Why I Am Not A Part Of The Restoration Movement: Part Three

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the title of this series of posts. To those who aren’t familiar with the “movement” I am discussing, the title is probably confusing or uninteresting. At best, it’s unfamiliar. To those who are a part or have been a part of the “movement” then it may mean many different things. Some may feel as if I am being petty, some may feel as if I am being belligerent, and some may actually feel a sense of relief that someone else has the same thoughts and feelings they have. I confess, the title was meant to get attention but I’m not so sure I fully thought about what I wanted to say before I threw out there on the internet for the world (or in my case, the eight or nine of you who read this) to see. I had an idea that I thought was interesting so I just jumped into it without planning too much.

I do feel as if the first two posts were productive. I was able to discuss my upbringing and how it affected my theological views. I was also able to discuss some differing views and reflect upon how those in my own faith group look at those who hold them. It wasn’t my intention to come across negative or to suggest that all who identify with the RM are close-minded, theological zealots who want to burn all heretics at the stake. While it is true that I have met some folks who are not far off from that mentality, the majority of the people I know and interact with are not quite that zealous. Honestly, I believe that those who are a bit over the top are probably like that because they do desire to biblical truth shared with others. I may not always agree with them on the lesser details and I may not always like their methods, but I have to commend them for being serious about Scripture.

However, I feel like we all need to have that same attitude towards those who aren’t in the RM, regardless of what denomination they affiliate with. Are some of them more liberal in matters of Scripture? Yes. Are some of them in error when it comes to their interpretations? I’m sure of it. I still believe that we are to respond in love and grace. If we really do believe people are in error and we truly want to see them come to a correct understanding of Scripture, shouldn’t we be doing so in a way that shows the love of Christ? Shouldn’t we leave room for grace and mercy? If there is any one thing that causes me to use a title like the one I have, it’s the fact that so many in our group are legalistic and unforgiving. As I stated in a previous post, we fuss and fight with each other over things that we KNOW are not essential. How in the world can we expect those outside of our group to take us seriously when we try to confront our differences?

I discussed baptism in those first two posts because that really does seem to be the issue that causes the most division. I have openly stated that I believe baptism is commanded of all believers. Based upon Acts 2:38 I have a difficult time separating it from the process by which we are saved. I don’t even like wording it that way because it seems as if I am saying that a process (a “work” is what saves us. That has been one of the accusations leveled at those of us in the RM. If I’m being honest, I’m not so sure that some of us don’t believe that. I confess that I don’t know how it works. I don’t believe that there is anything in the water that literally washes away sin. I don’t believe something magical takes place there. I do believe that the Bible says baptism is part of it. I have had more than one person use the “place where we get the gift” explanation and it does make sense. But in my head I still have to ask, “What happens if you’re on the way to that place and you don’t get there?” Are you lost?

There is no water in our baptistry at the moment. I won’t get into all the reasons why and I am not interested in having a conversation about it. I only share the information here so that I can illustrate my point. IF baptism is the EXACT moment you receive the forgiveness of sins, given through the blood of Jesus, and you HAVE to be there at that EXACT moment to receive it; what happens if you don’t get there? What happens this Sunday if someone comes forward, confesses his sins, repents of them, and expresses the desire to be immersed according to Scripture? We will not be able to baptize him at the very moment. We will either have to drive to another church or bring him back later that evening after we fill the baptistry? My question? Is he Christian before we immerse him? What happens if he gets killed on the way to the other church? Is he okay?

It may sound like I am being silly but I have known people who would suggest that he isn’t saved until he comes up out of that water. It doesn’t matter what his intentions were? He was not baptized when he died so he is not saved. It sounds so insane but I assure you, there are people who believe it. That, to me, sounds like baptismal regeneration and it’s my understanding that we don’t believe that. So, what do we believe? It may seem as if I am picking on those within the RM and I guess that in a small way, I am. I have heard and participated in these types of discussions my while life. Do we immerse those who were sprinkled as infants? Do we re-baptize those from other denominations because they had a faulty understanding of what baptism meant before they joined our group? I was re-baptized as an adult after having many discussions concerning this issue. I came to the personal decision that I had no clue what I was doing when I was baptized at eleven. My only conclusion was to be immersed again. Was it necessary? I know people on both sides of that debate and I myself have been on both sides. Where do I stand now? Honestly? I’m still working on it. To me it comes down to this simple question. How much does one need to understand? Can a child have a deep enough understanding to make that decision? I know many who will say, “No.”

