Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 21, 1960
NUMBER 11, PAGE 1,12-13

Lemmon's "Opinion" Versus The Faith

Harold Byers, Louisville, Kentucky

After listening to Brother Lemmons during an eight day meeting with the Church of Taylor Blvd. in Louisville, Kentucky, of which I am a member, and reading his editorial of May 17, 1960, I feel that it is time someone should correct the misleading statements concerning the conditions in Louisville and its connection with Restoration Movement.

To those of you who did not hear him, and would like to have a sample of his thinking, read his May 17, 1960, editorial. You have there a sample of his preaching — a lot of "opinion" and very little Bible. From his editorial in the Firm Foundation you would suppose that there are eight different bodies of Christ in Louisville, including a lot of private faith and opinion. This was Brother Lemmons' first visit into this area and you would gather from his editorial that the situation here is very bad. Brethren, that simply is not the case at all! I have been in Louisville for the past sixteen years and it shall be my purpose to inform the misinformed about Louisville.

You would reach a conclusion, from the last part of his article, that "opinion" (meaning anything that differs from Lemmons) is what is dividing the Church. This is not so in Louisville! I would like to set forth that has been the practice of the faithful congregations in the Louisville area for many years:

They have been taking care of their own work without the help of any sponsoring church arrangement, because, here in Louisville, we have as much talent and ability as any other place on earth. We have believed in the past, and still do believe, that the Church is sufficient to do all the work God gave it to do. It can preach the Gospel without the sponsoring church arrangement or the missionary society. It can edify its members without the edification society or college. It can do its benevolent work without the benevolent society or orphan homes through which to function. Would you call this type of arrangement 'opinion'? If so, then what would it take to make it a matter of 'the faith'? It is not an 'opinion' when you ask for a Bible verse that teaches what some are trying to get the Church to engage in. Where is the verse that suggests a group of churches sending money to one for it to "sponsor" the preaching of the Gospel worldwide in Evangelism? Would you say that the need is so great today, and that is why it must be done this way? No, my friends, that could not be so, for at the beginning of the Church the whole world had not heard about the Christ. Why did Peter and Paul not organize a sponsoring church arrangement in the first century? Faithful brethren of yesteryear, such as Brother E. R. Harper, have contended against such arrangements in the past. I quote from the 1938 Tulsa Lectures:

"The primary work of the Church is twofold. First, to worship and glorify God (John 4:24; Acts 2:42; 20:7; Eph. 3:20, 21) and, second, to preach the Gospel to all the world in order that the lost may be saved. (Mat. 28: 18-20; Mark 16:15, 16). No other organization is necessary to carry out this work."

"The Church has a secondary work of look after her members. She should care for their needs, spiritually, materially, and in every respect where the needs arise. Some are poor, some are sick, some are careless, and some become unruly. It is the duty of the Church to keep vigilance over all such."

"When the work of the Church is properly carried out all these duties will be included, and no other organization, religious or secular, has the right to assume them. When it does it usurps the work which God has delegated to the Church and to it only." (Tulsa Lectures, Page 110.)

"The New Testament Church exists only in two senses: first, in the universal sense, and second, in the sense of a local congregation. There is no universal head of the Church. We have no central organization exercising control over the whole body. Since no such organization exists it is impossible for the schools to be owned and controlled by such." -(Tulsa Lectures, Page 113.)

"A congregation has no right to build anything larger than that it is able to support. It has no right whatever to bind any other congregation to any program work of its own selection. Each congregation must retain its autonomy. Any effort that destroys the independence of the local congregation runs straight toward sectarianism, if not Romanism." (Tulsa Lectures — Page 113)

"I fear that in some instances they (the schools) have approached the danger line. In seeking to get their hands upon the purse strings of the church budget for their own maintenance, and in directing the work of missionaries they overstep their bounds." (Tulsa Lectures — Page 117)

Now Brethren, was he a 'hobbyist' or an 'anti', when he preached this in 1938? No! Everyone there called him a faithful servant of Christ. Now he has made a complete change. Would you call him a 'hobbyist'? Faithful brethren are still contending for the same old New Testament principle, that Brother Harper and his supporters endorsed in the past.

God wanted each of the churches to do its own work and in so doing each of its members will grow in the Lord.

Chart Goes Here God's Way Is The Direct Method

I would like to invite you to a simple study of divine principles which, down through the years, faithful men have been willing to abide by for the cause of Christ. Suddenly we hear strange voices from afar teaching a different gospel. Paul said in Gal. 1, that if an angel preached anything else "let him be accursed." Yes, my dear brethren, you may be called an `anti' by some and a 'hobbyist' by the liberal, `ignorant' by the modernist, and by those who cry "Peace", as preaching private faith or "opinion." Whatever the name men desire to belittle you by for contending for the faith, just remember it is exactly the same impulses which caused some of those, in years gone by, to call us Campbellites. Man must say something in answer and the only thing he knows is to give you a name that you refuse. It is not "opinion" that is hurting the Church, it is men misrepresenting the truth, when faithful brethren are contending for the faith. Because others want to do more than God's word will allow, when you oppose this they call you a hobbyist, Alas, I have found out what they mean. They all agree that the Bible gives us an example or command as to how the churches cooperated in Evangelism, Phil 4: and how they relieved their need in Benevolence, Act 11.

