Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 30, 1969
NUMBER 38, PAGE 10-13

Gospel Guardian Tell-Al-Gram

JAMES L. GAY, Bald Knob, Arkansas: "Since coming back from Nigeria the middle of July I have moved to work with the church in Bald Knob, Ark. There is a fine group of brethren here who are trying to hold fast to the "Old Paths". I appreciate their efforts. Those wishing to correspond with me may do so at this address: P. O. Box 677, Bald Knob, Ark. 72010. Those wishing to inquire concerning the Nigerian work may feel free to do so. Many had fellowship with me in this work and I sincerely appreciate that.

I also would like to receive the reports from various fields of work. The brethren here enjoy reading the reports I already receive and I would like to post more on our bulletin board so that they may know a little more about the work here and there."

O. WAYNE COBIA, Forrest City, Arkansas: "In the Tell-Al-Gram section of the January 2, 1969 edition of the Guardian, under the heading of, SPEAKS ON 'NEW ETHICS', you state that you are certain that some of our 'liberal' brethren have pursued the 'law of love' bit in justifying church support of institutions. For those that may be interested, the 'law of love' approach was pursued in the Simpson-Britnell Debate on the Care of Orphaned Children and Benevolence. I feel sure that information on this publication could be obtained from Eugene Britnell, Arch Street church of Christ, Little Rock, Arkansas." 106 N. Forrest St. Forrest City, Ark. 72335 J. O. WALTER, Bolivia, N. C. "We were privileged to baptize a young man and his wife Saturday evening in the icy waters of Lockwood's Folly River. Believe we have 2 new 'workers' to help us."

HARVEY WILLIAMS to hold meeting at Gardiner Lane, Louisville, Kentucky February 9-14.

BACK IN PRINT - "WHY I LEFT THE BAPTIST CHURCH" by Grover Stevens. "This new printing is on slick book paper with a new tag board cover, and larger print. More material is included in this printing also. More details of bro. Stevens' experiences in the Baptist church are given and a letter which he received from a Baptist preacher in Ft. Worth, Texas and his reply are also included. And, of course, the price is of necessity more. The tracts sell for 30 each, $3.00 per dozen, and $20.00 per hundred."

ROBERT C. ARCHER reports in the Hobart Informer, Hobart, Indiana an increase in 1968 in all services of the church and in contribution. Sixteen were baptized, 16 restored, 4 placed membership during 1968.

EUGENE BRITNELL reports in The Sower of the Arch Street church in Little Rock, Arkansas ..."The Arch Street church continues to make progress. We have purchased additional property for a large parking lot. We are gaining new members. We have an active program of scriptural work, and we hope to do even more this year. Louis J. Sharp and Clifford Sims are serving as elders, and Henry Selby, Travis Bishop, Antoine Massery, Johnnie Pierce, J. B. Williams, Jack Carrow and Orland Stringer serve as deacons.

"In addition to the regular work here, I had the privilege of working in ten gospel meetings and two debates last year."

The Gospel Guardian Is Now In Its 20Th Year Of Service To Conservative Brethren

PREACHER WANTED: "Wanted, needed and will be appreciated a preacher of the truth with some support or able to work for part of living, a community of 15,000 souls to reach. The best climate in U.S.A. Write box 4137, Huochuca City, Arizona 85616 or call (602) 458-4960."

Shrines Or Original Foundations?

My second visit to the Bible lands took place in the spring of 1968. Those in the group which I led were not "pilgrims" in the true sense of the word. We were not seeking shrines at which to worship; we were "students" seeking information to make our Bible study more vivid and meaningful. These two differing attitudes is really what I am writing about.

The Buildings

Throughout the lands where Bible events transpired church buildings have been erected over this or that "sacred spot." These buildings, whether in Rome or Jerusalem, are simply show places. Tourists' stream through them at a steady rate observing the ancient ornamentation still preserved. In many cases the present building, which is often centuries old, simply covers the ruins of earlier buildings. In the name of Christ, rituals are performed by sectarian groups.

