By Bill Imrisek
A joke. It must be a joke. Tomorrow is Halloween. The Gospel Advocate and David Lipscomb College must be just trying to get into the spirit of the holiday. Let me read that again. Where are my glasses? Ah, let’s see.
The sports world has a Hall of Fame. Country music has a Hall of Fame located in Nashville, Tennessee. If people who pay the price to excel deserve recognition in the entertainment -and sports fields, how much more are good men who serve God faithfully deserving of recognition?
Plans are being finalized to establish a Hall of Faith in the William Anderson Preacher Training Center on the campus of David Lipscomb College.
This special hall will contain the pictures and biographical sketches of men who have faithfully proclaimed the gospel. Books, tracts and cassette copies of sermons and lectures will also be displayed.
Since it will be signal honor to be inducted into the Hall of Faith, proper press coverage will be given to each inductee.
The purpose of the Hall of Faith is: (1) to give honor to whom honor is due, and (2) to encourage young preachers by having examples of dedication and faithfulness for them to observe.
The name “Hall of Faith” was suggested by the editor of the Gospel Advocate, Brother Ira North.
The establishment of the “Hall of Faith” was approved by the June 3, 1978 meeting of the Lipscomb Board of Directors. The first inductee will probably come sometime in the fall of 1978.
Willard Collins said: “Faithful gospel preachers need to be recognized and encouraged. This will help to encourage young men to give their lives to the preaching of the word. I am happy that we can begin the Hall of Faith at David Lipscomb College” (Gospel Advocate, October 26, 1978).
Humorous indeed, if it wasn’t intended to be taken seriously. But at last, the church of Christ, a la David Lipscomb College, can begin canonizing their “saints.” Maybe it is the only logical move for a people who have lost their faith in the all-sufficiency of the word of God.
No one denies that young preachers need “examples of dedication and faithfulness for them to observe.” But what is wrong with the “examples of dedication and faithfulness” that God has given to us in the Scriptures? Are they not sufficient? Are the Scriptures no longer able to furnish us completely unto “every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17)?
Perhaps the truth is that such Biblical examples are outof-step with the kind of preacher that is needed if the church is going to be led where the Gospel Advocate and David Lipscomb College are attempting to lead the church. Can you imagine what might happen if today’s young preacher would emulate the “dedication and faithfulness” of Stephen and speak out with such boldness as to say, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye.do always resist the Holy Spirit as your fathers did, so do ye. . .ye who received the. law as it was ordained by angels, kept it not” (Acts 7:51-53); or preach with the conviction of John, saying, “Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God” (2 John 9)? If a different type of preacher is needed today, then new examples for imitation are also needed, and David Lipscomb College will be happy to supply them.
But those who are satisfied with the message of the New Testament will also be satisfied with the ‘examples of the New Testament. Paul said, “Be ye imitators of me even as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Either the examples of Jesus and His apostles are sufficient or we must renounce our disbelief in the all-sufficiency of the word of God. One wonders if Peter, Paul, James, John,Stephen, etc. will be inducted into the “Hall of Faith.” Will Paul’s “tracts” be placed alongside his picture? Or will they be allowed to gather dust between the covers of the Bible?
What alarms me most is that a board of men will have relegated to themselves, by the very act of selecting inductees into the Hall of Faith, the right to determine what is and what is not faithful gospel preaching. Such awesome power. They will be setting a standard for that segment of the church that falls under their influence. They will, in essence, be canonizing as truths all that was taught by the inductees in the “Hall of Faith.” Who would dare to rise up and challenge anything that was taught as truth by one of these men? To do so would be to deny that these men are examples of “faithfulness.” Knowing the error and false doctrine that have been endorsed by the Gospel Advocate and David Lipscomb College, one is left with little doubt as to the type of men that will be put forth as examples of “faithfulness” for tomorrow’s young preacher to imitate.
The next generation can look back upon these men and ask, “What did the church fathers teach?” Whereas authority used to be determined by (1) a direct scriptural statement, (2) an apostolic example, or (3) a necessary inference from God’s word, a fourth category can be added: the example and teaching of Hall of Faith inductees. The church of tomorrow will be able to fall in stride with the Roman Catholic Church and declare, “Our authority is derived not only from the Bible, but also from the tradition of the fathers.”
Other questions also arise. If this is to be called a “Hall of Faith,” why shall examples of faith be limited to “faithful gospel preachers”? Does no one else have a faith worth emulating? Would not a Dorcas have a faith worthy of imitation (Acts 9:36-41)? Could not a Mary such as the one of whom Jesus said, “Wheresoever the. gospel shall be preached throughout the world, that also which this woman hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her” (Mark 14:9), find a place in the “Hall of Faith”? Evidently not. Perhaps the Hall of Faith shall be outside that realm that Jesus described as “wheresoever the gospel shall be preached.”
Pity the generations that have gone before us who had to be satisfied with the examples of Abraham and Moses, Peter and Paul. I remember when Hebrews 11 was looked upon as a sort of “Hall of Faith.” Now this term will take on an entirely different meaning for me.
But one is left with little doubt as to what the apostle Paul would have said concerning such statements as “Faithful gospel preachers need to be recognized” and “It will be a signal honor to be inducted into the Hall of Faith.” I think I can hear him now. “With me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not myself; yet am I not justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Wherefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who will both bring into light the hidden things of darkness and make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall each man have his praise from God” (1 Cor. 4:3-5). “We are not bold to number or compare ourselves with certain of them that commend themselves; but they themselves, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves with themselves with themselves, are without understanding. . .for not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth” (2 Cor. 10:12, 18).
I believe that Paul would have rather heard his Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. . .enter into the joy of thy Lord” (Matt. 25:21), than to hear the board of directors of David Lipscomb College say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. . .enter into our Hall of Faith.”
But maybe I am just being driven by a blind zeal for truth. Maybe I just have not considered all the benefits that this Hall of Faith can bring to the church. Come to think of it, I have thought it to be quite unfair, all this press coverage that the Catholic church has been receiving lately, having lost two popes and having to select two new ones in the same year. Maybe this is our chance. Maybe we can get the attention of the world presses. Just think about it. As the tension and excitement builds up, the board could enter into a secret conclave behind sealed doors in the Vatican-oops, I mean Nashville-to deliberate and decide who would be the next inductee into the Hall of Faith. And when the decision was finally reached, the conclave could send up a cloud of white smoke, signifying to the awaited world that the churches of Christ now have a new inductee into the Hall of Faith. Pandemonium would break out in the streets. . .
Truth Magazine XXIII: 9, pp. 146, 155
March 1, 1979