For most of my life I have been a questioner. Maybe it has something to do with my Scotch-Irish ancestry on my mother’s side. Anyway, life here on earth presents us with more questions than answers. In eternity we have been told that we will be given the answers to earthly life’s unanswered questions. Maybe though some of the questions we presently have may not be of interest when eternal life is fully realized.
In this letter I pose numerous questions and then give you my answers. It’s like talking to myself of which I plead guilty. I have found this technique useful over the years, but my critics will no doubt say it is further testimony to my being a “renegade” (which one vociferous brother recently called me) and out of my mind.
1.) Is it our belief in a pattern for a so-called worship service in assembling that binds us together as believers?
This is what brother Jerry Dickinson indicated in an editorial a while ago in the party journal “Old Paths Advocate” (3/2009). He said, “It is these beliefs that bind us together in fellowship or brotherhood. Too, these beliefs separate and distinguish us from other groups.” Further, he said, “Indeed, we believe in a pattern . . . The thing that binds us together is our belief that there is a pattern for the Lord’s Supper, as well as for all we do in our service to the Lord.”
He is correct as far as the reality of the situation is in the Churches of Christ today, but it is an anti-scriptural, divisive, unreasonable, unscriptural manifestation. It is sectarianism.
It is not our beliefs about “disputable matters” that are to bind us together, but our faith in Christ, our response to the gospel. It is not by our traditions relative to “disputable matters” that we are to be known as believers, but by our “love for one another. (John 13:35)
Jesus never indicated that our beliefs about “disputable matters” were to be conditions of salvation and fellowship. Indeed, the scriptures indicate just the opposite and are condemnatory of those who elevate their opinions to being more important than being in Christ. Nevertheless, brethren have gone beyond the scriptures and created about two dozen sects in the Churches of Christ built around “disputable issues” relative to a pattern that varies from sect to sect. So confusing to the world!
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) Brethren have made it appear that you have to go through them. Either agree or assent to their interpretations or opinions on select “disputable matters” or you cannot be one of them.
2.) Is homosexuality genetic?
A few years ago Dean Hamer, a genetic researcher, reported that a new study revealed a “gay gene” and thus was a biological cause of homosexuality. The media had a field day. Two years later, after Hamer was criticized by other genetic researchers, he was under investigation by the Office of Research Integrity at the Department of Health and Human Services because of manipulating his data. Did you hear about that through the media? The gay community is fiercely and vociferously determined to prove that they have no choice in the matter and unfortunately the popular media tends to be prejudiced in their favor.
Recently I read this bit of interesting information that tends to indicate homosexuality is not genetic. Relative to research done on identical twins, 90% of the time when one twin is gay, the other is not gay. Since they come from the same fertilized egg, if being gay was genetic you would expect both to be beset by that orientation.
In his book The Lepers Among Us, which was written by bro. Jim Reynolds to get believers not to treat gays in a bigoted, prejudiced, self-righteous way, he said:
“There is a fallacy in the notion that homosexuality is not immoral because of genetics. The claim that homosexuality is genetic is certainly false as a scientific statement. But whether it is true or false is irrelevant. Science cannot distinguish between moral and immoral behaviors based on predetermination. For if we are not predetermined by our genes, then we are predetermined by our families, and if not by our families then by education, and if not by education then by choices, compulsions and addictions.
“If we are free at all, it outweighs all the combined effects of prior causes, producing an utterly unpredictable outcome. If we are not free then we are subject to all prior causes and therefore are totally predictable and completely unaccountable! But do any of us live without the notion of freedom and goodness?” (p. 96)
3.) Do any of us “belong” to a local church, as we say, that follows the scriptures exactly as they should be followed?
I don’t, and I don’t know of any congregation that does. Who will assert that they know it all and practice it perfectly? Who will insist that their congregation is perfect in its knowledge, understanding, and practice? Such an assertion or insistence in itself is indicative of a deficiency or lack of the Spirit of Christ. “Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.” (1 Cor. 8:1b-2)
It is my view that the Churches of Christ are a denomination composed of numerous sects. Not all those in the sects are sectarian in attitude, but this is the attitude and thrust of most of the leaders in control or the powers that be.
Over the years I have been associated with the sect that uses one cup and does not have/use a Sunday school system. I’m still associated with such congregations, but my relationships with like congregations have been limited because I promote and strive not to be sectarian. The non-sectarian sectarians have worked in a cowardly way to blackball me as much as possible. I don’t say this to brag, but out of regret for them and me.
Also over the years many people have asked me why didn’t I go somewhere else if I think the one cup, no Sunday school sect is wrong. My answer is that I believe in and prefer some of the traditions of this sect and I love these brethren. Why should I take the initiative to quarantine myself from them? Besides, as I have indicated there are no perfect brethren and no perfect congregations on this earth. We are all dependant upon and need to trust the Perfect One in whom we are brethren. By God’s grace manifested in him we will be saved eternally.
J. James Albert