We invite your comments on the statement, either positive or negative at comment@christianaffirmation.org. Substantive comments offered in a spirit of charity will be posted below. Anonymous comments will not be posted. We encourage all to remember that we are speaking before God in Christ. 

Please include with your comment the following information, which will not be shared with any other organization for any purpose:

 

1.  Your name

2.  Your local congregation

3.  Your role in this congregation (minister, elder, deacon, teacher, or member)

4.  Your email address or preferred contact information

Comments on the Affirmation

David Bloxom, teacher, The Park Hill Church-A Christ-Centered Fellowship (formerly the Park Hill Church of Christ), Fort Worth, Texas

I know several of the signers personally of this "Affirmation" and trust their motives to be pure, uplifting, and from a love of Christ's Church. They are attempting, in my opinion, to address a challange/opportunity to the traditional Churches of Christ and what leaders in those churches are facing from their memberships. Our congregation dealt with many of these issues over the last 3-4 years and choose to use BOTH acapella and instrumental (ie.praise band) music in our worship services. We changed our formal name to "A Christ-Centered Fellowship" from "Church of Christ" to help our unchurched ministry grow as the majority choose to do this (I did not personally favor this but did not believe I was any less Cof C because of it). I applaud these leaders for addressing these issues rather than just remain silent as our fellowship did on the race and women issues in the 1960's-'70's. I firmly believe one of the major Biblical strenghts of our fellowship is "Congregational Autonomy" which allows the Park Hill's and Oak Hill's of our fellowhip to deviate from the norm and still remain Biblically sound and bring folks to Christ...which is really what all this is about anyway.


Danny Dodd, Pensacola, Florida

I join in the chorus of those thanking you for the affirmation statement. While we might quibble about some of the wordage and question whether you meant to elevate a cappella singing to the same level of essentiality as communion, the spirit of the affirmation is a wholly positive and refreshing attempt to remind us again of the historic importance of unity in our wonderful movement.
 
Only now, let’s really practice what they preached and applaud your efforts rather than overly analyze and criticize it.


Maria Neuhaus, Cincinnati, Ohio

I am not a preacher or teacher in the mainline churches, but am a product of the Word of God being taught through the International Church of Christ. I found it refreshing to read the 'affirmation'. I appreciated the sobering concern in the desire for identity. Randy Hall (commenting from Campbell, California) and Rod Farthing (commenting from Salem, Missouri) best describe my hesitancy in signing the 'Affirmation' when they cited instrumental music being put on a par with baptism and communion, and noting that a cappella music and communion on Sundays being a stipulation for unity. When reading the portions of the affirmation regarding baptism/salvation, I was almost moved to tears thanking God for a 'document' (of all things) to create much desired unity between the international and the mainline churches of Christ. When I scrolled down to the portion of the affirmation titled "Worship and New Life", I wondered, "what major roll does a cappella music play in living a New Life?" Maybe I need to reconsider the validity of my conversion from Catholicism to New Testament Christianity, but repentance is what lead me into the blessed New Life, whether I was singing a cappella or not. This was my first response and I intend to read the affirmation many times. But its good to know I'm not the only disciple of Jesus who was concerned about the issue made of a cappella music as it, if it does at all, relate to New Life.


Jeff Neuhaus, Cincinnati, Ohio

I was raised in the mainline Church and get excited at any attempt for unity in the Body of Christ!

My own convictions on the subject are simple, Ephesians 4:4-6 says to me that if we can agree on the meaning of each of these seven basic beliefs then  we can truly be unified, the way Jesus prayed his children would be in John 17.
 
One thing I find puzzling is that in a paragraph written about "Worship and New Life" there is no mention of offering our bodies as living sacrifices the way Paul describes in Romans 12:1.
 
In II Chronicles 30:18-20 there is a very compelling story of God healing the people who were seeking Him even though their worship wasn't to the letter, and even under the old law! How much more grace should we extend today under the new law for the sake of showing the world that Jesus is the Son Of God (John 17:21)!


