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21 April

He is risen – and other holiday issues

By |2019-04-21T22:43:05-06:00April 21st, 2019|Uncategorized|90 Comments

"He is risen." This often repeated phrase is the Christian community's traditional greeting on what people call "Easter." Stanton typically distances itself from any holiday observances, even secular ones like Mother's Day. In doing this, they take a page out of the doctrines of other sects like Jehovah's Witnesses. I unfortunately carried these feelings long into adulthood, thinking (because it was what I had been told) that people who celebrate Easter just care about the Easter bunny. But it's simply not true. Yes, there are some secularized people who are "Christians" in name only, and there will always be those. But that is not the end of the story. So is it really against scripture to observe this or any other holiday in our American [...]

6 April

Welcome to the new site!

By |2019-04-11T07:41:03-06:00April 6th, 2019|Uncategorized|53 Comments

Some housekeeping notes: The domain is now permanently changed to StantonBlog.com. It should redirect automatically, so just set your bookmarks accordingly. Commenting will be slightly different, so please feel free to test and post your feedback on the "Need Help?" tab. You may sign up for an account to make your posting easier, or you may comment without creating an account. It's up to you. I strongly suggest choosing a "pen name" if you prefer to post anonymously in order to facilitate more meaningful conversations. They can be difficult to follow when there are dozens of people named "Anonymous." :-) "Popular Posts" and individual page counts for articles will be reset to zero. I'm looking into some options for transcribing those counts directly into the new database, [...]

4 April

Rewinding Christianity (almost) to the beginning

By |2019-04-11T05:42:18-06:00April 4th, 2019|Uncategorized|25 Comments

Sometimes I think those of us who say we want to restore the "ancient order" of the New Testament church don’t really want to bring the church back to its most primitive state. It is much more comfortable for us to bring the church back to the almost-ancient order of things–perhaps the end of the 1st century–rather than the day of Pentecost. Yes, we give lip service to wanting to rewind the clock on church history a bit. Hence the catch-phrase "Restoration Movement" (although I prefer the name Stone-Campbell Movement, for reasons I'll write about later). But few would be comfortable going all the way back to the beginning. What do I mean by that? Well, consider that by the end of the first century, [...]

3 April

Hide it under a bushel, YES!

By |2019-08-16T09:26:00-06:00April 3rd, 2019|Uncategorized|13 Comments

Some of you may remember this great little song in kids' class and babysitting: This little light of mine Ain't gonna let it shine This little light of mine Ain't gonna let it shine Let it shine, let it shine, not one time Hide it under a bushel, YES! Ain't gonna let it shine Hide it under a bushel, YES! Ain't gonna let it shine Let it shine, let it shine, not one time Let's let Satan SNUFF it out! Ain't gonna let it shine Let's let Satan SNUFF it out! Ain't gonna let it shine Let it shine, let it shine, not one time Knock all over the neighborhood.... You get the idea. I had a lighthearted conversation with some people recently about recording [...]

23 March

Where are all the radical Jesus followers?

By |2019-04-11T05:54:39-06:00March 23rd, 2019|Uncategorized|220 Comments

Merie relished the word "militant." Perhaps she was militant, but I think in all the wrong ways. She wasn't afraid to refuse mentoring from older and wiser Christians her entire life, for instance. She fearlessly split churches (the only legitimate reason for Biblical withdrawal). She was even withdrawn from for her divisiveness in 1958 and never "made herself right" (Stanton's lingo). She attacked the elders and preachers of her day relentlessly in her open letters, militantly and publicly. This is also something the modern SCOC withdraws for. She attacked and separated herself from friends and family, dividing marriages (including her own) and separating fathers and mothers from each other and from their kids. All this was in pursuit of her little experiment in "militancy." As [...]

21 March

Taping fruit to a dead tree

By |2019-04-11T05:55:42-06:00March 21st, 2019|Uncategorized|105 Comments

Someone told me a few years ago that there's an expression in the SCOC that "dead churches" are just taping dead fruit to the tree, or taping fruit to a dead tree. I'm not sure now which expression they use, but I really like the latter. It's the equivalent of saying someone is just photoshopping their results, or astroturfing them. It's a very colorful phrase that is packed with a lot of meaning. Ironically, though, taping fruit to a dead tree is precisely what Stanton does. In fact, it's the only thing a legalistic church, Stanton or otherwise, can do. There is no better metaphor for legalism (law-keeping as a means to justification before God) than taping fruit to a dead tree. Our human will [...]

