16 Dec 2011

Salvation by Correct Doctrine, Hermeneutics & Fellowship, Pt 2

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

Read Salvation by Correct Doctrine, Hermeneutics & Fellowship, Pt 1HERE
Read Worship Acts, Hermeneutics & Fellowship: Continuing Dialogue (which is Part 3) HERE

The following is the second part of a brotherly on again and off again discussion I allowed myself to get drawn into with another preacher (links to the first and third parts are above). I felt it would be valuable to develop a Christian bond with this brother, to practice what we preach. As for the actual 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. I have been asked why I have talked to this brother – the reason is simple I really do value unity and I believe I need to do for this brother what others have done for me: be loving and patient. Blessings to those who strive to honor the prayer of Jesus in John 17.

This is his reply to my message that appears at the bottom of my previous blog, from my Correspondent …


I cannot be long, but I did want to clear up a few things from your reply. Then, I will continue another day…

First of all, you will have to forgive me for my lack of precision on terminology. I was not referring you to the “new age movement,” but what I was referring to was the prominent denominational idea concerning truth. The idea that truth is like an putting a blind fold on, and you only can touch part of the elephant, and never see the whole. This false doctrine has only lead to further denominationalism, and the “”agree to disagree, you go your way, I go my way”” philosophy.

Unless I am misunderstanding you, you view truth in the same manner.

Concerning your references to the restoration movement. I don’t care, and I believe they have no bearing on a discussion of spiritual truth. I respect many of the men in the restoration movement, but I will not get into a debate about what they did or did not believe or promote.

You accuse me of “”observing the passover”” as you like to cleverly put it (I kind of find that terminology funny haha, but be careful in its use because I believe it can easily become malicious). I actually might easily flip this on you. Is this not the exact same thing you have done with the question that I asked to initiate ALL of this?

“”Would you fellowship a church that has been warned, exhorted, and shown the word of God about unauthorized use of IM?””

Perhaps I should ask you to eat your own passover before replying to your accusation. I’m still waiting for a clear “”yes or no””

Now, most importantly. You are mistaken to believe that I seem or want to draw lines over instrumental music. I realize you don’t use them. You might take note that at no point have I ever set forth arguments against instrumental music. What I am asking goes beyond the dangers of instrumental music in many ways. It concerns the Lord’s desire for purity and unity in the church. Unity doesn’t come through acceptance of sin, but through obedience to God’s word. We must keep sin out of the camp.

I will say this and clarify this again. I have only raised this question to know where you stand on the Lord’s plea for purity in the church. Any inferences and suspicions that arise in yours, or anyone else’s thoughts, are merely that, inferences and suspicions, and may even qualify as “”evil thinking”” (1 Co. 13).

Before I had opportunity to respond to the above my brother sent the following also in reply to my last at the bottom of my previous post.

Now, its another day Bobby. Hope you got some sleep and you’re feeling a little more bushy eyed today.

I want to comment on a greater concern that perhaps now surpasses your “passover” of the question I raised from the beginning. (sorry, don’t take that offensively. I seriously get a kick out of your catch phrase. It’s funny, and I’m not offended in anyway)

This matter of knowledge and truth. I think it definetly extends beyond my beginning question about disfellowship of impurities like instrumental music, and so forth. (And please, always remember that my question was never set forth as an accusation, but as a quest to know where brethren such as yourself, here in AZ, stand and handle such things as Instrumental music among the Lord’s churches)

Now this matter of truth is a serious one. It brings into question how we rationalize and logic about God’s word and the search for truth. You have fully revealed your stance by the following statements:

“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.”

and further stated here…

“Though 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.”

It seems without a doubt that you believe complete truth is without grasp in any one of God’s children. I can’t help but categorize this idea with denominationalist who plead for the “agree to disagree, you go your way, I go my way, any one of us could be wrong,” attitude.

This concept opposses all that Jesus, the word, and some very faithful brethren who have been true to God’s word have, and continue to stand for. I would highly a reconsideration of your stance here, and recommend you to first and foremost the words of Christ (Jhn. 8:32, 7:17), and to the writings of faithful brethren such as Thomas B. Warren and his books like “Logic & the Bible.”

You see, your stance opposses rational thought. You question my stance that one can know grasp complete truth on a spiritual matter. Yet, I will turn this around on you and ask you to answer for your proposition. Doesn’t your proposition, “that anyone of us could be wrong, and that not one human being can grasp entire truth” demand a complete knowledge of truth in order to propose such a statement?? In other words, how do you make such a proposition without claiming a grasp for entire truth?? You’re arguments are without logic Bobby, and they contradict rational thought, as well as Scripture.

My Reply a Day Later

Beloved Brother ….,

This will be very short because I have three hundred things to do right now. Let me make this as concise and clear as I can …

1) You are my brother. I love you. And I refuse to not enjoy the fellowship that God created between us.

2) I think you misunderstand my statement that you quote. The statement has nothing to do with denominational anything. I believe that Jesus Christ and his Word are the ultimate authority. Your understanding of that word nor my understanding is NOT the authority. I submit my understanding to that word and will change as I come to see greater truth. How, my friend, can this can be denominational in your mind confuses me greatly.

3) I believe you are mistaken greatly on Corinthians – which you continue to observe the Passover on. And I am quite familiar with the writings of Thomas B. Warren and actually used his lingo earlier in this correspondence without mentioning his name already by referring to the “remote context” of Rev 2 & 2 Jn 9 … from his book When is an Example Binding (I do not agree with his general premise in the book but I have studied it in great detail). My reasoning is neither irrational nor unbiblical – as I see it.

I was not intending any ill-will by using the phrase observing the passover (it is simply a humorous way to indicate you have not attempted to deal with the information). I will not use it again.

