Where Things Stand

by Jay Guin

Mac has made a number of thoughtful points and asked several questions in his last post, but before we get to the particulars, I’d like to be sure I stay centered on the topic we’re here for.

The challenge Todd and I made to our conservative conversationalists is:

  • Please tell us what doctrinal error would cause a saved person to fall away.
  • Please defend your position from the scriptures.

(Todd and I will soon be called upon to do the same from the progressive perspective.)

There have been quite a few posts, and we’ve had a change in participants. I thought it would be helpful if I attempted to summarize where I think we are.

I’ll first go through the posts of my conservative friends and quote the sections that seem to most directly answer the question under consideration. At the end, I’ll summarize what I believe is the conservative contention. Finally, I’ll ask that Phil and Mac correct me if I’m in error on any point.

Phil writes,

The New Testament makes it abundantly clear that doctrinal error can lead to eternal damnation.

We agree, but this doesn’t tell us which doctrinal error does so.

Phil also writes,

A person who teaches false doctrines either lies about God or about his will for mankind. All lying is evil and damnable (Rev. 21:8). What is often called “mistaken” is in reality deception. It is evil to deceive others (John 8:44).

We certainly agree with the evil of lying about God’s truth, but “lying” implies that one knows he is speaking an untruth. What about someone who teaches error in all innocence? Surely some teach in honest error.

Greg writes,

However, Scripture indicates that religious error can lead to eternal destruction.

Again, we agree, but which error?

Phil then writes,

[A]ll doctrinal error has the potential to condemn but does not always do so

So which errors do in fact damn?

Greg then writes,

What I am saying is that when one no longer believes in the complete truthfulness of God’s Word, or when one no longer believes in God’s Way of Salvation, then one stands in danger of divine judgment.

And so, giving due allowance for God’s patience in allowing for repentance, one may be damned for denying the doctrine of inerrancy or when one no longer believes in the “Way of Salvation.”

Greg then offers some additional boundaries

At this point in our discussion (not wanting to be obdurate) let me say that, yes indeed, I feel disregarding the authority of God’s Word concerning male spiritual leadership, and I feel embracing unauthorized worship places one in danger of divine judgment.

Thus, we add to the list of errors resulting in apostasy (with due allowance for God’s patience) error as to the role of women in the church and embracing unauthorized worship.

Greg expands on his position

It is my conviction that no error fits into the category of perpetual indulgence. Error is to be opposed, not accepted.

Now, if Greg is speaking of God’s indulgence, which is what this conversation is about, he certainly seems to say that at some point, any error damns, because at some point God’s patience will expire.

Phil then rejoins the conversation, saying,

The New Testament makes it abundantly clear that doctrinal error can lead to eternal damnation. … I am saying that people who continue to entertain and press beliefs that are false and harm others are sinning. Doctrinal error can lead to eternal damnation.

Of course, teaching harmful error is sin. Phil seems to argue that the error that damns is error that is pressed on others and leads to harm.

Phil continues in the same article,

Doctrinal error can lead to eternal damnation, and yes I believe this can be any doctrinal error. It is so because error is equated in God’s eyes with sin. Any sin can lead to eternal damnation. Doctrinal sin is not less evil than moral sin.

If any sin — moral or doctrinal — can lead to eternal damnation, where does grace fit in?

Phil does not believe grace comes into play until the sin committed has been repented of.

Repentance is always a qualifier. Those who repent of moral sin can find forgiveness, and those who repent of doctrinal error can also find forgiveness. …

Restoration begins with repentance and demands correction. Repentance is the gift of correction. …

Grace teaches correction (Titus 2:11-14); one may not continue in moral or doctrinal error. …

Should a person repent of error, God grants forgiveness.

Phil adds another qualifier for maturity. God does not judge the immature as strictly as the mature.

A second qualifier in my mind is in the area of maturity. We are all growing. Not all men have knowledge as they ought. …

Should we be patient with each other? Yes. How long? Till a person hardens his heart and stubbornly refuses to come to the truth.

At this point, my take on Greg’s and Phil’s position was that any error at all has the potential to damn, even if the error is one of belief and not actual sinful conduct. However, God does not damn immediately. He does not hold the immature to quite as strict a standard, and he allows some time for repentance. However, once God charges the error against the Christian, forgiveness does not happen until the doctrinal error (or moral error) is repented of — and thus the sinning Christian no longer commits that sin.

Mac Deaver was kind enough to fill in for Greg, who had to leave the discussion for a time. He’s written two posts. In his first post, he explains,

Briefly, not all errors damn the soul. Those doctrinal errors that when believed create divine doctrinal violation (sin), however, could damn the soul.

Mac expands on this point in his second post

Now, having already said that some personally held doctrinal errors may not finally condemn a person, it is still true that some of these doctrinal errors are so clear and significant that they do condemn. We reject them, not simply because we find fault with them, but because we know that to stay in them is to forfeit salvation (cf. 11 Tim. 2:16-18; 1 Tim. 6:3-5; 1 Cor. 15:12-19). There are some things we do not do nor condone for conscience sake (Rom.14:23); we avoid some things because we know that such leads to eternal ruin even for those who with a good conscience continue in them. And some people stand self-condemned (Tit. 3:10, 11). …

By divine doctrinal violation, I mean a violation of divine teaching. I could be in error with regard to many facts given in the Scriptures. But doctrinal violation would involve me in sin. I could be wrong about the interpretation of a lot of factual information without getting into violation of obligation.

Thus, the standard for which errors damns is how “clear and significant” the errors are. But some “personally held” errors do not damn. Moreover, error does not damn until it leads to actual sin. Mere false beliefs that do not lead to sinful conduct do not damn.

Like Greg and Phil, Mac stresses God’s patience with error.

However, the degree to which God allows doctrinal error in the heart of a saint at a given time is not always clear to us, nor does it have to be. There is certainly time allowed for growth (11 Pet. 3:18). That is God’s concern.

Mac then explains,

Doctrinal error that is clearly personally corruptive, congregationally disruptive, or doctrinally detrimental is condemned (1 Cor. 5:1-8; Tit. 3:10; 11 Tim. 2:18; Gal. 2:5).

In his second post, Mac expands on this standard,

By “doctrinally detrimental,” I mean error that corrupts or that is a detriment to pure doctrine. It damages pure doctrine (cf. Gal. 1:6-10). Paul makes it clear that it is possible to embrace a doctrine, the falsity of which implies that the truth of the gospel is not continuing with us anymore (Gal. 2:5). Such doctrines have to be fought. Liberty promised by such falsity is misguided; bondage awaits (Gal. 2:4; 11 Cor. 3:17). …

Errors are doctrinally detrimental if they are conclusions reached which attack the doctrine of Christ. Errors of some Bible facts (although the presentation of these facts is Bible doctrine) are not very consequential. Errors of other facts would be. Some facts we must know; others we do not have to know. Errors of doctrine that lead people to sin, however, would be attacks on the purity of the gospel of Christ and harmful to those who subscribe to them. Any doctrine that implies that we do not have to submit to the least requirements (obligations) of the doctrine of Christ is a false doctrine (Matt.5:19; cf. Matt 23:23; Luke 17:10).

Mac concludes that error must be “consequential,” that is, it must “lead people to sin” for the error to lead to damnation.

Regarding what is required to repent, Mac asserts,

Regarding Todd’s second question as to whether or not repentance always entails the cessation of the sin, let me say that it does.

Mac expands on this in his second post. He writes,

No cessation-no repentance. One cannot walk in righteousness and walk in evil at the same time (Eph. 2:1-3). …

But doctrinal error that causes violation of God’s law is not something that one has to live with (Jno. 8:32; Rom. 12:1, 2; 11 Jno.4; 1 Tim. 6:20, 21). If it were otherwise (if we had to live with continual doctrinal error that causes continual violation of God’s will) we would not need the Bible. If we are forever shut up to inevitable doctrinal error that keeps us in constant violation of God’s will, truth cannot save us (But, Acts 20:32). All of us must grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ (11 Pet. 3:18). To fail to do so is sin.