20 March

My Story, by Craig Cusick

By |2019-04-11T05:56:22-06:00March 20th, 2019|Uncategorized|10 Comments

I apologize that I've had this article in the queue for quite some time. I finally got it processed and uploaded—Craig, thank you for your patience and the time you spent writing this. Craig, whom many of you have seen in the comments here, preached for many years at the Portland congregation of SCOC, but increasingly saw areas of disagreement with other teachers and evangelists. He stopped preaching eventually, and it was mutually decided with "counsel" (advice from a teacher) that his baptism wasn't good; he was declared "not" a member anymore. He continued to attend on Sundays without taking the Lord's supper, just to spend time with his family. But after May Week 2017, a preacher returned and told him that his baptism was [...]

20 March

Marriage, sex, and submission

By |2019-04-11T17:17:53-06:00March 20th, 2019|Uncategorized|18 Comments

That title should get your attention. :-) My wife and I have been enormously blessed in our marriage. It's not a perfect marriage—no marriage is, because it's made up of two imperfect people. Things cannot be greater than the sum of their parts. Or can they? We have had highs and lows in our 29 years. But just as the highs get higher, so do the lows—they get higher as well. Higher highs and higher lows is good in investing, but it's a spiritual experience in marriage. I wouldn't trade it for the world. I'm not saying you have to be a Christian to have a good marriage. I'd like to say you did, because I would love for all of you to be believers [...]

7 February

More from Donna Bennum

By |2019-04-11T05:58:34-06:00February 7th, 2019|Uncategorized|317 Comments

Thank you so much for sharing your heart, Donna. Keep up the good work as you document your growth in Christ. So many people need to hear your authenticity. I'm a writer. I've done some videos for business, but not for this topic, yet. But the video medium is absolutely essential to reach the next generation with the truth of what Stanton is all about.

4 February

An awesome testimony from Donna Bennum

By |2019-04-11T05:59:03-06:00February 4th, 2019|Uncategorized|49 Comments

I'm really excited that Donna Bennum was brave enough to record and share this video about her time in the Stanton Church of Christ. I think God is using her and her family to share the grace-filled message of Jesus with current and former Stanton members. She has come out of it and rebuilt her relationship with the God of the Bible, and I've been privileged to see—only through online interactions, so far—the fruit of her new life. Her daughter, who was previously turned off to God, was baptized. Donna's story has impacted a lot of people, and everyone reading this blog ought to invest 15 minutes to watch this to the end. Also, please subscribe to her YouTube channel and comment to encourage her. I'm [...]

11 January

An open letter to the emailer who deleted their account

By |2019-04-11T22:41:12-06:00January 11th, 2018|Uncategorized|242 Comments

I can't and won't divulge who the person is, and I honestly have no idea if the name this person used to dialogue with me is a real one or a pseudonym. But after having what seemed like a genuine email conversation (initiated by them), I responded to the email thread this morning, only to find out that the email account has been deleted since yesterday. I sincerely understand the reasons why this person would do that, and given the pressure they're probably feeling from family and peers in the church, they probably felt it was better to just forget the conversation ever existed. But this is the problem with Stanton. It suppresses sincere inquiry. If anyone makes an honest reading of this blog, they [...]

10 January

Sticks and stones – bring ’em on

By |2019-04-11T22:55:48-06:00January 10th, 2018|Uncategorized|164 Comments

I've been informed a few times that people in the Stanton sect are saying things about me behind my back. Surprise! This is not something new or unexpected. It is the M.O. of any sect once they sense they are losing control of the narrative—attack their critics. They used to have a monopoly on any conversation about themselves—there was no one responding or shedding any Biblical light on them, because they just stayed in the shadows and flew under the radar of the mainstream forums for communication. But that is no longer true, and rather than respond directly in a loving manner, brother to brother, they'd rather take potshots and troll honest dissenters. Whatever. In all things, love. That's my story, and I'm sticking to [...]