4) I believe Jesus is THE truth. He says so explicitly. I believe you and I can know the truth that sets us free. And I am convinced I do know the truth that sets us free. I do not believe, however, that either you or I know ALL truth or know all truth perfectly. So brother … answer me clearly as you say:

1) do you know all truth? Yes or No?

2) do you know all truth PERFECTLY? Yes or No?

These are the real questions …. The question is not if it is theoretically possible for some human being to know absolute truth absolutely. The question is do YOU know absolute truth absolutely? I am convinced you do not. I am certain I do not. Now if neither you nor I have reached that level of perfection than it stands to reason … it is logical to infer … that we both not only could be wrong but likely are wrong on some matters.

THEREFORE the standard of truth is not you, it is not me … it is the Bible … which is what I said all along.

3) It is quite interesting that you sort of got defensive (or it appears that way) when I mention the restoration movement and then you turn around and cite the aforementioned Thomas B. Warren and his books. Do you see the irony in that? But if the truth be known Warren is a part of the restoration movement just as much as anyone I mentioned before.

4) Finally for now … I have never thought evil of you. If I have appeared to so I apologize to you from the bottom of my heart. That was not my intent.

May the Lord bless you and keep you and make his face shine upon you.

Bobby Valentine

His Reply


My friend, and I mean that…it doesn’t matter which way you want to spin, flip, or twirl your viewpoint with a child of God’s arrival to truth. Whether you say full truth cannot be grasped, or you say a believer cannot come to a complete understanding, and is always open to new discovery, is really the same when it comes to practicality. I reject this with all my heart and will continue to remind you that this is exactly what a majority of denominations teach concerning religious truth…”agree to disagree, you go your way, I go my way, any one of us could be wrong,” attitude. In fact, it seems almost similar to something called the “new hermeneutic” of neo-orthodoxy.

Why do I reject this? Because the Bible is full of statements from Christ such as John 7:17, and 8:32 on knowing the truth. Jesus is truth, but the word is also the embodiment of Jesus. In other words, the word is truth (John 17:7). You cannot escape John 8:32 so easily.

I beleive also that your understanding of remote context is mistaken. This comes from a misunderstanding of canonization. Here are a few scriptures that I think you should consider: Col. 4:16; 2 Pe. 3:16; 1 Tm. 5:18. The scriptures were copied and cierculated among the churches long before formal canonization. As brother Dave Miller put it: “in fact, impetus for the multipliaction of copies of the New Testament documents existed virtually from the moment they came from the pen of the inspired writer.” You might see Bruce M. Metzer’s “The Text of the New Testament, 2nd Ed. p. 14, and p. 416 for further evidence on that.

Also observe the following statment, “Consider the parallel situation that exists with the O.T. Early Jews did not have access to all the Old Testament. Yet Jesus and the writers of the N.T. gleaned passages from various locations in the O.T. canon in precisely the same fashion that we do from the N.T.. Jesus treated the Old T. canon as a totality– a complet body of scripture.

Also consider more from the word of God: Acts 2:40, 42; 5:42; 20:20, 27, 31.
Examine these passages and tell me something, could early Christians have access to a sufficient amount of God’s will through oral sources? Paul had preached the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27).

You speak Bobby, and yet do not realize the implications. You treat the 66 books of the word of God as if they aren’t interdependant or as if God hadn’t intentionally bound them together as a single body of truth, God’s complete and total revelation to man. There is one author, the Holy Spirit.

We are not living in a period of progressive revelation as brother Miller put it. We have the complete inspired material from God and we’re required to take the whole and interpret it accordingly.

As far as your questions toward me, I will ignore them till you respect mine. I’ve asked a simple question…

Would you fellowship a church that has been warned, exhorted, and shown the word of God about unauthorized use of IM? Si or No?

My Reply to My Brother

Beloved ….,

I look forward to your leading us in this study. I encourage you to continue studying. I know that I have not arrived at all truth so perhaps I can learn a great deal from you. I remain convinced, in the mean time, you are more than mistaken on the quoted statement you feel is “denominational” … send it to brother Miller and get his opinion on it.

Now you are throwing around some really big words: Neo-Orthodoxy and New Hermeneutic …

You may want to reread those cited texts yourself though beloved brother. And if brother Miller is correct how much time is included in those words “virtually from the moment” the documents came from the pen of the writers?

For example you cite 2 Peter 3.16 but I think u meant v.15 … from a historical standpoint is it not interesting that either you or Miller cite this text as evidence of canonization from the “virtual” moment (but that is a slippery term so we do not know just how much time is included in it) but from early canonical lists we know that Second Peter itself was quite late before being accepted as one of the apostolic writings. You can read that, btw, also in Metzger. And I ask honestly are you citing Metzger from actually having read him or are you getting this info from a secondary source … brother The Text of the NT does not have 416 pages. But I refer you to his work The Canon of the New Testament: Its, Origin, Development; and Significance. I have both the works in my office and would be glad to let you examine them … if you do not have them.

I have answered your questions.

Love you brother but you must be patient with me …

And btw I do believe in the Scriptures as a complete body. I believe all sheds light on the rest. But the individual text still has to be understood FIRST in its OWN context. Thus Paul in Corinthians is still inspired and authoritative on seeking ground to maintain unity rather than division.

Bobby Valentine

This is his Reply


I’m looking at your message here, and it appears it will be the last. From our short discussion, I find you to be a man that enjoys intellectual thought, but I also take you for one who probably fears the possibility of being inferior in knowledge, intellect, and wisdom. Comments such as “I have both the works in my office and would be glad to let you examine them … if you do not have them…” Tell me alot about a man such as yourself.

