An Open Letter to Rubel Shelly, Max Lucado, Mike Cope, et al.

By Roger Hillis

I may not be very bright, but I don’t understand why you don’t just leave the churches of Christ. You no longer believe most of the things that make the Lord’s church distinctive, so why do you stick around and, under the guise of unity, try to convince others to stop believing those things?

For instance, if you really think that it is all right to worship with instrumental music, why not just go to the Christian church? They already have it; they have no problem with it and you have no problem with it, but those of us who still believe in the silence of the Scriptures do have a problem with its use. So why don’t you go where they believe what you do?

When it comes to the subject of baptism, why not go to any of the mainstream denominations? Rubel has said that salvation is wholly of grace and that man does not contribute one whit to his salvation. Max has taught that salvation is received in prayer and that one should then be baptized because he is already saved. Lots of religious groups teach this. Here, you would have a wide selection of choices. However, this would probably eliminate most conservative Christian churches because they still believe in baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). Perhaps this means you would feel more comfortable with the Baptists, for example.

And, if you so despise what the phrase “the church of Christ” represents, why do you still insist on using that name religiously? Why don’t you change the name of the congregations where you preach? Let me suggest some logical alternatives.

My personal favorite would be for you to call yourselves “not a church of Christ.” Surely that would make a statement about how wrong you think you have been in the past and it would clearly separate you from those mistakes and from those of us who still want to use that descriptive phrase (Rom. 16:16).

If you don’t like that, how about “The Unity Church”? This would emphasize your willingness to compromise almost anything so everyone can pretend to be united biblically.

Perhaps you would prefer “The No Pattern Church.” After all, this is the basis for your new views. You have concluded that the New Testament is not a pattern for the church, but simply a love letter from God. (If you are really lucky, maybe Pat Boone might even let you call your- selves the “Love Letters in the Sand” church.) Maybe you would like “The New Wineskins Church” or “The Church of the Second Incarnation” or “The Core Gospel Church.” See how easy this would be! Surely you are all smart enough to put your heads together and think of a new name that wouldn’t embarrass you like the one you use now.

Can’t you see that your desire for “unity” is being more and more divisive? If you do not believe what the Lord’s church has stood for these many years, why continue to proselyte her members (Matt. 23:15)? There are plenty of other groups that believe and practice what you now believe and teach. Why not go to one of them?

If you don’t want to do that, why not just officially separate yourselves from the churches of Christ that you are so ashamed of and give yourselves a new name? That would help others not to confuse you with the legalists and Pharisees you believe the rest of us to be.

Don’t go away mad, but it seems that you really could do the Lord’s church a big favor by just going away. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us” (1 John 2:19).

Or maybe you could just repent of teaching false doctrine and return to the Lord.