Thus, Mac seems to argue, consistently with Greg’s and Phil’s earlier posts, that God will only temporarily tolerate doctrinal error. There comes a point where we have to get it right. And this is any error “that causes violation of God’s law.” That is, Mac appears to narrow those errors that damn to errors that lead to sinful conduct (“that causes continual violation of God’s will”).

Finally, in Mac’s second post, he concludes that the Richland Hills Church of Christ is lost in sin because of having added an instrumental service. He argues,

Regarding a congregation’s forsaking the form of pure worship practice for unauthorized worship, I would say that flesh now dominates spirit regarding those in the eldership and the preacher. Perhaps there are some in the congregation who simply are confused or being novices have not found their duty clear, but those experienced leaders who left the truth for worship error, flesh has dominated spirit (cf. the brethren at Corinth who were in so much error and who seemed for a while not to comprehend their sad condition).

Now, I had pointed out that this congregation is very devoted to spiritual things, being quite active in their care for the poor and needy, in evangelism and missions, and in regular worship. Thus, I inquired whether the addition of an instrumental service necessarily means that a church’s fleshly nature dominates its spiritual nature.

Mac says it certainly does. And this is consistent with his writings, as error in instrumental music leads to erroneous practice. However, thousands of their members do not worship with an instrument. They are merely willing to be identified with a congregation that includes members who do. This also leads to apostasy (with due consideration given for God’s patience).

In summary

If I understand Greg, Phil, and Mac correctly, their understanding of the doctrine of apostasy due to doctrinal error runs like this —

  1. Not all doctrinal error damns.
  2. Error due to a Christian’s status as a novice is tolerated by God until the Christian has had the opportunity to be instructed on that matter.
  3. Even the mature Christian isn’t immediately damned for his error, as God will be patient for a while in hopes the Christian will repent.
  4. The error that leads to damnation is error that leads to sinful conduct. Thus, merely having the wrong position on instrumental music in worship, held privately, would not damn — until the Christian either teaches the error or worships in error (subject to points 2 and 3).
  5. Once a Christian is lost for doctrinal error, he cannot be restored until he repents by no longer teaching the error, believing the error, or practicing the sin that error has led to.
  6. The standard for doctrinal error is the same as for moral error. Both damn (subject to points 2 and 3) until repented of by the Christian who, consequently, ceases to commit that sin.
  7. Examples of doctrinal errors that damn (subject to points 2 and 3) include —
    • Erroneous teaching or practice as to the Way of Salvation.
    • Erroneous teaching with respect to the inerrancy of the scriptures.
    • Erroneous teaching or practice with respect to the role of women in the church.
    • Erroneous teaching or practice regarding the worship of God.

    Please correct me if I’ve gotten any of this wrong.

    I am about to leave on vacation and don’t know whether I’ll have time to respond to Mac’s list of questions before the trip. However, I’m thinking that a more direct and helpful approach would be to proceed in this order —

    1. Mac and/or Phil corrects any error in our understanding of their position.
    2. Jay and Todd state their position and the scriptural justification for it. After all, the point of Mac’s questionnaire is to sort out what we believe. It’d be more helpful if we just tell you. Following our laying out our position, Mac would be welcome to re-ask any questions that he’d find helpful to the conversation.

    While we certainly have points to make regarding the arguments made by Mac, we believe the discussion would be less abstract and easier to follow if we go ahead and put our position on the table.

    I should add that as soon as I get back from vacation, Todd will be leaving on his own vacation, so it may take us a little while to put things together.

    Explore posts in the same categories: Apostasy

    69 Comments on “Where Things Stand”

    1. Royce Ogle Says:

      Anyone who believes the elders and preacher at North Richland Hills are lost is far too confused to have a discussion about grace. Not one verse of Scripture supports such a conclusion.

      It is as if Jesus doesn’t even exist. What gospel saves? Is it the traditional church of Christ or is it the good news about what Christ has accomplished for wicked sinners?

      It is very discouraging that so called leaders are so passionate about things like music in worship and speak little of Christ and His atoning death for helpless.


    2. […] Jay has responded with a post attempting to summarize the conservative position, “Where Things Stand.” […]

    3. Jay, restating/repeating/summarizing the points made is a great way to make sure we are understanding each other and I deeply appreciate the effort you and this site’s contributing partners have made to increase our understanding of each other’s beliefs.

      It has certainly increased my understanding about why the folks who speak of scripture as law only do so with such insistence: they honestly believe obedience to everything they have logicked out as commandment from God, even in His silence, to be necessary to salvation. It is not a principle that is readily apparent from scripture, and so it must be repeated with force until everyone else agrees with them – even to the neglect of the heart of the gospel, the grace of God in Christ, which is readily apparent from scripture.

      Your recap, if accurate, certainly confirms that the letter kills … but the gist of this belief system does not address whether the Spirit gives life. It implies one must fear God, for He is just and punishes the evildoer … but does not seem to treat the notion that one should also love God, for He is merciful, and shows grace to the humble.

      And I have an answer to my unaddressed question in the comments of the post The Two Questions on the Repentance Requirement: “Was Peter’s salvation forfeit after Pentecost but before Paul withstood him to his face? was he not guilty of the sin of either not believing Jesus’ prophecy about including Gentiles in His church, or at least failing to act on it for fear of his Jewish brothers?” In the view you have summarized from Mac and Phil, the answer as I understand it would be “Yes, unless God’s patience extended through this period of maturing in Peter’s life.”

      So Peter – the man who preached gospel and baptized the Gentile household of Cornelius was lost because of his later practice of lawful prejudice against Gentiles, and remained so unless he repented after Paul confronted him (which we can only assume from the way he speaks of him in 2 Peter 3:15) because Paul doesn’t tell us (Galatians 2:11-21).

      If God’s grace through Christ’s blood did not extend hope for Peter, then none of us can have hope.

    4. Gary Cummings Says:

      Royce, I agree with you. Those who believe Richland Hills elders, ministers, deacons and members are damned for their variance from standard COC may be damned. That is sad, for they claim to know the Scriptures and they deny the power of God. In reality they do not know God’s saving Word of Grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, who acts directly upon the human heart (either with or without the Word).

      I think the “Apostle’s Creed” is a fairly good example and summary of what a true believer in Jesus believes, and stuff beyond the creed are tradition and opinion and nothing more.


    5. Gary Cummings Says:

      We all do and believe foolish things at times as Christians. Doesn’t love cover a multitude of sins?


    6. Gary Cummings Says:

      If unrepented doctrinal error damns, then the whole conservative COC Sommerite sect must be damned. They teach: salvation by works, salvation by baptism, acapella music ONLY, the five fingered salvation plan, five acts of worship only, the cessation of miraculous gifts (charismata),denial of women in ministry, all other Christian religious groups are damned, baptism only on Sunday, and elders as CEO’s rather than servants. All of this is doctrinal error, and in the COC mind of unrepented doctrinal error, then this list of doctrinal error must be damning before the Holy God of the universe.

    7. Ed Boggess Says:

      Summarizing or posturing? If a congregation goes “beyond what is written” in worship, the flesh overrides the spiritual in worship. It says nothing of benevolence. I believe IM is both unauthorized and inexpedient. You ask that I proclaim that IM users may proceed without consequence under an umbrella of grace or pretend it doesn’t matter because in other areas they are benevolent or spiritual? Presumptuous! What right do I have to judge another man’s servant? Judgment is the Lord’s business, not mine or yours. The disciple teaches what his master instructs. “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher” (Lk6:40). The disciple indeed abides in Jesus’ words. Conversion involves the change of will (repentance). As the true disciple learns he continues to allow Jesus to mold and shape his thinking and life. But Jesus spoke a parable (Lk 6:39) in direct connection with discipleship: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch?” If the disciple chooses his will over Jesus’ will or the words of a blind guide over Jesus’ words, the rejection of Jesus’ will or the rejection of Jesus’ words, is the rejection of Jesus. Moreover, it may be done so “sincerely”, “blindly”. A lie is a lie whether hypocritically or sincerely told or believed. Jesus told the Sadducees “you are mistaken, not knowing the scriptures or the power of God.” Mistaken! In Jn 219-21 Jesus told the Jews, “destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” They understood one thing, Jesus spoke of another. But Jesus didn’t correct them. Why not? “If anyone wills to do his will, he shall know concerning the doctrine.” They were “sincere” in their misunderstanding, but they lacked enough will to pursue it to the truth.

