Too Far This Time

By Steve Dewhirst

From earliest childhood I recall seeing the venerable name of George W. DeHoff on the cover of Bible class books. Over the years I’ve profited from tracts he’s penned, proclaiming the powerful gospel of Christ. He’s been preaching since the late 1920s. But he has long been associated with the digressive, institutional element, and this time he has just gone too far.

Like many preachers, George DeHoff has been in the “book business” for years, He is a gifted writer and Bible teacher, and DeHoff Publications has published and circulated mountains of books, workbooks, and tracts since 1939. However, longevity doesn’t guarantee soundness. This past November, I received the latest catalog from DeHoff Publications. To my amazement, the cover sported a nativity scene (complete with lambs around the manger) and bore the title Joy To The World Christmas Gift Catalog. I just stared at it for a long time.

Later while thumbing through it, I discovered a number of interesting items for sale. On page 10 is a book called All Paths Lead To Bethlehem, described as “a creative approach to telling the Christmas story.” Also, there’s Christmas, The Annual of Christmas Literature and Art which, among other things, includes “the Christmas activities of the Salvation Army.” Then there is The Christian Family Christmas Book offering “stories, poems, prayers, and carols” and claiming, “All the stories communicate Christian values of love, trust, forgiveness, self-acceptance, and caring.”

Page 12 advertises the Peter Spier’s Advent Calender. The advertisement reads, “Here’s a deluxe advent calendar and holiday table decoration. Depicts the village of Bethlehem and its townspeople engaged in activities typical of the times. The final door of the twenty-five, opens on Christmas day to reveal the birth of baby Jesus.”

Page 27 displays a Christmas stocking bearing the slogan, “Jesus is the heart of Christmas.” A variety of nativity-oriented decorations are shown on page 28. Or, you can order a lapel pin from page 30 that declares, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” The catalog winds up on page 33 with a selection of rock and roll “gospel” albums and videos, in addition to the expected Christmas records.

All of this just proves again the old principle concerning digression: there’s no natural stopping point. No one ever says to himself, “Hey, I’ve digressed far enough!” Indeed, the digressive generally considers himself the epitome of conservative orthodoxy. Certainly this is the case with George DeHoff. Inside the Joy To The World Christmas Gift Catalog was a flyer advertising his books. Beside his picture is a brief biographical sketch which begins, “George W. DeHoff is without a doubt one of the giants of the Restoration Movement.” That goes to prove another old principle: the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

When George DeHoff claims to be a “giant of the Restoration Movement,” I can’t help but wonder, what restoration movement? Surely he can’t be referring to the movement associated with Stone and Campbell in the last century. They tried to run full speed away from sectarian error. DeHoff has run in a complete circle. He’s right back to the position of endorsing the very denominational error he proudly claims to denounce! The only “Restoration Movement” of which George DeHoff is a part, is the movement to restore denominationalism. He and other liberals have been moving in that direction for years, and it’s probably safe to say, they’ve arrived.

I don’t know George DeHoff personally, but I’d guess he really doesn’t believe that “Jesus is the heart of Christ,” or that, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” If fact, I imagine that in nearly 50 years of preaching, he’s delivered a sermon or two on the pagan origin of the Christmas holiday. Certainly DeHoff’s catalog should evoke a hue and cry for consistency, even among his own digressive brethren: what you can’t plug from the pulpit, you shouldn’t plug for profit!

Guardian of Truth XXXII: 8, p. 232
April 21, 1988