9 Mar 2008

Barton Stone and Popes in the Belly

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Barton W. Stone, Exegesis, Humor, Ministry, Preaching, Restoration History, Unity

Barton W. Stone

Of Popes in the Belly

I have been reading Barton Stone’s writings. This is not my first journey through his writings but I think I have gained more understanding than previously . . . or at least I see things now that I did not before. Stone began publishing his journal, The Christian Messenger, in November of 1826. The very first article, which is untitled, covers the first four pages of the journal . . . it is on barriers to Christian union which Stone relates to personal spiritual growth.

Since this is the first article in Stone’s journal it seems that he places some importance on its content. Freedom is essential to both Christian growth and unity. Stone had witnessed first hand the intolerance of those who would cast one out as a heretic for simply studying the Bible and coming to his own conclusion that may differ from one traditionally held. Freedom is a sword that cuts both ways however. If I truly grant it I allow for the possibility one will come away with a different understanding on some things than me. How do we handle this in others and in ourselves? In practice we have a tendency to assume a position of infallibility. Hear Stone:

“We must be fully persuaded, that all uninspired men are fallible, and therefore liable to err . . . Luther, in a coarse manner, said that every man was born with a Pope in his belly. By which I suppose he meant, that every man deemed himself infallible . . . If the present generation remain under the influence of this principle, the consequences must be that the spirit of free inquiry will die — our liberty lie prostrated at the feet of ecclesiastical demagogues.” (Christian Messenger 1 (November 1826), 2)

Do we not suffer from this malady today? Do Christians have a “Pope in the belly?” Why is it that when a brother or sister disagrees with a position we take we assume that they disagree with God . . . when all they disagree with is our interpretation.

I survey the doctrinal war zone of the Churches of Christ. In many ways it looks like the wasteland of Verdun . . . congregations alienated, bodies of brethren who are casualties, armies exhausted from the bloodshed, no one is a victor . . . except Satan. The issues range from cups, to singing groups, to marriage and divorce, to (fill in the blank).

Just as in the religious wars of the Seventeenth Century, rooted in Pope in the Belly malady, so our divisions testify that it is still around. We have nothing to fear from the freedom to think and study and learn . . . and even change our minds. The first step, Stone says, of defeating the Pope in the Belly is being able to see the need to GROW. If I admit that I have not yet arrived . . . there is hope. I admit that I, at times, suffer from this cancerous blight.

Seeking Shalom,

Bobby Valentine

Ut omnes unum sint (John 17.21, Vulgate, ‘that they may all be one’)

44 Responses to “Barton Stone and Popes in the Belly”

  1. preacherman Says:

    Excellent post brother.
    I believe division is one of the devil’s greatest tools. I pray for unity. I pray for oneness. As I took a Sabatical about 5 years ago I say what was going on in the Churches of Christ. While we were fussing over Style of worship; praise team; women being involved; what to put on sign; adding seeker friendlier services or not; instruments or not; fellowshiping with other denominations or not. I saw one thing. I saw that satan was getting our mind off of the lost and those who needed Jesus Christ. While we fighting among ourselves about issues that don’t matter. I saw the people that I worked with all around me needing Jesus Christ. I went to some churches and they were dead. I went to some churches and they were hungry for the real meat. I went to some churches and they needed a study on 1st John.

    I wish we all could stop the fighting and fussing over the issues. Lets settle them. Lets determine in our minds that we going to get along despite our differences. You don’t see the Roman church tell the Corithian church how to worship even what to do and they had serious problems. You don’t see the colossians telling the Ephians what to do or threatening disfellowship. Disfellowship another church in the Bible. It is totally unbiblical. We see today nasty letters being written to Richland Hills and other churches that have added music to their services, and some congregations threatening disfellowship. I think we need to understand if we don’t love one another in Christ then we are lost. Do you hear the warning: lost.

    Lets strive to be ONE. Lets surrender. Surrender the fighting. Surrender everything and I mean everything over to God. Instead of the sqeeky wheels getting the grease let us put our trust and faith in God for a change. Trust that he will provide. He always provides for his children. Let us stop putting our fights in the local paper and repent. Let us LOVE. If we have not love all the things that you and I do even blogging means nothing. It is pointless. Useless. Let us as Jesus says show the world we are His disciples by loving one another. Let us have the burning the desire within us once again for the lost and those who need Christ. Let us cherish the love and grace of our Lord and Savior.