    8. Dusty Chris Says:

      Has anyone read “Pagan Christianity” by Frank Viola. He writes about the pagan rites and rituals that have infiltrated the church…it is a real eye opener. Reading it may give you an appreciation for how much grace is really needed to cover us, even the things we count as righteous.

    9. laymond Says:

      “A conversation regarding the disagreements that separate the conservative and progressive branches of the churches of Christ”

      Well since no one bothers to post any more, I guess this project can be considered a success, It certainly has brought people like Royce Ogle, and Mac Deaver together. I am sure God will never bring people together as one who believe in three Gods pretending to be one. Has anyone ever wondered why CoC people are so confused, just like those who were working on the tower of babel, you are working from the wrong base, and the wrong cornerstone.

      Mk:12:32: And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:

      1Cor:8:6: But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

      Until we as Christians deny the man concocted doctrines and start living by the truth, there will be confusion.
      Start teaching what the bible teaches, there is only one God, and see if the Church does not start to grow instead of decline as it is now.

    10. Ed Boggess Says:

      I have read your posts and see that you have a real problem with the doctrine of God. You quote Mk 12:32, which was quoted from the Hebrew Shema (Deut 6:4f). Modern Judaism is dependent for its form upon one who was honored to such an extent that he has been called the “second Moses.” Moses ben Maimon, generally referred to as Moses Maimonides, was born in Cordova, Spain, about 1135. When he was thirteen years old. Spain came under Muslim rule and the Koran was forced upon Jews and Christians alike. He fled and spent years wandering before they settled in Cairo. By this time Maimonides had established a reputation as a scholar, philosopher, and physician. He was made both the Rabbi of Cairo and personal physician to Saladi, the reigning sultan. He undertook the task of synthesizing revelation and human wisdom, of blending faith and reason into a harmonious whole, by reconciling the tenets of rabbinic Judaism with the rationalization of Aristotelian philosophy. Thomas Aquinas undertook to do for Catholicism what Maimonides did for Judaism. Modern Judaism is an attempt to establish the validity of the doctrinal deductions of Maimonides, as set forth in his thirteen articles of faith and in the monumental work: Guide to the Perplexed. One of the thirteen articles of faith accepted and repeated in the Jewish liturgy is, “I believe with a perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His name, is an absolute one.” The Hebrew word used here for “absolute one” is yachid. It literally means “only one,” or “absolute one”, the ultimate reality, indivisible and inseparable. For eight centuries Jews have repeated this creedal statement, and yet it is not what God revealed through Moses in the Torah. It is the very opposite. In the Shema, as contained in Deuteronomy 6:4, God laid down a principle of faith to represent the divine revelation of the nature of Deity: “Hear, 0 Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord,” or better, “The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” The word for “one” is achad. This means a “united one.” The first Moses used achad (united one), while the “second Moses” used yachid (only one). The first Moses revealed the word of God, while the second was trying to produce a human synthesis of thought. For comparison take a look at Gen 2:24 – “the two become one” (achad) or Gen 34:16 “we’ll settle among you and become one people with you” (achad). I hope this will help and it is offered with that intent only.

    11. Gary Cummings Says:

      I believe that instrumental music in not anti-Scriptural, it occurred in the OT, and is found in heaven, where God is. God liked it in the days of the Mosaic Covenant and it awaits us in heaven, so it can’t be unauthorized or inexpedient for Christians if God likes it. PSALLO does allow for instrumental music. Also the New Testament as we have it today did not exist then. The New Covenant-YES, the New Testament-NO. The New Testament was written over a period of about 40 to 59 years, and was then not even in a single codex until about 50 years after that. Then the NT canon, as we have it, was not fully recognized till even much later after that. My point is that the Word of God, the early Church most appealed to was the Old Testament. They knew that we were not under the Old Covenant of Moses, but the OT was still the Word of God, and was divinely interpreted to the early church by the Holy Spirit. This happened over and over. The point is that the Word of God the early Christian movement appealed to for its first formative decades was the Old Testament. The OT has instrumental music in it. We need to deal with this fact. There was Scriptural authorization then, and now, for instrumental music in the assembly of God’s people.

    12. laymond Says:

      Thanks Ed, for taking time to give your take on the subject, and I will study on what you say.
      Ed, do you believe the congregations known as the church of Christ across the nation or world believe as you do, or believe that God is anything other than a supreme being ruler over all things. I was raised in the Church of Christ and never once do I remember this threesome being referred to as God. Not until it became fashionable to hire only preachers who had attended religious schools, or preaching schools where they were taught by “progressive” teachers, did this “doctrine” become prevalent as the unexplainable God. although I have never heard a preacher preach a sermon on the subject. I don’t understand the unwillingness to stand before a congregation and explain the “Trinity” . If you ask the question as it is stated in the “Trinity Doctrine” (I know you called it the doctrine of God, first time I have heard that too.) If you were to ask most older Christians if they believe God is made up of three persons of equal authority, they would gasp.

      If one believes that the total scripture comes from God’s own breath, why must we go back to the old testament to explain what was plainly said in the new.?
      Do you believe if it were not for the Nicene Creed, this would even be a subject for discussion.?

      Ed, Why do you believe the CoC has so many problems?

    13. Royce Ogle Says:

      Perhaps part of the problem with our churches is that people who claim to be Christians deny Jesus own words where He claimed to be God.

      Maybe the reason folks like Laymond can’t comprehend that there is one God (essence) who has chosen to manifest Himself in three persons is addressed in this post. (http://gracedigest.com/2009/06/02/reading-the-bible-with-understanding/)

      You can’t read the Bible like a history book and understand it. It is “alive”, is spiritual, and only those who have “God” the Spirit living in them can understand it.


    14. Gary Cummings Says:

      The one God exists as a Triune eternal being: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This is the doctrine of the Trinity. The word “Trinity” is not used in the Bible, but the concept is there, in both OT and NT. It is clear that there is only one Yahweh and that the Father is Yahweh, Jesus is Yahweh, and the Holy Spirit is Yahweh.

      When I became a Christian in 1964 while attending a Baptist Church, the Trinity was assumed. When I “joined with” the Churches of Christ, there was a lot of ambiguity about the Trinity. Barton W. Stone was a modalist, and this affected a lot of COC believers down the line. Campbell was a Trinitarian, yet he rejected the use of the word Trinity. Later in the mid 1800’s , other disciples split from the DOC and became LDS, Christadelphians, and there was some DOC influence with the founder of the Jehovah Witness sect. All of these groups are non -Trinitarian, and a small root can be traced back to the DOC movement. Later the the COC hi-jacked a part of the Disciples Movement, it was led by pretty ignorant blowhards, who rejected good theology and good hermeneutics for proof-texting. A lot of bad proof-texting accounts for a lot of the theological error within the Churches of Christ. I read a JW tract a couple of years ago about why they reject the Trinity, and the reasons given were exactly what I was taught at a couple of Christian colleges and churches of Christ-both “mainstream” and “Non-Sunday School” groups. The JWS are Marcionites: Jesus is a created being. The Mormons are polytheists ( at least no COCer has been accused of this!), and the Oneness-Pentecostals are “Jesus Only believers. This is Modalism: God in three successive modes: Father, SOn, and Holy Spirit. In some circles The Father became the Son, and the Holy Spirit is just “the power of God”, and not a divine being. The Churches of Christ have been very confused about this for two big reasons: Campbell would not use the term “Trinity”, though he was a Trinitarian, and Barton Stone was a Modalist. That ambivalence at the very start of the Restoration Movement led to a bad doctrine of God AT THE VERY START of the movement. Then it got somewhat codified by the Sommerite sect which became the mainstream Churches of Christ. Wayne Grudem wrote a very good theology book called SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY. His section on the Trinity is excellent. In my next post, for all you prooftexters out there, I’ll write a list of “pro-Trinity” Scriptures.

