KEEPING ABREAST: REVIEWS OF BOOKS AND MATERIALS RELATING TO THE CHANGE MOVEMENT

Kenneth Sublett
Kenneth Sublett

January 8th, 2004, 4:39 am #21

<font size=“+2”> COME TO THE TABLE (A Review)</font>
Dr. John Mark Hicks is professor of theology at David Lipscomb University. His Ph.D. is from Westminster Theological Seminary. In this book, he has given us the latest chapter in the ever- evolving "change" theology that has captivated many of our young intellectuals. The book is the result of his "revisioning" the Lord's Supper. His thesis is, "Their supper (that of the early church) was home-based, a full meal with food and drink, and interactive fellowship at a table and characterized by joyous celebration" (p. 9). To put the book in proper context, readers should note that Dr. Hicks was active in a "Community Church" experiment while living in Memphis. Currently he is closely associated with Dr. Rubel Shelly and the Woodmont Hills Family of God in Nashville. That church served as his laboratory for testing his new concept of communion. When one has read this book he may well agree that Dr. Hicks and those of his kindred in the "change brotherhood" are much like the ancient Athenians. They "spend their time in nothing else, but either to tell or to hear some new thing" (Acts 17:21).

In general, the book is reflective of Hick's training and station as a theologian. In terms of readability and comprehension, this means that the average disciple, not trained in theological jargon, will not fathom a good 80 percent of what he says. The author is also a university professor. Readers will find his method and style dull and repetitious. For slow readers, or those loathe to read such materials, they can read his concluding chapter wherein he summarizes his twelve points for revisioning the Lord's Supper.
  • In that he repeats his thesis that the "supper is a table rather than an altar" (p. 185). He evidently has us confused with the Catholic Church for it is their priests who observe the sacrifice of the mass. Our brethren have never done so.
  • He insists that the "Lord's supper is a meal eaten at a table," not just "bread and wine" but a meal. "It is not the Lord's ‘snack' but the Lord's supper," he says (p. 186). By this he means we should have a dinner meal with the usual provisions and then commune while thus engaged in the dining experience. Some folks read, "he took a cup" and insist that the communion wine must be served in that which has a handle. Some read "table" and insist that there must be a sit down table in order to commune. Strange, unfounded thinking.
  • To Dr. Hicks, the Supper is "more than a mere symbol. It is a genuine communion with God through Jesus Christ in the Spirit. God is present at the table" (p. 187). In this he is remarkably close to Luther's notion that the emblems become the real flesh and blood of Jesus when taken.
  • The supper should be "a time for sharing, prayer and conversation about what God has done for us... (p. 188). Earlier he calls it a "Jubilee festival" (p. 63). He would have it observed with "resounding jubilation or enthusiastic outbursts" (p. 97).
  • He likes to say that we have "evoked images of blood and gore at the supper and participants feel guilty if they do not concentrate on the cross and Christ's death as they eat and drink" (p. 189). Paul, who did not have the privilege of studying at a modern seminary, taught that the Lord ordained bread and fruit of the vine to be taken in remembrance of his body and blood. In so doing we proclaim the Lord's death. He taught that eating and drinking the emblems in an unworthy manner would make us, "guilty of the body and blood of the Lord" (I Cor. 11:23-29). But Dr. Hicks believes that the supper is "focused on the resurrection of Jesus rather than the death of Christ" (p. 189).
  • According to Hicks, the church should "revision the supper as a socio-ethical witness through shared food" (p.189). He sees it as "an example of economic ethics" as "the meal served the poor in the Christian community" (p. 190) and those of the world as well. "The church...should invite the poor, the disenfranchised and the outsider to share food with them as a witness to the grace of God" (p. 190).
  • To Hicks, we should revision the supper as a moment of inclusiveness that transcends all cultural, ethnic and gender boundaries" (p. 191). Already we commune with any Christian man or woman of any race or station in life. But he means more. He wants the women to participate in the teaching and serving related to the observance of the supper. He faults those churches where "only men may serve the table" (p. 79).
  • Bro. Hicks tells us, "At the table we ...we mutually pledge to "be there" for each other...we mutually commit to give our lives for each other..." (p. 191). This is one of the many new discoveries Dr. Hicks has made regarding the Lord's Supper. But he did not find them in the Bible.
  • We should "revision the supper as the participation of all except the rebellious." By "all" he means whether they are Christians or not. Only rebellious sinners should not be invited. They need not even be believers in Christ. He reasons, "we do not exclude guests from singing, hearing the gospel or giving, and neither should we exclude them from the table" (p. 192). Per his logic even Hindus and Buddhists and others should share the holy feast just so they are not rebels to God.
  • Per this book, we should "revision the supper as a family event, including children." "They are on the journey of faith, and the supper will shape the growth and development of that faith" (p. 192). If this logic be correct, would not baptism also be a learning event to shape the growth and development of children's faith? If not why?
  • Dr. Hicks acknowledges that his plan is "difficult because it creates dissonance between ourselves and our immediate heritage. It is difficult because its implementation is fraught with logistic, practical and communal problems" (p. 194). And we would add it is fraught with Biblical problems. But such means little to the promoters of change who have already displaced Biblical authority with their own standards. It is also certain to cause strife and division when men try to implement such practices among those who know and love the Truth of God.
  • Jesus asked "When the son of man cometh will he find faith in the earth?" (Lk. 18:8). Hicks has a different version. He asks, When the Son of Man returns, "Will he find a church sitting at table with each other, sharing their food, embodying the values of the gospel, and waiting for the Messianic banquet?" (p. 195).
In general, the reader will note that Dr. Hicks employs a new brand of hermeneutics to reach his conclusions. For example, he seems to make no distinction between the Old and New Covenants. He sees the O.T. festivals as a communion service and thus we are to model our Lord's Supper after them (p. 47). "Eating the Lord's Supper is analogous to eating Israel's sacrifices" (p. 47). He finds Christ sharing communion with people before he instituted the Lord's Supper. For every passage that speaks of Christ eating with anyone is, according to him, part of the communion story. Of course since the text does not imply his conclusions, he assures us it is found in the "theological meaning." "The table during Jesus ministry continues in the church when his disciples gather at the table. Jesus' table etiquette is kingdom etiquette..." (p. 63). The new hermeneutic even allows him to make the meal eaten by Paul and the hungry, storm-tossed mariners a communion (p. 201). Why has it taken the world so long to discover this new system? Another discovery is that "the Lord's Supper...was not a mere corporate worship ritual, but the daily experience of worship...in a community of disciples who ate their "common" food together" (p. 91). He also finds it acceptable to describe the supper as "sacraments" (p. 104).

As change agents are wont to do, he first reaches his conclusion then looks for supporting facts to prove his case. It seems not to bother him that to do so he must compare apples with oranges. For example, Jesus provided fish and bread for the five thousand (Luke 9:10-17), therefore we should have a meal for communion (p.57-58). Since those meal stories are the "theological basis" for communion, would it bother the author if someone proposed buttermilk and cornbread with our communion? While one of the first principles of the change gospel is that there is no pattern for the faith, worship, organization and work of the church, Dr. Hicks quotes with approval, criticism of folks like us for not returning to the "New Testament patterns" he thinks he has found (p.137). Contrary to most change agents, the author appeals to the law of silence to prove his point, but only in reference to the Didache, an uninspired document from the early church. Regarding the document's reference to the Lord Supper, Hicks notes, "Strikingly absent is any reference to the body and blood of Christ, or the traditional words of institution..."(p. 130).

Those brethren who cannot see or hear evil in the doctrines of the change agents, should know that in Hicks' view "the essence of the modern supper (our communion, jhw) is suspect because it has lost its table... (meal) form" (p. 121). "(T)he modern church dangerously distorts the supper..." (p. 126).

A similar view of the supper had arisen in the church in Corinth. In his rebuke of their practice, Paul asked, "What have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? Or despise ye the church of God..." (I Cor. 11:22). For those who know God's Word and love and respect it, the simple noting of Dr. Hicks' teaching on the sacred Supper is sufficient to demonstrate his faulty thinking. Perhaps you will agree that it is truly amazing what a fellow can learn at a seminary!

John Waddey
Contrary to the urge to JUDAIZE or rather PAGANIZE the Lord's Supper, Paul shows that it is not like the FESTIVAL at Mount Sinai where we see the MUSICAL IDOLATRY. Neither, is the Lord's Supper a Jewish sacrificial TABLE MEAL where GOD eats. Paul said that THEY have no right to EAT at the Lord's Altar. Assuredly no Christian would even WANT to eat at the sacrificial meals of those SACRIFICING types of Lord Jesus Christ.

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the SUFFERING of DEATH, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should TASTE DEATH for every man. Heb 2:9

For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. Heb 2:10

For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all OF ONE: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Heb 2:11

Saying, I will DECLARE thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I SING praise unto thee. Heb.2:12

Declare:
Apaggello (g518) ap-ang-el'-lo; from 575 and the base of 32; to announce: - bring word (again), declare, report, shew (again), tell.

Evangelists do not break down and have a JUBILATING fit when they EVANGELIZE. How can you tell the STORY of the Death of Jesus Christ and all that it meant with PORK BARBECUE in your teeth and the "children" spiritually uncovering themselves and women bringing MENSTRUAL blood to the altar?

Sing is:
Apalgeo (g524) ap-alg-eh'-o; from 575 and algeo , (to smart); to grieve out, i.e. become apathetic: - be past feeling

Paul said SPEAK the inspired TEXT and make the melody IN THE HEART. Melody is not a musical term but speaks of the TWANGING BOW of Apollo or the DESTROYER who appeared at the FEAST at Mount Sinai. Paul will use the RISING UP TO PLAY to repudate John Mark Hicks's view of the Lord's Supper as a TABLE FEAST WITH GOD.

And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Heb 2:13

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same;
.....that THROUGH DEATH DESTROY he might destroy HIM that had the power of death, that is, the DEVIL; Heb 2:14

REMEMBERING THE body or SOMA preaches or show's forth that the DEATH of Jesus is what DESTROYED the DESTROYER who is Satan or Apollo who INSISTED on musical jubilation with the MUSES and INSTRUMENTALISTS performing the role of SORCERY. "Eating with the gods" is the Babylonian teaching that the SACRIFICES were to FEED the gods. Jesus said: "Remember my death, evangelize and agonize with me JUST ONE HOUR?"

And DELIVER them, who through FEAR of death were all their lifetime SUBJECT to BONDAGE Heb 2:15

For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the SEED of ABRAHAM. Heb 2:16

Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren , that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. Heb 2:17

The Lord's Supper is not to CELEBRATE our own senses but it is to remember that, in ways we do not understand, God DIED FOR OUR SINS. Yes, God can suffer and grieve over us.

