Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Sunday, March 22, 2009
The next episode of Xraydio that I had been working on has been put on hold indefinitely. It may show up as a "lost episode" some day. But I've chosen a replacement and have started breaking it down. Hopefully that one will be out soon. In the meantime, I'm going to break down some common mistakes in exegesis that ICOC and ICC people make in a commonly used teaching of Jesus.
"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." - Matthew 7:13-14 (NASB)What does this passage say?
Jesus commands His listeners to enter through a small, narrow that leads to live. There's another wide gate that many people enter through, but it's a broad road that leads to destruction. What are these gates Jesus talks about? A parallel passage gives us the answer:
And He was passing through from one city and village to another, teaching, and proceeding on His way to Jerusalem. And someone said to Him, "Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?" And He said to them, "Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, 'Lord, open up to us!' then He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know where you are from.' Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets'; and He will say, 'I tell you, I do not know where you are from; DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS.'" - Luke 13:22-27 (NASB)The narrow gate, or door, is a relationship with Christ. So Jesus says that the path to life is through a relationship with Himself. In addition, He says that few will find it because they will not be able to. Why? The passage in Luke mentions having a casual, not intimate relationship with Christ. The next few verses in the Matthew passage mention false teachers (Matthew 7:15-20) and lack of obedience (Matthew 7:21-23). These are the roadblocks to the narrow gate that will put someone on the path to destruction.
What does this passage not say?
This passage does not say that one can flip-flop between the narrow and wide roads. The ICOC/ICC attempts to use this passage to justify that someone can easily get back on the narrow road and consequently lose their salvation. The scriptures don't teach "once saved, barely saved". Scripture supports two possible cases: someone comes to Christ and are saved forever or someone comes to Christ and they permanently fall away from grace later.
This passage does not say that the narrow road gets narrower and more difficult as one travels upon it. Jesus's focus is getting people to go through the gate, not the difficulty of the journey once they made it through. (Conversely, it doesn't say that the broad road gets broader and easier to travel as a traveler continues on its path.) The ICOC/ICC attempts to use this passage to say that the narrow road MUST get narrower and more difficult as time goes on. And if it's not, a disciple must be on the broad road.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
I ran across this series of videos on YouTube about a former member teaching about his experience in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Church of Christ to a group of students at Dallas Christian College. It's good stuff and the vast majority of it is (unfortunately) still applicable today. Enjoy!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I discovered some links on reveal.org of stories published in 2002 in the Wright State University (in Dayton, Ohio) student newspaper concerning the ICOC. The first was a general article about cults and high pressure groups that describes the Dayton Church of Christ's campus ministry. The second is a response to the article. The third is a response to the article from a current (at the time) member of that campus ministry!
From Hampton Roads, Virginia, it looks like Kirk Valencia's campus ministry at Old Dominion University has been busy baptizing people (in fountains on the campus?) Even more concerning is the hiring of a campus minister in the ICOC's London Church. (Side note: this article mentions the "London Church" as a singular entity. But didn't they split into many different autonomous congregations after 2003?) The new campus minister, Ian Mohlie, was first converted at Virginia Commonwealth University. Second, after graduating he started leading the singles ministry in the Richmond (Virginia) Church of Christ. Now, he's heading to London. Remember in the Name That Campus episode when I pointed out that both the ICOC and the ICC recruit young, impressionable college students and put them into important positions of leadership in their churches? Ian Mohlie is a practical example. Sadly, he's not the only one that has been put through the ICOC assembly line. He ascending the ladder and leaves a trail of hundreds of people who aren't "sharp" enough back in the rank and file.
