In previous articles, we have been discussing religious error that exists without. That is, outside the fellowship of churches of Christ. Other departures from truth, of more recent vintage, have troubled the people of God.
In the United States, two serious digressions have taken place in the last 150 years. In the 19th century, division occurred when some began to advocate the church support of a human missionary society. Some were unwilling to trust the New Testament pattern for evangelism, and established a human institution to do the work instead. The church was displaced in its work, and became a fund raising organization for the human missionary society. This issue, coupled with the introduction of mechanical instruments of music in worship, led to a division and formation of the Christian Church denomination.
Continue reading » Institutionalism
“They sow the wind, And reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no bud; It shall never produce meal. If it should produce, Aliens would swallow it up” (Hosea 8:7).
The minor prophet was excoriating the false religions which Israel dallied with in their temptation of God so many centuries ago now. Such false religions plant something without substance and produce something destructive. Their adherents are without moral compass, for false religion offers either none or one inferior to God’s and thus the challenges of the world and the worldly overcome them in time.
The prophecy bears some resemblance to Christ’s parable of the sower in Matthew 13. There also, three of four souls touched by the gospel did not endure in the faith because of persecution, trial or apathy. Today, so many churches of Christ are sowing the wind in their instruction of the young that we are nearly reduced to standing back and waiting for the whirlwind when the next, untaught generation assumes pulpits, pens and presbyteries.
Continue reading » Walking Worthy: Reaping Another Whirlwind
Editor’s Note: After this August 2001 issue was already posted, I was asked by brother Yeager to publish the following article. Brother Yeager has recently taken a stand against the error that is documented elsewhere in this issue of Watchman. His reasons for leaving serve as a welcome addition to the material already found in this month’s Watchman. I commend the article to you.
The Lord’s church today is divided over many issues. Most of those issues are simply filed under the subject of Bible Authority. I spent my first preaching work teaching liberal doctrines relative to the church’s authority to support things in which the Bible never authorized. I spent most of my second preaching work studying some of these issues because of Ed Phillips who was my neighbor, friend, and a fellow Gospel Preacher. I had studied with others and had seen some of my inconsistencies but I was not fully convinced that I was a false teacher on these matters of authority. I then began my third work and during the beginning of that work I was realizing more and more as I studied. I never did buy into the fact that we had authority to support orphan homes with the Lord’s money, but I did not stand against it either. This article is going to reveal what finally made me leave the liberal position of Institutionalism and the things relating to that position. I knew of some like myself who did not belong in that belief system, but we also had a developed hatred towards what we termed “anti’s”. Of course, labels are used to develop prejudice against a group of people. For example the Christian church calls faithful members of the Lord’s church “non-instrumentalist”. This is true, for faithful Bible students would be “anti instruments” or against instruments used in Christian worship. We must realize that there are extremists on all sides of every issue. I am not an extremist. I was listening to a lecture on the subject of “anti-ism” on the Internet. This fellow said that “anti-ism” was people who bind one communion cup, no bible class, etc. This is the case in some extreme positions, but not most. Do not allow your mind to be clouded by misrepresentations so that you will not study these issues. This is what I did, it took me too long to wake up and see the truth!
Continue reading » Why I Left Liberalism
Why We Are Still Divided in the 21st Century
The apostle Paul wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit to the saints in the first century as recorded in 1 Corinthians 1:10, “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” We know this was in accordance with the desire of Jesus because of Christ’s prayer that we have recorded in John 17. We read in verses 20-21 of that chapter these words of prayer offered to the heavenly Father by our Lord: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
The ancient psalmist, David, wrote of the pleasantness of unity when he penned the 133rd Psalm, which reads: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing — Life forevermore” (vss. 1-3)
Continue reading » Division: The Institutional Issue
One of the most useful helps in a study of the Bible is an accurate understanding of its teaching concerning expediency. Through the centuries a misunderstanding of such has dealt the church untold misery. Under the guise of expediency every form of innovation has been promoted, and wholesale apostasies developed in the work and worship of the church. Missionary societies and instrumental music were both defended as expedient methods of executing God’s commands. Again today from the camps of the innovators the cry of expediency is heard under the same guise in an all out effort to promote organizations and operations of the same nature as those of yesteryear.
