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  • Ron Thomas 10:00 am on May 8, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the church of Christ (31) – Baptism (2) 

    5. Moser argues about baptism similarly as he does about repentance: “If baptism is a condition of salvation which is given on the condition of faith in Christ, it too must be related to faith, and so related that its meaning will not oppose the meaning of faith. Now as confession is faith expressed by words, baptism is faith expressed by deed….This view of baptism sanctioned by scripture lifts baptism from a meaningless act of legalism to the high plane of salvation by faith in Christ.” (See Moser.) What do you think?

    RT – I will not take exception to these words, but to say that “faith” is also a deed (John 6:29).

    6. Regarding Acts 10:44-48, were Cornelius and the other Gentiles (who had heard the gospel, had received the empowering Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and had spoken in tongues and praised God) children of the devil before they were baptized? Or were they children of God filled with the Holy Spirit and later got baptized? Doesn’t the fact that they spoke in tongues prior to baptism prove that they were children of God and thus saved before they were baptized? Doesn’t Peter in Acts 10:43 make it clear that it was the faith that produced remission of sins, and that water baptism came later as a symbol of their new life in Christ?

    RT – Does the fact that a donkey spoke by the power of God say anything about the spiritual standing of that donkey? Does the fact that Balaam was a prophet speak anything to his favorable standing before the Lord? The case of Cornelius is clearly an exception to the pattern (a word you hate) that God set forth. That which Peter said in Acts 2:38 – is it true? If it is, how does it relate to 10:44-48? Which one is the norm? Cornelius was told that he would be given words to hear in order to be saved (10:4-5, 22; 11:14). What words did Peter speak in order that he might learn of Jesus? Did he hear those words? Why did Peter command him to be baptized?

    7. Doesn’t Peter make it clear in Acts 10:48 that this experience was the same way the apostles received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost? Is there any record in the Bible that the apostles received water baptism?

    RT – No, there is no explicit recording of such, unless we make an inference from Acts 1:22. Let me turn to question in your direction and ask you: Were they baptized? If so, why?

    8. Doesn’t 1 Corinthians 12:13 show that baptism by the Holy Spirit is what places us in the body of Christ?

    RT – That verse can be understood in one of two ways; neither way is troublesome.

    9. Your motto is, “Where the Bible speaks we speak; where the Bible is silent we are silent.” But don’t you break that rule all the time? For example, you say, “He that is baptized not shall be damned.” But that phrase does not appear in the Bible, does it? What does appear in the Bible is, “He that believeth not shall be damned.” So haven’t you twisted Scripture?

    RT – I laughed when I read this. In fact, you twisted the words of what you think some say about the verse in order to perpetuate your straw man.


    10, What do you think about Carl Ketcherside’s charge (please read chapter 9, Christians in Babylon) that, “To demand that one of God’s children be forced to submit to re-baptism at the hands of one of ‘our preachers’ in order to be in ‘our fellowship’ is sectarianism pure and simple…Such Church-of-Christ-isms like all other ‘isms’ are an insult to the persons and dignity of the Holy Spirit by whom we ‘are all baptized into one body.'”

    RT – What Carl had to say is simply an opinion – nothing more. 

  • Ron Thomas 10:00 am on May 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the church of Christ (30) – Baptism 

    “Being raised in the Church of Christ, I began a lifelong devotion to the Word of God. But there was an incident that began to shake my faith in the Church of Christ. When I was in college, a boy I knew was killed in a car accident on his way to being baptized. He had gone through an extensive process of learning the Christian faith at my church, had professed his deep and abiding faith in Christ, and had fulfilled every requirement to being a Christian—except being baptized. Most of my friends in the church believed that because he had not been baptized that this boy was in hell for eternity. This event started me questioning the teachings of the Church of Christ. In time, I studied my way out of this sect.”     —-Edward

    Please see our article 101 Reason Why Water Baptism is Not Necessary to be Saved before proceeding. We also highly recommend this article Moser on Baptism for those who want to think deeply about the Bible.

    1. Are we saved by water or by Christ’s blood?

    RT – We are saved by the blood of Christ.

    2. Next, if you are a Church of Christ person with an open mind, we ask you to read Leroy Garrett’s article about “one baptism”— chapter 37, One Baptism. Among many other points in this article, Garrett says, “We as immersionists must rid ourselves of the ungracious notion that those who do not baptize the way we do have rebellious and disobedient hearts. They can be mistaken without being degenerate. And they can be mistaken and still be Christians who are pleasing God, just as we can still be Christians when we are mistaken.” What is the difference, according to Garrett, in the etymology of a word and the meaning of a word?

    RT – I do not know what Garrett said, but I can give a dictionary definition. As a noun it consists of the process of immersion, submersion, and emergence (from bapto, to dip) (Vines, pp. 98-99). That is the meaning of the word. In Scripture one is baptized in order to wash away sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16), in order to be buried with Christ and resurrected with Him as well (Romans 6:3-7; Colossians 2:12), in order to enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:3-5), and in order to be saved (1 Peter 3:21). If one is baptized apart from what Scripture says they have not been baptized.

    The purpose of this section is not necessarily to try to show that the view of the Church of Christ—baptismal regenerational of mature believers by immersion—is wrong, but rather to attempt to show that such a view should not by itself be used to as a hatchet to separate from other Christian groups. CC theologian Everett Ferguson in his book instructs against such practice (page 403): “Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:13-17 protests against any view of baptism which would make it a badge of distinction among Christians instead of a unifying act.”

    RT –Yes, that is what he said, but it is evident you have not read him very well if you think he minimizes the subject of baptism in New Testament theology.

    3. Ferguson also warns (page 195): “Baptism provides an objective assurance of having received God’s promised salvation in Christ. That may lead to the subtle temptation to trust in baptism for salvation instead of trusting in God, his act in Christ, and his word of promise.” As it seems that many within the CC have yielded to this temptation, it is asked, is your faith in Christ or in baptism (chapter 13, Sectarian Baptism)? What is the difference, according to Hook, in baptism for remission of sins and baptism to receive the Holy Spirit?

    RT – Yes, that is what he said also. You should, however, included the remarks he made in the next paragraph with regard to those who put other things into a misplaced column, such as faith or experience, or doctrinal correctness, etc. a faithful Christian will always, and without exception, says his (her) faith is in Christ.

    4. First, just a point of logic. Physical life, we’re sure you will agree, begins at conception rather than at birth. Similarly, we argue along with Cecil Hook that spiritual life begins with faith and not at baptism (chapter 27 beginning on page 98, When Life Begins). In the rest of this section we will attempt to prove this biblically. Comment?

    RT – Spiritual life begins where the Lord says it does. Any analogy used to mitigate this is a false analogy. Biblical baptism is not to be understood or applied apart from what the Scripture says. Those baptized into Christ will be because of their faith (Mark 16:16).


    • scott wiley 2:18 pm on May 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Paul wrote the grace-filled letters to the Romans and to the Ephesians. In Acts 19 in Ephesus, he re-baptized some folk who’d not gotten the right baptism. In Acts 22 we learn that Paul himself was baptised to wash away his sin. He’d been in a sinner’s prayer for 3 days at that point. Paul who got the ephesian church rolling by baptizing folk, would not have minimized it. In Romans 6 he lays out what happens in baptism, including that the old man is crucified w/ Christ and a new man raised – its a new life coming out of the waters. Folk in the Bible did not debate baptism, they just did it. No one in the NT laments when baptism is mentioned, “good grief, folk are lost and starving and here we are talking about church ordinances!”

    • Kevin L Moore 5:57 pm on May 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Instead of stretching a spiritual analogy beyond its original intent (as an attempt to ‘prove’ a preconceived notion or to ‘disprove’ a biblical doctrine one doesn’t like), should we not allow the Bible itself to provide the intended significance? When we are redeemed, we receive the adoption as sons (Gal. 4:5). The When & How should not be open to speculation, since Paul had already explained it: “For you are all sons of God, through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ…” (3:26-27).

      • Kevin L Moore 7:06 pm on May 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God . . . . Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, 5).

  • Ron Thomas 10:00 am on May 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the church of Christ (29) – Abraham’s Justification 

    5. In James 2:14 in the Greek there is a modifying adjective in front of “faith” which is left out in the King James translation, but is translated in other versions as “the” or “that” or “such.” So James is asking here, “Can such a faith save? Or, “Can that faith save?” Notice also that James does not deny that faith justifies; he simply says, “and not by faith only.” So James acknowledges that it is indeed faith that justifies. Most theologians down through the ages have insisted that the way to reconcile the biblical message of faith and works is to explain that works describe a true saving faith but do not save unto themselves?

    6. James gives us the clues we need. First of all, James makes it clear how futile it is to think that we can be saved by our works. He insists that even one single sin on our part is equivalent to breaking the entire law (James 2:10)! Then in verse 14 he asks an explanatory question whether a dead faith can save us? (Can that faith or such a faith save us?) Of course he means, no it cannot. Then in verse 18 he says that a living saving faith is shown by our works. So James is not saying that we are saved by works, rather our obedience is evidence of a legitimate faith.

    So, there is, then, a simple way to reconcile faith and works in a way that is faithful to Scripture without making Scripture contradict itself. We are saved by a living faith—that is, one which expresses itself in obedience. Note that this is very different from saying that we are saved by faith plus works or any such construction. We are saved by grace through faith, not of works can we boast.

    RT – Okay, you and your “most theologians” remark is to be set aside. Let us consider the context. “Faith is to be understood how? I suggest one’s “subjective” faith, one’s response of the heart to the Lord’s will. It is used that way in 2:14, 17. In 2:18-20 “faith” is used in conjunction with “works” and the two are tied together. “Works” in this particular portion of the chapter is dealing with the good one may do toward another. In 2:21-24 “faith”, “works”, and “Abraham” are all tied together. The Scripture plainly teaches that Abraham was justified by works. The word “justified” means what? Two Greek dictionaries define the word “to declare righteous, justify” (Mounce, p. 374; Vines. P. 625). This notion of “forensic” and “vindication” (as some like to insert here, thus making a distinction) James says nothing about. It forthrightly declares that Abraham was justified by works! 

    7. C. K. Moser gives several biblical examples of how it is faith that saves, regardless of whether or not that faith is expressed in some sort of action. He cites the stories of Jesus healing the blind in John 9 and Matthew 9. In one case, the blind man did something—washed in the pool of Siloam. In the other case, nothing was done other than what Jesus did. Moser asks, “Were these blind men cured upon different principles? In both cases the blind received sight upon the principle of faith in Christ. In one case faith expressed by overt acts, in the other case it was not. After all it is faith that the Lord wants….Faith expressed remains faith.” (See Moser.) Comment?

    RT – If the recipient did not respond to what Jesus said that person would have to do, then that which was promised would not be granted. Jesus told the man to go to the pool and wash; if he did not go would he gain his sight? To ask is to answer. With regard to the account in Matthew 9:27-31 we learn that there was a response to what Jesus asked, and in this response it was the Lord’s doing that brought sight to the eyes. In both contexts we learn the following: Jesus called for a response, and in both contexts a response was given. Second, the accentuation is upon Jesus and less so upon those with whom Jesus interacted. Third, the matter pertains to physical healing.

    8. What about repentance—isn’t that a work? Please see this link: Repentance. What is the relationship between repentance and salvation? What was Peter calling his hearers to do relative to repentance in Acts 2:38? Was this an action or a change of mind? Moser continues, “But salvation is by faith. Repentance, then, must in some way relate to faith. And it must relate to faith in such a way as not to oppose it.” We argue that repentance is merely the flip side of faith. If you turn to Jesus you will by definition turn from your life of sin and selfishness. You will automatically repudiate your fleshly nature.  This is the deep meaning of repentance. So, repentance is technically not a work per se. It is part of surrendering to Jesus that occurs at the point of a living faith. After we are saved by faith, we begin to show outward confirming acts such as confession and good works because of our gratitude for what God has done for us. Confession is faith expressed in words (Romans 10:9). Again, it is the faith that saves, not any expression of it. Comment?

    RT – If a person is called upon to repent (Acts 2:38), that particular person is called upon to do something. If faith is a work (John 6:29), there is no possible way that repentance can’t be. You try to distinguish between an action and a change of mind, but if faith is a work – which is an “action” of the heart, then repentance is the same. Moreover, the New Testament does not say or even intimate that repentance is the different side to faith – not once! You said, “If you turn to Jesus you will by definition turn from your life of sin and selfishness. You will automatically repudiate your fleshly nature.” If this is not an action, nothing is.

    9. What about baptism? Isn’t it a work? Just as repentance is technically not a “work” of man, baptism is technically, according to Titus 3:4-7, not a work of man either! Baptism is a work of God! This leads us into the next section. But before that, one last word. If we are wrong in this, our error is putting too high a view on God and his work (and too low a view on our own work). If the Church of Christ is wrong on justification, your error is putting too low a view on Jesus (and too high a view on man’s work)! Comment?

    RT – It’s is good to see that you recognize that baptism is not a work of man, but it is a work of God. 

  • Ron Thomas 1:00 pm on April 24, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the church of Christ (28) – Faith, Works, Justification 

    The Relationship of Faith and Works in Justification

    The Church of Christ is under the impression that evangelicals have no part for works in the salvation formula. This is incorrect. The evangelical understanding is that grace = salvation + works. Though the Church of Christ does not use such formulas, their interpretation is either grace + works = salvation (semi-Pelagian), or works = salvation + grace (full-Palagian). Note: The = sign in these formulas means “leads to” or “results in.”

    We have attempted above to show above that the Church of Christ hermeneutic of legalistic patternism is flawed. So how should the Bible be interpreted? Because this is so crucial, we repeat. First and foremost the Bible must be interpreted in such a way as not to be contradictory. If the Bible is contradictory, it cannot be God’s word. Let us examine a statement made to us by a Church of Christ preacher regarding justification (how we are saved): “I completely teach, believe, and agree with this idea: No person who has ever lived, is living, or will live, can in and of himself do something by which he earns, merits, deserves, or is given salvation. Every person, however, who hears and does what God has said to do in the way that God has said to do it will be saved by the grace of God through the blood of Christ.”

    1. Is it not clear that this statement—which is typical of how CC folks state justification—is contradictory? If grace is a free gift (Rom 5:15, 16, 18Rom 6:23), if it is unmerited favor—then God does not require ANY work in order to be saved. As Paul says in Rom 11:6, “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.”

    RT – This is pitiful! You assert that something is contradictory, but you did not demonstrate what is contradictory about it. O, you made an effort, but the effort you made bites you in the backside and you don’t even see it. You said, “then God does not require ANY work in order to be saved,” while Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (John 6:29). Now that is a contradiction! You can’t get around it because you said “God does not require any work…” (and you emphasized the word any). If God does not require any work, then that means work that includes God. Just pitiful!  

    2. St. Paul clarifies what the Church of Christ is risking in its hermeneutic. He states, “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose (Gal 2:20).” This is serious. By its legalistic patternism hermeneutic, the Church of Christ is nullifying the grace of God! It is giving too much credit for sinful man and too little credit to God and Christ’s finished work on the cross. As put by C. K. Moser, “If man must still work for salvation we have in Christ an atonement that does not atone!” See Moser.

    3. We fully understand how difficult the concept—that our salvation is completely by Christ’s work and none of our own—is. This is incomprehensible for our Church of Christ brothers and so too for Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Jews, and every other religion. Yet the Bible insists over and over again that we are saved by faith and specifically not by our works (Romans chapters 1-9, Galatians chapters 1-3, Ephesians chapter 2, Titus chapter 3, etc). In fact, we count over 100 instances in the New Testament when it is stated that we are saved by grace rather than works. Yet the Bible commands us to obey! So how do we reconcile faith and works?

    4. We have asked the CC why they keep coming back to James 2 in an attempt to show that salvation is through works, and the answer has been, because others “keep denying what it clearly teaches.” This answer implies that, in spite of insisting elsewhere that we are not saved by works, that in fact the CC really believes after all that we are. Is James contradicting the rest of the Bible? Perhaps we just can’t get it, but it seems clear to us that James himself is teaching that works are merely evidence of a true saving faith—that is, explanatory of the kind of faith that saves us?

    RT – Your words are becoming boring. All you do is assert this or that, read what other men say, fail to show where something is wrong, and then put it forth like you are on the pontiff stand. In Galatians 2, what is the context of the word “works”, or does it matter? You bet it matters! Context is crucial to a proper understanding, and you have not been very good at including it in your essay. The straw man you have built with this effort of yours makes you feel good about the challenge you have set forth, but this has not turned out to be much of a challenge at all. Remarks on James 2 will be in the next post.

  • Ron Thomas 10:00 am on April 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the church of Christ (27) 

    In this series of posts I have been incorporating the entirety of words from a particular website; this includes all misspellings and other foibles. The intent was (is) not for embarrassment, but to keep it as complete as I can. This has a down side; much of the material is not worth reading. Be that as it may, I appreciate you reading it and enduring the length. RT

    Christians throughout the ages have pointed out that Christianity is uniquely different from all other religions and cults because salvation is through faith and not through works. Can you see that the view of salvation through works puts the CC in close company with false religions and cults? While we are not saying the the Church of Christ is a cult, we cannot help pointing out the similarities between the Church of Christ and Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons: They were founded at about the same time (early 1800’s) in reaction to Reformed theology. The refusal to read “apostate” literature. (If the Church of Christ reader has refused to read the links we have provided in this article, our point is proven.) God’s grace through Christ’s finished work on the cross only makes up the small portion left out by my man’s own meritorious works toward salvation. (See Christian Grace vs. Mormon Grace. See also Mormon document Grace vs. Works. Note how craftily this Mormon document quotes the Bible as well as Christian thinkers.) Their group restored the true faith. (See Mormon document Restoration of the Gospel.) Their group is the only one saved.

    RT – The paragraph is a non-sequitur – you laying out these assertions and trying to draw a conclusion is completely false. There is no other point, as I interpret these words, than to align a group with another group and say, “See! Note the similarities; they are from the same stock.” Whatever is to be said about the Mormons will stand or fall on its own. Whatever is to be said about the Lord’s church will, likewise, do the same.

    19. Isn’t salvation not of him who willeth, nor him that runneth, but of God that calleth (Romans 9:11) and of God that showeth mercy (Romans 9:16without regard to human will or exertion? Don’t we become sons of God by the power of God and not by the will of man (John 1:12-13)? Does anyone really seek after God on his own (Romans 3:9-28)? Don’t these verses clarify that it is the work of God, not of man, that saves us?

