The Parade of Pharisees

Most of my readers will be aware of the Contending for the Faith lectures hosted by the Spring, Texas church of Christ. The most recent event was titled “Profiles in Apostasy #1”. I watched several of the lectures. One by one speakers were introduced and they would then systematically condemn some of the best and brightest men ever to grace church of Christ pulpits or write books. The “Apostates” they chose to expose were:

Alan Hughes, Todd Deaver, Al Maxey, Cecil Hook, Bill Love, Olan Hicks, James Bales, John Mark Hicks, Leroy Garrett, Carl Ketcherside, Jimmy Allen, Marvin Phillips, Lynn Anderson, Lenard Allen, Mike Cope, Rubel Shelly, Jeff Walling, Edward Fudge, Carol Osborn, K.C. Moser, and F. Legard Smith.

What offence did these men commit that got them branded as “Apostates”? Everyone of them teaches or taught salvation by grace as a free gift. It is about that simple. I know and have had talks with a few of these men and have read most of the others. They are, or were, good men, devoted to Jesus and lovers of His people.

The accusers of the brothers were:

David Brown, Terry Hightower, Lester Kamp, Lynn Parker, Skip Francis, Danny Douglas, Bruce Stulting, Johnny Oxendine, Ken Chumbley, Paul Vaughn, John West, Danial Coe, Gene Hill, Doug Post, Wayne Blake, Michael Hatcher, Daniel Denham, John Rose, Jimmy Gribble, Lee Moses, Gary Summers, Jess Whitlock, and Dub McClish.

I don’t know any of these men personally, and know little about them. My hope is that they are just brothers who are in error and that somehow they will come to the knowledge of the truth. However, after listening to a few of them (likely a fair sampling of the whole) I question if they are brothers.

What is shockingly clear is that at least some of them teach what Paul would call “another gospel”. I heard mentioned more than once a reference to “Obeying the plan of salvation” and that “plan” was spelled out. It was also clear that they believe that they alone are saved and stay saved, not because of what Jesus accomplished for them but that they are in the right church, believe the right doctrine, and worship according to the supposed “pattern”.

(One name I left off in the list of people attacked was Dave Miller of Apologetics Press. He was roundly condemned as an apostate because of a sermon he preached on the reaffirmation of elders years ago. Miller is a perfect example of a legalist, but even one of their own is condemned to hell if he offends in any way.)

What you will see if you care to watch the lectures is a “Parade of Pharisees“. They are no different than those in Jesus day. They teach that you must trust Christ and do this and this and this to be saved. And, you must believe this and do this and this and this to stay saved, and that they and those who adhere to their teachings are the only ones saved.  Their contempt was not only for modern day grace men but they attacked Alexander Campbell and other Restoration Movement founders as well. In their view, anyone who even hints that anyone other than conservative church of Christ people are saved is wrong and deserves to be openly condemned.

Why should anyone believe these men are saved? Because they have been baptized? Because they are church of Christ preachers? Because they are “faithful” or “sound”? Not everyone who claims Christ belongs to Him. Not all that glitters is gold.

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:15-23)

It may well be the case that our greatest mission field is in our own churches. Men much more learned than I estimate that roughly one half of Churches of Christ are “conservative”. Likely, most of those people believe every word these false teachers say.

These facts call for Christ centered teaching, love expressed in patience, and praying that the Holy Spirit will prick hard hearts and that God will grant repentance bring the lost to himself.

The worst enemy of the Christian faith has always been religion. It is still true today. The most dangerous enemy in a war is the one who marches with our own, under our flag. We must remember though that our enemy in not flesh and blood but the god of this world who is the master counterfeiter.

God help us.


27 comments on “The Parade of Pharisees

  1. Thanks, Royce. That’s a bold (and needed) post on what Al Maxey calls the 2010 Lucifer Lectures. I watched a couple of them and was appalled. What must non-Christians make of the lectures? Praying they receive as little attention as possible..

  2. Dave Miller is not a legalist.

    Surely you are not talking about the same Dave Miller who took the time to write a rather large book damning an autonomous church of Christ for having one service with musical instruments?

    A “legalist” is one who tries to bind his views of what is right and wrong on everyone else and those who do not comply are lost. Dave Miller fits perfectly.