I don’t have a problem with people having different opinions. I really don’t. I have opinions that are probably different than many of my peers. I am actually thankful that there is diversity. I go back to that motto I learned years ago: In essential, unity. In opinions, liberty. In all things, love. I really wish that everyone in the RM truly believed that. I do feel like there have been some honest discussions about how to proceed into the future. A lot of people are serious about their faith heritage. It is important for them to be a part of the RM and they are serious about bringing others into it. I think there is a very fine line between promoting our heritage and proselytizing for it. I think back to friends of mine throwing away gospel tracts because the Baptists left them. I think about classmates mocking those within Pentecostal and Charismatic circles. I can remember adults telling me that folks in those worldly denominations were going to hell if they didn’t accept the truth.

At what point do we cross over from being a movement devoted to biblical truth to being a cult who believes we are the only ones who have it right? That question frightens me because I know some people who seem to be right on that line. I can remember visiting a foreign country several years ago and one of the guys I was walking with pointed to the non-instrumental Church of Christ facility and basically said that they were lost and going to hell. I really couldn’t believe it. After all, they are a part of the RM. They are probably even more conservative than most of us reading, especially when it comes to baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and many of those issues that separate us. I don’t understand how one can look at the Church of the New Testament and really believe that our little group is the only true remnant left. It sounds so terribly arrogant.

I know that most of you reading this do not feel that way. Truthfully, I really haven’t met too many people who are THAT zealous for the RM. I would be lying if I said I didn’t know some. Perhaps you know some of them too. It just goes to show that whatever is left of the RM is fairly schizophrenic. That is probably the reason I can say that I am not a part of it. When it comes right down to it, I just don’t believe that there IS a movement to belong to.

I have more thoughts about it. I still want to discuss the Lord’s Supper and a couple of lesser issues, but that will have to wait. Grace and peace to you all.

A Brief Pause

Today is going to busy so I really don’t have the time to sit down and continue my thoughts from yesterday. Jamie has a soccer game in an hour and then we are driving down to Jersey Shore (PA…not NJ) to take part in a fifth Sunday get-together with some other churches. There’s going to be a picnic and then all the churches are doing special music. Robin and I are singing Casting Crown’s Thrive and Matt Redman’s 10,000 Reasons. We’re trying to find more opportunities to sing together because we really enjoy it.

I finished preaching through Romans 12 today. I hadn’t intended for it to take three weeks just for that chapter, but it did. Next week will be chapter 13 and then hopefully I’ll be able to finish the book by the end of September. I’m really going to try, but there are no promises. I’d rather have the series go longer than I planned than to skip over things or half-way do it.

ICOM is rapidly approaching. I’m looking forward to it. I wish it wasn’t all the way down in Richmond but the good side of that is that there will be some of friends from school there. Hopefully we’ll get the chance to hang out with some of them during the conference. There is one couple I am especially excited about seeing so I hope they do get the chance to attend. I haven’t seen them in years and it would be wonderful to reconnect, even if only for a couple of days.

Well, it’s time to head out. I will be back in track tomorrow and I plan to finish up my thoughts on baptism before moving on to the Lord’s Supper. Grace and peace to all .

Why I Am Not A Part Of The Restoration Movement: Part Two

Today I want to look at two of the biggest differences between the RM and other Christian groups. Baptism (especially its purpose) and the Lord’s Supper are just two of the issues that those of us in the independent churches disagree with our brothers and sisters over, but they are probably the most important. They are the two that will get you hammered over if you shift your view even slightly. They are the two that I grew up believing were the two most important things found in all of Scripture. They are also the two that I still struggle with when it comes to differing views.

The view that I was taught as a child and held for a good portion of my life is that baptism is by immersion only and that it is absolutely essential for salvation. I was baptized at eleven because I was scared that I was going to hell. The only thing that would keep me from burning forever was to be immersed. I wasn’t taught anything about being a disciple or being justified or sanctified. All I knew was that baptism was my fire insurance (to be cute). It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I started to learn that not only was it necessary to baptized, an accurate understanding of baptism was needed as well. What that meant to me was that my friends in other churches were not saved if they didn’t believe exactly what I believed.

