm looking forward to seeing you next week at The Tulsa Workshop!

From a Reader in Louisiana:

Brother Al, You are a fellow who consistently points your readers to Christ and His sufficiency. You are a real "Gospel Preacher." Many men wear the name, but they don't really preach the Gospel. Isn't it interesting, Bro. Al, that your enemies are cut from the very same cloth as those who were offended by Jesus, Peter and Paul? Those who give you grief, and "write you up" in their sectarian publications, and send you scathing emails, and denounce you during their lectureships, are the self-righteous religionists. Not much has changed in 2000 years, has it? Of late, I have been questioning whether I should call such people "brethren." They may be preachers and elders within the "Churches of Christ," but can you call someone "brother" who displays NO Christian graces?! Bro. Al, thank you for your continual devotion to the Truth (who is Christ Jesus our Lord -- John 14:6).

From a Ph.D./Professor in Texas:

Dear Bro. Al, What a moving message you gave in "Battling the Buzzards: Intervention vs. Regurgitation" -- Reflections #477. Ira North told me the same thing in Miami, Florida when I preached there as a young man -- "You cannot win a puking contest with a buzzard!" This was told him as a young man by his father. Thank you, Brother Al, for your provoking thoughts and logic in handling the Scriptures. By the way, I just read your book Down, But Not Out. It still has me thinking! In fact, please send me five more copies (check is enclosed).

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Brother Al, Once again I stand in awe at your ability to verbally dissect between the "joints and the marrow" of such a ludicrous idea that we mortals have got to "restore" something that Jesus said He would build and the gates of Hades could not prevail against. I have been saying for the past 35 to 40 years, "It's the most intellectually arrogant thing for any group of people during the past 200 years to think that they are the first people since the apostles whose faith has been valid." It's no wonder that our "brotherhood" became a theological laughingstock. We couldn't even get along among ourselves, yet we were out there challenging everybody else to religious debates. Brother, I was there back in the 1940s and 50s ... right up to today. But, Thank God for Al Maxey, who tells it like it is, and who doesn't back off. Thanks again, my brother!!

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Brother Al, I think you finally got to the "bottom line" of all our divisions -- we have been trying to "restore" something that never really existed in the first place: i.e., a single church model that was the same in every respect and in every location during the first generation church. There is no way, for example, that those Jewish Christians within Jerusalem, who still went to the temple at the hour of prayer, were the same as those Gentile believers who were worshipping in Corinth! To try to reconcile those divergent groups into one uniform pattern requires ignoring so much of Scripture and history as to make any pattern utterly invalid! Bro. Al, thank you for trying to keep us honest with ourselves and closer to the model of HIM (who we should be making our "Pattern").

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Brother Al, A good number of years ago I read Bro. Thomas' book on how to properly interpret the Bible. It left me feeling confused, because I saw contradictions in carrying out what he'd advised. Also, the divisions among us bothered me, although, like many others, I simply swept them all under the rug. The views that were being pressed upon Scripture, making some parts voluntary and others a dogmatic pattern that must be followed, also left me empty. I had come to the conclusion that the Church of Christ, as we know it today, was not what one finds within the New Testament. We have not restored anything, we've only regurgitated, from out of our misguided folly, a monstrosity that has enslaved far too many to cultish whims that have evolved so horribly. Thank you, Al, for a well-written article that expresses so well what I have been thinking for several years!

From a Reader in Arizona:

Dear Bro. Maxey, Thank you for once again pointing out the mistake of bowing down to the principle of restoration, which so easily can be turned into an idol that diverts us from trusting Jesus to cover our lives with His. The restoration principle is just one of many ideas that repeatedly obscures, and keeps us from perceiving clearly, the fact that our only hope is having our life hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3).

From a Reader in North Carolina:

Dear Brother Maxey, I am enjoying your Reflections Web Site very much! Several of us women here have dubbed our regular study time together as our "Couch Ministry." We read your Reflections articles, then we email/text/chat with each other for hours about your bold and refreshing writings!! I have recently (after having been raised in an extremely conservative Church of Christ my whole life -- and 30 years of my married life) begun to walk a different spiritual path: leaving behind the "bound traditions" of the Churches of Christ. As a result, I've never felt so close to God and so good about what I am doing with my life. About 30 of us broke from our congregation of 27 years about 7 months ago, and we have begun a new work. We are studying and restudying all the many things we have been doing for years, and are finding so many areas where we were just "off." This has brought a new-found freedom and joy to our lives. I thank you for your stand for Truth ... it is refreshing!! Keep up the good work. The church is in need of reform, and I think you are helping to accomplish that through your writings.

