Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Non-Class, One Cup Churches of Christ

Ronny F. Wade, The Sun Will Shine Again, Someday. Springfield, MO: 1986. xvi + 208 pp.

The subtitle of this book says it all: “A history of the non-class, one cup Churches of Christ.” The author, Ronny F. Wade, is a long-time, widely-regarded preacher within this group. As one might expect, the history he writes is characterized by advocacy. He is much like the sports announcer who, while calling the game, always cheers for his team.

A bit of background and explanation. The contemporary mainline non-instrumental Churches of Christ adopted the practice of having various Bible classes—sometimes called Sunday School—around the beginning of the twentieth century. They also adopted the use of individual cups for the Lord’s Supper. But not everyone went along. Ever since then, the “non-class, one cup Churches of Christ” have made up a marginal, though significant, group. Also, they are convinced that other congregations of the Churches of Christ—not to mention the rest of the Christian world—are in sin, unfaithful to the Lord. Thus, Wade refers to those outside the group as “digressives,” even those people who sympathize with the conclusions of "digressives" but who do not treat those conclusions as tests of fellowship.

Wade sometimes provides general background for the story he tells. For example, in Chapter Three he relates the rise of the Sunday School Movement, beginning in Great Britain and moving to America. At other points, Wade focuses on intimate doctrinal and personality conflicts within the non-class, one cup group. For instance, he sometimes quotes at length the correspondence between warring preachers and debaters quibbling over the terms in the propositions to be discussed. In these sections, the book seems more like a chronicle than a history.

Throughout, the author provides little in the way of social or political context for his story. Wade notes in Chapter Seven that the group he belongs to remained pacifist even during and after the Second World War. But he tells the reader very little about the group’s interactions with the federal government, which must have been a fascinating story still waiting to be told. Instead, the author focuses on what he knows so well: minute doctrinal history and the biographies of leading preachers, men like Dr. G. A. Trott, Homer L. King, J. Ervin Waters, and J. D. Phillips. Consequently, his book is almost always descriptive rather than analytical.

The Sun Will Shine Again, Someday includes numerous photos of leading preachers in the non-class, one cup movement. Documentation appears at the end of each chapter. The book is missing an index, which would have been useful.

Readers will likely admire the conviction and tenacity of the group Wade has described, They might also lament what some will view as the narrowness and penchant for remaining small and insular. Thirty years have passed since this book was first published. It would be interesting to know what has happened since then. Perhaps the author, now in his eighties, would consider producing an updated edition of his work. Either way, this book is an important secondary source on its topic.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Tulia, Texas Wildfires, February 28, 2017

On Tuesday, February 28, 2017, wildfire broke out west of Tulia, Texas. Aided by parched fields and raging winds that were sometimes gusting over 50 miles an hour, the fire spread rapidly. In a short time, many homes and businesses in town were in jeopardy of catching fire. I don't know much about how this blaze was contained and extinguished. What I do know is that a large number of firefighters from Tulia and the surrounding area worked tirelessly through the afternoon and night. Thanks to them, Tulia was saved with what has to be considered minimal damage. In addition, local law enforcement did a great job blocking off streets and keeping the public safe. It was an impressive performance all the way around. After coming home from school that afternoon, Michele was evacuated. I was still driving home from Lubbock. (I was driving 85 mph north. The wind was pushing 50 mph west). Again, thanks to the hard work of many firefighters we were able to return home that night at around 9:30. Several days later, I took a walk with my camera. Here's a bit of what I saw. For a larger shot, click on individual photos:

The house top center is two doors down from ours.

All of the grass around the house I call "The Observatory" is completely charred. (On the far left, Michele's red car can be seen parked in our driveway). On closer inspection, it's obvious that this place nearly caught fire. See closeup below.

The large field just north of McKenzie Park, completely burned.

Looking north, with the Tule Creek bed in the foreground. The orange hue of the grass is due to fire retardant dropped from planes stationed at Amarillo.

A closer look at the orange residue. South Austin Avenue., next to McKenzie Park.

At the alleyway just north of McKenzie Hills housing addition, the fire was stopped.

Looking south and east towards the houses in McKenzie Hills

On the west side of Austin Avenue, firefighters scraped a line meant to stop or slow down the spread of the flames.