Sep 29, 2005

Old Traditions Never Die; They Just Hang Around Forever

Douglas MacArthur, in his farewell speech, quoted one of the most popular barracks ballads of his earlier days, "Old soldiers never die; they just fade away." It's my opinion that many Church of Christ traditions never die; they just hang around forever.

The slightest perceived infraction of some traditional "church law" will cause the most lukewarm pew-sitter to rise up in arms to defend the one-and-only true church from any change that might disrupt his comfort zone. Often it doesn't matter that a traditional viewpoint has no scriptural basis, it's just always been done that way, so why change!

Several people who are Christians, but not of the COC persuasion, have recently related their frustrations to me concerning the beliefs of some in the COC. One person has a daughter who is married to a member of the COC, and he was told by his son-in-law that he would be forever lost unless he left his current denominational church and became a member of the COC. Another person casually mentioned that all the Church of Christers (sp) where he was from believed he was going to hell, and that he was a member of an apostate church.

If I don't go to Sunday School I sin; if I miss Wednesday night services I'm lukewarm at best, and I sin; if I change the order of worship, I sin; if I don't see the need to pass the collection plate every Sunday, I sin; if I see nothing wrong in women passing the communion plates, and I publicly announce this, I sin; if I think elders should lead by example, not as "church bosses," I sin; If I can't carry a tune in a basket (whether due to allergies, or just a lousy voice) yet sing silently in my heart, I sin. This list could go on forever, and believe me, there are Christians in these groups that will let you know instantly every time you violate one of their cherished traditions.

We don't all have to agree on every little detail, but we certainly need to open our minds to the possibility that we just might be wrong occasionally. I have revisited many of these tradition-bound churches over the years and unfortunately they never change....why should they change, they are THE church, and as THE church they alone perfectly understand Gods Word, so why listen to any non-COC scriptural interpretation!

Some members of the COC (even in the my way or the highway groups) realize changes are needed, but they also realize it will not happen in their lifetime.


Hoots Musings said...

Oh wow, do you have courage to call a spade a spade.

Interestingly enough, I go to a progressive CofC, however; women are second class citizens, we cannot even talk during a meeting where men are present.

Something else I have noticed within the CofC, we have become Country Club minded. If I dress, act, and look like you, then you accept me. If I don't, I am sitting on the pews feeling like a I am unworthy. When did the exclusiveness of the CofC come into play, is that a by product of thinking we are/were the only ones who believed we were the True Church?

I long for the day when my children and grandchild can worship without all the externals being more important than the internals.

Larry said...

Thanks for your comments. I met (or should I say socialized) with a "country Club" COC for some time, and never felt comfortable.

In many of the larger COC groups they seem to concentrate their programs on themselves rather than those outside their group. If one brought in a bus load of down-and-out shabbily dressed people into the Sunday morning assembly, many of the members would cringe and separate themselves as far from them as possible.

Years ago I remember reading of a man who tested the churches response to how he dressed. One week he visited a church dressed in suit and tie, the next week dressed as a bum; needless to say he was greeted by the members and asked home by one member when well dressed; while in his rags he was basically ignored, and of course no dinner invitations were offered.

Am I wrong to think that the church is to go out into the world to save the lost, rather than sitting comfortably in our "church buildings" waiting for the lost to come to us?

jettybetty said...

Some of my CofC relatives think I've jumped off the deep end and I am certain they doubt my salvation. Somewhere along the way I learned about grace and just ran with it--and it sure feels good! I am truly sorry they disapprove and all--but I just have to be what I believe God has called me to be.


Larry said...


If I have to depend on meeting the exact letter of the law in order to be pleasing to God, I'm in trouble.

Gods grace is more than sufficient, and I have no desire to return to a church where their traditions outweigh Gods mercy.