The Truth Is Out There

As an old X-Filer I certainly beleive that there are many different views of reality floating around. I also tend to think it is ironic that the Eagles would sing on “Hotel California” that “You can check out anytime you want, but you can never leave.”

In other words, how you deal with the time you have on earth is up to you, but you are here for the duration—no matter how long that is or what is looks and feels like.

I also find it fascinating what passes for news these days. With cell phone cameras we see celebrities caught doing stuff that heretofore we would never have seen—a drunk Mel Gibson, an angry-at-blacks Kramer and David Hasselhoff falling hard off the wagon. To top it off, forget about running for public office unless you have been a saint—there is always a skeleton or two hanging around for the media to find and flash in front of us during prime-time.

I guess that as a Christian, it has always been this way. Even though I don’t know many who live with this in mind, scripture tells us that the Lord sees what is done in secret.

Why am I going on like this on a cloudy Wednesday in May in the mountains of North Carolina.

The point is that what I have discussed in this public forum are my memories of people and places and things that have happened to me over the past several years. As it pertains to church stuff, my goal was to put into words my impressions before time had a chance to erode these memories and morph them into something they weren’t. I am not talking 1984 here where history was re-written every time the governmental climate changed.

As many writers do, I generalize and take what I call the big brush approach to tell my story—although sometimes I will hone in on the minutia of life from time to time. I am not a “strict constructionist”  in my thought processes but more surreal or “stream-of-consciousness” in my approach to writting.

So, when I write, I really write from a sense of “this is my reality” knowing full well that if you ask around you will no doubt get many different points of view about what happened and why during any given time period or event.

I have talked more about the systems created by men than the men who have created them—and for good purpose. My goal has always been to understand and not assign blame to any given individual for what I have been through. I have also not tried to cover up what I am refering to but have been less than specific when it comes to names associated with my meanderings. People that know me and read my blog have no doubt formed their own opinions about the events mentioned and don’t need specific details in order to know what I am talking about. So in a sense, things are hidden even though they are out in the open and being discussed.

That is until some recent comments mentioned by name one of the persons involved in a few of my entries surrounding the authority structures in church. I left them as they were because I feel it is important to allow people a forum within which to discuss their process. At the very same time I realize that things could go astray and that the enemy could try and distort what has been shared.

I am conflicted because there is a big part of me that recognizes the fact that as church leaders we have erred in keeping things that should be out in the open under wraps. That much of what is wrong with us today might have been prevented had we allowed the greater council of the church body access to what was going on behind closed doors.

Graham Cooke talks about the “Suddenlies of Life”—the moments when everything changes. We can’t go back and pretend it didn’t happen—even though the movie you thought you were watching during that time is a lot different from the one I thought I was seeing.

I do enjoy writting and thinking about life but need imput on this next stage of our ride together. Is it hilly with a few straight-a-ways, or mostly flat and following a river that eventually empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

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48 Responses to The Truth Is Out There

  1. Rodney Morris says:

    For more satire of the news, check out: http://www.jibjab.com/originals/what_we_call_the_news I’ve worked (and still do) with all of the major news networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FoxNews…) and I’ve helped cover some of Florida’s more controversial stories (Terry Schaivo, Anna Nicole Smith, Carlie Brucia, etc…). I really don’t like it, but for now it’s paying the bills. I look forward to the day when I no longer have to do news. It really has become mostly tabloid stories, but as long as people watch it, they’ll continue to cover it. I’m glad you guys recognized the “secrecy” issues. I had forgotten (blocked) that part of our time there, but when you mentioned, the light went on in my head. Some things do need the privacy of elder’s meetings, but others need the council of the body. Of course, this all assumes we’re staying in a human structured (fundamentally flawed) system of church government. However, I don’t necessarily believe (I think) that putting oneself in the position of submitting to a church system is wrong or, not beneficial. But, the person in submission must keep vigilant watch on the corruption of the power given to it’s leaders. I still don’t know how to reconcile some of ded’s comments on church structure to what I find in Paul’s writings (in 1 Tim. for example). I’m not disagreeing with him, per se, rather I think that perhaps he understands a dynamic that I don’t. I’ve always enjoyed ded’s teachings, though they are hard for my limited scope to sometimes comprehend (kind of like a 3rd grader trying to participate in a college-level debate). But I’ve trusted him because I see the fruit of the Spirit in his life and therefore there must be some value in what he says, even if, on the surface, it appears to fly in the face of modern thinking.

  2. Terry Henry says:

    Rodney: You are quite a trip and getting pretty good with your sentence structure as well. LOL
    I hope ded reads this before I have dinner with him this evening.

  3. Ben Cotten says:

    I think in this instance it’s the heart and tone of what is said that makes the difference between appropriate openness and inappropriate gossip/slander.Whether we use a name or a pronoun in place of the name, the measure of sin/not sin is the same. I think you made the right call (of course, I was the one who made the comment so maybe I’m biased…).Also, there’s been a big cultural change that has come as a result of the bogging “revolution”. There is a pretty clear delineation between what the blogger says in his post, and what commenters say in response. It’s understood that you are giving the commenting community a little leash to facilitate discussion.As long as we all stay clear of slander, gossip, etc we are in the safe confines of scriptural living.

  4. ded says:

    Rodney,College-level debate? Do I really sound that way?I am sorry. I am failing everyone if I am coming across in an unclear manner.I guess I would need you to name how you see my statements at odds with Paul in 1st Timothy before I attempted a response. Honestly, though, I draw most of what I am saying by thinking about Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I do not lessen the epistles’ authority in doing so. Yet, I think we too often look at an imagined 1st century church and place upon the bare bones evidence we have a much stricter interpretation than was intended.

