Are All Doctrinal Errors Fatal?

by Todd Deaver

In my first post allow me briefly to thank Jay for initiating this discussion and inviting me to be part of it, and also Phil and Greg for their willingness to participate. I have great respect for all three of these gentlemen, and I trust that–having recently gotten acquainted over lunch–we’re all on a first-name basis here.

To begin with, I share Phil’s concern for the importance of biblical doctrine or teaching, as well as his desire to be as doctrinally accurate as possible. We do have an obligation to study the scriptures diligently and carefully (Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 2:15), and that duty must not be taken lightly. No one should imagine that doctrine is no big deal or–like a congregation I recently heard about–decide that it can be dispensed with in favor of an exclusive emphasis on love and grace (which are, in reality, doctrines themselves).

Nor do I disagree with the proposition Phil set forth: “The New Testament makes it abundantly clear that doctrinal error can lead to eternal damnation.” I believe that some doctrinal errors are, in fact, spiritually fatal. However, Phil’s elaboration and defense of this thesis seems to suggest that any and every doctrinal mistake, if not corrected, leads to the loss of salvation.

Phil, in fact, repeats the phrase “any teaching” (or its equivalent) no fewer than six times. Notice what he says. Citing Matthew 7:24-27 he writes, “Jesus does not separate one teaching from another here. Rebellion to his teaching, any teaching, is rebellion toward him” (emphasis added). In his discussion of 2 John 9-11 he explains, “the act of distorting or changing any teaching from God is abhorrent and condemned throughout Scripture (Deut. 12:32; 2 Cor. 4:2; Gal. 1:6-9). By way of the application of this principle, one must not distort any teaching of Christ. Should he do so, he risks losing his relationship with God” (emphasis added). He adds, with reference to Galatians 1:6-9,

When people think they can pervert or distort the will of God on any matter, they have become in essence ‘lawless.’ They are acting outside the will and teaching of God. Distorting God’s teaching is a crime against God; it may be presumptuous rebellion or callous indifference. In either case it shows no love for God. (emphasis added)

He continues, “Whether in matters large or small, distorting God’s Word is offensive to God and sinful. Any sinful behavior arising from distorted teaching that disturbs the brethren is sand theology (Matthew 7:24-27)” (emphasis added). And on 1 Timothy 4:13, 16, Phil notes that “Here again, the principle applies to teaching on any topic” (emphasis added). All this, as I said, seems to indicate that any departure from any biblical teaching results, if uncorrected, in condemnation.

On the other hand, Phil often uses qualifying terms that would limit condemnation to cases of willful disobedience. For example, he speaks of “rebellion,” “callous indifference,” living in “disregard” of God’s law, “lying” about God’s will, people who “think they can pervert or distort the will of God,” etc. And, knowing that Phil accepts some degree of doctrinal disagreement among faithful Christians, it seems more reasonable to take this as his meaning throughout, even in those statements where this limitation is not explicit. After all, I think we would both say that it’s possible for an honest, diligent, God-glorifying saint to draw inadvertently a wrong conclusion about, say, the state of the dead, and that this unintentional distortion of biblical teaching does not fall under the curse of Galatians 1:6-9.

If this is, in fact, Phil’s meaning, then we are in agreement: any rebellious rejection of biblical doctrine is spiritually fatal. Actually, the problem here is not really “doctrinal error” at all, since those under consideration know the correct doctrine but refuse to submit to it. The problem here is willful disobedience, persistence in which will certainly lead to the loss of salvation (Hebrews 10:26ff.).

Phil surely recognizes that the passages he referenced cannot condemn all who make doctrinal mistakes, regardless of the condition of their hearts. Otherwise, salvation is impossible without doctrinal perfection. And how many of us can claim to have achieved that?

But, since Phil’s post is ambiguous, at least to me, I ask that he clarify his position. We are agreed that any intentional violation of God’s will, persisted in, threatens a Christian’s salvation. But does all doctrinal error damn even if unintentional despite prayerful study? Or do only certain doctrinal errors damn–even if unintentional despite prayerful study?

Explore posts in the same categories: Apostasy

130 Comments on “Are All Doctrinal Errors Fatal?”

  1. Robert Baty Says:

    It appears we only have Jay left to check in with his official, first post on the subject.

    Here’s my report card on where it appears things are:

    > 1. The four agree that doctrinal
    > error can lead to damnation.

    > 2. The four agree that not all
    > doctrinal error will lead to
    > damnation.

    As Todd requests, if that is not where the discussion stands, the four can easily, if they will, clarify the matter and avoid what Todd refers to as the “ambiguity”.

    Robert Baty

  2. I appreciate your response Todd. I hope at some point specific texts are mentioned and dealt with in detail. Hezekiah’s Passover is an interesting biblical test case on some of these matters under discussion. One is forced to ask the question of did these people’s performance of worship requirements erroneously (and knowingly at that) truly displease God? The Chronicler goes out of his way to point out that the entire episode from beginning to end was biblically in error. Yet they were not toasted …

  3. J. Prince Says:

    I agree with Todd’s comments above and would like to offer some additional thoughts on the same position. In my experience, denominations are criticized and even condemned by many in the conservative CoC as being rebellious to God’s will when in fact, they have just come to a different interpretation than our conservative brethren.

    A specific example is instrumental music (IM) in worship. We all know penitent, faithful Christians who have come to the conclusion that IM is fully acceptable and that it glorifies God in their worship. Christians in IM worship services are not rebelling against God, they are glorifying Him.

    Why do we have to condemn over differing interpretations? Why do we have to refuse fellowship over doubtful things? Why are others’ mistakes worse than ours and not covered by God’s grace? I agree that we should not invite IM into our worship because of how many it would offend and how divisive it would be. IM forced on a group with strong beliefs against it is very likely a rebellious act. Divisiveness is obviously a rebellious and sinful act.

    Please don’t debate IM with me. That’s not my point. My point is Jesus asked us to seek unity. He knew we would not attain uniformity. Paul is explicit in Romans 14 that brethren can and should be unified even when they have differing interpretations of important doctrinal issues. Though I don’t think it can be proven, I am confident that those who disagreed about esteeming one day over another and eating meat or not were convinced that these were salvation issues. However Paul insists that those on each side of both issues were acting in the way they thought would best glorify God and were justified in doing so.

    In the context of Barton Stone’s definition of who is our brother – anyone who calls Jesus their Lord and serves Him to the best of their ability (paraphrased to the best of my ability), Romans 14 delivers a very different (and powerful) message than what the conservative CoC teaches about “apostate denominations”. Try reading Romans 14 with the hypothetical (for many) idea that we have brothers and sisters in the “denominational” world.

    Only by defining correct doctrine on one’s particular narrow and specific set of interpretations can those with differing views be criticized and condemned. When we insist on a flawless interpretation and practice of doctrinal issues, we set an impossible standard – even for ourselves. Paul’s Romans 14 direction on two doctrinal issues of the day are instructive (and comforting) for such disagreements among penitent, faithful Christians today.

    Another paraphrase humbly offered for consideration:

    He who “worships with IM”, worships to the Lord; and he who does not “worship with IM”, to the Lord he does not “worship with IM”.

  4. John VanSickle Says:

    As to whether a doctrinal error is itself damning, I will leave to the debaters.

    What I am sure of, as surely as Nadab and Abihu did not live out ordinary lifespans, is that indifference to doctrinal error *is* damning, and looking for excuses to dismiss the importance of a doctrinal error is equally damning.

  5. Bob Brandon Says:

    But yet Eleazar and Ithamar did (see Lev. 10:12-20); your point is therefore a bit ambiguous.

  6. Thanks to all who are participating. Up until this point you have treated each other with the respect and honor due brethren. I fully expect this to continue. May God bless the efforts.

  7. K. Rex Butts Says:

    I am an interested reader in the ongoing conversation between Jay, Todd, Phil, and Greg. I commend them as well as all other reader who are supporting such a dialogue. This is a great step.

    Like Bobby Valentine, I would love to see specific passages of scripture dealt with in detail. I also would like to see specific issues dealt with. However, I know these all will come with time. One suggestion I have for myself and the rest of the readers is that we avoid raising up specific text/issues (especially the loaded ones) on a premature basis. I have found in my own experience that by avoiding this practice, we avoid unnecessary stirring of flames that only seem to make every entrench themselves deeper in their position. When this happens, the process of polarization only progresses while unity and greater understanding of each other (what I assume is the end goal of this conversation) get lost.

