by Al Maxey
Issue #706 -------
October 11, 2016
I hate to be a kicker,
I always long for peace,
But the wheel that does the squeaking
Is the one that gets the grease.
Josh Billings (1818-1885)
The author of the poem used at the top of this article is Josh Billings, which is the nom de plume (pen name) of the 19th-century American humorist Henry Wheeler Shaw (April 21, 1818 - October 14, 1885). The title of the poem is "The Kicker" (written c. 1870). The term "kicker," as used during that period of our nation's history, meant "a complainer," and even more specifically: one who continuously and persistently complained to the point of becoming an annoyance to those subjected to it. Although such "kicking" can indeed become quite exasperating for most people, it is nevertheless generally true that such vexation, in time, tends to provoke a response: i.e., the squeaking wheel gets greased!
I can't help but think of our Lord's "Parable of the Persistent Friend" (Luke 11:5-8). "I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs" (vs. 8, ESV). Persistence often pays off: the squeaky wheel gets greased. I like the way The Message expresses the thought of verse 8: "If you stand your ground, knocking and waking all the neighbors, he'll finally get up and get whatever you need." He'll give you anything just to shut you up! The same concept is found in the "Parable of the Persistent Widow" (Luke 18:1-8). The judge in this story reasoned, "Because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming" (vs. 5, NIV).
Almost anything that is done persistently, and seemingly without end, can at some point become both vexing and wearying. Husbands, often to their own personal peril, like to quote Proverbs, which states, "The contentions of a wife are a continual dripping" (19:13), and, "A continual dripping on a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike" (27:15). Not very popular passages, admittedly, and oft regarded as somewhat sexist, but they do make a point: when something is persistently repeated it will generally elicit a reaction of some kind (often negative). Yet, if we're honest with ourselves, we are forced to acknowledge that the principle of the "squeaky wheel" does have its merits; it isn't always a negative, even though quite often its application can indeed be exceedingly annoying to those subjected to that "squeaking" or "dripping." Jesus, after all, in the latter of the two parables referenced above, could perhaps be said to be effectively employing this very principle "to show that at all times they ought to pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1). There are times when such persistent provoking and/or pleading even become an absolute necessity, especially if any kind of responsible reform or required redirection is ever to be realized in the face of rigid resistance! Peter also applied this truism when he wrote, "I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you" (2 Peter 1:12-13, NKJV). Persistent repetition; constant reminding; continual dripping; squeaky wheels. They do indeed "stir us up," they get our attention, they redirect our focus, and this can at times be a very good thing!
I am very much aware, almost painfully aware, that there are a good many people within the ultra-conservative, legalistic, patternistic sects of Christianity that have a very negative view of my work (and of me). I'll freely admit that I am persistent in my efforts to expose the folly of promoting factions within the One Family of our Father. I deplore legalism; I detest sectarianism; I abhor one-true-churchism. I have no use whatsoever for those who proclaim the doctrines and dogmas of men as though they were the decrees of Deity! I'm sure many of these rigid religionists regard me, and my teaching, as an annoyance (much like that proverbial "squeaky wheel"), and they would love to "grease" it/me into eternal silence! I was reminded of this once again in the most recent release of Hugh Fulford's publication "Hugh's News & Views" (sent out by email on Tuesday, October 4, 2016). The article was titled: "The Squeaky Wheel Gets The Grease." I'm sure he would be more than happy to send you a copy if you write and request one (email@example.com). Hugh wrote, "For the past fifty or more years certain issues have been affecting the churches of Christ more than other issues. These have become 'squeaky wheels' that have required (and continue to require) a generous application of Bible 'grease' (what the Bible teaches about these matters). Here are some of the current 'squeaky wheels' that are badly in need of a thorough application of Bible 'grease.'" Hugh then lists and comments upon six "squeaky wheel" issues (and those who promote them) that are an annoyance to the "faithful few" in the "one true church."