    May we know how long and wide, high, deep is the love of Christ.

    Bobby I want to thank you for this wonderful post brother. I pray that all we do will glorify God Almighty.
    In Him,
    Kinney Mabry

  2. kingdomseeking Says:

    I always enjoy a dialogue between Christians when there is some disagreement or unanswered questions regarding the subject being discussed. However, it always turns sour when someone (assuming there view is infallably correct) accuses those in disagreement or with questions as reject the authority and teachings of scripture. IMHO, many who act like this do so because to accept anything to the contrary of their viewpoint would unravel their entire faith foundation (which makes me question what foundation their faith has been built upon).


  3. beowulf2k8 Says:

    “You don’t see the Roman church tell the Corithian church how to worship even what to do and they had serious problems.”

    You’re assuming they even had much fellowship. Its not like they were down the street. Who says they knew the problems of the other churches? We live in a much different world. They didn’t even have horse and buggy, and we’ve got cars and the Internet. Why are we so concerning with making (yea, forcing as if by force!) everyone else fellowships us and trying to force them to do so even when it goes against their principles and their faith in Christ and makes them violate their conscience? Are we that selfish?

    “Lets strive to be ONE.”

    Sounds nice, but be one how? We have to determine first what type of unity we want before we can even begin to work towards it. So, what type do we want? Superficial visible and external unity, or unity in doctrine? The Roman Catholic church and Lutheran church have signed concord agreements that give them a sort of superficial external unity–but they are still opposed in doctrine. So what good does that so-called unity do? Its just something to make Judases feel warm and fuzzy inside when you get right down to it.

    It is interesting, in other words, that Paul says “I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord” (Phil 4:2) and not that they agree to disagree in the Lord. And again, in 1 Corinthians 1:10 “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” Paul’s hope was not that they would disagree on everything and pretend to be one, but that they would agree and “speak the same thing” and be “in the same mind and in the same judgment.” When we lament that differences exist, we must not lament that differences exist per se as they are in fact a necessity, (1 Cor 11:19 “For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you”) but rather we must lament that evil men persist in causing disagreements by teaching false doctrine. Our prayer must be as Paul’s who prayed that the concision who loved so much to trouble the church by boasting in cutting the flesh would cut itself off from the church altogether and hence cease to trouble the church. (Gal 5:12)

    So long as the pope in a man’s belly makes him set himself up as Lord in opposition to the Lord and introduce changes to the Lord’s establishments and doctrine, there will be division. And then will come along another belly-pope to pontificate that “you’re ok, I’m ok: you keep teaching your false doctrine, and I’ll keep teaching mine” because then we’ve just got two popes although we think we removed one. The only good method is to seek the kind of unity that Paul speaks about in 1 Cor 1:10, but that type really does require “striving” to be one. That’s what you said at first anyway, though: “Lets strive to be ONE.” But then you add “Lets surrender. Surrender the fighting.” You can’t strive to be one by surrendering, because when you surrender is when the dividers win, because true division is not superficial and external. True division is not locational–true division is doctrinal and idealogical.

    Who in other words is more divided, Jesus and Caiphas or the Pope of Rome and the Roman Catholic Bishop of your town. Your town is far away from Rome, so by external appearances the two Romish bishops must be much divided. But Jesus and Caiphas were both in Jerusalem, and therefore must have had much unity! They were in the same court-room too, so the unity must have been great! Oops….not so. Because the doctrinal and idealogical divide was a great chasm even though the spacial was not.

  4. beowulf2k8 Says:

    (John 17:21-22) “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. {22} And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:”

    How are Jesus and the Father one? Jesus’ prayers if or Christians to be one as He and the Father are one. How then are they one? In determining that, we determine in what way we are meant to be one. Are Jesus and the Father one by “agreeing to disagree”? Does Jesus beleive one thing and the Father another and they just ignore the difference? Or is Jesus teaching a different doctrine from the Father and they just make the two divergent doctrines out to be essentially equivalent? Or are they one in agreement, even as John says “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” Do they witness different things and pretend that the witness agrees in one, or do they actually agree in one?

  5. kingdomseeking Says:

    “We have to determine first what type of unity we want before we can even begin to work towards it. So, what type do we want? Superficial visible and external unity, or unity in doctrine?”

