Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 16, 1961

"How Things Have Changed!"

Robert C. Ewell, Globe, Arizona

In a recent article in the Firm Foundation (Sept. 5, 1961, page 569), mention is made of the "new" thoughts of the elders at Central (14th and Monroe) in Amarillo. Texas; regarding teachers and their morals.

It is stated that they reached a "unanimous" decision that "such things as dancing, drinking (socially or otherwise), wagering (in any form) are detrimental to the spiritual welfare of the church and that we would discourage all such things at all times." Well, as belated as it is for them, it is good to finally see the 'old home congregation' (I grew up there — RCE) take a stand on morals. How they have needed it I I can well remember, as a boy growing up there, how preachers could "manage to move," if they preached on dancing, and its related ills.

But in spite of this need, the shocking thing about it all is the bragging being done about the "spiritual fervor and zeal" of the congregation that has "sold out" completely on the truth, several years back. (I wonder if they still sell Christmas Trees for the Optimist Club in their classes?) May be though that this is not nearly so important as the 50 odd other questions the elders saw fit to ask. Surely it is not nearly so important as the question of one's believing that "churches can cooperate with each other in supporting orphan homes and preaching the gospel."

In their "questionnaire for Bible School Teachers" they state: "The fact that you answer one or more of these questions contrary to the general thinking of the Elders does not necessarily mean that you will not be permitted to teach," and "the elders are not trying to force everyone to see eye to eye with them on every point ....". The thing that matters is: are they wanting them to see eye to eye with the Bible on every point. This is the important thing. Does it mean then, that the question of: "What religious publications do you read regularly?" is of no importance? Does it mean that their question: "What is your attitude toward: Dancing? — Drinking (socially or otherwise)? — Wagering (in any form)? — "; is of no importance? Does it mean that their question: "Do you believe it is wrong to use instrumental music in the worship?" is of no importance? Or is the important thing that they agree with the elders? If any of these 50 odd questions are ignored, then all of them (one or two at the time) must be ignored. So thusly, they would be forced to permit the believer in instruments to teach, or the non-believers in outside institutions doing the work of the church, to teach; that is if they are "fair" at all. Would they permit the gambler, dancer, or drinker to teach, if these were the only areas of disagreement with the elders? If not, why not? Perhaps though, the area of "Recreation and Social activities" is not so important as "Doctrinal matters," especially in the "Orphan Home" department. Some years ago Central "fired" a gospel preached over the "Orphan Home," and his preaching on "dancing," and purged from its midst some of the most faithful brethren in Amarillo. Hence we wonder just what the elders' attitude is at Central over "dancing" and the "Orphan Home?" Just what does one have to believe on these things to please these creed-makers at Central?

They state: "The first step toward getting on the approved list is to fill out the questionnaire." Now, the question is: Just what answers must the prospective teacher give to become "approved?" Can he give the Bible answer on "Orphan Homes" and "Dancing" and be approved? Can he say that instrumental music in worship is acceptable and still be approved? Can he answer that he is a member of the Masonic Lodge and be approved? We wonder? It is not so much the question that is asked, but the answer these elders expect that is disturbing. (Perhaps too, it is all right for the other members of the body to accept all these things and still be in good standing at Central.)

We may talk of creeds in the deed, but this certainly looms large as a creed for teachers, and one set by fallible men at that! It reminds us somewhat of some thoughts to be found in the Methodist Discipline, page iiii, introduction.

Do these questions on "Recreation and Social activities," "Doctrinal matters," and "Educational Background," stem from God — or are they workings of an apostate church, jealously guarding their sheep from the encroachment of the truth?

Will they tell us if they expect Bible answers, or those that will please men? (Gal. 1:10)