<font face=courier>-----Original Message-----
From: [[url=mailto:email@example.com]firstname.lastname@example.org[/url]] On Behalf of John Waddey
Sent: Saturday, May 26, 2007 2:00 PM
Subject: [fortify_your_faith] A Lesson to Fortify Your Faith - 05/26/07</font>
DECODING THE CHANGE MESSAGE
<font color=black face=arial> Dear Christian Reader:
Today's lesson is designed to help members of church understand the deceitful message of the change agents at work among us. Those who do perceive the double and hidden meanings they use will be deceived, disarmed and defeated. Please share this lesson with other Christians where you worship and with whom you communicate.
- <font size=5>DECODING THE CHANGE MESSAGE</font>
<font color=indigo size=3 face=times new roman> In times of war governments and military leaders use coded language to communicate vital information. The reason is to keep the enemy from understanding their situation and intentions. In spiritual warfare those whose goal is to capture the church and bring it under their control also use coded language. Never will a false teacher stand up and boldly, clearly state, "I have come to destroy your faith," or "to capture your congregation." As Paul warned, "by their smooth and fair speech they beguile the hearts of the innocent" (Rom. 16:18). Today the naive member of the church of Christ can easily be deceived by change agents using their coded language. Note the following examples:
- Rather than speak of "the Lord's church" or the brotherhood, they like to say "our fellowship" believes, teaches or practices thus and so. This subtle shift implies that we of the churches of Christ have our way, the Christian Churches and Disciples of Christ have their way, the Baptists, etc. have theirs. All the different fellowships do their own things as they desire. None has priority. Taken together they make up the real universal Church.
- Rather than say, "the Bible teaches" certain practices such as weekly communion, acappella singing, baptism as essential to salvation, they prefer to say, "Our tradition" is this or that. By this they mean, although it may be our "church of Christ" way of doing it, we do not claim that it is necessarily Biblical or the only correct way of doing it.
- When they speak of the Church of Christ, they do not exclusively mean that body of people scattered around the world who are known by that name and who are identifiable by a common Bible-based faith and practice. They have in mind what they like to call "the historic church" that stretches from the first century to the present. Their definition includes the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and all the Protestant bodies as well as the church of Christ of which they happen to be members. Of one thing we can be certain they never use the term to mean that churches of Christ are the Church of Christ we read of in the Bible.
- Change agents are fond of saying, "I respect the Bible message." To us those words mean we view them as our divinely given standard, our pattern for the church, her faith and worship. To them, they mean they are more like a nice note from ones parents. They most certainly deny that they are a binding pattern for the faith and practice of the church.
- Promoters of change are frequently heard to say, "We must set our women free." We surely do not believe in slavery. We agree that women have the right to vote and hold public office. They should get equal pay for equal work, etc. Men have no right to be tyrants over their wives and daughters. But they mean we must allow our women to take
public leadership roles in the worship of the church. Some will settle for allowing them to lead public prayers, lead singing or assist in the ministration of the Lord's Supper. Others want them free to teach men in classes and in the pulpit.
- Some are heard to say, "I believe in male leadership in the church." We would naturally accept that to mean, men are to serve as our elders, deacons, preachers and teachers of mixed gender classes. By that they mean that elders can give women permission to teach those mixed classes or fill other public positions of leadership.
- Agents of change frequently protest, "I am conservative." We hear those words and think of a man who wishes to conserve the faith as it is revealed in the New Testament, as it was held by those brethren who went before. But he means, I am not a theological liberal like a Unitarian preacher. I believe in inspiration of the Bible, the divinity of Jesus, the miracles, the resurrection. But he does not believe the Bible is a binding pattern for the church nor does he feel the church of Christ is Christ's church.
- Those of the change movement often say, "we need a new paradigm." The average fellow may scratch his head and wonder what is that? But the change agents mean we need a new way of looking at the Bible, the church, our worship, our faith. They want a new way because they judge the old way to be faulty. It limits their ability to change things.
- "I believe in the concept of restoration," some say. To our ears that means restoring the church to her original faith and practice. But to the change agent it means we need to return people to Jesus. His definition does not include the church, her faith and worship.
- Champions of change frequently speak of "our faith heritage." By this they mean they have chosen to be part of the church of Christ "denomination," just like the convert at a Billy Graham crusade is told to go to the church of his choice. To change agents, "our church of Christ faith heritage" is no better than the Presbyterians' faith heritage.
- They all declare, "I love our acappella tradition." They can not afford to say otherwise while their attempt to capture and change a congregation are incomplete. They mean that our acappella singing has no scriptural basis and is the product of our rural frontier origins. They have no real objection to those who wish to use instruments in
- They tells us, "The church of the 21st century must change if she is to survive." We might think of changing our location, our time of worship, our hymnal or our method of outreach. But they mean we must change the nature of the church, our worship and our faith to be acceptable to 21st century sinners. In their thinking, we must allow them to lead us to the green pastures of denominationalism if we are to survive.
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now