    How about the reality of unity that we already are and that can only be brought about by the grace of God? Ephesians is pretty clear that being made one is the work of God rather than humanity (see Eph 2.11-18). The fact is, the body of Christ is one in God’s eyes and will always be one. The question is whether we will accept this unity based soley on the gift of God’s grace (the gospel) or keep demanding that unity depends on other factors such as uniform church practice, secular political alliances, etc…

    We like a unity based on the externals because it allows us to reduce everything to a list of black and whites, do’s and don’ts, with a clear set of demarcation. The Jewish religious leaders were great at such externalism as well which is why they didn’t like Jesus’ ministry being extended to the ‘unclean’ and ‘sinful’ people. The Jewish Christians seemed to try and bring this externalism into the church, which seems to be the problem being addressed in Ephesians (as well as a few other NT writings).

    We like the unity based on externalism because it allows us to remain in control. It is much more difficult to trust God to work in ways that we, at best, struggle to truly understand.

    Ithaca Church of Christ
    Ithaca, NY

  6. johndobbs Says:

    beautifully written Bobby. Thank you!

  7. David Says:

    I, too, have often thought how sad it is that so many in Churches of Christ rebel against creeds, dogmas, and popery, and then turn around and generate their own form of creeds, dogmas, and popery. Sure, they will claim that they are only ‘rightly dividing’ the scriptures, but once interpretations are divined (or, worse, inherited), such positions become the standard by which all others are measured. Agree with them and you are ‘sound’, disagree with them and you are a ‘false teacher’.

    I take great comfort in the fact that, even under the guidance of apostles and prophets (things we have concluded do not exist any more), they had disagreements. Yet Paul, in his infinite, inspired wisdom, told Christians not to quarrel over opinions (Romans 14:1). What if we really learned this lesson today, that so many of the things that divide us are not about ‘thus saith the Lord’ issues, but instead deal with modes of interpretation, things that relate more to human wisdom than the wisdom that comes from above?

    Somewhere along the line I learned a valuable truth: God’s word is inspired, my interpretation of it is not. Would that many others in the church accept this lesson that I so painfully had to learn.

  8. Alan Says:

    Great post Bobby! And a crucially important topic.

    We are commanded to accept one another as Christ accepted us (Rom 15:7). The conditions under which we accept one another cannot be more extensive than the conditions God placed on us at conversion.

  9. Matthew Says:

    I love the wording, “Pope in the belly” and I will have to use this on someone sometime. Thanks Bobby.

  10. Keith Says:

    The “pope in my belly” says your wrong here… Kidding of course. Great post as usual.

    I just read a Church of Christ periodical last week with an article condemning creeds because we just need to “read the Bible.” Ironically, on the back of this periodical each month is the following information:
    1. God’s Plan of Salvation (a five-step process you may have heard of).
    2. Eight points defining “The Church of Christ” as the only true church.
    3. Sometimes it also includes the 5 components of a scriptural worship service.

    Sadly, it appears the irony is lost on the church that publishes this paper. The Pope in the Belly too often labels other’s beliefs as creeds or “going beyond” without honestly examining oneself.
    If we seek the Truth we welcome new views and ideas that challenge our thinking. We see it as an opportunity to understand the Truth better since we know we don’t have it all figured out yet.
    If we seek confirmation that we have everything correct already, we fear such challenges. Let’s un-invest in the status quo and take a chance on seeking Truth.
    In Him,

  11. preacherman Says:

    Bobby, I want to tell you brother this is one of your best blogs that I have ever read. Keep it up!
    In Him,
    Kinney Mabry

  12. Darin L. Hamm Says:

    Some good discussion and a great post.

    It is important that we hold to doctrine, I just think man makes up a lot of stuff and calls it doctrine.

    Me calling something essential and even getting many others to agree doesn’t make it essential. It just means I thought it was and others agreed.

    Some great thoughts from Rex on unity and a good warning that we shouldn’t say doctrine doesn’t matter because that fuels a lazy type of belief.

    The key is what really is and was essential that holds the body together.

  13. Zack Says:

    I always appreciate you and your thoughts Bobby. I’ve read this entry and the one before it. We do in deed need to give each people the right to there own opinions on things. Too often we think we’re right and everyone else is wrong. Is that the “pope in the belly” syndrome?
    About the entry before this: we need to have a proper understanding of the OT before we can understand the NT. We can’t divorce Jesus from His Jewish heritage. Thank you for all of these thoughts. I look forward to reading more about these two subjects. Blessings!

