Experimental Theology

By Richard Beck

I had wonderful time at Streaming last week with Greg Boyd and many others. Thanks to Mark Love for putting together, year after year, such a wonderful event.

(BTW, if you’re thinking of pursuing a graduate degree in ministry be sure to check out the missional leadership degree directed by Mark at Rochester College. I show up in that program for a class in year two, helping teach a course on hospitality taught in Durham, NC as a part of a visit to Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s Rutba House community.)

As you can tell from the Tweet above, Greg and I talked a lot about the Churches of Christ, where we’ve come from and where some of us might be going. This was, in fact, a conversation I had with quite a few people at Streaming.

What will be the future of the Churches of Christ? Given all the changes we are experiencing will there be anything left of the movement in a generation or two? And if so, what is that going to look like?

Before answering those questions, some quick backstory and context for Non-CoCers.

As I’ve written about before, right now there are two streams in the Churches of Christ, a sectarian stream and an ecumenical stream. Historically, the CoC has been very sectarian, believing only those from our tribe to be the only faithful Christians in the world. Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans and everyone else were headed to hell. At its worst that’s what CoC theology represented and communicated. And that is what a lot of people have in mind to this day when they think of the Churches of Christ.

But starting in the 70s and 80s an increasingly ecumenical impulse began to emerge within the CoC, an increasing willingness to see ourselves as a particular stream flowing into the much broader river of Christianity. Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans and everyone else are our brothers and sisters in Christ. This, obviously, is the group of CoCers I identify with.

Now to a second point before we can discuss the future of the CoC. The CoC has been a movement centered around church practices, about restoring a “New Testament pattern” of worship and church organization. The CoC has been less focused upon theology (historically a dirty word in our tradition) than upon ecclesiology.

Now, the most distinctive aspect of CoC church practice, the other big thing we are known for, is acapella worship (voices only, no instruments). This has been such a defining feature of the CoC that we split with the Disciples of Christ/Christian Church over this issue. And as you know, if a church splits over an issue, that issue–because you’ve spilled blood over it–becomes deeply rooted in the psyche and DNA of a tradition. If you spilled blood over an issue that issue has to become a test a fellowship, a boundary that cannot be crossed. For the Churches of Christ acapella worship became that defining issue, perhaps the most defining issue (because of the split) of our movement.

But now, with the rise of the ecumenical impulse within the Churches of Christ, this worship practice has been rapidly changing. Many of the largest and most influential congregations in the Churches of Christ are adding instrumental worship services. My church, the Highland Church of Christ, is now among this group.

Which brings us back to the question: What will be the future of the Churches of Christ?

You can see the issue. If acapella worship was a or the defining practice of our tradition what happens when that practice no longer characterizes our churches? If a Church of Christ goes instrumental what makes us distinctive, say, from the other community or Baptist churches in town that worship with instruments?

Let me frame the question this way. The Churches of Christ have been a movement that has maintained unity via church practices. Each Church of Christ organized and worshiped in the same way. So what holds us together once those practices start to change? If practices have been our organizing core what happens when that core evaporates?

Well, with an emerging diversity of practices we’d no longer have a core, no longer have a consistent expectation of what a Church of Christ might “look like” from location to location. Thus the question: What’s going to be the “core” of the Churches of Christ (if it’s not going to be acapella worship) going forward?

Now, I’m not a fortune-teller and given my limited experience and perspective from within the Churches of Christ I cannot speak for the diversity within the movement or predict how it will all work out in a generation or two. But as I’ve pondered the question “What will be the future of the Churches of Christ?” this has been my answer.

In my opinion, if the (ecumenical) Churches of Christ want to maintain a distinctive and coherent identity going forward they should increasingly focus upon articulating a robust and distinctive theology as it pertains to two specific church practices which I believe, unlike with acapella worship, will continue to characterize the movement for the next few generations.

These two practices are the weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper and a believer’s baptism by immersion for the remission of sins.

Let me comment on each of these in turn.

What will make the Church of Christ distinctive going forward? This: We are distinct (though not unique) in celebrating the Lord’s Supper every Sunday. But it’s more than that. Our distinctive (though not unique) belief is that the Lord’s Supper is the sole reason for gathering, that the Lord’s Supper can never be skipped. Sermon, worship and just about everything else can be skipped. But you cannot skip the Lord’s Supper. Table is the focal point of our gathering. Going forward my sense is that this practice will continue to define and characterize the Churches of Christ in both the acapella and increasingly instrumental congregations.

So my recommendation to CoC leaders is this: Let’s give increasing attention to our theology and practice of the Table. Our weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper, how everything we do on Sunday is oriented around the Table, is a distinctive practice. A robust theology informing and supporting this practice will make it even more distinctive. Why go to a local Church of Christ? Because of the weekly welcome to the Lord’s Table, and all the profound theology that will rock your world if you step into that practice.

And if I might be allowed to nudge our theology of the Table in a particular direction let me add this. One of the things I’ve noticed in many Churches of Christ is how in our weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper we’ve begun to explicitly articulate a theology of open communion. In ecumenical Churches of Christ you increasingly hear in the Lord’s Supper meditation statements like “All are welcome to the Lord’s Table.”

What is interesting to me here is how our practice has shaped our theology. Given that many of our congregations are large and that we celebrate the Lord’s Supper every Sunday, Churches of Christ have been, by default, practicing open communion. We pass the trays to everyone. No one can keep track of who is or is not taking the Lord’s Supper as the trays are passed, especially in our larger congregations. Week in and week out, we have no idea who is taking communion.

Functionally, and therefore implicitly, communion has been open.

