Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 1, 1959
NUMBER 21, PAGE 2-3b

A Real Predicament

Barney Keith, Lexington, Kentucky

Recently the Central Christian Church of Lexington announced in its bulletin that Dr. Ralph G. Wilburn of the College of the Bible was to address one of their groups on "Our Human Predicament." (Wilburn was once a member of the church and for several years a professor of Bible at Pepperdine College. Several young men were infected with his modernism and have since departed from the faith.)

"Our Human Predicament" was undoubtedly a thorough and learned discourse befitting one of Wilburn's liberal theology. It was not my misfortune to hear the speech, so I do not know just what type of predicament the speaker was treating. However, I was immediately struck with the appropriateness of his title, for no religious sect is in any worse predicament than the Christian Church itself. And the predicament of the Disciples is truly one brought on by HUMAN factors. Every perversion and corruption within that body is traceable to MAN'S will and way.

It is certain that no predicament has been brought about by strict adherence to the pattern of doctrine set forth in the Scriptures. A steady stream of departures (from the Missionary Society of 1849 and the instrumental music of 1859 all the way down to the present) has served to prove what HUMAN doctrines can and will do to a group claiming to be Christians.

Just what has created the present state of the Disciples group? Below are a few contributing factors. In each instance the reader will note that HUMAN causes are at work. The same conditions which produced the present digression of the Christian Church are at work in churches of Christ. Who can doubt that the same fruit will be born in time?

Infatuation with Human Philosophy The Disciples (now officially designated "The Christian Church") have been tremendously victimized by liberals and modernists. Human wisdom has been exalted above the complete, all-sufficient, verbally inspired Scriptures. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17; 1 Cor. 2:10-14) An "educated ministry" produced by hotbeds of Unitarianism and liberal theology in general has so neutralized the Christian Church as to render it insipid, spineless, and indistinctive so far as taking a firm stand on Bible teaching is concerned.

As a result of this liberalism, the Christian Church has become a melting pot for people of various denominational backgrounds. (This was the contention of Dr. Leslie Smith recently in his church paper.) A newspaper article by the digressives recently stated, "We do not suggest that long-established denominations surrender their characteristics . . . Smith also admits in his paper that the Christian Church harbors in its membership "people of all degrees of thought" (speaking of modernism and conservatism.). Consequently the Christian Church will not and cannot speak out with emphatic stress on the distinctive Bible teaching on false doctrines lest some of the unconverted denominationalists within her take offense and rebel.

Our own brethren should take lessons from the predicament human wisdom and soft, liberal preaching have brought upon others. In some instances there are people who do not seem to know the difference between the Lord's church and denominationalism. Such people always resent straight-forward preaching on the errors of the sects. And many preachers there are, it would appear, who encourage this atmosphere by their little pious talks, sermonettes, and lectures on generalities.

Recreation and Social Gospel Emphasis The Central Christian church bulletin delineates a host of activities for the church calendar. Ample evidence is here seen of the HUMAN tampering with the work and worship of the church. Listed on one page are: Buffet supper for youth groups, prep basketball, Girl Scout Troop 5, Brownie Troop 106, Boy Scout Troop 4, Brownie Troop 98, Midget Basketball game, Buckskin Lads and Lassies meet in Fellowship Hall, Buckskin Beaus and Belles meet in Fellowship Hall, Dudes and Dolls Square Dance Group meets in Fellowship Hall. Evidently there is much FELLOWSHIP (eating, playing and dancing) at Central. I noted too that one group meeting in the "UPPER ROOM" would have refreshments before beginning the study.

All such activities by a church manifest the worst kind of disrespect for New Testament teaching. Just where does scouting, ball-playing, dancing groups, and such like fit into the divine pattern of the mission of the church? Very likely the Christian church preachers have had no trouble at all finding sufficient authority(?), for even "WE who BE BRETHREN" seem to be finding it for our own fun and frolic.

Pride Over Projects And Numbers

Human vanity seems also to be associated with the predicament of the Disciples. Glowing statistics, impressive accounts of BIG operations, boastful claims about size, rapid growth -- all of these appear in publications designed to set the Disciples before the community. Central's "Church Chimes" informs us that Christian churches -- in addition to their missionaries -- support 336 mission schools, 36 hospitals and dispensaries ,34 colleges and "chairs" of higher education, and 17 benevolent organizations for children and the aged. Also the churches "cooperate" in evangelism through the United Christian Missionary Society. Such wholesale apostasy from the divine pattern surely was undreamed of by early advocates of cooperation's' schemes. But history shows unmistakably that the ship of Zion has more than once been dashed upon the rocks of "cooperation" and "societyism".

Following along in the same path, sadly enough, are some churches of Christ. The Lord's churches today are found "building and maintaining" a variety of institutions comparable to the ones listed above. These HUMAN institutions supported by churches have created our present predicament. Already there are the church-supported "mission schools", benevolent agencies, colleges, and evangelistic societies. Soon will come the church-supported hospitals and dispensaries. In fact, I wonder just when "WE" will begin to build and maintain "OUR OWN" juvenile detention homes, alcoholics rehabilitation society, homes for unwed mothers, leper colonies, psychiatric clinics, etc. Good work can be done in all of these areas. Which marching church will be the first to undertake such? Well, wonders seem never to cease. Just hang around.

All of the above institutions may indicate to the world a tremendous "growth" of the church, but it may well be that we need to take a good look at Jeremiah's lament:

"They are GROWN STRONG in the land, but NOT FOR TRUTH." (Jer. 9:3.)

Proving Orthodoxy By Support Of Human Institutions

Both the conservative (?) Christian church and the Disciples (?) feature newspaper ads designed to distinguish themselves from the other. And just HOW do the Disciples groups identify themselves? BY LISTING THE HUMAN INSTITUTIONS THEY HAVE BUILT AND MAINTAIN. Why, naturally! This little note appears with the ads: "These churches co-operate with the College of the Bible, Transylvania College, the Kentucky and United Christian Missionary Societies... " Usually six congregations are listed after this fashion.

Disgustingly enough some churches of Christ are also now showing their "soundness" by telling the brotherhood just which human organizations they believe in and support. For example, these excerpts from the GOSPEL ADVOCATE: "The congregation is four years old, has no hobbies, supports orphan homes and mission work." Another: "We send regular contributions to the Herald of Truth and Childhaven." Again: "We are giving support to Tipton Home, and have included West View Boys' Home . in our budget" And this very choice morsel: "Churches in Miami that believe in our orphan homes and the Herald of Truth are. "It is quite apparent that our orthodoxy as congregations depends on support of orphans homes and the Herald of Truth, for the writer of the last item added "Brethren visiting in Miami are asked to observe and worship where the truth is taught" So, if a congregation does not fall down before the idols certain brethren and congregations have created, they are not teaching the truth. Such a predicament -- all because of HUMAN inventions and devices. Are brethren so deceived as to think that the predicament of the Christian Church will not also be the predicament of churches of Christ. Already it is so.