Fellowship Dialogue

I just learned that finally a discussion will take place online between “progressives” and “conservatives” in the churches of Christ. Representing the progressives will be Jay Guinn and Todd Deaver and on the conservative side Phil Sanders and Greg Tidwell. I believe each man is able and will fairly represent his believe and will speak for most of those in his camp.

The very first topic will be about just how a person looses his salvation. I will have questions for both sides I am sure. Follow the discussion at http://graceconversation.wordpress.com .

I’m off to the workshop…


The Dumbing Down of Discipleship, Superficial Scholarship in the churches of Christ

In the last several months there have been several dozen blog posts and articles in coC journals about the decline both of the number of churches and membership. The Christian Chronicle has done a good job of examining the raw data available and raising some relevant questions as to why this trend is real.

I have read letters to the editor, blog posts, and listened to on line sermons, each with some suggestion about how to stop the downward spiral. Most of what I have read only touches upon symptoms and does not address the heart of the problem.

Last night I listened to a message preached by John McCord to his people at the El Campo church of Christ in El Campo, Texas. I invite you to listen to this young man’s sermon. John McCord is one example of a preacher who has decided to no longer facilitate the falsehood of legalistic teaching. This is an example of someone with the courage to bring ethics into the pulpit along with his Bible.

All of the hand wringing and ideas about how to be more relevant, develop better programs, and become more attractive to our communities are all exercises in futility unless the root of the problem is addressed. Shoddy and sometimes even dishonest Bible scholarship is our greatest problem.

The recent uproar about 21st Century Christian not including congregations in their directory that had one or more instrumental service on Sunday highlighted a shocking truth. Today, almost 25% of the members of churches of Christ in the United States attend a congregation which has at least one service on Sunday where singing is accompanied by musical instruments.(I am sure there are others the keepers of the gate to heaven have not discovered yet) This is not the problem. The awful truth is that many of the remaining 75% don’t believe the 25% is going to heaven because they have the dreaded “instrument”. This undeniable fact gets at the root of the decline of the numbers of congregations and members. Many educated, thinking people simply dismiss this sort of nonsense as silly and either move on to some other church of Christ or quietly leave the church tradition of their ancestors.

Why should we expect people to be drawn to or stay in a church that teaches you are in danger of hell fire if you don’t agree with what they teach, and what they teach can’t be supported by the Bible? Almost every member of our churches has a computer at home and within a few clicks of a mouse they can tap into the wisdom of trusted theologians on any given subject and quickly decide if a teaching is Biblical or a myth.

We must devote ourselves to honest interpretation of the scriptures and lay aside the traditions of men if they are not valid. Each of us will do so at great risk but it is worth the effort. Christian discipleship is not for the thin skinned and faint of heart. If you set out to be loyal only to Christ and the word of God you will become the target of zealots whose security is not in Christ but rather in what they do, the system they have endorsed, and the religion they are committed to.

To be what God wants us to be, without regard to the numbers or our critics, we must get back to the basics of the Christian faith. We must become a people of the Word whose lives have the flavor of an authentic, vibrant faith relationship with Jesus Christ. Every area of our lives should reflect our devotion to the Son of God and our unconditional surrender to His will. We must become known as people who love each other unconditionally, who hold each other accountable, who look out for the interests of others, and whose mission on earth is to make Christ known.

True disciples of Jesus are known by how they love. They are not known by how they worship, by what sign is over the door where they worship, or by what their church history is.They are known by loving each other and by loving even their enemies and by so doing loving God.

We must stop pretending we have it all right and everyone else is wrong. We must stop being church centered and become Christ centered. It is high time the Restoration Movement churches are restored to the faith of our fathers without all the trappings of man made religion. It is a life or death matter.


Liberalism Unleashed…

How much better will your family be in the coming months with an additional income of $4 to $9 each week. I’m sure that for some Americans 9 bucks is very meaningful but to most Americans it will not significantly improve the quality of their lives. $4 to $9 per week is approximately what you can expect for your family’s share of the $750,000,000,000 (Billion. One billion is 100 million!) Stimulus Bill President Obama signed into law moments ago.

The American way of life throughout our history has been that each passing generation has left a more hopeful future, a future with more opportunity, for the coming generations. Today, we took the first of what is promised to be only the first step of assuring that our grandchildren and great grandchildren will pay dearly for our failures at the expense of their futures.

When any government spends money it doesn’t have on hand there are limited sources of obtaining funds. The first and most loved by liberals is tax hikes. That is not the answer today, not now. It will be the case, but not now, the timing is not right. The next option is to borrow the money and pay it back with interest. We have chosen the second option for the short term and some time down the road huge tax increases are as sure as death.

A small fraction of this bill will possibly create jobs. The overwhelming bulk of this unprecedented spending bill is an array of entitlement programs that have long been on the wish list of every Democrat. In fact this bill includes some only recently dreamed up that are astonishing. Today the tentacles of government have grown expediently and will start to tighten their grip on the American people squeezing out individualism, entrepreneurship, and self reliance in favor of dependency, socialism, and an entitlement society.