    Grace and peace,


  8. Gregory Tidwell Says:


    You make a good point. Progressives too often want to sweep away the example of Nadab and Abihu being destroyed for offering “unauthorized fire.” (ESV

    The text is clear, they were destroyed for the sin of unauthorized worship.


  9. Bob Brandon Says:

    So, Greg, you’re therefore asserting that Christian worship is governed by the Law of Moses. All well and good, I suppose.

    How do you then square that with, for example, Paul’s condemnation of Torah-keeping in Gal. 3 or with the fact that no NT writer ever cites Nadab and Abihu for any purpose whatsoever?

  10. I disagree. Nadab and Abihu were destroyed after disobeying: “And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.”

    One must assume that God did not tell them beforehand not to add their own fire in order to reach the conclusion that they were destroyed for the sin of unauthorized worship. Scripture doesn’t record it, but it cannot be assumed.

  11. Royce Says:


    I appreciate your wisdom here. I agree with you and add that we should probably allow the 4 participants to fully make their points and counter points. I think there is much to learn.

    I tend to wade in too quickly so your advise is for fellows like me. I was not invited to participate to I will not intruduce other topics or scripture and will listen and watch from the gallery for the most part. There will be plenty of time for discussion of the 4 men’s views and conversations later.


  12. K. Rex Butts Says:


    Your humility is a lesson for us all. I know I am often too quick to put the cart before the horse in conversations like this.

    Grace and Peace,


  13. K. Rex Butts Says:

    The use of Nadab and Abihu as an example to show that *unauthorized* worship is by nature a sin and especially a sin with damming consequences is inconsistent since the story of Eleazer and Ithamar’s *disobedient* worship is in the same context and yet does not net the same results as the sin of Nadab and Abihu. There seems to be something more going on with Nadab and Abihu’s “unholy fire” (NRSV) than just it being “unauthorized” (ESV, TNIV). Nevertheless, both the story of Nadab and Abihu as well as Eleazer and Ithamar should serve to remind us that worship is serious to God and is not something we can just treat rather flipidly (and that is something I think all contributors and commenters on this blog agree on).

    Grace and peace,


  14. Interesting discussion. I’m trying to subscribe via the email but to do so requires reading of a text image to prevent spam. I am blind and use a voice screen reader window-eyes produced by so if someone could please submit my email its_mike(at)sbcglobal(dot)net so I can confirm would very much appreciate the help.Unfortunately, this blog doesn’t have an audio captcha.

    God Bless:

  15. nick gill Says:

    “When is imperfect obedience really obedience?” – Phil Sanders

    If imperfect obedience is not *really* obedience, then only perfect obedience can *really* be obedience.

    Robert, I’m not sure how you can read Phil’s statements and say that he agrees that “not all doctrinal error will lead to damnation.”

    Please help me understand how the quote above can be understood as allowing for any error.

  16. nick gill Says:

    Brother Tidwell,

    Would you share your thoughts on the rest of Leviticus 10, perhaps interacting with Bob’s comment above?

    For the text is clear that Eleazar and Ithamar violated God’s express command concerning authorized worship.

  17. Jay Guin Says:


    I’ve made the submission. If you have any problems, contact me at jfguin(at)comcast(dot)net.

    I hope you enjoy the conversation.


    PS — I’ve edited your comment to modify your email address, in hopes of protecting you from spam.

  18. Robert Baty Says:


    You reference Phil’s question, and then ask another question.

    Simply asking questions doesn’t get us very far, though some think simply asking questions is a profitable gimmick; I suppose it can be at times.

    As to your interest in my abilities at comprehension, I think your own comments provide the “answer”.

    If you put “the quote above” into its full context and “read Phil’s statements”, you should be able to “understand” my conclusions.

    Of course, I’m open to Phil and the others, as I’ve been begging, to make their fundamental views on this matter ungetoverably clear and without all the ambiguous commentary.

    Robert Baty

  19. Robert Baty Says:


    While you are at it, why not take the stuff that appears on the right hand side/column of the blog and make it where it appears at the top of the column so we don’t have to scroll down the page to see you guys and the links to the latest postings and that other information?

    Robert Baty

  20. Alan Scott Says:

    It will be good to read the different points of view. We all have a tendancy to talk past each other without really listening. For example, I know of no one who tries to sweep away the example of Nadab and Abihu, but I do know of different views on what the author wants us to learn from that event.

  21. Joe Baggett Says:

    There are according to Flavil Yeakly 78,000 people who have the left the churches of Christ in the USA for other churches or no church at all in the last six years. I think the number is higher than this because much of their data collection systems don’t reach those who have left. Through my own research I have found that this issue alone has caused many to feel that they could not keep up with all the details on the right doctrines or reach some unattainable level of morality. Many realized they had sin in their life and will never be getting to a point where they aren’t dealing with sin. So they hear a sermon on willful sin taken out of context and feel that they will not be able to overcome it and give up. The teaching that Phil proposes beyond the simple propositions is a doctrine of death. I know that seems harsh but it is a religious prison that only leads to self pitting guilt. It is also a system that lends itself to control and subjugation because it needs preachers and Bible professors to tell everyone every little detail on what to think. As we have all seen Phil and others on the so called right (I hate using that term) are reluctant to start stating which one damn which ones don’t. Most of us on the so called left (I hate that term also) are willing to say what we think are non-negotiable doctrines and most us would limit those things to items that are foundational to all other things like Jesus being God in flesh. If the doctrinal issue is not foundational I would just leave it alone.

  22. Alan Scott Says:

    “so called right….so called left”

    I prefer “more traditional” and “less traditional” Churches of Christ.


    God bless,

  23. Joe Baggett Says:

    Thank you Alan this is better I think. I try to think the best of those with whom I have a dialogue.

  24. churchesofchrist Says:

    I will be glad when someone declares which ones damn which ones don’t. If all doctrinal errors are fatal, who can be saved?

  25. Strumming the string Says:

    Well, instrumental music is about the only one that’s fatal, of course.

    Todd’s book is fairly clear on that. Toleration of all sorts of wild contradictions in doctrine seems to be ok, as long as you don’t tolerate IM!

  26. Robert Baty Says:


    It looks like the proposed change has been affected.

    It looks better and is now a lot easier to use.

    Robert Baty

  27. churchesofchrist Says:

    I have read Todd’s book. Maybe I missed that part…don’t recall him wording it that way. I am sure IM and other issues will be addressed in the future.

  28. Strumming the string Says:

    No, you misunderstand.

    Todd’s book points out that the conservative brothers seem willing to accept all sorts of contradictory teachings about what will or will not condemn a person, even contradictory teachings about moral matters, and still be in fellowship with each other.

    However, the moment someone indicates that instrumental music might not be a fatal doctrine and all bets are off.

    My original statement was not meant to say that Todd or his book felt that instrumental music was a fatal doctrine. His book does seem to indicate fairly clearly however that the conservatives he quotes will accept all sorts of differences as meaning nothing, until one gets to the music question.

    That is a line that cannot be crossed.

    Sorry for the confusion.

  29. […] Greg Tidwell, Phil Sanders, Jay Guin and Todd Deaver have begun a conversation on fellowship issues at Greg’s first contribution is here. Phil’s is here. Todd’s first entry is here. […]

  30. […] Are All Doctrinal Errors Fatal? […]

  31. Mark Says:

    Isn’t striving for doctrinal purity just as good as obtaining it? Is this not why the church starts many of it doctrinal positions with a “plea” instead of a established fact. One of the problems with the idea of doctrinal error is it’s disconnect from personal sin. Can God forgive our worst sin? Most would claim at least it’s possible. However in the aspect of doctrinal error the same type of question brings a completely different response. In other words one could have a terrible lifestyle and live hypocritically as long as there is not a violation of worship ideologies and unwritten creeds. I would disagree with the thought that doctrinal error leads to anything but the grace of God. Why is Jesus blood so weak when it comes to our spiritual discernment ? There is another thing too I think proves the that doctrinal error is a misguided concept. Can anyone give me the complete list for doctrinal truth? But the reality is….

    There is no perfect version of the Bible
    There is no perfect interpretation
    There is no perfect church

    Doctrinal sin and personal sin are one in the same and are dealt with equally.

  32. cwncw Says:

    A suggestion that has been made I think to all of the contributors – try to keep it shorter or you will lose most readers. Shorter doesn’t mean less quality but longer doesn’t ensure either.

