by Al Maxey

Issue #593 ------- October 10, 2013
All religions, arts and sciences
are branches of the same tree.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

One Large Tree, Many Little Nests
Must All Brethren Assemble Under One Roof?

Black Elk (1862-1950), a famous Native American warrior and Medicine Man of the Oglala Sioux, who witnessed the 1876 battle of Little Bighorn and the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee, made the following insightful observation: "I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy." The vision of Black Elk does indeed depict a holy scene: the diverse peoples of the world united by the bond of a common heritage. They are the children of one Mother and one Father (this couple being perceived by the early Americans as divine), and this great fact forever links these various individual hoops (tribes and traditions) into a universal circle under the shelter of the loving care of They who begat them. Black Elk readily acknowledged the diversity of these descendants: there were many hoops. However, what many within those various hoops had failed to perceive was the greater reality of One Circle. The children of the Divine Couple were not restricted to any one hoop, but were to be found within them all. Thus, the love and care of this Divine Couple was spread over them all; no one hoop was singled out as the recipient of exclusive favor. The ultimate challenge contained in this vision by Black Elk was that the peoples within the hoops would come to perceive that they were truly One People, although clearly of different tribes and traditions. By focusing too much on the latter, too many had lost sight of the former, and the tragic result was constant warring between the hoops, as the descendants of the Mother and Father sought to defame and destroy one another.

Although the phrasing and the metaphors of Black Elk may be noticeably Native American, the hopes and truths conveyed are universal. The apostle Paul took up this theme as he shared the good news of God's grace with the people of Athens, Greece. "From one man He made every nation of men" (Acts 17:26). "As some of your own poets have said, 'We are His offspring'" (vs. 28). Yet, over time, His offspring separated themselves from one another, losing sight of that which bound them together. We have done the same within Christendom. Jesus sought to break down these dividing walls (national, racial, social, cultural, financial, etc.) that separated men from one another. The goal was to restore mankind to the Father in One Family, united in love, by the action of the Son and the interaction of the Spirit. Sadly, no sooner did our Lord tear down those walls than men began to rebuild them. Today, the Father's children are scattered throughout the earth in countless factional fortresses. They have little to do with those outside the parameters of their own "circle," and generally regard those within other "circles" to be godless apostates ... certainly NOT brethren. Fellowship, for such factionists, is based upon uniformity of practice and embracing particular party perceptions, preferences and precepts. To be different is to be damned. They simply cannot grasp the concept of a unity that allows for diversity among disciples.

In the Parable of the Mustard Seed (Matt. 13:31-32), Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to a small seed that becomes a large plant that "becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches." There are, of course, many interpretations as to who these birds are and why they perch in this tree. One of the major views, though, is that the tree (the kingdom) provides spiritual shelter, a loving place to perch and nest. It is open to all manner of species, and thus there will be any number of differing nests, with differing diets and feeding schedules, etc. However, they are all creatures of the Creator, and they all abide within the shelter of the Creator's embrace (the tree: the kingdom; the household; the abode). Not all the birds look alike; not all the birds dine on the same type of food; not all build the same kind of nest; not all sing the same song. Yet, they all dwell within the shelter of their Creator's tree. Thus, there is a great eternal commonality that binds them together as community, even in the face of their great diversity. When we can look beyond what takes place within one specific nest, to the reality of birds dwelling together within One Tree, we have begun to recapture the great vision of which Black Elk spoke, and for which our Lord and Savior shed His blood. Changing metaphors, Jesus declared, "There shall be one flock and one shepherd" of the sheep (John 10:16), and yet in that same passage He declared there was more than just one "fold." Yes, there are many sheep pens/folds, and they may not all look alike or have the same type of sheep, but together they comprise a single "flock" under the guardianship of a single Shepherd (see my study of this in Reflections #57). Disciples who have seen the great vision realize: not all of the Father's sheep are found within the parameters of our own little pen/fold. There are many folds, but there is only one flock!! When we focus on the former we may gain, at best, a forced uniformity, but it is only by focusing on the latter that we truly find and experience unity.

