Crossroads: Philosophy, Foolishness or Fidelity (2)
James L. Yopp
Lake City, Florida
Crossroads And Other Churches
In conversing with the elders and preacher at Crossroads, they seemed startled when I told them I had the same objections to their practices that I had to the other liberal-minded churches of Christ. Aside from the few things mentioned earlier, they are lock, stock, and barrel but a reflection of institutionally flavored churches. They have "My School" (day care center), different kinds of ministries (tape, campus, youth, associate, etc.), a chorus (choir?), special drives, and a multitude of other practices that are being carried on in many churches. Whatever they do, they just seem to be more effective in doing it!
The Crossroads church of Christ, as other churches, has a particular fascination with organizations. They not only have the previously mentioned day care center ("My School"), but a "Tape Ministry," "Christian Family Services," "Fanning Springs Retreat Center," and "Campus Advance." There are, in addition, offices that have been created within the local church such as "Women's Counselors." They recently added a "Girl's Counselor in our Youth Ministry." In the apostolic church, there was a local, autonomous group carrying on the work of evangelism, edification, and benevolence under her elders. There were deacons to serve, evangelists to preach, and all were saints. There was a conspicuous absence of the organizations and officers peculiar to Crossroads. (See Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:1-3; Philippians 1:1; Ephesians 4: 1-12).
As is the increasing practice of some churches, Crossroads has a penchant for observance of days. They have "CA Play Day," "Bring Your Neighbor Day," "Double Contribution Day," and "Special Fifth Sunday Contribution." They even went so far as to suggest,
Since so many will be away during the Christmas Holiday season and because a "fifth Sunday" falls on Decmeber 30th, the elders have moved our usual "Fifth Sunday Contribution" to December 16 (At the Crossroads, Dec. 9, 1979).
As Paul told the Galatians, "Ye observe days, months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you (Gal. 4:10-11).
Over the past few years, many churches have added choirs to their programs (called "choruses"). Crossroads is no exception. They have a group known as "Crossroads Singers" that not only presents religious music in concert, tours the country, but sings secular songs during certain seasons of the year, including the Christmas holiday festivities. While the named things are bad enough, please observe the following.
The Crossroads Singers will make a special guest appearance at an Ole Fashioned Gospel Sing at University Auditorium on Saturday evening, January 27 (At the Crossroads, January 21, 1979).
At the same time Crossroads is incurring the wrath of denominational people with her approaches, she is rubbing elbows with those in error.
A choir has absolutely no authority from the word of God. Not only is there an absence in the divine record of any such thing, but we are commanded to sing to one another and no person is excused from participation who is able to perform (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). No defense has ever been attempted, to my knowledge, for the existence of the Crossroads Singers.
It has become increasingly fashionable with many to charge for the services or goods offered to the world by the church. Many churches charge for their tapes, their papers, the use of their buildings, etc. Crossroads is no exception. Among those items for which they receive money are: retreats, seminars, "My School," records of singers, use of the building for weddings, spring banquets, and tapes. Please note that many of the things for which they charge have no scriptural right to be engaged in by the church in the first place.
In discussion with the Crossroads' elders concerning the practice of raising money by any means except the first day of the week contribution (1 Cor. 16:1-2), their reply was, "Some churches have a savings account." I do not know where they found that passage, but it is not in my Bible.
It should have been no shock (though it was) to learn that during their 1979 "Florida Evangelism Seminar," they had a collection on Friday night (wonder why not the Lord's Supper?).
On Friday evening, participants were given an opportunity to make a cash contribution or a pledge in support of the Campus Advance program and the Florida Evangelism Seminar. The total came to almost $40,000 - much higher than ever before (At the Crossroads, Sept. 9, 1979).
The next time one of the Crossroads' members proposes to teach a denominational member on proper giving on the first day of the week, they cannot avoid condemning their own practice!