I would like to say that my beliefs were nothing more than immaturity on my part but the truth is that I heard adults say the exact same thing in Bible studies and sermons. I heard teachers and preachers make disparaging comments about “those” Baptists, Presbyterians, and Methodists. There seemed to be a special resentment towards Roman Catholics and those who were in the other two groups that came out of the RM. The Disciples of Christ and the Church of Christ (non-instrumental) were the closest to us in doctrine yet they were often viewed as apostates who had deliberately abandoned the truth. Some of you may think that I am exaggerating but I assure you that I heard these sentiments expressed over and over. I will point out that not everyone felt that way but a good number of us did.

As I said earlier, baptism really was the big one. It was a deal breaker when it came to doctrine. After John 3:16, the very first Bible verse I memorized was Acts 2:38. Those of you reading who were brought up in the RM don’t even need me to write it out. You know it. You probably had it drilled into your head for the majority of your life. Just in case you aren’t 100% sure what it says, I will quote it. The context is Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost. Jesus has died, been buried, raised from the dead, and has now ascended back to heaven. The Holy Spirit has fallen on the disciples and they have began to preach to those gathered in Jerusalem. The Spirit has enabled them to speak in all the different languages spoken by the people gathered there. Peter has just delivered the very first “gospel” sermon and the people are convicted. Acts 2:36-41 (NIV) reads this way.

Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

I was taught that this was one the most important passages (if not THE most important) in the Bible. John 3:16 was right there with it, but it was as if the Acts 2 passage (especially verse 38) was the understood method by which someone claimed the truth of John’s words. God does love the world and He did send His Son so that we won’t perish, but we have to be baptized for it to work. I realize that not everyone who identifies with the RM would put it that way. I have heard the purpose of baptism explained in many different (and better) ways but a lot of us understood it exactly as I just explained it. I know people today who still believe what I just wrote. They might not express it in those terms but don’t be fooled, that is exactly what they believe.

As recently as last week I observed an online discussion over whether or not Baptists have truly been baptized according to Scripture. I don’t claim to know the ins and outs of Baptist doctrine but I believe that their accepted view of baptism is that it is an outward sign of an inner grace. It is something that we do to show that we have been saved. I know that some Baptists also view it as a requirement to become a member of a local church. I’m sure that there are other views amongst my Baptist brethren but these are the ones that really cause division. Along with their misunderstanding of baptism, their practice of the Sinner’s Prayer is often cited as reason why they aren’t truly practicing New Testament Christianity.

I have seen Christians argue over the exact manner in which baptism should be executed. What words should be said? Do we have to say “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” or are there other acceptable terms? Can we just baptize someone in the name of Jesus? Do we raise our hand to heaven when we baptize someone? Does a minister have to be the one performing it? Does there have to be a public profession of faith before (or during) the event? If so, what exactly needs to be professed? How soon after the profession does the actual immersion need to take place?

I know that some of you reading this may be laughing but hear me out, I am not trying to be humorous or exaggerating. I have heard arguments for (and against) every single one of the things I just mentioned. I can even remember an elderly gentleman (who had long since left this world) suggest that a “true” baptism should take place in running water, such as a creek, stream, or river. His understanding was that in order for our sins to be washed away (like the Bible says) then the water had to be moving. It would sound like a joke if it weren’t for the fact that many people actually believe things like this.

One of the charges leveled at those of us in the independent churches of Christ is that we believe in something called baptismal regeneration. While there are differing views within that doctrine, the accusation is that we believe baptism is necessary for salvation. Some claim that salvation is a free gift that is claimed during baptism. Others go even further and say that forgiveness cannot be granted until one is baptized. I grew up believing that if you were not baptized, then you were going to hell. There was no debate about it. I don’t know very many people who are that extreme concerning baptism, but I do know that they are out there. Many of the folks in the RM that I know go with that first view. Salvation is a gift that we don’t earn and baptism is the place where we receive it.

What I do know is that the Bible commands us to be baptized. Baptism, the way I understand it, means immersion. Sprinking and pouring are two issues that I haven’t even addressed. There is also the baptism of infants and children versus the baptism of believing adults. There are professing Christians who believe each and every one of these things. What I have seen in the RM is that these views are usually considered anti-biblical (at the least) and satanic (at the worst). I admit, I believe baptism is by immersion and should be administered to those who are old enough to recognize that they are a sinner and in need of salvation. Even that causes debate. How old does a child have to be? Is there an age of accountability? How well does one have to understand?

I believe these are all important questions and are worthy of discussion. What I don’t believe is that we should condemn or ostracize those who may have a different understanding. I think it is perfectly acceptable to try and persuade others that our view is closer to Scripture. However, I also think that it’s perfectly acceptable to offer grace to those who may disagree with me.

