Letters to the editor: April 2006
Perspectives on discussions with Christian Church
Bailey McBride’s good editorialabout listening was well done. Now, howabout listening to an incident that symbolizes the sinful division betweenChristian churches and the Lord’s church? The Lord’s body was split, the sin remains.
Don Vinzant gives a most insighfulincident in his history of the Grandbury, TX church that occurred at Add-Ran College, February 20, 1894. Though J. A. Clark pleaded with his sons notto introduce the instrument into the worship, Addisonsaid, “Play on Miss Bertha.” “J. A.
Clark, then 78 years old, arose with hiswife and walked out of the building. About 140 followed him out.”
Is the Christian Chronicle willing to listen to this?
Roy H. Lanier
Afterreading The Christian Chronicle’sthorough presentation of the 100 year anniversary of the Church of Christ- Christian Church division, I have only one thing to say – Get OverIt!
In spite ofall the talk and the well intentioned attempts at healing the division, thereis no way that the brethren of the Christian Churches are ever goingto come back and rejoin the brethren of the Churches of Christ. TheChristian Churches are not about to give up their instruments and many Churchof Christ preachers and elders show no inclination to build bridges of unitymuch less even refer to the other side as brethren.
It seems tome that there’s only one side doing all the crying and mourning over that longago split. Just about every preacher and a majority of acapella memberscan recount the events of that division. The perseveration on this eventhas been passed from generation to generation. It’s like watching aneurotic divorced husband pine away year after year for the spouse who left himlong ago. And while he’s still tied up in his grief she has moved on withher life. Likewise one only has to visit an instrumentalgroup – Christian Church congregations to see that they are active, growing,and serving. There’s no talk about the division because most of themembers hardly ever heard about it, their leaders don’t dwell on it, theirpapers don’t even discuss it. The contrast is quite sharp – the ChristianChurch brethren are excited and are positive in their evangelistic endeavorsand edification of their brethren and have left the past behind. On theother hand many Church of Christ congregationsare mired in negativism, finger pointing and self destructive endeavors toroot out so called “false teachers”. Our acapella congregationsare disintegrating due to multiple splits over the most inane issuesimaginable. We are burdened with a history of closed mindedness,character assassination of ministers we don’t agree with, and suspiciousnessof anything that seems new. I can say these things because I have servedover 20 years in ministry in Churches of Christ and I’ve seen it all.
So givenall the negativity of many acapella congregations, why would the Christian Churches want anything to do withthem? Why go backwards when they can move forward? They don’tneed the heartache.
Thanks for discussing the topic ofimproving dialog with our brothers on both sides of the music issue (Feb: 2006/100 Years After Split, Unity Events Bring Praise, Concern). I have been in thebrotherhood since 1977, having served both as a member as well as a ministerfor congregations across the whole gamut–from the anti-institutional to theIndependent Christian Church. I can say from the biblical point of view, we areone people. We have different quirks depending on what conclusions we reach onissues as diverse as church finances, the role of women, and the use ofinstruments, but we are essentially the same.
Our understanding of God’s plan forsaving humanity and for walking with him in everyday life is the same. As arule, we each err in the areas that are blind spots for us. I don’t know of asingle faction of our brotherhood that believes it is in error, or is willfullyrebelling against God. We serve a patient, loving God who will continue to calleach and every one of us into a deeper relationship with Him, despite ourconclusions and affiliations. What matters is Christ in us–the hope of glory.Keep the conversation going!
See: 100 years after split, unity events bringpraise, concern
Dr. Brad T. Bromling
Discussion of war needed, butdiscretion required
It was withgreat interest that I read all of the articles in the recent edition of the Christian Chronicle pertaining to the Iraq war. The Chronicle is indeed a good forum toreflect theologically about an event that impacts so many lives. However, I do question the wisdom of using agrieving mother’s observations as a basis for theological debate in the articleentitled: A Just War or Not: Members Grapple with Iraq Toll. Viewpoints on this war should be debatedvigorously, but it must be done with great sensitivity to families who havelost loved ones in Iraq.
AsChristians, we have a solemn obligation to mourn with those who mourn.
Using aninterview with a grieving mother as the primary basis for a debate defies alllogic, and demonstrates insensitivity to families presently affected by thiswar. I would urge the Christian Chronicle to continuechallenging its readers with multiple viewpoints, but to exercise greaterdiscretion in choosing the proper context for such forums.
TheKendall’s are doing an outstanding job as missionaries in Tartu, Estonia. As their supporting congregation, our primaryobjective right now is to provide them with much needed pastoral care. Perhapsfuture articles could address the pastoral needs of military families ingreater depth.
See: A just war or not: Members grapple with Iraqtoll
John G. Knox
I want tothank you for the last edition of the Chronicle dealing with our instrumentalbrothers. For those of us who don’t likethis idea of fellowship, I have a plan. We will meet at the pearly gates once we get to heaven, and before Godgets a chance to pass out our harps to use while we sing, we will all approachhim and say, “God, surely you don’t intend to use instruments while we singyour praises. I’m sure you have heard ofour rule about silence and necessary inferences. Let us go over these rules with you until youunderstand them.”
M. L. Daniels
Iappreciate your editorial on C.S. Lewis and the need to separate the wheat fromthe chaff when we read his admittedly fictitious literature. Theliterature is either fiction or fact. Doesn’t our need to separate alsoapply to any unity movement? Reading C.S. Lewis may be productive if thedistinction between truth and fiction is recognized. The unity movementwill only be productive if there is a distinction made between truth andfiction as well. Biblical unity cannot be compromised; God’s union of manwith Christ, or man’s union of man’s ideas with the body of Christ? Whowill make the final separation? What God has joined, let no man separate. What God has made perfect let no man compromise!
