Trends Pointing Toward a New Apostasy:
Positive Response to Sermon
Ron Halbrook has preached a sermon on "Trends Pointing Toward a New Apostasy" some thirty times in gospel meetings around the country since 1989. Copies of tapes have been widely requested and distributed A transcription of the sermon as preached on October 14,1989 at the Hebron Lane Church of Christ in Shepherdsville, Kentucky was published in booklet form by the Guardian of Truth Foundation in July of 1992. The first printing is already sold out and we are already selling the second edition. The response to this material has been overwhelmingly positive.
The booklet on Trends outlines and documents the rise of dangerous trends in the areas of Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage; Drinking from Sectarian and Liberal Wells; False Concepts of Grace and Unity; the Positive Mental Attitude Philosophy a and Worldliness. This sermon analyzes and refutes unscriptural concepts. Brother Halbrook specifies the false theories and doctrines which are being taught, and carefully documents who is teaching them in many cases. This is not a sermon of glowing generalities, but it names just as the apostle Paul and other New Testament preachers did (Acts 13:6-12; 1 Tim. 1:19-20; 2 Tint 1:15; 2:16-18).
Below are some of the reactions of well known and respected brethren, which show that brother Halbrook is not alone in recognizing the dangers which are before us.
"The Very Heart of Our Problems ... Today"
It is my feeling that this sermon should be read by every member of the Lord's church because it hits at the very heart of our problems in the church today.
Ron Halbrook is one of the most able preachers of the gospel in the church today. He is in his forties and in the very prime of his life as a preacher. He loves the Lord, the truth, and his brethren. He is very kind in his presentation of the truth, and is a man of great courage who will not allow error to pass; consequently, he is no stranger to controversy.
It was a great joy to have Brother Halbrook preach in a series of gospel meetings with the Hebron Lane church of Christ October 9-15, 1989. He did an outstanding job of declaring the Old Jerusalem Gospel that week. He had one lesson, we especially wanted elders and preachers to hear, "Trends Pointing Toward a New Apostasy." We planned this lesson for Saturday evening October 14, and were not disappointed. The church building was filled, with three rows of young people sitting right up at the front. Several elders and preachers were present including two preachers in the area who are editors of papers, brother Connie Adams (editor of Searching the Scriptures) and brother Paul Earnhart (one of the editors of Christianity Magazine).
Brother Halbrook had personally invited brother Earnhart because this lesson included some discussion of the "positive philosophy" in preaching and teaching and in Christianity magazine. Ron and brother Barnhart have been friends for twenty-five years; Ron, having love and respect for brother Earnhart, wanted him to hear the lesson. They had a pleasant and profitable discussion after the lesson during which brother Earnhart told him that he agreed with ninety-eight percent of the lesson, that the two percent he did not agree with was presented in a good spirit, and that the sermon is much needed today. This serves to remind us that brethren can consider controversial subjects, both publicly and privately, when proper attitudes prevail.
The trends that brother Halbrook deals with in this lesson remind me of the trends and practices that were prevalent forty years ago when I first began to preach the gospel. There were many well-defined trends away from the truth back then. Brother W.W. Otey said in a letter to Yater Tant in 1957, "No well-defined trend away from the New Testament order of things has ever stopped till a full apostasy matured." Brother Otey was right: a full apostasy matured in churches of Christ, and the majority of churches went with the apostasy! The only way to stop apostasy is for preachers and elders to be watchful for any trend that could lead away from the truth, and to make sure that teaching is done to familiarize the people with issues that are troubling churches (Acts 20:31; 2 Tim. 4:5). This is what brother Halbrook does in this sermon; he points out many dangerous trends in the church today, trends that could lead to another apostasy if we do not take heed to his warnings and stop them now!