Interestingly, these are the very issues about which he and I have had a number of "encounters" over the years. I wrote that same day and told him I would likely do a Reflections on his article, to which he immediately responded, "Al, feel free to 'reflect' (aka, 'knee-jerk react') all you care to. I do not intend to be deterred from setting forth the truth of Scripture on the items mentioned. ... And, if you have an open mind, you might even learn something. But, 'reflect' away!" So, reflect I shall. Following are the six "squeaky wheels" that have apparently driven Hugh Fulford to distraction, and which he now seeks to lubricate into silence with liberal globs of Bible grease. These are persistent "complaints" proffered continually by persistent "complainers" (squeaky wheels) who refuse to be silent in the face of Pharisaical sectarianism and the elevation of tradition over Truth. Perhaps these "squeaky wheels" will in time generate that responsible reform so desperately needed, removing, or at least greatly restricting, this rigid religiosity and legalistic patternism that has plagued the Family of God far too long!
SQUEAKY WHEEL #1
Hugh begins this first section with this lament: "Who could have imagined that we would have to deal with the notion that the Lord's church is 'just another denomination,' that 'the church of Christ is a big, sick denomination,' that undenominational Christianity is not possible in the present age?" One who is unfamiliar with the mindset of those within that wing of the Stone-Campbell Movement known in the Yellow Pages as the "Church of Christ" will probably have a hard time grasping the grievance penned by Hugh. We were raised to believe that WE ... and WE ALONE ... are the "one true church" on the planet; WE are "the Lord's church" ... nobody else. WE are the ONLY ones going to heaven. All other groups are eternally damned denominations, and the ONLY hope of those in these "false churches" is to get out of them quickly and get to "the one true church" ... "the Lord's church" ... which, of course, is the "church of Christ" (lower case "c") church -- i.e., US. My "squeaky wheelism," which drives poor old Hugh absolutely mad, is that I have been persistently pointing out for years that such a mindset is the epitome of sectarian arrogance!
What Hugh, and those like him, can't seem to grasp (although I have told him this time and time again = "squeaky wheel") is that I agree with him that the Lord's One Body (His church, His family), the universal body of believers united as one IN HIM, transcends the plague of factional, sectarian, denominational thinking and practice. Our Lord's church is NOT a denomination. Yes, "undenominational Christianity" IS possible in the present age. Indeed, it exists in the present age. It has existed in every age. From the day our Lord called out men and women from the world and unto Him, that One Body of Christ has existed; it has never gone away. But, dear brother, WE ARE NOT IT to the exclusion of every other disciple of Jesus on the planet. No one group, or sub-group, can make the claim that THEY, and ONLY they, ARE that One Church exclusively, and that all others are damned! And yet, that is exactly what the group denominated "Church of Christ" has been doing for generations! I know ... I was part of that mindset. I believed it; I preached it. I WAS WRONG! There is indeed only One Church, and it is made up of EVERY person who is saved by grace through faith, REGARDLESS of which named (denominated) group they may choose to associate with for the purpose of work and worship within their communities. Traditions may vary greatly among these various named groups, and that's perfectly acceptable. You don't have to be my twin to be my brother. You only have to have the same Father!! Yes, there is only One Flock, and only One Shepherd, but His sheep are found in a number of differing folds. For any one fold to declare itself THE FLOCK, and all other folds just "gatherings of goats," is mutton-headedness!! Thus, I fully intend to keep "squeaking, squawking and bleating," even though it clearly irritates some of my fellow sheep and a few old rams!