A Denominational Flavor
In addition to the similarities of Crossroads to some other churches of Christ, there is a certain denominational flavor that comes out of Crossroads. We would like to mention several examples.
The use of the name Crossroads is denominational. The location of the building for this congregation is in the middle of ablock, not at a crossroads, the community is not known as Crossroads, and there is no geographical reason for such terminology. As the Jehovah Witnesses borrowed an expression from the Old Testament, so did the 14th St. church when they moved into their new building. They quote Jeremiah 6:16 ("Stand at the crossroads . . . ") on the front of their bulletin (where appears a drawing of the cross that dominates their building). Even when a secretary answers the church phone, she says, "Crossroads (emphasized) . . . (pause) . . . (softly) church of Christ." The people call themselves (as do others) "Crossroaders." The term Crossroads is sectarian in use. Please observe the logo they use on their publications:
A use is made of personal testimony. Frequent references to ones who "share their faith" can be found in Crossroads' writings. Inserts in local bulletins have personal testimonies (At the Crossroads, Feb. 10, 1980, and Feb. 17, 1980). The activities of the members at Crossroads seem to center on "witnessing" to the neglect of plain, pointed Bible instruction.
There is a constant go-go-go attitude in their writings. One new scheme scarcely is mentioned until something else is proposed. Additionally, there is a continual use of superlatives to describe anything in which the people (especially leaders) at Crossroads may be involved (as great, exciting, rich, rewarding, best, large, excellent, finest, tremendous, etc.). One who is familiar with the New Testament writings could hardly equate the Crossroads' approach with the early saints.
An increasing hint at a willingness to 'compromise in order to have unity with different segments of the "restoration movement" is apparent. After speaking at the Canton Christian Conference in Ohio, Lucas stated,
While we have our distinct differences with these brethren, we must recognize that they are our brothers in Christ, and I am convinced that there is a real need for greater communication between us. We are not suggesting any compromise of our convictions or watering down our message, but we are saying that we need to make every effort to bring about greater understanding and unity among all Christians and to "reason together" on matters of concern. This is, it seems to us, in the highest and noblest tradition of the Restoration Movement and is the spirit of New Testament Christianity (At the Crossroads, April 6, 1980).
This may not seem as dangerous to you as it did to me for I knew that Lucas has attended a meeting at the Northwest Christian Church in Gainesville and sang with the instrument as well as leading the closing prayer. Apparently it did not compromise Lucas' convictions to sing with the instrument!
In another issue of At the Crossroads (Sept. 23, 1979), after commending Reuel Lemmons, J.D. Bales, and Yater Tant, Lucas stated,
And there is hope for the kind of unity that Jesus prayed for in John 17 as long as we hold to these fundamentals, and when we are willing to discuss our differences in brotherly love without trying to ostracize or run anybody out of the brotherhood.
However noble be the intentions expressed in this quote, the one question that should come back to haunt every disciple is: What does the truth say? The only unity in which this writer is interested is one in which we all seek the word of God for every teaching, every practice, and every belief. If book, chapter, and verse cannot be produced for something, abandon it. Let is be understood: Every church that continues to practice (or would uphold practices) something that has no Bible authority, that church is guilty of dividing the body of Christ. Such churches erected the barriers to unity. To challenge them to produce a passage is not creating division, it is trying to solve division. To refuse to participate with any congregation in something that has no Bible authority is not causing division; it is upholding the truth. When Crossroads abandons those practices for which she has no Bible authority, unity can be a reality.
There are some good things about Crossroads. There are some very bad things. To a degree, they are willing to be open and discuss their practices. There is a hesitancy to come to the defense, with appropriate scripture (because there is none?), for many of the practices mentioned in this article.
I confess that Crossroads makes me ashamed for the little that I do, but that is my fault - not theirs. To launch an attack on Crossroads because of jealousy is wrong, but I fear this may be the case in some of the recent attacks from various churches, papers, and individuals. Judge ye what I say.
Truth Magazine XXIV: 50, pp. 801-802