Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 5, 1959
NUMBER 26, PAGE 8-9a

Mixed Principles

C. G. Caldwell, Sr., Manchester, Tennessee

"Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with two kinds of seed, lest the whole fruit be forfeited, the seed which thou hast sown, and the increase of the vineyard. Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together. Thou shalt not wear a mingled stuff, wool and linen together." (Deut. 29 :9-11.)

These instructions, designed among other things to prevent Israel from imitating the heathen and to keep them a separate people, reveal also Jehovah's abhorrence of mixed principles and His displeasure with the mixture of things incongruous in their nature.

In the natural realm the prohibition of such mixtures is clearly seen. In the beginning certain basic laws were established and set in motion by the Creator, calculated to preserve and maintain distinction of species in the whole realm of nature: "And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind, and God saw that it", creation so ordered, "was good." (Gen. 1:12.) No mixture, no adulteration or substitution, but each "after his kind, and God saw that it was good." Distinction of species, producing sterility of hybrids, has ever been a glory of creation.

In the spiritual realm the same principle obtains. "But ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession . . ." (1 Pet. 2:9.) "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." (Jno. 17:16.) "Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you." (2 Cor. 6:17.)

Under both the Patriarchal and Jewish orders God's people were forbidden to enter into mixed marriages. (Gen. 24:3; Deut. 7:3.) The reason assigned for this prohibition is stated in Deut. 7:4. "For they will turn away thy sons from following me, that they may serve other gods." It is said that Solomon loved many strange women and they turned his heart away from God and he mixed his worship with the idolatry of his wives. (I Kings 11.) That the danger accruing to the spiritual life of God's people today through such alliances is equally great is clearly evidenced by Paul's statement concerning the marriage of widows, "only in the Lord." (I Cor. 7:39.)

Christians are to seek their friendships and alliances elsewhere than among the ungodly. It is our duty, not only to avoid occasions of sin, but to "Abstain from all appearance of evil." (I Thess. 5:22.) Too often, while praying to be delivered from temptation, we are peeping at it through our fingers; instead of avoiding evil, we sometimes seek after and court temptation.

Three safe principles which should govern and regulate the relation of God's people to the evil of the world are: (1) There must be no toleration of it, (Matt. 5:29, 30); (2) There must be no communion with it, (2 Cor. 6:14-18); (3) Unceasing war must be waged against it, (2 Cor. 10:4,5; Col. 3:5.) It is impossible for Christians to observe these principles while conforming to the fashions of the world or imitating the religious practices of the denominations about us.

It cannot be truthfully denied, that in many places and among many brethren in the present day, the line of separation so clearly drawn by the Holy Spirit between the church and the world is being diligently and systematically erased. A flood of innovations, worldly principles and practices which are foreign to anything taught in the Scriptures, are being brought in and incorporated into the work and worship of the Lord's church. Thus we have a general mixture of the things of the world and the things of religion — an incongruous conglomeration of religious and worldly principles.

For example, the purpose of "the assembling of ourselves together" (Heb 10:25) is to hear God's word and to worship Him as He directs, thus gaining strength and wisdom to aid us in serving Him faithfully and acceptably as His children. The assembly is a place of worship, not of entertainment, feasting and fun. Today, however, it is rapidly becoming the center of secular functions; various forms of worldly entertainment, and secular social activities are being introduced and thought of as a means of drawing people to Christ, thus placing great emphasis on the social aspect, to the disregard or neglect of the spiritual. Church bulletins, the purpose of which should be to encourage and inspire spiritual activity and growth on the part of the membership and to teach sinners the way of salvation, are literally filled with announcements of social functions, with considerable space devoted to long and enthusiastic appeals to both saint and sinner to participate in these affairs.

The so-called "gospel preaching" heard in many churches of Christ today is also being watered down, sugar-coated or sweetened to make it palatable and appealing to the flesh. "Modern pulpits do not ring with the burning message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified which was the sum and substance of apostolic preaching" in New Testament times and which has characterized the preaching of all faithful gospel preachers since the early days of the Restoration Movement. What is wrong? Has the "Old Ship of Zion" sprung a leak? Have we come to believe that it is safe to have water in the boat, instead of the boat being in the water? The church is in the world, but when the world gets into the church spiritual destruction and death will surely follow. Christ loved the church and died for it "that he might sanctify and cleanse it . . . that he might present it to himself a glorious church, no having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing." (Eph. 5:25-27.) Unless it is so kept by those who compose it, unless it remains uncontaminated with the affairs of this world — its worship and service unmixed with the principles and practices of the world — its glory will depart and its presentation to Christ in the last day will not be realized. In years gone by we were told of a great fight to separate State and Religion; then we were informed of the victory; but now we observe a general mixture of the two. Politicians play on emotions and virtues, when it seems wise, and brethren practice politics where there is some personal advantage or worldly glory to be attained.