    Even Dave Miller can’t prove using the Bible that it is a sin to use instruments, it isn’t in the Bible. So he does what other legalists do, he uses extrabiblical evidences and gives them the weight of scripture.

    Just curious, do you think he is a progressive? Or do you think there are no ‘legalists” in the churches of Christ?


    • Cant use the bible to prove you shouldnt use instruments?…during the old law, yes, musical instruments were used…but the New Testament makes only one reference to how ‘melody’ should be made. ‘Singing’ Gods praises is certainly something that God wants…but ‘melody’is to be made in the heart. Ephesians 5:19

      • You questioned, “Cant use the bible to prove you shouldnt use instruments?”

        The answer is no. If you can find that proof I’d like to see it. I am very familiar
        with the historic arguments but they lack biblical authority. Making laws important
        enough to damn people to hell based upon what God didn’t say is…well, stupid.

  3. It’s a shame that labels have to be used. I’m a neither a progressive or legalist. I am a follower of Christ, one who reads and follows God’s word.

    No, there is nothing wrong with instrumental music. We are commanded to sing with an instrument. No, not drums, pianos, trumpets and so fourth, but the HEART.

    There is nothing wrong with calling out sin when there is sin. Afterall, Jesus did that at the well. It should be done in private though, not as a spectacle.

    The same Jesus called the legalists of his day out in public. I have no problem with being a capella only. I worship with an a capella church. What is wrong is to condemn someone to hell who does choose to use instruments.

    You might like Ken Sublett and his site, or, can’t remember which. He devotes every waking moment writing about music and condemning those who disagree with him. By the way, he doesn’t use the Bible, it isn’t in it.


  4. The thing is, no legalist ever thought he was a legalist. If he saw himself in that way, any integrity he had would push him in the direction of change. This actually happens from time to time.

    What gets to me, in the few parts of the few CFTF lectures I’ve watched, is the unwarranted projection of thoughts and attitudes onto opponents. And these are the people who plead with the rest of the world to be objective!

  5. Thanks for the free publicity of the recent Contending for the Faith Lectures. Your mindset is the typical liberal knee-jerk response—harshly judgmental of those you condemn as harshly judgmental and swimming in self-righteousness while railing against others as self-righteous. It has always amazed me that you fellows always seem to have heaps of grace, mercy, tolerance, and longsuffering for almost everyone but your brethren who dare to confront your errors. BTW, the next time you make up your list of “Pharisees,” try to spell all of our names correctly. You might actually hurt some feelings. You happened to get mine right, but you blew six of them in your list. But then, I never met a liberal who was much concerned with details—especially when it comes to matters Biblical.

    I don’t think you needed any publicity for your lectures. A quick look around the internet tells me that you have a way of creating your own publicity. You should be expert on what you accuse me of since you have made a career of attacking other Christians, it is well documented.

    My spelling is awful, thanks for correcting me. Corrections have been made. I hope your tenderhearted friends were not hurt deeply.


  6. Never heard of that site.

    It seems like the church is changing just for the sake of changing. I have no problem with change as long as it Biblical. Opinions of man are worthless. Check and see what the Bible says. Isn’t that what the early Church did?

  7. Royce, one of the reasons I left the south was to leave behind the Memphis thought process. I am neither seeking to condemn or condon. I simply got tired of the judgmental attitudes. Their particular view of Scripture became the standard by which all was judged. May God have mercy on such an attitude.

  8. I feel like I’m in the middle. Dub just showed how ignorant and hateful his side is. The progressives are just as judgmental. How about you put the labels aside, open up the Bible, and be followers of Christ?

  9. Found this post by chance and enjoyed it. A few things:
    I can’t comment on all the ‘condemned’ men above, save for two that I have great experience with: Jimmy Allen and F. LaGard Smith. If those two faithful, thoughtful, Bible-focused, logical, straight-talking men are apostates, then I’m unsure the CFTFL folks understand the term.

    It’s as you said, even their own are but one article away from being branded a false teacher. Even militant unbelievers are given a pass in lieu of tearing fellow Christians to pieces for sport.