Our Lord's Agony. Here is the BODY we are to WATCH with:

Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding SORRIFUL,even unto death: TARRY ye here, and watch with me. Matthew 26:38

Can you feature a Christian Disciple singing or clapping while Jesus was suffering in prayer or at the cross: the Levitical Musicians did it.

And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What,
.....could ye not WATCH with me ONE HOUR? Matthew 26:40

Jubilate at the COMMUNION of Christ's DEATH and suffering and you fulfill the MUSICAL MOCKING of Jesus as THEY caused His MURDER. Offenses must come but WOE to those who MUSICALLY MOCK the DYING JESUS as He TEACHINGS or EVANGELIZES WITH US and as his SONG is grieving out His death so that WE can DISCERN His literal body mocked, suffering and dying. Only then can we live a RESURRECTED life by making His SPIRITUAL body or church the kingdom of Christ.

Paul DID NOT compare the Lord's Supper to the sacrificial altar under the Law of Moses where we FEED and entertain God as in Babylon. Rather, he compared a NON-DISCERNING feast to the TABLE MEAL at Mount Sinai where they ROSE UP TO PLAY in John Mark Hicks "theology." Paul will say that THEY have no right to eat at OUR ALTAR and assuredly only Judaizers preach eating the LEGALISTIC Sacrificial meal which THEY DIDN'T EAT unless they were of Aaron: Jesus WAS NOT an Aaronic Priest nor a JEWISH PRIEST. Jesus Christ was the SACRIFICIAL LAMB offered up by the Jews or rather Kenites or Cainites or Canaanites.

Ken Sublett
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John Waddey
John Waddey

January 14th, 2004, 11:14 am #22

KEEPING ABREAST: REVIEWS OF BOOKS AND MATERIALS RELATING TO THE CHANGE MOVEMENT


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Ideas are spread by word of mouth or by print or electronic media. Those determined to change churches of Christ into a denomination of their own liking are issuing a steady stream of books promoting their views. Many immature and unsuspecting souls will be influenced by them. The author of the following reviews has assumed the unpleasant task of reading and evaluating all the books being circulated by promoters of change. He also makes a point of reading, reviewing and recommending those books and tracts that do a good job of responding to the agents of change and promoting the Master's message. Hopefully this page will be a useful resource for those desiring helpful information on this troublesome movement.
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To share your ideas, to ask additional questions or to recommend other books for review, email the author @ [url=mailto:JOHNWADDEY@aol.com]JOHNWADDEY@aol.com[/url].
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Without doubt Max Lucado is the most widely published and read member of the Church of Christ in our generation. His many books have found a ready audience among members of evangelical bodies as well as ours. Bro. Lucado is also one of the principal spokesmen for those who wish to change the faith, worship and practice of our people. Change agents often say that it is those who have discovered "grace" that are no longer content to be bound by the faith of the past. Bro. Lucado's book, In the Grip of Grace, is a good demonstration of what these brethren mean by that statement. For those looking for a serious Biblical study of God's grace, this book will be a disappointment. It is more like cotton candy, filled with cute, catchy sayings that impress the impressionable who know little of God's Word. In his introduction he tells us that he discovered God's grace only after he found "there was a hole in (his) coat of convictions" (p. xii). He delights in sarcastic allusions to people like us. "If I read my Bible, have the right opinion on the right doctrines, if I join this movement..." (p. 12). This is a line from his portrait of those he classes as legalists. He goes on to describe those who strive to please God by obeying his will as having "a religious godlessness." (Ibid.). He paints us as boasting about our "five steps" (p. 6) while we stand "knee deep in the water" trying to save ourselves (p. 5).

Bro. L's concept of grace is so strong that if a man is "given only the testimony of creation, then he has enough" (p. 23). That means that some can be saved without knowing Christ, or the message of the Bible simply by "know(ing) God through he handiwork of nature" (Ibid.)

The book reaches its climax in chapter 16 which is entitled, Life Aboard the Fellow-Ship. With the analogy of a battleship, he describes what he perceives to be Christ's church. It is big enough to accommodate virtually any doctrine (p. 161). Paul did not understand this as does Bro. L. The apostle wrote that "ye all speak the same things and that there be no divisions among you" (I Cor. 1:10). Bro. L's boat can accommodate such interesting beliefs as "once saved always saved," predestination, premillennialism, speaking in tongues, clerical robes, etc. In explaining who is to be accepted on God's ship (church) he says, "The Master says examine the person's faith. If he or she has faith in Jesus and is empowered by God, grace says that's enough" (p. 168). "If their (members of denominations) trust, like yours, is in the all-sufficient sacrifice of Christ, aren't you covered with the same grace?" (p. 169). "God's ship is a grand vessel. Just as a ship has many rooms, so God's kingdom has room for many opinions..." (p. 170). The context makes it clear that he speaks of many different kinds of churches (denominations). This is identical to the old analogy about the vine and the branches used in days past to justify denominationalism. Defenders of that system quoted John 15 and said, Jesus is the vine and each denomination is a branch thereof.

Bro. Max Lucado continues to hold membership among churches of Christ. He preaches for the Oak Hills Church of Christ in San Antonio, TX. However the faith he holds and the views he expresses are quite different from those held by most of his brethren of this and past generations. It is easy to understand his popularity with those of the evangelical world, but it is a mystery that many within the Church of Christ see no problem with views such as cited above. Those who are unfamiliar with the message of Christ, who read and follow Bro. L's teaching, may well stand before God in judgment thinking that because they believed in Jesus, God's grace will save them. What a painful surprise it will be for them to hear Him say, "Not everyone that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 7:21).

John Waddey
Editor, Christianity Then and Now
Last edited by ConcernedMembers on January 14th, 2004, 1:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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John Waddey
John Waddey

January 21st, 2004, 12:05 pm #23

KEEPING ABREAST: REVIEWS OF BOOKS AND MATERIALS RELATING TO THE CHANGE MOVEMENT


——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
Ideas are spread by word of mouth or by print or electronic media. Those determined to change churches of Christ into a denomination of their own liking are issuing a steady stream of books promoting their views. Many immature and unsuspecting souls will be influenced by them. The author of the following reviews has assumed the unpleasant task of reading and evaluating all the books being circulated by promoters of change. He also makes a point of reading, reviewing and recommending those books and tracts that do a good job of responding to the agents of change and promoting the Master's message. Hopefully this page will be a useful resource for those desiring helpful information on this troublesome movement.
——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To share your ideas, to ask additional questions or to recommend other books for review, email the author @ [url=mailto:JOHNWADDEY@aol.com]JOHNWADDEY@aol.com[/url].
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dr. Richard Hughes of Pepperdine University (formerly of Abilene Christian University) has written this history of our brotherhood. It is part of "the Praeger series of denominational studies" and the author willingly agrees that "...Churches of Christ comprised a denomination that erected its most fundamental self-understanding on claims that it was not a denomination" (p. 5). This assertion is repeated dozens of items throughout the book. Dr. Hughes tells us in his introduction, "I am a lifelong member of Churches of Christ but also an historian of American religion. Those two commitments have pulled at one another in a variety of ways... (as) this book has been in production. One's allegiance to one's own tradition always prompts one to tell only the good, to negate the bad, and to make the story look better than perhaps it really is. As an historian however, I had to resist that temptation..." (p. xiv). So complete was the historian's victory that Hughes found very little positive to report about us but a book full of negative, judgmental criticisms. As a history of a religious body, by one who is a member of it, the following attributes should be expected but are clearly absent: a sense of belonging; a sense of pride in what has been accomplished; a sense of respect and appreciation for those gone before. If this were a trial in a court of law, the author would be considered a "hostile witness." His book is a classic example of revisionist history.

<font color=“blue”>The thesis of Dr. Hughes consists of the following points: that Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone founded a religious movement at the beginning of the 19th century; that the Disciples of Christ/Christian Churches more correctly represent that tradition; that Churches of Christ are a legalistic splinter of the Campbell-Stone movement that left the larger body at the turn of the 20th century; that for the first 150 years we were a sect, but since the 1950s we have graduated to denominational status.</font> The author approaches his subject with a template created by denominational social historians, who know and care nothing for pure Christianity. He then forces every fact and every event into that narrow mold. Thus he concludes we were a sect and now a denomination (and in his estimation, a very poor example of that.)

Unintentionally, Dr. Hughes has done us a favor in writing his book.
  • He shows just how pervasive the apostasy in our midst has become.
  • He clearly demonstrates the role that Christian Schools, especially Abilene Christian
    University, have played in that development.
  • He reveals the disdain, which the intellectuals of the change movement hold for Churches of Christ.
  • He demonstrates the impact that secular schools, such as Harvard, have had on our Christian Schools.
  • He states in unmistakable terms their estimate of the church of Christ as a human denomination and that they see it as the poorest of the evangelical denominations.
  • In his estimation, all of those years when we grew by ten fold and sent the gospel around the world, we were but a miserable, narrow sect and now we have graduated into a real, bona fide, but pitiful denomination.
  • He tells us what kind of indoctrination we can expect for our children when we send them to schools that have embraced this agenda.
It is interesting to observe the way Dr. Hughes discounts and downplays the knowledge, accomplishments and contributions of men of past generations, the latches of whose shoes he is unworthy to loose. From his perspective, every hero was overrated and misdirected and every roguitator was a hero, especially if his orientation was to the left. One is impressed that to him, the zenith of our history was the day when "Dr. Royce Money, president of Abilene Christian University, traveled to Southwestern Christian College in Terrell, TX to issue on behalf of Abilene Christian University a formal apology to African American members of Churches of Christ for the years of racial discrimination."... "We are here to today to confess the sins of racism and discrimination and to issue a formal apology to all of you, to express regret and to ask for your forgiveness (p. 138).

The author of this review has read most of the biographies and histories of the Restoration Movement's 200 year history. Not one of them is as negative and pessimistic as this volume. Even denominational historians, with their built-in antagonisms, have been more charitable in their assessment of us.

If the author had been an avowed enemy of the body of believers known as Churches of Christ, how different would his conclusions have been? Books like this make the enemies of Christ rejoice. <font color=“blue”>The question that must be asked is: Why does a brilliant man like Dr. Hughes stay among a body of people for whom he holds such a low estimate?</font>

Those who wish to read a sympathetic history written by one who loves the church and has faithfully served her, need to read, Search for the Ancient Order, in four volumes, by Dr. Earl West. Those who do so will be immensely rewarded. They may be ordered from the Gospel Advocate Co., P. O. Box 150, Nashville, TN 37202-1050 or from the Firm Foundation, P. O. Box 69, Damon, TX 77430-0069.

