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?