By James W. Adams
It has been said, “No wind is favorable to a ship without a destination.” Many times, why a thing is done is quite as important as what is done. There is enough controversy among brethren without my adding to it with a series of articles written for no higher purpose than to be different or to argue. Argument for argument’s sake in the realm of the spiritual, where men’s souls hang in the balance, is obnoxious and destructive. Nor do I throw my hat into the proverbial “ring” of present brotherhood agitation and controversy to enhance my personal reputation as some sort of champion of “orthodoxy.” I am not by nature controversial, although some may find this hard to believe. Most of the controversy in which I have engaged during the past two decades has been pushed upon me, and I did not have any more sense than to assume the responsibility of contributing whatever talent I may have in the field of writing to the defense of principles which I believe to be Divine, hence vital and eternal. With all my faults, which the grace of God and the blood of Jesus are going to have to cover if I am to be saved in heaven, the Lord knows that selfish ambition for notoriety has not been one of them. There are enough real issues and always have been without the necessity for manufacturing any straw men to combat. For the record’s sake, let it also be noted that there exists between me and the brethren who shall figure prominently in this review no personal animosity or personal difference of any kind.
Unusual Forbearance Manifested
There has been manifested by “conservative” brethren an unusual degree of moderation relative to Ketchersidism even when it has seemed to gain some ground among “us.” Men and issues have not been exposed and vigorously attacked as has been true of other error and errorists. It could he that we have been criminally negligent in this regard. The time has come when we can no longer follow this course. Even a tyro in Bible knowledge should recognize the fact that there is an abundance of Scriptural warrant for a forthright attack upon issues, men, and movements, which threaten the interests of Divine truth and Divine institutions. Jesus twice cleansed the temple with consummate zeal when its sacred purposes were corrupted by misguided men (John 2:13-17; Mt. 21:12-16), and scathingly denounced, in language literally vitriolic, the scribes and the Pharisees for their fallacious concepts ‘and perverted practices (Mt. 23:1-33). A great portion of the material in Paul’s letters to churches and individuals was aimed at the corruption in doctrine, worship, and life among them. Paul hesitated not to deal both with issues and with men. John, “the apostle of love,” in his epistles, attacked with vehemence the errors and their teachers among the brethren. The “gospel according to John” was written to provide apostolic Christians with evidence of the deity of Jesus with which to combat gnostic heretics. The seven letters to the churches of Asia in “The Revelation” which were written by John deal forthrightly (with one exception) with doctrinal and practical error, the teachers of that error, and those who were seduced by them. James addressed a letter to Christians, which was largely designed to expose, refute, and eradicate gnosticism among the brethren. Peter, in his general epistles, deals pungently with error and its teachers. Jude likewise exposes and seeks the eradication of error and its teachers among the brethren. Need I say more?
The Existing Situation
In articles one through five of this series, I have taken a great deal of time and used much space to set forth in minute detail the existing situation as I see it. Many hours were spent in seeking to present this matter in exactly the right manner in order that “all the bases may be touched.” There has been altogether too much ambiguity leading to accusations of being “misunderstood” and “misrepresented.” I desire above all to be right, and second only to that, to be understood. While it will not be my intention to be offensive, neither will I be deterred from a clear discussion of these matters by a desire to be non-offensive. In few words, I will not pamper the aversion of some spuriously pious brethren to forthright, face to face confrontation and head to head encounter with men whom I conceive to be false teachers who are leading brethren down the “broad road ” to ruin.
The Objectives of this Series
(1) I propose a thorough examination and review of W. Carl Ketcherside, his fallacious theories relative to unity and fellowship among the children of God, and his underground unity movement, which is fast maturing into a unity cult. Just as the best politics is to make one’s fundamental plank in his platform absolute opposition to all politicians, so the most effective party shibboleth in our day of acute division is to make the fundamental plank in one’s spiritual platform absolute opposition to and renunciation of all parties. Jehovah’s Witnesses, so-called, seek to advance the interests of their religion by affirming, “all religion is of the devil.” Ketcherside, among other things, is an astute politician. I know of no better among the brethren. To put it simply, Ketcherside’s movement is a cult to end all cults. This I propose to demonstrate in the course of this series of articles.
(2) I propose a thorough exposure of the error being circulated on the subjects of “salvation by grace through faith,” the immediate operation of the Holy Spirit upon the Christian, and certain views and practices relative to unity and fellowship which are refinements of Ketcherside’s position. Actually, these three are but different facets of the same issue.
(3) I propose to cite names, document statements, and identify places. While I regret the necessity for doing this, it must be done. This is not a hypothetical situation with which we are dealing; hence it cannot be dealt with theoretically. It is real and actual and will be dealt with specifically and practically. I will not knowingly misrepresent any person, and will be governed always by what I conceive to be true, New Testament love (agape) or brotherly love (philadelphos) or both as the situation may require, but I will not tolerate equivocation which seems to be the forte of current neophytes to whom reference has been made previously.
A Word to the Neophytes
Brother Connie W. Adams (no relation of this scribe, but I would be most happy to acknowledge it if it were so) stated my sentiments exactly in his recent article, “Old Song, New Singers,” Truth Magazine, Vol. XVII, No. 13, p. 202, Feb. 1, 1973. If you have not read this article, by all means do so. You young preachers are no longer boys. When you begin to tamper with matters that materially and adversely affect the faith of Christians and the practice, purity, and unity of the Lord’s churches, you are functioning in a man’s world. Therefore, you need to grow up spiritually, clear up what you say, shut up until you do, or be prepared to accept the consequences of your position!
My Respects to Anticipated Emotional Sympathizers
I have been in controversy in the papers before and am not unacquainted with the temper of some of the brethren, hence I anticipate that there will be some Casper Milquetoasts and some emotionally indulgent sympathizers who will decry my exposure of our neophytes by reason of their age and shed maudlin tears over my unvarnished attack upon Ketcherside by reason of his carefully polished urbanity and folksy, political backslapping. If any of our readers belong to either or both of these categories, get out your crying towels, for you are going to need them.
There has been too much “double talk.” Statements have been ambiguous and reasoning circuitous. The time for such is past. Let us get down to the “nitty gritty” of this matter. If Ketcherside has the truth and our neophytes who are dancing to his siren song are correct, now is the time to find out. This we shall attempt to do. To the accomplishment of this task, let us address ourselves.
TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 24, pp. 3-4
April 19, 1973