If this plan turns out to be good (as I’m sure all of its supporters and crafters sincerely hope) President Obama and Democrats in general are destined to be praised and reelected. But if it fails to achieve its lofty goals President Obama will be a one term President.

What should frighten every American is that by his own promise, President Obama has made it clear this bill is only the first of more to come. How much will prove to be too much? Only time will tell. My own sense is that we are sliding toward becoming a country akin to the European Socialist schemes that have been tried and have failed.

We have long been morally bankrupt, now we are moving at warp speed toward being owned by those who hold our national debt. “The debtor is slave to the lender” will sadly be more true than ever. I sincerely hope this boondoggle works, but I am not hopeful that it will.

For most of our 232 years as a nation the two party system has served us well. But when Republicans started to govern like liberal Democrats our nation took a nose dive and the control tower has not seemed to notice. Perhaps when whats left is smoke and ashes we will be shocked into reality. For that flight, reading the data from the black box is too late.



President Elect Obama

President Elect Obama

As I watched the news unfold last night I couldn’t help but be happy for the people with tears streaming down as they listened while President Elect Obamaspoke to the 100,000 or so folks in Grant Square. I was touched seeing Rev. Jessie Jackson and Opra among the masses, evidently deeply touched that a black man, one of them, was finally elevated to the highest office in the United States. It is easy to brush aside what it must be like to hope that the day will come when people are not treated as less than others because they have dark skin. The raw facts of slavery and the historic struggles of the African American people are seemingly built into the DNA of every person with African heritage. So, my sincere congratulations to President Elect Obama, his family and friends, campaign workers, and all those who voted for him.
It is likely that we know less about Barack Obama than any other person ever elected President of the United States. Soon we will get to know him as we observe how he governs. I’m sure he would agree that it’s one thing to make a speech but quite another to actually put those hopes, dreams, and aspirations into policy and see them through. He will be my President and I wish him the very best. I told someone at an early small group meeting today that I hope he turns out to be the best president in my lifetime. How wonderful would that be? What a statement to the possibilities of being an American citizen?
I did not vote for Mr. Obama based on his lack of experience, poor judgement, and liberal political theory. I hope he now governs differently than what he campaigned on in several areas. I believe he will. I’m sure he does not want to be a one term president, or to preside over the Democrats loosing many of the seats in Congress they have gained in the last two election cycles. I wish him great success.
This historic election is not a rejection of conservative principals and governance but rather this is what filled the void left by it’s absence. I listened to pundit after pundit spout off the death rites of conservatism last evening as I surfed the news channels. Their belief is that the country has now swung left of center because of gains by Democrats and the election of Obama. Nothing is farther from the truth. The ballot initiatives across the states upholding traditional marriage, against homosexual marriage, and for life had wide support. And, there is no sane American who would not like to keep more of his wages and be able to conduct business with less government interference.
Conservatives made the near fatal mistake of believing the lie that the road to success was to straddle the political fence and try to please everyone on both sides. Minus 25 seats in the U.S. Congress last election and 15 more lost this time, and loosing the White House was the reward. Being right wing conservative is not the problem it is rather the lack of it that is the problem. Gov. Sarah Palin was the only conservative in the race and she being a late comer couldn’t carry the water for a weak McCain.
Unless conservatives put forth candidates who are unashamedly pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment, for lower/fairer taxes, strong national defense, tough on crime, lovers of and loyal to the Constitution, for smaller more accountable government, and sensible spending, we will continue to slowly slide away into history and become only what once was.
Liberalism unchecked is dangerous and based wholly upon it’s logical end, cannot be sustained over time. In a system of government that rewards the least productive citizens at the expense of the most productive always leaves the masses of working people poor and oppressed. As Ronald Regan said “Government is not the solution to all of our problems, government is the problem”. He was right when he said it and he is still right.
Finally, I might be the only person in America who still likes Geroge Bush. None, I repeat NONE, of his critics are willing to factor in the tragic events of 9-11 and how that terrible episode changed the course of history. Hypocrites who voted for the war in Iraq are the loudest critics of Bush. I’ll be the first to admit he did some things very wrong. He was wrong on immigration and became a big spender just as if he was a Yellow Dog Democrat. I do believe history will be more kind to him than CNN and MSNBC has been. He is a good man who always tried to do what he thought was right for the country and the world.
Now before us is an unprecidented opportunity to unite behind our leader and work together for the common good. I am all for bipartisanship so long as we are all working toward good policy and practice. I will pray for President Obama, support him all I can, hold him accountable as much as possible, and try to correct him when he is wrong.
Can America still lead the free world? Can we get out of our economic slump? Can we still be the place where the nations of the earth look to for hope and opportunity? YES WE CAN!
God bless Barrack Obama and God bless America
Royce Ogle