Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 28, 1966
NUMBER 12, PAGE 10b-11

Patterns Of Apostasy

Clint Springer

A study of Bible history and related subjects calls attention to the fact that there is always a pattern in apostasy. This parallel pattern is likewise true concerning the nation of the Jews and spiritual Israel of the early centuries. Let's notice a few incidents in this respect:

Fall And Restoration Of Israel

In Nehemiah 1:8 the people were reminded that God had promised to scatter them among the nations because of transgressions. At the time of Nehemiah's writing this prophecy had been fully completed. Notwithstanding, verse nine promised, "if you turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring' them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there." As Moses gave the law, we find that it was first taught and respected. But with the passing of time the people cried, "Give us a king" (I Sam. 8); then with Solomon's marriages, and then the divided kingdom, the ultimate result was Babylonian captivity for Judah. Disrespect for and disobedience to the law brought about this fall; it therefore took a return, a restoration, to cause God's blessings to once again flow over the Hebrew children. The account of this restoration is given in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther.

Fall And Restoration Of The Church

In the New Testament many similar warnings foretold a falling away of the church. (I Tim. 4:1-3; II Tim. 4:1-4; Acts 20:28-32; II Thess. 2:1-12) As this departure was foretold, we see from secular church history that it was but a short period of time before the organization became corrupted, the teachings of Christ perverted, and the worship changed. During the middle ages, called the "dark ages" (spoken of as the "Golden Age" by Catholicism), the true church ceased to exist congregationally, so far as recorded history is concerned. It would take many volumes to review the innovations that took place during these years. But when such men as James O'Kelly, Dr. Abner Jones, Barton W. Stone and Alexander Campbell began efforts toward restoration, it would seem that the parallel with Old Testament history had been completed, at any rate from a general standpoint. The basic issue has always been a disrespect for law.

A Pattern Of Apostasies In Later Years

A pattern of apostasies can likewise be seen between those of later years. In the early centuries the perverted organization was manifested, that which is called centralization, and resulted in the pope of Rome. In the eighteen hundreds, some time after the church of Christ had been again congregationally restored upon the earth, there again came "trouble in Zion" and our people were caught up in the tide and attire of institutionalism. (The American Christian Missionary Society, 1849) Now, today, it's very interesting to note that both of these issues confront the church, only guised as a sponsoring arrangement and the benevolent home.

Authority And The Church Building

My brethren have always taught that whatever is NECESSARY to fulfill the commands of God was surely authorized in the Scriptures. However, things necessarily inferred or generically required most assuredly have limitations. We must always be careful not to violate another principle in this respect. To illustrate, we would not assemble without as assembly place: be it the Hotel Astor or a brush arbor. As the church is charged to evangelize, to edify itself; and to do certain works in the realm of benevolence, man's choice in this matter should be with as much wisdom as humanly possible. Everything about a church building must have something to do with a better and more efficient fulfillment of the Lord's work. Buildings erected just for "looks", or to keep up with our sectarian neighbors, cannot be justified from the Scriptures.

St. Coffman's Cathedral In Manhattan: Manifested As Another Pattern Of Apostasy

A few years ago a good deal of writing and talking about the "Millions for Manhattan" project was accomplished. Burton Coffman, back in 1958, urged "every Church of Christ on earth" to contribute at least one-half of their March 30th contribution to this project. Today I read that the project is still in full swing with $200,000 yet to be obtained. "An anonymous donor has pledged $50,000 to the Manhattan Church of Christ, provided that the brotherhood will raise the remaining $200,000 needed to construct the first half of the Madison Avenue house of worship planned for the church." I further read that "The first construction will be half of a total project costing $1,500,000; and the cost of the first unit is estimated to be $750, 000; namely, one half the total. Of this amount, $500,000 is in hand; and, with the gift commitment, this leaves a gap of only $200,000 needed." The present plans are for a unit that will include "an auditorium to seat between 350 to 400, a baptistry, office, Bible class rooms, and a couple of apartments for ministers. There will also be a full basement, occupying every inch of the 41' x 102' portion of the building site to be utilized in this construction." (Broadway Bulletin, 12-19-65, Lubbock, Texas)

From the description of this building it would seem to be little more than a normal congregation would need to fulfill its obligations. Why, then, we ask, the impoverishing cost of $750,000 and the "necessity" for unlawful methods of obtaining funds? The answer should be obvious: "We" are trying to impress the world that the "Church of Christ" is on the march! (or mooch! As the case might be)

I read where this "lust of the eye" also caused trouble in the Catholic church a few hundred years ago:

"The reigning pope, Leo X, needing large sums of money for the completion of St. Peter's Church at Rome, permitted an agent named John Tetzel to go through Germany selling certificates, signed by the pope himself, purporting to bestow the pardon of all sins, not only upon the holders of the certificates, but upon friends living or dead in whose behalf they were purchased, without confession, repentance, penance, or absolution by a priest. Tetzel told the people 'As soon as your coin clinks in the chest, the souls of your friends will rise out of purgatory to heaven"' (Story of The Christian Church, Hurlbut, 151 and 152) And all for the erection of a church building!

From the previously quoted article concerning the Manhattan project it is further stated "that of the hundreds of congregations already having a substantial investment in the Manhattan Project, many will desire to make a special lump sum contribution to makeup this final sum required for the first unit of construction."

Yes, there is always a pattern in apostasy. Regardless of what the brethren may do, as it seems "now nothing will be restrained from them" (Gal. 11: 6), I doubt that the imagination can find anything that hasn't been already tried, in one form or another, and at some time along the way. But like the Jews in olden times, if we will turn and keep the commandments, the Lord will gather us from among the heathen. (Nehemiah 1:9; II Cor. 6:17)

"Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. (Jeremiah 6:16)