The above reflective thoughts were prompted by an email I received this past week from a reader in Texas. Here is what he wrote to me: "Dear Brother Al, I have a question that I'd like your help with. I understand your statement quite well -- 'You don't have to be my twin to be my brother.' We don't have to agree on every issue to be accepted by God, and we don't have to agree on every issue to be accepted by each other. I agree with you on this 100%. However, when it comes to being part of a family, we are not truly united until we can assemble in the same house with the same Father. So, if someone genuinely feels that the NT does not allow for the use of instrumental accompaniment to singing, or for solos, or for praise teams, how are they to truly worship with someone who does?! I know of several elders in the Churches of Christ (including my dad) who will absolutely NOT worship in an instrumental service. They feel it is a sin. Let me give another example: if someone is visiting from out of town, and they attempt to find a Church of Christ to worship with on Sunday morning, and they walk into your building and find, unexpectedly, the use of instruments, what are they to do?! Should they just leave and not participate? If so, what does that say about unity? On the other hand, I don't want to be ruled by the most legalistic among us! Any guidance you can give would be greatly appreciated."

There are several things in this email that grabbed my attention. First, I was very pleased that this reader has recognized the reality of diversity within the Body of Christ. We are not all the same, and this is by divine design. True spiritual unity in the church is not to be found in goose-stepping uniformity with the most legalistic among us. On the other hand, harmony within a family (whether that family be physical or spiritual) requires the members of that family to be sensitive, considerate and loving toward one another, which will at times, to be perfectly frank, require some degree of personal sacrifice of personal preferences. Within a fully functional family, no one person gets his or her way 100% of the time. It is within a dysfunctional family that the few tyrannize the many, selfishly demanding that all bow to their personal whims, and creating chaos and conflict when those whims are not immediately met. "My way or the highway" is the mantra of the immature! Harmony and unity cannot long survive in the presence of such self-serving arrogance. However, harmony and unity will thrive within a family or group when the various members, diverse though they are, place the good of others, and of the family itself, above their own interests. As I am serving you in love, you are also serving me in love.

In a family, not every member enjoys the same things. For example, one child may like green beans; another may hate them. The latter child may prefer corn, which the former child detests. One may like chicken, another may prefer red meat. A third may prefer vegetables only, being totally repulsed by the idea of "killing and eating" animals. What are parents to do with such diverse desires among their children? Which child rules? Which gets their way? In a functional family, one where harmony and unity reign, no one child's preferences dominate. The needs of each child are considered, and wise parents provide a fair balance. If possible, a meal may contain both green beans and corn, so a choice is available. In most families, however, there may be meals where green beans are served at one meal, and then perhaps corn at another. Tuesday night may be fried chicken, but Thursday night may be steak. Perhaps Saturday is soup and salad night. Not everyone gets their way 100% of the time, but when LOVE reigns in a home, all are willing to show consideration to the others so that, in the course of time, all the many needs are ultimately met, although perhaps not at the same time. Not every baby bird in the nest gets the worm every time the mother bird shows up. Yes, all have their mouths open, but the mother disperses the worms or bugs fairly between them. Over the course of the day, each little bird in the nest is fed, but no one little bird gets it all every time.

The reader from Texas pointed out that in the congregation there are those with differing worship preferences. Some like their singing to be unaccompanied, while others may prefer instrumental accompaniment. Some may prefer a single song leader, while others may find merit in having multiple song leaders, or a praise team. Some may like having a church choir, while others prefer congregational singing only. With regard to the Lord's Supper, some believe only one cup should be used, while others favor the use of multiple cups. Some congregations do not like having Sunday School; others favor it. Some preachers use PowerPoint slides to enhance their sermons; others feel this is an "innovation" and constitutes "entertainment." We are a diverse people; we have differing preferences, differing perceptions, differing backgrounds and expectations. There is nothing wrong with that; indeed, it is normal within any gathering of people. We are not all the same, and we don't need to be. What we DO need to be is loving, sensitive, considerate and accepting of one another -- differences and all. No one sibling in a family is made the standard by which all other siblings are measured. It is okay to be different. And guess what? The parents love each child fully -- differences and all. That, by the way, is one of the messages of Romans 14. The children of God are very different, even in what they consider matters of faith, yet He loves each of them fully -- differences and all.

