PLUMBLINE -- Editor, Wayne Coats
Vol 4 No. 2, Sept 1999
It seems that some father lamented the fact that his four daughters attended public universities where they lost their faith. This happens all the time.
I receive letters, dripping with the tears of disappointed parents who sent their youngsters to "our" universities, where they had their faith destroyed by liberal professors who tried to act smart.
So, "all four of his daughters are no longer faithful members of the church." Who can say that the four daughters would have been God-fearing, faithful children of God if they had attended FHU? They might have been and they might not have been. Who can dissect and pull out the variables?
The heart-broken father bewails the idea that, "...if he and his wife had known the positive aspects of Christian education...." Did the father and mother not have Bibles? Did the preachers not have sense enough to deliver strong, faith-building sermons? Are children of faithful Christians immune to the cares of this world? It will not suffice to bemoan, "of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest of these, it might have been." It is the case that some FHU professors have sold out to the devil in days gone by.
Brother Sewell asks, "Are we going to stand by and complacently allow the church to fade from prominence and influence?" I realize that some dear, precious, saints of the most High God will be willing to gnash their teeth against me, but the single, most detrimental, harmful, diabolical, dastardly, destructive, influence being wielded against the pure Chaste Bride of Christ is something within and being vomited forth from some of "OUR" universities. If this were not so, I would not have told you.
Hold your hats please, Brother Sewell writes, "The President of Lipscomb University, Steve Flatt, and I have discussed at length the urgent need to present the simple but profound message of Christian Education." Heaven help us!
Those two young ministers over at the Gallatin Community Church, who had graduated from FHU, undoubtedly got that, "profound message of Christian Education." The young preacher who is working havoc in the congregation with his liberal babbling that things must change, must have gotten that "profound message of Christian Education" while attending FHU.
"Soon you will be receiving a similar letter from brother Flatt with a plea of focusing on Christian Education..." so says brother Sewell. Why should these University fellows have the colossal cheek to send out letters to congregations with strong pleas for dollars, and completely reject the strong pleas of sound brethren to "stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls..." (Jer. 6:16)?
Apparently brother Sewell does not know or does not care, and possibly both, but no greater heretic exists in Nashville, Tennessee than Steve Flatt. Consider Steve's track record with the notorious Nashville Jubilee. I have the recorded tapes and have sense enough to understand that which is said.
If anyone is naive enough to think that the education being offered by Lipscomb University is Christian, then total blindness has occurred. Again I beg, plead and implore brethren to open their eyes, get rid of so much political prejudice, and try to be objective and honest about matters.
That which has happened in days gone by, is happening again. The Modernists, liberals and digressives moved into the classrooms with their specious and damnable doctrines, stole the schools, spawned a generation of preachers that knew not Jehovah, swept the church of my Lord away on the whirlwinds of apostasy. When sound brethren attempted to warn, document, and demonstrate their charges and concerns, they were made fun of, ridiculed, rejected and caricatured as old moss-backs, out-of-date, antiquated and dying. Sound familiar? The devil has no new tricks. He continues to strike where his efforts will bring the best results for his cause. What will someone think, if this article happens to be read twenty-five years from now? Will they think as I think when I read today about Bethany, College of the Bible, Add Ran, etc., etc? What happened in a previous generation within the schools has happened again, but you cannot convince the blind followers of this. Which of you can convict me of lying?
--Wayne Coats, Editor
"It stands squarely on apostolic ground, as its name indicates, and does not espouse some unscriptural things, because the "pioneers" did, while it claims to be opposing all errors and contending earnestly for the "faith once delivered to the saints." But it contends for all truth as far as it is known, and opposes all error it has discovered in the doctrine of friend or foe. If it is wrong on any matter its columns are ever open for criticism by any fair writer who may favor it by setting it right. In this way it hopes to ever acquire an increase of knowledge and avoid fossilizing around theological dogmas and speculations. The paper is both a learner and a teacher. If it says more on some points than others it is because those points are neglected by other papers and need to be elaborated by it.
Does not such a paper merit the respect and support of all truth-loving disciples? Can it fail to do good, if properly sustained? We know many prominent brethren oppose it with all the vigor of their souls, but this is because they are on the road back to Babylon, and it seeks to stay their retrogression.
