BITTER TOWARD CHURCH – 1

A gracEmail subscriber is struggling with bitterness toward his church heritage. He loves God and reveres Jesus as Savior but has lost interest in attending public worship, reading the Bible or praying. If he leaves the church in which he was raised, his father would consider him lost to God. He is silently resentful when his children come home from Bible class and relate their lessons with which … [Read more...]

PUTTING IT TOGETHER, TOGETHER

Someone asks how it is that I do not fit the mold of any particular denomination, and agree at times with various groups across Christendom. Is not that being unfaithful to the tradition in which I was reared and to which I belong? * * * I am convinced that each major Christian group began by a move of God's Spirit to recover, renew or restore some element of Christian teaching, life or … [Read more...]

ALIKE OR DIFFERENT?

Every Christian denomination, nondenomination or subgroup faces the constant tension between a desire to focus on Jesus Christ, the core gospel, and the truths which Christians share alike, and a desire to emphasize its own history and purpose and the issues which distinguish it from other Christians. This is particularly true when the group was founded to reform or to renew the existing church, … [Read more...]

THE SHADOW OF SECTARIANISM

Churches in Hawaii and other exotic locations regularly see a considerable number of visitors, often outnumbering the local residents. One Sunday this month (September 2009), our Maui assembly included vacationers from Churches of Christ in Oregon, Texas, Tennessee, and California, holding doctrinal opinions as diverse as the places they called home. It is a joyful thing to receive … [Read more...]

FINDING A CONGENIAL CHURCH HOME

A Southern gentleman who calls himself a "born-and-bred" member of the Churches of Christ "of the 'everybody's going to hell but us' school of thought," but who personally renounced that thinking 30 years ago, writes to say he is seeking a church home. He lives 100 miles from a congenial Church of Christ. Nearby Christian Churches and Disciples of Christ are "few and basically lifeless." He loves … [Read more...]

CHOOSING SIDES

"He who is not with me is against me," Jesus once warned some skeptics who accused him of expelling demons by the power of Satan (Lk. 11:23). No one can encounter the Son of God and remain neutral about his identity. His radical claims will not go away, nor will his call to life-giving, life-absorbing and life-changing discipleship. To meet the Christ is to face a crisis. His very presence demands … [Read more...]

THE LORD’S CHURCH

A gracEmail subscriber in the northeastern U.S. says that he belongs to a church which many have "left their denominational roots" to join, "to be part of the Lord's church, to preach Jesus and the way of salvation stated in the New Testament." He wants to know where I stand "in terms of the Gospel plan of salvation, who are the saved, is denominational baptism valid, and denominational … [Read more...]

ONE FLOCK, ONE SHEPHERD

One of Jesus' most poignant teachings, to my mind, is his discourse to the apostles shortly before his death concerning himself as the Good Shepherd. Here the Savior opens his heart, expressing his devotion to the Father's will, his tender love for those whom the Father has given him (also described as those who hear his voice and follow him--Jesus can affirm divine sovereignty and human … [Read more...]

A TOUGH CHOICE

A gracEmail subscriber inquires, "Is it better to be in Church 'A,' which has zeal, involvement in each other's life and a focus on mission -- but which also has exclusivistic assumptions that they are the only 'true' Christians, or in Church 'B,' which is less exclusivistic but which is dead evangelistically and which accepts lukewarmness in general?" * * * Is the active, outreaching but … [Read more...]

THE CHURCH ‘FOR WHICH JESUS DIED

A Texas subscriber writes that he left the Baptist church many years ago for the Church of Christ, "to follow Jesus more closely." Most of what he reads in gracEmail is "contrary" to what he believes "about the church the Lord died for," he says. As for preaching a "plan," he refers me "to The Ephesians letter where you will find that God did indeed have a plan for the salvation of man before the … [Read more...]