Tuesday, July 31, 2012



A year or so ago, a new Kroger Marketplace opened down at the end of the road we live on.  We had been doing most of our grocery shopping at Wal-MartSuper-Center, but we decided we owed it to ourselves to check out this new place, and are we glad we did! Buddy-roe, let me tell you—it is something else! Neither Feenie Allison's nor Cull McHenry's Grocery Stores back in DeFuniak Springs, Florida where we did our grocery shopping when I was a boy—with occasional forays to the Piggly Wiggly—could hold a light to our Kroger Marketplace!

In addition to aisles and aisles of all kinds of grocery items, lockers full of an unbelievable assortment of frozen food items, and a meat department bulging with all kinds of steaks, chops, roasts, hams, seafood, etc., the Marketplace features a beautiful array of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with a bakery and a deli.  But that is just the beginning.  It has a walk-in clinic, an optometry department, a pharmacy, a floral shop, a Starbucks, and a bank where my wife does all her banking.  It even has a furniture department, a home goods department, and a jewelry store.  Outside, up at the front of the parking lot, are several bays of gas pumps where we buy gas for our vehicles, usually at a savings of several cents per gallon, based on how much Jan spends inside the store and how many points she has accumulated. (True to her feminine logic, she thinks the more she spends inside the more she will save at the gas pump!) And talk about convenience! 

Plus, the first Wednesday of each month is Senior Citizens' "Discount Day" when we older folks are able to pick up a lot of "specials" at some pretty good deals.  Besides that, on that day they serve free coffee, orange juice, fresh fruit, doughnuts, and other goodies.  Jan does not like for me to go with her on those days because I embarrass her by taking advantage of all the freebies, going back for seconds, etc. Too, she fusses about how all the "old people" clog up the aisles with their shopping carts as they park them helter-skelter, socialize in the aisles, and take forever to move on. 

Modern religion in many respects has mimicked modern marketing techniques.  Churches now strive to meet all the "felt needs" of their constituents and prospective constituents.  In effect, they have become religious supermarkets. They build kitchens, fellowship halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, spas, and bowling alleys.  They install coffee bars and juice bars. They sponsor softball teams, baseball teams, basketball teams, Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, fitness programs, drama productions, and dance classes.  (Yep, one church of Christ in Texas a few years ago conducted a Monday night class on Ballroom Dancing.)  They conduct financial seminars, retirement planning seminars, AA classes, divorce recovery classes, weigh-down programs, and all kinds of self-help programs.  Counseling is available on a wide variety of matters. 

The subliminal message that is sent by all of this activity is that "we may be a church, but we are not a bunch of stuffy old religious fuddy-duddies; we are as 'cool' as any social or civic club in town, so come on down and join us, and we'll show you how church can be fun" (in other words, we really won't "preach" to you all that much)! Some churches have bought into the notion that "if we build it, they will come," only to be terribly disappointed that not only did they not come and the church did not grow, but it actually declined, leaving it with a big debt and facilities that are unneeded and unused.

Don't misunderstand me.  Some of the above things are good.  I'm not against helping people live more fruitful, productive, happy lives.  Our world is in a mess and many people's lives are in a mess, including the lives of many who are Christians.  But we need to remember that Christ came into the world to save sinners (I Timothy 1:15).  He came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10).  He came to call sinners to repentance (Matthew 9:12-13).  In Him alone can mankind find redemption (Acts 4:11-12).  The gospel of Christ is God's only power to save (Romans 1:16). Without obedience to the gospel, a person is eternally lost in torment (II Thessalonians 1:6-9).  The church is the pillar and ground of the truth (I Timothy 3:15). If the church does not preach the gospel to sinners, who will?  If the church does not concern itself with the mission that was the mission of Christ, who will? The church is the manifestation of the manifold (multi-faceted) wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10).  It has a greater and more enduring purpose than simply helping people enjoy a better life here on earth.  How unutterably sad it is when spiritually hungry people ask for a fish and are given a stone instead.