Brother, sister, lend this paper a helping hand and you
will be helping to lift the
banner of our King out of the slime pits of sectarianism and
It is interesting to read the old papers such as the Firm Foundation (1884) and the Gospel Advocate ( ) and note how the editors were despised and reviled. Austin McGary was accused of being crazy and David Lipscomb was portrayed as an old woman with a broom trying to sweep back the tide of progress, which was nothing more than infidelity.
I realize the contempt, disdain, and coolness exhibited by so many toward the Plumbline. Am I become your enemy because I tell you the truth?
--Wayne Coats, Editor
Those of denominational persuasion surely qualify as religious dreamers. They dream their man-made church and human creeds will please the Lord. They dream they can vote to change or ignore doctrinal matters already "settled in heaven" (Psa. 119:89). They dream that they can ignore part of God's plan of salvation (baptism for remission of sins) and still be saved. Most denominational folks dream that if one has been saved, he can never sin so as to be lost.
The Bible vividly depicts God's attitude toward the dreamer whose dreams are in opposition to His will. Jeremiah, a spokesman from God, incurred the wrath of the dreamers of his day. God said to Jeremiah: "I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal. The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD. Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD" (Jer. 23:25-32).
One quickly learns that God is not impressed just because someone has a dream. Within the Lord's church today we have kinfolk to those of Jeremiah's day who are seeking to impress people with their dreams. They dream about changing and restructuring the Lord's church. They dream of uniting with the denominations. These dreamers dream of receiving God's grace without having to comply with His laws. They dream that the church must change to comply with an ever-changing society. Today's dreamers dream that the Bible is only a love letter -- much like a letter a fellow might write to his girlfriend! They dream of using a chorus instead of congregational singing and instruments of music to accompany the chorus. These dreamers also dream of women having a leadership role in the church.
Like those of Jeremiah's day the dreamers scream, "I have dreamed, I have dreamed" (23:25) as if their dreaming constitutes authority. Brethren, man's dreams may be exciting and interesting but they are destitute of authority! Members of the body of Christ would be much better off if preachers and elders gave less attention to their dreams and more attention to the Word of God! Fearlessly and unashamedly proclaiming the precious gospel (Rom. 1:16) will save souls while broadcasting mere dreams will cause folks to forget the true and living God (cf. Jer. 23:27).
People will never profit by listening to the message of religious dreamers. The religious charlatans today both within and without the church devise their own message to "attract" folks and make them "feel good." But God is still "against them that prophesy lying dreams" and those who cause his people "to err by their lies" (Jer. 23:32).
One who is a member of the Lord's church is supposed to recognize one who has the word of God (cf. Jer. 23:28). There is a tremendous difference between man's dreams and theories and God's precious truths. It is folly and utter foolishness for one to follow a worldly dreamer into eternal torment. But many have no desire to "endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers (dreamers, emph. MLW) after their own lusts" (2 Tim. 4:3).
May there be an ever-growing number of saints who will gladly step forward and "stand in the gap" for God (Ezek. 22:30). Thus far, too many have only dreamed about standing in the gap, and we have already observed that a dreamer's dream is worthless!
5810 Liberty Grove Rd.
Rowlett, TX 75089
Micah 6:2,3 reads, "Hear ye, O mountains, the Lord's controversy, and ye strong foundations of the earth; for the Lord hath a controversy with His people and He will plead with Israel. 0 my people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me."
In these two verses we see the faithful prophet of God delivering a message to the last of the children of Israel. God through the prophet reminds them of all that He had done from them. God tells them that it was He that had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, and that had fed, protected, guided and loved them all of those years. He told them that He had shown them what is good and all that He had required of them was that they "do justly, and love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God."
But regardless of all that God had done for the people, they stopped following Him and chose instead to follow the gods of the heathens around them. They had taken on the name of Baal and Balaam and were not willing to do as the one true God required of them. They had become like their forefathers before them; "What iniquity have your fathers found in me that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?" (Jer. 2:5).
Now because the people were no longer following Him, God asks through the prophet "What have I done? What has caused you to get tired of me? Tell me what have I done? What is the reason that you no longer follow me?" As we read the rest of the chapter, we see that because they had grown weary of God and were no longer following Him, they were going to face some serious consequences (Micah 6:13-16).
Now let's take a close personal look at ourselves. Have we become like the children of Israel and grown weary of God? If we truthfully examine ourselves, we will see a people that act as if indeed we have grown weary of God. Examine with me some areas in our lives that indicate our weariness of God the Father.
