Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Swimming Upstream

It seems to some that this blog is fueled by animosity towards Churches of Christ in general, and more conservative churches in particular. Some people sense very personal pain. Well, yeah, there is that! There is also emotion. I have an intellectual approach to faith and history, but as a human being, I am necessarily emotional as well. I receive very interesting responses from readers. The posted comments are the mild ones. The emails are more personal and to the point! I have been called arrogant, divisive, petty, emotional, hateful, angry, judgmental, disrespectful, and immature. I have been accused of stirring the pot, feeding the fire, having impure motives, and wanting to introduce instruments into worship! And, that my blog is a tribute to Jefferson seems to be lost on almost everyone. Jefferson had complete disdain for the religious conservatives of his day, calling them “theocrats.” So, if I am so frustrated, the big, obvious question is, why stay? Why stay in a church that I have called “dysfunctional?” So many people have left already. We are losing our young people as well as the best and brightest. People very close to me have left. So why don’t I go? I don’t take this question lightly. I wrestle with it. Why do I swim upstream? Here’s my answer.

Firstly, I am not alone. There are many out there who send me encouraging messages, who feel many of the same things I do. We have seen too much and heard too much and been through too much. We feel the pressure of a prophetic voice burning inside. People see injustice, they know that things could and should be better, and they see an imperfect church - and pray for the perfection of Christ. These people want to speak out, but know there will be consequences. This reminds me of the prophet Jeremiah. We often idealize Jeremiah’s words about God’s word being a fire set in his bones that he cannot get rid of. We see this as a good thing, and assume Jeremiah is welcoming and thanking God. But who wants fire set in their bones? I believe Jeremiah’s words are words of complaint. Yet the fire is so intense inside of him he has to speak, regardless of what might happen. I believe many in Churches of Christ identify with the prophet (no, I don’t have prophetic delusions, I said “identify”). There is a burning inside of us to say something, to do something, that we know will rock the “establishment,” and perhaps even destroy friendships, family relationships, and employment. But we can’t shut up. It is as if God has put this unquenchable burning inside of us.

I am not the first to speak, or take risks as an agent of change. Our movement (Churches of Christ) was born out of prophetic love when good men and women would not be satisfied with the way things were, desiring the church to become something greater. Our movement was born out of a desire for Christian unity and recognition of our common humanity across denominational lines. We were not born to segregate ourselves from other Christians; we were born to call all Christians together to celebrate the one Lord, one faith, and one baptism we all share. But we quickly grew into rebellious adolescence, and alternate voices sprung up. People began preaching that we got it right and others have it all wrong; that we had finally “restored” the NT church in the modern day. This rebellious, arrogant voice grew and grew until the rebellion seemed to be the norm. Many believed that the segregation from the “denominational” world was the way things were supposed to be. For some of us, this is the norm in which we grew up. This was the doctrine handed down to us. Many unsatisfied with this rebellion believed that this was the only voice in Churches of Christ, and they chose to leave this tradition behind. And that’s why I don’t leave. I know this has never been the only voice in Churches of Christ. We were born with a different spirit, and that spirit has continued to live on, in spite of our greatest efforts to silence it through the doctrinal and hermeneutical tyranny of people who remind me more of the mafia than church leaders (SEE MY JEFFERSON QUOTE).

Though our movement has never been perfect, we have always been very diverse. Though one could tell the history of Churches of Christ by telling stories of fights, debates, withdrawals of fellowship, name-calling, church splitting and other forms of divisiveness, this is only one side of our history. Since our beginnings in a small Kentucky church in 1804, spurred on by a large charismatic revival, our movement has been a voice of hope. Though hope has at times been challenged by bitter and narrow-minded sectarianism and legalism, it has never died. It is the legacy of people who have had the courage to swim upstream that makes me proud to be a part of the rich and diverse tradition of the Churches of Christ.

62 comments:

The first Jenifer said...

Thank you for that post. I guess I need more hope and faith in my spiritual life and not let others pull me away from my belief in God and what I believe the Bible is saying to me. Swimming upstream can be a battle but someone with enough motivation from within (stubborness) will make it through all the currents that may come.

Charles North said...

Do you prefer "original Jennifer?" I haven't been called stubborn on this blog yet, but I think you mean it as a compliment. Thanks.

Bill Jordan said...

The fact that your blog is a tribute to Thomas Jefferson is not lost on me. I just get lost in all the big words you and Tom use when you (and T.J.) are writing.

The whole point that you, President Jefferson and many others try to make (and I include myself in that number) is that we are not served well when there is only one voice, one opinion, one school of thought.

You may have been called arrogant, divisive, petty, emotional, hateful, angry, judgmental, disrespectful, and immature. But I will defend you against all of those charges.

You may have been accused of stirring the pot, feeding the fire, having impure motives, and wanting to introduce instruments into worship! But I will defend you against all of those charges too.

The message that you've been trying to get across for a very long time is that we ( the Churches of Christ fellowship) can not, and must not, stand around and point our fingers at anyone and brand them as "wrong do-ers" just because they have different opinions or beliefs than the ones we hold.

I know that's a difficult transition in thinking for the new Jennifer to make. I know that this challenge to swim upstream (or against the current) for the original Jennifer (we have to find you another name because this one might turn into "OJ") leaves many of us tired and worn out at the end of the day. But we all owe each other the courtesy of listening to each other and then ponder the thoughts that are presented.

Even more important, we all need to remember that we share one Lord, one faith, one baptism – and in THAT we have unity. Paul never said we all have one (the same) opinion. So why are we so shocked and upset when someone's views are not identical to our own?

Finally, to all you Jennifers out there and everyone else, you need to know that Charles is not the type of person that expects you to agree or "fall in line" with his way of thinking. He just wants to have the freedom to express his thoughts and beliefs and he wants that freedom extended to everyone, not just himself. That is a pure expression of love, and miles and miles removed from the things he has been accused of by those who have attacked him.

Jenn said...

Bill, I think we do need a new name for me. OJ has been accused of a lot of wrong doing, just like I have, but he's guilty...I'm not! So, we will call me Jenn. Also, I definitely do NOT always agree with Charles. He and I have had many debates regarding church, religion, the Bible, and many other issues. I think Charles appreciates the debating. It's good for both of us.

And, Charles, you are stubborn, very stubborn, and it IS a compliment. You are welcome!

Charles North said...

Bill - THANK YOU!

Jenn ("J-Yo" is another good name) - I'm NOT!!! . . . Ha, Ha.

J-Yo said...

ok...change of mind. My name from now on on this blog will be J-Yo. Thank you Charles!

Now, lets get back to swimming upstream...

Anonymous said...

I am interested to know which of the traditions of the church of Christ that should stand no matter what?

All the Jennifers

Charles North said...

That sounds like a trick question, plus, who am I to dictate that to an entire church? So I'll answer it this way: "Traditions are the living religion of dead men, but traditionalism is the dead religion of living men." I guess we'll just have to figure it out, but if forms no longer serve functions, then the forms (traditions) have to change.

