By Ernest A. Finley
“They went out from us but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they all are not of us” (1 Jn. 2:19).
Four years ago, approximately, brother Darwin Chandler conducted a gospel meeting for the Texas City church of Christ for which I was the regular evangelist. (I have known brother Chandler many years and will hereafter refer to him as Darwin.) It was a good meeting. His lessons were true to the word of God. Our association was pleasant. But in the few years since that time, a radical, change has taken place in Darwin and those who have followed him, and that not for the better.
Darwin’s preaching, writing, and conversation began to ring more and more with the words, “Pharisaism” and “legalism.” His teaching on “fellowship” and “justification” became increasingly committed to error. The problem became so intense that it became necessary for him to be released as evangelist for the House Street church in Alvin, Texas. Darwin had deluded himself into thinking that when he left the work at House Street that the whole church, with the exception of the elders, would follow him. But only a few followed him. That was in October of 1983. He made an abortive attempt to begin a church in Friendswood, but because of a division in sentiment related to church-socials and facilities for such in the church building which they had planned to build, the group was fragmented and the effort came to naught.
Next, we see Darwin and his immediate family identified with the Johnson Street church of Christ (institutional) in Alvin. Soon thereafter, he was selected to be one of their regular preachers.
On March 25, 1984, Darwin delivered a sermon at Johnson Street explaining the reason for his presence there, entitled, “How Did I Get Here?”
In the course of his presentation, he goes back to 1982 and a return trip from a meeting in Odessa in which he had led singing. He states that on the way home he “. . . prayed all day long.” Among other things that he told the Lord in his prayer was “. . . I cannot go back to that Phariseeistic, that legalistic type religion the Bible says will damn my soul.”
Special Wisdom Through The Indwelling Spirit
He further said, “Father, I believe you have given the Holy Spirit to dwell in your people for the sake of helping them
to understand the Scriptures, through whom you give them wisdom if they ask, and I don’t know how you do it, I don’t care. All I want is this wisdom. Will you help me through the Holy Spirit?”
No Distinction Between The Church And The Individual
After pointing out that “. . . the church is nothing more or less than the sum total of all those who have been immersed into Christ,” he speaks of what he alleges to be “the false distinction we have made for years between collective work and individual work; or individual work and local work…. The Bible doesn’t make any such distinction as that.”
Orphan Homes Legitimate
On the basis of the above observations, he adds, “And so, that makes orphan homes supported by the church legitimate because they can be supported by individual Christians.”
“Also, there is the legitimacy of cooperative efforts. And that makes fellowship meals together legitimate. . . . I’ll ten you something else, if we want to do it as a part of a worship service (emphasis mind, EAF), we can do it. ” He adds, “. . , read 1 Corinthians 11 and realize that what they were doing was having a worship service and either in close proximity to it or as a part of it, they were eating a fellowship meal . . . .”
No Pattern For Church Finances
Darwin adds, “The simple fact is, God did not tell us what to do with the money we collected in the church treasury. You don’t think that’s right? Well, consider the fact that in the first place in the New Testament you cannot read of a church treasury as such. Doesn’t mean it’s wrong. But try to read that if you like. Go on a hunting trip through the New Testament. It’s scriptural, good, logical.” He goes further, “. . . God doesn’t much care about how we get the money (emphasis mine, EAF). He just wanted us to get enough to do His will. Get it how you want to, get it where you want to, and accomplish His Will with it. And along with the fact that God did not tell us what to do with the money (emphasis mine, EAF) we collect, we can use it as our spiritual leaders direct.”
No Restrictions On Method
Going on, Darwin says, “Not only that, but God did not restrict the method of doing our work, so we have an option. If we want to do it all by ourselves, we can do that. If we want to cooperate with another church, we can do that because God hasn’t said how.” He says, “They’ve found a pattern somewhere. Yes, I preached the pattern. Before God I couldn’t tell you what it is now. ” He adds, “. . . they took those opinions and made them matters of faith and divided the body of Christ.” Darwin said much more than we are able to reproduce in this article. But this gives reasonably good coverage to what he taught or where he stood a year ago.
You might think, “Well, it looks like our brother Darwin Chandler is gone to ‘liberalism,’ judging by what he says.” But the end is not yet in sight on the basis of what we have pointed out to you in this article to this point.
It took the Johnson Street church (institutional) about six or eight months to recognize Darwin’s commitment to error. But before they could give him a release, he “saw the hand-writing on the wall” and resigned. After his resignation at Johnson Street, they “marked” him as a false teacher, “totally apostate from truth.”
Reports came to us of Darwin’s worshipping with various churches in the area: The Alvin Gleaner Church Pentecostal (where we “witnessed”), then Quail Valley in Houston, of recent fame for its non-identification as the church of Christ any longer, and then Darwin’s latest association was extensively publicized by mail-out and newspaper advertisement, informing the people of Alvin and surrounding area, that Darwin was to speak at the Living Stones Church (strongly charismatic) and tell the latest story of “the new change” in his life. The advertisement informed us that “Darwin” had “found the fountain of Christian youth … the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.”