Have we grown weary of His Word? The Word of God was given to man by the inspiration of God so that we could use it for doctrine, for reproof, correction and instruction so that we might be that complete man of God ( I Tim. 3:16,17). The Word is to bring us to a knowledge of the Lord. It will help us grow, and will produce a saving faith (Rom. 10: 17). It will also be by this Word that we will be judged in the last day. But so many of us have grown weary of God's Word. We no longer study the Word ( 11 Tim. 2:15). We no longer search the scriptures daily (Acts 17:11). In fact we have grown so weary of the Word, that we no longer teach it to our children (Deut. 6:4-9; Eph. 6:4). I would ask you now, why have you grown weary of God's Word? Is it because you no longer believe that it is the inspired Word of God? Do you believe that it is no longer applicable to us today? Do you think it is incomplete and needs something added to it? Just why have you grown weary of the Word? We need to get back to feeling about God's Word as the people did in Neh. 8:1-12; they desired the prophet to read the Word; they were attentive to the reading; they respected the reading of the Word; they understood the Word as read; they wept at the reading of the Word; and they went and did according to the Word.
Have we grown weary of His Worship? When David penned these words, "I was glad when they said unto me, let us go up to the house of the Lord," how do you think he felt about worshipping God? David was glad to be able to assemble to worship the God that he loved and served. He did not hesitate to pay homage to Him. But we can look all around us and see a big portion of the members of the Lord's body who have grown weary of worship. Paul recognized, and addressed this problem even starting in the first century; "Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is" (Heb. 10:25). God expects those that claim to be His, to worship Him. That worship must be in a specific way (John 4:24); at a specific time (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1); and it must contain all of the specified elements (Singing...Eph. 5:19; Preaching/Teaching...Acts 20:7; Lord's Supper...1 Cor. 11:23-29; Giving...1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 9:7; and Praying...Acts 2:42). But we have seen members of the body of Christ who will make excuses to stay home, or else if they come, they will not take an active part in the worship, or even some who try to change the elements of the worship. All of these factors are indications that we have grown tired of God's worship. We need to get back to treating our worship to God as important as life and death, because it is. If we persist in being weary of God's worship we will die a spiritual death in this life, and face the second death in the life to come.
Have we grown weary of His works? What did James say was the results of faith without works? He let us all know that it was a dead faith, "being alone." Our Lord encouraged us to let our light "so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Even the Lord knew that we must work the works of the Father to be pleasing to Him. The work that we have to be busy doing in service to God is teaching the lost...Matt. 28:19-20; edifying the brethren...1 Thess. 5:11; and helping the needy...Gal. 6:10. Even though this is what God expects of us, so many in the church today have gotten away from the works and gotten into entertainment. Is it because we have grown weary of working for the Master?
Have we grown weary of God's restrictions? From the very beginning of time, God has placed certain restrictions on man. In the garden of Eden, we see the restrictions of God. "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Gen. 2:17). We find restrictive commands from God all through His inspired Word, and these restrictions placed by God on man are on all aspects of our life.
Our salvation is restricted only to the plan given by God (Rom. 10: 17; Heb. 11:6; Luke 13:3; Matt. 10:32; Mark 16:16). Our eternal destiny is based on the restrictions given by God on the way we live (Rev. 2: 10; 1 Cor. 15:58). We are told what we are to avoid; the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21); the world and the things of the world (I John 2:15); and all appearance of evil ( I Thess. 5:22). We are told what we are to seek; the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-24); to live soberly, righteously, and godly (Titus 2:12); and to add the Christian graces (2 Peter 1:5). But today instead of being guided by the restrictions placed on us by God, we have grown weary of those restrictions and have ventured out on our own, and are no longer walking in the old paths, or by the old ways. We must remember that only those who do the Father's will, and live by His restrictions, will enter heaven (Matt. 7:21).
Now friends and brethren, what has God done to make you weary of Him? We all can see the blessings given us by God, and He requires so little from us in return except "To do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with" Him. So brethren please "Let us not grow weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."
10985 Country Haven
Cottondale, AL 35453
"Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?" I may very well pose the same question.
The subject concerns Christians smoking, particularly in front of the church building. Indeed, I know that neither the building nor property is "hallowed ground," so that is not my point. Nor can I make a law where God never did. Even Paul could not. In Romans 15:18 he wrote "For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed." However, the Bible has much to say about examples and influence. And this is where the question of smoking, especially on church property (and other public places) arises. Please remember that Jesus said in Matthew 5:14, "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid." Supplementing the foregoing verse, Paul said in Philippians 2:15, "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world."