Also, I fall back on my litmus test - Ask yourself, "Does this tradition cause me to act less rational, less kind, and disrespectful toward other believers?" If the answer is yes, then CHANGE!

Oh, one more thing - sacred cows make the best hamburgers!

Anonymous said...

I find your litmus test interesting. Especially considering that in some of the issues discussed on this board you have definitely come across unkind and close to disrespectful to people who disagree with your position. I am guessing that has as much to do with why more people don't post on your blog as your fetish for big words and ancient history. (Honestly, both of which draw me in:)

I have several clarifications that I would like to make from this latest post about swimming upstream. However, I will only address two at this time. These are not meant as rhetorical questions, as I am truly interested in your views and perspective.

1. Did you intend to suggest that you are a member of the church of Christ because of the people who have worked for the movement of the church of Christ since 1804? Are you so enthralled with history that only 1 Bible reference is made in an essay of 850 words about why you are what you are?

2. Your tribute to Jefferson is not lost on me. Although, it is definitely troubling. This key creator of our country held some very controversial views on religion in general and Christ in particular. From the following quote it looks like Jefferson not only had disdain for those who attempted ‘tyranny over the mind’, but that he also questioned even the existence of God. “Thus in the spirit of the Enlightenment, he [Thomas Jefferson] made the following recommendation to his nephew Peter Carr in 1787: "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear." (http://www.monticello.org/reports/interests/religion.html) In my study of the cross, I find very little reason OR rationality (one of the terms of your litmus test). How do you defend the vast difference in Thomas Jefferson's religious beliefs and the Bible?

One of the scriptures brought out in the lesson this morning was Hebrews 12:14, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” I couldn’t help but think of our discussions and if I should even be participating. Please know that while I realize these points I have made are sharp, they are made in the spirit of creating conversation, study of the Bible, and a clearer picture. For without thoughtful dialogue, I would say we are very close to Jefferson’s eternal hostility…

The Other Jennifer, Again

Anonymous said...

After being directed to your blog site I would like to say that you are to be commended for bringing about open conversation.....however having a Grad. degree in Religion from a different fellowship than us. I feel that you need to do more historical research in regards to instrumental music http://www.bible.ca/H-music.htm is a great website....Also being a member of the same fellowship I am appalled at your biblical scholarship or lack thereof....I have never professed to being a member of anything started in 1804 but of something new started on the first Pentecost after the ressurection of Jesus the Christ.I understand the necessity of relating to people where they are, but in regards to discipleship sometimes some people need to understand that some of things that are held up by our culture or religion in general are wrong...there were somethings that were wrong in Jesus' day and somethings that are wrong today.....Big G

Charles North said...

Other Jennifer
I have another mantra I like to use - I prefer clarity to agreement. People who know me very well have already said that I take disagreement just fine. I have admitted to having positions that are out of step with most Churches of Christ. I don't expect people to agree with me, I just expect people to understand what I have said BEFORE they disagree.

I really appreciate you reading and commenting - yes, and even disagreeing. So, I am not a member of the CofC because of other people I admire. And, I didn't quote a whole lot of scripture because I wasn't answering a Bible question. Also, please read my post titled "Does Religion Make People Better or Worse?" My litmus test is simply a restating of Micah 6:8 "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." That is why I am searching for healthy doctrine.

And yes, you do need to participate in our discussions here - you may bring a softer touch! (and more thoughtful dialogue)

Charles North said...

Jennifer - one more thing - I agree with what Jefferson said to his nephew - "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear." If I didn't agree with that I may as well follow Islam.

Charles North said...

"Big G" ,
Yes, I have a graduate degree from Baylor, but I also have a Master of Divinity from ACU, and am working on a doctorate. My historical research and feel for the current atmosphere in Churches of Christ is up to par. I apologize for being autobiographical, but I needed to clear that up.

I have spent some time on the web site you recommended (the interactive Bible), and it is not good - it is rubbish. This site is FULL of the very kind of brainwashing and sectarian religious bigotry that gets my blood boiling. This nonsense is the "tyranny over the mind" that I protest so strongly. And besides terrible content, the layout and graphics are lame! Give me any issue - ANY issue, and I can string together 100 quotes to support it (on a web site, blog post, or even a sermon). That isn't research, it's intellectual dishonesty, and laziness.

Also, my biblical scholarship is just fine. I am secure enough in my understandings of God, the church, and myself that I don't have to provide book, chapter, and verse for everything. Here's a tradition that needs to change - and I'm very serious - we need to stop worshipping the Bible. We have tended to elevate scripture to another member of the Godhead. That is idolatry! I worship God, but I use the Bible to draw me closer to Him.

If you are a Christian of any kind (Catholic, Orthodox, Episcopalian, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Disciples of Christ, et al) then you are a member of the church started on the first Pentecost. If you are a member of the group known as the "Church of Christ," then you are a member of a group whose historical origins trace back to the Cane Ridge Revival of 1801. After the revival the Springfield Presbytery came to some restorationist conclusions, and left the Presbyterian Church in 1804. That was the year they called themselves simply "Christians," but for the next 100 years the names "Christian Church," "Church of Christ," and "Disciples of Christ" were used interchangeably to describe this group - that DID NOT EXIST BEFORE 1804. I am appalled that any thinking person would eschew this reality in favor of some sectarian "we're the only people going to heaven" delusion!

PS: For those who think my tone/language here is way too harsh, hateful, argumentative, etc., let's keep this in mind - this is not about mere disagreement - I am railing against a set of presuppositions that will allow no inch for disagreement - evidenced by the long list of people going to hell for holding different positions or interpretations.

J-Yo (We Rock, Other People...well, you know.) said...

Charles, I can see the strength of your backbone!! I'm glad! I admire your intelligence and your longing to continue studying the history of the church. The Kaufman church is lucky to have you and you have them! YOU ROCK!

Charles North said...

Thank you J-Yo. That made me laugh out loud! I really needed a light-hearted moment - I think I'm starting to take life way too seriously! Maybe now that I have a backbone I need to chill. YOU ROCK TOO!

Anonymous said...

1Cor 3:18-20 18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness"; {19 Job 5:13} 20 and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile."

Anonymous said...

1Cor 1:25-31 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength. 26 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things-- and the things that are not-- to nullify the things that are,29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God-- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." {31 Jer. 9:24}

Steve said...

Need for a little more clarity - do i understand you right? The "Church of Christ" was not started until 1801? Wouldn't this mean then that there was a complete apostasy? And the Mormons are right? Am I reading Romans 16:16 incorrectly?
Just wanting you to clarify your statement more not start a fight.

Ryan said...

Firstly, posting anonymously is LAME. This comment will have my name and picture next to it, as it should be. If you are going to have an opinion don't hide.

