Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 4, 1958

A Diagnosis -- No. III.

Lloyd Moyer, El Cerrito, California

A diagnosis is "the process of determining by examination the nature and circumstances of a diseased condition." (The New Century Dictionary) We hope by examination of the thinking of brethren in the past to determine what brought about the diseased condition in the church today. The only way we have of examining any man's thinking is by what he says. The best way is to examine something that has been written. It is extremely dangerous to try to quote what someone says orally, much less to review it. Therefore, we have selected an article written by Brother William Green, an elder and preacher of Berkeley, California. (Note previous article.)

Our brother was writing about fellowship with those who use the instruments and who had not been immersed. Yet, in the very beginning he states, "And you know something of my perplexed state of mind." I just wonder WHY he was "perplexed"? Was it because he did not know the facts? No, he admitted that he knew they were "innovations." He talks about "the way of the ancient church before the innovations appeared," so he was not "perplexed" because he was uncertain as to whether these things were innovations or not. Was it because he did not know what the Bible teaches on the subject? No. He says, "we cling to the notion that the Bible teachings on baptism is clear enough for us to stand against the world. Actually, it is not much clearer than it is on the music question." Yes, he knew what the Bible taught. Was he "perplexed" because he did not know what was practiced in the early church? No. He points out that "the world of disinterested scholars agree that baptism in apostolic times was normally by immersion .... it is equally agreed that (so far as we have any clear evidence) the music of the ancient church was exclusively VOCAL MUSIC, (Emp. mine, L. M.) with emphatic protest against the license of introducing the pagan (or Jewish) use of instruments in worship." Now let us summarize. (1) He KNEW the facts in the case. (2) He knew they were innovations. (3) He knew what the Bible taught. (4) He knew what the early church practiced. (5) He knew what the scholarship of the world said about the matter. YET, HE WAS STILL PERPLEXED. He could not answer the questions about whether people who practice such things should be fellowshipped. He says, "These questions are too hard for me." I am not a Doctor nor even an intern for a doctorate, but I believe if I knew what the Bible says and what the early church practiced and what was protested when introduced as an innovation, that I could answer the question as to whether those who introduced these things in spite of what the Bible taught and what the early church did should be fellowshipped or not. I fear that anyone with the above facts before him who still could not answer such questions is in a "perplexed state of mind" because of an inordinate desire to extend fellowship to all and not "find fault" with any.

Next, he states, "I fear that there is no stable basis for Christian fellowship, that is, for precisely defining Christian fellowship, in this life." This is a most startling announcement to come from an elder of God's church and especially when that elder is a gospel preacher and scholar. This is a flat rejection of God's word. (1 Jno. 1:3) "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you,

THAT YE ALSO MAY HAVE FELLOWSHIP WITH US: AND TRULY OUR FELLOWSHIP IS WITH THE FATHER, AND WITH HIS SON JESUS CHRIST." Verse seven of the same chapter states, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we HAVE FELLOWSHIP ONE WITH ANOTHER . . . ." These passages state plainly that the reason we have the gospel as it was preached by the apostles of Christ is that we may have fellowship. And that if we WALK IN THE LIGHT, we have fellowship one with another. Now, our brother and those who think as he does must accept one of three alternatives. (1) What is written in the scriptures serves as a basis of Christian fellowship on earth. (This they refuse to accept.) (2) If there is no basis of Christian fellowship for Christian fellowship then there can be no disfellowshipping. (3) Each person or group of persons becomes judges as to whom should be fellowshipped. A rejection of number one and acceptance of numbers two and three, I believe, accounts for the condition in the church today.