    Now I’ll violate what I just typed to add this:
    If all doctrinal errors lead to damnation – what do we do with those of our number who a few short decades ago, used Scripture I would hope all of us would say, in error to justify keeping African Americans out of “white” Churches of Christ?

    Are the ones that died in that state now in Hell?
    What about the ones who are still alive?

    If we focus this discussion on just our tribe with the conclusion that any doctrinal error is a one way ticket to eternal damnation, most of us are in trouble, my opinion.

  33. Charles McLean Says:

    I have a bit of a hard time with the assumption that our sins are “unintentional” while those of our brother who is being loaded into the handbasket are intentional. To be brutally honest, I sin intentionally, not unintentionally. I know the good I ought to do and I do not do it. If I am proud, it is not usually because I am unaware of it. (Denial being different from ignorance.) If I carry unforgiveness in my heart, I know it. (Just bring that sorry so-and-so’s name up and I can watch it flare.) When I tell a “little white lie”, I’m not confused about the truth, I just choose not to tell it. And like Paul, I continue to struggle with the “wretched man that I am”.

    I suppose it’s a good thing I am the only one in this boat. My other brothers only sin occasionally and accidentally. Better men than I, no doubt. I just have to pray the publican’s prayer and thank God He answered it years ago in Christ, rather than letting the foolish assumption go on that I don’t REALLY continue to disobey God in a dozen different ways. If our own righteousness is as filthy rags, I’ll readily claim to be the filthiest and the raggediest.

    Thankfully, it’s Another’s righteousness I wear…

  34. Robert Baty Says:

    > “If all doctrinal errors
    > lead to damnation,”

    Stop, do not pass “Go”!
    Do not collect $200.00!

    I don’t think Phil, Greg, Todd or Jay is taking up that position in this discussion. I don’t think any commenters are either. I’m not.

    I don’t think anyone in this discussion is going to focus on the proposition that any doctrinal error is a one-way ticket to eternal damnation.

    But that’s just me; short, sweet, and of high quality discernment regarding the present, substantive state of the discussion here; in the context of your hypotheticals.

    Robert Baty

  35. Jay Guin Says:


    Shorter is better? I agree. I’ve made it my mission to out-pithy the rest.

  36. Robert Baty Says:

    I’m looking forward to the pudding!

    Robert Baty

  37. Liberty Grace Says:

    Why is it that Church of Christers think that they and they alone know all the right doctines, all the time? How can any of us be so presumptuous to think that we are never wrong about any Bible doctrine?? Is that where your eternal security lies???

    And where in the Bible does it say “know the right doctrine and thou shalt be saved”?

  38. Matt Clifton Says:

    J. Prince,

    In my experience, denominations are criticized and even condemned by many in the conservative CoC as being rebellious to God’s will when in fact, they have just come to a different interpretation than our conservative brethren.

    You speak as if “coming to a different interpretation” of God’s word is a good thing!

    The true validity of this statement cannot be judged by human standards, but rather must be judged by God’s standard. By the human understanding that you are putting forth, there is no doctrinal error that will cause one to be condemned. After all, if one honestly comes to the “interpretation” that Jesus came a second time in 70 AD, should we just think they are observing that belief “to the Lord.?

    If you apply Romans 14 to doctrinal matters, you will end up with something akin to universalism. After all, many denominations believe the baptism of Matt. 28:19 and Acts 2:38 to be optional. This is “their interpretation.” Would you have the church to simply accept those with an incorrect “interpretation” of salvation?

    If this is really the way you feel, we have no need to evangelize, do we? Because “their interpretation” that “I was saved when I prayed the sinner’s prayer one day while I was mowing the yard” and other such nonsense will save them, right?


  39. Brad Says:

    Hmm, seems to me that if I want to change someone’s mind, the best way might not be to insult those deceitful sinners with their lawnmowers and such nonsense, right?


  40. Matt Clifton Says:


    Hmm, seems to me that if I want to change someone’s mind, the best way might not be to insult those deceitful sinners with their lawnmowers and such nonsense, right?


    I am sorry if you took offense at what I said. I assumed this conversation is for members of the church of Christ, and I assumed J. Prince is a Christian. But I do not apologize for the content of my post. Also note that you supplied the “deceitful sinner” comment, which I did not make.

    But getting back to the point, do you think salvation by sinner’s prayer is a valid obedience to God’s will?

    And should those who earnestly desire all men to be saved become an enemy to those who need to hear His word (Gal. 4:16)?

  41. Matt Clifton Says:


    You wrote,

    I disagree. Nadab and Abihu were destroyed after disobeying: “And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.”

    One must assume that God did not tell them beforehand not to add their own fire in order to reach the conclusion that they were destroyed for the sin of unauthorized worship. Scripture doesn’t record it, but it cannot be assumed.

    The scripture in question makes it clear that this was not a command they had received and disobeyed, but rather they did something they were not commanded to do.

    There is a big difference between:

    1. Doing something you were commanded NOT to do (which from my understanding of your post is what you believe is happening in this passage). This would be a negative command.


    2. Doing something that was not commanded (which is the actual meaning of the text). This would be man adding to worship where God was silent.

  42. Matt Clifton Says:


    What tribe are you a member of?

  43. Matt Clifton Says:

    Hi Liberty Grace,

    Welcome to the discussion! I will have to assume by your question that you are not a member of the church of Christ. I appreciate your question, and am thankful for your presence here.

    It’s kind of hard to answer the blanket question about “all the right doctrines, all the time.” I would be willing to bet that we would agree on a lot of points of doctrine, such as the incarnation of Christ, the Godhead, the virgin birth, and certainly the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. You see, we probably agree in more areas that not.

    But, just so we can focus your question, what is a doctrinal area that you feel the church of Christ has this “all the right doctrines” attitude?


    Matt Clifton

  44. K. Rex Butts Says:

    Is evangelism correcting those who, for example, hold a different millenial view than I? Or is evangelism making disciples of those who have yet to believe in Jesus Christ? Applying Romans 14 to doctrinal matters is entirely appropriate because Paul is addressing doctrinal matters. And doing so neither leads to universalism (since Romans 14 is not discussing those who do not confess the name of Jesus) nor does it negate the need for evangelism (since there are still millions in the world whose faith is not in Jesus Christ). As for those who pray the sinner’s prayer (which I disagree with), some of them (perhaps many) have been immersed into Christ even if they did not share the same understanding of baptims…because the validity of baptism hinges upon the work of God and not our work or our intellectual doctrinal understanding. As for those who have not been baptized…well, part of the Lord’s commission is to go and baptize so we should go and teach them and baptize them.

    Grace and peace,


  45. Matt Clifton Says:


    What doctrinal matters is he addressing in Romans 14?

  46. Joe Baggett Says:

    rex said,
    “Is evangelism correcting those who, for example, hold a different millenial view than I? Or is evangelism making disciples of those who have yet to believe in Jesus Christ?”

    This is so important I wish we asked ourselves this all the time.

  47. Randy Says:

    It seems pretty obvious that most of us here acknowledge/agree that all doctrinal error doesn’t damn one to hell…

    The question at hand:

    1) Which ones do damn one to hell?

    2) Which one do not damn one to hell?

    We are like rabbits running in circles, when we all know the “touchy issues.” I look forward to seeing the direction that the Authors here take regarding the touchy issues. Maybe before we all run to Instrumental Music in worship and the other issues, we should start with salvation. I have read many Articles, Books, Post from both sides and know there is some disagreement regarding baptism.

    1) Must one KNOW baptism is “for remission” before God will act in baptism?

    Some conservatives say yes. Some progressives say no. But, MOST fellowship to some degree with each other as fellow brethren. If doctrinal error damns one to hell, maybe this would be a good place to start….

  48. K. Rex Butts Says:

    Clean and Unclean foods. Are they doctrinal matters? For most of us, no. But they sure were matters of doctrine (and matters that had eternal consequences) for some. And believe me, they had the same scriptures, the OT, which Paul eslewhere says is “God-breathed” (2 Tim 3.16-17, TNIV) to support their case regarding unclean food.

    Grace and peace,


  49. Randy Says:

    Some say baptism is “for the remission of sins” and they say one must understand this before God will act in Baptism. Some say baptism is essential and for remission of sins, but one doesn’t need to understand it is for remission of sins. Both views can not be right. But, we don’t condemn each other to hell over this…well some ultra’s might. I hope this issue is addressed.

