PLUMBLINE -- Editor, Wayne Coats

Vol. 4 No. 3,    Oct 1999

The Gestation And Birthing Process Of A Denomination

J. E. Choate

Since the 1960s, the postmodern Church of Christ has been gradually taking on the form and substance of another Protestant denomination. The movement began with an "elite" crop of young "intellectuals" who had grown ashamed of the traditional churches of Christ.

Some of the "young turks" held Ph.Ds from prestigious theological seminaries. They came out loaded to the gill with the new theology labeled neo-orthodoxy. No longer was it the apostle Paul whom they admired as their biblical hero but Barth and Bultmann. Today, it would not be Peter and Paul, but dangerously closer to John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar. It is such seminarians who now push their theological packages.

Change was in the air! Their long range goals were being formulated. Their agendas were "fuzzy" through the 60s and 70s. This is now no longer the case. The premier liberal theologies today are labeled Liberation theology; "Derridean" deconstruction; the Third Wave Pentecostal Movement; the Kansas City Prophets; and the "Jesus theology" of the Westmar Institute. Few in the pews have the vaguest ideas of such.

They became increasingly open with their stated liberal views. Their big talking point in the early '90s was the "old hermeneutic" versus the "new hermeneutic." Go to the 1989-1991 Christian Scholars Conference (CSC) papers and Image magazine to read about this. "Our scholars" who can now write learned papers on the cutting edge of modern liberal scholarship are documenting their learned papers with Bultmann,

The paradigms of postmodern theology take on different guises. Michael Moss, chairman of the Lipscomb Bible department, says it best in his 1989 CSC paper: "One must reject a rigid 'pattern theology' which simply transplants religious and cultural forms from the first century to the modern age." Randy Harris, popular Lipscomb Bible faculty member, advocates the "hermeneutic of suspicion."

The "hermeneutic of suspicion" is a loaded word in liberal postmodern theology. Dr. Elizabeth Fiorenzo Schussler, popularized the "hermeneutic of suspicion" theology in her "scholarly" writings in feminist liberation theology. An example of this would be the suggestion that Paul degraded woman by giving her an inferior status in the apostolic church. This concept is also exemplified in the notorious 1992 Wineskins article in which Andre Resner of ACU portrayed the virgin Mary as a woman of questionable character and Joseph as an unwitting cuckold.

To date, the main paradigm of choice among our avant garde liberal brethren is the Willow Creek Community Church model with mixtures of the "Third Wave" Pentecostalism, and the Kansas City Prophets thrown into the mixture.



The purpose here is to trace the movements of our postmodern liberal brethren as they consign the traditional churches of Christ to the trash bins of Restoration history. We will examine the "paradigm" (model) of the post World War II Church of Christ denomination reconstructed by our liberal brethren. And, to do so is as easy as tracking a full moon across the night sky.

The best documentation for this are two books written by Douglas Foster and Richard Hughes who enjoy the closest fraternal ties with the Disciples of Christ. Both hold offices on the editorial staff of the Disciples of Christ Historical Society. Is it not puzzling that their books should be reviewed in such publications as the Gospel Advocate and the Christian Chronicle?

These two "spin" doctors, Douglas Foster and Richard Hughes, trotted out their new model for the Church of Christ denomination in their books--Will the Cycle Be Unbroken, and Reviving the Ancient Faith. The primary thesis of these two highly touted books has worked its way through publications, lectureships, and numerous church bulletins. Foster-Hughes contends in fee simple that the postmodern Church of Christ denomination is less than fifty years old.

Telling statements are lifted out of the Foster and Hughes books which leave no room for questions. Foster develops the "sect to church" theory through the shaping influences of societal and sociological forces. Foster contends the "available data on Churches of Christ indicate that we fit this pattern." Foster concludes that the churches of Christ "emerged as a separate group by the first decade of the [19th] century."

Hughes wrote 458 pages of print to document a similar contention: "My treatment of the story in the twentieth century focuses on the evolution [italics mine] of Churches of Christ from sect to denomination." Hughes assumed a scholarly posture during the Reed Lectures on the Lipscomb campus to make his case. He said that: "In the early nineteenth century it made a great deal of sense to claim that we were not a Church of Christ denomination...."