  14. Anonymous Says:

    The instant you think of yourself as infallible, you put yourself on par with God. That’s certainly an error.

    The opposite is also true — The instant you think of yourself as nothing but a failure, you have disappointed God to an equal degree by refusing God’s gift of free will, and by doubting His wisdom in giving mankind such a powerful gift.

    Given those two boundaries, on could argue that the path of righteousness in the eyes of God is to express one’s will freely, but express it with responsibility, nobility, honor, and above all, honor to the gift-giver.

    It’s okay to screw up; We’re blessed with a forgiving God. It’s okay to strive for perfection as well; God wants us each to live to the greatest of our capacities.

    As long as there are people without the will for introspection and self-direction, there people who are inert, and spiritually flat, or irresponsible, taking their freedom to unhealthy extremes.

    A unified Christian church is not something you should ask for. Instead of asking Christians to be united, you ask them to use the brains and the will God gifted to them—-Unification of the Christian church then becomes a natural and eventual byproduct.

    My $0.02+tax.

  15. beowulf2k8 Says:

    “The instant you think of yourself as infallible, you put yourself on par with God.”

    True. But the instant you think you can’t know the truth, you put yourself on par with Satan. You make yourself one of those that the apostle terms as “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim 3:7) and make Jesus a liar when he says “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” How very different is the man who never knows the truth, and those Christians to whom John writes saying “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.” (1 John 2:20)

  16. Anonymous Says:

    Just my little wooly-headed opinion here, but I’m thinking most of the division in the church is caused by leaders stirring up the sheep to battle over things the sheep don’t even understand. Debate over finer shades of Greek and Hebrew translations and subsequent interpretations all you want, but most of us are educated in other fields and just have to pick a guy and take his word for it… which is probably why teachers are warned to be especially careful. If my mechanic, my oncologist, or my president errs, s/he can at worst hasten temporary death; the one who influences my spiritual life can do eternal damage.
    Jeanne H.

  17. Keith Says:

    The link in the previous comment is spam and dangerous to your PC’s health. Don’t click it.
    You should probably remove it when you get a chance.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    Hi Beowulf2k8,

    Infallible means incapable of error…not that we’re incapable of knowing the truth. We’re certainly capable of knowing the truth through Christ. We’re built by God to do so.

    Consider this–If God wanted “meat robots”, he’s certainly capable of creating them, no? He chose not to, thankfully. 🙂 Also, He also chose not to reveal everything to us, as His children, right off the bat, correct? Adam and Eve didn’t have an electron microscope and a particle accellerator in the Garden of Eden. God made himself known to them in the way that was best suited to them, because God loved them; much the same as it is today. God makes himself known to us in ways which are best suited to us. By studying the Bible, discussion, introspection, experience, debate, exploration, philosophy, science, you name it. The process of growing, and furthering our relationship to God is as old as mankind itself.

    I believe that God has structured our world in such a way that His nature is revealed to us over time, gradually, as we’re capable of dealing with it, at an individual level, as well as a societal, cultural, and even global level—Our awareness of God (and the deeper constructs of what he wants for us) grows over time; Just as a parent teaches a child. We’re meant to exercise the gifts and talents God gave us, both to excel and achieve as well as to stumble and fall. Both are equal players when it comes to our growth as God’s children.

    Part of being made in God’s image, I believe, is that we have been given the gift of free will. God gave us free will so that we could learn and obey his will by our own choice, rather than by fear of reprisal. God gave us free will as a mechanism to know the truth; not that we should simply take it, wander around aimlessly, ignorant, and dispassionate about the world God has made for us.

    That’s what I meant when I suggested that Bobby should not necessarrily encourage us to strive to be a unified Christian body—-not that such a thing would be BAD, mind you—A unified Christian body would be a wonderful thing–but rather, Bobby’s approach should be to encourage his congregation to actively seek out God as their ability permits them. In doing so, I believe, one ultimately arrives at the same conclusion—That a unified Christian church is the ideal–that they should consider themselves not first as a member of a particular group, or sect, or synod, or church, but a child of God, on par with the weakest, on par with the strongest.

    Rather than convince people to give up something (partiality),the individual can arrive at the same destination without needing to give up anything at all.

    My $0.02+tax & interest amortized over 2 days time. 🙂
    In sum, Bobby need not “sell” the idea of a unified Christian church. That concept, I believe, is a natural outgrowth of the gift of free will exercised in a truth-seeking process. That’s what should be encouraged, I’d say.