    Phil, what say ye?

  50. The question that always comes about in these discussions is “What are the rules?” in the form of:

    “1) Which ones do damn one to hell?

    2) Which one do not damn one to hell?” (- Randy, above)

    Is this a question that loves the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (not personal to Randy or anyone else, but when we collectively ask it)? Or is this a question that loves ourselves enough that we want to stay out of Hell? I suggest it is the latter.

    If my kids ask, “Dad – do you have something you need me to do for you today?” I would be very happy! At the same time, I would be disappointed to hear my children in a discussion of the best methodologies of avoiding my wrath. I would assume that I need to work on my relationship with them!

    This is an old trick of the Devil – get people debating in the direction of Hell. Get them scared. Get them doubting Get them nervous about God. It disconnects relationship, and prevents action. One of the oldest tricks in the Book!

    We should listen to Paul and dwell upon that which is good and noble, That gets us facing the right direction, and renews our mind.

    Romans 12 says the renewing of our minds allows us to test what is God’s pleasing and perfect will. Condemnation by is the old way to think. A renewed mind is wrapped in Romans 8 – there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. That is Good News!

    Otherwise you end up with a Gospel that says, “How would you like to trade in your first-class ticket to Hell to being on standby? Doesn’t that sound wonderful?!?”


  51. Randy Says:

    What are the rules could be another way of saying it, but lets not makes this some legalistic set of rules that one must adhere to, in order to be saved. I don’t think we are saying there isn’t standards, rules, or whatever we wish to call them. And we know these must be followed from a heart compelled and motivated by love, not from a heart wishing to live by a check list.

    Also, we cant reach some point, saying doctrine doesn’t matter….. I believe there are doctrines that damn. One must believe in the risen Christ, right? One must repent, right? But, there are many other issues that we have allowed to divide us, and those I think need addressed and resolved.

  52. Matt Clifton Says:


    Paul was addressing foods sacrificed to idols, most likely, and not necessarily OT food laws. Some were strong enough in their faith to eat meats that could be “tainted” by contact with idols.

    Paul never intended for Romans 14 to refer to whether or not one should use instruments of music in worship, whether or not to partake of the Lord’s supper, whether or not baptism is necessary for salvation. He was talking about matters of option, like whether eating ‘vegetables only’ was acceptable to God, or whether a person can observe feast days on their own time.

    If Romans 14 is about salvation and worship issues, or church organization issues, then we have no right whatsoever to call upon anyone to adhere to anything religiously speaking.

  53. eddy Says:

    Regarding damnable doctrine versus tolerable practices: Easier to condemn your view of the kingdom a thousand years in the future than for me to make Jesus my king today. Easier to condemn you for not practicing proper baptism than for me to live a life glorifyig the one into whom I was baptized. Easier for me to condemn you for using guitar while you sing “All To Jesus I Surrender” than it is for me to surrender all to Jesus. Easier for me to condemn you for not eating the Lord’s Supper weekly than it is for me to “examine myself” and work up a bloody sweat as I pray for others to know the Lord of the supper. For me, the beginning point is MY WALK WITH CHRIST. Otherwise, the beam in my eye makes it tough for me to remove the splinter in yours. BTW, eye beam churches often splinter.

  54. K. Rex Butts Says:


    You are right that Paul did not have in mind the issues you mention when he wrote what we call Romans 14. But that does not mean we cannot apply Romans 14 to other issues that we face in our own day. As for what issues Romans 14 should be applied to, well that will always be a debatable question. I certainly would not lump baptism and Instrumental Music into one catagory, considering the fact that we have ample teaching that commands baptism while the belief that views instrumental music as wrong relies not upon specific prohibitions against such worship but upon deductions made from certain passages (which by the way, are passages too that Paul and others never intended to address the “how” of worship when it comes to instrumental or a capella worship).

    Your brother in Christ,


  55. Wayne McDaniel Says:

    Dear brother McLean,

    Your honesty is deeply refreshing. I am a sinner too. Like many who are joining into this new blog, I grew up in churches of Christ. The condescending words that we have all heard for so many years ought to frigten us with likeness to the Pharisees.

    Emphasis on the mistakes of others is often but a poor diversion from our own failures to love the Lord with every breath He gives us.

    “…he spoke this parable unto certain who trusted in themselves that they were righteous,

  56. Keith Brenton Says:

    Matt, does “commanded them not” absolutely mean “did not command them” or “commanded them not to” or in some sense, both? Is the Hebrew or Greek unarguable in only one of those meanings? I’m not a Biblical languages scholar, but it seems to me that most English translations are simply trying to say that they disobeyed and God destroyed them. I think there’s one which mentions “unauthorized fire” but has “strange fire” footnoted as an alternate way of rendering the original. They’re not trying to attach a specific teaching about what is or is not authorized, because the specific instructions for this “opening ceremony” aren’t part of scripture.

  57. Matt Clifton Says:


    The Hebrew in this passage literally says, “which he had not commanded them.” It means there was no command for what they were doing. It does not mean God commanded them not to do it. The Hebrew word describing the fire means “illegitimate,” so “unauthorized” would be a good translation.

    Every commentary I checked myself with before answering agree with this literal translation. There was an absence of a command for what Nadab and Abihu did, and therefore the fire was “profane,” “illegitimate,” or “unauthorized.” These words, I think, all give the same sense of the word.

    God bless you,


  58. Jerry Says:

    All the discussion above about Nadab & Abihu focused on Lev 10. Has no one noticed the end of Lev 9? There an offering was placed on the altar and fire from the Lord came out to consume it. In chap 10, N & A brought fire other than the perpetual fire on the altar to offer their incense to God – and fire from the Lord came out to consume them. Does anyone see a connection between these? Were N & A not coming before God without their vicarious sin-offering? And would the same thing for us be to stand before God without pleading the blood of Jesus? How can I plead my obedience instead of His blood? When I come to God I must plead for mercy, not point to my obedience and think that God is obligated to save me because of it.

  59. The best sermon I ever heard on Nadab & Abihu took note of two things:

    1. A seemingly random “new” command appears in Lev 10:8
    “8 Then the LORD said to Aaron, 9 ‘You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the Tent of Meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. 10 You must distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean, 11 and you must teach the Israelites all the decrees the LORD has given them through Moses.'”

    Does God decide to give Aaron a new command right after his sons have been killed? No – it’s more likely that this is an explanation of the death of Nadab and Abihu. They were not holy but drunk when the set out to do their priestly duties. They were not holy but worldly when performing holy duties, and this would not be tolerated.

    2. Lev 10:19
    Aaron disobeys a direct command of God (the Law) and does not die. Not only this, but he chooses with full knowledge not to obey. Yet, he was justified in doing so. This is part if the Nadab and Abihu story, and must be included when using them as an example on how to obey God.

    When the entire context of Nadab and Abihu is considered, a different story emerges than simply a story of a God who expects perfection. On a much greater level, He expects holiness. The drunk brothers were not holy. Disobedient Aaron was.


  60. cordobatim Says:

    Isn’t interesting, though, that:
    (1) Aaron had four sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. Two of these are mentioned much more often in the Bible than are their brothers. They are, of course, Eleazar and Ithamar.

    (2) In fact, following the passage in Leviticus 10 that records the deaths of Nadab and Abihu, the two who died are never mentioned by name in a passage that does not include their brothers.

    (3) The New Testament does not contain the names of Nadab and Abihu.

    (4) Nowhere in the Bible are Nadab and Abihu held up as an example to be avoided. There are warnings to not be like Cain, not like Esau, not like Balaam, not like many other people… and not one specific reference to Nadab and Abihu. (Leviticus 16 is the closest I can find)

    So why does the Church of Christ have a fascination with Nadab and Abihu that the Bible doesn’t share? If you Google “Nadab and Abihu,” you come up with more Church of Christ sites than anything else. I thought we spoke where the Bible speaks and were silent where the Bible is silent. Why is it that most of don’t even know the story of Eleazar and Ithamar?

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  61. Matt Clifton Says:


    How would a demand from God to refrain from drunkenness when serving in the temple on the punishment of death not be a story about God demanding perfection?

    The story of Nadab and Abihu does not demand perfection, rather it is a story about stepping out of line with God’s stated will.

