David Bloxom, teacher,
The Park Hill Church-A Christ-Centered Fellowship (formerly the Park
Hill Church of Christ), Fort Worth, Texas
I know several of the signers personally
of this "Affirmation" and trust their motives to be pure, uplifting,
and from a love of Christ's Church. They are attempting, in my opinion,
to address a challange/opportunity to the traditional Churches of Christ
and what leaders in those churches are facing from their memberships.
Our congregation dealt with many of these issues over the last 3-4 years
and choose to use BOTH acapella and instrumental (ie.praise band) music
in our worship services. We changed our formal name to "A Christ-Centered
Fellowship" from "Church of Christ" to help our unchurched
ministry grow as the majority choose to do this (I did not personally
favor this but did not believe I was any less Cof C because of it). I
applaud these leaders for addressing these issues rather than just remain
silent as our fellowship did on the race and women issues in the 1960's-'70's.
I firmly believe one of the major Biblical strenghts of our fellowship
is "Congregational Autonomy" which allows the Park Hill's and
Oak Hill's of our fellowhip to deviate from the norm and still remain
Biblically sound and bring folks to Christ...which is really what all
this is about anyway.
Danny Dodd, Pensacola, Florida
I join in the chorus of those thanking you for the affirmation statement. While
we might quibble about some of the wordage and question whether you meant
to elevate a cappella singing to the same level of essentiality as communion,
the spirit of the affirmation is a wholly positive and refreshing attempt
to remind us again of the historic importance of unity in our wonderful movement.
Only now, let’s really practice what they preached and applaud your efforts
rather than overly analyze and criticize it.
Maria Neuhaus, Cincinnati, Ohio
I am not a preacher or teacher in the mainline churches,
but am a product of the Word of God being taught through the International
Church of Christ. I found it refreshing to read the 'affirmation'. I
appreciated the sobering concern in the desire for identity. Randy Hall
(commenting from Campbell, California) and Rod Farthing (commenting from
Salem, Missouri) best describe my hesitancy in signing the 'Affirmation'
when they cited instrumental music being put on a par with baptism
and communion, and noting that a cappella music and communion on Sundays being
a stipulation for unity. When reading the portions of the affirmation
regarding baptism/salvation, I was almost moved to tears thanking God
for a 'document' (of all things) to create much desired unity
between the international and the mainline churches of Christ. When
I scrolled down to the portion of the affirmation titled "Worship
and New Life", I wondered, "what major roll does a cappella
music play in living a New Life?" Maybe I need to reconsider
the validity of my conversion from Catholicism to New Testament Christianity,
but repentance is what lead me into the blessed New Life, whether I was
singing a cappella or not. This was my first response and I intend
to read the affirmation many times. But its good to know I'm not the
only disciple of Jesus who was concerned about the issue made
of a cappella music as it, if it does at all, relate to New Life.
Jeff Neuhaus, Cincinnati, Ohio
I was raised in the mainline Church and get excited at any
attempt for unity in the Body of Christ!
My own convictions on the subject are simple, Ephesians 4:4-6 says to
me that if we can agree on the meaning of each of these seven
basic beliefs then we can truly be unified, the way Jesus
prayed his children would be in John 17.
One thing I find puzzling is that in a paragraph written about "Worship
and New Life" there is no mention of offering our bodies as living
sacrifices the way Paul describes in Romans 12:1.
In II Chronicles 30:18-20 there is a very compelling story of God healing
the people who were seeking Him even though their worship wasn't to the
letter, and even under the old law! How much more grace should we
extend today under the new law for the sake of showing the world that
Jesus is the Son Of God (John 17:21)!
Joe Littlejohn, El Paso, Texas
While there is a unity based upon adherence to certain
principles of Scripture, the greater unity is based upon our gracious
standing in Christ. We come to Christ with a variety of views. We commit
ourselves to a study of Scripture and grow in our understanding. There
are certain topics that we will likely disagree upon. For example,
we may not agree on all that the Holy Spirit does in our lives, but,
of our mutual standing in Christ, we MUST accept one another with these
differences. To refuse this warm embrace is to TRULY deny the foundation
of our unity. Instrumental music and the frequency/day of taking communion
are topics that studious Christians frequently disagree upon. Your
call to unity based upon agreement to these topics will not be achieved
history attests) because honest disagreements will arise. Ironically
(and sadly), your very quest for unity will only promote division because
your foundation for unity is not the gospel and our standing in that
grace but a call to agree upon things that leaves no room for honest
dissent. An understanding of our brotherhood due to our relation with
Christ must be the centerpiece for unity.
