15 Dec 2011

Salvation by Correct Doctrine, Hermeneutics & Fellowship, Pt 1

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: 1 Corinthians, Bible, Bobby's World, Church, Church History, Exegesis, Grace, Hermeneutics, Patternism, Paul, Restoration History, Sectarianism, Unity

The following is part of a brotherly on again and off again discussion I allowed myself to get drawn into with another preacher. I felt it would be valuable to develop a Christian bond with this brother. As for the actual initial initiation of the discussion regarding music and fellowship I did not make. In what follows I will leave my own replies in normal type and his in italic. I think this exchange illustrates – in my view – the disease of sectarianism and the dangers of hop-scotch hermeneutics rather than dealing with context. I have not edited either him or myself except to take names out. Blessings.

September 15

Hello brother,

I really enjoyed our visit together. However, I have a serious question to ask you all now. This is in regards to the discussion you had with me in the vehicle.

I have a question, and it is very straight forward. A simple yes, or no will suffice. A straight forward answer would be much appreciated. My purpose in asking at this point is merely for knowledge sake. I hope to meet and visit with you all in the future regardless of your answer. So, I ask in love…

Can the church of our Lord have fellowship with those who worship God with instrumental music?

If you don’t feel comfortable answering this question via computer, just give me a call …

My Reply

Brother … it is good to hear from you once again. Sorry to be slow in my reply to you but I have been sort of busy (well no sort about it!!).

I have read your question. Put it down. Then read it again yesterday, and today. I have debated with myself about replying. I truly enjoyed visiting together the other day and pray for more in the future.

As I recall we never discussed the issue of IM per se. As you will recall you had mistaken some congregations in the Midwest that say “Church of Christ” for acappella and I simply pointed out that they had never been “ours.” They had not “introduced” the instrument. You will also recall that you said you did not know anything about that history. So we discussed the independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ … here is a brief wikipedia article …


We did talk about whether “we” have to be doctrinally perfect in order to be saved. You will recall I pointed to the example of the Corinthians. I suggest that it is empirically demonstrable that Paul went the extra extra mile on this matter and I suggest we should do that too … The problems of Corinth include …

1) They had division and partyism (baptism played a key role in this schism)
2) They had “issues” with Paul’s authority and apostleship
3) They not only had sexual perversion but openly approved of it as a sign of
superior wisdom
4) They had lawsuits in public court destroying the unity and witness of the Body
5) They had problems regarding sexuality, marriage and asceticism
6) They had folks who still had not accepted the doctrine of monotheism (cf. 8.7)
7) They had doctrinal issues regarding worship: problems with the Lord’s Supper
8) They had huge issues over spiritual gifts and the worship assembly
9) They even had folks who denied the resurrection!
10) They seem to have had a great lack of love for one another

Did Paul fellowship error?? Yes he did! That does not mean he approved it, or endorsed it, but there is no way to get around the historical fact that he was in fellowship with the Corinthians. If we could only follow the apostolic teaching and example.

Listen to Paul’s language regarding this messed up church: “To the church of God . . . to those SANCTIFIED in Christ Jesus . . .” Paul then says “I ALWAYS thank God for you because of his grace given you in Jesus . . .” Those are remarkable words from Paul in light of what we know about Corinth and in light of our own historic non-practice of this example. Paul does not give thanks because the Corinthians got everything right or anything right. He thanks God for the grace that has been given them.

Brother … I would like to recommend that when we get together that you lead a study on this matter. I for one am open to learning more … just like Apollos.

Bobby V

His Reply

Hey Bobby,

I appreciate you taking the time and effort out of your busy schedule (and I believe you, its busy for all of us heh). Now I want something to be clear Bobby, I believe we did talk about instrumental music, because that is how our discussion about independant churches and so forth arose. Nevertheless, I don’t want you to feel that I’m accusing you of anything. In fact, that is the whole purpose I asked this question. I want to see where some of the fellow preachers of the Lord’s church are standing on an issue such as fellowshipping instrumental music. Specifically yourself.

Now, concerning your answer Bobby, though I appreciate your long and thoughtful answer. I would have much more appreciated a simple yes or no. The answer that you gave me would perhaps be acceptable if someone ever asked me if there be a time that God endures with a congegation before completely removing the lampstand. I would certainly use 1 Co. along with Rev. 2, in order to show that God does endure with impurities in the church (for a season). But now, that wasn’t my question. I already know the complexities and details that go on before we have disfellowship with a church or Christian for that matter. However, My question is simple and straightforward, and I think a room full of preachers can understand what I’m ultimately asking. My question is this beloved brethren…

Can the church of our Lord have fellowship with those who worship God with instrumental music?

