Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 28, 1954
NUMBER 37, PAGE 10-11a

Some Difficulties Of Honest Investigation Or Present Day Problems

J. Lloyd Moyer, Richmond, California

(Note: The material in this article has been gleaned from many sources; I do not claim originality. I send it forth with the earnest prayer that it will do good. — J.L.M.)

We must all recognize that each generation must acquaint itself with the great principles which govern us as a people of God. It is easy for one generation to deal with a live issue to the exclusion of a serious study of other issues which may well affect the church in succeeding generations. Certainly what this generation does will, to a great extent, determine what the next will do. This is evident and is manifested by a study of the history of the church for the last hundred years; yea, even of the last forty years. The brethren have dealt with such issues as pre-millennialism and the "anti" element during the past few years. In order to off-set the "anti" element we have pointed out that methods may be adopted where the method was not revealed. However, some have gone to the other extreme by adopting methods without first determining if these methods violate basic principles. Thus, many methods have been adopted in evangelism and benevolence. Many have not been too concerned with the question, "Is it scriptural?" but ask, "Will it work? Will it get the desired results?" No one questions the fact that much good is being accomplished. The honesty of the brethren who are engaged in these activities is not questioned. The question which should be raised is, "Have we adopted methods that violate the principles by which we must be governed?" We sadly need a reinvestigation of these principles. However, when we endeavor to stir up brethren to a study of these things, we run into multiple difficulties and obstacles. Let us notice a few of these problems and obstacles.

1. Lack of Knowledge of Basic Principles The church has many preachers and elders today who have little or no knowledge of the basic principles over which our forefathers had to battle. I say this not to discredit or hurt anyone. It is simply a fact. There are many things which have brought about this present state of affairs. We shall notice only a few.

(a) Influenced by the preceding generation, we have been concerned with other issues.

(b) We have been trying to overcome the "do-nothing" attitude of "anti-ism."

(c) "Our schools" have been turning out hundreds of young preachers with dynamic missionary zeal. However, among these preachers, there are some who have not been taught the basic principles of congregational independence, the mission of the church, etc. Consequently, errors have been committed concerning congregational cooperation. Little or no attention has been given to the subject of congregational cooperation or how the work of the church is to be done. The result is a new generation has arisen that has merely assumed, without questioning it, that the way to do mission work is for congregations to send to one congregation and let the eldership of that one congregation take the "oversight" of the work to be done.

To question this is to question the "soundness" of the brethren involved according to some brethren. When we reach the point that we cannot question a practice without everyone thinking we are questioning the integrity of the participants, we stand on extremely dangerous ground. Surely, it is high time that something be done to alter the thinking of the church. It is my purpose to arouse brethren to the point that they will restudy these things and fashion their activities according to the teaching of God's word rather than merely assuming that they are right.

2. Stability Questioned The second obstacle is that when you question the method used by some in accomplishing the work, they will immediately investigate your past and finding that you, some ten or fifteen years ago, were guilty of doing the same thing you now question, seek to array you against yourself and imply that you are unstable because you have changed your position. To me, this is most absurd. This attitude would have prevented Christianity from making its advent into the world since the Jews had to change their position. If after a thorough study of the principles involved, we conclude that we were wrong and adjust our activities accordingly; have we committed any sin? Surely not. At one time I was a member of the Baptist Church. Now suppose that I should point out the errors of the Baptist Church and some Baptist should retaliate with the same wisdom of some of our brethren and say, "Don't pay any attention to him. He is unstable; he has changed his position. He doesn't know what he really believes about the matter." We have always encouraged people to change when they learn that they are in error. I simply ask my brethren to do what they ask others to do.

3: Sentimentality and Emotionalism Sentimentality and emotionalism are great hindrances to a serious study of these issues. When it is pointed out that orphan homes, as operated by some, are a step in the wrong direction and suggest that a change is in order, some one is sure to cry, "What is to become of all those little orphans?" or "You don't believe in caring for orphans." This reminds me of a good Baptist after being taught the truth but cries, "What is to become of my dear old mother?" or "What about all the good people in the Baptist Church?" Brethren seem to think that the only way orphans can be cared for is the way it is being done in orphan homes. This is simply not true.

4. Established Order Established order is another obstacle in the way of a candid study of these matters. Prejudice has kept many souls from being acceptable to God. Can we say that everybody is prejudiced except our brethren? The truth of the matter is that we can study the Bible with a biased mind just as surely as anyone else. Sometimes brethren find themselves entangled in a "big program" or committed to support this institution or that missionary and they begin to search the scriptures to prove that they are right. This is an endeavor to make the scriptures fit the practice rather than the practice fit the scriptures and thus precludes honest investigation of principles governing these matters.

5. Preacher's Fear Preachers are afraid that they will limit their opportunities. By this I mean that if he comes out against the popular present-day practices, he will not be allowed to "hold meetings" in certain congregations. Or maybe he could not move to that large congregation that he has had his eye on for years. Still another fear is that he will have to go contrary to what "Brother Big" teaches. Some preachers seem to think that a thing is bound to be true if some of our scholarly brethren say that it is. Scholarship cannot be ignored, but when scholarship and scriptures clash, our allegiance must be to God rather than man.

6. Line of Least Resistance This leads some to shy away from certain issues. A preacher, who takes a stand against some popular practice will have to give much time and effort to the study of that issue. He will continually be questioned, misunderstood, and misquoted by his brethren. Thus, many choose the line of least resistance by remaining indifferent. Some preachers will scratch the hide off both legs endeavoring to stay on the fence.

7. Personal Popularity This is a determining factor with some preachers. We all like for the brethren to "brag" on us. We like those pats on the back and for brethren to call us for meetings. So, we are prone to preach pretty platitudes that will please the brethren. We should read again 2 Timothy 4:1-4. Our desire to baptize people often leads us to preach sermons on the plan of salvation to the neglect of a discussion of vital issues concerning the church. Every preacher knows that if he fails to baptize people, he is soon "out of demand."

Conclusion We commend the many brethren who, in spite of these obstacles, are making an honest investigation of these matters and courageously taking their stand for truth and righteousness.