Unity and Diversity (II)
Alameda, CaliforniaUnity and Fellowship
Of course, where there is Bible unity there is Bible fellowship. Fellowship is much more than relationship, though it includes the proper relationship. Fellowship in the Bible applies to spiritual matters-God, Christ, Holy Spirit, and fellow-Christians (Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 1:9; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Jn. 1:3, 6, 7). The fellowship of Christians derives from what they have in common with God, through His Word (1 Jn. 1:3). The Word is always the basis of union with God (obtained or maintained). Carl Ketcherside once said, "The body of truth is like the human body, in that it has many members. Not all these are essential to being, some are essential only to well being." I would like to see these two lists! Which ones are essential to being and which ones are essential to well-being? Who is the potentate that shall supply these lists?
Further, fellowship in Christ is the same as being one in Christ (1 Cor. 1:9-10). This being one in Christ involves speaking the same things (1 Cor. 1:10; 1 Pet. 4:11), and practicing the same things (2 Jn. 9-11). Fellowship between fellow Christians is a direct result of walking in the light (1 Jn. 1:7) of God's Word. Ignore this perfect system of Divine truth and neither unity nor fellowship (in the Bible sense) will be achieved.
Jesus ushered into the world a system of truth designed to save souls (Jn. 1:17; 17:17; 1 Pet. 1:22). A failure to follow this system of truth results in being lost (Jn. 7:17; Lk. 6:46; Mt. 7:21). We are under obligation to proclaim that truth (2 Tim. 2:2; Mt. 28:18-20), to defend that truth (Jude 3; Phil. 1:16), and to call in question the teachers of error (1 Jn. 4:1). Let us not forget that this same truth may be misused, to our eternal sorrow (Mt. 7:21-23). Notice 1 Jn. 2:5-How much of God's Word is meant in this statement? If not all, then what part is left out?
It may be argued that unity is not to be equated with uniformity; which is an apparent effort at saying we can have unity is spite of our differences. However, outside the doctrine of Christ one is without God and without Christ (2 Jn. 9; Mt. 10:16; Lk. 10:16, NAS). To attempt "unity in diversity" in matters of faith is to compromise or forsake God's truth; and this invites the marking and avoiding of Rom. 16:17.
When man agrees with God (Amos 3:3) by believing and obeying God's Word, he will be in fellowship with all other men who do the same. Unity or fellowship on any other basis is dead wrong. To walk by faith is to walk in the light of God's Word (Rom. 10:17; 1 Jn. 1:7).
God's grace teaches both the alien and the erring (1 Cor. 1:21; Tit. 2:11-12). Just as the alien must have faith (Mk. 16:16), the Christian is to walk by faith (Rom. 1:17). Both have a choice as to whom they obey (Rom. 6:16). God's grace teaches the alien to believe, repent, and be baptized to come into a covenant relationship with God. Why is it not just as important for the erring to repent and pray (Acts 8:22) to maintain his favorable relationship with God? Christ's blood cleanses both, but on the condition they obey (Rom. 6:3-5; 1 Jn. 1:7). 1 am aware that salvation is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8), but only in the same way that God's Son is a gift (Jn. 3:16). All did not receive Christ (Jn. 1:11), thus He was not a gift to them. Hence, salvation is no gift until it is received. Receiving this salvation is done by obeying His Will (Heb. 5:9).
Where has God promised to save the erring short of his repenting and praying? In the absence of such scripture, will someone play God and affirm that He does? The conclusion is inescapable-if man wants God's grace to cover his sins, he must obey God's instructions. Since a previous article dealt more fully with this topic, we leave it here.Fruits of "Unity In Diversity"
Brother Ron Halbrook, in Truth Magazine, quoted Bro. Ed Fudge as saying, "I believe it is---sinful, to travel around disrupting the peace of the brethren, to create suspicions and hinder the work of the Lord." Amen, Bro. Fudge! I do wish all these "unity in diversity" preachers would apply this to themselves.
