Question:

Our congregation recently has a new preacher. He is related to half the church members and well known in the community. But he is very liberal and has admitted to me that he wants to change things at our congregation. He told me "he is about a relationship with Christ, and I am about rules." Wouldn't you know, your page has an article that addresses just that (I really like it).

I asked him to take things before the elders for approval, but he tends to just slip them in. Such as, starting a church Facebook page and posting liberal topics on it. Nothing seems to stop him from doing what he wants, even though the elders have asked him to get their approval. I feel the elders do not like what is happening and are all on the same page, but they are afraid of a church split. I noticed today one of the deacons has posted this article: "Can the Churches of Christ Have Unity in Diversity," which is what the preacher has been steering the congregation toward.

This ship keeps gaining momentum and I am not sure what to do. I do plan on a rebuttal to this article and hope I can do it correctly. I also need to address the preacher again and his actions. They both always want to discuss unity with differences, but we had unity until the new preacher came along.


Answer:

My general rule is not to review the writings of someone else, but because it is so central to your question, I made an exception in this case.

You have a hard chore ahead of you because the preacher is telling people what they want to hear. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables" (II Timothy 4:3-4).

Lynn's flaw in reasoning is in jumping from a diversity in what people are (nationality and gender) to claiming that a diversity in belief is no different. Diversity in people is no different than impartiality (Romans 2:11; I Timothy 5:21). But diversity of belief is specifically forbidden in the Scriptures. "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ" (Galatians 1:6-10).

The discussion about love is a distraction because Lynn ignores the simple fact that love requires obedience (John 14:15, 21, 23; I John 5:2-3). The trick being pulled is to use vague general terms and then apply them however he desires. "Love" and "peace" are nice sounding concepts, but love for what? Love of God requires obedience. Love of neighbor requires doing no harm (Romans 13:9-10). "Peace" in what manner? "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.' He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me" (Matthew 10:34-38).

Lynn skips over one of the key verses on fellowship: "Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (I Corinthians 1:10). I know it makes his arguments awkward, but you would think he would at least address the verse.

The avoidance of disagreement to preserve the false appearance of unity it also wrong. When people stand for the truth, there will be disagreements with those who have no love for the truth. "For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you" (I Corinthians 11:18-19). Some divisions are going to happen because people are people. "Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple" (Romans 16:17-18). The elders need to take note that these men are teaching false doctrine and causing division and then obey the commands of God.

Another mistake Lynn makes is trying to establish a minimum common core of beliefs that can be agreed on while disagreeing about all else. The problem is that he is the judge of want God allows, instead of following after what God said. He claims there are no rules about worship, but I Corinthians 11:17ff and I Corinthians 14:26ff do lay out just such criteria for worship.

Reading through all of this, I suspect that Lynn has been influenced by a long line of false teachers, from Carl Ketcherside, Leroy Garrett, Charle Holt to Cecil Hooks. These men all emphasized "principles" over laws and obedience. I mention this because he says "Freedom in Christ" several times, capitalized. That is the name of one of Cecil Hooks' books and a pet phrase of his.

Finally, to "prove" his point, Lynn quotes verses dealing with the Old Law and claims they can be broaden to just about any topic. For example, while trumpeting about freedom, he skips over "to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law" (I Corinthians 9:21).

By the way, Lynn's goal is to get instrumental music introduced in the worship. That is the reason behind his article.

Thanks again!