Issue #583 -------
August 1, 2013
Nothing in life is more wonderful than faith:
the one great moving force which we can neither
weigh in the balance nor test in the crucible.
Sir William Osler (1849-1919)
George Crabbe (1754-1832) was an English surgeon, clergyman and poet who, in 1810, penned the following observation of the local Vicar in his classic work The Borough, "Habit with him was all the test of truth; 'It must be right; I've done it from my youth.'" For too many people, especially when it comes to matters of religious conviction, one's habits or traditions often, in time, become elevated to the level of divine truths. These then become the accepted conditions and tests of both fellowship and salvation in the eyes of those individuals and sects who cherish them as infallible tenets of the divine will. All other disciples, and all other groups, are carefully scrutinized and measured by these markers. If you pass inspection, you are welcomed into their midst; if you fail, you are shunned and regarded as bound for hell. For millennia men have maliciously marked and maligned one another over the particulars of their petty party perceptions, preferences, precepts and practices (which, in fact, constitute their party parameters), and in so doing have evidenced the godless spirit of legalistic sectarianism which "nullifies the Word of God for the sake of their traditions," and whose "teachings are but rules taught by men" (Matt. 15:3-9). Jesus characterized such rigid religionists as hypocrites, pretenders, sons of hell, blind fools, whitewashed tombs, and camel-swallowing gnat-strainers (Matthew 23). But, His rebukes failed to restrain them, and, in fact, only infuriated them; nor do such rebukes restrain such religious pretenders today.
To help facilitate such factionalism within the universal Family of God, sectarian siblings have formulated "faith exams," which they then utilize to "test" the "soundness" of those around them in order to determine if these "outsiders" are worthy to appear in their presence and to be regarded by them as "saved." Rigid religionists use these exams to test both individuals and groups, as well as every aspect of their walk with God, believing their "test questions" to legitimately reflect the very will of God in all matters of faith and practice. Few, if any, of these exams are exactly alike, for each questionnaire reflects the unique thinking of the group which compiled it. Thus, if one is familiar with the history of sectarianism and factionalism within Christendom, one can quite often identify the sect or faction solely from the questions that appear on these forms. The whole thing would be quite amusing, actually, from a purely academic point of view (sociologically and psychologically), if it were not so theologically appalling!
One such exam that was recently brought to my attention (and I have encountered scores of these over the years) comes from the organization within our faith-heritage known as House to House, Heart to Heart. This is a ministry begun in 1994 by the Jacksonville Church of Christ in Jacksonville, Alabama, and is overseen by its Eldership. The Managing Editor of their 8-page publication (which goes by the same name) is, and has always been, Allen Webster, who is also their Pulpit Minister. Luke Griffin, one of the Deacons, is the Director of Operations for this organization. The publication is a very high quality color newsletter that is published every 2 months (6 issues per year). It currently has a circulation of about 2.4 million copies mailed per issue (they work through local congregations throughout the country, and currently partner with about 2200 different congregations). It is quite an operation. Yet, this ministry is overseen by men who are a part of the ultra-conservative wing of our faith-heritage, and their theology definitely shows in the pages of their publication and in the way they work with those congregations who desire to take advantage of their outreach ministry. Basically, how this ministry works is: a nice publication is produced every other month with articles and information that would typically appeal to one's "unchurched" or "denominational" neighbors and friends. There is space made available in this publication for the local minister to write an article, and to advertise the times and location of the services and activities of the local Church of Christ. Many consider it a very effective outreach tool, and if your congregation is of the same theological mindset as that of the leaders of this ministry, it will probably prove to be a wonderful working relationship.