Example # 1, Polson, Montana: I refer the reader to Truth Magazine, Sept. 26, 1974, for the details of this example. I mention it here simply because I had some familiarity with these brethren while they were at peace and long before the "unity in diversity" ideas were found in the congregation. Now, just who caused division in this case? It would really take some conscience salving for the innovaters to excuse themselves from blame in this case. This is a good example of the type of "unity" that "unity in diversity" offers.
Example # 2, Concord, California: One Saturday night in October, 1973, I received a telephone call from one of the brethren from the small but "sound" congregation meeting in that city. Difficulties had developed over the ideas involved in the "unity in diversity" movement. Some had already been lost to liberalism. I was asked to teach a series of Saturday night lessons to the congregation, and I began such lessons Oct. 27, 1973 and continued them, with little interruption, until Jan. 19, 1974. The local preacher had espoused some of the erroneous ideas and had been preaching them. About two-thirds the way through this series of lessons, I was informed that a member of the large liberal group in Concord was to follow me with a series of his own. My series dealt mostly with the subjects of authority, the original New Testament church, limitations of the Gospel, work and worship of the church, the subject of fellowship, and the fact that truth is absolute and attainable. Questions upon which there was considerable discussion dealt with the imagined difference in Gospel and doctrine, authority (especially as how to establish it), worship, and fellowship (the who of fellowship). Jn. 4:24 was called in question as offering the standard of worship; and, 2 Jn. 9 was used only in reference to the Deity of Christ.
Hal Hougey, of the liberal group in Concord, was the one to follow me, but for a much shorter period of time. I have a copy of the material which he discussed, in outline form. Considerable space is taken up in an effort to show that 2 Jn. 9 makes reference only to the Deity of Christ. On page two of that outline it is said, "Since no one has perfect knowledge, and therefore may almost certainly have ignorantly committed sins of omission or commission, and not even know what to repent of, we are all dependent on God's grace to save us." Does this sound familiar? Under the title, "Whom Should We Not Fellowship," are given unbelievers, those guilty of moral sins, and those guilty of factious behavior. It is argued that 1 Tim. 6:3-5, "Does not condemn the one who holds views different from or in addition to that which was taught by Christ and inspired men, but the one who persists in causing division by advocating such views to the point of causing quarreling, suspicions, and constant friction." It is said that Rom. 16:17-18, refers "to the teaching regarding the unity of the body of Christ, not to the whole body of Christian teaching which is found in the New Testament."
The local preacher was fired, but it was slightly too late for the small congregation to absorb this shock and survive. After a few weeks they simply dissolved and went elsewhere. To my knowledge there were no further loses to the liberals, but the over-all loss is obvious. I have purposely refrained from naming the local preacher involved, because I have been more recently informed that he is moving in the right direction, working with a sound Gospel preacher, and may someday be able to preach the pure Gospel once more. It is commendable that he recognized that he had a problem, and is not now spending any time in the pulpit. Now, what caused this division and dissolution of the small church? Is anyone so blind as to affirm that the "unity in diversity" doctrine had nothing to do with it? Again, this is the type of "unity" which such doctrine has to offer.
Example # 3, Arlington, Texas (Pioneer Parkway): A little background is in order. Shortly before Brother Hubert Moss moved to the Pioneer Parkway church, I held a Gospel meeting there. In general I would say the congregation was eagerly looking forward to his corning and anticipating a good work with him. However, less than a year after his arrival I began to receive comments from some that were listening to him, to the effect that they understood him to be doing some "loose" teaching, but could not at that time put their finger on just what it was. My response was that my informants should not be so critical and try to work more closely with Brother Moss. I had absolutely no idea that their observations had any foundation in fact whatsoever. I simply thought that they were mistaken. A few months later, however, quotes from his peaching and class teaching : made a different .impression. I ask that some tapes be made and sent to me that I might hear; but unfortunately this was not achieved. I urged those concerned to boldly stand for the truth and continue at Pioneer Parkway as long as there was any hope at all of saving the church from what they understood to be error. I also had a few talks with some that had known Brother Moss in college and since, and I urged them to get in touch with Brother Moss and try to find out what was really going on. Whether they ever did this or not I do not know.