Joe Littlejohn, El Paso, Texas

While there is a unity based upon adherence to certain principles of Scripture, the greater unity is based upon our gracious standing in Christ. We come to Christ with a variety of views. We commit ourselves to a study of Scripture and grow in our understanding. There are certain topics that we will likely disagree upon. For example, we may not agree on all that the Holy Spirit does in our lives, but, because of our mutual standing in Christ, we MUST accept one another with these differences. To refuse this warm embrace is to TRULY deny the foundation of our unity. Instrumental music and the frequency/day of taking communion are topics that studious Christians frequently disagree upon. Your call to unity based upon agreement to these topics will not be achieved (as history attests) because honest disagreements will arise. Ironically (and sadly), your very quest for unity will only promote division because your foundation for unity is not the gospel and our standing in that grace but a call to agree upon things that leaves no room for honest dissent. An understanding of our brotherhood due to our relation with Christ must be the centerpiece for unity.


Scott Taft, Houston, Texas

I know some of the signatories of this affirmation… they are men I grew up around and admired.  The affirmation you all have submitted is thought provoking and I believe humbly submitted for the world to see and contemplate.  I commend you all for that. 

I was pleased to see that the contents of the affirmation included statements about the fact that the early church and the New Testament did even anticipate the idea of an unbaptized Christian; for that is where our fellowship is found, in Christ... and only in Christ, and that is accessed only in the waters of baptism.  There is no such thing as an unbaptized Christian.  Since many learned men in the Lord's church seem to have forgotten this basic truth in their pursuit of a "broader fellowship", it is good to see this in your affirmation, because that is starting point the Lord has given us.  Frankly, without that as the correct starting point for the course, there can be no further discussion, and you all have seen fit to put that right in the beginning of the statement you have made. Christ is our life (Col 3:1-4), without Him life does not exist, nor does fellowship. 

It is also good to see that you do not view this as a creedal statement, because the only definitive authority for anything we do should always be the Lord's word to us.  We are amenable only to His "New Testament", as it is there that we find the truth that sets us free, and no where else.

When thinking about the idea of "restoration" I find that the examples of restoration found in the Old Testament provide a great deal of insight as to what the Lord expects of us all today.  By reading 2 Kings, one finds complete examples of restoration approved by God (chapters 22 and 23 come to mind here), and other incomplete attempts that were not so commendable.  By reading Ezra, we see another commendable example.  As Ezra proceeded with a heart that was open to the Lord and His statutes (Ezra 7:9 and 10), so it is crucial and incumbent upon us to do the same.  In my view, these examples and the study of them, are critical to understanding what God expects from us in any attempt to establish what is true fellowship and worship in today's world.  As "the good hand of his God" was upon Ezra because of what was in his heart, may His good hand be upon us all as we seek truly Him and what He desires.

The struggle against the world and culture always rages on.  As soldiers for  the Lord, we must in love hold the ground the Lord has given us to hold, and seek to expand the kingdom among the souls of men, but only under His banner, as His orders dictate.  That is only worthy campaign… all else is vanity.


Michael Ross, Nitro, West Virginia

I just have a thought.  While I agree that we are defined by the fellowship that we keep ("Church of Christ," "Christian Church," "Baptist," Etc.), I believe that our identity should be more in Christ as his follower not as a member of a specific group (denomination).  If we were to peal back all the layers of religion that have been created over the years, the only thing left that really matters is Jesus Christ -- his death, burial, and resurrection (I Cor. 15).  Unity in that will bring unity in other things.

It seems that we all at times (myself included) have become selfish consumers of religion expecting to be served.  The reality is that when we truly collapse our lives in Christ, we die and Christ lives (Gal 2:20 and Phil 1:21) and we serve him and his will.

Why do we make the simple so complex?  Not that I have it together.  I truly think this dialog is great.  I wonder why we have to create an Affirmation to strike this type of exchange!


Jonathan Clemens, Olympia, Washington

While the affirmation is fine and inoffensive, it mixes disparate elements and ignores the underlying problems with the Churches of Christ. It is a well-considered, carefully worded answer to the wrong question.

Baptism is a commandment. Weekly observance of communion is a very good idea. A cappella music is a cultural peculiarity, in this case adopted by our poor Southern predecessors to religiously justify their separation from wealthier Northern brethren. Putting all three of these disparate elements together is like advocating oxygen, seat belts, and hot Dr. Pepper with lemon.

A more relevant affirmation would assert that the denomination known as the acappella Churches of Christ, while one part of God's plan, holds no unique place of permanence or correctness. We get many things right, but we still get other things wrong. And, like all other man-made movements, ours is destined to fade after time. Rather than hold on to a man-made institution by erroneously identifying it with a Christ-established Church Universal, why don't we start fresh, like Campbell, Stone, and other restorationists did?

