My first Bible study was in the living room of a friend’s father — a Protestant Church of Christ elder. I was a completely “unchurched” teenager raised in a home with little to no Christian understanding, and I wanted to know what it was that allowed my friend to have, comparatively, a put-together life and a kind of joy that I could only imitate by desiring material things. Their answer was “the Bible.”
Although I was completely unfamiliar with the Bible at that time, I possessed an intuition that the Bible is, in some way that I could not even define, the word of God. I had no antipathy towards the Bible; I knew that it was a special book. The elder’s appeal to the Bible as the source of their joy was attractive to me, and I wanted to learn more.
The elder explained his basic starting point for approaching Christianity, but he presented it as the normal, historical, logical, and correct manner for people to approach God. He began with the premise that the Bible is the word of God, and deduced that any teaching that did not come directly from the Bible (in reality, his private interpretation of the Bible) was in error and not from God. His theory, to my adolescent mind, made sense. Not once, during my study with him nor subsequent studies with him or other members of his community for several years, did I question his premise. What I have found is that my experience is typical for converts towards the Protestant Church of Christ. People who accept the Bible and only the Bible as the word of God gravitate, of course, towards “Bible-only” Christianity; and people who remain there rarely (if ever) think about, nor find it necessary to contemplate, the history of the Bible’s formation.
Years later, when former Protestant Church of Christ friends ask me (often against their ministers’ instructions) what it was that drove me from their community and into the arms of Catholic Church of Christ, I tell them that it was my love of Scripture (doctrine!) that drew me to her. Most shake their heads, or they move their neck backwards as if I had flung something repulsive at them; they cannot understand how a love of Scripture might drive a person to desire an understanding of how one might actually know that Scripture is, indeed, Scripture. Love of Scripture is a very different thing than love of a theory: of sola Scriptura, of “Bible-only” Christianity.
CofC brothers and sisters, when distilled into its final arguments, your group’s apologetics materials answer the student’s desperate question of how one knows that the Bible’s contents are correct not with an answer of any kind, but with a statement of faith that is nowhere indicated within the very text you present as your sole authority: essentially, the Bible is inspired because the Bible says it is inspired, the Bible says what the Bible is (which, of course, it does not). Lovers of Scripture are not so satisfied with your apologia. The question can only be adequately answered when the light of truth dispels the darkness and reveals the very real history and means by which Scripture has been made known to the world—even to the Church’s Protestants, if they so choose to accept it.
• "Your website is a troll." "You son of Satan."
-Scott J. Shifferd, Dean Road Church of Christ
• "Pax [(he thinks "pax" means "Pat" and not "peace")] cannot do us no harm and that why he wont fly to Martinsville not unless we foot he bill [to debate me on my television show]. . . . Really now I just want you to man up and bring your false doctrine to the airwaves but You and me know that wont happen because all you can do is play book writer and site master. You take that book momey Buy a plane tickey then we post it all on youtube how about that?"
-Johnny Robertson, founder of Church of Christ WDTBS Television Show
• "You are not a model of ethicality."
-Neal Pollard, Bear Valley Church of Christ; instructor at Bear Valley Bible Institute
• "Patrick Vandapool you will pay for your crimes against God." "You and your Church are condemned, better accept the Gospel and leave your Church before you die in your sins. you are an alien sinner!" "Your brainwashed." "Your site is a propaganda site." Your not a true Christian." "Your a fool... . I never called you a fool."
-John Riddle; "well tranned priest of the Lord's Church"
• "Are you an unmarried man under 25? Your writing style and wisdom match such a profile."
-Steve Rudd, Hamilton Church of Christ; founder of CofC propaganda website bible.ca
• "You have to be the most immature person that I've ever "met" in WordPress, and that includes the atheists, by which in overwhelming numbers show more common courtesy and respect that you. Are you 10 years old? ...if that's what your readers enjoy then it says as much about them as it does you."
-Eugene Adkins, Keltonburg Church of Christ