By Max E. Tice
Since the late 60’s, the Crossroads heresy which was hatched by Chuck Lucas in Gainesville, Florida has aroused concerns, protests, and intense controversy among brethren of the “institutional” persuasion. While some who investigate the movement concluded that all the clamor was a false alarm, others found serious violations of the Scriptures. Objections to the system included: legislating precise conduct for Christians in matters where the Bible is silent, developing a prayer-partner system in which junior prayer-partners are placed in subjection to senior prayer partners, the inflicting of guilt for any infraction of Crossroads’ rules, the whipping of members with information received from confessionals, etc. In spite of any good intentions that some may have had in promoting this discipling plan, it had clearly altered God’s organization of the local church and bound traditions of men as commandments of God. In fact, some of the tactics were similar to those found in popular cults, such as Hare Krishna and the Moonies.
All of this brings us to recent developments in the Crossroads controversy. A few weeks ago at one of the workshops held by our institutional brethren, the elders of the Crossroads church issued a public statement renouncing their past conduct and asking for forgiveness. A transcript of this repentance is duplicated below:
Transcript of statement made by Crossroads church of Christ elders:
Our hearts are really full. The elders of the Concord Street Church have been so gracious and so helpful. Brother Bill and I really appreciate that and want to thank them, and from the bottom of our heart.
Most people who know me understand that I don’t do many things without referring to God’s word. So that’s where I want to begin.
God’s word teaches that we are to have a sincere love for our brothers, that we are to love one another deeply, with all our hearts (1 Pet. 1:22). This love is not only to individuals, but also must extend to the brotherhood of believers (1 Pet. 2:17). If we do not love our brothers, we cannot love God. The elders of the Crossroads congregation have a statement on their hearts which we want to share with everyone in this conference.
The elders of the Concord Street congregation support our making this statement. We all hope that this will bring about the love, and restore the fellowship and the unity for which Christ prayed in John 17.
Over the years many things have been attributed to the Crossroads congregation as a body, which grew out of the abuse by some Christians which caused others to hurt. And though we did not approve of these abuses, we are sorry they occurred and ask your forgiveness for these sins. Some examples of these abuses involved one Christian trying to control another Christian, or one congregation exercising control over another congregation. We do not believe that any Christian has the right to control another Christian (Eph. 5:21). We do not believe that . . . excuse me, we do believe that every Christian should practice all the one-another relationships passages in the Scriptures. We do not believe that any congregation has the right to control another congregation. We do believe that the elders of each congregation are to direct the affairs of their congregation (1 Tim. 5:17; and 1 Pet. 5:2). We hope these examples will illustrate our hearts and our desire to repent of every abuse. We are sorry for them and pray for your forgiveness. This is signed by my bishop, brother Hogle, and myself. God bless you. Richard Whitehead, Elder Bill Hogle, Elder
Naturally, we receive this news with mixed emotions. How far back these brethren intend to step is not specified. We do know that other brethren in institutional churches are calling for a restoration of fellowship with these brethren. This certainly implies that Crossroads is not renouncing sponsoring church arrangements, church-supported recreation, etc. Therefore, it will not be coming back as far as it needs to come. At the same time, it is always somewhat encouraging to hear of any retreat from error. What effort this reversal will have upon “daughter churches” of the movement remains to be seen. Stay tuned.
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 20, p. 620
October 18, 1990