Examining the Fruits
J. Wiley Adams
Warner Robins, Georgia
Evidently the Lord knew God's people would have to deal with false prophets. This has always been the case. Now is no exception. We not only have false prophets or teachers but we also have to combat them. In this there is no alternative if we are to remain faithful to our heavenly Father.
In Matthew 7:15-21, Jesus gave us the acid test for determining if and when one is a false prophet. "Ye shall know them by their fruits." Let us consider some of the fruits of The Examiner, its editor and its cloister of writers.
The Examiner, edited by Charles Holt (coupled with its predecessor, Sentinel of Truth which was also edited by Holt) has caused no little concern in the church of the Lord from the late sixties until now. Prior to that time going back a few years, Holt had believed that elders could be single men and that confessing Christ prior to baptism was only a ritualistic formula without scriptural precedent. My remembrance of brother Holt's early work is this: the gospel meetings he held were characterized, in addition to much excellent material, with a flare for the unique, the unusual, and a disposition to be risque with Divine Truth. To differ with him was an open invitation to intimidation and sarcasm. He was right. He was always right. He was not to be disputed or called into question. When some elders in the church here and there would not let him run the church, he became bitter, cynical, and belligerent. Seething with hostilities he went into secular work and for a long time kept a low profile as far as brethren were concerned until later on in the mid-sixties the opportunity presented itself to edit Sentinel of Truth. After causing much trouble with that publication, he ceased being the editor when his financial backer died, and a little later on the journal ceased publication. Once again he dropped out of immediate sight but played pattie-cake with W. Carl Ketcherside, the liberals, and some radical elements here and there. Then he emerged again into public view with The Examiner. This paper was only a reprint of the former one, Sentinel of Truth. Attracting quite a number of brethren who were disgruntled about something or other, he seems to have set out with determination to finish wrecking the church, if he could. He has not and he will not. Together these two publications have created havoc all around the country among God's people. Now we are well able to evaluate the fruits of these two misadventures in religious journalism.
Since Holt's doctrine denies the scriptural existence of the local church as an entity or corporate body of believers, where is the congregation set up by Holt and his followers according to his views which will serve as the right example of whatever he is talking about? To establish a local church of any kind would deny his premise because he says in one of his cute-isms, "there ain't any such thing," meaning the local church.
And where can we see a place where Holt's type of eldership is exemplified? Why even talk about elders at all since elders without a flock to oversee would be a paradox. He maintains that elders are just older men (or women), that they get to be elders simply by growing older, that the qualifications were never meant to be what we have said they are, that elders are not appointed (except by the Holy Spirit), that they just start out to lead the flock, taking the oversight thereof, and the flock falls in behind them of their own accord.
Actually Holt's position on the local church alone makes any discussion of elders, flocks, the organization and work of the church, the treasury money or anything else of like kind, absolutely superfluous. Everything he believes stems from his disavowal of the local church as an entity or corporate body. That being true why does he even bother to beg the issue and discuss other matters which of necessity grow out of and are related to the local church issue. There is really only one basic issue: the scripturalness or unscripturalness of the local church. Still he talks of congregations, elders (by his definition), seeks to dismantle the church buildings or sell them, dubs all gospel preachers who are supported by the gospel as hirelings and all elders as tin gods who are lording it over the brethren. Yet he has established his own organization called Truth and Freedom Ministry, Inc. in Chattanooga, Tennessee for the purpose of propagating his heretical ideas. He is the head of this organization which shuns not to beg, coax and persuade its readers to send their money in to help further their cause. His money-making pleas are surely reminiscent of the so-called TV evangelists of our day.
While not having any congregations operating according to his plan he seeks to infiltrate these unscriptural "things" called local churches with his clandestine "stake-outs" to spy out the land and report to their leader. Win them over by private teaching if you can. This is their plan.
In this writer's own experience a few years ago, some of Holt's "disciples" who were withdrawn from for heresy, sued the individuals in a local church in a civil suit for the corporate property. They, while denying the local church, petitioned the court to declare themselves to be the entity instead of those they had sued and thus become the owners of the property! Verily the legs of the lame are unequal. Needless to say the court system of the State of Georgia was able to see through this inconsistent facade.
Holt has been joined in these efforts by some who evidently are possessed of the same ego and arrogance as himself. It is like playing a record over and over again. Holt has trained them well. All of these seem to have something against Bible authority in the church. While speaking of love their material is filled with venom and hate. Together they have sent their magazine all around to brethren far and wide on a free basis. Godly brethren have had to interrupt their good labors, preachers and elders alike have had to stop and fight these abominable heresies. How can it be other than the work of Satan and those involved as being Satan's agents? Churches in disarray, brethren arguing over these issues needlessly, good brethren discouraged - all because of the embittered tirades of a little "pontiff" and his college of would-be cardinals.
Brethren, there are certainly some things in the churches here and there which need to be corrected. Who would deny it? But in the name of all that is right let us not allow the churches to he destroyed because of these abuses. We need not tear down the whole building in order to replace a few rotten boards. We need a repair job maybe but what we do not need is a demolition squad.
As you may have already guessed, this writer speaks from much experience in dealing with the fruits of the teachings set forth in Sentinel of Truth of the past and The Examiner of today. We are not fighting a straw man nor are these matters to be relegated to the realm of "personality squabbles" as some in the past, and maybe now, have been prone to do. All of it makes this writer both sad and indignant. We must continue to fight with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and hack every would-be "Agag" to pieces. We must not and will not give place to the Devil. Brethren, keep up the good fight of faith. God will bring low every evil work for truth will prevail ultimately!
"Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them" (Matt. 7:19,20).
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 19, pp. 605-606