I’m a suburban boy Bobby. Never really paid attention much in high school, and I only experience college for a year. I really don’t have any interest in appearing intelligent, or knowledgable [sic]. Trust me, you won’t hurt my feelings by catching me on some misquote of a man-made book, or anything else. I only have one interest: bringing the lost to salvation. This means preaching the word of God in its sound, and healthy wholeness. I feed off passages such as 2 Co. 11:3, “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” I preach this text with passion in an age that tells us scientific jargon reveals some kind of intelligence. That evolution is truth because of it’s intelligent thought. This of course has spilled over into religion, just like everything else has and continues to do through the ages. The world always will have the upper hand in influence.

It didn’t take me long to discover your over-complicated interpretation of God’s word. When a guy has to play mental gymnastics with the text, he is up to something. And it’s never any good. That is why I continue to ask the question that has never been answered: Would you fellowship a church that has been warned, exhorted, and shown the word of God about unauthorized use of IM?

I continue to put forth scripture such as Jhn. 8:32, 7:17, 17:7; Col. 4:16; 2 Pe. 3:16 (YES, 2 Pe. 3:16, notice that Paul was already calling the things Paul wrote SCRIPTURE); 1 Tm. 5:18; Acts 2:40, 42; 5:42; 20:20, 27, 31. And without shame or hesitation: Rev. 2 & 2 Jn. 1:9 All this to defend truth, the canonization, and proper interpretation of Scripture.

I will continue to reason with you, and challenge you to realize the implications of your stance on truth, and interpretation.

I will continue to challenge you to answer questions that demand a yes or no.

Why? For the sake of love. For you? Yes of course… but maybe more so that even if I can’t reason with you.

My words to you Bobby are special, because Jam. 3:1ff reveals a stricter judgment for those who teach. I think you should already know better, beccause you spend time in the word, and you know what the text says. I would looove to have fellowship over disfellowship ANY DAY. However, I won’t do it at the expense of twisting God’s word, and disgracing His command to disfellowship. This is what is done though when brethren declare “remote context” on 2 Jn. 1:9 and Rev. 2 and say that 2 Jn. 1:9 only refers to the doctrine of not confessing Jesus as Lord. This is false Bobby. Remember Jesus and the apostles who proof-texted the Old Testament themselves and treated the O.T. as a complete body of scripture.

Yes, I will do the study. I will lead it as soon as you answer and respect my question: Would you fellowship a church that has been warned, exhorted, and shown the word of God about unauthorized use of IM?

My Reply a Couple Days Later …

Beloved Brother ….,

I am dismayed by this response. I assure you beloved brother that I take my task as a teacher of the word with INCREDIBLE seriousness.

How have I offended you? I never claimed to be smarter than anyone else and have asked you repeatedly to be my teacher. I am willing to learn. All I have done is confess that I do not know all truth perfectly and I confessed that I do not believe you do either.

I dont think I have ever tried to appear intelligent brother. I have no need to impress you nor anyone else. I have not tried to impress you except with Paul’s example to the Corinthians. I have not sought your accolades … I am truly “just me.” I have NO FEAR that there are folks out there a whole lot smarter than me brother. I am near the bottom of the divorced preacher totem pole brother …

For the record, I apologize that I offended you by suggesting you were in error on Metzger, that “man made book.” But in my own defense on this point, brother you are the one who suggested I consult that “man made book” giving the appearance that it was and is a reliable source of information. My question sought to learn if you actually read the work. And all “man made books” are not bad brother. You, not me, recommended (by implication) Metzger and previous to that Thomas B. Warren’s “man made books.”

Now brother the last thing I desire is for bad blood to be between us. We are brethren. Some final random thoughts: I dont think I have interpreted scripture in an over complicated way. Everything I said about Corinthians comes straight out of Acts 18 and the Corinthian correspondence itself. I do not believe I disgraced God’s commands. I have no problem with citing scriptures … even lots of them. But context rules brother. At least that is what we have always said.

So … blessings be with you.

Bobby Valentine

The Next Day I followed the above reply up with this one

Greetings to you from Alabama … I will be home on Saturday. I’m enjoying my time with Tifani and the kids but we have not found resolution in court yet. This, as you know, was the entire purpose of our visit. I hope we are on for our luncheon.

Now …., my beloved brother, I hope and pray that you do not harbor any ill feelings towards me. As of yet I do not think you have accused me of false doctrine just overly complex biblical interpretation … something I will ask you to clarify in a moment. But in the mean time our fellowship was purchased with the outrageously expensive blood of Jesus Christ so I am praying that you are not going to sever that bond between us. I don’t believe you will though.

My question is, Just how have I been guilty of overly complex biblical interpretation? I think my reading of First Corinthians would be confirmed by consulting most any commentary out there: from the time line I gave to the multiple letters and visits to that city by Paul and his associates. Even most basic NT Surveys will confirm this outline. It is not overly complex rather it comes from reading the information within the letters themselves. This historical exegesis has been the bread and butter of sound brethren all along. You provided a link to Dave Miller (and I have watched his first lecture and plan on watching all of them) so I feel free to provide this classic summary of good rules of biblical interpretation by Alexander Campbell: Principles of Interpretation


These basic rules have been the backbone of exegesis all along. Understanding a document in its context (date, occasion, etc), understanding the argument and words within a given context are bedrock foundations for objective bible study. Those specific rules are the very ones I appeal to for interpreting 1 Cor 8 … asking those basic questions the demand answering …

1) Who are those with Knowledge
2) What did those with Knowledge KNOW?
3) Who are those without knowledge
4) What did those without knowledge NOT know?

Those questions, every last one of them, are answered in the text itself. We know what those “in the know” knew … 🙂 { you knew i was going to do that didnt you!!! LOL!} We also know, from the text itself, what those who didnt know … didnt know. Further we also know what Paul did in that situation.