When I first came to the Cuba Avenue Church of Christ in Alamogordo, NM in June, 1998 (yes, I have been here as the Pulpit Minister for 15 years now, and as one of the Elders for the last 12 years), someone mentioned in a leadership meeting that we ought to take advantage of this program. I would write an article to be placed in each issue, and we would then mail them out to those friends and neighbors in our community we were seeking to reach with the Good News. It sounded like a great idea, and so we contacted them. All went well for a few months. Then I began to notice that my articles were being edited by the leaders in Alabama (i.e., they were making changes to the text of my articles). For example, all of my Scripture quotes were being changed to the King James Version (I had been using the NASB and NIV). For several weeks (from September to October, 1999), my Associate Minister (Don Chisholm) and I wrote back and forth to Allen Webster in Alabama trying to correct this situation (I still have this correspondence in my files). Sadly, we were unable to resolve the problem. They insisted that only the KJV would be used in their publication, and that the elders there in Jacksonville, Alabama had the right to edit any material in their publication, even my articles, to align with their understanding of Truth (even though the copies being produced for us were printed specifically for our friends and neighbors, not theirs). As a result, we terminated our relationship with House to House, Heart to Heart. I have no doubt that other congregations have enjoyed (and still enjoy) a wonderful working relationship with this group. OUR experience, however, was something else entirely.
Perhaps my own personal experience with this group will help you to appreciate why it was not too surprising to me when I learned that the most recent "church exam" (test questions to determine congregational soundness) came from this bunch. It was referenced recently in the pages of their publication (volume 18, number 3) in an article by Allen Webster titled "Do You Think You Are The Only Ones Going To Heaven?" (Click Here to see this entire 8-page issue; it is in .pdf format, by the way). The reference to the church test may be found at the bottom of page 3 (Click Here to see that document, which is also in .pdf format). I was informed about this article, and its referenced "church test," by a Reflections reader in Austin, Texas, who, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, wrote in the subject line of his email to me, "I've found the pattern!!" This brother continued, "It's shorter than I thought it would be, but I think you and I can agree that it is much longer than it needs to be!! I'll bet they got some nasty letters letting them know about all the things they left out." Yes, when the legalistic patternists attempt to compile a list of patternistic specifics, the only thing they really accomplish is: perturbing other patternists. The legalists are among the most divided and divisive disciples on the planet, for no two of them can agree on what constitutes "the essential salvific pattern."
As always, when doing such a review, I issue this caution and challenge to my readers: please do not read my evaluation of either this article by Allen Webster or the referenced "church test" without going to the above two links and reading both documents for yourself to determine if I have fairly represented what was being taught therein. That is how I would want to be treated by those who critique my work (although I am rarely extended that courtesy), therefore that is how I will treat them and their work. It is only fair and right that you consider what I say in light of, and in the context of, what they have said.
Allen Webster's article is based on the premise (only thinly veiled within this piece) that there is only "one true church" on the planet ... and WE are it! The "Church of Christ" church (non-instrumental, of course) IS that "one true church" established by Jesus Christ. All others are at best digressive, and at worst apostate. In the very first paragraph, Allen states that there is a question (that question being stated in the title of the article) "denominationalists ask of the church of Christ." The clear implication this will leave in the minds of those who read this article is that those within the Churches of Christ do not consider themselves to be, in any sense of the word, "denominational" in nature. And they DO consider all other groups within Christendom to be something less than the "one true church."
To Allen's credit, the bulk of his article is fantastic. He does a marvelous job of explaining that no particular group can ever lay claim to being the "one true church," but that the Family of God is made up of ALL those who are in Christ Jesus. I couldn't agree more. He writes, "The Lord's church is not a denomination, nor is it all the denominations combined. A denomination is larger than the local church, but smaller than the universal church." The One Body of our Lord Jesus must never be reduced in our thinking to the parameters of any one group of disciples with their unique body of tradition. There is room in the Family of God for siblings who are different. As I like to say: you don't have to be my twin to be my brother. There is indeed a unity of the Spirit in a bond of love among diverse disciples. To try and force all others to follow US is to miss the divine principle that our mission is to call all others to follow HIM. We may choose to associate with other disciples who share similar convictions with regard to such matters as how to express ourselves in corporate worship, how to go about evangelizing our neighbors, how to practice benevolence in our communities, and the like, but such associations of disciples with regard to personal preferences, perceptions and practices should NEVER devolve into a denominational mindset, for such only reflects a sectarian spirit and leads to schism among spiritual siblings.