Note this: "We cling to the notion that the Bible teachings on baptism is clear enough for us to stand against the world. Actually, it is not much clearer than it is on the music question." As my Daddy used to say, "Wouldn't that cork your pistol!" Can you imagine a gospel preacher and an elder saying that the Bible is not clear on baptism? That is, it is not clear enough for him to be able to answer the question as to whether or not those who have not been immersed should be fellowshipped. Also, he states that the Bible is not clear on the music question. If people would accept the word of God as it is revealed, as our standard of authority, there would be no "perplexed state of mind" concerning these and other problems. The trouble is that there are some who will not accept what the Bible says about a subject. The Bible teaches that baptism is a "burial" (Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:12) Our dear brother wonders about Calvin, Luther, Wesley and the "great men of our own day" who have not been immersed. He does not know if God will reject them or not. He says, "I take no fixed position." This is exactly why there are so many in the church today who refuse to "take a fixed (or any other kind of) position." Oh, yes, they like Brother Green, know what the Bible teaches and what the early church practiced but still they will not say what is right or wrong. It is the same "wish-a-wash" attitude and thinking that we see in the article under review. The Bible is silent on the use of instruments of music in New Testament worship. That should settle it, but not so. Some of our "loving, sweet-spirited" brethren who desire to have the "good-will" of all and therefore would like to extend fellowship to those who use the instruments in worship, fall back on a "perplexed state of mind" and say, "These questions are too hard for me; I take no fixed position." Actually what they mean is that regardless of what the Bible teaches about the matter or what the early church practiced, if it will "get the job done, we are going to do it." They expect God to assist them in their own pet projects regardless of what God says about the matter.

Here is a denominational statement if I ever saw one. "Just what defects in form the Lord will overlook, if one is proceeding in good faith, I cannot say." He was talking about sprinkling water on the head and using instruments in worship; hence, he does not, or will not say that those who are honest and sincere who practice sprinkling for baptism and use the instruments of music in worship are violating God's law and are therefore, lost. Be assured that if these are acceptable unto God, then any and all others who "proceed in good faith," though they proceed in total disregard for God's word, will be saved. This would open the gate of digression. In fact, this is exactly what has happened. That is why there is no stopping place for the churches which have started through that gate. They will just have to turn around and walk in strict accordance with God's word. And this they are unwilling to do. But this article written almost ten years ago reveals the kind of thinking that is sweeping the church away from her moorings today.

He makes HIS opinion a test of fellowship. Note: "But if I cannot, in good conscience, join in the use of the instrument, I cannot have fellowship at the Lord's table with those who do." He has already said, "there is no stable basis for Christian fellowship," but concerning those who use the instrument he says, "it may be that in the judgment many of our instrument brethren will be accepted." Now, look at his predicament. He admits that the use of instruments is an "innovation" and he says there is NO basis for Christian fellowship and that God may accept these people in the judgment but HE WILL NOT FELLOWSHIP THEM AT THE LORD'S TABLE. Why will you not fellowship them? It MUST be because of your own opinion since you say God does not give you a "basis of Christian fellowship," and that the Bible is not "clear enough" for you to answer the question of "who, outside our worship, is worthy of fellowship." This is the "reasoning" (?) running rampant over the brotherhood today. "Bible is not clear on it," "There is no pattern," "The Bible does not tell us how," "No set way," etc., etc. Yet these same brethren will "brand," "boycott," "quarantine," "slander," "disfellowship," and in general try to nullify your influence if you refuse to accept THEIR WAY. THEIR OPINION IS FINAL AUTHORITY FOR CHURCH PRACTICE. YOU EITHER BOW DOWN TO THEIR DICTATES OR YOU ARE BRANDED AS AN "ANTI."

Next, Brother Green finds fault with the preachers who devote time to preaching and writing about the "faction in Louisville or some other place, perhaps thousands of miles away, raising issues of which the audience is no proper judge. That is a waste of time, I believe." Here is an elder and a preacher who, seeing old Satan go in and destroy congregations in "Louisville or some other places," would do nothing to warn the congregation where he is an elder or preacher. Just let the devil come on in and destroy the church there! This kind of thinking has allowed the church to be swept into digression all over the country.

He then mentions some brethren he admires and suggests that their lives were "fully occupied, without trying to settle other people's troubles." I just wonder what this brother thinks Christianity does if it does not "settle other people's troubles." Is it possible to preach the gospel to a person and not try to settle his trouble with sin? Actually, his motto would be "preach the word, but leave everybody alone; never condemn anything or anybody."

This is the order of the day so far as our digressive brethren are concerned. This kind of thinking has contributed no little to the sickly condition of the church.

What is the proper treatment for this condition? I answer, simply respect the scripture as our standard of authority. (1 Peter 4:11) Practice only those things which the early Christians practiced. Abide in the teaching of Christ (II Jno. 9). Condemn error wherever it is found without fear or favor, loving the sinner but hating the sin. Keep our attitudes right and leave the result to God.