    RT – Your underlined phrase is found where in Scripture? If it is not found, then you are guilty of adding to the Word – something the Lord is against. It is the work (power) of God that saves (Romans 1:16), but it is the response of man to that invite that the Lord requires of man (John 6:28-29).

    20. Are we dead in our sins, or just merely sick (Ephesians 2:5)? Can a dead man respond? Aren’t we therefore made alive by the work of Christ alone, just as Larazus was raised from the dead?

    RT – Since you mishandle the Scripture like you do, I doubt you took note of what Paul said in Ephesians 1:13. Yes, man is dead in sin, but that means, exclusively, that he cannot raise himself up from his “deadness” toward righteousness (John 1:12-13) because there is nothing within him that has that power. There has to be a life-giving power that comes from outside man, and that power is in the word of God (Romans 1:16; 1 Peter 1:22-23).

    21. Just as our physical birth is not something we earn nor have any control over, isn’t our spiritual birth likewise something we do not earn nor have any control over (1 Peter 1:3-5)?

    RT – No “control over” – what is that supposed to mean? There no earning (a word you are so fond of), but there is such a thing as obedience. The word is used twice in the very chapter you referenced!

    22. Is CC theology similar to that of Pelagius, who who in the 4th century taught that man by his own powers, without the imputation of the Holy Spirit, can turn himself to God, believe the Gospel, be obedient from the heart to God’s Law—and thus merit forgiveness of sins and eternal life? Wasn’t this theology declared a heresy even by the Catholic Church—which places a high importance on obedience—because it is contrary to Holy Scripture, being the same works righteousness theology as the Galatian heresy and the Pharasaic heresy?

    RT – Can’t say anything about Pelagius, but I can say what the Scriptures teach. Acts 8:12; 18:8 – will you deny it? It’s a strange thing to me, but I did not see the word “merit” in either passage. Your insertion of this word is just another example of your determination to follow the teachings of man.

    23. Here is a single question that may quicky determine whether the CC is in fact legalistic: If it would bring more people to your church to hear the gospel, would you allow instrumental music?

    RT – The question demonstrates more about you than it does faithful Christians. People of conviction don’t compromise with error; people who fail to have biblical knowledge will incorporate such man-made innovations.

    24. We suggest reading an article by John Marks Hicks of David Lipscomb University: Legalism. Then, if you are a CC member, would you consider taking this Legalism Questionnaire?

    RT – After you define “legalism” and it is an accepted definition, then consideration might be given to it. In this whole treatise of yours, however, you have not once defined the term. Thus, it’s not likely you even know what it means. 

  • Ron Thomas 10:00 am on April 12, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the church of Christ (26) – Legalism 

    13. This brings up another point. In the New Testament, there is a difference between commands  to non-believers and to believers. Non-believers are told to repent and believe (for example Acts 20:20-21). We argue that all other commands in the Bible, including baptism (!), are to people who are already Christians. Check out what Robert Morey says about this and then let us know what you think. Each of these video clips is about 9 minutes in length:

    Morey on Obedience 9-14

    Morey on Obedience 10-14

    Morey on Obedience 11-14

    RT – Let me encourage you, then, to set forth your argument. I look forward to your effort. In the meantime, let me ask you about what Peter said to those in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. Did Peter require any of those to whom he spoke that they needed to believe his message before they could repent? If so, where does Peter so require it (what verse or verses)? You’ll have to do better than asserting Acts 20:20-21; from this, what do you want me (or others) to make of it? I look forward to you pressing me on this.

    14. What specific work is required for salvation (John 6:27-29)? Faith, right?

    RT – Sure, but I think you may not like what the Lord said; He said it is a work and you have said, plenty of times, that there is nothing a person can do to be saved, but we have here at least one work that the Lord required. Hmm. Moreover, should we look at Acts 2:38, or how about John 3:5, just to name a couple of others?

    15. Are we reconciled to God by what we do or by what God did to present us holy in his sight (Col 1:21-22)?

    RT – So, I am to understand that man has no obligation from God to give a single response, right? If that is correct, then Jesus was wrong (John 6:27-29)! Yet, if you say a person must respond in faith, then there is something a person must do. I guess that answers a part of your question.

    16. How does the CC respond to those who may accuse them of following the letter-of-the-law and not the spirit-of-the-law? For example, the Bible says we should care for widows and orphans (the letter of the law), and were astounded to hear a CC person tell us that charity should thus be limited to these groups. But Jesus gives the example of caring for the outcast and others who need help (example, the Good Samaritan) and commands us to be merciful (Mat 5:7). Is the CC attitude legalistic in this regard too, adding insult to injury to the Christian faith?

    RT – You do too much listening to people, rather than reading the Lord’s Book. That which the Lord said in His Book, a faithful Christian will do.

    17. The CC has been known to define legalism as either (a) “putting human tradition above God’s commandments,” or (b) “taking one commandment out of context and twist it to make it contradict another.” Haven’t we already shown that Church of Christ theology in fact is guilty of both definitions?

    RT – Whoever defines “legalism” as you have described is the one to whom you need to address your question. The “straw man” you have built concerning “church of Christ theology”, I imagine, makes you feel good concerning your ability to destroy.

    18. Is not faith very much alive before good works are performed, and not because of good works? Christians in the historic orthodox faith thus believe that we are saved by grace through faith and strongly agree that a faith without works is dead; that is, a true saving faith will be accompanied by works. Christians also believe that faith before it has a chance to work is a saving faith—for example, the thief on the cross. The CC would have others believe that faith is dead until one rises out of the water. Thus someone on his way to be baptized could not be one whose faith is working by love. Isn’t this view therefore legalistic and contrary to Scripture?

    RT – A biblical “faith” is described in Hebrews 11:1 and Romans 4:16-22. I can’t improve upon what Scripture teaches. Faith is a work of God, just like all commands of God are a work of God. You can relegate God’s command, if you so desire, to something non-essential, but no faithful Christian will do such. 

  • Ron Thomas 10:00 am on April 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the church of Christ (25) – Sequence, Law, and Cecil Hook 

    6. The CC seems to make a distinction between the “law of God” and the “law of Christ,” as if there were two law systems operating in the Bible. But isn’t it correct that the Bible teaches that “the law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul” (Psalm 19:7)? And isn’t the law of Christ described as perfect (James 1:25)? What law is then perfect—both the “law of God” and the “law of Christ,” because they are one and the same!

    RT – Nothing I can add to this, but one thing: Are you sure you want to accentuate the word “law”? After all, you have been repelled by that word throughout this treatise.

    7. What source does Jesus quote when he declares, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”? Isn’t it Leviticus 19:18? Aren’t all Ten Commandments repeated or alluded to in the New Testament? What is the context of the law of Christ in Galatians 6? Isn’t it bearing others’ burdens with the glory only in the cross of Christ?

    RT – The Ten Commandments are mentioned in one way or another in the New Testament, but what is it you are trying to say by this? Do you desire to maintain that the Ten Commandments are for us under the new covenant to obey? **** Based on a previous remark of yours, I find it interesting that you are interested in the context of Galatians 6. That the “cross of Christ” is connected with the life and death of Jesus is a given, but just exactly what do you think that “cross of Christ” entails? A “law” by its very nature is a standard by which another will be judged. That standard can either be compromised or obeyed. What in the “cross of Christ” tells us to bear one another’s burdens? Are verses 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 in the law of Christ (or, the cross of Christ)?  

    Please bear with us on some further thoughts on the Law of Christ. As Cecil Hook points out (chapter 7 beginning on page 20, Repentance Before Faith), an incorrect interpretation of this turns Jesus into a diabolical creature if we think of him giving us a law and then saving us from our transgressions of that law. It would be like someone pushing you down into a well, then throwing you a rope. Besides making Jesus into a nasty character, this idea is not biblical. John 3:17 says that “God sent his son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved by him.” So, whatever Paul means by the law of Christ, it is not meant to be something that condemns us! It must therefore mean that the law of Christ is a phrase that merely emphasizes or  gives certainty to what Paul preaches continuously in the New Testament—that we are saved by faith in Jesus. This fact (belief in Jesus for salvation), then, is so certain that it becomes a law, like a law of logic, or a law of physics—something given us by God rather than a set of commands to be obeyed.

    RT – Cecil Hook is no one’s authority. If you desire to have him teach you, that is your prerogative; I won’t. If there is a God-ordained “law” of any sort it is man’s obligation to comply with that God-ordained standard, and this you know is true. Thus, regardless of what Hook says (or any other), the Lord said what He did, and for man to not obey that which has its origin in heaven is deadly. Moreover, Hook (and you, evidently) failed to understand how “law” is applied in eternal things. A standard of right has been set forth by God. When man fails to meet that standard of right conduct – which is God’s law – then it is not God who thrusts the man down the well, but the actions of man that put himself there. Consequently, when the rope is let down for man to grab hold of, it is the Lord’s mercy that prompts it. Jesus did not come to condemn (John 3:17), but in His coming He did come to instruct (Titus 2:11-12). If man lives by that instruction, then he has reached for the rope Jesus let down into the well – a well that we were residing in when he came (and still are in if we refuse to obey). Perhaps you ought to look at John 3:18-21 to get a better and clearer picture. Only someone with your theological persuasion would and could say: “So, whatever Paul means by the law of Christ, it is not meant to be something that condemns us! It must therefore mean that the law of Christ is a phrase that merely emphasizes or gives certainty to what Paul preaches continuously in the New Testament—that we are saved by faith in Jesus.”


    8. We have heard Church of Christ people say that when Paul speaks of not being saved by “law” he is only saying he is not saved by the “Law of Moses.” But please look at Ephesians 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5 again. Here Paul does not use the term law or law of Moses. He uses the term “works.” And please consider Romans 13:10 in Young’s Literal Translation: “Love therefore is the fulness of law.” Note that in the Greek there is no “the” in front of “law,” making law a general term and not just a reference to Old Testament law. Isn’t Paul making a general case that we are not saved by works of any kind?

    RT –Yes, it is the case that man is not saved by works, and it is the case that Ephesians 2 is not addressing the Law of Moses. You will note, however, in 2:8 that Paul gives clarity to what we are to understand. The ESV reads, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,” Paul’s point is that no man is saved by his own doing; to say it differently, there is nothing that originates in man that he can do to be saved – this would be a work (or, the works) of man. Man’s salvation is a gift from God, as salvation has originated in God. That is the point, the only point!  The point in Ephesians is the same in Titus.

    9. Note Galatians 3:21, again in Young’s Literal Translation. Doesn’t Paul make it clear that no law can give life? And Galatians 3:25: doesn’t Paul further clarify that we are not under any law (“guardian”)?

    RT – Here you fail to notice the context. Galatians 3 is speaking of the Law of Moses, and it is THAT to which he addresses his remarks. The context makes this abundantly clear going back into even chapter 2. The Law of Moses, by its very nature (or God’s design) was not intended to save anyone (Acts 13:39); however, under the old covenant, one could not be in good standing (or, saved) with the Lord without having obeyed His will in regards to the law.

    10. Do you think that only those laws that are repeated in the New Testament from the Old Testament are valid? Where is such principle of interpretation found in the Bible? We think that the better method of interpretation is that there are some laws that are cancelled or their importance neutralized in the New Testament (specifically the Jewish ceremonial and civil laws); the rest remain in effect (the moral laws).

    RT – With regard to your two questions, the only proper way to answer is to allow the passage under consideration to make clear what is in view – this is known as context. I am not sure who “we” is, but if this is what you think is the better method then perhaps the question ought to be turned around on you: What principle of interpretation warrants a delineation of laws when the context speaks nothing about such a distinction? For instance, where does the New Testament delineate between moral and civil law?  

    11. Is there any new law in the New Testament, or only new forgiveness and the fulfillment of the shadows of this forgiveness found in the Old Testament? (Here are all the scriptures in the New Testament about a “new covenant” or “new law”: Mt 26:28Lk 22:20, 1 Cor 11:25, 2 Cor 3:6Heb 8:8-13Heb 9:15Heb 12:24Gal 6:2James 2:8-13. Do you notice a theme?)

    RT – Your question is not clear to me, so I will answer as best I can. When Jesus came to the earth He came to fulfill the Scriptures (Matthew 5:17-18). When He spoke to those who were opposed to Him, He inquired as to their effort in searching the Scripture, and it was those that testified to Him (John 5:39-40). After He was raised from the dead, when He gave His commission to His chosen apostles, He said that all things written were fulfilled by Him (Luke 24:44). Paul said on two occasions that the Law of Moses, being fulfilled, was nailed to the cross (Ephesians 2:14-16 and Colossians 2:14-15).

    12. Cecil Hook in the preceding reference link also suggests that the CC formula HEAR/BELIEVE/REPENT/CONFESS/BE BAPTIZED may be flawed, at least in the order given. Hook points out that the 3 times in Scripture that belief and repentence are coupled together in the Bible, repentance actually precedes belief! How can that be? Read his explanation. Clue: It has to do with the New Testament view of the purpose of the law.

    RT – Is this the best that can be done? Peter told the Pentecostian crowd to repent and be baptized; he told those in Jerusalem to repent and turn again; Philip preached to the Samaritans, and when the locals heard they believed and were baptized; when Philip helped the man of Ethiopia understand the Scripture, he preached Jesus unto him. The eunuch saw water and asked about being baptized; when Paul was in Corinth, the Corinthians heard Paul, believed his message, and were baptized. In all this, all you have to call into question is what Cecil Hook said about the sequence??? 

  • Ron Thomas 10:00 am on April 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the church of Christ (24) – Country Club and Liberals 

    1. CC members have told us that they choose to “emphasize obedience” in faith and practice. Why would one choose to emphasize anything? Do some passages of Scripture have more authority than others? Is the message of the Bible slanted by arbitrarily emphasizing obedience over grace, when there are over 100 passages in the New Testament that emphasize grace or faith or election as the means to salvation? (If you would like to see a comprehensive list, you may email us at mail@faithfacts.org).

    RT – Interesting question you ask – especially when you emphasize the very words in this little paragraph. Whether someone emphasizes this or that may be up for some criticism; the point, however, is if the New Testament teaches it no man is to alter that teaching.

    2. Are we obedient in order to be saved or because we are saved? Doesn’t the Bible teach that people are obedient because God has already saved them (2 Cor 9:8James 2:261 Jn 2:291 Jn 3:91 Jn 4:71 Jn 5:18)? Take a new look at Ephesians 1:3-10. Next please watch this 9 minute video clip: Morey on Salvation 14-14

    RT – How do you read Hebrews 5:8-9?

    3. Did God choose us before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless? Or did He choose us because were are first holy and blameless? Further, did God choose us, or did we choose God?

    RT- The answer to your first question: Ephesians 1:4-14. Your third question is answered in the same passage.

    4. Perhaps a more poignant question is—Are you now free (Gal 5:1)? Or do feel like you are in bondage? Is your burden easy or light (chapter 25, What God Requires)? What does God really require? While liberals think the Christian faith is a country club, does CC doctrine make it seem like a prison?

    RT – All those in Christ are free from the bondage of sin, as Galatians 5 teaches. Your fourth question is answered in John 3:16; Acts 2:38. Perhaps as you make Christianity a “country-club” atmosphere, we would encourage you to stay within the confines of the Lord’s teachings as revealed in the New Testament. If you call this a prison, then it is clear you are a liberal.

    5. Is the message of the New Testament simply that one legal system replaced another? Please see these links from those within your own tradition and offer your comment on them: chapter 3, Law of Christ,  and chapter 22, Butting the Brethren. Are these men possibly correct that legalism is indeed the “fatal error” of CC theology?

    RT – The answer to your question is found in Galatians 3:19-29. On the other hand, as I have answered earlier: who has the authority to establish a divine law? Is that divine law an inherent system that is contrary (or against) to man? If it is contrary to man, what proper authority can negate that which is against man? Having identified that proper authority, that which they (the proper authority) set forth as the proper negating action that opposes man, is it now a new system or law that is not to be controverted? 

  • Ron Thomas 10:00 am on April 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the church of Christ (23) – Justification (5) 

    The Galatian Heresy

    “I was trying to convert others to a body of truth or system of doctrine more than to Christ. Often addessing those who already believed in Jesus, I sought to convince them of a code of law which I thought they had failed to recognize and understand. But I was the one who needed more insight. Jesus rebuked me along with others like me in his day: ‘You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they they bear witness of me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.’ John 5:39”    —-Cecil Hook, Church of Christ preacher, from his book Free to Change.

    J. Gresham Machen explained that, “Paul as well as the Judaizers believed that the keeping of the law of God, in its deepest import, is inseparably connected with faith. The difference concerned only the logical…order of three steps. Paul said that a man (1) first believes on Christ, (2) then is justified before God, (3) then immediately proceeds to keep God’s law. The Judaizers said that a man (1) believes on Christ and (2) keeps the law of God the best he can, and then (3) is justified.” So, correctly understood, sanctification follows justification as growth follows birth. (From Christian Reconstruction by Gary North and Gary DeMar.)

    Here is where we think the Church of Christ misinterprets the Bible on a very important point. As phrased by North/DeMar, “A Judaizer is someone who believes that salvation is by grace through faith plus keeping the law….But no one can be saved by keeping the law. This is the Bible’s point when Romans 6:14 says that the Christian is not under the law. This is far different from saying that the Christian is not obligated to obey the law as a standard of righteousness. Prior to regeneration, a person is unable to keep the law and is condemned for his ‘lawlessness.’ After a person comes to Christ the curse of the law is lifted.” So it seems that the Church of Christ makes the same mistake as the Judaizers!

    North/DeMar continue: “This question needs to be answered in a no/yes fashion. No! Christians are not sanctified by the law if one means that the law is added to faith to save someone (the Judaizing heresy). ‘I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly‘ (Galatians 2:21). If there is anything that man can do to merit or retain his salvation, then there is room for boasting. The Bible says that rebellious sinners do not even add faith; it too is a ‘gift of God’ (Ephesians 2:8)….‘We maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law’ (Romans 3:21-28).”

