What Does "Fellowship" Include?

Roy E. Cogdill
Orlando, Florida

I have just finished reading the September issue of Mission Messenger published and written by: Carl Ketcherside of St. Louis, Missouri. Most of our readers will have heard the name of this editor and, ff you have kept abreast of the times and the changes that have been wrought, you will know that he is the same Carl Ketcherside that not too many years ago debated with brethren all over this country about whether or not even Christian individuals could contribute to schools in which the Bible is taught, stipulated support for "located preachers," Bible Classes, and other things too numerous to mention.

It is rather amazing that such fellows as Ketcherside and Garrett are such evangelists of love and good will now, and so liberal and broad in their views, when only a few short months ago they were creators of dissension, division, disfellowship, and pouring out their condemnation and vituperation against everybody who did not agree with them about a lot of things in which there is room for disagreement. They were "nothingarian" then and are "nothingarian" now in the matter of what they think should be fellowshipped. If they draw the line against anything, I have not learned what it is or upon what basis it is determined.

In fact I have not learned what brought about the switch in their position but it has been a sudden, complete and violent one and indicates that, if they were honest in their opposition to everything for so long and are honest in their willingness to fellowship nearly everything now, they are due, if they have not already done so, to do a lot of repenting and are under obligation to explain to all whom they influenced why they have made such a sudden reversal in their attitude and philosophy. They were scathing in their denunciation, and unmerciful in their condemnation of those who did not agree with them in their, "anti-everything" position of former years and now they are so brim-full of what they call "love" for the brotherhood and lot everybody that they get right Sticky and mushy about it.

If in the affairs of life they are not more discerning in their love than they are in religion, they cannot be trusted any more than they can in religious matters. They have really made a switch and now are the apostles of "peace, love, and unity" in their own imaginations and are going hither and yon preaching the doctrine of good will and brotherly love and fellowshipping almost everything and everybody. Oh! They still have their opinions and their convictions, they tell us, but they do not propose to allow any conviction they have to keep them from extending the right hand of fellowship to everything and everybody.

In all of their love they still evidence a little vehemence against those of us who still stand by our convictions and refuse to violate our consciences by lending encouragement and fellowship to anything which we believe to be wrong.

In spite of all their loving disposition toward those in error otherwise they still use rather strong language to condemn those who draw the line of fellowship against what we believe conscientiously to be violations of scriptural authority and the principles of divine truth and will. In the September Mission Messenger we find much evidence of everything but good will and respect for those of us who will not go along with them in their "gospel" of "fellowship everything and everybody." Look at a few statements of this kind and you will be convinced that our "loving brother" can still vent his sarcasm in strong terms against those who oppose him. "What is the result of this simplistic rationalization and silly repetition with parrot-like monotony of the statement that, It is a question of attitude toward the authority of the scriptures which divides us?' The answer is all too obvious. We have splintered the majestic household of God into conflicting tribes, constantly on the warpath against their own brethren, hailing almost unbridled glee every bloody scalp dangling from the poles which support the scattered factional tepees."


"I reject this immature approach created by a childish attitude toward the problem of a schism."

And again:

"I deny emphatically that we are divided because of a disregard for the Lordship of Jesus or because of willful disrespect for the authority of the sacred scriptures."

Well, I do not know how willful the disregard for the scriptures is and cannot sit in judgment on another man's willfulness but I do know that our "loving brother" has lost his respect for the "Lordship of Jesus" and "for the authority of the sacred scriptures or he would not be making love to every kind of error and those who practice it that one can name. He may think that he has respect for the Lordship of Jesus and the authority of the scriptures but so do all of the rest who are sincere and honest even to the Mormon, Catholic, the Seventh Day Adventist and Christian Scientist. Would Carl extend his loving arms to these? If not, why not?

But hear him again:

"Our brethren who use instrumental accompaniment in conjunction with voicing their praise to our common Father are not apostates from the truth, or irresponsible rebels who deny the right of Jesus to reign over them!

"It is absurd and asinine for our aspiring and perspiring theologians to perpetuate the farce that men who have been born of water and of the Spirit, who read the same scriptures, sing from the same hymn-books, partake of the supper of the Lord on the same day of every week, and seek earnestly to imitate the life of Jesus in their daily walk, reject the authority of Jesus and the Bible."

Would this be an intimation that our apostle of good will and "all inclusive fellowship" would draw the line against a man who does not practice "breaking bread" on the first day of the week every week? On what ground? He claims to be following Christ too and surely is not willfully walking in error? Why is weekly observance of the Lord's Supper and Baptism any more important than anything else God said do? Why must you do these things right but you can praise God with any kind of an instrument you want to use and in any way you see fit whether the Bible teaches and authorizes the practice or not, just so you profess to "love Jesus" and claim to be following the authority of the scriptures? Our brother has his own "wavy line" which he arbitrarily moves around and locates according to his own caprice and fancy and includes whom he will but excludes all of us who will not go along with him and says ugly things about us. I cannot believe our brother is as full of love as he professes. Methinks he has some other axe to grind possibly. (More later)


November 13, 1969