    Secondly, I think I disagree that the “most dangerous enemy in a war is the one who marches with our own.” The ultra-conservative part of our tradition is, like it or not, breeding itself out. The real threat comes from multiculturalism, relativism, and any ideology that would say that Jesus isn’t the only way to God, isn’t the Son of God, etc. I just toss these two out for simplicity’s sake.

    I have roots in the ultracon tradition, and try to deal with these folks gently, with love, and frankly, as the ‘weaker brother’ Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians.

    And yes, it’s difficult to do when the ‘weaker’ brother brings brass knuckles to a civil argument, a’la Mr. McClish going all Fussy English Teacher and eventually ad hominem, above.

    Thanks for posting.

  10. Thank you for truly understanding what “contending” for the faith truly means rather than just being “contentious” for the faith as the Pharisees you listed are so fond of being. I, like many others, dislike labels such as “liberal” or “conservative,” but the terms do convey meanings we can understand. One main difference I see between the two groups is that I have never had a “liberal” say that he cannot fellowship me if we do not agree on some detail. Not so of conservatives. The men you listed as modern day Pharisees are well-known for declaring that they will not hold fellowship wth another believer who does not agree with them in even one item. I just cannot imagine how ANYONE can stand before God and tell HIM which of HIS children he will and will not fellowship! Unfathomable! I know they believe these “apostates” to be in error, but there is a big difference between a person who sees a clearly stated “Thous shalt not” and responds by saying “I don’t care; I’m going to do it anyway” versus a Believer who truly wants to please the Lord but may not have quite the understanding of a scripture as someone else has. I suppose that the one who does not “understand” could just take his conservative brother’s word for it, but we cannot surrender our judgment to mere men if we believe we see something different in scripture.

    • Mel,

      At a minimum, if we are going to refuse to associate with another who claims Christ as Lord, we should have some Bible reason for doing so. A Cappella singing, who can and who cannot pass the communion trays, praise teams, and I can go on and on and on naming issues that are man made, have no biblical basis in truth, and yet are salvation issues in the mind of some.

      What is so very odd is that one who sings with instruments, or claps to the music is not worthy of some “conservatives” fellowship yet slanderers, gossips, and liars are often held in close fellowship.

      It is an odd world isn’t it?

      Thanks for stopping by,

  11. I find it disturbing that there is such a lack of knowledge displayed when speaking of grace- Grace is unmerited favor- We do not deserve to be saved, yet God gives us that chance- that is grace in a nutshell- God displayed grace :
    In Gen 6 when He notified Noah of the flood and told him what to do to be saved-
    In bringing Israel out of Egyptian bondage and giving them laws for atonement
    In sending Jesus to earth to die for all men and giving the Holy Spirit to reveal the gospel to man-(jn 14-16, 2 cor 5:18-19))
    None of these deserved his mercy and grace, Noah was a righteous man, but he was not sinless- sin demands death(gen 3:3)– Grace from God must be received by man(2 Cor 6:1,Heb 12:15) in obedience(Matt 28:18-20, mk 16:16, rom 6:17-18, heb 11, 1 pet 1:22) If keeping God’s commandments is legalism- then God demands legalism(jn14:15)– Most of the time, folks that yell legalism are trying to justify their blatant disobedience- remember Matt 7:21

    He doesn’t give a “chance” to be saved. He gives eternal life. It is unmerited and undeserved.

    In the professing church, including the churches of Christ, there are believers and make believers, those who trust and love Christ and want to please Him, and those who are religious and expect to be justified, maybe, in the end because they have been “faithful” or “sound”.

    Pharisees today dress differently and make different demands of others to be saved but they are still religious hypocrites and enemies of the cross. The Galatian heresy is alive and well in 2010.

    • I agree that heresy is alive and well, your theology proves that…. we do not demand to be justified because we obey(Lk17:10)- we trust that God will be faithful in His word- God blesses the obedient–

      If, sinners are saved because they are obedient why the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus? The truth is that not one of us, you or me, can be good enough, not one can live without sin. Jesus alone fully kept the law, always did right and never did wrong. By the obedience of one man (Jesus) many are made righteous. Christ died to save the ungodly, not the godly. He died in my place and yours precisely because we can’t be good enough.

