Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 4, 1962
NUMBER 22, PAGE 6-7,14

News And Views

Charles A. Holt, 4882 University Dr. Wichita Falls, Texas

News Of Moves And Other Things

A. C. Grider, after several years of faithful labor with the Preston Highway church in Louisville, Kentucky, has moved to Meridian, Mississippi, to work with the saints there. Grider has meant a lot to the Cause of Truth in the Louisville area and there is no doubt but that he will be missed — by both those who love the truth and those who do not love it....David W. Claypool, is another very able and faithful man, who is leaving the Louisville area. He has been with the good Park Blvd. church for several years, and that church has enjoyed a very substantial growth both numerically and spiritually. Claypool is moving to Nashville, Tennessee, where he will work with the Franklin Road church....Joe D. Swint is now working with the church in Cooper, Texas....H. L. Bruce has moved from Pittsburg, Texas, to labor with the East-side church in Baytown.... Arnold Hardin, who has been with the church in Lancaster, Texas, for several years, will soon move to labor with the church in Sunnyvale, California ....Forrest Moyer, who was with the Sunnyvale church, is now being supported by Sunnyvale in a new work in Sacramento. From all reports received this new work is really growing.... From David Lawrence comes this report: "The church in Charleston, Arkansas, held a gospel meeting August 15-21, with Joe Fitch, of Sanderson, Texas, doing the preaching. He used a very profitable theme of 'How to Study the Bible'." ....I am to be with the church in Lone Wolf, Oklahoma, in a gospel meeting, October 1-7. Harold Griffin is the preacher there....James R. Trigg has moved to Port Arthur, Texas, where he will work with the Pear Ridge church. He was with the church in Overton, Texas....After four years in Dumas Texas, S. L. Edwards has moved to Mulvane, Kansas. He follows Judson Woodbridge in the work there....Derrel Shaw has moved from El Dorado, Kansas, to work with the good church in Dumas, Texas.

Brock-Walker Debate

During the week of August 20-25, it was my pleasure to assist Paul Brock in a debate with D. Ellis Walker. I served as Brock's moderator. It was a very good debate and it is certain to have tremendous effects for the Cause of Truth in that area. Brock did a very fine job even though this was his first debate. Good results will continue to come from this discussion. I was very glad to hear the debate and it was a privilege to thus serve brother Brock I was going to make a write-up of the discussion, but I have just read the first installment of a report of it which has been written by J. D. Tant, who lives and preaches in Decatur, Georgia; and it is such an accurate and true report of the affair that I do not believe I could improve it at all — or even do as well. So, I am here presenting brother Tant's first installment and hope to be able to give the others that he will write.

The Jacksonville Debate — J. D. Tant

The week of August 20-25 saw us in Jacksonville, Florida, to hear a religious discussion between brethren D. Ellis Walker of Gainesville, Florida and Paul Brock of the Lakeshore congregation in Jacksonville. Brother Walker was denying the proposition that the Lakeshore congregation is scriptural in its teaching (or doctrine) and its practice. Brother Brock affirmed the scripturalness of Lakeshore.

The tone of the debate was set at the very first. In Brock's first speech, he set forth clearly the teaching and practice of Lakeshore, and stated his intention to deal with the issue at hand rather than deal with personalities. This he continued to do. Walker stated in his first speech that he had come to discuss personalities. And this he continued to do, heaping personal abuse upon Brock and others during his nightly tirades.

Brock set forth the mission of the New Testament church — the preaching to the lost, edifying the saints, and the work of benevolence — and maintained that Lakeshore both taught and practiced the very same things. Walker agreed that these things were scriptural, so had to spend most of his time condemning Brock and Lakeshore for speaking out against churches that WENT BEYOND the limits set by the scriptures. Walker tried to maintain that Brock violated the autonomy of other churches by sending the Lakeshore bulletin to members of these other churches. Especially was this true in the cases where the members did not personally ask for the bulletin. (Of course, Walker practices the same thing, only on a somewhat larger scale.) This asinine bit of sophistry fell flat. Lakeshore no more violated the autonomy of other churches through sending its bulletin to individuals than it would through a radio program, newspaper article, or gospel meeting which resulted in the teaching of those of other flocks.

