Guy Woods Speaks On Progressiveness

Billy Moore
Butler, Missouri

In recent years we have heard much about "the progress we have made," about "on the march" churches, etc. All should work for that which furthers the cause of Christ, and leads to the saving of the souls of men. We should be interested in progress in the right direction. However, all progress is not in this direction. John speaks of progress, saying, "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son" (2 John 9). Guy N. Woods discusses this verse in his Commentary on the New Testament Epistles, and has some splendid thoughts.

"To go onward and not abide in this teaching is to lose God. The verb 'goeth onward' is from the Greek proago, to progress. The meaning thus is: Whosoever becomes progressive and abides not in the teaching of Christ hath not God. Men often boast that they are progressive, and movements religious have arisen both in and out of the church through the years whose watchword and slogan was progressiveness. Progress is good only when it is in the direction of Christ, and not away from him; and in some matters it is far preferable to be non-progressive, particularly in not going beyond what the Lord has said. Any movement which is away from the teaching of Christ is progress in the wrong direction, and results eventually in the loss of God himself. The price of a sound church is a pure faith and a faultless practice; and this may be had only by faithful adherence to the truth as it is in Christ Jesus. We must ever be on our guard against any semblance of departure from that which is written, whether in teaching or practice; and we should remember always that the teaching of Christ and his apostles constitute the only safe and all-sufficient rule of faith and practice for the saints of God.

"We should regard with grave suspicion anyone who would disparage the value of the New Testament or lessen its influence in any way for our time."

These paragraphs set forth some great truths. We have some progressive brethren today. What with the World's Fair Booth, Campaigns for Christ, Cows for Korea, Kitchens and Dining Halls, Homes for Unwed Mothers, and a host of other things sponsored by various churches of Christ. In deed there are signs of progress, and any who question or oppose such marks of progress are immediately labeled as "anti," "opposed to progress," etc. But as brother Woods explained:

"Modernism, under the guise of progressiveness, is shrewd and adroit in its method of approach. It begins by reminding us that we live in the twentieth century, not the first; that conditions have changed and in our day necessitate a different and modernized approach; that the New Testament was never intended to be a stereotyped arrangement for all succeeding ages; and that 'sanctified common sense' must be utilized in adapting its message to our time."

That's about the same as saying, "We do many things for which we do not have New Testament authority," or that "the end justifies the means."

"The price of a sound church is a pure faith and a faultless practice." With this I agree. But is the faith pure, and the practice faultless which allows the church to contribute to a college, a benevolent society or a missionary society? Is the centralizing of funds from many churches, under the control of one church, to preach the gospel a faultless practice that results from a pure faith? Is getting the church into the recreation business, or involved in social affairs evidence of a pure faith and faultless practice? Or, are not all of these things indications of progressiveness away from Christ? And as John wrote (2 John 9), and brother Woods wrote (Commentary), "results eventually in the loss of God himself." Truly, "Progress is good only when it is in the direction of Christ, and not away from him, and in some matters it is far preferable to be non-progressive."

TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 6, pp. 21-22 March 1966