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Scripture Reading: Leviticus 10:1-3

Which Fire?



1.  A firestorm has blown through institutional churches of Christ for many years, reshaping and remaking the most liberal wing of these churches in the 21st century. (so-called "Progressive Churches of Christ")

2.  It was called the "new hermeneutics" in the '90s, a new way of interpreting the Scriptures designed to “retrain our eyes to see something else, to get us to read something in a new light” (Adam Hill, “Hermeneutics and Conflict”, "Change agents" were warned against in Behold the Pattern (Goebel Music) and Piloting the Strait (Dave Miller) among others. The drum beat continued, led by Rubel Shelly, F. LaGard Smith, et al.

3.  These change agents deny establishing Bible authority by "CENI", and have incrementally introduced more innovations into churches already compromised by human wisdom and will.

  a.  “Many in our fellowship (myself among them) no longer assume that a hermeneutic built on commands, examples, and necessary inferences is consistently correct or even healthy.” (Adam Hill)

  b.  Its effects are being seen in introducing instrumental music into worship, women in public teaching roles. Others will follow (See Shelly’s “Christocentric” hermeneutic, The Second Incarnation, 29).

3.  When these changes are likened to the “strange fire” of Nadab and Abihu, the response is whether one “really believes the grand theological narrative of scripture would place that single story at a central place” (Adam Hill).

4.  Answer: Nadab and Abihu illustrate central Biblical narratives: Reverence for the holiness of God and respect for God’s word that is restrained by His silence. Lev. 10:1-3; Deut. 4:2; 12:29-32; Rev. 22:18-19





(Leviticus 9:23-24)

STRANGE FIRE   (Leviticus 10:1)


(Leviticus 10:2)

Worship Music: Sing

(NT pattern)

 Play Instrument

Matthew 15:7-9

Morality (holiness)

1 Pet. 2:11-12

Adulterous Remarriage

(Matt. 19:9)

Rom. 7:3; 1 Cor. 7: 10-11; Heb. 13:4

Morality (holiness)

1 Pet. 2:11-12


Same sex marriage

Galatians 5:19, 21

Jude 7

Woman’s role in the  local church

(Not teach over man)


Public teaching

1 Tim. 2:11-12

1 Cor. 14:34-35

2 Thess. 1:8-9

Plan of Salvation:

Water Baptism

(NT pattern)

 Faith Only

2 Thess. 1:8-9  Hebrews 5:8-9

Unity with Denom.

(Who is saved?)


(Unity in Diversity)

 2 John 9-11




  A.  Hold Fast the Pattern of Sound Words, 2 Tim. 1:13; Col. 3:17.

  B.  Do not be Deceived, 2 Cor. 11:2-4, 12-16; Rom. 16:17-18.

      -The unscriptural winds that erode respect and submission to Bible authority in institutional churches of Christ also blows among us, as evidenced by a broadening fellowship and a "softer" approach to Bible authority.

  C.  Be Discerning and Fair, 2 Tim. 2:24-26; Jude 3-4.

      -Watch- Acts 20:29-31

  D.  Do not be Discouraged, Heb. 12:1-4; 10:36, 39; 1 Cor. 15:58.



1.  Spiritual danger is real and ever-present, both for individuals and for congregations, 1 Cor. 10:12.

2.  "For our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:29).




 From my notes from "Answering the Errors of Liberalism"


  B.  A New Hermeneutic has Surfaced that Rejects this God-Approved Way of Establishing and Applying Bible Authority.

    1.  “But there is no infallible method for interpreting Scripture. There is no heaven-given system of Bible study.” (Rubel Shelly and Randall J. Harris, The Second Incarnation, p. 19, emp. his)

    2.  “Thus we reject a rigid ‘pattern theology’ that simply proposes to transplant religious-cultural forms from the Bible to the 20th or 21st century.” (The Second Incarnation, 31)

    3.  “Our hermeneutic is therefore theological and Christocentric.” (Ibid, 28, emp. his)

    4.  “Is the activity or methodology under contemplation consistent with the person and work of Jesus Christ? If we do this, will the people who see it think we reveal Christ? Will we be doing what people would expect to see Christ doing in this situation?” (Ibid, 29)

    5.  “This principle (Christocentricity, jrp) has broad consequences for ecclesiology. It says, for example, that the church need not have either explicit mandate or permission for everything it wishes to do. The church may confidently ground its activities of compassion and service in the character of its head.” (Ibid, 29)



* "I’m all for inter-congregational unity, and I agree that the non-institutional Churches of Christ are becoming less legalistic than many institutional Churches. But why is “unity” limited to other Churches of Christ? Are we still of the mindset that the rest are all damned? And if not, why draw lines at the name?" (Jay Guin, elder in Church of Christ, Tuscaloosa AL,


"I serve under an eldership that is ethnically and doctrinally diverse. We actively seek to increase intercongregational unity and build relationships between noninstitutional (which we have found a new generation that is not fighting for their teachings and is open to building unity), predominantly African American, and progressive congregations." (Quoted by Guin, Ibid)




By: Joe R. Price

Posted: March 19, 2015