I applaud Allen's following statement in his article: "I do not believe that a denomination called 'church of Christ' is any more likely to be saved than any denomination by any other name. It would be arrogant and misguided to think so." Amen! He continues: "My desire is to stay out of any denomination and belong to Christ's original church." Again, I concur. Up to this point in the article I have to say that I could pretty much endorse everything Allen is saying, and am feeling like he is genuinely seeking to tear down the walls that too long divided brethren, and to recognize all as brethren who are truly in Christ Jesus, regardless of their associations with various differing traditions. But, sadly, Allen concludes his article by returning to the premise that the "one true church" on the planet IS, to the exclusion of all others, OUR little group. Only WE have figured out how to BE that original church established by Jesus. Only WE look like HIM. He writes, "Does Christ's church exist -- unchanged -- on earth today? Yes!" He then asks, "How can we identify Christ's church today?" Well, the answer is: "The church must conform to God's pattern." Here we go -- patternism. And what exactly IS that pattern? He doesn't say in any detail, but suggests that to find the answer we must "compare any church to the Bible." Of course, what Allen means by that is: we must compare any church to our own understanding of the Bible. In reality, it is not so much the Bible that is the ultimate standard (although that is what we profess), but rather OUR VIEW of the Bible that becomes the standard of measure (that, in fact, is what we practice).
It is at this point he gives the link to the "Church Test." If you answer "yes" to all the questions, then you can feel assured that you are in the Lord's church. Of course, in Allen's view, there is only one group of disciples on the planet who can pass that test -- the group known as "Church of Christ." Thus, he concludes his article with this statement: "Who is going to heaven? Simply stated, those churches that strictly follow the Bible will make it. We believe that you will find such a church when you visit the church of Christ in your community." That's right, folks -- WE are it ... YOU are not! It was a pathetic ending to an article with great potential for generating a healing dialogue among disciples of diverse perspective and practice. The fact that one can write such a powerfully perceptive article, and yet end it so poorly, shows how deeply the roots of sectarianism have reached into our psyches (both individually and as a religious movement). It is a devilish delusion fairly obvious to others, but to which we too often are blinded. In Allen's article there is a striking disconnect between what he professes and what he actually practices. It is hard to rise above our religious ruts, even though we may perceive and proclaim the wisdom of doing so.
I found it interesting, as well as disturbing, that Allen suggests those who will "make it" to heaven (i.e., the saved) will consist of those who "strictly follow the Bible." No mention is made of following JESUS, or of faith in HIM, or of following HIM. Rather, it is searching the Bible for that list of rules and regulations (the pattern) by which we may secure the divine approval if we can just keep these laws to some divinely determined degree of acceptability (which, according to Scripture would have to be 100%). When salvation is perceived as being found in the Bible, rather than in God's Son, we have completely missed the Truth that appears right before us. Jesus rebuked the religionists of His day for this same failing: "You search the Scriptures because you think that IN THEM you have eternal life; and yet it is these that bear witness of ME; and you were unwilling to come to ME that you may have life" (John 5:39-40). No, Allen, it is not those who "strictly follow the Bible" who will "make it" (that is legalism: a perversion of the gospel -- Gal. 1:6-7), it is those who have faith in Jesus and follow Him! Heaven isn't for those who follow a pattern so as to look just like early church disciples, heaven is for those who, through the transforming power of the indwelling Spirit, come to look like Jesus! Salvation isn't in a pattern, it is in a Person.
The document titled "A Test to Give a Church" (Click Here) consists of 15 questions, followed by space to answer "yes" or "no" to each one. At the end of the exam is a statement informing those taking this test that the "correct" answer to every question should be "Yes." Presumably, therefore, one or more responses of "No" will strongly suggest that the church or congregation being examined via these questions is very likely digressive, at best, or, more likely, apostate! You, of course, will want to flee from that group and get yourself to a "one true church" as quickly as possible (that "one true church," of course, being the nearest "Church of Christ" in your community). Naturally, there are other tests out there that must then be taken to determine if the local "Church of Christ" is of the right brand or flavor -- i.e., One Cup, Non-Instrumental, Non-Sunday School; no kitchens or fellowship halls in the building, KJV only, male only leadership, etc. Frankly, such "testing" of congregations never ends until the circle is drawn small enough to suit the particular faction administering it.