  5. melody says:

    Well, its nice to see so much ‘input’ and ‘thoughts’ on terry’s blog…its been pretty active here the last couple of weeks…hmmm…this could be a signpost for all intended to be able to see a little clearer…in the end of it, we really just want to be more like Jesus. In the great diversity amoungst all of us, it will be interesting to see our diversities melded as though One, the great challenge we are all faced with daily, and loving one another in the process of it all…yup, quite the challenge. May we ride on with great victories…melody

  6. Terry wrote: “Rodney: You are quite a trip and getting pretty good with your sentence structure as well.” Just like a good 3rd grader should! ded,I should probably briefly summarize what I believe to be your statements regarding church structure. I think that you have been saying that the way we do church today is not at all the way God intended or at least not the way that the apostles necessarily instructed them to be. Churches shouldn’t be centered on a one man approach to teaching or being the voice of God to the people. That church history, good and bad, has evolved over the centuries to the institutions that we call church today. It is my understanding that you believe a more appropriate way of doing church is more of a family-based, community approach where authority isn’t the power to control people or information, but rather the “greater capacity to exercise love: not mushy sentimentality, but the power to walk in patience, kindness, and without envy toward others.” Remember, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen or spoken to you and things may have changed since then. If they have or if I’ve mis-stated your ideas, please forgive me. If then, church should be done in less of an organized, institutional manner than how does the role of an overseer or deacon (as seen in 1 Tim. 3, Phillipians 1:1, or 1 Peter 5:2 ) come into play? I’m having a hard time understanding how that type of position (or calling to be more appropriate) is applicable in a home-based fellowship, where positional titles are not needed. Maybe they are needed, but because I approach reading the Scriptures based on what I know of the church today (and the offices we’ve established and the authority that accompanies them), and not the church of the first century, it’s difficult for me to understand how they are needed. For example, when I read the word deacon, I automatically think of the role of a deacon in, say, a Baptist church. Ågain, we read Scriptures on church structure and try to make them fit the model we have of church today and not necessarily the model the early church had. I really am interested in your comments. I’m not sure that what I’ve said was your intention, but if it is, please answer. I am in no way refuting your position, rather trying to understand it. And when I say it’s like a 3rd grader trying to participate in a college-level debate, the implication is on my inability to understand the deeper things, not the manner in which you teach/speak.

  7. ded says:

    Terry,On the closed door, open-door thing:Maybe if we just follow Matthew 18. Take it to the one; with the one to a third party; to the elders; to the church. The “name” issue discussed here is already before the church, both the local body in question and the “church” community of the blog. I agree with Ben, if we avoid slander and attack, expressing what our observations are of public information is not wrong. The larger issue of authority, (an on-going theme…let me know if you think I am beating a dead horse.) is part of this discussion as well. Following Matthew 18 above, an issue is never known beyond the level it reaches.Yet as an elder, I witnessed more than that simple process. We took our “responsible oversight” way beyond where it needed to go. We may have acted with full integrity and belief that what we were doing was the “right” thing to do, but who was going to stop us or balance us out if we moved down a wrong path? All of our meetings were behind closed doors and taking things to the church involved putting our “spin” on it. By that I mean, I witnessed us and participated as we carefully scripted how topics would be discussed in public. Protecting the flock or protecting ourselves? This is that flaw issue raised earlier. No system can necessarily keep men in authority from taking their authority too far or handling themselves with too much seriousness. In fact, because it is about “the things of God”, men take their actions very seriously. Which is not doubt called for, but what keeps men from a skewed perspective about themselves in the heat of the things? Character? What happens when having “character” demands that they do the “right” thing as they see it? What Ben described as watching men he thought honorable act in dishonorable ways is probably viewed very differently from their side of the coin.Perhaps, “Upholding God’s ways in the face of every obstacle and attack.” When I saw myself and family ostracized simply because I disagreed with how LWCF approached church government, I had to come to grips with the fact that those who worked first to get me to change my mind, then to contain my “heresy” and protect the flock, believed whole-heartedly in their actions as necessary and right before God.I suggest the answer is not another system or creating policies to safeguard against abuse in our present systems.Rather, free, open discussion at each level of Matthew 18…including the final step of take it to the church.Elders should not use the public meeting to issue decrees. Nothing in scripture mandates such. A public forum is the final step in getting to the heart of the matter. This isn’t a system, it is family life. If the family of believers is to find the relationships of family, it must practice the support, respect, give and take of family. The Holy Spirit will guide and comfort through it all.

  8. Terry Henry says:

    Ben: I totally agree.

  9. Carey says:

    Life is not so “either-or” as you surmise. It is hilly, with straightaways, but also flat, following a river that empties into the Gulf. Or, if you ride to the other side of our Blue Ridge–following a river that empties into the Great Atlantic.Here’s an honest question: Why do I feel claustrophobic when getting together with the old crowd? In other news, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog, by the way. Keep up the good work. I read a newsletter today from a “self-publisher,” for “self-publishers.” He advises me to get into blogging. But I’m not into it. Too subjective (may be the word you were looking for earlier.)I prefer to just sort of hang on to your ride, and enjoy it. I like to conserve my creative energies for tending my website and then trying to figure a way to get the novel published. Hitching a ride on your long ride is a relaxing experience. Thanks.C

  10. ded says:

    Rodney,You summarized much of my position well and thanks for the “college level” clarification. I don’t think I see more than you do. I see differently, perhaps. I have been out of the system for a while and had a lot of time to think about if church is not what we have, then what? In rereading 1 Tim., I think you must be trying to reconcile the things I say with “If any man aspires to the office of…” OK…it’s a given this is my take and as an interpretation, it must hold up to a hermeneutical process where the Scripture supports what I am putting on the words. (Keep in mind Jesus’ words like “Call no man, leader, teacher, rabbi for you are all brothers” and “do not lord over one another as the gentiles do”. I am not insisting I am right, but obviously I do not support things I believe to be wrong. 8^) In the Greek, the word office used above is literally “inspector” and comes from a root verb meaning “to watch.” In the first century, Robert’s Rules of Order did not exist. Possibly people considered the priest’s position in the synagogue an office (reference Hebrews 7 usage where the word office is different and is taken from a root word meaning “holy”), but in the New Covenant, we are all to be “priests.” Also, people held secular “office” positions but these were by appointment–no democracy as we know it– and the common man did not ever fill these positions. (Think who I Cor. 1-2 describes as being believers.) Bottom line, to think of the word “office” as it used above in terms of an official designated set of responsibilities which are outlined and guided by a policies, procedures, and rule book is to place a modern mindset on the words. What if we took the word at face value and thought simply, “a man who aspires to watch over and inspect…” What would we expect him to do with his inspections? Things like walk in the spirit, exercise his gifts, reflect the love of God in all judgments, etc.; or make sure the organization runs well and fairly with everyone correctly filling their official positions in the hierarchy and the general laity carefully obeying the same. It is something to think about. Oh, the word for “office” connected to deacon is yet a different word in the same section of Scripture and has a menial labor connotation. Interesting. The “office” of a janitor or table server?!! What’s up with the way we use the word “office”?