I think the only point being made here is that the Church of Christ as a denomination has been in existence since 1801. I know someone will explain that the CoC is not a denomination. Save it. I've heard it all before. The moment there are two or more churches who look, act and believe the same while having the same sign outside their building, there cannot be such a thing as a non-denominational church.

I am always amazed by people who isolate a single verse out of context to prove their point. The whole bible is the story of redemption. God had a plan and he has been working it for thousands of years before Jesus walked the earth. Having said that I believe that all of scripture should be viewed in that greater context. For people to refer to themselves as the "New Testament Church" shows a limited understanding of scripture. A denomination who refers to itself as "The Lord's Church" and insists that anyone who is not one of them is hell bound is arrogant and shows a limited understanding of who God is.

I don't understand why there are some in the CoC who are so divisive. Jesus came to bridge the great divide not to make it bigger. I agree with Rob Bell, the God (as he has been presented) that atheists don't believe in is the same one I don't believe in.

I don't have any theological degrees nor have I spent one day in seminary, but I know the greatest truth of all.

Jesus loves me this I know for the bible tells me so.

Anonymous said...

Your Evaluation of the WEbsite is just like your theology...you care about layout and graphics more than substance......you may feel secure in your faith, but others may not that is why Book, chapter, and verse is important to honest seekers of doing God's will in alll facets of life, not just worship.We should follow God's Word as best we can not your feelings or any other man's.The people coming out of denominationalism in 1804 may have first call themselves christian then....But the true believers of the New Testament Church (followers of the Apostolic way)were called Christians first at Antioch, not in 1804. Romans 16:16 Book, Chapter, and Verse states that"the churches of Christ salute you." a Biblical name for the disciples of ChristI can tell that a name probably does not mean that much to you, but for a true follower who seeks to do things by God's inspired Word, the Bible, a Biblical name should define a Biblical people.Lastly, who goes to Heaven is God's Business, In his Word, the Bible, we find the Way to get there, Jesus. Big G

Ryan said...

Big G. I ask that you reveal yourself. I get that you are a member of the Church of Christ. Are you a minister and if so where are you employed?

I don't see 1804 as a "coming out of denominationalism" as you stated but rather as a creation of a new denomination.

I find your comments to be typical of so many like you, snide and biting cloaked in "I'm concerned about you brother". In your comment you called Charles shallow and implied that he was not a true believer. At least you kept your conscience clean by declaring that "who goes to Heaven is God's Business".

I checked out the website you referenced and it must create quite a moral dilemma for you. You have Presbyterians and Methodists supporting your position. I guess your enemy's enemy is your friend. And one more thing, I agree with Charles, it is lame.

Holly said...

Okay, my claws are coming out. (I'm his wife...I can't help it...)

Any person who would scoff at Charles's dedication to knowledge and the understanding of Christianity just needs to do something better with their time...like read a good history book. Before you attack him for having a degree from a college associated with another congregational type, please make sure you know what the degree is in! Charles received a Master's Degree from Baylor in Church-State Studies and Religious Human Rights! (I hope I said that correctly, hon.) Not Bible, preaching, or what have you. The majority of the courses were law based. So, that degree really has nothing to do with his theological beliefs other than to say that we are all deserving of the freedom of God's love and salvation. HA!

I also disagree with anonymous's use of those scriptures. You should not use it too back up your choice of stupidity. If God wanted us to be blind, unintelligent followers, he wouldn't have given us free-will. He wouldn't have given us scriptures. He wouldn't have given us the ability to learn from history...which makes up the majority of the scriptures, by the way.

Lord knows that I DON'T always agree with Charles. That's why I don't post. I'd rather get in his face personally. It's a lot more fun that way. (And my wifely privilege, thank you very much.)

God is a magnificent artist. He has given each and every one of his children a gift. Some can sing or make music with an instrument. Some can dance. Some can write the most trilling stories. Others have a heart so big they are compelled to care for those in need. I could go on and on... But we all seek God in different ways. I love singing. I choose the be close to God when I sing to him, and I choose to share God by singing with others.

Charles's talent is the appetite for knowledge, and that is how he chooses to share God's glory and how he comes to know God. If you look at a child, they are curious little people. They seek to know how things work, how it came to be, what it does. Once they have discovered something, they share their find with such enthusiasm and excitement. From Matt 19:14: "But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven."

So, how are you like a child for God?

Charles North said...

Thank You Holly! My thirst for knowledge is how I choose to love God and serve the church.

And Ryan too - you get it.

BTW - Ryan is one of those talented and gifted people who has left the CofC because of how all this exclusivism has been applied.

J-Yo said...

Charles and Holly,

I appreciate all that y'all have said on this post! I have been reading it daily and have gotten so irritated and mad at some of the things that have been said toward Charles. This is absurd! I have never met anyone who is so motivated and so energetic to learn about the history of the Bible, Jesus Christ, and the church. I commend you, Charles, for all that you have done and continue to do in opening my eyes and allowing me to see beyond what I have been "brainwashed" to believe over the past 30-something years. I appreciate your honesty and knowledge when I have had questions about religion or the Bible.

My claws have been aching to come out too, Holly. I hope you don't mind me wanting to also rip a hole in some of the conversations on this post.

Charles does not say things just because it's the way he was brought up or just because he believes what someone else has said. He does extensive reading and research to come to his own thoughts and opinions of how he interprets what the Bible, religion, and church mean to him.

How can one condemn him for going to Baylor? C'mon...GET REAL!!! I have news for you, Big G...MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES GOING TO HEAVEN. There is NO WHERE in the Bible that you can prove differently to me. There are alot of scriptures that discuss what must be done to get to heaven, but no where does it say anything relating to "go to a church of Christ church and you will seek your eternal home in heaven." I have known many people who were not or are not members of the CoC and I would never think that they might be going anywhere but heaven. Why? BEcause they lived a Godly life and were the most loving, generous, caring, honest people I have known. So, Big G, don't condemn Charles for going to Baylor for whatever reason he went there. Also, Charles is not asking or telling people to worship him or believe everything he says. We all have a right to our own opinions. Charles is wanting us to open our minds and our hearts and learn about the history which can help us understand why or why not we (as members) believe what we believe. Charles is not arrogant and does not always think he is right. I know this because I have had hundreds of conversations with him on many, many topics.

Maybe people ought to open their minds and LISTEN or READ what Charles is saying or writing. You don't have to agree but you should, at the very least, respect him for the knowledge he has about religion and the Bible.

One last thing, I too agree that "anonymous" needs to come clean. Make it known who you are. People who hide don't get the same respect as people who show themselves to the world. But then, maybe you are unsure of yourself and you don't want us to know who you are. Whatever.

I am sorry if I have offended anyone. I just needed to get all this off my chest. Charles, you can delete my post if you want to. I will understand.

Charles North said...

Holly, Ryan, J-YO: THANK YOU!!!