In every such test there will be a smattering of questions with which few would ever find major fault (which serves to lend an air of legitimacy to the test, as well as establish some commonality of theology with the test taker -- one is more likely to consider their "No" answers if they have accumulated a number of "Yes" answers: this is just good psychology with regard to test composition, an area I studied in one of my graduate courses in psychology). Thus, you find the following questions on this particular test put out by this organization:
As you can see, almost half the test consists of questions that few would answer "No." Indeed, and this is another strategy of test composition, many of the questions are framed in a way that would "shame" those who answer in the negative, even though the reality may be their congregation is less than perfect in some of these areas. "NO, my church shows NO interest in the poor. NO, we don't teach biblical morality. NO, we do not have leaders and/or members who show the love of Christ in their lives. And, NO, we don't even believe in God." On the other hand, these questions may serve a legitimate purpose in getting people to focus on some of their inadequacies in some of these areas. For example, what congregation couldn't improve in showing love and concern for others, and what congregation couldn't do better at motivating its members to live above the moral deficiencies of the world around it? Thus, such questions, even though the respondent may answer "Yes," may serve as a challenge to renew both individual and corporate commitment to the principles of the Christian faith.
It is also important to note that not all "Yes or No" questions lend themselves well to a strict "Yes or No" answer! There is quite a bit of skill involved in constructing such a test, and not all tests are skillfully or thoughtfully constructed. For example: Yes or No -- "Do you believe baptism is essential?" Well, I would have to ask, first of all, "essential to what?" Further, what do you mean by the term "baptism"? Are you referring to baptism in water? Holy Spirit baptism? Baptism for the dead? Does this include sprinkling and pouring? Infant baptism? The question requires clarification before it can truly be answered with a simple "Yes" or "No." With respect to the #2 question listed above, one may well answer that they do indeed believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but they may NOT hold to a strict Trinitarian dogma, as many churches do. The nature, relationship, and unique workings of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is not a simple matter, and there is significant diversity of conviction even within the Churches of Christ. For example, one of the questions on the test reads: "Does this church teach that the Holy Spirit guides people only through the Word of God?" This is the "Word ONLY" dogma which takes the position that the Spirit does not actually dwell within us, or work directly with/on/through us, but is only accessed by reading the Bible. Few take this position any longer, and even within the Churches of Christ it is a minority view that is fading fast (as it should). As for question #4, some congregations have an active outreach ministry to homosexuals. Others reach out to working prostitutes. They welcome these men and women into their midst, showing them genuine love and concern. Can a church do this and still teach biblical morality? Some believe you can (as I do); others think differently. What about question #5? Is "pure religion" served when a congregation sends money "from the treasury" to help support the work of, or a child housed at, a Children's Home? Some would say this is part of practicing "pure religion," others regard it as apostasy. How about question #6? May I respond "Yes" if my congregation only shows an "interest" in this, but is, in point of fact, actually doing nothing?
Most tests, however, and this one is no exception, consist of "key" questions lodged strategically within the "padding" of the less significant queries. These "key" questions reflect the true focus of the test, and also reveal much about those constructing the test. At times, the prejudice of those composing and administering the test is obvious; at other times it is more subtle. As an example of the former, consider this question from the above test: "Does this church use only males to preach and lead in public worship?" No real secret what the "agenda" is here, is there? With questions like these the testers are gradually narrowing the circle of acceptability. By the end of the test you will either "look like them," or you will NOT be part of the "one true church." In the ultra-conservative factions of the Churches of Christ, women are absolutely excluded from any participation of any kind in leadership and teaching and service within the public assembly. So, if you don't agree with their views on the role of women in the church, then you, my friend, are NOT part of the "one true church." You're an apostate.
The next to last question on the test informs the test takers that if the doctrine of premillennialism is taught where they attend, then they are in the midst of false teachers and heretics, and must flee to the nearest Church of Christ (which has been blessed by God with the correct view of the end times). The Churches of Christ (at least some of them) have also been blessed with the knowledge of how to "correctly" conduct a Sunday morning "worship service." For some strange reason, the "denominations" just can't grasp the truths contained in the Bible on this matter, and thus they all engage in godless practices, whereas WE have it all figured out. Thus, God is pleased with OUR worship, and will send to the depths of hell all who don't "do church" OUR way (because, of course, our way is His way). Here is that question from the test: "Does this church worship according to the New Testament, without adding innovations such as mechanical music, drama, praise teams, or soloists?" There is also a question on there involving baptism: "Does this church teach baptism for the remission of sins -- in order to be saved?" There is no question that baptism is important to our faith response to God's gift, but is baptism a sacrament? There certainly seems to be a hint of that perspective in the question.