The challenge to the children, of course, is this: how do we, individually, handle our differences with one another in a way that promotes unity and harmony within the Family of God? Is it even possible to coexist within the Father's household given the nature of our differences? CAN we be united "under one roof" and yet be so different from one another? Notice again what the reader from Texas wrote: "When it comes to being part of a family, we are not truly united until we can assemble in the same house with the same Father." That is an interesting statement, and I have to say that I partly agree and partly disagree with it. Generally, when we speak of "assembling in the same house," this is understood to mean within the same "church building," and for the most part that is understood to have reference to the Sunday morning "worship service." This is seen in the remainder of this reader's statement in which he speaks of a "Sunday morning worship" and the particulars of that assembly and what visitors might think if they "walk into your building." In light of this perspective, I question his statement: "we are not truly united until we can assemble in the same house with the same Father." This seems to me to make "unity" in the Family of God conditional upon some level of agreement among the members of a local congregation as to the particulars of their Sunday morning "worship service." If not everyone in attendance (members and visitors included) is comfortable with what is happening, does this equate to lack of "unity"? If so, then the basis of our unity in the church is uniformity with regard to "the five acts of worship" in a Sunday morning assembly inside a church building. Frankly, I do NOT believe that is the basis of our unity in the Body of Christ.

Many of the early disciples (both Jew and Gentile) were as different as night and day in some of their perceptions, practices and preferences, but their UNITY was based upon a fervent love for the Lord and one another, and was SPIRIT-based "in Christ Jesus." In other words, they were united IN HIM, and that unity was held together in the bond of LOVE. Such unity can survive in the face of diversity among disciples on matters of personal conviction and practice. Diverse disciples assembling together "under one roof" may indeed pose a challenge to harmony within that group, but it should in no way undermine their unity -- the latter being based on eternal truths rather than temporal traditions. So, what happens when harmony is disturbed because of vastly different preferences with regard to the particulars of corporate worship in a public assembly? Well, if the various views can't be combined in some way acceptable to all, so that the needs of all are met in such an assembly, then meet separately. There is no precept or principle that suggests all God's children in a particular location must meet at the same place at the same time and do everything in the same way. What IS required is that they regard one another as brethren, as a part of One Family, and that they love and accept and encourage one another. We can all be in the same household without being in the same house!! It is not uniformity in one building that needs to be promoted, but rather unity in One Body. My sister and I do not live in the same state or the same house; we do not have the same traditions or schedules or interests; but we have the same parents. We are in different houses, but we are of one household. Different folds, same flock. Different nests, same tree. Different hoops, one great united circle.

Is the UNITY of the One Body destroyed when someone chooses to leave an assembly where the disciples sing with instrumental accompaniment in order to find an assembly where the disciples sing a cappella? Not at all. If both groups of disciples are IN HIM, then they are spiritually united, and the visitor is part of that universal unity of One Body regardless of which building he or she may choose to "walk into" on any particular Sunday morning. If one's preference is singing without instrumental accompaniment, then assemble with like-minded disciples. If one's preference is to use one cup in the Lord's Supper, then assemble with like-minded disciples. The age of "brand name loyalty" (or "denominational" loyalty) is quickly passing away; disciples of Christ in the 21st century are seeking gatherings of disciples where the emphasis is far more on service of worship than a worship service. Traditions are being downplayed in significance in order to elevate Truth to its rightful status in the governing of our daily lives and interactions. Uniformity of a Sect is being cast off in favor of Unity of the Spirit. We are laying aside Law, and lifting up Love!

My three sons, and their families, don't have to live in my house in order to be united as one family. What unites them as "the Maxey family" is they are the children of Shelly and me. They are our offspring. They live in separate houses from us, and from each other. Their likes and dislikes are very different. They live in separate cities. They are fans of different football teams. We are all as different as night and day in many ways, but we are FAMILY. Because we LOVE each other, we are sensitive to the likes and dislikes of one another. It is okay to be different; different doesn't mean damned. Some things we enjoy doing together; some things we do independently, because other members of the family don't enjoy doing them. There is no judgment or condemnation; there is only acceptance. This is how LOVE behaves. This is how a family stays UNITED in the presence of great diversity.