    BTW, although some scholars have sought to connect their deaths with drunkenness, most put this aside as conjecture. Since the Hebrew literally says “illegitimate fire” which God had not commanded them, it seems pretty clear that something about the fire and the lack of authorization was to blame. They were doing the wrong thing at the wrong time for the wrong reason. They were not simply drunk.

    God bless!


  62. “How would a demand from God to refrain from drunkenness when serving in the temple on the punishment of death not be a story about God demanding perfection?”

    The entire OT is about defining God’s Law – His “checklist” – so that the world understands man cannot live up to it. In that regard, there is a lesson about perfection, and how Jesus is required because we can’t attain perfection, as God defines it.

    Specific to the priests, though, they were to be holy, and reflect well their position of mediation. They were “set apart” to show the people what “set apart” meant. No one who ever came to the temple drunk was killed. Only these two priests. They had a higher calling, and were making a mockery of holiness.

    “BTW, although some scholars have sought to connect their deaths with drunkenness, most put this aside as conjecture.”

    Scholars have also said much about divorce, instruments, and other things. Full disclosure: I distrust many of them based on their errors over many years. I like to ask the Author what He thinks, and then listen, especially since the Author is still alive, and available. I have found Him to be more accurate about what He wrote.

    “…They were not simply drunk.”

    Again, it’s not a matter of “simply drunk.” There was a serious disconnect here on a holiness scale, not a law scale.

    It is sometimes difficult to think in those terms because the CofC has made lawfulness and holiness the same. Lawfulness never brings about holiness, because it devolves into rule-keeping: “Who is my neighbor?” “Is this command a condemning one?” Holiness, on the other hand, always brings about lawfulness.

    Prior to Nadab and Abihu’s death, there was no law against being a drunk priest. But because there was a failure of holiness, God made a law so that they would understand, since “Law” was the context of that relationship. As it says in Hebrews 10, the law was only a shadow of the good things to come.

    Holiness now comes from the Spirit, internally, rather than by law externally. As it says in Hebrews 8, “I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.”

    To this extent, the previous poster was right: why does the CofC focus on Nadab and Abihu, when the Bible does not?

  63. Matt Clifton Says:


    One reason Nadab and Alihu are not mentioned much more is because they were dead. Being dead, of course, does not mean the message of their example does not still speak (Romans 15:4).

    Eleazar and Ithamar are not mentioned in the New Testament either, by the way (the Eleazar in Jesus’ lineage in Matthew is not the same guy).

    Any argument that bases the importance of a Bible passage on how frequently the subject or person is spoken of is questionable, at the least.

    For instance a friend of mine who is a baptist tells me that because belief is mentioned so much more than baptism, that baptism must not be important. And yet Jesus’ pronouncements are strong (Mark 16:16; Matt. 28:19).

    If all these things in the OT are written for our learning (Rom. 15:4), then we must be able to learn something from it.

    Perhaps the reason the church brings it out so often is because other groups bring it out so little?

    God bless!


  64. Matt Clifton Says:


    You are ignoring the fact that the Bible says the reason they were stricken down was due to their offering of “illegitimate fire beore God, which He had not commanded them,” not being drunk. Even if they were drunk, it does not escape the fact that the profaning of the worship toward God was why they were punished.

  65. Let me put it this way: Why is this story so important to you?


  66. Matt Clifton Says:


    Remember, please, that I did not bring this story up, so “so important” would not be a good descriptor. 😀

    But, the story is important to me because it was important enough to God to put it in the Bible. And as we know…(2 Tim. 3:16-17).

    God bless you,


  67. That’s not what I’m asking.

    What is the point of this story?


  68. Matt Clifton Says:


    Man, this light in my eyes is awful bright! lol

    The point of the story is that God commanded how worship was to take place, and Nadab and Abihu did something different.

    That’s it. They profaned the worship.

    Do I get my one phone call, now? 😀

  69. Liberty Grace Says:

    I’m an ex-CoCer. 🙂 I can speak the language as well as any. I was raised to believe the attitude that we and only we know the right way to interpret the Bible, know the right doctrines, and practice the right doctrines the right way. This is where the One True Church Syndrome comes from (and CoCers aren’t the only ones with this problem, btw.)

    But it didn’t take me long to realize just how silly and presuptuous it is of any denomination to think that they have it all Right and everyone else is wrong. As to “which area” this happens, it’s been my experience that it is in all areas of doctrine. We are all human and we allmake mistakes. Why are the Baptist’s mistake worse than yours??

  70. Matt Clifton Says:

    Liberty Grace,

    Well again, thank you for being here.

    What do you think is the most important thing to be “right” about? I tend to think that it is most important to know who Christ is, and what He came to do.

    After that, understanding how God expects us to respond to that gift is next in importance.

    Now, baptists and members of the church of Christ mostly agree on the first thing. But on the second thing, we disagree. Generally, baptists say belief in Christ as the Son of God and repentance is all that is necessary. They generally say baptism has nothing to do with salvation.

    If baptists are wrong about baptism not being necessary to be saved, then they are in error about how to respond to Christ’s sacrifice.

    If they are wrong, are we being loving by allowing them to be wrong?

  71. Not sure I understand the phone call reference. If you feel “imprisoned” by my questions, I’m happy to stop. But if we’re going to use an emotionless form of communication to discuss topics that are quite emotional, then I have to ask questions to clarify who I’m talking to, so I can adjust my words to encourage communication rather than emotion.

    I see the point of the story as demonstrating (again, as humans need many reminders) the type of life we have without Jesus. Jesus fulfills the Law, and then lives in us, thereby sanctifying and justifying us. The side of God’s character that requires this immediate justice of death has been satisfied in Jesus (praise God!) and we no longer live in fear, but renewal.

    This is not a “how to worship God in a way and manner pleasing in His sight” passage. This is a passage of contrast between old and new.

    At the time it happened, it was all about the law. Given the context God has placed this in for us – the Bible – we’ve been given more information about it.

    This is why the Good News is such Good News! Because this was to be man’s fate – never getting it right, always under threat, never being free from sin. But because of Jesus, there is now no condemnation, but salvation, holiness, sanctification, and justification. Not of our own efforts, but by the renewing power of the Holy Spirit.

    Without the gospel, we are all Nadab and Abihu. There is no memeber of the CofC or any other denomination who has worshiped perfectly ever. By law, all are condemned. But by grace and the mercy of God, we can all worship Him, confident in His ability to cleanse us and make us whole.

    we have more reason to love God than to fear Him. Fear is only the beginning of wisdom – not the end (or maturity) of it.

  72. Matthew 7:5
    “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

    I have been amazed over the years about how my same assumptions of Baptists (taught to me by the CofC) were wrong. Thus, I ended up seeing myself in the verse above.

    The Lord has been dealing with all of the denominations over the last many years. A little research at the local Bible Bookstore (or online) bears that out.

    The idea that the CofC is “loving” the Baptists (or anyone else) into right doctrine is questionable at best. There is neither relationship nor service happening between the two entities either in word or deed. Neither one has won the other over in 100 years, and that will not change until we learn to dialog again, with Paul’s attitude of “If you disagree, God will show you.”

  73. Matt Clifton Says:


    Salvation must come first. Do you believe baptists are right to deny the necessity of baptism? No dodges, now. What do you really believe?

    Do you believe all the baptists who deny the necessity of baptism are right with God?

  74. Matt Clifton Says:


    Salvation must come first. Do you believe baptists are right to deny the necessity of baptism? No dodges, now. What do you really believe?

    Do you believe all the baptists who deny the necessity of baptism are right with God?



  75. Matt Clifton Says:


    Not sure I understand the phone call reference. If you feel “imprisoned” by my questions, I’m happy to stop. But if we’re going to use an emotionless form of communication to discuss topics that are quite emotional, then I have to ask questions to clarify who I’m talking to, so I can adjust my words to encourage communication rather than emotion.

    That was one of them there, uh…jokes, yeah, that’s what you call ’em. 😀

    You were firing off questions so fast, just thought a little levity would help. Sorry, I was wrong.

    I see the point of the story as demonstrating (again, as humans need many reminders) the type of life we have without Jesus. Jesus fulfills the Law, and then lives in us, thereby sanctifying and justifying us. The side of God’s character that requires this immediate justice of death has been satisfied in Jesus (praise God!) and we no longer live in fear, but renewal.

    This is not a “how to worship God in a way and manner pleasing in His sight” passage. This is a passage of contrast between old and new.