Have you ever seen a city skyline on a day when poisonous smog hangs low and heavy in the air? Even in the daylight one can scarcely distinguish the buildings through the haze. Have you ever been in a room where the cigarette smoke slowly drifts in lazy, thick swirls? Is not the light, though the lamp be on, dimmed considerably? Could this be the way the world sees smokers in the church of our Lord? Is the light of our smoking brethren dimmed by the obscuring whitish-gray cloud of cigarette smoke as they satisfy a nicotine fit?
Example! Influence! How are they shown and set by smokers? In Acts 4, Peter and John were ordered by the high priest and other Jewish officials not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter, brave soldier of the cross that he had become, said in verse 20, "For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." And I cannot but speak the things which I have seen and heard. And just what have I seen and heard? Well, I have seen visitors at worship services become repelled and repulsed by the members standing outside the church building with cigarettes between their nicotine-stained fingers and dangling from their tobacco-flecked lips. I have heard apostate Christians tell me that one of the reasons they turned their backs on the church was due to the smokers. I had a Baptist tell me, "I drove past your church Sunday morning and saw some of your members out smoking again." With shame I hemmed and hawed, stuttered, sputtered and muttered.
Example and influence! They are all-important! I was not brought up as a member of the Lord's church. I did not even know the church of Christ existed until 1972. Upon attending services and meeting many members, I verily surmised that these were people who could do no wrong. Not long afterward, I was baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:27) and saved (Mark 16:16). Imagine my shock, dismay, chagrin, bewilderment, befuddlement and disillusionment when first I saw a member of the body of Christ flick his Bic and light his Lucky. I have even seen members draw a cigarette out of its pack and slide it in their mouths while they were still in the foyer! I have since learned not to think of men more highly than I ought.
Then there are the "closet" smokers in the church. They have enough respect for the brethren and the church property not to smoke in front of the building, and, in fact, one may never see them smoke at all (except the Lord who sees all things. Proverbs 15:3 says "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.") But you will know they smoke, for the noxious, malodorous stench of burnt tobacco clings to them like ivy clings to a trellis. They look just like people, but they smell just like Camels.
As far as the idea of examples goes, just how long would most congregations employ a preacher who smokes like a car with a worn set of rings? The brethren would make short work of him, I dare say. And why? Because he would be setting a bad example before the church, his family and the community. He would be violating I Timothy 4:12. However, the other members would continue to smoke themselves into the Cancer Ward and that would be acceptable. Have such inconsistent members never read Romans 2:1?
The smokers will usually become defensive and issue a challenge. "Where does the Bible say you can't smoke? Does it say not to smoke?" Such brethren are trying to get through the "not" hole in order to justify their smoking. Such questions are absurd, for of course, cigarettes were unknown in Biblical days. But it is principles, examples and influence that are involved rather than a "thou shalt not" commandment. Nonetheless, their weak defenses are built ... built on the sand, yes, but built. One brother tried to defend his smoking in front of the church house by this foolish line of reasoning: "Well, members of the church who smoke may drive by and see us with our cigarettes and start coming here. It could help our attendance...make the congregation grow." Dear reader, is that pure drivel, palaver, poppycock, hogwash or what? How many congregations have actually grown by motorists being attracted to the parking-lot puffers?
Another weak line of defense given by some of our brethren, as they take a long, slow drag is: "Well, so many people in the world smoke. They don't care whether we do or not...doesn't make any difference to them." Well, it does to some in the world. Anyway, even if true, does this reasoning do away with I Peter 2:9 and Romans 12:1-2?
Then there are those who say "I have to smoke because I'm nervous. My personal, financial and family problems have made me a bundle of nerves! Smoking calms me!" Are smokers saying that a carton of coffin nails can do more for them than Jesus? Does Jesus give Christians a peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7) or do cigarettes (no scripture available)?
No matter how smokers in the church make excuses and no matter how they may try to salve their consciences, the fact remains that they are showing forth to the world a very un-Christlike behavior and have driven visitors, weak and/or new members away from the fold, which makes me think of Matthew 18:6. "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and that he were drowned in the depth or the sea." Jesus is the only source of salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). The blood of the lost may be dripping from the same fingers that once lovingly caressed Chesterfields, Marlboros and Pall Malls. Those who smoke in plain view of the weak need to realize that there will be smoking in Hell, but not of cigarettes. "And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever" (Rev. 14:11).
