By Bill H. Reeves
Conservative brethren (Joe Soto, Ruben Amador, Valente Rodriguez, Edgar Roman, Wayne Partain, and I) have been preaching this year in Central America (Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala) for the first times. In a prior article, I mentioned that a recent preaching trip was made the middle of September by brethren Partain, Rodriquez and me to Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala. I am glad to report that God blessed our efforts richly. Brother Rodriguez spent nearly two weeks in Costa Rica, and Wayne and I spent most of our time in El Salvador; then the three of us were three days (for the first time) in Guatemala.
In Costa Rica, there are now three conservative congregations. (I use the terms “conservative” and “liberal” as a convenience, in reference to the “issues” which arose in the fifties, over centralization and institutionalism.) In El Salvador, Wayne and I preached in full-length gospel meetings in two congregations, but during the day and late at night managed to speak in two other congregations and in two special groups. We had invitations from other congregations which we could not accept, for lack of time. Brethren came from cities in the interior of the country to meet and study with us during the day, and to accompany us to preaching services. We preached at one congregation, high on a mountain top, accessible only by foot, and one night after the regular gospel meeting, I was driven to a community some thirty miles from the capital city to speak to about a hundred people gathered for a funeral service late at night. We drove thirty miles in another direction to teach a group of brethren during the day. In eastern El Salvador (San Miguel), where the civil war has been “hot,” there are seven conservative congregations. They still await our first visit with them to teach and preach. The truth in this country is spreading!
In Guatemala, Wayne, Valenta and I preached in four different congregations between Friday and Sunday nights; other places invited us, but again it was a lack of time that kept us from preaching there. I was told that there are about 300 congregations (many small, meeting in homes) in Guatemala. Brother Baltazar Calel, a humble man of 25 years in the Gospel, opened the doors to us to preach for the first time in Guatemala.
In my previous article, I mentioned that four or five congregations in southernmost Mexico (state of Chiapas) had recently disassociated themselves from liberalism. One of the members of the Spanish church, where I preach in Kerrville, brother Dagoberto Malonado, was sent in August by the church to Chiapas, to answer a request from brethren there for someone to come teach them on the “issues.” While there, Dagoberto was taken across the border into Guatemala where he met brother Calel, and others, in the capital city. As a result of this short trip there, we three (Wayne, Valente and 1) were invited to preach also in that country.
Five were baptized, and one restored, during this preaching trip to Central America. We must return and others also are being urged to go and assist the brethren in the fight against liberalism. Those who have turned away from the errors of centralization and institutionalism are now suffering as a result of it, as are we who have assisted them. This is nothing new, of course.
Brothers Partain and I have scheduled three weeks for preaching in Spain (Nov. 26-Dec. 13). This will be the first time conservative brethren will have preached by invitation in that country. Already the “lid has blown off,” as liberal brethren in Spain have learned of our invitation to preach there.
Examples Of Carnal Tactics
Error, because it is error (human wisdom, as opposite Divine), employs carnal tactics. Satan has his machinations, his devices (2 Cor. 2:11). Many “ignorant of his devices,” are moved by such tactics, but in the case of honest brethren, in time the deceit is exposed and they come to the truth. In the case of others, willfully ignorant, they are moved to close their minds against us, shutting out the truth that could make them free. Let me give you some concrete examples of some of the carnal tactics which have been employed against us just this year.
1. The day before Wayne and I arrived in Costa Rica’ in March, to preach, the big, liberal “central” church (the central agency for the work in that country, with its “missionaries,” “Preachers’ School,” etc.) circulated the following flier (translated from Spanish; all caps and underscoring [italics] theirs):
BRETHREN OF HATILLO CENTER: THE FOLLOWING SAD COMMENTARIES COME FROM OUR BELOVED BRO. OMAR SOTO WHO WAS WITH US FOR A TIME AND WHO TODAY RESIDES IN NEW YORK CITY, U.S. HE TELLS US:
“I send you an announcement which still exists in which is announced a gospel meeting in which the largest congregations of New York participated. It GRIEVES me to tell you that these congregations with a membership of 110 (more or less) in each place TODAY HAVE BEEN DESTROYED AND REDUCED TO LESS THAN 40 MEMBERS. . . This is the result of the TERRIBLE DIVISION that the Antis came to do. It GRIEVES me to tell you that it is as if a hurricane passed through, destroying the work of the Lord.”
