Facing our Failure–A Review

Here are some quotes and some of my thoughts on Todd Deaver’s book, “Facing our Failure: The Fellowship Dilemma in Conservative Churches of Christ.”

My only negative thoughts:

  • Many pew-sitters will be lost at some points because of Todd’s use of logic.  He uses it well, but not everyone understands it.  It is very-well written for preachers, professors, elders, who have influence in their local congregations.  I enjoyed it and thought it was necessary to state his case.
  • On a similar note: some of the repetition will be tedious for those who already agree with his premise, but that same repetition will be forceful for those whom he is challenging.
  • I hope very few if any non-church of Christ people will read it.  They won’t understand it.  What they do understand will be embarrassing for us.

Some excerpts (enough to pique your interest but not enough so you think you have it figured out and won’t want to buy your own copy):

  • His aim, that his book “serves as a catalyst for ruthless reexamination…”
  • “What we have, brethren, is the very thing we scorn:  unity in diversity.  And this diversity is in a matter we all claim we must agree on to have unity!” (page 48 )
  • On the boundaries of fellowship:  “We leave the impression that the matter is simple and obvious, when in reality it is distressingly complex.”  (page 59)
  • “…unless we know the biblical criteria that establish what the essential issues are, we cannot possibly know that instrumental music is on of them.”  (page 62)
  • “How do we arrive at these criteria?  They are certainly useful in exonerating our practice, but one is tempted to think some of them were created out of necessity rather than discovered in the Bible.” (page 68 )
  • On the worship assembly as the highest criterion:  If our theory regarding this criterion is correct, our practice is deficient, and if our practice is correct, this criterion must be rejected.  Either way, something has to change.”  (page 76)
  • If the traditional/conservative teaching on fellowship were applied and practiced consistently:  “We would inevitable fracture the church far more than we already have.  As an example, take just the thirty-four practices alluded to earlier.  Every Christian who believes any of those activities to be sinful would have to actively oppose them and–unless they repented–sever fellowship with the practitioners.  The consequences are too dreadful to imagine.   Churches that now cooperate would have to cease working together.  Congregations would splinter into several warring factions.  Bible faculties would be torn apart.  Lectureships would shrink.  And preachers and editors would have to do constant battle with every practice they find scripturally objectionable, because they would all–if we were consistent–be fellowship issues.” (page 83)

Todd Deaver does a great job of pointing out the inconsistencies in the conservative view on fellowship.  The paradigm is radical, he says, and the application is inconsistent.

Read the book.  I enjoyed it and if you are involved with traditional churches of Christ, you seriously need to consider what he says.


7 thoughts on “Facing our Failure–A Review

  1. While I will agree that Todd Deaver challenges the mind and offers logic that will cause the brain to pause, I feel that many will read it and still be where they were. Todd’s arguments seem balanced as he seeks to understand both sides of the large spectrum of fellowship. Let not the case be lost when reading that Todd does not offer a solution to the problem, he wants each reader to think about the solution to his challenging thoughts.

    This is where I wonder about every reader, whether average or a scholar. Will each one come to a personal conclusion or will most be content to reside in the pew and still fellowship with whomever and whoever they want. We live in a checklist society where we love to have bullet-points and Todd does not do that, he wants you to challenge yourself.

    No matter what you think of the book either at the beginning or the end, meditate on the thoughts instead of doing nothing.

    Just my thoughts…

  2. Justin

    Thanks for the review Brian. I was able to read a copy early last year during a critical point in my walk. That book helped me make decisions about my walk in the C of C.

    I have one question that I am wrestling with. You are the second reviewer that I have heard say that thye hope no one outside of the CofC reads this book, but you both also allude to the idea that this is a discussion that should be happening in the CofC.

    I guess what I am asking is this, if this is a discussion that needs to happen inside but we are embarassed if “they” outside overhear it because it is shameful to be “here”, are we going to do something to change where we are?

    I guess this language sounds a lot like a disfuntional family. “We hope the neighbors don’t hear us” – but we agree that this conversation must take place…

    So, if a family can get help then I hope that the C of C does turn out to be the catalyst for change.

  3. Brittni

    I stumpled across this blog in my search for some references to allowing grace to serve without dwelling on sin. I could not even read the entire post. I got to this part:

    “I hope very few if any non-church of Christ people will read it. They won’t understand it. What they do understand will be embarrassing for us. ”

    and I feel disgusted and appalled. I am not a church of Christ goer but I do have religion, faith, and God in my life. I’ve always believed that as a Christian you are to go out and preach the word of God so that you can help others to find his love and acceptance. Because that is what God and faith are about, love, forgiveness, faith. But instead, you are saying that you hope someone who has different beliefs doesn’t come along because they wouldn’t understand. Aren’t Christians supposed to help a person understand. There are many different ways to interpret religion and everyone has different beliefs. Even within a cewrtain denomination there are going to differences in what people believe. By being so close minded to what other people believe and sitting on your Church of Christ pedastool thinking your beliefs are the only ones that are right and matter are turning people away from religion. You are supposed to spread faith with the love that God invests in you, instead you are scaring people away intentionally because they are different from you. I pray for people like you who are so judgmental and cut off from people who are different from you.

  4. Brian

    thanks for commenting Brittni, I am glad you found my blog and hope you won’t continue to regret it.

    I was actually giving the benefit of the doubt to other denominations, and assuming our pettiness would be apparent as pettiness, I know all groups have division and disagreement. I idealize that there brethren out there who would not understand the need for this book.

    the book, and I are actually being judgmental about flaws we see among churches of Christ, and we feel uncomfortable “airing our dirty laundry”, because we agree with you that it turns people off.

    I covet your prayers. thank you
    I will also pray for you, since you were judgmental of me being judgmental…

  5. Don

    I never write that much in a comment about ANY blog.
    If I had that much to say i’d drive to your house 😉

    “I am not a church of Christ goer ” should have been your first clue it wasn’t me……

  6. I think Brittni missed the point that he was trying to make. You did a good job explaining it in your follow up comment. I hope Brittni will stop back by and read what you said. I too am glad she stopped by and hope she comes back.


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