I would love to lead a study on this question at some point Bobby. Concerning this message though, I’m not going to go into any detail. I simply would like to know where you stand.

In Christ,


One last comment brethren, before I leave this page.

I did notice Bobby, that your response brings up a broader issue. “Does the church have to be doctrinally perfect to be saved?” I want to reply to that quickly, because I don’t want there to be any impressions that I agree with even your answer to that.

Your answer is obviously no. Yet, I fully disagree with that. The Bible makes it clear that a church must be doctrinally perfect (2 Jn. 9-10; Rev. 2; and yes even the book of 1 Co. testifies to that). I believe the church of Christ is doctrinally perfect, but made up of imperfect people. Of course, there is a season of the Lord’s longsuffering, and that is what I believe many denominations and sometimes brethren confuse.

But, I don’t wish to get into that and just end up broadening the issue. I just want to know if the church of Christ can have fellowship with independant churches and the like. Those who vainly practice instrumental music!

My Reply

Brother …,

I will not be around much today for any further discussion … I will be hanging out with my wife today and she takes precedence even over stimulating brotherly discussions such as this. I want to emphasize the word BROTHERLY. Before I leave I want to add one or two caveats to this discussion. And I apologize if it is too long brother but I have learned through both many years of study and several years of getting beat up by life that most of life never boils down to a simple yes or no. There are some things that do but most do not. Especially if they are actually of importance.

First. I reject as completely unbiblical that a person or congregation has to be “doctrinally perfect” to experience salvation. From the start such a position makes salvation hinge upon doctrinal perfectionism rather than God’s grace in Christ Jesus. If a people were doctrinally perfect that negates the NEED (yes NEED!) for Grace. Second I deny – indeed reject outright – that the texts you proof text support the position you apply them too. Simple citation does not demonstrate they MEAN what you claim they do.

Second I will not let you simply brush off the Corinthians (and they are just simply the most obvious example in the NT for our purposes). This is clearly a doctrinally aberrant congregation and Paul is in complete fellowship with them. Their imperfection did not keep him from thanking God for Grace (not doctrinal perfection) given to them. He even says unambiguously that they ARE the church (not were or will be). He says that they ARE (present tense) sanctified … and Paul wrote that with the full knowledge of the state of that congregation. The apostle also testifies to his faith in God who will “strengthen you to the end so that you may be blameless on the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor 1.8-9). That is how Paul prefaces all of his discussion with Corinth. Wouldn’t it do our brethren a world of good if they began all their discussions about the error they see in one another with such language?? I think it would!!

Third, and this is from memory bc I have no resources at home with me, but Paul’s problems with the Corinthians was no fly by night, here today, and gone tomorrow phenomena. Here in brief is a general outline his relationship with them that is his apostolic example of going the extra mile for the sake of unity:

1) initial 18 month ministry recorded Acts 18 we know this dates to AD 51 because of the Gallio inscription at Delphi

2) After he leaves Corinth, Paul exchanges letters we no longer have. He refers to this in 1 Cor 5.9 in which he dealt with sexual immorality. This is Corinthians A

3) The Corinthians appear to benefit from the teaching of both Apollos and Peter. Paul learns that the church then sectarianizes on these great teachers thru Chloe household AND in a letter. So our 1 Corinthians deals with the substantive issues in that congregations. This is second Corinthians … again after a period of teaching – orally and written.

4) Paul sends Timothy to the Corinthian church to see that his directives in our 1 Cor are followed. This was, apparently, an unsuccessful visit.

5) Paul returns to Corinth himself and calls this a “painful” visit (2 Cor 2.1)

6) Paul follows up his painful visit with what he calls the “tearful letter” (2 Cor 2.2f; 7.8) Titus, rather than Timothy, brought this letter to the Corinthians who reported a good reception to that letter (2 C 7.5ff)

7) Paul writes our 2 Corinthians after the communication from Titus

All of this took place over a period of several years. There is no evidence in the surviving letters from this exchange that Paul ever severed fellowship with any of the Corinthians EXCEPT the man in open sexual sin. Most scholars date 1 C to AD 55 and 2 C to late 56 or 57. So the relationship from Acts 18 to the end of 2 Corinthians is around 6 or 7 years.

I ask you, where in any of the literature we have regarding the Corinthians, does Paul disfellowship or even threaten to do so – anyone except the man in blatant immorality? And again look over that list in my previous note … this is not a list of insignificant stuff. If we claim that apostolic example is a mode of authority then I ask brother why is this example NOT BINDING??

Finally regarding in the car and IM. My recollection is that you indicated that several of the churches in … had “introduced” IM (at least that is what I understood you to be saying). I simply and as kindly as I know how, objected and pointed out they were never non-IM churches in the first place but part of the independents, to which you confessed you were not aware of that group of people.