I have only scratched the surface of the baptism issue here. There is much to discuss and consider. I guess the best way to proceed is to open it up for comments. I don’t know how many people are out there reading this but I’ll go ahead and ask, “What do you think?” Leave a comment. We’ll continue the discussion and hopefully understand those who may differ in their doctrine. That’s really what I am hoping from these posts. I have seen so many people separate and divide in the name of Christ. It’s frustrating. If the RM really does have the most biblical view (which it claims) then why is it so antagonistic when it comes to sharing with others? If it truly desires restoration and unity then why does it seem so hostile?

I didn’t even get to the Lord’s Supper issue so I guess I’ll continue this later. God bless.

Why I Am Not A Part Of The Restoration Movement: Part One

I want to begin by saying that I have been involved with the independent churches of Christ my entire life. Outside of the few times I filled the pulpits in a couple of Disciples of Christ and Freewill Baptist churches, I have been a part of the independent churches exclusively. I grew up in one, I graduated from a Bible college affiliated with them, I served as an elder in one, and now I serve as a pastor in one. I don’t want anyone to think that I do not adhere to the majority of the beliefs held by those within this particular group. I am probably as conservative on most of the issues as anyone, I just do not feel like I can identify as part of the “movement” any longer.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Restoration Movement (henceforth I’ll refer to is as the RM), it began near the end of the 18th century and included people like Thomas Campbell, Alexander Campbell, Barton Stone, and James O’Kelly (just to name a few). A lot of people outside of the group actually refer to it as the Stone-Campbell Movement. Even though the major players held a variety of differing beliefs, their common goal was to restore the Church back to its primitive (New Testament) roots. On page 103 of the 11th Edition of the Handbook of Denominations in the United States, the movement is summed up like this:

In politics, the U.S. Had “restored” Greek democracy; many thought Americans could also restore the structure and doctrine of the original church in the new land. By returning to the New Testament alone, without recourse to creeds or rituals, the restorationists also hoped to end fraternal strife among churches.

I grew up believing that the independent churches of Christ were the only ones who understood the Bible correctly. We did acknowledge the Disciples of Christ and the non-instrumental Churches of Christ as part of our movement but we thought that they had moved to far to the left (DOC) or too far to the right (CoC). Although we shared a common heritage, the Disciples had become too liberal and the non-instrumentals had fallen into legalism. We claimed to desire unity but only if others would conform to our particular set of beliefs. I grew up learning all the slogans that we batted around and can still recite them from memory. It’s actually because of one of these very sayings that I have decided that I no longer want to say that I am part of the RM.

I don’t know how many times I have heard someone say, “We’re Christians only, but not the only Christians.” It is one of those defining statements that I was taught as a child. The other (which is actually borrowed from Roman Catholicism) is: “In essentials, unity. In opinions, liberty. In all things, love.” I was taught to believe that the RM was defined by this type of thinking. I grew up believing that we wanted nothing more than to worship God in the same way that the early Church did. There was a lot of talk about restoring New Testament Christianity and uniting the Body of Christ. Unfortunately, what I saw was the exact opposite.

I honestly believed that Christians who belonged to one of the denominational churches were confused. I remember hearing a lot of talk about problems in the denominations and how we were lucky to not be a part of all that. We were somehow closer to the Church that was born at Pentecost and all those other churches were milling about, lost in the error of their ways. I do want to be clear, not every RM preacher taught that those outside the movement were lost. Those trapped in denominationalism (another word thrown around a lot) were still saved. They still had forgiveness of their sins. They were still justified by the blood of Christ. However, because of their errors in doctrine and practice, they were lacking in the sanctification department. Until they realized their mistakes, they were stuck and couldn’t progress.

There were preachers who came right out and said that other groups were bound for hell because they had rejected New Testament Christianity. This was especially true for Roman Catholics. Baptists, even though they were probably the closest to us in doctrine, were lambasted for their heretical view of baptism and the fact that they didn’t observe the Lord’s Supper every single Sunday. I remember classmates from Bible college going through restaurants and hotel lobbies, removing the gospel tracts and throwing them away so that no one would get an incorrect teaching about Jesus. Truthfully, most of the concern focused around our view on baptism and the our rejection of things like the Sinner’s Prayer. Even though I was a hard core indie at the time, I thought that was taking things to the extreme.

