9 Aug 2007

Quest for THE Pattern: Does History teach us Anything?

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Church History, Hermeneutics, Patternism, Precision Obedience, Restoration History, Unity

Quest for the Pattern

One particularly disheartening consequences of Modernism has been a disdain for history. History is either ignored or skewed. This is especially true of Christian history and how it has been presented in the Churches of Christ.

I recall the shock I had as I began to read works by Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli and many other heroes of faith and learned how utterly serious they were about following God and obeying his word. Standing on the word of God was, for them, often literally a matter of life or death.

But I had been given the impression, often told outright, these men were not as serious about obeying God as we are.  And the reason they did what they did not get it “right” was they were not concerned for “biblical authority.” One person I read claimed, “Luther had no more concern for the Bible than for an almanac!” It is often easier to discount some one by claiming they are rebellious and self-serving than deal with the argumentation put forth.  That can be simply dismissed! Its wrong because he or she does not believe the Bible!

These men, however, were just as zealous in their quest for the “pattern” as we ever hope to be. I think we can learn some vital lessons from them.

What follows is a brief overview of the quest for the pattern among various Christians and what that pattern looked like to them. I think it is instructive to ask the specific questions of how and why the pattern they perceived has been different from what we have claimed the pattern to be. The Christians that follow were all “primitivists” or “restorationists,” who sought with fervor the divine pattern for the church. The question remains though . . . why do they differ on so many details?

Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531)

Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531)

Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531)

Zwingli was the great Swiss Reformer. As a devotee of Christian humanism he sought to return to the purity of apostolic Christianity. Beginning in 1519, as the minister of the church in Zurich, he announced that he would only be preaching from the New Testament. Zwingli soon became focused upon the notion of “the law of Christ.” With this in his mind he rejected vestments, images, mass, and introduced the primary motif for the Lord’s Supper that Churches of Christ still cling to — a memorial.

Zwingli introduced a hermeneutical principle that has had far reaching effects: the Regulative Principle. As used by Zwingli this principle simply states that whatever Scripture does not explicitly command is forbidden. To illustrate how serious Zwingli was about this we need only look at his views on singing in worship. According to Zwingli, the divine pattern only explicitly directs three acts of worship: preaching, prayer and the Lord’s Supper. But what of singing? Audible singing was rejected in worship on the same principle instrumental music was rejected, there was no authority in the divine pattern for it. After all, Zwingli argued, Paul commanded us to admonish one another “in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” but he specified that the only music was to be “in your hearts.” Zwingli felt that the pattern forbade public singing, why is it that most would think Zwingli’s views were just quaint?

John Cotton (1584-1652)

John Cotton (1584-1652)

The New England Puritans

The New England Puritans were on a restorationist crusade. John Cotton (1584-1652), a leading figure in Colonial American history, was an ardent pattern seeker. His quest for the divine pattern was as strict as any in history. His thirst for pure times should sound familiar to us. He writes:

[N]o new traditions must be thrust upon us . . . but that which we have had from the beginning . . . True Antiquity. . . is that which fetches its original from the beginning. True Antiquity is twofold. 1. From the first institution . . . 2. That which fetches its beginning from God . . . as he is the ancient of days, so is that good; as Baptism and the Lord¹s Supper, though they were not in the world before Christ’s coming in the flesh, yet being from God they have true Antiquity . . . if they have no higher rise than the patristic Fathers, it is too young a device, no other writings besides the Scriptures can plead true Antiquity . . . All errors are aberrations from the first . . . Live ancient lives; your obedience must be swayed by an old rule, walk in the old ways.” (John Cotton, The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated Into English Meter, 1640).

Cotton was committed to finding, and reproducing, the biblical pattern. So great was his quest for doing it exactly as they did it in “True Antiquity” that he agonized over whether Christians were to partake of the Lord’s Supper in the morning or in the evening. In 1611 he published, “A Short Discourse of Mr. John Cotton touchinge the time when the Lordes day beginneth whether at the Eveninge or in the Morninge.” In this volume, Cotton argues that evening is the truest observance for the Lord’s Day and the Supper because it had been set forth in “the first institution of time” and thus was the “old and good way.” That is when Paul celebrated it in Troas. Moving to a morning observance was to innovate and a departure from the “practice and judgment of the primitive Church.” Cotton finally states, “I see no footstep of Christ or his disciples . . . that goe [sic] before us in this path.” That is the path of morning to morning rather than evening to evening. Cotton’s views were accepted in New England, though he was never able to persuade his fellow Puritans in Old England.