    This is what you would call an allegorical interpretation of scripture. Since there is nothing in the context, either immediate or remote, to suggest that Lev. 10 is an allegorical teaching, one would be really reaching to draw such a conclusion. Although someone like Origen may agree with you. 🙂

    Without the gospel, we are all Nadab and Abihu. There is no memeber of the CofC or any other denomination who has worshiped perfectly ever. By law, all are condemned. But by grace and the mercy of God, we can all worship Him, confident in His ability to cleanse us and make us whole.

    Ananias and Sapphira had the gospel, too.

    we have more reason to love God than to fear Him. Fear is only the beginning of wisdom – not the end (or maturity) of it.

    Very true. But the day we forget to be in awe and reverence of Him, is the day we are in big trouble.

    ”See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we 3may nserve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.” — Hebrews 12:25-29

    God bless,


  76. “No dodges”? Why the prod? Have I indicated to you in some way that I “dodge” things? If not, then please be more careful with your words. These are volatile topics that are like salt in the wound for many of us who have dealt with them over the years in the CofC. I’m hoping that this is a place to listen and discuss rather than throw accusations around. Is that what you want to?

    What I really believe is that anyone who seeks God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength will be taught of God as the scripture says (John 6:45, 1Thes 4:9). And Paul says that if someone’s thinking is not in line, God will make that clear to them (Phil 3:19).

    Those who deny what scripture says about baptism are just as bad as those who over interpret it, and that goes for any biblical topic. The CofC is just as guilty of misinterpreting baptism as those you throw stones at for ignoring it.

    If your doctrine is without sin, cast the first stone, so to speak.

    Otherwise, we are actually called to love those who think differently, with the understanding that God is fixing them, just like He’s fixing us. It is within patient relationship that changes come, and deep relationship that iron sharpens iron. Posturing and proof may be the reality of Divinity School, but it is not the reality of the hurting people in churches across America today.

    Since this forum is about the CofC, let’s stick with the planks in our own eyes: Do you believe the CofC is the only church with correct doctrine?

  77. [Off Topic]
    Is there a way to contact the author(s) of this blog directly?

  78. Matt Clifton Says:


    What I really believe is that anyone who seeks God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength will be taught of God as the scripture says (John 6:45, 1Thes 4:9). And Paul says that if someone’s thinking is not in line, God will make that clear to them (Phil 3:19).

    Then how do you account for the hundreds of denominationalists who have gone to the grave denying baptism is necessary for salvation?

  79. Matt Clifton Says:


    I am sorry my words have caused you anger. I deeply apologize for causing this feeling to come up within you.

    It has been my experience that it is very difficult to talk to some about salvation these days. They talk about salvation in such hazy, mystical terms that one can hardly pin them down to any real position at all.

    So, if I ask you if baptism is necessary for the remission of sins, can you just say “yes” or “no?” Thanks!

    What I really believe is that anyone who seeks God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength will be taught of God as the scripture says (John 6:45, 1Thes 4:9). And Paul says that if someone’s thinking is not in line, God will make that clear to them (Phil 3:19).

    Then how do you account for the hundreds of denominationalists who have gone to the grave denying baptism is necessary for salvation?

    Do you simply say they were not seeking Him truly?

  80. It’s not anger, it’s hurt.

    Your statement “a simple yes or no” is a good example. While in the CofC I was a part of many doctrinal debates and had many of the exact same answers that you do (including this one) while trying to pinpoint someone else so I could “love” them with the “truth”. So this is a difficult place to return to.

    I have been praying for this forum all day so that it would neither be tainted by me, you, or anyone else, but that true study would prevail. This is desperately needed, which is why I’m willing to risk a bit to try and participate as a born and raised CofCer.

    I have thought often today of no longer participating, fearing that the CofC is the same today as it was when I was when in it. Some of your remarks have made me think so, but I’m trying to give the benefit of the doubt, since I don’t know you.

    If the question was as simple as yes or no, then all the debates over the years would have been meaningless. But it is not that simple no matter what you’ve been taught. The problem is, coming for the CofC, everything is clear, and if you don’t believe the CofC way, then you’re hellbound. It’s been that way for a long long time, and it makes me weep some days, for I love my brothers in the CofC.

    Which leads me to your last question: “Then how do you account for the hundreds of denominationalists who have gone to the grave denying baptism is necessary for salvation?”

    There it is: “They” are denominationalists. “We” are not. “They” don’t have the truth. “We” do.

    That attitude is so Pharisee, that I’m trying not to throw up on the keyboard.

    “They” are in the same boat that “we” are: we are at the mercy of God’s grace, with all of our doctrinal errors completely visible. No one will stand before God blameless. On judgment day “we” will look exactly like “them” before the Lord. So whatever it is that you and I will tell God that day will work for them as well. I plan on claiming the blood of Jesus. And so will every other believer.

    So, I would love to dialog about these things, but I’m afraid it seems we don’t even have a common language to speak from, which makes it difficult. I remember what it was like to have all the answers when I was in the CofC. Quite comforting. But God shook my foundations to the core, humbled me, and set me free from having to be in charge of everyone else’s salvation. He convinced me quite clearly that such was His job, not mine.

    So this is one dog that will not return to that vomit no matter how much he is prodded.

  81. churchesofchrist Says:

    Brad Stanford, please email me at


  82. Todd Deaver Says:


    My e-mail address is ptdeaver(at)yahoo(dot)com.

  83. Robert Baty Says:

    Brad seems to be, like others, having an aversion to propositional truth; things that have simple “yes” or “no” answers.

    Despite our often-times failure to affect positive results, the effort is certainly worthwhile and fundamental to dealing with issues, particularly issues of controversy.

    I tried in the beginning to simply get our four principal actors to agree on certain propositional statements regarding their respective positions and then either affirm (“yes”) or deny (“no”) them in order to provide a foundation and initiate a more substantive dialogue on the important matters dividing them.

    Alas, they would not…yet!
    Alas, there now seems to be forty, instead of 4, who prefer to chase rabbits rather than get down to actually dealing with what this blog was supposed to be all about.

    Again, you have my apologies for my part in failing to get the players here to be more productive in their efforts.

    I tried!

    Robert Baty

  84. Joe Baggett Says:


    My heart goes out to you. I have a similar story also pertaining to my rearing in the good ol’cofC. you may e-mail me if you wish. A good book is “12 steps for a recovering Pharisee.”

    God Bless

  85. What’s your email address?

  86. Jay Guin Says:


    You can reach me at jfguin(at)comcast(dot)net.


  87. Glenn Dowling Says:

    Brothers, and I say that literally. I am a genuine Church of Christ dropout and now serve as an elder in a conservative Presbyterian Church (PCA). Don’t mean to parade my change but I am firm in it. 25 years ago talking to a friend whose wife was a member of the CofC and he attended with her – I commented that the next thing the Church of Christ would discover would be the Holy Spirit. And it truly seems to have. More recently, I predicted that the Church of Christ would discover grace – and it truly seems to be doing that. I am encouraged by the dialogue above although I have not read it all. Where the discussion always must lead to is “security of the believer” which I firmly believe. Obedience is a genuine by-product of true conversion and not a “requirement” as some would teach.

  88. Glenn Dowling Says:

    Brad, Are you still in the Church of Christ? I noticed above that over 78,000 had left the Church of Christ this past year. Some of the reasons enumerated were the exact one I clearly felt as a 15 year old kid. I figured I could live the “good life” but then maybe when I was old I might do something really stupid – then whammo – lost! That can’t be grace.

  89. Randy Says:

    Does the Holy Spirit reside in the believer literally or only through the written Word? This is clearly a doctrinal issue and one that conservatives disagree on. Both views clearly can not be right. Which is teaching a damnable doctrine – a fatal error??

    How is it, we can fellowship with each other on this issue, but when we bring up Musical Instruments in church, we splits hairs there, to such a point that many even consider it FATAL. Who makes these doctrinal rules? Who declares what is fatal and what is not? I hope Jay, Phil, Todd and Greg address some of these in future post.

  90. Wayne McDaniel Says:

    Rex, Earlier this morning I found the three responses you made to Matt Clifton on 4/7.
    Your words were clear,concise and convincing to me. In his responses I found nothing persuasive. I look forward to more of your input that reflects a spirit of humility and a healthy mind.

    I was slow to see myself in Luke’s words,
    “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and set all others at nought.” The righteousness, peace and joy of the Holy Spirit
    will not be experienced in that path.