But increasingly what has been theologically implicit in our practice is now being made explicit. “All are welcome to the Lord’s Table.” That’s what is being said in many Churches of Christ. In many places, the Churches of Christ have practiced their way into a theology of open communion.

Is that the future of a distinctive Church of Christ theology? The weekly observance of open communion accompanied by a robust theology of open communion?

I hope so. But if not, the larger observation is what I’m focused on: the distinctive practice of the weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper.

The second distinctive aspect that I think will characterize the Churches of Christ going forward is a believer’s baptism by immersion for the remission of sins. I have a post scheduled to come out in November on this topic, but a bit about this practice in our churches.

In the Churches of Christ we don’t say the Sinner’s Prayer. We never ask people to “accept Jesus into your heart as your Lord and personal Savior.” To respond to the gospel we ask people to be baptized by immersion. Simplifying greatly, baptism by immersion is our Sinner’s Prayer.

What this means is that the Churches of Christ, as with our weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper, are poised to have a very robust and distinctive theology of baptism. If there is a faith tradition that can unpack Romans 6 it is the Churches of Christ.

And as with the weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper, I think this practice of responding to the gospel in the act of baptism will continue to characterize both the acapella and increasingly instrumental Churches of Christ for a least a generation or two.

So that’s my other suggestion. Along with articulating a robust and distinctive theology of the Table, I think Churches of Christ should articulate a robust and distinctive theology of baptism. We’re well positioned to do each of these things.

In fact, we’re already doing so. More and more we’ve been reminding our members of their baptism, calling them back to the symbolism of that central, sacred and life-defining ritual. Remember your baptism. Remember your baptism. Remember your baptism.

And the same has been happening in our theology of the Lord’s Table. Our services are becoming filled with the invitation: “This is the Lord’s Table. All are welcome here.”

Which is interesting. These are two defining sacraments of Protestantism. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. And here’s a faith tradition, the Churches of Christ–because of its weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper and its practice of baptism by immersion for the remission of sin upon the confession of faith–that is distinctively (though not uniquely) poised to practice these sacraments in ways that open up a rich and deep theology.

I wonder about this. What future are the Churches of Christ practicing toward?

I don’t know. I know I won’t live to see it. But I have a clue. And a hope.

Yes, it’s for these reasons–our practices of Table and baptism–that I have great hope for the future of the Churches of Christ.

[First published at Richard Beck’s “Experimental Theology” blog on October 13, 2014.]

31 Responses

  1. Richard,

    Thanks for letting us share your excellent thoughts.

    I do have this one question. It seems to me that your point is NOT that, because we wish to be distinctive, we should emphasize baptism and communion. Rather, it seems to be more along the lines of: Because we emphasize distinctive perspectives on baptism and communion, we will continue to be distinctive — but hopefully not separate — from other believers in Jesus and their faith communities.


  2. Hi Jay,
    I sort of mean both.

    Yes, as you point out, given that we already possess distinctive practices we should continue to practice them.

    And yet, our practices of Table and baptism have been biblically and theologically thin and hollowed out. I’m recommending that our theology of these practices become deeper and richer. This would have the effect of making us even more distinctive as we would be building upon and enriching distinctives that already exist in our tradition.

    But why become more distinctive? We need to become more distinctive from others in order to secure our own unity and identity. If that matters to us. And it might not. It matters to me. And it’s a growing issue as the practices within our churches regarding worship become increasingly diverse. I think our practices of Table and baptism provide a good start on this, but if we don’t do the requisite theological work these practices will also start to get dropped. And if they get dropped there won’t be anything holding us together. Thus my recommendation: double-down on these two practices so that they become distinctive and central our identity.

    1. Richard,

      To me, it seems critically important for a movement within a movement such as ours to articulate a clear self-understanding for why we wish to be distinctive. Otherwise, the impulse to be distinctive might engulf and even pervert whatever the good reasons for being distinctive are.

      After all, there are plenty of bad reasons to be distinctive — as we’ve proven beyond all argument. So what good reasons might there be?

      To me, it’s like teaching teenagers about cliques. In a large group, there will necessarily be cliques because you cannot be best friends with everyone. The danger arises when cliques become exclusive — when members refuse to be friends with anyone else — or when some people have no clique to be a part of.

      We all need friends, and so we need people we’re closer to than others.

      The same is true of churches. It’s holy to be ecumenical, but we all need friends that we can call at 2:00 in the morning when we really need someone who understands us as only a few people could.

      Remaining distinctive cuts deeply against the ecumenical impulse being felt by many of our congregations. And I’m a strong advocate for churches connecting and working with other churches (regardless of denominational barriers) in the same community — to show the surrounding world the unity of Christ and his church — which unity merely among certain more progressive Churches of Christ does not do. That’s a unity that’s invisible to the world by and large — and even if visible, hardly impressive. The world has seen denominational unity for a very long time.

      So assuming a strong connection within our local communities with other churches, across denominational barriers, do we still need a separate kind of fellowship among like-thinking congregations? I think so, for a handful of reasons.

      1. We need those 2 in the morning friends — sisters congregations and institutions and leaders who provide encouragement and support to remain true to what we distinctively believe. I mean, where would my church in Tuscaloosa be without the work of John Mark Hicks and other scholars in Nashville and elsewhere on communion and baptism? We need to be in constant conversation with others who care about what we believe to be God’s will.

      2. And it’s not just doctrinal or practice commonality. It’s also that we have a shared history and therefore shared challenges and needs and problems and solutions. If church X adopts an instrumental services and finds a gentle and loving way to do it that minimizes the pain of the transition, they need to be in community with other churches that can learn from their experience and wisdom. (That’s a real 2:00-in-the-morning phone call.)