John Waddey
Editor, Christianity Then and Now
Last edited by ConcernedMembers on January 21st, 2004, 1:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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A. B. Gregoreo
A. B. Gregoreo

January 29th, 2004, 11:24 am #24

KEEPING ABREAST: REVIEWS OF BOOKS AND MATERIALS RELATING TO THE CHANGE MOVEMENT


——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
Ideas are spread by word of mouth or by print or electronic media. Those determined to change churches of Christ into a denomination of their own liking are issuing a steady stream of books promoting their views. Many immature and unsuspecting souls will be influenced by them. The author of the following reviews has assumed the unpleasant task of reading and evaluating all the books being circulated by promoters of change. He also makes a point of reading, reviewing and recommending those books and tracts that do a good job of responding to the agents of change and promoting the Master's message. Hopefully this page will be a useful resource for those desiring helpful information on this troublesome movement.
——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To share your ideas, to ask additional questions or to recommend other books for review, email the author @ [url=mailto:JOHNWADDEY@aol.com]JOHNWADDEY@aol.com[/url].
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
<font size=3>RICK ATCHLEY’S SPEECH AT THE RESTORATION UNITY FORUM*</font>
<font color=“blue”>Oct. 20-22, 2002 self-appointed representatives of Churches of Christ and Independent Christian Churches met in Lubbock, TX for their 20th annual assembly to promote unity among the two bodies. </font> Among the many speeches presented was one by Rick Atchley, minister of the Richland Hills Church of Christ in Ft. Worth. I listened to the tape of his presentation and have before me a transcript of his speech. I say this lest anyone assume that I might have mis-heard or misrepresented him. <font color=“blue”>Of the several prominent ministers of the church who have embraced the change movement, Bro. Atchley stands at the head of the list, along with Max Lucado and Rubel Shelly. The Richland Hills church is the largest congregation among us and no other is more fully committed to the change movement than is it. </font> From his delivery at the Forum, it is evident that Bro. Atchley has the highest respect and regard for his peers in the Christian Churches. Not one word of criticism does he offer, not a single exhortation to make any adjustments or changes in their beliefs, worship or practice. On the other hand it is equally evident that he holds members of Churches of Christ who do not share his unity quest in utter contempt. Describing them, he says, “they’ve been mean, they are mean, and going to stay mean! And I think those people (meaning us)....you’re going to deal with some ugliness” (p.4 Question and Answer Session). His description of us was greeted with a roar of laughter by the Christian Church delegates.

<font color=“blue”>Bro. Atchley’s theme was, “The Unity Imperative,” and he opened with the declaration, “I want to see in my life time, our fellowship reunited, and I intend to do all that I can to see that that happens” (p. 1). He and the Richland Hills church already are in full-fellowship with the Christian Churches, but his goal is to move all of our preachers and churches to that same position. </font>

Bro. A. tells of his grandmother who in her family was the only member of the Church of Christ. She helped lead him to Christ. On her death bed he discovered that she was baptized in the early 1900s in a Christian Church. He asked how she ended up in an “acappella Church of Christ?” He was shocked when she replied, “the preacher moved.” From this he concluded that in the past such questions as instrumental music were no “big deal”; hence, neither should it be today. By this story he unwittingly reveals his lack of understanding of our past history. The division we experienced was not a finished reality in some places until the decade of the 1920s. The names Christian Church, Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ were all used indiscriminately prior to that final dissolution of fellowship. A congregation could be known as a Christian Church and yet be acappella. If a previous preacher had tolerated or advocated use of instrument, or if had he tried to straddle the fence, his successor could come along and teach the church God’s will for worship, urging the brethren to sing and make melody in their hearts” (Eph. 5:19). He then refers to “all those lousy sermons” he had listened to “all these years.” Those of course, were sermons relating to instrumental music, stressing respect for God’s Word, the authority of the New Testament of Christ, the sin of adding to or taking from God’s revealed will, etc.

Bro. Atchley cites Alexander Campbell, who wrote in his Millennial Harbinger, “We’re not going to publish, in this journal a lot of issue-oriented articles.” He proceeds to fault us for preaching and teaching on issues such as instrumental music. It is noteworthy that he feels free to address the issue from his point of view (that instrumental music is not an issue worthy of discussion). But we should not address it from our point of view!

Bro. A. attributes our refusal to yield on instrumental music to “our pride and our refusal to admit that cultural baggage has influenced a lot of who we are.” He says, “We all have cultures that taught us what we believe about what is right and wrong and what the Bible says...” (p. 2). It is true that we all have to distinguish between our culture and God’s expressed will. But is he saying that it is impossible for us commoners to read and make that distinction? Or is it only intellectuals of the change movement who have attained to that higher level of knowledge?

<font color=“blue”>He insists that “we’ve (Churches of Christ) got to recover a passion for the doctrine of the unity of all believers” (p. 2). </font> He seems to think that only he and his comrades for change care for, or preach on the importance of Christian Unity. From the beginning of our movement, 200 years ago, our brethren have preached on unity. Sadly we have learned that not everyone wants unity. Some want a unity to believe and do as they will, regardless of Scripture’s teaching. Others want unity, with everyone yielding to their opinions. Even the apostles encountered factious men (Tit. 3:10) and those who caused divisions (Rom. 16: 17). Just as Paul was not responsible for the defection of Phygelus and Hermogenese (II Tim. 1:15), we are not responsible for those who break fellowship with us.

He labors to convince his Christian Church auditors that our objection to instrumental music is simply a matter of “personal faith” or opinion, rather than a matter of Scriptural teaching. He confuses the eating or not eating of meat, (something God declares unimportant), with the worship of God, of which nothing is more important.

He says that early Christians, being led away to death would not have “fussed about a piano.” (The Christian Church folks enjoyed his point and laughed.) Under those same circumstances, what would they have said about infant baptism, or sprinkling, or weekly communion or a hundred other points of Bible teaching? Such emotional appeals only beg the question. The real question is, must we obey all things whatsoever Christ commanded or not? (Matt 28:20). He feels he has discovered the cause of our lack of unity: “We haven’t preached Christ crucified as the gospel. We have not decided to know nothing but Christ and him crucified” (p. 5). Of course he has in mind all of his brethren, save the change agents. It strikes me as a bit arrogant and judgmental to assert that the thousands of men who have preached among our churches have failed to preach Christ and him crucified. In fact I think it is more likely that every last one of them did; some more, some less, but all of them proclaimed the crucified Christ.

He affirms his belief in “salvation by grace through faith” (p. 5) and implies that other brethren (i.e. traditionalists) don’t believe it. Again I suggest that every man that ever mounted a pulpit in a Church of Christ believed in salvation by grace through faith because it is plainly taught in Scripture (Eph. 2:8-9). They did not however preach salvation by grace alone. That was the theme of their Presbyterian neighbors. They did not teach salvation by faith alone. That was the message of their Methodist, Baptist and Lutheran friends. <font color=“blue”>In recent years, change agents such as Bro. Atchley have discovered this foundation pillar of Protestantism and have begun to proclaim it among our people. </font> They neglect to emphasize that those who truly love Christ will keep his commandments (John 14:15) and that Christ saves those who obey him (Heb. 5:8-9). By the way, if preaching Christ crucified will forestall division among Christians, why have some left the Richland Hills church since they launched their program of change?

<font color=“blue”>Bro. Atchley is proud that his congregation participated as counselors in the recent Billy Graham mission. He calls it “a tremendous event.” Over 100 members of his congregation participated in the mission (p. 6). Did they help those seeking salvation to pray “the sinner’s prayer”? We would ask Bro. A. what would be the spiritual status of those who prayed that prayer but chose not to be baptized for remission of their sins (Acts 2:38)? </font>

He protests that some call him a liberal. He says he believes in the absolute authority of Scripture, the miracles and male leadership for the church. Of course he uses a twofold definition for “liberal.” Since he is not as extreme a liberal as a Unitarian preacher or professor, he insists that he does not qualify for the designation. But “liberal” is a relative term. Webster defines it, “Broad-minded, tolerant; esp: not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or traditional forms.” It is “insistence that the churches should be undogmatic in temper, tolerating a plurality of theologies, and seeing personal social ethics as their main concern....” (New Dictionary of Theology (IVP). It is being ideologically left of center of the group one is associated with and its standard which they honor as the declaration of their faith. There are liberal and conservatives among Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists and Churches of Christ. Bro. A. and others of the change movement, without dispute are left of center among the brotherhood of our people. He reveals the thinking of his circle of brethren by saying, “most of the preachers that I run with in mainline churches of Christ do not believe instrumental music is wrong” (p. 7). Strange, but most of the preachers I know do in fact believe instrumental music in worship is sinful. Until 25 years ago 99 ½ percent of our preachers believed it was wrong. He assures us that he is not trying to make (us) worship “and violate (our) conscience” (p. 7). He just wants us to admit and accept that “it ain’t wrong.” Then he and his change agents can use instruments if they wish and enjoy full fellowship with those who do. We could argue the same way for the use of beads, incense and candles in worship.

In the Q & A session he ponders, “I wonder in acappella churches of Christ, if this one issue isn’t going to cause another breach...?” His response is enlightening. “I don’t know if we have enough energy to split again” (p. 7). But note that he is not worried that it might do just that! He has no intention of giving up his crusade, even if it is divisive!

To a question, he responds, “you are going to find a lot of a cappella churches that are gonna’ start saying ‘Sunday morning we are going to be a cappella, but after that, we are going to let a lot of freedom reign,’ which is pretty much what we do at Richland Hills. You walk into our youth center Sunday morning or Wednesday night: and I’m telling you–Christian rock an’ roll is just blasting’” (p. 9).

