Dr. Shelly was a featured speaker for the 14th World Convention
of the Churches of Christ which convened July 30 to August 4,
1996 in Calgary, Canada. This organization nominally identifies
with Churches of Christ, Christian Churches, and Disciples of
Christ, but is not controlled by either. It has board members
from the three mainstream churches identified with the StoneCampbell
Restoration Movement that is if the likes of Leroy Garrett, Rubel
Shelly, and Douglas Foster are considered as representatives of
the churches of Christ.
In fact, no person has the authority to represent the churches
of Christ on the WCCC, or anywhere else. The WCCC is headquartered
in the Disciples of Christ Historical Society Library in Nashville.
It comes very close to being an organizational unit in the Disciples
of Christ denomination.
The idea for the World Convention of Churches of Christ originated
in the mind of Jesse M. Bader in 1924. At the Memphis International
Convention, a Pentecost Committee of fifteen was appointed in
1926 to direct the l900th Anniversary Observance of Pentecost.
(This takes on special significance since neither Rubel Shelly
or Douglas Foster accept Pentecost A.D. 33 as the birthday of
the churches of Christ.)
From these circumstances, the World Convention of Churches of
Christ took shape. The first World Convention of the Churches
of Christ convened October 1923, 1930, in the nation's capital.
The purpose of WCCC was designed to promote better acquaintance,
closer fellowship, and mutual helpfulness with the three fellowships
of the Restoration Movement.
A singular purpose of the WCCC was the intent to develop the consensus
that the families of the StoneCampbell churches belong together,
and to see that the divisions do not continue to be a cause for
further embarrassment before the world community. Today the Independent
Christian Church and the liberal Disciples are locked in the grips
of mutual hostility and suspicion with no fraternal grounds of
(It was in the 1926 international convention that the Independent
Christian Church organized the North American Christian Convention
to check and counter the control of the more liberal Disciples
over the organized societies and conventions. The NACC was a great
success and prospers today in the form of an annual homecoming
for Christian Churches. There are no resolutions and voting, and
therefore no losers.)
The NACC flourishes today as a powerful counter force to off set
the influence of the ultraliberal Disciples. After fifty
years of acrimonious strife, debate and struggle, the liberal
Disciples sought to resolve the problem in their favor with the
1968 Restructure. They won the societies, conventions, and schools,
but they lost the Independent Christian Church.
The 14th World Convention of the Churches of Christ
The 14th WCCC scheduled for July 30 to August 4, 1996 in Calgary,
Alberta, Canada is now history. The announcement for the 14th
WCCC explained the ministry of the organization in five areas:
- Assemblies: Every World Convention is held in different parts
of the world. The conventions bring together people from the "Christian
Family of churches identified with the Restoration Movement.
- Global Fellowship: The purpose of WCCC is to build up a sense
of fellowship amongst churches with Restoration ties in 159 countries.
- A primary purpose of the WCCC is to promote unity in the midst
of diversity in these church families who share a common origin
and ideals in the StoneCampbell Restoration Movement. The
haunting specter which hovers over every WCCC meetings is that
these churches are more divided than ever.
- The Wider Church: The church universal viewed by the WCCC
is a like a global jigsaw puzzle with numerous denominations.
The WCCC wants to help relate the churches in the StoneCampbell
Restoration Movement to the broader worldwide network of denominations.
- Each church has the responsibility for its own future, but
the World Convention seeks to provide support for discovering
our "together" destiny.
The WCCC is a low budgeted organization with a supporting membership
of around 500. The Disciples of Christ is one of the primary supporters
of the WCCC which is working from an office located in the Disciples
of Christ Historical Society Library in Nashville. A married couple
from New Zealand, Lyndsay and Lorraine Jacobs make up the only
paid staff of the organization.
The Lindsays are sincere and intellectually honest. They are friendly
and charming people for whom I have a personal fondness. Of all
places on earth to be, they are positioned in the testing laboratory
in Nashville where the Restoration churches were listed as divided
and fractured in the U. S. Religious Census of 1906.