      3. Some will likely challenge me on this, but I find it difficult to cooperate with another church in missionary work if the missionary we share teaches doctrine that I wouldn’t want taught in my own congregation’s Bible classes. Obviously, some things matter more than others, but given more opportunities to support missions than we have resources to support, why pick a mission that teaches what I consider significant error?

      4. How does my church hire preachers and youth ministers unless they share a common doctrinal understanding with my church? While I’m willing to cross denominational lines to pursue the mission of God in my community in many ways, I’m really not inclined to hire a youth minister who will teach what I consider significant error to my own children. I have a job as a parent to teach my children what I believe to be God’s will. The ecumenical impulse doesn’t change that — I think.

      Therefore, as long as we have distinctive teachings and practices, we must band together to support each other, to train the next generation, to train ministerial leaders, and to teach what we believe to be true — while at the same time being genuinely ecumenical in every other way possible.

      I’m no Calvinist, but I have no trouble counting Calvinists as brothers and sisters in Christ. And I’m thrilled to work alongside them in many ways to further the mission we have.

      But I wouldn’t hire a Calvinist minister for my congregation. Or youth minister. And I’d be reluctant to support a Calvinist missionary or church planter — but it’s not an absolute prohibition. I can easily imagine circumstances where a very gifted leader would get my support because he or she brings so many to Jesus — which is the main thing.

      But there are reasons I reject Calvinism, and while it’s not the main thing, it’s a thing that I don’t want to teach indirectly unless outweighed by much more important things.

      Does that make any sense?

    2. Thanks Richard! Do you think our graduate departments would buy in to what you are saying here and if so, would/should this become more of the framework of training the next generation of ministers? In other words, if the primary reason we gather is not for the sermon but for the supper…when will we actually reflect that in how we train/educate people? Instead we give people lots of training on how to preach or how to lead or manage an organization, often with little thought given to these things. Maybe we have just considered these two things such a given that we slowed up on teaching the richer theology behind them and now we suffer for that move.

      1. Hi Matt,
        Sorry so long getting back to respond to this.

        I totally agree. I think a core of our graduate education could and should center on Table and baptism. Getting specific, I think we could imagine a 12 hour core, four classes in all. A class each regarding the history and theology of Table and baptism. And the a class for each focusing upon eccesiology, a more practical class regarding how Table and baptism are practiced, experienced and used in various faith communities for the purposes of spiritual formation.

  3. There have been a couple of shifts that I think have been a part of the move away from sectarianism to ecumenism.

    1 – In the early days of the Restoration movement, we shifted from theology (Restoration theology) to a particular set of practices that were developed through a particular hermeneutic (CENI). Over time the practices got highlighted more and more and the theology less and less. The glaring discrepancies caused us to question the underpinnings of our practice (the CENI hermeneutic).

    2 – Our CENI hermeneutic began to fall apart, opening the door for us to find more flexibility in our practices without feeling like we were undermining the particulars of our theology (see #4 for how that is now playing out).

    3 – We stopped putting ecclesiology over Christology…in other words, our ecclesiology had to be seen through the lens of Christ rather than the other way around.

    4 – The modern to post-modern shift from anti-thesis (dichotomous options of right/wrong or black/white) to synthesis (finding ways to combine or include multiple view points into a more meaningful whole).

    All of this has reshaped our view of unity from everyone having to be in the same box of practices to everyone having to be followers of Jesus whose practices will have some variety in how scripture is interpreted and what ecclesiology will result.

    There are probably a dozen more things that could go on this list but I think these are some big shifts that have influenced our direction.

  4. Richard, you wrote:

    “Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans and everyone else are our brothers and sisters in Christ. This, obviously, is the group of CoCers I identify with.”

    Do you really consider the unimmersed Catholics to be your brothers and sisters in Christ? And not only did you say that you considers the Catholics to be your brethren in Christ, but you also went on to include “everyone else”. Would that include the Mormons and JW’s?

    Later in your article, you wrote, “I think Churches of Christ should articulate a robust and distinctive theology of baptism.”

    I would be really interested in what that “robust and distinctive theology of babptism” should be, in your view?

    For example, would that robust and distinctive theology regarding baptism proclaim that it is “immersion”? Would it proclaim that it puts on IN Christ?

    I just don’t see why you are in favor of a robust and distinctive theology regarding baptism, if in fact you consider “everyone” your brother and sister in Christ, regardless?

    1. Hank, what many in the CoC miss is that it does not matter whether one has been dunked in water or not, but whether one’s life reflects that one has been immersed into Christ. Water is but a symbol. The baptism that matters is a spiritual baptism, not a “fully-dunked-under-credo-water” baptism following some 5 step “pattern”.

      1. Wendy, what do you think the writer of the article has in mind when he writes that CoC’s should adhere to and proclaim a “robust and distinctive” theology regarding baptism? That it “does not matter whether one has been dunked in water or not”?

        If so, that would be a really wierd explanation of a “robust and distinctive theology”, wouldn’t you say?

        I’m sure you disagree with his desire for CoC’s to be ” robust and distinctive” in our theology regarding baptism.

        But, I’m sure you agree with his position that “everyone” is your brother and sister in Christ, regardless of what he or she believes and/or practices.

        As for me, I disagree with you both on that last point. But, I’d love to hear from Richard.