Let's abandon petty squabbles about worship modes, and truly engage current issues that demand a Christian answer: issues of sexual fidelity, the value and dignity of human life, and Christ's uniqueness in a pluralistic world. If we spilled 1/10th the ink on any of these issues that we've expended on brotherhood issues, our religious market share would not be declining.  Simply put, we've taken our eyes off of Jesus and are now reaping what we've sown.


Niki Nowell,
My husband and I have been in youth ministry in the churches of Christ for almost 10 years.  I am not a scholar, but I teach the word to my children, and everyone God places in my path.  I admire the conviction with which these men signed their name to a controvercial document, and I also admire those who chose not to.  I hope my signing of my comment shows my conviction also.  One of the signers was my Honors Bible teacher in college and got me started down the path of seeking answers in scripture.  I have great respect for him, though we may disagree on some of the Affirmation's content.  I am glad for the hope of unity expressed within the statements made.  It is the terms of that unity that I struggle with. 
 
I found it interesting that it began with a quote by a Catholic scholar.  I was both suprised and pleased by this.  Mr. Kung said, and the signers agreed, that we cannot copy the original design of the New Testament Church today, but we can and must translate it into modern terms.  I agree with this statement, but the problems arise when we try to discern how to do just that.  There are those of us who don't hold fast to certain "traditions" of the churches of Christ, but desire unity anyway.  I believe unity must be found in the person of Jesus Christ alone, and not in how we choose to worship.  Scripture is not black and white with the details of worship practices, and though I don't believe our traditions are wrong, I question the motivations of those who would speak boldy that churches who choose different practices cannot share in the unity of Christ.
 
The term "being relevant" has been a bit overused, but it is exactly what the churches of Christ must become if they not only want to survive, but be the light to the world that I know they strive to be.  The statistics do not lie, teens are leaving the c of C by the thousands.  I've seen it, and know it's true.  So how do we translate the design of the NT church into modern terms?  I'm still working on that, but it seems to me we should start with the Word and preach Truth and not concentrate so hard on the sacred cow issues.  And by truth I mean that God loved the WORLD (not just the church) so much that he gave up his only Son, so that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life!  I hope that in this quest of identity, we lose ourselves and see only Christ.  It's not about us.  Who we are as the churches of Christ is irrelevant...Who is Christ should be our question, and the WORLD should be our focus.


Stephen Caldwell, Fort Myers, Florida

Let me first say that I, too, work and pray for renewal in our brotherhood. I, too, see its flaws and inadequacies. Many in my generation (I am 45) and younger see little else. We have been led to believe that restoration was an event, instead of a process that each generation is enthusiastically asked to continue. My conclusion is that restoration has been too long halted. That there is more to do to reflect, not just the organization and visible worship of the church Christ died to build, but the spirit, the aims, the intent, the brotherly kindness, and the priesthood of all believers of its pioneers, is a fact so obvious that many are frustrated by the smugness or blindness of sincere men who are content to remain motionless. However, it appears that many have adopted a different goal of renewal, convinced that the original intent is unknowable, impractical, and/or unreproducible in our time. Having detached from their moorings, they are like ships that sail confidently toward seemingly fixed lighthouses called "effectiveness" and "respectability", apparently unaware or uncaring that these are ever-changing and elusive goals. Knowingly or not, they chart the same course many of our brothers followed more than a hundred years ago. Rather than responding to the increasingly sectarian leanings of many by calling for renewed restoration, they devoted themselves to developing more "effective" and "culturally appropriate" forms of worship and organization. In time, they became the Christian Church, dear brothers who adopt some things (instrumental music) and reject others (priests and holy water) on hermeneutic grounds that often seem little better than whim. Or they became the Disciples of Christ, highly educated people who accept or reject, in chameleon fashion, historical Christianity in their pursuit of reason and unity. Modern brethren who pursue the same course cannot hope to escape the same fate.

I am perplexed over how some of our best and brightest can conclude that a brotherhood conceived as an alternative to all of denominational Christianity can survive as just "one among many"; just another "flavor of ice cream". How would we defend our continued aloofness from the "Evangelical mainstream"? How can we continue to meet weekly in "our" buildings and justify our continued physical separation from our "brothers"? How can we face God someday and say that we perpetuated the visible disunity of the body of Christ, not because we believed we could discern certain eternal truths, but because we clung to baptism, weekly communion, and a cappella singing because they were merely our particular preferences?