<font color=“blue”>Bro. Atchley’s final word is, “But if you believe that Jesus alone saves, then you can be my brother or sister” (p. 10). Thus he shows where his road leads: open membership; fellowship with all who believe in Jesus as Savior. Perhaps it would be easier for him to tell us which sects and denominations that would exclude from his fellowship. </font>

<font color=“blue”>Rather than Rick Atchley and his team trying to change a million and a half of us, most of whom do not share his view, it seems it would be far better for them to go to the Christian Church, or some other Protestant body where they would be gladly received. It is time we bid farewell to Bro. Atchley and his fellow change-agents. They are going out from us because they are no longer of us (I John 2:19).</font>

A. B. Gregoreo
________________________
* (Page numbers cited refer to a typed transcription of Bro. Atchley’s speech).
Last edited by ConcernedMembers on January 29th, 2004, 1:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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John Waddey
John Waddey

February 22nd, 2004, 6:20 am #25

KEEPING ABREAST: REVIEWS OF BOOKS AND MATERIALS RELATING TO THE CHANGE MOVEMENT


——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
Ideas are spread by word of mouth or by print or electronic media. Those determined to change churches of Christ into a denomination of their own liking are issuing a steady stream of books promoting their views. Many immature and unsuspecting souls will be influenced by them. The author of the following reviews has assumed the unpleasant task of reading and evaluating all the books being circulated by promoters of change. He also makes a point of reading, reviewing and recommending those books and tracts that do a good job of responding to the agents of change and promoting the Master's message. Hopefully this page will be a useful resource for those desiring helpful information on this troublesome movement.
——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To share your ideas, to ask additional questions or to recommend other books for review, email the author @ [url=mailto:JOHNWADDEY@aol.com]JOHNWADDEY@aol.com[/url].
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
<font size=5>RECLAIMING A HERITAGE, a review</font>

<font color=blue>Dr. Richard Hughes</font> of Pepperdine University has given us, “Reclaiming a Heritage; Reflections on the Heart, Soul and Future of Churches of Christ. The book is published by Abilene Christian University Press. <font color=blue>Bro. Hughes was raised in the Church of Christ and continues to claim membership in it (p. 118), but after reading his book one can’t help but wonder, for how long?</font>
  • <font color=blue>From Bro. Hughes perspective, “Churches of Christ are suffering a severe identity crisis” (p. 121). </font> Those acquainted with our brotherhood know it is not the conservative element among us, but the liberals of the change movement who suffer from this identity crisis. They don’t know who they are or where they are going. They only know that they no longer wish to be part of “restoring the faith and practice of the early church.”
  • <font color=blue>He tells us, “It is time to admit that in our churches, a wide variety of people from all walks of life...simply do not find patternism and legalism to be meaningful themes” (p. 121). </font> By patternism he means the conviction that we should be obedient to the commands, restrictions and regulations of the Bible. He along with all other change agents flatly rejects that concept. There is a legalism that is a perversion of Christianity, but he has in mind the sense that man should be obedient to the written word of Christ! We freely admit that those of the change “fellowship” fit this category.
  • <font color=blue>He suggests, “For many in our churches today, the restoration vision is a dead-end street, an essentially useless category” (p. 121). </font> Understand this and you will understand what change agents are saying and why. This loss of faith in our restoration vision is clearly demonstrated in the flow of materials being issued by men associated with Abilene Christian and Pepperdine University.
  • <font color=blue>He declares, “And so we are left with no useful past, no clear identity, and no meaningful legacy. Essentially we are spiritual orphans” (p. 122). </font> This sad passage reveals the bankruptcy of the change movement. Those of us who look to Christ as the head and founder of the church; to his word as the divine standard of our faith, have no such disillusionment.
  • <font color=blue>He asserts, “Many feel...that the restoration ideal has spawned arrogance and division and little else” (p. 67). </font> Our movement spawned Abilene Christian University, Pepperdine University (where the professor has taught) and a dozen other schools. It spread the gospel message around the world into some 110 nations. It grew from 189,000 in 1906 to some 1,350,000 here at home and as many more overseas. Its members have established and sustained a dozen benevolent homes, scores of Christian primary and secondary schools. They have pumped millions of dollars into relief for the poor and victims of tragedies. They have established and sustained campus ministries on scores of college and university campuses. Her members have written and published hundreds of books and journals including quality commentaries and Bible Translations. Her ministers are generally well-educated and her members are generally middle class. On the whole, her meeting places are modern and comfortable although not usually lavish. She has carried on an extensive outreach by radio, television, newspaper and the Internet. This is the church that Hughes thinks has spawned little else than arrogance and division..
<font color=blue>Professor Hughes’ problem is revealed on p. 59. “It was not until the late 1960s that I found myself disillusioned with certain aspects of my heritage.” Now he is disillusioned with most of it. But he finds much to admire in other religious bodies who hold more liberal views. </font>
  • <font color=blue>It is revealing to consider his view of Churches of Christ, of which is a part. </font> His career has been spent teaching in schools founded and sustain by members of this church, hence from them he has drawn his sustenance. “Within a few short years, some had essentially abandoned the search for truth...They elevated their rejection of creeds to the status of a creedal statement...for all practical purpose, these people had turned their backs on the genius of their own tradition” (p. 34).
  • <font color=blue>He paints an accurate picture of a contemporary “change congregation:” “restorationist churches constitute a perpetual feeder for the evangelical establishment. </font> This is a way of saying that authentically restorationist churches are by definition sectarian. As they move toward denominational status, however, they almost invariably move into the orbit of evangelical Christianity” (p. 111). “There is, perhaps no better example of the transition from restorationist sect to evangelical denomination than the Churches of Christ...” (p.112). He should qualify this by saying, “Churches of Christ of the change movement!”
  • <font color=blue>He identifies the belief that drives the change agents, it is a “newfound theology of grace” (p. 132). </font>
  • <font color=blue>This book is a vivid example of postmodern thinking. This worldly philosophy argues that truth is unattainable; that all things are relative and there are no moral and spiritual absolutes. </font> He tells us, “Our fathers argued that no human being can capture the truth, possess the truth, codify the truth, preserve the truth, dispense the truth, or guard the truth.” “Instead, each of us much search for truth, and that search is a search that is never completely finished” (p. 30). Of course he offers no documentation for this outlandish assertion. It does however tell us much about the author.
  • <font color=blue>He reasons that the goal of restoration is, “that every Christian must return to the biblical text time and time again, constantly rethinking his /her beliefs and opinions in the light of God’s holy word” (p. 34). </font> What he wants to convey is that we cannot be certain of our understanding of baptism, the nature of the church, the role of women in leadership, the question of instrumental music in worship, etc. I would ask him if he is sure about such doctrines as monotheism, the deity of Christ, the reality of heaven, salvation by grace? How can he be sure of his faith? Does he have to keep searching?
  • <font color=blue>He labors long and hard to convince us we cannot understand God’s revelation sufficiently to say, “this is that” which the prophets spoke (Acts 2:16). </font> Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth” (John 8:32), but Dr. Hughes says we cannot know the truth. But then Jesus did not have his doctorate, did he? Hughes tell us that God “refuses to be confined by words, even biblical words; and therefore shatters every formula, every definition, every pattern, every plan, every from of orthodoxy...” (p. 46). By his doctrine, he has no pattern, no standard, no sure way of knowing God’s will for how to serve him; only a blind leap of subjective “faith” and the wistful hope that God will have mercy on him! He assures us, “As envisioned by the founders of our movement, this ecumenical thrust never depended on the ability of human beings to arrive at the truth or to agree on a set of theological propositions...” (p. 31). Thus I suppose we should embrace in fellowship everyone who claims to be a Christian, all of whom are hopelessly searching for illusive truth.
  • <font color=blue>He repeatedly implies that members of Churches of Christ, other than his circle of change agents, pretend to be infallible and absolute masters of all of God’s truth. </font> Yet in 47 years of preaching among our people I have yet to encounter even one who so claimed.
  • <font color=blue>The author tells us “the dominant theme of Churches of Christ in our early years was our commitment to the conviction, that ‘God is God and all human beings are fallible.’” (p. 35). </font> He oft repeats this profound theological and philosophical truth but he offers no documentation to sustain it. Can he find anywhere, at any time a leader among our brethren who did not in fact recognize God alone as God and all human beings as fallible? Just one! He finally gets around to saying, “Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone seldom made direct and explicit statements to that effect, but they pointed unmistakenly to their convictions in that regard...” (p. 53). Where? This airy statement bears the musty smell of the seminary and most likely had its origin in the lectures or writings of some denominational professor. It is profound but meaningless for the discussion at hand.
  • <font color=blue>Change agents like Hughes delight in finding some ill-conceived, ill- stated line by a brother and then asserting that such dribble is representative of all conservative men...those not of his tribe. </font> He delights in setting the extreme views of prominent men against the general consensus of other mature brethren. This he does with David Lipscomb’s views on Civil Government and Barton Stone’s views on Premillennialism. He fails to note that David Lipscomb fought the change agents of his generation hook and claw until he grew too old to do so.
<font color=blue>Dr. Hughes goals are easily identified. </font>
  • <font color=blue>He wants to convince us that we are in fact a denomination and should not claim otherwise (p.51-52). </font>
  • <font color=blue>He wants to convince us that Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone were the “founders of our tradition” (p. 48). </font>
  • <font color=blue>That the founding generation expressed no interest in restoring the “true Church of Christ” (p. 37). </font> It is too bad that those first generation restoration preachers did not understand this. They would not have worked so hard to win members of sectarian bodies to the church they served.
  • <font color=blue>Along with other change agents he wants us to “treat the Bible as a narrative that tells the story of God’s mighty deeds on behalf of the world which he created, which he seeks to redeem and over which he someday will triumph when his rule is complete” (p. 186). </font> He should tell us if there are any commandments to be obeyed? If so, which? Perhaps he would explain those two reference which speak of God’s word as a pattern and tell us why they do not mean what they say (II Tim. 1:13; Heb. 8:5).
  • <font color=blue>To Dr. Hughes the defeat of premillennialism in our ranks was unfortunate. </font>
  • <font color=blue> “The destruction of the apocalyptic vision (includes premillennialism) severely weakened both the restoration vision and the counter cultural dimensions of Churches of Christ ...” (p. 116). </font> If he feels that a belief in premillennialism is so important, he could find it by transferring his membership to the Independent Baptists.
  • <font color=blue>He wants us to accept women in leadership roles in the church. He describes God’s limitation on women in church leadership as “subjugation of women” (p. 89). </font> He would negate the plainly stated restrictions on women (I Cor. 14:33-34; I Tim. 2:11-12) by citing Paul’s words, “There is neither male nor female, for ye are all one in Christ” (Gal. 3:26-29). The fact is that God did not in some other verse place limitation on people regarding ethnicity or social status as he did on gender!
  • <font color=blue>He labors hard to convince his readers that the best minds among us have always believed that one could be a faithful Christian while an active member of a human denomination. </font> No doubt a few exceptions could be found, but the overwhelming majority of our brethren have not thought or said such. Only with the advent of the change movement has such become widespread.
  • <font color=blue>Like other liberals in the social, political and religious realm, Dr. Hughes wants the church to involve itself in their social agenda. </font> He frequently mentions our failure to respond to the issues of poverty, racism and war (p. 87), and “the subjugation of women” (p. 89). “Why Churches of Christ took so little interest in social ethics. Why, for example were we so reluctant to see the implications the gospel holds for large-scale issues of peace and justice? (The anti-war movement of the 60’s and the Civil Rights Movement, JHW). Why were we so reluctant to confront the issue of racial segregation...why did Churches of Christ take so little interest in the great moral issues that convulsed the country during the turbulent years of the 1960s?” (p. 58). He faults brethren because “they sometimes cast their lot with the forces of law and order that sought to subdue the voices of dissent” (p. 61). “Almost never did white, mainstream Churches of Christ support the great swelling movement on behalf of peace and justice that captured the minds of so many Americans...” (p. 61). As a true liberal he cannot imagine an intelligent person not agreeing with his agenda. He cannot understand that many of us preferred law and order to those motley crowds of anarchists rioting in our cities. Nor can he understand how Christians could work within the church to change sinful attitudes about race without joining the Civil Rights political movement. Dr. Hughes faults today’s church for the failures of past generation in dealing with slavery (1810-1865) and segregation. In this he follows the example of the social and political liberals. They cannot concede the progress made because they spend their time dwelling on the failures of the past. We do not deny the failures of past generations, but we recognize the great progress that has occurred. He constantly labors to paint “white mainstream” churches of Christ as molded and shaped by their culture. I would ask him if black Christians and churches are shaped by their culture? Are the academic communities at ACU and Pepperdine U molded and shaped by their culture?
<font color=blue>One of the few useful things in this book is Dr. Hughes portrait of the liberal change element that has arisen to prominence among us. Note the characteristics of these people: </font>
  • They worked to “enhance their colleges by appealing to the budgets of local congregations through a variety of promotional strategies, through increasingly complex institutional structures, and through a vast building campaign, aimed at giving Churches of Christ more viability in the affluent and ‘respectable parts of town.’”
  • “Following the 1960s, other developments suggested the Churches of Christ (make that liberal congregations and preachers) were rapidly turning their backs on their Restorationist heritage and moving into the evangelical orbit.”
  • The distinctly evangelical theme of justification by grace through faith” became the norm in their preaching.
  • “A therapeutic gospel, coupled with an emphasis on ‘family values’...dominated many Church of Christ pulpits.”
  • “Worship sometimes verged on entertainment.”
  • “And many urban Churches adopted ‘church growth’ strategies that had more in common with the Willow Creek Church (Independent Protestant Denomination in Illinois JHW) than with that traditional heritage” ( p. 117).
<font color=red>Change agents like Dr. Hughes like to talk about radical faith, discipleship and commitment, but observation reveals it is radical liberalism, not God’s ways they are calling us to. Bro. Hughes is a man he describes as “swallowed by one strain...of the popular religious culture that dominates much of American Christianity today” (p. 133). He is immersed in postmodernism, a thorough going liberal, who is trying to reshape our people after his own philosophical image. I feel sorry for this brother. His much learning and his academic environment have poisoned his heart against the church of his parents and his early life. They have filled him with a spiteful arrogance towards it and his fellow-Christians. He really needs to break out of this church which he holds in such low esteem and migrate to one whose social agenda is more attuned to his; perhaps the United Methodist or the Episcopal church. His book is pure poison, it would have been far better had it been stillborn. </font>

