Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 25, 1970

No Paper Next Week


Pursuant To The Terms Of Our Mailing Permit, We Publish No Paper The First Week In July And The Last Week In December. So Do Not Look For A July 2 Issue, But We Will Be Back With You On July 9, Better Than Ever!

"Baptized With The Holy Spirit"

In this issue of the Gospel Guardian we publish three articles from a small magazine, Testimony, which is published by "The Great Commission International" out of Rosemead, California. These articles are by brethren Pat Boone, Ben F. Franklin, and Dean Dennis, all of whom are, or have been, members of the Church of Christ. We publish them that brethren generally may know the inroads being made by the "Pentecostal Church of Christ." We reported three years ago (July 20, 1967) that there was "tongue speaking" in several churches of Christ, and outbreaks of it on some of the college campuses. The movement has not subsided, as these articles show. Read the articles, and then, if you are interested, perhaps you may want the editor's comment on the phenomenon.

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Second Time Around

Now, assuming you have read the articles mentioned above, let me say to the readers of the Gospel Guardian that these articles fill me with a deep sense of sadness and regret — and an eerie sort of nostalgia. You see, I have been down this road before; this is all the second time around for me. It was many years ago that (to paraphrase Ezekiel) "I sat where Pat sat; I sat where Ben sat; I sat where Dean sat." Which only means that I know the feelings of these men, their sense of barrenness in the Christian lives they lived in those years before they "got the Holy Spirit," the incredible, indescribable joy that filled their hearts to overflowing when, at long last, they "felt" the Holy Spirit stirring within them — and the absolute, total, unarguable, adamant certainty as to the reality of their experience.

It happened nearly forty years ago. I was a student in the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, having previously graduated from David Lipscomb College and the University of Louisville. I was twenty-one years of age, with all the "fire and fervor" of a youth who had completely dedicated his life to God. More than anything on this earth, more than life itself, I wanted to serve my Lord, and to give my life in preaching His gospel.

In the seminary I was in daily association with nearly a hundred fine young men who were studying for the Presbyterian ministry. I lived in the dormitory with them, ate at the same table with them three times each day, studied with them, and prayed with them. I have kept in contact with some of them through all these years, and have even been in their homes and spent the night with some of them within the fairly recent past. I loved these young men, and they loved and respected me. We had many long and earnest discussions on religion, life, love, sports, and a thousand other things that young men talk about. These boys (for the most part) had been reared in Presbyterian homes, and attended Presbyterian churches, and had gone to denominational colleges. They were intellectual, sincere, perhaps a bit more inhibited and introspective than the average young men of their age — and religious. With the religion of their fathers, that is. They did not question it, (not seriously), did not believe some of the basic Presbyterian doctrines, and were truly representative of the institutionalized, formal, ritualistic sort of "Christianity" which forty years later seemed so lifeless, dead, and sterile to Brethren Boone, Franklin, and Dennis.

Then came down the young men and women from Moody Bible Institute! "filled with the Holy Spirit" and enthusiasm.

What happened among those Presbyterian boys was precisely what has now happened to my brethren in Christ. They got the Holy Spirit!! (They did not speak with tongues — remember this was forty years ago and these were Presbyterians, and even with all their exuberance and ecstatic raptures they still couldn't quite get that holy-rollerish!) But every thing Boone and Franklin and Dennis describes, I saw happen right before my eyes! These boys knew they had received the Holy Spirit. They were beyond reason and beyond argument. They looked with pity and compassion on the boys who, for whatever reason, could not "get it." They gave their testimony; they prayed for the boys who could not "get it," and some of them even prayed for me — at least they told me they did.

As I look back through the years, I think I have some vague insight into what happened among my Presbyterian friends — and later among my brethren in Christ. Something was lacking in the life of all of them. Their "religion" lacked warmth and love and a sense of nearness to God. It was ritualistic and formal — and lifeless. And being without any fundamental understanding of New Testament teaching, they all became easy victims to the emotionalism that seemed so rich and rewarding. Bypassing the Scriptures, they sought an immediate experience of God. And thought they found it.

It is perfectly obvious that there has been a serious (and fatal?) flaw in the teaching being received by great numbers of "baptized believers" these past twenty years. In the almost insane drive to be "successful" as a growing, thriving, expanding church ("fastest growing religious body in the world — look at our statistics!") somewhere Jesus got left behind. We built huge "plants" for great memberships, orphan homes, old folks' homes, youth camps, medical clinics and hospital (in foreign fields, not in America), schools and colleges. We put on television and radio programs that brought immense publicity; we had campaigns and rallies and teach-ins and seminars.

And Jesus got lost in the shuffle. Somewhere along the line Boone and Franklin and Dennis, and a great many others of like imperfect faith and understanding, suddenly awakened to the fact that their "Christianity" was cold, formal, lifeless. And they turned to the emotionalism and "pentecostalism" which was so prevalent in the days of our fathers. Surely, they have friends who can help them! Reuel Lemmons and Ralph Sweet and Jimmy Lovell — can you not have some influence with these men? You have defended them and criticized their critics (Pat's critics, at least) and lauded what was being done. Now that help is so desperately needed to save them from total apostasy, what can you do?

Unless there is a return to fundamental Bible teaching, with some renewed emphasis on the basic truths, we think our "promoting" brethren might as well prepare themselves for the "Pentecostal Church of Christ." It is just around the corner!

— F. Y. T.