I think a few things from my original post have been lost. I was actually praising the initial restorationist and non-denominational thrust of a movement that was born to create unity among all people who profess Christ. I want to restore the restoration movement because the rebels eventually become the establishment. One of the most fascinating stories in the annals of religious history is how a small frontier revival meeting sparked off a nation wide religious awakening and brought about a true and pure unity movement, only to fragment itself because of war and political agendas, and then how that divided unity movement grew into three separate mainstream denominations in the 20th century - Disciples of Christ, Churches of Christ and Christian Churches (actually we have subdivided, but let's be kind).

Okay, so let me handle things in order:

The first 2 anonymous "comments" today may use scripture, but it is used in a profoundly abusive way. When someone has no point to make on the stage of rational debate, they lob a text at you like it's a hand grenade. Wow, that takes skill. And it's usually something from Corinthians. What's especially ironic about the texts quoted at me from this sanctimonious perch is the missing context. Paul WAS wise by the standards of his age!! He was a super intellectual, educated beyond what we can dream, skilled in exegesis, and well versed in Greco-Roman writing and oratory. Paul is using a rhetorical device, if not hyperbole, to make a point within a much larger context and conversation of which we are only privy to half! The irony is what's clever about it. So I guess it would serve you better to study some scripture before using the text as your personal machine gun.

Next I want to clear up this Romans 16:16 thing. Paul says, "The churches of Christ salute you." So what? It's not used as a title - it is descriptive. It says, "the assemblies belonging to Christ salute you." The phrase "church of Christ" has referred to everyone in every group who profess faith in Jesus. This is the one universal church, belonging to Christ, but made up of several subgroups, called "denominations." Why is this so hard to get??? You are not entitled, as a sect of Christianity, to claim that you constitute ALL of Christianity. This has always been heresy! A scriptural phrase for all the saved ("church of Christ") cannot be used to apply to only a portion of the saved. This is why code phrases like "The Church," "The NT Church," or the especially pernicious "The Lord's Church" are arrogant and highly presumptive. And yes, the name on the sign really doesn't mean that much to me, mainly because I have run across some of the meanest people in the world in buildings proudly displaying "Church of Christ." What's in someone's heart is more important. I don't care because over the past few months more than 100 people left the church where I preach in a fit of immaturity because we planted another congregation and didn't use the name "Church of Christ." The book of Acts (which I now read as a "pattern" for change and flexibility) shows that followers of Jesus not only were called different things in different places, but they believed and worshipped differently as well. The NT itself teaches that there are multiple, equally valid, expressions of Christianity. "A biblical name for a biblical people" sounds good, but it's just another meaningless mantra for narrow exclusivism.

Steve, here's the thing that is undeniable. Historical realities exist despite our attempts to be ahistorical with outrageous claims like "I'm part of the church started on the first Pentecost." Everyone who professes Christ is part of that universal (aka "catholic") church. But Churches of Christ have roots. We grew out of the Springfield Presbytery, which grew out of a mix of New England Congregationalists and Puritans, who trace their origins back to the Zwinglian branch of the reformation. This is undeniable!!! Our worship, even our church architecture is thoroughly Zwinglian. Actually, in my opinion, the Church of Christ (as we know it today) did not start until 1906 when a small group of southern churches under the editorial whip of David Lipscomb split from the larger body (known as "Disciples of Christ") over music in the church and other "digressions." This was the beginning of 100 years of further splits and childish temper tantrums. I realize this is way oversimplified, but it is just my opinion.

If you are so inclined, I encourage everyone to go to my August archive and read "Pattern or Passion part 1."

Ryan said...

I love reading Matthew's gospel. It contains so much insight into who Jesus is and what his purpose was. It contains the sermon on the mount, the Lord's prayer, the beatitudes, etc. It is where we learn that whatever we do for the least of His brothers we also do to Him. Great stuff.

It also contains chapter 23.

Chapter 23 is not a happy chapter. Jesus is confronting the religious leaders of His day. The ones who thought they had it figured out. They knew their chapter and verse, you couldn't stump them. They would have won many shekels on Bible Jeopardy.

Verse 23 is the one that has always jumped out at me more than any of the others in the chapter.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

It has always been the verse that described a lot of religious people to me. More concerned with rule keeping than loving their fellow man. Jesus even tells those in the audience to listen to them (teachers of the law) but not to do what they do.

Anyhow, these are my thoughts this afternoon.

Charles North said...

I need to add one more thing. Some people have picked up some anger/hurt in my tone. Yes, some bad things happened in Abilene that have hurt, but it's more than that. Here's an example. One of our members had been studying with a colleague at work. The friend wanted to be baptized, so during their lunch break our member called the closest Church of Christ and asked to use their baptistery. I should add that this is a very conservative Church of Christ. When our member said, "I'm from the Kaufman Church of Christ . . ." he was cut off and told no! So because we have a progressive reputation we cannot use the baptistery at a "conservative" church? How am I supposed to deal with that???

Mark of Abilene said...

Charles, as alway, your a spoon stirring the pot! I won't say I agree with you on everything, but I know I agree with the heart of what you are saying and I have always enjoyed the fact that you'll discuss things instead of just shutting down and shutting out people.

I think one of the problems is that we let the ends justify the means. For example, it's hard to argue that drunkedness is wrong, but that does not justify someone getting up in the pulpit and stating, "My Lord would not make a fermented drink!" when refering to the miracle of the water to wine.

But yet, in the name of getting to the conclusion that drunkedness is bad, we let people get up in the pulpit and talk about "1 drink drunk" without challenge from the eldership.

This happens too often, with too many subjects and goes unchecked.

On another note:

A funny thing happened the other day. Our eldership announced a new preacher and the congregation clapped. Now I know in many places that's not odd, but at this congregation, we don't even clap after a baptism.

As Vizzini said in The Princess Bride, "Inconcievable!"


"Test everything, hold on to the good." 1 Thes 5:22

Mark

Steve said...

I want you to know I meant no harm in my questions. I find it very interesting that the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" (aka the Mormons) were first known as the "Church of Christ" plain and simple. And if memory serves me correct, around 1857 is when they added Jesus Christ then before 1900 they changed it again. Don't hold me to those dates though.

Your knowledge of church history is impressive.

But once again I am back to my original point - Love. Where is the love in all this. This thread has taken a wrong turn and gotten away from the intention. I know it was spurred on by some or one, that even blows me away. Yet at the same time it is continued by both sides. Attack of a person is wrong no matter how you put it and no matter what side it comes from. It seems as though the fruits of the spirit have rotted on some vines.
This thread reminded me of Micah 4. This chapter is in my opinion not a prophesy of the coming Massiah as much as it is a prophesy of the perfect church the Messiah establishes. As we see here today that prophesy has yet to come to completion. But through true love as Christ loves the Church, it will.

OH for the day we all beat our swords into plowshears.

In Christ with love.

Anonymous said...