    15. Orion Says:

      I am not a theologian, but my take on the doctrine of the “trinity” is that God is one and chooses to manifest himself as 3 “personalities”.

      As an example: I am a son to my parents, a husband to my wife, a father to my children, etc…you get the picture. Each of these roles requires something different and I behave differently in each, but I am still the same person.

    16. laymond Says:

      In other words Royce only the indwelled can understand what Jesus said. wasn’t that settled a while back, when Jesus said he would give understanding to the apostles, and wasn’t it the apostles who wrote the story told them by Jesus, so that all nations might be saved.?
      Are we still talking Church of Christ here?
      We have to read the bible to understand that we are to follow Jesus, but we can’t understand it until we are already saved. Do I have it now Royce?

    17. Ed, isn’t making law out of things not even mentioned in scripture “going beyond what is written”?

    18. laymond Says:

      Orion, that is the way most Christians think of the trinity, but that is not the way the “Trinity Doctrine ” is written and not the way “Progressives” see it. The doctrine says it is
      “three individual persons of equal authority none above the other” It takes all three to make one God.

    19. Gary Cummings Says:

      Dear Orion,
      Your example of one person being 3 personalities is not quite the classical definition of an ontological Trinity. Your definition fits into an “Economic Trinity”, that is one person doing three roles. I am a son, a husband, and a brother, but that does not make me Triune.

      The Trinity is Biblical and easy and complex at the same time. One God (Yahweh) in 3 persons: all co-existence and co-eternal. There was never a time when God the Son (Jesus) never existed, there was never a time when God the Holy Spirit never existed, and there was never a time when God the Father never existed. The three are One, and the One is three.

    20. Gary Cummings Says:

      Luke and Mark were not apostles, like Matthew and John. Paul never wrote a Gospel, except Romans is sometimes called “The Gospel according to Paul”

      I do believe the Holy Spirit quickens our heart (apart from the Word)to hear and receive the Gospel and God’s Word.

    21. Gary Cummings Says:

      Jesus is indeed God. Only God can forgive sins, and Jesus claimed to forgive sins. Ergo, He is God.
      The best manuscripts in John 1:18, have “the only begotten God (THEOS not HUIOS). Titus 2:13 calls Jesus “our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ”. Granville Sharps rule in Greek states that both God and Savior refers to Jesus Christ. Even God the Father says about His Son: “Your throne, oh God, is forever and ever.” Hebrews 1:8 Even in the OT, the doctrine of the Trinity is there: Genesis 19:25: “Then the Lord [Yahweh] rained on sodom and Gomorrah sulphur and fire from the Lord [Yahweh].
      Isaiah 48:16 is a very Trinitarian text: “The Lord God [Father] has sent me [son], and His Spirit
      [Holy Spirit]. These are just hints of who God is, like the tip of an iceberg. The New Testament does call Jesus God for sure.

    22. Gary Cummings Says:

      Amen to that! without the Spirit of God or God the Holy Spirit living within us, we can only read the Bible with a “rational bent”. Those who do not have the Holy Spirit living within them through faith in Jesus are not saved and can never understand the grace of God, except as some kind of exegetical exercise. Let’s get beyond the merely stale rationalistic mindset to the mind of Christ and receive and live the living Word of God. I agree with you.

    23. Gary Cummings Says:

      Making a law out of silence is going beyond what is written. It is just dumb theology!

    24. laymond Says:

      Gary here is one more thing no one has been able to explain, if they are 3 persons: all co-existence and co-eternal.what do the words pater and huios mean in the following vs. and why are they used.?

      Mt:11:27: All things are delivered unto me of my Father(pater g3962): and no man knoweth the Son (huios g5207), but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.

    25. laymond Says:

      Gary said; “When I became a Christian in 1964 while attending a Baptist Church, the Trinity was assumed. When I “joined with” the Churches of Christ, there was a lot of ambiguity about the Trinity.”
      Gary it is no body’s business but yours, but I am curious as to why you switched from Baptist, to CoC. you and Royce sound as if you would fit well within the walls of the baptist church.
      I believe the name of a church has no bearing on your destination.

    26. Randall Says:

      Some have made the point that the OT did not command the use of instruments – at least not to the extent that they were employed in worship to God. (How many places in the OT do you see instrumental accompaniment commanded in the temple worship?) Those arguing this point then go on to say that instrumental music was practiced by the Jews under the law as an “expedient” and the NT writers never condemned it. (For that matter the 20th century CofC didn’t argue against the Jews using IM in worship that I know of.) The NT writers seem to have accepted it as they way things were done and apparently they were OK with it. The use of instrumental music as an expedient is a more troubling issue for the non IM folks than if it had been commanded.

    27. laymond Says:

      Ed, Gary and Royce, when you say God is 3 persons: all co-existence and co-eternal. God the Holy Ghost, God the Son, last but not least God the Father. (I named them in this order because one is not greater than the other, in your opinion) first off let me say I believe The Father and the Holy Spirit are one and the same. Why because Jesus said they were, Jesus said there is only one who is Holy, and He also said God is spirit. With a little logic, that makes God the Holy Spirit.
      Now lets look at the Man Jesus Christ. If you say Jesus has co-existed eternally with God as God. What have you done to the story of Jesus. What about the virgin birth, that came about from the coupling, of God and the virgin (however it was done) Are eternal Gods born? What about the life of Jesus here on earth, The bible said, God is not seen. What about the death on the cross, do Gods die? If Gods don’t die that certainly does away with the resurrection.
      before we start concocting stories to fit our belief we need to see what the results of our story would bring about. Yeah I know your answer, we are talking about God here, he can do anything. not so; you cannot be eternally existent, if you are born, if you die, and if you are resurrected.there was a time in there that you were dead.
      You see Gary there is a reason why CoC Christians are hesitant to believe your story. because they believe Christ’s story.

    28. Gary Cummings Says:

      Dear Lamond,
      I think we are having a good discussion here. The doctrine of the Trinity has never been truly understood or accepted by mainstream COCers. In my reading over the years (I left the COC in 1971), I perceive roughly that about 1/3 of COC folks are trinitarians and know it, about another 1/3 are Trinitarians and do not know it, and about another 1/3 are anti-Trinitarian and either Modalist or Marcionite.
      Let me say that I do believe Christ’s story, but His story is in the Bible and is the Center of the Biblical story itself. Saying that, I will give the classic example of the Trinity and leave it there:
      The Father is God, but not the Holy Spirit nor the Son. The Holy Spirit is God, but not the Father nor the Son, The Son (Jesus) is God, but not the Father nor the Holy Spirit. All three are Yahweh, and Yahweh is all three.
      Jesus was and is the God/Man, human and divine. There was never a time when He was not God, Jesus pre-existed before His human birth. While on Earth, Jesus prayed to the Father, and the Holy Spirit fell upon Him in the form of a dove. When He was baptized, Jesus was in the water, the SPirit coming to Him in the air , while the Father was in heaven. That is certainly a good representation of the Trinity. Yes, people have seen the living Lord Jesus, both before and after His resurrection. Yes, he was God (and still is God ) at that time. We have to be very careful how far we stretch the Scripture that “God is not seen.” Jesus did say, “He has seen me, has seen the Father.” There is a lot of mystery here, and the totality of Scripture needs to be encountered and accepted, not just a few prooftexts. Jesus did say that He was pre-existent with the Father (Before Abraham was, I AM). Actually, that is a dual statement. Jesus was with God the Father before Abraham, and Jesus identifies Himself with the I AM/YHWH or Yahweh.
      In the Isaiah Passage, the threeness of the One is mentioned very clearly, and in Genesis 19, 2 Yahwehs are identified. That is possible only if there is Yahweh the Father, Yahweh the Holy Spirit, and Yahweh the Son. Yahweh is One , yet three all eternal and co-existent at the same time.