In maintaining that Lakeshore was unscriptural because it did not seek to relieve material needs of those who were not saints, Walker resorted mainly to some good Methodist sermons on the love of God, stating that His love is unrestricted, without bounds, and that these brethren were "constricting the great heart of God." We also believe in the love of God, but also believe the Bible teaching that God himself has set limits on His own love, else all would be saved. In trying to support this argument — that the church has an obligation in benevolence to the whole world — Walker made only one attempt to find scriptural authority which seemingly had any bearing on the subject. He had written a book entitled Every Good Work and used the arguments set forth in it during the debate. The whole argument depends entirely upon an understanding of the Greek language, which would, of course, make the Bible unintelligible to the average man. He rightly shows the various Greek words translated "good" in the English versions. He then arbitrarily picks out the word agathos (good) and says this type of good can be done by both the church and the individual. This is in opposition to the kalos (good) which can be done only by the individual. He cites several scriptures which showed the church engaged in that which was agathos, having proved (to his own satisfaction) that the church may always do that which is agathos, he jumps to Galatians 6:10 to prove that the church may relieve the needs of those not saints.

He labored to prove that Gal. 6:10 is addressed to the church since the plural personal pronoun is used, but Brock showed that if such were the case, then the circumcision in 6:12ff would have to be a church circumcision which would be rather difficult to maintain, but Walker's monument to fallacious reasoning fell in pieces at his feet as Brock produced a chart on Ephesians 4:28, which mentions agathos works. Thus by Walker's own reasoning, the church may engage itself in any gainful or profit-making activity, so long as it is honest, since the church also may engage in any agathos activity. More and more churches of Christ are practicing this, but usually are not bold enough to openly declare that such can be done. The departures are coming faster and faster.

We will have more to say about the debate in later issues. — J.D.T.

1 Corinthians 5: Fornication And Discipline

The following article, written by John Swatzell, Waycross, Georgia, was sent to me sometime ago. I have just re-read it and believe that it will be of interest to the readers of this column. The article is very thought-provoking. It is well-written and discusses objectively and rationally a very vital area of NT teaching. It will be unfortunate if anyone "reads into" his words their own interpretation of both the man and his article. Let none of us fail to consider fully and carefully his reasoning. Because he urges a "Word of Caution," without calling it that, in the matter of corrective discipline, he is likely to be branded as being loose and liberal on the matter; perhaps even a defender of ALL the railers, drunkards, extortioners, idolators, and fornicators in the church!

Whether we agree with the article or not, it is refreshing and stimulating. He does set forth an idea relative to this particular passage that is slightly different, but not without reason. Let us be sure that we study the article carefully and fairly in the light of NT teaching BEFORE either accepting or rejecting it. Here is the article:

I am not an authority regarding this matter, but God's Word is. If 1 Corinthian 5 teaches anything, it teaches the duty of the church in the matter of discipline in the sin of fornication. This chapter is used by some preachers to teach and encourage discipline by the church towards those who have remarried. While it is true that this chapter does teach and demand discipline in a certain case of fornication, it remains to be seen whether this chapter teaches church discipline of fornicators, per se.

The individuals involved in re-marriage are personally responsible before God about this matter and likewise, those teaching them regarding this problem, will be accountable before God. Outside of these, others will only be nominally connected UNLESS the sin of fornication is always a matter for church discipline. If it is always a matter demanding discipline, then every member of the congregation where such occurs is directly involved and therefore responsible before God.

1 Corinthians 5 does not deal with what the individuals involved in fornication must do to be forgiven and finally go to heaven, such as "must separate from present companion," "go back to first partner," "remain single" and a host of other "stock" answers brethren have been giving for years. It gives no particulars along this line. These truths must be learned from other scriptures, therefore will not be discussed here. But this chapter does teach what the church at Corinth was told to do in one particular incident regarding fornication.

Let me state briefly, I do not understand that fornication, per se, is under discussion here in this chapter any more than any of the other sins named in verse 11 as sins demanding discipline. Without a doubt, there are congregations with one or more people involved in the sins named in verse 11. As far as I know, no one has ever decided to pursue wholesale withdrawing from everyone tainted with any of the sins enumerated in that verse. But, fornication seems to be the one some people believe to be bigger and blacker than any of the other sins thus named. We are thus partial in our judging when we distinguish between sin and sin when God's Word warrants no such conclusion. It is evident from verse 11 that God's eye sees all such undesirables in the same category.

