The Yo-Yo Syndrome

By Larry Ray Hafley

Are you a yo-yo?

I was raised in the Lord’s church and obeyed the gospel when about eleven years of age. For the early part of those years, I felt secure in Christ, until “church of Christ preachers” convinced me I was a “yo-yo.” You know how a yo-yo works, up-down-up-down; well, their “creed” was like that, saved-lost-saved-lost-saved-lost. I never knew I was saved, except at the exact ending of a prayer. It set me to wondering, “I love God with all my heart and want to do His will but, suppose as I am failing asleep, I have an evil thought, then lapse into sleep before I am able to ask forgiveness, and then die, I am separated from God and lost.” Sounds worse than the doctrine of unconditional election, doesn’t it? But I ceased long ago to be a yo-yo, for now I am a Christian secure in Christ Jesus …. I have eternal life right now. (Barney Cargile, Jr., as quoted by Stanley Paher in Vanguard Magazine, March 1984)

Issues are not settled by “church of Christ preachers” nor by determining that something “sounds worse than the doctrine of unconditional election.” But if one is a yo-yo, well, I suppose that is the end of all controversy.

Actually, anyone who believes a child of God can fall from grace and be restored is a yo-yo, even brother Cargile. As proof thereof, note the following:

(1) Simon the Sorcerer was a lost man who was saved (Acts 8:12,13; Mk. 16:16). Afterward, he sinned and his heart was not right in the sight of God (Acts 8:22,23). Doubtless, with repentance and prayer, he was restored. That sounds like “lost-saved-lost-saved” to me. (2) The Corinthian brother who had “his Father’s wife” had been saved, but was lost because of this “deed” (1 Cor. 5:1 -11). Later, it appears that he repented, was forgiven and restored (2 Cor. 2:6-8; 7:8-12). Would that “up-down-up-down” status make the Corinthians yo-yos? (3) The Galatians had been called “into the grace of Christ” (Gal. 1:6). They did, for a time, “run well,” but subsequently fell “from grace” (Gal. 5:1-7). If some were returned by Paul’s letter, they were out of grace, in grace, out of grace, in grace, i.e., lost, saved, lost, saved. Real yo-yos! (4) “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus said unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven time: but, until seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:21,22). Super yo-yos! (5) In the Old Testament, God’s people were delivered from Egyptian bondage, lapsed into idolatry and unfaithfulness, were again delivered into bondage, repented, were restored and proceeded to repeat the cycle over and over again. See the book of Judges. From this we conclude that the yo-yo syndrome is of ancient origin. Indeed, the history of Israel reads like national yo-yosim.

The truth regarding controversial passages and views concerning the endeavor of children of God to walk in the light is not reached by the string of a yo-yo. The first time I was ever ridiculed by the “yo-yo” charge was by a Baptist preacher in debate. So, forgive me for being a little sensitive about my yo-yo position, even though it may be “worse than the doctrine of unconditional election.”

Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 11, pp. 324-325
June 7, 1984