Roses with Other Names

by Cecil Hook

[ca. Dec. 1998 – JD]

Inheriting all the rationalizations of my people in defense of a distinctive name for the church, I also joined in contending that Church of Christ was “the Scriptural name.” It seemed hard to dispute that since Romans 16:16 spoke of churches of Christ. If a plurality of congregations were churches of Christ, then one congregation would be a Church of Christ. That seemed logical, though I failed to see that Paul was not writing about the name of a church.

Later, recognizing that the church should have no distinctive proper name which would be denominating, I accepted the church of Christ grammatical structure of the name. That was ill-advised because I still used it as a designating name on signs, letterheads, and listings. That violated a simple rule of grammar which demands that proper names be capitalized. Also, I dared not use church of God (1 Cor. 1:2) on the signs. A person did not need to be too bright to recognize my ignorant zeal.

In spite of being taught, even in college, that the word church is a translation of the Greek word ekklesia, “called out”, after many years I looked for myself and discovered that such is not a proper translation, for church is translated from the Greek kuriakos (see your English dictionary). That word is never used in the Scriptures to refer to God’s saved people. So, I was making a non-Scriptural word into a Scriptural name for them.

As many years passed and I began to see that, even though there were a number of designations or descriptions of the body of believers with none to be worn as a name, I thought a remedy for division into denominations would be to discard all names. In the early days of the church, there were no sectarian groups, hence, no differentiating names. The believers were one. Why not be like that today?

So why not? The believers in most all modern groups agree that they will not be saved because of wearing a certain distinctive name. They all agree that there is only one universal “called out” congregation or community of believers. When individuals meet in local groups to serve together, they are still parts of the universal community of disciples whether they wear a name or not. They understand that just as a penny, is a denominational part of a dollar, those saved individuals in the various groups are parts of the universal church. But no group of them is the universal, saved body for the body is not composed of local groups but of individuals. So, let us try to implement this “no-name – no-organization” concept.

Let us suppose that an industry is started in a more remote area. A few hundred people move there forming a new town named Rainbow City. In the rush to provide new homes, no buildings for worship are yet constructed. Let us imagine some person advertising to contact other Christian believers. A surprising number meet with him. He has a startling proposal.

This brother suggests that they go back to basics dropping sectarian names and organizational baggage. He suggests that they discard all distinctive names, build no buildings for separate groups, and just meet in their homes like many did in Jerusalem in the beginning. There would be no organization above the house assemblies. So they call a city-wide meeting to inaugurate this plan.

A great number of believers attend the meeting. After preliminary discussion, a call is made for persons willing to have a group of up to thirty people to meet in their homes. A sufficient number volunteers. Their names and addresses are revealed. Since no one will assume authority to assign persons to a specific host or hostess, a get-acquainted time is allowed for each person to choose with which host or hostess to meet. Also, they advertise a phone number where an inquirer may learn of the various locations of assemblies.

In the first meeting in the home of Gene Green, one person explains apologetically, “I recognize you as my brothers and sisters in Christ, but I am very uncomfortable with your lifting up hands, clapping, and claims of tongue speaking.” The host responds, “Brother, we understand. We respect your convictions. Why don’t you try the non-charismatic group meeting with Bill Brown?”

A woman calls for information explaining that she wishes to serve with a group that will use her talents for leadership and teaching. She is directed to the home of Blanche White who hosts a group which makes no distinction between the sexes.

Another family visits several different groups but finds that none of them have weekly communion and all use instrumental music. On calling the information number, the man explains that, though he does not judge others of different conviction about those things, he cannot conscientiously sing with instrumental accompaniment or willingly miss weekly communion. So he is advised to meet in the home of Ray Gray where others hold the same convictions.

In broken English an interested person inquires about the possibility of a Spanish-speaking group and is happily directed to the home of Blanco Rojo.

Then there is the fellow who calls and explains that his wife was having a baby at the time of the initiation of the no-name home assemblies. Now he and his wife want to have the baby christened and dedicated publicly. Simple. Just go to the group meeting with Mac Black.

