Saturday, December 28, 2013

When Is An Example BINDING? Never.

This excerpt was taken from a much more detailed 2-part article that may be found here.

I do not categorically agree with everything said below, but I believe what is written moves us closer to the truth and would contribute to unity among churches of Christ.

I have included in this excerpt only what I hope will spark consideration and discussion. 

The author lists opposing arguments in great detail in the full articles.

He writes,

"Bible examples without a doubt are meant to teach and instruct us in what God finds acceptable and unacceptable.  Whether or not examples can teach us is not the question. The question is, "Are we required to imitate examples that the Scriptures show have God's approval?" Most in the Churches of Christ would answer yes."

"If we answer yes, then we must have a way of telling which Bible examples are essential and which were just incidental or else we have no means of knowing which examples God expects us to imitate. If we cannot tell the difference, then we must either imitate every New Testament account of action, or concede that we aren't required by God to follow any of them."

"In discussing the matter with other brethren, no one that I am aware of has produced a logical means by which the difference between significant and insignificant examples can be ascertained. If no objective means of distinction can be identified, then we must either bind all examples or none of them." 

"Indeed, we have been very inconsistent in the binding of examples. There are a number of examples that would seem to have God's approval yet we do not bind them upon ourselves. Consider the following "approved" examples which we don't imitate."
  • Eating the Lord's Supper on a Thursday (the day Jesus instituted it).
  • Baptizing outdoors. The only passage under the new covenant which records where a baptism took place says that it was outdoors (Acts 8:36-39).
  • Eating the Lord's Supper only in the evening. The only passage that mentions the time of day that the Supper was eaten says that it was in the evening. By definition the word "supper" means an evening meal.  (Mt 26:20)
  • Restrict the number of deacons in local congregations to 7.  (Acts 6:3)
  • Setting aside the ninth hour as an hour of prayer. (Acts 3:1)
  • Observing the feast of Pentecost as Paul did.  (Acts 18:21, 20:16)
  • Daily assemblies.  (Acts 2:46)
"Why do we not bind these examples? How have we been able to logically conclude that they are insignificant and not worth binding?"

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Harmful Effects of Dualism: Today's Patriotism and Christianity

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I think we need to focus less on "separating the sin from the sinner" and focus more on the spiritual battle occurring in the cosmic realm. 

As Paul says,

"This is not a wrestling match against a human opponent. We are wrestling with rulers, authorities, the powers who govern this world of darkness, and spiritual forces that control evil in the heavenly world."

Dualism causes us to view worship as separate from the rest of life and when we combine this part of our worldview with the compartmentalizing of being an American as separate from a Christian, then patriotism will dominate. Sometimes we will wear the hat of Christ, but mostly we will wear the hat of Caesar.

As a result of this Caesar oriented dominance, Christians become afraid of being branded an ungrateful traitor by advocates of the state, when in fact, Jesus was crucified by the state and by His own countrymen who viewed Him as a traitor to their nation's worldview. 

As John says,

"Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did."

Do we? 

Or have we inherited an admixture of the state and church that we will find it harder and harder to justify the more the world becomes globalized? I do not mean to cause the crony capitalism of central banks to come to mind when I say this, but Christianity has sought to globalize the world for 2,000 years.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Nadab & Abihu and The Terrorism of Pattern Theology

Leviticus 10:1-11
What if I said to you that I feel peace and comfort when I think of Nadab and Abihu?

If you've been taught a legalistic pattern theology, then you may respond with:

"What? Those dudes were put to death by fire from God Himself! Are you kidding me?"

No. I'm not. Bear with me.

In Philippians 4:4-8 Paul instructs Christians to think positive and healthy thoughts:
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." 
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."
Painting by Noah Bradley
We can't follow Paul's instructions to rejoice and avoid living anxiously while thinking about God damning us to Hell if we disobey one command of God for worship like Nadab and Abihu. 

A while back, I came across three articles that I think, when all put together, will bring us some comfort as we better understand our blessings in Christ and that even Nadab and Abihu can bring in spite of the fact they have been used to terrorize faithful Christians for decades in Churches of Christ.