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, Regarding your article "The Great Restoration Fallacy" -- AMEN, and AMEN!! And you may quote me on that!!

From an Author in California:

Brother Al, As you probably know only too well, Alexander Campbell was quite insistent that the church of God did NOT cease to exist, and thus it was NOT in need of being "restored." If it did, he declared, then Jesus lied. Therefore, Campbell saw his efforts as more of a reform movement within the church.

From a Minister in New Mexico:

Brother Al, Promoting a "restoration" plea is the result of ignoring what the apostle Paul taught in Gal. 5:1 -- "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." The initial objective of the "restoration movement" leaders was to restore UNITY among all Christians by shedding divisive traditions. It is man's traditions (and that includes our modern traditions) that have divided brothers and sisters from one another. Thus, Al, you are right in castigating those who build barriers between, and refuse to recognize, their brethren because of differing traditions. The fact that there are walls between denominational groups testifies to "yokes of slavery." We must tear these walls down, "restoring" the freedom to every believer that Christ purchased for them with His precious blood!! Keep preaching UNITY in Christ, brother!!

From a Noted Leader/Author in Churches of Christ:

Dear Brother Al, Thank You for stretching our "closed minds" to new possibilities of study!! Truth has absolutely nothing to fear, but tradition and error must wear a strait jacket. I commend you to 1 Corinthians 15:58 -- "Stand firm; let nothing move you. Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." Your brother because of His blood!!

From an Elder/Author in Florida:

Brother Al, The Pharisaical patternists, due to spiritual blindness, have made an idol out of the "historic/cultural pattern," which only serves to diminish the power of the Gospel. Christianity would be so simple and attractive if we were to "restore" the real thing -- JESUS to His role as Lord and Savior who offers salvation as a free gift to every single person who places their trust in Him alone! We need to "restore" JESUS to being Head of the Body, and "recall" all these rigid, authoritarian legalists controlling the Lord's church with their countless rabbinic-like accumulated conclusions which they demand must be accepted as the universal "pattern" for the Lord's people in every generation!! It is all the same error, whether promoted by the Bishop of Rome or by a board of local bishops/elders. Obviously, your last Reflections on the great restoration fallacy has stirred my heart in a very meaningful way! God bless you, brother!

From a Reader in Michigan:

Dear Brother Al, Thank you for a wonderful article on the fallacy of restoring first century Christianity. You made all the very same points I did several years ago in my article (A Fresh Look at Acts 4:32-37) supporting church rummage sales, but no one really cares what I think. But, many people do care what you think, and for that I am grateful. Thanks for standing up bravely for Truth and common sense.

From a Reader in North Carolina:

Brother Al, I believe you are right on this one ("The Great Restoration Fallacy"). I wonder if people realize just how difficult it is for those who have had it pounded into them for decades that they must "follow the pattern" and "keep to the old paths" to ever bring themselves to even consider that God is more interested in spirit than form. To some it is "anathema" to even consider that God might be neutral on instrumental music or Lord's Supper frequency! Even those who might consider the possibility of such, still struggle to embrace a Baptist co-worker or a "liberal" Church of Christ neighbor as their spiritual sibling. I witness this every week, and it causes me to mourn for all my brethren!! How can we ever get them to open their minds and begin thinking for themselves, instead of being mindless followers of "little lords" whose singular calling in life is to be good gate guards of the traditions of men?!!

From a Reader in Georgia:

Brother Al, "The Great Restoration Fallacy" was a good article. I wonder sometimes if those of our brothers and sisters in Christ who hold on soooooo tightly to the rules and forms of "religion" just might have an extremely misguided perception and understanding of our heavenly Father! It seems to me that the only motivation for such a strict rules-centered, patternistic faith is FEAR -- that is: a fear of being punished by our Father. However, I could be quite mistaken. Perhaps it is merely a desire to control and manipulate others that motivates such people.

