Patternism, Division and Grace

April 19, 2009

Patternism does not entail division as long as it does not subvert grace and it graciously treats another believer with mercy. Rather, it is the attitudes, agendas and acidity of the people involved that generate division. Patternism itself is not to blame and neither is “restorationism’s” search for a pattern. When people are treated with gracious humility, patternism can be […]


When Patternism Subverts Grace

April 17, 2009

If the life and ministry of Jesus is our pattern, then we all fall woefully short. Consequently, whether it is conforming our character to the image of Jesus or embodying the ministry of Jesus through the church, we all–individuals and congregations–need divine mercy since we all fall woefully short of the image of God in Jesus. […]


Old JMH Articles: Five From the 1970s

March 13, 2009

This is quite daring, I must admit. Or, it might be rather idiotic. But in my quest to place my published writings on this webpage, I now turn to the 1970s.  It is rather chilling and sometimes quite illuminating to actually read what I wrote thirty years ago (wow! I really am that old). It […]


Patterns, Perfectionism, Grace and the Tennessee Tradition

February 14, 2009

If the life and ministry of Jesus is our pattern, then we all fall woefully short in every way. Moral Patternism. We rarely have a difficult time hearing that we are imperfect in terms of morality since we are well aware that we fail to image the character of Jesus in so  many ways–internally and […]


I am a Patternist; Yes, Really!

February 12, 2009

Jesus is the logos (word) of God; he is our pattern, the speech of God. His life is the word of God. He embodies all that God desires. Disciples of Jesus follow Jesus. They follow him into the water, and are thereby baptized. They follow him into the wilderness, and thus seek solitude with God […]


Patterns, Legalism and Grace: J. D. Thomas

February 9, 2009

 Patternism and a healthy theology of grace are not mutually exclusive.  A previous post noted that Alexander Campbell did not make his particular understanding of the apostolic pattern a test of fellowship. The “ancient order” was not a soteriological category for him. Rather, it was a  matter of communal sanctification, a matter of growth, development and […]


Patterns, Legalism and Grace: Alexander Campbell

February 6, 2009

It is not legalism to seek patterns or to live by patterns.     It is legalism to use those patterns in such a way that they undermine salvation by grace through faith. That is my summary of what I thought was the sentiment of Cecil May, Jr.’s concluding comments in his February 3, 2009 Freed-Hardeman Lectureship […]


Patterns and Legalism: Commenting on an FHU Lecture

February 5, 2009

Cecil May, Jr.–Dean of the V. P. Black College of Biblical Studies at Faulkner University–is a kind, loving Christian gentlemen in the best sense of that term.  He was the first to ever interview me for an academic position just weeks before Sheila died as he was about to become President of Magnolia Bible College.  […]


Controversies over Hands–Forgotten Debates

January 4, 2009

David Lipscomb (1831-1917) and James A. Harding (1848-1922) belonged to the same theological orbit. They started the Nashville Bible School (now Lipscomb University) together in 1891. Harding, for a time, was an associate editor of the Gospel Advocate in the 1880s. They agreed on a host of theological issues, including opposition to rebaptism, renewed earth eschatology, […]


“It Ain’t That Complicated” — Applied Theological Hermeneutics V

August 11, 2008

So, what about the assembly?  ["What about lifestyle?" is, of course, an equally--perhaps more--important question, but this has not been the historic location of hermeneutical debates among Churches of Christ though I hope we will spend more time on that question in the future--and sometimes in the past we have, as with David Lipscomb and […]