I love our new Kroger Marketplace and all that it has to offer.  I love churches that are committed to Christ, to the practice of New Testament Christianity, and to the mission that Christ gave to His disciples.  That mission is clearly spelled out in Matthew 28:18-20.

Speaking Schedule:
August 1: Green Hill Church of Christ, Mount Juliet,TN
August 5: Madison Street Church of Christ,ClarksvilleTN ("Family & Friends" Day) (morning and afternoon)
August 5: Neelys Bend Church of Christ, Madison,TN (P.M. only)
August 8: Meades Chapel Church of Christ,NashvilleTN
August 12: Science Hill Church of Christ, Readyville,TN (P.M. only)

Hugh Fulford
July 31, 2012

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Over the last few weeks I have been writing about church history, the restoration plea, and the concept of going back to the New Testament and being what the followers of Christ were then—Christians only, without denominational affiliation—people who constituted themselves into autonomous (self-governing) churches of God/Christ (I Corinthians 11:16; Romans 16:16).  It is freely admitted by all church historians that there were no different denominations in New Testament times, or for several centuries thereafter.  Faithful churches of Christ today are pleading for a return to that same state of spiritual affairs.

Strangely, it is believed by many that it is impossible in the 21st century for people to be what the followers of Christ were in the first century. It has never dawned on some that undenominational Christianity is possible today.  It reminds me of the story of a young schoolboy whose given name was Dammit (a family sir name).  His class was participating in a spelling bee, and the teacher was going down the roll, giving out the words to be spelled.  It came Dammit's turn.  The teacher gave out the word—"Eucalyptus"—then quickly added, "But, Dammit, I know you can't spell it."  Unknown to the teacher, the principal was standing just outside the door.  Momentarily forgetting about the boy's name, and not realizing what he was saying, he stepped inside the room and exclaimed, "Well, (bleep), I think you ought to at least let him try!"  

I do not approve of profanity and I certainly mean no offense or disrespect toward anyone, but the principal had a point: if there are those who think we cannot be Christians only, members of the body/church of Christ only, without also being members of a denomination, and if there are those who no longer accept the premise of the restoration principle and the restoration plea, so be it.  But, please...at least let the rest of us try!  I find it passing strange that in our post-modern culture of pluralism in which it is asserted that we have many viable religious options, the ONE thing that some say is NOT possible is to be simply a New Testament Christian without denominational affiliation!  

On another humorous note: One of the great old preachers of the ancient gospel was Joe H. Blue (1875-1954) whose labors were confined primarily toArkansasMissouriOklahoma, and Texas.  The story is told of the preacher of a black church who ran off with all the church's money.  Some of the leaders contacted brother Blue and asked him what he thought they ought to do.  Brother Blue said, "Go after him, bring him back, and prosecute him."

A few weeks passed and one day brother Blue ran into one of the members and asked if they had found the prodigal preacher.  "Yes, sir," the brother replied, "we found him and brought him back.  He done spent all the money, but we gonna let him preach it out!"

Another of the grand old heralds of the restoration plea was Jefferson Davis Tant (1861-1941).  Fanning Yater Tant, in the biography of his father—J. D.TANTTEXAS PREACHER—tells the story of his father being in a debate with a particular denominational preacher who denied that baptism is essential to salvation.  When brother Tant introduced I Peter 3:21, his opponent ridiculed it by saying, "Baptism is just a picture of salvation, but it doesn't have anything to do with actually being saved.  One is saved, and then is baptized to 'picture' his salvation."

Brother Tant responded, "Well, it's a pity Peter did not know that on the day of Pentecost.  Otherwise, he would have said to those inquiring sinners, 'Repent, and get your picture taken...in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins' "(Acts 2:38).

Sometimes a little humor can disarm the cavils of those who wish to take issue with plain gospel facts and simple gospel truths.