He uses the expression "Stone-Campbell tradition" as if this were a phrase in common usage during the 19th century. Earl West in his FHU lecture commented that the expression never existed only as Hughes wished it to exist in his imagination.

Dr. Hughes was invited to the Lipscomb University to deliver the 1997 October Reed Lectures. The two evening lectures were advertised as one of the gala events planned to coincide with the inauguration of Stephen F. Flatt to be Lipscomb's 16th president. Steve was present and presented with a lifetime membership in the Disciples of Christ Historical Society.

We wonder if Steve really understood what was being said on Lipscomb's farm those two nights, and has he read the 1904 David and Margaret Lipscomb deed in which they bequeathed their farm to the Nashville Bible School?

The two lectures are printed in the DCHS'S official publication, Disciplana. In these two papers, Dr. Hughes explains how the Churches of Christ evolved into a denomination from a sectarian beginning. He set up the paradigm of the postmodern Church of Christ denomination in words that a junior 7th grader can understand: "We had 'our' churches and 'our' papers, 'our' lectureships, 'our' preachers." So he concludes, we have our denomination.



These three articles are printed in the recently published Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture under the auspices of the Tennessee Historical Society. What a travesty that these brethren still want to pose as members of the traditional churches of Christ, and that the Tennessee Historical Society would invite them as representatives of the traditional churches of Christ.

They wrote the following statements and a great deal more which provides clear insights in their use of "deconstruction" methodology to portray the "blood bought churches of Christ" as a fellowship with a sectarian origin less than two centuries old. Their church foundation is not the "rock" of Matthew 16, but rather the Hughes' contrived jerry-built "Stone-Campbell Restoration" traditions.

Dr. Harold Hazelip, Chancellor of Lipscomb University leaves nothing for the imagination in his statement: "Churches of Christ are a primitivistic body of Christian believers...their purpose is to reproduce the beliefs and practices of the earliest Christians [New Testament Christians] in their assemblies and lives." Dr. Hazelip speaks of Barton W. Stone and Alexander Campbell as the first generation leaders of the Restoration Movement.

Dr. Hazelip is saying between the lines that David Lipscomb is the second generation leader of this Restoration sectarian movement. Dr. Hazelip's historical "put down of the 'Church of Christ'" is as "cold blooded" as that of any prejudiced church historian who pursues personal agendas.

Dr. Robert Hooper, former Lipscomb history chairman, was once regarded as a staunch member of the traditional churches of Christ. Dr. Hazelip started his early years as an "anti-institutional" radical, but he deserted the "antis" to return to the "greener pastures" of the traditional churches of Christ. His rewards, prestige, material considerations, are great and have been attained in the traditional churches of Christ.

Robert Hooper is an elder in the Woodmont Hills Family of God and a right man of Rubel Shelly. Only in the past ten years have Hazelip and Hooper elected to show their hands.

Dr. Hooper writes in his essay on David Lipscomb much the same as Dr. Hazelip that David Lipscomb was a "second generation Stone-Campbell Movement leader...." Hooper makes the absurd statement that Tolbert Fanning "spent the remainder of his life within the Disciples of Christ and a seceding fellowship, the Churches of Christ." Dr. Hooper would re-write the history of the churches of Christ with a myopic historical vision.

I issue a challenge to Harold Hazelip and Robert Hooper to find a single word in print in which Fanning and Lipscomb support these unfounded allegations of these two brethren. A question to them about this would be a pompous bombast reply that, we do not stoop to give answer to such.

G. David England, who is head of the Lipscomb news bureau, wrote a brief history about Lipscomb University. David fails to mention that Lipscomb University has any affinity with Churches of Christ. David is not a church historian. This omission is attributed to his guiding mentors, Hazelip and Hooper.



The traditional churches of Christ are being torn asunder by a postmodern "Church of Christ" cabal. Once highly respected traditional churches of Christ have become enclaves for the likes of Hazelip and Hooper to bring down these churches from whose pulpits they once preached.