Scott Taft, Houston, Texas
I know some of the signatories of this affirmation… they
are men I grew up around and admired. The affirmation you all have
submitted is thought provoking and I believe humbly submitted for the
world to see and contemplate. I commend you all for that.
I was pleased to see that the contents of the affirmation included statements
about the fact that the early church and the New Testament did even anticipate
the idea of an unbaptized Christian; for that is where our fellowship is
found, in Christ... and only in Christ, and that is accessed only in the
waters of baptism. There is no such thing as an unbaptized Christian. Since
many learned men in the Lord's church seem to have forgotten this basic
truth in their pursuit of a "broader fellowship", it is good
to see this in your affirmation, because that is starting point the Lord
has given us. Frankly, without that as the correct starting point
for the course, there can be no further discussion, and you all have seen
fit to put that right in the beginning of the statement you have made.
Christ is our life (Col 3:1-4), without Him life does not exist, nor does
It is also good to see that you do not view this as a creedal statement,
because the only definitive authority for anything we do should always
be the Lord's word to us. We are amenable only to His "New Testament",
as it is there that we find the truth that sets us free, and no where else.
When thinking about the idea of "restoration" I find that the
examples of restoration found in the Old Testament provide a great deal
of insight as to what the Lord expects of us all today. By reading
2 Kings, one finds complete examples of restoration approved by God (chapters
22 and 23 come to mind here), and other incomplete attempts that were not
so commendable. By reading Ezra, we see another commendable example. As
Ezra proceeded with a heart that was open to the Lord and His statutes
(Ezra 7:9 and 10), so it is crucial and incumbent upon us to do the same. In
my view, these examples and the study of them, are critical to understanding
what God expects from us in any attempt to establish what is true fellowship
and worship in today's world. As "the good hand of his God" was
upon Ezra because of what was in his heart, may His good hand be upon us
all as we seek truly Him and what He desires.
The struggle against the world and culture always rages on. As soldiers
for the Lord, we must in love hold the ground the Lord has given
us to hold, and seek to expand the kingdom among the souls of men, but
only under His banner, as His orders dictate. That is only worthy
campaign… all else is vanity.
Nitro, West Virginia
I just have a thought. While I agree that we are defined by the fellowship
that we keep ("Church of Christ," "Christian Church," "Baptist," Etc.),
I believe that our identity should be more in Christ as his follower not
as a member of a specific group (denomination). If we were to peal
back all the layers of religion that have been created over the years,
the only thing left that really matters is Jesus Christ -- his death, burial,
and resurrection (I Cor. 15). Unity in that will bring unity in
It seems that we all at times (myself included) have become selfish consumers
of religion expecting to be served. The reality is that when we
truly collapse our lives in Christ, we die and Christ lives (Gal 2:20
1:21) and we serve him and his will.
Why do we make the simple so complex? Not that I have it together. I
truly think this dialog is great. I wonder why we have to create
an Affirmation to strike this type of exchange!
Jonathan Clemens, Olympia, Washington
While the affirmation is fine and inoffensive, it mixes
and ignores the underlying problems with the Churches of Christ. It
well-considered, carefully worded answer to the wrong question.
Baptism is a commandment. Weekly observance of communion is a very good
idea. A cappella music is a cultural peculiarity, in this case adopted
our poor Southern predecessors to religiously justify their separation
from wealthier Northern brethren. Putting all three of these disparate
elements together is like advocating oxygen, seat belts, and hot Dr.
Pepper with lemon.
A more relevant affirmation would assert that the denomination known
as the acappella Churches of Christ, while one part of God's plan, holds
unique place of permanence or correctness. We get many things right,
we still get other things wrong. And, like all other man-made movements,
ours is destined to fade after time. Rather than hold on to a man-made
institution by erroneously identifying it with a Christ-established Church
Universal, why don't we start fresh, like Campbell, Stone, and other
Let's abandon petty squabbles about worship modes, and truly engage
current issues that demand a Christian answer: issues of sexual fidelity,
the value and dignity of human life, and Christ's uniqueness in a
pluralistic world. If we spilled 1/10th the ink on any of these issues
that we've expended on brotherhood issues, our religious market share
would not be declining. Simply put, we've taken our eyes off of
are now reaping what we've sown.
