Churches Of Christ/salvation

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Question
I am a member of the church and have been taught many things about the church, and I am struggling with the way my present 'church' goes about doing, saying things. First, power point. During Lord's supper, a showing of "Jesus" on the cross. This really upsets me and is very offensive also. I have been taught contrary to this. Is it wrong? I think so but after approaching one of the elders, he replied in the defense of this practice. Secondly, our preacher states during a baptism that "baptism doesn't save", which it does, and he also states that "Grace" saves, which is true, but baptism does save. The entire encompassing concept of Grace, faith, obedience, belief, baptism,
etc. are what saves. Am I wrong. I do not like feeling this way towards my elders or the preacher and I am not good at addressing issues without feeling argumentative, I ask that you may help in resolving this issue so that I may not feel so lost.

Answer
Hi Joseph
Lots of questions, huh?

Most Churches of Christ don't have many pictures of Jesus at all, much less on a screen during communion. However there are more than a few which do. Communion is a remembrance of Jesus' death, and the PowerPoint is intended as another help in that remembrance. Some congregations also sing an appropriate song during communion. This is not common in many congregations either. But neither are sinful.

The salvation process is just that--a process. In Churches of Christ that process is sometimes known as Hear, Believe, Repent, Confess, and be Baptized. Often, congregations will add Live Faithfully as a sixthitem in the list. Because it is a process, we might say that none of them saves us, but that all of them do.

But none of them. Or any of them could save us if God,s grace had not provided Jesus as the undeserved way of forgiveness. What I suspect your preacher is saying is that getting wet cannot save you by itself, and that the initial saving act without which baptism would be pointless.

Now, I offer this as a possible explanation only, since I have not been to your congregation or spoken to your preacher or elders.

Let me address one last point, and that is the idea that we are not supposed to make "images"of God. That prohibition is to keep us from worshiping as God something less than God and in the process impose limitations on God. So, God is not a bull, a tree, an iron and wood totem, or anything else that might make God appear to be one of the creatures He has created.

So far, so good, right?

And then God becomes a man and lives among us, and dies as a man. If God became a man, we can both say that He did and illustrate the story using images. We are not worshiping the image, or any man. We are using the image in the same way we use images in children's Bibles - to illustrate the story. We don't believe the children will worship the pictures in their Bibles, and we don't anticipate that anyone in the congregation will worship the PowerPoint image.

It is easy with things religious discussions to "talk past" each other and that may be what is happening here.

Or these folks may be teaching non-standard things, which differ from mainline Churches of Christ. Without speaking with them, I can't fully answer your questions.

Hope that helps and isn't too muddled an answer.

Blessings

Hoyt

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Hoyt Roberson

Expertise

I can answer just about any doctrinal, relational, or Scriptural question from a "traditional" church of Christ perspective, and from perspectives of somewhat more progressive congregations. If you want an answer from a particular perspective, let me know that up front, and I'll respond in that vein. If you want to peg me on the liberal-conservative spectrum, I would suggest a bit left of center. Depending on the question though, I might be far left, or perhaps rather toward the right.

Experience

I have fifty years as a member of Churches of Christ. Over those five decades, I have taught teen classes, adult classes, served as a deacon and congregational administrator, Lay Leader at two military congregations, and finally as a shepherd of a 500 member congregation. Most of the congregations I have been a member of have been "mainline" congregations, but I am quite familiar with more conservative and more liberal congregations and views as well. I read and subscribe to various books and periodicals for churches of Christ, and have discussed a variety of topics with representatives of our various groups both in person, and via mail. One of my Masters degrees is from Pepperdine, so let that guide your understanding of my formal training.

Organizations
Christian Association for Psychological Studies, American Association of Christian Counselors, and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

Publications
www.robersonblog.blogspot.com

Education/Credentials
I hold a Masters of Ministry degree from Pepperdine University, as well as a Masters of Counseling degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Phoenix.

Awards and Honors
The greatest temporal honor I have had is to be an elder for ten years. The next greatest temporal honor is having been asked to preach for our current congregation.

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