What is this “Party Spirit” Business?

By Lewis Willis

Every, generation has its little cliches that float around casually in the brotherhood. Some of these expressions, though not actually found in the Scriptures, do convey scriptural ideas and concepts. Such was the expression championed by the Campbells in the beginning of the Restoration Movement in this country. They said, “We will speak where the Bible speaks, and be silent where the Bible is silent.” If we speak the “oracles of God” we will be doing precisely what the Campbells committed themselves to do (1 Pet. 4:11).

However, not all of these sayings used by brethren are clothed in such nobility. Some, in fact, are downright false and deceptive. On the surface they sound pretty good, but when they are applied by the orators who use them, a completely different connotation prevails. In recent years, the last six or seven especially, some cliches have been heard from some surprising quarters. Few suspected that those who used them were actually on the march away from the Truth. These brethren, primarily preachers, were being challenged regarding their teachings and positions on the issues of Grace and Fellowship. When these challenges began to be felt keenly, they started talking and writing about the “party spirit” among brethren, and of those who were in control of “brotherhood politics.” They charged that their dissenters were motivated by improper motives, especially that they were being opposed by men for “financial considerations.” These false teachers tried to get faithful brethren off their tracks by charging that they were being opposed by brethren “who just want to sell papers,” since it was primarily through the religious periodicals that the battle was being waged. They were not going to submit to the “party spirit” being pushed within the Lord’s Church! These false teachers vowed they would never submit to those in charge of “brotherhood politics!” The charges are still heard occasionally. This past week I read an article by a Dallas-area preacher who raised this smokescreen. I talked personally with another preacher in the area who made the same noises. A person is guilty of the “party spirit,” according to some of these brethren, if he publicly exposes their false teaching. They want to spread their damning heresy without being exposed while doing so. If a brother has the arrogant audacity to say anything about their teaching, he is called a “brotherhood watchdog.” If we should listen to these brethren we would learn (?) that there is a “CIA in the church.” Many are intimidated by these “full of love and grace” labels and sit quietly back and allow these false teachers to go unchallenged as they subvert whole houses. As one brother wrote, “I refuse to sit back quietly and let these brethren continue unopposed. If opposing these men makes me guilty of party spirit, I plead guilty.” So do I!

Truth Magazine XXII: 27, pp. 442-443
July 13, 1978