Letters to the editor: November 2006
Charles Colson speaks about liberalism:
Olin Hicks feels any unity discussions should include hearing both sides in the anti-instrument controversy. I love and respect Olin, but I think he’s wrong this time. We in years past have hashed and rehashed that controversy, with each debate pushing us farther apart. What is pulling us together now is a recognition that unity is possible so long as debating our differences is not part of the process. Those who are convinced that God wants no musical instruments used during worship rituals of his people are not interested in uniting with those who are convinced that God does not care about the matter at all, so that some may use musical instruments everywhere and others may choose to not do so.
Christian unity can’t include liberals who deny the deity of Christ. It can’t include legalists who make laws and demand that everyone obey their laws. It’s obvious to some that many in Church of Christ congregations where musical instruments are not used are coming to agree that the question is not a matter of faith but instead is simply a preference. Unity is possible so long as human religious laws are not made an issue. Unity is in Christ and in obeying HIM and loving HIM and together seeking to win others to HIM. (315)
Let me begin by saying that I enjoy the Chronicle very much. It not only keeps me infomed about what’s going on in the brotherhood, but the articles are great reading also.
I had the pleasure of hearing Jennifer Berry speak to an audience concerning drinking and driving in Marietta, GA back in July. I also got to talk with her briefly and even had my picuture made with her. What a delightful young lady! I felt like I already knew her because of the write up about her in an earlier issue of the Chronicle.
I hope you continue to keep the readers informed about her Miss America rein and her life as a Christian.
The Lord has burdened me with concern for those with same-sex attractions and the response of the Church to them. The prevailing avowal of “hating the sin” but “loving the sinner” rings hollow, is simplistic, and, really, meaningless. And the unspoken message is that this is THE sin. But nowhere does Scripture list a hierarchy of sins. I have never heard anyone say he or she hates lying, jealousy, drunkenness, idolatry, gluttony, etc., but loves the liar, envier, drunkard, idolater and glutton, etc. These are sins also, and those comnmitting the sins sinners.
Love is not a static or abstract concept. It involves action. And you can’t love someone without having some contact with the person. So, how has “loving the sinner” been shown? For the most part, it hasn’t been. In general, the person with same-sex attractions has been shunned, ridiculed, mistreated, and frequently attacked, physically, verbally and/or emotionally, not only by society in general, but by the Church.
Someone said he/she prayed that a person with same-sex attraction NOT RETURN to the house of the Lord, ACTUALLY PRAYED FOR A SINNER TO NOT COME TO THE PLACE WHERE HE OR SHE COULD EXPERIENCE GOD’S LOVE. Maybe some of you feel the same way about certain people. If we prayed for sinners to not come to the Lord’s hose, there wouldn’t be many, if any, there.
Our Lord ate with sinners, not with the “religious” people. When He preached to the multitudes, He didn’t go at them with “Repent, you sinners!” (He saved “Woe to you” for the religious people). And He didn’t tell us to browbeat people with the Gospel. That does more harm than good, and drives people away from the place where they should be able to know God’s love. Those with same-sex attractions don’t need to be attacked. They are already wounded. We can speak the truth in love, but need to remember that it is the Holy Spirit Who convicts of sin. Same-sex attractions have a complicated genesis. Those with these attractions CAN be healed, but it is an arduous process. Not all make it. The Lord has commanded us to love. He doesn’t command us to do something without giving us the ability to do so. If you don’t love someone, ask the Lord to give you love for that person. He will. He has done it for me. He will do it for you. So, how do we love? By doing the opposite of what has usually been done to these persons.
We can try to make amends for our past actions or inaction by repenting of them, and loving those with same-sex attractions as Jesus (Yeshuah) would. These people are not contagious! And, yes, pray for them, as you pray for others. And, go out into the byways and call ALL sinners into the house of the Lord. When they get there, love them. Let them know that they are in a place where they are welcome and loved. The rest is up to the Lord.
Lake Forest, CA
Thanks for the opportunity to read the pointed and powerful piece by PABLO SANABRIA.
From my nearly 40 years of experience in the region (12 in residence and continued trips each
year) his is a compelling analysis of the debacle we have made of providing economic assistance
to our brothers and sisters in Central America (Oh! that it were limited to Central America!).
He shines an embarrassingly clear light on just how disingenuous some of us have been.
Failing to understand the difference between open-handed generosity and tight-fisted control,
we have behaved badly in both efforts. Churches in Latin America would be better served
by far to send us all packing and take care of winning their own people to Christ without the
distraction of our dysfunctional church politics. In what he has written Pablo Sanabria is guilty only of the twin sins of understating the problem and of unnecessary leniency in his suggested solutions.
