McGarvey’s Advice

By Larry Ray Haffley

(The following words were spoken by J. W. McGarvey to J.P. Sewell in 1902. We hope that these sad words will be of sobering benefit to all our readers. They are recorded in Biographical Sketches of Restoration Preachers, from a lecture by Sewell.)

“You are on the right road, and whatever you do dont let anybody persuade you that you can successfully combat error by fellowshipping it and going along with it. I have tried. I believed at the start that was the only way to do it. Ive never held membership in a congregation that uses instrumental music. I have, however, accepted invitations to preach without distinctions between churches that used it and churches that didnt. Ive gone along with their papers and magazines and things of that sort. During all these years I have taught the truth as the New Testament teaches it, to every young preacher who has passed through the College of the Bible. Yet, I do not know of more than six of those men who are preaching the truth today. It wont work.”

A brief comment on these words is in order. Brother McGarveys advice is something that is particularly pertinent at the moment. There are efforts being made in several quarters to attempt something in the way of greater association among those who are known as the Lords people only. It is a movement in which I have personally participated, and without regret. However, real candor demands that I note little over which to be encouraged that such efforts will be fruitful. It will be a pleasure for me to have opportunity to preach among brethren who have alienated themselves from us over mechanical instruments in worship, or institutions through which some churches are working, or centralized sponsorship by a church; I will be glad to speak to denominational churches – any! However, after such an opportunity it would not likely be thought, either by them or me, that I was making no distinctions between churches, going along with them, or fellowshipping their error! This is the crucial point we must never fail to grasp. We need not – yea, we dare not become isolationists in our practices or our attitudes. But, we dare not and cannot encourage them, or anyone, in error. The words of 2 John 9-11 are fittingly appropriate now. “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” Enough said.

October 26, 1972

Ray Ferris