    RT – Again your theology has come more from man than Scripture. Moreover, what Scripture you have included in this current point of consideration is mishandled. I will demonstrate. **** The remarks by Cecil Hook as used by you are, it appears, to be understood as evidence that Christians have it wrong in their teaching. The only one in this regard that has (or had) it wrong was Cecil Hook. Anyone who fails to understand that one needs to be converted to Christ and His way is the one who needs to relearn Christ. **** With regard to Machen’s remarks – he is NOT the authority that a Christian adheres to. No matter how correct he might be, still, he is not the one to whom another turns to understand things spiritual and eternal (2 Peter 1:3). Moreover, where is North/DeMar in Scripture? **** What “law” is Paul speaking about in Romans 6? The same law he spoke about in chapter 5, of course. What law was that? The same one he referred to in chapters 3 and 4. That law was the Law of Moses. This is the very point of the struggle that one reads of in Acts 13:39 and 15:10. Your use of Galatians 2:21 is, once again, a failure to recognize the context. What is Paul’s point in his remark? The immediate context starts in 2:11; Paul confronted Peter with regard to Peter’s own struggle in the use of the law in relation to gentile association. Paul takes this point and develops the thought with regard to a purpose of the law (2:16-17), and how he (others) have been crucified with Christ and no longer lives under the authority of the Law of Moses. That’s the point! To miss it is to miss much. **** Since a man cannot “merit” his salvation, is there anything a man can do to “retain” his salvation? What did Paul say in Philippians 2:12? What did John say in 2 John 8? What did Peter say in 2 Peter 1:10? **** Your reference to Romans 3:21-28 is fine if one properly understands the context; what is that context? The context is a contrast between the systems of justification as revealed in the Law of Moses and the one revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul made abundantly clear, however, that the Law of Moses could not save, for it was never designed to save. 

    • Kevin L Moore 3:38 pm on April 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks Ron. It amazes me how verses are so often cherry-picked and context ignored to justify pre-(mis)conceptions. You’re doing a great job. Keep it up!

    • Ron Thomas 4:52 am on April 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Kevin, again, thank you for your remarks and continued reading of these many pieces I regularly submit.

  • Ron Thomas 10:00 am on March 29, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the church of Christ (22) – Justification (4) 

    12. If a Christian can sin so as to lose one’s salvation, just what sin or sins will place him in such danger? Is it possible to know at what point one has committed such a sin and become lost again? Please be specific and give clear Bible references.

    RT – Hebrews 10:26-31

    13. To reiterate, the CC view on justification is contradictory. The first law of logic—The Law of Non-Contradiction—says that two distinctly different or opposite things cannot both be true at the same time and in the same sense. So, how is it reconcilable to say that we are saved by a free gift (Romans 5:15-176:23) from God (grace) and at the same time imply that the gift is not free—that we are saved by our works after all? This method of interpretation makes the Bible contradict itself at every turn. Grace does not mean grace; a free gift is not free. Man is not hopelessly sinful; but then again he is. Christ is necessary; but then he isnt’t. The law does not save; but yes it does (and only a Church of Christ preacher can interpret all the details of which works save and which ones don’t). This hermeneutic leaves the Bible in hopeless shambles. Is not this exactly what Paul is arguing in Romans 11:6 and Galatians 2:9?

    RT – The problem is not logic, but your use and understanding of words. The word “grace” means in the English dictionary “unmerited divine assistance” and in the Greek dictionary it has several uses (cf. Vines, pp. 509-511), and one of those uses is in Titus 2:11 where we learn that the grace of God instructs us to do something (I suspect you will deny this, however). The option is ours: we will use the word as used in the Greek dictionary or the English dictionary – which will it be? Of course, to the thoughtful person, there is no incompatibility in Understanding the word as used in both dictionaries. The English defines a word as is currently used; the New Testament Greek dictionary defines the word as it was used during that time. Let us consider the passages you referenced. Romans 5:15-17 is in the broader context of Paul’s point to those who would attempt to be justified by the Law of Moses. There is a contrast in systems: the Law of Moses served its purpose, and now the grace of Christ is to serve its purpose (cf. Galatians 3:24-27). Paul’s specific point is that through Adam came death, but through Christ came life. One chooses to participate in one or the other of the “systems of justification”, but only one system of righteousness can justify. This point is a culminating point of Paul (Romans 6:21-23). Thus, God’s grace is to all freely, but God’s grace must be received. The last half of your paragraph is easily dismissed, and I beg of you to offer something more substantive than silly assertions. I am up for the challenge.

    14. Let us ask this question of biblical logic: Is grace necessary for salvation? If you say yes, then does it not follow that NOTHING one can do will be sufficient to save us? Thus, no matter how hard you labor to earn God’s favor, there is still something missing, namely God’s grace? If you say no, how do you deal with the over 100 passages in the New Testament that insists that we are saved by grace? A young Church of Christ preacher emailed us that “We do not need the righteousness of Christ to be saved.” This statement should horrify any Christian. How dare you minimize the finished work of of our Lord?!

    RT – Yes, grace is necessary for salvation. No, you have asserted that “grace” requires no response of the human heart and action, but you have not demonstrated it from Scripture. As soon as you affirm that the human heart must respond, you have given up your point. Moreover, if “NOTHING” is to have its intended force, then this includes even the human heart. Logic is not the problem; it’s your use of words.

    15. In fact, doesn’t God despise the idea of works righteousness (Mat 23)? We may be very wrong, as we often are. But those of us who look at the CC from the outside see such statements regarding justification as inherently contradictory and legalistic. It seems to us that the hermeneutic error that the CC makes is to make biblical statements about justification additive rather than reconciled. So, instead of making conflicting statements about, on the one hand, how we are saved by grace and elsewhere saying that we must be obedient to be saved—a contradictory construction—a better and non-contradictory construction would be to say that we are saved by grace through a type of faith which leads one to conform his life to the will of God. Does the Bible contradict itself? If so, it cannot be the Word of God. The distinction here may be subtle, but crucial.

    RT – This remark is terribly unfortunate: “So, instead of making conflicting statements about, on the one hand, how we are saved by grace and elsewhere saying that we must be obedient to be saved—a contradictory construction—a better and non-contradictory construction would be to say that we are saved by grace through a type of faith which leads one to conform his life to the will of God.” ***** FIRST, you have asserted that there is something contradictory in the statement you have attributed to Christians – but you have not shown this to be the case. How is “grace” contradictory to “obedient to be saved”? There is nothing in the meaning of the words to make this demonstration so it is up to you to demonstrate this to be the case. SECOND, where in the world does any part of the Bible teach what you think ought to be said by a Christian? Do you really believe there is warrant to saying that one is saved by “a type of faith” which leads to a confirmation that his life is lived to (in accordance with) the will of God? There is no such biblical teaching and, to so suggest, make YOU the one who is, to borrow your word, “additive”! 

  • Ron Thomas 10:00 am on March 27, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the church of Christ (21) – Justification (3) 

    7. After reading this, what do you now think about the concept of imputed righteousness?

    RT – The Bible does not use the phrase.

    8. We cannot help but wonder whether the CC fails to appreciate the depth of our sin. The Bible says that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (Jer 17:9). It also says that “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it (Jas 2:10Mat 5:48). So, if you believe the Bible, your heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. And assuming that you acknowledge at least some sin, you are guilty of breaking the whole law. Right? Thus, if you are guilty of breaking the whole law, are you really pleasing to God?

    RT – The heart left to its own way of thinking – which is the context of Jeremiah 17 – is deceitful and self-serving. Did you pay any attention to it when you referenced the verse? You look at it in relation to 17:10. What about Matthew 5:48 – did you even look at it? The passage clearly teaches us to be like the Father. How does one go about doing this? They are able to do this as they apply 1 John 5:3. Do you find fault with this? Paul says the same thing in Ephesians 5:1. With regard to James 2:10, to what is James referring? The context is abundantly clear that James is speaking of the Law of Moses and the failure of some to meet its standard (James 2:8-13). Thus, you have misapplied the Scriptures to comport with your theological ideas.

    9. In fact, since each one of us is guilty of breaking the whole law, aren’t we therefore guilty under the law and deserving of hell no matter how hard we try to keep the law? How can one possibly say that he is pleasing to God?! What seems most ironic is that in spite of its insistence on New Testament commands, the CC seems to have missed the New Testament purpose of the law—which is to show us our own sin Rom 3:20. If you have, in fact, missed the deeper penetrating spirit of the law rather than the external letter of the law, isn’t it fair to say that God is not pleased?!

    RT – If you want to keep the Law of Moses, since that is the context of the passages you referenced, then it is your right to do so – but you will be lost eternally because of it. How can one possibly say he is pleasing to God? You will forgive me in this bit of incredulity when I ask if you have ever used a concordance.  If you have, have you ever looked up the word “pleasing” in it? If you have not, please take a moment and look at 1 John 3:22 and Colossians 1:10. When you do you’ll have the answer to your question. Your reference to Romans 3:20 pertains to the Law of Moses; I have already seen, however, that the problem of not understanding the purposes of the Law of Moses is in you.

    10. There are other examples of how CC theology seems to us to contradict itself. Here is what one CC teacher says: “The church of Christ does not teach salvation by works. We teach salvation by the grace of God, which is given to those whom God says will receive it: specifically, those who humbly submit to his will.” When we asked, doesn’t the Bible make it clear that it is one’s inward character that is important (Titus 1:15), this same person responded: “Yes, and the inward character will result in humble obedience, which God requires in order for one to be saved.”

    RT – You find fault with this?

    11. We reviewed an audio tape of a lesson from the same Church of Christ gentleman. In explaining Ephesians 2:8-9 he said that “Well, this passage must mean that there are some works that do not save,” implying that there are some works that do. But in other contexts this man said, “This of course does not mean that works can earn salvation.” Isn’t there a contradiction in these two apparently different statements? What then is a straight forward answer to how one is saved?

    RT- Ephesians 2:8-9 pertains to works that originate with man. There is no work that originates with man to save him. He must respond to the Lord’s work in that humble obedience mentioned in the previous paragraph that you seem to be unsettled about. Works that originate with man eliminates God’s opportunity to turn us into His workmanship – because man wants to do this on his own terms. Again, I will ask: Is man saved by the works of man or the works of God? This is not a difficult question, and should be easy for you to answer. 

  • Ron Thomas 10:00 am on March 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the church of Christ (20) – Justification (2) 

    1. What is meant by obedience within the CC seems to be different in the CC than in other parts of Christianity. How about reading this essay by Cecil Hook: (chapter 25, What God Requires) and then tell others as specifically as you can exactly what we must do to be saved? (We do not think you can possibly comply with this request.) What are the essentials for a Christian in order to be saved (chapter 13 beginning on page 44, Essentials)? Please consider this essay by Hook. Is Hook correct that God requires different things for different people?

    RT – Again, no reading of Cecil Hook will be done, nor is it needed. He is just a man, and no man is of any authority when it comes to a “thus saith the Lord.” What is meant by obedience, you ask? Any English dictionary will give an adequate definition. From Deuteronomy 8:1, one can easily and properly understand the nature of obedience. What does one have to do to be saved? You think it can’t be answered adequately? I suppose, then, that Acts 2:38 and 16:31-33 are inadequate answers to you.

    2. Has obedience been so stressed so that the Church of Christ has crossed the line into legalism and fallen into the trap of the Pharisees? Does the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Lk 18:9-14) apply as Garrett suggests (chapter 34, Weightier Matters)? The word legalism is derived from the word law. Since you believe that the Mosaic Law has been replaced by a new law code (the Law of Christ), doesn’t that make you legalists by definition?

    RT – You get close to telling us what legalism is, but that is all you do – get close. If one is to obey God, did that one who obeyed God obey a proper authority that rendered a proper, spiritual, and eternal law? If so, in that obedience, is that legalism? If you think this you are further removed from a proper understanding of Scripture than I earlier realized. Was the apostle John a legalist when he said what he did in 1 John 5:3? Is there “obedience” in that verse? Since there is a law of Christ (Galatians 6:2; James 1:25), is it acceptable to you to not obey because you don’t want to fall into the “trap” of what you call “legalism”?

    3. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15).” What is the context of this command? Isn’t it love? Have you subtly abstracted the law of God from its original context? Is your motivation for keeping Christ’s commandments the law for its own sake and the supposed results that you get from law-keeping? Or is your motivation a deep and abiding love for Jesus! Has your insistence on carefully and mechanically keeping the law robbed the essence of the New Testament of its love, joy, and life (chapter 26 beginning on page 91, Sickness)!

    RT – Are you kidding me? Are you actually attempting to accuse a person of separating one’s obedience from the motivation? You will find no faithful Christian who does this. Your straw man is again set up for you to thrust your saber through – only, again, you missed! From your third question to the remainder of the paragraph is completely dismissed because of your supposed idea with regard to Christians and their motivation. If one does not have as a “base of operations” Matthew 22:34-40, he has nothing at all.

    4. Jesus warned the scribes and Pharisees: Woe to you! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law—justice and mercy (Matthew 23:23). If works are so important, why not emphasize the ones that Jesus emphasized—namely justice and mercy, as well as evangelism (the Great Commandment and the Great Commission)? If you will “know them by their fruit,” why not be known by these things rather than the things the CC is known for such as like a cappella singing, church attendance, separatism, water gospel, etc.? What message do you seek to send to non-Christians? Doesn’t Jesus want us to be known as those who have a radical motivation to mercy and love?

    RT – This impugning paragraph can be summarily dismissed because you received your information from those who have gone beyond Scripture and are desperate for ecumenical attention. Moreover, and unfortunately, you seem to desire to prioritize the words of Jesus, and no faithful Christian will attempt to do so, but he (she) will seeks to love and obey Him in all regards.

    5. Have you added legislation to God’s law and treated it as if it were from God? If so this is a perilous danger! Have you added regulations that seek to bind the conscience? Have you added prohibitions against card playing, lipstick, dancing, wine, etc. as external tests? Where are such prohibitions in the Bible? Have you moved subtly from Godly morality into moralism? If so, as theologican R. C. Sproul explains, THIS IS A DEADLY VIOLATION OF THE GOSPEL. (Regarding wine in particular, see How Should a Christian Think about Alcohol?).

    RT – Your series of questions needs some evidence for the asking; otherwise they are dismissed. Regardless of the accuracy or inaccuracy of your assertions, it is interesting to know that you have come to regard R.C. Sproul as you source of authority.

    6. The Church of Christ’s view on justification seems confused and contradictory to us. It always seems to end up with obedience as the way one is justified. When we asked a dear CC friend—who is an elder in a Church of Christ—how he knows that he is saved, he responded, “Because I have been pleasing to God.” Can one really be pleasing to God? Is there anyone who is righteous: Mk 10:18Rom 3:10-11, 1 Jn 1:8-10? Isn’t our justification imputed by the righteousness of Christ rather than from ourselves? As put by C. K. Moser, “If man pleads his own works, he ignores the blood of Christ. Whoever does that will most certainly be ignored by God. No insult could be greater to God than to ignore the gift of ‘His only begotten Son.’ Hence Paul wrote again and again, “Not of works.’ See Eph 2:8-9Tit 3:5Rom 4.” See Moser.

    RT – In order to neutralize the answer given to you, you ask a question? You need to do better than this. Once again, you make reference to the writings of man. I dare say that I have well learned where you have gotten your theology. You reference various passages and then ask another question with regard to our righteousness not being of ourselves. This is true, and no one I know has said anything to the contrary. Our justification is the result of the Lord’s will having been accomplished on the cross of Calvary. He calls upon us to come to Him (Matthew 11:28-30), and those who do will respond to His love just as He called upon the apostles to preach it in Acts 2:36-39. Is this wrong? If so, please tell us why. 

    • John T. Polk II 11:55 am on March 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Though righteousness is “imputed” by God to those who, like Abraham, “by faith obeyed” (Romans 4:1-8; Genesis 15:6; Hebrews 11:8-19), let no one ever minimize nor forget, and ” let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous” (1 John 3:7,10; 2:29). Since “righteousness” is the practicing of God’s commands, one may know, therefore, when, where, and how, one is “righteous” just as one may know when, where, and how, God has forgiven our sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). Obfuscating fundamental principles like these is the work of the Devil and his angels. As always, the reply to “persuasive words” (Colossians 2:4-6) is to return to the exact truth of the Word of God (the Bible!).
      Ron, you are aiding the cause of Christ by answering this material as you are doing. Fine job!

    • Kevin L Moore 2:45 pm on March 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Ron, Your solid responses to all these straw-man arguments that have been constructed from the skewed and radical perspectives of men like Hook and Garrett would be unnecessary if the “Errors of the Church of Christ” author had enough honesty and integrity to do his homework and present a more realistic viewpoint. Thank you for your sensible reasoning and biblical perspective!

      • Ron Thomas 5:16 am on March 24, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you, Kevin. You are very kind in your words.

        • Stephen R. Bradd 8:19 am on March 24, 2012 Permalink

          Yes, good responses, Ron. Although I’ve not read them all in total, I hope you will make these replies of yours available in 1 document at the end.

        • Ron Thomas 4:27 am on March 25, 2012 Permalink

          Thanks, Stephen. Yes, I have all this on a word document. You are welcome to have it when I am finished, but I suspect it will be at least 50 pages at “10” font.

  • Ron Thomas 9:28 am on March 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the church of Christ (19) – Justification 

    Justification: How We Are Saved

    Works Righteousness and Legalism versus Imputed Righteousness

    “I’ve tried my entire life to keep all the rules and was so deadened staring at a mean, vindictive God who handed out more rules for ‘comfort’.”                                 —-a Church of Christ sister in Phoenix

    First, some comments about this topic, then the questions.  The CC seems to think that other professing Christians are lax in obedience. That may be so. A true saving faith must be a living faith (James 2). There is little room in the Christian faith for “easy-believism” which could be defined as turning one’s back on clearly understood biblical instruction. Certainly, the believer should seek to conform his life to the will of God as best as he understands it.

    Faith implies faithfulness. The New Testament speaks often of such concepts as the obedience of faith. The protestant reformers put it this way: Salvation is through faith alone, but not through a faith that is alone. So, we stand with you in attempting to overcome the shallow view of easy-believism in Christianity.

    RT – A few remarks that are appropriate to these sentiments. Where in the New Testament is it ever recorded that a person is justified by faith alone. Identify only one passage if there is one. I know more of this sentiment of yours will be along this line, but this is the question that needs to be addressed.

    As we will point out below, we get conflicting opinions from Church of Christ folks that visit our website. Some insist that we are saved only by grace and then go on to explain that our obedience is required to earn God’s grace. Others flatly say that we do not even need the righteousness of Christ at all to be saved. So we conclude that the Church of Christ misunderstands the biblical concept of justification.

    Justification is the process by which God declares us righteous even though we are not! Put another way, justification is the authoritative declaration that a person’s status is changed. As theologian Sinclair Ferguson says in his short but powerful book The Christian Life: A Doctrinal Introduction, “God does not justify us because of what we are or what we have done. The whole point of Paul’s argument in Romans 1:18-3:20 is to demonstrate the sheer impossibility of such an event. Rather than justification, it is divine wrath which man has merited.”

