We get three copies of the GA each month thanks to the White Rock Fund, a parachurch organization of Christ in Dallas. I am not GA hater. I sometimes read some articles. I sometimes agree. I sometimes lose interest just by looking at the table of contents. I feel that it can be repetitive, as if their rotation of topics is too limited for me.
But I wanted to share some thoughts of the most recent issue this week for discussion, debate, dialogue. All hopefully done in a kind spirit. I will put away my satire for awhile.
First up, three quotes I wanted to tie together from three different contributors.
“I have reviewed every book, lecture, article and letter that I could locate within my possession on how to discern authority in the Bible. If there is further study on the subject that might shed additional light, please share it with me.” p. 21 Alvin Jennings.
Brother, I don’t doubt your efforts, sincerity or your humility. But you would agree that Truth is not based on those three things. I actually agree with most of your article. What I disagree with is the mentality that all it takes is more info to clear up everything. Many brethren just as studied and sincere have reached different conclusions. The answer is how do we handle this.
I will write more about the issue theme of Authority later but let me sum up my concern: the issue isn’t a belief in the Word of God as our only authority. Teaching on Biblical Authority will not solve the problems/division among churches of Christ. That is simplistic and actually insulting.
It implies that those who disagree with me on any given topic are either ignorant or in rebellion to God’s authority–a false dichotomy. Another option is they reached different conclusions in prayerful study. Yes, there is absolute Truth. Yes it’s possible that someone is wrong (although it could be that both options are acceptable to God on some issues).
Brother Jennings continues to list numerous (conservative, IMO) church of Christ preachers who agree with him. That is great when preaching to the choir, but doesn’t help us arrive at Truth. Appealing to authority is a logical fallacy. Anyone with any opinion can appeal to a list of respected men to back them up.
Quote #2: “In a brotherhood besieged in some quarters by those ever anxious to draw tighter lines of fellowship, this lesson is eminently valuable. Indeed, one is tempted to ask whether some of the radicals of our number, who quote copiously from the pioneers when it suits their fancy, would even associate with these great men where they alive today!” p. 33, Brandon Renfroe
A 7-fold amen for Brother Renfroe’s statement. It almost sounds as if he has been reading John Mark Hicks and Bobby Valentine’s great book on Lipscomb and Harding, or even Todd Deaver’s works. Although, it is highly unlikely any of those brothers would be published in the GA.
The article deals with the fact that McGarvey and Lipscomb had some different views but were in total agreement on the inspiration and authority of Scripture. This is still true today of many on different sides of the issues. Amen. This article gets the point, although I doubt it will be taken to its logical conclusion.
Quote #3: “Early Reformation leaders such as John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, William Farel and John Knox recognized the non-biblical origin of the various ecclesiastical festive days and observed only Sunday.” p. 38, Barry Baggot
More name dropping in an article against celebrating Christmas and Easter, which I will come back to later.
We all appeal to someone or something. I just wish that we all (myself included) would appeal to arguments instead of persons. It doesn’t help. How many billion Hindus are there? The Catholic church must be the one true church because they have the most adherents.
I worry that even though this issue is emphasizing a very important topic, but not to the ends which they hope: to convince brethren of their conclusions on various Biblical topics. In other words, they are missing the point.
While some of the people who they perceive as wrong/liberal/etc have rejected Biblical authority, many have not. Many feel just as strongly that the Bible is the sole basis for authority but have a different view of how to read the Bible. Or even some with the same imperfect hermeneutic have reached different conclusions.