Is it not an irony of fate that the Lindsays should attend the
Woodmont Hills Family of God and come under the influence of the
one and only Rubel Shelly. He is doing more harm to churches of
Christ than any since the days of Jesse B. Ferguson.
The recurring theme of the Disciples is always unity, but their
fruits are always division and more divisions. Why do the leaders
of both the digressive denominations join together to use the
likes of Leroy Garrett and Rubel Shelly as representatives of
churches of Christ. We have personally called this to the attention
of responsible personnel in the Disciples of Christ Historical
Society. We do not expect them to select a bona fide representative
from the conservative churches of Christ for obvious reasons.
The Rev. Cynthia Hale, Senior Minister of the fast growing Ray
of Hope Liberal Disciples of Christ in Decatur, Georgia, was the
keynote speaker. Rubel Shelly was the featured preacher for the
Thursday evening service. He was introduced by Douglas Foster
who hyperbolically (a mile high ice cream cone) introduced Dr.
Shelly as a world class preacher from the a cappella churches
of Christ, the author of twenty books, and a Vanderbilt lecturer
on medical ethics. (I have this on Calgary WCCC tape.) Just imagine
a bragging contest between the Lilliputians and the Brobdingnagians.
There is no society like a mutual admiration society.
Dr. Shelly switched to a different form of rhetoric in Calgary.
His rhetoric was full of sweetness and light. Instead of his customary
abuse and ridicule of the conservative churches which would not
have played well in Calgary, he apologized for them and for his
past behavior when he fought the digressives. His words dripping
with sanctimonious piety would bring copious tears to a crocodile,
and cause even a stone image to weep. Ah, Rubel, indeed a false
consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds!
Putting Calgary in a Manageable Context
At this juncture, a statement is made and a question is asked
to both the conservative churches of Christ, and the postmodern
"Church of Christ." The statement is that the common
denominator of the theology and agendas of the liberal element,
whether it be in Image, Wineskins, Tulsa Workshop, Nashville
Jubilee, Inc., College Lectureships, or the Christian Scholars
Conferences, the conservative churches of Christ are subjected
to coarse ridicule and abuse. Why do the liberals do this?
This does not require documentation. Why do our liberal brethren
so despise the conservative churches of Christ, and will be content
with nothing less than to bring them down? Wherever Rubel Shelly
is positioned to attack the conservative churches of Christ, he
always goes for the jugular.
I was present and heard him mock and make fun of the conservative
churches of Christ in the PostEaster Celebration Service
on Hillsboro Road in the Woodmont Christian Church building just
a stone's throw from what once had been the farm of David Lipscomb.
Dr. Shelly's satire and jokes in which he ridiculed the churches
of Christ stimulated repeated laughter and applause. He said to
the "wall to wall" audience of Disciples, Baptists,
Methodists, and Presbyterians that they would be disappointed
had they come expecting a fight. He facetiously told them that
while they sang with the organ, piano, brass band, and mixed choirs
that he was singing a cappella. This brought the house down.
The PostEaster Celebration speech was just the start of
this "merrygoround" series of Dr. Shelly
speaking engagements which led from a Nashville Jewish synagogue
to his speech before the Spiritual Renewal Conference, April 19,
1995, in Florence, Alabama. Here he regaled an audience made up
of postmodern charismatics from the Vineyard Movement (Third
Wave) Pentecostals, and the postmodern Kansas City Prophets.
But without question the strangest of all the "unity"
speeches by Rubel Shelly was his address on the ACU campus during
the annual meeting of Restoration XII. His address was filled
with his usual brand of satire and jokes. He was given a standing
and prolonged ovation to the obvious approval of Royce Money and
My writing efforts are not designed to change the minds of the
postmodern liberals since this is most unlikely. I do not "call
names" just to be recalling names. I use names as the biblical
writers did to establish and explain facts in place and time.
I am setting forth as a disciplined historian, the documentation
for the facts and circumstance of the present time for the benefit
and information of the next generation of Restoration historians.
That my writings bring anxiety and anger to the liberals is established
by the fact that they have made calculated moves to stop or neutralize
the influence of my efforts. When the fitting time arrives to
set these matters forth in order, I plan to do so.
Feature Book: Among the Scholars
by David W. Hester
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