By Tom Moody
In the Firm Foundation, April 9, 1974, an editorial appeared entitled, “The Church In Alabama.” Reading the article might lead one to believe that the “church in Alabama” is centered on the campus- of Alabama Christian College, since it is that human institution with which the article is really interested and the Lord’s body in Alabama is scarcely mentioned.
There is more said about the “church in Alabama” in the third paragraph than anywhere else in the article. It is here that the statement is made: “It is really hard to grasp the change in the church in Alabama in the last decade.” To this statement, those who have been familiar with the changes in the church in Alabama (and elsewhere) would give a hearty “Amen!”
Within the last decade:
1. We have seen changes in the attitudes of those with whom we once had fellowship. Where there was once peace and unity, there is now bitterness and division because those who insisted on their pet projects and institutions were willing to divide the body of Christ over what they termed “incidentals” and “expediencies.”
2. We have seen brethren who once insisted on a “thus saith the Lord” and demanded “book, chapter, and verse” change to the persuasion that “there is no pattern” and “we do many things for which we have no authority.”
3. We have seen those who ten years ago, or even five years ago, preached that the Lord’s church raised funds only by a first day of the week contribution (I Cor. 16:1-2) and criticized the denominations for their bazaars and pie suppers. Now, some of these brethren have opened their kindergartens, day nurseries, and week-end resorts, selling such services to those interested in buying them.
4. Many who at one time insisted that Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 authorized only congregational singing have changed. Many Alabama churches (and churches elsewhere), as the denominations round about them, have their choirs (or “choruses” as some prefer to call them).
The list could go on we are sure, but these are examples of the truthfulness of the statement quoted, that some Alabama churches have changed, a change which the editor accurately characterizes as being “…really hard to grasp ……
But what is the great change that Brother Lemmons has so elatedly noted within Alabama churches? Our brother says: “It ‘is really hard to grasp the change in the church in Alabama in the last decade. There are some 500 churches in the state, and where they once were almost totally anti-Christian education (Emph. mine, CTM), today Christians are supporting such schools as Mars Hill and Alabama Christian well.”
What awful ogres those people in Alabama must have been until recently! Imagine – being “anti-Christian education”! What is the evidence of the change to being for “Christian education”? According to Brother Lemmonsi it is that “. . .today Christians are supporting such schools as Mars Hill and Alabama Christian well.” That seems to imply that if you ‘do not support these two man-made organizations, you are anti-Christian education! It makes no difference if you cannot see what English, math, science, or physical education have to do with “Christian education.. A congregation of humble Christians might be hard working and dedicated in the task of “edifying itself in love” (Eph. 4:16). It may have the most thorough system of educating every age group within the church in the ways of righteousness. Yet if it refuses to turn over a part of its work and funds to a school by men, it is “anti-Christian education.”
While the sweeping statement that churches in Alabama were once almost “totally anti-Christian education” is an unfounded misrepresentation, it is true that there has been a great change in the beliefs of many of the digressive brethren, in Alabama in regard to church support of colleges. Just a few years ago, when promoters of brotherhood children’s homes were asked why the church could support such benevolent institutions but not the colleges, the answer given was that the church is its own missionary and edification society, but not its own benevolent society. “It is really hard to grasp the change. . .” Since many of those who made such a contention now have changed, does that mean that the church is no longer capable of functioning in edification? Of course the church is still its own “edification society” just as it always has been. I suspect that the change came when those who had been prejudicially calling others “anti-orphan” began to be called “anti-Christian education” and found it more pleasant to switch than fight.
Later in the article, the editor states, “As one learns new truth, and as times change, it is not ‘liberal’ in a bad sense to stay up with the times and honest to whatever new truth we learn along the way.”
Perhaps church support of schools and colleges is found within this “new truth” our brother seems to have come across. It certainly is not found in the truth of God’s word which is not new but was revealed and recorded several centuries ayo. it has everything we need “pertaining to life and, godliness” and leaves us “throughly furnished unto every good work” (2 Peter 1:3; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Surely, all of us can agree that “It is really hard to grasp the change in the church in Alabama (and throughout the nation) in the last decade.” We can commend the honesty of at least one of the brethren for admitting that such a change has taken place. If more of our erring brethren would recognize this, perhaps it would be a beginning for their return to the “old paths.”
Truth Magazine, XVIII:37, p. 7-8
July 25, 1974