By Olen Holderby
On September 30, 1979, Raymond Harris had an article in Truth Magazine, “If You’ve Seen One, You’ve Seen Them All!” Raymond likened the “Soul Saving Workshop” to the traveling carnival or circus, and concluded, “If you have seen one, you have seen them all.” Having been in at least a couple places where such workshops were highly advertized and greatly “festivalized,” I have no argument with Raymond’s conclusion. The usual subjects or themes for such workshops are borrowed from the denominations and should be quickly returned. However, I see no improvement that I can make on Raymond’s article. Why not read it for yourself. But, Raymond, permit me to offer a couple of “circuses” California style, a portion of which is new (at least to me).
Circus #1: Yosemite Church Camp, July 26-27, 1978. Actors were from the East Ventura Church in Ventura, California and the College Church in Fresno, California. The first skit was a woman padded in front with pillows. This was an acted-out joke, a vulgar one, about a pregnant woman. Skit #2 showed a draped American Flag, supposedly honoring those who died in the “Service”; but the skit went on saying, “Which service, morning or evening?” -indicating, of course, that people were dying in the worship services. The third skit brought the lights on with a boy hugging and kissing a girl in close embrace. The father comes thundering out of the- house and demanded, “Do you have scripture for that?” To which the boy replied, “Hold fast that which is good,” from 1 Thess. 5:21. The fourth skit showed a girl trying to get a boy to kiss her but he was refusing. The young lady went to her sister and said, “I had to slap him five times,” “Why”, asked the sister, “because he tried to kiss you?” Her reply, “No, because I thought he was dead.” Following other short skits, a girl finished off the program with a little sermonizing. All of this was announced by Murray Issacs of the College Church as from the Youth Group of the East Ventura Church. How do you like that for a circus? But that is not all.
On the following evening a “Breath of Life Group” under Murray Isaacs of the College Church provided the entertainment. Opening statements urged, “Use anything for the Lord – respond in any way you wish -” The first skit in this program was a laud mockery about an evangelist who had been preaching for 35 years; his baptizing was acted out in a degrading fashion-to say the least! A skit on the rich man and Lazarus of Luke 16 appeared to be nothing less than a mockery to get a laugh. In a judgment scene Peter was repeatedly referred to as “Your Heavenly Host”; other skits referred to “That darned guy Jesus” and John the Baptist as fools. Of course, the “bad guys” were made to say these things. The Good Samaritan of Luke 10, also, came in for a laugh or two. So, the curtain falls on our first circus; all of this being reported by one who was there!
Circus #2: The Del Rosa church bulletin, July 30, 1978 (where Arthur Atkinson, Jr. preaches). Various quotes from that bulletin will give the reader an idea of both acts and actors.
Fellowship Meal: Next Lord’s day is the first Sunday of the month and we will be having a fellowship meal together after the morning service. Plan now to be present.
Ice Cream: There is going to be ice cream served here at the building on August 13, after the evening service. Plan to be present.
Elders And Deacons Meeting: The elders and deacons will meet as soon after the above date as possible. Due to the ice cream gathering on the 13th after the evening service, there will have to be a different date set for this meeting.
Congregational Meeting: The elders do plan to try to meet the third Sunday of each month with the congregation to keep them up to date with what is going on and to ask for help in overseeing the congregation.
Tuesday Class: Tuesday we will be having our first of the month praise, prayer and share meeting. You will be edified by being present.
A Change In Evening Service: Tonight is the 5th Sunday of the month which is the Sunday evening we usually have our spontaneous service. We would not have classes this evening as announced above. Rather, we will have a presentation by our youth leaders concerning the backpacking trip that our young people recently returned from.
There you have it! What would almost amount to a “three-ring circus.” A member of the church from this area visited the above congregation and reported that they took approximately 40 minutes to have the Lord’s Supper, with various ones arising “as the Spirit moved them” to say whatever they desired. According to their bulletin, they have at 9:30 A.M. something called “Celebration Time.” From the items mentioned above, I would guess they really do have something to celebrate, but it does not improve their relationship to the Lord nor invite His approval. I would urge every member of such a group to hear the plea of the Lord, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent” (Rev. 2:5).
Yes, one plus one does equal one; or, as brother Harris put it, “When you have seen one, you have seen them all.” Both of these “circuses” amount to one great big departure from the Truth. I am confident that there simply must be some good honest souls in each of these places that still love the Truth; but when are they ever going to learn how wrong they are for supporting such (II John 9-I1). Perhaps a good way to end my comments would be to quote what brother Harris said, “And if your preacher and your youth are smitten by what they see and hear, within a year or two that little Christian Church out at the edge of town may more nearly resemble the Church of the New Testament, than the congregation where you now attend!” Or, has it already reached that point?
(Editor’s Note: Brethern, if you want to be with the religious “in-crowd, ” you must simply persuade yourself to close your eyes to activities such as this and raise your umbrella of fellowship to include men participating in such activities. If you decide to condemn the church’s involvement in activities such as this, you become the arch villian of Christ, according to proponents of the grace fellowship heresy. Who can close his eyes to departures from this truth such as this? Surely not I and apparently thousands of other faithful Christians! Praise be to God for everyone of them!)
Truth Magazine XXIV: 30, pp. 485-486
July 31, 1980