By Luther Blackmon
Following World War Two a wave of prosperity, unparalled in our recent history, swept over this land. Churches of Christ were able to reach towards objectives which were once as far away as the moon. But in religion, as in other areas of society, prosperity spawns its corresponding problems.
Put a lot of money into the hands of preachers and elders, and human nature will do the rest. Some “career conscious” and persuasive preachers with big plans will go to work on some elders who are better business men than elders, and the next thing you know they will drag in a Trojan horse much too big for the New Testament harness. There will be protests. But such promoters are not easily discouraged, especially when they are promoting with somebody else’s money. Besides they will find a way to alter the harness to fit this nag. Some naive soul may suggest that the Lord designed that harness and that rather than change the harness, why not use a horse that the harness fits. If these protests get loud, and they did, the propaganda machine is set in motion and woe unto the preachers that are making the noise. Such a one is made to look like Judas Iscariot, Jr. He is a “do nothing,” and “anti” and jealous because he is not in charge of it. He must be ignored. “This great work must go on” — like Nehemiah’s statement (Neh. 6:3) — is about as apropos as the “thief on the cross” argument to prove salvation without baptism. Nehemiah was doing what God wanted done. If these fellows will show me scriptural authority for their projects, they will have one more on the wall with them. But they will have to give me more than their word that God wants the church to engage in building and/or maintaining “Youth Retreats,” “Youth Camps,” “Hospitals,” “Colleges,” “Homes for Unwed Mothers,” “Teenage Lounges,” “Preachers’ Retreats,” “Mission Conferences,” “Youth Forums,” “Mission Seminars,” “Tri-State Rallies,” “Faith Corps,” and so on and on and on. And if somebody thinks I dreamed these things I have news for him. Most of these were taken from the Christian Chronicle, a paper published in Abilene, Texas, edited by one of the founders of the Herald of Truth. If you have not heard of all these things just be patient, you will. In fact the church where you worship will be supporting these things-some of them-eventually, or it will bear the stigma of “anti.” Perish the thought!
There are many brethren who, ten years ago, refused to consider the possibility that these innovations would come. The benevolent institutions were alright, they thought. There were some things about the Herald of Truth that needed watching, but, it was doing so much good it must be alright. But you simply cannot set aside Bible authority to let in one thing without opening the door for other things. Now it boils down to this: The people will either swallow one big innovation after another and lead the Church of Christ into the fold of denominationalism, or turn back and meet the scorn and ridicule that some of us have been “enjoying” for years. Which will it be? Several preachers have already gone into the Christian Church. Others who still hold onto the name have frankly admitted that they will not recognize any wall between the Church of Christ and the denominations. I have a great deal more respect for men like Carl Ketcherside and Robert Meyers who express quite frankly their views along this line, than I have for some of the mealy-mouthed fellows who want their people to believe that they are right where they have always been, but who keep a damp finger in the air to see which way the wind blows. We are ON THE MARCH alright — but to where? I am reminded that, “it is not the speed we make, but the direction we take that gets us where we want to go.”
Truth Magazine XXI: 22, p. 345
June 2, 1977