My next direct contact of the situation Yin Arlington came Jan. 24, 1975. I arrived at the airport before daylight that Friday morning, to be informed, "we have a new church in Arlington." Of course they were making reference to a new congregation. "Since when?" was: my reply, and, "last Sunday" was the answer. I did the preaching at both services Jan. 26, for this new group, I have written statements and quotes from these brethren, which explain why they determined to leave Pioneer Parkway.
A little information on the new group may here be of interest. They had twenty-eight people present for their first service, with the promise of more to follow soon. They began with six to eight men on whom they can depend. I was informed that the new work was a result of error being taught in the Pioneer Parkway church. There had been several things to which they objected, but the "straw that broke the camel's back" "was the "grace-fellowship" and "unity in diversity" error. The ,new group meets at 1203 E. Abram, in Arlington; and they are presently looking for a "full-time" man to work with them.. Several preachers in the general area have spoken for the new group, thus familiar with their efforts. Contacts with this new church may be made through Brother Billy Dollar, 1817 Larkspur Dr., Arlington, Texas.
Back to the trouble itself. During the summer of 1974, Ronnie Compton was with the Pioneer Parkway church, and was used in their teaching program. My niece presented me a copy of the book which Brother Compton used in a young people's class-Stott's "Basic Christianity." From what I have read in various papers I conclude it is not necessary to comment on this book. It is, nonetheless, filled with ideas that are foreign to God's Word; and, if followed would destroy faith in God's Word. During the fall (Oct.), 1974, Brother Edward Fudge was in a meeting at Pioneer Parkway. During this meeting Bro. "Fudge used Heb. 10:5-10 in an effort to prove that Christ lived a perfect life (kept the law perfectly) for us and that takes care of ,our deficiencies" (From a letter from Bro. C. Floyd George). During this same meeting Bro. Moss called on a Brother from a liberal church to lead in prayer. When asked to explain this; "he claimed that they had talked to each other and thought alike, (Bro. George's letter). Here is another statement from Bro. George's letter "Bro. Moss preached a number of sermons on works, grace, and fellowship, based mostly on Rom. 3, 4, 5, and 8. He uses Rom. 3:20 in such a way as to reach the conclusion that law keeping is unimportant. only trust in Christ is important-he applies it to the law of Christ." One more, "Bro. Moss and Edward Fudge have the Bible teaching that God's grace permits him to substitute the perfect life of Christ for obedience on our part, and without his doing so we could not be saved."
Here are some quotes that Bro. Billy Dollar attributes to Bro. Moss. In discussing 1 Cor. 1:10-"Not dealing with Gospel uniformity, though ideal. Demands purpose, oneness of mind, intent and aim." On 2 Jn. 9-11, "involves Deity of Christ, not the doctrine of Christ." "It is not true every time I commit a mistake I fall from grace." And, Bro. Dollar adds, he "preached Jesus the man, not a plan."
I have additional statements along this same line from Bro. O.C. Chick and Bro. Virgil Holderby. I shall not take up space to quote them; nor, have I quoted all written by Brethren Dollar and George. Now, if Brother Moss does not believe what these statements suggest, I would be most happy to hear him say so, a pleasure that I am sure would be shared by the brethren mentioned above. 1 do not know Bro. Moss personally; and so far as I can recall have never met him. I have no "axe to grind" with him, nor anyone else. I am concerned only with the purity of the Great Cause that I trust we mutually espouse.
What, brethren, caused the division in Arlington. The brethren that left say it was the ideas connected with the "unity in diversity" doctrine. Once again, we have an example of the kind of "unity" offered by such doctrine.
A Final PleaBrethren, let us not be deceived by fair words and speeches! Obedience is the only route to heaven, even if no meritorious works are involved. To achieve heaven by our obedience is one thing, to earn it is quite another. All of us know we cannot merit or earn that great reward; but we can obtain it by walking obediently with the Lord. When we cast our lot with those in error, we are casting a vote against the plan of the Almighty. When Christ was raised from the dead to sit at God's right hand (Acts 2:29-33), and when we confessed that precious name before men, we were swearing allegiance to the "King of kings and Lord of Lords." Let us lay aside those things that can so easily detour us (Heb. 12:1), and, "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3).
Truth Magazine XXI: 2, pp. 22-24