Hugh, in this first section of his article, refers to Dr. Leroy Garrett (1918-2015), a dear departed friend who had a huge impact on me personally, and who was a vocal supporter of my writing ministry (see my tribute to him in Reflections #107). Hugh quotes from Leroy's marvelously insight book "What Must The Church Of Christ Do To Be Saved?," where he called his fellow members of the "Church of Christ" church to "come to terms with our status as a denomination." Yes, Dr. Garrett was a "squeaky wheel" also! And what was Hugh's response to Dr. Garrett?: "Bless his heart!" Hugh Fulford then wrote, "Have liberal/progressive preachers and professors thrown away their Bibles? Do they not read and study them anymore? This squeaky wheel needs to keep getting a regular application of New Testament grease." No, Hugh, we haven't thrown away our Bibles. In fact, through careful, prayerful study of and reflection on God's Holy Scriptures, we have come to realize that the One Body of Christ is much vaster than our own little wing of a movement within Christendom, or any faction within that wing. And, yes, we shall keep on being a "squeaky wheel" on this matter in the hope of awakening more and more deceived disciples to this liberating reality.
SQUEAKY WHEEL #2
One of my favorite passages from the pen of the apostle Paul is the one where he speaks emphatically of "the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:7-9). Salvation is a gift; there is absolutely nothing you or I can ever do to earn or merit this gift. Indeed, if there were, it would then no longer be "a gift," but rather "wages due." "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). This is a free gift that comes to us from the Father through the Son (Romans 5:15-18), a redemption offered freely to all, which is accepted solely by faith. Our works can never receive such an awesome gift, but once that gift is ours, we, as His beloved children, will evidence those attitudes and actions that reflect His nature and bring glory to His name. Yes, those who are saved engage in "good works" (Ephesians 2:10): Not to BE saved, but because we ARE saved.
The legalists and patternists trip over this truth repeatedly, for it is their belief that grace and faith alone are insufficient to accomplish our salvation. Obedience to law must be added to the equation before our "free gift" can be ours. Hugh states that "God's gift of grace must be accepted." He is correct, and Scripture informs us that this gift of grace is accepted by faith. Hugh has a different view: it is accepted by obedience. He quotes Hebrews 5:9, and then writes, "We must keep applying the gospel grease to this squeaky wheel." Those of us who keep preaching and teaching God's free gift of grace, a gift accepted by faith, are "squeaky wheels," for we do not add to this biblical equation the necessity of human obedience to law. Hebrews 5:9 is a favorite "proof-text" of the legalists, but they have failed to grasp the true spiritual significance of this text. I would plead with Hugh Fulford, and those like him, to carefully consider what this text actually says, which I have sought to present in great depth in the following two studies: Reflections #610 ("Purchasing the Gift of Grace: Does Man's Obedience bring about the Glorious Gift of God's Grace?") and Reflections #612 ("Opportunity for Obedience: Legalistic Redefining of God's Grace"). Please, Hugh, show me where my analysis in these two studies is flawed!! Notice the following excerpt from the first of these articles:
This free gift is received simply by faith, not by anything we have done, or ever could do. Our response of faith, having now been saved by grace, is to show gratitude for this gift by seeking to reflect His nature more and more in our own actions and attitudes. In this way we live lives obedient to His will and calling. It is this that is in view in Hebrews 5:9. The word "obey" in this passage is a "present participle," which actually means "to the ones who are continually obeying." In other words, Jesus "became" (aorist tense = at the point of His sacrifice) that cleansing fount for all those in every place and every period of time who are continually living in relationship with Him. HE is our salvation, not anything WE may offer to God, although as saved ones we seek to live and walk daily in the light of His life. This passage does not teach us that obedience generates God's gift of grace, it teaches that those of us who are IN HIM (who IS that gift of grace) continually show the reality of our acceptance by leading Spirit-filled, Spirit-transformed lives that are in obedience to His will. And what is that divine will to which we are obedient? We are to love, just as He loved -- fully and self-sacrificially! Such love is the fulfillment of all law, for such love is the nature of God Himself. The word "obey" in this passage is a Greek word meaning "to hear under; to hear submissively" -- we who are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb live lives in submission to His will. And what is it that He commands (wills) of us? Love God and love one another!! There is absolutely nothing in Hebrews 5:9 that even remotely suggests God's grace is given only to those who obey.
