Free In Christ

Finding Freedom in the Churches of Christ

Could We Fellowship The Ethiopian Eunuch?

with 2 comments

This is a great post from Dell Kimberly from last year that should get many thinking about how we view fellowship in the church of Christ.  Enjoy.

Could We Fellowship The Ethiopian Eunuch Today?

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Written by freeinchrist

March 26, 2010 at 8:00 am

2 Responses

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  1. This article made no sense at all especially about fellowship. The Ethiopian Eunuch was a new Christian and not a teacher who neglects the words of Christ. The Ethiopian would return to the study of the words of Christ. He would not be neglected from receiving the Truth.

    The author invent the “rule of silence” as a strawman. He stands against what you do not even know saying the rule is “anything not specifically stated or outlined cannot be used” but that is wrong and not scriptural. It is what is specifically written that excludes in all else we have freedom. Water is a specific of baptism in Jesus’ name. The specific of water excludes all alterations to what Christ has given to His disciples.

    Scott Shifferd Jr.

    March 26, 2010 at 5:54 pm

  2. But why can we accept the Ethiopian based solely on his confession (we would not baptize someone without accepting them first) but can’t accept someone with a few more years experience (with some errors no doubt) on the same confession?

    If the Ethiopian would “return to the study of the words of Christ”, where would he get them? The Scriptures had not yet been written. As far as I can tell, he would have only had the Spirit to guide him which is certainly enough.

    The “rule of silence” is not made up. It comes from John Calvin and is called The Regulative Principle. It specifically forbids anything to be done by the church that is not specifically stated in Scripture. It is well known so I can’t see how it’s a strawman.

    It is an assumption on your part that “it is what is specifically written that excludes in all else we have freedom”. The ball would be in your court to prove this. The Scriptures do not (as far as I am aware) teach this. I also don’t really see how this is different than the Regulative Principle or “rule of silence”.

    I can think of no reason that anybody would want to replace the water with something else (and I’ve never heard anyone argue that we should either) but it may be interesting (purely for the sake of intellectual inquiry) to ask: Could a different substance be used? How do we decide?

    I think that we would decide by using principles. We would have to ask ourselves if the replacement would cause us to lose something of the significance in the ritual. My thought process would go something like this (these are in no particular order):

    First, the water symbolizes washing so any substance used must fulfill this purpose in common usage.
    – This would exclude other liquids that do not have the common usage of washing like soda or milk. If it is not used for washing it cannot be rightly used for baptism because it would not make sense.

    Second, the water symbolizes the crossing of the Red Sea when the Jews became a separate nation.
    – I can think of nothing besides water that could accurately symbolize this and although this may not be our first thought when we are baptized today it would have been for early converts.

    Third, water symbolizes rebirth in being the main substance of amniotic fluid.
    – Again, how could we use anything else.

    There are probably many other reasons that we would use water and nothing else. It is not, however, appropriate to read that the Bible says that it was in water and thus conclude that all other substances are thereby (and only for that reason) excluded.

    For example, we are told in the Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations and in the story we are discussing here (Ethiopian eunuch) we are told that Philip “ran” to the chariot to preach the Gospel to the eunuch. Does this mean that all of our evangelists must be running when they preach the Gospel? Doesn’t the fact that there is an approved example of running mean that all other modes of transportation are thus unapproved. I see no Scripture that approves using a car or airplane to preach the Gospel and if the running in this verse negates every other mode of transportation I would have to conclude that it would be wrong to walk up to a potential convert but that I must run. All other modes must be unauthorized.

    I promise that I am not trying to pick on you but I just don’t see how in one case a command or example negates all other options and in other cases it doesn’t. It makes more sense to interpret what we should do based on principles (like I did above) than to just pick and choose which commands and examples to apply the Regulative Principle to and which interpret in another way. Thanks for your comment.

    freeinchrist

    March 26, 2010 at 7:52 pm


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