HUGH’S NEWS & VIEWS
THIS AND THAT FROM HERE AND THERE
From time to time, I have a potpourri of things about which to write. I save them for a “catch up” column of loosely collected items, as is the case today.
Three weeks ago I wrote a column on “Preaching” about which I received a ton of positive responses, along with a couple of negative ones. I am happy to say that we have a whole host of able, committed, faithful, “book, chapter, and verse” preachers, both old and young. But sometimes in moments of reflection on the future of the church, I think about such notable preachers/evangelists as V. P. Black, W. A. Bradfield, George Bailey, Charles Coil, Willard Collins, C. E. McGaughey, Tom Holland, Alan Highers (the latter two are still on the firing line), as well as a host of others. In the words of the late George Jones’ country classic, I sometimes ask, “Who’s gonna fill their shoes?”
Are we training preachers/evangelists today who know the Book and who preach the Book, or are we training “church pastors” who can give nice speeches, “lead” the church, and “administer” the affairs of the congregation (whatever became of the biblical view of the work of elders?), but who seldom, if ever, preach a doctrinal, distinctive, specific sermon, one that could not be preached with just as much acceptance and agreement in nearly any denominational church in town? I do not deny the need for youth ministers, counselors, ministers of education, and other specialized servants, but we desperately need preachers/evangelists who “cry aloud, spare not . . . ” (Isaiah 58:1).
Back in December/January a Russian ship, the MV Akademic Shokalskiy, with a group of scientists on board became stranded for several days in 10 foot thick ice in Antarctica. Two different ice cutters tried to reach the stranded ship but were unable to do so because the ice was too thick. Finally, the passengers were rescued by helicopter. And what exactly were the scientists there to study? Climate change and global warning! Talk about an inconvenient irony . . . to say nothing of the hilarity of the matter!
The following profound yet simple observation comes from Dr. Cecil May, Jr. in the Winter 2013 issue of Magnolia Messenger, p. 16: “Please note that ‘church’ in its local sense is synonymous with ‘congregation.’ ‘Congregations of the churches of Christ’ is either unnecessarily redundant or denominational in its intent. A congregation is a local church.” Well said, Cecil. I wish all our brethren could grasp this simple yet important truth. Some who speak of “a congregation of the church,” “congregations of churches of Christ,” and other such statements have not thought through the meaning of their statements.
It is quite sufficient to speak simply of churches of Christ (Romans 16:16) or churches of God (I Corinthians 11:16), rather than the cumbersome and redundant expression “congregations of the Lord’s church.” (For example, just say “one of only two churches of Christ,” rather than “one of only two congregations of the Lord’s church.”) On the other hand, I am convinced that there are those who use the redundant expression because they do have a denominational intent! Such denominational intent is most blatant in such expressions as “Church(es) of Christ congregations.”
Some of the scholars and historians among us could well afford to enhance their Bible scholarship/knowledge/understanding. Scholarship that belittles, undermines, denies, or remains in ignorance of biblical teaching is not genuine scholarship, regardless of the degrees (theological or otherwise) a person may possess or the prestige of the institutions granting them.
Last week I spent a couple of days in Henderson, TN, attending the 78th Annual Bible Lectureship at Freed-HardemanUniversity, my alma mater. I have been attending this program since my freshman year at Freed-Hardeman, and have missed being there for all or part of the event but few times in all the years since 1956. I enjoy the informative lectures, but increasingly it is a time to see and visit with old friends, former classmates and numerous acquaintances made across the years in many, many different places.
I am looking forward to spending a couple of days later this month with the West Huntsville Church of Christ in Huntsville, AL, Saturday, February 22, as the resource person for their Men’s Retreat, and Sunday, February 23, teaching a combined class of adults and preaching at their morning service. Glenn Colley is the able preacher and one of the elders of this fine church, and Paul Owen who worked with me as an associate many years ago in Selma, AL, is the associate minister.
Is a dog really man’s best friend? According to my young preacher friend, James Hayes, “Fido” is derived from fidelity, which, in turn, is derived from the Latin fidelis, and means “faithful.” (I knew you could not possibly go another week without knowing this fact, but please remember to spell it F-i-d-o, not P-h-y-d-e-a-u-x)!
February 11, 2014