Dead Issue-Ism

By Larry Ray Hafley

Among those who have lost their courage, concern and conviction for the truth (if they had any to begin with), there is no such thing as a “live issue.” To them every question is “irrelevant” or was “thrashed out” years ago. Such preachers never have their tie get out of place when they preach, and it takes them a lifetime to wear out a Bible.

Is an issue ever dead? It depends on circumstances and opinion, but it also may rest on a man’s love and loyalty to the Lord and the truth. If he is determined to wear denominational harness, he never sees many weeds; therefore, there is little use made of the plow, fashioned and forged on the anvil of God. Issues are not dead as long as they afflict the church and torment the truth. However, a “dynamic dandy” (who has frequented all the “Christian Colleges”) can come in and, with one wave of his cuff links and shrug of his shoulders, kill a whole herd of false teaching by simply announcing that, “It’s a dead issue.”

I wish it were possible to send some of these “dead issue” preachers on a week’s preaching trip with the Apostle Paul. They would either quit preaching or get their back up a little. Either result or reaction would be an improvement over their present status.

“Dead issue” preachers (perhaps I should just say dead preachers) never put their teeth into anything that ends in i-s-t or i-s-m. They talk about “Nuclear War and the Modem Church” and, “God’s Plan for the Ghetto,” but they never get around to the distinctions and differences between the New Testament church and the false systems of men. But in their defense it must be said that it is difficult to preach concerning things you do not know anything about.

We hear of lecture programs where a “good time can be had by all,” but how long has it been since you have heard a series of lessons designed to provoke all men to practice the apostle’s doctrine? Good times, back slapping and excessive slobbers of flattery should be reserved for social gatherings when it is time, as someone said, to slop the hogs.

Every age and generation is faced with issues and problems. Doubtless, some subjects are limited with regard to time and location, but the principles of truth and of error are universal and timeless. Further, what is a “dead issue” to me may be a life and death struggle to the one I am attempting to convert. Instrumental music, infant baptism, and the organization of the church these are not particular problems to me or to the church where I currently preach, but our young people and babes in Christ wrestle with these topics as they grow and seek to teach others also.


Paul preached the gospel “with much contention” and encouraged others to do the same “with all longsuffering and doctrine” (1 Thess. 2:2; 2 Tim. 4:2). When a preacher stumbles over a dead issue, it is probably the corpse of some truth he has slain. It is time for a fellow to do less golfing and more studying and praying when he reaches this stage of decline and decay.

Guardian of Truth XXIX: 5, p. 146
March 7, 1985