There's one more connection between Hampton Roads and London I want to draw. The Tattler submitted another article about people serving the London Church (again, as a singular entity, not a collection of autonomous churches). Look who's in the list of people helping out: Mike and Terrie Fontenot and Ed Anton, all three from the Hampton Roads Church (of Christ). I agree with Tattler that there's a party going on over there, but it's with the new emerging high-level leaders of the ICOC exerting their new authority.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
It's time for America's newest and most fascinating game show: Name That Campus! (Otherwise known as Xraydio episode #5.) A secret campus minister from a secret church preaches to another secret church during a special campus service. Just who are they? And are they ICOC or ICC? "Totally committed" or "sold-out"? Come play and see the surprising answer!
Note: spoiler follows...
Kirk Valencia's original sermon was preached on February 3, 2008 at the Dayton Church of Christ. I believe I found a campus web site involving the Dayton ICOC church, though I don't see any entries from the previous year. Also note that the Hampton Roads Church of Christ still teaches First Principles! And look at the churches they're overseeing. I believe that the "sold-out" churches under Kip McKean are more dangerous at this point in time, however, with some of the things going on in the "totally committed" ICOC churches, I begin to wonder.
Monday, January 12, 2009
It's 2009 and I've been hard at work on new bumpers and shows for the new year. I decided to take a break and elaborate on common misinterpretation of a scripture passage that I will touch upon in Episode 5. It's the story of the Rich Young Ruler in Mark 10 (among other places).
As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" - Mark 10:17So we have a guy who runs up to Jesus, appearing humble, and asks Him what he must do to obtain salvation. So far, so good.
"Why do you call me good?" Jesus asked. "Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: 'You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.'" - Mark 10:18-19What does Jesus say to his response? (Besides implying that He is God.) He says that one must follow the commandments.
"Teacher," the man replied, "I've obeyed all these commandments since I was young." - Mark 10:20He's spotless so far. (How many of us have actually murdered, committed physical adultery, and so on?) However, Jesus's next response nails him to the wall.
Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. "There is still one thing you haven't done," he told him. "Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." - Mark 10:21Jesus points out the "one thing" he hasn't done. And the man can't fulfill Christ's request.
At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. - Mark 10:22Now at this point, the ICOC/ICC interpretation would be that in everyone's life, there is one thing that they are not doing (or are doing) that will forfeit their salvation (things like possessions, careers, and romantic relationships are often brought up). This is applied not only to the lost hearing the message, but also to the members of the church as well. So everyone starts feeling guilty over their (at least) "one thing" and they are consequently driven to correct it in order to alleviate their guilt and shame. People confess their shortcomings over their "one thing" to their discipler and people become more locked and entrenched into the system.
However, is this a valid interpretation of this passage? The two previous passages in Mark talk about Jesus's interaction with the Pharisees over divorce (Mark 10:1-12) and Jesus welcoming little children to spend time with him (Mark 10:13-16). Common themes in these two passages are humility and utter dependence on God. The Pharisees didn't get it, but the little children did.
Bringing this juxtaposition into the Rich Young Ruler's situation, it didn't appear that we has humble in approaching the Messiah. This well-known man ran up and knelt down in front of Him, in public! Let's look at his question again: "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" In light of his pride, he was looking to be justified by his deeds. In his view, it's what he does that earns him salvation. And he wanted to be justified in his self-righteousness before Jesus.
With this in mind, the rest of the passage comes together and makes more sense. Jesus starts stating some of the well-known commandments in order to test him. When the Ruler doesn't budge and entrenches in his pride even further, Christ drops the proverbial hammer. The Ruler wanted to be justified by his works and ultimate perfection of those works, so Jesus feeling "genuine love for him" shows him that there's absolutely no way he could be justified as righteous by his works. None of us can be perfect in our love to God and to others all of the time. That's why we need to become like little children and come to Christ and rely on Him.
We will always be lacking "one thing". The one thing that the Rich Young Ruler was truly lacking was grace. And Christians, who solely rely on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross for their salvation, aren't lacking in grace or any of the other riches God provides them. My concern, looking at those entrapped in the ICOC and ICC, is will they ever realize this one thing they truly lack?