      For you to say that there was a time when Jesus never existed (if I read you rightly) and that Jesus is not eternal, then you probably fall into the Marcionite fold and have the same Christology as the Jehovah Witness folks. Look up the Trinity diagram in the internet. I tried to explain the diagram in words and I hope I did it justice.
      I left the Baptists, as I never really considered myself to be one. I was just a Christian who got saved while attending a Baptist Church. The the local Church or Christ (non-Sunday School)convinced me at that time, that they had all the Scriptural eggs in one basket and I fell for it. I must admit, that I swallowed the whole thing, and became as cultic as they were for about 3 or 4 years. I started to question the whole thing, when the lives of the COC kids in college did not match their profession. They were just as pagan as the rest of society and the kids I grew up with in high school. There was no qualitative difference between their lives and those of other churches or society in general. That put the first chink in my COC armor.
      Oh well, at least I got into the Bible under the tutelage of the COC, and then really into it when I left the COC. I appreciate what I learned, and then learned to differentiate between the COC line and what the Scriptures really say. But at least I had some kind of a foundation to do that.

    29. Ed Boggess Says:

      “Not going beyond what is written” was a saying among the NT disciples with varied application. I try to use it as a guide which I believe is summarized in T Campbells’ “speak where . . . be silent . . .” I practice and teach “sing”. I believe I find something “written” in that regard. I do not practice IM and I teach it is not found in NT disciple practice. “Making law”? “Dumb theology”? I teach that singing is biblical and safe. I do not condemn those who use IM; insofar as I am concerned, that is God’s realm. But I cannot understand why anyone expects me to go against my conscience and adopt IM.

    30. Royce Says:


      This comment is not for your instruction, you and I are way past that. Your unbelief still shocks me but you have steadfastly rejected the claims of Jesus, written in the Bible in red letters. He was (is) the I AM, claimed to be one with the Father, laid down His life willingly and took it up again by His own will, forgave sins, raised the dead, and is coming again to rule forever and His name is above every name in heaven or on earth.

      If Jesus is not God then He was only a man like you or me and His death was an awful hoax with little meaning. He was literally the Son of God physically (God was his birth father) and spiritually. He did not inherit the propensity to sin from Adam, he had no sin nature. He could never have been the perfect substitutionary sacrifice had he not been God in flesh (“God with us”). A mere man can do nothing to appease the wrath of a holy God against sin.

      Many in our coC churches give little credibility to Jesus and believe that by “saying” they believe his was the Son of God, being baptised in water, and keeping various rules of worship, etc they are assured of heaven in the end. I say to you on the authority of God’s eternal living word that is a ticket to hell. No person can deserve God’s great salvation, no one can do any good thing to impress God to be more favorable to them by a good performance.

      Wicked sinners who have offended a Holy God are only justified based upon the perfect life, sacrificial death, and resurrection of Jesus. You and I do not contrubute to or compliment the salvation Jesus accomplished over 2000 years ago. All we can do is repent and receive Him by faith. Only those who are in Christ, who have been born from above by trusting Him are set right with God and have eternal life. Everyone else, including church members, who are trusting what they do, the church they attend, the way they worship, and their heritage are dead in their sins.

      Jesus is not a part of the plan of redemption, He is the plan.


    31. Ed Boggess Says:

      Greetings Lamond,
      Jesus’ preexistence: Phil 2:6,7 “being in the form of God, did not count it robbery to be equal with God but emptied himself, taking the form . . . of men.” Heb 2:10,14 The One for whom and by whom are all things found it fitting to partake of flesh and blood. Heb 10:5-10 Jesus came to earth in “a body You have prepared for me” in order to “do Your will O God.” “In the beginning was the Word . . . and the Word became flesh”.

    32. Ed Boggess Says:

      In your reply to Lamond, you said “Jesus did not inherit the propensity to sin from Adam, he had no sin nature.” Propensity (from Latin meaning ‘hanging toward’) is a behavioral predisposition. I beg to differ. Paul speaks of two walks: according to the flesh & according to the Spirit.The NIV translates “flesh” as “sinful nature”. It is an interpretive (thought for thought) effort at translation. Even if the NIV is correct, “sinful nature” cannot be divorced from “flesh”, which is its root meaning. If by “sinful nature” we mean a propensity toward, not actual, sin; it is rooted in the flesh, the nature we receive from Adam. “The Word became flesh.” The spirit of man comes from God, not Adam (Zech 12:1; Heb 12:9). Jesus took upon himself the same nature as man, Heb 2:14, and thus was indeed “tempted as we are yet without sin”.

    33. Gary Cummings Says:

      Dear Ed,
      I do not believe either IM or acapella music is mandatory. I worship with both. If I worship in an acapella only church (some Mennonite/Brethren/COC, I will not break out my dulcimer and play. This is a matter of courtesy.
      I still enjoy AM, as well as IM (not all IM-I still hate loud music and loud drums).
      I am not trying to make anybody worshipp in either way. I only say there is no Biblical teaching against the use of instruments in worship, as long as all is done decently, in order, and reverently. I have heard some pretty awful acapella music in the past, as well as some pretty rancid IM.

      This is just a matter where there is no Biblical mandate to do it in one particular way only. This is not a salvation issue or a doctrinal issue.


    34. Royce Says:


      Let me be more clear. By one man (Adam) sin entered the world and death by sin so that every man dies. Jesus (who had no human father) is the 2nd Adam. In Adam all die, all who are in Christ live.

      You and I Ed were born “children of wrath”. We did not have to be taught to be liars and theives and disobedient, it was our nature to do wrong. Jesus did not inherit that sin nature. He was tempted like we are (the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life) but never once offended. He was God in flesh, He was not like other men spiritually. He never ceased being God but for a time lowered himself to live the life we could never live and to die the death we should have died. We are saved by His obedience not our own.

      Jesus was fully human but not a sinner in any sense.


    35. laymond Says:

      Gary; any discussion is good as long as it is civil, and ours is , Thank you , so many I talk with about the subject get belligerent when they can’t explain their belief. Let me address a few things you said and I am sure you believe just as fervently as I believe what I believe. I will skip the description of a drawing representing three equal but separate Gods (which I am sure we have both seen) if you will allow.

      You said you believe the story of Jesus as seen in the scriptures, but you didn’t say anything about any change in the story if as you say “There was never a time when He was not God, “ I must ask once more, “Can God die if he is eternal?” If the answer is “no” then what does that do to the story of “birth, death, and resurrection”?

      You said “The Father is God, but not the Holy Spirit nor the Son. The Holy Spirit is God, but not the Father nor the Son, The Son (Jesus) is God, but not the Father nor the Holy Spirit.”
      You said “While on Earth, Jesus prayed to the Father, and the Holy Spirit fell upon Him in the form of a dove.”
      Jn: 1:32: And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
      As we notice John said “ and it abode upon him” the word used for abode is meno
      Which means remained, or stayed with.

      I have never seen it written that the Holy Spirit took the form of a bird, It is written the Spirit descended in the manner of a dove. Like a dove, the word used here for like is hosei which means as it were, (had been), as though, as, like as, like. No form is mentioned. Because a spirit has no form.
      The Holy spirit (powers of God, read about the seven spirits of God) was received by Jesus from God the Father at baptism, and later passed to the apostles by Christ.
      After he became spirit, did you notice he appeared through walls?

      Jn: 20:22: And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Sorry no person here.

      Looking back I could have given the wrong impression of my belief when I said The “Father and the Holy Spirit are the same.” What I meant to say is The Holy Spirit is contained within the Father. (and the Son).

    36. Anonymous Says:

      laymond, are you saying Jesus did not have the Holy Spirit that He was not conceived by the Holy Spirit? To say Jesus didn’t become the Spirit until he was baptized is wrong and denies the deity of Christ.

    37. laymond Says:

      Ed does the KJV and the newer versions even come close to saying the same thing.
      In vs 6 ? I love working with the KJV but there are terrible instances where the translation leaves a lot to be desired.

