August 23, 2017

Why I Would Not Return to the Christian Church

By E. C. Koltenbah

My beloved wife and I renounced the errors of the Christian Church on the fifth Lord's Day of January 1937, at what was then known as the East Side Church of Christ, Indianapolis, Indiana. We anticipated, and experienced, no little sacrifice of ties of friendship, and of material possession, but unto this day we have had neither desire nor scriptural reason to retrace our steps.

Shortly after this event, we offered on the pages of The Gospel Advocate a short article entitled, "A Personal Statement to the Brotherhood," in which we set forth reasons for our action. We quote in part therefrom.

"When is it ever expedient to depart from the practice of the apostles? Where shall we draw the line? Can any such 'expedient' be tolerated at the price of Christian unity? Is any unapostolic liberty to be prized above apostolic unity? Would not my association with digression provide in effect my commendation of digression? I answer for myself. Let each man answer for himself likewise. My stand constitutes my answer to these questions."

"New Testament expediency has often been misinterpreted. Instead of insisting upon some unscriptural practice in the name of expediency, it is our right to forego privileges, real or fancied, for the sake of concord among brethren. These really constitute the elements of digression, the departure in worship, and in organization and work. We enumerate among them the following:"

"1The organized Sunday School and its workers' conference, with its added problems of attendance, voting, financing, infringement upon the office of eldership, entertainments, etc.

"2The further usurpation of the office of eldership by the adoption of the sectarian preacher-pastor practice in which the minister or evangelist becomes 'THE pastor' of the congregation instead of 'a pastor' or elder (if so be he is qualified to be added to that office).

"3The introduction and practice of the ordained woman evangelist and thus the woman 'pastor.'

"4The introduction of divers organizations within the congregations designed as 'aids' in evangelization, financing, etc.; each purporting to do some phase or phases of the work divinely ordained of the church.

"5The erection of the missionary organizations outside of the congregations purporting to do the work of evangelism rightly belonging to the congregations. The organizations SUBSIST in a very large measure at the EXPENSE of the congregations.

"6The adoption of divers shameful and unscriptural methods of financing the work of the church.

"7The corruption of the worship by Romanist innovations relative to the Lord's Supper, stated 'holy days,' and the use of mechanical instruments of music.

"8The use of unscriptural names for the church.

"9The lack of discipline in the congregations and the practice of condoning the sins of those unfaithful in word and deed.

"10The compromising practice of cooperation in union meetings and other interdenominational fraternization.

"11Other liberalizing tendencies wherein some have drifted so far as to deny the authority of the Word of God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

"12Finally, in summation, the practical repudiation of true restoration by precipitation and maintenance of division among brethren through unscriptural practices."

Since the appearance of the above statement, we have learned of other practiced errors, not only among Christian Churches, but those developed among many churches of Christ, of which at that time we had very little or no knowledge. Therefore we add to the above items the following:

1Further extension of special days and "holy" services as "Good Friday,' Thursday evening pre-Easter communion, Christmas services, and such like.

2The framing of policies for the churches by conventions rallies and/or like conclaves.

3The support and/or maintenance of institutions of benevolence by the churches that the institutions do such work for the churches.

4The extension of this institutional benevolence by the churches beyond the boundaries divinely designated to the churches.

5The assumption of the oversight of elders beyond the scope of the congregation in which the Holy Spirit designated them as overseers. This is Papal in principle.

6The distortion and corruption of New Testament co-operation of the churches in the work divinely assigned to them into unscriptural co-ordination under the direction of one church or some other group of uninspired origin.

7The support from the treasuries of the churches of recognized educational institutions humanly established and organized.

The philosophy of digression is the common denominator of every manifestation of it, namely, the substitution of human wisdom, regardless of its guise, for expressed divine authority. The defense of every manifestation of it requires the use of like sophisms and rests upon like, if not the same, fallacies. The practice of it constitutes departure from revealed truth and inevitably results in endless division. The nature of it is transgression of divine law for which there is no redemption apart from its own death. The cure for it is to speak as the oracles of God and to learn not to go beyond what is written (I Pet. 4:11, I Cor. 4:6, R. V.). The contest with it is by the sword of the Spirit and knows no termination but the coming of Christ. The end of it is hopeless confusion in a world hopelessly confused.

We cannot return to digression either alone or in the company of a host. "To whom shall we go, Lord? Thou hast the words of eternal life."

TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 2, pp. 11-12
November 1965

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