Haggai 1:5 says "consider your ways." Perhaps if brother Tommy Tobacco and sister Nicole Nicotine were to consider just what their ways are doing to the Lord's church and consider the very precarious position they are in for driving others away from Christ, they would be big enough to "kick the habit" with the Lord's help (Phil. 4:13; John 15:5) and have as much use for cigarettes as Kojak has use for hair spray. Or, at least try to control themselves (1 Cor. 9:27) and wait until they are in private to gratify their wants for Winstons.
That is the idealist in me. The realist in me, however, supposes that they will not care about the damage they are doing to the Kingdom, and will keep displaying to the passers-by just what human smoke-factories look like.
Steven D. Cline
2846 Colonial Circle
Nashville, TN 37214
Most who read this article will know that Rubel Shelly was once a stalwart defender of the faith. He is now an apostate member of the body of Christ who loves to proclaim his superior intelligence while ridiculing the one and only true church. The "Dr." desires to be known as a rising star. The truth of the matter is that unless Rubel repents he will be known as a falling star who was lost.
The August 25, 1999 edition of Lovelines (Rubel's bulletin, Vol. 25, Num. 34) has his response to the article in The Tennessean regarding "name dropping." I wrote an article entitled "Religious Deceit" that explored the practice of dropping names from churches. The scribe of Nashville now gives his thoughts (which were quite different from mine) regarding playing hide and seek with the name of the church. He says:
Although the article in question never raised the issue, the primary reasons church planters are slow to slap a denominational name on their churches are as follows: (1) most are theologically literate enough to know that denominational affiliation is not the key to newness of life, and (2) even the theologically illiterate know that people who are "church shopping" could care less about denominational brand names ... First, theologically literate persons know that the real issue in Scripture is Jesus. The Body of Christ is essentially undenominational. It is made up of all people everywhere who have been born anew--regardless of their denominational membership or lack thereof. The Baptist, Pentecostal, and Presbyterian pastors I know in Nashville are far more concerned to introduce struggling persons to Jesus than to recruit another member for their churches ... Second, people whose lives need spiritual focus and direction neither ask nor care about a teacher's denominational association...So welcome to The Family of God at Woodmont Hills. We know the history of denominations. It's just that we're not so interested in perpetuating rivalry and sectarianism as in exalting Jesus. It's a great time to be alive (emph. MLW)!
I don't know about the "theologically literate," but the folks who are Bible-based know that denominational affiliation has nothing to do with newness of life! One who obeys the gospel and is born again is added to the Lord's church by the Lord Himself (cf. Acts 2:41, 47). The Lord does not add people to man-made religious groups that He did not build (cf. Matt. 16:18).
Those "church shopping" should care about the name of the church. Christ is the head of His body which is His church (Eph. 1:22-23). There is only one body (Eph. 4:4) and it is the only body that Christ has promised to save (Eph. 5:23).
Shelly says that "theologically literate persons know that the real issue in Scripture is Jesus." Remember the cry; "Give me Christ but not the church." This cry that Jesus is the only real issue in Scripture is the same old " gobble-d-gook." One cannot have the head without His body! A person cannot have Christ without obeying the gospel plan of salvation. Salvation is located in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 2:10) and being sprinkled will not put one "into Christ" (Gal. 3:27). One cannot claim he has Jesus when he is not willing to follows in the Savior's steps (I Pet. 2:21).
Rubel has the Baptists, Pentecostals and Presbyterians as part of the body of Christ! You will search the Scriptures in vain for the church wearing the above names. Neither will you find the apostles teaching folks to be "born anew" and then giving no thought to their denominational membership! To be so literate, Rubel surely doesn't know very much about the Bible.
People who desire to know the truth had better be concerned with "a teacher's denominational association." Why? Because that teacher's focus will be on following denominational creeds instead of following the inspired Word of God!
Rubel said Woodmont Hills was "not so interested in perpetuating rivalry and sectarianism as in exalting Jesus." Our wayward brother needs to be reminded that Jesus will never be exalted in a denomination and it is the sects that have caused the division (cf. 1 Cor. 1:10-13) that the faithful abhor!