My husband and I have
been in youth ministry in the churches of Christ for almost 10 years. I
am not a scholar, but I teach the word to my children, and everyone God
places in my path. I admire the conviction with which these men
signed their name to a controvercial document, and I also admire those
who chose not to. I hope my signing of my comment shows my conviction
also. One of the signers was my Honors Bible teacher in college
and got me started down the path of seeking answers in scripture. I
have great respect for him, though we may disagree on some of the Affirmation's
content. I am glad for the hope of unity expressed within the statements
made. It is the terms of that unity that I struggle with.
I found it interesting that it began with a quote by a Catholic scholar. I
was both suprised and pleased by this. Mr. Kung said, and the signers
agreed, that we cannot copy the original design of the New Testament Church
today, but we can and must translate it into modern terms. I agree
with this statement, but the problems arise when we try to discern how
to do just that. There are those of us who don't hold fast to certain "traditions" of
the churches of Christ, but desire unity anyway. I believe unity
must be found in the person of Jesus Christ alone, and not in how we choose
to worship. Scripture is not black and white with the details of
worship practices, and though I don't believe our traditions are wrong,
I question the motivations of those who would speak boldy that churches
who choose different practices cannot share in the unity of Christ.
The term "being relevant" has been a bit overused, but it is
exactly what the churches of Christ must become if they not only want to
survive, but be the light to the world that I know they strive to be. The
statistics do not lie, teens are leaving the c of C by the thousands. I've
seen it, and know it's true. So how do we translate the design of
the NT church into modern terms? I'm still working on that, but it
seems to me we should start with the Word and preach Truth and not concentrate
so hard on the sacred cow issues. And by truth I mean that God loved
the WORLD (not just the church) so much that he gave up his only Son, so
that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life! I
hope that in this quest of identity, we lose ourselves and see only Christ. It's
not about us. Who we are as the churches of Christ is irrelevant...Who
is Christ should be our question, and the WORLD should be our focus.
Stephen Caldwell, Fort Myers, Florida
Let me first say that I, too, work and pray
for renewal in our brotherhood. I, too, see its flaws and inadequacies.
Many in my generation (I am 45) and younger see little else. We have
been led to believe that restoration was an event, instead of a process
that each generation is enthusiastically asked to continue. My conclusion
is that restoration has been too long halted. That there is more to
do to reflect, not just the organization and visible worship of the
church Christ died to build, but the spirit, the aims, the intent,
the brotherly kindness, and the priesthood of all believers of its
pioneers, is a fact so obvious that many are frustrated by the smugness
or blindness of sincere men who are content to remain motionless. However,
it appears that many have adopted a different goal of renewal, convinced
that the original intent is unknowable, impractical, and/or unreproducible
in our time. Having detached from their moorings, they are like ships
that sail confidently toward seemingly fixed lighthouses called "effectiveness" and "respectability",
apparently unaware or uncaring that these are ever-changing and elusive
goals. Knowingly or not, they chart the same course many of our brothers
followed more than a hundred years ago. Rather than responding to the
increasingly sectarian leanings of many by calling for renewed restoration,
they devoted themselves to developing more "effective" and "culturally
appropriate" forms of worship and organization. In time, they
became the Christian Church, dear brothers who adopt some things (instrumental
music) and reject others (priests and holy water) on hermeneutic grounds
that often seem little better than whim. Or they became the Disciples
of Christ, highly educated people who accept or reject, in chameleon
fashion, historical Christianity in their pursuit of reason and unity.
Modern brethren who pursue the same course cannot hope to escape the
I am perplexed over how some of our best and brightest can conclude
that a brotherhood conceived as an alternative to all of denominational
can survive as just "one among many"; just another "flavor
of ice cream". How would we defend our continued aloofness from the "Evangelical
mainstream"? How can we continue to meet weekly in "our" buildings
and justify our continued physical separation from our "brothers"?
How can we face God someday and say that we perpetuated the visible disunity
of the body of Christ, not because we believed we could discern certain
eternal truths, but because we clung to baptism, weekly communion, and
a cappella singing because they were merely our particular preferences?
Paul Goddard, Memphis, Tennessee
read where some are referring to this statement as a creed which
defends "the Church of Christ" tradition. After
reading the Christian Affirmation, I personally do not agree with this
conclusion. I see the signers as passionately appealing to the
churches of Christ to use the Bible as the only creed of Christian
faith and practice.