  19. Danny Says:

    Wow, a bunch of good commentary going on in this post.

    Luther’s “pope in the belly” is a classic- that still and forever will ring true.

    Too bad we give into this part of our sinful nature.

    Thanks for this great post my brother!

  20. Falantedios Says:

    Umm, has anyone looked at Mac Lynn’s directory of the churches of Christ lately?

    THAT is what comes of “the gift of free will exercised in a truth-seeking process.”

    Paul did not say, “Rather than convince people to give up something (partiality),the individual can arrive at the same destination without needing to give up anything at all.”

    When faced with partiality, he delivered some scathing rhetoric:

    Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
    (1 Corinthians 5:7-8 ESV)

    Christ prayed for unity, not for Lone Ranger children of God each going as their free-will interpretation takes them.

  21. beowulf2k8 Says:

    What I was talking about is something like this.

    Christian: Women can’t teach in the assembly.

    Liberal: The h*!! they can’t.

    Christian: Paul says he doesn’t suffer a woman to teach.

    Liberal: I don’t care what Paul suffers.

    Christian: He also says that it is a shame for a woman to speak in the church.

    Liberal: Yeah, but that Paul was just a woman-hater.

    Christian: But he says in the same chapter that if anyone thinks he is spiritual he must acknowledge that the things he is writing there are the commandments of the Lord or not be recognized as spiritual.

    Liberal: Those old social customs from Paul’s day don’t apply to use today. Grow up and join the 21st century and QUIT BEING A LEGALIST!

    Beofwulf: So, what’s going on here? Is this Mr. Christian thinking he’s infallible and Mr. Liberal being a nice open-minded person who acknowledges that he could be wrong? No! Certainly not! But this is how it always goes, and in the end the liberal wants to pretend like he is so concerned about following the Scriptures but just simply understands them better than the Christian does. Yea, the liberal says that the Christian is a legalists and the liberal understands grace better. Blah blah blah. All it boils down to in the end is that the liberal doesn’t five a flying squirrel about what the Bible says and wants to cause trouble. And the Christian can’t break down and say “maybe I’m wrong and you’re right. After all, I’m not infallible. Maybe when Paul said its a shame for a woman to speak in the church, he really meant only women ought to speak in the church and that its a shame for men to speak in the church.” Mr. Christian can’t do that, but the liberal will NOT be satisfied until he does. So, on the battle rages! And on the troops do march! For God and glory, for king and country! Fight on! All of you fight on! To the last breath fight on!

  22. Candle (C & L) Says:

    Bobby – Haven’t been by for a long time. I am continually challenged to re-think some of my earlier views by your writings. Thank you for all the work you put into these and for sharing freely. I may not always come to the same place you do but I appreciate the honest assessments and generally balanced presentations.

    God Bless

  23. Royce Ogle Says:

    The real reason many in our churches cannot have unity with other believers is the fact that in their view unity is not derived from a common faith in Jesus. To many “unity” is only derived from “conformity”. “If you are like me I will love you and have fellowhip with you” is what is really meant.

    Perhaps the greatest obsticle is an incorrect understanding of the body of Christ, the “church” catholic, or universal. Most coC folks have been taught, and believe, the “body of Christ” is exactly the same as the sum total of the baptised membership of all the local churches of Christ, and some will include Christian churches because of a common view of baptism in water.

    This erroneous view of the “church”, if followed to its logical end, must conclude that every single baptised member of every church of Christ on planet earth, past/present/future, is saved. Any person who can think objectively for a few moments, and has been around the churches of Christ for a while, can think of many folks who were baptised and then proved with their lives they were only “professors” and not “possessors” of the living Christ.

    We who have put our whole trust in Jesus are expected to love our enemies, yet many of us can’t love our brothers and sisters.

    False teaching can only be overcome by teaching the truth and error reinforced for many generations will not be corrected quickly. When you challenge a person’s long held beliefs (even wrong ones)their complete identity is threatened. God help all of us to find our indetity in the resurrected Christ who will come again to receive us unto Himself.

    His peace,
    Royce Ogle

  24. Steve Puckett Says:

    I believe strongly in the spirit of Carl Ketcherside’s words: “Wherever God has a child, I have a brother or sister.” My own philosophy is never to judge another person’s religious experience. Only “the pope in the belly” could lead to foolish divisions and judgmental attitudes. I hope our cry will be, “Get behind me, Satan.”


