By Ron Halbrook
For years Buff Scott, Jr. has scoured the Guardian of Truth magazine to collect names and addresses to send his publication, The Reformer. Consequently, he says that his “paper goes to more `Guardian’ brethren than any others including many `elderships”‘ (Scott to Halbrook, February 4, 1996). Scott promotes the Carl Ketcherside-Leroy Garrett concepts of unity-in-doctrinal-diversity and often attacks the Guardian of Truth. Explaining his displeasure with my booklet Trends Pointing Toward a New Apostasy, he argued that fellowship can be withdrawn only for immorality, divisiveness, or denying Christ’s deity, but never over doctrinal matters (The Reformer, January/ February 1994, 2-5). Since the January-February 1996 Reformer, Scott has focused on the church of Christ here in West Columbia with its elders (C.P. Alexander, James Moore, and J.D. Harris) and myself as an evangelist. Brethren from around the country have been asking how they got on Scott’s mailing list and what is the background to his tirades against us.
Scott says he “decided some time ago to expand my ministry of reformation” by publishing articles in local newspapers “across the country” where churches of Christ meet (Scott to Halbrook, October 18, 1995). After mailing his materials here for several years, he started fighting us in the local media but plans to tar-get other churches in the future. This report can help brethren in other places to be prepared when he strikes again.
In September 1993 Scott proposeda forum on whether churches of Christ are “counterfeit” and whether instruments of music in worship should be a test of fellowship. His letter explained, “I am associated with the Mountain View Christian Church in Phoenix whose assemblies employ instruments of music. Additionally, I am `Associate Pastor,’ a function and title unknown in scripture and disapproved of by me” (Scott to Halbrook, September 3, 1993). We ignored this letter because an effort to arrange a discussion with him years ago led nowhere, and the elders and I saw a lack of integrity in Scott’s participation in things which he himself knows to be wrong. His articles attacking us and renewing his forum proposal began to appear in local newspapers in July 1995. They are classic examples of the sophistry spoken of in 1 Timothy 6:3-4, If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmising .. .
Raging against the church and the KJV Scott rants, raves, and rages against the word “church” in the Bible, insisting that the Greek term ecclesia be translated “congregation” or “assembly” but never “church.” “Church” in Scott’s overheated imagination can mean only religious bodies, institutions, hierarchies, and bureaucracies unknown to Scripture. We pointed out that this attack on “church” is contrary to Bible translations representing hundreds of Greek scholars, and Scott is certainly no Greek scholar! We need not jettison “church” or “God” from the Bible when people misuse such words, but use the Bible to teach proper concepts of God and church.
Scott claims he wants “Jesusism” not “churchism” but admits Jesus has a body or kingdom. Do we need “Jesusism” not “bodyism” or “kingdomism”? The New Testament church is the body or kingdom of Christ. To be in Christ is to be his church, body, or kingdom. To be out-side of the church of Christ is to be outside of Christ (Matt. 16:18-19; Eph. 1:3, 22-23; 5:5). The rich irony is that after all of Scott’s ranting against churches, he believes we can go to heaven as members of them and he is an Associate Pastor of one which promotes all sorts of human institutions (Arizona Evangelistic Asso- ciation, American Indian Christian Missions, Pacific Christian College, United Christian Youth Camp, etc.).
Scott attacks the King James translation of the Bible because it uses such terms as “church,” “baptism,” and “Easter” in Acts 12:4. He boldly asserts without documentation that the KJV translators mistranslated many things with the motive of pleasing King James. Scott claims that the KJV translators corrupted the earlier work of William Tyndale’s translation, which Scott said translated “ekklesia congregation and baptizein immerse” and “passover in the place of Easter.”
Here are the real facts concerning Acts 12:4 and Tyndale. “In the earlier English versions Easter had been frequently used as the translation of pascha. At the last revision Passover was substituted in all passages but this” by the King James translators (McClintock and Strong, Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, 111:12). “Easter” was not used to suggest Bible Christians observed that day, but to designate springtime as the season ofthe year when “the Jews” kept “the days of unleavened bread” (Acts 12:3-4). We can disagree with the translators’ designating the time of the year in verse 4 by “Easter” without impugning their motives.
