It takes 2 to tango..

Yesterday I learned the discourse at 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 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:

  • 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.

for Jesus,

9 comments on “It takes 2 to tango..

  1. Peter reminds me of Gods character His requirements for me and nails down once and for all time how holy I’m to be —-as Holy, as Perfect, as Righteous as the great I AM. By all the efforts of my flesh I can’t so I’m preparing my mind for action and setting my hope fully on the Grace reveled in Christ Jesus. I didn’t get to the cross on my merit or my theology; only by Grace He put me in my Lord and Savoir before He laid the foundation for the world. Why He placed me in Christ is still a mystery that I can only speculate about but I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him until that day. Along this earth journey, I now choose to stay in Christ that He might represent me until God the Father, Son, and Spirit have transformed this seventy year child. And what is my work in this—to believe in the one He has sent and grow in knowledge (intimate relationship) of Him,and to love other as He has loved me.What about my sinful nature and action, Grace is teaching me to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions, to live self-controlled in this present age. My flesh and Leviticus warning of deserved stoning could not produce Life, so for me it Jesus and nothing else—He is even supplying the faith!

  2. Royce, I think for some folks the conversation was about vocal only/instrumental music in worship, and for some that was just an example. For a lot of folks, it was about where the authority comes from for judging, condemning and dis-fellowshipping (just a dang awkward word, whether you spell it right or not).

    Especially over doctrines concocted by men – yes, like vocal only/instrumental music in worship.

    I listened to Phil’s July 26 Herald of Truth sermon and wondered if it came from the same person who wrote his book. While it did eventually devolve into a five-acts-of-obedience lecture, it at least began with God’s gift of grace in salvation. And, thank heaven, he did not insist that Jesus would stand at the gates of heaven and demand of each of us why He should let us in – what I feared from the title!.

    That could have been the shortest sermon ever, because the only answer could be, “Your blood, o Lord!”

  3. Royce, thanks for the update..I will never understand teaching that you can only be Saved by the Grace of God not by working your way to Salvation but yet you can lose your Salvation by not doing enough good works.. Is that not the true meaning of irony?? It has taken a long time but I have forgiven our local CofC congregation for making my mother question her Salvation up until her last days with us.. To know that she never had the peace that comes with knowing that your Salvation is eternal still bothers me sometimes.. I know where she is today with NO doubt..Keep up the good work..Your Brother..Tim..

  4. Royce, while I agree with Keith that to some the ‘debate’ was about more than mechanical instruments in worship, it does characterize the discussion.

    And you are exactly right that it wasn’t a conversation about or full of grace. I only went to the site 3 times but it was the same old argument. There was a point in time where I would have been on the “I don’t know if I am saved” side. So I hope that those ‘same old arguements’ result in people growing. But I just can’t seem to find interest or stomache them.

    While I am sure we might disagree on some things, I am in agreement with you that it is ONLY by Jesus and his accomplishments.

    Grace and Peace to you.

  5. Royce, more than anything else, for me this debate provided some clarity to questions that had bothered me for a number of years. In my heart I had sensed for years that the tired old arguments just didn’t add up. This debate let me move this doubt from my heart to my head. Without question there is so much more for us to learn. This is a beginning. I hope to see us continue to move to a dependence on God rather than our mental ability to get the doctrine right and our physical ability to apply what we learn. God bless.

  6. It seems that Grace served to make everyone play their cards and put it in writing. That is a very important step. With big changes, it is usually a pebble that gets moved first. Then with that one tiny displacement, the weight shifts, and eventually the big boulders fall.

    I believe Grace will be considered the second pebble, the first being the reunion work done by Richland Hills, et al. Once the third pebble – whatever that may be – gets dislodged, we will see the Big Shift, and a great continual sacrifice of thankfulness to God for putting up with our ridiculousness for so long.

  7. I came across an article that Leroy Garret wrote back in 1992. It said, “I’ve saved the best for the last, or at least the most unusual. Hold on to your seat for this one. The Quaker Avenue Church of Christ in Lubbock, a non-Sunday School congregation, sent the following letter to the Broadway Church of Christ, the largest and most influential Sunday School church in the same city:

    We, the elders of the Quaker Avenue Church of Christ, have for some time been grieved over the separations within the Body of Christ. While there have been steps taken in recent years to move away from the animosities of the past, there are still settled divisions among us. We, for instance, from those churches which do not favor or employ Sunday Schools, have not had much fellowship with those who do. We have frequently been regarded as “anti” brethren, and sometimes scorned as being backward and legalistic for a position we take on the basis of genuine concern for scripture. It is true that we differ in this respect from many other brethren, but we do not feel that such difference should keep us from brotherly relations in the numerous areas where we hold mutual ground.” (Restoration Review Vol. 34, No. 10 “What must the Church of Christ do to be saved”)

    Maybe I was hoping would bring about the same type ofo letter writing. God may still do this even though this conversation has come to an end.

    Grace and Peace,
    Steve Valentine

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