Scripture teaches that the church of Christ is composed of all who
publicly acknowledge Jesus of Nazareth, as the Holy Messiah, by obeying his
teachings. Scripture is sufficient, because no human authority
has the power to change the commission that was given by Christ to his
church. Therefore all human teaching must be constantly scrutinized to
determine whether the doctrines that are professed by some, are true
to the Bible.
The Ancients looked to the law for knowledge, and the Apostles taught
that Jesus fulfilled it. The earliest forms of apostasy were advocated
by Judaizers, Greek Philosophers and men following their own lust. May
we guard against such.
Gene Copeland, Hesperia, California
I add my AMEN to Lynn McMillon's comment. He articulates
quite well my own response to this published affirmation. It is my prayer
that preachers and elders will continue to prayerfully pursue an ongoing
review of their beliefs and practices to determine whether or not they
are aligned with the New Testament teachings. If found lacking may they
have the courage to step back on the path to obedient alignment.
Edward Fudge, Houston, Texas
Every Christian denomination, nondenomination
or subgroup faces the constant tension between a desire to focus on
Jesus Christ, the core gospel, and the truths which Christians share
alike, and a desire to emphasize its own history and purpose and the
issues which distinguish it from other Christians. This is particularly
true when the group was founded to reform or to renew the existing
church, or to restore the original or ancient church of the first or
Individuals in group also tend to reflect one or the other of these
points of view. Some people are converted to Jesus Christ -- and
happen to be part of a
specific Christian subgroup. Others, however, are converted to "the true
church" or to "right doctrine," and they tend to feel threatened
by an emphasis on Jesus and the core gospel -- those truths which all Christians
hold in common. We may be encouraged that many such churches today are learning
to depend on God's grace in Jesus Christ and to better appreciate the biblical
gospel of justification by grace through faith. Many are leaving old legalisms
and sectarianisms, and are acknowledging the broader fellowship which inevitably
follows a greater dependence on Jesus Christ alone.
This gospel-based improvement has two opponents, however. Hard-line
forces in every such camp are galvanizing opposition to change, which
they regard as a
departure from "the truth" or "the old paths." This is
quite natural, since they confuse their own traditions with the way of Christ.
many who have been freed of legalism and sectarianism, but who lack a solid
biblical perspective and gospel balance, easily fall into a ditch of indifference,
and indulgence which is no better than the bondage they have escaped. What
all of us need instead is a clear gospel perspective based on the solid foundation
which is Jesus Christ -- through which to gain a vision of our own specific
group with its particular history, function and future.
Keith Brenton, Little Rock, Arkansas
would much rather have seen a document proposing the convening or committing
of the best minds, hearts, prayers,
other resources among us toward the proposition of inspiring, training
and leading members of the body of Christ in telling His story to people
who have never heard it nor perceived their own need for the benefits
That would be a project worthy of the leadership who signed “A Christian
Affirmation” and of the approval and affirmation of many, many Christians.
I believe it would have greater potential in motivating and uniting than
this document’s ability to do so. However, I will borrow the wisdom
of Gamaliel regarding the document: if it is of men, it will come to
nothing; if it is of God, it would be pointless to oppose it.
Bob Burgess, Austin, Texas
Tony Ash, ACU professor, turned a phrase that has stayed with
me through many years: "scholarship submitted to the cross." It
is apropos to this affirmation.
The changes (of which I am aware) that others want, even for
laudatory reasons, will not satisfy in the long run. Nor will they issue
in Christ's extending His incarnation through the Spirit in the church
in a way that leavens our society. I too, along with the change advocates,
feel restive: restive over church's seeming stagnation, lack of joy,
weak prayer life, or that many in the pews seemingly resemble lawnmowers
going back and forth in mechanical fashion to the assembly on Sundays
and Wednesday nights.
But the answer does not lie with cafeteria religion that caters to personal
or emotional needs; it is man centered and cannot mirror God
to a world that so needs to see Him. Changes, as a strategy
to pack 'em in, will grow stale and require upping the ante to keep 'em
in. As a strategy to promote the unity of communities, we can only lose
our identity by descending into an amorphous evangelical soup with little
sense of church, as their own scholars like Mark Noll and David Wells
have lamented. Along with that, we forfeit any chance of making a
unique contribution to the larger religious community. Many fellowships
have done for years what some of the change advocates want us to do;
those fellowships are in as much trouble as we, if not more.
