Thursday, September 11, 2008

Standing for Something

While attending the NACC this summer, I saw numerous friends and acquaintances. Even though I don't think the program has been much to write home about, I always enjoy seeing friends I've known for years.

Invariably, they want to know what I'm doing and where I've been. When I mention that I'm serving Camelback Christian Church their eyebrows go up. Camelback has a reputation! I suppose it's a deserved reputation. Dr. Joe Carson Smith, the founding minister, remains a conservative icon in the Restoration Movement. Camelback is seen as one of those "hold out" congregations that remain traditional in worship, philosophy, and theology.

Then, when I remark that I'm preparing a series of articles for "Restoration Herald," I got the same response. Mark Taylor, editor of the "Christian Standard," remarked something to the effect that I should try to get CRA to be less combative. You see, the Christian Restoration Association has long stood for the traditional Restoration Movement values and has, at times, been just that – combative.

My response in both cases has been, "The Restoration Movement needs churches like Camelback that aren't afraid to take a stand for biblical truth and the traditions of the Restoration Movement. The brotherhood also needs the CRA because someone needs to challenge the thinking that leads to directions destructive of the movement's values and purpose. All too often "the blind lead the blind" and everyone falls into a ditch. There is nothing wrong with change, but not all change is good, beneficial, or helpful. Someone has to challenge the thinking of those who would lead the churches, leaders, and brotherhood of the Restoration Movement down a primrose path leading to its destruction.

As I thought about all of this, there were several things that came to mind:

  1. Truth is often seen as negative. Those who "tell it like it is" are simply unpopular because truth cuts … and sometimes it cuts deeply. In our day of political correctness, tolerance, and "politeness" it isn't acceptable to simply tell the truth. Nonetheless, someone has to do it! Speaking about some of the challenges raised by the CRA one fellow wisely said, "Well, even the person who is consistently wrong is sometimes right!" Frankly, during the CRA's history its editors have been more right than wrong.
  2. There is a definite need to keep issues alive and open for discussion. Years ago during the inerrancy controversy, there were those prominent scholars and leaders who would have swept the whole discussion "under the rug." Had they been successful, the issue of biblical reliability would be more seriously questioned than it is – and it remains in question in certain circles. It has been said that "silence is not always golden; sometimes it is just plain yellow!" That is nowhere more evident than in upholding the movement's principles and values.
  3. Those of us who still believe in the Movement's values must remain vigilant. The agents of change will always be with us. Change is indeed sometimes good. Change can also be expedient or helpful. To take an approach, however, that anything that works or seems for the moment to be helpful is good is fallacious. Just because "it", whatever "it" is, works does not make it right! There are almost always unintended consequences and those who refuse to consider that enact changes that destroy. It is right for churches like Camelback, leaders like Joe Carson Smith, or agencies such as the CRA to speak out! All it takes to destroy a nation or a movement is for "good people to do nothing!"

I am happy to be associated with Camelback Christian Church and its heritage. I am happy to be invited to share insights with the readers of the "Restoration Herald." Do I always agree with everything? No, but then I sometimes don't agree with things I said or wrote a month ago! Still, I like what CCC and the CRA stand for. Frankly, I'm not too sure what some of our supposed brotherhood biggies and agencies stand for these days.