Paul Goddard, Memphis, Tennessee
I have read where some are referring to this statement as a creed which defends "the Church of Christ" tradition.  After reading the Christian Affirmation, I personally do not agree with this conclusion.  I see the signers as passionately appealing to the churches of Christ to use the Bible as the only creed of Christian faith and practice. 
 
Scripture teaches that the church of Christ is composed of all who publicly acknowledge Jesus of Nazareth, as the Holy Messiah, by obeying his teachings.  Scripture is sufficient, because no human authority has the power to change the commission that was given by Christ to his church. Therefore all human teaching must be constantly scrutinized to determine whether the doctrines that are professed by some, are true to the Bible.
 
The Ancients looked to the law for knowledge, and the Apostles taught that Jesus fulfilled it.  The earliest forms of apostasy were advocated by Judaizers, Greek Philosophers and men following their own lust. May we guard against such.


Gene Copeland, Hesperia, California

I add my AMEN to Lynn McMillon's comment. He articulates quite well my own response to this published affirmation. It is my prayer that preachers and elders will continue to prayerfully pursue an ongoing review of their beliefs and practices to determine whether or not they are aligned with the New Testament teachings. If found lacking may they have the courage to step back on the path to obedient alignment.


Edward Fudge, Houston, Texas

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, or to restore the original or ancient church of the first or early centuries.

Individuals in group also tend to reflect one or the other of these points of view. Some people are converted to Jesus Christ -- and happen to be part of a specific Christian subgroup. Others, however, are converted to "the true church" or to "right doctrine," and they tend to feel threatened by an emphasis on Jesus and the core gospel -- those truths which all Christians hold in common. We may be encouraged that many such churches today are learning to depend on God's grace in Jesus Christ and to better appreciate the biblical gospel of justification by grace through faith. Many are leaving old legalisms and sectarianisms, and are acknowledging the broader fellowship which inevitably follows a greater dependence on Jesus Christ alone.

This gospel-based improvement has two opponents, however. Hard-line forces in every such camp are galvanizing opposition to change, which they regard as a departure from "the truth" or "the old paths." This is quite natural, since they confuse their own traditions with the way of Christ. And many who have been freed of legalism and sectarianism, but who lack a solid biblical perspective and gospel balance, easily fall into a ditch of indifference, license and indulgence which is no better than the bondage they have escaped. What all of us need instead is a clear gospel perspective based on the solid foundation which is Jesus Christ -- through which to gain a vision of our own specific church group with its particular history, function and future.


Keith Brenton, Little Rock, Arkansas

I would much rather have seen a document proposing the convening or committing of the best minds, hearts, prayers, wealth and other resources among us toward the proposition of inspiring, training and leading members of the body of Christ in telling His story to people who have never heard it nor perceived their own need for the benefits it offers.

That would be a project worthy of the leadership who signed “A Christian Affirmation” and of the approval and affirmation of many, many Christians. I believe it would have greater potential in motivating and uniting than this document’s ability to do so. However, I will borrow the wisdom of Gamaliel regarding the document: if it is of men, it will come to nothing; if it is of God, it would be pointless to oppose it.


Bob Burgess, Austin, Texas
Tony Ash, ACU professor, turned a phrase that has stayed with me through many years: "scholarship submitted to the cross." It is apropos to this affirmation.
 
The changes (of which I am aware) that others want, even for laudatory reasons, will not satisfy in the long run. Nor will they issue in Christ's extending His incarnation through the Spirit in the church in a way that leavens our society. I too, along with the change advocates, feel restive: restive over church's seeming stagnation, lack of joy, weak prayer life, or that many in the pews seemingly resemble lawnmowers going back and forth in mechanical fashion to the assembly on Sundays and Wednesday nights.
  
But the answer does not lie with cafeteria religion that caters to personal or emotional needs; it is man centered and cannot mirror God to a world that so needs to see Him. Changes, as a strategy to pack 'em in, will grow stale and require upping the ante to keep 'em in. As a strategy to promote the unity of communities, we can only lose our identity by descending into an amorphous evangelical soup with little sense of church, as their own scholars like Mark Noll and David Wells have lamented. Along with that, we forfeit any chance of making a unique contribution to the larger religious community. Many fellowships have done for years what some of the change advocates want us to do; those fellowships are in as much trouble as we, if not more.

