Why I Left? Questions, Questions…(May 2012)

By Matt Dabbs

By Scott Simpson

Rachel Held Evans, in Evolving in Monkey Town, suggests that fundamentalism has less to do with WHAT ideas one is holding on to than with HOW TIGHTLY one is holding onto them. Fundamentalism can grow up around any set of ideas that can be identified, deified, and then defended at all costs. Greg Boyd calls this “confusing one’s map for the territory.”

In my tradition, this confusion happens because of the belief that, in a world of churches that “interpret” scripture, what needs to be restored, is a church that simply reads the Bible and does what it says. Without question. Questions aren’t for God; questions are for vetting others, for ferreting out false doctrine.

God loosened my grip from my own tradition in two grand movements:

  • He made me aware of the disturbingly deceptive questions used to vet those who aspire to leadership positions within the fold.
  • He helped me to see that I NEEDED to ask questions that were apparently unaskable … at least while I was still “within the fold.”

Movement One: Church Leadership Vetting Questions
Until I spent some time outside of the tradition I grew up in, I wasn’t really cognizant of how inauthentically I approached these types of questions. The answers just popped into my head—I knew what was REALLY being asked. I aced the doctrinal question gauntlet when I applied to be a camp director for a Christian camp within my tradition, and though I’ve looked back at my answers many times since to see if I really answered honestly (I believe I did) I’m convinced that my capacity to both answer honestly and answer safely, led to my eventual firing (due to what I was told was a “difference in vision” between myself and the executive board members).

The questions seemed very general and innocuous on the surface, but as an insider, I knew what was being asked. I knew the hot buttons and how to give answers that skirted them.

Application Questions:
For the following topics, we are not looking for a right or wrong answer, but a Biblical basis for your belief. In working with young people, many controversial subjects often arise. It is of utmost importance that you as a Christian individual and as one in an influential position, have such matters resolved in your life, and that you be ready to give an answer to anyone who may challenge your standards, your life principles, or the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15). Please explain your personal convictions and what you would teach campers, counselors, and other staff members about the following topics. Be honest and to the point. Appropriate scripture references are encouraged.

  • The Lordship of Christ
  • The Biblical view of salvation
  • The Biblical view of authority
  • Who can be saved?
  • God’s grace
  • What is worship?
  • What about mechanical instruments of music in worship?
  • What about women taking a leadership role in a devotional or public worship service where men are present?
  • Do you abstain from the use of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs? What would you teach about the use of these substances?
  • Recreation activities such as dancing, rock concerts, movies, etc?
  • Dating practices, marriage, and family?
  • Abortion
  • Sexual purity (include homosexuality)
  • Sin
  • What are your personal goals for growth in the Lord’s work?
  • What do you perceive to be the greatest needs in the church today?

The problem was that these weren’t real questions. A real question seeks to discover something unknown. Though the instructions stated they weren’t looking for a right or wrong answer, I knew the “correct” answers to these questions, with some small latitude, were predetermined. Similar questions were included on the applications for teachers and for counselors. Any teacher or college student who had been a part of our church tradition for any amount of time and who really wanted to be a teacher or counselor knew how to answer. <br><br>These questions served only to separate outsiders (and by that, I mean individuals who knew so little of our tradition that they believed the questions to be actual questions) from insiders. They told us little about the “insider” applicants other than that they were inside enough to know how to answer.

What is most disturbing about this regular “vetting question” occurrence within my tradition is that the tradition itself is based on the premises of non-creedalism and autonomy. So… if there is no creed to read and there is a clear embrace of autonomy among various congregations, then where does this insider knowledge come from? How is it propagated?

The only thing worse than a narrowly-written dogma is a narrowly-unwritten dogma. Those bitten by the dogma can’t point to the source; it will only be denied. And when they are fired, the articulated reasons will always have to be vague enough to uphold the illusion of non-creedalism … “we have a difference of vision.”

After being fired by a Christian institution, I was still tenacious enough to pursue work with an actual church … as a college minister. This led to God’s next grip-loosening lesson.

Movement Two: Questions That Can’t Be Asked
I suppose having come out of the inauthenticity of the afore described experience, I was ready to ask actual questions. Having been cut loose in the most painful way (despite having answered the questions “correctly”) I felt somehow comfortable in asking the sort of questions publicly that I have ALWAYS asked privately. These are questions whose answers lead us into growth experiences. These are questions that lay open the world of experience and scripture, and ask the Spirit and the community to enter in. These are questions whose answers may not come… and if they do, they may lead only more difficult questions.

As a teacher and learner, and now as a teaching minister, I saw these sorts of questions as the most vital vehicles for learning, for maturing. As a minister, I believed that maturing and helping others to mature was my primary calling from God.

I could give many examples, but for this article, three general examples will suffice:

Example One:
diakonos – At the small congregation, of which I had been a part for many years, I began a Wednesday night adult class. After looking at the Greek word diakonos, its variations and uses in the New Testament, and a bit of history about the translating of the original King James Version of the Bible and its influences, I asked some of these questions:

Why do you think the translators working for King James decided to create a new word, “deacon” in the 1st Timothy “deacon qualifications” passage instead of translating diakonos as “servant?” Why might they have added the word “office” to their translation? What about translating gune as “their wives” instead of just “women?”