    Ferguson continues: “The only basis for justification which the New Testament recognises is the work of Christ….The love of God is the source of our justification, but the death of Christ is its grounds. We ‘have now been justified by his blood’ (Romans 5:9); the result of his obedient life and death is our justification (Romans 5:18); just as he was delivered over to death for our sins he was raised for our justification (Roman 4:25)….and ‘through the obedience of the one man (Christ) the many will be made righteous’ (Romans 5:19)….He [Jesus] came voluntarily under the curse of God, in order to set us at liberty from it (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21Galatians 3:13-14).”

    Ferguson further reminds us that even the Old Testament saints were not justified by works of the law: “The law was introduced 430 years after Abraham had received God’s promise and was justified by faith! In fact, the Law was ‘added’ (Galatians 3:19), it ‘came in by the side door’ Romans 5:20), and was given in order to make men see how necessary dependence on the promise of justification is!”

    Indeed, Ferguson clarifies that indeed it is not even because of faith that we are justified—faith being merely the instrument or the channel (Romans 4:16;Ephesians 2:8-9). We are saved by grace. The conclusion must be that if a man is justified by grace, it is impossible that he be justified by works of any kind. Just as Abraham was not justified by any work of the Law, neither are we today justified by any “Law of Christ” which is a set of rules that replaces the Old Covenant.

    RT – Since there is no “church of Christ” position, only a Bible position, I will now address your remarks. Ferguson’s remarks are fine (except for the “side door” remark), but he is the wrong authority that you reference. Your commentary remarks following the author you quote are terribly mistaken. First, how does Paul use the word “works” in Romans 3? Second, if what you said is accurate with regard to what you have attributed to Ferguson that it is not even because of faith that we are justified, then this flies directly in the face of (and against) the Holy Spirit (Habakkuk 2:4; Ephesians 2:8) – strange that you would include the passage after such a remark. Third, justified by “works of any kind”? Evidently, Jesus was mistaken, wasn’t He (John 6:29)? However, two paragraphs below my remarks have you negating what you just affirmed!

    In trying to explain the impossibility of adding works to grace for justification, it is argued that those accepting Church of Christ theology are not doing ENOUGH to satisfy God! How so? Tim Keller in his book The Reason for God explains how a legalist he knows came to understand the problem. He says that a certain young woman began attending his church who grew up in a church that taught that God accepts us only if we are good enough. She said that the new message of the true gospel was scary. When asked why, she responded: “If I was saved by my good works then there would be a limit to what God could ask of me or put me through. I would be like a taxpayer with ‘rights’—I would have done my duty and now I would deserve a certain quality of life. But if I am a sinner saved by sheer grace—then there’s nothing he cannot ask of me.”

    Yes, works are necessary for salvation; but not our works—rather the work of Christ! While our works are a test of our spiritual hearing, they are the result of our salvation not a cause of it. We will spend the rest of this section attempting to demonstrate this.

    “The passage that convinced me that we in the Church of Christ were thinking wrongly towards the New Testement was the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14). It was the tax collector who was justified rather the pharisee (who was doing everything perfectly)!”         —-Monty

    RT – Since “works are necessary for salvation” and those works can’t be our own, but the Lord’s, is the command of God for man to believe a work of man or a work of God (Hebrews 11:6)? 

  • Ron Thomas 10:00 am on March 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the church of Christ (18) – Hermeneutics 3 (or Patternism) 

    11. And a bit more on the notion of “Patternism,” that is, the idea that we MUST follow the pattern of the disciples as found in the book of Acts. Where in the Bible is this command found? Cecil Hook demonstrates that the proof text of Heb 8:5 is misplaced (chapter 20 beginning on page 56, Pattern). We would be interested in your comments on this reference and also from Al Maxey: Patternism.

    Church of Christ folks love debates. Here is a great one, a debate on patternism: Maxey vs. Broking.

    RT – You ask a question with the word “must”, and in this question you imply that it is not all that important whether we follow the examples of the apostles in the early church. There is no command found. Perhaps the closest would be 1 Corinthians 4:17. I ought to ask you a series of questions: since the apostles were guided by the Holy Spirit, that which they did, were they misguided in their actions? If they were not, is there any propriety in following that example? If there is, why would one not desire to do so? Hebrews 8:5 is misplaced? Once again, I am not interested in what another author might say – when it is you that writes this treatise; I am interested, however, in your attempt to make a particular case. You agree with Cecil Hook that Hebrews 8:5 is misplaced? If so, please state why and how it has come to be this way. When you answer we can go from there.

     12. Do you really think that you are following the New Testament pattern? Well, let’s just do a little check. Are you following all of these New Testament patterns? Or are you arbitrarily assigning reasons why some should not be followed?

    Do you allow speaking in tongues? (1 Cor 14:39)

    Do all who believe have all things in common? Do you sell your possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. (Acts 2:44-45)

    Do you greet one another with a holy kiss. (Rom 16:161 Cor 16:202 Cor 13:121 Thes 5:261 Peter 5:14)

    Does every wife who prays or prophecies do so with her head covered covered? (1 Cor 11:5)

    Do you wash one another’s feet. (John 13:14, et. al.) See Pedilavium.

    Do you have Deaconesses (Romans 16:1)

    Do you annoint with oil, lay on hands, etc, etc.?

    Do you in every place lift holy hands when you pray (1 Tim 2:8)?

    RT – “Do you allow”? It is not and never has been “do you allow”? A faithful Christian will always seek to know what the Scriptures teach (Acts 17:11). Moreover, whatever failing(s) there might be on the part of an individual or a church means nothing with regard to the truthfulness (or not) of a position that is being argued. Secondly, you assert that Christians arbitrarily assign reasons why some teachings should not be followed. This is a straw man that you hope to dismantle with little effort disguised in a question (or series of questions). Thirdly, these questions posed by you are not honestly designed to receive a biblical answer, but an answer that comports with what you want to accept/believe, and that is that there is something wrong with a “pattern.” These questions are to be dealt with individually and in a more thorough way than in this manner in which I am addressing your treatise.

    13. On the other hand, do you show patterns that are not in Scripture, such as weddings, funerals, election of elders, business meetings, thrice weekly meetings at church, and so forth? Are elders given authority to ordain scruples and standards and to withdraw from those who do not comply? If so, isn’t this contrary to the warning of Jesus, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you… ” (Mat 20:25-26). See chapter 23 beginning on page 81, Route to Heaven.

    RT – Christians are capable of making a distinction between traditional practices and scriptural teachings.

    14. What about methods of carrying on church business and of selecting of elders—are such laid out in the Bible (chapter 22, Organization, and chapter 23,Autonomous)? Are accepted practices really from the word of God, or are they traditions of men?

    RT – Paul told Titus to ordain elders in every city (Titus 1:5). If a man desires to be a bishop (1 Timothy 3:1-7) there are certain things that have to be met – the Holy Spirit does not give an exception like many man-made churches do. When Paul and Barnabas were in Antioch they got the congregation of the Lord’s people involved in the appointment of elders (Acts 14:23). Do you have a better “tradition” than this?

    15. Edward Fudge argues that Hebrews 8:1-6 is not suggesting that Christians keep patterns, but in fact the writer of Hebrews is making a contrast with the Christian order (Fudge on Patternism). Indeed, Fudge further argues that patternism is a tradition of men rather than the word of God. Please offer your rebuttal.

    RT – I do not know exactly what Edward Fudge said, except only as you declare. Assuming I understand you correctly when he asserts that some brethren argue for this so-called “patternism” (that you impugn so often) based on Hebrews 8, I suppose I would ask: what argument is being made on this passage with regard to a pattern? It is true that the Holy Spirit contrasts the differences in the covenants. That said we must not minimize the words and principle of 8:5.

    16. The Church of Christ also teaches that tradition is to be avoided based on Mat 15:2-6 and Mk 7:3-13. But doesn’t the Bible itself teach that there are verbal traditions to which one must hold (2 Thes 2:15)? If it is not okay to use tradition in the Christian faith, how do we even know who wrote the first book of the New Testament? While the Bible contains all truth, is all truth in the Bible? Isn’t it reasonable to think that there are as many ways to honor God as his infinite nature would imply?

    RT – No! The “tradition” of that passage is the very word that Paul spoke to the church at Thessalonica, and that is the word of God (3:6)! Your second question is pitiful! Can you not make a distinction between the truth of God as revealed in Scripture and tradition as discussed by man? The latter is never to be inserted as something that pertains to righteousness. Understanding the historical tradition of the biblical writers is not that which pertains to righteousness.  Your third question is no; on the other hand, all things that pertain to life and godliness is found exclusively in Scripture (2 Peter 1:3; Jude 3). Do you deny this?  Your fourth question might be able to be answered in the affirmative, but one can know for certain how to do so as revealed in Scripture (1 John 5:13). Those who go beyond can’t know for certain.

    17. We would again suggest that you read Cecil Hook’s comments in chapter 33 beginning on page 113, Hermeneutic. Is our sufficiency in a written code in the New Testament, or rather in the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:6)? Do we have eternal life via the Scriptures or simply in Jesus (John 5:39)?

    RT – Why the delineation? Can you know anything with regard to salvation outside the Scripture? If you say yes, how would you come to know that? If you say Jesus, how would you come to know anything about Jesus? The New Testament, that you speak of in an unfortunate way as a “written code” is that which God gave us to understand Him, His son, and His way. What did Paul say about God having revealed through Paul His will (Ephesians 3:1-7)?

    18. How does one answer the following charge made by Bob Ross in his book Campbellism; It’s Histories and Heresies: “Campbellism is salvation by works because it requires one to obey—in order to be saved—a ‘gospel plan’ that in order requires (a) faith, repentance, good confession, baptism, remission of sins, and the Holy Spirit—thus requires a sacramental ordinance, and (b) requires the assistance of another person [“priest”] and thus the obedience of the one assisting.” Is this construct a tradition of man rather a commandment of God?

    RT – Bob Ross is no authority for any Christian. Moreover, I do not know what “Campbellism” is. (1) Is this a true or false statement: “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved;” Since it is an independent clause of Mark 16:16, it stands on its own. Is it true or false? (2) When Peter declared to those on Pentecost to “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Did he speak the truth? If he did, did he require someone to obey something that God commanded him to teach? 

    • Kevin L Moore 6:04 pm on March 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you, Ron, for your sound reasoning and competent handling of these flemsy, prejudicial, provacative, uninformed attacks.

      • Ron Thomas 5:17 am on March 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Kevin, you are very kind in your remarks and, in fact, your charitable remarks humbles me.

    • Bill Brewer 12:34 pm on August 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply


      I agree on the defects of patternism. Churches of Christ cannot escape their identity within an indigenous American religious movement by mimicking a pattern that allegedly captures the essence of an earlier age.

      One way I deal with that attitude is to ask devotees of patternism whether an Elvis Presley imitator can become so good at mimicking Elvis that he actually BECOMES Elvis.

      The answer of course is “no.”

      My point is that, likewise, churches of Christ can never actually BECOME the NT church— even if the pattern being emulated is what it is claimed to be.

      See my discussion at http://historeo.com/web/?p=1156



      • Ron Thomas 1:27 pm on August 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        I scanned your discussion and when to the summary (was not able to devote to time to read thoroughly). As I clicked on the link nothing came up but “oops.” In any case, following a pattern is the norm in one’s Christian walk (1 Corinthians 11:1 and Ephesians 5:1). If it is the norm in that regard it is reasonable the it will also be the norm in apostolic teaching (Acts 2:42).

  • Ron Thomas 10:00 am on March 13, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the Church of Christ (17) – Hermeneutics (2) 

    5. Isn’t the Bible silent on many things which Churches of Christ do or use: church buildings, “placing membership,” plan of salvation, shaped notes, four-part harmony, audio and visual equipment, “five acts of worship,” worship leaders, located preachers, youth director, campus ministers, pitch pipes, tuning forks, Sunday school, greeters, ushers, collection plate, invitations song, church budget, pledge cards, “laying contributions at the elders’ feet,” prohibitions against helping community organizations, song leader, grape juice, auditorium, etc? Nothing wrong with these, for sure. But they are indeed traditions, no?

    RT- Yes, the Bible is silent on many things. In things that pertain to God, however, Christians are to teach and do only that which the Lord wants taught and done. For instance, the idea of a church building violates which of these two things? Moreover, the audio and video equipment violates which of these two things? Yes, they are traditional with some. Rather than seek to learn what can’t be done or used, why not seek to learn what the Lord wants done with regard to teaching and doing?

    6. Cecil Hook documents in his books Free to Change (chapter 33 beginning on page 113, Hermeneutic) and Free as Sons (chapter 20 beginning on page 56,Pattern) that: “Let’s Face It: None of us is willing to follow those three rules consistently. We accept what seems to fit our understanding, and we reject or overlook teachings of the same classification that do not fit our mental picture.” How about taking a minute to read the articles on these links. So we ask, is the pattern you seek in church not there after all? Is Hook correct that patternism is evidence of legalism? Does such patternism subtract from the focus on Christ?

    RT – Since I have already dealt with the idea of “pattern”, and that you also follow a pattern, I will dismiss the question. “Patternism” is legalistic in accordance with what standard? Moreover, you need to define what you mean by the use of the word/term “legalism” when you ask this question. Does following a pattern subtract from a proper focus on Christ? Will chaos help one focus?

    7. What is the vital factor which God sees to be known by him? Is it loving God (1 Cor 8:2-3 f) or the code of rules that you suppose to be the law of Christ?  If patternism is so important, why do you limit your patterns to the book of Acts? Why not follow the pattern of Jesus, who consistently tended to the weak, sick, and needy?

    RT – This first question is terribly flawed. Are YOU going to prioritize what is vital and what is not? Is 1 Corinthians 8:2-3 more important than 1 John 5:3? Perhaps you can and will explain the comprehensives answer of our Lord to a religious leader as spoken by Him in Matthew 22:37-38. Those faithful to the Lord’s teachings do not limit the teaching to the book of Acts only; the entirety of the New Testament is used.

    8. What is the core message of the Bible? Is it, as Abilene Christian and Pepperdine professor Thomas Olbricht insists that it is: the “mighty acts of God” and “God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit?” Or is it rather “commands, examples, and necessary inferences?” Should it not be the faith, hope, and love realized in the lives of believers through the power and grace of God?

    RT – Does the New Testament speak of a “core message”? Everything starts with obedience to the two great commands mentioned in Matthew 22; following that, all God’s laws are built on this foundation (which is Christ). To speak of something being more important than something else – when the same Author gave both (and all) is quite misguided. Perhaps it might be better if we just teach what the New Testament says and not try to prioritize anything the Lord said – unless He has done so.

    9. These formulas bring up a long list of questions that we might ask, especially regarding necessary inferences. It seems that what is a necessary inference varies even among CC folks. But suffice it to wonder whether a “necessary” inference becomes any doctrine or practice that someone in the Church of Christ deems necessary (or whether the formula is a necessary tool to exclude many other Christians and Christian practices). Since these formulas are not specific commands in the New Testament and since “necessary” seems to be merely an interpretation, shouldn’t others necessarily infer that these formulas themselves are traditions of men rather than the word of God? See Al Maxey’s comments on Necessary Inference.

    RT – Assuming you know something about the study of logic, I will give a definition of inference: when something is inferred it is implied. To deny this is to deny logic. “The forming of a conclusion from premises by either inductive or deductive methods; the conclusion itself” (Gordon Clark, p. 136). “…we may say that reasoning or inference occurs whenever we assert something to be true on the ground that something else is true” (Boyd Henry Bode, p. 2). Thus, all correct inferences are necessary.  It has been said many times that those who turn against logic have done so because logic has turned against them!

    10. Are examples and incidental details in the Bible binding? How does one answer the issues raised by Mr. Hook’s explanation on this: chapter 2, Law and Principle? Is it the detail or the purpose that is important, such as at the Lord’s Table? Is it correct to assume that breaking bread on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7f) is binding? Remembering that the Jewish day was from sundown to sundown, and since this gathering in Acts 20:7 was at night, it had to be on what we know as Saturday night. Is the CC’s insistence on a Sunday Communion therefore breaking this New Testament example? Since that was the only such instance in the New Testament, how can one be certain to the point of law that this was not an isolated example? How can you even be certain that this was Communion rather than a fellowship meal? Would Jesus pronounce a woe on such sacred cows?

    RT – There is an old adage that has much merit: if we do what they did we will get what they got. Restated: if we follow the examples and patterns of the apostles and those who lived in the first century under their tutelage, then that which they received we will receive as well. Question to you: Is this false? Let me address Acts 20:7. The first thing to note is how the various translations render the verse. The NKJV, NET, NIV, ESV, and NASV all read “on the first day of the week.” Thus, your “Saturday night” attempt to negate a proper hermeneutical approach is dismissed. Second, since the early Christians came together on the first day of the week to break bread and then to hear Paul preach, here is a good pattern for us as well. Concerning whether “communion” is in view or not, let us reason together on this a bit. Did the disciples come together to eat a “fellowship” (or potluck) meal, is that how you read this? What did Paul say to the Corinthians when they gather together (1 Corinthians 11:18, 20)? The Corinthians gathered together for impure reasons when they should have gathered together for a singular reason (11:23-26). Isolated example? Is communion to be an isolated example, and not a weekly one? Communion a sacred cow?! Interesting association you make, and one that is rather unfortunate. 

  • Ron Thomas 10:00 am on March 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the Church of Christ (16) – Hermeneutical Principle’s 


    Traditions of Men vs. the Word of God

    “I, like most in the churches of Christ, was raised up on the notion that we must “restore” the first century church to present day America. It was something I never questioned, and just assumed (like most) that it was a biblical concept and goal. However, some years back I began a personal quest to confirm my beliefs, and I soon learned that many of my cherished convictions came more from my forefathers in the faith than from my Faithful Father! This notion of restoration of the first century church is one of them, in my view.”   —-Al Maxey

    We have been told by a CC preacher that what unites the Church of Christ is hermeneutics (method of biblical interpretation) more than anything else. The formula used is “specific commandments, approved apostolic examples, and necessary inferences.” This is further clarified by the rule of “inclusions and exclusions.” This means, as we understand, that anything that is included in the New Testament must be obeyed; and anything that is not in the New Testament must be avoided, except those things which are deemed to be required or avoided by necessary inference. When they see other groups who fail these tests as they define them, they accuse them of practicing things that are “traditions of men rather than the word of God.” But are these formulas themselves traditions of men rather than the word of God?

