Dear Preacher Charles,
Well I sure have a problem this time and if you can't help me with it, I think I am going to have to move to another town.
It all started about two months ago when I invited Joe Bob Farnsworthy to go to Church with me. He lives down the road from me and says he is a member of a denomination but he never goes to Church nowhere. Anyhow, he is a real nice guy and we have been friends for years so I have been trying to get him to go to Church with me at the Church of Christ. Well, one day he said O.K. and I nearly fell over. So on Sunday he went and even came for the auditorium class that the preacher teaches. He seemed real interested and asked a lot of questions and we all thought he was real interested in the Church of Christ.
Well, we was studying about the Church that morning and the preacher explained that the Greek word that we call Church just means "the called out." Somebody else said it was just the people or God's people. You know how that discussion goes because everybody in the Church of Christ has heard that lesson a bunch of times. Well, Joe Bob said that was not what the dictionary said but the preacher hung in there real strong and didn't budge an inch because he had the Bible truth.
After church was finished Joe Bob hung around a long time and talked to everybody that would talk to him and we all thought we had us a new convert for sure. The preacher told me I should make it a point to visit Joe Bob and ask him to come to Church the next Sunday. A couple of the Elders were even planning to go see him so you can see we was real serious about the whole thing.
Well, when I went up and asked him to come to Church again I got the shock of my life because he told me in no uncertain terms that he wasn't interested because we was all a bunch of lying hypocrites. I sure was surprised but I wasn't going to take that kind of talk settin' down so I asked him what in the world made him think a crazy thing like that. Well Joe Bob's answer is what's got me so upset. He said: "Now Little Sam, you remember your preacher said Church means the called out and others said it was people or God's people and everybody agreed with that except me." I told him that was right and that all us Church of Christ know that. He said, "Sam, you don't believe any such thing and those other people don't either. I can prove it so that makes all of you liars and hypocrites." Now, down here where I live them's fighting words and I sure had a hard time controlling myself but I was real Christian about it and asked him what he was talking about.
Joe Bob fished around in his bib overalls and came out with a sheet of paper with a lot of notes on it. He said he had talked to everybody he could around the Church of Christ and that he wrote down some of their statements so he would be sure he had them right. He handed that paper to me and said, "Here's your proof." This is his list:
Sarah Sue Snodgrass: "I gotta get my purse out of the Church."
Preacher Simkins: "I sure hope you'll visit our Church again."
John Hathaway: "Don't forget that we have Church here tonight."
Jo Nell Hathaway: "I've been a Church of Christ for 30 years."
Billy Bob Bodkins: "I always give money to the Church before I take care of anything else."
Sam Hill, Jr.: "Would you like to go to Church with me?"
Betty Lou Johnson: "This is the friendliest Church I ever attended."
Elsie Mae Trumbull: "Every Sunday morning you will find me at Church!"
Johnny Ben Trumbull: "Do we have a Church over there where you grew up?"
I read that list and I couldn't see anything wrong with it but I started to feel a little uneasy because I know that Joe Bob is a smart man and he has been off to college. Well, I was afraid there was a trick to this deal but Charles, you know as well as I do that all us Church of Christers say them things he wrote down. I took a deep breath and told him I couldn't see nothing wrong with his notes. He laughed and slapped his leg and told me just to substitute "called out" or "people" or "God's people" for Church in all them statements. Well I couldn't do that because you and me both can see that wouldn't make good sense.
Joe Bob said: "Sam, can't you see that the way you use that word proves what you believe it means and it is different from what you say it means? That's what makes you hypocrites. Your use of the word shows that to you church means a building, a religious ceremony or ritual, or an organization to which people can belong, give their support and money, and from which they can receive benefits. That is also what I think it means but I admit it and you are hypocritical about it."
Well, I just know there has to be something wrong with his high flown theories but I just ain't smart enough to see it. I went over and told my daddy (Big Sam) the whole story and he just smiled and looked as wise as a tree full of owls and said, "Son, you got a tiger by the tail and you wouldn't believe the answer if I told you." He suggested I write to you and maybe you would help me.
Well, I wouldn't say this to most people but since you are Church of Christ too I'll tell you that I'm afraid Joe Bob has me whipped and I know it's my fault because we Church of Christers always win these religious arguments. If you can help me with a good answer that would shut him up I sure would be thankful because Joe Bob has told the whole town about this deal and everywhere I go someone laughs and asks me if I've learned what Church means.
I sure will be anxious to hear from you just as soon as possible. In the meantime, I remain your faithful friend,
Sam Hill, Jr.