CORRESPONDENCE WITH BROTHER AL MAXEY WHO WISHES TO REFORM THE CHURCH
(Note: The recipient of this letter sends forth regular articles by e-mail that he calls Reflections. In them he sets forth his views about why and how the faith of our brethren should be "Reformed." To evaluate his message you may access his site @ www.zianet.com/maxey
Dear Brother Maxey:
In your most recent Reflection, about "how to implement changes in a church," you suggest that this should not lead your readers to think of the "change movement " that is at work among our brethren. I went back and reviewed your earlier Reflections along with your latest and am prompted to ask, "In what specific ways do you differ from the most committed and aggressive change agents in our brotherhood?" I have recently read eleven books written by the most vocal change agents and frankly it seems to me that you are in perfect concert with them on all issues.
Another question: "How do your views about the faith, worship and practice of church differ from those of the "progressive brethren who separated from us in the period between 1865 and 1920?" I also am an avid student of our Restoration history. It appears to me that you would have been in total sympathy with those whom we recognize as the Disciples of Christ/Christian Churches. You would have had little in common with the remnant that refused to go with them, i.e., our forebearers in the Churches of Christ.
It is possible for a person to slowly drift into a situation and not even be aware of his condition, just as bad health slowly creeps up on a person.
Those who observe the person can see his decline before he does. I appears from your Reflections that you have drifted far from your roots among those whose goal is to understand and practice simple New Testament Christianity.
One last question: "Would you agree that when one loses his faith in and love for a legitimate and righteous cause, of which he has been a part, that the honorable thing to do is disassociate himself from that cause rather than to undermine the foundations upon which it is founded?"
BROTHER MAXEY'S RESPONSE
Good Evening John,
Thank you for your email and your questions. I also appreciate you taking the time to read my "Reflections."
You asked: "In what specific ways do you differ from the most committed and aggressive change agents in our brotherhood? .... it seems to me that you are in perfect concert with them on all issues."
Frankly, John, I don't know whether I differ with them or am in "perfect concert with them," for the simple reason that I don't know who these "committed and aggressive change agents in our brotherhood" are. I am guessing you probably mean people like Rubel Shelly, and maybe Max Lucado. With regard to these two men I can tell you that there are some things they believe that I agree with, and some things I do not agree with. I am not a disciple of any man or group, but merely a student of my Lord and His Word. I doubt seriously that I am in "perfect concert" with ANYBODY on "ALL issues."
You wrote: "How do your views about the faith, worship and practice of church differ from those of the progressive brethren who separated from us in the period between 1865 and 1920?"
Again, I would probably agree with them on some things, and differ with them on some things. Just as I would with just about anybody. I am an individualist, I'm not into "group think." Thus, I don't "identify" with any one particular group or movement or faction. I simply seek to be biblical.
You wrote: "It appears to me that had you lived then you would have been in total sympathy with those whom we recognize as the Disciples of Christ/Christian Churches."
"TOTAL sympathy"? Not likely!! I seriously doubt there is ANY group, or even individual, with whom I am in TOTAL sympathy.
You wrote: "It appears from your Reflections that you have drifted far from your roots among those whose goal is to understand and practice simple New Testament Christianity."
I'm not sure what your concept of "simple NT Christianity" is, John. It is very possible we differ greatly on our understanding of that concept. however, I am completely committed to promoting simplicity of devotion to Jesus Christ. Indeed, that was the topic of my sermon last Sunday morning!! If by "simple NT Christianity" you have some patternistic concept in view, then you are correct that I have little use for such an approach. I don't believe I have "drifted" from the Simple Faith, but I most definitely have "drifted" from the traditional Church of Christism with which I was raised. I believe it is horribly sectarian and factional, and that it is far too exclusivistic and isolationist in thinking and practice. Thus, I have returned to the "roots" of simply seeking to draw people to CHRIST, rather than to the CHURCH of Christ.
You wrote: "Would you agree that when one loses his faith in and love for a legitimate and righteous cause, of which he has been a part, that the honorable thing to do is disassociate himself from that cause rather than to undermine the foundations upon which it is founded?"
The former President of a Christian College informed me several years ago that I should "get out" of "his church," and go start my own!! Your suggestion sounds similar. John, I have NOT lost my "faith in and love for" the cause of my Lord Jesus Christ. I have indeed lost any desire to continue perpetuating sectarian thinking. I see the ONE BODY as horribly fragmented.
Rather than running away from it, the "honorable" thing to do is seek to bring healing to it. No, John, I have no desire whatsoever to "disassociate" myself from the group known as "Church of Christ." This is my faith-heritage, and I think I'll stick around, if you don't mind. What I
WILL do, however, is seek to call my brothers and sisters in this religious group to begin seriously rethinking their relationship with the Lord and with their extended family in the faith. I seek to reform the church, not retreat from it.
May God richly bless you, John.
In Christian Love,
Al Maxey, Minister/Elder
Cuba Ave. Church of Christ