Brethren, we don't have to meet in the same church building on Sunday morning, doing things the same way, in order to be united as One Body. Our unity is not based upon what happens in a building during a "worship service." Our unity is based on being IN CHRIST JESUS, united by His Holy Spirit, cemented together with the bond of LOVE. There are many nests, but one Tree. Our nests may look different from one another, as well as the birds inside, but we are part of one great kingdom under a great Creator. There is one Shepherd and one flock (the church: all who are in Him), but there are many "folds" or sheep "pens," and they don't all look or act alike. Nevertheless, they are all HIS. May God help us to accept the sheep of other folds, rather than condemning them. May we also cease equating our fold with the "one true flock," suggesting all other folds are filled with wolves rather than sheep. Yes, cherish your distinctive traditions, but stop seeking to impose them upon all others as though they are divine directives. They are NOT. Love your spiritual siblings, whether they look like you or not; if they look like HIM, it is enough. Therein lies UNITY. The alternative, which we too often embrace, only leads to sectarian squabbling among siblings who are seeking uniformity within a building rather than unity within a Body. We've had enough of the former; let's begin promoting the latter!

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Readers' Reflections

From a Reader in Missouri:

I can not begin to express to you the encouragement I received from your recent article on women in the church (Reflections #592). You are well-known as an honest thinker and student of God's Word by a great many people, and that puts you in a position to influence a great many to dig deeper. We must search for God's original intentions for His church, not what is always "comfortable." I am 60, and I have been in the Churches of Christ all my life. I was slapped in the face about 25 years ago with the reality of just how twisted our interpretations have been with respect to the relatively small amount of verses that we have used as the basis of our position on women. I was in an adult class that was studying 1st Corinthians when I dared to make the observation that women were praying and prophesying in the church at that time, according to Paul. This resulted in a somewhat aggravated response from the teacher (who was our preacher), "Well, they MUST have been doing it privately in their homes!" I was shocked at his answer at the time, but now I am grateful for it, because it started me on a course of years of deep study to understand God's will for women in the church. I have no doubt that you will receive a lot of negative comments about your article "Challenging A Corinthian Quotation," but I also believe that is not a concern worthy to be compared with your sharing of Truth. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being brave enough to speak the truth. God bless you in your continued efforts!

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Al, thank you for your article! I have studied this issue and find your article to be "right on!" I was raised in the Churches of Christ (non-instrumental) until the age of twelve, when my dad found a NT Christian Church and, as a family, we started attending there. I have fought against legalism all my life, being a woman in ministry for the past 35 years. My husband has a wonderful response to those who would say, "A woman is not to teach a man." He replies, "Is my salvation any less sure because I was brought to Christ by the teaching of a woman? I think not." My calling to ministry is from God, not man. "For there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ" (Gal. 3:28). Thank you again, Al, for your article.

From a Reader in Tennessee:

As per usual, Al, you refuse to let your readers languish in the status quo, and you do this by challenging us all to carefully examine the Word of God, rather than standing by silently as you watch men building their houses on the shifting foundation of human tradition. Thank you.

From a Minister in California:

Al, your Reflections article "Challenging A Corinthian Quotation" is a most compelling presentation, and it makes great sense, reconciling a lot of issues in my mind. Also, it harmonizes so beautifully with the amazing grace of our God. Thanks for opening my eyes!

From a Minister in Arkansas:

I enjoyed your new Reflections. Paul's adjunct on silencing women has always seemed so contradictory to all else he taught. It seems to have been dropped into his epistle from out of nowhere! Your interpretation will certainly slap the hardliners hard. Bless you and your insights into the Truth, for the Truth will set us free.

From a Minister in Illinois:

I agree that there is a problem with the "women must sit down and shut up" interpretation of 1 Cor. 14 and 1 Tim. 2, since all Paul would have had to say in 1 Cor. 11 about women prophesying is simply, "Sit down and shut up." The position I have come to on this (and this was some 30 years ago, so it is not a response to current cultural trends) is that women can function in any area of ministry except the Eldership.

From a Minister in Kentucky:

I think the most that can be said of this interpretation is that women can be allowed to speak in the midst of the congregation, rather than being forced to be absolutely silent. I doubt that we have any churches where the women are silent anyway, and most of us tend to shy away from this passage, unless we are forced into dealing with it in a Bible class, and then we have to come up with some interpretation that tries not to offend any of the women who are present. I actually think the interpretation you presented in your Reflections is plausible, and it helps us around the apparent contradictions in 1st Corinthians (between chps. 11 and 14). Given some of the other things the Corinthians wrote to Paul about, it actually makes sense that they would write to him about women keeping silent. However, before we all sink our collective teeth into this interpretation, it requires further study and a few more trusted voices submitting their view of it.