Will we ever prayerfully seek God's wisdom to tackle the larger issues
of war, leisure time usage, consumerism, breaking down racial barriers
in our own communion, etc.? Can we even admit that the church is largely
captive to the Assyria of nationalism and the Babylonia of pop culture,
let alone seek God's power to break the bonds? Will we ever catch the
vision of, or fire the imagination with, what it means to live in and
under the kingdom of God as the united body of Christ?
I do not read the affirmation as an articulation of 'church of Christ-ism'.
It affirms the core of who the people of God are from Scripture. It is
not an affirmation of stagnation; it challenges us to enlarge on
the meaning of kingdom living in the same way Paul challenged
Peter to walk according to the truth of the Gospel (Gal. 2:14). In essence,
Paul told Peter there was more to the Gospel than the bare
facts of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Kingdom living
would create a community that the world cannot duplicate, one that
leavens the culture. The church, traditional and non-traditional alike,
is not there yet, but the chances of finding our way are better with
the traditionals (using 'tradition' in the best sense of the term).
Thanks to and amen with the writers and signatories of this affirmation.
Ashby Camp, Mesa, Arizona
I am grateful to God that men of such
learning and stature have spoken publicly in defense of
our fellowship's goal of recovering biblical faith and practice and have
identified some of the fruit of that effort. I long
have wondered why our scholars were not more outspoken in their
opposition to the drift toward "a homogenized and undifferentiated
Evangelicalism" (to quote Dr. Roberts) that is being encouraged
by many leaders within our churches. Perhaps our professors feared
fanning the flames of legalism, sectarianism, and divisiveness, but whatever
the reason, their relative silence ceded the academic
high ground to those unable to see much of value in our movement. I
pray that this public affirmation brings into focus the urgency of the
Frazier Conley, Whitewright, Texas
I am very impressed
and heartened by the "statement
of affirmation"! One disappointment is that there is no affirmation
of the divine nature of Scripture. Maybe it is implied.
A couple of quibbles: Exegetically speaking, I don't think that 1 Corinthians
12:13; Ephesians 4:5 or John 3:5 speak of baptism of the spirit (Spirit?)--I
would be happy to explain why. The paragraph that criticizes "legalism,
sectarianism, and divisiveness" is too ambiguous. In fact I think
a sentence or so in the paragraph really should be deleted as unhelpful.
Some who read portions of the passage will regard it as addressed to them
and "judgmental" and "contentious" whether it is
But the affirmations of adherence to:
(1) "The clear teachings and practices of the early church."
(2) The NT message as the essential norm for measuring message, beliefs,
(3) Baptism for the remission of sins and as the means of entering the
church apart from which
God does not save persons.
(4) The Lord's Supper on the first day of each week.
(5) A cappella singing in worship.
--are extremely welcome. As is the offer by learned brethren to enter
dialog with those of us not so learned.
Sam Dilbeck, Leonard, Texas
Thank you for your desire to reaffirm
the teaching of the Bible. Too long has the church been splintered
and fractured by opposing forces. Those who on one side wish to bind
that have not been bound in heaven and those on the other side who
have decimated the doctrine of Christ like a worthless rag. Sadly, most
the divisions are actually occurring in the middle, between people
so caustic that though their doctrine may be right, their attitudes
drive wedges and fracture fellowship. It is refreshing to hear men desire
based one a return to scriptures.
I look forward to the discussion group
on the affirmation.
May God bless us all as we strive to restore New Testament Christianity,
not American Restorationism.
Russell L. Dyer, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
you for your effort to confirm and identify. There seems
to be a great wondering within the church as to who we are.
Your efforts appear to be genuine. I know well several of the men listed
as endorsing the statement. I too would agree with the ideas and the
points made. I do believe that these sentiments represent the picture
of the church that most of us hold.
While it may appear a bit picky, there is one thought that quickly came to
my mind. You addressed the church as a "part of the American Restoration
Movement." Actually we are influenced by those who were a part of
what was called the American Restoration Movement. Churches of Christ
are restorers of New Testament Christianity and not a part of a humanly controlled
organization, but more of a symbiotic relationship that follows a common
So, again, I concur with the statements and values presented. Thank you
for making these things known in the larger audience of the Christian Chronicle. I
may well sign in agreement after I have given a little more time and thought
to it. I hesitate. For sadly, we live in a time that even among
our own it is difficult to measure the clarity of what is being presented. I
think that there are no hidden agendas here. For the sincerity that
appears to be here, I am again thankful.
