By Mike Willis
For many months now, brother Yater Tant, editor of Vanguard, has commended and defended the Crossroads church of Christ in Gainesville, Florida for its evangelistic program, in spite of the criticisms which have come from various sources who had no opportunity for collaboration but whose testimony agrees and confirms each other. For information regarding the different commendations of Crossroads, please read the following comments in Vanguard: Vol. VI; No. 4, pp. 2-3; No. 12, p. 12; Vol. VII, No. 1, p. 12; No. 12, pp. 2-3; Vol. VIII, No. 10, p. 2; No. 11, pp. 2-3.
During this same period, brother Tant has been appealing for some kind of unity with liberals through a “box in the vestibule” approach to support orphan homes, colleges, old folks homes, recreation, and other things in which the liberals are involved. The January 1982 issue of Vanguard contained an “open letter” to Reuel Lemmons and Guy N. Woods in which this appeal for unity was made. On August 13, 1982, brother Tant addressed the subject of unity at the Crossroads church in Gainesville before an audience of 4,000 people. His speech is presented in this issue.
I would like to present the following background in order that you might better perceive the impact of the Crossroads speech in August. Many of our readers are not aware of the Crossroads church. Consequently, some background is needed in order to fully grasp the impact of the sermon preached.
The Crossroads church is a big, liberal church. Here are some things in which they are involved by financial support and other forms of fellowship:
(1) The sponsoring church arrangement (for example, they sent $600.00 to support the Alan Cloyd restoration ministry in 1982).
(2) A Christian Family Services program which solicits contributions from individuals all over America in order to operate a facility for the adoption of children.
(3) It plans to develop and maintain Fanning Springs Development, a retreat to accommodate 250 people.
(4) It plans to build residential housing for homeless children on Riegel Ranch, a church owned property of 120 acres.
(5) They send the Crossroads Singers all over the United States to perform before and entertain both secular and religious assemblies. They also advertise to sell their records at Christmas time.
(6) They sponsor many recreational outings, including the purchase of block seating for University of Florida football games, an annual “Play Day,” and other such activities.
(7) They use their building for such activities as girl scouts meeting places.
In short, the Crossroads church in Gainesville has been in the vanguard of the movement to pervert the mission and the organization of the church (by their participation in social welfare work, recreational activities, and sponsoring-church projects).
On top of these objectionable matters, the Crossroads church of Christ has become involved in a system of evangelism which is objectionable even to those brethren who accept and agree with them in the matters listed above. The liberal brethren have criticized the Crossroads church and its satellites for the following activities: (1) its prayer-partner system of confession of sins; (2) its disruption of the eldership when it moves into a congregation; (3) its refusal of baptism to adults who request it but whom they judge not to be ready for baptism; (4) its making loyalty to the Crossroads evangelistic methods a condition of faithfulness to the Lord and for fellowship; (5) its participation with the Christian church in growth seminars; and other things. These things stand as barriers to the fellowship of the Crossroads brethren and the mainstream of the liberals.
On 5 December 1979, brother Tant visited the Crossroads church and was invited to speak at their services on Wednesday night. He said virtually nothing which his audience could perceive as pertaining to the issues of the past 30 years and, therefore, received a blanket endorsement from Chuck Lucas, the Crossroads preacher. The liberal convictions and practices mentioned above have continued to this day. For this compromising appearance at Crossroads, brother Tant has been criticized by numbers of brethren. His reply was something to this effect: “But because I respected the Crossroads elders, and did not seize the `golden opportunity’ . . . to `teach the truth’ to the 1,000 who were present the Wednesday night, I now have an invitation to speak to an audience of 5,000, and specifically offer what I believe to be the scriptural way to achieve unity.” The speech reproduced was presented on August 13, 1982 at the Crossroads church to approximately 4,000 people from all over the country.
If you were given the opportunity to address a congregation so steeped in liberalism as the Crossroads church is, what would you say? Would you tell them that unity could be attained and maintained between every child of God so tong as all were content to “walk in the light”? Would you call upon them to repent of their sins of having perverted the mission and organization of the church? For the sake of scriptural unity, would you appeal to them to quit driving the wedge of unscriptural practices between us? Would you imply that these brethren were already in fellowship with God or that their sins had broken their relationship with God? Would you say that liberal preachers who offer no prospect of repentance are building beautiful bridges for the unity of God’s people?- Just what would you say?
Fortunately, we do not have to wonder what brother Tant had to say. Reproduced in this issue is his speech and you can judge for yourself whether or not he preached what these brethren needed to hear.
Do the actions of brother Tant identify with brother Paul in the synagogue and marketplace of Athens (Acts 17) or at Ephesus and “almost throughout all Asia” where he preached “they are no gods that are made with hands” (Acts 19:26)? Would he, having the opportunity, speak of some as being “reprobate concerning the faith” (2 Tim. 3:9)? Paul did! “The faith” is under attack at Crossroads, brother Tant.
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 6, pp. 194-195
April 7, 1983