Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 1, 1960

Opposed To Institutionalism-But Wrong ! !

H. L. Bruce, Pittsburg, Texas

Has the day come when we say that if a man is "sound on the issues" that he is bound to be all right? Do we have to endorse everything that a man may teach and do just so as he is opposed to "Institutionalism?" By reading the scriptures, and carefully studying the present problems, a number of Godly brethren have concluded that the present innovations are wrong, digressive, and sinful. We must be convinced, however, that such study and opposition within itself cannot speak complete acceptability in the sight of God. It is altogether possible for a brother to be against "sponsored church cooperation" and "institutional orphan homes," and be in complete accord with the scriptures on these subjects and be wrong altogether in some other subjects. Acceptability or opposition of any given subject does not guarantee Godliness in every realm.

It is altogether possible for a brother to exert a great amount of energy in opposing something that he deems sinful, and at the same time misrepresent and lie about those that he disagrees with, and be as wrong in his lies as those are that he is opposing. Rev. 21:8 does not say "all institutional liars" but "all liars," whether they be institutional or not, shall go to hell. Because we oppose something wrong, we do not have license to lie, misrepresent, or do anything else that is wrong.

Drinking is sinful. (Gal. 5:19-21) If a brother agrees that we should not support out of the church treasury institutions that are designed to do the work of the church, and yet drink liquor or any other intoxicating drink, do we have to accept his ungodliness just because he agrees with us on this one point?

Brethren, we don't want to fall for the idea that just so as we agree in this one opposition that everything else will take care of itself. The brethren that know the truth and won't preach it are wrong. Brethren that live in adultery are wrong regardless of their position on the issues. The position that one occupies on this one point does not make masonry acceptable. It is necessary for us to continue to preach on immodest dress regardless of the victim. If smoking is wrong, it is not made right my merely agreeing to oppose something else. We cannot go to some apostates and get them to agree with us in this opposition and then neglect to exhort them to make other things right. I know preachers that have moved frequently, others have stayed too long at some places. The frequency with which a man moves does not mean that one is sound or un-sound in every respect. Just because a man may have been frequently fired over this subject does not mean that he is necessarily sound.

We must oppose this sin. We don't particularity like to be called hobbyists. It is possible for us to make a hobby out of this opposition. The whole "counsel of God" is to be preached. Any preacher that will give his preaching to only one subject whether it be baptism, instrumental music, the establishment of the church or institutionalism will soon do all the good that he can and should be exhorted not only to move on, but to revamp his preaching. Since the term "hobbyist" has met with much resentment and ridicule, we need not think that it would be impossible to become a hobbyist. Yes, we can become a hobbyist in our opposition to institutionalism. Such would not mean that our opposition would be wrong, but that we would be unwise in some of our approaches.

I am not reproaching any given needed battle, nor am I advocating a let up in our opposition to those things that are digressive. We can however be wrong in preaching one subject to the exclusion of many other much needed subjects.

I recently read in a paper where a preacher that graduated with honors from Abilene Christian College was arrested for gambling and criminal practices. We cannot afford to say that A. C. C. is proved wrong in this man's action. A man that had studied and agreed with the school in a lot of respects did that which is wrong. I am not convinced that he was taught such practices at this college. We cannot afford to say that because he is a product of this school that the college has to endorse his Godless action.

We can be secure in our unity and fellowship with brethren only when we agree not in just one or two points, but when we whole-heartedly agree on the divine standard of authority — the whole of God's word.

I pray that the day may never come when some one point of soundness will be a sign of complete godliness among brethren. God is not interested in one portion of his word being preached to the exclusion of the other principles of divine truth. Perhaps some of the brethren that oppose institutionalism are wrong. I don't believe that their opposition is wrong. They can be wrong in other ways.