5810 Liberty Grove Rd.
Rowlett, TX 75089
In general the "Social Gospel" describes the philosophy of people whose emphasis is on the ills and needs of this present life, rather than on an eternal reward after this life. It emphasizes the social and physical concerns rather than spiritual.
As a consequence of such emphasis there is a de-emphasis on truth, blood atonement, the covenant, evangelism and the resurrection. Judgment perhaps would not be mentioned at all.
Some of their slogans are "It's better to be righteous than to be right," as though there were a difference. The use of "blood" is eliminated. Concerning the resurrection, they refer to it as "pie in the sky, by and by." They speak of Christians with hope as "other world" minded. They are more interested in relieving financial poverty than spiritual poverty.
There were some social gospelites in Jesus' day. After He had fed the 5,000 one day, the same crowd gathered the next morning for "breakfast." When they finally located Him in Capernaum across the Sea of Galilee from where He fed them the evening before, He told them that they sought Him "not because ye saw signs, but because ye ate of the loaves, and were filled." Then He gave them what should have been their priority: "Work not for the food which perisheth, but for the food which abideth unto eternal life" (John 6:27).
To be sure the church should be interested in the welfare of mankind and minister help as it is needed. However, many today, like in Jesus' day, are only interested in what "social" help they can get from the church. Once they have received their hand-out, they have no further interest in the church's major program of saving souls for eternal life.
The poor we will have with us always (Matt. 26:11), so opportunity to help them will likewise always be with us. But that the poor have the gospel preached unto them is the major purpose of the church (Matt. 11:5). Keeping our priorities straight is beneficial both to the church and to mankind.
There is no hint of a guess within the Word of God that a heretic must be visited personally before his error can be exposed. This is but a weak crutch of an excuse and the tragedy is compounded in that ignorance begets ignorance with reference to correcting error. John did not go see Diotrephes before he blasted the heretic (III John 9). Jesus did not pay Herod the fox a visit in order to expose the enemy (Luke 13:32).
I really think that we are all ignorant in so many areas but there is no excuse for the flagrant ignorance which concocts so many of the present wild-eyed, goof-off schemes. It was ignorance which killed the Prince of Life (Acts 3:15-17). Because of ignorance, man is alienated from the life of God (Eph 4:18). Because of ignorance, lust can prevail (1 Peter 1:14). Ignorance is a characteristic of foolish men (1 Peter 2:15). Through ignorance, false gods can be worshipped (Acts 17:23). Ignorance and unbelief are fellow workers (1 Tim. 1:13).
There is no deficiency as costly as willful ignorance (Jude 10). God will not condone man's contentment to bask in wilful ignorance. There is no demonstration of willful ignorance as pronounced as the liberal splutter that the false teacher has to be paid a personal visit before his foolishness is condemned by the inspired Word.
Such a fantasy is very modern and those who prattle the heresy could see their blunder, if they were not resigned to being willfully ignorant. The far-out theory is disjunctive, illogical, detached, incongruous, fallacious, incredible, flimsy, untenable, frivolous, pettifogging, irrational, ridiculous, farcical, bathetic, preposterous, ludicrous, bizarre, new fangled, whimsical, disparate, conflicting, discordant and such like. It is ignorance gone to seed. Ponder carefully each of the above words to see new ignorance.
These compromising, ignorant brethren remind me of those devils in Gadara (Mark 5:1-11). They wanted to be left alone but Jesus did not swallow their bait. Any scheme which the devil can put into the heads of people (elders) which would result in silence toward error, such schemes will be used for certain. No field is more fertile for such lame-brained, wrong-headed ideas, than the empty heads of some of our figure-head bishops. Faithful shepherds do not swallow smooth words and fair speeches which deceive the hearts of the simple (Rom. 16:18). It would make as much nonsense to ask if we should pattern after Judas Iscariot. There were good men, not counting Judas, who will help us to live faithfully if we will follow their example of dealing with heretics. Some of us continue to put in long hours, painful research, dutiful study and great effort in order to dispel ignorance. Some folks think our efforts are not very helpful, not very sound, a mite too pointed, a bit too personal and sometimes a batch of "Plumblies."
Doug Foster of ACU is to be the representative of the
churches of Christ in a forth coming
study of congregational life. The study will be held at such
events as the ACU and Pepperdine
lectureships and the Tulsa Workshop. Do you suppose it would be
possible to have Saddam
Hussein to represent the faithful congregations in this study?
What a pity!
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