Read the Bible you dummy....my Advanced (M.A)degree is from Criswell College in Bible.So since I spent a good deal of time studying the Bible....I am not ready to throw it away.....call me old fashioned.....I agree with Holly, that the Bible should not be quoted to back up stupidity so you might want to think about that......Charles!!! And Anonymous needs to leave a name!!!!If you won't leave a name then Leave......Your Baptized Brother in Christ.....Big G

Charles North said...

Much like a mosquito in a nudist colony, I'm trying to decide where to begin!

Steve - I know you mean no harm. Your questions are honest. As a military man I'm sure you appreciate firsthand the desire to beat swords into plowshares. And, yes, it seems there is a lot to restore before we have the perfect church. Keep in mind my original post was about the good I see in Churches of Christ and why I stay. But rotting fruit of the Spirit? Come on. You have met me. I'm not an argumentative, dislikable guy. People who know me will say I'm very loving (I hope). But that's not what this is - this blog is a forum to discuss controversial issues in a brutally honest way. I'm okay with that - we're all adults here.

Mark - I miss you man!!! I'm glad you guys are moving. I hope we see each other soon. I hear you - I rewound the tape several times - I almost drove off the road I laughed so hard. Jesus turned water into grape juice? I didn't think people told that lie anymore. I listen to the tapes - it hurts to hear that everything that was accomplished or taught over the past 3 years is being undone now. I'm not surprised by the reaction to the announcement, though the symbolism says a lot - the same people who threw a fit when the youth group clapped after a baptism applauds their "sound and faithful" preacher choice! You know everything that went on there - that eldership has been held hostage for years by that group. You know how people who have been faithful pillars claim "weak brother" status every time something happens they don't like. Okay, I better stop now - but I could go on and on!

"Big G" - you're the one posting anonymously! We don't know who you are. You last post is incoherent. I hope you're not calling me a "dummy." If you think so, please go through my archived posts and you'll see evidence to the contrary. Anyway, I just want to make this clear. I respect the Bible. But I worship God. There is a difference. What I am calling for is a better understanding of the Bible through honest study, humility, and consistent application.

Holly said...

Okay, so I guess "Big G" has shown what his "childlike"-ness is.... For the record, no one (and I mean NO ONE) is allowed to call Charles a dummy or any synonym of the word, except for his mother and me. We've earned the right, and I know that I have used it on occasion.

Big G, I am going to lump you in with a group of people that I bitterly despise. From what I am understanding of you, you are the type I blame for the falling away of so many potential Christians. My own brother refuses to be part of Christianity because of the type of people that we grew up with. we went to a congregation that preached a hard line. Because he questioned his teachers as a teenager, because he looked a little scruffy, because he wasn't "a good ol' boy", because he is creative and super smart, he was rejected by his fellow church members. My brother is a beautiful creation, made by God, and he could be a powerful force in the Lord's Army; but the church members had to go and screw that up. I've asked him why he won't come back, why he won't be baptized. His answer is always the same: "How can i be a part of a group that preaches love and open acceptance when they wouldn't accept me 'Just as I am'?"

I pray everyday for him. I pray everyday for those just like him. And yes, I pray for God to help me to forgive those that turned away his children simply because they questioned traditions. Didn't Nicodemus, a life-long student and expert on the Law question? Sure, he may have been being sarcastic, but he had the luxury of having the ultimate authority to answer him.

If you are going to participate in this forum and give criticism, you better be able to take it. Petty name calling just because someone doesn't agree with you is not exactly great rhetoric or wanted here. And before you try and tell me that I should go and preach this sermon to my husband, I have. You should follow the example of Steve and Jennifer #2 and others.

STEVE-
I agree with you whole heartedly. however, my presence on this particular topic has not reflected such. So, I am bowing out. I obviously cannot take the bile that is thrown at my husband sometimes and too often speak with my bruised heart rather than a calm and rational mind. I ask your forgiveness. But one last note of advice for posting on this blog: I am afraid that most of what you say about speaking to one another with love will fall on deaf ears. Both sides feel very convicted in their beliefs, and when things get heated... love is the first thing to be put on the back of the bus. Or at least, that's how I see it. Charles will no doubt disagree with me and I am sure there are others. I just cannot see how some of the things posted by all users (myself included) can be said out of love. Initially, perhaps they were. Sigh...

Give my love to your family, especially your mom.

Ryan said...

I find it ironic that Big G is calling someone else a dummy. I must know who you are sir!

Reveal yourself!

Steve said...

Charles, the fruits thing was not directed at you. I must admit that you handled it a lot better than I would have. Holly, no forgiveness is needed as far as I can tell. I would have used long range balistics, not a blog. That's my army side though. I will send the family your best, will see them Friday.
Those on the outside of a war can not see what realy goes on when battle lines are drawn. Only those that wear the uniform can speak of those things. Many see war as an ugly black mark on the flesh of mankind, and it is ugly. But, even wars can be fought with compasion and respect for fellow men, even your enemies. I dare not start a debate on the ethical or christian view of war, that's one I've got WMDs for, but my point is this. People are right to say we have free will, they are right to say you must stand for something. But they are wrong to use terroristic tactics and hate to drive their war machines. Being a christian has made me a better soldier; being a soldier has made me a better christian. The reason the U.S. Army wins where it fights, is because it fights with dignity and honor (not open for debate). Many think that in order to fight a war you must be a mean hard man, but that is not entirely true. It does take a certain fortitude, but most of all discipline. In that discipline you decide how you act and react towards your enemies. And in those actions you show the true man or woman you are.

God has placed so much about war in the scriptures it cannot be avoided. And scriptures are for instruction. Take heed that a true soldier of God never dishonors his God or himself. Name calling is a disgrace in God's ranks.

Even though we christians are at war, we must choose our targets wisely.

And when you have done all that you can to stand firm, stand.

Mark of Abilene said...

Steve -

Thanks for the reminder that it is all about love and unity.

As you look through the NT, you see that there are very few directions about "How To." That leaves us to infer from historical context and examples from the NT how we are supposed to do things.

However, one thing is abundantly clear and it is stated again and again throughout scripture. We are to love one another and seek unity.

Charles has heard me say it before, but I'll say it again. What we do in the "corporate worship" setting only accounts for about 4-5% of your week.

What would happen if you showed up for work on time every day, but then sat at your desk and did nothing? You'd get fired!

It is important to get this 4-5% right (that is, in spirit and in truth.) But, it is equally important to get the rest of the week right. Worship can not be meaningful (that is, our focus on God can not be meaningful) if the rest of the week does not maintain that same focus and fervor.

In Christ,
Mark

Charles North said...

Mark - Thank you. That's a good way to wrap up what started out as a positive post about what I admire in the Church of Christ. It began as a unity movement. That's all I was trying to say. Form should always follow function - especially in corporate worship.

Steve - Thanks for disavowing name-calling, and your service. I also don't want to start a discussion about Christians and war - Mike Cope had a very heated discussion about that this past week - check out www.preachermike.com if you want to add to that!

Thanks to all (even the totally lame and cowardly anonumous comments) for a vibrant discussion!

