Friday, July 25, 2008

More Than One Way for a Church to Go Wrong

The Arkansas Times website has an article up called "Arkansas' First Church". It compares and contrasts the first church to be founded in Little Rock, First Presbyterian, with the one that is first in number of congregants- Fellowship Bible Church of Little Rock.

We all have our biases, some admit to them and some don't. The style of the piece makes pretensions to convey a bias-free comparison of the styles of the two churches but comes off as a ham-handed attempt to make First Presbyterian look good and Fellowship Bible Church look bad. Because the truth is the "straight and narrow" and truth by nature is exclusive of other paths, there are a lot more ways to go wrong than there are to stay true to one's Godly calling. It is almost as if the Almighty designed the world so that one must be careful to stay in relation to Him in order to choose the right paths. Going astray is easy. Doing the right thing is hard, and you usually only wind up dong it for love's sake.

At any rate, the article made much of Fellowship's $54 million new facility with its theme-park style center for children. To be fair it also talked about the lavish organ First Presbyterian church provided for itself.

Now I can't find anywhere in the Bible where it was God's idea to build a building for the purpose of worshiping Him. There are lots of things that we are commanded to do with our tithes and offerings, buildings just weren't one of those things He commanded us to do.

I've seen religious ambition ruin more than one ministry. They really want to help people, but not as bad as they want an imposing church building or a majestic organ. I have found that nothing is harder than loving people, if your desire to do that is conflicted by desires for other things then the weeds of life choke out the fruit of the word. Still, having those things are not wrong in themselves. If you have to have a big fancy church facility, putting a lot of resources into children sounds like something Jesus would want us to do.

The problem is not the facilities, but the way they are used and what effect they can have on our ability to proclaim God's truth unhindered. Especially when there is a lot of debt, preachers are pressured to compromise their message so that they don't offend anyone. Those seats need to be full with people who will help pay the bills! What starts off as a resource to help minister God's truth becomes an albatross around ministerial necks that hinders people from preaching the truth when the truth becomes unpopular.

Right now my concern is that the "Emergent Church" heresy is infecting wanna-be-hip mega churches like FBC. This particular heresy teaches that "the journey" is more important than the destination, that the role of the church is tilted more towards meeting felt needs and therefore less toward proclaiming Divine truth. Such thinking is very appealing to pastors, since as "Shepard" they are the leaders in the journey and they can't be questioned on the direction to take the flock. After all, its all about "loving one another on the journey", where they are heading to is incidental in this view. It also lets them off the hook of doing what men of God have been called to do throughout the pages of the Bible- proclaim divine Truth even when it is unpopular.

First Presbyterian comes off no better. The article talks about how pastor "Flash" Gordon spends a lot of sermon time critical of the city for using taxpayer money to help finance high-profile business projects- so far so good- instead of the government using taxpayer money to address the problems of the poor and homeless.

Now I am all for preachers condemning theft, even when done by guys in nice suits and ties. The city has no business using taxpayer money to prop up some business ventures at the expense of others (and the taxpayers). Where I part company with Flash is that the city should not be spending it on the things he wants- they should be returning it to the people who originally earned the money. Flash should encourage First Presbyterian families to help these people directly because that is what a New Testament church is supposed to do.

Just like I can't find a scripture where it was ever God's idea to build a worship building, I can't find one where He ever advocated building a government program to help poor people. He commanded us to do it as individuals, families, and churches. That is a lot harder than nagging the government to spend OPM on the problem. You have to get your hands dirty with loving hurting people that way, but once again He seems to make the right way in this life the difficult way. I believe He knows what He is doing.

We should pray for pastors and church leaders, and support those who stay faithful and rebuke those who do not. They have a great many temptations in these troubled times where people want their ears tickled. There are so many ways to depart the path of life.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does not really matter anyway. Everyone know that the only way to be right with God is to be a member of his church- the true church. The Church of Christ. Acts 2:38

8:53 AM, July 27, 2008  
Anonymous Rick said...


If you are refering to the COC denomination its not the "true Church." It was founded by Alexander Campbell and is a cult.

6:38 PM, July 27, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The church of Christ is not a denomination and was founded on the Day of Pentecost A.D. 33

5:34 AM, July 28, 2008  
Anonymous Rick said...


History shows us past events, such as the Jews being killed in Germany.... also the COC denomination can be traced back to Alexander Campbell, who by the way was baptized by a Baptist Preacher.
That is why the COC denies being founded by Campbell. It shows them to the false teachers they truly are.