But in conclusion they say, "I agree that is one way. but that is not the only way?' Now when you condemn the other way, which is not in God's word, then they say you are preaching your "opinion". John said, to go beyond is to be without God. Down through the years denominations made the same argument when they were practicing things for which they did not have God's authority. Again you have God's way as compared to man's. You be the judge as to which is true. Brother Lemmons said there were eight separate bodies, all offshoots of the Restoration Movement. I quote.

"There was a time when gospel preachers could chide the denominational world with the fantastic picture of one head and many different bodies. But no more. Now, we too, present the same sight — one head and several different bodies."

"'The churches in Louisville carry advertisements in the papers. These advertisements are carried in groups. Each group states its peculiar creed in its ad. The Premillennial group — about a dozen congregations - advertises "preaching the Book, the Blood, and the Blessed Hope." Another group — about a dozen — advertises its creed: "These churches advocate a scriptural eldership for every congregation and reject the false doctrine of Premillennialism." A third advertisement reads: "We practice local autonomy under scriptural elders, support orphan homes, and reject Premillennialism.

"Then there are at least five other separate bodies — all offshoots of the Restoration — in the city. These eight separate and distinct bodies, each out of fellowship with every group, all claim the same head! It seems to us that such a condition furnishes an excellent reason for going back to Cane Ridge, Lexington and Cincinnati to start all over. The Restoration Movement is splintered about as badly as the denominational protestantism of that day. This time brethren would have a more immediate objective — the unification of the body of Christ. If they could get their own separate groups to throw out their private opinions, personal faiths, and human creeds — that would divide them into warring and sectarian-like camps — and go back to the Bible for it all, they would have accomplished wonders."

It would be interesting to have him name the last five bodies, and then to tell which group he preached for while here in Louisville, If they had a creed, and if they were unscriptural, why did he not tell us while he was here rather than sending it by remote control through the Firm Foundation, from Texas? I quote again from the editorial.

"Louisville itself is a sad commentary on the history of the Restoration. If our feet are to be guided by the lamplight of our experiences, we have in the history of the church there a solemn and serious warning. The Restoration Movement was aimed at the elimination of all human creeds and human opinions, and the acceptance of the Bible as a single and sufficient rule of faith and practice. All private faiths were to give way to the faith. Yet, in Louisville, today, it is quite evident that brethren have completely forgotten and abandoned that plea. There are numerous denominations of, and within, the church of our Lord in Louisville, and each vehemently preaching its own private creed and opinion. Each considers its hobby to be a matter of faith with us, when in reality they speak of private faith because all these opinions cannot be "The Faith." Private Faith is simply opinion. Then Brother Lemmons ended his article by telling what a fine church the Taylor Blvd. Church of Christ is and I quote: "The Taylor Blvd. church is one of the best in the brotherhood, with a membership of about 700 and with a physical plant second to none."

Let me say that it is hard for me to understand the conflicting view from his article. There are only three groups in Louisville. The faithful Church of Christ, the Premillennial Church of Christ and then those who have internal problems. The faithful church consists of some 16 congregations fellowshipping one another. It is true the faithful church does not want fellowship with the false doctrine of premillennialism.

Now concerning, "Louisville being a sad commentary on the history of the Restoration", it depends upon what makes you sad. If you want to make it seem that opinion is the cause, then you must agree the Premillennial and faction groups are right and fellowship should be granted upon those terms. No, Brother Lemmons, it is a matter of the Faith and not private opinion that has caused what you term a "sad commentary on the Restoration". Paul told the church at Corinth that they might learn not to go beyond that which is written.

Let us look back and view it from another standpoint. Since the war, the church in Louisville has grown from about 1,000 weekly attendance to about 3,500; while at the same time those unfaithful churches have averaged about the same, approximately 1,200 weekly. In addition to this, seven new church buildings have been erected with seating capacities of from 225 to 975. Five new congregations have been started. Two congregations have been redeemed from premillennialism. All of this being a tremendous growth among those contending for the Faith while those in error have made little or no progress. Would you call this a 'sad commentary" from the standpoint of accomplishment over the past decade?

Louisville is no worse, perhaps, no better than any location in which the Church of the Lord has been planted. At the same time the picture is far from being dark, but looks encouraging from any side you choose to look upon the situation.

I listened to Brother Lemmons for several days, concerning 'opinion," and at the same time handing down his own "opinion" as Divine Truth! Matt. 7: would apply to us all. We are not troubled upon what the Bible says, but we are troubled upon what the Bible does not say.

Yes, let us go back and restore New Testament Christianity, untouched by human hands, just like it was in the days of Paul. Let us go back past Premillennialism, Sponsoring Church (Herald of Truth), anti Elders, Orphans Home Society. Yes, let us go back to the Bible for our authority in religion and not be guilty of presumptions sin like Nadab and Abihu. Let us restore New Testament Christianity!

It is a lamentable fact, when Gospel preachers behind the scenes, endorse, sponsor, promote things which they do not have authority to do. When you question their promotions they say you suddenly become a 'hobbyist'. Many are beginning to say, "Preach the gospel but don't preach on these things." When you hear statements like that, it disturbs the faithful because they sense that 'something is wrong. We in the body of Christ have grown stronger through the years by preaching the Bible and insisting upon its being our only rule of faith and practice. Now it is our Faith, but all too often not our practice.

My desire, for those who enjoy reading the religious papers, is that, you will open your minds to the truth and not be carried away by the wisdom of men but rather be receptive only to God's word. I trust that those who are standing for the Faith will be helped by this article. John said, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."