Will we ever prayerfully seek God's wisdom to tackle the larger issues of war, leisure time usage, consumerism, breaking down racial barriers in our own communion, etc.? Can we even admit that the church is largely captive to the Assyria of nationalism and the Babylonia of pop culture, let alone seek God's power to break the bonds? Will we ever catch the vision of, or fire the imagination with, what it means to live in and under the kingdom of God as the united body of Christ? 

I do not read the affirmation as an articulation of 'church of Christ-ism'. It affirms the core of who the people of God are from Scripture. It is not an affirmation of stagnation; it challenges us to enlarge on the meaning of kingdom living in the same way Paul challenged Peter to walk according to the truth of the Gospel (Gal. 2:14). In essence, Paul told Peter there was more to the Gospel than the bare facts of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Kingdom living would create a community that the world cannot duplicate, one that leavens the culture. The church, traditional and non-traditional alike, is not there yet, but the chances of finding our way are better with the traditionals (using 'tradition' in the best sense of the term).
 
Thanks to and amen with the writers and signatories of this affirmation.


Ashby Camp, Mesa, Arizona
I am grateful to God that men of such learning and stature have spoken publicly in defense of our fellowship's goal of recovering biblical faith and practice and have identified some of the fruit of that effort.  I long have wondered why our scholars were not more outspoken in their opposition to the drift toward "a homogenized and undifferentiated Evangelicalism" (to quote Dr. Roberts) that is being encouraged by many leaders within our churches.  Perhaps our professors feared fanning the flames of legalism, sectarianism, and divisiveness, but whatever the reason, their relative silence ceded the academic high ground to those unable to see much of value in our movement.  I pray that this public affirmation brings into focus the urgency of the situation.


Frazier Conley, Whitewright, Texas
I am very impressed and heartened by the "statement of affirmation"! One disappointment is that there is no affirmation of the divine nature of Scripture. Maybe it is implied.

A couple of quibbles: Exegetically speaking, I don't think that 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 4:5 or John 3:5 speak of baptism of the spirit (Spirit?)--I would be happy to explain why. The paragraph that criticizes "legalism, sectarianism, and divisiveness" is too ambiguous. In fact I think a sentence or so in the paragraph really should be deleted as unhelpful. Some who read portions of the passage will regard it as addressed to them and "judgmental" and "contentious" whether it is or not.

But the affirmations of adherence to:

(1) "The clear teachings and practices of the early church."
(2) The NT message as the essential norm for measuring message, beliefs, and practices.
(3) Baptism for the remission of sins and as the means of entering the church apart from which
      God does not save persons.
(4) The Lord's Supper on the first day of each week.
(5) A cappella singing in worship.

--are extremely welcome. As is the offer by learned brethren to enter into a dialog with those of us not so learned.


Sam Dilbeck, Leonard, Texas
Thank you for your desire to reaffirm the teaching of the Bible. Too long has the church been splintered and fractured by opposing forces. Those who on one side wish to bind things that have not been bound in heaven and those on the other side who have decimated the doctrine of Christ like a worthless rag. Sadly, most of the divisions are actually occurring in the middle, between people who are so caustic that though their doctrine may be right, their attitudes drive wedges and fracture fellowship. It is refreshing to hear men desire unity based one a return to scriptures.

I look forward to the discussion group on the affirmation.

May God bless us all as we strive to restore New Testament Christianity, not American Restorationism.


Russell L. Dyer, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Thank you for your effort to confirm and identify.  There seems to be a great wondering within the church as to who we are. 

Your efforts appear to be genuine.  I know well several of the men listed as endorsing the statement.  I too would agree with the ideas and the points made.  I do believe that these sentiments represent the picture of the church that most of us hold.
 
While it may appear a bit picky, there is one thought that quickly came to my mind.  You addressed the church as a "part of the American Restoration Movement."  Actually we are influenced by those who were a part of what was called the American Restoration Movement.  Churches of Christ are restorers of New Testament Christianity and not a part of a humanly controlled organization, but more of a symbiotic relationship that follows a common determination.
 