SQUEAKY WHEEL #3
Those who believe our salvation is secured by obedience, will invariably state the primary act of obedience that secures this salvation is baptism in water. They love to quote 1 Peter 3:21, "baptism now saves you." Although they will deny it until blue in the face, they have taken this one act and invested it with sacramental significance. Baptism in water is their saving sacrament. I even had one such preacher tell me several years ago that "Cornelius was no more saved when he spoke in tongues than was Balaam's ass," and that he was headed straight for hell until he got baptized in water (Reflections #472 - "Cornelius and Balaam's Ass: Was this Godly Centurion as Damned as a Donkey prior to his Baptism?"). Hugh Fulford writes, "As hard as it is for biblically informed people to imagine, we now have some preachers and elders who are denying this fundamental Bible truth." He speaks in this article of our "unbelief," and even suggests that some are "next to an atheist." He writes, "To be faithful to God we must continue to stress Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, Romans 6:3-4, Galatians 3:26-27, 1 Peter 3:21, and a host of other inspired texts showing the place of baptism in the gospel plan of salvation." We who are "squeaky wheels," will continue, Hugh says, "in their unbelief to explain away clear, explicit passages" (such as those given above).
In point of fact, the passages (proof-texts?) given by Hugh are indeed very important passages, and I have never sought (nor will I ever seek) to "explain them away." What I have sought to do, however, is to prayerfully examine them in light of the rest of Scripture to determine what is actually being taught. Is Hugh's view correct? If so, I will gladly embrace it. If it isn't, then I want to know. Thus, over the years I have examined each of these passages, and a good many more, in great depth. The result of my study has led to the conviction that Hugh's sacramental view of baptism is false, which, in his view, has rendered my view a "squeaky wheel." I will leave it to the reader to examine the evidence (if they are willing) and come to their own conclusion. I have presented the reasons for my convictions in a number of places. My Reflections articles over the years on this topic may be found on my Topical Index page under the heading "Baptism" (there are 45 articles listed). I have written a 300 page book on this (Immersed By One Spirit: Rethinking the Purpose and Place of Baptism in NT Theology and Practice), which is also available on Kindle (as are my other books). Further, there is the The Maxey-Hughes Debate, which is a published debate that was held in the fall of 2002 on the topic of "Baptism and Grace." I have been extremely thorough in my research and study, as well as in the in-depth presentation and substantiation of my convictions on this topic, and I simply ask Hugh to show me where my analysis in these studies is flawed. I have done exactly that with his analysis; I only ask that he do the same with mine. If not, why not?!
SQUEAKY WHEEL #4
The legalistic patternists within the various fundamentalist factions of Christendom are firmly convinced that one's salvation is inextricably bound to both knowledge and performance. Right doctrine + right practice = right standing with God. Of course, as noted in #1 above, there is believed to be only one "right church" wherein one will find exclusively both "right doctrine" and "right practice." If you are in that "one true church," then you are saved. If not, then you are damned to hell until such time as you get yourself to one of our buildings, get taught by one of our preachers, get baptized in one of our baptisteries, and start worshipping "correctly" (according to "the pattern") on Sunday mornings. One of the most vital parts of that "right practice," of course, is singing acappella, for everyone who is a "true and faithful Christian" knows that anyone who praises God with singing accompanied by musical instruments of any kind will be cast headlong into hell. That's just "gospel" (good news). Right? It must be, for we heard it preached almost weekly from our pulpits. "Ohhh, those poor denominationalists down the road. What a pity. They seem to love Jesus, and they are kind and benevolent, but they have a piano. It breaks my heart that they will burn in hell for all eternity!! If only they didn't have that piano!" Good Grief!! It sickens me that I fed on that garbage for years; and it sickens me even more that for a time I preached it. I pray God will forgive me. It will never happen again, for I have now become that proverbial "squeaky wheel" in my persistent exposure of such "doctrines of demons" that choose to condemn where our Father never has. NOWHERE in all of the OT or NT Scriptures is there even a HINT that God disapproves of instrumental accompaniment to the singing of His saints. Indeed, there is ample testimony in Scripture that He not only approves it, but on occasion has even commanded it.