This peace and comfort comes from a better interpretation that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable and excellent.


The first article came up when I was searching for information on demonizing one's enemy. It had to do with jumping to conclusions why the Boston Marathon Bombers killed civilians. 

No one really knew at that time, and the article's point was to explain that not all acts of violence are "terrorism," and that many of our freedoms have been infringed upon because the media immediately characterizes every act of violence as "terrorism" based on the U.S. Government's definition "which often expands... to demonize violence originating from ideologies and movements that oppose U.S. hegemony."

Monday, December 9, 2013

Safe People: How To Find Relationships That Are Good For You & Avoid Those That Aren't

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I found these quotes on goodreads by Colin Powell valuable:

"The less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve. Any time you tolerate mediocrity in others, it increases your mediocrity. An important attribute in successful people is their impatience with negative thinking and negative acting people."

"As you grow, your associates will change. Some of your friends will not want you to go on. They will want you to stay where they are. Friends that don't help you climb will want you to crawl. Your friends will stretch your vision or choke your dream. Those that don't increase you will eventually decrease you."

"Consider this: Never receive counsel from unproductive people. Never discuss your problems with someone incapable of contributing to the solution, because those who never succeed themselves are always first to tell you how. Not everyone has a right to speak into your life. You are certain to get the worst of the bargain when you exchange ideas with the wrong person. Don't follow anyone who's not going anywhere."

"With some people you spend an evening: with others you invest it. Be careful where you stop to inquire for directions along the road of life. Wise is the person who fortifies his life with the right friendships. If you run with wolves, you will learn how to howl. But, if you associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights. A mirror reflects a man's face, but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses."

"The simple but true fact of life is that you become like those with whom you closely associate - for the good and the bad. Be not mistaken. This is applicable to family as well as friends. love, appreciate and be thankful for your family, for they will always be your family no matter what. Just know that they are human first and though they are family to you, they may be a friend to someone else and will fit somewhere in the criteria above."

"In prosperity our friends know us. In adversity we know our friends. Never make someone a priority when you are only an option for them. If you are going to achieve excellence in big things,you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude."

Henry Cloud & John Townsend, authors of the best selling book Boundaries, in their book Safe People write:

"God does not use religious terms and language when he discusses people. He talks about how people treat Him and others, and whether or not they get things done as they said they would. In short, he looks at someone’s character. He is looking at their makeup as a person and the way that that character interacts with Him and the world.”

"The Bible is full of 'religious' people who are 'spiritual,' 'godly,' 'ambitious,' or 'fun to be with,' but these people are the ones that Jesus and the Old Testament prophets confronted over and over. They look good on the outside or from a distance, but to get close to them is a nightmare."

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Certainty-Seeking, Doubt Eliminating Faith Hinders Learning

Greg Boyd writes,

"I contend that certainty-seeking faith tends to inflict a selective learning phobia on those who hold to it. It’s no secret that, at least in America, evangelical Christians sort of have a reputation of being narrow-minded and intolerant. Deny it though we may, research has established it."

"There are a number of plausible explanations for this, but I believe one of the main reasons has to do with the widespread assumption that a person’s faith is as strong as they are certain."

"Imagine a Christian I’ll call Bob. Like most other conservative Christians, Bob believes that he is saved by believing the doctrines that are “necessary for salvation.” And, like most others, Bob assumes that his faith is as strong as he is free of doubt."

"It’s apparent that for Christians like Bob, one’s sense of security is anchored in their level of confidence that their beliefs are correct. If Bob were to lose confidence or change his mind about any of these things, his salvation, as well as his acceptance as a fellow “saved” believer in his church, would at least be thrown into question, if not absolutely denied. Not only this, but Bob’s sense of identity, purpose, and well-being is wrapped up in his remaining convinced his beliefs are correct. With so much at stake, how open do you really think Bob would be to seriously studying books and dialoguing with people who might pose strong challenges to his core convictions? And how capable do you suppose Bob would be at objectively assessing the merits of points of view that disagree with his own, were he to somehow muster the courage to examine them? The answer, I think, is obvious."