"Does this church use the Bible as its only authority for rules and practice?" Hmmm. "Only" authority? What about the authority Jesus claimed for Himself? "ALL authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me" (Matt. 28:18). Thus, to say the BIBLE is the "only" authority for how disciples of Christ practice their faith is perhaps going too far. What did the disciples of Christ use for their "authority" during the many decades before a single word of these 27 NT documents was produced? Also, WHY is the Bible being used as an authoritative source book for searching out RULES governing our practice? Doesn't this smack of a return to LAW? Here's another question: "Does this church wear a scriptural name (designation) such as church of God, church of Christ, church of the Firstborn?" I asked a preacher once why we don't change our sign to read "Church of God," since that "name" appears about a dozen times more often in the NT writings than the one we use. His reply? "Because some denomination got to it before we did." Good grief! In point of fact, "Church of Christ" (singular) NEVER appears in the NT writings. "Churches of Christ" appears once. These aren't titles or names, anyway. They are descriptives. They indicate to whom the saved belong. To take it on as a NAME of a particular group is to "denominate" ourselves, and, yes, "Church of Christ" is just as denominational in that sense as any other named group. Also, I asked another ultra-conservative preacher (who admitted that there were several "authorized names" in the NT for "the church") if he would ever attend one of these other "acceptably named" groups. He emphatically said "NO!" The ONLY building he would ever step into is "the one true church" -- a "Church of Christ" church. Yes, the test question gives two other names, but knowing this legalistic mindset as well as I do (having spent my life in this faith-heritage), I can assure you that very, very few of these people would ever worship inside a building that said anything other than "Church of Christ" on the sign out front (and, frankly, they would most likely not even enter a good many of those).
Brethren, this whole "Church Test" promoted by the House to House, Heart to Heart bunch is nothing other than a pathetic display of sectarian arrogance! They should be ashamed of themselves! At a time when disciples of Christ throughout the world are making great progress at breaking down the sectarian walls that have divided the Family of God for too long, these partyists and factionists are doing all in their power to build them thicker and higher. I will oppose their efforts every chance I get, and I pray more and more of you will as well. This evil can be stopped ... or at least slowed dramatically ... if more good men and women will rise up in righteous indignation, stand firmly in the trenches of the front lines, and speak out against the forces that array themselves against freedom in Christ and unity in diversity. May God give us strength and courage to continue this good fight.
From a Minister in Alabama:
Thanks for your writings, Al. I am truly amazed at the depth and amount of research you present in each article!! Please keep it up!! I have been to see the movie Hell and Mr. Fudge and was very impressed by it. One of the promoters of the movie happened to be there that day and he took questions from the audience. One guy present, who was from Georgia, stood up and mentioned you by name and your work!! I thought: Good for him!! I am currently reading Edward Fudge's third edition of The Fire That Consumes, in which Edward Fudge mentions you and your work by name. Actually, I had found Dr. Dallas Burdette on the internet before I found you, and he led me to you. Then you led me to Edward Fudge. May the cycle continue!!