Tyndale (1494-1536) wanted to do a translation for the common man, al-lowing “a boy that driveth a plough to know more of the Scriptures than [the Pope] did” (B.F. Westcott,A General View of the History of the English Bible, 32). To improve his first effort (1525), he published a revision in 1534, followed by an inferior edition in 1535. Historians agree his 1534 New Testament was his “noblest monument” (Westcott, 185). “It was this revision that eventually became ninety percent of the King James Authorized Version of 1611” (B.H. Edwards, God’s Outlaw [Tyndale Biography from Tyndale House publ.], 146). Tyndale’s 1534 New Testament has “Easter” in Acts 12:4 and “baptized” in Mark 16:15 and Acts 2:38. He used “congregation” in the text but added marginal comments using “congregation” and “church” inter-changeably. From Tyndale’s time until now, Greek scholars have widely recognized “church,” “congregation,” and “assembly” as proper translations ofecclesia. Scott is “doting about questions and strifes of words” to no profit; we are to reject such men (1 Tim. 6:3-4). Ironically, the Christian Church of which Scott is an Associate Pastor celebrates Easter!
Defection From Christ
One of Scott’s newspaper articles entitled, “Why I’m a Church of Christ Defector,” said that he was raised “in the non-instrumental music church of Christ” like the one in West Columbia. “I too believed this church was the only true and divine institution upon the face of the earth. I preached her on the sidewalks and from many pulpits . . . I fought for her and de-bated those who spoke ill of her . . . I felt that King James’ Mark 16:16 was pure gold! I equated the church of Christ with God’s new reign.” He then explained that he no longer parroted “the old partisan cliche” that salvation is found only in the church of Christ because he had been “deprogrammed!” “Did I leave Jesus when I left the church of Christ? Goodness, no! He and I are closer now than ever before.” He explained he now accepts people in all sorts of religions, asked which church of Christ is authentic, and said he was “working within the system to reform the system,” inviting readers “to help finance these articles” for that purpose.
In other words, long before Buff Scott became an “Associate Pastor” of the Christian Church, he pro-claimed the way of Christ as the only way to salvation. He believed that all men are lost in sin without the gospel of Christ (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). He preached the very words of Christ, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16). Scott preached that men must be baptized into Christ into the one body, kingdom, or church of Christ (John 3:5; 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:26-27; Eph. 4:4-6). Now that he has defected from the teaching of Christ, he believes some sinners will be saved without faith in Christ without baptism into Christ outside the church of Christ.
His article was paraphrased as follows in our weekly column:
I was raised in the teaching of Christ. I believed this was the only true instruction on earth. I preached Him on the sidewalks. I fought for Him and debated those who spoke ill of Him and His teaching. I felt Mark 16:16 was pure gold! I equated the rule of Christ with the rule of God. Why do I no longer broadcast the old partisan cliche that sinners are saved only in Christ? Simply, I have been deprogrammed! Did I leave Jesus when I left His teaching? Goodness, no! He and I are now closer than ever before.
I now accept within the brotherhood of God many sinners who do not believe in Christ but who worship in paganism. In any case, which doctrine of Christ is authentic? Hundreds of teachers claim to offer His teaching, including the Metropolitan Community Church (homosexual), David Koresh, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and me. As for me, I intend to reform religion by telling people to defect from the New Testament teaching of one true Christ, one true baptism, and one true church as the only way of salvation from sin. If you wish to help finance defection from this teaching of Christ, contact me. Associate Pastor Buff Scott, Mountain View Christian Church, Phoenix, AZ.
