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 Since you believe that the Mosaic Law has been replaced by a new law code (the Law of Christ), doesn’t that make you legalists by definition?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 10:18, Rom 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 2:8-9; Tit 3:5; Rom 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.