Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 2, 1967
NUMBER 38, PAGE 2b-3a

The New Apostasy -The Direct Operation Of The Holy Spirit

R. L. Burns

Not many days ago I and a group of preachers chanced to talk with A. G. Hobbs, the author of many tracts used by our brethren, about a new error working among the brethren in digression with whom he is associated. He was very alarmed and vocal about it. It is, of all things, the old worn out "Pentecostal" doctrine of the direct operation of the Holy Spirit. As nearly as I can determine, the factions are in two parties: (1) those who believe the Holy Spirit works apart from the word of God, but does not manifest himself in tongues and prophecies, and (2) those who do believe in miraculous manifestations. The former view is presented by Bill Banowsky of the Broadway church in Lubbock in their paper November 27, 1966 when he said: "... Neither are his (the Holy Spirit's influences limited to the word of God." I suppose this can be classified as the "middle of the road" view.

But the more apparent problem is presented by various "leading lights" among the digressives who have been carried away by the "glossolalia movement". This movement is formally known as "The Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International" (FGBMFI), whose official publication is VOICE, P. O. Box 17904, Los Angeles, California, 90017. The movement can be traced in its organizational aspect from the early 1950's, although some evidence of its beginning goes back to the mid-1940's. The promoter's envision their mission as divine. From their own sources we quote: "The Holy Spirit is engaged in mighty work of renewal of the church throughout the world. Pastors are the Key. Through the renewal of the clergy, laymen from all denominations are being awakened to a vital witness for Christ. We have received a divine commission to take this message of the fulness of the Holy Spirit to Clergymen across the country and around the world. (Emp. mine — RLB) We are fulfilling this DIVINE COMMISSION by conducting seminar luncheons, holding retreats and personal counseling." The vast importance laid upon the movement may be seen in a statement issued by Dwight Niswander: "The Charismatic revival is the ONLY ANSWER for growth and advance in the Christian Church because it encourages the Supernatural Gifts and graces of God by His Spirit and magnifies Jesus Christ as Lord." The real danger lies in the method of infiltration. Rather than inviting people to "leave their church" and join another religious organization, they encourage DUAL-MEMBERSHIP. The people are urged to remain in their present fellowship as a sort of "fifth column" and spread the heresy.

My first encounter with brethren mixed up in this "holiness" movement was announcement of a "lay-preacher" supposed in good standing with the churches of Christ in Wichita Falls, Texas who was to testify at FGBMFI meeting in Fort Worth. Then I heard about Milton Stoltz association with the "speaking in tongues" experience. A few weeks ago Max Leach, Jr. , whose father has been associated with ACC for 25 years, visited our services and afterward expounded until mid-night on his new-found faith, which he discovered at a FGBMFI meeting. He and his wife both claim to speak in unknown tongues. Now, we learn that the Movement is spreading like wild-fire, and A. G. Hobbs said the division among them was much greater than between conservative and liberal forces the last few years.

What has brought about this change? We need go no further than the soft, sensational, compromising, emotional Bible-less preaching the digressives have used the last few years. One member of the church, whose family has long been associated with the church (and he is himself a product of ACC) expressed dissatisfaction with the church because of a lack of zeal (Spirit -?) and pointed with some pride to the growth of the Pentecostal Church; which he said was the "fastest growing church in South America (Now, where have we heard that before?). He has changed his membership from the hospital-sponsoring church in Arlington to one where he says you can feel "the spirit" (or "Spirit").

The alarm of the liberal forces is evidenced by the fact that many, many articles are being written by leading brethren among the digressives (to little effect against this emotional-driven error), and Foy Wallace recently preached until after 11:00 one night against it. Uh-huh! "The chickens are coming home to roost!" These brethren are going to find themselves too infirm to meet and defeat this evil, and if they can find enough fighters yet among them who will want to debate the question, they will be branded as "anti-Holy Spirit" and having not the love of God.

The movement started among the sects because of what was termed "a spiritless religion" and has been taken up by those in the church who are moved more by sentiment than sense, and who are not at all persuaded by the word of God. Banowsky (Broadway Bulletin, Sept.18, 1966) said, "Perhaps our lack of action can be traced to our failure to make use of the Person of God's Spirit dwelling within our hearts! What a great gulf separates the tradition-choked church of our day from the vital religion of Acts. We have taken the Spirit out!" The sentiment expressed by "Doctor" Banowsky is not the ranting of an isolated radical. The "voice of Broadway" is heard loudly among many churches of Christ. The view expressed by him is taking hold and will have its final fruit in the "glossolalia movement", though he has not yet gone as far as others.

The great appeal of the new innovation to our unlearned brethren in digression is seen in the following statement from brother Banowsky: "The indwelling of God's Spirit within our hearts is a great mystery...Refusal to acknowledge the mysterious is to negate the very premise of real religion... We have been hesitant to acknowledge and appropriate the blessings of God's indwelling Spirit. In a design to strip religion of the incomprehensible we have sought easy, rational answers... While virtually all serious students now concede that the gift means God's gift of the Spirit Himself, theories still persist to explain the how of the Spirit's indwelling in terms devoid of any mystery... The most popular theory is that the Spirit dwells in us only as we have the written Word ... But the Holy Spirit is not equivalent to the written Word, neither are his influences limited to the Word.

Since these brethren long ago ceased to be impressed by or moved by the word of God, it is little wonder now that they must seek the mysterious and sensational to motivate them. They have tried every means of promoting interest, short of God's truths. As modernism is always "progressive", they must now go out from us to fathom this new mystery, and those who have not yet embraced "glossolalia" shall do so. One member of the church that I know, and who has surrendered to it, not only accepts speaking in tongues, but prophecies, healing and other such manifestations. When you are no longer in love with God and His word, there is no stopping place.

I have attempted in this article to show the genuine needy to restudy the subject of the Holy Spirit and teach about him in every place. The next article will deal with the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.