Various other home groups are formed by people of similar interests and more specific preferences. Some like informal assemblies while other prefer more liturgical services. Some have a core of several doctrinal issues they agree upon that are different from those of others. After several weeks of adjusting among house groups, it seems that everyone has found a group with whom to fit and work with ease. All want to put Christ at the center of all things. They are ready to work together for the good of all, their works being individual activities rather than those of an organized system.

This revolutionary practice brings much excitement to the new community. All are happy to be just Christians. No one denies fellowship with others. Although they are in groups with some differing convictions, they all grant other individuals freedom to serve according to their understanding of the Scriptures. All attention is centered on serving Christ. No one even mentions the name of the church of his or her previous affiliation. They are all only Christians and Christians only.

Isn’t this a beautiful concept? This would be a bold and commendable step in the right direction, but it would hardly solve the problem of distinctive groups as I once thought it would. Before moving to Rainbow City, those of similar convictions had been meeting in groups identified by a church name. Now these people of similar convictions have sorted themselves out and are being identified by the name or the address of a host or hostess. What is the difference? A rose by any other name will smell as sweet. They are just roses with other names. Or, maybe we could say that a rose by no name will smell just as sweet! They are just roses with no names.

What we have described in Rainbow City may be a part of the picture of the early church in Jerusalem and elsewhere. Formerly, overlooking the evident problems that the Scriptures point out in the early church, I was convinced that there was perfect harmony of belief, practice, and identification. However, in reality, there was much factionalism to contend with. For instance, there were the circumcision believers and the uncircumcision believers. Discomfort existed between Jewish and Greek disciples. Doctrinal difference between keepers of the Law and those who relied on grace strained unity. Some rejected others over the issues of eating meats and observing of days. Whether some of these contenders met separately or their partisan spirit was evident within the congregation as it was in Corinth, it was not always one happy family.

The rejecting, divisive party spirit was condemned. However, individual convictions were not condemned. The individual conscience was to be respected though not given license to rule over others. The idea that we can and must agree universally on all points of doctrine is a fantasy. The many who blithely and confidently declare that we can and must understand the Scriptures alike do not agree among themselves. Such a unity has never been and there is no prospect of it this side of heaven. Having different understanding and meeting separately for sake of conscience is not divisive if there is no attitude of rejection of others who differ. It is the rejection of other disciples that is divisive. In the Jerusalem church, for instance, the debate over circumcision could be heated, but until one side might reject the other over it, it would not be divisive. It is the rejecter who is at fault rather than the one with a different conviction.

In Rainbow City, the group meeting with Ray Gray, or any other host, would not have to investigate the views and practices of every other group and pass judgment in deciding whether to recognize them as Christ’s disciples. “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?” (Rom. 14:4; read the chapter again!) Out of interest for common understanding, discussion of differences would be of value. If the discussions were to become confrontations to demand conformity, however, those seeking to bind conformity to their views would divisive.

Conformity is possible so that no sign on the building would be of value. There was a long period of time when that prevailed. It was during the Middle Ages. Then the religious system ruled with the civil government so that any dissenter could be dealt with and the “unity” would be preserved. Enforced conformity is tyrannical. Congregations, beware when you are so eager to publicly reject dissenters calling for reformation!

Martin Luther would have been a dead duck had the German princes not stood behind him politically and militarily. Eventually, the reformed church became the State Church in Germany replacing the Roman Catholic Church. Conformity to Lutheranism was then demanded in Germany. As reformation spread, conformity to different Protestant groups was enforced in various countries. That may be a kind of unity, but I don’t think many of you want that – unless, perhaps, you could be the one to list the beliefs to be enforced!

Those who are so eager to reject others with whom they disagree have that spirit of tyranny – like Diotrophes who “refuses himself to welcome the brethren, and also stops those who want to welcome them and puts them out of the church” (3 John 9-10). It well might be that Diotrophes was zealous to keep the church pure by driving out dissenters while preserving “the simple New Testament pattern.” He exercised the spirit of tyranny in his own little domain to keep it free from those he judged to be undesirable because of their non-conformity.