Yet, Hugh Fulford takes a different view. He wrote, "A few congregations have accepted instrumental music in their worship services. Our young people want to know why we do not use instrumental music in worship and they deserve to be taught the truth of the Scriptures on this subject." Yes, they do, Hugh. First, you might want to teach them that the phrase "worship service" never appears in the NT writings. Not one time!! Second, you might want to inform them of "the truth of the Scriptures" that with regard to what may or may not accompany our singing, there is NOTHING taught in these inspired writings one way or the other: i.e., there is no LAW either for or against it. There IS, however, evidence of the Lord's approval of the practice in the NT writings, and we should indeed, Hugh, be teaching this "truth of the Scriptures on this subject." And I have been doing so for years ... if you're even remotely interested in seeing that in-depth teaching. I would even, once again, invite you to show me where my analysis in these studies is flawed. For those who DO care to examine this evidence (Hugh has informed me before that he has no desire to do so), you can find 17 articles devoted to presenting what the Bible teaches on this matter on my Topical Index page under the heading "Musical Instruments."
But, in Hugh's estimation, such biblical teaching is a "squeaking wheel," and needs to be "greased." He wrote, "Many preachers no longer preach on instrumental music and why it is wrong in the worship of the church. The fact is that some of them no longer believe that it is wrong. It is a squeaking wheel needing a big application of apostolic grease!" I'm not sure where Hugh is finding his "grease," for the apostles never even hinted in their writings that such a practice was/is abhorrent in the sight of God. The basis of these legalists' prohibitive dogma is what they term "the law of silence." In other words, it is prohibited because God said nothing about it. Yet, even that is not technically correct, for the Lord did indeed speak to this issue (as I have shown abundantly in the articles that Hugh won't read). For those who would like to see what this ridiculous "law of silence" is all about, read the 28 in-depth studies I have done which are listed on the above referenced Topical Index page under the heading "Law of Silence." Some of you are going to be in for a shock, a very rude awakening, when you discover how you have been duped by these dogmatists. It is not "apostolic grease" they are peddling, but "assumptive goop" and "sectarian sludge," which is utterly ineffective in silencing the "squeaky wheel" of persistent proclamation of Truth over tradition. They are following in the footsteps of their factious forefathers: "You nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! ... They worship Me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men" (Matthew 15:6-9). NOTE: I would additionally invite the reader to examine a correspondence I had with Dr. Stafford North on November 7, 2002 on this so-called "law of silence." Dr. North, at the time, was a professor of Bible at Oklahoma Christian University. You may Click Here to read that exchange.
SQUEAKY WHEEL #5
Hugh Fulford's fifth "squeaky wheel" has to do with women. There are many today, both inside and outside of my particular faith-heritage, who still believe women should be kept in the background (spiritually speaking), and that they should keep quiet, do as they're told, and "speak when spoken to." This is especially true in the "worship service," where I heard one old preacher even declare, "They are only allowed to be present here at all by the grace of God, but if they speak during this service they will go to hell." I had one elder tell me a number of years ago that a little girl could not pick up the attendance cards during a "worship service" because that would be "usurping men's authority." And if a woman should (while never opening her mouth) pass the Communion trays during a "worship service"? Oh my goodness! God would send plagues upon the planet! Think I'm kidding? Read Reflections #646 ("The Trespass of the Tray Pass: Is Serving Communion Gender Exclusive?"). Yes, many disciples of Christ are beginning to realize that "in Christ Jesus," in the Family of the Father, our spiritual sisters are not second-class slaves, subservient to men. This absolutely horrifies men like Hugh Fulford, who catches a whiff of the smoke of hell every time a woman "steps out of her place" in the Sunday morning "worship service."
