By Jeremiah Tatum — I bet by the title of this article you are at least reading the first sentence to see where this is going. Let me tell you first where this is not going. This is not going in the direction that is going to malign the church of our Lord. This is not going to be a rejection of the old paths. This is not going to be a 21st Century, “I am smarter and more enlightened than the people who lived 100 years ago,” type of article that I see being written by so many of our younger preachers today.
What this is going to be is honest. And honestly, the churches of Christ as a whole have really been making a huge mistake for a while now. Continue reading
I wonder if, as Episcopalians, we take on the power of being alive in Jesus Christ. This may sound evangelical, but that is the calling: to be dead to sin and alive in Christ.
This sad quote above comes from a PDF book on gratitude while reading Romans. The writer felt the need to apologize to his Episcopalian readers because his subject sounded like something evangelicals would talk about. It shows the horrible sectarianism of denominations who emphasize certain things in their human doctrines, to the exclusion of others.
At the same time, the quote raises all sorts of red flags. Let us, as saints beholden to no human tradition or denomination, be careful not to neglect certain teachings of the Word. Let us seek to do as the apostle Paul did, when he said to the Ephesian elders:
You know that I did not hold back from proclaiming to you anything that would be helpful, and from teaching you publicly and from house to house, testifying to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus. … Therefore I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of you all. For I did not hold back from announcing to you the whole purpose of God, Acts 20.20-21,26-27.
May every healthy teaching of the word of God “sound” like us, since it a part of our identity to speak all the inspired Scripture in its usefulness “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” 2Tm 3.16-17.
Many Catholic apologists are quick to laud the “ancient” traditions of their Church as proof of it being the one true body of Jesus.
I, for one, wonder how such a claim can honestly be made about the supposed thousands of years of tradition … that changes every few decades!
Don’t believe me? Think I’m just some hateful, lying Catholic basher? Then take, for example, one of the latest announcements of the Vatican concerning capitol punishment.
Not only is the Catholic Church changing its own position on a topic (which happens on a consistent basis, especially in connection to political pressure and power), it is also blatantly contradicting the plain, principled and authoritative writings of the word of God for the church (see Romans 13:1-7). But why should such be a shocker? After all, the Catholic Church insists, and practices thereby, that the “oral traditions” built by college of bishops and the Pope, amongst other influential leaders, have the right to guide the Church even when such practices and teachings contradict the doctrine of Christ and his apostles and prophets revealed and recorded during the first century (Ephesians 2:19-22, Jude 1:3) – not the twenty-first century!
I realize there are many Catholics who are genuine in their desire to please God and to serve Christ, and this is why I plead with such people to open their eyes to the undeniable truth that the Catholic Church is not what it claims to be. If one cannot become or be a practicing Catholic by simply following what the Bible teaches, and they obviously cannot, then why would one want to be a member of something the Bible refuses to identify, through emphatic and silent declaration, as true and honorable in relation to the undeniable teachings and understandings of the first century church?
Follow the true traditions that have guided the church for millennia, not ones that change before one generation takes the place of another.
Removing landmarks is a big deal. It reveals dishonesty and the intent to defraud another from what it is right, true and distinguishable. Such is true to this day, and such was true in the ancient land of Israel. As a matter of fact, during Israel’s Gerizim and Ebal agreement (Deuteronomy 27:12-13), there was a special curse placed upon the person who attempted to deceive their neighbor through the removal of God-ordained landmarks:
“‘Cursed is the one who moves his neighbor’s landmark.’ “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’“(Deuteronomy 27:17)
What is true of physical landmarks is true of spiritual landmarks (2 John 1:9). But this truth doesn’t prevent people from trying to move or completely remove the clear and identifiable God-ordained landmarks of his word. Don’t believe it? Listen to the language used in a recent “church’s” updated resolution:
“Resolved, that the Episcopal Diocese of Washington affirms that all transgender people, and anyone whose gender identity and expression differs from that assigned at birth, are beloved children of God. … Resolved, that the Episcopal Diocese of Washington encourage all parishes to remove all obstacles to full participation in congregational life by making all gender-specific facilities and activities fully accessible, regardless of gender identity and expression. … as it considers revision of the Book of Common Prayer, to eliminate, when possible, all gendered references to God and to replace them with gender neutral language, and if necessary, to alternate gendered titles when referring to God. … Fixed boundaries of gender identity are being challenged and churches need to respond.”
Is the language a coincidence or convenient irony? I think the answer is clear.
As was said at the beginning, the thing about moving or removing landmarks is that the truth isn’t changed when it happens; it only makes it easier to identify the dishonest and deceptive, and the curse of such behavior still remains (Revelation 21:8).
AM I A MEMBER OF A DENOMINATION?
(Note: This week’s essay is pursuant to a sermon I preached this past Sunday morning, June 3, at the Mitchellville (TN) Church of Christ on the question, “Why Do You Say That The Church Of Christ Is Not A Denomination?”) Continue reading
The United Methodist Church is celebrating 50 years of its birth with the merger of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church in 1968. An article published today interviewed witnesses who recalled the birth of the new denomination.
The article’s title reminds one of Jesus’ words in Mark 9.1: “I tell you the truth, there are some standing here who will not experience death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.” The original witnesses to the new manifestation of God’s kingdom, in the church, have long passed away. Continue reading
Satan perverted the law of Moses. So Jesus called him the Jews’ spiritual father, Jn 8.44. He called the Jews who persecuted the church “the synagogue of Satan” Rev 2.9.