  11. Ben Cotten says:

    Rodney, The Bible approaches the topic more from the angle of authority: submitting to it, and using it. We don’t really see anywhere in scripture where we are told in a real definitive way how churches should be governed organizationally. We certainly get some good hints, but there are no org charts in the back! Essentially, there are 3 models seen in most evangelical churches (I’ll be making some generalities here for clarity): 1)House Church: meet in homes, small gatherings, no pastor (except Jesus). STRENGTHS: abuse of authority is rare, hospitality, very relational, attractive to people who have had negative church experiences, lots of individual attention, strong discipleship. WEAKNESSES: tend to be closed systems that don’t emphasize outward focus, tend to not have clearly established theological standards and thus tend to fade out (or leave orthodoxy) after one generation, often are birthed as a reaction against “institutional church” instead of a response to God’s leading. 2. Democratic: vision, direction, style, etc decided by vote alone, pastor serves as an influencer of respect but his primary role is preaching and visitation. STRENGTHS: abuse of authority is rare, laity have a feeling of “ownership”, no “vessel” is disregarded…everyone has a voice, these churches usually avoid the roller coaster effect of too many drastic changes at once. WEAKNESSES: history shows us that the majority will always gravitate towards mediocrity and compromise, change is very slow, tends towards political maneuvering instead of seeking God’s direction, visionary pastors tend to have a hard time. 3. Elder Led: What LWCF was supposed to be, lead pastor presides over a group of “capable and qualified” men, the pastor submits to counsel from the elders but always has “veto power”, elders carry governmental authority but do not bear the primary responsibility for vision and direction (that’s the lead pastor’s deal). STRENGTHS: things get done faster, much less political maneuvering, flexibility to follow God’s leading is better, tend to be more missional in approach to the Great Commission. WEAKNESSES: abuse of authority more common, it’s easy to allow the life and vision of the church to be dependant on the lead pastor, laity can be ignored. All of these systems’ weaknesses can be overcome with Godly leadership and integrity. Though I have some semi-serious problems with the house church movement, I sincerely believe all of them have an important place in the Body of Christ. BTW, I’m not saying scripture has NOTHING to say about it. Just trying to offer a more macro view in 3000 characters or less… 😉

  12. ded wrote,”Oh, the word for “office” connected to deacon is yet a different word in the same section of Scripture and has a menial labor connotation. Interesting. The “office” of a janitor or table server?!! What’s up with the way we use the word “office”?” Kind of like being a “sanitation engineer”! I think we may approach the Scriptures the same way, to look for the face value of what the words are saying, instead of some tangential interpretation that relies on a “revelation” to be understood. Not that I’m implying that God doesn’t reveal scripture to us, but that often times the answers we seek are plainly written in the text if we take the time to investigate it. These are things that I learned recently in a class I took called “Inductive Bible Study”, which was offered through Calvary Chapel’s Bible College extension. It really transformed the way I approach Scriptures now. I try not to bring any preconcieved notions (which is hard to do when you’re reading John 3:16) of interpretation to the Scriptures and just read it to see what it says. To concentrate on the style of writing, the language structure and to pay particular attention to the author’s intent, as that should be the main (and some would say only correct – I won’t go that far) interpretation. Therefore, it’s a bit difficult to understand what Paul may be writing in because we don’t know the intricacies of the culture, time or situation (or than what is written). Perhaps the way we understand a passage on say authority or offices is based on the church that we know today and the culture that we live in now. Ben,Those are good observations and generalizations, though they may only be most applicable to North American fellowships. The different types of churches certainly appeal to a particular type of personality, and therefore definitely have their place within the body of Christ (which you have clearly recognized). When I was a younger man, church life and Christianity in general was so black and white, but as I get older, the concepts that I had of the “right” way to do things become fuzzy in the light of the type of world we live in – fallen. Knowing it takes many types of churches to reach many types of people. As long as, they believe the basic tenants of the apostolic creed, I generally try not to do too much rock throwing, even when I have serious problems with a particular doctrine (ie, the health and wealth gospel). I just get tired and it hurts too many people. BTW – I’m not at all trying to infer that you are a rock thrower. In fact, from your writings it would appear quite the opposite.

  13. ded says:

    Ben, God job in 3000 characters or less!One thought, your home church “weakness”of “tend to not have clearly established theological standards” is a strength in my eyes. “Theological standards” for some is Christian-speak for traditions which cannot be challenged. There is more to be concerned about in Christianity as practiced today than just the abuse of authority. In my view, the simple gospel of Christ and Him crucified is all the theological standard needed. When folks connect with the in-dwelling presence of Christ, they become the standard. My idealism is insufferable to some, thank you for listening. I may sound like a reactionary, but I am not. But all that is another several discussions, I am sure. It has been enjoyable to have this exchange. You express yourself very well! Thank you, Terry, for the opportunity to be posted here.

  14. Sarah P says:

    Hi Terri. It is good to read your candid accounts and true soul-( and God-) searching. I was extrememly pleased to read this:”I am conflicted because there is a big part of me that recognizes the fact that as church leaders we have erred in keeping things that should be out in the open under wraps. That much of what is wrong with us today might have been prevented had we allowed the greater council of the church body access to what was going on behind closed doors.”I was secretly privy to some discussions that, at that time, were “forbidden” from me. I also accidentally intercepted a very disturbing email. I saw a scenario being played out in public that did not resemble the behind-the-scenes discussions. As I considered sharing my concerns with the church leadership, I need to share with you some part that you played in me leaving in silence. I have known for some time that I need to talk to you regarding this, and it seems this may be the right time. I’ll be in touch.

  15. Sarah P says:

    In my limited experience, I have noticed one characteristic of church leadership with which I have a problem: Self-Perpetuating Elder Groups When the Elder Board only can arbitrarily decide who can join and who has to leave, this is dangerous. I realize that “the Church is not a democracy,” however this model leaves too much room for performance praise, and reluctance to speak the truth if it goes against the rest of the elders. If one disagrees, they may be pegged as having a personal problem, missing God, or no longer being in unity with our vision. Where we are now, the elders are selected to serve for a set period of time, and cannot be removed during that time, unless they are in blatant and repetitive sin. Once confirmed, the church believes that God has chosen this person and will speak through them, even if it may not be what the others want to hear. There is safety in knowing that you can truly speak without fear that someone will twist it and force you out. Sort of like marriage! There are many times I would have liked to “throw Judd under the bus” only to realize he was right! Thank you deep-thinkers for indulging my youthful mind. (huh-hmmm) I’m learning a lot here.

