Friday, July 05, 2013


I wrote a blog entry months ago about a new Stadia plant in Gilbert, Arizona. When I asked the preacher to define his position on "baptism for the remission of sins" all I got was a refusal to precisely state the church's position. He preferred to waffle and avoid the question. This response to such questions is used more and more and I can only conclude it is an effort to keep the question hidden in a smoke screen so Evangelicals will not be "offended."

In response to my article I got typical responses. On the one hand I got the typical Evangelical response challenging my view. You know what I mean: "What happens if someone dies before they can be baptized?" "Titus 3:5 is not talking about water baptism?" I could go on and on. Drawing on Zwingli's teaching from the Reformation they prefer his views to those of the Bible. I prefer Jesus straight forward statement found in Mark 16:16, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved...." Before you write, I know that verse is not found in some older manuscripts. It is found in some manuscripts and I have as much right to accept it as Scripture as you do to reject it. Oh, and by the way, Jesus knew that those who did not believe would avoid baptism and be condemned. I also prefer Peter's answer given to those on Pentecost who were told to "repent and be baptized every one of you for (unto) the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). Honest evangelicals recognize the impact of that verse. If you don't think so, you should listen to Francis Chan's message from Cornerstone Community Church.

On the other hand I got feedback regarding Stadia, a supposedly Restoration Movement church planting organization with headquarters in California. I hear lots of rumors about Stadia but outside of the church in Gilbert, AZ, I've not seen solid evidence. If anyone has such evidence I'd like to see it.

I do see evidence of many within the Restoration Movement softening their view on the importance of baptism. That's true not only within the Independent Christian Churches and Churches of Christ. It is one of the interesting and puzzling changes occurring within the non-instrumental Churches of Christ. Oak Hills Church (once Oak Hills Church of Christ) in San Antonio has, for example, not only added instruments in some services but now accepts those not baptized  into membership. To be honest, to be selected as a teacher or leader at Oak Hills one must be immersed. I predict that soon you will see the same thing in the Independent churches.

Something must be said here. A  student of the movement is aware that Alexander Campbell had quite a controversy with Dr. John Thomas over baptism. Thomas, an immigrant from England, impressed Campbell at first but he drifted off into a view similar to the Donatist heresy in the early church. Thomas taught that anyone baptized in one of the denominations need to be baptized again when they approached him for membership in one of the churches he influenced. Campbell's debates clearly demonstrate he believed sprinkling and pouring were not baptism at all. Therefore, immersing such individuals was appropriate. Furthermore, Campbell rightly argued there was no biblical warrant for baptizing infants or those unable to make an independent decision about Christ. Campbell's issue with Thomas was the insistence that even those immersed required another immersion. Campbell noted that those in the Restoration Movement never made such a requirement.

The sad thing that is happening today is not that immersion is not practiced. Rather, it is the fact that the biblical and theological truth about baptism is avoided altogether. It is now something one ought to do because "everyone gets baptized" or because "Jesus did it" or "it is a membership rite required to join a church." As one of my former students put it, "We don't argue about baptism because everyone knows you should be baptized." That's fine as far as it goes but it sure leaves much biblical teaching out and the product is a weak Christian. That approach denies two major biblical teachings. Jesus taught us to "teach them to observe all things I've commanded." Paul told Timothy to teach truth to "faithful men who will teach others."

It is time to teach the truth and not waffle.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

July 4, 2013

It has been a lazy hot summer day here in Palm Springs. Delores and I did not attend the huge fellowship meal at development's lodge. It is just too much of a hassle.

We watched the movie "Copperheads" on Direct-TV movies on demand. It isn't a shoot'em up movie. Rather it is a quiet reflective movie about those who opposed the Civil War. Set in 1862 you get acquainted with the emotions, convictions, and sentiments of those living in that culture. Christianity permeated the film but showed how those on both sides of the conflict viewed things. Those who want constant action and lots of explosions and gunfire wouldn't like it, but I found it thought provoking and rather emotional at times.

I worked some on my "Recollections" today. I'm adding photographs to the already 457 pages.

Ron Ross, a Nebraska Christian College, classmate emailed me yesterday to do an interview about my discovery of brothers and sisters unknown to me before recent contact. It gave me an opportunity to tell my recent experiences to a radio audience.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Milestones and Memories

Delores and I reached two milestones recently.

We celebrated 48 years together June 26. It was a relaxing observance as we enjoyed a meal at Red Robin and a day of movies here at home.

Sunday, June 30, I officially left the ministry at Camelback Christian Church in Scottsdale. No more 554 mile round trip weekends. Friend and Board Chairman Bill Moss read the following at the conclusion of Sunday's services:

  • Mapquest reveals the distance between Palm Springs and Scottsdale at 277 miles (one-way). Over the 6 year tenure, that would equal 166,200 miles
    • Figuring an average of 25 mpg that would be 6,648 gallons of gas.
    • On average 55 oil changes or 275 quarts of oil.
    • 3 1/3 sets of tires.
  • Driving an average of 60 mph, you get 9.25 hours per round trip or 462.5 hours per year or 2,775  hours in a car (that is 115 complete 24 hour days in a car).
For putting up with me cooped up in a car for 115 days Delores received a lovely framed certificate marking the accomplishment. The church gave me a framed plaque complete with a chunk of asphalt from the original Route 66 commemorating the road travel.

The congregation also gave us a more than generous love offering. We've always known the level of their generosity exceeded that of many larger congregations. They proved it this time around, too.

Looking back over the six years with Camelback there are many meaningful memories:
  • I remember how foolish I thought they were to call me as their minister when I lived so far away.
  • I remember how fun it was to listen to and attend board meetings. Yes, there was laughter and good will displayed nearly every meeting and it always amazed me how freely they gave to missions and to those in need.
  • I remember how the whole church stood by me when I needed heart valve surgery and was incapacitated for five months. The church supported us with prayers, cards, the salary, and paid a supply preacher during the months I could barely function.
  • I remember how quickly a congregation of less than 80 people raised $55,000 to resurface a parking lot badly in need of repair.
  • I remember with equal amazement how quickly the funds came for remodeling the worship center with updated lighting, new lighter paint, a new sound system, and replacing the chairs. 
  • I remember how faithfully the leaders came together for training, discussion, and setting goals.
  • I remember with joy the marriages and with sorrow the funerals observed during those years.
  • I remember the support given the Christian Restoration Conferences we held and the Family Camps we enjoyed.
  • I remember a few times when Delores and I could spread peanut butter and jelly making sandwiches for the Phoenix Mission.
  • I remember generous families providing financial support for a young woman who needed help.
  • I remember raising funds to send a Cuban refugee back to Cuba so he could spend his last few days with his family before his death.
There are so many more and I know I'll forget some here and there. Oh, there were a few bad times, too. The good memories so outweigh the bad that they are insignificant by comparison. There are too many to list those who provided encouragement and support along the way. 

I do have to mention Dr. Joe Carson Smith, though. Joe and I share a birthday June 2. Many great men were born on that day. Largely unappreciated my many younger leaders, Joe Carson Smith has been a pillar and buttress of the truth (see 1 Timothy 3 in the ESV). His and Barbara's verbal and active support meant so much over the years. Some see Joe as a rigid hard man but I know him as a man with a big heart and a love for the Lord and the Lord's church I wish his critics exhibited. He has done much for me. He has done much for Camelback Christian Church. He has done much for the Kingdom of God.