  91. Liberty Grace Says:

    “Then how do you account for the hundreds of denominationalists who have gone to the grave denying baptism is necessary for salvation?”

    I know this wasn’t directed at me, but I had a thought. I don’t believe in The Rapture. Many of my friends do. Some of them are concerned for my beliefs. But I told them “If I’m wrong, and there is a Rapture, I’m certain I’ll get ‘Raptured’ anyway. Because it is faith in Christ that will get me to heaven, not faith in a Rapture.” If I am baptized out of obedience to Christ and not because I believe it to be necessary for salvation, will I not still be saved, even if I am wrong? It is faith and obediece in Christ that saves me, not a belief in regenerative baptism.

    I’ve been involved in many different denominations and every believer I know is baptized. My church doesn’t believe in regenerative baptism, yet they believe baptism should be immediately after one’s confession because of the example in the NT. It is a erroneous belief of The CoC that “other churches don’t baptize”.

    Thank you for answering my questions!

  92. Wayne McDaniel Says:

    Brad, I have just read the posts you made yesterday,
    4/8, in response to Matt Clifton. I found your words refreshing in thought, and reflecting the spirit of humility. The indwelling Spirit tempers our words to reflect Jesus’ gentleness and compassion. I look forward to more input from you.

  93. Darin Says:

    deep ruts. very deep ruts.

    I pray for all involved.

  94. Glenn, Wayne,

    To answer Glenn’s question, I embarked on my journey out of the CofC about six years ago after having been everything from song leader to Adult class teacher to youth minister. It was a decision that was quite difficult, but even in the face of dear close relatives telling me that I left “The Church”, I proceeded to follow God’s voice, and I will never be the same!

    Wayne: I have informed the authors here that I will not be participating further, but I had to post here due to tell you thank you for your words! I’m thinking of posting some writings in response to those who wish to know more about my spiritual experiences, as it relates to the CofC. My greatest desire is for discussion, passion, and revival to break out in the group that taught me how to study and revere the word of God.

    Anyone can contact me at, and you can see what I look like at if you want to read any future postings from me, drop me a line.

    Thanks to the Authors for stepping out and trying to talk! I just don’t want to plague their blog with long discussions that are outside the scope of what they are trying to accomplish.


  95. cordobatim Says:


    Sorry to be slow to get back on this. My point is that the Bible gives no more importance to the story of Nadab and Abihu than it does to their two brothers that were shown grace. Nevertheless, our brotherhood writings elevate one example above the other. That’s not using the Bible in a respectful way, it’s picking and choosing what serves our arguments.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  96. nick gill Says:

    Not only that, Tim, but every writer on this string who has used Nadab and Abihu to support their “conservative” position has dodged the question of Eleazar and Ithamar, who violated authorized worship rules just as blatantly, did their disobedience on the same day as their brothers, and were not struck down.

    Not only that, Moses was inspired to keep their story in the same literary context as their brothers’ story.

    “Progressives” get attacked for twisting Scripture by men who will not address the message of one whole chapter, but must chop it up to make it say what they want it to say.

  97. Glenn Dowling Says:

    Randy, Forgive me if I have not read (followed) all the above emails. Scripture teaches that the Holy Spirit resides in believers and is also manifest through the reading of the word of God.

    The anti-musical instrument argument is absolutely the sillyist position. The pat position is, “people in other churches listen to the music more and don’t sing. That could be said of any church at times. The CofC is slowly realizing it, I believe.

  98. Glenn Dowling Says:

    Liberty Grace: I agree with you. I believe the “one faith, one baptism” refers to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Water baptism is only a symbol of the real thing and should be administered as an act of obedience and identification with Christ’s Church. Water baptism does not save anyone; only the blood of Christ.

  99. Glenn Dowling Says:

    Matt, May I join in on this discussion? I am a former CofC member. Some of the most sincere people and friends I know are in the CofC. Sincerity, as you know, is no barometer for the truth. The truth is we are “saved by grace through faith -and this is not of yourselves, it is a gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. Grace is “unmerited favor” One does not earn a gift as he would a wage (for some work done). What is at the very heart of the CofC belief system is the effects of sin in the garden. CoC does not seem to believe in “original sin” which leads them way off track. Let’s talk.

  100. Randy Says:

    Glen, I would like to give you my email address for further questions on this subject of “original sin” randycraiger(at )yahoo( dot )com

  101. Wayne McDaniel Says:

    Glenn, I have just read your posts of the past few days and am encouraged by what you have written. Though still among cofC, I have finally understood the importance of the record in Gen.3.
    I am not much of a reader of classic lit., but have been blessed to discover the words of Blaise Pascal from his PENSES. In reference to the effect of the original sin he wrote, “Certainly nothing offends us more rudely than this doctrine, yet without this mystery, the most incomprensible of all, we are incomprensible to ourselves.”

    The simple qr.: do we choose God, or does God choose us? – can be answered from scripture, and from that answer we grow into awareness of our ongoing need of the Lord’s mercy to us (Lk.18:13). It also leads to the assurance that “he who began a good work in you,will perfect it unto the day of Jesus Christ.” -Phil.1:6.

    I fear that the obsession with IM by some in cofC is more of an attempt to distinguish themselves, and “set all others at nought”, than trying to follow the Lord’s will. I confess that I have been guilty of the PRIDE that seeks to do that.

  102. Bondservant Says:

    Glenn, is their a way I can email you? There is some information I can give you that you may be interested in. This may help you as you discuss some of these issue’s.

  103. Royce Says:

    How can anyone deny “original sin” after observing their own children and grand children. Right out of the womb they are selfesh, will lie, and otherwise display a sin nature.

    Has anyone of you ever had to teach a child to be dishonest, impatient, disobedient…? And, the scriptures say of all of us, “…who are by nature the children of wrath”.

    Case made! Of course those little ones and the mentally challenged are not in danger of perishing. No person unable to make a moral judgment will face God’s wrath for sin. Only those who sin on purpose are guilty.


  104. Bondservant Says:

    Glenn, another blog had a discussion on original sin a discussion I think you will be interested in.
    The address of the blog is and you can go to the search box located down on the side and type in “Age of Accountability”.

  105. Randy Says:

    Royce, this has been debated quite a bit within the church of Christ. I dont want to get off subject, but this is pretty much agreed upon by most church of Christ assemblies. I mean that churches of Christ do not believe in original sin as taught by Calvinist and others. I am open to hearing this, but I think its a subject for another blog. Maybe you could address this on your blog. I would like to comment there as would Glenn ( I think )

  106. Wayne McDaniel Says:

    Royce, Thank you for this brief and pointed statement. Your words are refreshing to me.

  107. Bondservant Says:

    Glenn, Just in case you don’t see where the comments are on the discussion post “Age of Accountability” on the other blog go to the bottom of the post and click on comments.

  108. nick gill Says:

    That is the danger of using extra-biblical terminology — there is no limit to the content with which such a term can be filled.

    From Wikipedia: “Original sin is, according to a doctrine proposed in Christian theology, humanity’s state of sin resulting from the Fall of Man. This condition has been characterized in many ways, ranging from something as insignificant as a slight deficiency, or a tendency toward sin yet without collective guilt, referred to as a ‘sin nature’, to something as drastic as total depravity or automatic guilt by all humans through collective guilt.”

    Yes, we are all poured into molds cracked and warped by generation upon generation of sin. That is the truth of the quote from Ephesians.

    The problem is that when two people talk about original sin, they can be talking about two very different things.

    Person A can say, “I don’t believe in original sin,” and mean to say, “I do not believe in total hereditary depravity.”

    Person R 🙂 can say, “How can anyone deny ‘original sin’?” and mean, “I believe in the tendency toward sin without collective guilt.”

    Defining one’s terms is such a necessary part of profitable discourse.

    in HIS love,

  109. nick gill Says:

    kind of ironical that the guy who keeps saying, ‘give me a yes or no answer’ ‘GIVE ME A YES OR NO ANSWER’ suddenly feels interrogated.

  110. Randy Says:

    You are so right Nick. We can get lost in the terminology.

    Let me throw this your way. What if someone within the church of Christ held a total depravity view, would he be dis-fellowshiped? My guess is, that long as he keeps this to himself, he would be ok, but if he tried to force this upon others, he might be booted to the curb.

    I guess a deeper question is…..will holding a Calvinistic view cause one to lose his salvation? Or holding any points of the TULIP?

