So why don't i go elsewhere? Well, where could i go? Like i said, i've considered some options before. Could i go to a Christian Church? Well, like i said, instrumental music is still an issue for me. And frankly, why would i go to a Christian Church even if it weren't? Aside from the instruments, there's no major difference between the CoC and CC. My list of criticisms would basically be the same about the CC as they are about the CoC. i thought about the Primitive Baptists for about a split second, but i'm not a Calvinist (though i don't think anyone will necessarily be lost over Calvinism and have found that i can actually stomach a lot of their writings just fine) and again, i think my criticisms of them would largely be the same--so again, nothing gained. i've considered the Orthodox Church. They immerse, they don't use instruments, and they hold as an ideal that the ancient church should be imitated. Yeah, but they immerse infants, which i just can't get over; and they treat a division between clergy and laity as legitimate--something i'm definitely not okay with. So i'm really in the best place i can be and don't see any options superior to where i am now.
Aren't there other reasons i'm still a member of the CoC? Well, kinda. There are other teachings common to the CoC that i agree with, but they don't quite possess the same "deal-breaker" status as the four i've listed in the previous blogs. Here's a couple:
1. Sola Scriptura -- i believe the Bible (the autographa) is inspired and inerrant and authoritative. And if any religious group were to deny that, it would be a deal breaker for me. However, i have several questions and uncertainties about how to understand just how Bible authority should be framed. i'm not saying i think there's some other authority that ought to be introduced. and i'm not saying i think the Bible is anything less than authoritative. i'm just not sure i see clearly all the necessary connections that lead from the first century church (who had miraculous gifts and either no or only a partial New Testament) to Sola Scriptura in the 21st century.
2. Eldership/Church Organization -- i maybe could've put that i'm still a member of the CoC because i think churches should have elderships rather than pastors or priests or whatever. it's true, i think the episcopal and pastoral models of organization are mistaken. but i don't make a big deal out of this because i'm not sure we have this exactly right either. i think elders functioned as immediate leaders among churches in the first century, but i am far less convinced that the way the CoC 'does' eldership and leadership is the same way that the first century church did it. Plenty in our time have already made the complaint (with which i agree) that first century elders do not appear to have been the number crunching board of directors we have today. i suspect their first century role comes far closer to what many now expect of ministers. but furthermore there's a couple of passages that suggest to me that in the first century one eldership might have overseen more than one assembly. anyway, like i said, i think we're closer than the other major alternatives of church government, but i really don't think we're quite there yet.
3. Cessationism -- i definitely could've said that i'm still a member of the CoC because the CoC commonly teaches that the miraculous gifts as practiced and performed by Jesus, the apostles, and the first century church have ceased. If a congregation i attended started trying to practice miraculous gifts like tongue speaking and healing--that would be a deal-breaker for me and i would be out the door. So i suppose it might be a significant reason why i'm still a member. But i have a lot of questions and uncertainties about how the presence of miraculous gifts in the first century church related to its practical functioning, especially its practice of edification. The truth is, i really haven't studied well on this at all. But it at least seems there were "gifts" both miraculous and non-miraculous, and that they all buttressed the church's practice of mutual edification--every member being responsible for and functioning as an edifying agent for every other member. Was that practice meant to continue after the miraculous gifts disappeared? At some point (around the time of Constantine, i think, but i may be mistaken), the practice disappeared anyway and edifcation became a one-man-show much like we practice today. Should we go back to mutual edification? i largely lean toward "yes" frankly, but i have lingering doubts because i don't know just how much of a buttress those miraculous gifts were to that practice. In the first century, if someone spoke up, i don't suppose i would've needed to be too terribly worried about how thoroughly that man had studied out what he said--after all, he was getting it straight from the Holy Spirit! and yet, in our day and time, there is no such convenient dependability when someone speaks up. This is more complicated than i meant to make it. All i really wanted to say is that while cessationism is a rather significant position to me such that trying to implement the opposite would be a deal break for me, i still have enough questions wrapped up in the topic so as not to rest my whole weight on it as a conviction.