The problem is much deeper than agreement on a name or lack of a name. It is deeper than whether we can agree to worship and serve in the same assemblies. The party spirit and sectarian attitude in Corinth was no more acceptable while they met together than if they had met in their separate groups. In Corinth there were certainly conflicting beliefs, yet Paul never urged the “loyal, true church” to separate from others due to their different beliefs in order to keep the church pure. He did urge them to be of one mind and to speak the same thing in focusing on Christ, the center of their unity. Being one in Christ had nothing to do with their agreement on such things as circumcision, eating meats, whether a woman could pray or prophesy, or whether or not they all drank of the same cup in communion. Far more important was their love and acceptance of each other as brothers and sisters through the grace of God in Christ.

How would you speak of other congregations that have as many serious problems as were in the Corinthian church? In your righteous stand for truth, would you be forced to deny them recognition as a “loyal, true church of Christ”? Was Paul soft and liberal, endorsing divisions, when he addressed them: “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.” (1 Cor. 1:2)?

In Paul’s corrective teaching, he called for them not to associate with immoral men and idolaters (5:9-13; 6:9-11), but his censured list does not include the doctrinally misinformed. He gave them redirection through teaching and exhortation, and surely we should follow that example.

“I cannot endorse all the beliefs and practices of all other churches,” you may rightly protest. Neither can I! Neither was Paul endorsing everything in the Corinthian church of God! Neither am I suggesting that you endorse what your conscience will not allow. If your convictions do not permit you to sing with instrumental accompaniment, sing in a quartet in assemblies, drink from an individual cup in communion, or worship with the Baptists (except when they visit our services!), then don’t do it! I don’t know of any believer who would advise you to do it.

We have made a grave and disastrous error in equating the respecting of the convictions of others with whom we disagree with endorsing, condoning, or sanctioning their beliefs and practices. Consistent application of that will destroy any congregation. Every congregation is made up of people of varying beliefs and practices which are not approved by all others. You do not approve of every other person’s beliefs, yet you recognize them as fellow-disciples with whom you meet and worship regularly. Are you giving blanket endorsement and approval? Or does their being in the Church of Christ – wearing the “right name” — make their differences acceptable?

What I am suggesting is not an abandonment of all doctrinal teachings – accepting everybody and everything, as it is sometimes stated prejudicially. If the people of another church denies the incarnation, that Jesus was the Son of God, that his death was an atonement for sin, or that he was raised from the dead, then they have denied the foundation of faith. However, I don’t think you will be confronted with a church like that for it would have no reason for existence. If, however, people who have accepted the Gospel and are dedicated to discipleship even as you are hold some practical differences of understanding on debatable matters, you are not given the luxury of rejecting them.

Our center of unity is Christ. If I reject others over a doctrinal matter unrelated to the saving Gospel, then I place greater emphasis on my interpretation than on unity in Christ. A rose of a different color, tint, or fragrance is still a rose. My interpretative hue and aroma of Christ may not be the same as yours.

Hook’s Points

Preachers, Ministers, Evangelists: If you are supported by the system, you are obliged to support the system. Congregations do not hire men to reform them but to perpetuate the existing system. If you have not rocked the boat in your congregation, it is most likely you have not introduced a new thought. Am I being too harsh? Really?

I will confess that I gave sufficient advertisement of my eightieth birthday! In spite of my senile self-centeredness, many of you were most gracious in sending your good wishes and expressions of love. Some of those notes and Christmas greetings are included in this issue, but there are many more. Each one is cherished. I wish that I could respond to all individually. Please accept our thanks. God has sent so many of you wonderful people into our lives as encouragers and partners. We are truly blessed.

Statistics for 1998 These figures are given because so many of you are or have been partners in one way or another in this ministry.

1624 copies of Free In Christ were distributed free of charge. I pay for the printing of all books and recover $1.00 for each book given free. That does not cover the initial cost, but I pay postage for all books from our working fund. Since we began twelve years ago, 29,729 copies have been distributed free. They are your gifts to others.