Now asking us to read the text itself, and dealing with said text is not overly complex. In fact it is plain common sense in my opinion.

This is something we have always done brother. We insist that context matters. When our Baptist friends go to Acts 16.30-31 and say all you need to do is “believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” What has been “our” response … we say “you left the jail house too soon!” 😉 We say to them that context matters because v.31 is not the end of the story. We point out that Paul then spoke the word of the Lord and they were baptized. Context rules, context explains that v.31 is true it just means more than what some say it means. If we insist on this principle with others we need to heed it ourselves.

Just a few thoughts. Look forward to seeing you brother.

Bobby Valentine

His Reply to Me


Hope you are all doing well. I’m not sure if there was a preachers meeting?

Either way, my visit would’ve been short. Bobby, you are right. I haven’t accused you or anyone of false doctrine, but at the same time you have not really given me reason not to believe there is a sense of liberalism here. Why do I say that? Because there is an omission to answer a straigtht forward question on the disfellowship of instrumental music. I guess I would really get myself in trouble if I asked about MDR? Furthermore, your viewpoint Bobby on truth is absolutely wrong. Anyone of us could be wrong? That is false to the bone. There are facts about the gospel that one can know undeniably (John 8:32; Eph. 5:17).

I guess what I’m saying is, give me a reason to believe that I’m surrounding myself with brethren conservative to the Word of God. I think that’s a perfectly honorable question for a preacher to ask. I’m in a position right now where I need assistance and encouragment in the area. I can’t afford to immerse myself in warfare yet. Not that I’m not willing for the sake of saving a soul, but its a battle that I know wouldn’t end soon.

Therefore, I’m ending this conversation until you can give me a straightforward answer on whether or not you would disfellowship a church that has been warned, and rebuked, and taught the truth on instrumental music, yet they continue to practice. It would help too, if I knew brethren in the area that followed Christ’s teaching on MDR. The Bible teaches divorce is a sin unless a spouse committs fornication. And a person who has been divorced for any other reason than fornication cannot marry again. (Mat. 19:1-9).

Hopefully, you can understand where I come from. I’m not in a position of warfare right now. In fact, I need to avoid it. Disfellowship of instrumental music, and MDR, etc., are issues that are serious and I believe they demand disfellowship, especially teachers who do not teach these truths.

No, I’m not looking to draw lines Bobby. Understand that I’m looking to avoid the necessity of doing at this time. Would I? Of course, but not until I’ve taught in love, and longsuffering for as much as I could bear. I just don’t want to go through that process right now while I’m settling into a new congregation, and especially when I’m not sure anyone would care to listen.

My Reply Today Later … After I had some Coffee


Greetings beloved brother. I pray that you are doing well and you and your bride are experiencing the all the shalom our Abba can give.

I hope and pray you will meet for our next lunch date. The Lord commanded that we love one another. His servant John exhorted us to “love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action” (1 Jn.3.18). He tells us later that if we love “God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us” (4.12).

I confess dear brother that your last communication puzzled me. What is with language like “I can’t afford to immerse myself in warfare yet.” Warfare? YET? Such militant language is strange to my ears especially in light of your confession of not having a desire to draw lines. I do not know how to interpret that language …. in a way that sounds “loving” and SEEKING fellowship and unity rather than lines in the sand.

Now beloved brother on the other matters you mention. I answered your question. And for the record there are “facts about the gospel that one can know undeniably.” I affirm that. But why cite Jn 8.32 or Eph 5.17 for that “truth?” What are the “facts” of the Gospel? Paul tells us in no uncertain terms in 1 Cor 15.1-4. The Fact of Jesus; the Fact of his Death; the Fact of his burial; the Fact of his resurrection. It was not THESE facts that those poor Corinthians did not have “knowledge” of in chapter 8. They knew Jesus died for them (v.11). It was other “truth” they did not know or understand or grasp.

You and I agree that we can know the facts of the Gospel. And we do. You and I have not, however, been discussing the facts of the Gospel. Indeed it was only upon those FACTS that Paul retained fellowship with those doctrinally erroneous brethren in 1 Cor 8 and v.11 makes this explicitly clear. They believed in Jesus but they were not clear on monotheism!

As for MDR I am not sure the preachers in Tucson have ever discussed the subject so I honestly do not know what the views are of those guys. I suspect that we all hate divorce and believe that divorce is sin except for the reasons outlined by Jesus in Mt 5 & 19. I know from personal experience that divorce is a horrid evil. And I know WHY God “hates divorce.”

Nobody here uses IM or advocates it.

Christian love — that is love that is like Christ’s love — should be the bedrock of our relationship to one another …. I am striving for that. And I am sure that you believe you are too. Loving each other is just as much sound doctrine as IM perhaps more so … so it would behoove us to go the extra mile in love with one another. In obedience to Paul’s apostolic example with the Corinthians.

Bobby Valentine

John 17

John 17

His Reply to Me

Okay Bobby… Just answer the question and I’d love to discuss things with you further…

Would you disfellowship a church that has been rebuked, exhorted, and warned? Yes or No?

…sorry, just so that you don’t pick me apart on the specifics regarding the question. I’m asking about a church using IM.

And just so we’re clear Bobby, I don’t want to discuss anything else until this question is answered. I know what the Bible says about love, and trust me, I have nothing but love in this conversation. You don’t like my terms? I’m sorry you feel that way, but there is nothing wrong with them.