_________________________________
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now
johnwaddey@aol.com
Last edited by ConcernedMembers on February 22nd, 2004, 6:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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John Waddey
John Waddey

March 8th, 2004, 7:37 am #26

KEEPING ABREAST: REVIEWS OF BOOKS AND MATERIALS RELATING TO THE CHANGE MOVEMENT


——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
Ideas are spread by word of mouth or by print or electronic media. Those determined to change churches of Christ into a denomination of their own liking are issuing a steady stream of books promoting their views. Many immature and unsuspecting souls will be influenced by them. The author of the following reviews has assumed the unpleasant task of reading and evaluating all the books being circulated by promoters of change. He also makes a point of reading, reviewing and recommending those books and tracts that do a good job of responding to the agents of change and promoting the Master's message. Hopefully this page will be a useful resource for those desiring helpful information on this troublesome movement.
——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To share your ideas, to ask additional questions or to recommend other books for review, email the author @ [url=mailto:JOHNWADDEY@aol.com]JOHNWADDEY@aol.com[/url].
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
<font size=5> BOOKS EVERY CHURCH LEADER SHOULD READ </font>

An uninformed preacher or elder is at best a weak leader. At worst, he can be dangerous in that he may inadvertently lead his people into destructive situations that he did not perceive as dangerous. Every preacher and elder needs to inform himself about the separation and division that occurred in our Restoration Movement at the opening of the 20th century. Today, the same scenario is being repeated. Bro. Homer Hailey's excellent book, <font color=red>"Attitudes and Consequences of the Restoration Movement"</font> identifies the attitudes that resulted in the departure that is now seen in the Disciples of Christ/Christian Churches.

A few years back James DeForrest Murch wrote a valuable history of the Restoration Movement entitled, <font color=red>"Christians Only."</font> Being a prominent leader of the Independent Christian Churches, Murch had a perspective that is especially valuable. The following paragraph from his book contains a lesson every leader of our people needs to hear.
  • <font color=red>"Within the last generation the Church of Christ has made a phenomenal growth. This is due to two things: (1) Its people have stood like a Rock of Gibraltar for ‘the faith which was once delivered unto the saints,' amid the doubt and confusion superinduced by liberalism. They have challenged the spirit of compromise and worldliness and dared to be a peculiar people' teaching and practicing what they believe is the Bible way of life. (2) They have come to realize that the silence of the Scriptures must be respected, but that obedience to its silences permits freedom of judgment and action" (p. 313).</font>
Francis A. Schaeffer was a powerful conservative leader among the Presbyterians and other evangelical Protestants. He had a tremendous influence from the 1960s until his death. One of Dr. Schaeffer's most valuable books is entitled, <font color=red>"The Great Evangelical Disaster." In it he demonstrates how conservative, Bible-believing churches have been infiltrated by and victimized by liberal theology; how that false system weaken their voices and divided their ranks. </font> His analysis is a veritable profile of what is currently happening to Churches of Christ. When you read his observations, just substitute the words, "Churches of Christ" for his term "evangelicals" and you will quickly see the pertinence of his points.

Only Hailey's book is still in print, but a good used book dealer can probably locate you a copy of the others. Also they could most likely be borrowed from the library of a Christian College.

John Waddey
E-Mail: JOHNWADDEY@aol.com
http://www.christianity-then-and-now.com
Last edited by ConcernedMembers on March 8th, 2004, 1:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Jim Slater
Jim Slater

March 20th, 2004, 12:24 am #27

Dear Bro. Jeremy:

Thank you for taking time to write and share with me your thoughts about communion.

First of all I remind you that my review was not a discussion of which courses Dr. Hicks teaches at Lipscomb University, but of the ideas he has set forth in his book, "Come to the Table."

Second by simply calling me or other brethren "ultracons" meaning ultra conservatives, you do not establish your case. Only if you can substantiate your ideas by God's Word will it stand. If it is based only on your feelings, human reasoning, denominational practices, etc. it will not stand the test.

Third the point of discussion about the scriptural way to commune is not whether we drink fruit of the vine from one cup or many, nor is it whether the cups are small or large. The only salient point is why do we drink? Jesus said, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me" (I Cor. 11:25). Nowhere do we read that Christ taught, nor that early Christians understood it to be part of a common meal on a festive occasion. That is where human thinking runs contrary to God's revealed will. The size of the piece of bread we eat in the memorial is not the point of issue. If a congregation wished to have a large quantity of bread so all could have a bigger bite, there would be no criticism. But if you partake to fill you belly, you would have missed the point of the communion. After eating the Passover supper Jesus instituted the sacred memorial (Luke. 22:20). Paul rebuked the Christians in Corinth because they were mixing the communion with their common meals. He asked, "What have ye not houses to eat and to drink in" or despise ye the church of God..." (I Cor. 11:20-22). Being a memorial, whether we eat and drink a little or a lot, is not the point. The point is are you doing it for the prescribed purpose?

Your treatment of Acts 20:7 reveals much about you and your thinking. First you say "the church of Christ uses" this verse for the time of their observance. This implies that you no longer consider yourself a part of the church of Christ.

Second you say we take it out of context. Perhaps you could explain from this text why the disciples assembled that day? Why did Paul tarry seven days before his departure from Troas? When they broke the bread that day, what did they do? What day is the first day? Is there a difference in eating food for the belly and partaking of the Lord's Supper? Is this distinction made where you worship?

You evidently do not think that weekly communion is necessary, or that communion should be limited to that day. Since such is the universal practice of churches of Christ and the early Christians, why do you not go to a church that observes it after that fashion? Many denominational bodies could be found with such a view.

Third, your statement that since Paul preached until midnight, we must do the same if we are going to commune on the first day. This reveals that you are in desperate need of a good course in Hermeneutics, i.e., to study and understand the Bible. Specifically you need to learn to discern between things that are incidental and things that are essential.

Your railing against church of Christ traditions proves nothing. No church of Christ has closed communion. We do not interrogate those who commune. Rather we follow the Scripture that says, "Wherefore let a man examine himself, and so let him eat..." (I Cor. 11:28). We base our belief that the communion is for those who are Christians on Luke 22:29-30 where the Master said, "I appoint unto you a kingdom...that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom..." The kingdom of Christ is his church (Matt. 16:18). The only table and eating that are part of the kingdom is the Lord's Supper. It is for those in his kingdom.

The tone and content of your letter reveal that you are already under the influence of those who are promoting unscriptural changes for the Lord's church. I suspect you don't even realize what it is they are leading you into. I plead with you as a brother in Christ not to allow your teachers to poison you against the church for which Christ died. That you will open the sacred book and fill your mind with those eternal truths and let them guide you as you serve the Master.