From a Reader in Texas:

Ummm ... Paul never said they could not speak, but that they were not to usurp authority. Ya'll just want to change the Bible and disregard direction without cause. Okay, you can do that, if you're ready to pay up when the Lord calls for accounts. Do you have enough power and authority saved up when He calls for your account? Now, how about all those you derailed and led away? Got enough to pay their bills too? Nope! I'll bet my soul (and you have to) that there was only one good enough to make and fulfill a plan of salvation. Ummm ... and it weren't you!

From a Reader in Australia:

I've never seen a woman who actually usurped authority in order to preach. Each time it was with the blessing of the congregation and at the invitation of the leadership. Being faithful to the Word means being faithful to Jesus: interpreting all Scripture through the lens of the life, teachings and ministry of Jesus. When the traditional interpretation of the church with respect to the role of women and the use of our gifts in ministry is incongruent with the life, teachings and ministry of Jesus, then a revision of the traditional interpretation is sorely needed. Jesus empowered women; the church, on the other hand, has traditionally stifled women.

From a Reader in Barbados:

Your article "Challenging A Corinthian Quotation" is certainly an interesting, enlightening and refreshing view; one with which I was not au fait. I am familiar with most other views. Your presentation, however, gives a lot of food for thought. I am certainly not for sentencing the women of our day and age to the ignominious position in which she was once viewed. I believe in liberation for both sexes, albeit in the context of God's Word and purpose. Woman is not a lesser creature by any stretch of the imagination: not in the Bible, not in the church, and certainly not in society. Many today, however, still behave as though she is incapable of independent, sensible thought. Oh, that we in the Churches of Christ would combine our strengths for the purpose of winning the lost to Christ and edifying one another, rather than allowing the gender issue to lift its ugly head. Thank you, Al, for this Reflections.

From a Reader in Trinidad:

Brother Maxey, I have been a fan of yours for some time now, and I really enjoy your views. After reading your latest article, I would especially like to read many more studies by you on the role of our women in the service of our Master. How would I obtain these, if you have them?

From an Elder in South Carolina:

Although we don't always agree on every subject, I have tremendous respect for you considering the depth of research you must perform to produce your Reflections in such prolific fashion. It is good to question the foundations of our faith rather than follow along blindly.

From a Reader in Kansas:

Interesting take on women in the church. I do not completely disagree. I think a lot of stuff in "doctrine" is that of men, and once accepted it is carried along by a current of apathy and the assertions of history. Each generation should visit (carefully scrutinize) items of importance in their belief system.

From a Reader in Texas:

Thank you for another really great Reflections article this week. I appreciate so much your willingness to speak your mind on issues where tradition and emotion can much too easily overtake reason.

From a Reader in Alabama:

Brother Al, I appreciate the integrity of your studies! It disturbs me that so many people feel so free as to disregard any Scriptures they dislike rather than wrestling with them and digging deeper to see if there is a more correct way to understand them. I know that I can never go back to the legalistic church of my upbringing (i.e., the Churches of Christ).

From a Reader on Prince Edward Island, Canada:

I just wanted to take a moment to tell you of my love for you and for your unrelenting willingness to accept change, your God-given ability to teach us all God's truths so clearly, thus clearing up all the religious confusion. I just want to encourage you as much as I know how to keep on with your ministry. My prayer for you -- "Dear God, please help Al Maxey to stay strong in his resolve, and bless him in his efforts to find a peaceful way to unite your church!" Al, the ocean in front of my home is beautiful, and you are invited to come visit at any time!

From a Reader in Michigan:

"Challenging A Corinthian Quotation" was a very intriguing study! I had always thought that Paul was just talking about wives (that they were supposed to ask their husbands at home), but the idea that these two verses (1 Cor. 14:34-35) may be from a question asked by the Corinthians that he was then dealing with is intriguing. Most intriguing is the idea that there were Greek ways of indicating punctuation in the text (when no punctuation marks were actually present). This leads me to a question about Luke 23:43. Is there any indication in the Greek text that perhaps the comma should/could be placed after the word "today" instead of before? I'd really like it to be after, but I know of no English translation that agrees with me. Thanks again for all you do! By the way, I just noticed that in the New International Version (the 2011 edition) the text of 1 Corinthians 14:39 has been changed to read "brothers and sisters" when Paul encourages them to be eager to prophesy! Hmmm!

