The Continuing Apostasy of Liberalism
Harry R. Osbourne
The following article by Wayne Jackson is reprinted from Christian Courier, a paper published by our liberal brethren, regarding some of the current teaching done by some of the most extreme preachers among them. As you read the article, ask yourself a few questions. Where did such apostasy begin? What approach is taken to defend such outrageous positions? How in the world have these teachers of error been tolerated to this point? Where will it all end? We will discuss some of these points more at the end of this article:
On October 17, 1989, San Francisco, California was jolted by a powerful earthquake. Two days later, on the campus of Lubbock Christian University, Randy Mayeux, who preaches for the Preston Road church in Dallas, delivered a radical, almost earthquake-like speech, the shocking effects of which are reverberating across our brotherhood months later.
The theme of Mayeux's presentation, which was really a veneered tirade against the "traditional" church of Christ, was "unity in diversity." He brazenly threw down the gauntlet to faithful gospel preachers everywhere.
In a series of sweeping charges, Mayeux alleged that although the churches of Christ claim that they have no creed but the Bible, they in fact do have one. He referred to a well-known tract, Can We All Understand the Bible Alike?, as an "ignorant" viewpoint, and charged that the Scriptures cannot be uniformly understood, which, of course, makes the apostolic charge that we "all speak the same thing" (1 Cor. 1:10) rather meaningless. Brother Mayeux equated the use of mechanical instruments of music in Christian worship with such expedients as the Sunday school and multiple communion cups. He suggested that the division which came about between the Christian Church and the churches of Christ in the late 1800's was principally economic, i.e., some churches could afford the instrument and others could not, hence, a spirit of rivalry developed. Our brother is as uninformed in history as he is in biblical matters.
Our misguided friend is also quite confused as to what it takes to constitute a Christian. He affirms that he teaches that baptism is for remission of sins, but he confesses that his heart inclines otherwise. (I believe there is an appropriate word for one who believes one thing and teaches another.) He contends that there are many respectable men among us who do not believe that our view of baptism is correct. He argues that if persecution should come, we would meet for worship with believers of all sorts, and whether one had been sprinkled or immersed would hardly be significant. He says, in fact, his belief actually is that God will accept a person at the point of his or her understanding. Would that mean that the Lord would accept the Jew as he is, even though he does not "understand" that Jesus is the Messiah? Mayeux mentioned "Mother" Teresa, the Roman Catholic nun, whom he acknowledged has never been immersed for the forgiveness of her sins, and he wondered if a poll were taken, how many might feel that she is saved anyhow. There is an implication as to what his vote would be.
Brother Mayeux praises the writings and preaching of Charles Swindoll, a staunch Calvinist, and concedes that he has personal inclinations toward Calvinism. He avers that hundreds of our women in the church across the country are attending the organized "Bible Study Fellowship" programs which, he says, are "unabashed, unashamed Calvinist Bible studies." And he exclaims, "It is wonderful!" He predicts that a growing number of our people are going to think like Calvinists because they are reading men like Swindoll, and because they are not getting good Bible instruction in the church. Those sitting under him certainly aren't getting much!
Mayeux tells of a Herald of Truth family conference recently conducted in Texas during which a woman "preached" to 900 people, and, he exclaims, she "was dynamite! " He asks: Is there no place in the church for women who want to preach publicly to both men and women? He declares that the church of the Lord will not survive in the 1990s unless we allow women to exercise their ministerial gifts. On and on he railed as the audience laughed at his glib sarcasm. Randy Mayeux concluded his infamous diatribe by asserting that in the 1990s, diversity will be the only game in town!
Meanwhile, in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex area, Larry James of the Richardson East congregation, has boldly blasted churches of Christ for their opposition to the use of instruments of music in worship. In a sermon delivered on February 26th of last year, James caustically attacked our position on worship innovations. He made no attempt, of course, to answer the major arguments employed to sustain our stand; rather, he chose simply to ridicule those who contend for the primitive pattern of worship.
The sermons of Mayeux and James reflect a typical revolutionary spirit that is becoming increasingly common in the church. I am convinced that many sincere Christians are not aware of the extent to which the restoration movement is drifting (actually, rushing) into digression. It is quite a shocking experience to hear these men so arrogantly proclaiming their unorthodox views, and to note their mounting popularity (Wayne Jackson, Christian Courier, February 1990, p. 39).
A generation has now past since the painful "split" over institutionalism which occurred in the 1950s. During those dark days, many faithful brethren warned their digressive brethren of the horrible consequences which would come if they gave up the appeal for Bible authority in all matters (1 Pet. 4:11; Col. 3:17; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). Those favoring efforts for which there was no Bible authority answered, "We do many things for which we have no authority." The plea for all things to be authorized from God's Word fell on deaf cars which called such thinking "picky," "outdated," and "narrow." Those who demanded Bible authority for all that they practiced were labeled "anti's" and quickly dismissed as some kind of crazy nuts. While the vast majority set out upon the path of the unauthorized, a few brethren sounded a warning about the end of that trail. They warned of a time these liberal attitudes would be applied even further than the digressives wanted. They warned of compromises extending to embrace instrumental music and denominational error. Even they, no doubt, would be surprised at the extent of the apostasy in such a short time.
I must confess that even though I keep track of the current papers among liberal brethren, I am shocked at the errors openly embraced by some of their prominent preachers. Randy Mayeux, named in the above article, was one of the speakers at the Nashville meeting I attended in November of 1988. He can hardly be dismissed as an obscure person with little influence since he preaches at one of the largest institutional churches in this country (Preston Road in Dallas, Texas). At that time of the Nashville meeting, he was making veiled references to his Calvinist leanings. Less than a year later, however, he made the speech documented above in which he openly admitted to teachings so loose a good Calvinist couldn't even say, "Amen." Ten years ago, who would have guessed that anyone among institutional brethren would declare that a Roman Catholic nun was saved in her present state? Those brethren in institutional churches who still have any doctrinal convictions for the truth need to wake up and leave such defenders of error to make a stand for God's truth!
As if the above mentality were not enough of a problem among the liberal brethren, the article just before the one above detailed even more trouble among their ranks (Christian Courier, Feb. 1990, pp. 37-38). The author stated that a biology professor at "one of our major universities" called Genesis 1 a "myth." The author went on to say that such is becoming common. The article also admitted that "theological liberalism" (the belief that the Bible, is not a product of Divine inspiration, but of human origin) is the guiding principle in dealing with the Bible for many institutional preachers. Bill Swetmon and others among those brethren have stated views which leave me in shock!
How did it all get started? It started with some who believed it was alright to do just a few things that were unauthorized by God. When those innovations were accepted, a few more were introduced. And so it progressed with one innovation followed by another until these brethren lost any concept of proving all things and holding fast that which is good (I Thess. 5:21). They have followed the downward spiral of apostasy plainly declared in God's Word (2 Tim. 3:13; 3:5; Acts 20:29-30; 2 Thess. 2:10-12). The have sown the wind and they are reaping the whirlwind (Hos. 8:7). Let us always be vigilant against the very start of error. It must be seen for what it is - a deadly cancer which will spread through every part of the body until it destroys any semblance of life remaining (2 Tim. 2:16-18). Don't be deceived - there is no harmless error!
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 2, pp. 48-49