  16. Ben Cotten says:

    Yeah, I agree. I intended those “categories” to be generalizations. There are huge variations within each. Especially around how different churches deal with (or don’t) the inherent flaws in their governmental structure. This why it’s so small-minded to say things like “all Baptist churches are stale and political” or “all house churches care about are themselves”. I’ve heard people say all those things at one time or another (and more) and it’s a ridiculous notion. Though, I think it is vitally important that Christians understand what they are a part of so that they can see it’s weaknesses and understand it’s strengths. Not as a clinical outsider, but as a family member that wants to help strengthen the family.

  17. Ben Cotten says:

    — I actually had like 3200 characters and had to trim! –You don’t sound like a “reactionary” at all! Far from it.I whole heartily agree that the gospel is the central issue. But there are so many theological ideas on which the gospel hinges (the divinity of Christ, the trinity, attributes of God, original sin, etc.) These are what I meant by “theology” in my earlier comment.Trust me, I’m ALL ABOUT challenging traditions and modes of thought that we accept simply because “we’ve always done it that way.” In fact, I’m pretty much convinced that the current decline in the church that we are seeing in America is a direct result of a refusal to change on our part.”My idealism is insufferable to some…”I suspect that if we had time to sit and talk we would find that I’m at least as idealistic as you!

  18. ded says:

    I have to ask this question:What does orthodoxy mean?

  19. Ben Cotten says:

    LOL! Please, Mr. Fox! Don’t throw me in that brier patch! You couldn’t help it could you? Had to open that can of worms? Ok, I’ll bite… ortho- Greek ‘correct’ doxa- Greek ‘teaching/thought’ Typically it’s used in contrast to heretical thought. And, yes, the term has been abused by more people than I can count on 10 hands. In 3000 characters or less? The”>http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html?mainframe=http://www.reformed.org/documents/nicene.html“>The Nicean Creed The floor is yours… ;-D

  20. If orthodoxical basically means “correct teaching”, then every church in the world would fall into the catagory of what I term para-orthodoxical fellowships. All churches have their version of what the “correct” way to teach, govern, minister, etc. is. If then this is the case, then we are all somewhat right and all somewhat wrong. We choose which churches to attend based on the level of “rightness” we feel they conduct their business with. What would happen if we decided to choose a church to attend because of our differences, to see if there is something vitally missing in our lives that we’ve effectively shut the door on in the name of orthodoxy? Just a thought. I’m enjoying our discussion here. Now when is snack time again?

  21. Ben Cotten says:

    Looks like my link got a little confused in my previous comment. Here it is again:http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html?mainframe=http://www.reformed.org/documents/nicene.htmlThat’s how I would define orthodoxy. There are 100’s of traditions, methods, variances underneath that umbrella. The Nicean Creed are essentially the things that we must agree on iin order to call ourselves the church.Note that it says nothing about most of the things we usually divide over: worship style, government structure, pews or chairs, PowerPoint or hymnals, etc. Nor does it say anything about Eschatology, Spiritual Gifts, Predestination, etc. What would those guys at the Council of Nicea think of us now?I’m enjoying it too!

  22. ded says:

    Been out-of-town for the week-end. “orthodoxy” raised a predicatble response…”LOL” Laughter. Whose standard shall we use? Why? The Nicene Creed is mentioned often. Now here’s where I may sound a bit radical: Why do we need the Nicene Creed? It is an add-on created by men. What can it do better than Scripture? Nothing. It just creates a check-list that is artificial. Loving people is done in the spirit of the living Christ within. Sarah. Good to hear from you here. Hmmm…Does God speak through appointed men? Is there a communcationlevel mandated in Scripture between God and the believer? From the Father to the Son to the Spirit to the appointed leadership, then to the little people? I am not trying to be ornery, here. It is a question that needs asking. I am glad if it makes you feel safe, but is that safety net necessary?

  23. Terry Henry says:

    David: The WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM begins with this statement and short answer: 1. What is the chief end of man?
    A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
    To me, creeds are like razor blades. Let me explain. There was a time when I thought that beards were a part of our God-given Christian identity. I remember running into a Jehovah’s Witness downtown who I knew because he was a friend of another Witness who fixed guitars. You could always tell a Jehovah’s Witness by the jobs they did and the way they dressed—they were the self-employed window washer/chimney sweep types. Well, I was feeling a bit adventurous that day and I stopped to talk with him. After a few minutes of conversation, he asked me if I was from that church by the bowling alley. I said that I was and how did he come to that conclusion. He told me, in no uncertain terms, that the guys from that fellowship were the most likely to have beards. This was during a rather clean shaven time in our collective history. But he was right. Most of the men in our fellowship at the time had facial hair as if it was a mandate from God. That razors were a modern creation and therefore suspect. But then I remember a later time thinking that I was the type of person who might have created the razor if I had lived in an earlier time before its invention and subsequent social revolution. It wasn’t long after I shaved off my beard of several years and became a normal person again—or so I thought. The point being that in my spare time—had I lived during the Nicene or Westminster time—I might have written some of that very stuff myself just to pass the time of day. Do we need it—no! Can it provoke us and inspire us—yes! And, even though I have not gotten to where I wanted to go with this, I am going to post it anyway cause it is just that kind of evening. Welcome back.

