To The Reader
An Important Message
The book you are about to read is unusual for several reasons. It is given with the hope that each reader will assist its accuracy by scrupulously searching for error; and it invites its readers to be partners in its message by editing out anything contrary to the word of God, i.e. the Bible. However, the word of God should be the only acceptable criteria by which change will be accepted and initiated. It is sadly a book without end.
There is little need to re-examine doctrinal areas of wide spread agreement among Christian brethren unless an obvious error or contradiction comes to light. Sometimes, widely held hand-me-down doctrine accepted and propagated by denominational teaching, is inherently flawed but continues to exist because God's people refuse to challenge it. This book will challenge it whenever and wherever it's discovered. The reason this book will have no end is a simple one. There seems to be no end to the willingness of professing believers to enter into disagreement concerning doctrinal issues. If this happens because the parties involved seek the truth, then I applaud their effort, but all too often, it escalates into a bitter argument where both sides are only seeking to be right and pride becomes the only winner.
When truth wins, it brings its seekers into unity, for there can be only one truth (John 17:17) and if opposing sides discover it, they leave their debate behind and become unified. In a search for truth, it's always the loser who truly wins. If, as a teacher, I am found to be teaching something flawed and one corrects me, revealing an unseen truth, I instantly become a better, more enlightened teacher. If, on the other hand, I accept an unfounded but clever deception, I unintentionally become a teacher of false doctrine.
If any author or teacher involved in teaching scripture believes he possesses all truth, he is already a victim of pride. This is why I need your help. As imperfect as it might be, this search for truth had to start with someone, so it has begun here with me with what I believe. Now as partners together, we must begin to edit out any error found in it. Please, point out the error in my thinking; make me a better teacher as we bring our minds into unity with the Lord; let's make 1 Corinthians 1:10 an active reality in our partnership.
1 Corinthians 1:10
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement.
A word of caution to those who assist me in this undertaking, interpreting the scriptures from a denominational position is like reading through stained glass. As the author of this work, I am keenly aware of my responsibility to the truth and the Spirit of it. Whatever teachings found written here that can stand under the onslaught of severe biblical challenge are truths and therefore come from God. Whatever teachings of mine fall by the wayside were never truths but flawed by error and the responsibility for these errors rests squarely on me. This book will be revised as often as necessary and will include all valid changes. Any contribution you make to its accuracy will be appreciated by all those who read and teach from it. As long as Christians use the word of God to divide God's holy nation there will be a need for this book.
Paragraph markers have been provided for you to edit and identify the locations of any material you wish to question or refer to. Please use them when asking for our review or examination. These markers will appear as shown in the example below:
It is the deacon who watches over the basic physical and material needs of the flock, needs such as food, raiment or such as may be required to ease practical burdens or physical suffering.
As you search the scriptures, may the Spirit of God guide you into all truth.
Brethren, I look forward to the day when this book is no longer needed. Unfortunately, each new doctrinal debate will produce a new chapter and each chapter will require your close examination and your diligence in editing. Let's pray that our partnership produces the truth and unity that we, as members of the family of God, deserve through our open and selfless discernment. May God grant us all wisdom.
Clifford H. James