Rod Farthing, Salem, Missouri
I'm really surprised to see something that, to me, says, "We're going
to make instrumental music an issue on a par with baptism and communion
from now on!"
It's curious to me that a quote from Hans Kung, Catholic theologian
would be the launch pad. Do we hold him in a "Campbellesque" esteem? Not
me. And the "300,000,000 Eastern Orthodox" reference to
defend acappella singing only ... it's almost like saying, "3 hundred
million Eastern Orthodox can't be wrong.." when I know for a fact
these signers have TONS of issues with the Eastern Orthodox church!
Just my initial thoughts. I'm glad we're brothers in Christ with
the freedom to disagree without being disagreeable.
Randy Hall, Campbell, California
The hope of unity
based on commonly accepted practices is an attractive one.
However, I do have a problem with the affirmation. While it is true
Christians could all be united if, for instance, we all only sang a
cappella and if we all observed communion every Sunday, (two things no
will say are wrong) it is a huge problem to require those two things
unity when they are not clearly demanded by the Bible.
Even if they are what the early church practiced (to the best of our
knowledge - but there is no way to know they were universal) the issue
still one of biblical demand. How can I demand something of another "Christian" in
order for there to be fellowship between us when that demand is not clearly
made in the New Testament?
I realize that some believe these two practices are biblical requirements.
But they are more properly understood to be inferences. As Thomas
Campbell perceived they may be true inferences, but inferences should not
be given equal weight with commands. Inferences should not determine
salvation and fellowship.
Unless I believe singing with a piano or observing communion monthly
separate one from God and salvation (maybe the signers of the affirmation
believe this to be the case), I cannot make these practices a barrier
fellowship and camaraderie in the kingdom mission.
So there are two issues addressed in affirmation. One is
our practice as
a church. The other is fellowship or our view of unity.
calls us to continue commonly accepted practices such as a
cappella music and weekly observance of the Lord's Supper. But in the
opening paragraph it also warns against claiming unity with those who
don't. It is this warning that is troublesome.
Vic McCracken, Atlanta, Georgia
Thank you for the thoughtful
statement. I am hopeful that it will spur some useful dialogue within
the Churches of Christ. I'm sympathetic to
many of the observations and concerns of those who've signed this
affirmation. One concern I have that makes me hesitant to sign it at
point is the assumption that restoring early Christian belief and
practice--seemingly the center of this affirmation--can be juxtaposed
easily with Hans Kung's claim that while we cannot "copy [the NT
today, we can and must translate it into modern terms." I suspect
when many read the statement they see it as a reassertion of our attempt
to reestablish the NT church in its simplicity and purity (this is clear
from some of the comments the affirmation has already elicited). But
isn't the real issue how the early church's witness is to be conveyed
faithfully in a contemporary world wherein the church is situated quite
differently? It seems to me that the difficulty of this translation that
Kung refers to is unaddressed by the Affirmation. Saying that the
Churches of Christ must adhere to the witness and faith of the 1st century
church does little, for example, to guide Christian leaders in how to
speak about Christian service in the military of a nation that is
wrestling with the place of religion in public life, let alone what
military service meant for German Christians during World War II. I
suppose that one response might be the pacifist line of adhering to Jesus
call that we "love our enemies" and Jesus' own denial of the
Gethsemane as examples that make Christian participation in
state-sponsored violence of any kind a sin against God and Christian
faith. Indeed, some of our early Restoration leaders such as David
Lipscomb took such a tact. Then again it seems clear to me that pacifism
has not ruled the day in most Churches of Christ, and not all Restoration
leaders agreed with Lipscomb's take on what it means to restore the first
century church's practice vis-a-vis the empire. Focusing on practices
like baptism, instrumental music, and weekly celebration of the Lord's
Supper (interestingly, the three issues which dominate the affirmation)
we've tended to leave to the personal consciences of individual Christians
issues such as the killing of merica's enemies, a move which seems to
hard to justify in Christian churches proposing that the 1st century
church be our guide. I would hope that as we discuss the positive
contributions that this affirmation will make to our tradition that we
also address some of the pressing moral issues that this affirmation
Norman Morrow, St. Francis, Kansas
I am Norman Morrow, a minister of the gospel, working with churches
Christ in Northwest Kansas. I have ministered for over 30 years with
St. Francis church in St. Francis, Kansas. As I continue to visit
lectureships and hear brothers speak from all over the country, I have
been heartsick in seeing many who seem to be trying to become popularly
accepted at the expense of standing for the plain truth of the scripture.
appreciate this affirmation and the spirit with which I feel it is
May we continue to reach out to others who are lovers of God and Jesus
Christ, but let us not forget who we are.