  24. Ben Cotten says:

    We need the Nicean Creed (for starters) because it is the very thing that kept us from the heresies of the Jehovah Witness. Let me explain.The Council of Nicea was called over one primary issue: The Arian Controversy. Arius was teaching that Jesus was created by the Father. He was teaching that Jesus was not eternal and was not of the “same substance” as the Father. In this way, Arius was removing the deity of Christ and therefore eroding the very message of the gospel. Jesus must be “one person: fully God, fully man” for the cross and our subsequent justification to work!So over 300 bishops of the day came together in Nicea to fight over it and come to a decision. I think this was around 300AD or so. Understand that MANY of these men did so knowing that when they returned home they would be martyred and persecuted for being there.What were they risking their lives for? Why did they do it?They did it because they believed that the Bible was the inspired and infallible Word of God and they understood that doctrine is the thing that keeps us on course from generation to generation. Both causes were worth dying for.The Nicean Creed was the result of these debates. Each man signed it. Arius’ teaching survived, however, and later morphed into what we call Jehovah’s Witness today. The question over Jesus divinity and His humanity is THE defining difference between Christianity and false religion.That’s why we need the creeds. These are not add ons that stuffy old men pulled out of the air for the sake of their brand of religion. These were men who scoured Scripture, fighting over every word (and sometimes parts of words) because every word and syllable mattered that much.We are living in a time when so many Christians are losing their sense of legacy and history. Most Christians don’t know where they come from. They don’t know how the church has miraculously survived persecutions, wars and heresies. Or how close we have come so many times to annihilation either by the sword or by shades of heresy that threatened the bedrock of the gospel. As a result, we so easily toss aside the importance of theology and doctrine in the name of being “authentic”, “organic” and “relational”.Here’s a question: What if Martin Luther had not studied doctrine and theology and then given his life to the defense of it? Where would we be?

  25. Terry Henry says:

    Very well put and to the point.

  26. Ben, with all due respect, I am not sure where you’re getting some of your history. Would you mind to point me to some sources that include the details you have spelled out with regard to the Council of Nicea? Specifically, some of the areas I’m unaware of are comments such as: Understand that MANY of these men did so knowing that when they returned home they would be martyred and persecuted for being there. Martyred and persecuted by whom? They were all protected by the state, under emperor Constantine. Well, the ones who agreed with the council were. The only ones persecuted (excommunicated) were the ones who didn’t agree with the council’s decision. They did it because they believed that the Bible was the inspired and infallible Word of God This statement appears to me to be a bit anachronistic. The canon had not even been settled by any stretch at this point in church history. Each man signed [the Nicean Creed]. This is not entirely true. There were at least two who did not, and they were excommunicated. These were men who scoured Scripture, fighting over every word (and sometimes parts of words) because every word and syllable mattered that much. If this were true, then one would expect to see phrases or words from scripture used in the creed. But this is not the case. Most Christians don’t know where they come from. This statement is quite true, but not in the sense that you intended it, I suspect. The type of glowing rendition of the purity of the Nicean council that you have spelled out here is precisely my point. Do you know the reason the council was called? And by whom it was called? And what other decisions were made there at that council? Or the other councils that followed it? The answers are not nearly as beautiful as one would gather from your statements here. As a result, we so easily toss aside the importance of theology and doctrine in the name of being “authentic”, “organic” and “relational”. This is an unfortunate stereotype. And one that I must confess I weary of hearing repeated. Ded’s comments (with which I concur in this thread) are in no way “easily toss[ing] aside” anything of importance. Rather, many of us are asking for a re-examination of how we got where we are (dividing over all kinds of doctrines and traditions) and whether or not this is what Christ intended for his church. The bottom line is that the Nicean Creed does go beyond scripture. This is unfortunate because it has become a standard to which people are held. Let me pose a question to you in return: Can you point me to where Paul or Peter or any of the other apostles taught the statements that are in the Nicean Creed, or required them to be held for people to be considered saved?

  27. ded says:

    Ben,I understand your strong feelings. I know I am the minority opinion here, but call me glutton for punishment while I push just a little further–not to turn opinions necessarily; but to provoke thought about what is accomplished or not, holding to the Creed.1.Beginning with the least:Your rhetoric is moving but it is mostly an emotional appeal. Specifically, “losing their sense of legacy and history” and the remaining supportive points of that paragraph, until you finish with “easily toss aside the importance of theology and doctrine … for ‘authentic’, ‘organic’ and ‘relational’.” These words do more than challenge the likes of me or state your stand for the faith as I am sure you intend. Reading between the lines, your rhetoric draws lines. It suggests, “If you do not adhere to this creed you fail martyrs who died before you; you fail to accept what must be accepted to know Christ; and you are in danger of joining the enemy’s side.” Emotional appeals fail because people will follow the cause for emotional reasons rather than the Truth. (Space does not allow further comment on this.)2. I never said the Nicene Creed wasn’t meaningful or important in church history. Yet, as Heather articulated, we must move on with God now, in this moment, in this culture. The average Christian today is well versed in expounding on what he or she has been taught to believe in our traditions, but who articulates walking in the Spirit, how it occurs, its practicality, how it is a supernatural, spiritual experience and not an exercise in intellectual apologetics? How many have conquered anxiety, depression, anger, and luke-warmness and moved beyond into powerfully loving the unlovely and the theologically challenged? Other centuries’ battles will not win for us. JW’s theology is debunked with Scripture, but their lifestyles of self-control and self-denial mirrored in other false teachings such as Mormonism, renowned for their moral lives, make a mockery of a Christianity which lacks the fruits of the spirit and excels in intellectual analyses of doctrines. The impact of over emphasizing doctrines and creeds is that human beings are lured into believing they are ok since they give mental assent to all the correct Scripture interpretation, creeds, and doctrines.Example: the word “trinity”, so strongly stated in the creed is not in the Scripture. The emphasis on that word extraneous to Scripture creates a red herring. Lots of passion and excitement over something the Word does not include. The concept is there, certainly. Why do Christians not know how to illustrate the concept in the Word without a Creedal add-on? Is there a possible connection with that problem to how we in the US appear naked like those in the Church of Laodicia? I will have to finish in a second post. Sorry, Terry

  28. Terry Henry says:

    I didn’t know there was a limit to how many words and can’t find a setting that I can change. Sorry

  29. ded says:

