Seeds of Sectarianism
Fred A. Shewmaker
The following article, which appeared in one of the brotherhood papers, is one that I wish to share with you.
"On April 12-19, 1942, it was my privilege to go to Brawley, California for a gospel meeting. The Central Church in Los Angeles, where I was working sent me to this work. A small group of Christians was meeting in Brawley, and in the meeting 21 were baptized and three were restored. The church grew and later a house of worship was constructed and soon about 200 people were meeting for worship each Lord's Day. On January 24, 1965, I returned to Brawley, Calif. preaching the same gospel I preached in 1942. The return visit was to help a small group of Christians to again plant the cause in Brawley.
The seeds of sectarianism have been sowed in Brawley for the last 15 years. One preacher laid down the law that no woman could attend worship without a hat on her head. Some decided that a cup of coffee and a sandwich could not be eaten on the property, although at the last account the water fountain was still not ripped out. (What, have ye not houses to eat and drink in?) Maybe some "sound" brother will get the hint. I was told that the rest rooms were still in the buildingif it is wrong to eat the food, then why is it not wrong to eliminate the food in the house? Do not both of the processes come from the same fundamental laws? One "sound" brother decided that no one could send a Christmas card and to be caught with a turkey under your arm on Thanksgiving was a sin that called for "coming forward to confess." A "loyal" preacher learned, some place, that we should not "sing to sinners" so the invitation song was prohibited. The list of "sound" decisions and "loyal" actions could be enlarged but the final laws of the new sect were written when some of recent years wanted to place membership. "I will ask you two questions" the "sound" preacher would say, "answer them and I will know where you stand." He would then ask: "Do you believe in helping children in an orphans home and do you believe in the Herald of Truth?" Those of us who have been in the habit of asking: "Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?"we should get with it a new revelation and a new law has been made. Naturally many folks would not sign the creed, so out they went. The house that the Christians built is now used to foster sectarianism and division.
Naturally, I would feel that some of the "sound" people that I had baptized would come hear me preach the same gospel that started them out in 1942. The "sound" preacher warned the dwindling flock, "If you see the preacher on the street, turn your head. If he comes to your home, shut the door. If you attend, you will have to confess your sins before the church." This information comes straight from some who dared to attend but many gave a cold stare and a curt "sorry, I can't come" when they were invited to hear the SAME GOSPEL THEY HEARD 22 YEARS AGO.
Sadness, sectarianism, sin and the silly line has taken over some there. There is hope that the "truth" will set them free."
Glenn L. Wallace, 2850 Harvard Dr., Visalia, Calif. (141)
The preceding article appeared recently in the bulletin of the church at Orrville, Ohio.
Even though I lived for a number of years in southern California I am not personally acquainted with the congregation at Brawley nor am I acquainted with their practices. Like Brother Wallace I seem to have heard more than I know first hand. By taking issue with certain things in Brother Wallace's article I will in no way be defending the congregation at Brawley. To try to do that I would have to resort to peddling hearsay.
We should all stand opposed to the sowing of the seeds of sectarianism. The brethren at Orrville have apparently been set against the brethren at Brawley by the Wallace article. This alienation was not a result of God's word being taken to show that the Brawley brethren are in error. It was accomplished by Brother Wallace simply pointing out that the brethren in Brawley did not agree with me. Then he appealed to others to sympathize with his rejection of their alleged errors. By implying that the alleged errors at Brawley are errors taught by brethren everywhere who are opposed to the support from the treasury of the church institutions established for the purpose of providing a home for children and who oppose the Herald of Truth organization, brethren have not only been set against brethren at Brawley but have also been set against those brethren everywhere who stand opposed to the institutions mentioned. If not, why did a congregation in Ohio reprint the article in their bulletin?
The Wallace article has served to set brother against brother and to foster the party spirit. That is exactly what happens when the seeds of sectarianism germinate. In Romans 2:1 we read, "for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things."
In the condemnation of the brethren at Brawley the only scripture to which Brother Wallace referred is a passage that is used by those whom he denounces for refusing to eat on the property owned by the congregation. Without entering into the right or wrong of such an act, I must point out that Brother Wallace's attempt to discredit their argument is wholly without merit. He attempted to divert the passage to gain the advantage by underlining the word "drink." This was after he had already underlined the first part of the word "water fountain." A man who has preached as long a Glenn Wallace should know that the "drink" condemned in I Corinthians 11 has nothing whatsoever to do with water or a water fountain. The "drink" condemned was making some "drunk." It is difficult to believe that a man who has lived as long as Brother Wallace does not know that the law of desire and the law of urgency are not the same. Surely he knows the immediate urgency of elimination at certain times and that there is no such immediate urgency connected with eating.
I have not found that the questions allegedly asked those who sought to place membership at Brawley even reflect the beliefs and teachings of brethren who are op
posed to institutionalism. . If, however, Brother Wallace is implying that a congregation does not have the right to investigate or interrogate a person who seeks to place membership, we refer you to Acts 9:26-30 and Romans 14:1. I just plain do not believe that Glenn Wallace or any other brother is in "the habit of asking; 'Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?"' when folks desire to place membership.
Brother Wallace, where may I buy a copy of these new laws that this "new sect" has written to add to my collection of sectarian law books?
Brother Wallace gives his word that he preached the same gospel in January 1965 as he did in April 1942 but by the time he wrote his article he ha d changed. You see in 1942 the Herald of Truth was almost ten years in the future so he was not proclaiming it back then. However, when he wrote his article he was thumping the drum for that organization.
Our plea for unity has always been to appeal to the word of God. To call for book, chapter, and verse has been our practice. We have been willing to "let God be true but every man a liars' (Rom. 3:4). Paul wrote in Titus 1:10-11, "there are many vain talkers and receivers . . . whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses teaching things they ought not." To the Corinthians he wrote, "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds." This same apostle described our weapon in Ephesians 6:17, "take . . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
Brother Wallace closed on a note of hope rather than of condemnation by saying, "there is hope that the 'truth' will set them free." I have no doubt that he is referring to John 8:32. But there is no basis for such a hope to be found in his article. My objection to his article is that very thing. He did not take up the truth, our Spiritual weapon, and with it try to set these brethren free in that which they may need to be set free. I would have no objections if he would take the word of God and stop the mouth of any false teacher. I do not object when brethren find it necessary to take the sword of the Spirit and stop the mouths of false teachers by cutting their throats with it.
Brother Wallace has not done that but has subjected his readers to hearsay and the wisdom of men. Paul wrote in I Corinthians 11:1, "be ye followers of me even as I also am of Christ." He had previously written in Chapter 2 verse 13, "We speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth." We prefer Paul's method.
TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 6, pp. 17-18 March 1966