We were not surprised to see the names of Bill Brummit and Gary Bradley on the Jubilee roster of speakers. We think Max Lucado mortally wounded Jubilee in 1997, that Jeff Walling dug the Jubilee grave in 1998, and that Lynn Anderson buried Jubilee '99 on the Arena stage with the shovel and dirt we saw on Thursday evening during the keynote address.

Politically Or Biblically Correct?

Steven D. Cline

While listening to the news recently, I learned that the Crayola Crayon Company no longer feels that the name of one of its colors, "Indian Red," is appropriate, being afraid that the title may be offensive. The company wants to be "politically correct" and is going to change the name. It is the third time in the crayon company's history that this has been done. In the early 1960's "Flesh" became "Peach" and prior to that, the name "Prussian Blue" was changed because school children were ignorant as to whom the Prussians were.

Today, we are inundated with the term "politically correct," (hereby referred to as "P.C.") and with the concept of being such, we are being conditioned to "tread on eggshells" as it were, lest we hurt someone's sensitive feelings with our lack of amenities. Our society is getting to the point where we are afraid to say or speak something that may be taken as derogatory. We are told that, in this age of permissiveness and liberal enlightenment, we must not be offensive to anyone. Politically incorrect people are thought, by the New Age intelligentsia, to be crude, uncouth and socially unacceptable in their primitive Neanderthal blabbering. Of course, the P.C. people themselves have finesse, aplomb and social grace. They are quite the discriminating, refined and cultured souls. (Dear me, I hope I have not upset the humanists. I should have been P.C. and refrained from using the word "souls," something the humanists do not believe in.)

But what is political correctness? It's merely an attitude of mind that is constantly changing depending on the general mood of the populace and the tenor of the time in which one lives. It is pragmatic (i.e., whatever works for a given situation), relative and subjective. What is P.C. now may not be in the future. Something that is welcome now may not be at a later time and visa versa. Political correctness is as unstable as water and as shifting as the desert dunes.

There are those in the Bible whose language would not be considered acceptable to the ones who are so adamant in being P.C. Jesus was not being thus when He referred to Herod as a "fox" (Luke 13:31-32), when he called the scribes and Pharisees "hypocrites" (Matt. 23:13ff) and when he warned of false prophets (Matt. 5:15). (Didn't Jesus know that these disparaging remarks could lead to hurt feelings and a lowered sense of self-esteem in the ones He spoke of?) Paul was not being P.C. when he withstood Peter to the face in Galatians 2:11. John the Baptist was by far too politically incorrect for the delicate sensitivities of the more genteel P.C. elite, in his harsh and untactful habit of calling people vipers (Matt. 3:7), and John the Apostle called a church troublemaker, Diotrephes, by name, which would cause the P.C. proponent to gasp in horror... "mustn't do that, John. Diotrephes has feelings you know...okay the Golden Rule, and let live." Not only that, but all four, Jesus, Paul, the Immerser and the Apostle John taught on and warned of Hell...a very politically incorrect subject if ever there was one!

The gospel preachers in the early church and the staunch Old Testament prophets were not afraid of the people to whom they preached (Acts 20:22-24; Jeremiah 1:8). Their sermons, whether positive or negative, always had a positive goal (i.e. to save souls). Whether the listeners appreciated it or not, the message was always for their own good and never for their detriment. But so many today, including preachers, have been intimidated and/or influenced by the P.C. crowd insomuch that they modify their words as not to sound so crass. Therefore, a whore (Prov. 23:27) or a harlot (1 Cor. 6:15) becomes a "lady of the night," "call-girl," or "playmate of the month." A soothsayer (Joshua 13:22) is now a "trans-channeler." A sodomite (Deut. 23:17) has become a "gay." Lying is "fibbing." Pornography is "art for the discriminating adult" and fornication is now a "trial marriage," "the new morality," "living together," or "common law marriage." Adultery is seldom called that any more (except from behind a faithful pulpit or in a divorce court). Now it is "having an extra-marital affair." Cold-blooded murder of the unborn is called "abortion," or to make it even more conscience-salving, a "terminated pregnancy." Drunkards are now know as "problem drinkers." The one true living Jehovah God is often referred to as "The Force" or a "Higher Power" in order to accommodate the ones who do not believe in Him. To appease the Feminists, God is often called "She" or "Mother." Some liberal, social gospel, brotherhood of man denominations do not see militant Christian hymns such as "Onward Christian Soldiers" as P.C., so they were removed from the songbooks. (Jesus is the "Prince of Peace" so "war mongering" songs must be eliminated, you see).