These unholy mixtures, if allowed to continue unopposed, will ultimately destroy the purity of the Lord's church and the distinctiveness of His people. A pattern set by worldly minded and designing men almost a century ago, which resulted in a major apostasy and the beginning of a new denomination known as the "Disciples" or Christian Church, is being closely followed and indications are that history is about to repeat itself. I earnestly pray that I am wrong in this conclusion, but unless the frightening tendency or mad rush toward modernism, institutionalism, and downright sectarianism on the part of many of the brethren is halted, there is little hope that such can be avoided.

It is really amazing to see how rapidly and how far this division has progressed already. Those who advocate or support present day innovations, such as the sponsoring church arrangement, centralized control of church funds, church supported recreational projects and activities, church support of various human institutions — benevolent or educational — from church treasuries, etc., have already drawn the line. They now seek to mark, quarantine and completely ostracize all those who dare to differ with them, or refuse to support their projects, or to cooperate in their various schemes and gigantic enterprises. It matters not that such opposing brethren are deeply sincere and entirely honest in their convictions, they must disregard their convictions, stifle their conscience and go along with these new ideas or be branded as "Cranks," "Sommerites," "Hobbyists" or "Antis".

On the other hand there is another aspect of the situation, one from which the faithful may derive strength and encouragement. Three are still many preachers and congregations who have not and will not succumb to the pressure tactics being employed by this digressive element, nor can they be moved away from the simplicity which is in Christ Jesus. There are hundreds, even thousands, who steadfastly refuse to have any part in a movement, however popular it may seem to be, which has been proven by past history, as well as by current developments, to be a movement away from God. This is a heartening fact and a source of great strength and encouragement to all those who love the Lord and His church. In the words of Brother W. W. Otey, "Our greatest asset is truth." This we have and no power under the sun can take it from us.

"Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with two kinds of seed." "The seed," said Christ, "is the word." (Luke 8:11.) Mixed teaching is forbidden! Christ sowed but one kind of seed. "My doctrine is not mine," said He, "but his that sent me." (Jno. 7:16.) Paul's charge to Timothy was, "Preach the word" (2 Tim. 4:2) and Jesus said, "I have given them the words which thou gayest me." (Jno. 17:8.) Any attempt, therefore, to mix scripture and science, scripture and art, scripture and sociology, scripture and politics, is a perversion of the Divine Order and a violation of the teaching of Christ and His apostles. It is indeed a mystery how some brethren today, having long known the truth and in years past defended it vigorously, can ever stoop to leave the plateau of Divine Revelation and seek to destroy all who are unwilling to follow a similar course.

"Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together." The ox is a clean animal, the ass an unclean. They are not forbidden to be in the same field but in the same yoke. The ox is the ox of service and may well represent God's servants who have been separated from the world, cleansed by the blood of Christ and sanctified for a holy use. Such are to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. (Eph. 5:11. See also 2 Cor. 6:14-18.) As Christians we are not forbidden to be in the world but certainly forbidden to be "of the world". (Jno. 17:15,16; Rom. 12:1,2.)

"Thou shalt not wear a mingled stuff, wool and linen together." In the scriptures clothing is often used as a figure of conduct, and linen is regarded as the holy fabric. The "white linen" is stated in the Apocalypse to be the righteous acts of the saints. (Rev. 19:8, R. V.) It was the fabric specially prescribed for the Priests (Ezek. 44:17) and a linen garment shot through with woolen threads is forbidden. As priests under Christ (I Pet. 2:9; Rev. 5:10) we also are forbidden to wear the robe of righteousness and sin together. Our lives are not to consist of holy principles adroitly mingled with worldly maxims and compromising conduct. They are to be holy fabrics throughout; uncompromising with the world, unyielding to sin. Jehovah abhors and will in no sense tolerate mixed principles.