By Mark White
Many of our brethren across the country are sore distressed by the state of affairs in churches of Christ today. To say that many churches are undergoing change is a gross understatement of the situation. Radical changes in thought toward the authority of the Scriptures are allowing many churches of Christ to take even more liberal views toward the work and worship of the church. With the “New Hermeneutic” as their license (which denies that the New Testament reveals a pattern for our organization, work and worship) the movers and shakers of the institutional churches of Christ are leading their people toward the wholesale acceptance of a myriad of innovations and compromises with denominationalism. Our brethren are rethinking such issues as instrumental music and the role of women in the leadership and worship of the church. Additionally, many brethren area abandoning “book, chapter and verse” preaching and teaching for a modernistic higher criticism that seized the pulpits of denominational churches many years ago. Moral issues such as social drinking, mixed swimming, divorce and remarriage, immodest dress, etc. are no longer dealt with in sermons lest we appear too strict and legalistic. Even the plan of salvation is under serious attack, for many leading, influential elders, preachers, and professors are not too sure that there is a “plan” as we have always preached it. Baptism is being re-thought and re-hashed in many circles, and it appears that before long the necessity of immersion for the remission of sins may become a bone of contention in some churches of Christ.
Within many of the churches troubled by these issues are some brethren who sense strongly that the church is “leaving” them. They see these changes for what they are apostasy – but it is so hard to break long-standing ties with friends and family and leave such rank infidelity to the Lord Jesus Christ and his will. They know the church is not what it should be, nor is it even moving in that direction. The preaching is no longer distinctive, and could be served up in any denominational pulpit in town. They have tried to warn the elders, the preacher, their friends and anyone who will listen. But they are considered “old-fashioned,” “non-progressive,” and even “anti.” Eventually, the elders no longer listen to them. The preacher berates them for trying to hold on to a “1950 mentality.” Each passing week brings more compromise, more innovation, and more liberalism. What must they do if the tide cannot be stemmed?
A Case in Point
King Jeroboam of Israel introduced the apostate worship of idolatrous golden calves in an effort to keep the northern tribes from going to Jerusalem for worship (1 Kgs. 12:26-33). He even appointed non-Levites to his new “priesthood.” Not being able to squelch the apostasy, many Levites had no other recourse but to leave Israel and flee to Judah (2 Chron. 11:13-17). Remaining faithful to God meant separating from their homes and friends with whom they had previously worshipped. Doubtless it was painful to do this, but it resulted in the strengthening of Judah (v. 17). Men and women who stand for the truth always strengthen the people of God who are like-minded.
When John heard the announcement of the imminent destruction of “Babylon,” he heard another angel warn, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities” (Rev. 18:4,5). While opinions vary regarding what “Babylon” is in this symbolic passage, the warning is clear that God’s people must flee from Babylon or perish with her. Even Lot was warned to leave Sodom or be destroyed with the wicked city (Gen. 19:13-14). It is no different today. God’s faithful people must no longer tolerate apostasy.
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 16, p. 491
August 20, 1992