By Ron Halbrook
It has long been known there are bats in the belfry of the Belmont Church of Christ in Nashville, Tennessee, but only recently did we learn our poor brethren are haunted by witches as well! Belmont is a long-time leader in liberalism and doctrinal looseness of most every variety: no-patternism applied to the worship, organization, and mission of the church; so-called Pentecostal or charismatic movement; Ketchersidian grace-unity error; social gospel programs; and, a general sprinkling of you-name-it. Once the New Testament pattern is denied, brethren are put to sea without chart or compass; some sail faster than others, zigging and zagging with every wind, Belmont faster than most. Koinonia Bookstore across the street on 16th Ave. South is closely affiliated with the church on Belmont Ave. and is well stocked with a hodgepodge of denominational and ecumenical and Pentecostal nonsense.
A1 Jaynes, a bookstore director, swore out a warrant charging Mary Locke with disorderly conduct in allegedly disturbing the bookstore’s musical concert-prayer meeting on August 28, 1978. Laughing and giggling rippled through the crowd when Miss Locke quietly walked through the store wearing a witch’s costume and carrying a broom. Yet, in Special General Sessions Court, “Church members and bookstore patrons testified they believe in demonology and did not take Miss Locke’s actions tightly” (Nashville (TNJ Banner, 14 Sept. 1978, p. 19). Her own hair-raising testimony explained that Belmont members felt she was demon-possessed and harassed her with anonymous phone calls, black crosses attached to her door, and black cats hung from her doorknob in paper bags. She “broke down in tears when she testified about finding a black kitten suffocated in a paper bag. The bag had been stapled and attached to her door” (ibid.). She claimed severe harassment caused her to enter the psychiatric unit at Vanderbilt Hospital, where she was notified of Jaynes’ warrant. After more than two hours of testimony, in which “several bookstore patrons and church members testified they believe in demonology and the exorcism of demons,” Judge Earl Porter dismissed the charges against Miss Locke (Nashville Banner, 16 Sept., 1978; p. 28).
When Steve Wolfgang, Raymond Harris, and myself spoke on Satanism, demonology, and witchcraft, we agreed that vie found almost nothing of value on the subjects in reviewing dozens of denominational books and articles (cf. Chaps. 1-3, Biblical Authority, 1974 Florida College Lectures). Belmont is blighted by the superstition and ignorance of our age. During the period when the Lord allowed Satan a miraculous manifestation, He equipped His people with gifts and powers to triumph over it (Mk. 16:17-20; Heb. 2:1-4). This confirmed the Divine origin of the new, gospel revelation. Once the revelation was completed and confirmed, the period of miraculous conflict was ended (1 Cor. 13:8-13). The spurious claims of later centuries, including the power in black crosses and cats, resulted from the spirit of apostasy and the blight of ignorance which apostasy breeds.
We trust that though the bats in the Belmont belfry were disturbed by a witch’s appearance, they will not be distraught. Doubtless some other sensation will soon engage their attention. Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone.
Truth Magazine XXIII: 16, pp. 267-268
April 19, 1979