Old Drama - New Faces
A.W. Fortune, once pastor of the Central Christian Church of Lexington, Kentucky, and well known as a preacher and writer, in his book Disciples in Kentucky, p. 383, gives, the following reasons for the controversies which gave birth to the denomination of which he was a member:
"The controversies, through which the Disciples have passed from the beginning until now, have been the result of two different interpretations of their mission. First there have been those who believe that it is the spirit of the New Testament that should be restored, and in our method of working the church should adapt itself to the changing times and conditions. Again, there have been those who have regarded the New Testament as a fixed pattern for all time, and our business is to hold rigidly to that pattern regardless of the consequences. Because of these two attitudes, conflicts were inevitable." (Emp. mine, L.B.)
In this brief and candid statement Mr. Fortune put his finger on the basic reason for every apostasy, present, past and future, namely attitude towards Bible authority. Until a few years ago I do not recall having heard a gospel preacher, elder or just plain intelligent member of the church say that Bible authority for anything is indicated in any way other than by precept, example or necessary inference. But, for a large part of the brotherhood, those days are past.
One preacher and educator wrote a tract which he called Where There Is No Pattern. Some of the more ordinary folks just say "we do many things for which we have no Bible authority." This is the reason we have church supported schools, recreation centers, lodges where provisions are made for swimming, fishing, etc., plans for church hospitals, church supported institutions for unwed mothers, and other unscriptural things too numerous to mention.
When you do not have scriptural support for a thing and you want it real bad, and have
to have church money to get it started and keep it running, and you must find some way to calm the fears of those who oversee the spending of the money (or furnish it) but who still lean to the idea that a thing is unscriptural unless the Bible teaches it ... then you have to try to prove it is alright by a "principle eternal," or "the spirit of New Testament teaching," or just come right out and say "so what? We do a lot of things without Bible authority. Why not this good work?"
When A.W. Fortune used the term "spirit of the New Testament," he did not mean teaching of the New Testament. If so, his practice belied his statement. Where can we find out what is the "spirit of The New Testament," except in what the New Testament says? We cannot walk in the s of our apostate brethren of a century an half ago without reaching the same destination: Denominationalism.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 19, p. 2