  111. Randy Says:

    To clarify. If one becomes born again, attends a cofC assembly…but through his own study agrees partly with TULIP theology, would this cause his salvation to be lost? Seeing we all grow at various rates/levels, I would think him to be saved while in the process of growing/learning.

  112. Bondservant Says:

    Randy, you are saying those who believe original sin believe so because Calvin said so. That is not true many Christians believe in original sin not because of what Calvin said but because of what the Bible says.

  113. Matt Clifton Says:


    If you will notice, it was a joke. But I do not expect much grace from you guys, after what I have seen on this site. Frankly, I have been shocked to learn just how close-minded the “open-minded progressives” are.

    God bless you,


  114. Robert Baty Says:


    Notice that, did you?

    Robert Baty

  115. […] are a few realizations I have come to as a result of reading the comments on […]

  116. Matt Clifton Says:


    Yes, I did. Frankly, I’m extremely saddened that this conversation has turned into nothing more than a shouting match, and an opportunity to hold the church up to ridicule before the world.

    I repent for my part, and I’m bowing out.

    May God bless all who truly seek His will, and are wiling to deny personal desire for his kingdom.


  117. Randy Says:

    Matt, I hope you reconsider and not bow-out as your input is helpful and needed.

    I think it is hard to convey thought online and often we misread each other.

    I do wish the Authors would take more of a lead on here though. Phil seems to have given the most input; Todd, the least.

    People will lose interest if the Authors do not give more input and lead. The blog is running here and there with comments and no direction from the Authors.

  118. Alan Scott Says:


    First let me say I agree. Matt should stay in (and should apologize for his “close-minded” accusation – such is not helpful for discussion), and the “authors” should keep the discussion going and guided, even if brief.

    As for “input”, Phil may have contributed the most words, but I do not think we can judge “input” quality by the quantity of words. To be frank, too many points in one post is not helpful to good conversation. Original posts that are much more brief and limited to a specific point will be easier to discuss and follow – both for the authors, the responders, and the busy (which may be all of the above). 🙂

    God bless,
    Alan Scott

  119. Robert Baty Says:

    I think, if apologies are called for, the “progressives” here ought to be leading the way.

    Matthew 7:1,2 & James 3:1!

    I do appreciate the recognition, though I would have preferred it otherwise, that my early on advice and counsel should have been heeded.

    Robert Baty

  120. Alan Scott Says:

    Since I do not know if Matt will allow differing opinions to be posted on his blog, I will also post here my take on his observations:


    I respect you giving your opinion on graceconversations, but I storngly disagree with your assessment that the blog is a “brilliant opportunity for progressives bloggers to attack and ridicule conservatives, and backslap and cheer one another on as they do so” and “majority of progressive bloggers are just as close minded as those they accuse of the same” and “damaging the image of the church.”

    First, I have sensed what seems to be a very condescending attitide from the “more traditional” Church of Christ posters toward those who are less traditional. Perhaps you have sensed the same in reverse, and that is what prompted your attack in what seemed to be a parting shot post there. This kind of discussion is needed for the very reason that too often, the more traditional members give their packaged speeches then seem to recoil when anyone has an equally valid and scriptural point that disagrees. This kind of discussion is needed for the very reason that too often, the less traditional are frustrated and it shows in their words because they feel the more traditional are dismissive of anything that does not fit the party line. This kind of discussion is needed for the very reason that too often, both sides are talking but not to each other, and this forum is a way to learn to talk TO each other, and not past or at.

    Your last point is not accurate at all – this kind of discussion is needed for the very reason the world NEEDS to see differing views discussed – and even frustrations vented – in the Lord’s Church, with both sides reaching out and embracing one another in Christ even when they disagree.

    If you expected perfection at first, then your expectations were too high. If you expected what the founders of the blog expected – a forum for discussion – you should not be disappointed. Perhaps your disappointment is from the realization that your view point IS disagreed with, disgreed with by more than you imagined, and disagreed with more loudly that you expected? Then why leave? Why not submit yourself to a forum where you can be challenged and you can defend yourself, but in which you have submitted to someonelse’s control? It is temoting to post only in one’s own forum where one has complete control, but it isn’t really a realistic dialogue.

    God bless,
    Alan Scott

  121. Randy Says:

    Alan, I didn’t mean Phil was making input I totally agree with, but, at least he is in the game. Is Todd on the sidelines?

    I know the deal with Greg, but where is Todd?

    I know these men are busy, but a brief line from time to time would keep things on track.

  122. Robert Baty Says:

    While I certainly can find value in the discussions here, such as they are, they fall woefully short of what was promoted for the list.

    Perhaps if Matt had followed my cautious, deliberate, fundamental course, he would have enjoyed more “success” and been willing to ride along for more of the ride.

    In opinions liberty, they say.

    And so it is that opinions are being voiced and I agree with Alan’s speculations that, what he sees from the “conservatives” here and is so critical of, is just the sort of thing some of us see in the “progressives”, only to a greater degree.

    Matthew 7:1,2 & James 3:1!

    Perhaps we are getting to the point where the participants here will start taking my advice seriously and working diligently towards the lofty goals this venue was designed to reach.

    But, then again, I couldn’t even get Wayne McDaniel to answer my simple question or even his own!

    Robert Baty

  123. Randy Says:

    Good point, Alan.

    Matt, I think we all here may disagree many times, but lets at least ride out the storm. Your input is needed, even if I, Alan, or others here disagree.

    I have ask more conservatives to join, but they have not done so at this point. This makes me wonder if their arguments are strong as they thought.

    Maybe that is wrong thinking on my part, but leaving can send that message. I do hope you reconsider and continue the discussion, even if it seems heated at times. We can all be friends here, even when we disagree.

  124. Todd Deaver Says:


    I’m just not into superfluous posts. Jay and I correspond with each other re: who will reply to what, and, given his experience and knowledge, he may well be writing more often than me. This isn’t a competition, and there’s no requirement that all four authors have equal time. What is important is that each side have the opportunity to present its case. At this juncture, with Phil and Greg in the “affirmative,” I think Jay has set out the problem very effecively and explained what we need now from the “conservative” side. I don’t know that there’s anything else that needs to be said from our side until we get their response.

  125. Randy Says:


    Thanks for explaining. Just wanted to know if you were here. 🙂


  126. Todd Deaver Says:

    No problem. Thanks for your participation.

  127. Robert Baty Says:

    With all the indicated behind-the-scences tactical scheming going on, why not just elect a representative from each side to deal with the details.

    Otherwise, perhaps Todd’s implicit suggestions will, while mine did not, get those with all the rabbits to keep their traps closed.

    I don’t agree with his conclusion that they have resolved what is needed, but that is for them to work out with the representative opposition.

    Will they?

    Robert Baty

  128. Todd Deaver Says:

    Actually, Robert, I was talking about Jay and me, not those making comments. I’m not advising that either side get quiet. I hope to see more input from conservatives, as Jay requested, in response to the question he raised. I would like to remind us all that it’s critical that we maintain a kind, respectful tone in all we say. Let’s not give anyone an excuse, by our intemperate words, to write this discussion off as counterproductive. Thanks for your participation.

  129. Bondservant Says:

    I don’t think Todd is telling anyone to be quiet at all but is asking for more input from others and has asked everyone to be kind and respectful as they dialogue with each other.

  130. Glenn Dowling Says:

    TO: Mac Deaver:

    In reading through your diatribe against Todd and Jay, I wonder if you have been listening/reading with a mindset of understanding. I have never read them to say, one can “walk in the light” and practice fornication.

    The “pattern” of which you speak has become a Church of Christ “idol” in that you believe you now have a “recipe” for gauging the validity of other “denominations.” Obedience, walking in the light, worshipping, prayer, servicing, witnessing, loving, ministering to unbelievers – give evidence to one’s salvation – but in no way merits it. The Church of Christ “salvation” is liken to one skateboarding on ice; one second you’re up and the next your down. Do you honestly believe that Christ’s death “only gives us a “shot” at salvation and that it is up to us to finish it? When Christ said, “It is finished” he was not implying…”I did my part….now you perfect it by your works.”

    Christians should be in continual repentance, being convicted by the Holy Spirit of wrong thinking and wrong actions. But not looking down our noses at the “others” who do such vile things as using instrumental music…

    Brother, if you can “keep” your salvation by your good actions, then you can lose your salvation by your actions – and, sir, that makes it “of yourselves”…lest any man boast

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