This P.C. influence is even rife among certain members of the church. In the minds of some, it was not P.C. to have copies of the bold and uncompromising speech by H. Leo Boles, "The Way of Unity Between Christian Church and Churches of Christ" at the 1984 Summit in Joplin. It was said that brother Bole's language was "abusive and crude" and that his tracts would not "be in the best interests of the meeting." No wonder! The "Summit" was held right on the Christian Church's own "turf"--the Ozark Bible College. Some have apologized to the Christian Church for the likes of Lipscomb and McGarvey. Apparently it is not P.C. to esteem these valiant old stalwarts of the faith any longer. And, decades before the term "P.C." came into vogue, the concept was alive and well...witness for instance when the Firm Foundation, under the editorship of brother Showalter, refused to print the powerfully pointed articles of the inimitable J. D. Tant...just because some readers found him coming on too strong for their tastes.

While Christians should never purposely be offensive to anyone, while we should never try to alienate anyone (2 Tim. 2:24-26), let us remember that we are still to please God and not man (Gal. 1:10), and we need to speak the oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11), being Biblically correct rather than Politically correct.

PO Box 140214

Nashville, TN 37214

Strife And Contention

Some few years ago I heard brother Guy Woods relate how many meetings, lectureships, and special lessons he presented each year. The brother had a startling statement when he mentioned that into every area where he had gone during the year, church troubles were prevalent. If strife and division prevails in every county of every state in the nation, I guarantee that whoever is responsible for the problems will not admit their responsibility for such troubles. Moreover, it is certain that preaching the inspired Word regarding strife will not turn the contentious person around. A blockhead is difficult to deal with, primarily because he thinks he is so wonderfully brilliant. We must keep preaching the inspired word, whether people believe it or not.

Regardless of the guilty party, the Bible is plain in its condemnation of those who cause strife. The wise man wrote, "Go not forth hastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbour hath put thee to shame" (Prov. 25:8). When Jesus taught concerning the living bread which came down from heaven, "The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat" (John 6:52). The Jews engaged in strife because they were so infernal ignorant. Ignorance breeds strife even unto the present.

When Paul wrote to Timothy, there is no doubt that the young man was laboring under harsh and difficult circumstances. Paul declared, "Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers" (2 Tim. 2:14). Again he wrote, "And the servant of the Lord must not strive: but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient" (2 Tim. 2:24).

The person who causes strife is usually so blind and obtuse as to not know or care about his babbling tongue. Solomon wrote, "Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins" (Prov. 10:12). Again we read, "A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife" (Prov. 15:18). "Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices" (Prov. 15:18). "The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it is meddled with" (Prov. 17:14). "He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction" (Prov. 17:19). "It is an honor for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling" (Prov. 20:3). "As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife" (Prov. 26:21).

"Why doest thou show me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention" (Hab. 1:3)

The disciples of our Lord resorted to pride and strife. We learn, "And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest" (Luke 22:24). To the brethren (that's what we are) Paul wrote, "Let us walk honestly as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying" (Rom. 13:13). "For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults" (2 Cor. 12:20).

When Paul enumerated the works of the flesh in his letter to Galatia, he wrote of such things as, "Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies" (Gal. 5:20). Brethren, please look at the diabolical sins of which strife is one. Will that make any impression on us? I do not believe the person given to strife will be benefited whatsoever. With his egotistical stupidity, he can blame all others and exonerate self. The mandate of heaven is, "Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves" (Phil 2:3). Paul wrote about the sorry character who, "is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings" (1 Tim. 6:4). James wrote, "But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work" (James 3:14-16).

Instead of wicked, evil, strife prevailing, Christians need to use our influence and efforts to spread the saving gospel. The inspired Paul wrote, "Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation" (Rom. 15:20). "Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me" (Rom. 15:30). To the brethren at Philippi, Paul wrote, "Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel" (Phil. 1:27). To the Hebrews Paul wrote, "Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin" (Heb. 12:4).