    1. Is there such a thing as Church of Christ doctrine? Here’s a testimony of a Church of Christ preacher who after for 40 years changed his mind on this: Church of Christ Doctrine.

    RT- No, there is no such thing as a “church of Christ” doctrine. There might be in the minds of some people, but there is nothing to the terminology with which I have been associated. The only doctrine associated with the Lord’s church is that which is taught in the pages of the New Testament.

    2. How do you know that biblical silence is prohibitive rather than permissive? Maxey on Silence. In this article, Maxey discusses the three most used Bible passages that are used to prove the “Law of Silence.” Your thoughts on this would be appreciated.

    RT – I have no use for what Al Maxey says. If he is correct in some sentiments, that is great, but I will not read his words on this matter. To answer your question I offer the following: the nature of presumption. One presumes that God will accept something that He has not expressly said. For instance, can you KNOW that God will accept the use of the mechanical instrument in worship since God has not expressly said it is authorized? The question is: can you KNOW, not what you think. Another question: can you KNOW that God prohibits the use of prayer beads and prayers to Mary since the New Testament Scriptures do not address the issue, that is, expressly having forbid it? When the Lord instituted the Lord’s Supper, He followed the pattern as revealed in the Old Testament; in the New Testament, the disciples followed the pattern of the Lord. There is no prohibition against other elements pertaining to the Lord’s Supper; thus, since you inquire about silence and prohibition, what elements would you use? Why?

    3. What about the so-called “Law of Silence” or the “Principle of Prohibitive Silence“—that is, not doing what the Bible is silent on? Isn’t this actually a fallacious  principle, as pointed out by Church of Christ preacher Al Maxey: http://www.zianet.com/maxey/reflx354.htm? Isn’t Maxey on to something when he insists that in the areas in which God has said nothing, that this is NOT PROHIBITIVE? Where in the Bible is this “law of silence” enumerated?

    Could you give us a list of truths that God has revealed to his people by saying absolutely nothing about them?

    RT – In things that pertain to God (religious worship and teaching), if the Bible is silent, by what hermeneutical principle do you have authorization to do what the Lord never addressed Himself on? You call it “fallacious”, but you did not say why. I will wait for you to tell me (us). 

    4. Consider this example. Let’s say that a father has prescribed list of things for his children to do and not to do to honor him. He is insistent that he is to receive a greeting card on his birthday. They are to kiss him good night each evening. They are never to speak ill of him. But let’s say his daughter loves him so much that one day she picks a bouquet of wildflowers and gives it to him—an act that is not on the father’s list. Is she to be condemned or chastised for this act of love? Aren’t there nnumerable ways to honor God out of our love which are not specifically mentioned in the Bible (chapter 15, Worship by Demand)? Maybe, just maybe, playing beautiful instrumental music in church might fit into this category! Did you know that there is in fact NO pattern to worship in the Bible (chapter 26 beginning on page 91, Sickness).

    RT – The failing in your scenario is that you are asking the wrong person! Should not the father be asked? From the outside your answer might seem reasonable, but from the outside the father of the daughter is not seeking an answer. In your follow up “beautiful music” remark there are way too many people answering for the Father of glory. Are you sure there is no pattern to worship in the Bible? You probably meant to say the New Testament, but since you did not, I will show that you are mistaken. Read Leviticus 1; is there a pattern there, and is it associated with worship? 

    • Doug Post 10:19 am on March 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      First of all, churches of Christ existed long before the Restoration and long before Locke and Bacon. Second, how is that so many “church fathers” and others associated with them taught many and even most of what we preach, if our doctrine comes from our Restoration forefathers? Obviously, then, the assertion as made by some of our brethren is false to the core. Rather it’s a straw man they have built and continue to hit because they are unable to hit anything else. Of course, what we learn, therefore, is that common and acceptable doctrine, based upon one/s will and desire to know the Truth, and one’s reasoning skills (common sense) shows us that many folks over the centuries, long before Stone, Campbell, Locke and Bacon, interpreted the NT as we, which also implies a pattern exists in reaching these same conclusions. By the way, how is it that Calvin and Luther, the very one’s these liberals model themselves after, taught against Instrumental music as we, and yet our hermeneutic is wrong, and not Christ centered? Sounds like Al and the boys are terribly confused!!

      • Ron Thomas 10:30 am on March 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, it is true for some that a straw man is built. Whatever their experience may have been, coupled with the predisposition of their particular minds, have moved them to where they are. I will stay, as others will (and are), with 1 Peter 4:11.

    • James 11:41 pm on January 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I think some of this may boil down to the terminology we use if we say silence is forbidding and that anything God was silent about is sinful, then people sometimes assume everything not mentioned in the Bible, e.g. cars, electricity, radios, microwaves, etc., would all be sinful. In the case of instrumental music, it is not that God is silent, He is not. He has specified in the New Testament that singing is the kind of music that is authorized thus eliminating all other kinds of music. He specifies Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs which eliminates other types of songs.

  • Ron Thomas 10:00 am on March 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the Church of Christ (15) – Denominations 

    There is not a single person I know who likes to be considered wrong in (or on) a particular belief. In fact, when another comments that you are wrong there might be a number of responses to that assertion. You could become angry, defensive, you might respond by putting distance between you and the accuser, or you might attempt to counter the assertion by a reasoned reply.

    Not long ago a brother (Stephen Bradd) brought to our attention a website that accused the Lord’s church of being wrong on some particular topics; at the very least, they have questioned what is believed by them. 

    Thus, the “Bible-based, para-church ministry not affiliated with any denomination” website has given us the opportunity to do exactly that. Unfortunately, the website that poses to ask tough questions did more commentating on various topics than asking questions. Nevertheless, questions were asked. The Fellowship Room is currently running a series of articles (in dialogue fashion) that addresses these questions and comments. 

    If you have an interest in looking at it in its full context, let me encourage you to check it out.



    Ron Thomas 


    A Church of Christ website (http://www.lookinguntojesus.net/20070218.htm) makes the statement that, “One becomes a Catholic differently than one becomes a Christian. The two are not synonymous. Likewise, becoming a Baptist is incompatible with becoming a Christian. These and other denominational groups are not segments of Christianity; they are all different from Biblical Christianity.”

    1. The CC says that denominationalism is bad, should be shunned and abandoned —a goal which may be worthy as denominationalism does unnecessarily separate Christians. But Webster gives these definitions of a denomination: (1) act of denominating or naming, (2) a name, designation, or title, (3) a class, or society of individuals, called by the same name; a sect. Is not the CC a denomination on every one of these points? Has the CC, perhaps with good intention, added to the denominational problem by using the Church of Christ name exclusively (chapter 11, Denominate Ourselves)?

    RT – A proper understanding of the word “denominate” is useful to our discussion. When the word is used most often it pertains not to a name and to doctrine. In your remarks you recognize this problem. With regard to a name let me say that there is something in a name. A church can have a name that has its origin in man, or it can have its name that has its origin in the Lord. Which do you think is better between the two? Moreover, the term “Church of Christ” designates ownership. It is the church that belongs to Christ. In the New Testament, one will read of a designation or owner (church of Christ, church of God, church of the firstborn, etc.), and one will read of a church in regard to location. So, to denominate, in the strict sense of the word, may be an unavoidable problem, but by what designation will you choose to be called?

     2. Is it true that if one is truly seeking to please God that he must wear a name “approved by God?” CC materials say that, “Investigate and be a member of no church but the one you can read about in the Bible.” Are we correct in inferring that this limits one to the Church of Christ? Does this mean that those who “wear a name” such as Methodist or Baptist should be condemned and disfellowshipped? Could the insistence on the name be a tradition of men rather than from God, as Cecil Hook suggests: chapter 12, Sectarianism?

    RT – Is there anything in a name? To understand you, you think not. What do the Scriptures say? In Matthew 16 the Lord said it would be His church; are we to understand from you that it is acceptable to call His church by another name? To illustrate further: you are married; do you want your wife to be called by the name of another man? To ask is to answer! Since there is no other name given unto man by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12), I think I will stay with the name of the Lord – won’t you?

     3. Has the CC assumed a sectarian spirit with the exclusive use of this name? If it is important for the group to be titled biblically, while Church of Christ seems like a good name, why not sometimes use the following terms that the Bible says of the church—the “Churches of God in Christ Jesus” (2 Thes 14), or “Church of God” (Acts 20:28, 1 Cor 15:9), or “The Way” (Acts 9:2, 16:17, 18:25-26, 19:9,23, 22:4, 24:14, 22, 2 Peter 2:2), or “Bride” (John 3:29). Or—the “Pillar and the Ground,” “The Body,” “Temple,” “Building,” “Household Flock,” “City,” “Candlestick of Christ,” “Churches (plural) of Christ,” “Sheep,” “Elect,” “Living Stones”—all of which are used in the Bible for the church or for God’s people? Does the Bible in ANY place command to use a definite, specific name consistent for the church? Were the many churches in the New Testament that were not called by the name of Church of Christ saved or lost? Indeed, isn’t it correct that no individual congregation is called Church of Christ in the New Testament?

    RT – In answer to your first question: I suppose it could be true that some were (are) quite sectarian in their thinking and insistence. Since there is something in a name, biblical names (designations) are appropriate, and there will be no fussing from me on that. With regard to your third question, the New Testament gives no command (that I am aware of) on a designation for the local assembly. If Isaiah 65:15 is prophetic (and I maintain it is), then what name do you think might be in mind here? Your fifth question has what design in the asking of it? It reads rather unfortunate to me. On your last question, if there is a plural, there is a singular (Romans 16:16); will you deny this?

     4. The word translated church (Greek ekklesia) is used in the New Testament only in 1 Cor 11:20 and Rev 1:10, and it means “belonging to the Lord; pertaining to the Lord.” Cecil Hook asks several questions of his brethren in his book about this (chapter 11, Denominate Ourselves). For example, how could a word which has a limited counterpart in the New Testament be a part of an authorized title for God’s people?

    RT – I do not know where Cecil Hook got his information, but surely you saw that he was pitifully wrong? The English word church is used quite a number of times in the New Testament. Any good concordance will demonstrate this. Also, the Greek word that gives us our English word is, likewise, used quite a number of times in the New Testament. A good Greek concordance will demonstrate this. With regard to your question I will answer that if the Lord so identified his people in a particular way, I will chose to be identified that way – regardless of the frequency of use in the New Testament.

    5. The Bible (Acts 11:26) says that Christians were first called “Christians” in Antioch, eleven years after Pentecost when CC claims the church began. Were the followers of Christ truly Christian during these intervening eleven years? Were any of them saved before they got a name? Isn’t this a long time for a bride to take on her husband’s name? Why wasn’t the name “Church of Christ” used?

    RT – Again, your questions are fraught with pejoratives. If one is a follower of Christ, is that one a Christian? If so, why the fussing about 11 years (or whatever amount of time intervened)? Simply because an outsider calls one a particular name at a particular time does not negate the fact of it being true before that time. Because your questions are asked in this manner, I think it is best that you continue to have the name of a man attached to your way of thinking – since this is what you desire, while a great many of us will take the Lord’s name.

    6. Have you become a nondenominated denomination?

    RT – This question means nothing to me. 

    • Nick Gill 10:27 am on March 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      #4 is clearly a misunderstanding. The references stated are the only appearances of the Greek word for “Lord’s” – I believe the questioner is referring to our tendency to use the phrase “the Lord’s church.”

      • Ron Thomas 1:06 pm on March 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Perhaps you are correct. Thanks for the suggested qualification.

  • Ron Thomas 10:00 am on February 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    There is not a single person I know… 

    There is not a single person I know who likes to be considered wrong in (or on) a particular belief. In fact, when another comments that you are wrong there might be a number of responses to that assertion. You could become angry, defensive, you might respond by putting distance between you and the accuser, or you might attempt to counter the assertion by a reasoned reply.

    Not long ago a brother (Stephen Bradd) brought to our attention a website that accused the Lord’s church of being wrong on some particular topics; at the very least, they have questioned what is believed by them. The word “legalism” is used often in this essay. They preface their treatise with this headline: “Bible Questions for the Church of Christ.” New Testament Christians should never feel ill-at-ease when faced when a headline (or remark) like that. In fact, Christians should always go to the Scripture to see if those things that are said are accurate.

    Thus, the “Bible-based, para-church ministry not affiliated with any denomination” website has given us the opportunity to do exactly that. Unfortunately, the website that poses to ask tough questions did more commentating on various topics than asking questions. Nevertheless, questions were asked. The Fellowship Room is currently running a series of articles (in dialogue fashion) that addresses these questions and comments.

    If you have an interest in looking at it in its full context, let me encourage you to check it out.

    Ron Thomas

    A study of CC doctrine is, of course, not complete without a look at instrumental music! The non-instrumental music wing of the CC feels so strongly about this that they will not fellowship with churches who use instrumental music, saying “We don’t fellowship the instrument.” A cappella singing is wonderful and most worshipful! The concern is why this issue would cause folks to break fellowship with other Christians.

    1. Why is instrumental music not allowed in worship when the definition of psalm (which you do allow) is a hymn set to instrumental music (see Strong’s Dictionary of the Greek New Testament, as well as any English dictionary)? Since psalms are included in a proper worship (Ephesians 5:19), shouldn’t instrumental music necessarily be used in worship to be obedient to Scripture? Is it being disobedient to Paul’s instruction by not using psalms correctly in the worship service? In other words, given the definition of psalm, by your own rules of “inclusion and exclusion,” doesn’t the Bible require instrumental music?

    RT – I don’t think you have given necessary thought to this series of questions. The definition of the English hymn does not mean a “hymn set to instrumental music”! You might want to get a better dictionary than the one you have if you read this from Strong’s. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words defines hymn simply as “song of praise addressed to God” (p. 581). The word had no direct connection to the use of the mechanical instrument or the non-use of the mechanical instrument. Are you sure that psalms includes the mechanical instrument whenever the word is used in the New Testament? According to Mounce (p. 548) the word is used 7 times in the New Testament. They are: Luke 20:42; 24:44, Acts 1:20; 13:33, 1 Corinthians 14:26, Ephesians 5:19, and Colossians 3:16. Please, tell me, is the mechanical instrument to be understood in each and all these contexts? If you make a distinction, why? Exactly, what is the definition of the word psalms?  Bauer’s Greek lexicon defines it “song of praise, psalm” (p. 891).

    2. Aren’t there instruments of music in worship to God in heaven (Rev 5:8)? Aren’t there instruments of music in worship in the Old Testament? Is there any condemnation of instruments of music anywhere in the Bible (chapter 5, Silence Says Something)? While there are many Psalms quoted in the New Testament, why are there no statements of caution to make sure to not obey the musical instrument passages in the Psalms? Is this practice from the Word of God or is it a tradition of men? Is it really so important as to break fellowship with other Christians?

    RT – Yes, there is an instrument mentioned in heaven, but is this your justification? If it is, since each of the twenty-four elders had a harp, will you require each member of the congregation to also have a harp? Moreover, each one of the elders also had a golden-bowl full of incense; will you justify your practice of the use of the golden-bowl of incense on the same passage? If you won’t, why not? To use that as justification is to use all that is said in the verse (not to mention the chapter). You ask about the instruments of music in the Old Testament, but is it the Old Testament that gives us our authority to do things under the authority of the New Testament? This is mighty strange that you would go back there to find your justification for a church practice that the New Testament does not authorize.  With regard to your last two questions these are much more easily answered than you realize. Why no caution? When the Lord said something was to be done, did He need to tell us what NOT to do? What He told us to do is our caution! In other words, to go beyond what the Lord said is presumptuous; to go beyond what the Lord said means one does not have God in so doing (2 John 9-11). The use of the mechanical instrument is a tradition of man – since there is no New Testament sanction for its use in the worship of the local congregation.

    3. Is there a single solitary sentence anywhere in all of Scripture that even hints of God’s dissaproval of instrumental accompaniment to singing (Maxey on Pinkerton).

     RT – Might we ask a similar question: Is there a single solitary sentence anywhere in all of Scripture that even hints of God’s dis-approval of praying to Mary? An interesting question it might be, but it misses the point. In the New Testament, those who seek to be pleasing to God will follow and practice what He said He wants done; they will not see where they can get something “squeezed in” in order to satisfy the human ear; they will not seek to go beyond what He has said. In fact, those who seek to be pleasing to God will not even entertain the thought of trying to “squeeze in” anything that is not pleasing to God as He revealed Himself.  

    4. It seems to us that the Church of Christ is desparately inconsistent in interpreting the Bible. If necessary to prove a point, the CC calls on the Old Testament. Examples: In order to try to disprove Original Sin, you call on Ezekiel 18:19-32. If you want to support patternism, you call on Leviticus 10:1-2. Aside from both of the passages taken out of context to prove a point, why do you conveniently ignore the Old Testament passages about instrumental music?

    RT – Since the New Testament teaches that we can learn much from the old covenant (Romans 15:4), New Testament Christians will do exactly that. We learn much when Ezekiel 18 addresses the nature of sin and to whom it is against. Ezekiel tells us the way God addresses sin and the sinner, and this transcends covenants. Romans 5:12 gives us the thrust of Ezekiel 18; death passed unto all men, not sin.  This notion of “patternism” and your rejection of it is only a superficial rejection. For instance, do you go to a church building each Sunday morning? Do you sing songs of praise with the mechanical instrument each Sunday morning? Do you hear preaching each Sunday morning? Do you give of your means each Sunday morning (or whatever the frequency)? Why is this not a pattern? There is no ignorance of the Old Testament, but it must be rightly applied (2 Timothy 2:15). 

  • Ron Thomas 10:00 am on February 24, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the Church of Christ (13) 

    True Church

    Based on the responses, this essay is one of Al Maxey’s biggest hits. Please read Maxey on The Universal Body and offer your critique.

     RT – I ask that you forgive me since I do not plan on reading what Al said. Some years ago I did, but when I saw it was an agenda based on one’s preference, I turned away.

    Are we saved by the Church of Christ, or the Christ of the church?

     RT – We are saved by Christ.

    Walter Scott in the preface of his book, The Gospel Restored, said: “In 1827 the True Gospel was restored. For distinction’s sake it was styled the Ancient Gospel.” In a more recent Church of Christ tract, the writer says: “She [the church] was HIDDEN for 1260 years, that she might be protected from the power of the Popes.” Is it true that some within the CC still teach that the true church was really completely hidden for some 1260 years, so hidden in fact that Alexander Campbell had to find a Baptist preacher to baptize him?

