"Varieties of Evangelistic Expression"

Cecil Willis
Marion, IN

James DeForest Murch writes a column entitled "Today in Christendom" in the Christian Standard, a publication of the "conservative" (?) Christian Church. In the December 20, 1970 issue, he wrote of the "Key '73" evangelistic program.

The "Key '7 3" program is an outgrowth of the 1966 "World Congress on Evangelism" which was held in Berlin. Murch says that "a number of Christian church and church of Christ brethren were present expressing their concern for the need of united evangelistic effort." Several other meetings since have been held, in which a number of brethren participated. Among participants from the churches of Christ was Reuel Ummons, editor of the Firm Foundation.

Many denominations are going to collaborate in their 1973 evangelistic efforts upon North America. Many of our liberal brethren are even now making preparation to participate in this "Key '73" evangelistic effort. Murch said, "It is recognized that there are varieties of evangelistic expression and it is agreed by all concerned that each church will finally decide the precise form of its own participation in Key '73."

According to Murch, our liberal brethren have agreed that there are "varieties of evangelistic expression." Murch indicates that this means that each denomination will provide its own "variety" of evangelistic expression. Did our brethren who were present really agree to that??? It seems that some prominent participant, such as Lemmons, would feel compelled to tell us whether he really agreed to that.

The denominations have been providing their own "variety of evangelistic expression" for years. We have continually taught that their "variety" was not the gospel at all, but was merely a perverted gospel (Gal. 1: 6-9). Now our brethren have agreed to join with those who preach a perverted gospel in this "Key '73" program.

As a young boy, I can remember vividly bearing preachers denounce what then were called "Union Meetings." Under this arrangement, all the denominations in a town or city would collaborate in an "evangelistic effort." A mutilated gospel would be preached. Our brethren consistently avoided such, and repeatedly protested involving the Lord's church in such a compromise.

But now some of our brethren have presumed to speak for the churches of Christ and have agreed to share in this "Key '73" program in which a "variety o f evangelistic expressions" will be heard. Paul commanded that all speak the same thing (I Cor. 1: 10). There are no "varieties of evangelistic expression" when all "speak as the oracles of God" (I Pet. 4:11).

Murch says, "it is too early to predict the exact form the ultimate crusade structure will assume..." Our liberal brethren already are proficient in conducting what they call "crusades." The denominations cannot teach them anything more about "crusades." Furthermore, our brethren already to a considerable degree have "structured" the churches of Christ for such brotherhood efforts. They do not need to learn from the Christian Church how to "restructure" the church.

According to Murch, "It is possible that Key '73 will result in a defrosting of the ecclesiastical icicles which are hanging from churches . . . and initiate a thrilling tidal wave of evangelism that can sweep thousands into the kingdom of God." How can a perverted "variety of evangelistic expression put anyone into the kingdom of God?

Our liberal brethren who have "agreed" to participate in this inter-denominational program ought to begin to tell us how they can share in such a program of gospel-compromise. Soon we should be hearing what kind of "structure" this "Key '73" evangelistic program is going to have within the churches of Christ. A brotherhood organization like the Herald of Truth may be appropriated. But 1973 will soon be here, and those who have "agreed" to participate must soon make themselves known. When they do identify themselves, they need to tell us more about these "varieties of evangelistic expression" to which they apparently "agreed."

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 11, pp. 3-4
January 21, 1971