        1. Having read lots of posts and sermons I think that is called BELIEVER’S BAPTISM. That is an old pagan baptism which demands that you be baptized to prove that you have been regenerated by some kind of “better felt than told” experience. Isaiah 1 and amplified in the Dead Sea Scrolls has the Spirit OF (preposition) Christ denying the sacrificial system even as He defines the future REST both inclusively and exclusively. That is quite identical to Mark 16.

          Pistos or believeth is defined in the lexicons and lots of the Classics as meaning to COMPLY with what you accept intellectually.

          Believeth Not is Apistos and is fully defined as I WILL NOT COMPLY and includes terms such as treachery or betrayal.

          Peter promised A holy spirit after baptism and in 1 Peter 3 He says that BAPTISM SAVES because it is the instrument means Christ defined for “requesting” or calling on the Name of for A good conscience or consciousness. That is defined as a Co-Perception of the Word.

          Scott and Alexander Campbell affirm with the fathers that it means A holy spirit or your unholy spirit now made holy or sanctified and able to come before God because you obey the Father.

          Paul said that only those who obeyed that FORM (Anti-Tupos) in baptism were they then FREE FROM SIN and able to read and obey the Word.

          Apollo, Abaddon or Apollon is called the WASHER and the leader of the muses: even now people report that they feel clean after a rocking form of music.

  5. Musical terms and names of instrument historically and Biblically point to making war or to soothsaying-sorcery (Miriam and the Jacob-Cursed Levites) from Genesis to Revelation. Nimrod and medical science knows that you can spook and disable the rational (spiritual) mind with sight, sound or motion. The sacrificial sound makers in the Greek sacrificial systems disabled the animals (they musically mocked Jesus) and the staff gave rise to the word PARASITE.

    One should not count their Cockatrices before the eggs hatches. I would really be happy is someone would show that Churches of Christ were ever “unioned” in any sense with the Disciples or the Christian (NACC c. 1927-1971). Campbell was a Reformed Baptist in 1832 when the handshake happened. He denied that there was any possibliity of unity before and after the 1832 handshake of a few men whose “creed” would have prevented the “society and organ party. ” That gelled when the Disciples adopted the Millerite [SDA] date of 1844 when Jesus would return IF they organized and went to Jerusalem and “saved all of the Jews.” Since no American group failed to reject the organ it would be possible to attend just about any of what the Campbells called A School of Christ where worship was Reading and Musing the Word: that is what Christ defined in the wilderness.

    If you have never in recorded history since Jacob told us not to attend the synagogue of Levi and understand that instruments are always connected with burning; and instruments are defined as “machines for doing hard work” as in organon, why would anyone attack with the “sectarian” word? A Heretic is defined by Paul in Romans 14 as self-pleasure using all of the hypocritic arts and crafts (Latin placeo). The heretic [sectarian] was the sacrificial priest who lifted the lambs up to cut their throats. The instruments always made “noise” and never music to “make the lambs dumb before the slaughter.” Having dismantled the crafts or sophists (Ephesians 4) then the pattern in Romans 15 could be possible: “Using one mind and one mouth to speak that which is written for our learning” or “Scripture for our Comfort.” That is what Paul commanded Timothy.

    Perhaps the Launch Site for the progressives was Madison hitting the year ad 2000 as prophesied. If you drive away the owners then why are they sectarian legalists? The 5500 before the “worship team” folly is now:

    SEP 07 — 1322 (announcement: “combined services” on SEP 14 @ 9:30 a.m.)
    SEP 14 — 1076 (low attendance during “combined services” probably due to
    ————— assembly time change; announcement: Jason Shepherd’s resignation)
    SEP 21 — 1316
    SEP 28 — 1240
    OCT 05 — 1133 [musical sect left for second time]
    OCT 12 — count not received?
    ————– (announcement: Chris Lindsey [“Worship Leader”] resignation)
    ————– (announcement: youth minister’s resignation.
    OCT 19 — count to be reported in the OCT 26 worship guide.

    That is the pattern in all of the instrumental intrusions only the old owners are sometimes replaced with 24/7 listeners to music.

    I think that it is a “salvation issue” to blame Churches of Christ which have never in recorded history planned to “infiltrate and divert” your property into a theater for Holy Entertainment. ACU promotes the NACC group now building COHORTS at Pepperdine. Want to know the marks of a COHORT?

      1. Got visitors: I need to post it online since it is pretty long. People use what they think are cute terms not being aware of the meaning of words. The only role of a cohort was to make war usually with lots of hurt left behind. While there are simple definitions available, it is easy to search the ancient Greek and Latin literature and see what the word meant. Maybe God gives us signs. The persona is that well documented on the internet of “worship teams” claiming to lead you into the presence of God: Jesus died to get that role.

        Kairos the latest world-wide fade was the demon (spirit) son of Zeus and grandson of Cronos. Not to worry about things like myths because these “gods” were worshipped in real religious institutions. Kairos TIME when Jesus came was just the right time to attack him. The word has no good meaning and applies to people who launch attacks at just the right time or when the “culture” is ready.

        If matt will allow me to post a link I will try to collect my pages of real literature which you can read for yourself.

        1. Ken,

          You are welcome to post your link in the spirit of honest inquiry that is vital to the well being of this site.

          In the meantime, I want to point out a few problems with your interpretive strategy. You have a reverse anachronism going on here in which you impose meanings of words from 1000s of years ago onto contemporary usage and then talk about how messed up we are because we are using this evil words. Language doesn’t work like that. It isn’t static. Words change over time. You know that. You are a smart man. Please don’t cast people in a bad light because they are using a word like Cohort or Kairos that had some ancient root in something somewhere and that was questionable to some culture and some period of time or was used to name or describe something in a culture that is not our own and in a time that is not our own…no one is thinking of any of those things when they use those words. Making points with that strategy just doesn’t hold any water.