Satan has also perverted the church of God. He is behind the denominational divisions and all attempts to separate people from the apostolic truth, 2 Cor 11.12-15.
People who cause and support such divisions are “worldly, devoid of the Spirit” Jude 19. It plays into the devil’s hands to say that denominations are a good thing. It makes him one’s (un)spiritual father.
#Satan #devil #denominationalism
On my way to worship I listened to a preacher on the radio from a neighboring county talk about the damage denominationalism has done to the church. He was very emphatic with his words and I am convinced he truly believed what he was saying…especially because he was preaching in a very plain way to/at his own denomination (his own words). And because of the things he was saying about fellowship, I am also convinced he understood the damage denominationalism has done to the church when it comes to the unity that God desires (John 17:20-21).
But despite the fact I believe he understands the damage of denominationalism, I don’t believe he understands the cause.
Why is that? Because of one thing he said. Now I wasn’t able to write it down when he said it, but what I am about to give him credit for is close enough that I know I am not doing any damage to the point he was making; nor am I worried about twisting it in any way to make my point seem valid.
The preacher on the radio said, Continue reading
“Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15:12 – NKJV)
You can almost hear the bewilderment in Paul’s question. There were some at Corinth who had previously obeyed the gospel of a resurrected Jesus Christ (15:1-8, 13-19) but yet they were now stumbling over the idea of the dead being resurrected in the future…or even at all! Unfortunately, the bewilderment of people stumbling over basic gospel principles continues to this day. For example:
- One may accept a resurrected Jesus, but stumble at the virgin-birth?
- One may believe that Jesus will return to judge the world, but stumble at the world-wide flood?
- One may teach that a literal man named Jesus was the second Adam of redemption, but stumble at the teaching of a literal first Adam bringing sin into the world?
- One may hold to the Bible’s teaching about Jesus walking out of the tomb after three days, but stumble at the world being created in six days?
- One may be convinced that Jesus died for the sins of the world, but stumble at the existence of a place called Hell?
- One may place his or her faith in the idea of Jesus living a sinless life, but stumble at the idea of God being able to leave an infallible book that teaches us about it?
It’s wild! It’s head-scratching! It’s sad! But such examples display only a few of the biblical ideas that “believers” stumble over today. And such examples should serve as a warning-sign to any individual being taught that the former can be trusted while the latter stands in doubt…that’s even if they teach the former can be trusted to begin with.
“When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” (Matthew 13:54-58 – NKJV)
Earlier today, I documented one case, among many I’ve seen over the years, of using denominational data applied directly, without discrimination, to the Lord’s church.
This use fails to think through the implications, the first of which is that the creeds, hierarchies, authoritarianism, and falsehoods in the denominations do not affect results of research data, which are applied without criteria to the church of God.
If as we say, and as Sesame Street teaches, that one thing (the church) is not like the others (denominations), then we should refrain from using their data indiscriminately for application to the church.
For by such use, especially in the case of negative results, we are implying that the church is also guilty of their errors.
My latest example can be found here.
WHY DO PEOPLE LEAVE A DENOMINATION FOR THE CHURCH?
Last week we wrote about why people leave the church for a denomination. This week we write about why people leave a denomination for the church.
Down through the ages of apostasy as reflected in Catholicism and Protestant denominationalism, many honest souls caught up in sectarian error have been taught and/or have read and studied their way out of denominationalism.
Why does one leave a denomination founded by man to be a member of the church established by Christ? Continue reading
WHY DO PEOPLE LEAVE THE CHURCH FOR A DENOMINATION?
Prior to the mid-20th century seldom did one hear of a member of the church of Christ leaving the church to join a denomination. There were, of course, exceptions because throughout the history of the church there have been defections from the one faith (Ephesians 4:5). Still, it was a rare thing for one to leave the church for a denomination. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
Here’s a great illustration from House to House, Heart to Heart on religious unity and authority by Eddy Gilpin. The article makes a spiritual point and plea by using a historic game of baseball that was played in Cuba in 1999 as an example of two very different teams being able to see things alike because they played by the rules.
For you Twitter users, the story even ends with a chance to tweet this short but poignant question:
#baseball, #denominationalism, #house-to-house, #spiritual-illustrations, #spiritual-unity
SHOOTING FIRST, THEN DRAWING THE BULL’S-EYE
The story is told of a stranger driving through a small southern town and observing that many of the large trees along the streets, as well as the sides of old abandoned buildings, had a “bull’s-eye” on them with a shooter’s mark in the dead center of every one of them. Thinking there must be a “dead eye” shooter in the town the stranger stopped and asked a local citizen about the matter. The local explained that what the stranger was seeing were the exploits of the village idiot who shot first, then drew the “bull’s-eye” around his mark!
The story reminds me of how some folks approach the study of the Bible: they decide first what they want to believe about a matter; then they find the text that “supports” what they have already made up their mind to believe about that matter. My “News & Views” of last week (“We Have Re-studied The Issue“) is a classic example of what I am talking about. A few churches of Christ have decided to begin using instrumental music in some or all of their services. Under the guise of a “re-study,” they adopt a course of action they had already decided on: “We intend to have instrumental music in our services”! Continue reading