Piloting the Strait, Dave Miller
On one occasion the congregation where this writer attends needed me to fill in due to the absence of the regular minister. They had a special request—“please deliver a lesson on the New Hermeneutic so we know what this issue is about.” What a huge topic for such a little amount of time! At that time, Piloting the Strait had not been written; however, I had recently acquired Dave Miller’s articles related to the subject which were invaluable for the lesson. The material was excellent and I wished that it would be preserved in a longer lasting medium. This wish was granted with the publication of Piloting The Strait: A Guidebook for Assessing Change in Churches of Christ.
This book is a primer on the changes that some are trying to push on churches of Christ. The New Hermeneutic is only “new” in that it is new packaging of old liberal attacks on the authority of the Bible and how we ascertain Bible authority. Part III: The Mechanism For Change: The “New Hermeneutic” is a very effective discussion of the intentions and consequences of the New Hermeneutic. It is critical that all understand the philosophy of this movement (which will probably resurface again under a different packaging).
I first remember hearing Dave Miller lecture at the 1993 FHU Bible Lectureship and was very impressed with his effective defense of the Scriptures. He was speaking on the subject of “How Christ Handled Controversy”. Everyone should read that lecture and fully understand the methods that the Master used to deal with His opponents. I remember vividly the point Dave Miller made in that lecture in regards to our need for “book, chapter, and verse” preaching in our pulpits. He stated, “Note that Jesus’ persistent allusion to scripture is all the more remarkable when one considers the fact that Jesus was God and therefore was originating scripture with his own utterance. Yet He quoted scripture over and over again.” If Jesus quoted the Old Testament to sustain his logical arguments against His critics, then we should do and demand no less than book, chapter, and verse preaching and teaching.
Piloting the Strait begins with a discussion of the roots and catalyst for change. These factors need to be studied and reflected upon. It shows how pop culture and modern society has impacted views some have regarding religion. It then discusses the goal of the change agents in regards to music, preaching, prayer, leadership, worship styles, and other areas where those who trouble the church are seeking to spread their teaching. It also discuses the motivation for those seeking to change. Some say we cannot know others motives so we should not judge them; however, Jesus said in Matthew 7:20 “By their fruits you shall know them.” We need to realize that while there are false teachers who are misguided, there are others who would make profit for themselves at the expense of those who seek the truth. 2 Peter 2:1-3 is very plain about the sinister motives of some false teachers—“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” We should do all that we can to protect ourselves and others from the efforts of those who would change the church into something that is not the church of the New Testament.
The work also has a critical section on the antidote for this change movement. It discusses Bible truth and authority. It discuses the priority that must be given to God and His word.
This book is very valuable for all congregational leaders and members to read and understand. Hardeman Nichols’ recommendation is right on the mark in reference to Piloting the Strait: “…penetrating insight into the very critical problem in which change agents are attempting to turn the church of our Lord into just another one of the many sects. This book is a ‘must’ for every leader in the church.”
Dave Miller has three Masters degrees from Texas Tech University and Harding Graduate School of Religion. He holds a Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University. He has served as the Director of the Brown Trail School of Preaching and has now begun working with Apologetics Press. There are several books written about the issues that confront us in the church today. This is one book that should be in every religious library and encouraged to be read.
Originally printed West Virginia Christian, Vol. 10, No. 2, February 2003, p. 8. Reprinted by permission.