OceanSide church of Christ

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Alan E. Highers


            Abilene Christian University is drifting further and further away from churches of Christ.  Their lectureship in September of this year (which they call Lectureship/Summit) featured speakers such as Jeff Walling, Rubel Shelly, and Rick Atchley.  ACU could hardly have been more contemptuous toward churches of Christ if they had flown a banner saying, “CHURCHES OF CHRIST NOT WELCOM HERE!”  Rick Atchley preaches at Richland Hills in Forth Worth, a congregation which uses instrumental music in worship.  His divisive teaching has been widely discussed (see The Spiritual Sword, April 1007).  ACU knows that Atchley’s teaching is deeply offensive to most churches of Christ.  His appearance on the ACU Lectureship schedule manifests a “thumb your nose” gesture toward churches of Christ.

            But that is not all.  Another speaker at Abilene was Bruce McLaren – a denomination-al preacher who is a leader in the “emerging church” movement (see the article, “The Emerging Church Movement,” by Phil Sanders in the July 2008 issue of the Gospel Advocate).  He is listed as the “founding pastor” of the Cedar Ridge Community Church.  The emerging church movement is one of the fastest-growing influences among many denomi-nations.  Would McLaren have been a speaker during the ACU Lectureship in the days of presidents such as Don Morris or John Stevens?  We do not think so.  But a new day has dawned at Abilene.  McLaren describes himself as “Missional, Evangelical, Post/Protestant, Liberal/Conservative, Mystical/Poetic, Biblical, Charismatic/Contemplative, Fundamentalist/Calvinist, Anabaptist/Anglican, Methodist, Catholic, Green, Incarnational, Depressed-yet-Hopeful, Emergent, Unfinished Christian.”  He sounds just right for Abilene.  Can Lipscomb University be far behind?  They have McLaren scheduled to speak on their campus in October!

            But there is still more.  ACU Press has announced the publication of a new one-volume commentary, due to be released this year.  The editor, Mark Hamilton, is an associate professor of Old Testament at ACU.  In an article in the Stone-Campbell Journal (Fall 2006), he tells us what to expect from this new commentary.  He states that “this 800,000 word work involves more than forty authors from the three streams of the Stone-Campbell Movement, Churches of Christ (a cappella) and Christian Churches (Independent), and Disciples of Christ, contributing articles on biblical books and a range of topics.”  It sounds as though this work is about 799,999 words too long.  Professor Hamilton informs us that “authors typically espouse standard critical conclusions (multisource Pentateuch, multiple Isaiahs, two-source hypothesis for the Synoptic Gospels)…”  What do all of these words mean?  They mean that ACU Press is publishing a commentary that takes the liberal view of date and authorship.  According to this description, the commentary will teach that Moses did not write the first five books of the Old Testament, Isaiah did not write all of Isaiah, and Matthew, Mark, and Luke borrowed from an imaginary source named “Q.”  Basically, the commentary will be primer on infidelity designed to infiltrate and contaminate churches of Christ with liberal theology.  Warning:  Do not purchase this commentary for your children, and do not send them to study Bible at ACU, if you want them to believe the Bible is the very word of God.

            The first five books of the Old Testament are repeatedly styled as “the law of Moses.”  (See, “Did Moses Write the Pentateuch?” by Jack P. Lewis in the July 2008 Gospel Advocate).  “And Moses wrote this law” (Dt. 31:9-11).  Jesus attributed the law to Moses (Jn. 5:46; Mk. 7:10).  How did an associate professor at ACU come to know more about the authorship of the law than Jesus?

            The book of Isaiah claims to have been written by Isaiah (Isa. 1:1).  The notion that there were two or three Isaiahs would undermine the integrity of both the Old and New Testaments (see “Can the Book of Isaiah Be Trusted?” by David South in the July 2008 Gospel Advocate).  In John 12:37-41, there are quotations from both sections of Isaiah, and all are attributed to the prophet.

            It can bring nothing but sadness to acknowledge that a great school, such as Abilene one was, has fallen away from where it once stood.  The time has come, however, when we must be realistic – notwithstanding family ties, memories of what once was, or wishes of what should be.  ACU is no longer one of us.


                        Taken from The Spiritual Sword, October 2008 Volume 40, No. 1, pp. 45-47