Yesterday I learned the discourse at GraceConversation.com is no more. What began as sincere effort for two theological camps within the churches of Christ to have a civil conversation about apostasy ended abruptly with a verbal smack down by Mac Deaver.
My hat is off to Jay Guin who hosted the discussion at OneInJesus.info for his hard work to make the conversation between “Conservatives” and “Progressives” a possibility. I was not surprised that it ended as it did.
On the “Conservative” side, first Greg Tidwell bowed out citing health issues and the business of being a preacher. Then Phil Sanders stepped in to take Greg’s place. Now Sanders is “too busy” and Mac Deaver decided it was “pointless to continue”.
Both Todd Deaver and Jay Guin (especially Jay) articulated their views and challenged the views of the “Conservatives” with clarity, charity, and consistency. It was clear to this observer that the conversation was not going to accomplish very much shortly after the first exchanges by the two sides. The “Conservatives” were unable to state solid biblical evidence for their views and their inconsistencies were glaring.
The series of posts by these five men generated perhaps more comments, including my own, than any blog within the scope of churches of Christ. In the comments the “pattern” (pun intended) continued. Traditionalists stated positions, many of which cannot be supported by Scripture, that were well worn in the 60’s. And, with some exceptions, those on the “Progressive” side won the day with more reasoned conclusions and more Biblical foundation.
My conclusions are the following:
- GraceConversation.com was not about grace. It was a discussion between two theological schools of thought, neither of which fully comprehends God’s grace. (In Jay’s defense, it was stated from the beginning that the conversation was to be centered on apostasy, with both sides agreeing that a Christian can be saved, and then lost, the only disagreement being when or how).
- Behind all the talk, the whole of the discussion centered on one issue, instrumental music in worship in churches of Christ. The whole discussion can be summed up in this neat package. The traditionalists believe people who have a piano in worship are lost and the progressives don’t. That is what the whole debate was about.
- It is a tired subject and will not be resolved. There is not one verse of Scripture that addresses musical instruments either being used or not being used in the assembly of New Testament churches. Traditionalists decide arbitrarily what is sinful and what is not based on their church history, and personal preferences. It is better for them if they can find a proof text but it isn’t necessary to have any to doom those they disagree with to hell.
- Both the tradiditionalists and the progressives believe that at some point God may damn a born again Christian, one side just believes God is more patient than the other. Neither can say at what point God decides to zap a Christian back into a non Christian status. So, the conclusion is clear. According to Greg Tidwell, Phil Sanders, Mac Deaver, Jay Guin, and Todd Deaver, staying saved depends on how well a Christian performs, and not upon the ground of the work and worth of Christ Jesus our Lord.
- The light of God’s truth is shining in the fellowship of believers called “churches of Christ”. I have seen many signs of hope in the past decade. Just look at how far we as a people have come away from fear and a legal system, and many, many of our dear people are tasting the fresh, life giving grace of God in Jesus Christ.
- I long for a day when if the average church of Christ member is asked the question “Are you sure you are going to heaven?” they well be able to give a quick “Yes!”answer based on what Christ accomplished for sinners. Until that day comes I will keep holding up Jesus and the salvation He purchased with His own blood as the only ground and hope of helpless and hopeless sinners.
I love and have the utmost respect for Jay Guin and Todd Deaver. It has never been necessary for a man to agree with me, or I with him, for me to love him deeply and respect him as a fellow follower of Jesus. We agree much more than we disagree. I sincerely hope to be out yonder in eternity with Greg, Phil, Mac, and Jay and Todd. I wish God’s best to each man and hope they live long, healthy, happy lives.
Finally, I realize that I am in a razor thin minority within the “brotherhood” of churches of Christ. I deeply appreciate so many of you who while disagreeing with me have embraced me with love and patience and have encouraged me to continue to preach Christ. I hope that every reader of Grace Digest will clearly understand that disagreement does not necessarily mean estrangement. My dearest friends on earth completely disagree with me on some theological points, and I with them, but our common trust in Jesus makes us one, and nothing else can. Thanks for reading and for your comments.