  • Have their translation decisions influenced us?
  • How might their translation decisions influence our understanding of servanthood and church leadership?
  • Are there divisions in churches today because “leaders” forget that they are called to be “servants?”
  • Can men and women be “leaders” in the church? Can men and women be “servants” in the church? Is there any difference? Was Phoebe in Romans 16:1 a “servant” or a “deacon?”
  • Are our roles within the body of believers more about “offices” or “functions?” What might create more division, competition over who is “the greatest” or over “who gets to serve?”
  • Do “cultural” concerns threaten us in the church today? How might a true understanding of the Biblical concept of diakoneo help?

Example Two: the “church”
After reading this particular passage from Acts 5 in the same adult class, I asked the questions that follow:

<blockquote>Meanwhile, the apostles were performing many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And the believers were meeting regularly at the Temple in the area known as Solomon’s Colonnade. <sup>13</sup> No one else dared to join them, though everyone had high regard for them. <sup>14</sup> And more and more people believed and were brought to the Lord–crowds of both men and women.</blockquote>

Consider these phrases from verses 12 through 14:

  • the believers…” verse 12
  • “No one else dared to join them…” verse 13
  • “more and more people believed and were brought to the Lord…” verse 14
  • Do you think “the believers,” “them” and those who were “brought to the Lord” all refer to “the church?” If so, how do you explain the fact that “no one else dared to join them…” and in the next verse “more and more…were brought to the Lord?” If these phrases don’t all refer to the church, then what do they refer to? What picture do we get here concerning the structure of this gathering of believers? Their lines of fellowship? Their assembly habits? The nature of their “outreach” in the community? Are these even valid questions to ask of this passage?

Example Three: conversion
In the midst of the Acts study, I showed this table from John Mark Hicks and Greg Taylor’s fine book, Down in the River to Praya>:<br />

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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Text</span><o:p></o:p></p>
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Heard</span><o:p></o:p></p>
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Believed</span><o:p></o:p></p>
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Repented</span><o:p></o:p></p>

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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Immersed</span><o:p></o:p></p>
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Holy
Spirit</span><o:p></o:p></p>
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Saved</span><o:p></o:p></p>
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<p class=MsoNormal style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:
normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Pentecost</span><o:p></o:p></p>
<p class=MsoNormal style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:
normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Acts 2:14-41</span><o:p></o:p></p>

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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>2:37</span><o:p></o:p></p>
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>2:37</span><o:p></o:p></p>
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>2:38</span><o:p></o:p></p>
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>2:41</span><o:p></o:p></p>
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>At
Immersion</span><o:p></o:p></p>

<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>2:38</span><o:p></o:p></p>
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>“Remission
of sins” 2:38</span><o:p></o:p></p>
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<p class=MsoNormal style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:
normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Samaria</span><o:p></o:p></p>
<p class=MsoNormal style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:
normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Acts 8:5-13</span><o:p></o:p></p>
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>8:12</span><o:p></o:p></p>
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>8:13</span><o:p></o:p></p>
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Not
mentioned</span><o:p></o:p></p>
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>8:12-13</span><o:p></o:p></p>

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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>After
Immersion</span><o:p></o:p></p>
<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>8:15-17</span><o:p></o:p></p>
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Not
mentioned</span><o:p></o:p></p>

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<p class=MsoNormal style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:
normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Eunuch</span><o:p></o:p></p>
<p class=MsoNormal style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:
normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Acts 8:35-39</span><o:p></o:p></p>
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>8:35</span><o:p></o:p></p>
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>8:36</span><o:p></o:p></p>
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Not
mentioned</span><o:p></o:p></p>

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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>8:38-39</span><o:p></o:p></p>
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Not
mentioned</span><o:p></o:p></p>
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>“Rejoicing”
8:39</span><o:p></o:p></p>
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<p class=MsoNormal style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:
normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Saul</span><o:p></o:p></p>
<p class=MsoNormal style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:
normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Acts 9:1-18</span><o:p></o:p></p>

<p class=MsoNormal style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:
normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>22:1-16, 26:9-18</span><o:p></o:p></p>
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>9:4-6</span><o:p></o:p></p>
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>22:10</span><o:p></o:p></p>

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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>9:9</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>9:18</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>At
Immersion</span><o:p></o:p></p>
<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>9:17-18</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>“Washed
away sins” 22:16</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
</tr>

<tr>
<td width=131 style=’width:131.4pt;border:solid windowtext .5pt;border-top:
none;mso-border-top-alt:solid windowtext .5pt;padding:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt’>
<p class=MsoNormal style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:
normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Cornelius</span><o:p></o:p></p>
<p class=MsoNormal style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:
normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Acts 10:34-48, 11:4-18,
15:7-11</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>10:44</span><o:p></o:p></p>

<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>11:14</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>10:43</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>11:18</span><o:p></o:p></p>