Brethren, on the reverse side of this sheet can be seen the announcement sent to us by Brother Omar, where there appear THE NAMES of these men WHO PASS THEMSELVES OFF as brethren, to cause divisions.
These men will be in Costa Rica the 26th of this month, and will be trying to knock on your doors in order to DECEIVE YOU. They will present themselves with the APPEARANCE of piety and with SMOOTH words . . . BUT their goal is DESTRUCTION.
We BEG you pay attention to the warnings of the Bible. . . ROMANS 16:17-18 and II JOHN 10-11. . . “RECEIVE HIM NOT INTO YOUR HOUSE, AND GIVE HIM NO GREETING. “
SUPPORT THE DECISION TAKEN BY THE GROUP OF MEN OF THIS LOCAL CONGREGATION . . . that which was recently communicated to you, in which FELLOWSHIP WAS WITHDRAWN FROM Mr. Jacinto Cedeno who has given himself, along with these men (Bill Reeves, Wayne Partain, and others), to attempt to cause divisions in the Churches of Christ here in Costa Rica.
Notice that we are represented in this flier as not even being members of the church of Christ, but just pass ourselves off as such! We are referred to as “Mr.” and “men. ” Brother Cedeno was disfellowshiped because of his willingness to hear and associate with conservative brethren.
I wrote the five churches of Christ in New York City where both Brother Partain and I have preached on sever~ occasions, and all five sent me letters, exposing the lies in that flier. (I sent copies of them to brethren in Costa Rica). AD five churches together hardly had 110 members; one had only six or so at the time of reference. Not one member was lost as a result of Brother Partain’s preaching among them. The whole story was a fabrication.
And what did the Hatillo Center church do when it was so informed by the church in New York City, one of the five mentioned in the flier, where Omar Soto is a member? Did they repent of having propagated a lie, being misinformed by Omar Soto? No! They simply accused the New York City church of sharing the “opinions” of its “leader” (Bill Reeves and others).
2. In El Salvador, in the Preachers’ School which the big, downtown “central” church operates, to supply preachers for the church throughout the country (and elsewhere), a textbook is used entitled The Artifices Of Error, and in it is a section on “Anti-ism.” In my three preaching trips to El Salvador this year, I repeatedly was asked, “What is an ‘anti’?” The liberal brethren there, self-styled “missionaries,” are spreading it around that I and others are “antis,” but without explaining what is meant by such. The students of the Preachers’ School go out to preach, and repeat what they are told in the school about “antis.” The above-mentioned book, in the section on “Anti-ism” (p. 62 says: (translated from Spanish, underlining [italics] theirs)
1. Anti-ism. These, not finding specific commandments in the Scripture, have falled into OPINIONS, accusing the church of the Lord of doing what the Bible does not teach, such as: that the church might divide into groups on Sunday for instruction, use two or more cups in the moment of the Lord’s supper, have several preachers working in the same locality, that it is not correct to have Christian colleges, that it help orphanages and homes for the aged, that several congregations go togetherfor evangelization, that one congregation should not help another that it might have its full-time preacher, that in so doing it becomes a ‘missionary society’ of that one which helps it. AD this and many other things that the church does are anti-biblical practices and fall under the condemnation of sin and therefore of punishment.
Many brethren in El Salvador have been given the impression that we “antis” (Wayne Partain, Joe Soto, others, and I) do not believe in Bible classes, in the use of individual cups, church buildings, located preachers, etc., all because of the confusion of teaching in that Preachers’ School. The liberals have “lumped” us together with others in their unsavory use of the term “anti.” As a result, we have been woefully misrepresented in that country; brethren have been needlessly confused and prejudiced against us. But, the Devil is not much concerned with facts!
