Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 9, 1951
NUMBER 14, PAGE 2,3c

Thus The Breach Widens

Dillard Thurman, Norman, Oklahoma

Yesterday's mail brought a copy of "The President's Address of the Texas Convention of Christian Churches, delivered on May 24, 1951, in Dallas, Texas." This keynote address by President Colby D. Hall, on "The Fellowship Road of the Nineteenth Century Reformation Movement," should be studied carefully. Even greater departures from the Restoration plea are disclosed.

First, allow me to state that I was one of six brethren of Fort Worth whom Dr. Hall invited to a luncheon last August. At that luncheon he extended an invitation to the churches of Christ in Texas to attend the Convention, but especially on May 24th, the day of his address. He also proposed that we select a representative of the churches of Christ to extend "fraternal greetings" to the Convention to be followed by a "response" from the Christian Church. Then he assured us that no instrumental music would be had on the day we had this fellowship with them, and proposed that we have the Lord's Supper that evening, Thursday, May 24th.

We pointed out to Dr. Hall that we had no "over-all, state-wide organization" which could duly authorize a man to represent all the congregations. We also stated emphatically that the churches of Christ could not endorse the proposal for the Lord's Supper taken at that time and under those conditions.

When Dr. Hall stated that the instruments would be deleted from the worship in deference to us, I asked him, "Then the Christian Church is willing to leave off the instruments for that day that we might have harmony and fellowship?" His reply was, "Of course. We can worship just as well without the instrument." I then asked him, "Brother Hall, if you can give up the instrument that day to secure harmony and fellowship, why not give them up completely and restore harmony and fellowship? His reply to that was, "I can't speak for all my brethren on that." But I pressed him with, "Are you personally willing to give them up?" Of course he refused to do so, stating he wanted his "freedom and liberty in Christ."

Now he sends me that address which was delivered at the time of the proposed "love feast" but, which he also confesses in a personal message, would have been different under different circumstances. Seemingly the "spots in the love feast" flavored much of the address that was given. There is a leaven of bitterness permeating the entire speech against "the anti-U.C.M.S. and the anti-organ" groups. He charges that they have missed the "fellowship road," and that road is pictured as even more desirable than the "strait and narrow way."

This speech on "fellowship" discloses by both the title and contents that the Christian Church is far more interested in fellowship with all the denominations which sprang from the Reformation than in restoring the ancient order of scriptural allegiance and obedience to divine authority. Dr. Hall states that Thomas Campbell "recognized those in several denominations as fellows Christians. He longed for all to recognize their fellowship in Christ." He reaches the climax of his stirring plea for fellowship by asking, "Shall we exclude the followers of Luther, Calvin and Wesley from fellowship cooperation in this gigantic task," that is, the task of evangelizing the world.

Thus the plea of the "Texas Convention of Christian Churches" is for fellowship with all Protestant denominations. The keynote speaker minimized every error associated with human creeds, party spirits and infant baptism.

Fellowship is sought with the churches of Christ while they also court the fellowship of all sects that have rejected the fundamentals of faith. Wherein can we extend fellowship in the face of this plea?

Note the tenor of the address. Written under the caption, "A COMMON, ANCIENT, OUT-DATED ERROR: ANATHEMA."

"These two groups, the anti-U.C.M.S and the anti-organ, anti-society brethren have much in common. I mention them to help clarify our thinking about them and to get their historical perspective.

`They, both, have revived the ancient error of `Anathema.' This word, being interpreted means, `cursed be all who differ from us; not only are you in error, you are in SIN: we cannot fellowship with you! This is the same spirit that caused the ancients to write their human creeds and to excommunicate those who interpreted differently. They had a right to formulate their faith, even their opinions, in creeds, but they erred when they banished from fellowship all who pronounced the shibboleth differently."

Thus Dr. Hall contends that Paul's anathema was an error; that people had the right to formulate their opinions into creeds—the error comes only when fellowship is withdrawn from heretics. He denies that any one has the right to exclude from fellowship. I wonder if this T.C.U. Bible professor can recall Paul's words? His statement was, 'But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema." (Gal. 1:8)

Paul's very words, however, are impugned by this keynote speaker. Rather he hurls an accusation against those who live "in an atmosphere of suspicion and acrimony" in that they will not fellowship with them who receive not that gospel which was divinely presented.

Therefore, while the Texas Convention of Christian Churches and their President malign our intolerance, let's introduce the words of the beloved apostle John: "Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching or Christ, hath not God: he that abideth in the teaching, the same hath both the Father and the Son. If any one cometh unto you, and bringeth not this teaching, receive him not into your house, and give him no greeting, for he that giveth him greeting partaketh in his evil works." (2 John 9-11) While they set the table for the "love feast," we'd like to know just how tolerant John asked us to be with sectarians who rebel against divine authority? Are we to condone and sanction these presumptions sins?

The Christian Church must first decide if endorsement is to be given infant baptism, mourner's bench conversion, human creeds and party names. "For if I build up again those things which I destroyed, I prove myself a transgressor." (Gal. 2:18) Jesus said that every plant which his Father had not planted would be rooted up. Let the Christian Church tell us who planted all these religious bodies they crave to fellowship.

All must now realize that to fellowship the Christian Church means to fellowship the heterogeneous multitude which the Christian Church fellowships and also heartily endorses. The Christian Church now defends their right to write their opinions into their several creeds. And thus the breach is widened by further departure on the part of a group who holds no respect for the authoritativeness of God's word, but glorifies and exalts the opinions of men.