Forty copies were sent in December (by invitation) for distribution at the women’s conference in Germany.

$1,500.00 was sent in December to India to print 1,000 copies of the Telugu translation of Free In Christ for free distribution. We had about enough to pay for the Spanish translation, but it is not ready yet. So I robbed that fund to go ahead with the Telugu. If it is not replenished, Lea and I will bear the cost ourselves, and we will recover nothing from this distribution.

$1,227.67 remains in the working fund. From it we also pay for the Freedom’s Ring mailout which is rather expensive. In fact, two copies mailed out would pay for a book in India.

1,120 of you receive FR by e-mail and 664 receive mailed copies.

68,200 times since we began our web page three years ago it has been accessed. Anyone anywhere on earth can access all of my writings at the site. They can read, print out, or download any or all of it at no cost. We have no way of knowing the extent of that outreach, but we receive grateful response from some. We have reason to believe that the free web site access has reduced the number of books sold.

Freedom’s Ring is free for the asking. It is infrequent and may be phased out at any time. To subscribe to the e-mail edition, contact Vic s in Shreveport at Your letters are most welcome, however attachments sometimes choke and confuse my computer, and if they are long enough to attach, I probably won’t have time to read them. I do not find time to read all essays that are sent, much less to respond to them. Nor do I read all the forwarded materials. Sorry about that. Spare me the commercial stuff!

Talk about a different world! Our grandsons here attend an elementary school where 84 students either speak no English or very little, and they are from 27 different national and linguistic backgrounds. Until college, I was never with a student that was not of a white, Protestant family – and very few in college.

J. C. Reed has spent most of the sixty years I have known him serving in Guatemala. Now, past eighty, he would like to begin turning his work (like his radio program) over to someone proficient in Spanish who can help train native preachers. You may write him at 17003 San Benito, Peten, Guatemala, Central America.

Online Community: Free In Christ. You could not reach the interactive discussion group that Vic has initiated using the URL I gave you. How could you expect me to copy such an URL perfectly? .

Vic adds this: Dear Community Member, Have you been frustrated trying to share a long message in our community discussion area? Well, now we can share files (word processing, spreadsheet, database, or small programs) in the Community. You can upload your sermon, class notes, or article in MS Word or RTF format so others can download it and enjoy. Let me know if you have any problem. -Vic Phares.

May you have no greater worries in 1999 than I am having about the devastating Y2K problem that the alarmists are screaming and hollering about!

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Questions And Answers may not be a “grabbing” title for a book – unless you learn that the answers are given by Edward Fudge. He answers questions daily on the internet in his “gracEmail ” column, and he never parrots a traditional answer. He is a rare student of the Scriptures, a recognized scholar, and an honest investigator who writes so we pew-people can understand. In 296 pages he answers 150 questions sent by readers. They concern God, Jesus, Grace, Sin and Sanctification, Faith and Works, Baptism, Bible and Hermeneutics, Church, Worship, Holy Spirit, Election and Security, Life Issues, and End Times.

These rare insights are good to have for future reference and study. You may order from me for $12.00 plus postage.

The Fire That Consumes. Hell, according to traditional belief, is a place of unending conscious torment inflicted on the damned. Edward Fudge challenges that popular assumption. Putting his emphasis squarely on the Scriptural evidence rather than on extra-biblical or philosophical considerations, he analyzes every relevant reference in the New Testament as well as passages in the Old Testament, the Apocrapha, and other inter-testamental writings. While affirming the resurrection of both saint and sinner, he makes the convincing case for conditional immortality.

This 226 page paperback has much scholarly work but Edward has done well in simplifying it for popular reading. Good for your peace of mind. Good for the church library. The price jumped with this printing! $17.00 plus postage.