It is clear that Cotton was a devoted restorationist in an honest quest for the pattern of the church. We can see that he was interested in even the finest detail of that pattern. The question to be asked is, what did his (he would not say it was “his” but “God’s”) pattern look like? In Cotton’s pattern a group of men would test each other for doctrinal soundness and relate their conversions before starting a local church. Then they entered a covenant pledging to uphold the laws of God and the purity of the congregation. The gathered church selected a teaching pastor; ruling elders and deacons. Future members would be examined by the ruling elders then asked to profess their faith publicly and sign the church covenant. This was all clearly according to “True Antiquity” according to Cotton.

One more example of Cotton’s understanding of the pattern is his understanding of singing. Cotton, like Zwingli, rejected instrumental music but not congregational singing as did Zwingli. Instead Cotton rejected any song written in post-biblical times. The only “authorized” singing in worship was that of the Davidic Psalter (the Book of Psalms). Modern man had no authority to lift up his own tainted, unholy, words to the throne, for Paul had commanded that we sing Psalms. To go beyond what was written was dangerous indeed . . . it was to depart from the first century pattern.

John Cotton was convinced that the churches formed under his leadership in New England were in fact identical to the New Testament churches in every respect. He writes that the churches are exactly as they would be if “Jesus were here himselfe in person.”

James R. Graves (1820-1893)

James R. Graves (1820-1893)

The Baptists

The Baptists grew out of the Puritan movement because they felt the Puritans did not go far enough in the quest for God’s pattern. The New England Puritans still accepted infant baptism but the Baptists rejected this as against the pattern. Two Baptist theologians wrote treatises to demonstrate the true marks of the one true church: Morgan Edwards (1722-1795) and James R. Graves (1820-1893). Edwards book was entitled “Customs of Primitive Churches” outlining what he viewed as the unassailable position as being the true New Testament church. His list has thirteen identifying marks:

1) Baptism of believing adults by immersion
2) Lord’s Supper (to be taken in the evening because the word “supper” demands the evening lest it be the “Lord’s Breakfast rather than Lord’s Dinner“)
3) Laying on hands
4) Right hand of fellowship
5) Foot washing
6) Holy kiss
7) Love feasts
8) Anointing the sick with oil
9) Collecting money for the poor saints
10) Feasts
11) Fasts
12) Funerals
13) Marriage

James R. Graves was the leader of a Baptist movement known as Landmarkism because he sought “the ancient landmarks.” He, like Zwingli, Cotton and Edwards, was a staunch restorationist. Graves even engaged in mortal combat with Alexander Campbell, whom he believed to be a Bible denying liberal! For Graves the true pattern was found in the Jerusalem church because it was founded and guided by the apostles themselves. He writes:

The Church which Christ himself organized in Jerusalem is an authoritative model to be patterned after until the end of time . . . The Catholic and various Protestant sects were originated and set up many ages after the ascension of Christ . . . They are therefore not divine — but human institutions.

Graves sought to confront all, “human traditions, and mutilated and profane ordinances, and those who impiously presume to enact laws in place of Christ, and to change the order of his church.” Graves claimed that his brotherhood was the one true church and that they alone were Christians. What was the pattern Graves found in his quest? These are the true marks of the church in his pattern:

1) The church was a divine institution and could contain nothing not ordained by God
2) It was a visible organization with specific officers, laws and ordinances
3) It was on earth
4) The primitive model was a single congregation, independent of all others
5) The primitive and apostolic church was constituted only of those who had an experience of the
Holy Spirit in regeneration
6) Baptism can only be immersion and for those who had experienced the Holy Spirit
7) The Lord’s Supper was not observed as a sacrament but strictly as a local church ordinance.
Intercommunion with other congregations was forbidden.
8) The church that Christ designed will never cease until Christ returns for it.

Graves stressed that each element of the pattern was of equal importance. Thus if a congregation fell short in only one area it was no longer a true church because it had departed from the divine apostolic pattern.

Perhaps we have asked the wrong questions and invented non-existent patterns. God's people are united in diversity

Perhaps we have asked the wrong questions and invented non-existent patterns. God’s people are united in diversity

What Can We Learn?

Now what can we learn from this very brief survey of believers who have sought the divine pattern using the same hermeneutical presuppositions? How do we account for the sometimes radical differences?