Hugh wrote, "Some congregations are permitting women to fill the pulpit and take other leading, authoritative roles in the worship assembly. At least one congregation in Middle Tennessee has (or has had) a female preaching intern. A few years ago, Abilene Christian University featured a female Episcopal priest as a keynote speaker on its 'Summit' (previously known as the 'Bible Lectureship'). In very recent times, Pepperdine University has had a female Lutheran 'pastor' to deliver a keynote lecture on its 'Bible Lectureship.' In these instances ... such texts as 1 Corinthians 14:34 and 1 Timothy 2:11-14 are being ignored (or are being 'reinterpreted' to accommodate our postmodern culture)." Yes, I think many people have indeed been "reinterpreting" these and other passages, and have been proclaiming a message that is completely foreign to the authorial intent of those texts. And I believe Hugh is one of those people! I have tried to show in some very specific and focused in-depth studies where many have missed the message our Lord sought to convey to us about the makeup of His family, and how we are to treat one another. On my Topical Index page, under the heading "Role of Women," I have listed 20 of my studies on this topic, and I would plead with Hugh, and others of his mindset, to please examine that biblical information carefully and prayerfully, and then simply show me, if he/they can, where my analysis in these studies is flawed.
In this particular "squeaky wheel," Hugh also returned to his condemnation of "denominations" (which, of course, refers to every other Christian group on the planet except his own group, which is "the one true church"). He wrote, "Fellowship is being extended to denominationalists with their plethora of man-made doctrines and human traditions (cf. Romans 16:17-18). Some brethren simply cannot leave postmodernism and denominationalism alone! They've got to touch it, taste it, experiment with it, and become entangled in it! Some folks are suckers for just about anything that comes down the pike. We cannot afford to ignore this squeaky wheel." Thank God that WE in the "Church of Christ" church have ZERO "man-made doctrines and human traditions." Thank God that WE, in "the one true church," haven't split into scores of factions over such "man-made doctrines and human traditions." May God open the eyes of those blinded by such absurdities! Perhaps Hugh can tell us exactly which one of these scores of factions within the "Church of Christ" church is exclusively the "one true church" on planet Earth! Surely we all need to know so that we can all flee to the eternal safety of its church buildings (unless, of course, it's the group that doesn't believe in church buildings ... Ohhh, why did God make this so difficult?!!).
SQUEAKY WHEEL #6
Although it is undeniable that on many issues God has left us to exercise our own best judgment, keeping in mind His revealed guiding principles as we do so, yet with regard to other matters our God has clearly spoken and shown us His will. Indeed, He has issued commands that He expects to be followed. Here we must comply with His dictates. It should be noted, however, that these are almost exclusively areas that pertain to the "moral code," and not to aspects of religious ceremony. Under our new covenant, God cares little for the latter, but He has always demanded that His people live lives of holiness. On the latter He is very adamant. Yes, when God is silent, we have some degree of freedom in our choices, but when God specifies, we are far more restricted in those choices (if indeed there is choice at all). Thus, with regard to Hugh's sixth "squeaky wheel," I am largely in agreement, although I believe that even here there is room for evidencing the love, grace and compassion of God in our attitudes and actions (and, hopefully, Hugh would agree with me on this).
In the sixth section of his article, Hugh speaks of the growing acceptance in our world (and also within many churches and congregations) of "the homosexual agenda and same sex marriage." God has made it very clear in the Scriptures how He feels about homosexuality. There are many today who mock this as "old fashioned and out-dated," but even these must admit, "Yes, God did say that ... we just don't agree with it." Along with Hugh, I lament the fact that some within my own faith-heritage are caving in, for various reasons, to the pressures of the world around us, and are endorsing homosexuality as a "legitimate alternate lifestyle," and are even considering endorsing "gay marriage." Like Hugh, I believe this is contrary to God's will. This is an area where God has not left us wondering how He feels. He has specified His will unequivocally. Even here, though, there is room for grace; and it is here that I believe the people of God need to do some careful reflecting on their attitudes toward those who find themselves struggling with homosexuality. The issue itself is not quite as "black and white" as some might think. For example, the whole "nature vs. nurture" debate must be considered, and the implications that arise from this. These are difficult matters, and they are not easily resolved. I have tried to address them in a compassionate and grace-centered way, while still staying true to God's view as expressed in the Scriptures, and I would invite the reader to consider what I have presented to see if it might help us to better deal with this issue. Those studies are: Reflections #305 ("The Nature/Nurture Dilemma: A Reflective, Respectful Response to Saints Struggling with Homosexuality") and Reflections #668 ("Letter to a Homosexual Couple: How Would Our Lord Have Us Respond to Those Engaged in an Anti-Biblical Lifestyle?").