          I hope that you will consider not using that “line of reasoning”, which is a generous description of what you are doing.

          1. All church fathers and founders of denominations affirmed the Word or Logos as the regulative principle opposite to rhetoric, singing, playing instruments in a religious sense.

            Jesus commanded to teach what he commanded to be taught. A Church of Christ defined in the Bible is built upon or educated by the Prophets and Apostles. Peter said–for their culture–that this duo must not be private interpreted meaning further expounding. Jesus promised to be with His church or kingdom until the end of this world age. My reading of words like “postmodern” means that people think that evolution and the Heisenberg principle “shoot away” a document which Jesus read so that it no longer means what it meant to Jesus. They claim that if you pay them they can tell you what the parchment REALLY meant. Since the Biblical text is commanded to be PREACHED by being READ I write as a quite literate person who DILIGENTLY SEEKS what the Text meant when Jesus spoke it.

            While they don’t do it Churches of Christ attract their members by claiming to speak where the Bible speaks as taught by the historic scholars and the Spirit OF Christ in Isaiah 8.

            That means to this engineer whose products had to meet the life and death test, that you MUST define the biblical words based on the meaning which the writers understood. That has been the view of every historic scholar I have read and I have posted the important clay tablets, Bible, church fathers and founders of denominations.

            If the reading of the Bible rests on the CULTURE and people hear “spiritts” and “see visions” then there is no Biblical, historic or present rationale for seeing godliness as a means of financial gain. I believe that it is dangerous and certainly discording of historic proportions to radically change the meaning of words like Kairos to fit one’s personal imagination. There can be no certainty because H. Leo Boles noted that the Disciples use of the “law of silence” did not mean that HE did not have the same right. Doesn’t this verse give me the right to use the original text when scholars use a simple lexicon which never “defines” to try to find any recorded evidence that Kairos or Karios had any good meaning.

            Rev. 12:12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short KAIROS.

            The devil is a demon and Kairos or Karos was a demon son of the father god of TIME. His father, Zeus is heard quite often with the pronounciation of Je-Zeus or Hail Zeus.

            Acts 14:12 And they called Barnabas, Jupiter [Zeus]; and Paul, Mercurius [Hermes, Kairos], because he was the chief speaker.

            Isn’t that a good reason not to REDEFINE a movement intended to plant daughter instrumental, Renovare or Ethos churches. Ethos does not mean ETHICAL. I would have to accept their authority to REDEFINE words not to get excited that time is short when I have lost my last huge investment with the “lord” to those boasting about infiltrating and diverting the historic School of Christ into “a theater for holy entertainment.” Forgive me if I don’t violate Christ’s direct command not to pay for the free water of the Word.

            The recent COHORT has the same clearly defined purpose as the ancient COHORT or Cohors. Wouldn’t it be wise to use Bible words and definitions to prevent sowing of discord?

            I hope that explains my understanding which is different from recorded history only in leading up to c ad 2000 which fits the story line beginning with the casting down of heavens and earth by the Sumerian almost exactly in the year 4000.

  6. Ken,
    So what I hear you saying is that if a ministry takes a Greek word like Kairos and calls itself that, that automatically it is linked to all that is wrapped up in that word from Revelation 12:12 but in no way could it A) stand on its own without any intention of pointing back to the text you selected or B) stand on any of a number of the other 84 times it is used in the Greek New Testament.

    You would have a point if Kairos Church planters said they are an organization gathered around that word as it points back to the the limited time of the devil on the earth. They don’t so your point just doesn’t stand.

    Here is the problem with your view and your approach here Ken. You take one instance of a word (even extra-biblically) and attach whatever meaning you like to these words that no where near fit the context or the stated meaning by the organizations themselves.

    You need to let people define how they are using these terms for themselves…which they do and they are not going the route you ascribe to them.

  7. I will bet that I have been a Bible student and teacher longer than you have been alive. I don’t know much but clay tablets, the bile and church history prior to 1878 didn’t think that music was a part of the Campbell’s School of Christ. The Bible from Genesis to Revelation attributes musical performance to people trying to silence the voice of the victim. Religious music was called sacred violence.

    I have pages and pages and pages of the meaning of a COHORT: They would be called Special Forces or some other name. I don’t think that the group intending to “transistion” young preachers to the NACC had ever read the Bible beyond getting up sermons. I believe the early preachers I knew read the whole Bible. It is not possible to COHORT musical instruments for sale and ever have read about the garden of eden event, mount sinai, the Prophets, the epistles using some of those mysterous words like “Plan and Sport and Mock as mocking Jesus.” Nor can they understand the meaning of sectarian in the bible now used as an AXE. The Pepperdine (ACU), Lipscomb, NACC and WINTERFEST (where we took our children tot teach them to leave our movement) is Purpose Driven to transistion godly people into the instrumental sect which is the only sectarians. Word definitions and actual practices at the time the text as written always connects instrumental sounds to sorcery and burning. The people planning to sow discord will never give a reason for their increasingly hostile attacks as defined as TAKING AN AXE to the non-instrumental group. It’s ok to believe what you believe but it is not a happy end for people who betray the Widow’s Purse who fed them.

    John 18:3 Judas then, having received the band [cohortem] of soldiers,
    and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees,
    cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.

