Hugh’s News & Views (Am I A Member . . . ?)

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

#church, #denominationalism, #hughfulford

What’s the birth date of your church?

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

#church, #denominationalism

Satan behind denominational divisions

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

Understanding the damage of denominationalism but not the cause

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

#biblical-unity, #denominationalism, #evangelism

The things that some people stumble over

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)

#basic-principles-of-the-gospel, #denominationalism, #stumbling-block

Bad assumption about transferability

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.

#denominationalism, #new-testament-church, #research

Hugh’s News & Views (Leave A Denomination)

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

#denominationalism, #hughfulford

Hugh’s News & Views (Why Do People Leave . . .)

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

#church, #denominationalism, #hughfulford

Hugh’s News & Views (A Falling Starr)

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

#apostasy, #denominationalism, #hughfulford

Baseball and the Bible: A great illustration

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:

If two baseball teams can see the need for authority and seeing matters alike, why can’t we in the religious…

#baseball, #denominationalism, #house-to-house, #spiritual-illustrations, #spiritual-unity

Hugh’s News & Views (Shooting First . . .)

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

#bible-study, #denominationalism, #hughfulford, #sound-doctrine

Hugh’s News & Views (Two Sermons)

TWO SERMONS OUT OF THE PAST

Sixty years ago Bill Humble delivered a lecture at Freed-Hardeman College titled “The Church of Christ is Different.” The outline of the lecture was published in the 1956 book of lectureship outlines. Brother Humble preached for several congregations of the Lord, taught at Florida College in Tampa, and later at Abilene Christian College (University) in Abilene, Texas where for a period of time he also served as a high ranking administrator. He is now retired and living in Amarillo, Texas.

Brother Humble’s masterful lecture at Freed-Hardeman consisted of three major sections, each supported by several points. They were as follows:

  1. The church of Christ is different (a truth). Brother Humble pointed out that Christ’s church is different from paganism, Judaism, Roman Catholicism, Protestant Denominationalism, and the irreligious.
  2. Why the church of Christ is different (a reason). Humble said it is different because we believe the Bible is a blueprint or pattern for the church in every age; that we must know what the blueprint calls for (teaches); and that we have a duty to follow it.
  3. Let’s keep the church of Christ different (a plea).

Brother Humble pointed out that our preaching must be distinctive; our practices must be scriptural, not denominational; our faith must be unmarred by modernism (earlier he had mentioned the modernists among us who have already departed from the faith); and our plea must be for a restoration of New Testament Christianity. In his conclusion, he reminded his hearers that God has a pattern, and we must follow it. He said that if modernism ever robs us of this conviction, the battle is lost and our faith in the deity of Christ and other fundamentals cannot long survive. He emphasized that if God has a pattern (and He does), we must speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where it is silent. He said that if the New Testament is not a pattern, then we must admit that it matters little what we speak or whether we speak at all. It truly was a masterpiece of a lecture!

In that same time frame (about 1958 or 1959) I heard Harold Hazelip in a gospel meeting at the Haldeman Avenue church in Louisville, Kentucky, the church where the great M. C. Kurfees preached for 45 years (1886-1931). One evening Harold preached a sermon on “Why Not Denominationalism?” Harold also preached for a number of local churches and went on to teach at Harding Graduate School of Religion (now Harding School of Theology) in Memphis. He later served as that School’s Dean, and still later served for about a dozen years as President of Lipscomb University in Nashville where the School of Theology is named in his honor.

Harold’s Louisville sermon title was not a rhetorical question, suggesting that we should accept denominational status. Rather, it was a well-reasoned and clearly-articulated presentation on why we should be undenominational Christians. First, responding to the various efforts made to defend denominationalism by philosophical, emotional, and scripture “defenses” (Harold showed that the various scriptures used to defend denominationalism were actually taken out of context and abused), he then gave six reasons for rejecting denominationalism and refusing to become denominational:

  1. It exists without the authority of Christ,
  2. It causes infidelity,
  3. It confuses men,
  4. It cultivates carnality,
  5. It retards evangelism,
  6. It divides.