  25. Keith Says:

    Wow. Your depiction of Liberal vs. Christian is telling. Perhaps there are people in the discussion that don’t fit either of these categories as you have defined them. For instance, do you think in light of 1 Corinthians 11, where women are praying and prophesying in the assembly, one might conclude that there is opportunity for a women to speak in the assembly? And if someone held such a view, could you still refer to them as a “Christian?” If not, I suggest that you have missed the point of Bobby’s post.

    There is definitely more to the women’s role discussion than is appropriate for this post, but failing to recognize that sincere Christians have different views of this issue demonstrates the Pope in the Belly syndrome.


  26. Gardner Hall Says:

    Great quote! My concern is that in reacting to that extreme which has been so prominent in some brethren, especially of the “Texas tradition,” that we become Milton Milquetoasts, afraid to take stands because we fear the “pope in the belly.” One extreme often begets the other!

  27. Anonymous Says:

    Gardner, what’s the “Texas tradition”?

    Russ — from TX 🙂

  28. Gardner Hall Says:

    I got the term from “Kingdom Come.” At the risk of misdefining one of Bobby’s (or John Mark Hicks) terms, it’s the rather aggressive, confrontational style seen in some known churches of Christ. (Richard Hughes thinks it had its origins in the early writings of Campbell.) Men like Austin McGary in “Firm Foundation” characterized the tradition in the early 1900’s. Later (1930’s and 1940’s) it became quite powerful because of the influence of men like Foy E. Wallace. Those influenced by it aren’t usually grace oriented.

    I would imagine they call it the “Texas tradition,” not to besmirch you folks from Texas, but because rough and tumble pioneers from Texas like McGary pushed it. Foy Wallace, though hardly a pioneer, was from there. The more gentlemanly, grace oriented approach at the beginning of the twentieth century was found more in middle Tennessee with men like Lipscomb, Harding, T.B. Larimore, etc.

    In spite of a few reservations, I recommend “Kingdom Come” as a fascinating and very readable analysis of it.

  29. Anonymous Says:

    Thanks Gardner, I appreciate the info. I’m not quite up to speed with everything on this blog yet 😉

    I might just have to read that book here pretty soon…


  30. cwinwc Says:

    The key is as you said, not taking a position of “we’ve arrived” in our thinking and doctrinal positions. We have a local church of Christ that has instructed it’s members to not have any contact with anyone from our church.

    How much good for the Kingdom is missed when a body of believers takes this kind of attitude towards another group of believers that they will spend eternity with.

  31. beowulf2k8 Says:

    “For instance, do you think in light of 1 Corinthians 11, where women are praying and prophesying in the assembly, one might conclude that there is opportunity for a women to speak in the assembly?”

    Keith, you clearly do fit in the liberal category. The women in 1 Corinthians 11 were not in the assembly. The assembly isn’t mentioned until he gets on the Lord’s Supper. He’s just talking about headship generally until then. AND THIS is the very definition of a liberal: “one who refuses to accept that the Bible does not contradict itself.” It is a shame for a woman to speak in the church and all who refuse to accept this prove themselves to not be spiritual according to 1 Cor 14, but the liberal then says “aha! but doesn’t Paul allow women to speak in the church in chapter 11?” Of course not! That’s just silly. The Bible was written throguh the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, not through the inspiration of liberalism, and therefore is not riddled with contradictions as your brain is.

  32. beowulf2k8 Says:

    I might add, and I will, that saying that although Paul forbids a woman to speak in the assembly in 1 Cor 14 yet he allows in in 1 Cor 11–saying something this absurd is no different that saying Jesus is God and then saying Jesus is not God. Will the liberals here (Keith, I’m talking to you) allow this too? Would you say that in x verse the writer makes Jesus out to be God but in y verse to be mere man? Do you subscribe to the view that the apostles were just regular theologians and not really inspired? In order to hold to you view on women and the assembly, you must, so the question is already answered. That’s what liberalism is, the notion that the apostles were just theologians and we can prefer John’s theology over Paul’s over Paul’s over Peter’s, that the Bible is contradictory and we can just cut out what we want and add what we want, that we are as competent or moreso in theology than them and thus can just censure the whole work and start over. But Christianity is about following the Bible, not rewriting it. Nuf said. No liberal can deny or reply intelligently to these facts.