    The Judas Bag was always attached to a flute case for carrying mouthpieces of wind instruments. There are numerous Grek vases with pictures. Why would anyone intentionally use a word which is the prophesied MARK in Psalm 41? I worry a lot about universities who have taken on the task of taking sides and rejecting the views of the founders. A student is commanded to PREACH the Word by READING the Word for comfort and doctrine. You can do that and let the women AND men debate or pass judgment on the memorized text at home. I betcha that you cannot sing all of the verses of any of the non-Biblical songs in the blue book: I can’t. I betcha simple simon went home from the synagogue with a whole story line or chapter in his head to sing all week.

    John 18:3] Iudas ergo cum accepisset cohortem et a pontificibus et Pharisaeis ministros venit illuc cum lanternis et facibus et armis
    cohortem a company of soldiers, a division of an army, a cohort, the tenth part of a legion, comprising three manipuli or six centuriae
    “cohors Inachiae servatrix,” Stat. Th. 5, 672.—
    servātrix , I. She that keeps or preserves, a (female) savior, deliverer, As an epithet of goddesses, an observer, fulfiller: “convenientiae,

    SHE is defined in Revelation 17 using the sorcery word identical to the original Babylonian Sorceress

    Statius, Thebais: 5[17] Then the son of Talaus, ringed round once more by a band of chieftain peers, as he stood by chance beneath an aged ash-tree, and leaned on Polynices’ spear hard by him, thus spoke: “Nay, tell us, thou, whoe’er thou art, to whom – such is thy glory – fate has brought our countless cohorts owing thee such high honour as the Sire of the gods himself would not despise – tell us, now that we are departing in all speed from thy waters, what is thy home or native land, from what stars didst thou draw thy life? And who was that sire thou spakest of? For heaven is not far to seek in thy descent, though fortune may have been traitorous; a nobler birth is in thy looks, and even in affliction thy countenance breathes majesty.”

    If I am wrong then the David story affirms that God doesn’t punish insane or mad (halal) people but if people who plan to sow discord are wrong the lake of fire is promised to the craftsmen, singers, instrument players (Revelation 18) who HAD deceived the whole world. Universalism is wrong because Jesus doesn’t pray for the WORLD and God HIDES from the wise or sophists meaning speakers of their own words (violates Isaiah 58), singers, instrument players or actors.

    Jesus came for the LITTLE FLOCK: Many (most) are called but few (close to zero) are chosen or elected by being washed with water into the Word or into the school of
    Christ. Will He find faith when He returns? No, the kingdom is quickly moving into an invisible, inaudible kingdom which does not come with observation meaning religious worship services opposed to a school of Christ.

    1. I will bite,

      Defend these with real, solid evidence,

      “The Bible from Genesis to Revelation attributes musical performance to people trying to silence the voice of the victim. Religious music was called sacred violence.”


      “Word definitions and actual practices at the time the text as written always connects instrumental sounds to sorcery and burning.”

      I really don’t understand how someone uses a term like “cohort” in a way perfectly in line with actual, contemporary English usage and out of that comes all of these comments and far flung accusations.

  8. Rick Gipson: As we prepare the future of Bible Lectures and Church Relations at Pepperdine, Mike Cope and I are committed
    to doing all we can to build a network around and supportive programs for these young preachers.

    Though they have freed themselves from SECTARIAN constrains, many have chosen to stay with their churches. At least for now.

    In the coming years, churches of Christ will need to respond, demonstrably, to the Restoration cry coming from this young generation
    and in so doing may restore their full role of influence in the unfolding Christian story.

    Because imposing instruments radically condemned in the Bible is THE meaning of A SECTARIAN, it is warfare propaganda to accuse people who KNOW BETTER with being the people who IMPOSED the discord. A sectarian is ONLY a person who IMPOSES something not previously practiced (since the church in the wilderness). That forces even “scholars” to claim that Churches of Christ IMPOSED not using instruments because they were just nasty people. They BOAST about making worship wars and tell through the Christian Standard and the NACC how to impose instruments just so they would be OK people.

    Today’s Definition today.

    COHORT: 1. an ancient Roman military unit, comprising six centuries, equal to one tenth of a legion.synonyms unit, force, corps, division, brigade, battalion, regiment, squadron, company, troop, contingent, legion, phalanx

    2. “a Roman army cohort”
    a group of people banded together or treated as a group.”a cohort of civil servants patiently drafting legislation” That defines a SECT.

    EXAMPLE by the Spirit OF Christ Who does not speak through the kings, pirests or Levites.

    Jer 11:18 And the Lord hath given me knowledge of it, and I know it: then thou showedst me their doings.
    Jer 11:19 But I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaugher; and I knew not that they had devised devices against me,
    saying, Let us destroy the TREE with the fruit thereof,
    and let us cut him off from the land of the living,
    that his name may be no more remembered.

    Dwayne Dunning seeing the first attack fail suggests taking an AXE to the none-instrumental TREE by lopping off one branch at a time. That is the avowed driving purpose of the New Pepperdine drive to impose instruments. Only God knows why people are so desperate in trying to FORCE instruments into other people’s congregation. The BEAST or Theiron is defined as “A New Style of Music or Satyric (pan, cappella drama.” I can prove that.

    >mansŭesco ,
    I. Act., to tame, to make tame B. Trop., to render mild, gentle, or peaceable: gentes mild, soft, gentle, quiet
    “nam me jam ab orationibus mansuetiores Musas,” Cic. Fam. 1, 9, 23: “ira,” Ov. Tr. 3, 6, 23.—

    Mūsa , ae, f., = Mousa, I.a muse, one of the goddesses of poetry, music,
    “Musarum delubra,” Cic. Arch. 11, 27: “hic Musarum parens domusque Pieria, Mela, 2, 3, 2: crassiore Musā,
    A. A song, a poem: “musa procax,” Hor. C. 2, 1, 37
    LEGALISM: B. Plur., sciences, studies: “quis est omnium, qui modo cum Musis,

    Legalism or NOMOS in the Greek text point directly to rhetoric, singing, playing instruments, acting and DANCING. You must have talent, spend years llearning, practicing, rehearsing (for Sunday), performing and being judged by the audience.