“This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, 20 of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. “1 Tim 1:18-20 (NKJV)

“Such militant language is strange to my ears…” Really? Then the Bible must be strange to your ears also. No sarcasm intended, but I don’t appreciate your accusation about my unlovingness. I love, but I don’t use love as a front to make myself look good or put another person in a position where I can make them feel bad for charging me with straightforward answers. Perhaps I should accuse you of this, but it would be against my conscience to judge your heart when its not my place. Nonetheless I will warn you that if you are you had better be very careful. My friend, I know when I’m doing things in love and when I’m not. But, lets just leave that to God to judge. I do love you, but I will not stand for false doctrine, and I will be straightfoward with men who stand in a position such as yourself.

I don’t really understand your confusion about what I said “there are facts you can know about the gospel.” Perhaps you are getting stuck into the precision of my language again. That may be my fault, so let me clarify. “TRUTH” can be known. The “Gospel” is truth, and it is the will of God, therefore it can be FULLY known, and FULLY understood, BECAUSE of Jhn. 8:32 & Eph. 5:17. NOT just the death, burial, and resurrection. But also what to do to be saved, worship, church organization, and especially DISFELLOWSHIP. This is what my question is to you….

Would you disfellowship a church that has been rebuked, exhorted, and warned about IM? Yes or No?

Please respect my request and withhold yourself from discussing anything else with me until you answer this question with a solid yes or no. It’s a black and white question Bobby, and it demands a black and white answer. If you can’t then I have to conclude that you must believe the Bible is somehow unclear on this matter, or you are afraid, ashamed, or something to give your answer.

My Reply a day Later

Beloved Brother ….,

I did not judge you brother. My final paragraph said that I was striving for Christ-ian love for you and I believe you think the same thing. What I did say was that the language of warfare seems incongruous with the stated desire not to sever fellowship. As I read through you post I get the feeling (and I could be wrong and I hope that I am to be honest but this is how it came across to me) you have already decided we (PV) or at least me are unworthy of your fellowship.

It seems to me that Paul’s appeal to the metaphor of “fighting the good fight” and being a good soldier is not license for using each other for target practice. Endurance and not giving up seem to be what he is appealing too … not soldiers use of artillery on each other. Now what exactly did Hymaneaus and Alexander deny my brother. Paul mentions Hymaneaus again in 2 Timothy. They teach that the resurrection has already taken place (2.17-18). These false teachers in Timothy seem to love to argue and lust for controversy. See 1 Timothy 6. 4-5 … they have a “morbid craving for controversy.” In the context of making an example of Hymaneaus again the apostle places him and Philetus in the larger picture of godly or spirit handling words and arguing. Look at 2.14 all the way down to 26. The admonition to

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth” (2.15)

is preceded by the command to avoid arguing and is followed by the same exhortation to avoid godless chatter. At that point Paul gives the example of Hymaneaus, a man who taught deadly error on one of the facts of the Gospel, his godless chatter would make those listening to it unclean (that is Paul’s point by appealing to the utensils illustration). When Paul finishes that illustration he returns to the concern of v.14, which of course he never left. That is the concern that the disciple, the soldier of Christ, pursues love and peace and has nothing to do with “stupid and senseless controversies” (v. 23) and correct others in a spirit of gentleness. Paul makes it very clear that it is the unstable false teachers that yearn for conflict.

My point here is that Hymaneaus did not just have a wrong opinion. He left the basis of the Gospel itself. He and his companions loved to fight and the implication of 2 Tim 2.15 is that the word of truth was being used in ways that produced fights and Paul tells Timothy that is a sure sign of spiritual sickness. No one at PV is guilty of anything remotely like Hymaneus, Alexander or Philetus. The brothers here deserve respect just like you deserve respect.

Now concerning knowing all truth and fully grasping it. I have said before and I will say again that I know that I do not know everything and I am certain you do not either (no offense brother). Now if one has to know “all truth” and “fully grasp” it to be either saved or in fellowship then the apostle paul himself was wrong. But I dont believe he was do you? The Apostle tells us what the Gospel is (1 Cor 15) and he said the Gospel saved. This same apostle makes is abundantly clear in 1 Cor 8 that some members of the Corinthian church did not know “all truth” and they certainly did not “fully grasp” all that truth and they are both saved and in fellowship. Beloved brother …. this is the plain as the nose on your face reading of the text.

And there are churches and/or groups that I do not fellowship. I am not aware of any passage in the NT about disfellowshipping a church but there are those who I believe have indeed departed from the faith. Whoever they are I will love them but I cannot retain fellowship as I understand the word to mean. But most of the NT teaching on this subject is within a given congregation. A divisive person I will, as you say, teach and exhort, and I have had to call a person or two out in my 20 years of preaching. A most unpleasant and distasteful thing brother.

We are dedicated to search the scriptures, to learn to handle the word of truth in a manner that is worthy of the Spirit of Christ. We love as Jesus did and suffer with our brothers as Paul did the Corinthians.

Shalom brother,
Bobby Valentine

My Brother’s Reply to Me


I don’t think you make any sense about what you said in regards to disfelloshiping a church. If you can disfellowship an individual, than why not a church (a larger body of Christians, who follow and practice the same false doctrine). Would it really matter if I phrased the question this way?…

Would you fellowship a church of Christ, that follows all the doctrines of Christ, except, they practice instrumental music, and they’ve been warned, exhorted, and taught concerning the matter, but the whole church continues to worship in such a manner?

I have every reason to believe you are avoiding the question. It seems you are almost playing games. Also, Bobby, I would never consider you or anyone unworthy of my fellowship. The question is, do you have fellowship with the Lord’s doctrine? If not, then you are not in the Lord. How can I have fellowship with that which is not in the Lord? You may want to put IM on a non-basis of the gospel level. However, you would be wrong. IM is on the basis of the gospel level. Christ would call IM “vain worship” (Col. 3:17).