I can remember having some very tense discussions with Robin before we got married. She had been raised in a Baptist church and I was not happy about getting married in one and having a Baptist minister perform the ceremony. I insisted that the minister of my church be a part of it, as if that somehow legitimized it in the eyes of God. I also insisted that we attend my church instead of hers. There was absolutely no way that I was going to turn into a Baptist and betray my upbringing. I realize how ridiculous this might sound now, but it is exactly how I felt at the time. I KNEW that we were right and everyone else was wrong. I have to laugh about it now because it was so ignorant and arrogant.

The funny thing about it is that I STILL attend an independent church of Christ. I graduated from an independent church of Christ school (although I did take some grad classes at Liberty). I serve as a pastor in this group. So, why do I feel the need to make this statement? Well, I really feel as if there are still many within the RM who have this attitude of superiority. There are many who honestly believe that we are right about everything and everyone else is wrong. I have seem godly men criticized and lambasted for supposedly “converting” to another denomination. I have heard brothers and sisters in Christ put down for not seeing the truth of the RM. For a group that supposedly sought unity, there is an awful lot of divisiveness. It isn’t all aimed at those outside either.

Those who are supposedly part of the same “movement” constantly bicker over things that fall into the “opinions” category. What happened to the liberty to we are supposed to be granting? More importantly, what happened to the love? The honest truth is that we can’t even agree on what the essentials are. I honestly don’t know if the RM even exists today outside of the name. How can I be a part of something that doesn’t even exist? I’m sure that there are those out there who are honestly and sincerely looking for ways to accomplish unity among the Church. I also believe that there are legitimate efforts to figure out exactly how the ancient faith should look today. However, I don’t think we should sacrifice grace and love in the process. Sadly, I see a lot of that still going on.

I have more to say on the subject so I hope you check back in over the next couple of days as I share my thoughts on baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and other issues that continue to divide us.

Thinking About The Beatles

I’m sitting here listening to The Beatles. Specifically, I’m listening to all the songs that George Harrison either wrote or sang. I used to think that Paul McCartney was my favorite of the four but over the last several years I have really been drawn towards George’s stuff. I only have one of his solo albums (Cloud Nine) and that is mostly because Jeff Lynne produced it. I am familiar with most of his solo stuff but I’ve never really take the time to explore it. That may be on the horizon. I do, however, know his output while in The Beatles and those songs are some of my favorites.

Something, Here Comes The Sun, and While My Guitar Gently Weeps are definitely in my top ten songs by The Beatles. I guess that should say something (pun intended). I really like his vocals on Do You Want To Know A Secret and would like Taxman more if he had been the one handling the vocals. For You Blue is one that I wasn’t very familiar with but lately I find myself playing it a lot more. I Me Mine is also starting to get a lot of airplay in my office. There is a really nice demo version of All Things Must Pass on Anthology 3 and I listen to it quite often.

I admit that I don’t listen to the Ringo Songs much at all. Of course, I really only know four: Yellow Submarine, Octopus’ Garden, Act Naturally, and With A Little Help From My Friends. I’m more likely to listen to Buck Owens’ version of Act Naturally but Ringo doesn’t do a bad job. I’m looking at the tracks on the three Anthology albums and I see a song called Don’t Pass Me By that is credited to Ringo. I’ll have to listen to that one and see what I think. I know it’s on the White album but I can’t recall it at the moment. I know that I will know it when it starts to play. Let me skip to it. Yes…I do know it. It’s not a favorite so I kind of forgot about it. There are probably other Ringo songs that I am forgetting as well.

Out of all the songs that The Beatles recorded, I probably listen to the early stuff the most. Since most of them are credited to Lennon AND McCartney I don’t know who REALLY wrote them. Sometimes I think I can pick out who wrote it but I’m still not sure. I guess that there are books and websites out there that break down that sort of thing but I’ve never taken the time to do the research. If I had to pick my absolute favorite song from The Fab Four I would probably choose We Can Work It Out. Help, Come Together and Something are right there behind it. I also like most of those early singles. I Want To Hold Your Hand, Love Me Do, She Loves You, and Please Please Me all get massive play when I’m in the mood for The Beatles.

I don’t claim to be a huge fan. I can’t tell you all there is to know about the songs and all the different variations that are out there. I do know that I really dig the majority of their songs, even the cover tunes. There are only a handful of tracks that I just don’t like. Tomorrow Never Knows and The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill are probably my two least favorites but that could change. Sometimes I am in the mood for those quirky “story” songs. Tomorrow Never Knows is still going to be at the bottom. There’s just something about it that turns me off. I’m not even counting Revolution 9. I don’t even know if that classifies as a real song.