Al Maxey, Rob Ford, Edward Fudge
The Tulsa Workshop (March, 2010)
From a Minister/Elder in Missouri:
I began reading your material several years ago, and I was disturbed greatly by it initially due to the "stuff" I had been taught and had swallowed. However, after continued study and reading of your writings, I have learned and grown a lot. Thinking about the harsh responses from many of the negative folk that have been uttered against you, and your more gracious responses to them in return, has really blessed me and many others. The hatefulness expressed by these who disagree with you has removed any interest on my part of even getting acquainted with them. You only want to bless others and see the abundant life imparted to them, while your attackers are only intent upon hurting and destroying whoever disagrees with them. "By their fruit you shall know them" is what Jesus said. May God bless you, Al, as you continue to "butt heads with the billy goats," and may He help you to continue to handle with gentleness the broken and confused. Jesus did that, and we thus have salvation. What immeasurable grace! Thank you for being God's man for these times! Also, I still remember meeting you at The Tulsa Workshop, where you were speaking. I was calmed and warmed by approaching you and hugging you outside the Pavilion after one of your talks! Al, I am very encouraged personally by your deep desire to love others, even the unlovely. This kind of spiritual balance is hard to acquire and maintain, but you are doing very well at attempting to do just that. We need more leaders like you: those who are not afraid to question and do research to see if what we have been taught is right and accurate. May God bless you and your family.
From a Reader in New Mexico:
This may seem far-fetched, but it is one possible answer to the reader who was wishing that your Reflections were available in audio form. There are some computer programs that will audibly read out written material to the computer user. If a person will contact the Commission for the Blind in their state, they will get some good advice on how to get such audio programs for their computers. Also, some libraries have such features available on some of their computers for those in the community who may be visually impaired. I hope this helps.
From a Reader in Georgia:
I just read "Lardism versus Legalism." It was a great article, and you are exactly right: the "contenders for the faith" would have burned the church building to the ground before they ever let Moses E. Lard stand up and preach salvation by grace through faith, women deacons, a finite hell, etc. And yet, they will use selective quotes as "proof texts" from someone with whom they vehemently disagree!! Holy Cow!!
From a Minister in Tennessee:
Great article on Lard. It has bothered me for years that we claim we preach only the Bible, yet we would use the material of either saint or sinner to justify our positions on this or that subject. We criticize our religious friends for doing this, but justify it in ourselves. Ah, consistency. It is amusing to see the ultra-conservative brethren use Moses Lard to try and justify their fascination with law-keeping. When will they wake up?! A lot of our preaching and teaching over the years has been nothing more than negations of the doctrines and practices of others. Yet, we haven't had the backbone to teach what the Word actually says. I have been guilty of that cowardice for years. Hopefully I am beginning to grow a backbone!
From a Minister in West Virginia:
Please sign me up to receive your weekly Reflections. I am a minister for a small congregation in ------, West Virginia. I've been struggling trying to open the minds of my brothers and sisters here. I have made some progress, but it is like pulling teeth! I really thank you for your work, and pray God's blessings upon you and it.
From a Minister in Tennessee:
In your current Reflections ("Lardism versus Legalism") you say that Guy N. Woods, along with Edward Fudge and F. LaGard Smith, denied the doctrine of everlasting punishment. I was not aware that Bro. Woods believed this. Could you provide the source of your information concerning his belief about the nature of hell? I am aware that Jimmy Allen has changed his view on this subject, and I knew about Moses Lard's beliefs, but I have not seen anything from Woods that indicated he did not believe in the everlasting punishment of the wicked.
From a Minister in Tennessee:
I just read your latest Reflections about Moses E. Lard. Very interesting! Thanks, as usual. I do have one question, though, based on something you said in the article. You included Guy N. Woods among those who did not believe in everlasting punishment. I knew about the others you mentioned, but somehow that one had escaped me. I was wondering, can you point me in the direction of where I could read Woods' writings about this subject for myself? I'd appreciate it. Thanks again for the articles. You always challenge me to think, my brother, and I appreciate that. God bless you.
From a Minister in Tennessee:
You mentioned in your last article that Guy N. Woods changed his mind about the duration of eternal suffering. In his Q&A, vol. 2, p. 261, the question was, "Do the Scriptures teach that the wicked are to experience endless suffering in hell?" He answered, "They do, indeed, and in the most direct and unmistakable fashion." Would you have a reference source for his change in position? I very much enjoyed reading your article on Moses E. Lard, by the way. May God continue to bless you in His service.
