Starting from Cane Ridge IV

The First Years at Ozark Christian College

My five years at Ozark Christian College are a period in my life to which I look back with nostalgia, thanksgiving and joy. There were struggles, to be sure. At one point, as will be explained, I considered leaving. But even knowing what I do now, I would not hesitate to redo that period of my life. Indeed, it is precisely because of what I learned, and the mentoring I received, that I eventually came to where I am now, on the threshold of the Orthodox Church.

My first three years at Ozark were a mix of discerning my vocation (should I be a missionary, youth minister, pastor, campus minister?), learning how to defend the faith and growing in my ability to read, understand, apply and to teach and preach the Bible. I took three years of Greek, two years of Hebrew, and had exegetical classes in: Mark, John, Acts, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Hebrews, and Revelation; and also took two (of six) semesters of a class entitled the “Life of Christ” which was a synoptic, chronological exegesis of the Gospels. I took a year of Old Testament history, and had a few classes in apologetics. There were ministry classes as well, but this will give a glimpse into the biblical worldview that was being shaped in my mind.

Mine was a fairly normal college experience. I had a few girlfriends while studying there, and went on dates. I rebelled against campus curfews. I played practical jokes on friends. I debated politics and religion with my friends. I played racquetball and went to the gym at the Y. And, seeking my vocation in the churches I was training to serve, spent most weekends as a student youth minister in Stockton, Missouri; later as a student pastor to yoked parishes in Mound City, Kansas.

But through these first three years imperceptible if no less fateful decisions and changes were occuring. First and foremost, I bought in deeply to the “plea” of my churches: to see the life and faith of the New Testament Church made a reality in my lifetime. I very much longed for that which the New Testament-era Christians had: a direct connection to the Church founded by the Apostles.

Secondly, I also bought in deeply to the insistence of my churches that our doctrine and the content of our faith conform to that of the Apostles. I very much longed for an adherence to the original Faith in all its purity.

Finally, the last important element was an insatiable appetite to understand ideas, and the skills to research them. This was to bear fruit in the last two years of college in terms of the papers I wrote and the friends I associated with, but I will write about that later. One early example, was my purchase of a text of the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, including Ignatios of Antioch, the Didache, 1 Clement, the Martyrdom of Polycarp, the Shepherd of Hermas, and so forth. I bought the book during the Christmas holidays of my freshman year. Another example was my Church History class. Though I didn’t keep any papers I wrote for that class, I very much attribute to that class my awareness of such things as the Church Councils, the battle against heresy, the Fathers of the Church and their writings, and so forth.

So by the time I began my fourth, and next-to-last, year at Bible college, the foundations had been laid for the changes that were soon to take place.

3 thoughts on “Starting from Cane Ridge IV

  1. My background for the past nine years has been the non-institutional wing of the non-instrumental wing of the churche of Christ. I have been thinking about entering the Catholic Church.

    This biggest disappointment I have with church of Christ teaching (besides the Lord’s Supper) is the the “Great Apostasy” teaching. After reading a book of the Apostolic Fathers (actually started at the New Advent website), I thought to myself that the whole apostasy thing was bunk. It appears to me, reading St. Ignatius especially, that these men were very faithful to the teachings they received.


  2. My situation is a little different. For years now I have been convinced that the c of C arguments are bogus, and in fact I was confirmed in an Anglican church several years ago. However, my wife, children, and my wife’s family are all still c of C’ers, and I still “attend” a church of Christ for the sake of family unity, slipping off to mass or evensong when I can (which isn’t nearly enough). I have to bite my lip each time I “go to church” because the worship service is so empty of Christ’s presence; sitting through a so-called adult Bible class is even worse since those who teach it have no real knowledge of Christianity.

    Like Ken, I wonder how people can believe this stuff, especially when all it takes is to read the earliest writers after the apostles. The church was liturgical from the beginning, and the three-fold ministry seems intact, even within the first century. Yet people will not face the obvious implications of this.

    The hardest part about my isolation is that I cannot talk about any of this with any family members since it only generates friction. I love my wife, but I can’t talk to her about theology, church history, and devotional practices of the church catholic.


  3. The amazing thing to me is how many former members of the Church of Christ (CoC) are finding our way into the Orthodox church. I am 60 years old and was Chrismated this Pascha. I was 5th or 6th generation CoC and it was almost like losing family, citizenship and culture at the same time, yet I count it as nothing because I see Orthodoxy fulfilling the promises that the American Restoration can only talk about. I will always be grateful to the teachers and preachers of the CoC for the things they taught me, but I am sad for them because they settle for so very little. It is almost as if they never go into the theater but instead stand in the lobby arguing about the quality of the movie without ever seeing it.

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