     RT- You’ll forgive me if I fail to see the importance of these remarks and this question. Does it matter what some might think relative to this?

    Apparently not all CC people have this understanding of the 1260 year church gap. Some only say that the true church existed during those 1260 years, although believers had to worship in secret lest they be persecuted by the apostate Catholic church. But if you do hold to the gap view, what is the meaning of Mat 28:20 (“And lo, I am with you all the days, even unto the end of the age.”)? AndEphesians 3:21 (“Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.”) If the church was in apostasy for centuries, why does Jesus say, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it”?

    RT – What the Lord said rings true whether the church is large or small; whether the church is in one location or many. With regard to the opinions of men you have offered, there is no incompatibility in the words of Jesus and the thinking of some men. If there is you’ll need to demonstrate. Perhaps a reading of Revelation 12 would be useful.  

    Is it correct that sometimes the CC considers Christians who “do not walk with you,” as Ketcherside claims (chapter 22, Butting Brethren) to be “hobbyists, or dishonest, or insincere, or sectarians, or unworthy of notice?” Did Jesus die for a particular party within Christendom? Do you know precisely where God would draw the line to eliminate certain people from being considered Christians? How would you define “sect?” Would you define it differently than Cecil Hook (chapter 24 beginning on page 84, One Hundred)?

     RT – These questions have no real value with regard to what the Scriptures teach. They may be of interest to some, but not to me. With regard to your question – that has been answered previously.

    Hasn’t the church always been in need of reform and restoration—even from the beginning, as evidenced by Paul’ letters to his churches? If a man loses his leg, doesn’t he still have the essential nature of a man? If the church loses some correct practices, doesn’t it still have the essential nature of a church (chapter 19, Identity)?

    RT – Whenever there is a human involved in administering the Lord’s teaching to self (or others) there will need to be reform. That is the nature of the case because man is far removed from the Lord – apart from Jesus. Yes, the essential nature of man is still intact with the loss of a leg, but the loss is a loss, and the ability to do as the Creator designed to be done is lost. What of a church? The nature of a church may still be intact with a loss of “some correct practices.” However, the loss of a leg is accidental (medical), is the loss of “some correct practice” the same? While the answer is readily apparent, let us develop this answer a bit more. Simply having the “essential nature of a church” is inadequate to the problem at hand. If there is (or are) correct practices to a church, and that correct practice is not applied, will the originator of that “correct practice” be pleased when there is a failing (or refusal) to implement His will?

    The concept of the restoration of the true church is a view that the CC holds in common with Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. If the church only existed in “seed” (meaning the Word) as you say during this church gap period, where in the “seed” does it prophecy that Alexander Campbell and his followers would restore the church? Or where in the “seed” does it authorize anyone to restore the church?

    RT – This seems to illustrate a tremendous failing to understand the restoration movement. Since the seed will produce like kind, and the word of God is the seed to growth (Luke 8:11), what is it that will be produced but that which God designed? Is there fault to be found in the sentiment: “Let us call Bible things by Bible names and let us do Bible things in Bible ways.”? This is not a comprehensive sentiment, but it is useful to serve its purpose. The seed is God’s chosen method to produce in man what He wants accomplished. I gather that you have found fault in what some men have attempted to do in implementation of this. That’s your prerogative, I suppose. I will not find fault. What I will do, however, is measure everything taught by man against the Lord’s revealed will (John 12:48; 1 John 4:1). You criticize anyone who follows A. Campbell, and that might be an acceptable thing (when it comes to religious ideology) because Campbell is not the standard of authority of any Christian. Your last question amazes me.

    Is it fair to accuse other Christians groups of being started by men, when history clearly shows that the Church of Christ was started by men—Thomas and Alexander Campbell on May 4, 1811?

    RT – No, it would not be fair if your assertion were true. On the other hand, let us call into question your assertion, and with that I will wait until you establish your assertion. For the record, your attempt will not be difficult to handle!

    How does the Bible differentiate between joining a local congregation and joining the universal church of Christ (chapter 22, Your Church)?

    RT – In Scripture it is the Lord who adds to the church (Acts 2:47). Those that belong to Him He has sealed (Ephesians 1:13). Joining a local congregation is a local thing, nothing more. 

  • Ron Thomas 10:10 am on February 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the Church of Christ (12) 

    Garrett and Ketcherside challenge the usual CC interpretation of certain proof texts for disfellowship. For example, 2 Thes 3:6 says to “withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.” First of all, the verse implies that those so identified are still brothers. It does not say to disfellowship from them. Please read what Garrett has to say: chapter 26, Disorderly. He explains that the context of this passage is the urgent expectation of the expected Second Coming (mentioned regularly in 1st and 2nd Thes) in which some brothers were not bearing their load. Paul says that those who did not work should not eat (2 Thes 3:10), and that the church should discourage this freeloading by not being a party to it. As this is no doubt a different interpretation than you have been taught, your comments are welcome.

    RT In fact, this explanation by Garret is only partially correct. Look at the context yourself and take note of what it is Paul (divinely authorized to write on the Holy Spirit’s behalf) said. In the early portion of the chapter Paul appeals to the church in Thessalonica to pray for him as he preaches the word of God because he realizes that not all have an interest in godly things, but many do (as the brethren in Thessalonica have shown; 3:4-5). On the other hand, there were some amongst them, though, who had taken an approach to the Lord’s coming that needed some correction; this is what 3:7-15 specifically addresses; the exhortation in 3:6, however, is much more inclusive than some try to limit. For instance, the word as used in 2:15 is to be understood as anything and everything that the apostle Paul taught (cf. Romans 15:18). Since the word “tradition” simply means a “passing down,” it is paramount that one understands who the author of that “passing down” is. Since God divinely authorized Paul to preach, is Garret so foolish to suggest that if one does not follow the exhortations as revealed in, say 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22, that there is no reason to “withdraw” from that person? If so, his foolishness is apparent. The idea behind the “withdraw” has a two-fold application. First, that the one who adheres to the Lord’s will not be taken in, stained by, or felled by sin. Second, the one who is actually overcome by sin would be regarded as brother in sin who needs to be reclaimed. The Lord told us how to go about accomplishing this.

    Another such proof text is Rom 16:17, which says to avoid those who cause division contrary to what they had been taught. Ketcherside is of the view that some have turned this passage into a meaning exactly opposite to its intent. What had they been taught? Hadn’t they been taught to love one another, not to dispute over opinions, and to live in harmony? (See Rom 12, 13, and 14, etc). Ketcherside says that “Without realizing it, every partisan who has ever used Romans 16:17, to justify his pet division, and condone his unwritten creed, has pronounced his own condemnation by quoting this verse (chapter 27, Divisions)!”

    RT – The verse teaches that there is an obligation given to each Christian to take notice of those teaching something contrary to the words of Christ. The NET reads, “watch out” (also ESV). If one is to “watch out” for those who teach something contrary to the revealed word, then that means they are to watch out in order to avoid that teaching. Surely, when one fusses over opinions, then the criticism of Ketcherside (or any other) is warranted.  Nevertheless, the Scripture’s teach that one is to be noted and avoided if that which is taught is different than the Lord’s revealed word (cf. Galatians 1:6-9).

     What do you think of Leroy Garrett’s statements regarding 1 John 1:1-4, “If we use fellowship to refer to anything less than the one, holy, catholic, apostolic church throughout the world, we are using it in a sectarian sense. There is no such thing as ‘our fellowship’ except in terms of a sect.” And, “True, one may not approve or endorse what some denomination teaches or practices, but this has little or nothing to do with fellowship, which is a relationship that exists between a person and God and with other persons (chapter 42, Christian Church).”

    RT – The word “sect” is used in Scripture (Acts 24:14, NKJV). Simply because one uses the word against another does not mean that the word has particular merit to its quality. Thus, Garret is just on par with those who labeled “the Way” as a sect. In any case, fellowship is with the Lord, His chosen servants, and with the body of Christ. The local congregation is simply a manifestation of the body of Christ (cf. 1 Timothy 1:4; 3:14-15). The local congregation, however, can be out of fellowship with the Lord if there is a refusal to obey the Lord’s revealed will. Denominations have no authority to exist. By the very nature of the case they are the instruments of man. What man-made denomination can attest to its authorized existence in the pages of the New Testament? Where is there a reading of the Methodist Church, the Baptist Church, the Catholic Church, etc. in Scripture? If there is no mention of them in there, why have the name?! Since none of these names has sanction in Scripture, should not that, by itself, stand for something? Surely it should? “What is there in a name?”, you might ask. The Lord taught that there was something in a name (Matthew 16:18-19; Acts 4:12).

    Isn’t it correct that even Alexander Campbell himself would not be accepted in many Churches of Christ today since he did not believe that baptism was absolutely essential for salvation, was not himself baptized for the remission of sins, believed that there were Christians in the sects, and served for some sixteen years as president of the first CC missionary society? And Thomas Campbell could not be fellowshipped for the most of the same reasons and also because he was a Calvinist in his theology?

    RT – Whatever the Campbell’s might have thought or taught, at this juncture, has no merit on the teachings of Scripture and the issue of fellowship. Whether they would be in fellowship or not is not the point; the point is: what do the Scriptures say?

    Al Maxey has challenged CC members for decades to provide a specific list of fellowship/salvation issues (Fellowship). We too would like to see such a list. Please email it to us.

    RT – How does one answer this question? Should Ephesians 4:4-6 be the answer? Here is the answer: since Jesus said that one can know the truth, it must be that one can KNOW God’s truth. If not, Jesus was mistaken. Since, however, He was not mistaken, then anything He expressed Himself on (including those he divinely authorized to write on His behalf) is a matter of truth. There is no “this is not a fellowship issue” phrase in the New Testament. If one denies that baptism is essential to salvation when Jesus directly connected it to salvation and the remission of sins, that one would be in error (at the very least) and (at worst) in rebellion to God. Is that a fellowship issue? Can one deny the Lord’s expressed will and be in fellowship with Him? If not, then the denier is not in fellowship with those who have aligned themselves up with Christ. So, how shall we answer the question: John 8:31-32; 17:17; Romans 15:18; 1 Corinthians 1:10; 4:17; Galatians 1:6-9; and 2 John 9-11 (just to name a few). 

  • Ron Thomas 10:00 am on February 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the Church of Christ (11) 

    13. Jesus said “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35). Ketcherside says (chapter 50, Glory), “It is not by being baptized or by faithfully attending services that the world will be impressed, nor by being right or doctrinally sound. It is rather the magnificent Christian dynamic of love that will press the claims of Jesus upon men’s conscience.”

    RT – Couple John 13:35 with 1 John 5:3. After doing that which one will you follow: the Lord or Ketcherside?  


    One respondent to our article said this: “Those erring members of the church who refuse to grow out of false teachings and grow into a knowledge of and submission to the Truth are to be rejected, not tolerated.” Of course, what is meant here by Truth is truth as the Church of Christ understands it.

    1. Is it correct that CC will not fellowship with Christians who are “in error?” Is there any other kind of Christian? In other words, since CC members both acknowledge their own sin and disagree on so many points among themselves, is it not correct that each member of the Church of Christ must be in error on at least some points?

    RT – No it is not correct; why would you think it is? We all struggle with regard to one’s behavior and with regard to implementing God’s word in our respective lives – and in this regard there is error that is in place. Without the charitableness of Christians we would be on an island. That said, however, the New Testament is clear concerning those who are in rebellion to the Lord (2 Thessalonians 3:6). The key difference is the difference between the word “error” and the word “rebellion.” On your last question it is certainly possible (probable) that there are many Christians who are in error. No error that is known, however, ought to be retained. Do you disagree with this?

    2. Is it correct that in some cities there are as many as half a dozen different groups of Churches of Christ, none of which will fellowhsip with the others?

    RT – I do not know, but this is possible

    3. Isn’t Ketcherside correct when he says “All of this talk about ‘full fellowship’ is sheer poppycock. It is wholly without scriptural warrant and has been conjured up…God has no stepchildren so we can have no half-brothers. If we are in his family we are in it wholly or not at all. The idea that you can be in partial fellowship is like loving the right side of your wife and hating the left side. You cannot parcel God out and you cannot carve up his spiritual offspring either (chapter 15,Authority)”.

    RT – The Scriptures do not recognize anything but full-fellowship. If one is in fellowship with God, it is full-fellowship. Where does the New Testament teach something less? without scriptural warrant? What does 1 John 1:3 mean if it does not mean “full-fellowship”? The terms “stepchildren” and “half-brothers” does not communicate very well.

    4. Ketcherside clarifies that, “Harmony is not essential to fellowship but is a goal of those who are in fellowship….There is no passage in the apostolic doctrine commanding harmony which was written to bring the saints into fellowship. Every such passage was written to those who were in the fellowship and because they were in it. Please consider (chapter 24, Fellowship).” Does fellowship require the endorsement of another’s position or views? Are people in fellowship by being called by God through the Good News of Jesus Christ or some other means?

    RT – Fellowship is attained and maintained by one’s allegiance to God and His word as expressed in Scripture. There is to be harmony with regard to the Scripture, otherwise Paul’s words have no meaning (1 Corinthians 1:10; Acts 4:32; 5:12). Since Paul wrote by the authority of the Lord, if he words have no meaning, then neither does the Lord’s!  Does fellowship require endorsement? No. Fellowship is association, a common bond that ties two together. One can have “fellowship” in a civic club without there being a particular endorsement of an individual. However, if two are in that club, then both became members of that club the same way. With regard to religious doctrine the same applies. If one is in fellowship with the Lord, then that obedient one became the Lord’s child in the way commanded by Him – this is vertical fellowship. Horizontal fellowship is attained and maintained when another person obeys the Lord in the same way. 

  • Ron Thomas 2:44 am on February 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the Church of Christ (10) 

    10. Is the CC ever a “stumbling block” to the gospel? Do those who hear this emphasis on law and guilt ever “perish of thirst beside what should have been a refreshing pool of the water of life (chapter 17, Mortality Rate)?”

    RT – As revealed in Scripture, the Lord’s church is NEVER a stumbling block to the gospel. His church is surely a stumbling block to man-made institutions, however. The second question I can’t answer because I have not heard such things.

    11. Apparently the CC spends a good bit of time studying other groups’ theology in order to condemn what they see as egregious errors. And labels are attached such as “sectarian,” “liberal,” “ultra-conservative,” “heretic,” “not sound in the faith,” “not of us,” “dishonest,” or “institutional,” or an “anti” or an “extremist.” Such labels are put on denominational churches as well as sister Churches of Christ. Ketcherside insisted that the apostle Paul would vehemently reject such labels, and said, “Unless our brethren are transformed by the Spirit and renounce their false premise they are destined to become the most narrow and antagonistic sectarians of our age.” Let us emphatically assert that such sectarian feelings are not unique to the CC! We have enough experience with denominations to know that many in the denominational world see themselves as members of the denomination first and as Christians second. They are bound by inbred traditions and uninspired creeds which they feel a necessity to defend. Lengthy confessional statements are the way that many organizations put a straight jacket on pastors, teachers, and lay leaders. But, unlike the CC, most will allow fellowship and communion with those outside the denomination and certainly consider others as true Christians.

    RT – In this commentary of yours may help another in some way; perhaps this is a good thing. However, that said, it’s just a commentary and its value is limited.

    12. Some say that what the CC really means by “unity on the Bible” is to follow their particular view of things, including no instrumental music, gospel plan, Bible name, weekly communion, ruling elder church government, etc. Is it correct that your answer to division is for everyone else to line up with you, as Leroy Garrett claims? Isn’t there a difference between unity and uniformity? In other words, can’t we have unity without uniformity? We hear from CC people that they will fully accept anyone who “repents.” But what seems to be meant by repent is to forsake non-CC views and come on over. What did Paul mean in Romans 14:18-19? Does it mean that whoever serves Christ in the way you think they should is “acceptable to God?” Or what did Jesus mean when in Mark 9:38-51: “John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us.’ But Jesus said, ‘Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means lose his reward.”

    RT – If Leroy Garrett was my only source I might be inclined to think your first question would have merit. Since, however, the Scriptures speak nothing of Leroy Garret I can only answer it in accordance with that – 1 John 1:1-3. Your second question is answered yes. Your third question is, potentially, yes. The remainder of your questions are loaded with much bias. The Lord’s church can accept no one, but those who repent (Acts 17:30-31), and it is the Lord who adds to the church, not man (Acts 2:47). With regard to Romans 14, it is not responsible to interpret Paul’s words in light of denominationalism – since it did not exist in his day like it does in our day. Moreover, what Paul had in view was not a compromise with regard to what the Lord explicitly taught, but with regard to interpersonal relationship and private opinions. Additionally the passage in Mark 9:38-41 does not allow – even for a moment – teachings that are contrary to one another as if both came from God! To suggest as much is to abuse the passage. 


    As this series continues I have grown weary of these commentary remarks. Nevertheless, in my view, there is warrant for tackling the issues by this author and giving biblical answers on my own commentary on his remarks. Perhaps some have tired of these posts. I hope that is not the case, but if it is, I beg your indulgence as they will continue.

    • Stevelucas 1:20 am on February 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Ron, I appreciate your efforts in providing Scriptural facts vs. the commentary written by the individual who posted these “CC errors” or the commentary/opinions offered by those alluded to as speaking on behalf of CC (Ketcherside, et al). You may have already addressed this thought: Are your words reaching the author of “CC errors?” If the author is genuinely seeking answers to the many thoughts posited, such can be found in your many posts.

      • Ron Thomas 4:01 am on February 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Steve, I do not know whether they are or not. What I plan to do is send it to him (them) when I am finished. Perhaps that can open something up in the way of dialogue. **** Thank you for your remarks.

    • ELYSEE ALEXANDER 6:25 am on February 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply


      • Ron Thomas 6:42 am on February 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        I don’t understand some of the things you are saying. The “church of Christ doctrine” you speak of is a term that does not communicate. If it is in the NT then that is a doctrine (teaching) that is to be followed by all. There is no compromise on this. If it is not in the NT, then it is a matter of opinion and nothing more. **** Regarding the musical instrument, since it is not in the NT as something the Lord sanctioned, then those who make use of it in the worship setting have gone further than the NT teaches (2 John 9-11). **** With regard to the organization, once again, it either has authorization from the NT or it does not. For instance, “pastor” in the NT refers to an elder, shepherd, bishop. It does not refer to the preacher. ***** Your desire to preach in another country is strictly up to you and those who support you.