Anonymous said...

Charles how do you feel about women preachers....Your wife seems more versed in the Bible than you do....and makes better arguments that are at least honest.....It seems that your wife's brother has had some problems in the past and may still........and I am sorry for that...I hope he has not been the butt of many problems that seem personal........My prayers are with you.....Big G

Ryan said...

Big G -
I was enjoying the tone this discussion took today. More peaceful and kind... then you posted.

I find it amusing at best that someone who refuses to reveal his identity would call someone else dishonest. I hope the irony is not lost on you here. I must admit that I enjoy the shots across the bow followed by the concern pattern your posts take. Why are you so angry? I hope the sarcasm is not lost on you here.

I have known Charles for a long time and am happy that he is finally in a place where the leadership is working with him and not against him. They are a group of people who have decided to honestly examine what they do in the light on God's word and not just blindly stick to tradition. What has always bothered me about people like you is that you hide behind the "We're trying to restore New Testament Christianity" mantra. When to anyone who does not blindly believe this statement can see that you are trying to restore some idealized 1950's version of Christianity.

Holly -
Since we both know that your mother-in-law will never call Charles dumb I'd like to claim that right just in case I need it in the future.

Charles North said...

"Big G"
Nice try. We'll discuss women's role when I say so. Let's just say I DON'T believe in the "sit down, shut up, and bake a casserole for the potluck" view that is oppressive, inconsistent, and unscriptural.

Thank you for complimenting my wife's knowledge of the Bible. She loves God and scripture, and frequently "wins" arguments with me. I will not permit you to cause a fight between us, so that's all I'm gonna say. Again, nice try.

How, exactly, am I dishonest? Feel free to disagree, but where is my dishonesty??

PS: Are you Gary?

Charles North said...

Thank you Ryan - I think. Holly is considering giving you permission to call me dumb - I'm arguing my case right now. It's hard because she does now more Bible than me and is honest!

People like "Big G" don't get sarcasm, irony, satire, innuendo, or metaphorical speech. It's why Jesus' parables are lost on them.

Charles North said...

I meant to say "know more Bible." I'm such a dummy!

Charles North said...

Oww! My mother just hit me and said, "you are the spoon stirring the pot!"

Ryan said...

"I meant to say "know more Bible." I'm such a dummy!"

I think you meant to say "KNOWS more Bible"

You are so du.... Holly, may I?

Charles North said...

You are wrong! My original line was, "she does know more Bible." Who's the dummy now - and I don't need your wife's permission! (Though I will ask for it later)

Holly said...

Ryan-
Even a wife knows to stay out of the way of sibling rivalry! You two sling away. It's always been quite entertaining. : )
Cheers,
Holly

Oh, by the by...I went to Baylor too. LOL, couldn't resist.

Ryan said...

Charles -
Thanks for letting us know that the error was a cognitive one and not merely poor spelling or a typo.

Holly -
The term "cheers" should be followed by a pint.

Steve said...

Checked out Mikes war topic. Not much there for me.

Besides I've come to enjoy this place. It's like a car wreck, you just can't look away and then you find yourself tangled among it. Sorry not as witty as most around here.

Hope all of you have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Anonymous said...

I do know Sarcasm...etc...the dishonesty was in intellectual arguments...not personal....Have enjoyed the conversations back and forth....have a blessed Thanksgiving.......Big G

Anonymous said...

No I am not Gary.....Big G

Charles North said...

I know we've all been pretty biting, and I don't know why, but I'm laughing out loud right now! Thanks for coming back again and again Steve. I too have enjoyed the conversations Big G - I really have!

Happy Thanksgiving to all. I'm thankful we live in a time and country where religious disagreements don't result in violence, even war! I suspect the Inquisition would've loved to get their hands on me!

Ryan - get off the computer - get over here. The pizza is getting cold!!

Anonymous said...

Ryan, in an earlier post you stated: “I don't understand why there are some in the CoC who are so divisive. Jesus came to bridge the great divide not to make it bigger.”. Again, I hear the drum beat playing of “unity”, “peace”, and “love”. Help me understand just how this statement of yours when we read the words of Jesus from Luke 12:42-53? Am I taking this passage “out-of-context” as well? How about Matthew 10:34?

Sorry Charles … have to call you on something as I feel you are not being intellectually honest and balanced here … you said earlier “And yes, the name on the sign really doesn't mean that much to me, mainly because I have run across some of the meanest people in the world in buildings proudly displaying "Church of Christ." What's in someone's heart is more important. I don't care because over the past few months more than 100 people left the church where I preach in a fit of immaturity because we planted another congregation and didn't use the name "Church of Christ."

Didn’t you state that the “name-calling” you’ve been exposed to at “other places” has hurt your feelings? Do you forget and lose this point so easily or is that just a good sounding defense to so many things? You really don’t care about another brothers feelings on this issue especially in the role as their minister? I find this greatly disturbing no matter what you want the sign reads on the building where where you preach!

Your attitude here sounds a bit like the “your way or the highway” thinking you and others on this blog love so much to rail against. How do you think those Christians, who’ve left the Kaufman assembly since you’ve been preaching there for less than six months, feel that, in your opinion, they left in a fit of immaturity”? Where is the “understanding” and “love” for your brother you and other espouse to obtain that was so lacking in “other places”? An understanding of their emotions? The call of “unity” founf on many postings on this blog then rings hollow and disingenuous when you berate others for their feelings when they are as passionate about their position and opinions as you are. You can’t have it both ways. Your not saying that your knowledge and understanding trumps theirs, are you? I know you don’t want to come across as arrogant, but what else can this sound like?

Men, who are afforded the opportunity to serve in positions of leading the thought of others to Christ and having influence among the brotherhood must remember that this is a God given privilege as He alone sees fit and with which comes great responsibility and accountability. It is not our own human wisdom, understanding, or historical study that brings us closer to God. This influence is a privilege granted at the pleasure of God that also can just as easily be taken away if not utilized according to His will. Some of the postings on this site walk too closely to that abyss, in my opinion. It seems that Gnosticism is as much alive today as it was to the early church as we read in Col 2:1-8. “Fine-sounding arguments” and “traditions of men”; hmmmm, seems like those are all dangers that can lead people just as easily astray even today no matter name is on the building outside of where you seek to worship God.

ANONYMOUS

Charles North said...

Since this has been said 100 times already on this blog, I feel silly (not to mention repetitive) saying this: Anonymous posts are LAME! I may be "arrogant" (wow that's new), close to the "abyss" of having my influence taken away (by God??), and a Gnostic resurgent (is this because I'm fairly articulate and educated?), but I put my name and picture and place of employment with every post and comment. I understand that my opinions are WAY out of step with Churches of Christ, and may even threaten my livelihood, but I have the courage to state them in the open, not under a warm and comforting yellow blanket of anonymity! Let's say that you are someone I know personally (say from BHCC), then you owe me the respect of open dialogue.

