It is Time to Wake Up!
Jerry F. Bassett
Cottage Grove, Oregon
In the past few years, an ever growing number of brethren have been warning against the loose and liberal attitudes being manifest by many elders and preachers, and by many who blindly follow them. Admittedly, more have ignored these warnings than have listened. As is usual in time of controversy, in o s t would rather that someone else do their thinking. Consequently, they have little disposition to examine the events and circumstances that take place about them, must less to take a firm stand upon the truth. When pressed to consider the evidence at hand their usual disposition is one of resentment and skepticism. They are very much like the people of Israel who wanted to hear the false prophets tell them that all was peace when in reality the God of heaven was filled with indignation and wrath toward them.
However, with the evidence of liberalism among brethren becoming so abundant, and with it becoming more apparent that its instances are not isolated, we persist in presenting as much of it as possible in the hope of opening the eyes of some. The indications become stronger almost daily that brethren are going to have to take an independent stand for the truth or else drift along in a brotherhood-wide affiliation that becomes increasingly identifiable as a denomination to everyone except those who are involved in it. And make no mistake about it, brethren in Oregon (or elsewhere) are not, and will not be, unaffected by these things!
Another item of evidence came recently in the form of a book of essays edited by Robert Myers, preacher for the Riverside congregation in Wichita, Kansas. It is entitled, Voices of Concern, and consists of essays written by persons who have either left the church, or have found a church of Christ liberal enough to put up with them. However, they all share one thought in common, that the doctrine preached among churches, of Christ has been far too narrow to appeal to, and to hold, the intellectually superior of our time. It is also significant that most of these persons were educated (should I say, regimented) in so-called Christian colleges.
One of these essays is written by Logan Fox who attended David Lipscomb College in Tennessee and Pepperdine College in Los Angeles. He taught in Lipscomb and also helped to found Ibaraki Christian College in Japan, teaching there from 1948 to 1960. He has served various congregations as a preacher but is now a practicing psychologist. He is a member of the Vermont Avenue Church of Christ in Los Angeles. Following are a few excerpts from his essay. I give them without comment. I only ask, what is your estimation of what is happening when a brother can publish statements like these and still be held in fellowship in one of the most influential congregations in Southern California? And one, I might add, closely associated with Pepperdine College which was supposedly purged of modernism with the installation of M. Norvel Young as President. Here are some of the things Fox has to say in his essay, Destiny or Disease:
"In our brotherhood we teach that people are added to the church only by hearing the gospel, believing it, repenting of sins, and being immersed in water. But while I was not baptized until the age of ten, I was in the church long before that" (Page 10).
". . . I 'courageously' attacked the sins of drinking, dancing, movies, and petting, and for all practical purposes, skipped adolescence. I still feel that the church is wrong to single out adolescent problems as examples of worldliness and lasciviousness. It's a wonder any of our young people grow up to be normal. Fortunately, most young people don't take all this preaching as seriously as I did" (Pg. 12).
"My next step was the realization that immersion in water is not a sine qua non for the regeneration of man. We as a people have consistently claimed that we do not believe in baptismal regeneration, but as a matter of fact our position comes down to this because we have never been willing to recognize as Christians the unimmersed I now believe that baptism plays much the same part as the exchange of vows in marriage. It is a profound covenant given by God and used by God for our salvation. People have been known to be married without a ceremony, but happy are those who, when asked if they are married, can say, 'Yes, we were married on such and such a day.' It is possible also, that one might be born again and filled with the Spirit without being baptized, but happy is, he who can with gratitude and confidence point to the day he was baptized" (Pg. 18).
"Even more an issue for our people has been the conviction that the Bible is verbally inspired. Rethinking this question was my next step. Most helpful to me was Harry Emerson Fosdick's old book, The Modern Use of the Bible. Reading such as Fosdick, Sockman, Jones, and others, I came to realize that rather than making the Bible live, the verbal inspiration theory was killing the message of the Bible" (Pg. 18-19).
"Three issues were important in the development of this branch of the Restoration movement that thinks of itself exclusively as 'the Church of Christ' while studiously calling itself 'churches of Christ.' The first is that we have taken a negative attitude toward art and culture, as typified by our opposition to instrumental music in the worship. The second is that we have taken a negative attitude toward education and scholarship, as typified by our opposition to a critical study of the scriptures. And third is that we have taken a negative attitude toward effective organization of the church, as typified by our opposition to the missionary society. All three of these issues make it plain why we are often called 'antis'" (Pg. 29).
"Our biggest problem, I think, is our stand on immersion. Our hearts and minds tell us that people baptized by sprinkling are Christians, as witness our use of their hymns in our worship, our use of their reference materials in our study of the Bible, and our use of their sermon books in the preparation of our sermons. But our doctrinal logic tells us that they cannot be Christians because they have not been immersed. So we must continue to refuse any fellowship or recognition to other Christian groups, and this is killing our soul" (Pg. 29-30).
"As a movement among Christians, I think there is a place for the Restoration plea. It bears witness to some important issues and can, if it is properly handled, make a real contribution to the total church. But to claim that we are The Church, the excusive body of Jesus Christ, is unthinkable. We cannot commit ourselves to ourselves, and we cannot urge others to do so. By the mercy of God we are Christians, but we are Christians of a particular persuasion and a particular history. In other words, all our protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, we are a denomination. We should confess it and join all other denominational Christians in asking God's forgiveness and His guidance" (Pg. 30).
I have given the above quotations with no joy whatever. It is sad and sickening to see a man forsake Christ for the infidel Fosdick, and so make shipwreck of his faith. Rather, these are written for the exclusive, purpose of asking you a pointed and serious question. Will you continue to drift with the ship of liberalism until this happens to you, or will you not rather agree that it is time to wake up?
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XII: 12, pp. 12-13