My heart aches when I contemplate the strife, schism and discord which prevails in the church. Some brother will come up with a fool notion which is prattled in the name of progress and everyone is expected to kow-tow to the brother. The church is polarized, the devil is made happy, souls are lost in hell eternally, the unity for which Christ died is made a mockery of simply because brethren do not have sense enough to keep their big mouths shut. It is still true, "where no wood is, there the fire goeth out" (Prov. 26:20). Where there are no wooden heads, the fire will not get started.

--Wayne Coats, Editor

Graffiti For God

On a recent trip to the Brownwood Hospital, Kelly and I passed a section of property that will soon be a surgical branch of the Regional Medical Complex. The landscape was unattended and the building boarded up with plywood to protect the roughed-in, two-by-four wall framing that had not received its exterior. It looked like any other construction site with one exception. Spray painted in bright colors across two sections of the four-by-eight paneling were the words, "Jesus loves You." Kelly commented, "That's not a particularly good place for that message."

My feeble mind immediately ground into gear. How correct, I thought. The message of Jesus' love is pier and beam to the Gospel structure. However, the illegal action of defacing private property, vandalizing and generating an eyesore, can't be beneficial to the cause of Christ. It was certainly detrimental to the message and contributed to a negative perception of Christians in general.

In a society where Christians are often belittled because of their beliefs, it is inappropriate to package the message of Supreme Love in a criminal container. Children of God will be spoken evil of enough without adding fodder for the cannon (1 Cor. 10:30). Standing for anything moral or righteous today is like painting a target on your forehead. Our liberal media has declared open season on Christians and take potshots at every opportunity. Perpetrating an unlawful act only contributes to the natural hatred some have to the truth, and is an asinine act of spiritual suicide. Further, it smacks of the hypocrisy. It's a common sight now a days -- a fan, waving his "John 3:16" placard at a Sunday evening football game, and "forsaking the assembly of the saints" (Heb. 10:25,26)!

Peter qualified the types of things for which we should suffer. "If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part he is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter" (1 Peter 4:14-16). That the Christian will suffer is a given (2 Tim. 3:12), but how can we "put to silence the ignorance of foolish men" if we are not willing to "submit (our)selves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake" (1 Peter 2:13-16)? In the immortal words of this generation, "Dude, what are you thinking?"

We need to preach the Gospel to a lost and dying world. However, every method of preaching Jesus to the world is not authorized We cannot "do evil, that good may come" (Rom. 3:8). Lead others to Christ? Yes, but "do not lot your good be spoken of as evil" (Rom. 14:16).

--J. D. Swetten

Mechanical Instrumental Music In Worship

Steve A. Miller

An often heard statement by one not a member of the church of Christ, when visiting our services is, "why do you not use instrumental music in your worship." It is important for us to give an answer to those who question our beliefs (1 Peter 3:15).

God demands that we worship Him. "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). To worship God correctly, we must worship in spirit (with the heart) and in truth (according to the New Testament). There are two kinds of music: vocal, and instrumental. If God said to "make" music then we could use either one or both of these. What has God decreed regarding music in New Testament worship? There are principles we must consider in this study as we head toward a conclusion.


First, consider the authority of Jesus Christ. He has all authority (Matt. 28:18). The Bible says, "He will tell us all things" (John 4:25). God said for us to "Hear ye him" (Matt. 17:5). It is a fact that God speaks to man today through His son (Heb. 1:1-2).


The authority of Christ was delegated to His apostles. "For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me" (John 17:8). Jesus promised the apostles that the Holy Spirit "will teach you all things" (John 14:26), "He will bring all things to your remembrance" (John 14:26), "He will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13), and "He will show you things to come" (John 16:13). There is no place in the teaching of the apostles (who were guided by the Holy Spirit) where there were ever mechanical instruments of music used in worship! We do find in their writings, nine references to the use of vocal music in worship (Matt. 26:30; Acts 16:25; Rom. 15:9; 1 Cor. 14:15; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Heb. 2:12; 13:15; James 5:13).



