A Liberals Counterattack

Cecil Willis

Dr. Cloyd Anthony of Terre Haute, Indiana recently wrote and had published an article which he entitled "The Ghetto Church of Christ." He said he borrowed the term "ghetto church" from the modernist, Dietrich Bonhoffer.

Dr. Anthony and I are "nearly" relatives; his wife and my wife are distantly related. However, we have never been very closely associated in our work. He taught Sociology at Indiana State University for many years. Now he is retired from full-time teaching.

Brother Anthony for the past several years has been connected with the 25th and College church in Terre Haute. I think that he, at one time, served as an elder in that congregation. He and I have known that we were traveling ever more divergent routes. He has marched steadily into modernism, and he would consider that I had plunged headlong into "Anti-ism."

A few years ago a preacher named M. F. Cottrell departed into modernism. He had lived in Terre Halite and had been the preacher for the congregation where Brother Anthony worshipped many years. Brother Cottrell made permanent record of his digression by his book entitled REFOCUSING GOD, THE BIBLE AND THE CHURCH, which appeared in 1962. In the "Acknowledgements" of the book, Brother Cottrell said, "Perhaps no other person has influenced my life for good and better concepts of New Testament Christianity as has C!oyd Anthony."

Sociology seems to be about the most faith damaging area of study one might pursue, it has seemed to me to be more completely saturated with Humanism than any other area I have encountered. Brother Anthony apparently imbibed at the fountain of Sociological Relativism, and passed along the brew to Brother Cottrell.

More recently Brother Anthony has been doing a little religious writing of his own. What he says fits into the Leroy Garrett--Carl Ketcherside stereotype, and I do mean stereotype! Brother Anthony's "The Ghetto Church of Christ" appeared in RESTORATION REVIEW (January, 1970).

After explaining how his sociological background affected his religious stance, Brother Anthony states:

"Loyalty and 'faithfulness' of members in the ghetto church are reinforced by perpetual
indoctrination in petty commands about regular attendance at the meeting house, 'giving money to the Lord,' doing everything 'through the church' and under the elders. Statistics of baptisms, attendance, and monetary contributions are the chief criteria of an active church Weightier matters of command -- love, mercy, justice, kindness, and humility are neglected. Personal salvation has been depersonalized, standardized, institutionalized, ritualized, legalized, dispirited, and tied exclusively to a collective (herd salvation) organizational establishment.7

Our brother castigates those of the "power structure who consider items like "baptism; form of baptism; instrumental music; infallibility of the Bible; evolution; liberalism" as "indices of 'faithfulness.'" He reflects upon those who think such items are matters of "faith."

In such a "Ghetto Church of Christ" as that which Brother Anthony says we have, he says "There is need for some devil to attack: 'liberalism, 'modernism denominationalism, evolution, 'communism' and others. Nothing cements in-group loyalty so much as a community of hate for some real or imaginary enemy."

If you attack "modernism, liberalism," "denominationalism," "evolution," or "communism," you are "some devil." My! But these liberals learn how to talk nice! This is the way you speak of your brother after you have gone on from "petty 'commands'" as those mentioned above and from such things as the "infallibility of the Bible'" and you have learned all about "love, mercy, justice, kindness, and humility."

Let me suggest a little experiment for you to follow: Watch how mean a brother speaks or writes when he refers to those whom he says speak meanly of their brethren. Why is it that those who decry shabby treatment inevitably are the ones who dish out the shabbiest treatment? I have just about learned that when one of our brethren begins to let the sugar drip, you had better watch out! He's just getting ready really to let you have it.

If you preach against "evolution," or "modernism," according to our sweet spirited brethren, the "devil" in you is trying to get you to "hate" so that you "in-group loyalty" will be greater. Perhaps you see now why I said before that Sociology often is damaging to one's faith. And while one's faith is being damaged, apparently one's social ethics are not being much improved either. Or one would not speak of a brother who preaches against "modernism," "liberalism," and "evolution" as "some devil" who wants you to "hate."


April 16, 1970