By Dan Rogers III
Having to publically admit that one has been wrong is not the most pleasant task in the world. This is one reason why many who need to, never do. However, the child of God, upon recognizing that he has been wrong, must so admit it and seek to correct it. Thus, my reason for this retraction. The March 1, 1979 issue of Truth Magazine, (pp. 10-11), carried an article by me entitled, “I Guess That Makes Me A Swine!” In this article, I directed a personal attack upon Brother Arnold Hardin of Dallas, Texas, calling him a false teacher and conducting myself in a very unbrotherly manner toward him. Having come to realize that this article should never have been written, much less published, I now set forth this public statement of retraction concerning the article, and especially, Brother Hardin. In the article, I expressed an erroneous concept of what a false teacher is, using the term in a way which is entirely different from the way the inspired writers used it. In writing about false teachers and in calling Brother Hardin one, I was using the term to refer to anyone that I believed to be teaching something which was incorrect, regardless of his motives. I now understand that when the inspired writers spoke of false teachers or set about to describe them, they referred to individuals who took pleasure in teaching false doctrine, wilfully and knowingly leading people astray from the truth. Thus, I now recognize that although I sometimes might find myself in disagreement with what Brother Hardin teaches, I was in error to call him a false teacher, and I hereby retract that charge! Also, I now realize that I acted in a very unbrotherly way toward Brother Hardin, I am ashamed of it. First, this is evident from the very fact that I “wrote him up.” Secondly, this is to be seen from the fact that I did not even extend to him the common courtesy of letting him know of what I was doing by sending him a copy of the article when I sent it in for publication in Truth Magazine. For that matter, thirdly, I now realize that rather than “jumping on the band wagon” -and “writing him up” in some factional journal, I should have written to him, seeking to resolve any differences in our understanding of what God’s word teaches. Finally, as I now read back through the article, I see clearly just how much of a factional and unbrotherly attitude I expressed toward Brother Hardin in the language that I used, such as in calling what he teaches “garbage” or “swill.” I have apologized to Brother Hardin, asking for his forgiveness in this matter, and have received it. I have repented of my sin in this matter, asking for and receiving, God’s forgiveness. Nothing now stands between us in our relationship in Jesus as brethren. We accept one another as brethren, but not for the purpose of entering into “disputes over opinions.”
The above retraction by Brother Dan Rogers, III comes to me bringing expected sadness. Brother Rogers now destroys the faith which he once preached. I need to make some comment to defend this statement inasmuch as it will throw some light on Brother Rogers’ retraction.
Dan obeyed the gospel in 1966 while living in Corsicana, Texas. Shortly afterwards, he determined to preach the gospel. Therefore, he attended Abilene Christian College until 1970 and then attended White’s Ferry Road School of preaching in West Monroe, Louisiana from 1973-1975. Hence, Brother Rogers’ doctrinal background was that of liberalism.
However, Dan began to send articles for publication in Truth Magazine. Several were published until I received a letter from him dated March 22, 1978 in which he requested that I not-publish any more of the articles which he had sent to me in Truth Magazine because “I believe you to be pushing opinions and seeking to bind where God has not bound.” I did not know in what respects he was charging me with binding opinions so I wrote him three separate letters (March 28, June 7, and July 3) asking him where I was guilty of binding my opinions. Finally, on September 26, 1978, Dan explained his conduct as follows:
. . .It wasn’t until 1976 that I really became aware of the issues concerning cooperation and institutionalism. At that time I began to get all the material I .could from both sides of the issue. The purpose for this was to give me the “ammunition” to refute the “conservative” viewpoint. However, after reading various tracts and debates, I began to question some of the practices of my brethren. I entered into some deep study in this area, and slowly came to some conclusions that I really did not want to accept. It was at about this time that I wrote to you, requesting that you not publish any more of my articles and making the charges against you. As I look back upon it now, I realize that I was lashing out at you because I knew deep down that I had been in error concerning cooperation and institutionalism, but did not want to accept the fact. I guess I had decided to shut my ears to the truth. But, I’m thankful to say that I could not. Thus, I am writing to withdraw the charges I made against you, to ask for your forgiveness, and to explain what it was all about. Naturally, upon receiving this letter, I rejoiced. Shortly thereafter, Dan began to send me other material for publication. The titles of these articles reflect the point of view which Dan held at this moment in time; here are some of the titles: “Why Institutional Brethren Are Not Growing,” “The Application of A Principle” (an examination of 2 Cor. 9:13 by using Thomas Warren’s rule for determining when an example is binding), “Galatians 6:10-Individual or Congregational Responsibility?”, “Liberalism Gone To Seed,” and “Have Churches of Christ Softened?” (an expression of concern because members of the body of Christ no longer considered it sinful to use mechanical instruments of music in worship). As these articles’ titles reflect, Brother Rogers lamented the spread of institutionalism and liberalism; he believed, at this point in time, that those teaching these doctrines were false teachers. In “Billy Graham-A Gospel Preacher?”, Brother Rogers wrote an excellent article, which I had every intention of publishing, exposing the fallacy of Leroy Garrett’s statement that Billy Graham was a gospel preacher. In another article entitled “Southern Baptists, Scriptural Authority,” Dan further exposed the Baptists as a false religious group. However, I was not anxious to publish Brother Rogers’ material until I had a better idea that he was stable. Hence, I contacted Brother Paul Earnhart and requested him to visit Dan and talk to him. The report which Paul returned to me was that he was stable and that he understood the issues between us. Sometime after this, Dan sent his article exposing Arnold Hardin which I published in the March 1, 1979 issue of the paper. You can imagine my own surprise that Dan would want to retract this article so soon after it was published.