I will, until I learn otherwise, strongly disagree that we are saved by doctrinal perfection. We already have a discussion on the docket for our next meeting but I am more than willing to have you lead me in a discussion of salvation by doctrinal perfection. I may be totally wrong and if so I am willing to learn and hopefully God will do for me what he does what Paul claims in 1 Cor 1.8-9 or what Jude says in vv. 24-25. Either way I know I am not perfect … Sorry for being so long but I think this is a discussion that deserves actual depth.

I look forward to more in person. And once again we are brethren and we need to do for one another what Paul does the Corinthians. Thank God for one another and the grace given to all of us.

Bobby V.

His Reply

Late Night

I want to clarify this once again, before I reply to the following messages again. My question is asked in the name of love, peace, without accusation, implication, and for the endeavorment [sic] for unity of the faith in which our Lord and Savior desires among His children:

Can the church of our Lord have fellowship with churches that practice instrumental worship to God?

Now, I understand the complexities of studying this issue. I also understand the complexities of the process in which we must go through before disfellowshipping anyone or any church. But the ultimate conclusion can only be a yes or no. There is no in between. When a church puts instrumental music in the church for purposes of worshipping God, and they are warned, rebuked, exhorted, and yet continue in their sinful ways, the churches of Christ must decide to either fellowship or disfellowship. Therefore, this question does come down to a simple yes or no.

I don’t believe there is any other way for me to be more brotherly in approaching this situation. I’m not putting anyone in a catch 22, as the Pharisees and Saducees liked to do with our Lord at times. My endeavor to know your answer to this is pure, and should we disagree I hope to study on this issue so that either you or I may be lead in the more perfect way.

Perhaps your unwillingness to answer this question Bobby is for that reason. But, I strongly persuade you brother that my intention is not to put you down in any way.

All and all at this point though, I feel like you’ve already given me a “yes, churches of Christ can fellowship churches that practice instrumental music.” So I’m not gona ask you any further, lest I feel like I’m beginning to harass in some way, ha. If you wish to correct me on this though, please do. I’m simply trying to understand, not debate.

God Bless,

My Reply

Hey Brother I have had a busy weekend, as I am sure you have had as well. I enjoyed the company of Tifani for the weekend, dropped her off at the airport and then rushed to northern AZ to preach for a small congregation there. Got back yesterday afternoon exhausted. Sunday was a blessed day at PV and I was delighted to be Gathered around the throne of God in worship with my brothers in this correspondence.

Brother. I don’t think you are harassing me and hope I have not given that impression. We ARE brothers and talking to my beloved brothers is a blessing regardless of the subject.

Yet beloved brother there is a danger in putting words into my mouth. I have answered your question by going underneath it. By examining the example of unity rather than division. I do not use IM or desires to see it introduced. It is a mute point. I have no dog in the fight as they say. What I have an interest in is what I think Paul had an interest in … unity. Your first questions to me, without even knowing me, are about division. I am not in that orbit and I dont think Paul was either.

Rather Paul SOUGHT reasons to maintain fellowship (Eph 4.3), he did not look for excuses to sever it. That is what I want to do with you. Why find a reason to sever fellowship when I have a million reasons to keep it?

I appealed Paul’s teaching and his example with the Corinthians. It is as relevant as anything to our discussion … which has been salvation by perfect knowledge of doctrine and its corollary unity/fellowship by perfect knowledge of doctrine. I laid out Paul’s relationship with that congregation in a previous contribution and asked a pointed question: WHERE and WHEN in the writings of Paul do we have him severing fellowship with any of the Corinthians except the man in sexual sin? I ask again where is it. You have been as silent on the actual biblical text regarding the Corinthians as the grave. It is as if this material does not even exist.

I stress, once again, this congregation had the benefit of teaching from not one but TWO apostles (Paul and Peter). They had the luxury of instruction from two apostolic delegates (Timothy and Titus). They had the providence of being fed by one famous non-apostle (Apollos) who was “mighty in the scriptures.” And they had at least four letters and repeated visits by Paul over that span of 6 or 7 years. That is a lot of teaching, a lot of words, a lot of time … (see the chronology I laid out previously)

Why, brother, is Paul’s example here not relevant?? Tell me straight up.

But what also of his teaching? Paul destroys the false “soteriology of knowledge” held by some of the Corinthians. Some apparently believed that salvation was merely by correct knowledge of doctrine and thus treated their brothers in a cavalier manner. Chapter 8 is quite enlightening on this point and shows Paul’s teaching in practice. What, my beloved brother, was the real issue about meat sacrificed to idols??