We need to study God's word diligently and be watchful day and night so that we can recognize and avoid any trend that might lead us away from the authority of God's word. Brother Halbrook's sermon can help us do that. I heartily commend it to you (excerpts from Donald Townsley 's "Introduction" to the booklet, Trends Pointing Toward a New Apostasy). Donald Townsley, Shepherdsville, KY
"Captivating, Perceptive Analysis"
"Trends" is a captivating, perceptive analysis of various attitudes currently prevalent. Once I began reading it (which was very late at night), I did not put it down until completing it. Brother Halbrook will no doubt receive some negative feedback, and some of his warnings will be challenged. However, truth does not fear investigation. Most of us can see the danger when at the precipice of falling, but few detect the danger while still upstream drifting in that direction. This booklet is worthy of serious reading lest we allow trends to develop into full grown apostasy. hope that the booklet will be given widespread distribution. Robert Hark rider, Orlando, FL
"To Be Forewarned Is to Be Forearmed"
I recently read your booklet "Trends Pointing Toward A New Apostasy. " The trends you mentioned are real and pose a serious threat to the purity and stability of God's people.
"To be forewarned is to be forearmed." I commend the booklet and trust it will have a widespread circulation among our brethren. Harold Fite, Katy, Texas
"There Is Strength In Knowledge"
The age-old problem continues: the battle between "going onward" and "abiding" (2 In. 9). The devil must undermine Bible authority with whatever device of human wisdom he can employ (2 Cor. 2:1). The danger of "drifting" because of "neglect" is ever-present (Heb. 2:1,3). Here is a booklet, easy to read, that within an hour can profit one greatly by giving him documented cases of attitudes and tactics and means which ultimately produce apostasy. This booklet should be purchased in lots and distributed widely. There is strength in knowledge and this booklet informs! Bill H. Reeves, New Braunfels, TX
"Explicit But Not Objectionable"
I found the book, explicit but not objectionable. The errors you mentioned are real and need attention. Of course readers will differ in judgment about the precocity or propriety of naming the many persons whom you associated with this or that error. Robert F. Turner, Burnet, TX
"Trumpet Call to the Watchmen on the Walls of Zion"
Warnings to God's people about departures from the faith are always in order. While Paul was in Ephesus he ceased not to warn everyone night and day. Moses charged Israel not to add to nor diminish from the word he spoke to them. The reason for this strict adherence to the words of God is given, "so that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God."
The devil never gives up in his diabolical work of leading people to disbelieve the word of God. The first sin came because Eve believed the word of the devil instead of the word of God. The devil knows he can't destroy the word of God so he does all in his power to get God's people to be ashamed of God's word and thus compromise and corrupt it. One way he does this is by getting God's people to let up in the spiritual combat. He deplores the fighting spirit and labels it negativism and un-Christian. Yet the fact remains that every inch of ground gained for God is gained by warfare. The people of God are to be militant. There is an unceasing warfare going on for the minds of men.
The Lord doesn't say that "the weapons of our compromise, or get-along-with-everybody gospel" are not carnal. He said, "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to . . . the bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." If that's legalism, I'm a legalist.
One can perceive the depths of Paul's love for the truth in his earnest plea, "0 Timothy, guard that which is committed to thy trust." Years ago J.D. Tant often sounded the familiar words, "Brethren we are drifting. "Ron Halbrook has sounded the trumpet to call the watchmen on the walls of Zion to rally at the place where the breeches are made.
We must be on guard lest there be in any of us an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. Let not man say when he is tempted to leave the ancient order that he is tempted to do so by professed love for God. God never tempts anyone to depart from the faith. But men are drawn away from the truth by their own lusts for popularity and the favor of man. This lust conceived produces sin, and the sin of compromise when it is finished brings forth spiritual death. How can one believe unpopular truth when he seeks the honor of men rather than the honor that comes from God only?
One has said, "The hottest laces in hell are reserved for those who in time of moral (poor spiritual) crisis maintained their neutrality." Mother warned, "Before you take up with any trend you better see how that trend will end." No apostasy begins full grown. It begins with the desire to please men, continues in unbelief and erosion of conviction, and ends in a departure from the faith. It leaves one as a mere shell of the power for good he once was and like Samson, "He knows not that the Lord has left him."
Listen to the words of warning in Rons book and make the proper application in your We. Jack Holt, Sinton, TX
"Should Be Considered Seriously"
Having heard the sermon at Hebron lane which resulted in this booklet, I am glad this material is being given wider circulation. Ron Halbrook has identified some areas of concern which should be considered seriously. Connie W. Adams, Louisville, KY
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 15, p. 16-17