While it is true that fornication, per se, is not under discussion here in 1 Corinthians 5 (or at least I so believe), one particular case of fornication of common report, extensively circulated, is under consideration. It was so notorious that Paul had heard of it, though he was not where it occurred. He said "have judged already" in this case, implying therefore that the fullest information of this case was common knowledge. It was a case that even the heathen, who did not frown upon re-marriage, would not approve of and were shocked when they learned of its being in the church at Corinth. In other words, it was a scandal, an aggravated offence, notorious. (verse 1)

That the church was aware of this case is evident from verses 2 and 6. It is also shown that they would not do anything about it, in fact had given indulgence to it so as to let it remain unreproved in their midst. Paul shows in verse 6 and 7 the corrupting influence of this sin which was being indulged in the church. It was having the influence of leaven to both the church and general public.

It was upon this ground, and for this reason, the corrupting influence and the glaring notice given it, that action was demanded by the church. (verses 4,5, 9, 11, 12b and 13. In verse 13, the word "wicked" suggests the idea of active harmfulness The word "that" serves to pick out a particular person from any other. The word "company" in verse 11 expresses the thought of habitual mixing and mingling. This case was common knowledge and was bringing reproach upon the church. Therefore, this person must be "dis-associated" with the people of God. To exclude him from the kingdom of God was to assign him to Satan's kingdom, for there are but two. This would "dis-connect" him and his influence from the church at Corinth.

If 1 Corinthians 5 demands church discipline of every fornicator, by the same rule, it demands church discipline of all named in verse 11. The word "be" in "if any man that is called a brother be...." includes the meaning "be either." If any given church exercises discipline of fornicators, based on 1 Corinthians 5, then it should follow the demands of that chapter in withdrawing from all mentioned in verse 11. The elders would therefore have to examine the background of not only everyone's marriage, in an effort to find proper grounds for withdrawing from such a person, but by the same rule would of necessity have to examine each one regularly to see if any are or become covetous, idolaters, railers, drunkards, or extortioners. This sort of "checking" and "trying" is not authorized by Scripture. It would amount to a "question and answer" period or "private confessions" to the elders or some "committee" they might appoint. Every elder and preacher should know what the words in verse 11 mean or imply, without having to list their meaning here. If we are to "hunt" for some fornicators to withdraw from, we might as well try to locate the others named in verse 11. We would catch so many of the others named, such as "covetous," idolaters" and "extortioners,' for such church discipline, within any given congregation, that we would be so busy that it would take us a long time to get around to the few in the church who have remarried. This is not to be construed to mean that inaction and tolerance of known duty is excused in any congregation.

Do we really believe this was the only prevailing sin at Corinth (think of the many problems Paul dis cusses in the letters, remembering their heathen background — 6:9-11), is it possible that this was the only case of remarriage at Corinth? The church today includes in recognized fellowship those guilty of some of the other sins named in verse 11....yet they are not recipients of discipline. While we must admit this, it becomes evident that commonly reported cases which are bringing reproach upon the church or those having a corrupting influence, are the only ones the church really acts upon to the extent of withdrawing. Why not use the same rule in cases of re-marriage?

All discipline should be with mourning that there is a necessity for it and with a feeling of deep grief that the church has been injured. Members of the church often fall far short of the name "saints," but there can be no question as to the inconsistency of such open and high-handed living as described in 1 Corinthians 5. In view of this, the church was not acting in a rash manner in this case of discipline; in fact it was long over-due.

It is becoming increasingly noticeable that some brethren no longer need a "thus saith the Lord" in religious practices. Will this spread into the area of church discipline? The church is not a club, with the preacher as president and the elders vice-presidents, free to set up its own rules and terms of receiving and rejecting members. Discipline is the joint action of the congregation and not merely the preacher or elders acting ("when ye are come together"). The church, because it is composed of human beings, therefore weak, is not to engage in rash actions in areas of discipline. Honesty and exercise of love and patience must be practiced. Discipline is to be done "in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ," that is to say, by HIS authority. Tolerance does have its limits and in view of a command by Him, the church must respond in discipline, but bearing in mind it is because of a plain command. The purpose of discipline includes the bearing in mind of the individual's eternal welfare, therefore reformatory and must stem from a desire to help, not hurt the person.

We must continue to teach against all sin and try to correct it before it reaches scandalous proportions. If ANY of the sins named by Paul cannot be corrected and become common knowledge and circulated, thus bringing reproach upon the church, then nothing is left to be done but withdraw from such parties. Open violation of God's laws unmistakably grieve and outrage the church.

This includes the sin of fornication, but re-marriage per se, without the contributing effects, is not a matter of church discipline.