Extremes in the Church
J. Wiley Adams
The Truth is not an extreme. It is just the truth. An extreme exists when brethren seek to "bind" that which God does not bind. An extreme also exists when brethren seek to "loose" that which God does not loose. To say this is not to say that Truth is in the "middle of the road." This expression has been working overtime in recent years and has become very trite. Truth is the road and all of the road is Truth. Extreme positions are not on the road at all. A road may have a ditch on either side, soft shoulders, a gorge on one side and a mountain on the other or be lined on either side with trees. They pose no threat as long as we are on the road. It is when we get off the road that we are in danger. Extreme positions are completely off the road. That is why they are extreme. They are wrong and sinful because they are out of the way of Truth.
Some seem to have trouble discerning the road from the by-paths. That seems to be the same trouble Judah was having as recorded in Jer. 18:15. "Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, in a way not cast up." Sometimes the bypaths deceive because they have been much used. For this reason many today are found in the by-paths simply because "we have been doing it this way for these many years" as if the practice of the brethren is the standard of authority. But often the practice of the brethren is only "a way not cast up." Because the by-path may be well worn and show marks of much use is no sign that it is the ancient path. It only serves to show that departures from the Way of Truth have been often and many.
In the church today we have two extremes. On the one hand we have those who see no harm in anything provided it is called a good work. In this particular extreme no scriptures are cited for us because in some things they say, "there is no pattern." On the other hand there are those who know the truth and know what the Lord expects us to do and how and who is to do it. But they say and do not. There is no zeal to mingle with their knowledge and so the job is not done. They are long on theory but short on practice. This too is sinful. "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" (James 4:17). Which is worseto act without authority or to have authority but fail to act? They are both wrong. They are off the road. From these two extremes there is no middle course. The Laodiceans were the so-called "middle-of-the- roaders" of the day. They made the Lord sick (Rev. 3:16). The Lord said he wished they were either hot or coldone or the other. At least he would know how they stood.
Today there are many "undeclared" brethren on the vital problems and issues now plaguing spiritual Israel, which is the church. These brethren think evidently that you can just take it or leave it on these matters. They generate no real respect from those who have declared themselves one way or the other. They are indeed between a rock and a hard place. They fear reprisal, loss of prestige, and the frowns of the "area" paper or the anathema of the "area" Sanhedrin. They purport to be sound but the only sound we get is an uncertain one. Paul said in 1 Cor. 14:8, "For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle." When these brethren are asked about their stand on these matters, they sometimes dodge by "I don't wish to discuss it" or "I have some calls to make."
I have spent several years of my life in the Ohio Valley. I love the people. They are basically good people. There was a time when the "valley preachers" were noted for their strongly conservative presentation of truth. These same preachers have long since "sold out" the good people of the Ohio Valley to the Parkersburg paper-school clique. Some had good intentions at first but little by little have let the bars down and have let the liberal thinkers have both the paper and the school. Some, unwittingly, were used as pry poles to influence the people and drive them into the chute. They were then dismissed in some way from the front line and relegated to "hewers of wood and drawers of water." They now are hostile and belligerent to the very ones who are trying again to raise the banner of truth that they have thrown in the mud. Some of these surely must have their moments of unrest but they fear the liberals with a passion. On the other hand they seem to have moments of dismay as they view from afar the battle in which they too should be engaged. Are these too proud to admit even at this late date that they have been mistaken? Is it not clear to them now what is taking place right before their very eyes? Will they continue to be silent or will they rally at last and once again speak out boldly and unafraid to defend the faith which was once delivered to the saints? Extremes are wrong. Some are extremely silent.
TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 11, pp. 10-11 August 1966