Conviction Or Compromise?
As the desire for fellowship takes hold upon our hearts and we seek to solve its problems there is constantly the problem of where to draw the line so that we may continue to be in fellowship with God by refusing to compromise with error and by "walking in the light". When we are tempted to embrace and endorse those things which God does not approve in order to have peace and fellowship with men, we must remember that we cannot be at peace and have fellowship with God and Christ except we abide within the scope of that which Christ has taught and authorized. (II John 9-11) When we transgress God's Word and the authority of Christ in order to have acceptance, popularity, power, or approval from others, we have departed from the faith and separated ourselves from divine acceptance and approval. This is too great a price to pay.
It is noticeable that when men take the course of liberalism and modernism, they invariably disfellowship those who oppose what they want to do and begin to fellowship almost anything that even the more liberal and modern may practice. When the division came among the disciples of Christ in this country over the Missionary Society and Instrumental Music questions, those who accepted these human innovations rather rapidly moved to a complete compromise of even the fundamental principles of the Gospel with the whole denominational world while they were embittered and prejudiced against all who opposed these innovations. It was not long after the division over these things until the efforts of the Christian Churches were being merged with denominational organizations and projects on a large scale. The Christian Church brethren who had departed from the New Testament pattern of things soon were taking part in "union meetings" in their communities in which they fraternized with those who believed that sprinkling and pouring constituted Bible baptism and that in no form did baptism have anything to do with salvation. In short they soon stood for nothing by way of conviction and have today so fully denominationalized themselves that they practice by and large just about anything that anyone else practices and some things, perhaps, that no one else practices by way of liberalism and worldliness. They have grown generous and broad indeed in their fellowship and have long since lost identity with God and Christ.
In the picture today we find history repeating itself. Liberal brethren who have built their Benevolent Societies, Evangelistic Societies, and Brotherhood Enterprises for which they can find no scriptural authority or divine sanction, are rapidly going on into complete fellowship with denominationalism. We give you just a few of the many instances of compromising with denominational activities and organizations while they have with prejudice, severity, and calumny drawn the line against their own brethren who oppose their activities.
In the Nashville Tennessean, Sunday, Nov. 20, 1966, on the front page there is a news item telling about the first "Interfaith Service" of "120 Area Religious Leaders. This, they hope will be an annual affair - a "service of Thanksgiving and Supplication for Peace." Brother T. Coy Porter, a former David Lipscomb teacher, preacher for the Eastview Church of Christ in Murfreesboro, Tenn. , was the representative of the Churches of Christ in that service.
The Nashville Banner, Sept. 9, 1966, records the fact that the Brookmeade Church of Christ joins with the Baptists, Episcopalians, and Presbyterians in a religious survey of the community.
The Tennessee Churchman, August, 1965, page 5, the official publication for the Protestant Episcopal Church in the diocese of Tennessee, has an article and picture of several of the attorneys and judges of Nashville in which some of them appeared in their robes at a Sunday service at Christ Church. Among those present for this service was Sam Davis Tatum, a member of one of the Nashville churches of Christ. (These above items taken from "Westvue Messenger", edited by Thomas G. O'Neal, preacher for Westvue Church of Christ, Murfreesboro, Tennessee.)
On the West Coast we have even more astonishing (to some) news of the compromises being made by supposed Gospel preachers. In a recent meeting held by the Golden West Christian Church in Los Angeles, Frank Pack, (Dr. Frank Pack of Pepperdine College), was a featured speaker. "Prominent ministers of Christian Churches, Disciples of Christ and Churches of Christ of Southern California will be guest preachers at Sunday 6:30 p. m. services." So the news article stated and further explanation was made of the purpose: "The object is to acquaint church members with neighboring congregations and the preachers that are related historically to the "Restoration Movement" of Alexander Campbell and nineteenth century churchmen who pled for the uniting of all Christianity." We feel perfectly sure that Pack gave his full cooperation and endorsement to such a purpose and dissented not at all from anything. That would be unkind and unpopular. Besides it has long been known that he stands against nothing except those who oppose what he would do.
And so the story goes. It is true all over the land. None of us are prophets but it does not require anything but human foresight to conclude that soon these churches and preachers that are involving themselves in everything that will bring a little favor from the world, will lose favor with God and soon will fade away into the spiritual fog of denominationalism and complete loss of distinctiveness. They are well on their way.