      In Ephesians the Bible paints the picture of a dead man. He is dead in trespasses and sins, he is hopeless and helpless. I suppose you have noticed that dead men can’t help themselves. There lays a dead man and God makes Him live! This picture immediately precedes this parenthetical phrase “for by grace you have been saved”. (Ephesians 2) That is grace! God resurrects one who is spiritually dead in sin and gives him eternal life, Christ’s life.

      If I’m a heretic I am in good company huh? Was Paul a heretic too?


      • Interesting…. so, there is absolutely nothing we can do- to help or hurt our chances(rms 6:17-18, eph 5:6)? Dying to sin in baptism(rms 6) means that we are not under the bondage of sin(rms 8:2) because our sins have been forgiven(acts 2:38, 22:16)- we are now new creatures in Christ(gal 3:26-27)- risen to walk in newness of life(or regenerated-titus 3:5) just as He was resurrected(col 2:12-14)–Paul was not advocating John Calvins doctrine of persevearance of the Saints–If so, he contradicts himself in 2thes 1:7-8- does he not? We could not possibly be saved without the death of Christ, obedience does not negate His grace, it accepts it(heb11)- I have never and would never promote the fallacy that I am saved by my works, nor would I argue that I comply perfectly without sin– quite the contrary- as Paul said- by grace ye are saved THROUGH FAITH(eph 2:8- you left out through faith in your quote).– faith is a requirement of man(jn 6:28-29, heb 11:6)- this is not inactive, simple belief- this is obedient faith–as Heb 11 gives us examples of biblical faith, as you said, our Lord was obedient(heb5:8-9)- faith trusts, loves and obeys God(Luke 22:42)- never waivering, never adding to or taking away(Deut 4:2, Rev 22:18-19) I agree that we are not worthy of eternal life- and I agree that nothing I can do will ever merit or earn it…But, free will means that we can accept or reject it– The grace of God must be accepted by faith(eph 2:8)

        Eric, I am all for obedient faith. Faith that does not work by love is not faith but mental assent to a set of facts. Faith is always proved up by action.

        I don’t believe there is anything I can do, or that you can do, to get God’s approval, to have him love us more, to convince him he should save us or allow us to stay saved. I, and you, are pardoned because Christ, by his perfect life and sacrificial death, set us right with God. Reconciliation happened without my help or yours. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself”. Where were you and I over 2,000 years ago when He was doing that?

        Now here is where you and I likely disagree. I probably don’t believe as many people are saved as you do. I contend that if a person does not live a 1st John kind of life, not only is he not saved, he has never been saved. You referred to Matthew 7:21, I call your attention to verses 22 and 23, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”

        He said he never knew these religious people. They were at church every time the doors opened and had great, popular ministries. They were preachers, elders, deacons, Sunday School teacher, and big givers. But they had NEVER been saved. Only those who have Christ and walk in the light, loving God and man, are in. Everyone else is out.

        My dear brother, I don’t want to fight with you. If you think the Contending for Faith kind of Christian most reflects the life and ministry of Jesus you stick with them. I don’t. Just remember this. It is dangerous for you or for me to measure ourselves by ourselves. Jesus is our standard and we fall way short. We had best put all of our trust in Him and Him alone for only He can give eternal life.

        I wish you the best of God’s blessings as you follow Him.


  12. I guess Paul’s letters written to congregations of the Lord’s church should just be disregarded then? We are to mark those who cause division and teach false doctrines- and have no fellowship with them(1 cor 5,eph 5:11)remember Galatians? Those that teach doctrines contrary to the gospel are accursed– Musical instruments are not authorized in NT scripture- we are to worship in spirit and in truth(jn4:24) – God’s word is truth(jn17:17)- we are to worship according to God’s word- we cannot faithfully use instrumental music in worship and be pleasing to God, because he did not authorize it- see Abels sacrifice(heb 11:4, Gen 4)-Nadab and Abihu-Lev 10,
    Deut 18:20, Jer 7:22,31, 11:8, 14:14,19:5, 23:28-32, Heb 7:14


      • No, I have it figured out from what the bible says, you claim silence permits, not me(1cor 4:6,2john 9)

        No, I claim silence is silence.

