By Richard Boone
The extent to which more and more churches of Christ are departing from the faith is astounding. Reports regularly come of further apostasy. Nothing is surprising anymore. Of equal concern are those smaller departures which head a group in the direction of total digression. Even innocent activities could ultimately lead to forsaking of the old paths. Therefore, we must soberly watch and hold such things in check (1 Pet. 5:89).
Common to any deviation from truth is the failure to properly understand, respect and/or apply Bible authority. This failure may be out of ignorance or done knowingly, unintentionally or highhandedly. It is about the proper understanding and application of Bible authority that this special issue has been prepared. The time has come for us to revisit these issues.
This special edition begins by establishing some fundamental principles about Bible authority. The failure to properly apply authority is often the result of a misunderstanding of the fundamentals. This material is written with the goal of helping us to better understand some vital aspects of the basics.
Furthermore these principles are applied to the issues which divided the church in the 1950s. Included are discussions of the all sufficiency of the church, and the implications of this on human institutions and their relationship to local churches. From a historical perspective, there were positions advocated and reasoning done which opened the door for departures in later years, a fact which we have sadly seen come to pass.
The last section deals with the new set of problems which have arisen during the last ten years or so with the call for a New Hermeneutics, a new approach to Bible interpretation. A thorough, well documented explanation of the New Hermeneutics is given, as well as those avenues through which this philosophy is championed. The challenge before us now is whether the church should abandon scriptural standards to follow the call of cultural dictates. This is one plea of the New Hermeneutics call. Finally, a warning for all to heed is given.
The participants in the special issue are from across the United States – Alabama, California, Florida, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. The writers have to deal with these problems wherever they are; these are not just regional problems. They are of the younger generation of preachers now on the scene, those who will go into the next century and be in the forefront of the battle on these and other problems. Let us hold up their hands as they wage the battle (1 Tim. 1:1819; 2 Tim. 2:34). May their tribe increase!
It is our hope that this special issue will be of much benefit to all. Foremost is our desire that God be pleased with these efforts (2 Cor. 5:9; 10:18).
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 19, p. 1
October 6, 1994