      Phl 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
      2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
      2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

      Phl 2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
      2:6   Who, being in very nature* God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, Footnote: * Or in the form of
      2:7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature* of a servant, being made in human likeness. Footnote: * Or the form

      In these instructions from Paul as how these people should live as Jesus lived, please show me the time line of which Paul speaks. It seems to me Paul said live as a servant,
      2:3 [Let] nothing [be done] through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
      I do believe Paul is referring to how Jesus lived his life here on earth. And I believe the NIV says Jesus did not consider equality with God something to gain.

      I believe the bible gives an example of one who did think equality with God was his right, and what happened to him.

    38. Brad Says:

      I must say that while I am enjoying this discussion, it seems very peculiar to me. Like a debate about the earth being flat would be peculiar these days. I too come from a Baptist background where the Trinity is assumed. I’m now a coC preacher in mid-Mississippi and I can honestly say I have never ever met anyone, coC or otherwise (apart from a few JW’s) who ever didn’t believe in the Trinity. And this place is so conservative it brings out the pitchforks and gets the gallows ready if someone bats an eye in the wrong direction.

      I’ve always found it interesting that in Genesis as God is creating everything from scratch, before He creates man, He says in 1:26, “Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness.” (emphasis added) If man isn’t around yet, who is God talking to? Talking to angels in such a way would put them on the same level as God. Also of note (to me at least) is the fact that the name used for God here (elohim) is plural.

      But Lamond, respectfully, let’s look at what I assume to be your view and what it does to the story. From what I read, you believe Jesus to not be God and to simply be a righteous man.

      But if Jesus is just a man, then he is NEITHER righteous NOR the source of salvation, because he would be beholden to the law just as we are:

      “For by works of the law NO HUMAN BEING will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested APART FROM THE LAW, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it–the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” (Romans 3:20-25, emphasis added)

      So if Jesus was only a man, then Jesus could not be justified in any way before God, and then what Paul says about the rest of us would be true of Christ: “None is righteous, no, not one.” (Rom 3:10)

      If Jesus is just a man, how can you trust in him for salvation?

      “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

      I’m trying to grasp this and I don’t intend to offend anyone. Lamond, if you don’t trust in Christ for your salvation, what is your faith in exactly?

    39. laymond Says:

      Gary, as you see all conversations are not so civil as yours and mine- I pay no attention to people like this because he evidently has paid no attention to what I have written.

    40. laymond Says:

      Anonymous, do you think I am making this up, maybe you should read more scripture.
      Isa 11:1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
      Isa 11:2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
      Isa 11:3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
      Isa 11:4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.

      Jn: 1:32: And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.

    41. Brad Says:

      If I offended you, Lamond, I apologize. That was not my intent. I simply don’t understand your point of view and was working through my thought process as I asked for clarification. I’m confused as to where I was uncivil towards you. Please tell me in what way I was uncivil towards you so that I won’t make the same mistake again.

    42. Anonymous Says:

      laymond do you think I am making this stuff up. Jesus was of the Holy Spirit Jesus had the Holy Spirit.

      Matthew 1:18-20
      “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”

    43. Anonymous Says:

      Isaiah 11:2
      “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.”

      Luke 2:46-47
      “Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.”

      The teachers in the temple were amazed at Jesus’ understanding and answers at twelve years old.

    44. laymond Says:

      I don’t see where referring to Jesus as a man takes away anything from the honor his father God bestowed on him as the anointed one the messiah, the savior of mankind , without whom no man can see the Father. Paul and Peter called Jesus a man how do you think they depended on this man for their salvation, the same way I do.

      1 Tm :2:5: For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
      Mt: 26:72: And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.

      The offense is in questioning anyone’s salvation.

    45. Brad Says:

      Laymond, just so you know, I never questioned your salvation. I started to answer some of the things you wrote in this last post until I realized something. There’s absolutely nothing I could say to change your mind, is there? If that’s what you want to believe, then that’s what you want to believe. Please don’t belittle me for believing what I am convicted of when I read the Bible. I wish you nothing but the best.

    46. laymond Says:

      Brad, I never intentionally belittle anyone, and you certainly have the right to believe what ever you wish, and so do I, what I believe has to have some consistency, I can’t conceive of an equal God such as the Holy Ghost, being dispensed by a co-equal God such as Jesus upon the Apostles. If you can that is you prerogative.
      Jn: 20:22: And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
      Just seems to me the Holy Ghost had to come from Jesus.

    47. Gary Cummings Says:

      I have been following this conversation with deep interest and empathy. Part of the reason is that I struggled with the doctrine of the Trinity for many years, thanks to the not so clear instructions of the COC. I leaned for many years to the Modalist view: that the Father became Jesus who either became the Holy Spirit or that the Holy Spirit was the outter power of Jesus. During this time, my commitment to Christ was the same as it is now, and I did not consider myself less saved than now. I do believe that God is a God of mercy and grace, and that He gives us time to learn, as long as our faith is sincere.
      That being said, the Bible in the OT and NT is very explicit about the threeness of the One. The Isaiah passage spoke of that, then the NT calls Jesus God either implicitly or explicitly several times. We do have to deal with those Scriptures and accept the whole counsel of God. Also, we may not emphasize one set of Scriptures over another. The same Scriptures which call Jesus a man also call Him God. You once asked how can an eternal God die? Well Jesus is God and He did die. His death was for us, but He was raised from death, and that is the only way we could be saved: through the death and resurrection of the God-man Jesus Christ.
      What do you make of the Genesis 19:25 Scripture where “the Yahweh on earth called down fire and brimstone from the Yahweh in Heaven upon Sodom and Gommorah.”? That second Yahweh is a divine being, coequal with the Yahweh on Earth and vice-versa.

      With all respect your Christology is virtually identical with that of the Jehovah Witness religious group. They are very fine people, and they study the Bible, but in all respect, they seemed to have missed the very clear teaching of the absolute divinity of Jesus Christ as the pre-existent God the Son.

      I think this is an interesting conversation, and it is not my intention to slander or slur anyone. If I ever come close to that, I offer a pre-emptive apology now.

    48. Gary Cummings Says:

      I appreciate your letter upholding the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is God the Son, and has always existed, and is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. It is very clear that the Bible calls Jesus God, and the diversity of the Oneness of Yahweh is inherent throughout the text of the Bible.

      God is merciful to us and His love for us covers a multitude of sins. Perhaps He is more open to doctrinal diversity than we are, as long as our faith is genuine.

    49. laymond Says:

      Gary asked, “What do you make of the Genesis 19:25 Scripture where “the Yahweh on earth called down fire and brimstone from the Yahweh in Heaven upon Sodom and Gommorah.”? That second Yahweh is a divine being, coequal with the Yahweh on Earth and vice-versa.”

      As we both know there were no punctuations in the writing of the bible. The KJV had no comma included in this vs. for some reason the NKJV decided there needed to be one after Gomorrah which made the verse sound as if there were two Gods being spoken of, when in actuality there is only one God spoken of in this vs .if they saw fit to punctuate, it should have been placed after the second LORD, as it is in the Young’s Literal Translation.

      Gen 19:24 Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;

      Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens.

      NLT  Gen 19:24 – Then the LORD rained down fire and burning sulfur from the heavens on Sodom and Gomorrah.

      Lets look at Young’s literal translation.
      YNG Gen 19:24 and Jehovah hath rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Jehovah, from the heavens;

      I see only One God involved here.

    50. Gary Cummings Says:

      I have checked this out, and I do not believe a comma makes any difference: there is a Yahweh on Earth calling down fire from the Yahweh in heaven. Young’s is wrong in his emphasis of the translation. The KJV and NKJV are more accurate here, as they are a more literal translation. The NLT is wrong in its rendering.I looked at the Hebrew Bible-the Tanakh- and there is a mention there of two Yahweh’s in Genesis 19. The Jews today translate from the Masoretic text. GODS WORD TRANSLATION deletes the 2nd Yahweh here, as it is based on a usage of Young’s.

      The case in the OT for the Trinity is not built just or only on Genesis 19, Gen.1:1 has “let us make man in our image”. The Word for God there is Elohim-A plural word for God, yet the Elohim is treated as one God. Interesting.

