By Connie W. Adams
I recently received a copy of a report by Jerry F. Bassett under the heading “Work in the Philippines, January 23-February 19, 1996.” Over the years I have read many such reports with great interest because of my own involvement in the work there in years past. In the years since my last visit to your land, I have stayed in correspondence with a number of brethren. The welfare of the work there and the various trials that afflict the Lord’s people there have always been of deep concern to me. Many good men have visited there over the years to assist the very able preachers they already have among them. I have stayed in touch with most of them out of personal interest in the work.
In brother Bassett’s report he said that he delivered a lesson at “several locations” titled “Disagreements Among Brethren: Areas of Battle and Areas of Peace.” He,said the thrust of this was to teach how “brethren can continue to disagree and yet maintain fellowship in the Lord without the violation of conscience.” Then he said, “I also used an excellent article by Connie Adams accompanied by my application of its principles to the divorce/remarriage issue.”
Since a number of brethren in the Philippines read this magazine, I feel compelled to make some comments on this matter.
I have been in correspondence with some Americans who deny that brethren of brother Bassett’s view have taught on the divorce/remarriage issue in the Philippines. They have criticized brethren who oppose their view for preaching on it and for taking what they call “an American problem” to the Philippines. I have been told that this is a “moot” question there since there is no divorce law there. But now, it is clear from brother Bassett’s report that he, at least, has taught on this matter “in several locations.” So, let’s have no more of this denial that this has been and is being taught.
Whatever applications brother Bassett made of my article to the divorce/remarriage issue, I want my Filipino brethren to know that I am not in agreement with the doctrine he teaches on this subject. I have read and studied his book and also have the tapes of his two public debates on the subject with Jack Holt. So, I am not ignorant of what he believes on the subject.
Matthew 5:31-32 and Matthew 19:1-12 teach that one who divorces his wife, except for fornication, and marries another, commits adultery and that whoever marries one who is put away, commits adultery. It is brother Bassett’s contention that Jesus was simply explaining the Old Testament law here and putting things in proper perspective regarding that. Matthew 4:17 and 23 show that the Lord’s teaching was in anticipation of the kingdom. The teaching looked forward. The only backward look was to contrast what was permitted under the law because of man’s hardness of heart and what pertained to the kingdom which was soon to come. “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17). Verse 23 says he was “preaching the gospel of the kingdom.”
Brother Bassett and I also have serious differences on the application of Romans 14 to this subject. What Jesus called adultery in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9, Paul said was an occasion for putting away a wicked brother from among themselves in 1 Corinthians 5. Such an one was to be “de-livered to Satan” thus purging out “the old leaven.” No company was to be kept with him. Paul said fornication was a “work of the flesh” and that those who practiced it would not “inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21). Romans 14 includes matters of indifference with God, such as eating meats honoring certain days. Whether or not to practice circumcision would fall into the same category.
Whatever use was made of my article and whatever applications of its principles were made, I want it clearly understood by you good brethren that Connie W. Adams does not believe what brother Bassett does on this subject and is convinced that what he believes and teaches on the subject is error. I am not accusing brother Bassett of saying that I agree with his position. I would, on the contrary, be very surprised if he did that. But I do not want my name linked, even by implication, with what I consider to be grave error. Brother Bassett is an able and knowledgeable man and I am sure most of his teaching there was helpful to those who heard it. But after reading his report and his reference to my article, I just wanted to make sure the record is clear as to where I stand touching this matter.
While the legal situation may be different in the Philip-pines than in the U.S. on divorce, it is a Bible subject. Any study of the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, Romans, or 1 Corinthians is going to involve at some point the verses that deal with the subject. It is important that the truth be taught on these verses when students come to them. The fact that various positions have been taken by different ones over the years does not alter the fact that these passages are clear and uncluttered. It takes help to misunderstand them. It may also be said that different positions have been taken on Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38 but that does not change one thing these passages say.
May the Lord bless every faithful effort being made to advance the cause of Christ in your nation. There are some issues which Filipinos face among themselves that do not trouble us here and there are problems we have here which they do not have to deal with there. But divine truth is universal and all of us must “walk by the same rule” and will all be judged by the same standard of truth. I urge all of you to consider any subject you may be called upon to address by the infallible word of God. May the Lord continue to bless you in your efforts to save the lost and edify the saved.
Guardian of Truth XL: No. 15, p. 3-4
August 1, 1996