How do we evaluate one reconstructed pattern against the other? Shall we dogmatize like Cotton and Graves did? Or shall we dismiss these others on the quest as dishonest? Like “we” have?

Shall we claim they just did not believe in biblical authority? Such claims are clearly hard to believe. What makes my (our) pattern right and theirs wrong? What makes some things a mark of the church and other things not?

Perhaps this story of the hermeneutic, the quest for the pattern should teach us that we have focused on the wrong issue. Perhaps the pattern does not concern the organization of the church but rather following the way of the cross in discipleship. Perhaps (just perhaps) we should learn that often the pattern we recognize is more a mirror of the person reconstructing it than Scripture itself. Perhaps restoration is not the flawed church in the first century but of God’s rule over all Creation.

One sure lesson is the quest for the pattern should teach us is the virtue of humility. The quest for the pattern has often resulted in harsh judgementalism and debilitating legalism rather than the love of Christ, which is one pattern we must follow.


Bobby Valentine

30 Responses to “Quest for THE Pattern: Does History teach us Anything?”

  1. cwinwc Says:

    I have never brought in to the “Great Pit” theory when it comes to church history or as one man described it one time by drawing a time line across a chalk board. On the left side of the board he wrote “1st Century” and started to draw a line parallel to the floor. After drawing a parallel for a few inches his line suddenly plunged and then came up around 1800 and the beginning of our movement.

    History shows that there has always been groups of believers who to the best of their ability tried to be the Body of Christ as described in Scripture. Thank you for giving us a small piece of this picture.

  2. Danny Says:

    Absolutely fantastic post Bobby.

    Zwingli has always been a hero and was actually treated very fairly and admired in my restoration class.

    And the more I read about the Puritans the more I am impressed.

    Ignoring history is- well- ignorant.

    Thanks for reminding us!

  3. Steve Puckett Says:

    I continue to be amazed at the rationalism of the Campbell era. I understand fully how his culture and environment drove him to develop such a system, but along the way the pure search for Jesus and following him has suffered greatly and divided many.

    Thanks for you insights.


  4. Tim Archer Says:

    Thanks for sharing that Bobby. I found it very enlightening.

    Grace and peace,

  5. Alan Says:

    The quest to return to the pattern of the NT church goes back at least as far as the Renaissance– the rejection of the superstition and immorality of the Dark Ages, and the pursuit of the morality of the original Christian church. Luther himself was a restorationist of a sort– seeking to restore the New Testament doctrine of grace. Called upon to recant his teachings on grace and works, he said

    Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other. God help me. Amen.

    Different Reformation leaders sought to restore different aspects of the first century pattern — morality, relationship with God, action of the Holy Spirit, and forms of worship. The churches of Christ essentially follow a blend of the Puritan and early Baptist approach to restoration. In particular, the common coC view of the silence of the scriptures can be traced back long before the American Restoration Movement through these groups and others.

  6. Matt Says:

    Behold it!

  7. Matt Says:

    What do you get when you play Goebel Music backwards? You get all the liberals back in church.

  8. David U Says:

    Amen my brother Bobby! AMEN!


  9. Brian Nash Says:

    I’m gratefull for your thoughts and your willingness to share. One older saint used to paraphrase a well known saying this way; *”We learn from history that we do not learn from history.”* I’m grateful for your passion and your desire to help others to better appreciate the history of the church
    and how it can relate to the Stone/Campbell movement. By all means keep up the good work. Who knows, maybe one day, we might get it right.

    *Former Professer Charles Mills of Lincoln Christian College & Seminary paraphrasing Santyana*

  10. Mark Says:

    Hey Bobby,

    This week I’m in Memphis in Edward Robinson’s American Restoration Movement class. We’ve been speaking about some of these things. We definitely aren’t the first movement to come along who was trying to restore/reform the Church! (We’re also reading and reviewing Kingdom Come for the class)

    Hope all is well in AZ.


  11. preacherman Says:

    I think it is time we understand that we are living in the 21st century and not the 1st century. Jesus wants us to be the church of today.
    I think the Bible is a pattern for our lives. We should live by the Bible. As far as a given pattern for worship. I still struggle, even with your post. I still think we are hung up on the wrong thing. We focus to much on this “pattern”. I believe if we focus on the form of the N.T. Christians we will turn this world upside down. I guess raise in the CofC when I hear the word pattern my ears hear this screaching sound of finger nails on a chalk board.