So, there are a few thoughts on The Beatles. Perhaps I’ll go on a binge and listen to a bunch of songs and write a follow up post. Maybe I can do my top ten songs from The Beatles that I really didn’t know before this post. We’ll see.

My American Graffiti

I watched both of the American Graffiti movies yesterday and it got me to thinking about what my generation’s version would look like. I know we have all those John Hughes’ movies (and the copycats) but I’m not so sure that they accurately portray MY high school experience. If someone were to make a movie that legitimately showed my last day of high school in 1988, what would it look like?

I know that there will be variations depending upon where you lived at the time. I don’t imagine that high school life in California matched up perfectly to high school life in rural North Carolina. However, there would be things that they had in common. Fashion trends, music, popular television shows, and movies would all be shared experiences. I believe there would be more things in common than there would be differences.

For starters, many (if not most) human experiences are universal, regardless of where you are from. We all fall in love. We all worry about what others think of us. We all wonder about the future. Those things even transcend generational lines. I think that’s what a movie like American Graffiti is still important. Even though it shows one man’s personal experiences during a very specific time and a very specific place, those experiences are something that we all can relate to. I have cruised up and down the main drag of my hometown, looking for someone to hang out with. I wasn’t driving a souped up deuce coupe and Wolfman Jack wasn’t on the radio, but it is still a common experience.

I have doubted my future plans and I have been lovesick. I have felt the pressure from adults who thought they knew how my future should go. I have done stupid things with my friends. I have tried to impress girls. Those are things that nearly all American teenagers have been a part of. I hesitate to say that they are universal because I believe a good part of it is connected with American adolescence.

A Long Day

I’ve been up since 4:00 this morning. I went down to Geisinger Hospital with a couple from church. We got back around lunch time. After that I went on some errands with Robin.

I watched American Graffiti on Showtime. I then found the sequel on Vudu and just finished watching it. I had never seen it and I honestly think it is better than the original. The end is so sad, even though you know what happens to the characters at the end of the original. It was a really good movie.

Hopefully I’ll be back to my regular blogging self tomorrow. The kids go back to school and things will go back to normal. Well, as normal as they ever are.

Christ Is Risen

There are some days when I really don’t have a lot to say. I may get caught up reading or studying and lose track of time and then the day is gone and I haven’t really written anything. Today has been one of those days. I have listened to a bunch of music today so there are all sorts of songs swirling through my head. I want to share one of them right now because it is in my head and it really speaks to me. The music moves me on a level that few songs do and the lyrics literally bring tears to my eyes. This is one of the songs that I want played at my funeral.

The Voice You Hear Will Determine The Future You Experience: A Review Of Crash The Chatterbox By Steven Furtick

I want to begin by saying that I am a reviewing a copy that was provided by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of review. I received it through the Blogging For Books website. You can purchase the book. HERE. There is a website for the book HERE.

Steve Furtick is the pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC. He has also written two other books (Greater and Sun Stand Still) which are bestsellers. Crash The Chatterbox contains discussion questions at the ends and, like Furtick’s other books, also has an accompanying small group DVD study that is sold separately. There are also sermon aids and graphics that go along with the book at Elevation Church’s website.

I wasn’t familiar with Furtick before reading this book. I was aware of who he is and I had heard some of the Elevation Church praise band’s CDs. I have pastor friends who really like Furtick and I have some who do not like him at all. I love free books and I was curious to know more about him so I snatched this one up.

The premise is simple: we all have things that distract us and keep us from hearing God when He speaks. Furtick refers to these voices collectively as the Chatterbox. I do believe he is correct and I have no objections to his suggestion that there are four basic things we can remind ourselves when the Chatterbox has us distracted. Furtick says that we can overpower insecurity by telling ourselves that we are loved. He goes on to say that we can defeat fear by telling ourselves that God will protect us. Thirdly, we can reject condemnation by again telling ourselves that we are loved and that Jesus died for us. Lastly, we can overcome discouragement by telling ourselves that we can do all things through the power of Christ.

The book is written simply and contains an abundance of applicable illustrations from both real life and Scripture. I appreciate the discussion guide and think that it is well done. No one particular denominational bias colors the conversation and I believe that Christians of all different stripes can get something out of the book. Furtick often tries to be too cute for my taste but doesn’t come across as pretentious or irreverent. This book was a good introduction to the type of teacher Furtick is and actually makes me want to explore his other books.