A Correction and Explanation
By J. E. Choate
Gary Holloway and Michael Weed, senior faculty in the Christian Institute of Christian Studies in Austin, Texas, presented a paper in May 1985 before the Disciples of Christ Historical Society in Nashville. The paper was titled The Gospel in Urban Vessels: Churches of Christ Face the Twenty First Century. Holloway and Weed addressed the impact of the complexity of modern urbanization upon churches of Christ.
They write as sociologists, not as theologians. A part of my graduate studies was in the field of sociology, which is not my interest here. Holloway and Weed write that "Churches of Christ in America were born in a rural largely Southern Culture." They also write that "there is little sociological perspective to encourage optimism about the future of the Churches of Christ."
(These statements do not relate to the biblical principal that southern churches of Christ are patterned after the apostolic church dated A.D. 33, as is true of churches of Christ wherever founded and whatever the culture. I read nothing further into the DCHS paper beyond what they have written.)
The article as a whole strives mightily to prove something that is not for me clearly articulated. Holloway and Weed present three specific models which they say have already found their way into some large influential urban churches. In a previously printed article, I wrote that "Holloway and Weed propose the 'Third Wave' and (the Vineyards) as an optional model for the postmodern Churches of Christ."
Dr. Weed called my attention to the fact that he did not say as much, and that he does not endorse the "Third Wave" model as an option for Churches of Christ. I take due notice and acknowledge the accuracy of his statement. The full text explains itself:
Two models for worship changes are most evident among Churches of Christ. One is the seeker service model of the Willow Creek Community Church. A few influential congregations have implemented a separate seeker service (drama, special lighting and sound, performance music, etc.) into the Sunday morning worship.
(I also add that the influences of Willow Creek and the Third Wave are at work on the DLU campus in the administration, faculty, and staff Want documentation? Ask for it. We are waiting upon the next administration to learn if corrections will be made, or will it be business as usual. I predict the latter.)
The other model influencing Churches of Christ is third Wave charismatics described by church growth expert C. Peter Wagner and others.
It was not the purpose of Holloway and Weed to describe and to expose these models as threatening churches of Christ. I am a debtor to them because they have introduced the reality of the fact that the models are already endorsed and adopted in some churches of Christ e.g., the Madison Church and the Hendersonville Community Church of Christ. They have provided me with a verifiable handle to put on the subject. The time is now passed that my writing can be dismissed as yellow journalism. Other than the intervention of an act of God, I plan to stay the course.
That brethren Holloway and Weed will address these paradigms and the Jesus Seminar as acceptable or unacceptable models for churches of Christ is a story that time will tell. And I am not advising them to do either. My articles are written to inform and to encourage my brethren not to desert the "old paths" and wander off into these weird and strange postmodern "pop" religious aberrations. I have no personal quarrels with my brethren.
And my articles will stand as written, but subject for correction of errors. And why not, and what do I have to lose in openness? My personal judgments and opinions are my own. This is an inviolable constitutional right. Now do not quote to me - "Have you gone to your brother about this or that?" I have - with not one response, and I am waiting.
Few in churches of Christ have ever heard of Willow Creek, the Vineyards, and the "Third Wave" Pentecostal theology. My current run of articles is to put these matters on the table for all to see. My question: Why is it that our liberal brethren are as muted as the grave on these matters? Keep in mind the dictum - "If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen."
And they say they are sound biblically oriented preachers. What about correctly dividing the word of truth and marking them that cause division?