Paul begins his discussion by contrasting “gnosis” (knowledge) with agape (love). Knowledge “puffs up” but agape builds up, it serves, it … love does what 13.4ff says. BTW I think Paul is anticipating chapter 13 here in chapter 8.

There is a correct knowledge, a correct position, on idols and the meat sacrificed to them. There is also a false knowledge, an incorrect position, on meat sacrificed to idols. My question dear brother is WHY didnt Paul simply say to those who were wrong … “get over it!?” Rather it is the ones that were doctrinally “correct” … had knowledge … that Paul calls on the carpet. There are those who are so imperfect in their knowledge/doctrine that Paul says quite explicitly that some “do not know THIS” (v.7).

Carefully study the context brother. Context. Context. Context. What is the “this” that is not fully known and grasped by certain members of the Dysfunctional Church of Christ in Corinth? it is those that think an idol is REAL! They believe, incorrectly, that a spiritual reality does in fact stand behind the image! (if they didnt the whole discussion makes NO SENSE at all). Paul even says in vv 4-6 that he knows there is only one God (he paraphrases the Shema, Dt 6.4 here) then he says …

fc5590_130c0164a07a12d5357777295418132fBut not everyone knows this” (NIV)
Howbeit there is not in all men that knowledge” (ASV, KJV)
However, not all posses this knowledge” (ESV)
However, everyone does not know this” (Hugo McCord’s version)
But not everyone knows this truth” (Good News Translation)

Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase The Message renders the verse thus

We need to be sensitive to the fact that we’re not all at the same level of understanding in this

Now my question is why didnt Paul side with those who are correct but rather called for agape rather than gnosis?? Why didnt Paul suddenly give a lecture on monotheism rather than love? I dont need to speculate or infer on this matter because the apostle says quite clearly why …

So this weak brother [i.e. doctrinally wrong/incorrect brother], FOR WHOM CHRIST DIED, is destroyed by your knowledge” (i.e. CORRECT doctrine, correct knowledge, etc) … 8.11.

Salvation is not by correct knowledge or doctrine. Fellowship is not based on correct knowledge or 1 Cor 8 makes no sense at all. What we see is that even the incorrect brother was a brother, he was in Christ and it was that and the love that flows from our hearts by the power of Christ keeps fellowship. The incorrect brother is among those we read about in 1 Cor 1.8-9.

Paul is not accusing these brethren of SERVING idols but that for some in fact idols are real. Their incorrect belief even impacts their behavior …

If I am misreading 1 Corinthians 8 let me know. But there are good discussions of this text in its historical setting in standard scholarly commentaries like C. K. Barrett’s and Richard Oster and in the article on “Idolatry” in the Dictionary of Paul and His Letters.

It seems to me that 1 Cor 8 is a sort of lab experiment for the rest of the Corinthian correspondence and experience over that 6 or 7 year period. Paul does for these doctrinally incorrect brothers what he does for the entire congregation. He loves them. He fellowships them. All I ask is that we do what Paul did. Not one of us has had the benefit that the Corinthians have had (2 apostles, 2 apostolic delegates, several personal visits from Paul himself, at least 1 visit from Apollos, etc) … should we not be patient, loving, long suffering with one another when we do not see eye to eye. And the standard is not what any one of us believes. The standard is the Word. Any one of us or even all of us may be wrong. But I believe you love the Lord, you love his word, you love his people … if that is the case then doing for one another what Paul did for Corinth should not be an issue at all. And if it is we need to be prepared to explain to Paul why his example was not good enough for us.

Now brother … Once again my issue is not IM and never has been. I have no use for it all. Salvation by perfect knowledge and/or doctrine is and the desire to sever fellowship is. I would love for you, and I hope you will, bless us with leading us in a study of the issue. I hope I get to know you and your lovely wife personally and intimately. I for one want to do “exactly” as the Lord wills. And I even want to be “right.” That is my desire.

Blessings on you.

Bobby Valentine

His Reply

Hey Bobby,

Again, I appreciate your time in discussing these things. First, I just wanted to note something quickly. And I’m really really really not trying to be argumentative here, but Bobby… You have not answered my question brother!

You said you do not use IM, nor desire to see it. Yes, I understand that and I’m glad to know that seriously. Yet, the question is, would you fellowship a church that has been warned, exhorted, and shown the word of God about unauthorized use of IM? Could you answer this Bobby, or do you feel uncomfortable at this point to give a yes or no in your studies? I think this will be the last time I ask you whether you do or not. I appreciate the fact that your open to discussion… And, for your sake I’ll ask one last time! lol…

Secondly, I want to know what you mean by this statement? “And the standard is not what any one of us believes. The standard is the Word. Any one of us or even all of us may be wrong.”