    3. In Genesis, the Lord said in effect, “Do not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but eat from the Tree of Life.” Among His reasons for this must have been knowing limited humans would strive for adherence to Law and miss the holiness of love in the process. Supposedly beyond(not above, mind you)the Law and in the New Covenant, Christians label one thing good and another bad creating an array of reasons to judge and reject others. 4. As Christianity stagnated by the fourth century, Arius’s teaching rooted and drew a following because the abundant life of walking in the Spirit and the spiritual knowledge of how to be loving humans through the in-dwelling Christ was lost. People accepted counterfeit teaching because of not knowing first century, spiritual reality. The church responded clarifying a point that needed to be believed about God in this context. This context included many people who did not read for themselves. A simple, easy to memorize creed resulted. Yet, simultaneously a wrong direction continued: a laity/cleric divide to “protect” the truth.Christianity is stagnant today, as well. The stagnation floats on the deadening affect of affluence, our pre-occupation with image, the need to see credentials before we will listen to others (a corollary of the image problem), our fascination with critical analysis–call it our willingness to worship our intellects–and the artificial ways we value and devalue people based on performance according to standards and adherence to… doctrines and creeds.Summing up the above and risking sounding emotional, we Christians are naked in love and righteousness because we are so busy judging one another based on income (and we do this every time a fellowship grows through similar socio-economic values), appearances, and having all the correct doctrines. We are returned to choosing between the T. of the K. of G. & E. vs. the Tree of Life. Whether or not one uses the word Trinity because men of the faith 1600 years ago needed to clarify that point of God means little to me now, though I see the importance of it then. I am not holding my opinion to achieve relational reality at the expense of Truth. Rather, I am saying if we will not look past our intellects and walk in deep relational love with others, which only springs from the authentic righteousness of Christ ordering us from the inside out, then we know very little of the spiritual Truth God revealed in the love and sacrifice of the Cross. Martin Luther? He didn’t go far enough with good and continued in evil hate, directing ugly invective against Jews. Sooner or later what he accomplished would have been by another. When he ate from the T of K of G and E even a bit and not eat completely from the Tree of Life … Well, draw your own conclusions. Whom you lift up as a model, is not a hero. He obeyed God in something. Truth benefitted but was not fulfilled. Such is the Grace of God. Jesus is the hero.

  30. Ben Cotten says:

    Wow… a lot to respond to. Not sure where to begin, but let me start with repentance over 2 things:1) Re-reading my comment I see that there was more “heat” behind it than what was appropriate. I think perhaps I brought into it some frustration I have over larger issues. I should have been more scholarly and less emotional.2) my memory failed me over the “persecution” point. After looking over my resources again, I see I was in error and concede that issue.Forgive me! So, as I chew my humble pie I’ll try to clarify myself:What exactly in the Nicean Creed do you guys object to? Or is it the use of a creed at all? I must admit I’m scratching my head a little over what your root objections are. You object to me referring the the creed, but then you don’t seem to disagree with the content. My emotional reaction (though admittedly out of turn) was to what I perceived as an argument against the significance of the doctrines held in the Nicean Creed. Now your responses leave me somewhat befuddled.It looks to me like your objection is the the over-emphasis of doctrine over the living out of that doctrine in a way that is contextualized in our culture through the lives of God’s people. I agree with you! Read my blog at http://www.bencotten.net and you will see that I do. However, I did not think that was the issue you put on the table. As I see it, a creed is nothing but a concise statement of belief and I do not intend to defend it as more than that. But, if the content is scriptural, should it not be defended? This is my point. I don’t need the Nicean Creed to know what I believe. It’s simply a concise way of communicating a set of beliefs.”Christianity is stagnant today, as well. The stagnation floats on the deadening affect of affluence, our pre-occupation with image, the need to see credentials before we will listen to others (a corollary of the image problem), our fascination with critical analysis–call it our willingness to worship our intellects–and the artificial ways we value and devalue people based on performance according to standards and adherence to… doctrines and creeds.”I agree with you! But, aren’t you throwing the baby out with the bathwater buy suggesting that we don’t need a doctrinal standard? Isn’t it possible to hold to a Biblical standard of doctrine while at the same time be a missional, friendly, loving and authentic church?My relationship with my God is the very thing that fuels my passion for theology! I want to know Him more. It is my awe of Him that motivates me. This is the heart of theology. Have other’s missed that point? Sure they have, but must we conclude then that theology and doctrine should be compromised?As for Martin Luther, he is not my hero. I’m aware of his bigotted ways… I was simply trying to provide an example of the import of doctrine in our history, not defend his character.

  31. I would say we don’t need a creed if we use it only to distinguish who is “right” and “wrong” doctrinally. The Scripture itself is more than sufficient to do so. Mormonism, JW, etc… can all be easily shown as false teachings by the standards shown in the Bible and not in a creed. A creed is more of crutch to learning and knowing scripture. Most non-believers that I know don’t understand why Christians feel the need to establish an “us” and “them” mentality towards those that don’t believe the same as us. If I’m trying to win the lost, then I don’t want to use some creed to convince them whether they are “right” or not. The Holy Spirit will bring the conviction needed for that to happen. I think the point being made is simply this. We don’t need a creed to establish what is clearly defined in Scripture. We don’t need a checklist for how to think correctly. Scripture will correct us as necessary. It is entirely possible to be a Christian and not agree with the Creed. It is hard for us to comprehend because we use the creed as the standard, rather than the authencity of the fruit of the Spirit in a person’s life. The proof is in the pudding, not in the instructions.

  32. Ben, thank you for the continued dialogue. These discussions serve us all well! 🙂 I appreciate your correction about one point, but there were other points I would like clarification on from my previous comment.In the meantime: What is my basic problem with the creed? A couple of thoughts:The creed is used (as evidenced in the way you first used it in answer to the question about orthodoxy) as a way of determining who is “in” and who is “out”. But, out of the same mouth, we speak words about how the Bible is our sole authority for faith and practice.In that regard, there is a double standard because, as I already said, the creed goes further than scripture in its definitions and clarifications.It functions as an interpretation of scripture, but is then held to the same level as scripture in the way in which it is used as a measuring rod.There is a very obvious tension in our understanding of the deity of Christ and the humanity of Christ. Yet, the Creed purports to explain that tension away. I have a problem with that. Scripture itself contains these types of tensions, and I think we err if we think we can explain them away.For example, the creed completely disregards the concept of Jesus “emptying himself” in Philippians 2. The creed merely says that Jesus “descended”.In one sense, in an effort to preserve the deity of Jesus, the creed went too far to that side, and ignored aspects of his incarnation that I believe scripture teaches.If the creed truly functions as a shortcut to expressing your beliefs, that’s fine. But I would continue to argue that scripture does not articulate it in the same way, and that the creed is merely an interpretation of scripture.You perceived my responses to the creed as a disputation of the doctrines contained within the creed, and therein lies the problem. This thread demonstrates the exact problem that I’m trying to point out.You said “Nicean Creed” and ded and I said, “Why do we need to use the Nicean Creed as a reference point?” and you immediately thought, “Oh my goodness. These guys are questioning the deity of Jesus.” See? 🙂 That’s the problem right there.I would again ask you to show me what doctrines (even regarding the deity of Jesus!) that the apostles presented to people and insisted on the adoption of the same.In that regard, I want to go back to something that you said earlier. You said that the doctrines in the Nicean Creed are absolutely critical (my paraphrase) because without that definition of who Jesus is…well, the exact quote is: Jesus must be “one person: fully God, fully man” for the cross and our subsequent justification to work!If this is true, what does it mean that Jesus “emptied himself” in Philippians 2? But there is a more important thing to consider. What Jesus did “works” (to use your word) because that is what God said was necessary! It is that in which we put our faith and trust! (2982 chars!) 😉