Yours in Christ,

John Waddey
Your response to this student is typical and reveals your desperate need of repentance and public confession. May God have mercy on you at the Judgement of Christ.
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John Waddey
John Waddey

March 21st, 2004, 6:31 am #28

KEEPING ABREAST: REVIEWS OF BOOKS AND MATERIALS RELATING TO THE CHANGE MOVEMENT


——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
Ideas are spread by word of mouth or by print or electronic media. Those determined to change churches of Christ into a denomination of their own liking are issuing a steady stream of books promoting their views. Many immature and unsuspecting souls will be influenced by them. The author of the following reviews has assumed the unpleasant task of reading and evaluating all the books being circulated by promoters of change. He also makes a point of reading, reviewing and recommending those books and tracts that do a good job of responding to the agents of change and promoting the Master's message. Hopefully this page will be a useful resource for those desiring helpful information on this troublesome movement.
——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To share your ideas, to ask additional questions or to recommend other books for review, email the author @ [url=mailto:JOHNWADDEY@aol.com]JOHNWADDEY@aol.com[/url].
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
<font size=5>TRUSTING WOMEN a Review</font>
Trusting Women, (The way of women in churches of Christ) is a recent publication issued by New Leaf Books of Orange Calif. New Leaf is a perennial spring of materials promoting the agenda of the change movement. Billie Silvey is the editor of this book of essays by women affiliated with the Lord’s church. Harold Shank of the Highland Church of Christ in Memphis expresses the view of change agents concerning the message of this book “These writers say things about Churches of Christ that nobody else is saying, things that nobody else can say.” He feels it “contains things that should have been said long ago.”

This reviewer and others of a conservative bent, would describe it as a “coming out statement” of women who have rejected God’s Word and the limitations it sets on their filling roles of congregational leadership and public teaching in His church. Preferring the teaching of feminism to that of the Holy Spirit, they express their frustration with preachers, elders and congregations that would not allow them to use their talents in the leadership and public worship of the church.

This book is noteworthy in that is a declaration of the first women preachers to surface among our churches in over a hundred years. True, women preachers emerged among the digressive churches that separated from us at the end of the 19th century, but had no place among our brethren until recently.
  • There is Katie Hays, one time ministeress of the Cahaba Valley Church of Christ in Birmingham, AL, now preaching for the West Islip Church of Christ in Long Island, NY.
  • There is D’Esta Love, chaplain of Pepperdine University and member of the Malibu Church of Christ whose elders “made a statement to the church that made it possible for women to read from the Scriptures, to serve communion to the congregation, and to participate in periods of prayer in our worship” (p. 128). She feels that her “own religious tradition” (i.e., Churches of Christ) had let her down. She reminiscences about thinking she would never have the opportunity to use her gifts of “ministry” in the church. It seems to me she could easily have walked away from a church so tightly bound and limited by Scripture and gone to the Disciples of Christ, the Methodists, Presbyterians or Pentecostals and instantly gone on payroll (p. 129). She tells us how folks like her get around such embarrassing passages as I Cor. 14:43-34 and I Tim. 2:8-14. “We are finding tools for the analysis of scripture which allow us to view the role of women in the larger context of the biblical witness, rather than allow two heavily disputed passages to relegate women to a silent role” (p. 130). She believes that God “called (her) to Pepperdine University and has opened doors of opportunity for service that could not have been possible elsewhere” (p. 131). In this she is probably right, except of course she could have gone to Abilene Christian University and done as well.
  • There is Amy Henegar, hospital chaplain, who preaches Sunday sermons at the hospital chapel.
  • There is Karen Logan who found her inspiration from “a statement of faith by ‘Christians for Biblical Equality’” published in the denominational journal, Christianity Today.
  • Joyce Hardin argues that women can do anything except be elders, preachers or Bible teachers of Christian men” (p. 57) . For this concession we do give her credit. But she informs us that she does “not...understand why those restrictions are placed on women” (p. 57).
  • Pat Boultinghouse tells us how she found her freedom from the old Biblical restrictions while working for Howard Publishing Co. of West Monroe, LA. With the help and encouragement of Alton and John Howard, she and her husband launched Image magazine, precursor of Wineskins. She tells of working with influential leaders of the change movement such as Joe Beam, Ruble Shelly, Lynn Anderson, Jeff Walling, Mike Cope, Terry Rush and Marvin Phillips (p. 135). She asks, “Do we lift up our Lord and draw others to him when we rigidly hold to human traditions and a fifties culture” (p.141). I remind her and others of like-mind that the limitations on women in the leadership and worship of the church originated with the apostles in the first century, not the 1950s.
  • Sherrylee Woodward acknowledges that, “During those tender devotions of the late sixties youth rallies, my crowd first began to wonder about applying the pattern for church worship, order and leadership when the church was not “in church.” (p. 191). It is fair to assume that much of the change agenda had it origin in the period of the sixties and in the environment of youth meetings. Young people who were poorly taught and led then are now the forty-something adults who are emerging as leaders of our churches. Raised on entertainment and emotionalism they know not what we believe nor why we worship as we do. Nor do they care much for what the Scriptures says.
  • Lucille Todd and her friend, “felt the Holy Spirit moving (them)” (p. 209) .
  • Karen Logan tells us she was “blessed to be at a progressive church” where she enjoyed the worship of hand-raising and singing” (p. 228). She wonders, “Where is the verse that says a woman cannot lead a prayer?” (p. 22). We could ask, “Where is the verse that says we cannot sprinkle babies for baptism?” Of course this is the wrong question. The question is where is the verse that says women can lead in public worship? She believes that “God was preparing (her) to teach gender equality using this ministry of drama” (p. 232).
In reading this volume, one is impressed that virtually all of these liberated women who aspire to public leadership in the Lord’s church got their education and or inspiration from universities operated by members of the Churches of Christ. The most notable influence coming from Abilene Christian University and Pepperdine University. This is important information for those who care for the church and want to see this apostasy contained. Whenever there is an outbreak of food poisoning public health workers look for the source. When blatant heresy breaks out in the church we too must look for the source. This book provides the answer. All who read Trusting Women will agree with Harold Shank who, in his commendation of this book, rightly said, “This is not an academic volume or a book on Bible study.” It is rather a declaration of women who no longer accept the Bible as their spiritual standard.

___________________________________
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now

E-Mail: [url=mailto:johnwaddey@aol.com]johnwaddey@aol.com[/url]
Last edited by ConcernedMembers on March 21st, 2004, 1:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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John Waddey
John Waddey

April 29th, 2004, 5:56 am #29

KEEPING ABREAST: REVIEWS OF BOOKS AND MATERIALS RELATING TO THE CHANGE MOVEMENT


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Ideas are spread by word of mouth or by print or electronic media. Those determined to change churches of Christ into a denomination of their own liking are issuing a steady stream of books promoting their views. Many immature and unsuspecting souls will be influenced by them. The author of the following reviews has assumed the unpleasant task of reading and evaluating all the books being circulated by promoters of change. He also makes a point of reading, reviewing and recommending those books and tracts that do a good job of responding to the agents of change and promoting the Master's message. Hopefully this page will be a useful resource for those desiring helpful information on this troublesome movement.
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To share your ideas, to ask additional questions or to recommend other books for review, email the author @ [url=mailto:JOHNWADDEY@aol.com]JOHNWADDEY@aol.com[/url].
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<font size=4>
THE CHURCH IN TRANSITION (a review)
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James S. Woodroof has preached some 50 years among us. His book, published in 1990, was a precursor of numerous similar books calling for changes to the faith, worship and practices of Churches of Christ. “Transition” is a code word for “change.” Bro. Woodroof is a smooth, skillful advocate of change; more subtle and diplomatic than most of his fellows. This book is not totally bad. The careful reader will find a few insightful observations in its pages.

On the opening page, the author seeks to establish credibility by identifying himself and his revolutionary ideas with the late G. C. Brewer, icon of brotherhood scholarship and soundness. Bro. Brewer wrote a wonderful book entitled “As Touching Those Who Were Once Enlightened” dealing with the change agents of his day. He would be no friend to those today who are tearing down what he labored to build.

Bro. W. well describes the thinking of those among us demanding change. Note: “Often when a church or a movement reaches the point I believe we have reached, it suddenly becomes “pragmatically ecumenical.” “Abandoning its convictions, it bands together with others who are suffering the same fate. Through organizational union they together hope to stay afloat by jointly dismantling their rudders. Thus crippled, they drift into uncertain waters” (p. 6). No more succinct portrait of the change agents and their churches could be painted.

The author says he is concerned about those who are “in danger of embarking on uncharted waters without a compass” (p. 7), but in actuality his book paved the way for much of the abuse and apostasy that now flourishes among us. Bro. W. believes, “Until we get our own house in order we have no right nor reason to address the broader problem of division among those outside our movement” (p. 8). There were also problems of division in first century churches. Did that disqualify the apostles to address the broader problem of division? But they did so, did they not? And so should we. He makes a confession befitting for all change agents. “It seems self-defeating to write a book advocating unity if the book itself is written in a way which only produces more division” (p. 8). This spotlights a characteristic of the advocates of change; they justify their divisive actions, by charging those who do not accept them with being divisive.

The writer says, “We are a people of the Book” (p. 15). More correctly he should say, “we (change agents) were formerly a people of the Book.” The champions of change ridicule our emphasis on the Book, calling it legalism, patternism and other uncomplimentary names. They prefer story telling to book chapter and verse preaching. They delight in citing theologians and denominational leaders to establish their points.

He has warm words for three journals that have promoted his concept of unity: Leroy Garrett’s Restoration Review, Carl Ketcherside’s Mission Messenger and Victor Knowles’ One Body (p. 17). Bros. Garrett and Ketcherside were formerly leaders of the Mutual Edification Churches (anti-located preacher). When that movement floundered, they then converted and became leaders of the most liberal element among us and were never accepted in fellowship by the great body of our people. Victor Knowles is a minister of the Christian Church. This puts a clearer focus on Bro. Woodroof’s dream for our churches. He cites as positive examples of folks seeking Christian unity the Abilene Christian University Lectures, the Tulsa Workshop and the Kiamichi Clinic of the Christian Churches in Oklahoma (p. 18). Since ACU is the fountainhead of the change movement, this clarifies where our brother finds his inspiration.

To Bro. W. “Our burning desire to be biblical has blinded us to the need to be tolerant towards others who have the same desire but who have arrived at somewhat different conclusions” (p. 21). If a burning desire to be biblical is sinful we freely confess our guilt. We must be tolerant in all areas that are not fundamental to Christianity and salvation. Even Paul and John were intolerant to those who preached another gospel and went beyond the doctrine of Christ (Gal. 1:8; II John 9). Interestingly, the author tells us that he “came to know and love Jesus Christ” long after he had been baptized, educated and trained as a minister and preacher. He was a missionary in New Zealand when he was finally converted (p. 26). He says, “We have searched the Scriptures, thinking, that in them we have eternal life; and not realizing it is He who is the life, we have failed to come to Him that we may have life. We, like they, have become enamored by the written word to the point of becoming oblivious to the Living Word” (p. 29). This is a heavy indictment to lay upon some 2 million Christians around the world, the most of whom, it is fair to say, he has never met. Can he bring forth an example of any member of the church who is “oblivious to the Living Word” i.e. Jesus? Jesus said, “the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and are life” (John 7:63). Does Bro. W. believe that we can be saved without the Scripture or by neglecting them? If the Word is of so little value, why does he bother to preach the Bible?