</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>10:48</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Before
Immersion</span><o:p></o:p></p>
<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>10:46-47</span><o:p></o:p></p>

</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>“Purified
hearts” 15:9 </span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td width=131 style=’width:131.4pt;border:solid windowtext .5pt;border-top:
none;mso-border-top-alt:solid windowtext .5pt;padding:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt’>
<p class=MsoNormal style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:
normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Lydia</span><o:p></o:p></p>

<p class=MsoNormal style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:
normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Acts 16:13-15</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>16:14</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>16:14</span><o:p></o:p></p>

</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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#E6E6E6;padding:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt’>
<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Not
mentioned</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>16:15</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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#E6E6E6;padding:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt’>

<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Not
mentioned</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
solid windowtext .5pt;border-right:solid windowtext .5pt;mso-border-top-alt:
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#E6E6E6;padding:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt’>
<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Not
mentioned</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td width=131 style=’width:131.4pt;border:solid windowtext .5pt;border-top:
none;mso-border-top-alt:solid windowtext .5pt;padding:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt’>

<p class=MsoNormal style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:
normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Jailor</span><o:p></o:p></p>
<p class=MsoNormal style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:
normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Acts 16:30-34</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>16:32</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>16:31</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>16:33</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>16:33</span><o:p></o:p></p>

</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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#E6E6E6;padding:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt’>
<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Not
mentioned</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>“Rejoiced”
16:34</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
</tr>

<tr>
<td width=131 style=’width:131.4pt;border:solid windowtext .5pt;border-top:
none;mso-border-top-alt:solid windowtext .5pt;padding:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt’>
<p class=MsoNormal style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:
normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Corinthians</span><o:p></o:p></p>
<p class=MsoNormal style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:
normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Acts 18:8</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>18:8</span><o:p></o:p></p>

</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>18:8</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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#E6E6E6;padding:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt’>
<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Not
mentioned</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>18:8</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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#E6E6E6;padding:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt’>
<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Not
mentioned</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
solid windowtext .5pt;border-right:solid windowtext .5pt;mso-border-top-alt:
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#E6E6E6;padding:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt’>
<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Not
mentioned</span><o:p></o:p></p>

</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td width=131 style=’width:131.4pt;border:solid windowtext .5pt;border-top:
none;mso-border-top-alt:solid windowtext .5pt;padding:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt’>
<p class=MsoNormal style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:
normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Ephesian Disciples </span><o:p></o:p></p>
<p class=MsoNormal style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height:
normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Acts 19:1-7</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>19:2</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>19:2</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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#E6E6E6;padding:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt’>
<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Not
mentioned</span><o:p></o:p></p>

</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>19:5</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>After
Immersion</span><o:p></o:p></p>
<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>19:6</span><o:p></o:p></p>

</td>
<td width=87 style=’width:87.0pt;border-top:none;border-left:none;border-bottom:
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#E6E6E6;padding:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt’>
<p class=MsoNormal align=center style=’margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;
text-align:center;line-height:normal’><span style=’font-family:”Times New Roman”‘>Not
mentioned</span><o:p></o:p></p>
</td>
</tr>
</table>
<br />

When we discussed the fact that the Samaritans received the “Gift of the Holy Spirit” only after Peter and John were sent to them, I asked these questions:

  • Why do the Apostles send Peter and John to Samaria?
  • Were the Samaritan believers “saved” even though they hadn’t received the “Gift of the Holy Spirit” at their baptism?

These were all genuine questions. I have ideas and opinions about some of the answers, but I don’t know that I’ll ever have “answers” to these. However, these do call into questions OTHER assumptions that are often made, and held unquestionable. These questions loosen the soil underneath some of the previous vetting questions, particularly 1-8. They don’t invalidate those questions, they just open up possibilities for fresh perspectives and new growth. That’s uncomfortable, and that’s why a flurry of emails ensued in the midst of our Acts study. That’s also why rumors went out—even across state lines—that I was preaching everything from “baptism isn’t necessary” to “the Bible isn’t inspired.”

I felt honored (sort of) to be seen as an inter-state heretic.

We weren’t fired, but it became clear that I would not be allowed to teach, which is a difficult thing when one is a minister. So we moved out of state, uprooting our youngest daughter once again, and I took a job teaching high school English in Colorado for a year. We worshipped that year with friends who attended a Vineyard church.

We now have moved back to our old town and have a house church in which anyone can ask any question. Open and honest questions are our main driving force as we seek to be aware of God’s constant presence in our lives and in the world around us. We also occasionally attend the local church where I used to be a minister (though I haven’t been asking any questions). We also attend some other churches. We visit, we experience, we interact. We have our home body—the small group of people we “do life” with, but we are also beginning to learn some of the questions other groups are asking. Some of them seem silly—just like questions we used to ask. Some of them are profound. I like dipping into the theological frames that others move in and out of. They are just that—theological frames. God is much bigger than any of them. He’s big enough for all the questions.

But we need to be with people who will allow us to keep asking them and who will help us find new ones to ask.

categoria commentoNo Comments dataDecember 9th, 2013
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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1577 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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