What is Expediency?
Webster says expediency means, “Cultivation of, or adherence to, expedient means and methods.” Expediency, then, has to do “means and methods ” that is, the manner or way in which a given work is accomplished. In short, then, an expedient in religion is the best means or method of executing a divine command when the way to do it is not specified.
Continue reading » Are Institutional Orphan Homes Expedient?
A. Over fifty years ago, a prominent preacher warned:
The ship of Zion has floundered more than once on the sand-bar of institutionalism. The tendency to organize is characteristic of the age. This writer has ever been unable to appreciate the logic of those who affect to see grave danger in the missionary society but scruple not to form organizations for the purpose of caring for orphans, and teaching young men to be gospel preachers. Of course it is right for the church to care for the fatherless and widows in their affliction, but the work should be done by and through the church with the elders having the oversight thereof. (Guy N. Woods, ACC Lectures, 1939, p.54).
B. Using commonly accepted terminology as employed in the quote above, the Scriptures shall be our authority in this study of institutionalism (2 Tim. 1:13; 2 Jn. 9; 1 Pet. 4:11; Col. 3:17; Matt. 28:20).
Continue reading » Institutionalism
(Roy Cogdill’s First Affirmative)
Editor’s note: What appears below is a computer scanning of the first affirmative speech by Roy E. Cogdill in the Cogdill – Woods debate, also known as the Birmingham Debate, conducted in Birmingham, Alabama, November 18 – 23, 1957. The enhancements included in this publication highlight scripture quotations within the text. The other text enhancements appear in the original text. The Copyright from the book appears at the end of the article. Permission was sought from and granted by Mike Willis of the Guardian of Truth Foundation, which holds the copyright on the book, for this publication to be made. Our thanks are extended to brother Willis for his cooperation. This is a classic presentation that I wanted to have included in this issue of Watchman on the subject of institutionalism.
It is contrary to the scriptures for churches of Christ to build and maintain benevolent organizations for the care of the needy, such as Boles Home, Tipton Home, Tennessee Orphan Home, Childhaven, and other Orphan Homes and Homes for the Aged that are among us.
AFFIRMATIVE: Roy E. Cogdill
NEGATIVE: Guy N. Woods
Cogdill’s First Affirmative
Gentlemen moderators, brother Woods, ladies and gentlemen:
I am grateful for the good providence of God that has made it possible for us to assemble upon this occasion that we might study together his word. I am also very grateful for the presence of this good audience in spite of the storm and pray that it has done a minimum of damage, especially to those who are of the household of faith. We are glad that you are here and we are grateful for the fact that many brethren have come from all over the country to study these questions with us. Your presence at a sacrifice of time and money upon your part, many of you an extended sacrifice, indicates the great interest that you have in the issues that are involved in this discussion. An interest that I hope and pray is born of a desire to know the truth of Almighty God concerning these issues, that we may stand before him for that which is right and according to truth.
Continue reading » Cogdill – Woods Debate
(Editor’s Note: Brother Robert’s wrote this article for the West Side Weekly in November of 1972. We reprint the article now, as it parallels this month’s theme, and has a valid point to make.)
On various occasions, when I have had opportunity to talk with brethren in liberal churches, one of the recurring charges is that we have no right to charge apostasy against them because "you are not doing anything among yourselves." The implication is that the liberal churches are the only ones doing anything while the "conservative" (faithful) churches are dead and not doing any work at all.
But the charge needs closer investigation.
The idea that churches which oppose centralized control and institutions and the social gospel are dead is certainly not true and can be shown to be a false charge. But why does it seem this way to the liberals? What gives them the idea that we are not doing anything?
Continue reading » Associate Editorial: "But You’re Not Doing Anything"