    We will never restore 1st century Christianity. It will never happen. We are dreaming of a thing of the past. We need to live in the now and understand we are the church of today. Do what we can today. Save souls today, with what God has given us today.
    I beleive if we are to restore anything from the first century it is the:
    Function (how they lived, showing mercy, kindness, compassion, grace, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, etc) to a world who needs Jesus.

    I got out of full time Christianity for a year to observe. I was angry at God. I was looking at Church from a different perspective. A worldly view. I was really rebelling for a little over a year. Trying to run like Jonah.

    I saw the Church trying to be “seeker friendly” changing worship. Including women. Changing some traditions. Some patterns. Some styles.

    I thought to myself. I was laying in bed one sunday morning sleeping in from worship. I thought mmmm…..Highland..They have a praise team with woman, contempary worship do I want to worship God because of some change in pattern? Music? Etc. Or do I want to God play golf? What is going to change the world?

    When I did go to Church the ministries and worship were centered around I. I want to feel a certain way when I leave. The preach should make me feel this way. I want my teens to have this kind of ministry. I want my children to have this kind of class and church. I want…I want…I feel…I think… “I”

    What about go? Bring in those who sleep in on Sundays. We need applicable messages. We need to understand that we are a 21th century church and live out a 1st century form that is going to make a differnce. At least what I think anyway. I usually 99% of the time agree with you. Why should we focus so much on pattern. Let the Bible be the be the pattern and live out the function of the 1st century. Lord help us to be the church of the 21st century changing lives today. Making a differnce for your Kingdom NOW!

  12. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Guys thanks for dropping by and reading.

    Cecil I too have heard the “Great Pit” theory. It is propounded by well meaning folks who are parroting a line of untruths and some (sadly) simply don’t care if they get their story correct.

    Danny, Zwingli is often seen as an early restorationist. His views have had a profound impact on the Churches of Christ … we do have Reformed DNA flowing in our veins (you mean we are Protestants?? Oh, No!!)

    Steve I do get amazed at the rationalism and blindness that we have voluntarily embraced. I have not arrived but I praise the Lord for the modicum of light I have received from others.

    Tim thanks for stopping by.

    Alan of course you are correct about Luther. He was a firm believer in the Scriptures. Allen and Hughes have a great chapter on Luther in Discovering Our Roots.

    Matt and David I am honored to have you reading my blog.

    Brian your professor was a wise man. I didn’t know that Santana was a philosopher as well as a guitarist 🙂

    Mark I saw Ed in the library at ACU a couple weeks ago. He is a great scholar. He told me he was using KC in his class and I am grateful for it. I hope he teaches you guys about S.R. Cassius too.

    Kenny Jesus is Christianity. I have said before “If we get Jesus right we get it all right. If we get Jesus wrong we get nothing right.” Lets focus on him and all will be well.

    Bobby Valentine

  13. preacherman Says:

    Thanks for pointing that out to me. Serious. It was like Jesus was telling me listen. So, I want to say, thank you very much.

  14. Matthew Says:

    Super stuff, well done.

  15. brad Says:

    There is a great exercise about obedience that you can do with most any age group that will help teach why believers with different opinions/interpretations are all believers in the same faith.

    1. Give everyone a piece of paper, and pass around a box with crayons, pens, pencils, and markers.
    2. Tell them to follow your directions, without asking for clarification.
    3. Go through a series of instructions: “Write your name in the corner”; “Draw a circle”; “Put two dots in the circle”; etc.
    4. At the end of this long list of instructions, compare the papers.

    You will find that everyone obeyed exactly, and not one person had the same exact result. Even the chosen writing implements will be different.

    As it has been said, Jesus is the pattern. Churches argue while the world waits for some good news. “The Church,” as Jesus defined it, are those who actually do what he says, not those who say they will do it, and never do. (Matthew 21:28) Jesus didn’t say how to go, He just said go.

    The most critical thing is this: If I trust God to save me in spite of me, why do I not trust Him to save someone else in spite of them?

    Paul would say it like this (paraphrase): If you have an incorrect interpretation, the Lord will teach you His way.

    May that be the desire of us all.


  16. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Matthew thanks for coming by.

    Brad you are new around here but welcome. I look forward to getting to know you.