    Dumb means the inability to MEDITATE on what is going on.

    Non-cōgĭto The command is to SPEAK the Word and MEDITATE in the heart: not to make music.
    Cogitation in a rational sense can be stopped by (d). With de: “cogitavit etiam de Homeri carminibus abolendis,”

    They MUSICALLY MOCKED Jesus to the cross with a COHORT. If Cohort does not mean cohort then mocking Jesus probably doesn’t mean mocking and maybe crucify does not mean crucify.

    1. Ken,

      I have read your comment a couple of times in relation to the two statements I asked you to defend and I can’t tell from any of it that you attempted to do that. Can you take another stab at it after re-reading the statements I asked about?

      Here are the two statements…the answer would come from scripture, not from a statement from Pepperdine,

      “The Bible from Genesis to Revelation attributes musical performance to people trying to silence the voice of the victim. Religious music was called sacred violence.”


      “Word definitions and actual practices at the time the text as written always connects instrumental sounds to sorcery and burning.”

  9. I will post my numerous notes on leading Jesus and His Disciples (students do not pay for worship services) Speak and Read are what disciples do and only Disciples of Christ can say that they are Christians.


    In the meantime because there is not a single command, example or remote inference of God calling people out of their REST day for congregational singing with or without instruments. My witness is that the text and recorded history warns against such music even in ‘how to conduct ourselves at feasts” everyone twists.

    The SPIRIT of Abaddon-Apollon is the “spirit” of the muses. Is this why all of the verbal and real attacks against those who just refuse to UNITY with them. Non-instrumental churches are not EXCLUSIVE of anyone: the use of instruments EXCLUDES most people whom medical sciences say suffer from Ahedonia and find most music “creating the spiritual anxiety from religious rituals” Jesus came to remove. Don’t they have another 167 hours a week to SPEAK their own words to get their own glory says God?

    Because the command is to SPEAK that which is written for our learning which is opposite to ODE or PSALLO, people who smite with the SECTARIAN word are blaming others for their planned sowing of discord and Jesus didn’t provide for that.

    Your forum doesn’t allow emphasis so you missed my first example.

    FIRST: I quoted Jeremiah 11:19 But I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaugher;

    and the METHOD is Mansesco Act to tame and make quite with ORATIONS and MUSES.

    SECOND: Acts 8:32 The place of the scripture which he READ was this, He was LED AS A SHEEP TO THE SLAUGHTER; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:

    This is recorded in Mark 10 proving that the MOCKING involved taunting and PLAYING INSTRUMENTS which always makes people DUMB based on the story of NIMROD and modern medical science.

    Isa 53:4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

    METHOD Latin PERCUTIO strike through and through, pierce, TO STRIKE, PLAY A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT A lyre. TO shock or deeply move with ORATIONS
    METHOD: Hebrew H2490 (same as Halal praise) to PLAY THE FLUTE, steal inheritance, pipe, player of instruments, prostitute, slay, wound.

    Is. 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
    Is. 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
    yet he opened not his mouth: HE IS BROUGHT AS A LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER
    and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

    OFFERO: He was brought forth, opposed, inflicted reproached means to expose his nakedness.
    STRIKE his PERSON h5060 always connected to h5059 STIKE a musical instrument a MINSTREL

    No one who has sown all of the Worship Wars will ever agree with that: numerous Bible passages and The Book of Enoch warn about that.

  10. Ken, I don’t see how any of this is connected to the original article, the questions that have been asked, etc.

    In light of that, I am asking that you do not post a litany of these sorts of posts that are near impossible to read or understand. If you would like to have a conversation over the points you made I am happy to do that but the way this is going, it isn’t really a dialog…more like me asking you to clarify and then the response isn’t remotely connected to anything that I can tell (just very loose associations at best).

  11. I was responding to your specific questions: I am weepingly sad that you think the words of Christ refuting music as mocking Him into silence is a litany. I understand the meaning of being silenced.

  12. Ken, you made a claim that in all instances music is associated with the silence of a victim. That is not a very typical interpretation or anything I had ever heard before. I asked you to back it up. I haven’t see it happen. Maybe I am completely missing your point. I have read everything you have written here and I can’t find it. Same with you saying music is ALWAYS associated with sorcery. That just isn’t the case…so I asked you for proof. I can’t find any response to that. Maybe I am just too simple…say it more simply for me and maybe I will get it.

  13. Jen, you have written some interesting stuff, and I appreciate it. However, like Matt, I also feel as though you have made some claims, but neglected to back them up. Do you really contend that in all instances, music is associated with the silence of a victim? If so, where did you learn that?

  14. Mark 10:33 Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem;
    and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests,
    and unto the scribes
    and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles:

    Mark 10:34 And they shall mock him,

    MOCK LATIN: Illudo as a female: Applied as a term of reproach, effeminate men, eloquence, rhētor but with idea of contempt, caneret [singing, playing]
    A. Of men: “si absurde canat, of the crooked race, a reed pipe, a guitar, crowing of a hen tibiae, tubae, Gallus , i, m., = Gallos Strab., A. Galli , the priests of Cybele, on account of their emasculated condition) Gallic: “turma,” the troop of the priests of Isis, Ov. Am. 2, 13, 18. “resupinati cessantia tympana Galli,”

    MOCK GREEK: you remember at Mount Sinai they rose up to PLAY and this brought on the Law and captivity and death for all but a tiny remnant.