  33. Keith Says:

    You have assumed a great deal. Thank you for the excellent demonstration of the subject at hand. I pray God continues to bless us both with a deeper understanding of him and his word.
    In Him,

  34. Gardner Hall Says:

    I think you can see the style of the “Texas tradition” in some of the last posts.

  35. Anonymous Says:

    Beowulf, honey, as a flaming Texas conservative myself who wouldn’t be caught dead speaking in the assembly, I can assure you that my brother Keith is as much a Christian as you or I. And shame on you for name-calling.
    Jeanne H.

  36. kingdomseeking Says:


    What else would you call a gathering where men and women are praying and prophesying? It is an assembly no matter how one cutts, slices, and dices the text.

    It is very difficult to have a productive discussion when names and labels such as “liberal” are being thrown out. One day you might learn that by throwing out such labels you seriously diminish the chance of be taken seriously.

    Ithaca Church of Christ
    Ithaca, NY

  37. Falantedios Says:


    On contradictions, please give me a “Christian” (to use your version of the term) explanation of the relationship between Exodus 24:10 and John 1:19.

    in HIS love,
    Nick Gill

    PS – I believe 1 Cor 11:19 makes it clear that Paul is inculding the assembly in all of his teaching in the chapter.

  38. beowulf2k8 Says:

    “Exodus 24:10 and John 1:19.”

    I suppose you mean verse 18.

    John 1:18 “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”

    Exo 24:10 “And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.”

    You can join with the Catholics, Mormons, JW’s, Jews, Muslims and atheists and beleive this to be a contradiction, or you can finally become a Christian for the first time ever and learn to read the New Testament properly.

    What is John chapter 1 about? The Word, who was in the beginning with God and was God. And who is this Word? He is defined in verse 14 as being the Son, only-begotten of the Father. In verse 18, therefore, when it says that no man has seen God save the Son, it means that no man has seen the Father save the Son. Yet, the Son is also God from what we gather of verse 14 where he is termed the Word and verses 1-3 where this Word is spoken of both as being with God (i.e. the Father) and being God, and that through or by him all things were created. So then, in Exodus 24 where they saw God, they saw the Son, Jesus Christ, and not the Father. This has been the standard interpretation of this even by pseudo-Christians since the times of the so-called “church fathers”! Justin Martyr early in the second century said as much, and everyone after him who touched the subject. That you would stoop THIS LOW in attempting to make the Bible contradict itself shows how far you have sunk into liberal antichristianism.

  39. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Wow. It is 11:59 as I write this sentence and I have just gotten “home” from Milwaukee … and what do I see??

    An explosion. Some of the discussion is quite good and some is simply a painful read.

    Keith thanks for catching the dangerous spam … I zapped it.

    Beowulf I am glad you are hear and you share your point of view. But I do wish you had the courage of your convictions to put your name along with them.

    On 1 Cor 11, which this post was not about, I think you are completely wrong about the setting of the veil. If ch. 11 reflect the private prayer practice of 1st century women then what purpose would the veil serve? The veil only functioned in a communal context and even the east women did not have to veil themselves in the privacy of their own homes.

    It is abundantly clear that women are both praying and prophecying in the assembly in Corinth. If prophecy, by Paul’s own definition, is for the benefit of the ASSEMBLY as he explicitly declares in 14.4 then women are doing just that.

    “Those who speak in a tongue build up themselves, but those who prophesy build up the ASSEMBLY”

    That is what Paul says. Women exercised their gift of prophecy (just like Huldah in the Hebrew Bible) and prayed with the full blessing of God. They exercised that freedom and gift while showing deference to “her head” as Paul states in 1 Cor 11.

    Call me a liberal all you wish. But that is what Paul says and that is what those women did.

    Seeking Shalom,
    Bobby Valentine

  40. Anonymous Says:

    I guess my concern is not so much theological as topological …

    How did beowulf2k8 get in his own belly?

  41. Anonymous Says:

    You been watching Austin Powers, anonymous?

