Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 8, 1970
NUMBER 22, PAGE 1-2a

Bitter Fruits Of Digression

Arnold Hardin

Some twenty years have raced by since another major apostasy in the church began taking place. Churches were divided and brethren were alienated over the support of human institutions and the corruption of the organization of the church. Nothing prevailed by way of stopping the apostasy. Men hardened their hearts, consciences became seared; necks were bowed; and Divine authority was ignored.

Warnings rang out across the land, only to fall upon deaf ears. Even now the tragedy is so apparent that it gives no one an ounce of pleasure in saying, "I told you so!" The bitter fruit of digression is everywhere being harvested. Thousands upon thousands of brethren who were not content with a "thus saith the Lord: now find themselves enmeshed in Liberalism of every sort. Some, beholding the monster they helped create, are now crying, "Thus far and no farther." But their cries of anguish are not the innocent cries of the victims of another — for it was their own attitudes and actions that fathered the demon they now behold!

Ira Y. Rice, Jr., has for some time been writing exposs of the Modernism in churches of Christ over the land. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! But he has been effective, to a degree, especially among some of the "middle of the road" brethren. Things now appear to be rapidly reaching a crisis among them. Rice in his latest "Contending For The Faith" has openly taken on a formidable adversary in the person of Jimmie Lovell, the editor of Action, and the unflagging champion of error down through the years. In the July issue of Action, Brother Lovell came out with "an historical issue: in which he set in motion a plan under the heading of "Bibles For All Humanity." It would be an organization under a Board of Directors and supported by "men of all faiths." Brother Lovell desired to appoint the well-known singer and entertainer Pat Boone to be President of his Foundation.

Admitting the far reaching influence of Lovell, and wondering how many brethren at last will shake loose from it, Ira puts on his gloves and starts what will certainly be more than a round or two of shadow boxing! This one will go the distance, we predict, as it involves those that are "somewhat" in the churches over the land. Breathlessly, we wait for round two! Ira reveals that Archie Luper, a long time associate of Lovell's, has resigned his connections and withdrawn personally from Lovell. Rice himself has done likewise, and is calling upon churches to withdraw fellowship. He predicts, along with James D. Bales, that an avalanche of opposition will descend upon Lovell from which he will not be able to dig out during the remainder of his life. So the battle is really joined.

Rice writes, "Lest any suppose that Brother Luper is alone in disfellowshipping Brother Pat Boone and those bidding him Godspeed, such as Jimmie Lovell, may I report that churches are doing this all over the brotherhood." Oh, the bitter fruit! Rice says that Jimmie got in touch with such men as Norvel Young, Frank Pack, J. D. Thomas, and Reuel Lemmons, and they agreed to help him in his new venture. It will be interesting to see if such a one as Reuel Lemmons can finally be "smoked out" by such a one as Rice! Or will Reuel now also say that Rice is "all wet behind the ears."

But Rice wasn't through. He takes out after the elders of the Highland Church in Abilene, and after John Allen Chalk who was the radio speaker for a long time on the Herald of Truth program. It seems that Chalk delivered a sermon that cost Highland Church a lot of support from some of the churches which had been contributing to the Herald of Truth. (That must have been a whing-ding of a sermon!!) It was then reported that Chalk was moving to Georgia, but he wound up as the regular preacher for Highland Church. Ira says this really "shook up" the folks, but that it was explained by some at Highland that such was done "to save John Allen." Rice predicts that it will corrupt Highland Church in more ways than one. He had reference to Chalk's description of the corrupt movie, "Midnight Cowboy," as given in the Abilene Newspaper. Chalk was reported to have called the movie "a strong sermon" and said that he saw very little wrong with it.

So, all of these churches supporting Herald of Truth are now involved in this mess. God knew best in arranging that each local church do its own work, and that they not be tied together in any such arrangement as Highland's. But brethren were eager to be "like the nations around" and were determined to have a "big" program like the "other churches." Now some of them cannot stomach the results of their own labors, and are calling for a general disfellowship. Believe you me, this can only result in a head-on, no holds barred, battle royal among them. Thank God thousands of us are no part of this weird and confused eating and tearing of our own flesh.

There's the bell! Round two. I will try to give you a blow by blow description of the fight as it develops. However I may have to delete some of the gory details for the faint of heart. The fruit of digression is just as bitter as the seed that produced it. In fact, the bitterness grows with each new seed produced.

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