Speaking Schedule:
July 29: Oak Grove Church of Christ, Red Boiling Springs, TN
August 1: Green Hill Church of Christ, Mount Juliet,TN
August 5: Madison Street Church of Christ,ClarksvilleTN ("Family & Friends" Day) (morning and afternoon)
August 5: Neely's Bend Church of Christ, Madison,TN (P.M. only)
August 8: Meades Chapel Church of Christ,NashvilleTN
August 12: Science Hill Church of Christ, Readyville,TN (P.M. only)

Hugh Fulford
July 24, 2012

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Over the course of nearly sixty years I have read many books, articles, lectures, and sermons concerning the restoration principle, the restoration plea, and the restoration movement. I also have heard many lectures and sermons regarding these matters.  I have endeavored to make my own contributions—both in preaching and in writing—to the noble effort to restore the simplicity of original New Testament Christianity, free of the apostasies and corruptions that have been introduced into Christianity down through the centuries.

It now comes as somewhat of a surprise to discover that a revisionist attempt is underway (and has been for some time) to undermine and reduce the impact of the restoration plea and the restoration movement by asserting that the restorers were actually only a later generation of reformers and that what we know as the Restoration Movement was really just a later version of the Protestant Reformation Movement of the sixteenth century.

Several years ago I read what purported to be a history of The Stone-Campbell Movement.  It was quite obvious from the beginning that the author was seeking to revise the concept of restoration and to cast it as just further reformation.  In the Introduction to the work (page vii) it was asserted by one of the endorsers of the work that "Some needed corrections of common misunderstandings are included in this text.  The earliest leaders referred to themselves as 'reformers,' not 'restorers.'  Their work was a continuation of the sixteenth century reformation, not a restoration of the first century church."  In the "News and Notes" section of one his recent essays (June 23, 2012), the author of the above book stated, "The distinction I draw between restoration and reformation, and that our heritage is reformation and not restoration, is one of its (The Stone-Campbell Movement) challenging thesis" (sic).

It is certainly true that Alexander Campbell and other leaders of the Restoration Movement sometimes referred to themselves as reformers and to the effort they were about as "the current reformation." Obviously, when restoration takes place change/reformation also occurs.  So, there is a degree of overlap between the two concepts. But make no mistake about it—the early restorers were concerned with "a restoration of the ancient order of things"—a complete return to apostolic Christianity as set forth on the pages of the New Testament! The early leaders of this effort used "Reformers" and "Restorers" interchangeably, but never in their mind did the former exclude the latter.

Beginning on February 7, 1825 (The Christian Baptist, Vol. II, No. 7) and ending on May 5, 1829 (The Christian Baptist, Vol. VI, No. 10), Alexander Campbell wrote a series of thirty-one essays titled "A Restoration of the Ancient Order of Things."  Campbell believed there was something missing from the "Christianity" of his day that was badly in need of being restored

In 1836, Walter Scott, one of the great heralds of the restoration plea, wrote a book titled The Gospel Restored.  Moses E. Lard, one of the outstanding scholars and leading lights of the Restoration Movement, credited Scott's book with first teaching him the ancient gospel, the gospel as originally set forth in the New Testament.  Therefore, to assert that these men were only reformers and not restorers is without historical warrant.

Through the years, the effort to go back and be what the first-century followers of Christ were—Christians only, without denominational affiliation—has been rightfully referred to as the Restoration Movement.  Revisionist efforts to make it simply an extension of the Protestant Reformation Movement, and to cast the autonomous churches of Christ as  "another denomination among denominations" is designed to neutralize the force and impact of the restoration plea.     But such a revisionist approach is a patently false characterization of what the plea and movement was and is all about. 

Speaking Schedule:
July 11: Highland Heights Church of Christ, Lebanon, TN
July 29: Oak Grove Church of Christ, Red Boiling Springs, TN

Hugh Fulford
July 10, 2012

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

W.T. ("TIP") Grider

The first preacher of the restoration plea I ever remember hearing was W. T. ("Tip") Grider of Rose Hill, Alabama.  I was about eight or nine years old when I heard brother Grider.  He would have been past sixty years of age at the time. 