  42. Anonymous Says:

    I have to admit that Beowulf’s ideas about unity are compelling. Why should we be unified? Let the one-cuppers share their spit, the anti-children’s home-supporters, continue to hoard their money for the new building they will build when they have a sudden growth spurt (after 30 yrs of the same five families worshipping together), let the instrumentalists worship to the plink of a piano (all the way to hell), OH and I almost forgot, let’s not worship with the black congregation across town because they “just don’t sing I’ll Fly Away like we do”. Beowulf has his dragons to fight and it is obvious he enjoys doing so. We will not be united because Beowulf sees me as a liberal, which to him is synonomous with evil (see quote on five flying squirrels). I’m okay with that. I’m sorry that we cannot fellowship as christians who have both received God’s grace, but still ok with it. The odd part of all this is that Beowulf has not disfellowshipped the blog???

  43. Anonymous Says:

    (BTW, different Anonymous here. I’m the free-will guy, not the other guy above.)

    I can have free will, and still trust God, can I not?

    The very fact that I HAVE free will makes me trust God. The wonder that I have for everything that surrounds me reminds me of Him, and the fact that I choose to live my life peacefully shows God that I am doing my best to respect Him and his gift to me.

    This is hardly a “Lone Ranger” attitude. Moving through the world with God in mind and in heart is probably all we can ever aspire to do when you think about it. What else is there?

    God made us thinkers. Explorers. Testers. Questioners. As the human race goes, we as God’s children grow and expand our horizons much the same as our own children do. We never stop being God’s children, so why should God ever stop being a father to us? And stop doing what fathers do? Teach? Care? Discipline? Love?

    This isn’t some sort of sandal-wearing Hippie monologue. I honestly believe that God’s word is meant for us to read at an individual level, at a group level, at a cultural level, and at a global level; To do anything less is to do a disservice to God.

    My dad taught me to be kind to people when I was a kid. Back then, “people” basically meant anybody within my small world of friends and schoolmates. As I grew older, that sphere grew to include teachers, neighbors, people in my community. As I grew older still, that lesson applies to my city, my state, my country, and my nation. When i’m old and grey, i’ll be able to look back on my life, and see perhaps the bigger picture, that what I learned from my dad applies globally. We should be kind to our neighbors..Whole continents of people, all wishing to arrive at the same conclusion, the same general consensus about how to live.

    Now replace the “Dad” in what I just wrote with “God”.

    God’s lessons, like my dad’s, are there for us to learn from, experiment with, and grow. Staying nose down in the book means you never have the chance to exercise what you’ve learned.

    I sincerely feel God wants you and I to make mistakes, if the end product of mistakes ultimately benefit us….Same as why God allows bad things to happen to good people. Being apart from time, God is able to discern if an action will ultimately benefit us more than it pains us. It’s our responsibility to see it, and trust God’s wisdom. Even if it takes a lifetime of searching.

    After all, if I know God is real, then I’m obligated therefore to honor and trust God, and know that he’s infinitely just. If I honor trust God, and know that he is just in his decisions, what do I then have to be afraid of?

  44. Anonymous Says:


    (Hi, me again– the free-will guy)

    Re: (1 Corinthians 5:7-8 ESV)… Explain to me how Paul’s quote differs from what i’ve said.. I think you’re actually, mistakenly, in agreement with me.

    As unleavened is to “sincerity and truth”, how is having a personal relationship to God insincere and false?

    My relationship to God is different than my brother’s. His is just as real as mine. Paul, as Christ’s disciple, is no greater a Christian than I am. He knew Christ. I know Christ. See my point?

    Think of it this way.

    Everyone in my family knows Dad. I do, my siblings do, my Mom does. We all know him differently, and to different degrees, but we all know the same person. We all have arrived at the same conclusion. Dad loves us all equally, whether wife or son or daughter, or brother, or cousin, nephew, niece, or grandchild. We all led our own lives, distinct and unique, but yet , with age, we all arrived at the same basic conclusion. There were times when we were children when we were disobedient, and even mad at him..but age showed us that Dad loves us, and wants us all to be one family without division.

    How do we differ as God’s children?

    This is what I mean when I say that free will ultimately leads us all to the same conclusion–that partitioning the “family” is fundementally wrong.

    ..Which (coming full circle, here) is what I was trying to point out. Instead of Bobby simply telling people “division is a bad thing! Be united!”, Bobby should simply encourage people to explore their own relationship to God, and arrive at the same conclusion on their own. It has that much more meaning. It also supercedes being merely “some guy’s opinion”, which can be trusted or not. It becomes a basic law of God that he wills us to be one body under Christ, not factionalized, exclusionary clubs bickering over music, transsubstantiation and podium decor.

Leave a Reply