He quotes the early Christian, Eusebius, who wrote of some in his day who “...treat the divine Scriptures recklessly and without fear. They have set aside the rule of ancient faith; and Christ they have not known. They do not endeavor to learn what the Divine Scripture declare, but strive laboriously after any form of syllogism which may be derived to sustain their impiety. And if anyone brings before them a passage of Divine Scripture, they see whether a conjunctive or disjunctive syllogism can be made from it...” (p. 30). One can only conclude that the Bro. W. uses this interesting quote to strike a blow against brethren who have effectively used syllogistic arguments in controversy with those who were promoting change. It is wrong and unfair to imply that great thinkers like Bro. Thomas Warren in any way, “set aside the ancient faith” or that they did not know Christ, or did “not endeavor to learn what the Divine Scripture declare” preferring to make a syllogism. Perhaps the author has felt the sting of Bro. Warren’s piercing logic.

Bro. W. says, “We had no more right (maybe not as much, in view of Paul’s statement) to preach only the last part of the good news than Billy Graham had to preach only the first part” (p. 33). First he should point out to us the preacher who has taught “only the last part of the good news.” Having done that, he needs to elaborate on Billy Graham having more right to preach “only the first part” of the good news. Can we conclude from this that Bro. W. would consider the man who preached salvation by faith alone as more faithful to Christ’s commission than the man who preached salvation by faith and baptism ( Mark 16:16)? Such reasoning helps us understand why numerous change churches have participated in Billy Graham crusades. It also explains why men such as Max Lucado are now preaching that salvation is by grace through faith, before obedience to gospel commands.

The writer tells us, “There is much uncertainty and mounting unrest among members of the Church of Christ today” (p. 44). But he does not say that such is only among those primed and prepped by the agents of change. That those under their influence are restless and uncertain is obvious to all. But they are only a small part of the whole. Most members of the church continue to hold to “the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) and are happy and confident in their faith.

In defense of himself and his fellow promoters of change, Bro. W. says, “those addressing the issue are not causing the problem, but are merely acknowledging the presence of it and attempting to offer some answers? (p. 44). Those familiar with our history know that there has never been a false teacher or agitator who troubled the church who felt he was “causing a problem.” It has always been their response that those who refuse to heed their demands were at fault.

The author makes an interesting concession on p. 45: “There are some mega-churches reporting increase, but most of them must admit that the majority of their growth comes from swelling;” i.e., by absorbing members from other congregations about them. His observation is absolutely correct. Speaking of promotionalism, he notes, “The mega-churches which provide the community with a wide selection of services are most susceptible to this trap” (p. 51) Agreed! Without promotionalism they would wither away. Their recruits would flock to the denominational mega-churches with more elaborate programs. It is primarily in the mega-churches that the change agents have been well received.

Bro. W. charges, “the traditional approach to the Holy Spirit by Churches of Christ had been one of ignoring him. We generally believed that when the written word was completed, the Spirit’s work was forever done” (p. 49). Would he tell us just who has believed and taught this about the Holy Spirit. It is common to hear liberals make such unsubstantiated charges against the Lord’s people and the unknowing take them as facts. In reality they are exaggerated falsehoods. He thinks that the thing that kept us from being “swept away by the emotionalism of the early Stone movement was the excesses of Pentecostalism” (p.50). He does not perceive that the greater reason was the lack of Biblical authority for such behavior that made our people reject that emotionalism.

While change agents call for a new hermeneutic that will free the rest of us from the old command, example or necessary inference approach to the Bible, they interpret every scripture through the prism of change. Woodroof interprets the historical record of the acceptance of the Gentiles into the church from a pejorative point of view, seeing events in their worst light. He exaggerates the extent of the problem with Peter and the other apostles (p. 65-66). Concerning the acceptance of the Gentiles, he writes, “But why all the resistance to this God-ordained transition? Why did God’s people oppose God’s plan? Why was there entrenched opposition, such prolonged resistance? (p. 67) To build his case for change today, he writes as if the failure of some Jewish brethren was the failure of the whole! This is not sound exegesis!

The author writes, “Fear of change may also explain the actions of some who attempt to follow Jesus: ‘fear to move forward, fear to make peace, fear to open dialog.’ It is, however, a hallmark of true discipleship that disciples follow Jesus wherever he might lead... Jesus was an outspoken advocate of change” (p.68). He assumes that the leadership of the change agents is the same as Christ’s leadership. Christ came with a new religion. Can we conclude that is what the change folks have to offer us? Christ was empowered of God to institute change; they are not. Christ’s change was heaven-ordained; theirs seeks to change what Christ has given us.

It is impressive to note how all change agents tend to say the same thing, use a common vocabulary and examples. This suggests that all have been to the same schools and seminars and read the same books and journals. It is as if they studied the same manual. I wish one of them would tell us the original sources from which they are gathering their materials. I can predict that they are from denominational churchmen who know nothing of, nor care a whit for going back to the Bible, finding and practicing New Testament Christianity.

Bro. W. says, “Much of what the Jewish Christians had to recognize as baggage was not just that which resulted from human accumulation, but also that which had come to them through divine revelation” (p. 74). This leads me to ask is this where he and his associates are heading? Do they expect us to surrender to change that which is of divine revelation? The author acknowledges that the things they wish to change “are things we can go to our graves practicing... (S)hould we recognize that we too are a church in transition; there probably will be no massive revolution in our worship practices or in the general manner in which we believe religiously” (p.77). Paul warned that “by their smooth and fair speech (divisive teachers) deceive the hearts of the innocent” (Rom. 16:18) Here are some of the changes already being widely promoted. You decide if they would effect a “massive revolution” in the worship of your congregation. <font color=indigo>* Instrumental music in worship, * choirs and solos; *the Lord Supper as part of a pot luck meal; * hand clapping and applause in worship; * women teachers and preachers; * no more gospel preaching, rather story telling and drama; * accepting our status as a denomination; * fellowshipping denominational bodies, * allowing their preachers to fill our pulpits; * people “being saved” by confessing Christ and praying the sinner’s prayer. </font> If these changes would not be revolutionary in your congregation, it is evidence that the change movement is already entrenched there.

Bro. W. tell us, “We...are faced with unremitting prospect of their being Christians on earth, as fully acceptable to God as we, who do not look and act exactly like us” (p. 77). He does not have in mind unknown souls who on their own have searched the Scriptures and found the way of salvation, rather he has in mind our denominational neighbors. He along with other change agents likes to hold up before the world the various divisions that have occurred over the years and blame us with responsibility for them. “Look at the thirty or more official divisions among us...” (p. 77). Some folks exaggerate. That some brethren disagree on whether Christian should go to war does not constitute an “official division;” nor does disagreement about women wearing head coverings; nor most of the 30 he mentions. Many today can agree to disagree on numerous nonessentials that once troubled our fathers. The process is called maturation. By the way, I wonder what makes a division “official.”

He charges, “We have been guilty of severing the body of Jesus from limb to limb. We have divided over such matters as cups and kitchens, organs and orphans, race and ritual, pastors and personalities, contribution and cooperation and a host of other things” (p. 78) This does have a cute poetic ring but it is exaggerated and seeks to blame all with the sins of the few. I ask Bro. Woodroof and his fellow agents of change, how he would respond if an element arose in the church where he preaches demanding that he not be paid for his work, or that they remove their fellowship facility or that they use only one cup in communion? Would he concede out of love, tolerance and a desire for unity? Would he try to teach them? If he saw them gaining ground among his members and threatening to overwhelm the leadership what would he do? If the mistaken brethren were frustrated in their attempts to impose their opinions for change and withdrew themselves and started a new congregation, would it be his fault or theirs?

He says, “We like the Jewish Christians of the first century, have been sitting in a position of sectarian elitism for years” (p. 86). Does this include Bro. W. and his Christian ancestors? Does it include his fellow change agents, or only those who do not embrace his call for change? Name-calling proves nothing. But it does reflect the author’s degree of love and appreciation for the church of Christ and his brethren within it. He tells us, “I have spent, and am presently spending, my life pursuing pure doctrine. But I insist on letting God determine what that doctrine is...(p. 94). Would he inform us just how God tells him what is “central” and what is “peripheral” doctrine? Does he have a source of information beyond the Bible that the rest of us mortals have? He says, “Jesus himself was preached as the only message. There was no other” (p. 107). Why then did the Holy Spirit guide the apostles to write the epistles if they are unneeded and per him the root of our lack of unity? He notes, “there have been believers in every generation, especially among restorationists, who so revered their own traditions that they felt justified in excluding all other believers who did not totally share their beliefs. This is purely and simply sectarianism...” Based on a few cases, he proceeds to casts guilt on the whole body of Christians.

On one hand he argues that we should just preach Christ and not let doctrine divide us. But then he says, “the call for us to preach God’s message and “let that be enough” has nothing to do with the ongoing need to nourish and strengthen the new convert in the ‘whole counsel of God.’ It does not advocate abandoning the letters of the Apostles which address the further equipping of the saints or the organizing of the church to be the body of Christ in the local community. It does not negate the addressing of specific problems of the corporate church and the correcting of abuses...” (p. 110-111). He wants it both ways. Preach Christ and that is enough, all else is divisive. But we do need to preach from the epistles and address the specific needs of the church. These opposites cancel each other, do they not? Why then does he fault us for preaching the “whole counsel of God;” Gospels, Acts, Epistles and Revelation?

He writes, “We have shed blood to establish the sufficiency of that God-designed process apart from denomination accretions. Surely we will not abandon it now...” (p. 111). But it is Bro. Woodroof and his coworkers who are in fact trying to change (i.e., abandon), the faith, worship and practice, that God designed for his people. He states, “I have often said that Rom. 14:1-15:7 is the Spirit’s attempt to clean up the mess caused by the events in Acts 10” (p. 119). Although he later attempts to soften this rash statement, it borders on blasphemy. The Holy Spirit does not attempt, he does. The divine instruction of Peter and the opening of the door of salvation to the Gentiles in Acts 10 was no mess. It was one of the epochal events in sacred history.

