Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 4, 1963
NUMBER 47, PAGE 4,12a

Some Modern Trends


Writing under the above caption, the editor of the Gospel Advocate in the issue of February 21, 1963, sounded a warning which is badly needed. It is the kind of warning which a generation ago was seen fairly often on the pages of that journal — and which was heeded by only a few. If such admonitions had been given the respect they deserved, perhaps the present sounding of alarms would not be so urgently in order. We do not receive the Gospel Advocate, and have not for several years; we became convinced quite a while ago that its attitude and promotions were inevitably leading to the very thing this present article condemns — a disrespect for Bible authority and the advancement of "professionalism" among the preachers. We doubt that much can be said (or will be heeded if said) to reverse the trend at this late date. But it is a good article, and we want to pass it on to you with our commendation:

Some Modem Trends

"There has seldom been, if ever, a time in the history of the church when trends away from the pattern of sound words were not in evidence. When Paul met the elders of the church of Ephesus in Miletus, he told them that after his "departing grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them." (Acts 26:29, 30) When he wrote the second Thessalonian letter, "the mystery of lawlessness" was already at work. (2 Thess. 2:7) And in his second Epistle to Timothy he predicted that in the last days grievous times would come as a result of departures from the faith. Our own times are no exception. There are trends observable now which do not augur well for the church.

"The trends which we mention are not the only ones which could be listed, but they are among those that should give us most immediate concern.

Disregard For Authority

"That there is a general disposition to ignore or disobey authority in the country in general and in the church in particular is beyond question. Many children in the home show no respect for the will of their parents. As a rule, the parents are to blame. They have made no effort to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Sometimes they have even gone so far as to let it be known that they would not restrain the children lest they "suppress their self-expression," "repress their ego," and "spoil their personality." This failure to regard authority in the home is a fruitful source of juvenile delinquency. Parents who fail to teach their children to respect their own authority, sin against them, against society, and against God. In some schools and colleges discipline and respect for authority are conspicuous by their absence.

"But this disrespect for authority is not seen only in the home and the school. It is observable in some congregations. In some cases the authority of elders is treated with indifference, if not with positive contempt. This is a sin. Elders are commanded to "feed," "tend," "exercise the oversight," "rule" over the "charge," or church, allotted to them. (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2; 1 Tim. 5:17) On the other hand, the members of the various congregations are commanded to "obey them that have the rule over you, and submit to them." (Heb. 13:17) Any disposition to ignore, by-pass, or disregard the authority of the eldership is an impeachment of divine wisdom and deserves the severest condemnation. All rightful authority should be duly respected, whether in the home, the school, the state, or the church.


"There is a distinct trend toward professionalism among us. Evidences of it come from many quarters. Not many months ago a letter came to our attention from a congregation in quest of a "professional" preacher. In substance, the writer said: "We are looking for a preacher specially trained to take charge of a congregation. He must be a college man; must have his M. A. We want a good mixer. He must be able to appear well in the eyes of outsiders. We can pay him a good salary, with the promise of promotion." If this brother fairly presented the case, the congregation in question had been bitten by the bug of professionalism. If the Gospel Advocate had published this letter, a number of "professional" preachers would have filed applications showing their detailed qualifications for the place. It is worthy of note that among the qualifications of the desired preacher, consecration to the Lord, godliness of life, and soundness in the faith were not mentioned. Not a single one of the apostles could have met the specifications of the brother's letter. He was thinking in terms of professionalism and denominationalism. Among preachers is found the desire to preach for large congregations for fat salaries. With some, the chief reason for making a move is to locate with a larger church with better pay. There is little desire on their part to suffer hardship as good soldiers of Christ Jesus — little relish for planting the cause in hard places. It is rather a matter of making a living by the easiest means possible. Some colleges may not be without blame at this point, in that they feature the "special" type of training which may result in "professional preachers" and "ecclesiastical sissies." Certainly, preachers should be prepared for the greatest of all callings. They need to know, above everything else, the Bible; but they are not helped by "special" training cast along denominational seminary lines — training originally planned by the seminaries to make "professional preachers." It will be a sad day for the church, if it ever comes, when the congregations feel that a man cannot preach unless he has a degree. (Or is it a case of the degree having the man? Here we fear that the tail too after wags the dog!)

Theology Versus The Bible

"We view with grave concern the substitution of the teaching of theology for the teaching of the Bible. The substitute is not called "theology." It may be presented under the innocent title of a "course" in the Bible teaching concerning God. Of course, the Bible teaches much concerning God; but the first need of the average student is a general study of the Bible. If he is acquainted with the Bible in general, he can study with profit any of its subjects in particular. His first need is a background of general Biblical knowledge. The student, who spends his time "taking courses" will find himself without a knowledge of the Bible as a whole and with only a smattering idea of the special subjects studied. In fact, he may find himself confused by the "course," which turns out to be a study of comparative theology rather than the investigation of a Bible topic. This trend is the result of denominational influence, whether conscious or unconscious."

— Gospel Advocate, February 21, 1963