"Not only this, but neurological studies have shown that the pleasure centers of our brain are activated whenever we encounter facts or opinions that confirm beliefs that are important to us. Conversely, they also reveal that our amygdala, which controls our “fight or flight” reflex, is activated when we initially confront facts or opinions that conflict with these beliefs. And, as we noted in the previous chapter, most of us know firsthand, to one degree or another, how painful it is to doubt beliefs that are important to us. Cognitive dissonance over important matters can be excruciating!"

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

How Reactionary (Conservative) Thinking Can Hinder More Truth From Being Taught am wondering how being "conservative" is hindering the advancement of the kingdom of God. Many conservatives know the harmful effects of being "liberal" that violate God's will, but is modern political conservatism the answer? Is it the only alternative? I say no.

What I mean is NOT to become "liberal," as most of us understand these two terms in our political world. What I mean is to understand what conservative thought is better and, especially, its limitations. I am coming from a behavioral standpoint most of all, because my concern surrounds the fact that "conservative" means "reactionary."

If we are always reacting (conservative) to the world which by doing so we relinquish leadership to the "active" (liberal), then they set the agenda. Why does this matter? It matters because, generationally, conditioned reactionaries don't set the agenda, obviously, but more so, this matters because truth cannot be taught and/or known when letting others who are considered or known not to teach truth are setting the agenda. We end up getting lost in conservatism, looking back instead of forward, and stagnantly repeating signals reactively. We are not leading. We are reacting. And reacting equals conservative.

The best way I know right now is to illustrate this by using a commonly accepted group among us as an illustration. Apologetics Press does great work. My wife and I support AP monthly and benefit greatly from their work in the debate, and here comes my point, (reacting) against the General Theory of Evolution and its attacks on the Bible.

What if the Bible (Genesis in particular) is not addressing Macro-Evolution in its context? Does not context determine meaning? Yes, it does. So what if we are reacting to the world's lead, but are not leading ourselves as God desires?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Why I Don't Submit To Hierarchy in the Church

The reason I don't "submit" to those in the church who misinterpret Hebrews 13:17 and by doing so claim "positional" power is, because my choice to do so would prevent me from obeying God's commands for me to exercise faith  and grow in His grace (Gal. 2:20; 2 Pet. 3:18). 

Any fellow Christian who exalts himself over me for control of my beliefs and time and influences me to "submit" to his or her exaltation is placing himself between me and my God regardless whether it is compartmentalized as "expedience" or under threat of "chaos" resulting from my lack of submitting.

All Christians are equal members of Christ's body, and none of us is the Head. Strangely however, I believe that since most Christians have been taught for generations, and so now commonly accept submitting to supposed superiors in the church, we are being hindered from conforming to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). In my view, the largest contributor to this phenomenon is nationalism-patriotism, or a preoccupation with being American ahead of being Christian.

In fact, I view churches in America as mostly religious versions of the State futilely straining to "Take America Back" as the nation's moral conscience. This worldview demotes the Church to a dependent and inferior status in the eyes of Statists. Why would they listen to us when they can easily see that we are only offering a moral version (which they do not want) of their own viewpoint? What could be easier to disrespect and reject?

Our military-rank mindset in churches borrowed from the Church-State mixed mindset needs eliminating, and I think that George Simon gives a good summary of what I believe, if we understood better, would go a long way in removing it:

He writes,

"Fighting is not inherently wrong or harmful. Fighting openly and fairly for our legitimate needs is often necessary and constructive. When we fight for what we truly need while respecting the rights and needs of others and taking care not to needlessly injure them, our behavior is best labeled assertive, and assertive behavior is one of the most healthy and necessary human behaviors. It's wonderful when we learn to assert ourselves in the pursuit of personal needs, overcome unhealthy dependency and become self-sufficient and capable."