  33. Heather says:

    Steve, I see what you are trying to do here, but I have to admit that your response frustrates me. It seems as if you are entering into this discussion for debate’s sake…as if you are enjoying picking it apart piece by piece but are missing the point of the discussion. The fact is that whether or not these men died or not for this particular document, they came together in unity and created a creed that MANY people have used as a reference for Christian faith. That is not to say that Scripture is not a factor, of course it is and I don’t think anyone would refute that. I am admitadely emotional about this because it frustrates me to no end that there are PLENTY of hurting people out there and we are arguing over things that cause churches to split…this is not what the body of Christ was meant to be…no matter how you believe it should look! We are missing the point. Church is not about us…it is about those who don’t already know Jesus as Savior! The next step after they realize their need for a Savior is that they receive proper teaching (doctrine/theology) so that there are not a bunch of shallow, uneducated Christians running around applying their own doctrine to things. That is dangerous. It is imperitive that Christians have a good foundation on which to live their lives.

  34. Terry Henry says:

    Personally, I admire all you who have commented on several different levels. On the most basic level, there is the give and take of discussion and debate. We are all in process and in knowing most of the participants in this comment thread, I woud have to say all of us are looking for a way to live our lives in the best way that reveals the super-naturalness of Christianity. As Misty Edwards sings in one of her IHOP Worship songs…”I don’t want to talk about you as if you are not in the room, but want to look right at you, Jesus.” I have experienced first hand the “…my way or the highway” leadership. I have left many, many elders meetings over the past several years crying out in my spirit that we would just agree to agree on something—anything—that would move us forward into our destiny and understanding of Christ’s place in our lives. As I look forward to the next post in this “unfolding” I am reminded of Acts 17:11, which states: Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. I will admit that a  lot of what has been said is a little above me at this point, but I am exicted about the process in which we can discuss where we are (who we are) and what we believe and still be a part of the same body at the end of the day.

  35. ded says:

    Rodney,Good to hear from you. I didn’t mention it (I said plenty.), but I thought of the none-believer and how we come off sometimes toward them.Ben,I so regret if you feel overwhelmed by the response and/or confused by my response. Hmmmmm…not sure how to answer your question. I was trying to spell out specifically my problems with holding up creeds, even the Nicean.I guess in a nutshell, I don’t feel creeds enable an understanding of being one who lives in the spirit. I will check out your blog, haven’t had that pleasure yet.Terry,I am appreciate you very much hosting this blog and accepting the course of conversations that spring from your comments.

  36. Heather, I’m truly saddened that you think I’m arguing just for the sake of arguing. And it probably doesn’t accomplish anything for me to simply say “That’s not true”. But I assure you, it’s not the case.My heart is absolutely for the unity of the body of Jesus Christ, and the point I was trying to make is that the creed has been used to divide, not unify.Apparently, you see it the other way. I’m sorry that I have frustrated you. That was never my intent in communicating with your husband the way I did.

  37. ded says:

    Thank you, Heather, for being an advocate for people. It is what happens to people, being denied the life of God within structures which would purpose to exist for their support that is part of my motive here. In this, I think we all agree: people walking with God and having their needs met is among the reasons for seeking and building fellowship. I hesitate to call what we are doing here as arguing. I reget if I have ever sounded argumentative. Please, both you and Ben forgive me if such is the case. Yet, there must be an open forum. It is the only way to reveal the pieces of Truth we each hold, thus allowing the Holy Spirit to knit the whole picture and us all together. Here is my concern, “doctrinal standards” morphing into a subtle tyranny that perpetuates man-made standards and people missing out on the heart of God living within them as a result. Here’s the conflict I see we are hashing out here: Those authors of the Nicean Creed, were they interested in the people walking with God or working to make sure the people believed what was told them about the Scriptures? Regardless of that point, what power does this creed hold over us today and why? What frustrates me is that in the world their is an intellectual elite deciding laws which in turn enable them to maintain their power. They are smart enough to accomplish their goals, because intellectual power can be used against the average person. Has this mindset invaded church structure? Sadly, I believe it has. Of course, all of this is my view. That is all.

  38. Heather, I should apologize too if you have been offended by any of my comments. I believe all of us here love and respect each other enough to debate, argue and disagree, and afterwards still love each other enough to not let it affect how we are knit together by the unity of the Spirit. To me this is healthy discussion, something I’ve not had in many years. Personally, it strengthens my faith to be able to discuss things that others feel as controversial or inconsequential.I can understand your frustration in this knowing your personal church history. But that’s not happening here. This is iron sharpening iron, IMHO.

  39. Ben says:

    Ded, I’ve said it before. I think we both agree on more than we give ourselves credit for. I think we probably diverge more along the lines of methods than we do on the goals. I agree that the Church has been quick to stand firm on doctrinal issues (even using them against people) and slow to love. I agree that we have a lot more intellectual ascent than genuine faith in Him. I agree that the American church has largely forgotten the point of all of this: bringing the gospel of Jesus the Christ to a lost and dying world. This is a lot like when my wife and I have a disagreement. The key is to keep talking until you have both communicated and understood each other. After all, isn’t that what we are all in need of? To know and be known? Terry, It would seem that God is using this little corner of the blogosphere to not only bring some closure to your episode, but to also keep the Body of Christ in Boone, NC connected with itself. From my view, you are doing a great job. A supreme example of “iron sharpening iron.”