      The Isaiah passage I quoted also is VERY Trintarian: three divine pre-existent Beings are noted, and the rest of the Bible refers to them as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

      John 1:18 uses the word THEOS instead of HUIOS to describe the only begotten One. The most ancient manuscripts verify this, as do the more recent translations.
      You have to deal with the passages in the NT which say that Jesus forgives sins, as in Mark 2:5.The audience rightly questioned Him and stated: “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Jesus did not chastize them for this statement, and even intimated that it is His perogative as God the Son or the Son of Man (a messianic title) to forgive sins. Jesus claims to do a spiritual deed only done by God: the forgiveness of sins. It is no wonder that the Jewish who did not believe in Him participated in His execution as a blasphemer.
      In Hebrew 11:8, God Himself-the Father- says: “But of the son he says: “your throne, oh God is forever and ever.” This is a very explicit text where God the Father refers to His Son as God, and this was before the human birth of Jesus. In verse 10 of this same chapter God also says to His Son: “You Lord laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands.” This places the Son as pre-existent for sure.
      A lot of things have cropped up in this discussion that was hashed out by the Church in its early days: the two natures of Christ-Jesus is both human and divine. the Filioque (where whence the Son)-this decided that the Spirit proceeded from the the Father and the Son. A study of the history of theology would help a lot of Restoration folks know that some of the issues they are concerned about have already been hammered out in some of the early Christian creeds, and that is a good thing.

    51. laymond Says:

      Gary , I believe you are referring to Hebrews 1:8, instead of 11:8 . And you are right it does say what you said it does. But just as in many other scriptures plucked out of context, It doesn’t mean what you think it means.
      Heb :1:8: But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

      Then you go on to recommend vs 10, and some how ignore vs 9 which said 9: Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. (therefore God, your God has anointed thee) and who are these fellows, that are referred to?

      Heb 1:8 is speaking of the high priest throne, the throne God appointed Jesus to, (anointed thee )

      Gary if I held your belief, I would pretend the book of Hebrews didn’t exist. Gary when you take these things out of context and use them to confirm a belief already held, your proof is very shakey, and not very convincing. You can take these approximate words from the old testament and prove that Moses was god.
      As we both know the usage of the capitol letter G and the small g came about during translation and not during writing.
      As for the early hammering, that is the very thing I have questions about, how come an old hammer is better than a new one? If it weren’t for people questioning things we would still be sailing off the edge of the earth. don’t be resigned to accepting questionable things, you may think you have discovered America, when in actuality, it is the Canary Islands.

    52. laymond Says:

      Gary I have enjoyed this conversation immensely, and am still enjoying it especially with a brother in Christ such as yourself, but if we want to continue I think we should take it over to my blog (I would love that) I am sure others are not so happy about us hogging the pixels here if we move over to my place, maybe someone will post something new here, If you so desire just click on my name and you will be whisked away to my place, and you are always welcome there, leave a comment and we will continue as long as you wish, as I have said I love it, studying the bible is one of the joys of old men’s lives.

    53. Gary Cummings Says:

      Here is a verse in divine Scripture clearly calls the Son God, G or little g does not matter here. Actually the earliest Greek Manuscripts were the Uncials and all were in caps. Gen 1, uses Elohim (a plural) for the One God, Genesis shows us a Yahweh on Earth and one in heaven at the same time, Isaiah shows us 3 divine beings at the same time, John 1 shows us the Pre-existent Logos who became flesh (Jesus), and 1:18 calls Him the “only begotten God”, Mark tells us that only God can forgive sins, and Jesus agrees, and the trial of Jesus shows us that He was condemned by the Jewish leadership for blasphemy, and the Letter to the Hebrews has God calling His Son: God. That is pretty clear and nothing is taken our of context.

      There are a couple of other things you have pointed out that I will address later: the emptying or Kenosis of Jesus. This certainly proves He is God.
      Thanks and God bless,

    54. Randy Lucas Says:

      If there is no heirarchy in the Godhead, why does 1Cor. 11:3 say
      “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and THE HEAD OF CHRIST IS GOD.”? (emphasis added)

    55. Gary Cummings Says:

      I believe that this just means that Christ is not overall, but that God the Trinity is over all, and that includes God the Son.

    56. laymond Says:

      You can’t read the Bible like a history book and understand it. It is “alive”, is spiritual, and only those who have “God” the Spirit living in them can understand it.

      Amen to that! without the Spirit of God or God the Holy Spirit living within us, we can only read the Bible with a “rational bent”. Those who do not have the Holy Spirit living within them through faith in Jesus are not saved and can never understand the grace of God, except as some kind of exegetical exercise. Let’s get beyond the merely stale rationalistic mindset to the mind of Christ and receive and live the living Word of God. I agree with you.

      Gary, when someone such as Randy or I ask a question about the bible, of someone like you or Royce who claim all knowledge contained within that book, or at least access to one who does. Should it not behoove you to give a better answer than “I believe” how come it is not “I know” ?

    57. laymond Says:

      Randy, read the following words of Jesus.
      Jn :8:42: Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.
      Jn :8:43: Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
      Jn :8:44: Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

      Randy, you determine who does or does not understand Jesus’ speech, one who believes in God the Father as one supreme God, or those who declare there is no Supreme God ? ( there are three equal Gods)
      Now you decide, who benefits from the words those who declare there is no Supreme God speak ?
      It didn’t take long for the “murderer” to murder the truth. Approx 400 yrs. be careful of what you believe, and even more so of what you teach.

    58. Randy Lucas Says:

      Actually, I do not believe in any heirarchy within the Trinity. I definitely believe in the supreme God … which is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I believe in its equality and community. But I do like to hear explanations of what is meant by that scripture (1 Cor. 11:3).

    59. Royce Says:

      To my knowledge, only one person here has mentioned “three gods”. I believe you can find Laymond’s position on Jesus by reading a Watchtower booklet. You can’t find it reading Chrisian literature.

      I am curious Laymond, in your own words and since you don’t believe Jesus was divine, what role does he play in salvation? Or, does he play a role or was he only one of many characters in the Biblical narrative?

    60. Gary Cummings Says:

      I am the last person to claim all knowledge, I just know in part. When I was younger I used to jump on what I perceived as facts like a duck on the proverbial junebug, and then claim to know that fact absolutely. Now, after many years of being a Christian (not all of them great) and changing or growing in my theological understanding a few times, I prefer the word “I believe”. This allows for more growth and more light from God’s Word, as now I realize that all knowledge held by anybody is partial at best. I apply the tools of Bible study I hope in a rational and spiritual way, letting the Holy Spirit guide me to the best understanding my finite mind is capable of, then allowing for more growth and light from God the Holy Spirit.
      I apologize to any and all for giving the idea that I am superior to anyone here. That is not the case. I am a sinner saved by grace striving to perceive God’s Word through diligent Bible Study through the illumination of the Holy Spirit. I pray for the Living Word to lead me in understanding His Written Word-the Bible.

