By Ron Halbrook
(Introductory Note: The Church of Christ in West Columbia, Texas has used its weekly newspaper column to expose and oppose the antics of Oral Roberts, Jim Bakker, and other false teachers prominently in the national news. A local Assemblies of God church called “The Christian Center” is “pastored “by B. B. Hankins and has promoted Oral Roberts and the P. T.L. program. The Christian Center has several hundred members and is the largest church in our area. Hankins is something of a figure himself among Pentecostals and was recently featured in a national Pentecostal journal.
After our article appeared, Hankins had a large ad in the paper announcing that Don Hurley, “a former Church of Christ Minister, ” would speak at The Christian Center. Hurley isfrom Houston, Texas. “Apostate Preachers” and an article to follow entitled “Debate Thy Cause” were written in the context of this controversy. Thesefalse teachers are too shrewd to debate, but our community is more aware that New Testament Christianity is distinct from denominationalism. We hope these articles will be informative to the readers of the Guardian of Truth and will encourage brethren to uphold the truth by opposing error in their local communities. R.H.)
Apostate preachers are men who have known the way of truth but then departed “from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Tim. 4:1-2). Such men contradict New Testament teaching and “consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ” but become “destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself” (1 Tim. 6:3-6). They make shipwreck of their faith, err “concerning the faith,” blaspheme the truth while proclaiming new knowledge “falsely so called,” and do the Lord’s cause “much evil” (1 Tim. 1:19-20; 6:20-2 1; 2 Tim. 4:14). As America suffered betrayal at the hands of Benedict Arnold, the kingdom of Christ has suffered at the hands of Judas, Hymenaeus, Alexander, Philetus, Demas and others.
The teaching of apostate preachers is as destructive and deadly as gangrene or cancer (2 Tim. 2:17). These ministers of Satan and enemies of Christ deceive multitudes by professing godliness and pretending to preach the gospel of Christ (2 Cor. 11: 13-15; Phil. 3:18). How can we recognize these men who enroll in the Dishonorable Hall of Faltered Faith?
1. They are billed as having “ministered in the Church of Christ for 20 years” (1985 ad for Darwin Chandler in Alvin, TX), “a former Church of Christ Minister” (1987 ad for Don Hurley in West Columbia, TX), or some similar statement. Their “glory is in their shame” as they “call evil good, and good evil” to make their apostasy appealing (Phil. 3:19; Isa. 5:20). They are “not at all ashamed, neither could they blush” for the abomination of deserting “the old paths” of truth (Jer. 6:15-16).
2. They often defend the fraudulent “miracles” and theories of a direct operation of the Holy Spirit which are popular in our time. This causes them to deny and to pervert God’s promise that all true miracles would cease when New Testament revelation was completed at the end of the first century (1 Cor. 13:8-13). Such men soon interpret their emotions rather than Scripture alone as the Spirit’s word (1 Pet. 4:11).
3. Denominations and sects are accepted and approved. “The Spirit” is said to “move” in them all, contradicting the Spirit’s clear statement that “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Cor. 14:33). The prayer of Christ for unity based upon truth is exchanged for a mess of modern ecumenical pottage (Jn. 17:17-21). The “one body” becomes many divided churches; the “one Spirit,” many diverse voices; and the “one faith,” many different creeds. What a mockery of Ephesians 4!
4. Instrumental music is worship is embraced by making flimsy arguments which were exposed and destroyed years ago. “Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” The gospel still teaches saints to worship by “singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19). The man does not live who can find authority from Christ for mechanical instruments in worship.
5. Recreation and carnality in the name of religion are promoted – including church socials and meals, contests, prizes, parties, ball teams, entertaining movies, gyms, arts and crafts, secular education, day care centers, politics, and constant emphasis on money, money, money! This is endorsed by men who once preached that God’s kingdom is spiritual and eternal, not a social club (Rom. 14:17; 1 Cor. 11:17-34).
6. Apostates end up accepting the heresy that alien sinners are forgiven before water baptism. Apostates must swallow such theories as salvation by faith alone, by raising a hand, by signing a card, by saying a prayer, by “feeling” the Spirit, and the like. Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Galatians 3:26-27, and 1 Peter 3:21 are deserted.
7. Much is said about “the end time” by miserably mangling Old Testament prophecies of the kingdom (actually fulfilled in the church; Acts 2:16-47), Jesus’ prophecy of the fall of Jerusalem in Matthew 24, and John’s vision of the suffering of the early church in Revelation (1: 1-3). Some even dabble in date setting. Fascination with perverted theories of “the end time” is an old mark of apostasy (2 Tim. 2:18).
8. Urging straightforward rather than devious conduct, Solomon said, “Debate thy cause with thy neighbor,” but apostates fear open discussion and resort to potshots and misrepresentation from afar (Prov. 25:9). Christ and the Apostles debated often because truth has nothing to fear or hide (Matt. 21-22; Acts 17:17). Apostates have many excuses for not following this honorable example of Christ in controversy.
We have published several articles and preached several sermons recently teaching that the claims of modern miracles by Oral Roberts, Assemblies of God, and other Pentecostals are all equally false. To follow Christ’s example of honorable controversy, we propose a formal discussion of both sides of the “miracles” issue. We will affirm the following proposition for two nights and Don Hurley can deny it: The Bible teaches that the miracles recorded in Scripture ended when the New Testament was completed. Hurley can affirm for two nights and we will deny: The Bible teaches that the miracles recorded in Scripture are still being performed today. To accommodate the crowds expected, we are willing for the discussion to be conducted in the same facility where Don Hurley recently spoke here in West Columbia. We will keep you informed on Hurley’s response to this proposal.
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 2, pp. 45-46
January 21, 1988