By Aude McKee
There is a saying I have heard all my life in Indiana. Two people are about alike so you “shake them up and see which one will fall out first.” So we are ready to put Waylon Jennings and Rubel Shelly (preacher for one of the churches of Christ in Nashville) in the same sack. On June 27, 1996, in the Nashville Tennessean, Jennings was quoted as saying, “Of all the religions I have run into, the Church of Christ has probably got it wronger than anybody. They’re self-righteous, narrow-minded, and truly believe they’re the only ones going to Heaven. If you don’t believe the way we do, they say, you’re going straight to hellfire and damnation. With a side order of brimstone.”
Then on June 28, in the Nashville Tennessean, Rubel Shelly replied to Jennings. According to “Brad About You,” Shelly “acknowledges the church in days past might have fit such a description. He hopes though, the church has grown beyond the views that only church of Christ parishioners are true Christians.” Shelly then went on to say, “Thanks for the quote. It will serve me well in trying to teach against what I inherited and have had to come to terms with.”
I suspect there is a major difference in where Jennings and Shelly are coming from. Jennings’ problem is probably ignorance of what the New Testament teaches, and Shelly’s problem is lack of respect for divine authority. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build My church.” He used the singular number when he spoke of the church. In Ephesians 4:4, we learn that there is “one body,” and in the same book (1:22-23) we are told that the body is the church. You don’t have to be an Einstein to figure out that Jesus only has one church!
In 1 Corinthians 12:13, Paul said, “we are all baptized into one body.” That baptism must be preceded, of course, by sincere faith in Jesus Christ (John 8:24), a public confession of that faith (Matt. 10:32, Acts 8:35-39), and repentance of past sins (Acts 2:38). When the people on Pentecost (Acts 2), obeyed the teaching they heard from the apostle Peter, what church did they become members of? The Catholic Church did not see the light of day until about the beginning of the seventh century, and Protestant denominations were unheard of before about the 16th century, so to suggest that the people on Pentecost became either Catholics or Protestants would be ridiculous!
Waylon Jennings needs to study and learn what the New Testament teaches. Rubel Shelly needs to repent and come back to the convictions he once entertained.
Guardian of Truth XL: No. 18, p. 14
September 19, 1996