See: Separating the wheat from the chaff a bigtask for readers of C.S. Lewis
Oklahoma City, Okla.
The leadstory in the February edition of TheChristian Chronicle, as well as the article titled “1906-2006” in theCurrents section, contains references to “a capella churches of Christ” and“instrumental churches.” Since botharticles were edited or co-edited by Bobby Ross, Jr., I must assume that Mr.Ross prefers – or at least condones – this terms to Biblical names. However, nowhere in the New Testament is thechurch which Jesus built, or any other church, described in this manner. Jesus simply said “I will build my church”[Matthew 16:18], while the apostle Paul sent greetings from “the churches ofChrist” [Romans 16:16]. It is ironicthat the divisive descriptions used by Mr. Ross appear in articles promotingunity. As long as Christians remaindivided by sectarian names, no amount of joint meetings and discussions amongtheir representatives will unify them in “the faith which was once deliveredunto the saints.” [Jude 1:3] Christian unity must be based on adherenceto God’s teachings without un-Biblical additions and terminology.
See: 100 years after split, unity events bringpraise, concern
North Richland Hills, Texas
Regardingyour lead article in the March issue, “A just war ornot…”, you mentioned 2,300 American deaths, but made nomention of the 30,000 to 50,000 Iraqi deaths. The suffering caused by ourinvasion is beyond words, and it is heartbreaking to see the name of Jesusinvoked as justification.
A readingof the Gospels reveals not a single word that might lead one to honestlyconclude that Jesus would condone our bombings, straffings, burnings, andshootings. His was a message love and peace. There is noreason why ours should be different. I long for the day when I hear themessage of peace shouted from Church of Christ pulpitsacross this land.
See: A just war or not: Members grapple with Iraqtoll
I’vecontinued to receive your publication 5 years after leaving the Church of Christ. The joy I felt when I readthe articles about the conversation and meetings with instrumental Christianchurches. Deep joy and hopefulness filled my thoughts. This month howeverthere was a letter from those I’m more used to in attitude of self-righteouspiety. I felt the discouragement, although the balance is better, I think therewill always be the element of those who think they are able to understandthings better than the rest of the world. I thank God alone for hisgrace, It is sufficient for me.
I found itinteresting that the Chronicle would carry a front-page picture of our new MissAmericawinner, Jennifer Berry. Jennifer is praised because she is trading her “crownfor a halo.” Yet, why doesn’t the Chronicle publish the picture of Jennifer inher bikini? (It is on the Internet). If we can ask questions about the war in Iraqand its appropriateness, can we address whether God is pleased God when a youngChristian woman parades around in what is clearly a sexy bathing suit to bejudged on her physical appearance? Is it appropriate for our brotherhoodpublication to acknowledge the winning of a sensuality contest as some greatachievement? How many Christian fathers would want their daughters dressingthis way in public? I have a teenage son and I certainly would not allow him towatch the Miss America contest and I would not want him looking at seductivepictures of Jennifer Berry. The last time I read my Bible it still said that aman who looks at a woman and lusts has committed adultery in the heart. Isthere any guilt for a woman who dresses in a way that is designed to provokethese very thoughts? Even many feminists have opposed the participation ofwomen in these degrading events. Has the NOW gang (National Organization ofWomen) moved to the right of the Churches of Christ? If the Chronicletruly feels that Jennifer is a role model, then publish the picture of her inher bathing suit and pose the question of appropriateness to a forum for opendiscussion.
See: Months after baptism, Jennifer Berry winsMiss America pageant
Afterreading the article on race relations, I felt inspired to tell the story of ourcongregation. We have about 300 members including many withsouthern roots many over 60 although being in a college town many overeducated. We have a few African American families. Several yearsago an African American girl in the college group brought her boyfriend adrama student to church and he was converted and became one of our own, lovedby all for his faith, love and spiritual dedication. He went away to LosAngelos and graduate studies and trying show business but returned to the homestate in 2000 to teach drama at the university and be involved in the homecongregation. He related well to all groups in the church and soon weasked him to be our campus minister and he had students of all races in hishome every Sunday night. Then when our senior minister decided to moveelsewhere, the unanimous choice was him to be our senior minister. He has not diluted his cultural style and wears hot pink shirts and dreadlocksand hugs everyone in greeting. When he uses the traditional emotionalsermon delivery it is also packed with meticulous Biblical research andorganisation to give a great lesson. I started to say we forget that heis black, so well he bridges the gap, but in reality we forget that we arewhite and say, “Amen brother we are revived, we are healed, we are unitedby your wonderful sermon.”
Ourcongregation is blessed with more African American families now and maybewe are making racial inclusion happen not so much because he is preachingit — he isn’t — we are just living it.
I am disturbedby the present push for unity between churches of Christ and Christian Churches. I am disturbed that such unity is not being desired through a discussion of theissues that divide us and their merits but rather a desire to”ignore” issues and join with the Christian Church.
It furtherdisturbs me that the Christian Chronicle has injected themselves as a biasedplayer in the debate reporting from a purely pro-unity in disagreementplatform.
I believeif this was an honest debate those rejecting such a call would be receivingequal time and attention to make the case why we feel this is good intention butthe wrong prescription for the problem.
Instead ofunity to which the Chronicle seems openly in favor of what is beingsought will result as a repainting of the lines movingprogressive churches of Christ further out of fellowship with the mainstreamof the church and into fellowship with the Christian Church. Indeed whatwe are seeing is not a healing of the split from the early 1900s but instead are-application of the split now in the 21st century.
It may bethe unity that “some” want but it is not bringing us closer to”speaking the same things” “or having the same mind”