Change In Beliefs Again
The reason why Dan wants to retract this article, however, is obvious to me. He has changed his thinking again; hence, he wants to retract this article in which he exposed Arnold Hardin as the false teacher which he is. To demonstrate that Dan has changed his thinking again, notice the following evidences: 1. This article. In this retraction, Brother Rogers apologizes for calling Arnold Hardin a false teacher (although he is not hesitant to charge the writers and editor of Truth Magazine as being factional). He stated that he was wrong in calling a man who taught false doctrine a false teacher inasmuch as one’s motives have to be wrong to be a false teacher. Then, he stated that he was wrong in “writing him up” in “some factional journal” (he means, by this, Truth Magazine). Then, he concluded by stating. that “nothing stands between us (Dan Rogers, I11 and Arnold Hardin) in our relationship in Jesus as brethren. We accept one another as brethren, but not for the purpose of entering into ‘disputes over opinions.’ ” Hence, Arnold is teaching about imputed righteousness, a distinction between gospel and doctrine, and the numerous other false doctrines which he continually propagates in his bulletin do not interfere with Dan’s relationship with him; indeed, he can extend the right hand of fellowship to Arnold Hardin. 2. Private correspondence. I am also going to quote from some private correspondence to demonstrate a change in doctrinal belief in Dan. In a letter to Ron Halbrook (May 17, 1979), he made the following statements:
. . . This was when you began pushing, and continue to push, matters of opinion as matters of faith, to the point of dividing the body of Christ, and then perpetuating this division, all the while arrogantly sitting back and condemning to hell those brethren who do not agree with you . . . However, to get back to my main point here, in charging you with the sin of factionalism and the party spirit, I especially have in mind your opinions concerning how the church is to do its work in the realms of evangelism and benevolence as those things involve “cooperation” and what you call “institutionalism.” Too, I have in mind the attitude that you and those of the party manifest toward brethren that disagree with you, including such brethren as (Buff) Scott, (Arnold) Hardin, (Carl) Ketcherside, (Leroy) Garrett, (Edward) Fudge, (Bruce) Edwards, and seemingly Rogers, too. Is this specific enough? Later, he added, . . . Yes, I have seriously looked at the situation of the so-called “liberalism of the last 25 years.” And yes, for a time I was very heavily swayed by the party’s “fine sounding arguments” and “smooth talk” (Col. 2:4 and Rom. 16:18). However, continued study of God’s word convinced me that the party was wrong, both in its attitudes and in its pushing of opinions too the dividing of the body of Christ! Now you may call this a capitulation to the Devil, but brother, call it what you may, I have decided to walk in accordance with the Scriptures. If you choose to walk in accordance with the party, that is your privilege. These quotations show conclusively a definite change in Dan’s thinking. Whereas he formerly had believed that the apostasies of liberalism separated those brethren engaged in them from God, he has now reached the conviction that opposition to church support of human institutions, the sponsoring church arrangement, and church sponsored recreation is the binding of one’s own human opinions. 3. “Let Us Accept One Another.” Dan sent mean article with this title which I refused to publish because it teaches the grace-unity doctrines. In this article, he wrote, . . . Instead of fighting against Satan and the forces of sin – instead of fighting against “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12) – we fight each other. Rather than being concerned about taking the gospel to the lost, like the Pharisees who traveled over land and sea to make one proselyte (Matt. 23:15), we spend much of our time and effort in trying to convert someone from an opposing faction. Indeed, we seem to rejoice more over a brother who is proselyted from an opposing faction to our particular faction, then over ninety-nine lost sinners who move in obedience to Christ (Heb. 5:9). Brethren, it is past time that we stopped fighting each other, and started fighting our common enemy, Satan. We need to forget about proselyting brethren out of one faction and into another, and start thinking about converting the lost to Christ. It is time that we forgot our factional parties and started thinking about God’s house, the family of believers (Eph. 2: l9; Gal. 6:10). It is time we broadened our circle of fellowship from just our own particular faction, whatever it may be, to include all that are in the circle of God’s Fatherhood. Notice that Dan sees no difference in those baptized believers who use instrumental music in worship, support missionary societies from the church treasury, support benevolent and educational institutions from the church treasury, pervert the organization of the church through the sponsoring church arrangement, involve the church in recreational activities, and otherwise distort the divine revelation and those who do not do these things. To him, both groups are factions and should not be eying to “proselyte” members from one faction to another.
