Why I Left

By Anthony Wayne Goforth

(Editor’s Note: The following article is written by brother Anthony Wayne Goforth. Brother Goforth has recently made a decision to forsake liberalism and take a stand against church-sponsored recreation, church support of human institutions, and the sponsoring church arrangement. Brother Mike Scott of Middletown, Indiana and brother L.A. Stauffer of Kirkwood, Missouri have studied with brother Goforth. Brother Goforth is aware that the publication of this article will identify him with those of us who are condemned as “anti’s. ” Nevertheless, he wants me to print it. There will be repercussions come to him with the publication of this article. We pray that he will have the courage of his convictions to stand against the wiles of the Devil and against the attacks of liberal brethren. I am sure that you can help by dropping him a card encouraging him to stand.)

I have preached eight years for the mainline churches of Christ. I graduated from the conservatively liberal Memphis School of Preaching and then on to Freed-Hardeman, where I graduated in 1984. 1 classed myself for years with the “conservative” Contending For The Faith crowd, but in 1986 my wife and I realized we had become more conservative than my “conservative” liberal brethren, and sought to be identified with the conservative, noninstitutional brethren.

All of the problems in the mainline church are but symptoms of a much larger problem, that being a lack of respect for the authority of the Scripture, the all sufficiency of the church, and proper understanding of the silence of the Scripture. Brethren, we must have a “Thus saith the Lord” (1 Pet. 4:11; Rev. 22:18-19).

Reasons For Leaving

A. Because of the “overseeing” method of mission work.

This is one of the best kept secrets of the institutionals, for most members and even contributing churches do not know what is going on.

My wife and I worked with an “overseeing” church for seven long months. We were going to be sent to a 25 year old, non-self-supporting work in Arizona. The “overseeing” church was only 15 years old, yet the elders would tell us, “When you get there, change this and do that,” without even taking the feelings of the members in Arizona in mind. It was clear that the autonomy, the ability of self-governing, of that congregation was taken away. The conservative institutionals condemn the Boston church for their practice of one eldership over a number of churches, while they condone and practice it in missions.

The institutionals have thus established a hierarchy. The elders would tell us, “Now don’t tell the contributing churches about this and that; that is our business.” Where is the equality of churches spoken of by Paul in 2 Corinthians 8:14? They have developed a ladder with “overseeing church” on the top, “contributing church” second, and poor little ol’ not-able-to-make-their-own-decision “mission church” at the bottom of the list.

We understand from examining Philippians 4:14-18 and 2 Corinthians 11:8-10 that the funds were sent directly to Paul without anything called an “overseeing” church. (See chart.) They will argue, “Yes this is one way in which it was done, but we are not to assume the only way.” Wow! Who says the denominationals cannot teach us anything? This is the same reasoning the Christian Church folk argue in saying, “Yes, Colossians 3:16 does say sing, but we are not to assume that it always was without instruments. ” Now you see it, now you don’t! Remember God’s law of exclusion. When He has specified one way, it excludes all else.

The cry is made, “Don’t you trust elders?” The answer is a resounding “yes.” But it is the elders of each local congregation that must keep the tabs on where their money is going. To illustrate what I am saying, let us create a not so hypothetical, hypothetical situation: From the chart, congregations A, B, and C send money to “overseeing” congregation D, so that they might send it to missionary E. The “overseeing church D” does not like what the supported preacher is doing, so they tell him to come home, they have cut off his support (all of this has happened repeatedly). One stroke of the elder’s pen at D, and the support of four churches is cut off. However, in the direct method used in the New Testament, if D pulled out, it would at least be their own decision, and not one made for them b the “overseeing church.” “But it is just a method” the will say, perhaps, but it is not the one used in the New Testament! Missionary societies are just methods too, was the argument of the digressives at the turn of the century! If God had desired that the money be sent directly to the preacher rather than through an “overseeing” body, what language would God have used than what was used in the Scriptures already mentioned?

Also, the common liberal practice of a “missions committee” was employed. They were to review our work and make suggestions to pass on to the elders. In Philippians 1:1, we read of saints, elders and deacons but I don’t find any committee on the list. “How readest thou the scriptures?” Elders have the grave responsibility of overseeing their own work, and no one else (1 Tim. 3:5; Acts 20:28). And to think they say we don’t trust elders!

B. Because of the practice of religion by proxy.

The theme of the entire book of James is to show that if one does not show forth his faith by works it is dead faith. James 1:27 shows that one way of showing that faith is by taking care of the needy. Yet liberals think when the elders write a monthly check to an orphan home that it fulfills their duty. They preach, “No one may obey the gospel for you,” yet they let someone do their deeds for them. It is argued, “The money going to the orphan home comes from the collection which has some of my money in it; therefore I take care of orphans.” This makes as much sense as saying we can hire a choir with money from the collection and they have thus sung for me, fulfilling Ephesians 5:19. “Come now, let us reason together. . . ” (Isa. 1:18). We have already noted that this verse is a command to individuals and not the church, so where is the authority for churches establishing and maintaining such like? I am not against orphan homes as such, but it is not the duty of the church any more than it would be the duty of the church to open a clothing outlet since Matthew 25:36 says Christians are to clothe the naked.