I'll let Ryan defend himself, but, yes, you frequently use scripture out of it's context - which, in my opinion, is the highest form of abuse! You have done it with Luke 12 and Matthew 10. Jesus' words in Luke, set in the context of an ongoing struggle with the Pharisees, does not trump his command that his followers love each other and his prayer that they be unified. In Mtt 10 Jesus is quoting Micah 7. Have you done any sort of exegesis of Micah? Anyway, in my experience, Mtt 10:36 is more fitting than vs 34 - "A man's enemies will be the members of his own household." The past year of my life has certainly proven that true!

The name calling really doesn't bother me - being misunderstood is what bothers me. It's almost as if no one actually read the original post that spurred all this discussion. I prefer clarity to agreement.

I care plenty for people's feelings. I am in the middle of hurting people at the Kaufman church. Families have been torn apart and friendships ruined. The divisive people are those who left and continue yapping at us like a pack of wolves because we are more concerned with effectively reaching lost people rather than keeping "Church of Christ" on the sign. Some of these people have said that this is a salvation thing. Now let's just be clear - when you make those sort of bold claims, it's no longer a contest between two equal opinions. You are perpetuating a myth of equivalency by saying I should be more "understanding." I understand religious bigotry, trust me. I rail against people who are already divisive, I don't cause division. It's just that these people aren't used to educated and articulate people actually standing up to them with logic, reason, and sound interpretation of scripture along with knowledge of history. I would love to berate them, but then this blog would turn into a piece of satire, and people with simplistic, literal understandings of scripture don't get satire, they just get mad!

The veiled threats about having influence taken away are starting to bore me. Also, the constant cheap shots at my academic credentials are making me angry! I have chosen to serve the church and show my love for God through the rigorous process of study. Cultivating the mind is a form of spirituality. I refuse to apologize for this. I wonder why people feel so threatened???

Ryan said...

Anonymous, if that is even your real name, I have moved from amused to annoyed with you. Yes, you have taken Matthew 10:34 and Luke 12:42-53 out of the GREATER context of scripture. The story of the Bible is one of a righteous God working His plan to restore the relationship between Himself and His fallen creation. That is the great divide that needs to be bridged which I have referenced.

BTW, signing your name as anonymous in ALL CAPS is not funny but makes you seem more sad to me.

Anonymous said...

Well Charles, Sounds like you have it all together with no reason to apologize...to anyone about anything.....(I think that is satire if there was ever any written)..remember pride goes before the fall.....Big G

Charles North said...

That's not satire. Like I said, people like you don't get satire. No, I don't have it all together. But what exactly should I apologize for, and to who? Is it wrong to think for yourself, question what everyone else accepts blindly, have some firm convictions, and then voice those convictions or questions. I'll never apologize for rejecting cultish brainwashing wrapped in the sanctimonious nomenclature of "faithfulness" or "soundness." Again, I refer you to my Jefferson quote - "tyranny over the mind" and all that. Why are you people so threatened???

Mark of (soon to be) Allen said...

Big G,

You asked about two passages from Christ's teachings (Luke 12:42-53 and Matt 10:34) and how they fit in with the "the drum beat playing of 'unity', 'peace', and 'love'."

You are right to note that we are not to be at peace with the world around us. How can we abide with the culture of immorality that surrounds us? We can't! We must take a stance that may be seen as politically incorrect and may place a wedge between the Christians and the world.

What we can not do is "bite and devour one another." I spent less than 30 minutes skimming the NT starting in Acts. I found at least a dozen examples, commands, and references to unity. That's not counting all of the scriptures that talk about love or praise a church for thier love towards one another. I don't think this is a coincidence.

Paul writes in Romans that we are "united with him [Christ] in his death..." The first letter to the church at Corinth emphasises the unity of the body. But yet, bring up this problem of unity, and you get a great deal of, "Yeah, but they... (insert complaint here)"

Don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting we throw all of our rules out the door (even some of our tradition based rules.) But we must seek unity with each other. It is COMMANDED.

If we are not unified in purpose, Satan has won. If the "one cuppers," the "liberals," and the "middle of the roaders" truely became unified in purpose, there is little that could stop the influence of the church... no let me put it this way... the influence of Christ on our communities and country.

In Christ,

Mark

Anonymous said...

Charles ... I think it is misinterpreted to characterize that others feel "threatened" in any way by your thoughts and writings as you have intimated several times now. I certainly don’t take that position. You make it appear by this language that you think Christians today must run around the intellectual world locked into some form of duel with one another where the winner may be crowned in the public court of opinion by scoring points for their argument with who most masterfully uses the biggest words and paints the most illustrative historical chain of references and inferences to connect something new and profound never bfore discovered in scripture. I understand your pursuit for spiritual knowledge and believe it is admirable and a worthwhile endeavor and something you appear to quite good at. Just keep it in perspective, understand who you shall "boast in" through that attained wisdom, and keep it in context to the conclusion found in Ecclesiastes 12:8-14. It is not about us. I think it has maybe more to do with your presentation style. Example: one of your comment threads on your most recent post from Thursday, November 22 reads “After the holiday lull, it's back on at my previous post!!!“. This type of excited language makes it appear you are all too eager to fight and thus dulls the calls of unity, peace, and love found in other sections as well as the voices of others who jump in on the tussle in other sections of post on the same issues. It is the easy-way-out to deflect, excuse, and rationalize this attitude by saying it is just passion or conviction. Just be intellectually honest here and consistent in all your speech and teachings … can't have it both ways ... I'm referring to the walk the talk stuff. Remember, “the fruits of the spirit are…” You can’t say love, peace, and unity in one post and then "vent", "in a nice way" by going after those who you feel have wronged you in the past or disagree with your opinion on matters. If you have moved-on, then move on. Look, railing against the “machine” and the perceived "inflexible establishment of the day" that holds "everyone back from enlightened thinking and being a collective force and agents of change for Christ" is certainly not a new position or game by any means and given your background in church history I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. In Matthew 16:18-28 we see that the “fight” or “argument” was already won by Christ. All we have to do is deny ourselves and follow Him. Meaning we have to love Him, His plan, His commandments, enough to follow Him ... surely this is not the "cultish brainwashing" you reject? A little bit of humble pie will go a long way here to win more folks to listen to your argument and engage in healthy discussion regarding your thinking … simple as that. There is nothing new to “rage against”, Satan is our enemy, always has been, always will be as I agree with mark of (soon to be) allen. In the “debate du jour”, thos who seek to attain wisdom and knowledge can easily be used as stumbling blocks to others who can easily be led astray by not having their minds on the things of God, but rather the things of men by being enticed by “foolish and quarrelsome talk”. We need to avoid all quarrelsome and stupid talk as mentioned in 2 Tim 2:20-26 … WHY? So that we are not inadvertently used for serving the evil one by fanning the flames of division among Christians. Why does Satan have to attack the church when all sides on the debate are already busy pointing fingers at each other? For this each will be held accountable. Keeping the pot stirred up for the “love of debate” or a “healthy argument” to “push forward the envelope” because of a mindset of “who do I have to apologize to” and “I’ll never surrender my convictions” or telling others they are “following along like mind-numbed robots” “blinded by “cultist traditions”, etc… save the drama, please. This type of talk only further enflames division and serves Satan’s ambitions only. Don't be fooled otherwise. I can’t believe that this is your goal or the reaction to your ministry that you desire? I choose to believe your heart, intentions, ambitions, and teachings are on a much better course, a much higher plane than that … I believe that you seek to avoid even the “appearance of evil” as the KJV says in 1 Thes 5.22 as I read and understand you hate to be misunderstood. Scripture calls for; in contrast, that we are to gently instruct and as 2 Tim 2:15 states, to be seen approved by God, not men, and correctly handle the word of truth. What divisions are out there yesterday, today, and tomorrow are all man-made, self-created, and fueled by Satan alone. He’s laughing at us even now as what are we accomplishing? I’d hate to be the guy used as 2 Tim 2:26 eludes to … Look, there will always be a remnant that will remain faithful no matter what you, I, or anyone else does or thinks or teaches or debates. The question is; “can we be counted by God as being part of that faithful remnant”? Each one will have to answer for that in the day of judgment. The church will never will be overcome; not even by Hades as is stated in Matt 16:18. All we have to do is follow Him. In Matt 26:51 when Peter cut off the ear of Malchus, this showed that Peter was willing to fight at the last hour, but in the process of healing the servant’s ear I can’t help but wonder what Christ was thinking? Maybe he was a bit saddened to find out through this action by one of his closest disciples at such a late hour that those closest to Him, who professed their allegiance the strongest and most vocally, did not still understand His plan and who and what the fight was about. Peter was ready to fight, but what was he fighting against? Whether to be traditional or progrssive???? Give me a break! Who was he fighting against? The perceived establishment of the day? No, the plan was already being played out according to His will. Christ had already won the battle, war, debate, whatever you want to call it. Just follow him. Not so easy to do sometimes when our personal agendas and ambitions hinder our effectiveness as being used as servants in His Kingdom. Sometimes we just need to get out of His and our own way and have faith enough that He has already figured out all things and will use us accordingly to further accomplish His will.