11:52 AM, July 28, 2008  
Blogger F. Prefect said...

Rick, are you being obtuse on purpose?
Mr. Wikipedia says:

Church of Christ may refer to:

1 the New Testament description for a body of the followers of Jesus, who they believed to be the Christ (e.g., Romans 16:16)
2 the entire body of Christians throughout the world, regardless of denomination or tradition
3 a body of Christians who continue to use only the New Testament as the source for Christian doctrine and practice and who consider themselves to be part of the original church (in contrast to Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant churches)
4 the Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholic churches (primarily used by members of these churches)
5 a number of Restorationist churches:

a Church bodies influenced by the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement:


Anon obviously means 1 or maybe 2, while you are capable of seeing only 5.

12:44 PM, July 28, 2008  
Anonymous Rick said...


Actually I have discussed many times with people from the COC denomination their beliefs and am very aware of what anon is refering. He means 5!

One of the key things anon said that is what the COC denomination teaches is that they are not a denomination.

So Prefect, I will have to disagree with you this time.

12:59 PM, July 28, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well actually it was a sacastic comment. I am a member of the modern day group known as the church of Christ (AKA #5). As I understand the scripture one that has come to know Christ and put him on in Baptism (Romans 6) has become a member of the church of Christ ( A universal fellowship of Christian on earth as well as in heaven). Will I agree with each of my brothers on every point. NO, but I do recognize them as brothers and Sisters.

4:12 PM, July 28, 2008  
Anonymous Rick said...


If you recognize other churches as being christian, other than those that attend the COC, you are certainly in the minority.

I also agree that anyone who has accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior by grace through faith, Eph. 2 is in the universal body of Christ.

5:56 PM, July 28, 2008  
Anonymous said...

Hey Rick, What you need to realize is that things are changing at the moment in the churches of Christ. Many man COC's are now more open toward their understanding of others. Can we embrace everything that each one believes- well NO, but one who has come to Christ and is saved by his Grace has become and Christian. I encourage you to google the Woodmont Hills COC in Nashville TN or the Grace Crossings church in Memphis TN, these are among some of our most progressive churches. The old hateful guard of the church of Christ has begun to die, and a new day is dawning.

6:30 PM, July 28, 2008  
Anonymous c.b. said...

This conversation demonstrates the tight-rope that is before us.
I want to be inclusive & accepting, yet I resist this ecumenical movement that basically teaches that docrine is subjective.

I too believe that if you have accepted Jesus as your personal saviour & have repented of your sins you are a child of God, but after that there are some doctrinal issues that are non-negotiable.

8:09 PM, July 28, 2008  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

That tight-rope is called "balance", and we do well when we seek it out. Most heresies start with a truth taken out of balance.

I once fellowshipped at a COC for three years. I don't consider that local body to be a cult by any means, but I suppose it would be considered one of those "progressive" COCs.

I never did buy their claims that they were "undenominational" Christians- it just seemed a semantics game designed to put them in a special category rather than just another denomination. Still, there were some wonderful Christians there and I did not doubt their sincerity of faith in the God of the Bible.

8:20 PM, July 28, 2008  
Anonymous Rick said...


Obviously I have come to my own conclusions based on my encounters with COC members. I do realize not all can be put into the same catagory but I belive most can.

I worked with a COC pastor for 10 years that teaches you must be baptized in a COC church by a COC pastor to be born again. I totally reject that cultic thinking, nor is it Biblical. That isn't teaching salvation through Jesus Christ, its teaching salvation through a COC pastor.

There are alot of doctrinal issues I believe that make the COC unbiblical and a cult.

5:07 AM, July 29, 2008  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

I believe I have met some of those kind as well Rick.

9:15 PM, July 29, 2008  
Anonymous KLP said...

COC or Church of Christ or Disciples of Christ, or the Christian Church all had their humble beginnings with Alexander Campbell, Stone and Scott.
You cannot find a group of people in recorded history that believed the dogma that the old school COC proclaims prior to 1800.
Baptismal regeneration is not Biblical but that does not slow them down.

They are exclusive as a group and very interesting in that most have little or no grasp of scripture outside of a few proof text taken mostly out of context.

If you accept what the old school COC proclaims I would have a difficult time calling that Christian.

10:39 AM, July 31, 2008  

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