  • Ron Thomas 10:00 am on February 10, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the Church of Christ (9) 

    5. Ferguson says, “There is no place for a diversity born of party spirit. Division is a denial of salvation, since the goal of Ephesians 1:10 is uniting all in Christ. Saying that these things are not enough to unite people is a denial of the fundamentals of Christianity.” He reminds his brothers in the CC “not to be too quick to draw lines of fellowship or division….as the church will never be perfect; otherwise there would be not need for the life, death, and resurrection of Christ and no need for human history.”

    RT – I do think it is true that some draw lines quickly; it gives the unfortunate appearance that charity is lacking.

    6. The basis for unity for the CC are both (a) the New Testament, and (b) the New Testament church. That sounds like a reasonable thing for Christians. But Garrett makes an interesting point that perhaps these are, in fact, contradictory goals (chapter 44, Fallacy)! He points out that the New Testament church itself was not modeled after the New Testament! They did not have the New Testament!

    RT – Really?! I would suggest this to be a completely misguided remark. Did Paul mean to say that he taught the same thing in every church and for others church to follow that same thing (1 Corinthians 4:17)? When Peter said that in his lifetime those of the first century had all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), did they not have enough information to form the church according to the divine pattern of the Lord? Might I ask the same thing about Jude’s words? Garrett’s remark is terribly off the mark! Besides all this, we are not dealing with yesterday, but today.

    7. So if we are to use a model of unity based on the New Testament church, shouldn’t our unity be based on what theirs was—the fundamental facts of the gospel? Could Garrett be correct that there was no such thing among the early Christians as a formal union upon the “Bible alone?” In fact, isn’t he correct that, “If unity is a matter of seeing the Bible eye-to-eye, then believers will never be united, for they never have and never will see the Bible alike (chapter 51, Unifying).”

    RT – Yes, our model ought to be based on that which was preached and taught, and that would be in accordance with what the New Testament teaches. With the last sentence in quotes I can agree. The problem, however, is not the Lord or even Scripture – it is the individual. Moreover, it would be false to say “there was no such thing among the early Christians as a formal union upon the ‘the word of God alone’.” The word of God is the truth, and if one can’t unify on and around the truth (John 17:17), to whom do you suppose ought to be attributed this guilt? Let us not fail to seek to achieve the goal simply because some won’t.

     8. Obviously, a line must be drawn somewhere since everyone is not a Christian. But we must not draw a line where the Bible does not draw a line. Wasn’t the unity of the New Testament church what Paul says in 1 Cor 1, with “all those in who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ?”

    RT – Perhaps it might be asked what this means to the inquirer. To call upon the Lord is to hear what He said and obey from the heart that form of doctrine that will deliver us from sin (Matthew 11:28-30; Romans 6:17). Thus, to answer the question with this in mind, the answer is yes. When one calls upon the Lord’s name there will be obedience to His will, and not that of man’s will (cf. Luke 6:46; Colossians 3:17).  

    9. To what extent can we pass judgment on another? What does Paul mean in Romans 14:4: “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls.”?

    RT- If any man speaks let him speak the oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11). What did John say in 1 John 4:1? When it comes to teaching, then every Christian has an obligation to apply Acts 17:11. When it comes to one’s personal and inconsequential belief, the passage in Romans has direct application. 

  • Ron Thomas 10:00 am on February 7, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the Church of Christ (8) 

    In the spirit of the Restoration Movement, the focus of the remaining questions below is to try to establish that there are valid differences of opinions among sincere Christians, even as to important doctrines. (Perhaps God wanted it to be that way in order to enrich our faith experience and learn to live together as believers.)

    These questions will probably generate some strong reactions. Leroy Garrett says that in the days of his sectarian understanding of these things, he “never lost a debate” in his own mind. Garrett and others like him say that it was only after fully understanding God’s love that he could truly put aside his party spirit to experience joy in the diverse opinions of his brothers —and with that a great burden was lifted from him. Even more than exploring what is the “best fit” interpretations of Scripture, we hope to demonstrate to all fellow believers in Christ that we ought naught to restrict our fellowship to those who are closest to us in doctrine.

    Top of page Christian Unity

    “I knew within my heart that something was not right with the way we dealt with each other as Christians. Hostility, jealosy, judging, ostracizing, and the like abounded. All of these were being practiced [in the church of Christ]. Grace and love were very rare. As I began to read and study, I realized that for about thirty years I had been duped, misled and brainwashed. I could not believe the magnitude of this deception. As the scales began falling from my eyes, I began to see more and more clearly, and I grew more and more angry. I have harbored a lot of resentment in my heart since my eyes were opened. But lately, thanks be to God, I have been able to let it go.”  —– (testimony of a Church of Christ sister. For the rest of her testimony see Ashamed.)

    RT – This remark speaks more against the sister than it does anything else (Philippians 2:12-16). If what she saw in the midst of the congregation where she was attending was so grievous, in what way and how might she have become a solution to the problem? She was duped, mislead, and brainwashed – did she not search the Scripture daily to see if those things said were true (Acts 17:11)? If that which was said was not true, and it took 30 years before the “scales” began to fall before she realized it.

    No, this speaks more against her than anything!

    Basis for Unity 

    1. Is it true that the CC believes that it alone is “the New Testament church?” Apparently only Churches of Christ—and only some of them (!)—qualify to be included in the “church of Christ.” Is it correct that members of other Christian denominations cannot be saved if they remain in those groups (or that saved members of other denominations would surely leave those groups in time)? Yet is it also correct, as Cecil Hook says, that there is disagreement among CC members on some 100 issues: chapter 1, Issues Before Us? There are some important issues on this list, including matters of life and death—war, abortion, euthanasia. Is it fair to ask this question: How can one be sure of his salvation if there is disagreement about what one must believe and do?

    RT – As you have asked the question – flawed in the very wording – only those who are in Christ will be saved. Those who are in Christ are in His body, the church. Thus, if by “church of Christ” you mean the one revealed in the New Testament the answer is yes – and there is no possible, scriptural way for that to be wrong. If you mean the placard on the building you have asked a different question. With regard to the second question: 2 Timothy 2:19. There is NO man-made institution that has its sanction (authority) from God to exist. With regard to Cecil Hook, I can’t say (though I won’t dispute the remark). Is it significant how many topics might have resulted in disagreements? With regard to your last question: 1 John 5:3, 13; 1 Peter 4:11.

     2. Members of the CC ask, “How can we accept professing Christians who are in error?” Given the diversity of opinion within your own group, every one of the group must be in error on some things, right? Hook offers some interesting insights into the divisions within the Church of Christ: chapter 25 beginning on page 87, Can Our Churches Unite. Is unity to be defined as getting people into a non-instrumental congregation and wearing the revered name of Church of Christ? Is the message that you proclaim intending to promote unity itself divisive?

    RT – Another flawed set of questions! The questions are faulty in that there is no asking upon what basis unity is attained. Unity is based on the Scriptures (Ephesians 4:3). If one leaves what the Scripture explicitly teach then, by necessity that one has left the Lord. Will the Lord be unified with the one who has left Him?

    3. Stone and Campbell’s original concept was to foster unity within the church. They recognized that even the apostles had disagreements, but in love they could remain united. How do you respond to Leroy Garrett’s charge that the CC has “rediscovered the horrid sin of partyism”—the pride of being right and exclusive and superior with an “arrogant demand for conformity.” Isn’t partyism such a horrible sin that it can prevent one from reaching the kingdom of God (Gal 5:20-21)?

    RT – Leroy’s Garrett opinion is not all that important. What he has observed and has come to interpret is his own. Is he right? People will answer variously; from his perspective he has come to see it that way. It is also my observation that some local congregations are plagued with such sectarianism. Its meaning in the biblical scheme of things does not measure up, but it will be the Lord who will determine who belongs to Him (2 Timothy 2:19).

    4. Garrett says, (chapter 46, Separated) “We do not work for unity; we rather accept the Spirit’s gift of unity to the church. We are already united with all those who are in Christ.” If he is mistaken, what do the many passages on unity mean (Jn 17:20-23Rom 15:5-71 Cor 1:10-12Eph 1:10Eph 4:1-16Php 1:27Col 3:11-16)? Is it a sin to fail to be in spiritual unity with your Christian brothers on the gospel—one fact of Christ?

    RT – He is mistaken. Paul said that the Ephesians were to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. If the Christians today are to maintain the same, is there effort involved? Of course there is, and to say to the contrary is sadly mistaken. Moreover, Paul said that Christians are to live peaceably with all men – does this not include those who call themselves Christians (Romans 12:16-21)? Certainly, it is true that we accept the gift of the Spirit’s unity to the church, but to accept is to “reach out”, receive, and implement. 

  • Ron Thomas 10:00 am on February 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the Church of Christ (7) 

    6. Just what is the gospel that Paul preached (1 Cor 15:1-81 Cor 2:22 Cor 4:4-6Rom 1:16-17)? Do you preach the gospel Paul preached? Are you resolved to focus on preaching Christ crucified as Paul did, or do you preach yourselves and your works and another gospel?

    RT- Perhaps the same set of questions ought to be asked of you; to answer your first question, however, I will point you to the passages I referenced earlier (Romans 15:18, etc). It is also interesting that you would refer to 2 Corinthians 4:4-6, and then ask your 3rd question, which demonstrates (to me) your adversarial approach in these questions. Do you have in mind something when you underscore the word “yourselves” in that question?  You have fallen into the trap Satan has set with this false distinction/delineation of the word “gospel” you picked up from the writings of man – something the New Testament does not sanction.

     7. Isn’t the gospel described in 1 Cor 15:1-38 as something that is past tense (Christ’s dying for our sins) rather than a list of things that we must do now? Were you redeemed by your acts of obedience or by the precious blood of Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:18-19).

    RT – What did Jesus preach in Luke 4:18. Perhaps you ought to look at the additional words Peter wrote in the same passage (1:22-23).

    8. So what about the term obey the gospel (Rom 10:162 Thes 1:82 Pet 4:17)? The word for obey that Paul uses in the first two of these verses is the Greek word hupakouo, which is defined in Strong’s Concordance as “to hear under (as a subordinate), i.e. to listen attentively; by impl. to heed or conform to a command or authority—hearken, be obedient to, obey” (emphasis ours). Thus, the phrase is translated in some modern translations as “welcome the gospel” (or potentially harken the gospel or heed the gospel), or in the negative “refuse the gospel.” In other words, what Paul is saying here is something like a parent would say to a child, “You better listen up buster!” While there are implications of obedience, that is not the force of his statement. The force of the statement is to “pay attention.” Thus, we argue that this is yet another factor in favor of seeing obedience as a result of the gospel rather than the gospel itself. Does this new information change your thinking at all between the distinction between the gospel itself and obedience? Please read this short article and give us your response: Gospel.

    RT – Well, you have built a straw man in your little discourse. Of course obedience is a result of hearing the gospel (good news) of Jesus proclaimed (Acts 18:12). There is a distinction between the two. This is why Garrett, Ketcherside, and Maxey are of no authority. If the force of the statement is to “pay attention,” is that a form of obedience?

    9. Where in the Bible is “obeying the gospel” equated with being baptized?

    RT – Since you have already built a straw man (and presumed to have torn it down), we might answer your question this way: there is no passage that says or implies as much, like there is no passage that equates believing only as “obeying the gospel.”   

    10. Is it true that the CC teaches that the gospel was not preached before Pentecost? Do not these passages show that it was in fact preached before Pentecost: Mat 11:5Mark 1:14-15Luke 20:1Rev 14:6?

    This distinction between gospel and doctrine, between gospel and obedience, is crucial and seems clear to most Christians except certain modern CC parties. The founders of the Restoration Movement certainly understood the distinction. And the founders of the Protestant Reformation clearly understood the difference as they insisted on a distinction between, as they put it, gospel and law. This helps us understand why Alexander Campbell taught that we should consider as brothers even those new Christians who may not fully understand all of the details of Christian doctrine, or indeed even those who may have legitimate disagreements as to interpretation—and even those who err out of weakness or misunderstanding as we all do. Thus, the basis of unity should be gospel, rather than doctrine. Ketcherside said, “This [distinction] does havoc to what many of us have been calling ‘gospel sermons.’ Campbell said that a clear, scriptural sermon on faith, repentance and baptism is not gospel preaching. It may of course be truth, and even related to the gospel, and yet not be the gospel.

    RT – Given what you have said at the outset of this #10, how could “gospel” exist if it is a past event of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (your numbers 6 and 7 above)? I find it interesting that there is much effort expended at the distinction between gospel and doctrine, and yet you give no New Testament passage (or context) that demonstrates this. What distinction there is between “gospel” and “law” is made clear in a context.  If Ketcherside is your source of authority, then I suppose you can do any number of things. For your case to be sustained, you need to make it from the New Testament, not a man. 

  • Ron Thomas 10:00 am on January 31, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the Church of Christ (6) 

    RT – In this segment you’ll note an effort to delineate the word “gospel.”

    3. Doesn’t the Bible specifically separate baptism from the Gospel in 1 Cor 1:17?

    RT – NO. This is a false delineation. Given the context of the passage one can easily see the problem. The problem of partisanship ran rampant in the Corinthian church. Paul made a distinction between the gospel message of Jesus and the message of those who desired a particular alignment. If baptism is not part of the gospel message, then by whose authority did Paul teach/preach when he wrote on it?

    4. While this will take a few minutes, would you mind reviewing these three articles: http://www.mun.ca/rels/restmov/texts/moser/AWPTG.HTM,http://www.mun.ca/rels/restmov/texts/moser/CVAP.HTM, and http://www.mun.ca/rels/restmov/texts/moser/jmh_4.html? Our understanding is that a “gospel sermon” given by a Church of Christ preacher would be about the formula of what one must do to be saved: Hear/Believe/Repent/Confess/Be Baptized. If you reject the claim made by Church of Christ preacher K. C. Moser that the CC is guilty of preaching “The Plan” rather than “The Man”—why is he incorrect?


    RT – What one wrote or said pertaining to what they think is or is not a gospel sermon is not how I will answer this. If one preaches/teaches the very words of Christ (Romans 15:18; 1 Timothy 6:3; 1 Peter 4:11) then that one is teaching the good news (gospel) of God. Perhaps a question might be asked of you: If one preaches/teaches from only the Psalms, is that a gospel (good news) message? Moreover, it might be asked, is there something wrong with this so-called “formula”?

     4. Please take a look at these articles by 3 Church of Christ preachers: Carl Ketcherside, chapter 28 Two Great Errors, Leroy Garrett, chapter 10 What is the Gospel also chapter 33 Is Doctrine Important, and Cecil Hook chapter 8 Gospel and Doctrine. Would you agree with the distinction between preaching and teaching, between gospel and doctrine, between fact and interpretation?  Isn’t the gospel simply a proclamation of good news that one accepts or rejects? Wouldn’t you agree that, strictly speaking, the teachings of the apostles are not facts as the gospel is, but interpretations, implications, and edification (chapter 5 beginning page 13, Private Interpretation)? Didn’t even the apostles have different opinions and emphases on docrtrine; thus Peter said of Paul’s teaching, “There are some things in them that are hard to understand.”? Are you confusing law and gospel? (The point of this section is that the gospel is something to be believed and is to be preached to non-believers. Matters of obedience are taught to those who are already Christians.)

    RT – Where does the New Testament make a distinction between teaching and preaching? Garrett and Ketcherside have been known for some time trying to make this distinction, but there is no warrant for the distinction to be made. If one is “preaching” the good news, is that not teaching? To deny is foolish! No, I wouldn’t agree that the apostles had different opinions and emphasis on doctrine. Did they not both emphasize godly living? When they spoke of the Lord’s return, did they not both speak with emphasis? Besides, why use the word emphasis?  Those who so assert need to demonstrate. Moreover, to use Peter’s words with regard to Paul without the remainder of the verse is to misuse the passage and ask a misleading question! Yes, there is a distinction to be made between fact and interpretation. Did the Holy Spirit inspire the apostles to preach the very (actual) words of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17)? If so, who gave us the interpretation? You make a distinction between facts and interpretation in your remarks about the apostles. Did Jesus preach/teach fact or interpretation in Matthew 5:27-32?

     5. Leroy Garrett further clarifies what the gospel is: “Surely we can see that Jesus was referring to a specific message, a proclamation of certain heavenly facts to be believed. This is why Paul in 1 Cor 1:21 spoke of the gospel as ‘the thing preached.’ This is why he could speak of ‘obeying the gospel,’ for the gospel is one thing and obeying it is something else. This is why he could refer to ‘the defense and confirmation of the gospel,’ for the gospel is one thing, while to defend it and confirm it are something else.” Isn’t the gospel one thing, and obeying it something else?

    RT –Yes, it is true that the gospel is one thing and obedience is another. 

  • Ron Thomas 10:00 am on January 27, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the Church of Christ (5) 

    The Church of Christ is convinced that they have the precisely correct understanding of the Bible. But critics say that they have strayed from their original purpose of Christian unity. They accuse the Church of Christ of having a different gospel, being divisive and sectarian, legalistic, and ignoring or explaining away passages of Scripture that do no fit their presuppositional interpretation. Church of Christ author K. C. Moser accused his brothers of preaching A PLAN instead of THE MAN. By this he meant that they belittle the finished work of Jesus while elevating man’s role in salvation. Could any of these charges against such a biblically based group be at all true?

    Here is an article by a Church of Christ insider offering a candid look at their exclusive thinking. See chapter 18 of Heritage. It appears, however, that the legalistic patternist segment of the Church of Christ is dwindling, as indicated by this article: Ephiphanies.

    RT- I suppose if Leroy Garret, Carl Ketcherside, and Al Maxey are your sources of information then there is no telling what might be “learned” falsely about the Lord’s church in the various communities. They are not sources of authority, and they are outside the “mainstream;” thus, not representative of what is taught by the majority. With that said, however, it can’t be underscored enough that each local congregation teaches in accordance with their understanding of the New Testament – there is no “headquarter” (or an equivalent word) that gives “marching orders.”

     QUESTION: If you are a Church of Christ person reading this, let us describe a situation that might be revealing. Let’s say that you are introduced to a preacher or elder of conservative denomination (not Church of Christ). How do you feel inside? Do you greet this person with love and a feeling of warmth to be with another believer and servant of the Lord? Or do you immediately feel a sense of distance, antagonism, uneasiness, or superiority?

    RT – What kind of substantive series of questions are these? Any time one interacts with another Matthew 7:12 and 22:37-40 applies. To answer precisely: I feel fine inside and with regard to another status in relation to the Lord I am not so presumptuous to judge. The fact that a person is a servant or not a servant of the Lord is immaterial to how I will approach him (or her). On the other hand, if in conversation more is learned then perhaps we can pursue that topic. Nope, I feel no distance, antagonism, and most certainly, no superiority.