If I do not recieve a straight “yes or no” in your next reply (should you reply again), then Bobby, I wish not to have this discussion any more. This will not result in a “disfellowship,” but the Scriptures do teach that anyone who doesn’t bring the doctrine of Christ should not be greeted (2 Jn. 1:9ff). So, in truth, God would consider this a matter disfellowship. However, when it be possible, I would go through every avenue to bring you or anyone else on this subject to the knowledge of truth, before delivering such a one to Satan.

IM is wrong Bobby. The Lord’s church and members of her cannot have fellowship with those who worship God vainly with IM. Should a church fall into IM, it would also demand a disfellowship (Rev. 2, a chapter in the N.T. that might answer your question about passages on disfellowship of churches).

My Reply Two Days Later again after Coffee

Beloved Brother ….,

Can I ask you something brother. Do you ever stop to ask how you come across. Perhaps it is just me, but you come across as one who has in fact decided who is and who is not worthy of your fellowship. You state, and have stated, you are not seeking a reason to sever fellowship (I stress the word seeking) but as I read you and “hear” you in my head that is exactly what it appears you are doing. You have stated that I am not guilty of any false doctrine yet you continue to erect hurdles for me to jump. Why brother? Why do you take this course of action? Why do you set up a court to hand out rulings on men you have met once?

I ask you in all seriousness beloved brother is this what Paul would do?? What biblical right do you have to address me in the manner in which you have? I am your brother period. You are my brother period. Why dont you begin to act like you and I are part of the family of Christ. I am not your enemy … Recall how Paul began his address to the Corinthians both 1 and 2 Corinthians. He thanked God for the GRACE given to THEM!!

You don’t like it that i will not acquiesce to your demand for a simple yes or no. That is ok brother but I did answer the question. And my answering your question with a question is a good biblical – in fact a good Jesus way of doing things. Why didn’t Jesus just say “from heaven” when the teachers of the Law demanded to know “by what authority” he did these things? He declared he would tell them IF they answered his question. They didn’t … so he didn’t. I asked you some basic questions about a biblical passage and you refused to answer. I refused your simply yes or no but I did answer your question. More than once I might add.

Now my fellowship with the Lord does not depend on my reply to your questions about IM. And for you to make those kinds of hurdles to unity brother takes you way beyond apostolic example or teaching. How is instrumental music more fundamental to the Gospel then monotheism and yet look what Paul did in 1 Cor 8!!??

You know brother …., love is part of the doctrine of Christ. And it is not a shield to hide behind. It is the heart of the matter. the men that serve the Lord here in AZ are good men. They deserve respect brother. You may find beloved brother that they are dedicated servants. You might find that they are godly men. You might discover that they love the Lord and his word every bit as you do. And believe it or not brother you may find out that you just might be able to learn something from them.

Why don’t you and I start fresh and commit to the apostolic word to make EVERY effort to maintain the bond of unity in the spirit of peace. Paul did this brother. He went the second and third mile with the saints at Corinth. He did the same in Jerusalem in Acts 21 when he offered animal sacrifices to demonstrate his unity with the Jewish brother and sisters. Loving is long suffering brother. Love forbears. Love seeks reasons to hold my hand rather than rejecting my hand.

Later that Day I Received this Reply:


I will not play these games. Again you can accuse me of many things, but the Lord knows my heart. I asked a simple question that you have NOT answered. That is fine though, because you’ve said more than enough for me. Trust me, I know where you stand with things. You also continue to repeat things that I’ve clarified for you over and over. That im seeking to draw lines, etc etc. Bobby I’ve observed ur spirit of letter and things are clear for me. You have ur ideas of who I am, what my heart is like, and ur own personal bible interpretation. Ur on a personal agenda to prove something in this conversation, seeking to be some kind of teacher guru to me. Bobby, in the words of Paul, it is a SMALL thing to be judged by you. No Bobby, I will not accept brotherhood merely because u call urself a brother. What makes a brother is one who is faithful to the family of God. I have every right to question everyones stances on things, before accepting brotherhood (1 jn. 4:1ff). Wouldn’t you Advise the same to someone looking for the Lords church? You wouldn’t just tell them to look for the name outside the building. The only thing you’ve shown me is a name, and a liberalness for truth and fellowship, and an unwillingness to reveal yourself. Don’t put yourself as our Lord and Savior. He did reveal Himself in plain terms over and over to His disciples and many times plainly with his enemy. Nevertheless, you’ve shown enough for me. I’m going to depart from this conversation now. I hope the time will come when we can sit down and study the scriptures together. Until then I wish not to discuss this any further.

A Few Days Later I Sent this Reply

Brother ….,

I was not aware that I was playing games with you. I told you before that though I try not to take MYSELF that seriously I do take the Lord and his word with deadly seriousness.

I have never judged your heart. Never. I do not have insight into your heart. I ask that you remember that same principle when interacting with me too. I have no idea of who you are or judged what type of person you are either. I have attempted to assume the best of you just as Paul commands. I have taken the time this evening to go back and reread our ENTIRE exchange and I do not believe that I have been unkind to you at any point. If I have behaved in an unchristian manner than I apologize to you.

You assert, brother, that I have some sort of personal agenda. What might that be brother? If I have one, my agenda is two fold: 1) to have the fellowship of my preaching brothers; and 2) to study the word together. You simply do not know me well enough to come up with any other conclusion.