I’m not trying to put words in your mouth (just like I wasn’t trying to before). This is simply the WAY I’m understanding you. So please be patient with me. I try to judge righteously, and furthermore as I did before, I will leave it to you to correct…

Is what your saying is that the doctrine of accapella singing could possibly be wrong?

My Reply

… my beloved brother. And that is what you are, in the words of our Restoration forefather Alexander Campbell, even though we may disagree on a point here and there. I will follow the example of the Apostle Paul to the best of my ability. Beloved I have in fact answered your question. I just did not answer in the manner in which you wanted.

Brother when I read over your reply I cannot help the feeling that you continue (to put it tongue in cheek) to observe the Passover on Paul and the Corinthians. You have not so much as written a line to even acknowledge the biblical data that I have shared. I have not asked you a “yes” or “no” question but I have asked a direct one: Where in that literature that has Paul’s name on it is there a severing or even the THREAT of severing of fellowship. I want book, chapter and verse. Why is 1 Corinthians 8 simply ignored? If, brother, we respect the authority of the Scripture as we all say we do then it is the Scripture that sets the agenda for what we do. So again show me how I misinterpret chapter 8 or how my overview of the entire Corinthian correspondence is wrong. I want to talk about the Bible. The Bible in context. From that material does Paul give me the authority to with hold that which he granted?? Love and fellowship?

As I stated in my previous note:

“Paul SOUGHT reasons to maintain fellowship, he did not look for reasons to sever it.”

… I do not SEEK reasons to argue with you. I do not SEEK reasons to be disfellowshipped or to disfellowship anyone else. First Corinthians 8 is explicit teaching by Paul, it is not inference, that Paul SOUGHT reasons to maintain love and fellowship with people were not only wrong but they were VERY wrong about something very important.

Now beloved brother the statement you quoted:

“And the standard is not what any one of us believes. The standard is the Word. Any one of us or even all of us may be wrong.”

How this could cause anything but pure joy in you is hard for me to grasp. This is the heart and core of the restoration plea itself. All restorationists supposedly give supreme allegiance to Jesus the Messiah and the revelation of his Word. Everything I believe is open to correction by deeper and further understanding of the Word of God. That is the Berean spirit is it not?? Unless we claim the doctrine of Vatican I on papal infallibility for ourselves we always admit the possibility that we are in need of reform, change, growth in truth and righteousness. This attitude permeates the writings of the restoration fathers whether Barton Stone, Alexander Campbell, David Lipscomb or (pick a name) … We continue to study. We continue to grow. We move closer to the will of God. We test to see if these things are so. We can always be mistaken through blindness or some other factor that we are not even aware of. To me that is the Grand Adventure of discipleship … every time I open the book I tremble at the Word … I believe I even sent you a blog about that very notion … (see the link I have attached). It is an adventure because we are saved by God’s amazing loving grace and not correctness. And grace is needed precisely because I have not … and I submit you have not either … “arrived.”

Bobby Valentine

His Reply

Yes I agree to lead you in a study. However, I’m not even sure about the direction to take on this. What I mean is, I think I’ve encountered some deeper issues than what I even began to be concerned about.

You are right, I have somewhat passed over your comments about 1 Co. 8, and all of 1 Co. for that matter. I do believe that you are misinterpreting much of whats going on in 1 Co. Yet, a larger concern for me at this point is the following comment:

“And the standard is not what any one of us believes. The standard is the Word. Any one of us or even all of us may be wrong.”

I believe it violates in every way what the church stands for and what Jesus proclaimed in John 8:32. This statement Bobby reflects the new age denominational thinking of our time, does it not? The idea that we can’t come to a full knowledge of the truth, and therefore, you and I will have to “agree to disagree” and go our separate ways. All the while, neither you or I can say “we are THE church.” So unless I’m misunderstanding you, I have a deep concern with that comment.

I would be happy to lead a study, but like I said, I don’t even know where to start ha. All I know, is that I love to study God’s word together. It’s not my hope to find fault with anyone, but instead fulfill Christ’s prayer that we all be of one mind and come to the unity of the faith.

I’m not sure how everyone feels about the study, and the question I asked that initiated all of this. One thing I do believe strongly, is that we can know the truth, and we must know the truth. To those who have come to a knowledge of the truth, but fallen back or have stubbornly gone in the ways of instrumental music in the church, should be disfellowshipped (2 Jn. 1:9-10).

A good commentary on 1 Co. would be Rev. 2. There is a transitioning time period between sin and disfellowship. What you see in 1 Co. is simply witness to that transitioning time period. Does the Bible not plainly command disfellowship?? To stubbornly ignore Rev. 2 only reveals the bias of a Bible student. 1 Co. 8:8 is simply a good example of that which has no necessity of disfellowship. Why? It in no way leads to sin. How would you ever compare that to false worship, which is blatanly sinful? (Mrk. 7:7).

