Sunday, June 29, 2008

"A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps." Proverbs 16:9

Many years ago Leroy Brownlow wrote a well-known book outlining why he was a member of the church of Christ. Brownlow's book is a familiar resource among the membership of the non-denominational 'church of Christ' and finds its place on the shelves of most - if not all - preachers of the church. Brownlow's intentions were to systematically provide a methodical rationalization as to why he felt membership in the church of Christ was superior to membership in any other religious group. And when I say "superior" I mean necessary for salvation - no other will do. 

When writing to brethren who were putting a little too much "confidence in the flesh" the apostle Paul substantiated his pedigree as a Hebrew when he told the saints at Philippi, "...If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless." (Phil. 3:4-6)

In the same way I like to think that I have some experience concerning the subject of the church of Christ. I was baptized in a "liberal" church of Christ in the late 1980s - although I had no idea the church was "liberal" at all. But I would learn soon enough that not only are there "liberal" churches of Christ, but a whole host of subgroups that I did not want to be associated with: non-class, one-cup, institutional, head-covering requiring, the list goes on and on. But, I was snatched from realms of ecclesiastical obscurity and found myself a member of a true-blue, non-institutional, "conservative" group of brethren who sought to "Speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent." Although now in retrospect it seems in application more like "Shout, Be-little, and Challenge to Debates Where Our Understanding of the Bible Speaks and..." Well, I can't think of many religious subjects we were silent on. 

But my experience does not stop there. I've taught classes, preached sermons, had private studies with members of various religious groups, and even attended debates. I own a copy of McGarvey's Acts of the Apostles, an American Standard translation of the Bible, and a complete set of the Pulpit Commentary. We didn't (and they still don't) even use likenesses of Jesus' face when teaching children so as to not give the children any false impressions of Jesus. I've driven hundreds (if not thousands) of miles to attend Gospel Meetings AND I've even been to the ACU lectureships to "see what the liberals are up to now."     

To say that I know what I am talking about is an understatement.