The church of Christ was established on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2). The church followed the apostles' doctrine (Acts 2:42). They were to "hold fast the form of sound words" (2 Tim. 1:13), and to "abide in the doctrine of Christ" (2 John 9). From Acts chapter 2 to Revelation chapter 22, there is no mention of the early church using mechanical instrumental music in worship!


There are at least five reasons for vocal music in worship: 1) Expression of joy in Christ (James 5:13), 2) Expression of ourselves to one another (Eph. 5:19), 3) Expression of teaching one another (Col. 3:16), 4) Admonishing one another (Col. 3:16), 5) Praise to God (Heb. 2:12; 13:15).


God gave His Only Son, Jesus Christ, all authority. Jesus delegated his authority to the apostles and New Testament writers who recorded the doctrine of Christ by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The early church followed the apostles' doctrine which is the doctrine of Christ. Again, consider the indisputable facts: 1) There is no place in the teaching of the apostles (who were guided by the Holy Spirit) where there were ever mechanical instruments of music used in worship! 2) From Acts chapter 2 to Revelation chapter 22, there is no mention of the early church using mechanical instrumental music in worship!

Our authority, the Bible, teaches that the kind of music God demands in worship to Him is vocal music--congregational singing only! To use mechanical instrumental music in worship is sin!

316 4th Street

Paintsville, KY 41240

Ephesians 2:8

J. Noel Merideth, Deceased

Ephesians 2:8, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." -- "For" is translated from the particle gar and explains why the apostle has said that the exceeding riches of God's grace are shown forth in man's salvation. It also looks back to verse 5 where Paul had said we are saved by grace. Salvation by grace through faith is a summary of the gospel. Salvation is provided by Almighty God. We are lost in sin, but he has provided salvation for us. We are saved by the grace of God through faith. "Grace" charis is unmerited favor; it is opposed to necessity on the part of God and to merit on the part of man. No one made God provide a system of salvation for us and no one could box God in a corner where he owed salvation to man. Grace is the principle upon which God freely acts to save man. Grace is love passing beyond those who deserve it. It is unmerited favor which God has bestowed upon man.

While this sublime passage presents our salvation; controversy has swirled for centuries around this and similar texts. For centuries, Catholicism emphasized merit and works and Martin Luther went to the opposite extreme and had salvation by faith alone. In the Reformation, some said man was saved by grace alone, through faith alone. But this is not a statement of common sense or Scripture. It has been pointed out that if it is by grace alone, it cannot at the same time, be by faith alone. Could a man be married to Sally alone and to Jane alone at the same time? Of course not! There is thus a contradiction. Not only that, but James expressly declares that we are not justified by faith alone (James 2:24).

Paul says we are saved by grace which is translated from te charati, which is literally "the grace." The definite article is before grace in the Greek text and not only expresses an idea which is familiar and distinctive but refers back to "grace" in verse 5 (where the noun, being used adverbially is without the article). Thus "grace" is put forward in the Greek text and emphasis is placed upon this grace. "Grace" is in the dative case and thus shows the means of salvation. "Faith" is the medium by which it is received. Henry Alford says, "it (the salvation) has been effected by grace and apprehended by faith." The faith of course is a living and working faith; it is not a dead faith.

"Are ye saved" is translated from este sesosmenoi which is what is called in the Greek a periphrastic construction. The point is a little technical but once it is seen it is enlightening and understandable. The periphrastic construction is when the writer cannot get all of the details of action from one verbal form. So he uses two, here a finite verb and a participle. The verb here is este, second person plural, present active indicative of eimi. The participle here is sesosmenoi, perfect passive participle, nominative plural, masculine of sodzo. The perfect tense is the tense which speaks of an action that took place in the past time and was completed in the past but having results existing in present time. The idea is that by grace you have been saved in past time, with the result that you are in a state of salvation which continues in the present time.

"Through faith" dia tes pisteos is literally through "the faith." Some think the faith here refers to the gospel; others take faith in a subjective. Some say it may be understood to mean "your faith." The sense of the passage appears to be the faith of man which comes about by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10: 17). Man must respond to the grace in the appropriate way; he must believe. Saving faith is faith which works by love (Gal. 6:7); it is thus obedient faith.

