Index by Subject

Running Ahead of God

“Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14).

Most people are aware of the fact that Jonah tried to run away from God. He could not do so, and neither can we. We are also aware of Saul of Tarsus resisting God, or kicking “against the goads” (Acts 9:5). In this article, I want to consider some lessons we need to learn from those who made mistakes in the “opposite direction” – those who tried to run ahead of God. To put it another way, we will consider the accounts of those who presumed to know what God wanted and acted on their own to carry it out. Continue reading » Running Ahead of God

White Unto Harvest: "It’s Different Over Here"

How often over the years I have heard both institutional and conservative brethren make the above statement concerning the issues which divided brethren in the 1950’s and since.  As a result of this belief some brethren in military or government service have been influenced to cast in their lot with institutional churches during their tour of duty in Germany.  Some conservative preachers have moved freely between conservative and liberal churches, even having institutional preachers in for gospel meetings because it’s “different” in Europe than in the U.S.  Non-institutional churches in the U.S. have financially supported so-called “conservative” preachers who labor in Europe who practice such blurring of lines as we have described in the preceding sentence because ‘it is not the same over there; they have not divided over these issues.’

Continue reading » White Unto Harvest: "It’s Different Over Here"

The Social Gospel

Why Churches of Christ Do Not Build or Support “Fellowship Centers” or Sponsored Recreation

“But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). So wrote Paul the apostle to the Corinthian Christians two millennia ago. Problems in the church of Christ are nothing new, and have existed since the First Century. There have always been problems, issues, disagreements, heresies, and apostasy stemming from within the church, and often this internal turmoil can be more harmful and hurtful than external persecution. The particular manifestations of the root issues have varied throughout history, but the seed has remained the same; that seed is the desire to change the worship of God to the worship of self.

We young preachers have read many accounts of the issues that affected the church in the 19th Century and earlier, especially in this country as the issue of institutionalism played itself out in the debates over the church’s support of manmade institutions. Yet the people representing the two sides of these issues have, for the most part, stood their ground, so that today there are faithful brethren who refrain from such practices, and others who insist on them – a vast rift between those who once were brethren, and now are very different.

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The Social Gospel

The church needs to be “relevant” in our age. It needs to address the problems of our society, and be an agency of change to benefit mankind. This is a sentiment with which all agree. However, it is such a broad generalization that it allows for many different interpretations.

One such interpretation has led to the establishment of a “social” emphasis regarding the purpose and work of the church in the world today. Suggestions are made that the challenges of our culture and time are different from those in the past, and the church must change to meet those needs. I suppose that it is natural for each generation to think that its problems and needs are unique, and require unique solutions.

The “social gospel” mindset had its genesis in such thinking. Around 1900, theologically liberal thought among the various Protestant denominations led to a determination to innovatively deal with the peculiar problems of the emerging urban-industrial nations. This period of time between the Civil War and World War II was the genesis of one of the most influential religious movements in America’s history. Men felt the need to turn the United States into a modern utopia, and saw the church as a tool to bring about that change — hence the synthesis of the “social gospel.” When the advocate of the pure social gospel speaks of salvation, he is not referring to freedom from sin and the hope of eternal life, but rather freedom from poverty and misery on this earth. While we refer to the kingdom as the rule of the Christ, and the spiritual relationship with Him as the head; the “social gospel” apologist advocates the change of such a perception to that of a kingdom on earth. One early influential writer in this movement wrote, “The kingdom of God is a great social synthesis which includes the whole life of man, spiritual, moral, mental and physical; its field of manifestation is man’s personal, family, social, political and industrial relations.” Continue reading » The Social Gospel

Editorial: Targeting Our Youth

“Brethren, We Are Drifting”
Many of our readers are familiar with the sentiment that J.D. Tant made famous years ago as he ended many articles of warning with the phrase, “Brethren, we are drifting.” No doubt his pronouncement was a source of irritation to many who considered him a rather cantankerous sort.History has born out the relevant nature of his warnings. Indeed Christians were drifting from the straight and narrow paths of truth. Seeds of digression were being sown, which have since led to a full blown apostasy. The fact that many could not see the beginning of the drift does not change the fact that the warnings were needed. Those who heeded the words of brother Tant and his ilk were able to avoid the error that led to the digression of many congregations of the Lord’s people.In this article we will discuss the “social gospel”, a philosophy which sound congregations have always rejected. The specific application we will address is that aspect of the “social gospel” which is seen in the targeting of young people for special emphasis and focus. We shall begin in this article by looking at certain examples of institutional churches which have long embraced the concept of utilizing the “social gospel” to appeal to the young. We shall also see that some churches which once stood against such a philosophy seem now to want to embrace it. This constitutes a “drifting”, and we, as those of Tant’s time, are in dire need of warning. We fully recognize that many will be unable or unwilling to see the dangers. This in no way invalidates the need for sounding the trumpets of alarm in the face of another trend toward digression. Continue reading » Editorial: Targeting Our Youth