    Bobby Valentine

  17. ben overby Says:

    I can remember when Behold the Pattern was given to me as a gift in the first little preaching school I attended. I slobbered all over the pages as I read threw it; O, I thought it was great! Little did I know how much God was going to change me over the next several years. When being transformed out of externalism into a more authentic Christianity, I fasted on crow; seems like I was always eating it. Not the best of foods, but a necessary process when being transformed. I was happy to apologize to men whom I’d whipped with words (because at the time I thought they didn’t fit in the pattern). Therefore, I underline your closing thought–all of this should make us humble. I don’t know nearly as much as I knew 13 or 14 years ago, and this self-awareness is a great relief!

    Jesus is the hermeneutic; all else is a sick parody.


  18. Falantedios Says:

    My main beef with historic Protestantism is their dedication to top-down transformation of the world. All of the great reformers of the Protestant movement not only sought political influence for Christianity, but persecuted those Christians (particularly the Anabaptists) who rejected that sort of influence.

    I can’t imagine a Christian movement fostered and encouraged by men of the 19th century NOT having been heavily influenced by Reformation thinking. But I do not believe that that “makes us” Protestants. We have as much in common with the free church movement, and we haven’t striven nearly as hard as the Quakers have in several areas.

    Speaking of the Quakers, Bobby, do you have any idea why Hughes ignores the wholesale rejection of slavery by the Society of Friends several decades before the Civil War? They at least deserve a mention somewhere in the dissenting voices.

  19. charme Says:

    Hi Bobby,

    I’m glad I saw this. I read quite a few of your recent posts including the one about your visit with Dub and Fran. I’m glad they and you had that experience.

    Also, good stuff on patterns. Keep up the good work.


  20. Darin Says:

    Good info Bobby.


  21. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Charme what a pleasant surprise to find you reading my blog. It was good to visit with you at Pepperdine. Are going to be at the ACU lectures?

    My visit with Dub and Fran was wonderful. I am reading through lots of material I got from them and learning lots.

    Bobby Valentine

  22. Keith Brenton Says:

    Golly, this sounds extremely liberal … but I mean it with the most conservative view of scripture I can muster:

    I reject the idea that the New Testament was meant to serve as a pattern for the way church is to be structured and to function.

    I find the whole idea of such a church pattern unscriptural.

    I do not read anyone writing an epistle to one church that says, “Why can’t you be like the church over in this city? They’ve got it right!”

    What I see are letters to churches in many cities struggling with doctrine, custom, integration of Jewish and Gentile cultures, and generally putting Christ forward as the one and only perfect example and pattern for living with each other and for God.

    I think when we look to those churches – or even to those epistles – to find our primary pattern we’re missing the mark.

    We need to be restored to a close relationship with God through Christ … and the restoration of our churches to what they ought to be will naturally follow.

  23. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Keith … Amen.

    Bobby Valentine

  24. Steve Puckett Says:

    Here’s an example of a movement that almost mirrors ours and has a stream that crosses ours.



  25. Royce Ogle Says:


    Keith Brenton has it exactly right. One of the great problems from the 1st century until now is too much focus on the church at the expense of knowing Christ more fully.

    Isn’t it amazing that the church as we know it burst into being with many thousands of believers in the first few months after Christ ascended? And, it thrived at an unmatched rate of growth and productivity all across the middle east and much of modern day Europe; All of this without any church growth seminars, no lectureships focused on the church, and not one peice of literature or a website?

    The fist century believers were excited about the risen Christ and the church just naturally happened as a result. That my friends is the pattern.

    I am convinced that if 1/2 the resources spent to support the local churches, meetings to make them better, and all the related fluff were spent to get the good news about the risen Christ to a needy world churches would literally explode with growth.

    Grace to you,
    Royce Ogle

  26. Gardner Hall Says:

    Great writing! You are always thought provoking! Thanks

    Our temptation when considering the conflicting conclusions of those great men who sought the old paths, might be to throw up our hands and decide that it’s not really important how we worship or organize oursleves in God’s service. That would be a mistake.

    While you are absolutely right that such contradictions among sincere people should (1) teach us to trust in God’s grace, not our perfect understanding of a pattern and (2) to emphasize more the basics about Christ’s death and resurrection, they shouldn’t make us feel free to just worship or organize congregations however we please.

    Paul used first century churches as examples for others (1 Thess 2:14; 2 Cor. 8:1-5; 1 Cor. 14:34) and encouraged Christians to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. Early Christians simply could not work and worship however they pleased. Though, as you have shown, establishing apostolic authority isn’t always easy, the fact that it is sometimes challenging shouldn’t cayse us to throw out the baby with the bathwater and say that that are no patterns in the New Testament regarding worship and organization for us to follow today.