The sermon by Darwin, dealt with in the balance of this article, was delivered March 24, 1985 at the Living Stones church, almost one year to the day since his sermon at the Johnson Street church telling folks, “How Did I Get Here?”
The substance of Darwin’s sermon at Living Stones was “Why I had to leave the church of Christ.”
One of the first things that became abundantly clear was that Darwin had become totally dissatisfied with the simplicity of the Lord’s prescribed worship. He began to discuss the services of the church of Christ. In his assessment they were “dry and dead.” No longer could he be lifted up by the psalms, hymns and spiritual songs of the saints. No longer could the humble prayers of the righteous draw him nearer to God. He observed, “There’s got to be more.” He evaluated his spiritual condition of the past 30 years, my soul (was) just as bone dry and dead as the day I came to Jesus.”
The Church Of Christ The Farthest Way
Charging the church of Christ, with whom he had fellowship for 32 years, with believing that “. . . we are the only ones who know how to worship scripturally. . . ” he adds, “Praise God, I think we were the worst ones about it, the ones furthest away from the truth of anybody I have come in contact.”
The Church Of Christ Is A Sect
Speaking further of “Why I changed,” he adds, “I didn’t have a choice.” He cites Galatians 5:20, alluding to the term ,’sects ‘or ‘!factions.” Then, “I preached for nearly twenty years against sectarianism and never knew what it was. I’m devastated to think that I was a member of a sectarian body those twenty years.” He gave the definition of a “sect” as, “Formation of a body of religious people around a specialized doctrine.” He then charged that the church of Christ bases its teaching on four or five cardinal doctrines. “But you gather those four or five things and put those together in a focalized doctrinal system and build a movement around them and you’ve got a sect. The church of Christ is a sect.” But this is not the first time the church of Christ has been called a “sect.” Paul says “the Way” was called a sect in his day (Acts 24:14). It was not so then. It is not so now! One observation in passing, you do not suppose the Pentecostals of which the Living Stones church seems to be a part, have focalized on one area of doctrine primarily, do you? Could the Living Stones church be a part of a sect? Quoting further from his sermons: “Why did I have to leave? Because I was a sectarian. The Bible says you can’t be a sectarian and go to heaven.”
Mechanical Instruments, Dancing And Shouting
Darwin alludes to “. . . all that wild, strange stuff that went on a while ago, jumping up and down, hand-clapping . . .” which preceded his sermons, insisting that while he was a member of the church of Christ there were things of that nature authorized in the Bible which he could not observe. He then goes back under the Old Covenant to justify practices that he has of late espoused. Among other things, Psalms 41:1 is cited to authorize the clapping of the hands and shouting. Psalms 98:4 is utilized to show that we are to “shout joyfully.” Psalms 149:3 is presented to justify dancing in worship: “praise his name with dancing.” Psalms 150 is introduced to support the use of various mechanical instruments in worship, as well as dancing. As he speaks of “dancing,” he exults, “I love it!” He admits to having had some difficulty in getting his feet to cooperate in getting his dancing going. He says that he privately prayed to God to “pull the nails out of my shoes,” so he could loosen up and dance. He says that he had to “put the Lord on hold” while he and his wife laughed at this particular petition. Then he adds, “the nails are out, praise God.” So he is dancing in worship now. Choir robes are authorized, he tells us, referring to 2 Chronicles 5:12-14-they wore “fine linen.” He says, “I’m gonna tell you something. If you ever want to be a part of a worship service where God comes down and fills the house with glory, you’re gonna have to do it the way He wants it done. He wanted it done with a hundred and twenty trumpets, cymbals, and whatever that thing is tambourines. . . .” These are words coming from one who decries legalism.
Darwin, discussing mechanical instruments, refers to 2 Chronicles 29:25 to answer the “straw man” that says that “David invented them but God never approved.” He then observes that “the commandment was from the Lord through His prophet.” Adding, You’d better wait a long time before you cast another stone at something that God invented.” In effect, he says we “make fun” of a commandment of the Lord, warning, “You take your life into your own hands, folks.”
New Testament Authority Claimed
Then he turns to the New Testament in a vain attempt to justify mechanical instruments in worship. Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16, and James 5:13 are introduced. He tells his audience that Vine, Arndt and Gingrich, and Thayer or any Greek scholar all tell us that the Greek word psalmos means “to sing to the accompaniment of a musical instrument. ” He then refers to the expression “making melody’ I and affirmed that psallo, the root word from which the expression was translated means, “to play on a musical: instrument. ” His observation, “That’s what the word means, and if I intend to obey it, I’ve got to do it.” I ask you, “Is that ‘legalism’ or not?” (Note: Both Thayer and Vine make a distinction between the earlier use of the word psallo and the New Testament use or meaning of it. Thayer: “in the New Testament to sing a hymn, to celebrate the praises of God in song, etc.” Vine: [defining “melody,” discussing psallo] says, “denotes, in the N.T., to sing a hymn, sing praise; in Eph. 5:19, make melody.”)