One should also notice that Brother Rogers does not consider and of those in opposing factions to be lost (of course, unless they be guilty of factionalism). A man can use instruments of music in worship and still go to heaven, according to Brother Rogers (otherwise, the man would be lost and one to whom we should take the gospel in order that he might be saved). A man can support human institutions from the church treasury (whether they be missionary societies, benevolent societies, or educational societies) and still go to heaven, according to Brother Rogers. A man can work with churches which habitually involve themselves in recreational activities and still go to heaven when he dies, according to Brother Rogers. Hence, he sees no need of our being concerned about taking any of the message of Jesus Christ to these saved people. The only reason that we would take any message regarding these subjects to these people is in order to lead them from one faction to another. However, Brother Rogers, my reason for taking a message to these people is because they are lost and doomed to hell; they are in no better relationship with God than the unbeliever. Hence, I am just as intent upon taking God’s word to one as I am the other. Knowing that this is my belief, and the belief of a number of other brethren, you should at least be charitable toward us and quit implying that we are factional and have only factional motives when we are engaged in the work in which we believe. The differences in our doctrinal belief certainly make this action a different one to each of us. If I believed as you now do, I would admit that for me to persuade a person to leave one group and join another would be pure factionalism. However, from my doctrinal position, for me to persuade someone to depart from his human inventions in order to be restored to the fellowship of his Lord is certainly not factionalism. However, there is nothing wrong with Dan trying to “proselyte” members to this new “grace-unity” faction and, from Dan’s point of view, he is bent on persuading us to join his new faction. These brethren are bent on dividing the church over a new method of establishing unity – a unity which demands no repentance of those guilty of sin. Rather, these brethren propose that every individual be tolerated regardless of what he believes. Just how far Brother Rogers is willing to make application of his accepted premises has not been revealed. He was unwilling to respond to certain questions which I posed to him prior to this review; hence, I cannot definitely state whether he is willing to accept the “brother-in-prospect” and other in his broadened fellowship. It is somewhat paradoxical to me, however, to hear these brethren arrogantly speak of how they have risen above factionalism as they join the grace-unity faction. Of all of God’s children, they alone have escaped the vicious sin of factionalism. Those of us who believe that sins must be repented of and confessed before forgiveness can be granted by God and fellowship restored among His children are all guilty of factionalism! The arrogance of these brethren is repulsive.
I think that Brother Rogers has a moral obligation to face the issues and tell us plainly where he finds biblical authority for his new positions. So, I ask Dan these questions:
- 1. Where is Bible authority for labeling as “opinions” apostasies the Scriptures?
- 2. Do you believe that the perfect obedience of Jesus Christ is imputed to the believer? If so, give us scripture which proves it.
- 3. Is grace automatically extended to the believer to cover his sins of ignorance and weaknesses of the flesh? Or, is grace given to the believer conditionally? If conditionally, what are the conditions which must be met by the believer to have his sins forgiven.
- 4. Is there a distinction between “gospel” and -“doctrine”? If yes, please cite Scripture citations to demonstrate what that difference is. Furthermore, do you believe that the church must all believe alike in reference to matters of “gospel” but have the liberty of disagreeing in areas pertaining to “doctrine”? Please also tell me what is “gospel” and what is “doctrine” if you believe there is a difference between them. It would also be enlightening for you to give us the criterion for determining which part of God’s revelation belongs in which class.
- 5. How do you determine that you can extend the right hand of fellowship to those who are guilty of sin and refuse to repent of it?
- 6. Are things which are revealed through New Testament examples and necessary inferences able to be made matters of fellowship?
- 7. Is the silence of the Scriptures binding?
Most of these questions were sent to Dan in a letter dated May 14, 1979. However, Dan refused to answer these questions until this retraction was printed. Can you imagine Dan being unwilling to tell whether or not he believed that Jesus was risen from the dead until a retraction was printed? Can you imagine Dan being unwilling to tell you whether or not sprinkling fit the pattern of Bible baptism prior to the printing of a retraction? Wonder why he was unwilling to answer these and similar questions prior to the printing of a retraction? I think that I know the answer to these questions.
Dan has departed from the doctrine of Christ which he once preached (2 Jn. 9-11). He is preaching another gospel (Gal. 1:8-9). He is extending the right hand of fellowship to men who refuse to walk in the paths of righteousness (2 Jn. 9-11; Gal. 2:9), thereby expressing his approval of their conduct. I pray that Dan will repent of his sin and confess it to the Lord. Until he determines to do so, however, men must be informed that he is a false teacher and beware of him.
Truth Magazine XXIII: 29, 470-472 July 26, 1979