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Home The Light Articles from 2002 Doctrines We May Never Face

Doctrines We May Never Face

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Doctrines We May Never Face

Some of our readers may wonder why, upon several occasions, brethren have written on subjects with which we have no problem, or, have expressed concern about trends among our digressive brethren with whom we are not even in fellowship. "What do others’ problems have to do with us?" Only this. Digression originates within liberal circles, but trickles down to even conservative ranks who do not fully appreciate the Biblical principles for which the church stands. Unconverted "conservative" brethren sometimes consider following Bible examples and instructions as "legalistic." They are, as a result of this sort of reasoning, choice morsels for liberal and unscriptural trends. More than once the ideals of liberal thinkers have subtly permeated the convictions of good people. The devil is good at what he does. In many cases, error has been first seen in denominationalism, and later among careless members of the church. It cautiously proceeds on down the line until some form of the error works its way into the conservative circle. This is similar to the pied piper influences of worldliness over the church.

Even if you feel we are too pessimistic in our thinking, bear with us as we occasionally insert material to show you what our digressive brethren are facing–sometimes proposing, sometimes opposing. Not everyone sees a trend as dangerous, but if we can encourage folks to look at the end of a proposition, it might help us to steer clear of the beginning. So, with this bit of introduction out of the way lets begin by looking at something that happened in Indianapolis, Indiana in May of 1939.

The occasion was a "unity meeting" of instrument and non-instrument churches of Christ, and the Christian Church. (Sound familiar?) This effort eventually died, but was a sort of forerunner of similar things that have been working for the past twenty-plus years, having emerged openly in the early 1980's. The primary goal of the Indianapolis effort seemed to be a merging of instrument and non-instrument churches, at least to the point of fellowshipping one another. The dashing of all hopes for this work at that series of meetings can likely be attributed to the efforts of one man, brother H. Leo Boles. (Only one man? Yes, only one man. Is there a lesson here for preachers and church lead-ers?) Bro. W. L. Totty of Beech Grove, Indiana summed up the matter like this: "The meeting reached its zenith the afternoon of the second day, when H. Leo Boles spoke for an hour and thirty-one minutes. He told them in no uncertain terms what had caused the division and what it would take to bring about unity–that if they expected a compromise they were mistaken. Perhaps no greater address has been given since the Restoration, especially at a time when they were attempting to win us by smooth sayings." Later, bro. B. C. Goodpasture, then editor of Gospel Advocate, wrote: "Brother Boles has presented the only safe and acceptable grounds of unity. He has sounded the tocsin of war–a way of extermination–on all forms of innovation and compromise. It will likely be a long time before we see a clearer or more courageous presentation of the issues involved." Two years later bro. G. H. P. Showalter, then editor of Firm Foundation, wrote of the issue: "There are times when God wants war, not peace– opposition, not submission–separation, not unity." This had the distinct ring of Jesus’ own words, "I am not come to send peace on earth, but a sword." Bro. Showalter also observed in the same editorial: "Unity must have a foundation on which to rest, and this, to believers, is, and necessarily must be, the Word of God."

Related to bro. Boles presentation in 1939 is an interesting event associated with the late merger effort in 1984 in Joplin, MO. It seems that at the "summit meeting" in Joplin (as it was called), some concerned party had put a number of tracts on display containing bro. Boles 1939 address. The booklets were immediately removed and apparently destroyed. A report of this reached the ears of bro. Guy N. Woods, then editor of Gospel Advocate, who in turn wrote bro. Alan Cloyd (a key figure in the Joplin meeting) asking if these vital tracts were, in fact, removed and destroyed by him. He responded, "I did in fact remove the tracts in question. They were uninvited materials which were not appreciated. Brother Boles’ language is abusive and crude. I did not feel that these tracts would be in the best interest of the meeting…" Bro. Boles, dead for near 28 years at the time of the Joplin meeting, was forbidden to reaffirm (through the tract) the danger and the sin of unscriptural fellowship.

The mutual fellowship of instrument and non-instrument brethren is widely promoted in liberal circles. The very loose and very dangerous proposals to accomplish this end need only a few lines to illustrate. One brother, suggesting how churches of Christ and Independent Christian Churches can work together, said: "On a congregational level, we can establish contact with one another during gospel meetings, VBS, and special activities. It would be wonderful to worship together and to have some pulpit exchange. The instrument creates a barrier at this point.

"On a personal level, men and women can get to know and appreciate one an-other from both restorationist groups. We can pray and study together. We can love and encourage one another." Further, it was said: "We need to exchange some articles and understand where each other is coming from. We need to speak on each other’s lectureships." One brother involved in the "summits" said: "There are sincere, knowledgeable, devout Christians scattered among all the various denominations." Another proposed: "I don’t draw the line at the instrument. I don’t think the Lord died over that. I’m not going to make that a test of my fellowship with you in Christ…" (Ironically, this same brother had written in 1972 that "Yes, instrumental music in worship is sinful and serves as a valid test of Christian fellowship.")

As early as 1967, some seventeen years before the "summit meeting" of Joplin, bro. Roy Deaver had heard favorable things of the instrument brethren desiring to work with the non-instrument churches. Two of the most prominent among the instrument brethren were contacted to share their interests and ideas about this possibility. What was learned about their actual intentions was frightening. Brother Deaver wrote: "These men clearly and strongly felt that there could be (and that there ought to be) unity simply upon the basis that it makes no difference–whether we do or whether we do not (use instrumental music). In their thinking, it was not necessary for them and their brethren to regard the use of the instrument as sinful.

"I left that meeting on the last day as scared as I have ever been in my life about the church of our Lord. It had become crystal clear to me that these men had not changed their thinking one particle, and that they had absolutely no intention of changing their thinking. On this point, we had been terribly misinformed by many who had insisted that we meet with these men. The thing which sacred me was this: They had not changed their position at all, and had no intention of doing so. But, they knew that they saw among us a willingness to accept them (fellowship them) while they continued to hold their views indicated! It frightened me then, and it frightens me now to know that on this point, they were right.

"Why can’t brethren wake up? Why is it that many cannot be warned? These men (and those who follow their leadership) are not interested in unity based upon plain Bible teaching. They are not about to give up the instrument. But, as liberalism takes its toll, they know that many in churches of Christ are willing to accept them on their terms!"

The problem bro. Deaver names seems to be a long way from our ranks, but the spirit of the problem is not. Traced to its roots, his brethren simply lack conviction. They do not care that there is no Bible authority for using the instrument; they see only that the Book doesn’t say NOT to have it. Many of our problems have the same root, a lack of conviction. It is too easy to be Balaamites, searching to see "what more the Lord may say." Lack of conviction is the inherent result of lack of sincere study and Bible knowledge. It may be traced to other influences, but this is a major cause (Hos. 4:6). People without conviction are the cancer of the church.

Any sort of blending of truth with error to accomplish unity is but a will-o’-the- wisp. Union of some sort may be attained, but never unity. Although we are not plagued with the same problems as our digressive brethren, when the merger comes in their ranks, error will be that much closer to ours. It is wisdom to preach against error–all error–before it becomes our problem. We call this fortification.



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