By Jimmy Tuten
The so-called “Crossroads philosophy” is indeed an ignominious display of the result of liberalism. It is the apex of all “no patternism,” “we do many things for which we have no authority” postulations. This appears contradictory perhaps to what has been said in previous installments on Crossroads. What we are faced with is an enigma that defies common sense in religion. It is the display of what the departure from objective truth (Jude 3; 2 Tim. 3:16-17) into subjective reasoning (Jer. 10:23; Prov. 14:12; Matt. 7:21-23; 2 Cor. 10:12) will do. The result is confusion and division (1 Tim. 6:3-5). You have the “mainline” or “old-guard” brethren who have split churches and alienated brethren with a display of lack of respect for authority, now criticizing and condemning the birth of something coming from the very seed they planted in days long gone. Much of their condemnation is couched in the very words of ultra-liberalism (the latter is but a step away from the institutional camp), i.e., the charge of “exclusiveness, over-aggressiveness, conformity,” etc. The ultras, on the other hand will not acknowledge their “mother,” for she (at the moment, but be patient, it is coming) is too exclusive for those of broader persuasion. The institutional group is indeed acting like a little boy running around the barn trying to close the door after the horse got out. “They are worse than that. They are trying to close one door, but leaving three others wide open” (John Welch). They are not happy at all over the fact that others have taken their arguments and gone too far, further than expected and desired. Brethren Harvey Floyd and T. Pierce Brown, armor-bearers against “cultism” in the church, had better clean around their door and close it! Their own definitions of “liberalism” turn on them, i.e., “that attitude which challenges and denies the absolute authority of the Word of God and causes men to set aside God’s will in favor of their own subjective speculations and desires in religion” (Rubel Shelly, Liberals Threat To The Faith, p. 4). After all of the trite cliches and explosive, prejudicial terminology have been removed from the scene, here is what we are faced with:
(1) Crossroads has a basic conviction or exclusiveness. The only difference between the exclusiveness of mainline churches of Christ and Crossroads is that Crossroads will tell you to your face that you will go to hell if you do not belong to the church. Brethren Floyd, Woods, etc. would draw a circle around the exclusiveness of Crossroads while at the same time enlarging it enough to encompass institutional brethren to the exclusion of all others. “You make a law where God has made no law,” or “you bind where God has not bound,” are charges hurled at us. They demonstrate the exclusiveness of liberals who charge us with exclusiveness. It is a two-edged sword. Those who cry for tolerance, broad-mindedness, amalgamation with sincere believers of all religious groups cannot see, nor accept the exclusiveness of the unique church of the New Testament. Jesus established only one church (Matt. 16:18). He revealed only one faith (Eph. 4:5). The church is the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23). Christ is its Savior (Eph. 5:35). Only the saved are in the church (Acts 2:47; 1 Cor. 12:18). This exclusiveness is not some “arrogant notion.” Nor am I saying that one has to be 100% correct, theologically speaking, in order to be saved. I am saying that we have to be right about something and we cannot be wrong about everything, and expect to go to heaven.
(2) Crossroads does not allow freedom. This is sometimes referred to as “conformity.” When people talk about Crossroads’ infringement upon one’s freedom, they are talking about the same thing we are often charged with, i.e., demanding subjection to the law of Christ. By “freedom” people mean “not under law” and “freedom from restraint.” We are under the law of Christ (1 Cor. 9:21). That law requires obedience (Acts 3:22-23; Heb. 5:9). I am not aware of any differences of understanding between Crossroads and myself regarding subjection to Jesus Christ. Emphasis on this factor differs, but neither of us believes that in “religion” one “can do his own thing” and please God (Matt. 7:13-23). Given the current thought in denominational circles (everyone is going to heaven regardless of what we believe and do), if you publish the fact that freedom is the freedom to choose, that God holds us responsible for our decisions, you will be charged with “mind-control,” “legalism,” and now, cultism! Mix in a little yellow journalism with the Biblical thought of “one way to heaven” and you have a distorted picture of bigots and psychologically warped misfits. Freedom is not license!
(3) Crossroads is over-aggressive. Brethren ought to be ashamed of themselves for repeating unconfirmed stories of Crossroads chasing adulterous young ladies down the streets of Gainesville, waving Bibles and crying “repent, repent!” Can anyone define “undue evangelistic pressure”? Can we agree on what it is? When you repeat stories like the one above you present a picture of religious zombies with funnels crammed into the tops of peoples’ heads and Bible verses being poured in amid cries of protest! Several times I have been accused of being too hard and zealous. Epaphras, look out (Col. 4:13)! Jesus, you should not have allowed your zeal to eat you up (Jno. 2:17). The very idea of brethren pulling Eutychus away from a night’s rest (Acts 20:9). We all know that zeal without tolerance is fanaticism, but is it not also true that if people were more zealous and less jealous, this matter of evangelism would not be something we just talk about? A wise man truly said, “there is no zeal so intemperate and cruel as that which is backed by ignorance.”
Ever since the church came into being, people have charged us with denial of tolerance to any other group of religious people. Acts 28:22 speaks of a “sect everywhere against.” The fact that we would be falsely accused is one form of persecution the Lord told us of (Matt. 13:20-21). These charges against us make it difficult to talk to people. It discourages us. Instead of allowing excitement to dominate us with meaningless denials, let us cry out like Paul, “Sirs, why do ye these things?” (Acts 14:15). Then affirm exactly what we believe. Let us not be so prejudiced as to think for a moment that the press is not persecuting Crossroads for doing things that we would like to do. Guilty or not guilty, right or wrong, the fact that charges against us are made in public medias have devastating effect. I certainly concur with Faith and Facts, that the reason we are not being persecuted as Crossroads is being persecuted is “because we are not having as big an effect upon as many people” (October 1979, p. 278). It is possible for us to be treated just like Crossroads. I have tried to show this in dealing with the “Crossroads philosophy.” I do not condemn Crossroads with a blanket condemnation, nor have I tried to defend her. It is with love for all the brethren that I have written these things. If I have failed, God is my judge. “Make sure what would have the Lord’s approval” (Eph. 5:10, N.E.B.).
Truth Magazine XXIV: 34, pp. 553-554
August 28, 1980