My sister and I had been going to Sunday School (and occasionally staying for "church") at the FirstBaptist Church in our hometown of DeFuniak SpringsFlorida.  Our father was a member of theMethodist Church, but never attended.  Our mother had obeyed the gospel as a teenager at the Earlytown Church of Christ in Geneva County, Alabama, and though she had not remained faithful in her attendance after her family moved away from Earlytown, she had never forgotten the basic principles of the gospel she had been taught and never would have consented to join a denominational church of any kind.

My maternal grandparents lived in the LibertyCommunity of Walton CountyFlorida, and it was here that brother Grider would come  one or two Sunday afternoons a month to preach in the LibertySchoolhouse.  Brother Grider also conducted two or three tent meetings at Liberty.  My grandparents were members of the church and attended these services.  My mother, father, sister and I (my brother had not yet been born) also began to attend.  It was brother Grider who got my father's attention with the simplicity and purity of the Lord's undenominational way, and who eventually led him to obey the gospel, being baptized by the late Paul Simon in 1948.  Were it not, however, for the faithful and dedicated labors of "Tip" Grider, it is doubtful if my father would ever have known the Lord's way and entered it, along with his children as they each reached the age of accountability. 

I still recall our family attending a tent meeting (before writing off this venue as being unsophisticated, keep in mind the message preached, not the setting)  being conducted by brother Grider at Liberty in which he announced that the next night he would preach on "The Impossible Thing For God To Do."  As we were driving home that evening after the services, I remember my father saying, "Well, we are going back tomorrow night.  I want to know what it is that God can't do."  He was not yet familiar enough with the Scriptures to know that they teach that it is impossible for God to lie.  (Many folks today apparently do not realize that sobering truth about God!)   (Interestingly, the first gospel meeting I ever conducted was with the small church at Liberty—by then meeting in its own modest building—in December of 1955 during the Christmas break of my freshman year at Freed-Hardeman College, when I was still a few days shy of my eighteenth birthday.)

In the March 10, 1941 issue of Sound Doctrine (Vol. 1, No. 1), edited by Leonard Johnson and Rex A. Turner, co-founders of Montgomery Bible College(now Faulkner University), there appears the following thumb-nail sketch of brother Grider.  I am most pleased to share it with my readers because of what brother Grider meant to the cause of the Restoration Movement in South Alabama andNorthwest Florida and to my family personally.

"Brother W. T. Grider, whose likeness appears above (a picture of brother Grider accompanied the sketch), is not a stranger to the churches of South Alabama. He was born December 19, 1885 in Bullock County,Alabama, and was baptized into Christ at the age of 18 by Brother Amos Harris.  Previous to his conversion he was a steward in the MethodistChurch.  He preached his first sermon on April 6, 1906.

"Brother Grider attended Jackson Bible School,ValdostaGeorgia (Now Dasher Bible School) one year.  He also studied under Brother W. J. Haynes at the Grady Bible School for three years, and then attended Highland Home College.

"Brother Grider preaches one Sunday each month for both the Troy and Cedar Grove congregations, and on the other two Sundays he preaches for the Luverne congregation. In addition he preaches one Saturday night and Sunday afternoon for the Mt.Pleasant congregation, and one Sunday afternoon for the Snow Hill congregation. He devotes three months each year to meeting work."

The Bible exhorts us to "remember those…who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct" (Hebrews 13:7, NKJV).  I am most pleased to do what this passage enjoins and to remember the faithful work of W. T.  ("Tip") Grider.

Speaking Schedule:
July 11: Highland Heights Church of Christ,LebanonTN
July 29: Oak Grove Church of Christ, Red Boiling Springs, TN

Hugh Fulford
July 3, 2012