From a Reader in Georgia:

Your latest Reflections is awesome! Paul clearly states in 1 Cor. 14:31 that ALL (including women) may take their turn using the gift of prophesying (it doesn't say "only the men"). And, as you noted, Paul had earlier indicated in what proper culturally acceptable manner women could prophesy, so these verses (1 Cor. 14:34-35) could NOT be reasonably interpreted to exclude women. Also, in vs. 1 of this same chapter he encourages the entire congregation to "earnestly desire" to prophesy, and then repeats it in vs. 39. Verse 36 seems to be a very strong correction of something, and it seems unlikely that it would be so harsh in its wording if it were directed toward a woman prophesying in accordance with the very instructions Paul himself had given to her. Why would he so harshly criticize a woman for doing as she had been properly instructed by him to do?! That doesn't make sense. It does make sense, however, if he is correcting a restriction on women God never intended, but which some in Corinth were imposing on the women. Again, I enjoyed this article immensely.

From a Reader in Arizona:

I appreciate you writing that Reflections about sisters speaking and praying. Just last year I read Gordon D. Fee's understanding of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 in his monumental commentary: "The First Epistle to the Corinthians," which is part of the set: The New International Commentary on the New Testament. I was able to get a copy at an affordable price, and was enlightened and encouraged by what I read about the textual variations of these verses, and that they may well be a later addition to the text. If you have not already read this work, I think you will want to.

From a Reader in Canada:

"Challenging A Corinthian Quotation" was a great article, and the quote at the very end from Dr. A. T. Robertson sums it up beautifully. He was an uncle to Anthony Buzzard, who is a good friend of mine and a biblical scholar par excellence. I firmly believe that women have an equal place with men in the congregation/assembly. Indeed, Phillip's daughters prophesied, and they didn't do it by themselves (alone). The third option (interpretation) you presented in your article is probably the best one I have heard. It certainly falls within the overall position that Paul had toward women, some of whom traveled with him and probably preached alongside of him. I greatly appreciate your studies, Al. May our God and Father richly bless you in all you do!

From a Reader in Texas:

I really appreciate what you wrote in your new Reflections. I knew a long time ago that you would be changing views along the way on this subject because of your incredible tenacity for really in-depth study into questionable, and most often very legalistic, interpretations and applications of Scripture. I have a book sitting in front of me that I think you would find very interesting regarding 1 Cor. 14:34-35. The author holds the view that these two verses are interpolation. He also covers the rest of Paul's writings on men and women in a thorough exegetical study that took around twenty years of his life. His name is Philip B. Payne, and his book is titled "Man and Woman, One in Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Paul's Letters." It is a book that I believe you should read because it is very heavy into the Greek and has very thorough documentation and footnoting, which would be of great interest to you. He told me that in the course of his research he was given access by the Vatican to the oldest manuscripts of 1st Corinthians that the Vatican possesses. He is a very intelligent theologian; very likeable and very, very interesting. I may not live to see this, but I believe that in the next 20 to 30 years we will see the majority of churches become gender inclusive. They will be using women as they are gifted by the Holy Spirit, and we will come to recognize that this is simply a part of the path that God has set down for us. Men need to hear women's voices, and women need to feel the oneness that occurs when gender discrimination in the church ceases to exist. Again, thanks for an excellent article. I would like to post this article to my web site (to be included with several other articles you have written, which are already on there). Grace to you and peace, and God's continued blessing on your ministry.

From a Minister in Texas:

Given your opening paragraph in your article "Challenging A Corinthian Quotation," I thought you might find the following interesting. At a congregation in Washington state where I served for eight years, we could openly discuss any subject ... except for the issue of "women." The leading men there had made up their minds on the subject, particularly concerning 1 Corinthians 14, and there was NO discussing it. I found the closed-minded dogmatism on this one subject, in contrast to open-mindedness on all other issues, fascinating ... and also SAD, at the same time. Once again, thank you for some very good thoughts, brother!

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