Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Use of Confessions Part 1

In our Local New York Times, Clyde Schinnerer, a resident of Scott City, has been contributing a series of articles on his faith for at least the last couple of months. Mr. Schinnerer is a member of the Church of Christ. For many of his articles, the language has been vague enough that it is difficult to know if he truly grasps the Gospel. For instance, Mr. Schinnerer wrote a piece dealing with John 15. I truly had to wonder if he understands the difference between texts that are indicative verses texts that are imperative. In other words, commands verses texts that describe things the way they are or ought to be.

If you read this article, you will see that much of it could easily be agreed upon. But then he comes to his conclusions, and you have to wonder if we are using the same terminology with totally different definitions. In other words, we seem to be using the same words while speaking different languages.

Mr. Schinnerer titles his article "Let the Bible Speak" and then quotes Deuteronomy 4:2, which says, "You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it..."

Now again, what true Christian disagrees with this? He then cites a couple more passages and finishes with Revelation 22
I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.
His conclusion to this is stated almost in passing. But this point is so important to his thinking that if miss it we will miss Clyde's entire point. He writes,
"If we use a manual, discipline, catechism, ect. as part of our doctrine, we are adding to or taking from God's word."
Now of course this begs the question. Does Mr. Schinnerer mean that Christians, who use creeds and confession, are adding to the word of God, no matter what their doctrinal meaning is or whence they are derived? If you know anything about the history of the Church of Christ, you will know the common phrase, "No creed but Christ". Contextually, this is the most probable meaning of Mr. Schinnerer's statement. Therefore, Mr. Schinnerer is making the brief argument that those of us who use Confessions are adding to the Word of God. A serious charge indeed and one which I take seriously.

Of course to make a statement such as "No creed but Christ" or the above quote from the article is like saying, "Never say never" or "there is no such thing as absolute truth and I believe that truth absolutely". It is a self-contradictory statement.

In my next post, I would like to make a positive case for the use of Confessions in our local churches. I will make references to some of the Founder's Journal articles on this subject. For now I would like to conclude this post by asking those who would agree with Mr. Schinnerer's position a few questions.

Do you believe in the doctrine of the Trinity? Do you believe in the vicarious substitutionary atonement of Christ? Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God? Do you believe that we are saved by faith alone? Do you believe in the Protestant teaching on Justification?

If you could say yes to any of these, could you define to someone, who is not a Christian and totally unfamiliar with the Bible, what these things mean? Where is the Trinity in the Bible? Could someone who believes that Jesus is a created being yet is baptized under their formula (you must be baptized by them to be saved) and attends their church faithfully be saved?

There are far too many assumptions in Mr. Schinnerer's conclusion. He paints with a broad brush and clearly has come to illogical conclusions without almost any evidence at all. This is almost cultic in thinking and needs to be dealt with more fully.

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