I hope you don’t find my works to harsh. I speak plainly to one who is in the position of teaching and will receive a stricter judgment (Jam. 3).

My Reply

I am sorry for the delay in my reply to your email several days ago. I am very tired and practically worn out. It has been a very long weekend and very stressful. I ask your indulgence with anything I say that may not be seasoned with the aroma of Christ.

I am simply dismayed that you are in disagreement with the quoted statement …

“And the standard is not what any one of us believes. The standard is the Word. Any one of us or even all of us may be wrong.”

You amazingly claim: “This statement Bobby reflects the new age denominational thinking of our time, does it not?”

How? Where? Why? To keep this on a lighter note as best I can, I want to paraphrase Jesus with tongue in my cheek and a twinkle in my eye so you know I am not being mean: You know neither your heritage nor the New Age Movement!! Here are some initial thoughts flowing from your reply and the thoughts in the paragraph below my quotation of you:

1) the CHURCH is not the authority. this is the bedrock of Roman Catholicism. The “church” does not establish nor dictate what is truth or what is sound doctrine. The “church” SUBMITS to an authority beyond, outside, and over itself.

2) Though the truth has been fully revealed in Jesus of Nazareth there is not one single human being since the Lord Jesus returned to heaven that has fully grasped that entire truth. Did the Apostles? I ask this in sincerity?? I just read through the Gospels and how often does Jesus lament and wail at their dense understanding, their failure to SEE or HEAR or to grasp … the answer is frequently.

Now Jesus himself was doing the teaching and I do not believe he was inadequate to the task … but James, Peter, John, etc all are presented as men who follow Jesus but in need of great growth. Is that not how it is with you and me? Can you honestly say ….., at this moment, that you know ALL there is to now? that you {…..} have grasped ALL truth PERFECTLY? Do you claim to be infallible in your interpretation of the Word of God? Are you superior to those who slept with Jesus, walked with Jesus, witnessed the miracles of Jesus, heard his sermons and parables … THOSE men Jesus would wail “how long must I be with with you before you understand?” I tell you the truth …., and I mean no disrespect in fact I say this in great love, I do not believe you have arrived!! I do Not believe you have perfect understanding. I dare not make such a claim for myself.

3) The statement that causes you alarm is the heart and soul of the Restoration Movement. If Alexander Campbell was not willing to submit his beliefs to fresh examination there would be no restoration movement. If David Lipscomb was not willing to go back and reexamine things in light of the real authority, Jesus Christ and his Word, where would we be ….? How you have decided this is new age denominational doctrine is beyond my tired mind to grasp.

Moving away from the quoted statement to other matters:

1) I look forward to your study. In fact I invite you to expand the study and show me at the table just where and how I have misinterpreted 1 Corinthians as a whole and chapter 8 in particular. I am not afraid for you to examine it and present it. But beloved brother it will not do for you to simply observe the Passover and then basically offer an opinion that I have misinterpreted that text. I will not accept that. The Word does not exist to confirm our prejudice but to call us to the truth. That is what restoration is all about. So where did I misinterpret 1 Cor? Show me.

2) You say there is a “transition” period. Ok. I will grant you that for the sake of argument. Is that transition period a period of forty years? Please answer the question. You did not find a text anywhere in the Corinthian Correspondence to show that Paul himself disfellowshipped anyone in that congregation … if you found it you would have supplied it.

I say forty years because you keep appealing to Rev 2 and 2 John 9. The Apostle Paul was beheaded, obviously dead, and buried for almost forty years before either of those two texts were even written!!! Both of those texts are part of the REMOTE context but they do not over rule the IMMEDIATE historical and literary context of Paul and his writings to the Corinthians.

And brother I have not “stubbornly” ignored Revelation 2 or 2 John. I will be happy to have a discussion about either one … anytime. What has happened beloved brother is you have “stubbornly” ignored 1 Corinthians and Paul’s rather explicit teaching and example regarding those folks. I hope I am not impolite here but you yourself stated …

“You are right, I have somewhat passed over your comments about 1 Co. 8, and all of 1 Co. for that matter”

You have not passed over them … you have ignored them. You have not offered even a sentence to exegetically refute what I stated about Corinthians. Not one iota. I love you enough to not let you do that. I do not believe I have misinterpreted 1 Corinthians, nor do I think I misconstrued the nature of Paul’s rocky relationship with them over that 6 to 7 year period. But beloved brother I am 100% open to being taught by you on this matter. But I reserve the right to question you. 😉

For you to say that 1 Cor 8 is not about leading someone to sin is most interesting. Paul did not agree apparently …

“when you thus SIN against the members of the family …”

Isnt that what v. 12 says?? And dear brother WHO is Paul addressing in that verse?? Again look at the “who” in the text from v. 1 to v.13. What did the strong KNOW? What did the weak NOT know? Who was actually sinning? and how? Once again what did those folks not know??