  13. Interesting back and forth, here. “Obedience” to Christ’s commands is not a list of 56 steps that you climb, by which you finally arrive, exhausted, at the top of the staircase to finally (maybe) receive grace. The Israelites had, what, 600+ laws? I worry that we’ve decided that grace is so precious that we need to build a hedge around it. We can’t just let the hoi polloi touch grace, y’know. If you comply with the issues that we’ve decided are do-or-die, then we’ll agree that you have received grace, and salvation. If not? Sorry, apostate – the door’s that way.

    “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Gal 6:2. I heard a man say recently, “Brothers, that’s a whole different kind of law!” And indeed it is. The same man said that we need to be careful in justifying ourselves by law, or by some grace/law hybrid system. We can’t handle that. No one ever could; hence Christ’s sacrifice. I shudder when I see folks decide on their “salvation issues” and start choosing up teams based on that (odd that those issues never include fasting or head covering… If you pick one vagary of scripture, you gotta pick ’em all.). Grace is really what we want to appeal to for our salvation. Not tenets 1 through 56 and THEN grace. Maybe. If you’re really good. Probably.

    No, God is faithful. And we can be secure in Him and His promises. I’m saddened that it took me so long to realize that.

  14. Is there anything a person must comply with to attain salvation? If so, is there anything a person must do to maintain their salvation? Matt. 7:13-14 leads me to believe that most people aren’t going to Heaven. Can someone do something to remove themselves from God’s grace?
    I believe the answer to all 3 questions is “yes.” I still beleive that once we have complied with Jesus’ commands (John 14:15), yes He had actual and not “vague” commands, we are still unworthy servants. That is where grace comes in, for the imperfect servants. One can’t call himself a servant while ignoring the commands of his Master.
    I understand there are some subjects that are more complex than others, but pointing to them and trying to say that we just can’t be sure of anything and so we have to accept any doctrine is rubbish. For 150 years everyone understood the constitution but we became so “smart” that now we can see “loopholes.” This same mentality has crept into the Church. We’re so smart now that any doctrine can be accepted as long as a person is sincere in their beliefs. Truth is attainable or why would the Lord leave us His word?
    One example in what has gone on in the discussion of marriage or divorce. Matt. 19:9 is definitive and easily understood. If that scripture doesn’t mean that some people can’t be remarried or some marriages aren’t wrong and sinful if remained in, why did Jesus reply the way He did? Why didn’t He just say God will accept anyone who is married? Why did he bring in the man who would marry the put away woman? What was the purpose of saying that he would be involved in adultery?
    I guess what I am saying is that it scares me for the future of the Church that my children will inherit. It scares me of the mentality that seems to accept anything and everything and there isn’t any issue that is black and white with the Bible. I am not trying to be a “legalist” but there are some absolutes that the Bible teaches, right? Lately as I read blogs, posts, etc. it seems that the idea of an understandable doctrine doesn’t exist in the Bible and everyone’s “interpretation” must be accepted. I deny that to the death!
    The framers of the constitution knew what they meant and people did for 150 years. God knew what He meant when the Bible was written and people understood it for a time until people who wanted “change” came along. It is a vicious cycle that repeats itself. I pray to God that all would study the Bible with honesty and with no bias. There are some issues that are complex in the scriptures, but attaining salvation isn’t one of them. It is clear. One can know if they are in a God approved marriage. It is easy. One can determine what is sin and what should be done about it. God wasn’t trying to confuse us.
    I love all and wish no one harm. I want everyone to go to glory and would do anything God allows to help in that. What I can’t do nor anyone else is to stretch the boundaries God has laid or make them smaller to suit others.

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  16. I just watched some selected portions of whatever that was supposed to be last spring in Houston. Only one word comes to mind – disgraceful. Not even considering how Christ taught us to care and love each other; how can fellow human beings treat each other that way? To watch other Christian men degrade another man’s service to his country in public is unimaginable. No wonder membership in the Church of Christ is decreasing at such an alarming rate. I hope no one searching for answers in their life ever sees those videos. I pray whatever stronghold Satan has managed to wedge into the hearts of those men will be defeated.

    • One of the most interesting things is that they continually refer to those they are calling apostates as “Brother” so and so. Disgraceful is a very good word to describe such nonsense.

      Thanks for your visit and comment.


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