And on the matter of my supposed “personal interpretation” … what do you mean by that? Do you mean that I have invented it? Do you mean that I have twisted 1 Corinthians? Yet beloved brother I reject the accusation. I believe I could walk into my office at this very moment and pull down half a dozen standard scholarly commentaries on 1 Cor and they would support my so called personal interpretation. It is not “my” interpretation rather it is an interpretation that is based squarely on letting 1 and 2 Corinthians speak for themselves. One the matter of 1 Cor 8, which you have not touched with a ten foot pole, how do you interpret those words to mean something other than what they say?? Some knew the truth (knowledge) and some did not know the truth (did not have knowledge and did not grasp it). If language means ANYTHING brother other than some willy nilly pulling something out of a magic hat then there were those at Corinth who knew and those who didnt … what they did not know was of considerable more importance than IM. Yet Paul FELLOWSHIPPED THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am pleased it is a small thing to be judged by me … especially when I never have. Now once again we are brothers. It is a fact of birth brother and there is nothing you can say or do about it.

I’m glad you brought up the disciples again. Yes Jesus did reveal himself to them. Over and over and over again. According to Luke 24 he spent even his last moments teaching them yet their joy was mingled with “disbelief” (v. 41) and according to Matthew 28 while they worshipped some “doubted” (v. 17). This reminds me of our previous exchanges … there is nothing wrong with the “truth” but there is something wrong with many of us humans. We are sometimes slow to understand.

It may have been a slip of your keyboard beloved brother but yes I have a “liberalness for truth and fellowship.” The truth of Jesus and his cross are the most important things in my life. I am open to the truth. i seek the truth. I pray for God to teach me everytime i open the word. The prayer on my lips is that of the Psalmist, “open my eyes, so I may behold wonderous things out of your torah” (119.18) and “teach me, O LORD, the way” (v.33). Yes every time I open that grand old book, brother, I expect God to blow my mind … because I have lived long enough to know that I dont know everything. I’ve been wrong about stuff that I KNEW I could not be wrong about!!

As for being liberal in fellowship, beloved brother dont you agree that is what Paul was with the Corinthians? Even if I am mistaken on chapter 8, the Corinthians were one messed up church. And Paul loved them, he praised God for them, he was in fellowship with them. Let me remind you yet again of his words:

“I give thanks to my God always for you BECAUSE OF THE GRACE OF GOD …”

“He will strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by him you were called into the FELLOWSHIP (koinonia) of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord”

1 Cor 1.4, 8-9

I will not turn my back from you …. I will not withdraw my hand. I would have to disobey the example of Paul to do so. I will not.

You say I have “revealed” myself. Well I pray to our Father (the Father that made you and I brothers … not step brothers!) that what was “revealed” is pleasing in his sight. I pray that it is something that is reflective of the love he has for the world, he has for his people and the love Paul had for those who were in the family too. I am sure I have failed miserably but that brother is what i hope was revealed.

Bobby Valentine

This Reply was in the Mail the Next Day

Alright Bobby,

Well, I’m a man of my word. I will no longer have this discussion with you.

You are right though, you are a brother, but a brother that I see contrary to the doctrine of Christ, and I think it best to practice a principle of avoidance right now (Rom. 16:17ff).

However, I truly hope someday to sit and study the Scriptures with you, because it isn’t my wish that it ends in this manner by any means.

I Sent this Reply the Next Day … After a Spoonful of Sugar!

Beloved brother …,

What do you want me to say? Wow! Is about all I can say. Do you not believe you have slightly overstepped any biblical authority here? On what biblical grounds do you have for taking this “principle of avoidance?” You cite Romans 16.17 … So I ask what division have I caused or promoted? To be quite frank and honest you, dear brother, are the only one who has come in here like a bull and have sought to cause division.

Dear brother you are on record as saying I am not teaching false doctrine. So how beloved brother do you think you can explain your action to the one who is actually on the throne?

Read your words to me brother then read once again 1 Cor 1.4,8-9. Read your words and ask did Paul practice this “principle of avoidance” with the Corinthians? Where is that long suffering brother? You think after meeting one or two times and a few short emails that you have the biblical right to, for all intents and purposes, disfellowship me. Arrogance is a poor companion for one who professes to be the Lord’s servant brother ….

For some reason my mind keeps drifting back to the words of Paul to the Galatians

… serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “love your neighbor as yourself.” If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (5.13ff)

Something, and someone, other than Christ is being honored in your actions beloved brother. Your zeal for fighting is not what Paul calls us too.

The work of the flesh is among other things discord, jealousy, and dissension. I have walked with you and talked with you and held my hand out to you and you have for all intents and purposes spat on it. But the fruit of the one true Spirit is love, peace, patience … are these things the aroma of your communications … especially the last one?

I refuse to withdraw my hand brother. It will not happen. We are brothers. Not half brothers. Not step brothers. Not cousins. We are brothers. Paul taught explicitly and by his actions that fellowship is more important than your little personal axe grinding.

So I will end with a quote from our spiritual father in the faith, Barton W. Stone in item 7 of the Last Will and Testament …

“We WILL, that preachers and people, cultivate a spirit of mutual forebearance; pray more and dispute less …”

That is my intention. I am in complete and total fellowship with the Triune God. I am in fellowship with the brothers in this fair city. I AM in fellowship with you. You can choose to behave in ways that deny that absolute truth but that will not negate that absolute truth.

Bobby Valentine

9 Responses to “Salvation by Correct Doctrine, Hermeneutics & Fellowship, Pt 2”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Hey brother, I thought you were very patient and long-suffering with the brother.

    As you say, Jesus rarely, if ever, gave a simple “yes or no” answer and often answered with a question.

    I might have asked the brother “Did Jesus die for acapella music?” That’s what helped me, when I began to understand that Jesus didn’t die for any of the issues or “isms” we loved to argue about; A. Campbell really helped me understand that.



  2. westcoastwitness.com Says:

    Again, you have much greater patience than I.

    I’ve known several who have come out of the way of thinking this brother ascribes to, and hope that one day he does too.