I would like to sincerely thank these three brothers for bringing this to my attention (hey, you TN
preachers are pretty sharp). I guess I will have to attribute this "goof" to one of those infamous "senior moments" (after all, I'll
be 65 my next birthday). I have no idea why I wrote the name Guy N. Woods, since the person I had in mind was Homer
Hailey. I even had Hailey's book in front of me at the time, but for some reason I typed a different name. Go figure! Anyway, when
I received the above three emails I immediately went and made the correction to my article online, as well as informing the various church
Facebook sites, where there was a link to my article, of this error. Again, the person I intended to mention was
Homer Hailey, who did indeed change his view on this subject shortly before his death, making his convictions known in his book
"God's Judgements and Punishments" (and, yes, that is how he spelled "judgments"). On page 179 of that work, for
example, Hailey wrote, "This 'second death' would
bring the individuals to extinction." This is certainly a more biblical position than the platonic notion of some immortal soul being forever
tortured and tormented in a fiery hell (one of the most horrendous false doctrines perpetrated on and perpetuated by the church over the
centuries). Thankfully, more and more leaders within our own Stone-Campbell Movement are "catching up" with the view of an
already large, and ever increasing, number of scholars within greater Christendom on the truth of God's Word with respect to the nature of
man and his destiny. I would encourage the reader to Click Here to find out
how to order my 20 week adult Bible class study (contained on two audio CDs in MP3 format) of this topic.
One additional note: I sincerely thank these three preachers for challenging me on this!! I really mean that! Do NOT take
anything I say as being absolute truth without carefully and prayerfully examining it in light of God's revelation. Further, when I'm
dealing with historical figures or events, check the facts. I have been known to be wrong on occasion, and will most certainly make mistakes
in the future. I seek to be very careful in what I write, and generally don't put something in print if I haven't thoroughly researched it or if I
can't validate my thinking from God's Word. But, even then, mistakes creep in. Therefore, I do indeed appreciate those who examine my
work with a critical eye. Also, I thank these three men for their loving, respectful spirit when they wrote to challenge a statement I made. That
speaks volumes for the kind of men they are. May God bless each of them in their ministries.
One additional note: I sincerely thank these three preachers for challenging me on this!! I really mean that! Do NOT take anything I say as being absolute truth without carefully and prayerfully examining it in light of God's revelation. Further, when I'm dealing with historical figures or events, check the facts. I have been known to be wrong on occasion, and will most certainly make mistakes in the future. I seek to be very careful in what I write, and generally don't put something in print if I haven't thoroughly researched it or if I can't validate my thinking from God's Word. But, even then, mistakes creep in. Therefore, I do indeed appreciate those who examine my work with a critical eye. Also, I thank these three men for their loving, respectful spirit when they wrote to challenge a statement I made. That speaks volumes for the kind of men they are. May God bless each of them in their ministries.
From a Reader in Tennessee:
I have been wracking my poor old brain trying to remember the name of another preacher from the approximate time of Moses E. Lard. The man to whom I refer was the subject of a book I read many years ago and would love to read again. He was plain-spoken to a fault, but was quite humorous. "Bigora" was his by-word. Once, when a man had introduced this preacher to his new bride, the preacher informed the man that she was homely. The man said, "Well, you know beauty is only skin deep," to which the preacher replied, "Well, if she was mine, I'd skin 'er." He was a well-known preacher in his day, but I cannot remember his name nor the book written about him. Do you know about whom I am speaking?
I'm not sure who this preacher is. Does any of this "ring a bell" with any of you out there? If so, please let me know the name of this historical figure and I'll pass it along to the reader in TN. Thanks. -- Al Maxey
From a Reader in Oklahoma:
Al, I would like to take this opportunity to say Thank You for all you do, and especially for your Reflections. My husband was a minister, but passed away three years ago of cancer. I would print your articles out for him (he hated computers) to read, and he loved them! He got so much encouragement from knowing that he wasn't alone in many of the things he believed. I'm the same way with your articles. So, again, Thank You -- for your Reflections articles, for listening to me when I write, and for standing up to the "doctrinally sound" sect within the Churches of Christ. May God bless you, brother.
From a Reader in North Carolina:
Thank you for this great article on Moses E. Lard. Now, I must dig around and see if I can find a copy of his commentary on Romans for my library. The legalists never cease to amaze me. They take one sentence and build an entire doctrine around it, just like they have been doing for hundreds of years. Peace, my brother. Keep up the good work!
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