    61. Gary Cummings Says:

      I for one do not believe in 3 Gods. I believe in one God: Yahweh. Yahweh exists as as co-equal and co-eternal Trinity. The is one God is: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. All of the persons of the Trinity are pr-existent and non-created. Francis Schaeffer, a great mind and sharp and somewhat flawed theologian wrote a great case for God as Trinity. He wrote that (to the best of my memory) that God exists as Trinity as it is ontologically necessary. This means that God was all sufficient in the community of the Trinity as Father, Son, and Spirit before the creation of all things. To take either the Son or the Spirit out of the Godhead, would mean that God was not sufficient within Himself, and needed the creation, including man to fill Himself up. Now the Bible, as I understand and believe, teaches that God is the Father is pre-existent, as is the Son and the Holy Spirit. To say that there was a time when Jesus did not exist is to assert the error of Marcion of the early centuries and the Jehovah Witnesses of a later age. The Christology of Laymond is identical to that of the JW faith. I am not saying this disparagingly, but as a fact.
      COC Christological ambivalence has led to the errors of two Church of Christ (ex) ministers and Bible teachers: Robert Brent Graves who believe in the Modalist teaching that there is only one God who is no the Trinity. This one God-Yahweh became another mode called Jesus. The Holy Spirit is either the third mode (as some believe) or just the divine power of Jesus. This is the teaching of the “Oneness Pentecostals”. This man was educated at Abilene and is a very fine person and excellent Greek teacher teacher. Bacl in the late 60’s, he and James Tabor joined the Worldwide Church of God- the Armstrong Church, as Armstrong had all the answers. They both taught at Ambassador College. Then they found out some of the heresies of Armstrongism and came back to ACU to complete their Master degrees. I met Brent in 1970, we became friends and he introduced me to the world of Modalism, and I was affected by that for about 20 years (though I wavered back and forth from that to the Trinity). Then I met James Tabor, who is world famous now for his many books including THE JESUS DYNASTY. James has rejected: the divinity of Jesus, and claims he was one of two Messiahs (John the Baptist was the other), and the inspiration of most of the New Testament, especially anything written by John and Paul. He tends to view Paul as the ultimate perverter of the true teaching of Jesus. Also, Tabor is lending some credence to the “Lost Tomb of Jesus” theory. Tabor does not believe in the Virgin birth of Jesus, and surmisez that Pantera, a Roman soldier or another man may be the biological father of Jesus. Tabor has struck it big with his many books, as he is an excellent writer, thinker, and scholar. But in the end, he is wrong and damned for rejecting the Jesus of the Bible as God’s Son who atoned for our sins at Calvary and bodily rose from the dead. Tabor firmly firmly rejects the bodily resurrection of Jesus.

      So we can see where Sommerite COC mischief can lead. This is not always the case. But it has produced a lot of brilliant scholars with great rationalistic minds, who miss it all: the Biblical revelation of God as revealed in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

    62. Gary Cummings Says:

      Sorry about my bad typing in my last post. I just woke up from a retirement nap.

    63. laymond Says:

      I believe Jesus did pre-exist his earthly birth, why do I believe that? Because it is written in the bible, just like everything else I have stated I believe in.

      Col :1:12: Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
      13: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of HIS DEAR SON:
      14: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
      15: Who is the image of the invisible God, THE FIRSTBORN OF EVERY CREATURE:
      16: FOR BY HIM WERE ALL THINGS CREATED, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: ALL THINGS WERE CREATED BY HIM , and for him: ( vs. 16 is speaking of God, not Jesus (in my opinion) of being the creator of all things,even in heaven.)

      Rom :8:29: For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be THE FIRSTBORN among many brethren.

      Col: 1:18: And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the FIRSTBORN from the dead; that in all things he might have the PREEMINENCE.

      Heb :12:23: To the general assembly and church of the FIRSTBORN, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

      Rv :1:5: And from Jesus Christ, who is THE FAITHFUL WITNESS,————

      Rv :3:14: And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, THE FAITHFUL AND TRUE WITNESS, the beginning of THE CREATION OF GOD;

    64. laymond Says:

      Randy said “Actually, I do not believe in any heirarchy within the Trinity.”

      In other words you don’t believe in what Jesus said , “neither came I of myself, but he sent me.”

      well I do.

    65. laymond Says:

      Gary, what church if any do you attend now? just curious. and what finally won you over to this triune God?
      I have never read James Tabor, but he and I see the bible in much the same way, As for the JW’s they would tell you we don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things, most as a matter of fact, I have sat at my home either on the front porch or my living room many hours discussing and comparing their belief and mine. I have been invited to speak at their meetings, but never have.I have been invited to join their lodge, but have pointed out why I, in all good conscience could not. and they accepted my decision without saying I was bound for hell, as a matter of fact the last to come was one of the leaders, when he left he said a most complementary , thing to me from a JW. He said “you just might be one of the 144,000” I know that decision is up to Jesus, but I thanked him anyway.
      Do you know who is the leader of the “Living Church of God” Yep I have talked to him.

    66. Gary Cummings Says:

      Actually, when I mentioned the error of Marcion, I meant Arius/ Arius is the first great heretic to deny the divinity and pre-existence of Jesus Christ. He taught that Jesus was only a man-a created being, and not eternal. He taught that there was a time when Jesus did not exist. I see this a lot in some of the COC writings.

      Marcion is another heretic, who denied the God of the OT, and had a truncated NT. He is like some COCers who deny the OT as having anything tho say to Christians.

    67. Gary Cummings Says:


      Right now, since Aug 1,2008, we have not been attending one church on a regular basis. In fact, I made it a point not to attend any church for one year-a sabbatical from church going. There for a while(prior to the Sabbatical) we attended a Wesleyan Church for about 6 months, as I am somewhat of a “Holiness” believer. Faith and I even went to a non-denominational Church of God, which is a Holiness-restoration Church from the 1800’s. It took the route of restoration, much like Stone and Campbell, but instead of “Restoration and unity”, which they saw as devisive, they chose “Holiness and unity”. One of their mottos, which I like is “Salvation makes you a member”. They have this on their church sign, and that impressed me a lot. The local one near our house has a woman pastor, but that does not bother me as it once did. I guess what bothered me were the display of the US flag in the building by the pulpit, and their acceptance of militarism. Their original founder-David Warner was a great man of God and a Christian pacifist. Since then, as in the COC, a lot of water and many wars have gone under the bridge, and they (for the most part) have disavowed their original pacifism. Stone and A. Campbell both were pacifists (Campbell actually opposed the 1848 Mexican-American War in the House of Virginia delegates. He was one of those antiwar preachers. Too bad he and Stone and Lipscomb were not around during the Vietnam War.)
      So, on August 1, or the first Sunday in August, Faith and I will return to the visible Church. I really can’t day I am any wiser. Oh yes, since Jan of this year,we did attend a church meeting about 6 times: Russian Orthodox (acapella music!), Orthodox Presbyterian, Methodist-once or twice (great communion service with Christian bluegrass banjos in the background, and on Easter-at a local Mennonite Church. Great worship on Easter and a great sermon by a “lawyer turned preacher”. Humm, Jay are you listening?

      Anyway, I am ending my first week of retirement at the age of 62 and 4 months. I will work 3 days a month doing specialty IV infusion, and a couple of part time home nursing visits to admit people to service or wound care. So 3 or 4 days a months is the max Medicare will allow me to work until I am 66. So the next few years, I am pondering a new direction. Trying to preach at a non-denominational church (I did that for a while), get certified through CPE as a hospital chaplain or start an MA in American history, or maybe all three. We did go to houses churches for a long time, and there are a lot of limitations there. So I am open to a new leading from God.

    68. laymond Says:

      Gary, the reason I asked if you knew that Roderick C. Meredith was the leader of LCOG, My last name is also Meredith I was raised until the age of 15 at Mountain View Arkansas, ( just a few miles south of Joplin Missouri) before we moved to the Great state of Texas. We were distant kin My dad and his dad were second or third cousins, if you call that kin. I actually had the opportunity to attend Armstrong’s college, but declined. Seems you were a man of medicine, My wife, My daughter and my son all have nursing degrees,although my wife and son work in a hospital pharmacy. My son’s only daughter is attending college now for her degree. I worked in the oilfield so I needed a lot of nursing 🙂
      I wish you well with both your retirement and your search for God, may God bless. brother in Christ Laymond E. Meredith

    69. Gary Cummings Says:

      I never heard of Roderick C. Meredith of the LCOG. I have had a little contact with the Non-denominational COG. Give Tabor’s book THE JESUS DYNASTY a fair read and let me know what you think. It seems he has rejected too much of the Christian faith for me.Yeah, will keep on working 3 days a month as an RN, as that is all Medicare will let me do till I am 66. I will try to handle it though. I get a lot of reading and crossword puzzles done while the IVIG is running. Very relaxing really, though the IVIG is pretty nasty stuff.
      I think God found me in 1964, though I have wandered in circles a few times. He keep me daily with Him. I have a really good friend who is an RN and a JW as well. She is a delightful person. I no longer think they have horns like the Mormons-those bunch of darm polytheists!

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