3) Finally. As I stated before Paul SOUGHT reasons to keep and maintain unity and fellowship. I may be misreading you and I pray to God that I am but you seem awfully eager to SEEK reasons to sever it. How this is in accord with Paul’s example at Corinth I have no idea. Are we not supposed to make EVERY EFFORT … I see Paul doing that at Corinth. You want or seem like you want to draw lines over something that not one person at PV wants … IM.

So I bring this to a close … I am literally worn out.

Bobby Valentine

Read Salvation by Correct Doctrine, Pt 2 HERE
Read Worship Acts & Fellowship – which is Pt 3 HERE

11 Responses to “Salvation by Correct Doctrine, Hermeneutics & Fellowship, Pt 1”

  1. Bill Williams Says:

    Thanks for sharing this, brother. Thank you, also, for demonstrating how a conversation of this nature should be conducted. May God help us all continue the quest for understanding, even as we unashamedly confess our utter dependency God’s unmerited favor.

  2. Falantedios Says:

    “1 Co. 8:8 is simply a good example of that which has no necessity of disfellowship. Why? It in no way leads to sin. How would you ever compare that to false worship, which is blatanly sinful? (Mrk. 7:7).”

    Believing that eating particular foods is idol worship ‘in no way leads to sin’????

    Believing that idols really are gods ‘in no way leads to sin’ but worshipping in error is blatantly sinful?

    Someone believes that musical instruments “really are something,” (to paraphrase Paul in 1 Cor 8).

  3. D'Angelo Says:

    *fixed typos*

    Bobby, your doing a great job. These conversations are always frustrating, sometimes folk focus in on issue and expect to get a mathematically precise answer to a pet doctrine, that they miss the larger issues; something you have labored to how this brother.

    Regarding questions, I’m actually surprised that people are labored “slippery” when they don’t answer yes or no, when Jesus was notorious for either, reframing a question, not answering a question, asking another question, and asking a question that reframes the original question. Moses said we should stone her; what about you? Who doesn’t have sin… (if this isn’t in the text it is probably true history). Is it lawful to divorce your wife for any reasons? “from the beginning it was not so…” Who is my neighbor? *fictitious story* which one acted neighborly? (shifting debating about what a neighbor is to, what neighboring is). By what authority do you do these things? Answer me this, the baptism of John was it from heaven or men? Tell us PLAINLY whether you are the Messiah (I get the impression he didn’t allow people to hedge him in), you say that I am… You will see the son of man coming…

    Over and over and over again. Delayed gratification and wrestling through difficult questions and searching for real answers is a sign of Christian maturation. Expecting true or false answers to every question is naive, not to mention the bible is a story composed with various literary genres and writers, you can’t just examine historical events and documents with razor sharp aristotilean logic.

    Falantedious, first, you can believe IM is ok and not practice with them, in that case no sin is committed, assuming they are wrong. I think you miss the larger point. The people who were doctrinal right were corrected for their lack of love and the people who were epistemically wrong–and as a result DID violate their conscientious when eating meat offered to idols (maybe they thought they were worshipping it), were not condemned but loved. Honestly, I think a solid belief in monotheism is more important to the way one lives and thinks than whether or not one can clap during 20% of a church meeting.

    Finally, Mark 7:7 isn’t about what Israelite were doing in worship, it’s about people, not honoring your father and mother BY ALLEGEDLY WORSHIPING GOD by giving tithes and gifts to the temple. Take care of your parents is a command of God; it manifests God’s character through his people. that’s yet another isolated proof text cited to defend controlling people who hide their vitriol behind a text that appears to advocate what they allege.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    “Paul SOUGHT reasons to keep and maintain unity and fellowship.”

    I find this a great plea to all of us. Too often, it is as if we are looking for reasons to break apart rather than stay together. Guilt by association comes to mind.

    However, I believe there is a large part of the present day children of the restoration movement that really does not believe what the early restoration movement leaders believed.

    Somewhere (my guess is between the IM division and the pre-millenial “battles”), this changed from a unity approach to being brothers and sisters to a requirement for doctrinal correctness aka perfection. This has led to all sorts of foolishness by brothers – dividing about water fountains, the congregation’s name on softball jerseys, the color of carpet, et al.