2 October

The real “Off Church”

By |2019-04-18T08:05:01-06:00October 2nd, 2017|Uncategorized|281 Comments

In the Stanton sect, the term "Off Church" has only one meaning: Churches of Christ that do not follow Merie's teachings. Who declared the Churches of Christ to be "Off Churches"? Merie, and only Merie Weiss. No one else has had the authority to declare a church "off." Years ago, an early follower of Merie, disappointed by Stanton's drift away from some of Merie's core teachings, spoke out against current leaders (just as Merie did against the leadership in her day). She was rebuked, and when she stood her ground (as Merie did), she was "marked and avoided" (an invention of current leaders supposedly harsher than "withdrawal"). Guess what? This disciple of Merie then started her own sect, declaring Stanton to be the Off Church, [...]

10 August

Should Christians be pacifists? Um, no.

By |2019-04-11T06:02:21-06:00August 10th, 2017|Uncategorized|31 Comments

Stanton's version of non-violent philosophy obviously has its roots in Merie's teachings. I remember the night the Stanton congregation discussed whether to fund the publication of Merie's book, Put Up Thy Sword, on this subject. The church's discussion (at least the one I remember; there may have been more) took place in the living room of Dawna Graham (now Bejar), my best friend's mom at the time. I remember thinking at the time about the discrepancy between the church financing a book written by a fallible human while preaching and teaching against the scores of denominations built on teachings in books written by fallible humans. It seemed incongruous to me, but I wasn't at an age where I was able to voice disagreement with my [...]

3 August

Let’s dispel the myth of the Lord’s Treasury

By |2019-04-11T06:04:05-06:00August 3rd, 2017|Uncategorized|103 Comments

One of the most divisive doctrines churches in the Stone/Campbell movement have come up with is the notion that the treasury—the money donated by church members—is somehow a sacred fund, or the "Lord's Treasury." This belief naturally creates an explosive cache of ammunition with which to shell "the enemy" over every difference of opinion on how to use those funds. Stanton is not the only group to fall into this error; it's also common in mainline and conservative factions of the churches of Christ. Here are a few disputes that have created schisms among believers: Can a church build kitchens and fellowship halls with the "Lord's money?" Can churches support Christian colleges with the "Lord's money," individually, or not at all? Can members hold bake [...]

28 July

How to disagree with people you love

By |2019-04-11T06:04:58-06:00July 28th, 2017|Uncategorized|64 Comments

Some commenters here wrote recently about disagreeing without being disagreeable. As a result, I thought it would be good to write about how to disagree with people you love. That should be everyone, right? I've actually heard SCOC members mock the saying, "we can disagree without being disagreeable." To them, that's false unity, because disagreeing and remaining brothers in good standing are mutually contradictory. I'll attempt to show you why they are not—in fact brothers in disagreement is the only way we can ever be. That's because the basis of brotherhood is relationship, not shared opinions, and the basis for maintaining that relationship is love. If you love someone as a brother, as a spouse, or as a son or daughter, of course you aren't [...]

26 July

How can a loving God send someone to hell?

By |2019-04-30T09:42:50-06:00July 26th, 2017|Uncategorized|7 Comments

The fierce wrath of God is used a lot by Stanton in their fear campaigns to recruit new members and keep them in line. This abuse of the fear of God, though, is not without cost. Former members and children of members are often left disenchanted with the God of the Bible. How could a loving God torture his own sons and daughters in this place we call hell? Their answer is usually either that there is no God, or if there is, he's certainly not loving. This age-old objection to the Biblical God due to his supposedly harsh judgment of hell is not unique to those who have been impacted by Stanton's bad theology, unfortunately. Answers to this objection by believers have too often [...]

23 July

The unwritten rules

By |2019-04-11T06:06:56-06:00July 23rd, 2017|Uncategorized|506 Comments

I'm told that in an August 2002 meeting between Tacoma and Portland, it was admitted by leadership in a talk that the church has a separate set of unwritten rules outside the Bible. (If anyone has audio of this, I'd love to get a digital copy.) I'm happy to hear that Stanton's unwritten rules may have been acknowledged publicly. Why no one has called them out over this horribly unbiblical practice in the 15 long years since it was acknowledge in 2002, I have no idea. I can only presume it has something to do with group-think, or the fear of withdrawal for murmuring, or other intimidation tactics that keep people quiet in the face of ludicrously unbiblical nonsense. Unwritten rules? Really? Non-member classes used [...]

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