Robert E. Scott, Abilene, Texas
Thank God for the content
of this affirmation. It is Biblical,
non-sectarian, humble and timely.
Philip Slate, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
The Affirmation was not a full statement--nor was it intended to be--of
things about which the men are willing to make affirmations. On
two counts, however, I was delighted to read the statement
in the CC received yesterday. I had not known how several
of the signers of the Affirmation felt about the subjects mentioned. It
was good to learn. The contents of the Affirmation were also
satisfying. Many thanks.
In my judgment two of the references in the Affirmation are particularly
important. The minimalist approach is both biblically and
historically doomed. Second, the closing paragraph in the "Word
of Concern" section is very apropos in view of what I know
both first and second hand.
John Telgren, Leavenworth, Kansas
I think that this is a good "beginning." I call it a beginning
think there are even more foundational elements of our identity than
these three practices. I understand that this document was not meant
those, but to affirm those aspects of our practice that distinguish us
from other Christian groups, but I have found that the confusion over
identity goes much, much deeper than these practices. While Churches
of Christ have had a strong ecclesiology, there seems to be a weakness
Theology in general, especially as it affects the life and practice of
Christians. In my experience, I have found that Christians have not
learned to think theologically, myself included. I grew up knowing that
the practices were right, but was ignorant of the theological foundation
behind them. This is why I say this is a good "beginning." If
we make a
statement as to what we believe, value, and practice, I believe it needs
to go beyond what makes us "distinct" from other Christian
don't remember where I heard it, but someone once said that he felt we
have at times defined ourselves by what we are against, and what we don't
believe, rather than what we are for and what we do believe. While I
not see that this affirmation statment does this, I would like to see
more. There is more to the church than baptism, Communion, and a
cappella singing. Thank you for opening a dialogue.
Bob Weber, Chatham, New Jersey
The Christian Affirmation 2005 was a welcome addition to this month's
Chronicle, and I hope my comments will be taken more as observations
than criticisms since I found nothing in the Affirmation that could be
either offensive or divisive. I should note that I have read and been
positively influenced by the writings or teachings of many of the signers.
You have had a profound influence on me, and I hope my comments will
not come accross as a personal attack.
One of my first reactions to the piece was, "Where are the signatures
of elders?" Perhaps many of the signers are also elders in their
congregations, but only one person signed that as his designation. I
hope not to assign incorrect motives but it left me wondering why it
was that mostly professors of one stripe or another were in the majority
on the document.
We pride ourselves in restoring the principles of the New Testament,
and one of those is the spiritual oversight of an eldership. Are not
these the men who should be seeking to influence us with such ideas?
This should in no way be construed to denigrate the importance of professors
in contributing to a greater understanding of biblical matters, but in
the long run it should be the job of the elders for providing guidance
and direction to the church. Congregational autonomy no doubt factored
into your thinking, at the same time it is to the elders that the New
Testament writings ordain to be overseers of the truths of
My fear is that as a general rule we have allowed the direction of our
churches to be swayed by people other than an eldership ordained by God.
I am unsure of who said it, but I believe that someone observed at the
turn of the 20th century that the Disciples of Christ don't have bishops
they have editors. It seems to me that something similar could be
said for our churches. We are constantly persuaded to
follow whatever jargon is popularized by writers and editors at
any given moment.
What was also telling to me were some of the extra comments by the signers
that were listed on your website. In particular was the concern by a
few over [not] trying to create a statement in Affirmation that would
be used as some sort of authoritative creedal statement. Although I understand
that was not the point of the document, we certainly need leaders who
not only are able to verbalize what we should believe but have the God-ordained
authority to do so. We seem very fearful of making such pronouncements
because of our anti-creedal stance, but we live in an age that demands
more not less clarity of belief. I have no proposal on how to go
about that but I think we can no longer maintain some notion of avoiding
such definitive statements that seek to clarify what we believe.
My observations not withstanding, I applaud your efforts for stating
what you believe to be important. May your tribe increase!