One of the so-called “missionaries” in El Salvador, Manuel Azucena, is circulating mimeographed copies of a sermon of his, entitled “Sin.” In it he says: (translated from Spanish)
The church therefore should reject the influence of:
1. The Cursillists Charismatics (Reformed Catholics)
2. The Protestants divided into endless sects
3. The false brethren, ANTIS, and those who have given the welcome to their heresies. We should keep “these faces” or names in mind that we might recognize those false teachers: Mel Rose, Bill Reeves, Wayne Partain, and Edgar J. Roman. C. Brethren, those last three influences AS SIN can divide (and have done it) some of the congregations of the church of the Lord. Let us withdraw ourselves from such (1 Tim. 6:3-6).
3. Brother Partain and I have been invited to preach in Spain. When the local preacher wrote other churches in Spain, to tell them of our impending preaching-trip giving them also an opportunity to invite us to preach, Brother Enrique Martorell, a preacher in Spain, sent a circular letter to the churches of that country, in which he says: (translated from Spanish)
I suppose that, as I do, you have at hand the letter sent by our bro. Bosqued. In it our brother presents the visit of two brethren – Bill H. Reeves and Wayne Partain of the United States, who desire to visit our congregations. I for my part want to express to you that I completely refuse to allow these brethren to visit the church in Tarrasa; and I do for various reasons. In the first place Reeves and Partain have never had a “sound” interest in the work in Spain, they have never helped us in anything, and there is no reason for their “inspecting” that in which they have had no part. In the second place, Reeves as well as Partain are, as one pure in language would say, ‘unos folloneros’ (I am not sure how this expression is to be taken; it comes from the word meaning “lazy and negligent, arrogant and despicable, a firecracker that doesn’t go off, wind without sound,” etc.-BHR); wherever they go they cause problems. They are causing our brethren in the United States very many problems. These brethren are of an incredibly mental narrowness – they are ‘anti’ everything and more. I for my part do not want them to cause problems for the work in Spain which we all love.
Now, what kind of prejudice does that create in the mind of the brethren in Spain who know nothing about the issues which in the fifties divided the brotherhood? It will take a lot of time and work to clear the minds of honest brethren of the evil implanted by this one circular letter! But, Truth always prevails over all carnal tactics.
Fellowshipping Carnally-Minded Brethren
Fellowship is participation; it is being a fellow with another, or with others, in a given matter. We are not to have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them (Eph. 5:11). So, I ask my liberal brethren at large: Do you approve of the carnal tactics employed by such “leaders” among you, as illustrated in these quotes? “Oh, we wouldn’t act just like that.” Well, will you reprove these brethren who have been so cruel and unjust toward their brethren in Christ, supposedly in error? They have had opportunities to let us speak for ourselves, but have completely refused to let us do it. They have no love whatsoever for those whom they accuse of division, trouble-making, and heresy; they seek not to save us from our “error.” Do you approve of that and fellowshp that? Or, will you reprove them? Preachers (whether styled as “missionaries,” “leaders,” or whatever) in the Spanishspeaking brotherhood are lying against us, acting with hatred and disdain, but are financially supported (in many cases) by American churches. My brethren, who support them, do you fellowship their carnal tactics? Will you reprove them? You have their names; you know (or can know – I will furnish the information!) their addresses; are you going to reprove them, or fellowship them?
Truth is not served with carnal tactics. Carnal tactics but belie the weakness of the position of the false teacher. The man with truth needs no such weapons!
The Devil always “wins” the first round, or rounds, because of his methods, but the fight has “fifteen” rounds. The Book of Revelation shows us that things are not what they appear to be: it seems like error and sin are always winning, but not so! Not in the final analysis!
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 22, pp. 673, 696-697
November 15, 1984