  40. Terry Henry says:

    It is my belief that there are many people who have not moved into all that they were created to be because of the abuse of authority in the local church. There was a couple I knew who left the church after several years of trying to speak into many of the situations I have alluded to in this blog. She was a very good singer who could inspire you with her voice in a Rita Springer type of way. After two or three years of being gone, the husband communicated to the leadership and told us that in order to move on with his life and walk with Christ (to the fullness) he had to write and repent of his bad during those years and at the same time pointed out some areas that still gave him pause. He really wanted to be reconcilled. Suffice it to say that after he wrote his letter I called him and apologized for my part in the dynamic that had shaped our lives. In the course of the conversation, he mentioned that his wife hadn’t sung in a church since they had left the one we attended together. It was all that I could do to keep from feeling totally lost and crying the rest of the evening. That the structure and system and yes, the people had failed him to that degree was absolutely devastating to me. Are there hundreds of people out there on partial hold because of what they have seen and experienced in the local church? It is my personal opioion that there are. Many will say to you when you ask, that they have moved on and no longer have a voice in what has happened to them. Some part of me wants to believe them. It is my humble opinion that this dynamic is part of what is fueling the lively action these past couple of days.

  41. Heather says:

    Well, I certainly sparked lots of response from my comment. I need to say here that I have so enjoyed stumbling across this blog and getting to see not only the lively debate but the beginning of a healing process that has been a long time in the works. I don’t want to in any way be a part of hindering that process. I believe that it is vital for the church to have different perspectives and outlooks. We are not one dimensional people, and God allows for different part of the body to work together to bring about his purpose. I believe we all are on the same page as far as the purpose goes. The questions being raised here are “how?” and “how much of man’s input do we really need?” “Doesn’t the Bible hold the answers?” Obviously the answer to this is YES. I believe that God also inspires men to interpret his word and teach from his word in areas that bring more clarity to us as Christians. God didn’t just speak 200 years ago and then shut up. He is constantly breathing his Word into our lives. My concern in all of this is that we don’t lose perspective of God being glorified and people being brought to a saving knowledge of him. It is obvious from the posts after mine that we haven’t lost perspective. I am sorry if I caused any confusion. Keep up the debate it is fun to read…and very interesting.

  42. ded says:

    Ben,I agree; we agree on very much!!Rodney,I agree; this is healthy and better than most conversations I have with folks face to face. What’s up with that?Heather,I agree; the Bible holds the answer–it tells how to be in communion with the Holy Creator of the Universe.Steve,I agree with your carefulness to look at detail in context.Terry,I agree; you’re doing a great job with the blog!My National Board tests are Saturday. I will probably not blog until after…though will, of course, read an entry or two during breaks from my studying!8^)

  43. Ben Cotten says:

    Steve, I must have missed your post earlier. I think we are at the end of this thread’s usefulness to the group so I’ll respond with brevity.I completely agree that there is tension in our doctrine that is missed in any creed because of it’s simplicity. I actually love the tension in theology (God’s sovereignty – man’s responsibility, predestination – free will, Jesus as God – Jesus as a man, God’s imminence – God’s transcendence, etc) because it forces man into a position of humility where he must simply look in awe at the complexities in God.There is a lot of mystery surrounding Jesus’ humanity and divinity (as you highlight by referencing Phil. 2) that is not picked up in something as skeletal as a creed. No argument there.My original comment regarding orthodoxy (with the creed reference) was not intended to be a fully realized treatise on orthodoxy, but as a opening thought in the discussion. If I had known I would be defending it as such I would never have mentioned the Nicean Creed at all. I don’t need to. I just thought it might be a good starting point (and I still think it is).Are the creeds limited in scope? Yes. Are they complete theological foundations? No. Are they scripture? No. Should they be used as a primary text in the defense of any doctrine? No. Are important to our history? Yes.If I somehow communicated that I felt differently, consider this your clarification.Do you really want to start in on debating the importance of the trinity at this point? I don’t. At this point the dead horse has been killed several times and we are quickly approaching the line between helpful discussion and saber clashing.

  44. “saber clashing” was never my desire.

  45. Just wanted to share with you guys something that happened this morning. I’m not sure if anybody is going to read this seeing as how we’ve kind of put this post “out to pasture”. This morning I was sitting by myself, I hadn’t had my shower yet, had nothing on but a pair of shorts when the doorbell rang. You guessed it: JWs. When I saw who it was, my very first thought was: “they haven’t seen me yet, so I can run to the bedroom and hide and pretend no one is hear.” It didn’t take me long to realize this was stupid so I went to the door. The two ladies went through their spiel about JWs and the kingdom and whatnot. Then it was my turn, I began sharing about the law and the sacrifice shown in the Old Testament and the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross in the New Testament. I began discussing with them Romans and the whole faith vs. works debate. I was getting ready to bring up the divinity of Jesus (John 1) when they decided to leave. I must admit, I presented a very weak case for the gospel. I couldn’t remember key scripture references (I knew the verses, but I couldn’t find them in their Bibles. I wanted to show them in THEIR Bibles). I deem my encounter this morning as a successful failure in that failed miserably (in my mind) in giving a reason for the hope inside. But it was successful because I didn’t run from the JWs the way I always have in the past. Part of the reason why has been the discussions we’ve had here lately. Getting back to the creedal issue, I didn’t see the JWs at my door as the “them” in my “us vs. them” battle. I saw them as two ladies who were very much like me, searching for the truth the best they knew how. Therefore, it freed me up. Not to try to convince them they were wrong, per se, but rather to explain my position from a Scriptural reference. To show them, hopefully, that God has made a way plainly in the Scriptures for them if they would only believe and study on their own apart from the traditions they’ve been indoctrinated with. I want to thank you Terry for allowing us to have these lively discussions here lately. This is just one example of showing the iron sharpening iron effect that our discussions have brought. I hope that the next time the JWs coming ringing my doorbell that I’m better prepared. But I’m not going to beat myself up for not saying all that I hoped I would say. It’s the Spirit of God that must bring revelation to their hearts anyway, not my persuasive arguments.

  46. ded says:

    Hey Rodney,Your testimony thrills me. (Though, since you didn’t say, I am wondering if you shared the gospel in your “shorts”? Guess that’s Florida thing!)When people realize they are mature enough to trust Christ and jump into the milieux of this life, they will. It doesn’t take a weekly sermon by one man to move folks to act on the love they have in their hearts! In my observations, weekly sermons have the strange effect of deadening the impetus of communion between humans and the in-dwelling spirit…odd as that may sound to some who trust in traditions to mature the faithful.

  47. Ben Cotten says:

    Yeah, I’m sure some people would equate my preaching to Chinese water torture! 😉

  48. Really i appreciate the effort you made to share the knowledge.The topic here i found was really effective to the topic which i was researching for a long time.

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