By Connie W. Adams
Four families are now meeting in Geneva in the home of Ignaze Llusea. These families have been a part of the institutional congregation there but have grown increasingly concerned over unscriptural practices which they have opposed without success. Some months ago, brother Llusea translated Walking By Faith by Roy E. Cogdill, from Spanish into French and has conducted a weekly study using that material. These families have ties to either Spain or Chile and through that connection, Efrain Perez of Barcelona, Spain has been called on to help as he has been able to do so. We were invited there in February. Brother Perez came also and interpreted for me into Spanish. Studies included God’s pattern, scriptural authority, history of institutionalism, and the nature and work of the church. We expect to hear of progress in this work.
Progress in Bergen, Norway
We spent a week in February with the church in Bergen, Norway where Tom and Shirley Bunting work along with Terrell and Karen Bunting and their three daughters. The Buntings have spent many years in Norway and have exercised much patience. Terrell and family plan to spend their lives in Norway and already have several years in the work. Having kept up with the work there from its beginning in 1957, I am glad to report that the work in Bergen looks the best I have seen it. They have a good location and have their meeting place attractively arranged. They have space to seat about 40 with three classrooms (one of which doubles as an office) and have their own baptistry. There are five husband and wife sets of members, plus others whose spouses are not Christians. Several times during the meeting we had 100% attendance from the members (and the other times sickness hindered). We had eight different visitors during the meeting, one of whom came four times. Attendance ranged from 16 to 22, most of the time 20-22. They have prepared many tracts in Norwegian and have several different correspondence courses which they have pre-pared especially to meet needs there.
The work in Norway has been slow and at times discouraging. Lesser people than the Buntings would have given up long ago. But they have continued to plant and water and things are looking much better. One of the members, Bjorn Ringdal, interpreted for me when it was necessary. Bjorn was converted by Chuck Durham at Southside in Pasadena, Texas, while an exchange student. He is now married to a faithful Christian.
The cost of living in Norway (all of Scandinavia and most of western Europe) is very high. While gasoline was $4 a gallon in Geneva, we found it $6 a gallon in Bergen. Even public bus transportation is costly. If Terrell Bunting and his family of five rode the bus to services from where they live, it would cost in excess of $150 a week. Food and clothing are equally high. Brethren who support these men and others in that part of the world would do well to keep abreast of actual living costs and not try to determine adequate support by American prices. Ferrell Jenkins has led tours to all parts of the world, including two or three trips to Scandinavia, and says that is the most expensive area to which he has gone.
We rejoice in the progress that has been made and believe the work will continue to grow.
Where Calvin Preached
During our trip to Geneva, we visited the Reformation memorial and the church building where John Calvin preached. It is still in use. It was interesting but also evoked some sadness for me. I remarked to Bobby and to Efrain Perez that I had spent my adult life trying to rescue people from the snares of John Calvin’s doctrine. Total depravity, predestination, limited atonement, the direct operation of the Holy Spirit, and the impossibility of apostasy are still deeply ingrained in the fabric of Protestant denominationalism. Faithful gospel preachers have joined battle with these errors for several hundred years. Much of Protestant evangelicalism is still caught up with various forms of this error. It is at the root of much Baptist error, as well as most of the charismatic movements. Many of the popular writers and preachers of the day are influenced by it. Many gospel preachers have filled their libraries with the writings of those who have imbibed this error. Some of the pro-family, religious conservatives of the day, such as James Dobson, Tim and Beverly LaHaye, the Christian Coalition, and others, are deeply influenced by Calvinian theology. Yes, the Reformation monuments are interesting to see, but also places for very sober contemplation.
What Does it Mean?
A little boy went to services with his grandfather and noticed the preacher laid his watch on the stand when he arose to speak. He said, “Grandpa, what does it mean when the preacher takes off his watch and lays it down?” With a twinkle in his eye, Grandpa replied, “Not a thing, son, not a thing.”
Young Men and Writing
Recently I heard a speech in which a reference was made to a young preacher who said he would like to do some writing but was afraid of the brethren. The speaker said, “I could have cried.” I have thought about that a great deal. No doubt, the speaker was warning about brethren being overly critical and quick on the trigger to take issue with someone. But then, writers, both young and old, ought to have a certain fearlessness borne of a conviction that what they have said, or written, is carefully thought out truth. And if it is, then “let the heathen rage” and the brethren too! I began writing when I was young and have no regrets. I have been reviewed and have had my words taken out of context. But as long as any of us can establish what we have to say by a “thus saith the Lord” then what does it matter what others may say? Years ago, I asked Roy Cogdill what was the best defense against a slander or libel suit. He said, “Tell the truth.” Good advice. If younger or older men want to teach the truth in writing, then learn what the Bible says and then teach that. But if they want to experiment with printers ink and deal with speculation, or flirt with or plunge off into some kind of religious error, then they need to know that once they enter the public forum, what they say is subject to review. I don’t know about you, but I would not have it any other way.
Guardian of Truth XL: 9 p. 3-4
May 2, 1996