Echoes of Sand Creek

February 11, 2008

I learned today that a group of churches of Christ in Oklahoma and Texas has taken out an ad in the Oklahoman disfellowshipping the minister of the Quail Springs Church of Christ for adding a second morning service with instrumental music.

Whatever a person’s convictions are about instrumental music, one must question the wisdom of taking this quarrel public. What possible benefit comes to those outside the church by publicly displaying our dissensions and strife? Jesus prayed that we would be one so that the world would believe he was sent by God. What is the effect on that when the world sees our bitter infighting over such a topic?

We have been down this road before. I have previously commented on the Sand Creek Address and Declaration of 1889. In that fiasco, a group of churches disfellowshipped other congregations for introducing what they considered to be unauthorized practices. The events at Sand Creek marked the institution of a suicidal policy of purifying the church through division. That policy has played out over and over again in the years since 1889, resulting in splits over literally dozens of arcane disagreements. If a tree is known by its fruit, this policy is a tree that deserves to be cut down and thrown into the fire!

The lead character in the Sand Creek drama was a man named Daniel Sommer. One sad irony of Sand Creek is that Daniel Sommer spent his final years trying unsuccessfully to undo what he had done. Let us pray that the men who published the recent ad in the Oklahoman will one day have a similar change of heart, and that they too will spend their latter days striving to undo the damage they have done to the Lord’s church. That day cannot come soon enough.


  1. It’s my belief that such actions fall into the same category as the principles espoused by the apostle Paul when he rebuked the disciples at Corinth for taking each other to court. In this case, it is the court of public opinion. I think ads like this have the same destructive fruit.I Corinthians 6 (NIV):1 If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4 Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! F14 5 I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6 But instead, one brother goes to law against another – and this in front of unbelievers! 7 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.

  2. Alan,Great post.I see the Bible as our ultimate authority. Inspired by God. God breathed. Perfect. Nowhere in scripture do you see a Church disfellowshiping another congregation over an issue. Nowhere in scriputre do you see authority for a Christian quarrel to be made public. Just the opposite. We are commanded. Yes, commanded to love by Jesus himself. Jesus desires his church to be one. He desires us to love so world will know that we are disciples. When I hear of these things it makes me sick and sad;because I know that it makes God sick and sad. We need to pray for churches who are so judgemental. Jesus warns against such actions in Matthew 7:1-6.We must as His Church strive to answer the prayer of Jesus in John 17:20-26. In Him,Kinney Mabry

  3. The thing that got me about that ad was that it was basically anonymous. It was attributed to “members of the church of Christ” but no one knows which ones. From all accounts, all the local Churches of Christ in OK City have denied being involved with the ad. Though many of the churches in close proximity to Quail Springs do not agree with their decision, they have come out and told Mark Henderson that they were not involved with the ad. So, this is basically a bunch of anonymous people. How cowardly is that? If you don’t agree and want to come out disfellowshipping someone why not put yourself all the way out there? I just have no respect for that. While I still would not agree with it, I might have a sliver of respect if these people would identify themselves. That might lead to some discourse and a meeting of the minds, if you will. This is just a sad thing and I am sure it has only served to reinforce the view that many outsiders have of us in Churches of Christ.Kent

  4. I love reading your writings/post. I hope you dont mind that I lifted-hi jacked a couple of your writings and posted them on our blog.http://churchesofchrist.wordpress.com/

  5. Hi Randy,It’s ok to use what I’ve written as long as you comply with the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 license as indicated in the sidebar. That means you need to cite me as the author and provide a link to the article on my blog. Seehttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/

  6. Sorry bout that Alan. I will keep that in mind.

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