Wineskins Archive

February 21, 2017

Editorial: Dear Brother (Image Vol 12 No 1 – Jan/Feb 1996)

Filed under: — @ 10:36 am and

By Denny Boultinghouse

Thanks so much for your recent letter. I was greatly moved as I read of your pain and gut-wrenching experience It is disheartening when a biblical, non-sectarian, grace-oriented message is met with such fierce opposition from tradition-bound brothers and sisters.

Weariness from “fighting the same issues that have divided our fellowship” has even driven you to wonder if perhaps you should leave the Church of Christ fellowship altogether and become part of some other fellowship of people. Some of our brothers and sisters could never understand how you could even ask such a question, but many understand exactly what you are feeling. My heart really hears what you are saying.

Many share your struggles. Sadly, I hear this same scenario over and over again. Many who actually try to practice what the Bible teaches instead of what our tradition says are being thrown out. Sometimes I hear from the wife of an elder who grew so tired of “Fighting” the negative elders that he finally gave up. Sometimes I hear form a preacher who has just been fired, or soon will be. While some of the details change, the basic story is the same: Many who are trying to be loyal to Christ are getting fired. The casualty numbers continue to increase.

I am glad that you have not turned against God. Too many come to a point where they want no part of a God who could produce such mean, vengeful people. They see the sickness of the people, and they think that GOd is the source of the sickness of the people (of course, he isn’t). I weep for those who have gone through so much garbage and hurt that they leave God altogether. My heart breaks for them.

Gratefully, you are not in that category. Instead of leaving God, you are wondering about serving him in a different fellowship. I am so grateful that you still remember enough about the Cross to continue walking in the Lord. Keep walking. Don’t let anyone discourage you.

Now let me respond more directly to the questions you posed.

“What is your view concerning the state of the Churches of Christ today?”

First, Churches of Christ are obviously going through some difficult and challenging times. We are in the midst of transition and change, and some of the changes, especially their speed, really scare some people. Some fear the changes because they think change suggests instability. But the reality is that the church has always been, and always will be, in flux. Thus the church of 2010 will not look just like the church of 1955, just as the church of 1955 did not look just like the church of 1900. I don’t know what the church of 2010 will look like, but I am certain it will be different.

But some churches refuse to exchange the cultural methodology of the ’50s for one that is adapted to the ’90s and beyond. (They call the transition “digression.”) Those churches will continue to solidify into a certain time’s cultural manifestation of the church. They have equated their cultural preferences and practices with Scripture, so they have painted themselves into a corner. And the sad reality is that those churches will continue to shrink. Some will die outright; others will merge and put off their eventual death. Still others continue to snort and paw the ground, but they will have less and less impact upon our fellowship.

Second, ties of social change inevitably result in casualties. Consider the casualties of the Civil Rights movement in our own country. Many people were beaten, tortured, maimed, and killed for the noble goal of giving legal rights to all citizens of American regardless of color. Was it worth it? Unquestionably yes! Are race relations in American now all they should be Not at all; in face, some attitudes are as bad as they ever were. But was the struggle to guarantee the right of blacks to vote worth the cost? Again, yes. But more than that, there was no real choice; moral responsibility demanded the pursuit of civil rights for all Americans. The struggle was essential to help America move closer to her ideals. Social change always comes at great cost. There are no gains without pain.

Amid all the transition, we too will suffer casualties. People will get hurt. Preachers will get fired. The sectarians within our fellowship will continue to fight to preserve their power base. In order to maintain their personal preferences, they will viciously oppose any change. Regardless of what Scripture says, they will fight to the death to keep the church like they want it. They don’t listen to reason because they are “standing for the old paths” (never mind that their old paths are only a few decades old). While they claim to be “conservative,” in reality, they are not, because allowing tradition to supersede Scripture is not conservative.

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