Examining Truth and Freedom Ministry, Inc.
Larry Ray Hafley
The corporation of our title is a siren through which Charles Holt wails and whines. As will be documented in this special series, brother Holt attacks the fact, foundation and function of the church you can read about in your New Testament. Before you become a megaphone or microphone to echo his economy or fund his corporation, you need to remember against whom you are fighting. To persecute the church is to persecute Christ (Acts 8:3; 9:1,4,5). To "withstand the kingdom of the Lord" is to "fight . . . against the Lord God" (2 Chron. 13:8,12), and those who do so "shall not prosper."
Brother Holt's organization may prosper; his organizational coffers may "increase and abound yet more and more," but he shall not prosper. Neither will you if you join his corporation and support its confrontation against the firm foundation of God Almighty. I would as soon stand in the Judgment as the one who pierced the physical side of the Son of God with a spear as to stand there as one who prated against his spiritual body with malicious words.
There may be grievous abuses of truth (2 Tim. 2:16-18); there may be gross violations of Scripture (2 Pet. 3:16); there may be corrupt churches and mercenary ministers (Rev. 2:18-3:5; 2 Pet. 2:1-3). Grant that it is true. Still, it does not warrant us to war against the King and kingdom of God. Paul was "shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi," but he did not prate against preachers, chide the churches or evict by edict the elders of the churches. Brethren, before you are taken in by the Truth & Freedom Ministry, Inc. in general and by Charles Holt in particular, beware of what and whom you are opposing (cf. Mat. 25:40,45).
We hear the blasting pestilence of brother Holt's organization against the alleged abuses of the church of God. We read his accusations and insinuations, his slurs and slanders, against the church of the firstborn ones. If it were all true, it would not justify his cause or course. We read of Peter's declarations and protestations of firm, fearless faith (Matt. 26:33; Mk. 14:29; Lk. 22:33; Jn. 13:37). We hear his base denial - "I know not the man." We hear him defend his acceptance of Gentiles (Acts 11). We see his hypocrisy and subsequent condemnation because he feared the Jews (Gal. 2:11-14).
What shall we say to this? Do we start a foundation in apposition to the apostles? The hushed howls of Paul's enemies whispered that he was preaching for ulterior motives begotten of an inferior apostleship. Do we campaign, then, against the apostolic office, work or function? Do we deny and decry all apostles of the Lamb? Do we take the word, "apostle," and show that it is used in very broad and general ways in the New Testament (cf. Phil. 2:25), and thus negate the special role of the "holy apostles" (Eph. 3:5; 1 Pet. 1:12)? God forbid!
The Truth & Freedom Ministry, Inc. often uses scriptural concepts to taunt true truth and freedom. Its writers speak of "the traditions of the church"; they speak of the "'powers that be,' the authoritarian preachers and elders of 'the Church."' They rant and rail against "mercenary," "hireling," "professional preacher" of the "corporate Church of Christ" and insist that they are "free thinkers" who have rebelled against the "party-line" while the rest of us are left to "line-up," or "goose-step" to the tune of Pied Piper preachers and elders who demand unquestioning obedience to the "status-quo." Christians in a local congregation, under the oversight of elders (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2-4; Phil. 1:1), are seen as objects of pity, scorn and ridicule. They are pictured and portrayed as blind followers of the blind, as "lowly, voiceless members who must pay their dues to the organization," and as those who are consigned and resigned forever to "obey and pay."
Warning From an Elder
Before you parrot the party-line of the Truth & Freedom Ministry, Inc., remember these words from an elder in the church:
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: . . . them that walk after the flesh . . and despise government. Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities . . . . But these . . . speak evil of the things they understand not . . . . These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure . . . those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is lie brought in bondage (2 Pet. 2:1-19).
Brethren, they promise you liberty, but it is the "liberty" of a master's rope, not of the Master's hope.
Church and His Corporation Equivalent?
Brother Holt believes his Truth and Freedom Ministry, Inc. and the Lord's church are "equivalent human structurcs or organizations." Note the quote below.