So, again, I concur with the statements and values presented.  Thank you for making these things known in the larger audience of the Christian Chronicle.  I may well sign in agreement after I have given a little more time and thought to it.  I hesitate.  For sadly, we live in a time that even among our own it is difficult to measure the clarity of what is being presented.  I think that there are no hidden agendas here.  For the sincerity that appears to be here, I am again thankful.


Rod Farthing, Salem, Missouri
I'm really surprised to see something that, to me, says, "We're going to make instrumental music an issue on a par with baptism and communion from now on!"
 
It's curious to me that a quote from Hans Kung, Catholic theologian would be the launch pad.  Do we hold him in a "Campbellesque" esteem?  Not me.  And the "300,000,000 Eastern Orthodox" reference to defend acappella singing only ... it's almost like saying, "3 hundred million Eastern Orthodox can't be wrong.." when I know for a fact these signers have TONS of issues with the Eastern Orthodox church!
 
Just my initial thoughts.  I'm glad we're brothers in Christ with the freedom to disagree without being disagreeable.


Randy Hall, Campbell, California

The hope of unity based on commonly accepted practices is an attractive one.

However, I do have a problem with the affirmation. While it is true that Christians could all be united if, for instance, we all only sang a cappella and if we all observed communion every Sunday, (two things no one will say are wrong) it is a huge problem to require those two things for unity when they are not clearly demanded by the Bible.

Even if they are what the early church practiced (to the best of our knowledge - but there is no way to know they were universal) the issue is still one of biblical demand. How can I demand something of another "Christian" in order for there to be fellowship between us when that demand is not clearly made in the New Testament?

I realize that some believe these two practices are biblical requirements. But they are more properly understood to be inferences. As Thomas Campbell perceived they may be true inferences, but inferences should not be given equal weight with commands. Inferences should not determine salvation and fellowship.

Unless I believe singing with a piano or observing communion monthly will separate one from God and salvation (maybe the signers of the affirmation believe this to be the case), I cannot make these practices a barrier to fellowship and camaraderie in the kingdom mission.

So there are two issues addressed in affirmation. One is our practice as a church. The other is fellowship or our view of unity.

The affirmation calls us to continue commonly accepted practices such as a cappella music and weekly observance of the Lord's Supper. But in the opening paragraph it also warns against claiming unity with those who don't. It is this warning that is troublesome.


Vic McCracken, Atlanta, Georgia

Thank you for the thoughtful statement. I am hopeful that it will spur some useful dialogue within the Churches of Christ. I'm sympathetic to many of the observations and concerns of those who've signed this affirmation. One concern I have that makes me hesitant to sign it at this
point is the assumption that restoring early Christian belief and practice--seemingly the center of this affirmation--can be juxtaposed so easily with Hans Kung's claim that while we cannot "copy [the NT church] today, we can and must translate it into modern terms." I suspect that when many read the statement they see it as a reassertion of our attempt to reestablish the NT church in its simplicity and purity (this is clear from some of the comments the affirmation has already elicited). But isn't the real issue how the early church's witness is to be conveyed faithfully in a contemporary world wherein the church is situated quite differently? It seems to me that the difficulty of this translation that Kung refers to is unaddressed by the Affirmation. Saying that the Churches of Christ must adhere to the witness and faith of the 1st century church does little, for example, to guide Christian leaders in how to speak about Christian service in the military of a nation that is wrestling with the place of religion in public life, let alone what military service meant for German Christians during World War II. I suppose that one response might be the pacifist line of adhering to Jesus call that we "love our enemies" and Jesus' own denial of the sword at Gethsemane as examples that make Christian participation in state-sponsored violence of any kind a sin against God and Christian faith. Indeed, some of our early Restoration leaders such as David Lipscomb took such a tact. Then again it seems clear to me that pacifism has not ruled the day in most Churches of Christ, and not all Restoration leaders agreed with Lipscomb's take on what it means to restore the first century church's practice vis-a-vis the empire. Focusing on practices like baptism, instrumental music, and weekly celebration of the Lord's Supper (interestingly, the three issues which dominate the affirmation) we've tended to leave to the personal consciences of individual Christians issues such as the killing of merica's enemies, a move which seems to me hard to justify in Christian churches proposing that the 1st century church be our guide. I would hope that as we discuss the positive contributions that this affirmation will make to our tradition that we can also address some of the pressing moral issues that this affirmation is silent about.


