- File Size: 3362 KB
- Print Length: 189 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1946849197
- Publisher: Keledei Publications (March 27, 2018)
- Publication Date: March 27, 2018
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07B44VJB5
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #254,459 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Why We Stayed: Honesty and Hope in the Churches of Christ Kindle Edition
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Top customer reviews
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There's enough to challenge both "sides" and move them forward in reconciling the strain between local autonomy and the sometimes peculiar nuances, influences and pressures of our heritage. It's not the end of a conversation but it's a nice beginning.
Not all chapters are created equal. Their are more good than bad. I found Matthew Dowling's chapter to be the best written and most challenging.
The book was not necessarily what I expected. I assumed that the essays would be more personal, and a number of them were, but a number of them also felt more like history lessons or theological explanations than personal stories about preachers struggling to stay put in the Church of Christ.
Still, it was an encouraging read for me as someone who is often frustrated with some of the things we wrestle with in the Churches of Christ. I would certainly recommend it for preachers.
The quality of the essays is uneven. Some try to be too clever by half; others damn by faint praise. The essays I enjoyed the most were those by John Mark Hicks, Ron Highfield, and John Wilson. I think those three are worth the price of the book.
One could take issue here and there with either the reasoning or the style. I felt that the book was not particularly well edited. Rick Atchley's name is misspelled on page 130. On page 28, "principal" seems confused with "principled" in the sentence, "All three---biblical, principal, and practical---are traditions, but not of equal standing."
Sometimes sentences verge on incoherence. For example, on page 23 we find the statement, "If the same Spirit of God guides individuals and ecclesiastical bodies that inspired apostles and prophets to pen scripture, we should expect consistency among them." It sounds like the ecclesiastical bodies inspired the apostles, but I am also confused about who the final "them" is. Does it refer to the Spirit-inspired apostles and prophets or to the Spirit-inspired individuals and ecclesiastical bodies? I presume the latter, although one can never be sure these days.
This book has already been criticized for including only essays written by white males. I personally would have liked the biographical sketches at the beginning of each essay to state the age of the writer. I think that would have been helpful in understanding where each was coming from. The tone of the essays varies considerably. Some writers seem focused not so much on what they like about churches of Christ as on what they want to reform in churches of Christ. Other essays strike me as world-weary. The writers stay in churches of Christ simply because they have seen it all, sub specie aeternitatis, and don't think anything better is to be found. They leave the impression that the Church of Christ is but one of many flavors in the Baskin-Robbins world of Christianity. No flavor is clearly better than another. It just depends on the personal preference you developed growing up. If chocolate is good, why switch to mango?
For one writer, the Church of Christ is "my local faith tradition" in "my dim corner of the forest" (173). For another it is my "tribe" (130), a trendy term I find patronizing if not trivializing. For yet another, it is a "lesser light" (149). These references remind me of the way the French react to criticism by saying, "Mon verre est petit, mais je bois dans mon verre" (My glass is small, but I drink from my glass.) The idea is, "Go away and don't bother me. I'm satisfied with who I am even though you may think it isn't much." Of course, this is generally false humility because they do take a kind of parochial pride in who they are even if they have no compelling defense for it. For me, these essays demonstrate how we in churches of Christ have moved from triumphalism to at best an uneasy parochialism. We are whistling in the dark and, while some of us are satisfied with being a "lesser light" church, few if any of us still have the motivation to proselytize or evangelize. Now we mainly talk to ourselves, as this book often does quite capably.
I found John Mark Hicks and John Wilson to write most clearly. Well presented theses from academia. Not much was said of the current desire for “church light”-No interest in doctrine or Campbellite history. No Sunday or Wednesday night. Just a brief sermon with humor and blue jeans, and a good drummer in the worship band.
Yeah, grow where you’re planted (with broad branches.)
Ferguson's chapter is a reprint, others are poorly thought out and hopelessly out of touch with those of us who are critical of our heritage. The high points are Altrock's, Hunter's, and Elliot's chapter. Their writing is relevant and well thought out, but they offer ideas about loyalty that aren't unique to the COC. The problem, which some authors perceive as a strength, is the COC's lack of centralized structure. What this boils down to is a sampling of individual author's experiences that may or may not be relatable across the COC spectrum. What may be changing for them that allows them to stay probably won't change everywhere. If that's the case, these arguments don't really persuade people to stay in the COC in general because there is no such thing as the COC in general.