“Are we exporting church conflicts,” speak volumes. I would like to thank our oversea brothers and sisters in Christ to have the courage, foresight to tell us our shortcomings. We must indeed learn how to tolerate those within and outside the Church, examples be able to distinguish between essentials and non-essentials, and living at peace with those of different beliefs than ours respectively. Essentials never compromise, non-essentials not divide, no matter how convicted you are about their truth. It is alright to admit and not be ashamed of being uncertainty about some issues as the Bible does not teach all things with the same clarity. Difficult issues should be handed with honestly and admit uncertainty which would make our witness more powerful and authentic.
Having traveled on six continents, visiting Churches of Christ in over 40 countries and listening to over 50 missionaries in my home, I feel qualified to comment on “Exporting Conflicts” (August 06).
Every sect of the Church of Christ sends missionaries abroad teaching innocent people that it is the one and only true Church of Christ. And, that it practices the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Thus, any change in the claims it makes, or in the practices it engages in, must be heresy and grounds for dividing the church.
We have been guilty of preaching our sect of a fallible church instead of preaching an infallible savior.
Is it any wonder that our mission field churches look like our divided sectarian churches in the states.
Robert H. Rowland
I want to say thank you for your coverage of Cecil Cooper. I am a very big baseball fan, and avid Astros fan. After reading what and how Coop is living while working with the Astros, I felt a great encouragement from him. I have often wondered what men like him do, while in the spot light, knowing the problems they can face standing on the word of God. Thank you for your coverage of Coop and I ask that maybe you can do a series of stories with men like him who are in the spot light and yet stand on their faith as well.
Cave City, KY
One of your letter writers in the October edition* claims that the determination of inspired meaning via the hermeneutic of “silence of scripture” produces “manmade doctrine.” He argues that if the rule were consistently applied such things as church buildings, hymnals and a “host of other items” commonly accepted by most churches of Christ would not have scriptural basis. This overlooks the fact that there is an “intrinsic nature” of each item in our service. Many aids such as buildings, hymnals, electric lights, etc., expedite but do not affect the inherent essence of what we do. Other variations such as instrumental music create a service as different as a rock band is from an unaccompanied solo singer. In the spirit of peace, please allow those who worship with instruments to continue to do so. Likewise, permit those who worship acappella to do so. One thing certain — the Lord Himself will decide at the judgment whether or not instruments were pleasing to Him.
The October, 2006 issue was the saddest issue I have ever read. The two articles about the divisions caused on the mission field by U.S. churches illustrates one of the great tragedies and apostasies of our times. Christ taught about changing our lives and having concern and care for others. These destroying teachers, like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, instead are focusing on minute points of law. How hypocritical to teach about autonomy and against, but then exercise control over other congregations! One could suspect the real issues are the egotism and desire for power of the teachers rather than any salvation important issue. Show love, don’t just mouth it, or quit using the name of Christ and Christian for distorted teaching.
Castle Rock, Colo.
It strikes me as disingenuous that people like Keith Sharp can justify interfering in the affairs of other congregations with the intention of helping them remain autonomous. If they are autonomous what right does he have to tell them how they should direct their affairs? Furthermore, if the Bible teaches that a true church must conform to certain teachings and behaviors (as he assumes) then individual congregations aren’t really autonomous. It then becomes a matter of who defines what those teachings are and who gets to enforce the conformity.
I read with interest and sadness your article on “Exporting Church Conflicts.” Thank you for the courage and conviction to point out this outrageous and damning practice.
Surely, if we are so blind as to not see the damage and harm we have caused the church of our Lord in our own country by splintering over non-Gospel, non-salvation issues, this article makes clear the impediments and damage the exporting of such has caused (and is causing) in other lands and cultures.
Many souls will undoubtedly be lost because of this. Many will undoubtedly be held accountable because of this. May God forgive us.
Dr. James Masters
I enjoyed your article about Cecil Cooper. It demonstrates the positive in professional sports.
We also have a church member who is the bench coach for the Minnesota Twins.
My nephew Steve Liddle who played at Lipscomb University in the late 1970’s just completed his 5th year as bench coach for the Twins. While living in the Ft. Myers area he occasionally lead singing. He now lives in the Nashville, Tennessee area where he was born and raised. He and his family attend Smyrna Church of Christ.
It is great that God has put these Christian men in a position.
Nov. 1, 2006