To illustrate specifically: In Bethlehem the tradition of the birthplace of Jesus goes back to the middle of the second century. The spot, now covered by the Basilica of the Nativity, would hardly remind one of anything he reads in the New Testament. The student now finds a building which, "after the fall of the Frankish no more than a dull succession of slow decay and hasty repairs." (The Middle East, 1966 ed., p. 622) In this old building he sees mosaics with gold backgrounds dating from the 12th century, and art of the middle ages. The ruins of the large buildings erected by Justinian in the 6th century simply serve to cover the 4th century building by Constantine. As in so many of the buildings one can see holes in the floor showing earlier mosaic floors. The student of church history never forgets that all of this was the activity of an apostate church and does not reflect New Testament Christianity. I explained to our group, and sometimes to a guide, that we would not be pausing to pray at these shrines. I reminded them that when the woman of Samaria wanted to know whether Jesus took the position of the Samaritans that worship should be at Mount Gerizim, or the position of the Jews that it should be at Jerusalem, the Lord answered that "an hour is corning when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father." Jesus explained that the true worshippers were those who worshipped the Father in spirit and truth; the place is a matter of indifference. (John 4:20-24)

Digging Up The Past

But we see something else in the Bible lands just as impressive and not nearly so discouraging. We see the excavations of the archaeologists whose interest is to get back to the original building, floor, street, etc. He carefully and painstakingly removes the tons of debris collected by centuries of indifference. Finally, after many seasons of effort, he sees the fruit of his labor. It may be bronze jewelry in a Canaanite tomb in the Jordan Valley, the name of the city stamped on a wine jar at Gibeah, the Solomonic gates and walls at Gezer, Megiddo, or Hazor. But the archaeologist has found what he was looking for — the original. He carefully observes it, makes drawings, detailed reports and photographs. From this he may seek to make a model of the city or item as it was originally, and he has a lot to go on.

Even in Jerusalem amid the buildings seeking to preserve this or that church building one can see recently excavated walls dating back to the time of the Jebusites. The Herodian walls, from the time of Christ, can be seen in many places. Excavated pools, first century tombs, and the Lithostrotos (pavement), help us to recreate the Jerusalem that Jesus knew.

A Parallel In Religion

As we sat in our hotel lobby in Jerusalem, just a short distance from all of this, I explained that in this there is a perfect illustration of what we are seeking to do in religion. Christianity began as the Lord intended. Original apostolic Christianity was pure of humanly devised schemes, but over the centuries as men forgot or became indifferent regarding this purity, various innovations began to creep in. After a while it was practically impossible to see a connection between the apostate Greek and Roman Catholic churches and the first century church. Men continued to add tradition and speculation; to synthesize Christianity and paganism, Judaism and philosophy. No one sought to clear away the debris and get back to the original. Then came the Protestant Reformation, so nobly led by Martin Luther. Luther initiated charges and sought reformation, or renovation. But he, and others like him, continued to build around that which was old, preserving and protecting it, but still missing the original.

But this would never accomplish the task. Men of great spirits, who detected it, said, "We must return to the New Testament as our only rule of faith and practice." In the 18th and 19th centuries, long before Biblical archaeology became a highly developed science, men like Robert Sandeman and the Haldane brothers in Scotland, James O'Kelly in North Carolina, Abner Jones in Vermont, Barton Stone in Kentucky and the Campbells in Virginia began to advocate the complete rejection of all human names and creeds and a return to New Testament speech and practice. Like the skillful archaeologist they carefully sought to lay aside everything of recent origin. Their belief was that authority in religion resides neither in the weighty letters of Popes and Councils nor the creeds of the Protestants, but in the Word of God. They conceived of the Word of God as a pattern which would reproduce the same thing as it did in the first century if carefully followed. (Heb. 8:5; II Tim. 3:16-17.) The Word was considered the seed of the Kingdom, which, when planted in honest and good hearts would produce Christians only. (Lk. 8:11)

The archaeologist is frequently confronted with a serious problem. He may find something of value but more recent than that which he seeks. Must he be content with this item? Or, is he to put it aside, possibly reconstructing it in another location, in order to find the lower level? These searchers for New Testament Christianity faced similar problems. Must they lay aside the long established practices of infant church membership, instrumental music, church councils, and sprinkling? What would happen? What would their friends say? How would they fare? Would such be accepted if they found the original? These must have been some of the questions in their minds.

Our Approach And Appeal

We have committed ourselves to that principle of constantly examining those things believed and practiced in religion and seeking a return to original Christianity as revealed in the New Testament. Such may never be popular, but it is right! We urge every person, whether Christian or not, to carefully read the New Testament and follow it explicitly regardless of the consequences. Innovations, however minor or revered, should never be enshrined as a part of God's plan and on equal footing with the original pattern. Constant vigilance is the price we must pay for purity in doctrine and practice. What is the point of getting angry with the person who points out the difference between the original and the present? Not infrequently we are charged with thinking that we are the only ones who are right. My reply is that we believe the Book of God is right, and we seek to abide within its sacred precepts. What is your attitude?

— Ferrell Jenkins.