    Paizo, 4. play on a musical instrument, h.Ap.206: c. acc., “Pan ho kalamophthogga paizōn” Ar.Ra.230; dance and sing, Pi. O.1.16. 5. play amorously, “pros allēlous” X.Smp.9.2

    Prospaizō, prospaizousa tois ōmois komē playing over, II. c. acc., theous p. sing to the gods, sing in their praise or honour, Pl.Epin.980b: c. dupl. acc., humnon

    prosepaisamen . . ton . . Erōta sang a hymn in praise of Eros, Id.Phdr.265c. 2. banter , “tous rhētoras” Id.Mx.235c, cf. Euthd.285a; p. ton kuna, ton arkton, , humnon pr. ton Erōtic

    The result of the MOCKING which is taunting him:

    Acts 8:32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:

    However screwball people may think the connection is people are still willing to make war against the RACA people because they will not join in singing little praise songs claiming the power to lead you into the presence.

    There may be a half dozen instances of making people DUMB by the use of music. Just one of the MANY passages TRUMPS using “silence” as authority to sow discord and confiscate your property to change the name outside.


    They MOCKED Jesus and the only definition in Hebrew, Latin and Greek is to taunt or jest with singing and playing instruments. The Greek literature is well stuffed with claiming that “people set their lies to melodies to deceive the simple.” Musical melody belongs to the 19th century and does not mean HARMONY.

    He was DUMB before the Slaughter as the Spirit OF Christ warned.

    The litany is important when the best “scholars” claim that God commanded INSTRUMENTAL PRAISE when He did not. If I take the extreme view it is to TAUNT someone to claim authority for instruments other than just assert it–even on a university level.

    1. Thanks Ken…having a text to work with to see where you are coming from is of supreme importance. This helps me figure out what is going on here and have something more productive to say.

      First, a question for you. What lexicon are you pulling these references from?

      Next, a few points. Your defense that music is always used to silence a victim is the mocking of Jesus? That is really, really strange brother. The Latin means nothing here. This was written in Greek. The word in Greek in empaizo is used around 13 times in the GNT (Greek New Testament) and it has nothing to do with the use of instruments. It just means to ridicule or make fun of. Are you painting a picture of the soldiers mocking Jesus while playing instruments? That is just very odd indeed and has zero support in the text. If that is the case you have to make there is no way I can go along with it. If you have more evidence…something that is actually saying, from scripture, what you are saying…directly not tangentially, not some remote connection that was never intended to be made…something direct.

      I am not really following all the pastes from whatever lexicon you are using but I am assuming by prospaiz you are referring to propaio (my Greek font is pasting in the editor well) which is only used once in the GNT in Matthew 7 when the wind beat against the house. That is the only instance of that word. Is that the word you are talking about? I don’t see the connection there either.

      Maybe its just me.

  15. Jesus said that doctors of the law take away the key to knowledge: I have never read anything coming out of the universities or the “progressives” which indicated access to anything beyond the pop lexicons. Doctors of the law take away the key to knowledge says Jesus and he called them hypocrites: his quote from Isaiah and especially Ezekiel 33 names entertainment preachers for hire, singers and instrument players. He says that these MARK both entertainers and audience as not going to obey the Word.

    The Blue Letter Bible would inform enough that people would not NORMALLY mount an attack by getting paid to teach an TEACHING OUR YOUTH TO LEAVE OUR MOVEMENT. Just reading the text as the one-piece pattern would question their foundation of the Jacob-cursed and God-abandoned Levites who were soothsayer-sorcerers-exorcists of the sacrificial system God did not command. I suggest reading the Great Commission which defines the CENI. Then, they must have missed Genesis 49.


    I have added this to my rough notes here:


    The Blue Links will direct you to a better resource. Empaizo or Paizo is used MANY times such as 1 Corinthians when they rose up to PLAY which was the musical worship of the always-pagan triad represented by the golden calves. Those who SPORT with you are marked.

    This was left as a MARK to identify Judas: SOP and PSALLO have the same root meaning: Judas went out and hanged himself. The Judas Bag was always attached to a flute case by the Judas worship team pictured on “clay vessels”. Psalm 41 warns

    By this I know that thou favourest me, because mine enemy (Judas) doth not triumph over me. Ps.41:11

    This triumph over or trying to alarm Jesus is defined in Psalm 41 and especially the Dead Sea Scroll version which always attributes the instruments to MAKING WAR which is the meaning of the new COHORT.


    Music helped set AMBUSH. There is no command, example or remote inference of the people assemblling for music before John Calvin because they understood that the command was to SPEAK that which is written for our learning. If there is a problem reading Ephesians 4:19 some scholar could have read that LEXIS (and all LOGOS words) is the opposite of ODE. LOGOS or WORD is the Regulative Principle not invented by Churches of Christ.

    Congregational singing (quiet please) has some socially redeeming values in uniting people: musical worship teams with or without instruments “standing in the holy place” are an assault against the LAITY and that is why up to 2/3 of the “owners” flee. God hates instruments in the holy places (Amos 8) and hates people who sow discord .

    The progressives will find guitars (outlawed by Psallo) in maybe 2 dozen congregations and fewer full time: some report up to 20,000 congregations world-wide so most people know the way of escape. I believe the NACC will use them but would never hire them.

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