Solos And Methodist Fellowship
He seeks to defend solos in worship by appealing to 1 Corinthians 14:26 where gifts of the Spirit were exercised in the revelation of a “psalm.” He then asks, “Is it all right for me to sing a solo as I did just a while ago, and as this brother (emphasis mine, EAF) did from the Methodist (emphasis mine, EAF) church?”
Error On Justification
Darwin says, after reading Several passages from Galatians which show that the basis of our justification is not “law” but “grace through faith,” I denied that principle. I denied the most basic, fundamental truth that the whole .New Testament teaches, that salvation is by grace through faith. I denied it all my life.” He falsely asserts that he was fired at House Street for preaching the truth on this issue. “. . . they fired me for preaching the book of Galatians and for daring to make one or two applications-I hardly even got into the matter of making applications, it was just the principle they couldn’t stand. I I Strangely, Darwin then quotes Galatians 5: 1; asserting that he does not intend to be “subject to a yoke of slavery,” no doubt referring to his concept of “legalism.” This statement came from a man who, only moments before, was floundering around back under the Mosaic Covenant, trying to justify his present practices of dancing and singing with mechanical instruments. He is entangled in a “yoke of slavery.”
Baptism Of The Holy Spirit
Again, he says, “Paul said in 2 Corinthians, ‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.’ That’s why there is no liberty where I’ve been. because they effectively deny the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Every single one of those churches do they shut the Holy Spirit out, they don’t want Him in Again, “I lived for twenty years in a charnal house” (note: a “charnal house” is a house for the storing of dead bodies, EAF).
Quoting John the Baptist regarding the coming of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, as recorded in Mark 1:8, Darwin says that this was a promise for the general populace who came to be baptized of John, “Jesus is going to come and baptize every one of you (emphasis mine, EAF) in the Holy Spirit.”
Referring to Acts 2, Darwin suggests, on the basis of verse 17, a part of Joel’s prophecy, that since the Spirit was to be for “all mankind,” that means it was for “everybody!” He refers to the statement, “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy” and adds, “‘prophecy’-inspired preaching-that’s where you get women preachers” (emphasis mine, EAF). Then, after quoting Acts 2:38, where the gift of the Holy Spirit is promised, Darwin says, “And in that context he’s talking about the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” Almost casually, he adds, “And, yes, I speak in tongues.” He fails, to perceive that they have long since passed (1 Cor. 13:8-12).
His invitation at the end of his sermon was the traditionally denominational appeal to raise your hand and trust in the Lord. Among other things that he said were these words, “If you want Jesus more than anything, would you just raise your hand right there where you are sitting?” The last words that I could hear on my tape of his sermon were, “Raise your hand.” How different from the words of Peter on Pentecost (Acts 2:36,38). How different from the words of Ananias to Saul of Tarsus (Acts 22:16).
In summary, how far has Darwin Chandler drifted? What are some of the evidences of his defection? What are his views?
(1) He defends a church-sponsored “fellowship-meal,” even included in the worship.
(2) That God grants wisdom through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which makes an understanding of the Word possible.
(3) That church support of human institutions and the “sponsoring church” method of cooperation are scriptural.
(4) That there is no biblical distinction between local congregations and individual action.
(5) That you cannot find a church treasury in the New Testament, but it does not matter how the money is raised and there are no scriptural limits on its expenditure.
(6) That the church of Christ is a sect.
(7) In regard to worship, he charges the church of Christ with being the furthest from the truth of any group he knows.
(8) He defends mechanical instruments of music, dancing, clapping, shouting, etc., in worship, going back under the Law.
(9) He is ready for fellowship with anybody in -any religious system who professes to believe that Jesus is Lord, including those who practice sprinkling.
(10) He “rings” of the new unity movement concept: “Unity in diversity.”
(11) He is convinced that the name that you wear does not matter.
(12) He advocates choirs, solos, robes and the use of women preachers.
(13) He claims to have received the Holy Spirit baptism and the power to speak in tongues. He believes in present day miracles.
(14) He asserts that identification of the one body is not dependent upon baptism for the remission of sins as a criterion.
(15) He extends the common denominational invitation to raise your hand and trust in the Lord.
It saddens our hearts that another has gone out from us. It grieves us also that a few are following him. We pray that
his efforts to lead others away from the faith may be further frustrated.
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 11, pp. 326-327, 342-343
June 6, 1985