  3. Coop's Comments Says:

    Bobby, I’ve read through both the initial and second postings of these correspondence letters between you and your friend and brother – or possibly more accurately, the brother whose friendship you are attempting to cultivate.

    I think I chose to read through these postings, as I was initially struck by the framing of the correspondence – as being within a focus of “Salvation by Correct Doctrine, Hermeneutics & Fellowship.” I thought that to be an intriguing framework – particularly for persons possessing a Stone-Campbell heritage.

    I trust that you will understand when I say that over the course of reading the “back and forth” dialogue, the correspondence felt paradoxically both interesting and boring to me.

    Interesting, in the various multiple attempts to find a common ground for sharing and understanding. Boring, in the repeatedly repetitious.

    I found myself finally thinking that the primary issue wasn’t really on the table for discussion.

    Meaning – if I were asked to describe the nature and character of God as understood and reflected in each of your postings, it feels to me that the sense and nature of God – as each of you perceive Divinity – differs significantly.

    Does it not make all the difference for one’s life – whether or not one feels and views themselves to be “a sinner in the hands of a loving and gracious God”, or whether, on the other hand, the perception and feeling is a sense of being, “a sinner in the hands of a stern, demanding – even an angry God?”

    Accurately or inaccurately, my sense of the correspondence that you’ve shared, is that – at its core – that is the ultimate question that was on the table – “how do we each perceive the nature of the God we are attempting to love and serve to be understood?”

    And then secondarily – as I felt the correspondence was attempting to flesh out – how that understanding regarding God will attempt to be lived in life choices and behaviors – appeared then to be at the heart of your “back and forth” correspondence notes.

  4. Anonymous Says:


    It would be interesting to have this individual have a similar interaction with someone who is “non-institutional” or “one-cup”. If a brother from that persuasion were to use the same approach he did, how would he react to being told he was divisive?

    Good job keeping your cool and being brotherly. That is example enough from you and this interaction.

    I am amazed that anyone can claim with a straight face that we in fact know everything we believe is true. Some things? Certainly central tenets. All things? The mind and heart quiver.

    A great deal of IM objection is based upon the argument from silence and, even though I know the textual argument from Hebrews about Jesus springing from a tribe about which Moses said nothing (7:14?), that is not exactly the most front and center statement from God about something that will keep people out of heaven…even IF that is a proper use of the passage.

    No, I will take the approach of David Lipscomb as you have quoted elsewhere on your blog:

    “So long as a man really desires to do right, to serve the Lord, to obey His commands, we cannot withdraw from him. We are willing to accept him as a brother, no matter how ignorant he may be, or how far short of the perfect standard his life may fall from his ignorance…We will maintain the truth, press the truth upon him, compromise not one word or iota of that truth, yet forbear with the ignorance, the weakness of our brother who is anxious, but not yet able to see the truth …Why should I not, when I fall so far short of perfect knowledge myself? How do I know that the line beyond which ignorance damns, is behind me, not before me? If I have no forbearance with his ignorance, how can I expect God to forbear with mine? …So long then as a man exhibits a teachable disposition, is willing to hear, to learn and obey the truth of God, I care not how far he may be, how ignorant he is, I am willing to recognize him as a brother.” (David Lipscomb, Gospel Advocate, April 22, 1875).

  5. David P Himes Says:

    A very sad exchange, Bobby.

  6. Glenn Ziegler Says:

    May God bless your further attempts to maintain the love you are and have been showing our dear brother. Though he has had the advantage of meeting you in person, perhaps I have had the advantage of knowing you much longer. And Bobby, I do consider that to be an advantage granted to me by our loving and merciful Lord.

    Because he has stated that his desire to fellowship with you is genuine, I have great hope that you will continue to have an opportunity to enjoy fellowship with him and discuss even this matter further. May God grant you peace and wisdom when that opportunity presents itself.

    Thanks for sharing this correspondence, Bobby. May God grant that I learn what I should from it and not just reaffirm what I like.

    With growing love and respect for you in the Lord,


  7. Keith Brenton Says:

    Bobby, mostly in honor of you and your extraordinary patience, I’ve published my reaction as a separate blog post: http://keithbrenton.com/2011/12/16/closed-minded-debate/

    Personally, I see no possibility of a worthwhile outcome in debating this person, but hey! — it’s your time and effort, bro!

  8. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Wow. Ok. Several comments to respond to. I will sort of reply to all at the same time.

    First. The last thing I want this to be seen as is a “debate.” I want it, from my point of view, to be a window onto two brothers though in different places are still on a journey of faith together.

    Second. I have no more patience than anyone. I get frustrated and even flabbergasted. BUT I recall being in a different place than I am now. I recall being dogmatic and spouting practically the same stuff. God changed me. So I believe God can bless this brother too. I wonder how many times Jesus banged his head on the wall in frustration too??

    Third. Coop. I agree that on fundamental level there is a conception of what “kind” of God we serve is the basic issue. But that discussion cannot take place yet. One step at a time as they say …

    Fourth. We have to believe in the activity of the Holy Spirit in deed and not just word. I believe the Spirit is alive and well even in this discussion and if that is true then anything can happen. The Word can be set free!!

    Fifth. I focused repeatedly on 1 and 2 Corinthians because Paul’s relationship with them is UNDENIABLE. These hard and fast biblical documents have the capacity to undo shoddy hermeneutics and even worse exegesis. The irony of not letting the Bible itself be the authority is like a time bomb ticking in the consciousness. The Spirit will do something with it.

    Finally. We have to practice love for even those that drive us crazy.

  9. Joshua L. Pappas Says:

    Thanks for posting the discussion brother Bobby. I found it very beneficial to read. —JLP

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