    Among those with this view, you will usually hear references to “we need to keep studying because we learn something new each time” or “No one knows everything” but when you examine these beliefs…

    you find that all of the important “stuff” is in fact already known and being done/believed correctly. It is not possible for anything “important” such as the position on IM, knowledge required at the point of immersion, church organization, etc. to be “wrong”.

    All of that is now properly settled, thank you very much.

    I believe this is a terribly bad path to be walking down. I am not saved by doctrinal perfection. If we were required to be doctrinally perfect, we are all doomed.

    How long a list of points are on God’s requirement to go live with him eternally?

    3 or 4 things?

    4091 things?

    It cannot be the later or, again, we are all doomed.

  5. Rix Blog For Leaders Says:

    Bobby, in all due respect, you are not addressing this guys false view of 2John 9…. Which of course has nothing to do with church doctrine. Untell he understands this passage, he will never understand you.


  6. westcoastwitness.com Says:

    Wow, that was a long conversation. I would have just said “yes”

    You have much greater patience than I 🙂

  7. Glenn Ziegler Says:


    Hang in there. It is tempting to level the playing field by chopping away at the lumps – as you have so aptly pointed out.

    May God richly bless your continued study together … in the long run. As you indicated, simple answers are not often the ground in a complex discussion. Jesus modeled that approach and you are following in those steps.

    I hope that you do get to have the further discussion. I would like to see where he thinks you have erred concerning 1 Corinthians 8, just as you also confessed your desire to know.

    Thanks for sending me the link …

    Blessings of wisdom with much love,


  8. Anonymous Says:

    AMEN to Rix and westcoastwitness!! 🙂 As you well know, you are dealing with an institutional sectarian brother, and you are showing more patience, kindness and love than Jesus did at times with such people. So, thanks for that foot washing and for showing what kind of heart you have. Ask the brother if we are supposed to not have fellowship with believers who follow the greatest command! Emphasis on GREATEST!! 🙂 Love you brother! David U

  9. Anonymous Says:

    This discussion reminded me of lines the great FD Srygley wrote in the *Gospel Advocate* in 1889, in an essay titled “We Ought to Agree Among Ourselves” (reprinted in his *The New Testament Church*):

    “The basis of our union ought always to be as broad as the conditions of salvation. No man has any right to make his plea for union narrower than this. It is wrong to make anything a condition of fellowship which is not essential to salvation. We draw the line here. That which will damn a soul and separate us in the next world should divide us in this; nothing else should.”

    In another essay, entitled “The Current Reformation [the Restoration Movement] Not the Church,” Srygley wrote:

    “No church is at any time wholly free from apostasy. The mystery of iniquity is continually working in all churches. That God does bear with evil doers and continue to recognize a church as a church of Christ after it has committed some very grave errors, the Bible clearly teaches. That such errors, if persisted in and increased, will carry the church beyond the limits of God’s forbearance and cause him to cease to recognize it as a church of Christ, is also clearly taught. But the exact point it ceases to be a church of Christ because of apostasy no man can tell.”

    I understand the thinking of the brother in the debate because I cut my teeth on it. He’s been taught a certain way of reading scripture which insists it’s merely the “plain meaning of the text,” but actually isn’t. Its all based upon certain illogical presuppositions.

    I, too, used to think everything in the Bible was either black or white-there were no gray areas and every doctrinal question could be settled pretty much with a “yes” or “no” answer. So I know where the guy’s coming from. I used to pride myself as a kid that, even if by some misfortune, the CoC wasn’t TOTALLY perfect doctrinally, we were a lot more perfect that anyone else. Thank goodness God delivered me from all of that. Hopefully he will do the same for this good brother and anyone else who is a prisoner of such thinking.


    Lee Freeman

  10. kingdomseeking Says:


    I commend you for making the effort to have such a conversation. I’ve had them before but I’m no longer sure if I have the energy for such conversations.

    I also worry that for some people, their doctrinal understanding has become their god. With that in mind, they can not tolerate any thought or idea that does not completely adhere to their present doctrine because to do so would leave them in jeopardy of losing their god. When cornered, they must redirect the conversation with Ad Hominem arguments (i.e., “…new age denominational thinking of our time…”) rather than deal with the biblical/theological arguments that have concerned and jeopardized the precariously held doctrine they believe in.

    But perhaps what is the saddest aspect is that this is the fruit that has been produced by a Restoration Movement that began in the pursuit of Christian unity but eventually emerged into a movement driven by legalistic fundamentalism.

    Thanks for sharing this correspondence!

    Grace and Peace,

    K. Rex Butts

  11. Unknown Says:

    Well thought out and presented Bobby. You are a very patient man. May God bless both of you (and all of us) in your studies.

    Kevin Frank

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