Beyond The Sacred Page. Can we believe that God is as alive, powerful and near us today as He was in Biblical times? This book presents Edward Fudge’s witness to a multitude of ways God wondrously directs those who seek His personal guidance. It is his personal story. It grips you quickly and makes it hard to put it down once you start reading it. It makes you conscious of God’s work in your life. 183-page paperback. $9.00 plus postage.

(Orders of $25.00 postpaid. If less, please add $1.50.)

WHAT I HEAR FROM YOU

I have read your Free In Christ book many times and each time it helps me even more. I am involved in a growing congregation that is beginning to embrace many of the concepts that you so eloquently discuss in your book. I have ordered 8 more books that I intend to share with those I feel could benefit from it and help the church continue to grow. Thank you for the opportunity to write to you and to gain access to your books.

I am a college student at (University) and my major is Bible. Your book Free In Christ has changed my life and opened my heart. I used to be torn with legalism, but now I am happy and free. Praise God for your work. I also read Ketcherside’s The Twisted Scriptures, and all I have to say is WOW!

Thanks again for your faithfulness in all that you do for our benefit. I have learned so much from you. I will always treasure that. It’s an awesome, humbling, breath-taking, and joyous moment when we truly begin to focus on and understand God’s love for us. When I finally started to understand what Paul was saying in Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” When I started seeing God as my Father, on my side, in my cheering section say, “Yes, you can do it! We’ll do it together! I’ll help you.” And Jesus as our Big Brother interceding for us with the same kind of help. What a difference my view of life became. You, my brother, had a big hand in helping me to see this. -(signed by a man imprisoned in body but free in spirit.)

I wanted to report to you that today was the first Sunday in our new church facility for Oak Hills Church of Christ in San Antonio. The service was attended by app. 3200 souls gathered to worship our Lord.

Being an elder in the Church of Christ and reading your material for the past ten years has been both enlightening and frustrating. I find very few that are willing to study and think for themselves. Most are blind followers of previous teachings. We claim to be people who follow and stand upon the Bible. In 20 years with seven congregations, I have only found a few who are willing to study and change their beliefs if and when the Bible proves to teach something different from their current belief. Thank God for the few!

I, as so many others, was deeply moved by your eloquent tribute to your sweet Lea and am thankful for this opportunity to tell you how much the two of you have meant to me and my family since our paths crossed several years ago.

Having been reared in the “anti-orphan home/anti-cooperation” movement during the 1950s, I shall never forget that night I was given my first copy of Free In Christ. I read all night, then called you the next morning and you graciously spent almost two hours on the telephone with me. For many years I had used my own little slogan: “Real, SAVING TRUTH has nothing to fear from honest questions.”

That night of reading made me realize how truly tradition-bound we really are! I’ve since adopted another saying that I thank our Lord for allowing me to live long enough to share with others. It is: “I am totally committed to our concept of being Christians only, but it is the most intellectually arrogant thing in the world for a group of Christians in the southern part of the United States to think that they are the first people since the apostles to understand the truth and whose faith is valid.” May God help us – and forgive us – for those whom we have tried to shut out of His kingdom.

Thanks for sticking your neck out and giving us something to chew on. I have some friends that have the preterist eschatologic beliefs and I never quite understood why. Now I can look it up for myself. Thanks.

A friend gave me Free In Christ recently. I love it and have read it twice and passed it on to two others. I am very anxious to read the others that I have ordered. Bless you in your good work.

Thank you for putting together this site. It is on my “favorites” list, for sure!

I appreciate what you are doing in promoting unity and breaking down the walls of sectarianism in the church. I attended the 16th Annual Restoration Forum in Nashville last week, and was greatly blessed by it – in fact it was healing for me. It was the first I had the pleasure to attend. I understand that the 2001 forum will be in your neck-of-the-woods – Portland, Oregon again. I grew up in the non-instrumental Churches of Christ but for the last three years have been meeting with the saints at Cole Community Church here in Boise. May God continue to bless your life, family, and ministry.