ANNONYMOUS

Charles North said...

Okay, I read your comment slowly - twice. I could pick at parts of it. And I still feel like you're taking some cheap shots at me, BUT I actually agree with the point of what you said and the spirit in which you said it. This blog is the only part of my life where I allow myself to get a little carried away - so I go over the top sometimes. I want this to be a forum for open and honest discussion, not a theological Hannity and Colmes!

So, in that spirit, let me clear up some things:

My ministry style is not confrontational. People who know me personally will all say that I am not "in your face" or argumentative, and that my teaching/preaching style is gently persuasive (I hope).

I love scripture and try to be faithful to its teachings. All my sermons are expository - that means I pick ONE text and I explain what it means, and how it impacts our lives today - I don't rapid fire 50 quotes at people. I am, however, careful not to turn the Bible into a substitute object of worship - in place of God. I feel some in the church have done this or are close to it. If this offends you, please give it some thought.

I love the church - that means the people in the church. I really do! I think that was the point of my original post. I want to revitalize that original restoration impulse - which was one of unity among all Christians.

PS: I still don't like being called "arrogant," "full of pride," and being told to eat "humble pie." Maybe I need to work on that. Also, there's nothing wrong with using big words.

Anonymous said...

Charles,
Coming from someone who has heard you preach many times, you do NOT come across as argumentative or confrontational in person, and yes are gently persuasive from the pulpit. In fact I'd say you connect very well with the audience and your desire to serve & love God in this way is evident in your choice of words and style as you use your gifts to teach. Your willingness to weigh the thoughts of this last anonymous post (which I took to be written in a spirit of love) in a respectful non- reactionary manner is much appreciated and I'm sure duly noted by the many anonymous people that are reading your blog.

Thank you for your heart, your passion, and for using your quest of knowledge for the Lord and his church.

Anonymous too

Ryan said...

I'm glad to see that everyone is settling down and starting to play nice. I enjoy this blog as a place where we can discuss the Bible and the state of modern Christianity.

Anonymous said...

Big G, If I blog in I will blog in as Big G, not Anon so don't go after me everytime someone blogs in as Anon, as ryan did I think....I do get Satire , sarcasm....etc....I set you up to see if you new the difference I was impressed that you did.....and Believe me that was a sarcastic quote from me to you.......I accept 1 Lord, 1 Faith, 1 Baptism and must do so......on these we can have unity, if believe in the same tenets of faith, that is what 1 faith means in an apostolic way....we come into the 1faith by the 1 baptism after believing in the 1 Lord.......it is and historically always has been the tenets of the faith, (what the Bible says) that mankind has struggled over.......Big G

Denise said...

I have to say after reading this post and all the comments that as one of those who is priviledged to have Charles and Holly with us in Kaufman, that I don't see him as someone who does not care about the stuggles of the past year within our church family. If anything, he has been a calm in a very rough storm. I am one of those raised 30+ years in the churches of Christ and have lived with all the different debates. I am also one who has lost family and friends due to the disagreements within our "denomination". I too, like Holly, have a brother that felt totally unaccepted because his gift has always been music yet he was told that he would be sinning if he used his gift within our worship. I have also watched many leave the church because they could not keep up with all the "rules" and felt as if they would never be "good enough" to make it to heaven. I appreciate those who take the Bible, share the scriptures and look at the context for which they were written. For too long we have allowed spoonfeeding of scriptures and trusted that what was being fed to us was truth. Most of it has been truth but many scriptures have been used out of context to make our denomination look "right" and to condem all others.

I do not want to stir the pot any more, but as for those who have no clue what the struggles of the Kaufman church have been in the last year, I say, leave Charles out of it. We are a congregation that loves people right where they are. You don't have to be perfect to worship with us. You don't have to have all the right answers or even know all the scriptures. We will love you for who you are and together we want to help you grow to be what Christ intends us to be. Sometimes it has been a struggle for me to look at traditions that have been rooted in my life and see if they are truly of God or man. We have done a good job in our history of making sure our children know the "right" way to do things. Unfortunately, some have not been based on scripture but tradition. I will even go out far on a limb and say that my brothers and sisters in Christ are not necessarily sitting in a building with "church of Christ" on the sign. Many of them don't even have a sign on their building. They are simply Christians. Isn't that what we are called to be? Followers of Christ!

So, I guess I am saying. Charles, good job. Keep it up. I am actually happy to see the passion you have for your convictions. Holly, I appreciate your words also. I will keep your brother in my prayers. I know what you are feeling. To those who won't list your names, John 3:19-21 talks about being hidden in darkness. Verse 21 says, "But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." If your motives are pure, you will not hide.