John T. Willis

Monday, August 11, 2014


One terrible BLIGHT in Churches of Christ is the practice of DEBATING on religious topics. If anyone will examine the written history of Churches of Christ, YOU will find that debating has unfortunately been a deep part of our DNA. When I was in Abilene Christian College, many of my fellow students assumed that their role was to preach in a local church, baptize as many people as possible, hold gospel meetings for a week, and conduct debates against people in other denominations. Just check our history. Such debates ranged all the way from whether it is a mortal sin to smoke tobacco to the necessity of immersing people in water for eternal salvation to using instrumental music in public worship to pre- or post-millennium and many others in between. All of these debates were designed to PROVE the opponent is wrong and needs to repent, and these debates were filled with hatred and vehement speech.

Now, let me make things clear. I am a long-time member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Catholic Biblical Association of America, and the International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament, and in annual and regional meetings, we often are engaged in discussion about biblical and religious matters. But these are always kind and appreciative and friendly, and everyone left as close friends and colleagues. This is VERY DIFFERENT from long-established Church of Christ debates.

Biblically, this type of debates or disputes are CLEARLY SINFUL and contrary to the will of God. Here are ONLY two biblical examples of this truth.

1. Paul gives these instructions in 1 Timothy 6:2-5: "Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful to them on the ground that they are members of the church: rather they must serve them all the more, since those who benefit by their service are believers and beloved. Teach and urge these duties. Whoever teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that is in accordance with godliness, is conceited, understanding nothing, and HAS A MORBID CRAVING FOR CONTROVERSY AND FOR DISPUTES ABOUT WORDS. From these come envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, and WRANGLING AMONG THOSE WHO ARE DEPRAVED IN MIND and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain."

2. Paul writes clearly in 2 Timothy 2:23-26: "HAVING NOTHING TO DO WITH STUPID AND SENSELESS CONTROVERSIES; YOU KNOW THAT THEY BREED QUARRELS. AND THE LORD'S SERVANT MUST NOT BE QUARRELSOME but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, CORRECTING OPPONENTS WITH GENTLENESS. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth, and that they may escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will."

Here again, Churches of Christ need to repent, to recognize that people in other denominations are just as wise and godly as anyone else. Jesus prayed fervently that all such denominations will collapse. John 17:17-21. No person and no church will ever agree on all topics. It is good to discuss many biblical and religious concepts, but all in love and in full fellowship with God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and all godly people through Jesus Christ.

Share YOUR experiences and concerns and questions and desires and thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


Post a Comment

<< Home