By Robert Jackson
(NOTE: The following three articles are by Robert Jackson who has preached in the Nashville area for nearly three decades. He presently works with the Riverside Dr. church. His observations on recent trends in liberalism are especially interesting since he has been watching the movement develop for twenty-five years. His articles reflect history in the making and are history themselves; each was written at the time of a specific event: the first in 1973, the second in 1974, and the third in 1975. We appreciate the opportunity to print them here in this special “Nashville” issue of Truth Magazine. His remarks illustrate the point that he and others have been making throughout the years of the current digression: When the New Testament pattern is thrown overboard, the ship of Zion is left without chart or compass. Anything can happen.)
“The Highland Situation” by Brother B. B. Baxter
The church received a letter from Brother Baxter dated October 1, 1973. Space will not permit me to notice everything that he had to say, but we will sum it up as briefly as possible.
(1) “I shall be glad to try to answer them, as best as I can. ” Brother Baxter admitted that they had received several questions in regard to the Herald of Truth and the Highland situation. He now says he is ready to answer them the best he can. This is exactly what we have been trying to get them to do for years. Just give us a Bible answer for the arrangement such as the Herald of Truth by the Highland Church. I am made to wonder if he will call all of these who now ask questions about the Herald of Truth “Antis.”
(2) Problems. Brother Baxter seems to think they mishandled the firing of Brother E. R. Harper. It is his own personal feeling that Brother Harper should have been retired with honor and with adequate income for life. He then lists other problems such as: the influence of the Radio-Television committee upon the elders. In other words, the committee has the oversight of the elders. This should cause them some concern! The influence of some is soft on the charismatic, Holy Spirit gifts issue. This, of course, should cause him some concern. It seems that they are waiting for a decision about these problems.
(3) The real problem: Don’t drop the contribution. I think Brother Baxter really brings out his true concern when he makes a plea for the elderships not to drop the program. I wonder if he would tell us whose program it is? If it is Highland’s, why would other churches drop it? Let Highland tend to its own program. Other churches have no business supporting the work of Highland unless it can be considered a “mission work.” Surely,; this large church is not On the mission list. If they program belongs to the other churches, why doe-c Highland have the oversight of it (1 Pet. 5:1-3)? Elders; are told to oversee the flock among themselves.
(4) Our attitude. Brother Baxter said their attitude would be one of “watchful waiting.” I am sure this will be the attitude of many. How long will they wait? We are waiting for someone to give chapter and verse fore such being a scriptural arrangement in the first place. Our attitude will be, “We shall see what we shall see!”
“3 Church `Splinters’ Trying for Unity”
The above headline is quoted from the Nashville Tennessean, Wednesday, June 12, 1974, page 11. Their following is quoted from the same article, “The editor is Leroy Garrett who is working in ‘Unity Forums’ to draw members of the Churches of Christ, members of their Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and independent Christian Churches into dialogue sessions.” Well, here we are! Now I wonder what some of the churches of Christ in this city will do. Will they go along with the movement promoted by Brother Garrett? Will they be: ‘Anti” the proposal? It is getting quite close for some, is it not? In fact, it looks like the showdown is at hand. I have felt for some time that such a movement would be made, but I would have never guessed the man leading the movement would have been Brother Garrett. In a case you have forgotten, Brother Garrett is the main who led the movement in this city several years ago which taught that it was a sin for a local church to have a local preacher. Now, he has jumped the fence and gone all the way to accepting people who use instrumental music in worship. What a jump!
I wonder what some of the churches in this area will say if one of the following plans of unity is suggested: (1) The Christian Church and Disciples of Christ give up the Missionary Society and accept the sponsoring church plan. (The only difference between them is th at the Missionary Society is under a Board of Director’s and the sponsoring church is under the eldership of is local church.) (2) The churches in Nashville who favor the sponsoring church and church support of colleges, etc. accept the use of instrumental music if the others give up the missionary society. (Really, they are already united for there is no difference. There is no Bible authority for either.) It is our plea at the Riverside Drive church of Christ for churches to be organized work, and worship with Bible authority. This is our plea for Unity.
Greater Nashville Area Campaign for Christ
The church at Riverside Drive received some advertisement about the “Greater Nashville Area Campaign for Christ.” No doubt this effort will be received by the majority of churches in this area as a great and wonderful work-without considering if such is in harmony with the Word of God. This is what I am concerned about at this time. Is such an effort in keeping with the Scriptures? Remember that Christ is the head of the church (Eph. 5:23). The church must act by the authority of Christ-by the authority of His Word. The church of Christ does not have the right to change a law that God has made, nor make a law that God has not made. Keep this in mind as we note a few things:
(1) Under the oversight of the Radnor elders. The letter stated that this work is being done under the oversight of the Radnor elders. Question for the Radnor elders: Is this your work or the work of other churches? If this is the work of Radnor and her elders, then where do they get the authority to bring other churches under their oversight to do Radnor’s work? If it is the work of other churches, then where do the elders at Radnor get the authority to oversee the work of those other churches? In fact, where do the Radnor elders get the authority to oversee anything other than the work at Radnor? Listen carefully to what the apostle Peter had to say about this issue: “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind” (1 Pet. 5:2). The Radnor church acts contrary to the Word of God when she takes the oversight of the work of other churches. If the elders of the Radnor Church can supply the scripture for taking the oversight of the work of other churches, then I hope she will step forth and show where it is. Will she do it? We shall see what we shall see!
(2) No stopping place. You would think that brethren would learn from past departures that there is no stopping place. If we can do this without Bible authority, then we can add instruments of music to worship. We can, as some have, build gyms, etc. This lack of respect for God’s Word is what led to the movement that is now in our city that asserts that some can speak “in tongues” and perform miracles. What does Radnor tell these brethren when they say we do not need Bible authority for such action? What will Radnor tell them if they ask for Bible authority for her present action in this “campaign”? It is indeed a shame that brethren let their zeal act without knowledge.
Truth Magazine XIX: 29, pp. 451-452
May 29, 1975