The Tactics of Opposition

By Larry Ray Hafley

The nature and character of opposition to the truth is “without variableness, neither shadow of turning.” A study of sacred scenes and the observation of similar situations today proves this to be true.

“Boss,” “Pope,” and “Church Savior”

Let a man contend for the faith by contending against popular errors and “isms,” and he will be abominated and denominated, “Boss,” “Pope,” and “Savior of the church.” Moses, the meekest man of his era, was accused of attempting to “make (himself) altogether a prince over us” (Num. 16:3). He had heard the charge before (Ex. 2:14). Each time it emanated from one full of the spirit of Egypt. It is an ancient refrain. More stanzas have been appended, but it is the same song, twentieth century verse. L. C. Utley charged that “he (Foy E. Wallace, Jr.) would boss the church if we would take it” (Bible Banner, July 1971). Romulo B. Agduma has been called “Boss” and “Pope” by his enemies in the Philippines. Cecil Willis was charged with trying to head up his own church of Christ by William E. Wallace a few years ago in the “Gospel Guardian.”

Are there, then, no usurping bosses and potential Popes? Unfortunately, the spirit of Diotrephes did not all go to hades with him. However, reference here is made to slurring slander slingers whose mouths are muckmongers against those who prosecute false teachers and persecute their doctrines. Let a man achieve a portion of notoriety as a defender of the faith and a pretender of the same is sure to call him a “self-appointed Savior of the church.” Opposition tactics are unchanged.


Elijah stood against the digressives of his time in bold words and daring deeds. Apostasy abounded as idolatry surrounded Israel in Samaria. Ahab abhorred Elijah. When the two met, Ahab vent and vomited his vile, verbal feelings thusly, “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” Imagine that! It is like a pig complaining about how nasty chickens are! He who had forsaken the Lord and followed Baalim calls Elijah a troublemaker. Same tune, another century, and the tactics remain the same. Men and a movement may espouse the rudiments and elements of Calvinism, sing and play with their “instrumental brethren,” and otherwise fellowship some of the unfruitful works of denominationalism, but let men and a magazine oppose these acts and the troublemaker tune is heard in the background. Ahab does not reign in Israel today, but his song is still being played, and there are dancers on the floor.

Character Assassination

Paul was debased by being depicted as frivolous and flighty (2 Cor. 1). His enemies said he wrote like a lion from a distance, but that he purred like a kitten in person. In other words, the man is unreliable, unstable, and all for his own personal advantage. They even found a way to demean his character when he refused financial aid. Against such foes, even the good one does is charged with having an ulterior motive. So, today, all who write, teach, edit, preach, and debate are open to the vain jangling of jealous snipers. How many promising young literary proponents of truth have been laid in the shade of inactivity because some careless critic condemned their first published article as an attempt to “gain recognition?” How many analytical minds, alert and keen with the ability to penetrate and puncture error quickly and concisely, have been lost to the arena of debate because some envious brother charged them with trying to “ape” Campbell or Porter? The manual of opposition tactics has been repeated and reprinted, but the latest copy reads like the first edition.

Cloak and Dagger

“And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor” (Lk. 20:20). Our Lord’s most-likely-to-succeed opponents were these spying hypocrites. They were not concerned with truth but with “his words” and how they might “take hold” of something he said so they could have him convicted and condemned by civil authorities. Their sinister efforts were used during the trial of Jesus (Mk. 14:55-59). The apostle Paul faced the same guile garbed in the garments of the gospel. He spoke of being “in perils among false brethren” (2 Cor. 11:26) and “of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage” (Gal. 2:4).

Any modern conflict brings spies into the camp. They “feign themselves just men,” speaking as though they, too, are on the side of the apostles’ doctrine. They implant themselves into the bosoms of those who carry the fight so they might “take hold” of words and arguments to wind and wrest. It is a dirty business. If this sin has not survived the apostolic age, it is the only sin that ever “died out.” Animals may become extinct but sins do not.

Truth Magazine XXI: 40, p. 626
October 13, 1977