Monday, October 23, 2006

Statement from Freed-Hardeman

A news article from the on-line edition of the Christian Chronicle got my attention. The title? “Unity discussion takes center stage at Freed-Hardeman.”

Earlier, I had seen ads for this event. But the article was the first report I’d come across about the “Contemporary Discussion” that took place at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tennessee, back on October 14th.

The article notes that the organizers and participants of the “Discussion” were focused not only on what unites the Independent Christian Churches and the Churches of Christ, but on what still divides them, namely, the Independents’ continued use of musical instruments in worship, contrasted with the a cappella practice of the Churches of Christ.

I was struck by one of the leading quotes in the article. Representing Freed-Hardeman, moderator Earl Edwards reportedly said, “Now, some have seemed to think, and sincerely so, that it takes nothing but exchanging Bibles and embracing one another [to create unity].”

This is simply wrong. The fact is, many genuine, spiritual leaders among the Churches of Christ and the Independent Christian Churches today do not think that exchanging Bibles and embracing one another is what establishes unity between the two groups.

Instead, what they believe--if I may say so--is that Jesus Christ, into whom we were all baptized by one Spirit, united us by his blood and his new life; and, furthermore, it is foreign to the Spirit of Jesus to tolerate a wall in the territory that belongs to Christ.

Speaking first as a Christian, but second as one who was schooled at Freed-Hardeman, those are my own convictions. Thoughts?


Anonymous said...

I would agree, my version of that statement goes something like this...

I may not agree with your view/interpretation of XYZ (which is my right), but I am in no way entitled to pass judgement on you or your belief. If we can both go on living our lives, maintain a loving relationship, and leave room for healthy disagreements occasionally... that's how Jesus would prefer us to interact.

So long as that XYZ does include statement such as: Jesus was just a normal guy (not God in flesh), Jesus didn't really die, Jesus wasn't really resurrected, or the teachings he shared are not the way to restore right relationship between all of creation and God -- then I think the rest can be sorted out by letting people agree to disagree when things come to an impasse.

That's my opinion on the topic...

Dee O'Neil Andrews said...

I agree, Frank. 100% I agree.

Wade Tannehill said...


All I can say to your statement is "Amen!"

Anonymous said...

Hmm, realized I meant to say...
"So long as that XYZ does not include statements such as: ..."

Arlene Kasselman said...

As one who was at the NACC this past June and witnessed some of this exchange, I was hoping that David Faust would run and not even begin the discussion you mentioned.

It was not hard to see the set up as a thinly disguised return to our misguided ways of superiority that do not reflect the heart of Jesus.

Furthermore, no one is asking us to be one - all of the leaders in this movement are remdinding us that we can reach more, do more, plant more and be more fully alive when we work together for the Kindgom not against each other.

And seriously, it is 2006. We have genocide in Darfur, war raging around the world, churches that are disconnected to the cultural climate of our postmodern environment, religion that is formed around individualism and not community, starving hurting and broken people everywhere we look....and much of this "debate-thingy" was going to be about Instrumental Music, please!

What about the questions of discipleship; spiritual discipline; missionality; church planting; faith; equipping; witness....fill in the blank.

JD said...

What irks me is that a beautiful symbolic moment has now become an object of sarcasm in a debate that has been over for 90 years...only one side doesn't know it.

Steve Duer said...

I have seen the Bible exchange that was mentioned on dvd. It was powerful only because of the sermon that preceded it that said among other things that being family requires messy work. Sounds like Faust took this to heart because this debate looked messy.

I have not seen any footage of the debate but based on the quotes in the article, I am soundly on Faust' side of the table.

"“Instrumental music is not the focus of my faith,” Faust said. “Christ is.”

Appealing for unity and a deeper love for lost people, he said, “Often, we are like two lifeguards who get in a fistfight on the beach while a swimmer is drowning.”"

What a powerful way of saying it.

I appreciate the objective way the paper treated the article.

Greg Newton said...

You are correct. In fact, Earl Edwards cannot truly believe that those he so characterizes truly think what he attributes to them. It is an uncharitable assessment of the ideas, thoughts, and motives of others.

However, I am not surprized to read the article and see the method of reasoning, gamesmanship, and rhetorical devices used to "win" arguments, instead of loving engagement in an irenic dialogue of mutual respect and truth-seeking.

Obviously my alma mater hasn't changed in 25 years.