CAN WE CATCH A FALLING STARR?
(Note: The title of this week’s edition of “Hugh’s News & Views” is taken from an article by the same name that appeared in the June 2016 issue of The Gospel Gleaner. The article was written by John T. (Johnny) Polk II whom I have known since he was in his mid-teens at the Allen and Edgewood Church of Christ in Jackson, TN where I served as minister in the early 1960s. With permission from Andy Erwin, editor of The Gospel Gleaner, I am using the title of the article and some information from it for my article that follows. Read it and weep, but also read it and be informed.)
Recent weeks have witnessed a political correctness brouhaha over transgenderism involving the use of either male or female restrooms. But, another problem we are increasingly facing in our pluralistic society is what I call transreligionism, the practice of leaving the Lord’s church for a denomination, then often hopping from one denomination to another, depending on where one lives at the time, by whom one may be employed, or how well one’s (or one’s family’s) “felt needs” may be met.
In contrast to the biblical admonition to “no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine”(Ephesians 4:14), but to “continue grounded and steadfast in the faith” (Colossians 2:23), these “wandering stars” (Jude 13) seem never to know exactly what they believe or why they believe it, or even if it really makes any difference what one believes or how one worships, as long as one is “sincere” in what he or she is doing.
There was a time when one hardly ever heard of a person leaving the church for a denomination. But in recent decades there has been a dearth of preaching and teaching on the one church of the Bible and its distinguishing traits. As a consequence, many members now see the church as “just another denomination,” and have no compunction of conscience about leaving it and joining a denomination. Denominational doctrines and practices are no longer distinguished from New Testament doctrine and practice. We have even had preachers and Bible professors in some of our Christian universities to leave the church for the Presbyterians, the Baptists, the Methodists, the Episcopalians, the Catholics, the Disciples of Christ, various so-called Community churches, as well as others. In their view, the church of Christ (which some of them mockingly refer to as “the CoC”) is simply “our tribe,” “our tributary” or “our tradition” in the “larger Christian community.” How far some have drifted in their view of the New Testament church!
A classic case of this spiritual malady is seen in the religious meanderings of Kenneth Starr, chief investigator in the impeachment proceedings against former president, Bill Clinton. According to an article by Bobby Ross, Jr. in the May 2010 issue of the Christian Chronicle, Starr’s father was a gospel preacher and Ken Starr was a member of the church of Christ. But, as the article indicates, while studying at George Washington University in Washington, D. C., Starr “moved into evangelical Christianity.” He told the Chronicle, “I worshiped for many years at the McLean, Va. Bible church.”
In 2004, following the impeachment hearings, Starr became Dean of Pepperdine University’s Law School in Malibu, California. At that time he said, “I am thankful to be worshiping again in the Churches of Christ.” He and his wife attended the University Church of Christ near the Pepperdine campus. Then in 2010, Starr was appointed President of Baylor University in Waco, Texas, the world’s largest Baptist university. In an interview with The Baptist Standard Starr said, “I’m comfortable with the articulation of Baptist distinctives, including the role of baptism … I feel a great sense of kinship and fellowship with the Baptist community.” According to various reports, Starr began worshiping with a Baptist Church in Waco. Starr may have had “a great sense of kinship and fellowship with the Baptist community,” but when a public scandal arose a few weeks ago over Baylor’s football program, Starr was ousted as the university’s President and a week later he resigned as its Chancellor!
It will be interesting to see where this “fallen Starr” lands next! What if he winds up at Southern Methodist University? Or Notre Dame? Or Brigham Young?
While some may choose to sit idly by and say nothing about the “drama” in the lives of others, those who love the truth as it is in Christ, will use such “dramatic” happenings to remind and to warn of the threat posed both to themselves and to others by those who “wander from the truth” (James 5:19).
July 12, 2016
July 20: Mount Juliet Church of Christ, Mount Juliet, TN
July 31: Sylvia Church of Christ, Dickson, TN