"And that not of yourselves" is translated from kai touto ouk ex humon. The pronoun "that" is neuter gender in Greek. One group of expositors refers "that" to faith in spite of the fact that they do not agree in gender. Others say that "that" being neuter refers to "salvation" under consideration in the context. It appears that this is the correct view of the passage.

People, Places, Things

I have appealed to our readers to help in getting subscribers for the Plumbline. A very few have been willing to help and I deeply appreciate it, more than words can tell. This little paper has raised the dander of a few folks -- who want to be snug and left alone like those devil-possessed characters at Gadara. Isn't it sad that the spirit of some folks is so much like the animal-instinct of hogs and dogs? It is in order to challenge everyone to please point out and refute any false doctrine found upon the pages of the Plumbline.


I recall when Steve Flatt chortled that the paper "should be called Plumblies." Did Stevie point out the lies that I have printed? Will he do so? The cheepest thing among the liberals is babbling, prattling, mumbling, verbose, chatter.

If you are enfeebled, infirmed, weak, frail, and like Moses, slow of speech, perhaps you might help Aaron to speak. If you cannot write an interesting and effective article, perhaps a period of study and training will help. That the church is in a terrible mess from the human perspective, no-one in his right mind would deny. We need a thousand pens joined together as one, in the interest of truth. Will this occur? No! Why not! Brethren are engrossed in too much tommy-rot, spending their time foolishly, content to leave-well-enough-alone, and feel good in their apathetic stance.

Look up the meaning of the following words and you will understand why we have real problems getting some brethren to read and write. There is indifference, unconcern, listlessness, apathy, insensibility, lukewarmness, reluctance, doubt, cynicism, and laziness. "Aye, there's the rub."

There is a dire need for faithful soldiers who will declare war against the forces of evil and especially the false brethren who are determined to take the beautiful bride of Christ into the Oval Office of the devil.


Tragedy of tragedies! To think that I edit a little paper that is so "wonster-jawed," uncouth, negative, untimely, improper, unpropitious, unreasonable, unfavorable, unsuited and crude--that I cannot even give subscriptions away. Some time ago I requested people to send me the names of good people who might read the paper but who needed to count their pennies. I offered to send the paper free. As I recall, I got only one response. Today, in hopes of increasing our subscriptions, I would like to send the paper to one hundred precious people FREE. If you can in good conscience, "lend a hand to help a brother who is striving hard and true, Don't forget that in the valley, there is someone needing you." This offer will last for the rest of the summer and on until the harvest is ended. I have the most wonderful brethren who are bringing me fresh corn, tomatoes, peaches, cabbage, okra, etc. etc. For years I worked six acres of garden space and gave away loads of produce for the sheer joy of helping others--but that time has passed.

While engaged in growing bushels of vegetables, I have been able to spend time developing and refining a diet sandwich for fat preachers. The concoction is as follows--"Take a bowl of boiled okra and a jar of peanut butter and mix them thoroughly. Spread the mixture between two slices of week-old cornbread. Feed the same to the fat preacher and request that he read the following Bible verse every morning, noon, and night, "And besides this, giving all diligence add to your faith...temperance..." (2 Peter 1:5). Do not be too optimistic as to the results.


We receive word from so many who tell us that they read the Plumbline then pass it along to others. I am not an alarmist but we absolutely must realize that we have a formidable foe in the liberal Universities which continues to make shipwreck of the faith of so many. There are a lot of good, honest, people out there who are willing to "stand in the gap" and help oppose the fiery darts of the devil.


It is heart-breaking to see the subscriptions to the Plumbline continue to decrease. As long as I was enjoying good health and able to travel to Lectureships, Gospel Meetings, etc. I would usually say a sentence or two about the paper and request good brethren to write articles which would be of value to readers.

My days of travelling here on this earth are confined to a very brief space and my efforts are concerned with "travelling on" rather than travelling about. It would be a noble gesture if our readers would each send in a subscription for someone else--if such could be done in good conscience.

When you move, send us your change of  address so you won't miss a single issue. The Post Office does not forward the Plumbline

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