I took copious notes on this sermon. The outline itself was simple, but the message preached was profound.

My question now is, are the things that Bill Humble and Harold Hazelip preached 60 years ago still true? If not, why not? How many of us still believe what they said? How many of us who preach still preach the biblical principles contained in those messages? Why do we now have members of the church (including preachers) saying the churches (they would write it Churches) of Christ are a denomination and that we cannot avoid being a denomination? Are some among us now ashamed of our undenominational stance? Have some among us allowed their denominational and scholarly peers to intimidate them into thinking and speaking of the church as if it were a denomination? Have some among us now abandoned the biblical concept of the church? Did some, in fact, ever really have a biblical concept of the church to begin with? Have some never really been able to view the church in any way except through the “eyes” of denominationalism and their denominational friends (e.g., “I’m Baptist,” “I’m Methodist,” “I’m Lutheran,” “I’m Church of Christ”)?

Are there those among us who want to bring the churches of Christ into a kind of amorphous, generic “Christianity”? Does the church of Christ have anything distinctive and definitive to offer that cannot be found in the religious evangelical world? If so, what is it? A proper view of grace? A true understanding of the place of baptism in God’s scheme of redemption? A correct biblical hermeneutic? A respect for the biblical organization of the church? The proper role of women in the work and worship of the church? True worship? The need for strict adherence to the word of God as the only authority in religion? Would the world lose anything if the churches of Christ ceased to exist? Can one find elsewhere what the churches of Christ have to offer? Given what I understand to be the thinking of some, if one left the church for a denomination or for Catholicism or for one of the so-called world religions, would that person still be alright in the sight of God? If so, why?

Yes, two great sermons out of the past of which the truths set forth in each have not changed and to which we would do well to still pay attention.

Hugh Fulford
Speaking Schedule:
February 10: Nashville Road Church of Christ, Gallatin, TN.

#church, #denominationalism, #hughfulford

Hugh’s News & Views (How NOT To . . .)

HOW NOT TO ADVANCE NEW TESTAMENT CHRISTIANITY

(The following is a true personal story, except for the pronounced use of the expression “church of Christ” in a decidedly denominational sense. The story is told in an effort to show how the Lord’s church should not be viewed, how it should not be spoken of, and how utterly unsuccessful one who resorts to this kind of language will be in promoting New Testament Christianity.) Continue reading

#denominationalism, #hughfulford, #restoration-plea

Hugh’s News & Views (What Kind Of Preacher . . .)

WHAT KIND OF PREACHER AM I?

A few weeks ago I wrote under the heading, “Sixty-Two Years of Preaching.” While I do not introduce myself to others as a preacher, and while I do not wear the titles of “Reverend,” “Pastor,” or “Father,” and while I do not wear any special “clerical” garb (either in or out of the pulpit), in spite of it all people still sometimes find out that I am a preacher. When I walk into my local barber shop, one of the barbers always greets me with a loud, “Come in, pastor,” code language for the other customers to watch their language and their jokes because a preacher is on the scene! (Yes, I still go to an old-fashion, “men’s only” barber shop, rather than one of those modern unisex salons!) When people learn that I am a preacher almost immediately their next question is, “What kind of preacher are you?” Continue reading

#denominationalism, #hughfulford, #preaching

Hugh's News & Views ("If It Looks Like A Duck . . .")

“IF IT LOOKS LIKE A DUCK . . .”

“If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.”

So goes the “Duck Test.” It is often used to suggest that an unknown subject can be identified by observing that subject’s habitual characteristics. It also is sometimes used in an effort to counter valid arguments that a thing is not always what it might appear to be to an undiscerning person. Continue reading

#church-of-christ, #denominationalism, #hughfulford, #nt-church