Ephraim’s Idols: The Pope And “Other Christians”

By Ron Halbrook

The man of sin, the spirit of lawlessness, knows no bounds. The Lord Himself promised all spiritual blessings to those who receive them upon certain conditions given in the Bible, but lawless brethren sit in the seat of God extending God’s grace to those who set aside the revealed conditions for grace. Ron Durham, Mission Magazine editor, welcomed the newly elected Roman Catholic Pope as an inspiration to “other Christians”: “Perhaps the new Roman Catholic leader’s personal synthesis will inspire other Christians to search anew for this balance in their own lives and their own fellowship” (Mission, Sept., 1978, p. 2). Another writer in the same issue challenges us to take the Lord’s Supper, discerning “the body of Christ” which includes liberal and- conservative, literalist and non literalist, Catholic and Protestant, Baptist and “Church-a Christ” (p. 14). Editor Durham is also on record affirming that people in many other religious bodies “are on the Highway to Heaven” (Jan., 1977, p. 22).

One of the featured concepts in Integrity has been the Christians-in-all-denominations idea. The editor, Hoy Ledbetter, has allowed some debate but is clearly in favor of this doctrine. Thomas Lane of Cincinnati, Ohio, offered his “Conservative Basis for Open Membership,” arguing, “In the case of one immersed for the wrong reason, his spirit of obedience suffices to save him. This principle may be expanded” to include those who receive sprinkling or pouring (Sept., 1976, p. 40). In the January-February, 1977 issue Daniel Griggs asserted, “The question of immersion and fellowship is not answered by the Bible” and, therefore, offered “Another Appeal for an Ecumenical Membership Policy” (pp. 101-2). Editor Ledbetter recently complained of our “refusal to acknowledge that those in the sects are Christians” (January-February, 1978, p. 120). R.L. Kilpatrick’s Ensign Fair has been singing the same song, as in Douglas Plaster’s “Something to Think About,” advocating “fellowship with Christians from other groups” Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Christian Church. “Brothers in error,’ many will shout. Well yes, are we not all brothers in error?” (November 1978, pp. 16-18).

When Mission asked what should parents attending “legalistic” churches tell their children, Dave Reagan of Irving, Texas, answered that his responses to the problem have changed over the years:

To his kids’ statement, “Daddy, we really picked a bummer of a church” he would have replied, fifteen years ago: “Child, you are grounded for a month, and 1 expect you to go forward next Sunday and ask the church to pray for you.” Ten years ago:

“The Church of Christ is a human institution and therefore (t is flawed. But this is true .even more of the denominations . . . . Five years ago: “Yes, child, you are right. But God must have put us here for a reason, so let’s dedicate ourselves to serving him by reforming the church as much as possible.” And today: “Why don’t you visit other denominations and try to find one that speaks more directly and relevantly to your spiritual needs?” (August, 1978, p. 15)

Five years hence, perhaps his remaining children will ask, “What was it like, Daddy, when you used to take us to the Church of Christ?” At any rate, the Bible does still say, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mk. 16:16). And, the denominations still teach, “He that is baptized in infancy is saved, and may believe at confirmation service when he is 12 years old,” or, “He that believeth is saved, and shall be baptized to join the church of his choice.” But, Ephraim is hopelessly joined to idols along with the Pope and “other Christians” who show the “spirit of obedience” through disobedience.

Which Disturbs You Most?

Someone compiled a list of comparisons which might reveal where our real interests lie. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21). Which disturbs you most?

A soul lost in hell, or a scratch on your new car?

Your missing worship services, or missing a day’s work?

A sermon 10 minutes too long, or your lunch a half-hour late?

The church work neglected, or your housework neglected?

Missing a good Bible study, or missing your favorite TV program?

Millions who do not know Christ, or your inability to keep up with your neighbors?

Your Bible unopened, or your newspaper unread?

Your contribution decreasing, or your income decreasing?

Which disturbs you most, and what are you going to do about it?

To which we might add this one: The continued march of bureaucracy and centralization in American government, or the continued march of institutionalism and centralization among churches of Christ? Which of these two disturbs you most, and what are you going to do about it? If we cannot convert our erring brethren to do right, we must separate from them lest we share in sin and its reward (2 Cor. 6:14-18; Eph. 5:11; 2 John 9-11). When Ephraim is joined to his idols and refuses to turn back to the Lord, we can only leave him alone.

Is A Denomination Evolving?

The Third Annual “Spiritual Sword” Lectureship held by the Getwell Church of Christ in Memphis, Tennessee centered around the need of “Doctrinal Preaching” (22-26 October, 1978). The “Spiritual Sword” is a publication put out by Getwell in an effort to hold back the tide of liberalism. The lectureship included a “Spiritual Sword” Dinner (“Cost of Meal Reasonable”), with Ralph Henley speaking on “Is a Denomination Evolving Out of the Lord’s Church?” No doubt, Henley said something like, “Yes!” When the Getwell church puts out a journal and charges a subscription price, sponsors a common meal, charges for the meal, uses Ray Hawk – defender of church sponsored social activities – as a speaker, invites Willard Collins -David Lipscomb College’s President who wants colleges in church budgets – to lecture, has V.E. Howard – speaker for the centralized sponsoring-church radio program World Radio – to, preach, and features Tom Warren – who participated in a debate with an atheist under a sponsoring church arrangement which paid the atheist to come – on its lectures, yes by all means a denomination is evolving. Right here at Getwell!” In the shadow of its idols, Ephraim held a lectureship to ask, “Is Idolatry Evolving In Ephraim?”

Truth Magazine XXIII: 13, pp. 218-219
March 29, 1979