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.