"Back to the Bible"
Jesse M. Kelly
"Let us go back to the Bible" is a noble purpose. It proclaims a recognition of the fact that the Bible has been departed from in the endeavor to serve God; that somewhere men lost their moorings, and have suddenly awakened to the fact that they are without God. It is indicative of honest and good hearts; of men with character and integrity of conscience; of souls desiring above all else to please God and go to heaven. It is the noblest of aspirations; and it has driven men to forsake houses and lands and even loved ones, as they were inspired and motivated by its sentiment. In the struggle to accomplish this grand purpose less than a century ago, men faced and endured hardships not experienced by their counterparts today. We owe these faithful men of God a debt of undying gratitude for the truth that they gave back to the world steeped in Catholic dogma and denominational perversions. Multitudes burdened down with errors hoary with age heard the call. It was fresh and was untarnished with the traditions and wisdom of men; a shining light in a world darkened by ignorance and superstition for centuries. Entire denominational congregations turned from the errors of past centuries and embraced the simple word of God. Hundreds of thousands joined the great movement "Back to the Bible," and the Restoration of the pure religion of Jesus Christ was to a great degree, accomplished.
Men of God responsible for the Restoration lived by the principle that unless a thing in the Word of God either by precept, Apostolic example, or necessary inference, it was not permissible in the work or worship of the New Testament church. "What did Jesus teach" was their watchword. "Where the Bible speaks, we speak, and where the Bible is silent, we are silent" was the bulwark behind which they stood and defeated all foes of the "simplicity that is in Christ." As one generation would drop the torch another would pick it up, measure the foes of truth, and carry it forth into the citadels of error to claim still others for the Church of God.
But people have changed, as people usually do, in the latter twentieth century in which we live. Restoration principles stated above are no longer adhered to in churches of Christ as they were then. Instead, preachers and elders now are writing and preaching upon subjects such as "Where there is no Pattern," "The Lord didn't say How," "The Church is not its own Benevolent Society," and a multiplicity of other subjects that are carefully and painstakingly designed to relegate the church of the Lord to the role of simply furnishing the money to implement the plans, schemes, and institutions of men. And as those of former years were led out of the maze of denominational dogma to the light of God's word by the wisdom from above, so their sons and grandsons are being led again into that world of confusion and uncertainty by the wisdom from below. God forbid, but it is so nevertheless.
Let us go back to the Bible! In the spirit of Christ and the fear of the Lord we urge that all who read this re-examine the ground upon which you stand religiously. Is there a "thus saith the Lord" for your practice? Can you point to the precept, example, or inference in the word of God that will authorize beyond any doubt your practice? The destiny of your eternal soul hangs in the balance. Is it worth a few hours' study and discussion to be sure? Surely it is. We urge you to think seriously and act prudently. Be SURE you are right, then press on to the goal to which all Christians are beckoned.
Truth Magazine IX: 10, p. 20