The sophistry of the champions of the liberal element in the church can easily been seen to be no part of honesty, but stands out in bold relief as plain diabolical deception, craftily carrying forgery and falsification to blind the hearts of church members who do not take the time to study the issues before us. Twenty years ago this chicanery and inconsistency would have rendered unpopular and unused any preacher who took part in it, but today a less enlightened brotherhood labels it the loyal labors of the great thinkers in the church.
I receive an occasional example of this pettifoggery, usually copies in some church bulletin. In this writing I shall show how Cleon Lyles engaged such perfidy to promote positions that truth and integrity will never corroborate.
Cleon's article under the above caption contains three paragraphs. It begins with the verse of holy scripture that his set has made threadbare by abuse and misapplication in a vain endeavor to justify the church doing its work through man-made organizations: "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world" (Jas. 1:27).
In the last paragraph brother Lyles says, "Religion is something that a person does, it is not something that he gets. The expression 'get religion' comes from those who do not understand what religion really is. .... God does not save us for being good. He wants us to do good. That is where the practice of benevolence comes in. ....We cannot expect to be saved on the basis of all the things we have not done because the judgment will be based on "the things dorm in the body'. 'Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.' (Matt. 7:21)
I agree with this observation, but here they place the strength of their teaching in sophistical forgery and falsification to turn persons away from those who oppose their man-made organizations. I know no gospel preacher, nor does anyone, who thinks religion is something one gets. Cleon and his set are guilty of forgery by associating our names and positions with such, and they are guilty of falsification because they know this! We understand more about religion than the liberal will admit. Words from which "religion" comes, as "religcare", convey the meaning "to hold back; to bind fast," and is thus discipline enforced by respect for God and the system of teaching by which He reveals Himself, that which He loves and that which He hates. Subterfuge can never hide the fact that Cleon and his set do not respect the fast binding of Revelation, and thus do not respect the Author. Twenty years ago even brother Lyles would have marveled that things done by the church had need to engage the glaring misapplication of this verse to justify the acts.
In the first paragraph Cleon says: "I know of no statement in the Bible that has been more misunderstood and abused than this one. Those who claim that the church cannot engage in helping people say this applies to the individual only. Thus they take away from the church the privilege of practicing pure religion. Their arguments are so senseless that they are pathetic. A person is 'hard put' to find something wrong with the Lord's people when all he can find is that they are helping the helpless. The duty of helping others is neither confined to the individual nor the church. In writing to the churches in Galatia Paul said, 'As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.' (Gal. 6:10:2 Cor. 9:12,13.) These verses destroy two hobbies some men are prone to ride. First, they do away with the idea that the church cannot engage in benevolent work, and then they erase the foolish idea that the church can only help those who are members of the church. "
I unequivocally declare that if language has meaning this verse "applies to the individual only." I categorically say that I do not, nor does Cleon know anyone who does, "claim that the church cannot engage in helping people." Nor am I so "hard put" that I condemn the church for "helping the helpless." Have preachers degenerated from a place of respect created by falsification in order to justify their idols? Please, gentle friend, don't forget to "do the will of my Father which is in heaven", as you quoted. I also know that accepting this verse according to proper application will in no way rob the church of practicing pure religion, but will on the contrary make it possible by destroying the idols of men. As "religion" makes known, it can only be practiced correctly as respect is paid to the binding words.
That Cleon's teaching, and others of his set, is planned and deliberate speciousness can be seen by anyone who will take but a few minutes to consider regarding the individual. We know it applies to the "individual only" because the words, just as in Jas. 1:27, specifically state it. "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" (v. 8).
Brother Lyles, and those who teach like you, this "legally binds the individual" (not the church) with the obligation to provide for his own family, or does it? The same kind of "he", "him", "his" or "man" is used in Jas. 1 to describe pure religion. Since Jas. 1:27, according to Cleon and his tribe of thinkers, describes the religion of the church, the action of the church, without any other information, I reckon those who try to confine to the individual such statements as I Tim. 5:8 would be "no senseless that they are pathetic." Or do you reckon it is because of the idol-chariot they are already driving that Jas. 1:27 is so all-encompassing? Gentle reader, if words have no more meaning than Cleon attaches to them, then there just simply is no way of knowing anything! It just might seem something else!
Take a look at 2 Thess., and you find it addressed "unto the church of the Thessalonians." But in chapter 3 and verse 10 you find the words, "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat." Now let us apply the profound reasoning of Mr. Cleon relative to Gal. 6:10; 2 Co. 9:12, 13, and according to his deduction 2 Thess. 3:10 forever destroys the hobby that the church cannot engage in secular work in the direction of securing food. Friend, talk about "foolish ideas", the position of Cleon and his set is tomfoolery gone to seed! When a people tries to justify the driving of idol-chariots, somebody else looks "pathetic".
I believe the church can "help the helpless", but it does not require the elimination of meaningful language to do it! I believe the church can help the orphans, but not by way of institutions that destroy the "fast binding" or pure religion! I believe the church can help the widows mentioned in the same verse, but not with disregard for the binding laws of God. Like caring for the orphans, they must be cared for according to the legalistic laws of the God of the universe and within the bounds of God's only spiritual organization, the church, and that is what pure religion is!
Truly, there is "no statement in the Bible that has been more misunderstood and abused than this one," and thou art the man, Cleon, who contributes to the confusion with your abuse. If such subterfuge and deception is keeping oneself unspotted from the world, as you claim, then I'll plead guilty to your charge of paragraph two; that of having "difficulty in living an unspotted life," because I cannot approve your forgery and falsification. Lord, have mercy!