What is “Progress?”

By O. C. Birdwell

“The New Testament is the constitution and bylaws for the church today, and anything that is not provided for in the New Testament is unconstitutional.”

“Most of the split-offs that have occurred in the Restoration Movement have come because elements in the movement could not countenance progress.”

Would one ever guess that the above two statements were made by the same man? Yes, they were. But not only were they made by the same man, they were made in the same article! The man was Reuel Lemmons as he wrote in an article called “The Goal of Restoration,” printed in the February, 1975 issue of Action.

It would be interesting to have Brother Lemmons list the items of progress provided for in the New Testament that have caused the split-offs that he talks about and then tell us just who the split-offs were. Would he call the 1849 Missionary Society progress and those who opposed it “split-offs?” How about the adding of the instrument? Was that progress that- was again opposed by the “split-offs?” The advocates of the Missionary Society and instrumental music called their additions progress and used almost identical terminology as does Brother Lemmons to castigate and call “split-offs” those who opposed. With whom would Brother Lemmons have stood in the Missionary Society and instrumental music battle? The “progressives” or the “non-progressives?” Or would he have stood with both, and at the same time against both?

Again, we would like to have Brother Lemmons tell us about a number of other things. What about benevolent societies that are built and maintained by churches; church sponsored and supported secular business and recreational activities; and sponsoring churches? How about church donations to colleges and other like private business enterprises? Is all of this progress that Brother Lemmons is accusing some of opposing and by such opposition becoming “split- offs?” If so, he must feel that such is provided for in the New Testament. Because according to his own statement, if it is not so provided for it is unconstitutional. If he believes this is provided for in the New Testament, will he please give us the command, example, or necessary inference where it is so provided? If missionary and benevolent societies, instrumental music, sponsoring churches, church support of colleges, etc., do not make up the “progress” Brother Lemmons is talking about, will he be so kind as to tell us what it is about which he speaks that people have opposed and become “split-offs?” If this is the “progress” about which he speaks, may it be herewith stated without any equivocating, that such innovations are not authorized by the New Testament and those who instigate and perpetuate them are the true “split offs” from the religion of Jesus Christ?

Such teaching as this done by Brother Lemmons is becoming quite prevalent among many who claim to be gospel preachers. It is sickening to the point of nausea to those who truly believe that anything that is not provided for in the New Testament is unconstitutional.

Truth Magazine XIX: 43, p. 674
September 11, 1974