Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 30, 1964

What Is An "Anti"?

Bob Crawley

Properly speaking, the term "anti-" is only a prefix, not a complete word. It means "against" and is a combining form which should be completed by adding the word which names the thing which is being opposed. It may be used in combination to denote one who is "anti-social," "anti-war," "anti-Christ," etc. Among religious writers and speakers the term has long been used to describe the position of those who are against certain doctrines and practices. A century ago the terms "anti-music" and "anti-cooperative" were being used (in a sense unfairly) to describe our brethren who rejected the use of instrumental music and participation in missionary societies inter-church combinations. We have used the terms "anti-class" and "anti-located-preachers" to denote those who oppose the churches' using multiple class arrangements for Bible teaching and those who oppose the employment of a regular preacher to do the public preaching to the church. In more recent years the term "anti-orphan home" has been used to refer to those who oppose, not the existence of orphanages, but their being operated as church auxiliary institutions by soliciting church contributions.

As a colloquial expression, the word "anti" is used as a noun to refer to a person who is "against" whatever issue or practice the person using the term is "for." Those who instigated and defended the instrumental music in worship used the term "anti" to refer to those of us who rejected it. It is usually used as a term of derision to stigmatize and cast reflection upon the one so described. Properly speaking, the Lord and the Lord's people have always been anti's and will continue to be referred to as such by those who seek to advance the Devil's programs.

In reading the various periodicals of the institutional and social promoters such as the Gospel Advocate, the Firm Foundation, The Christian Chronicle, etc. we have become accustomed to seeing the terms "antis" and "anti-ism" used to denote those of us who oppose any facet of their entire digressive movement. In many places the faithful Christians are called "antis by uninformed people who do not know what the position is which we are supposed to be anti-. In many places, well-meaning brethren have been led to believe that the division that has occurred in recent years has been caused by a few radical "antis" who are against orphans' homes and radio preaching. Preachers in this area have led some of the brethren to believe that the "antis" have divided the church by binding their opinions in some matters of benevolence and cooperation. This is a basic untruth.

Division always occurs when some hold to the truth of God's Word while others are turning aside after something else. This sometimes takes place when the truth is preached among people who had been united in error. Sometimes, too, it takes place when those who have stood together for the truth begin to have some who turn aside after error. It is not so important who causes the separation (historically speaking) in a given case. It is only important to be found on the side of truth so that one be found fighting with God instead of against him.

Let it be said plainly that we do not object to being called "antis" provided the person saying it will not misrepresent the issue and what it is that we are against. We could not be for the gospel without being against false teaching. We could not be for purity of life and not be against sin. We could not be for the church of Christ as the Lord built it and not be against every influence which would attempt to pervert it in worship, in organization, in doctrine, in work, and in its divine character.

If this makes us "antis," then the responsibility is upon the Lord whose will we are content to follow. If this brings us into conflict, it will only be with those who have something to preach besides the gospel, some institution to promote beside the church of Christ, some organization to defend beside the separate and independent churches of Christ, some doctrine to preach for which he cannot find the authority in the scriptures of God, and some purpose to serve beside the saving of souls. God's "antis" have always caused error a great amount of trouble.

— Lexington, Kentucky