Talking Points

Today begain with some pretty heavy rain showers. It’s a wet and overcast day on the Coast. Today I will attend a funeral. The father of a new friend of mine passed away this past Saturday. He was a military hero, spending many years aboard a submarine. My friend’s grandfather has the distinction of being the man that John Kennedy jumped off ship to save a long time ago. Tonight Ross Jordan will speak for us, which is always a treat.

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Do you ever get tired of the talking points? Within our branch of Christianity is a set of talking points that (1) always stirs up big talk and (2) never get resolved. Just hang out on one of our e-mail lists for a month and they make regular appearances. These are actually an unwritten creed that we have memorized and that our preachers and editors fling out as if they are proof of something.

A younger brother in Christ who has grown disenchanted with the Church of Christ that he grew up in says this in a recent e-mail: “…I dont think there is a place for me in “Churches of Christ”… I read those things [ talking points in some of the blogs, jd ] and I say “Are you serious?  Do people really believe any of those things?”  And then I remember my time at [brotherhood college] and I say, “YES!  There are many people out there in Churches of Christ that believe many of these statements … people in other denominations don’t even think about this stuff.”  So, I just write this because of the conversation we were having … about me coming back to the Church of Christ and when I read this it totally reminded me why I just dont fit.”

I admire my young friend’s honesty in his journey with Jesus.

Don’t you ever get tired of the ‘talking points’ … the repeating of the same old stuff over and over again until it has begun to characterize who we are. It leaves the impression that we can never dive deeper into the Word because these talking points are taking up our time.  They are mentioned and brought up in classes and sermons on texts that have nothing to do with them.

One of our past ‘talking points’ that I do not hear much any more is ‘undenominational Christianity’. It seems in the last decade that all across the country undenominational groups started forming and stole our thunder on that matter. While we were looking to see if any of our talking points applied to them, they started reaching people who were tired of mainline denominationalism and wanted something fresh. Something independent. Something that related to their community. Something that was connected to the Bible. Something that gathered people in instead of shutting them out. That ‘something’ is what we were supposed to be … autonomous, independent, Bible-believing, Jesus-preaching, community churches. Nowadays the talking point has us believing that to be a ‘community church’ is somehow antagonistic to the gospel.

So we do not talk about ‘undenominational Christianity’ any more. Our talking point was taken by someone who practiced it. Instead, we are a bit sheepish when we talk about being an undenomination. We have editors who are drawing up creeds by which the entire brotherhood is to be judged. (Judge Highers, in the recent Spiritual Sword,  sealed up Richland Hills Church of Christ’s fate by calling their leaders ‘wolves in sheeps clothing’ – and attempting to bully anyone who would walk outside of his perspective of what a Church of Christ ought to be). Our schools are walking tightropes of fear because if they take an unpopular ‘position’ they lose precious funding. At one brotherhood school some students are ostracized and spoken harshly to because they attend the ‘liberal’ church of Christ in that town. One of the teachers at that school says that attending that church makes things difficult for him at the University. It’s not enough to belong to a ‘Church of Christ’ any more … it has to be one that meets all the criteria imposed by our unelected and non-title-bearing bishops. Our people believe this to the point of hopping from church to church, usually damaging the church they leave and the church at which they arrive with this type of perspective. Who can find a church where everything is just like we want it and where the preacher says things just the way we want him to say it?

I want to be clear and say that I love the Church of Christ. I do not want to be anywhere else. I do think we need some new talking points. I think that those who have some new talking points are harshly criticized because they are leaving the denominational aspects of the church behind. I’d like for us to be undenominational again. I’d like to see Christians living free in Christ, not burdened down by the traditions of men that have been translated into law for the church. I’d like to see our doors open wide, inviting all believers to join hearts together as we study, pray, grow, serve, and progress in our spiritual life. I’d like to see real spirituality discussed instead of memorized talking points and tired arguments from debates that have long since died. I’d like to see us move away from a schoolhouse mentality and into a family mentality. I’d like to see us re-create that time in the book of Acts where people loved and served one another, where prayer meetings shook the house, and where needy people found relief. No group is perfect, but if we do not change our talking points, we can’t even move in that direction. What do you think?

***LINKS***

Gary Kirkendall posts a response to the newest issue of the Spiritual Sword.

Ben Overby suggests that we are not good, apart from God.

Get Overwhelmed, along with Terry.

***Search Engine Terms***

Spiritual Sword and Rick Atchley – there is interest in this!

Did darlene zchech leave hillsong – Oh, I hope not.

wise words on confusion – at this blog???

Thanks for reading!

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