Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 21, 1949

History Repeats Itself

Hoyt H. Houchen, Los Angeles, Calif.

It must be woefully admitted that a wedge is being driven into the ranks of the Lord's church. The unobserving and lethargic souls among us look upon the differences that divide us as nothing more than minor disputes, wrangles, and growing pains. They cannot be concerned with what they call "petty quarrels among brethren," so they complacently hear nothing, see nothing, and say nothing. The more thoughtful and diligent realize that the present condition within the body of Christ is more than a stumped toe; to them it is a chronic disease. The same cause that divided the church in the last century is at work today. That cause is liberalism and if it is not checked, a major breach will result.

The present day trend of institutionalism, for example, is parallel to the missionary society and mechanical instruments of music which were introduced a century ago. Liberalism is the basic cause for these symptoms. As it has been stated, innovations of the last century were simply the horses upon which the liberals rode. The same battle is being waged today that was fought in the middle and close of the nineteenth century. Fearless, truth-loving men stood together, solidly opposed to innovations of any kind. As in the past, when loyal gospel preachers cry out against deviations from the New Testament plan of work, organization, and worship, they are branded by the liberals and their sympathizers as "legalists," "factionists," "radicals," and "intolerant." The present situation is easily compared to what the church faced in the past when we read the following from the pen of Moses E. Lard:

"A falling away will occur, and the iniquity which will induce it is at this moment at work. The sturdy love for the primitive faith which characterized the early preachers in the Reformation is cooling in men who still linger in our ranks and call us brethren...

"In the first place, they are intensely sentimental; rather, they are intensely transcendental. They are very clerical in bearing, soft in speech, and languid and effeminate in spirit. They are poets' and ladies' men, exquisite in parlors, and never condemn anything except their brethren... They are 'beautiful' men, and preach beautiful' sermons. Their prayers are 'beautiful' things, their songs 'beautiful' songs. Moreover, they are very abstract men, the aesthetic, the moral, the true, the beautiful, and the good are very fond phrases in their bloodless and virtuous lips...

"In the second place, they have an enormous fondness for sects and sectarians, and scowl on no one so indignantly as on the brother who dares to speak against them. With them sectarians are all Christians, and it is a favorite saying among them that 'we are as sectarian as any other people.' They seldom speak of their brethren except to disparage them, and never of 'the other' parties of the day except to laud them. In plain English, these men see nothing good in the great brotherhood to whom they are an offense, nor anything bad in the sects with whom their affinities really are.

"To the brethren everywhere I say: See to it that your preachers are kept to the Book. Allow no departure from it, and all will be well..." (Attitudes and Consequences, by Homer Hailey, pages 191-193.)

The above attitude represents every loyal gospel preacher, past and present. The great pioneers before us fought for every inch of the ground that we occupy. That ground is the New Testament. Why cannot brethren be content to "preach the word" and cease to promote schemes that divide us? The mission of the church is to preach the gospel and each local congregation is authorized to do its own work. That simple plan has been in operation since the establishment of the church and it will get the job done. Plans, movements, rallies, centers, and institutes cannot improve upon what the Lord has given to us in the New Testament. These things should be kept entirely distinct from the church of our Lord. When brethren will love the church above everything else, including personal friends, the gospel will be preached, souls will be saved, Christ will be exalted, God will he glorified, and unity will prevail among us.