To defect from Christ’s teaching and Christ’s church is to defect from Christ himself (John 14:23-24). Our regular newspaper columns exposed Scott as having “made shipwreck” of the faith; “deceiving and being deceived”; “ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth”; and “being condemned of him-self’ (1 Tim. 1:19-20; 2 Tim. 3:13, 7; Tit. 3:10-11). He affirmed in debate many years ago that men can be saved “without becoming born-again believers in Christ” (Scott/ Pennock debate, Truth Magazine, January-March 1959). Christ said, “No man cometh unto the Father but by me,” and he promised to build just one church (John 14:6; Matt. 16:18; Eph. 4:4).
Jesus requires unity of faith and practice in his church, and forbids the unity-in-doctrinal-diversity and inter-denominational unity advocated by Scott (1 Tim. 1:3; 2 Tim. 1:13). Time would fail us to tell of all his liberal, erratic, inconsistent, and confused ideas such as the claim that God inspired the Bible with errors and contradictions in it; Scott wants to debate but says “pagans and all others” can be saved without the gospel; instrumental music in worship is an “infraction” but not sinful (Reformer 3, 4; 4, 6; 4, 2).
Taking the Battle to the Mountain View Christian Church
The Mountain View Christian Church in Phoenix, Arizona where Buff Scott is an Associate Pastor has a number of “pastors” and “elders” (listed as separate offices). Copies of each of Scott’s articles and of our responses were sent to each of these men. Though Scott’s letters to the elders here have been faithfully delivered to them through the years, the materials first sent to the “pastors” and “elders” at the Mountain View Christian Church fell into the hands of Scott and were withheld by him. He said, “I have decided to withhold from them the copies you intended for them” (Scott to Halbrook, October 18, 1995). He insisted I should reproduce these materials and contact the pas-tors and elders at their private domiciles. Such conduct is bizarre and unethical, but typical, confirming our decision not to debate him.
I notified the “pastors” and “elders” of the Mountain View Christian Church of Scott’s antics and offered to help arrange a public debate there with some more reliable speaker of their choosing on the following propositions: “New Testament authority for singing in worship during the gospel age excludes mechanical instruments of music,” and “The New Testament authorizes unity-in-diversity with reference to mechanical instruments of music during the gospel age.” A return letter from Pastor C.C. Moody declined the offer for such a discussion.
Scott’s newspaper attacks on the church here ran from July 1995 through February 1996. Those articles are being reprinted in The Reformer. Since he plans to target other areas as well, this report will help brethren to be prepared. Our articles responding in the local papers along with any other documentation referred to in this report are available to anyone who may request them. If he strikes in your area, I encourage you to take the battle to his own doorsteps by sending cop-ies of all exchanges and correspondence to the “pastors” and “elders” at the Mountain View Christian Church, and by offering to arrange a debate there if they will select some speaker more reliable than Scott. I can supply you with their names, and you may address them at the Mountain View Christian Church, 2927 E. Campbell Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85016.
Scott’s attacks on the church here and elsewhere will continue in The Reformer. In fact, he recently notified the elders and myself that he plans to publish his objections to my article on “The Shame of Nakedness” (Guardian of Truth, May 16, 1996, 293). He argues that we cannot “specify” any “kind of apparel” as immodest but only the “motive is evil.” Scott objects to using necessary implication to identify specific forms of immodest dress. If the intent was right, apparently women could appear in public in string bikinis or topless attire. He cannot find terms like “abortion on demand” or “pedophile” or “drug abuse” in the Bible. Does he use necessary implication and make the necessary application on these subjects? Abortionists use the same arguments against Scott that he uses against us on immodesty, such as charges of making laws for God and pleas for diversity and tolerance. Doctrinal looseness breeds moral compromise and moral compromise breeds doctrinal looseness.
Brethren, do not be discouraged by Associate Pastor Scott’s attacks if he targets your area. When the soldiers of Satan’s army attack, we can know that we are doing something right in the service of the Lord or Satan would not feel the necessity of making such vigorous attacks. “Fight the good fight of faith” and do not be ashamed of the gospel (1 Tim. 6:12; Rom. 1:16).
Guardian of Truth XL: No. 14, p. 18
July 18, 1996