By Ron Halbrook
We are reprinting an excellent article entitled “The Third Epistle of Paul to Timothy” by Steve Gibson (1001 E. Adams Blvd., Bartlesville, OK 74003). In the mid-1970s Steve came out of institutionalism but eventually fell back into it. I have loved him much, and love him still. He is a young man with much ability. While at Freed-Hardeman College he decided that our opposition to institutionalism was based on the premise that each practice must be authorized by specific example. I thought he was better taught than that, but have been unable to dissuade him from such claims and his present stance.
Steve is identified with the moderate liberals who are uncomfortable with many things being done and said in the mainstream movement. On 4 November 1984 he spoke on a lectureship in Muskogee, OK on the subject “Anti-ism Is a Tragic Misunderstanding of the New Testament Pattern.” Many of his brethren in the mainstream movement would call Steve’s “Third Epistle” legalism, reactionism, fundamentalism, and . . . yes. . . ANTI-ISM. ” They would turn him over to the one-cup, no-class, no-woman-teacher, no-Bible-college, no-located-preacher, no-literature, no-tuning-fork, and no-meeting house folks who suffer from “A Tragic Misunderstanding of the New Testament Pattern.”
I sincerely commend Steve’s article and commend him for having the courage to write it. The article implies that the Bible is a final and perfect pattern, and that everything not positively authorized by command, example, or implication is sinful. The more he focuses on that principle, the more he will realize that “The Fourth Epistle of Paul to Timothy” is the only authority for church sponsored social meals. the sponsoring church concept with its brotherhood- wide eldership, and donations from the church treasury to orphanages, colleges, and other human institutions. When the archaeologists find this “Fourth Epistle,” be assured we will not insist that authority be given by example only.
The Third Epistle Of Paul To Timothy Steve Gibson
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to Timothy, Associate Youth Minister of the church in Ephesus.
I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went to the Macedonian workshop, that thou mightest share thy dynamic motivational personality with the keen teens. I exhort therefore, that, first of all, candle-light devos be held for all cell groups. Meditate upon new schemes to keep them stirred up and on fire, give thyself wholly to them lest the aged men and women teach them to be sober-minded.
But watch out for them in all things. Do the work of a recreation director, plan a social calendar, entertain at hootenanies, chauffeur to amusement parks, referee ball games, make full proof of thy ministry. For bodily exercise produceth firm believers. These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the field house of God, which is the gymnasium of the church, the backboard and track of progress.
Let no man despise thy youth rallies: but be thou an example of the latest fad, in hugs, in applause, in altar calls, in neo-charismatic spirituality, in cliches. Do thy diligence to schedule Hymeneus and Philetus for next year.
Study to show thyself an intellectual. But progress beyond the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing the rigid traditionalists from whom thou hast learned them. Let the elders that rule be told they have no authority, especially over you.
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, preach self-image psychology: relate, placate, and motivate with all values clarification and counseling. Use vague speech, that cannot be pinned down, that he that is of the contrary part may took foolish, having no charges that you cannot later deny. These things suggest and resent as all personal opinion so that anyone who disagrees may be ignored.
Hold back the faithful word, which you were taught, that you may be able by new doctrines both to find and fill felt needs. For there are many dynamic speakers and misunderstood thinkers, specially they of the circumcision, whose mouths must be given a wider hearing. A man that is a heretic to older brethren, after the first and second brother hood backlash, take a caravan of children a hundred miles to hear. Lay hands suddenly on anyone who seems visibly successful: keep thyself popular.
O Timothy, keep that which unknowing parents have committed to thy trust, avoiding doctrinal issues and oppositions o f knuckleheads, so-called. (Copied from The Edifier, 16 May 1985, p. 3, published by Church of Christ, 312 Pearl Street, Denton, Texas 76201.)
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 23, p. 710
December 5, 1985