What will everyone say?

As you leave the hard line church or sect you are member of, you will get many versions of: “What will everyone say?” All of the versions are shaming. They all involve imagining a third party, who is not present in the room, gossiping, tsk-tsking and judging you.

1. No-one agrees with you. This usually means: “No-one in the sect agrees with you.” There are lots of people who agree with you, they are just not part of your hard line church or sect right now.

2. Do you teach what Carl Ketcherside teaches? This is code for: “We’ve been throwing mud and kicking sand at Carl Ketcherside (or fill-in-the-blank name here) for years. Do you really want the same level of mud slinging at you?” It is not a question, it is a threat. It is also a way to end the discussion, that the person is probably losing with you. Instead of having to answer your questions that are too difficult to answer, they can just file you away into a pre-made comfortable file supplied by the sect.

3. The sermon about you. This is designed to be able to tell you what to believe without having you back talk. It is also designed as a shaming mechanism. You are being exposed in front of everyone as a person in error in need of a sermon. You should feel complimented. Your questions and comments in Bible class have prompted a full scale rebuttal by the preacher. Your questioning of the status quo is so powerful that it is perceived as a threat.

4. The online Debate/Discussion. If you are/were a preacher in the Churches of Christ, you will probably be challenged to an online debate or discussion. This is a bigger version of The Sermon about you (see # 3 above).

What you will seldom hear:

1. Those are interesting questions you are asking.

2. I’ll have to think about that.

3. Come over to my house and we’ll talk about it.

These phrases do not contain the important shaming element of the third party tsk-tsking and judging you, often referred to as a triangle, or triangulated communication.

Every challenge to the accepted beliefs of a sect or hard line church is taken as a challenge to their honor or pride. When their pride or honor is challenged they will usually respond by shaming. Almost every discussion Jesus had with the Sadducees and Pharisees involved a challenge to Jesus’ honor. They finally killed Jesus in the most shaming way they could come up with.When the shaming becomes too much, we need to remember that all of our shame is nailed to the cross, and Jesus’ glory is given to us as a gift.


About Mark

I was raised in the conservative non-institutional churches of Christ and attended Florida College in Tampa, Florida. I served as a minister for 8 years in the non-institutional churches of Christ, and 4 years at a mainline church of Christ in Vermont.
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6 Responses to What will everyone say?

  1. Jerry Cutshall says:

    Although I have attended a few churches that fit your all but inerrant perspective of the churches of Christ, the norm is far from the truth of your writings. I am a member of a “church of Christ” (ALL churches of Christ are autonomous and CANNOT be grouped as a “denomination”, and I find it rather disturbing that any individual who would call himself a Christian would slander another individual or entity for trying to do what it feels is “pleasing to God”. Of course, this is where you would say, ‘that is what the “churches of Christ” do to other “denominations.” Again, this would be your perspective and errant at best. Are we all not trying to do what is pleasing to God. Or does God find it pleasing to attack and slander other christian brothers trying to please God as you have done to the “churches of Christ” Although you claim to be an ex-churchofChrist, it sounds as if you still practice what you say we preach…….

    • Hi Jerry,
      I try to be careful and not call Churches of Christ a denomination. I try to specifically call them a sect. However, the definition of a denomination has nothing to do with headquarters and organization, but rather “a part of a whole”. The hard line churches of Christ are exclusive, believing they are the only ones saved. This is viewed sociologically as a sect.

      The purpose of this blog is not to speak to people within the churches of Christ, but to help those who have left or are leaving. People who have attended a hard line sect their whole lives are usually devastated when they leave, and need a lot of support. They know how much it will cost them to leave and they don’t leave just because they are a little upset, or disagree with the sect a little bit. About 20% of Churches of Christ are hard line sectarian in their beliefs and attitudes, meeting the sociological definition of a sect.

      Jesus was crucified for not being faithful to his religious group. Jesus spoke out in harsh terms to the people he viewed as stiff necked and hardhearted. Anyone who attempts to imitate Jesus today will probably be harshest toward those who view themselves as the most righteous.

      • SM says:

        Howdy there, I’m on my way out of the CoC and just ran across your web site. I also unfortunately was raised in the “conservative” CoC and went to Florida College in 1986. My condolences!

        Just curious about defining “denomination” as “part of a whole”. Who besides the CoC uses that as a definition?

        The World English Dictionary gives the following definitions:

        1. a group having a distinctive interpretation of a religious faith and usually its own organization
        2. a grade or unit in a series of designations of value, weight, measure, etc: coins of this denomination are being withdrawn
        3. a name given to a class or group; classification
        4. the act of giving a name
        5. a name; designation

        According to the formal definitions of “denomination” the CoC is clearly one, just like all the others. I’m just tired of the CoC twisting the definition of the term to “prove” it isn’t a denomination.

      • I have heard people say that the Ch of Chr is worse than the Jeh Wit’s in redefining words to suit their purposes.

  2. SM says:

    Don’t mean to keep harping on the issue (OK, maybe I am!) but declaring ‘autonomy’ has little to do with being a denomination, Mr. Cutshall. The real definition specifies ‘USUALLY its own organization’. Besides, the Churches of Christ clearly have adopted their own form of organization and are not functionally autonomous. They adopt a strict standard of doctrine and worship which is enforced through social pressures, vicious letter-writing campaigns and conferences like the FC Lectures. Autonomous churches cannot be identical in doctrine and worship across the world without strict organization.

    You know exactly what happens when any CoC attempts to worship in a different way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the conversation, “Have you heard what Church X is doing? Why don’t they just take the Church of Christ sign down?” Let’s translate: Church X is deviating from the prescribed organization of the CofC denomination.

    Again, they can redefine the word “autonomous” all they want, but it doesn’t make their pitiful excuses true.

  3. Jerry Cutshall says:

    [edited by admin for brevity]
    …As to the response to the term “denomination”. By using the definition in Webster’s, all affiliates, or sects as you refer, are denominations including all COC’s. I prefer to refer to any body of believer’s as faith’s or fellowships, regardless of methodology. I would like to believe all faith’s are doing what they feel is pleasing to God in Theology and Methodology or Doctrine. But, I do not feel this is always the case. However, it is not I nor anyone else to judge who is or is not trying to please God with there “doctrine”. God alone with judge. Even judging those who “believe” they are the sole children of God will be together with those they and you feel are not apart of the family. So, news alert, there will be cofC’s in eternity when you get there, even through anyones harsh generalities and judgements, as well as vise versa…
    [edited by admin for brevity]

    The COC was a movement dating back for the most part to the 1600’s. It was a movement to get back to scripture in Theology and Doctrine. Like any organization, they have been diligent in some areas and arrogant in others. But, they are no different than the Baptists, Lutheran, Methodists, or any other faith. I believe all faith’s, for the most part, are doing what they feel is pleasing to God. We are ALL immature in scripture and errant in interpretation. No man or faith is able to perfectly interpret the will of God. Yes, I agree there are a few, NOT the norm, of COC’s who feel they have all the answers. I grew up in one. However, I have been thru several other COC’s and the age old “We are right you are wrong” is a dying species if not a dinosaur.

    Do we have an image that is not pleasing in certain areas of the country, Yes. Do we deserve to be labeled with the JW or any other group denying the true Word of God, absolutely NOT! Actually, I don’t know any group other than Reformed Theology, who I admire greatly, who work harder at trying to accurately interpret God’s Word than the COC. I don’t understand why that is a BAD thing. I do understand it’s implications though. Some have become no better than the Pharisees!
    [edited by admin for brevity]

    Please take these thoughts with love and please don’t attack others God loves!

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