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Piedmont Family YMCA
442 Westfield Road
Charlottesville, VA 22901
Review of Chapter 6
The Church of....The Spirit!
In this chapter LaGard deals with the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, and he shows, correctly, that those miraculous gifts are not available to us today. He points out that the Holy Spirit does act in more than just the revelation of the biblical books. For example, he enlightens the eyes of the disciples and assists their prayers with groanings which cannot be uttered. He gives strength and power through His work in the inner man (Eph.3:16). I believe that LaGard does a good job here with this difficult subject. There are only a very few things I would take issue with in this chapter.
REPETITION OF "FULLY RESTORED"
First, it is his same tendency to generalize where he should not, and where generalizations become false arguments and ineffective arguments. For example, on page 111 he says, "....itís that we can too easily convince ourselves that, because weíve got some of the details right (or even many of them), therefore it must be true that we have fully restored New Testament Christianity". As we observed earlier, it is not a common argument, and therefore is a straw-man argument, that "we" (whoever that is) think New Testament Christianity has been lost. I donít know of anyone who believes that being in a local church assures "full" conformity to the New Testament patterns of daily, holy living. We may restore our lives to greater degrees of conformity to the divine will, but no one has fully mastered it, not even the earliest apostles. Iíve never met a man or a group of people who say or believe "we have fully restored New Testament Christianity". Therefore, LaGardís repeated argument just means that he repeats error over and over. This can only make him more and more incredible.
Who Is He Talking About?
On the same page (111), he makes another invalid generalization that "weíve ended up worshipping a pattern...." But, WHO is worshipping a pattern? Some are truly satisfied to get a few externals correct, but throughout the whole book LaGard has been speaking to any and all who have shared "restoration" concepts in churches of Christ. He has not said "some of us in churches of Christ". He has made generalizations that lose effectiveness and validity when they are not accurate in all Christians or even in the majority of Christians. I would take his point well if he would say "some of us have ended up worshipping a pattern instead of the architect". But, I cannot imagine that every early disciple got everything right and that there are no genuine, Spirit-filled disciples today. This comes across, intentionally or not, in LaGardís persistent generalizations.
Denominationalizing "The Lordís Body"
Throughout the book, LaGard has denominationalized "the Lordís church" or "the Lordís body". While this chapter offers some great thoughts on the work of the Holy Spirit today, these thoughts have to be sifted from the denominational concepts and from the generalizations that come through on so many pages. We should not have to do this with a skilled and knowledgeable brother in Christ at the position of author and writer. On page 124 he asks, "Ever wonder why the Lordís body today seems bereft of spiritual power?" But, the Lordís body is NOT the Lordís body if it has no life or spiritual power. The Lord does not have a dead body. The body of Christ is full of life because it IS the saved. It is full of life because it IS the people who have passed from death to life. Otherwise, it is not the Lordís body that we are talking about. Now, local churches may have become dead in places by the individual members failing to abide or remain in Christ. But, in such cases, they have no life because they have exited Christ. Life is ALWAYS IN Christ. Death is always outside of Christ. The body of Christ is always full of life. Those who abide in Him, in His one universal body, are always alive and filled with the Spirit.
Local Apostasy Only
Very few local churches, even in the first century, are faultless. Very few local churches have every member undefiled. Life is always in Christ and "abiding in Christ" is the key to staying alive. Leaving the body of Christ means spiritual death. When LaGard says "the Lordís body today" is bereft of spiritual power, he must have something else in mind that is not "the body of Christ". It is impossible to BE the body of Christ and be bereft of spiritual power and life. The Spirit gives life. That life is in body or church of Christ. If local members seem bereft of spiritual power, it is either because they have never entered Christ spiritually, or because they have not remained in Christ. We must constantly examine ourselves whether we be in the faith (2 Cor.13:5). It may be that we have left the faith. The faith is full of life and power. It cannot be in us and we in it without being full of life and power. Therefore, we cannot grant LaGardís argument that the body of Christ can be bereft of power today.
Life Always In The Body Of Christ
It is by virtue of the Holy Spirit that we come into the body of Christ. By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body (1 Cor.12:13). We drink in that Spirit while we are in the body of Christ. Otherwise, we depart His body and die spiritually. Every branch IN Him bears fruit. Those who do not abide in Him, die and are dead branches that will be cast into the fire (John 15:1ff). If you are growing spiritually, you are alive, and you are in Christ. If you are not growing spiritually, you are dead, and unattached to Christ. This thing that LaGard describes as bereft of Spiritual power is not the church of Christ. It is something else, something in his imagination. It is not the body of Christ today.
Terry W. Benton
Terry's Website and E-Mail Address
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