It’s great to see this site! I’ve been using its literature for several months now, but I decided to let you know that today (just for encouragement, I guess). You gave me a free book of yours in Tulsa (Free In Christ), and since I read it, I’ve been hooked. I’m a young traveling minister trying to make it through college, and not every church where I go has appreciated my doctrine (the notion that someone outside of “the church” might actually make it to haven). Right now, everything is looking fantastic for me. I’ll soon have a job with a small church of believers who have very similar views to you and me. I think I can really help them grow – I’ll be borrowing a lot of your material! Thank you so much for such a useful site.

I would like to wish you a happy birthday this month. I cannot possibly express to you the blessings I’ve received through your newsletters. May God continue to bless you!

In the last few years I have been confused thinking there is something wrong with me, since in my heart I challenge many of the doctrines of the “one true church.” My wife and I have lost several friends when we tried to share some of our findings with them. They think we are “Satan’s messengers.” Recently someone gave me a book (Free In Christ). I was amazed at the fact that what I thought I was “discovering,” has already been taught by other brethren such as you. After having read most of the material on Freedom’s Ring web page, I sure thank you for your hard work in writing and sharing with others your insight concerning the real discipleship motivated by God’s love.

Please send 20 Free In Christ if you have them. We are giving them to people still tied to legalism as well as those who are beginning to see a way out. Thank you for all you do, also for the lovely tribute to your wife. We rejoice in our risen Lord and thank God for voices like yours.

Thanks for sharing in “Fourscore”. Our experiences and thinking are very much alike. Probably the former is the cause of the latter. You are older though. Ha!

Cecil, I don’t know much about you, but am glad to see something like this in the COC. I went to Columbia Christian College from 1981 to 1985. Great job with your page!

God led me to this web site by getting me in touch with Cecil Hook. I read Free In Christ in Alaska, and needed some extras to share. So through a line of people I found and talked to him, and was told by Cecil that he has a web page. It is time that we unite as a people in whatever country and proudly say we are God’s Children. Bless all of you.

I enjoyed your book and would love to hear more of the discussions in the RM.

My roots are in the Restoration Movement. I no longer blindly accept the teachings I learned as a young man and am searching to make my relationship with Christ a personal one. I would love to find a group with similar roots and a sincere desire to serve the Father with no manmade restrictions in Southwest Missouri.

I am a United Methodist preacher. Praise the Lord. Keep up the good work. I will be praying for you.

Having been raised in a traditionally legalistic Church of Christ in Arkansas, your book was a real blessing to me and started me on a search for more enlightenment and acceptance of other Christians, no matter what their particular flavor. I appreciate your work and have loaned my book and purchased a few for some people over the years.

I am a pastor who once was overseer for a faith movement org. God had different plans and directed me to the message of Grace. So I found your booklet, “the Grace of God”, very informative. Thank you!

Cecil, my Brother. I finally hooked up to your Web page, and I find it quite interesting. But what’s new? I’ve been reading and digesting your material for years. You and I are on the same spiritual wave length. I don’t think we’re biological brothers (I’m much taller than you!), but we surely are spiritual brothers. And that is because we have the same Father, and our blood line flows directly to Jesus!

It is hard to kick against the pricks.

Our friends gave us a copy of Free In Christ and we loved it and are looking forward to reading your other books which we just ordered this week. God bless you in your ministry.

I saw your listing and simply wanted to say Agape and Shalom. I appreciate your long and fruitful ministry in “freedom’s” cause.

It’s been years since I’ve seen you and I had just about given up ever finding any of those who have had such impact on my life. I read your books to keep me going. Thanks. It’s good to find old friends.

I am doing a speech of doctor-assisted suicides, and I found your web-page VERY helpful. I really appreciate it. Thank you and keep up the good work.

Wonderful website. You are a blessing! May the Church repent from her Babylonian system and return to the New Testament pattern and be the spotless bride of Christ.

Great discussion – well reasoned and logical in terms of both arguments and conclusions (important to a 3rd (+) generation Lockean CofC-er like me and many of my ilk). It’s great when you see someone else present a well-presented discussion that matches so closely your own theology.