    What is the Gospel? Please see our article What is the Gospel.

    1. Doesn’t 1 Cor 15:1-11 give the clearest and principle definition of the gospel as being something to be believed about Christ dying for our sins? Doesn’t gospel mean “good news” in Greek (as the ancients used the word for events such as the birth of an emperor or a major military victory)? We fear that a non-believer visiting a Church of Christ and hearing that the “good news” is a list of things that they have to do, would not see it as good news. Is it not ultimately found in the grace of God (Acts 20:24 and Col 1:3-6)?

    RT – One might say that the Corinthians passage gives a succinct idea, but is this exclusive of the “gospel” in Ephesians 4? To attempt to give a succinct idea without substance to that idea is futile. Paul said he delivered first of all the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Does this mean that while the Lord lived one ought not to include that in the gospel? What did the Lord read and preach in Luke 4:18 – but the gospel! Moreover, is it not the case that others things are also included (1 Timothy 6:3; Romans 15:18)? The “gospel” is the good news, message of Jesus Christ. Your third question in this series is perplexing to me, especially in relation to your lead in. in any case, I will answer Titus 2:11-14.  Perhaps I should ask: did Jesus require anything of a person if that person would be saved?

    2. According to Rom 1:16 and 1 Cor 1:18, by whose power is the gospel—God’s or man’s? Don’t these passages teach that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, not the power of man?

    RT – The answer to the first question is the former, the second, YES. 

  • Ron Thomas 10:00 am on January 24, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the Church of Christ (4) 

    According to historian Richard Hughes (see bibliography), grace is understood by the CC as something that God is obligated to give the believer who is obedient—though they would not phrase it this way. They would more likely say that God’s grace provides a “way” to salvation, but it’s up to us to save ourselves. They do not see grace as the regeneration of our dead spirits, as a work of God apart from anything we do or can do. They may also believe that grace is what God bestows to one who has done everything he can to be obedient. Again, while they may not state it in exactly these terms, we think that it is a necessary inference from their theology; thus grace is the small remaining step that remains toward salvation after one is correctly obedient. God fills the gap with his grace. (Interestingly, this is the same view of grace held by Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses.)

    RT – What Richard Hughes said, if the sentiment attributed to him is accurate, is flat false. God is under obligation to no one. If God said He will do something and someone complied with that something (as God required it), then we might ask the author of this treatise whether or not God will fulfill His promise? Has God obligated Himself to do that something? No man saves himself; to so ascribe is a lie. What is “grace”? Perhaps our author ought to read Titus 2:11-14 in order to see what “grace” does. Is it true that “grace” is the actual “regeneration of our dead spirits”? It is not so defined by an English dictionary, and neither is it defined in a Bible dictionary this way. What shall we say of the author of this treatise who defined it this way? At best, I would suggest there is a tremendous mistake in what the author understands with regard to what he reads. At worst, this is a false view and, not far removed from a lie.

    The role of Christ, and thus the atonement, was merely for the purpose of displaying God’s love for man and giving him a law to obey that would bring life. Christ is said to save by furnishing man an example. He simply showed man how to save himself. Their theology is either semi-Pelagian (salvation by works plus God’s grace) or full-Pelagian (God’s grace and the righteousness of Christ may be nice to have, but are not necessary for salvation because one can save himself by obedience).

    RT – The false ascriptions and characterizations is blatant in these words.

    The Holy Spirit is not well defined and is limited in his activities. The Holy Spirit is often said to be either not active today, or the Holy Spirit’s activities may be limited to the words of the New Testament, or that the Spirit’s activities are limited to helping us understand the Bible. In any case, they see the Holy Spirit’s activities in a much more confined role than other Christians. So the Holy Spirit becomes, in a sense, the same as the Bible. There is little or no place for the Holy Spirit in regeneration or sanctification. Some even reject the notion that the Holy Spirit indwells a person.

    They deny (vehemently) the historic Christian doctrine of Original Sin. Thus man sins, not because of any corruption in his nature, but because of his lack of understanding or simple stubbornness. This is a view they share with non-Christian groups: Muslims, communists, eastern religions, Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    RT – It is rather unfortunate that some brethren respond to others the way they do with regard to the topic of the Holy Spirit. Thus, there may be some warrant in the criticisms relative to the Holy Spirit; some brothers disagree amongst themselves, and see how quick lines can be drawn. Fortunately, those who are so quick to divide are getting smaller and smaller in number; they are seen as radicals.

    It is true that the man-made doctrine of original sin as taught by many is flat false and can be demonstrated. It may be “historic”, but it is not biblical. If man’s nature is corrupt (contaminated with sin) – even at birth, then Jesus who was is all points like a man was also corrupted at birth. If this is not the case, why is it not the case?

    Associations, if there are similar ways of thinking on the same topic, does not make the particular view false. The last statement has one purpose – guilt by similarity.

    They refuse to fellowship with other Christians, even other conservative Christians.

    RT – Fellowship is in accordance with the Lord’s teachings. 1 John 1:1-3; 4:1, 6; 1 Peter 4:11, etc.

    Question for the Church of Christ: Have we summarized your views correctly?


    • Eugene Adkins 8:49 pm on January 24, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      “It is true that the man-made doctrine of original sin as taught by many is flat false and can be demonstrated. It may be “historic”, but it is not biblical.”

      I believe you hit upon the nail that so many do not see in many of the areas that divide us. Some try to place “historically practiced/believed” on the same level as “scripturally supported.”

    • stevelucas 9:49 pm on January 24, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Ron, What do you know about the author(s) of this article? I’ve been at their website but unable to understand their background or purpose.

      • Ron Thomas 6:33 am on January 25, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        I actually do not know anything about them at all, Steve. I, too, tried to ascertain, but all I am able to tell is that they (presumably) are evangelical in thought. Apart from that, I do not know.

  • Ron Thomas 10:00 am on January 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Errors of the Church of Christ (3) 

    In these remarks I adopt the collective use of the term “church of Christ” for accommodative purposes. Each congregation of the Lord’s church stands or falls on its own.

    Again, for the benefit of those who would like to read in its entirety, here is the link: http://www.faithfacts.org/world-religions-and-theology/church-of-christ

    They put very high emphasis on “wearing the right name,” which means that any group that does not call itself the “church of Christ” cannot be part of the true church. (The word church in church of Christ often has a lower case c, implying that they themselves are the church universal.) They shun the use of the historic creeds and confessions of Christendom and believe that they have no creed themselves, relying only on the Bible. Their views, however, are in print in journals and numerous tracts.

    RT – If there is any importance in a name it is in a biblical name. Some denigrate, but Acts 4:12 rings loudly. The name on a placard placed on the outside of a building is only of minor significance’ as an identifier, but the true marks are with regard to what the Christians do and teach. If the Bible contains all that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), there is no need for a creed of any sort. Articles are not creeds; yes, they can become, but by their very nature they are not.

     The gospel is often defined in terms of what a person must do to be saved—”obey the gospel”—which starts with the formula “Hear, Believe, Repent, Confess, and Be Baptized.” This is distinctly different from other Christian groups who understand the gospel to be the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins.

    RT – One is not exclusive of the other. If the good news is of Jesus, should it not be also that which Jesus taught?

    Baptism is only by immersion and it is an unstated inference that baptism can only be performed by another member of the Church of Christ. It is crucial that the one being baptized understand that his baptism is specifically for the remission of sins. Anyone not baptized by this formula is doomed to hell. (They even pronounce the word baptized differently by placing the accent on the second syllable.)

     RT – It is dogmatically true that baptism in only by immersion. Moreover it is dogmatically true that baptism by immersion and in the name of (by the authority of) Jesus, for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). A little word study of the Greek word will demonstrate this. With regard to who the teacher is, what  I can say is that if one has believed in accordance with New Testament teaching, then who am I to say otherwise? I may have doubt, but it matters not. I have already experienced that if one submitted to what I was teaching, then for me they submitted. I will not be guilty of that again. I will teach and encourage one and all to be sure to compare their respective lives with the teachings of the Lord. I can say, however, that if one has not submitted to the teachings of the Lord, that one is not saved. 

    They believe that the New Testament is primarily a new legal code—the Law of Christ—that replaces the one of the Old Testament. One must follow rigidly the New Testament by their hermeneutic formula (Bible interpretation) of “Direct Command, Approved Example, and Necessary Inference”—although exactly what examples are “approved” and what inferences are “necessary” divide the various factions within the group. No faction, however, ever provides a list of exactly what things one must do to be saved.

    RT – Is the New Testament the “law of Christ” or is it not (Galatians 6:2; James 1:25)? If it is, does it have “legal” standing with the Lord? The hermeneutical approach adopted by Christian is one that is not exclusive them. This is a straw man. Divisions have occurred and will continue to occur, but it is not the hermeneutics that is the problem it is man. Can’t say anything about a “faction,” but I can say the Bible lists exactly what one must do to be saved.

    They believe in patternism, that is, they attempt to copy what they think the earliest Christians did in their life and worship. They find patternism to be a necessary inference that must be rigidly followed. While they accept the concept of patternism—as well as the importance of obedience—in order to be saved, they deny that they are legalists.

    RT – “Legalist” needs to be defined by our author. With regard to “patternism,” there are many are guilty themselves of what they condemn (or speak against) in others. The following statement can’t be improved upon: If we do what they did, in the way they did it, with the heart sanctified by God, then we will get what they got. This is either true or false.

    This approach, they believe, leads to certain important conclusions such as the prohibition of instrumental music in worship. They reject the Old Testament except in such instances that they find passages in the Old Testament that lend support to their doctrine.

    RT – The so-called rejection of the Old Testament is flat-out false. I dare say it is a lie to so accuse! 

    • Dave Dugan 10:25 am on January 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Ron when these folks use the name “Fudge” in their links it sends a flag to me. They are “Fudg’ing” the truth!

      • J. Randal Matheny 1:20 pm on January 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Sounds like they’ve been talking to Al Maxey.

        • Ron Thomas 1:23 pm on January 20, 2012 Permalink

          The three notable names are Maxey, Ketcherside, and Garrett. This is not a good source for them to get (or even give) a fair treatment of the Lord’s church.

  • Ron Thomas 5:23 am on January 18, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Church of Christ Errors (2) 

    We are primarily concerned with addressing the views of the legalistic patternists—the traditional norm within the Church of Christ. Below is a summary of the doctrines of the majority within the Churches of Christ. This list of doctrines is believed by all within the legalistic patternist group and at least some of them are believed by most within the Church of Christ:

    They believe that their group has restored the New Testament church—”the ancient order.” All other groups are in error, lost, and apostate.

    RT – With regard to other groups, it is true that some will so affirm, but I maintain that if one is not teaching in accordance with New Testament teaching then that one (or ones) will be in error, lost, or apostate. That being said, it is the Lord who determines all things related to salvation, not man.

    They reject denominationalism and believe that they themselves are not a denomination. This is an unquestioned orthodoxy and they are careful not to use the term “other denominations” as that would include themselves in the denominational world.

    RT – The Lord’s church, in the New Testament, is not a denomination. That is, it is not a man-made institution. The word denomination simply means to designate. By itself it is not a bad word; in the context of religious division it is a most unfortunate word.

    They usually deny that there are true Christians in the denominational world. (Example from a CC website:http://www.mabelvalechurchofchrist.org/. Go to “Bulletin Articles” then “Are There Devout Christians in Denominations.”)

    RT – It is also true that some so teach. I will only insist upon the following: (1) if one is a Christian then one must have completed the conditions of salvation as set forth by the Lord. I understand that some people in the world may not be as fortunate as other with regard to religious teaching; to me, that is painful. Consequently, what I do is promote the reading of Scripture and obedience thereof. (2) 2 Timothy 2:19

    • Royce Pendergrass 8:15 am on January 18, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Please clarify and elucidate on the Mabelvale article. Our brotherhood needs to understand this issue more perfectly.

      • Ron Thomas 8:18 am on January 18, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        I can’t. The website was referenced by by piece that I am reviewing. In fact, there are at least three additional writers referenced in this critical piece on the Lord’s church that I have no confidence in at all, but they are referenced just the same. I had a debate with one of them.

        • rroycep 11:55 am on January 18, 2012 Permalink

          In trying to check both sites I agree the original site is filled with error. The actual Mabelvale article is apparently accurate since he closes by saying that there are folks who have obeyed the Gospel who have now gone out into denominationalism and who need to turn, ask for forgiveness and come back home. My problem was with the original writer. He is not among the faithful according to his own writings.

  • Ron Thomas 7:01 am on January 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church of christ errors   

    Church of Christ Errors (1) 

    Recently Stephen Bradd sent me a link. I thought I would write a bit on the words of this link. If you have an interest in looking at it it full context, let me encourage you to check it out.


    Introduction: Doctrine and History

    This article is an inside look at the Church of Christ. Our sources are from writings of Church of Christ preachers and college professors. Church of Christ members are among the most sincere students of the Bible. They are attempting to bring the church back to a pure biblical faith and obedient practice. This is most refreshing! They are a beacon of light in their effort to restore biblical Christianity. We, as evangelicals, unite with them on the view that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God.

    However, many Christians believe that the Church of Christ is mistaken on some key issues. We should note that Church of Christ people are not monolithic in their views. For simplicity sake, we can divide the group into two factions. One group is the traditional faction. This group is sometimes referred to by outsiders as “ultraconservative” or “legalistic” or “legalistic patternists.” One distinguishing mark of the traditional group is that they believe that salvation is at least partly by the works of man. A second minority group has moved away from legalism to a more orthodox position consistent with other Protestants. This second group emphasizes, like most other Christians, that salvation is by grace.

     RT – The remarks I offer are brief and narrowly focused. For instance, this is a normal classification by some in the denominational world. There is not one preacher I know who has ever affirmed, even in part, that salvation is by the works of man. In fact, this is a straw man, a false characterization. Why do some insist on so asserting? In part, because they fail to understand the difference between the works of man and the works of God. 

    • doug Post 10:43 am on January 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Pelagius was framed! He was correct in denying “original sin” and showing that man could live without sin in his life if he wanted/desired/chose to – “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” Salvation is by grace THROUGH faith (Eph.2:8). And if through faith, then also through obedience, especially since faith, necessarily, implies obedience (Rom.1:5, 16:26; Cf.Heb.5:9; Luke 6:46; Matt.7:21 2 Thess.1:8ff, etc.).

      • Ron Thomas 10:55 am on January 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        I have read about him, but not enough knowledge is retained on him or his teachings that I could have an intelligent conversation. Apart from the Lord Jesus has it ever been the case, as far as you know, that man has lived without a single sin in his life? The passage you reference makes clear the existence of it in one’s life.

    • doug Post 11:40 am on January 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      BUT that is the argument isn’t it? Jesus was 100% human and was tempted like we are but He did not sin. When tempted, what did He rely upon? The Word of God (“It is written”) and His own human desire and ability not to sin. However, if Jesus relied upon His 100% God side, or had He relied upon His God powers, or if He relied upon power from the Holy Spirit, then a few things must be considered:
      1. Sin and temptation of the devil is more powerful than man.
      2. How could it be said that Jesus overcame sin, Himself, if He had to rely upon supernatural power either from His own powers, or powers from heaven?
      3. What would be the big deal about the devil tempting Jesus and His 100% God side? First, God cannot be tempted, and second, God cannot sin, and third, God always wins, so what would be the big deal if God overcame temptation?
      4. However, it is a big deal if as human being, Jesus overcame sin … and He did overcome sin and temptation as a man, not as God.
      5. He is our example as a man (human being) in overcoming sin, and if He can do it, why not the rest of us?
      Are you absolutely sure that human beings cannot overcome sin? Because you or I have not heard of such, does not make it so. Let me ask you; MUST Christians sin? Do Christians HAVE To sin? Is there ever a situation where a Christian MUST Sin?
      Of course, is it may be more accurate to say that those who have been baptized, converted, and devoted to Christ do not have to sin and like Paul said, do not have to continue in sin.

      • Ron Thomas 1:45 pm on January 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Doug, You said all this for what reason? I only asked a question; I think you answered it, and if I understand correctly you and I agree. I made no suggestion concerning man’s ability or inability to overcome sin; that can occur only through Christ. To answer your questions to me (#5) are all NO. Your last statement is exactly right.

    • Doug Post 7:45 am on January 18, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Happy we agree!

    • TIM 12:16 pm on March 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Most church of christ members believe that they are the church. Baptisimal generation is a doctrine from hell. In Act ch 10 v47, the man was saved before he was baptized.

      • Ron Thomas 1:46 pm on March 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        If you are a preacher, perhaps there can be a public debate. If you are not one, perhaps you can call upon your (or another) preacher to entertain the challenge.

        • Tim 10:21 am on March 24, 2012 Permalink

          Time to go to bible school. ACTS CH2 V 38, Jewish baptism, nothing about Christ dying for sinners, just that Jesus is the Messiah, and was ressurected. Save yourself from this ontaward generation. Now, if you say this is a blood atonement, you must have gotten it from 2 Scooby Doo 2 v38. At that time, ol Peter was a pork sustaining JEW. In acts CH3, the kingdom did not come. So he says it will be in a future time. YOU GOT LESSON 1.
          ACTS CH 10 V47, WHICH HAVE RECEIVEd thE HOLY GHOST. Now, unless yhou are stupid, he received the Holy GHOST BEFORE HE WAS BAPTIZED. How about The Samaratains? They did not receive the HOLY GHOST UNTIL THE APOSTLES LAID THEIR HANDS ON THEM. LESSON 2.
          IN 2 peter, a baptism is just a figure. This is where Paul has showed Peter the Gospel of the grace of God, which Paul refers as my Gospel. IT IS A FIQURE, REAL BIBLE BELIEVERS DONT WORSIP A FIGURE. that is idolotry. now one thing a clown of christ preacher wannabe will not make a comment that the disciples where saved in the same way as ACTS CH 2V38, why? Because a COC elder CAN NOT ENDURE SOUND DOCTRINE. They would rather condem their church through their heart problem or ignorace of a KJV bible. AMEN AND AMEN. YOU GOT LESSSON 3 AND 4

        • Ron Thomas 4:31 am on March 25, 2012 Permalink

          I see! Your words certainly exhibit nothing of the teachings of Christ – in spirit or in accuracy. Since you are not a preacher, and you evidently don’t want your preacher to debate orally, and in a public forum where there is an audience to investigate, I will not bother with you any longer.

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