From a Minister in California:

Dear Brother Al, I truly enjoyed and agree with your current Reflections ("The Great Restoration Fallacy"). These are conclusions I myself reached some time ago. I interned with a minister years ago who had concluded that for many within Churches of Christ "form" was far more important than "substance." Well, it's not just Churches of Christ that fail here -- such is true of many groups within the One Body. By the way, my wife and I (along with 21 others) are going to be heading for Haiti later this month! We would genuinely covet your prayers for this effort, just as we will be praying for you while you teach at The Tulsa Workshop during that same time period.

From a Reader in Georgia:

Brother Al, I have so much I would like to say about this most recent Reflections on the fallacy of restorationism, but suffice it to say -- you said it best, and I agree whole-heartedly with everything that you wrote. Brother Al, you hit the nail on the head. This whole idea of restoring first century primitive practices (as if such were even possible) is based solely upon a salvation by works approach to becoming and remaining the children of God. Such a patternistic approach is totally without merit, since we are saved by grace through faith! In fact, I truly believe such legalistic patternism IS the "different gospel" of which Paul speaks in his Galatian epistle. To replace our Savior Jesus with perceived requirements for corporate worship is blasphemy.

From a Leader at New Wineskins:

Dear Brother Al, You have been very brave to share a truth that should have been self-evident long ago. It probably won't be any more popular now than it was a year ago when I explored it in the January/February, 2010 issue of New Wineskins. But, God's people (in the Churches of Christ) deserve the truth, even if they are deep in the throes of the misconception that they are the ONLY people of God!

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Brother Al, Thank you so much for your article "The Great Restoration Fallacy." It seems to me that the church is in constant need of reform, but NOT so much in need of restoration -- at least not in the sense that some in the Churches of Christ mean it.

From a Reader in Tennessee:

Brother Al, "The Great Restoration Fallacy" is a truly insightful and very much needed issue of Reflections. Sadly, the patternists will all gasp at your "digression." However, those who make it the business of their lives to know Jesus in a very personal way will applaud your conclusions. Thanks, Al.

From a Reader in Florida:

Brother Al, I pray that everyone will read your Reflections article "The Great Restoration Fallacy" with an open heart and an open mind. May we "think" rather than "defend." Maybe then we can love one another as Christ loved us. Maybe then we can fulfill Jesus' prayer in John 17 -- "May they be one as We are one."

From a Reader in Connecticut:

Brother Al, Hallelujah!! Your article "The Great Restoration Fallacy" should be a required quarterly lesson for EVERY Christian! Once again, you have spoken an "inconvenient truth." For something to be restored, it must first have been lost. That means Jesus was wrong when He stated the gates of Hades would NOT prevail against it. Also, those today who claim to be an "exact replica" of the first century church are either totally oblivious to history or simply choose to ignore truth! You have enumerated numerous things that the church did then that these legalists have abandoned now!! Patternism has become the "buffet line" of Christendom, where the legalists "pick and choose" what they want. Thanks, Al, for keeping our focus on Christ's greatest commandment -- love one another!!

Great Article -- A Must Read -- One of the individuals I truly admire and respect for his willingness to think outside the box of human decree, yet within the gracious parameters of our loving Father's expectations for His children, is Patrick Mead. I was greatly blessed to hear Patrick speak at The Tulsa Workshop last year, and had the added bonus of being able to visit with him one-on-one as well. He's an inspiration. On his blog site he has written an article that I would strongly encourage you to read -- Communion When? -- and he has provided space for comments afterward (of which a few of us took advantage). You will be challenged, as well as blessed, by his insights!!

New Book by a Reader -- A new book has just come out by Paula Harrington, a reader who lives in Kentucky. It is titled A Common Bond and can be purchased on her Blog Site. I met and visited briefly with Paula after one of my talks last year at The Tulsa Workshop. I think that you will find this book interesting and uplifting. In it, "ministers from around the country answer your questions, give practical suggestions, share funny stories, and offer guidance and tips on living as a gospel preacher. From their first sermon to their thoughts on how the world has changed since they began preaching, you'll be encouraged and uplifted by spending some time with these men of the Word. Find out what they think is the most important piece of advice for a new preacher. See what they wished they had known before they began preaching. Learn how years of preaching influenced their families. Laugh at mishaps during weddings, funerals, and mission trips. Gain knowledge on studying the Bible and preparing and delivering sermons. Allow their words to encourage your walk with Christ."

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