Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 26, 1959
NUMBER 42, PAGE 2-3b

Instructing Others -- But Not Ourselves -

Paul Foutz, Odessa, Texas

The words of the apostle Paul in Romans 2:1-3, as well as verses 19 to 23, although written for the benefit of the Jews, are very applicable to some people today. For some scribes are very adept in teaching and admonishing others but will not make application of such instructions and apply them to themselves, although they are needed very much. This is true since they are guilty of the very same sins and errors which they have ascribed to other. Why are they unable to teach and instruct themselves and thereby profit from the advise they so generously give to others?

One example of this is found in a recent article appearing in the Firm Foundation of January 13th. This article was entitled MODERNISM AND LIBERALISM and was written by Brother Waymon Miller of Fort Worth.

Before we point out the inconsistency of this writer let me say we believe he is in error in saying the term "liberalism" applies ONLY to those who deny the virgin birth of Jesus, the bodily resurrection, the atonement, and such fundamental doctrines of Christianity. We maintain the word can be more general in its meaning and is not defined to such a limited definition. To say that when we refer to a brother as being "liberal" the word, of necessity, must mean he denies the virgin birth, the plenary verbal inspiration of the scriptures, the resurrection, etc., just isn't true. There are different kinds and degrees of liberalism and it has various shades of meaning. As Brother Frank Pack said in the Gospel Advocate of June 28th, 1951 "liberalism is a very ambiguous term." A man's liberalism is oftimes reflected in his loose reasoning and liberal attitude toward the authority of the scriptures, by the fact he says, "there is no pattern", "we do not follow a bound pattern", "the Bible is not a set of rules and regulations to govern and direct us" but only contains broad "principles" which we follow according to our own "interpretations of the scriptures" and according to modern needs and application. It involves the attitude expressed by one of our most popular preachers in a speech at Tulsa, Oklahoma, when he said that he used to believe we had to have authority for everything we had and everything we did religiously but he had now given up that idea for he believed it was wrong and that we had and did various things today for which we had no scriptural authority. And, the writer of the article we are considering said in essence the same thing in an article in the Firm Foundation of June 12th, 1956. So a looseness toward New Testament authority and the completeness and all-sufficiency of the "pattern" Christ gave is a form of Liberalism.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary gives a thorough definition of the terms "liberal" and "liberalism" and they are not as limited, even as applied to the religious realm, as Brother Miller would have us believe. This authority says, "Not bounded by authority, orthodox tenets or established forms in political or religious philosophy; independent in opinion, not conservative, having tendency toward democratic or republican, as distinguished from monarchical or aristocratic forms — as "liberal" thinkers; "liberal" Christians; "liberal" ideas in politics — ." This standard work also speaks of "Liberal Catholic — a person or group rejecting the authority of the Roman Catholic Church in specific matters of doctrine, discipline, or church government, but accepting the body of its teachings, its forms of worship, or the like." In like manner there is the "liberal" Christian or Disciples' church. But many in these bodies and movements just mentioned do not reject the virgin birth, bodily resurrection, heaven, hell, etc. And, according to the definition set forth above for "Liberal Catholic", just so "liberal Christians" (members of the Lord's church) are those who are, more and more, rejecting the authority of Christ and the all-sufficiency of His New Testament "pattern" in matters of church organization, government, functional operation, etc. You can tell by the way many of these men speak and write that they are becoming very loose and "liberal" in their attitudes.

But the main thing I had in mind in writing this article, and using such a heading based on Romans 2, is the fact Brother Miller needs to teach himself and benefit from the advice he gives to others. He says when brethren are accused of something of which they are not guilty such "is an incredibly unfair and unChristian procedure." He also talks of the "self-manufactured and deceitful definitions of modernism." He further asks, "Must we abandon truth and honesty in our present controversies? Ought true Christians be so utterly reckless in the charges they hurl at others? In the maintenance of any controverted position, must we ignore God's divine injunction to think upon things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of a good report?" But no one is more guilty of these very things he cries out against than Brother Miller himself and the "liberal" element in the church with whom he is identified. If it is "unfair and unChristian" to label others "liberal" by misusing the term (which we deny) how about the way these brethren use the terms "anti-orphan home", "anti-orphans" and "anti-cooperation"? In Miller's article he says says those "who oppose orphan homes and congregational cooperation" are unfair and unkind when they stigmatize others, who are for these things, as "liberals" and "modernists."

But who is against orphans or caring for orphans? Who is against orphan homes, per se? Who opposes orphan homes if they are kept in their rightful place and sphere of operation and service? Who opposes the mere existence of an orphan home? And who opposes "congregational cooperation?" Congregations cooperated in apostolic time in helping other congregations who were in want or need and also in supporting gospel preachers who were in want or need. Tell me WHO opposes such "congregational cooperation" today? Brother Miller has joined in the chorus of those who cry "anti" and says many of his brethren are "anti"-against-Orphan homes and against congregational cooperation. It is a false accusation and such use of the term "anti" by applying it to any or all kinds of orphan homes or any and all kinds of church cooperation must be attributed to either ignorance of the term or to prejudice (the very things Brother Miller ascribed to those who use the terms "liberalism" and "modernism.") Brother Miller, must we do that which is "incredibly unfair and unChristian" to try and carry our point? "Must we abandon truth and honesty in our present controversies? Ought true Christians be so utterly reckless in the charges they hurl at others? "In maintaining our position "must we ignore God's divine injunction to think upon things that are true, honest, just ----?" You ask others these questions Brother Miller. Why not ask them of yourself? No one needs such teaching and admonition more than you and those with whom you stand. Before you continue to recklessly make wild and false charges, brand others as "anti", and say they are against orphan homes and church cooperation, take your own advice to heart and profit thereby.