I have had the pleasure of reading three of your books several years ago. I am a member of a church of Christ (instrumental) in Virginia. Your books helped free me from a divisional attitude that kept me from fellowshipping others even in my own church.

I bookmarked your page. It looks great.

Greetings from dear old New Jersey. This is just one of several visits downloading different articles and books. This visit was to obtain a book for a Christian friend who knew Carl Ketcherside when she was a young woman in Missouri. Thanks so much for making this available.

You need never apologize for “making it such a platitudinous rambling.” I love and cherish your words of wisdom. They are like soothing waters to the soul. In this time of deepening darkness, your voice shines brighter every day. I know that our Lord is pleased. I thank the Lord, and you for your faithfulness.

Very interesting. I have battled legalism for a number of years. The key is to teach more from the gospels and emphasize Christ in the epistles.

Are you under the impression that one is not free in Christ who believes the New Testament allows only one church, and that it must follow strictly the New Testament pattern in all things? Do you think one is not free in Christ who believes there is an exclusive pattern for the church Jesus promised he would build? Pardon me for saying this, but it seems to me as you enjoy less freedom in Christ, because of your loose and liberal views of his word. There is a passage that comes to my mind: “While they promise liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage” (2 Pet. 2:19).

This week’s Freedom’s Ring was very comforting to me, as you expressed much that I feel, such as my doubts and questioning. Thanks for your refreshing honesty.

Dear brother in Christ, I really appreciate your web site as I was involved with the Worldwide Church of God when it was a cult! God bless you!

Mr. Hook, Where have you been all my life?!!! It was only through the wonderful workings of God in my life that a friend recommended your books. Having grown up in the Church of Christ and “done many wonderful works in my lifetime (been a Christian 22 years),” it has only been in the past year that I have found Christ, or should I say Freedom in Christ? I have read Free In Christ out loud with my wife and we are beginning another one of your books shortly. My heart and soul hurt for so long. I knew something was wrong. I tried to put my thoughts into words and it just never came out right (of just sounded off the wall). You have captured and organized many of my thoughts and validated my beliefs. May God continue to bless you and your family. God has definitely used you as a tool in my family’s life.

You have enriched the lives of our family and thousands of other people through the years, and I feel that I know you.

I found your site by searching for a definition of the word legalsim. It is refreshing to know you. God bless!

I am a man who feels in his heart that he has plumbed the depts of life to seek the truth. I don’t lie, and make every effort – and struggle even now – to tell the truth to himself, and others. Not MY version of the truth, but what I have determined (with the Bible as my standard) to be truth, no matter how pleasant or unpleasant it may be. This letter you wrote (FR 33: Fourscore) is one of the most concentrated forms of truth I think I have ever read in one place, with the Bible being the exception.

Cecil, thanks for the information in Free In Christ. My wife and I enjoy it to the max. I have already given it to some-one else and am waiting on the ones I ordered from you.

I have been struggling with legalism for 6 years now. I left the ministry in frustration and disbelief for not being able to serve God to the best of my ability. Of course this was all based on selfishness. I always asked God to show me his will but in reality he had to abide by my guidelines. I put restriction on what God can do for me. It is only now that I am coming to know God’s true grace. Your web site is a great help and I appreciate your efforts for the wandering ones who are standing on the wayside in desperation and confusion in the Christian faith. Again, Thank you.

Dear Bro. Hook, I always enjoy your writings and appreciate all the good you have done in stirring my mind to fresh thinking. I grew up in the non-class element of the church of Christ, and that was the first change I made. That started me to rethinking my position on other traditions I had been brought up in until I discovered the freedom that is in Christ and is taught in His word. The last few years have been a real pleasure studying and serving the Lord, and I am still growing.

Great work, Cecil! You are affecting change in the restoration movement. Take a look at my site. I think you’ll find fresh grace-centered thought and teaching for the Christian who is navigating the changes taking place in our heritage.

I am writing to ask you to please send your newsletter via regular mail to my son. Thank you, you dear sweet man. You will never know what a blessing you are.

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