The church/building and the local church/institution are both from the wisdom and will of men. This fact in itself does not mean that they are necessarily wrong or sinful. As an example, Truth and Freedom Ministry, Inc. is a religious corporation, a legal entity under law, that originated in the will and wisdom of men. I believe it is an expedient method for disciples to combine individual efforts to teach and preach the word of God, as well as do other related "religious" activities. But - and get this fact, please! we do not in anyway whatever think that this human corporation is from God or that the Lord built it or even gave a "pattern" for such.
The facts are, biblically and according to civil law, that Truth and Freedom Ministry, Inc. and the local C of CC (church of Christ Church - LRH) are equivalent human structures or organizations. The difference is that we know this truth and admit it; but your clergy are "selling" you a human organization as a divine institution, just exactly as the Roman Catholic Church claims for itself (Charles Holt, The Examiner, May 1988, pp. 2,3).
Please read the citation above very carefully. Observe that the local church, as per 1 Corinthians 1:2 and Galatians 1:2, is a "human organization. " As such, it is "equivalent" to brother Holt's corporation. If Christians began to preach that the church is not a divine organization and that is does not have a divine "pattern" of operation, one wonders if that would make it acceptable unto God? Brother Holt's "Ministry" has all the rights and privileges that are appointed to the church in the New Testament. The quotations above and their "Forums" exemplify that fact.
Brother Holt is correct - his "Ministry" is a "human organization." "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it" (Psa. 127:1). "Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up" (Matt. 15:13), and brother Holt assures us that the Lord did not plant his.
Appeals for Money
The Truth and Freedom Ministry, Inc. chastens Christians who "lay by in store" as the Bible teaches (1 Cor. 16:2) , as "The lowly, voiceless members (who) must pay their dues to the organization. Obey and pay, that's the whole duty of the faithful church member" (The Examiner, January 1990, p. 32)! "C of C church members have been brainwashed into believing that giving into the church treasury is their duty, as one of the imagined Yive acts of worship,' and must be done every Sunday. This is set forth as a 'sacred duty' and failure to do so means condemnation by God. Therefore, they 'fear' the threats of men and dutifully obey men rather than God. You do not owe the C of C church anything" (Charles Holt, The Examiner, March, 1989, p. 29).
Now, the hook is set. Once you are convinced to cease doing what the New Testament teaches you to do, what should you do with your money? Well, here is brother Holt's advice on the same page of the last quote above.
Has this paper helped you toward a better understanding of God's word? Has it made you more aware of the departure from the simple way of the Lord? . . . Have you come to recognize that the C of C churches have become a fullfledged denomination the same as others? . . . Has it helped you to accept the truth that there is no "Lord's treasury" or divinely authorized "church treasury" into which you are required to pay? . .
If these probing questions can be answered in the affirmative, . . . then YOU have been helped by this paper. . . . Surely YOU do understand this: Freely YOU have received, freely give. Are YOU willing to do this, even as others have done for you?
HELP US FINANCIALLY WITH THIS PAPER! This is very important . . . . YOUR FINANCIAL HELP is NEEDED . . . . It is needed NOW. It is needed on a regular basis.
Note this appeal from brother Holt, "Be a part of this effort, after the manner of the early disciples: '. . . and in proportion that any disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the . . .' publication of THE EXAMINER (cf. Acts 11:29) . . . . We need your financial help" (The Examiner, January, 1990, p. 17). An elder of the church once said, "And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you" (2 Pet. 2:3). Once you are talked out of laying by in store on the first day of the week, once you become convinced that is a mere human contrivance of "the clergy" in the "church of Christ church denomination," what should you do with your money? Why, do like they did in Acts I I send it to brother Holt and The Examiner. He that hath an ear, let him hear.
Brother Holt is obviously a brilliant and talented man. I assume that his motives, so far as they are known to him, are pure. Both this article and special issue are distasteful to me. They give me no pleasure. However, as long as one believes that brother Holt and his organization are teaching error, he must oppose his views. To all who have known and loved him over the years, I urge you to pray for him and to use whatever friendship you have had with him in t e past to encourage him to repent and to preach again the truth and freedom for which he once so boldly contended.
There are those who say that they disagree with brother Holt's doctrines. They say they agree that his ideas are foreign to the Bible. Yet, they sympathize with him and criticize those who oppose his teachings. Is that scriptural love (Gal. 4:16; Jn. 8:40)? I think not. If we did not love brother Holt and his soul, these pointed efforts would never have been made.
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 19, pp. 589-590