Yes, I plead guilty to being (at least in the minds of some) a "squeaky wheel," and I plead guilty to the charge of persistently proclaiming things that some in my faith-heritage, such as Hugh, probably become weary of hearing. I do not apologize for this, however, as there are times such persistence, even though annoying, can lead to some much needed change and reform. Jesus was one of the worst "squeaky wheels" of His day, and He annoyed the rigid religionists almost daily. In fact, they grew so weary of His "squeaking" that they killed Him. There comes a time when we must persist in preaching Truth, even when some don't want to hear it (2 Timothy 4:1-5). As those who follow my work know, I bear no ill-will toward Hugh Fulford. I have known him for many years, and we have exchanged emails many times on a number of topics. He is a good man, and he is a devoted servant of the Lord. I happen to feel he is way too legalistic, and he happens to feel I am way too liberal. Hopefully he and I can help soften one another's "rough edges," as I'm sure we both have a few!! Like the proverb says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" (Proverbs 27:17). Brethren, let us never fear to keep on "squeaking," for such persistence may very well lead us to the place where our God would have us to be. I pray Hugh will take this review of his article in the spirit with which it is given: with love for him, and with sincere concern for some of what he is teaching, which I believe to be more tradition than Truth.
From a Minister in Texas:
I appreciate your latest Reflections (Issue #705: "The Hieromartyr of Pergamum"). We visited Pergamum in '97 on a tour of the Seven Churches of Asia. I especially appreciated the quote you gave from Jerome on persecution and martyrdom. I am astounded at the number of Christian writers and bloggers who are urging action against those who are persecuting Christians around the world. Totally unlike Jesus or the early saints. Keep up the good work, and God bless you and yours.
From a Reader in Georgia:
"The Hieromartyr of Pergamum" was awesome! Informative! It seems the spirit of opposition is alive and well today towards those persons in the church who stand for Truth. I know you have experienced many such "oppositions," and yet have held firm. Well done! Love ya, brother!
From a Reader in Arkansas:
Brother Al, your article on Antipas, and his martyrdom in Pergamum, is exceptional. It brought back to me a number of things I had forgotten. God bless you!
From a Minister in New Zealand:
I want to echo the statement of your reader from Alaska when he wrote how helpful your textual and topical archives are (which you have now linked at the top of each of your Reflections). Please thank the lady who did this for you.
Click Here to see a picture of Beverly Parks, and her husband George, which was taken during a visit she made to our congregation three years ago. She put a lot of work into setting this index up for me, and I have maintained it and updated it after every article. It has proved invaluable not only to me, but also to others who may want to discover what I've written on a particular passage of Scripture (or on a particular topic -- the topical index, by the way, I prepared myself, as well as the main archives page). -- Al Maxey
From a Reader in Utah:
I don't know how you do it, brother. You must have the patience of Job. Since several of us left the ------- Church of Christ, their Facebook page has been full of damnation of us! They really love telling everyone outside their group how "wrong" they all are, and that unless these people belong to their group, they won't be acceptable to God. The one that kills me is: "When you hang out with the wrong people in the wrong places you will soon do the wrong things." Hmmm. You mean like Jesus "eating with sinners"?! Sadly, my "church home" for over 30 years has turned into nothing but a place preaching damnation for everyone!! Do they not know that in order to talk to someone about Christ and the love He has for them, they need to step down from their pedestal? Thanks for letting me rant, Al. Please keep doing what you are doing. You really have been a blessing to me, and I pray God's blessings upon you and your family. Thank God for the grace He gives us.
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