Norman Morrow, St. Francis, Kansas

I am Norman Morrow, a minister of the gospel, working with churches of Christ in Northwest Kansas. I have ministered for over 30 years with the St. Francis church in St. Francis, Kansas. As I continue to visit lectureships and hear brothers speak from all over the country, I have been heartsick in seeing many who seem to be trying to become popularly accepted at the expense of standing for the plain truth of the scripture. I appreciate this affirmation and the spirit with which I feel it is given.

May we continue to reach out to others who are lovers of God and Jesus Christ, but let us not forget who we are.


Robert E. Scott, Abilene, Texas

Thank God for the content of this affirmation.  It is Biblical, non-sectarian, humble and timely.


Philip Slate, Murfreesboro, Tennessee

The Affirmation was not a full statement--nor was it intended to be--of things about which the men are willing to make affirmations.  On two counts, however, I was delighted to read the statement in the CC received yesterday.  I had not known how several of the signers of the Affirmation felt about the subjects mentioned.  It was good to learn.  The contents of the Affirmation were also satisfying.  Many thanks.  
 
In my judgment two of the references in the Affirmation are particularly important.  The minimalist approach is both biblically and historically doomed.  Second, the closing paragraph in  the "Word of Concern"  section is very apropos in view of what I know both first and second hand.


John Telgren, Leavenworth, Kansas

I think that this is a good "beginning." I call it a beginning because I think there are even more foundational elements of our identity than these three practices. I understand that this document was not meant to address those, but to affirm those aspects of our practice that distinguish us from other Christian groups, but I have found that the confusion over our identity goes much, much deeper than these practices. While Churches of Christ have had a strong ecclesiology, there seems to be a weakness in Theology in general, especially as it affects the life and practice of Christians. In my experience, I have found that Christians have not learned to think theologically, myself included. I grew up knowing that the practices were right, but was ignorant of the theological foundation behind them. This is why I say this is a good "beginning." If we make a statement as to what we believe, value, and practice, I believe it needs to go beyond what makes us "distinct" from other Christian groups. I don't remember where I heard it, but someone once said that he felt we have at times defined ourselves by what we are against, and what we don't believe, rather than what we are for and what we do believe. While I do not see that this affirmation statment does this, I would like to see more. There is more to the church than baptism, Communion, and a cappella singing. Thank you for opening a dialogue.


Bob Weber, Chatham, New Jersey

The Christian Affirmation 2005 was a welcome addition to this month's Chronicle, and I hope my comments will be taken more as observations than criticisms since I found nothing in the Affirmation that could be either offensive or divisive. I should note that I have read and been positively influenced by the writings or teachings of many of the signers. You have had a profound influence on me, and I hope my comments will not come accross as a personal attack.
 
One of my first reactions to the piece was, "Where are the signatures of elders?" Perhaps many of the signers are also elders in their congregations, but only one person signed that as his designation. I hope not to assign incorrect motives but it left me wondering why it was that mostly professors of one stripe or another were in the majority on the document.
 
We pride ourselves in restoring the principles of the New Testament, and one of those is the spiritual oversight of an eldership. Are not these the men who should be seeking to influence us with such ideas? This should in no way be construed to denigrate the importance of professors in contributing to a greater understanding of biblical matters, but in the long run it should be the job of the elders for providing guidance and direction to the church. Congregational autonomy no doubt factored into your thinking, at the same time it is to the elders that the New Testament writings ordain to be overseers of the truths of the faith.
 
My fear is that as a general rule we have allowed the direction of our churches to be swayed by people other than an eldership ordained by God. I am unsure of who said it, but I believe that someone observed at the turn of the 20th century that the Disciples of Christ don't have bishops they have editors. It seems to me that something similar could be said for our churches. We are constantly persuaded to follow whatever jargon is popularized by writers and editors at any given moment.
 
What was also telling to me were some of the extra comments by the signers that were listed on your website. In particular was the concern by a few over [not] trying to create a statement in Affirmation that would be used as some sort of authoritative creedal statement. Although I understand that was not the point of the document, we certainly need leaders who not only are able to verbalize what we should believe but have the God-ordained authority to do so. We seem very fearful of making such pronouncements because of our anti-creedal stance, but we live in an age that demands more not less clarity of belief. I have no proposal on how to go about that but I think we can no longer maintain some notion of avoiding such definitive statements that seek to clarify what we believe.
 
My observations not withstanding, I applaud your efforts for stating what you believe to be important. May your tribe increase!

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