Believers in a Box, by Al Maxey!
- To: Reflections
From: Al Maxey
Date: Monday, September 15, 2008 5:12 PM
Subject: Believers in a Box
by Al Maxey
Issue #364 ------- September 16, 2008
Believers in a Box
Shhh ... Do Not Disturb!
Saints are Slumbering
Too many have become little more than believers within a box, shielded from those about them, shut off from all who might dare to challenge their cherished convictions, personal preferences, and party perceptions and practices.
It is a blissful ignorance; a calm repose.
Their box is a coffin, however, and the hush that descends about them is the silence of a tomb.
I am convinced that too many within Christendom, and especially within various faith-heritages (and sub-sects thereof), have theological perspectives and traditional practices so "neatly packaged" (dare I say "pre-packaged"?) that they have become virtually sealed air-tight.
These personal and party preferences...are so tightly wrapped and boxed that they are impervious to review, much less to reform.
Open the box and expose the contents?!!
This is exactly why the more legalistic and patternistic a group is, the less willing they are to engage in open and responsible dialogue with those who differ with them.
That is why they will hide under their desks rather than answer questions responsibly.
That is why their Internet "discussion" groups are so restrictive and regulated, and why virtually no one can get in.
Their theology is "neatly boxed," arranged just as they like it, and they don't want it "messed with" by those godless "outsiders."
Such a "boxed" theology is an almost certain recipe for religious calcification.
Their thinking becomes rigid, their practices become rigid, and their outreach to the world about them becomes increasingly ineffective, for in our enlightened day and age people have no desire to exchange freedom of thought for mind-control...
Such little groups are closing their doors for the last time in ever increasing numbers, and many predict that by the end of this century such hardened legalistic congregations of patternists will be all but nonexistent
I receive emails, letters, phone calls and even a few personal visits from people every day who are fed up with being "boxed in" by the tedious tenets of a tyrannical Traditionalism.
They've had it ... and they are leaving the Churches of Christ in droves!
Frankly, I understand their concerns completely.
Indeed, I'm in sympathy with them.
Saints should never be shackled by their sectarian siblings.
Believers should not be berated for voicing convictions contrary to the accepted "group think" of the party.
A dear brother in Christ...recently shared with me a letter he had written to an individual who was struggling with some of the changes being made by an awakened leadership at her congregation...
Needless to say, I will not reveal this brother's identity, or his location, or even the organization for which he works, as we all know what would happen.
The "keepers of the box" would go after him without mercy, seeking to destroy him.
From David Brown, Editor/Publisher:
"Contending for the Faith" magazine
Al, I just hope and pray that the Lord will delay His coming -- for your sake and for the sake of others who love the wide gate and the broad way as you do. For maybe, just maybe, you and they will humble yourselves and realize your own failure to take responsibility for your sins. Maybe then godly sorrow could be created in your heart for your sins against Him. Thus, you might break down your own stubborn will -- the seat of all sin and rebellion against God -- and bring forth works suitable for repentance as the Bible teaches you must, that is if you truly desire heaven to be your home. It is sad to see someone such as yourself claim to love God and believe in His Son as his Savior while all the time displaying disbelief in and rebellion to Christ's Gospel system. You, Al, are what you are (a nutty false teacher) because you want to believe and practice that which is contrary to the Gospel of Christ. For some reason you hate the Truth and enjoy convincing yourself that you can disobey God and go to heaven That is so sad, Al. But, that is the way you are and no one can change you but you. What a shame and great sadness it will be for you to meet your Lord in your present state of disobedience. Al, I love you more than you love yourself. So, it is my prayer, always saying not my will but God's be done, that, in the wisdom and good providence of God, He will give you even more opportunity to repent of the pitiful state of mind that you've chosen to create and nurture in yourself. Hopefully, your conscience is not so seared that all sensitivity to the Truth has been destroyed. Think evil of me if you will, Al, but I've only told you at least some of the truth about yourself.
In Service to the Master,
From a Reader in North Carolina:
Dear Brother Al, I read Darrell Broking's comment to you (which appeared in the readers' section of your last issue of Reflections) with one eyebrow raised in amusement. You and I have heard that same type of rhetoric all of our lives -- "I'm gonna pray so that you don't go to hell." What a crock!! Anyway, keep up the great work, brother. You are an inspiration to me, and to countless others. I constantly forward your Reflections to friends and brethren who are still "trapped" in their legalistic congregations.
From a Reader in Alabama:
Dear Brother Al, Thanks for your service to the Lord in all that you do. I thought it was interesting that you allowed Darrell Broking to place a comment to you in the readers' portion of your last Reflections, and yet such is not the case on his ContendingFTF web site. They require that you join to post, and all membership requests have to be approved by the moderators. You are required to tell the group leaders all about yourself and why you want to join the group. A description of their group reads: "To discuss biblical, doctrinal, and current events issues confronting the Churches of Christ." And yet you have to be "approved" by them before you can have a discussion with them. What are they afraid of?!! I thought the Truth would stand on its own. "But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence" [1 Pet. 3:15]. May God bless those who seek to know God and are not afraid to learn of God, instead of just promoting a position that they hold as if they had all the right answers.
From a Reader in Canada:
Bro. Al, Who would ever have believed that one of these legalistic patternists would step up to the plate and debate you on their teachings!! And yet, I have never heard anyone, in my whole life, say so much to say so little, as has Darrell Broking. It is so strange, but this seems to always happen with them. They can talk in circles faster than a dog can chase its own tail. I have heard their rhetoric all of my life. We would all like to see them change their minds, but it is really their hearts that need to change first. I have now stopped chasing my tail and God has changed my heart. Saved by grace -- it is a gift. Now I boast in my God, not in my own accomplishments or in my rule keeping. The older I get, the more I have come to realize just how little I knew back when "I knew it all." I love you, brother.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]