    Josiah and Hezekiah not only tried to foster a good spirit towards God and a rejection of idolatry, but also they tried to the best of their ability to replicate the passover and the temple worship as Moses and David had set them up. Hezekiah’s spirit of mercy towards those who “fouled up the process” is admirable (2 Chron. 30:18-20). However, he still felt it important to do his best to “get it right” even as he trusted in God’s mercy and was merciful to those in error.

    Perhaps the biggest fault among many of us who have tried to imitate N.T. practices is not our efforts to find a pattern, but rather lacking the spirit of mercy and humility that Hezekiah showed and that Christ demanded. Our error hasn’t been trying to replicate N.T. organization and worship, but rather forgeting justice, mercy and faith. To paraphrase the Master, This ought ye to have done without leaving the other undone. May God have mercy on all us.

    God bless,

  27. mx3girl Says:

    Excellent information and definitely of great interest to me! As a Baptist though I disagree with your statement that all Baptists came out of the Protestant movement. The name “Baptist” or “Anabaptist” originated during that time period, but many historical authors record groups with indentical doctrine to modern independent fundamental Baptists. “Primitive” or “Tulip” Baptists may have come from the Protestant movement, but Baptists can trace their heritage back to the time of the early Christians. An excellent source of this history of the Baptists can be found in the book “The Trail of Blood.”

    Sir Isaac Newton:
    “The Baptists are the only body of known Christians that have never symbolized with Rome.”

    Cardinal Hosius (Catholic, 1524), President of the Council of Trent:
    “Were it not that the baptists have been grievously tormented and cut off with the knife during the past twelve hundred years, they would swarm in greater number than all the Reformers.” (Hosius, Letters, Apud Opera, pp. 112, 113.)

    Edinburg Cyclopedia (Presbyterian):
    “It must have already occurred to our readers that the Baptists are the same sect of Christians that were formerly described as Ana-Baptists. Indeed this seems to have been their leading principle from the time of Tertullian to the present time.”

    All of these quotes above are listed in “The Trail of Blood” which can be found online at http://users.aol.com/libcfl/trail.htm Definitely worth looking into…

  28. Candle (C & L) Says:

    Bobby – Great history lesson — I have naively it seems- felt formany years that I didn’t care about Campbell orLutheror andother historical person — all I wated to do was follow what I understood from the Bible. It is only in recent years from talking to and reading the accounts of history that I have really appreciated the way I (as a 4th generation Cof C Christian) understood scripture was influenced by my “forefathers” had understood it and that there understandingwas shaped by men such as Campbell, Stone and as you have now pointed out other historical figures.

    I have come recently to start saying — I wonder if we should look more at restoring our relationship with Godthrough Jesus than trying to restore some composite pattern drawn from the writings to “correct” the imperfections in the early churches.

    But at the same time being the church that is aconsequence of seeking Jesus does require some form of “communal” work & worship — and we should be interested in knowing what God may have informed the early Christians about those thingsand apply them as best we can in our lives to-day.

    Again – Thanks for the history – it was helpful.
    God Bless

  29. Anonymous Says:

    Excellent thoughts. We certainly should realize that others have attempted this road before us and we should have humulity in our own efforts.

    That said, I am still brave enough to think that there is a pattern in the NT that we are called to follow — just not the one we have traditionally seen.

    Now when I read Acts and the epistles I see a meta-pattern (the term probably exposes my technically bent and I stand convicted). The point of the conference in Jerusalem was not to establish a specific standard of behavior for all time, but to show how the church may collectively discern God’s will for the body.

    In a similar way, Paul’s letters show us the general principles that should inform/guide life in the church and not to make sure women wear hats forever (where did those go anyway).

    I am afraid our tradition has followed the specifics and lost the important considerations of unity and love that should witness to the world.

    But then again, maybe my ‘meta-pattern’ is just an excuse to hold to a pattern of another flavor.

    — john

  30. Ken Hubbs Says:

    Brother, thank you for this article. I posted the following comment on Facebook today regarding your posting the article on Restoration Community: Personally, I have come to the conviction that the “pattern” is not a thing or set of principles, truths, or even doctrine–and certainly not Church organization and practice. The pattern is a person: Jesus himself. And once engaging and understanding the difference between the gift and transactional thinking, there emerges great diversity without compromising principles or truths or doctrine.

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