In the same way, Christians might go together and establish a business, but this does not give the church a right to do so.

The church has a spiritual purpose, and works such as homes divert the purpose, money and manpower of a church away from its true work (1 Tim. 3:15-16; Col. 1:25-28).

These orphan homes are money-making institutions. I heard of a church operated home in Alabama that had nine children and thirty on staff. Don’t tell me that they could not find homes for nine children, since there are more people looking to adopt than there are children. The fact is, these homes will not allow you to adopt for then they would be out of business. Some liberal brethren have gone as far as to carry this thing to its logical end and have established church run hospitals, soup lines, “medical missions,” ad nauseum. I asked a well-known “medical missionary” where his authority was, and he replied, “Paul healed people on his trips.” These are the things we condemned in the denominations years ago. Now that the denominations have thrown these into the dumpster, we fished it out!

Still, the emotional ploy is made, “You anti’s would let a hungry orphan die on your church steps.” I know of no Christian, nor do you, that would not grab up that child, take it home and feed him, and call the proper authorities. This is the same type of argument made by the Baptists when they say, “What if a man wanted to be a Christian but he was in the desert, how could he be baptized?” That is, they are hypothetical, and neither you nor I have ever heard of such a case.

If you were ever to ask any of the institutional teachers for the authority for such, you will be told, I am sure, “No one ever was against these things until 1955.” Odd since the founder of Abilene Christian stood against them in his lecture to the school in 1930. Guy N. Woods did also in his 1946 Annual Lesson Commentary.

Aside from orphan homes, the Bible gives no authority for homes for the aged, such as the Mid-South Christian Nursing Home. 1 Timothy 5:3-16 tells us that individuals are to take care of the widows, “that the church be not burdened. . . ” (5:16). The Bible does allow for widows to be given church aid providing they meet the list of qualifications of 1 Timothy 5:9-10. Among other things, she must be over sixty years of age, having been married, raised children, and a Christian. She must be a “widow indeed,” having no family left. How many in nursing homes run by the church fit this list? Notice they must be Christians. The government rules have made it so that if there is a member of the church and a nonmember on the list to enter these homes, they must take the non-Christian or else they are showing “religious discrimination. ” Even if the Bible gave the church authority to build homes, which it does not, the government would not let you meet the scriptural qualifications for a widow indeed.

C. Because of the practice of unlimited benevolence.

This is similar to the last point in that Christians are to help everyone as they have the ability and chance to do so (Gal. 6: 10; Jas. 1:27). In fact, Christians were even told to work and save money that they might give it to the needy (Eph. 4:28). Individuals may do this, as well as contribute to worthy causes such as the Jerry Lewis Telethon, but this does not give the church the right to do it, although I once preached for a church that did send money from the church treasury to the said telethon!

The word translated “contribute” comes from the same Greek word as the word “fellowship.” Fellowship is defined as “the special relationship shared with Christians.” Thus, for the church to aid a non-Christian is to fellowship him, which the church is commanded not to do (2 Cor. 6:14ff).

We have seen the argument for years, “Stack up every verse on singing and you will not find one mention of instruments. ” In the same light, stack up every verse on church benevolence, and you will see that it was always to a Christian:

Verse Saint Orphan Alien Sinner
Acts 2:44-46      
Acts 4:32-35      
Acts 6:1-6      
Acts 11:27-30      
Rom. 15:25-31      
1 Cor. 16:1-3      
2 Cor. 8:1-4, 13-14      
2 Cor. 9:1, 13-14      
1 Tim. 5:16      

We must not let the church to be burdened down with our own responsibilities. Let the church be the church and perform her spiritual duty.


Don’t be fooled by liberal preachers who whistle in the dark saying, “All the anti’s have either died out or are withering away.” If dead neither the corpse nor the mourners know it! Even Bill Jackson has warned his liberal brethren, “There is new life among the anti’s.” There are over 100,000 conservative members in the United States. Three out of four churches in the Philippines are conservative. In many cities such as Tampa, Birmingham, and Louisville, the conservative out number the liberals all put together.

Seek out the conservative churches of Christ near you. We are not the one-cuppers, or the no Bible literature groups, even though the liberals rake us together as “anti.” Anti simply means against; are you not against something?

It is said that we “anti’s” are guilty of “binding what God has not bound.” They thus claim that all of these are just methods, yet they will turn around and disfellowship you if you do not agree with what is just a “method.” Will the real “Anti” please stand up!

Brethren, please examine these things, I would not want to be known as something that sounds as bad as “anti” or “orphan hater” if I were not sure.

Guardian of Truth XXX: 10, pp. 296-297, 310-311
May 15, 1986