We had just moved, to a new town, in a new state, for a new job. So we started visiting a new church of Christ. They are always happy to see a new family and when we said that we home schooled our three children they were quick to point out that there was one other family that did that as well. We met them in the parking lot and I remember saying a few things to let them know where we stood on a few doctrinal issues. If I remember he didn’t catch those, but we later found out that we were of a similar mind.
As time went we would go to early worship, Sunday school and then meet up at Wendy’s for lunch. They lived way out in the country so this was almost the only time we saw them. We became friends and eventually every Tuesday I would go by his work in Nashville, pick him up and we would go eat lunch together. We did this for about twelve years. This was great because it not only allowed two mostly like minded Christians to fellowship, but also bounce ideas off each other. I have learned that this is very important.
A person who is off by themselves all the time with out any fellowship has the possibility of coming up with some possibly very strange ideas. Having one person who you can freely mention all of your weird ideas to without worry is so very helpful. One funny aspect was that I would mention something to him. Then anywhere from six months to four years later he would come back to me with this new thing he had learned which of course was what I had told him earlier. This happened many, many times. I finally did tell him in the last couple years that I had told him those things earlier.
So we moved, to a new town, in a new state, for a new job. Really in both cases it was just a new location, same job, same company. Now neither of us have the old fellowship, the opportunity to bounce new ideas off each other. He is not much for emailing although I did send him some of my new ideas by email so he is pretty much up to date with me. It was nothing too out of line with what he already knew about my beliefs. However he has made a very major change in that he has dropped Paul and all of his writings. I feel badly because I was not there for him to bounce those ideas off of and hear some reason. I have told him that most of the problems with people’s understanding of Paul is due to bad English translation. That I think is the case with maybe sixty percent of all doctrinal problems. Forty percent then is left for bad definitions and having the wrong people identified in history as it all relates to scripture.
A few years ago an old friend from Harding called and said hi. He has been preaching in the church of Christ for the last twenty years. He was explaining to me that many had begun to question or had already changed their belief on the need for immersion or baptism for the remission of sins. This has been a major church of Christ doctrine. He was now in that crowd. I told him that I didn’t see how one could get around Romans 6:3-4. Then I made the mistake of telling him some of my changes, pointing him to one of my web sites to read further. I haven’t heard from him since. He is a good man and I wish he had had the desire to chat with me further.
He likely had a knee jerk reaction. It is a natural reaction to any new information. It is natural to reject new ideas before one has the opportunity to logically study something new. The Bereans were noble people in this regard. Preachers are taught to identify some doctrine and “pigeon hole” it. That training keeps the preacher safe from the possibility of losing his job and keeps him ignorant of what possibly might be important truth for him to learn. I have noted that most of the text books that identify these doctrines are rarely accurate and are very good about picking out the worst examples of any doctrine considered false by the group.
I have another friend who shares a hobby with me, but works in Christian radio. Excluding family I have probably known him longer than anyone else. About fifteen years ago he heard about a one minute explanation of just some of my beliefs. I am pretty confident that he has never given any of those ideas even five minutes of consideration. In that regard I guess I am amazed that he is still my friend. We pretty much only talk about our hobby. He would lose his job if he started to believe any of what I believe.
So as I want to share ideas with anyone new I understand that it is almost impossible to do so. What we think we know is comfortable. I know all the old arguments and was successful with them. I was there once upon a time. For those of us who have had to make changes for conscience sake it is a lonely road, but quite exciting to see how wonderfully scripture all works together and even matches history once the fairy tales taught in the churches are done away.