He charges, “Any thoughtful assessment of the 20th century Church of Christ will drive us to the conclusion that we as a movement, instead of an instrument to the glory of God, are to a great extent, an occasion of embarrassment and cause of shame to God” (p. 120). Does he include himself and his change comrades in this indictment? Does this describe congregations where he has preached? Without doubt he is embarrassed by his association with Churches of Christ! Like all liberals, he finds loveliness in denominational bodies and naught but sores and ugliness in the Lord’s church! “For those who say ‘we divided over convictions,’ well it may seem that way on the surface,, and we may wish it to be that in reality, but that is seldom, if ever, the case” (p. 121). I take it that he feels we had no scriptural basis to refuse to go with the Christian Churches and Disciples of Christ when they introduced their changes! If so he should bid us goodbye and go to them. He would surely be more comfortable there. “The more conservative church...must not condemn the church which (is)...more liberal” (p. 123). This is what his book is all about. He wants us to allow the liberal change agents do their work; to effect their changes without question or challenge. How convenient for them!

He labors to convince us that their changes are not really bad, but only in the minds of we whom he judges to be weak Christians. He writes, “The uncleanness lies inside a person and not in the things themselves which lie outside the person” (p. 125). But there surely are things he would object to: adoration of images, a pope, infant baptism, etc. etc. Are these things wrong only “inside the person?”

He endorses the “Bull’s Eye” approach to evaluating scriptures. We are left to wonder if Bro. Bill Love got the idea for his book by that title from Bro. Jim Woodroof or did Bro. W. get his idea form Bro. Love? After deriding us for not spending more time in the gospels and too much time and emphasis on the epistles, he then spends much time and space in Romans chapters 14 and 15 to make his case for his change agenda. Working on Rom. 15:17-18, he writes, “...the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit. He who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God.” He then concludes with these remarkable words, “Does not he also then, imply that a person who fails to view the kingdom in this way is not acceptable to God? Is not this a necessary inference?” (p. 141). Earlier he faulted us for using logic, making deductions and drawing inferences. Such, says he, is divisive. But when he needs it, he does just that. I suppose it is acceptable to do so if you are promoting the change platform, but not if you are objecting to it. He states, “Since the kingdom consists of righteousness, peace and joy...it follows that we should then be in pursuit of that, and be forever finished with division and strife...” (p. 145). Per him we should never spend time opposing error taught and practiced by others. But notice that he and other change agents do just that against us, continually. If it is good of them, why not for us? He and his brethren remind one of the anti-war demonstrators at work in our cities. To protest our nation’s war against the cruel tyrant of Bagdad, they throw rocks and bottles at the peace officers tying to maintain the peace of the community.

Speaking of the early days of our movement, he says, “In those days, when such massive theological jungles had to be cleared and the boundaries of doctrine identified and staked out, we were able to provide honorable and intelligent men of integrity to do battle for the truth and defend the faith. We own much to those giants who gave their lives in pursuit and propagation of truth” (p. 149). If such was a good and noble pursuit then, why is it not now? Most change agents prefer to hurl rocks at those early champions who cleared the road for them to travel. He says, “Instead of going to the uttermost parts of the earth to preach ‘Jesus as the Christ’ to the lost and unchurched (Lk 5:31-32), we remained close to the camps of those who considered themselves saved and occupied ourselves with preaching reactionary theology...” (p. 150). Note he feels we should not seek to win those who already believe in Christ and think themselves saved. That would include members of all religious denominations. This speaks volumes about Bro. Woodroof’s thinking. Were Priscilla and Aquila mistaken in taking time to each Apollos and win him over? Or was Paul wrong for teaching and rebaptizing those twelve men of Ephesus?

He derides “self-appointed defenders of the faith committed to...keeping the church pure” (p. 151). But change agents such as Bro. Woodroof are self-appointed saviors of the church with their own variety of unity with Christian Churches. They too are warring against legalism, traditionalism. If it is wrong for us, why is it right for them? Is their case special?

He states, “Whenever two groups thus separate...more than likely the division indicates that neither has the mind of Christ at all—not at the time of separation or later...the longer each group goes along without the influences of the other, the less likely either will possess the mind of Christ” (p. 166). Does he include our fathers who refused to go with the progressives of last century whom we know as Disciples of Christ/Christian Churches? If so, then all of his years of service have been with an illegitimate body that is “not likely to possess the mind of Christ.”

To Bro. Woodroof, Churches of Christ are a denomination, born of the division with the Disciples of Christ. “We don’t like to hear criticism that would imply that we may be a denomination. But the time has come of Churches of Christ to redefine the term ‘denomination’...” (p. 167). By that redefinition, he means we should accept our status as a denomination and not insist that we are the true church of Christ founded by Jesus. This being the case, when he went as a missionary to New Zealand he was in reality a denominationalist sowing and practicing denominationalism. When he has preached here at home he did so as a denominational preacher to congregations of denominational people.

The message of The Church in Transition reminds one of a fountain that offers from the same opening both sweet water and bitter (Jas. 3:11). That which is good is tainted by that which is false. The value of this book is to know just what this prominent author really believes about the Church of Christ, our faith, our practice and our people. It demonstrates the destination the agents of change have in mind to take us. It makes us aware of how serious our problem is. It also gives us a good insight as to where much of the thinking of lesser men comes from.

___________________________________
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now

E-Mail: [url=mailto:johnwaddey@aol.com]johnwaddey@aol.com[/url]
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John Waddey
John Waddey

May 29th, 2004, 6:42 am #30

KEEPING ABREAST: REVIEWS OF BOOKS AND MATERIALS RELATING TO THE CHANGE MOVEMENT


——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
Ideas are spread by word of mouth or by print or electronic media. Those determined to change churches of Christ into a denomination of their own liking are issuing a steady stream of books promoting their views. Many immature and unsuspecting souls will be influenced by them. The author of the following reviews has assumed the unpleasant task of reading and evaluating all the books being circulated by promoters of change. He also makes a point of reading, reviewing and recommending those books and tracts that do a good job of responding to the agents of change and promoting the Master's message. Hopefully this page will be a useful resource for those desiring helpful information on this troublesome movement.
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To share your ideas, to ask additional questions or to recommend other books for review, email the author @ [url=mailto:JOHNWADDEY@aol.com]JOHNWADDEY@aol.com[/url].
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[emph., d.c.]


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THE CRUCIFORM CHURCH (a review)
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C. Leonard Allen issued this book in 1990. It is important because it is one of the earlier books promoting the change agenda. It continues the project that began with his two previous books, Discovering Our Roots: the Ancestry of Churches of Christ and The Worldly Church; A Call for Biblical Renewal (p. ix). Bro. Allen was at the time of writing, an associate professor at Abilene Christian University's College of Biblical Studies. Thoughts, phrases and expression from this book echo in many of the speeches and books of other change agents that have followed him. I think it fair to say that Bro. Allen is a chief theoretician and architect of the change movement that is ravaging our churches. The author dedicates his work to Dr. Thomas Olbricht of Pepperdine U., father of the New Hermeneutics. It is a veritable handbook for seducing unwitting Christians and churches away from their biblical roots and into the camp of the change movement. Allen and other change agents hide behind a mask of pretended piety and concern for the church while, chipping away at her foundations to effect her collapse. He gives lip service to his "debt to Churches of Christ" yet he acknowledges that he questions and critiques "some aspects of (his) heritage..." He wants to "stand free from the influence of tradition" [i.e. his heritage in the Church of Christ jhw] (p. ix). He concludes that his faith, learned in the Church of Christ, needs "careful alterations" (p. x). In this book he attempts to ingraft those alterations to faith upon his readers.

The word "cruciform" means "a cross-shaped church." It is a picturesque term borrowed from the denominational world and likely was intended to disarm readers who would think it was a positive, constructive attempt to bring the church closer to Christ. For many, by the time they grasp its true intent, the damage will have been done.

Allen critiques the way we read Scriptures; the way we view God; the place we give to the cross of Christ; our stance towards the world; our portrayal of Christ-like character and gives us failing marks in each category (p. 14-15). If I were a member of church that I found so flawed, I would be looking for a different body with more promise. Hopefully Bro. Allen and his tribe will do just that.

Having read some 15 books by various change agents, I am impressed that all of them must read the same books or listen to the same thought leaders. They use the same examples, make the same criticisms and propose the same changes!

Change agents, like Allen, like to identify with illustrious teachers of the past to validate their specious claims. Allen, claims Bro. G. C. Brewer as the icon whose ideas he is promoting. For the unknowing, the sacred name of Brewer may give them credence, but those familiar with G. C. Brewer's life and work know that he would not have given these false teachers the time of day. Brewer's two books, "As Touching Those Who Were Once Enlightened" and "A Medley on the Music Question" belie their claims. Brewer chastened those who left the church for the charms of denominationalism and those who vainly tried to justify the use of instrumental music in their worship.

He opens by telling us that "we…face a kind of identify crisis" (p 3). But it is not those of the "traditional" churches who are suffering from an identity crisis, it is the change agents and their converts who having abandoned the guiding principles of New Testament Christianity are blindly searching for meaning and direction in the realm of denominationalism and subjectivism.

Rather than faithfully preaching the sacred Word, he tells us, "we must learn to tell stories" (p. 4). Lacking scripture for what they believe, a story promotes their change doctrine well.

Allen dismisses the historical studies of other brethren as flawed and self-serving (p. 6). It is necessary for men of his tribe (i.e., change agents) to correctly interpret the past and debunk the things we believe and in which we trusted. He says, the historical approach our brethren have taken "has inhibited and dislocated our theological efforts" (p. 6). He assures us that his criticism of the church and her members past and present is not to be taken as carping, cutting down or fault-finding, but that is exactly how it impresses this reader! He acknowledges that we might interpret his criticism as "bashing the pioneers" (p. 10). That is precisely what he is doing! Like all liberals, he seeks to build his case by discrediting great teachers of the past; men whose shoes he is unworthy to tie! Behold how the brass doth shine! What has Allen done to win the lost, plant new congregations and defend the church and the faith of Christ from those who are His mortal enemies? Allen contrasts his highly educated professorial peers with the humble, preachers of the past who were largely self-trained and pronounces his team the winner. But the proof is in the pudding. It was precisely those humble men who went forth with minds filled with the Word hearts aflame and brought multitudes to Christ. They planted the churches and even established the schools the change agents now occupy and use for their new brand of religion. Even today it is not the professors and those with the doctorates that go forth seeking and saving the lost! To Dr. Allen, of all the thousands of preachers and teachers among us for 200 years, only a handful of recent change agents, principally at Abilene Christian U and Pepperdine U have correctly understood the bible and its doctrines.

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THE CRUCIFORM CHURCH (a review)—Part 1 . . . <font color=blue> to be continued</font>
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Reviewed by John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now

E-Mail: [url=mailto:johnwaddey@aol.com]johnwaddey@aol.com[/url]
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