Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 27, 1966
NUMBER 25, PAGE 4-5a

Those "Voices"


On the front page this week is a most perceptive article by Brother Robert H. Farish, commenting on the newly published "Voices of Concern," a compilation of articles by several erstwhile (and some current) members of the Church of Christ denomination, telling why they left that denomination, or why they are unhappily remaining in it.

We speak advisedly in use of the word "denomination," for by the description given of what they left, and why they left, it is very obvious that these brethren (and sisters) have always conceived of the church to which they belonged in denominational terms. In the very act of priding themselves on being "undenominational Christians", belonging to "the fastest growing religious body in America," and basking in the warm glow of pride that comes each year in reading "our statistics" in the various encyclopedias (most articles being written by Burton Coffman, B. C. Goodpasture, or Norvel Young) they became the most rigid and restricted kind of denominationalists imaginable. The thing against which they rebelled is a creation of their own devising; they have not rebelled against the Lord's true church, for they have never had any proper understanding of the Lord's church: they have simply traded one denomination for another, leaving a narrow-minded, bigoted, political denomination with which they were very familiar for narrow-minded, bigoted, political denominations with which they were less familiar!

We have sent copies of "Voices of Concern," edited by Robert Meyers of Wichita, Kansas, to several faithful brethren, men of understanding and compassion, asking their evaluation of the book and its message. We intend to publish their articles (of which Brother Farish's is the first) within the new few weeks, making some observations of our own as we go along. To begin with, we point out two things which we believe most discerning readers will recognize immediately:

1. All those writing in "Voices of Concern" hold a denominational attitude toward the authority of the Scriptures. Indeed, this is basic to their problem. Instead of a sincere and humble desire to know exactly what the Bible teaches, and be guided by that, they have used human reason, emotionalism, and vague philosophical generalizations to justify their actions.

What have they found in any denomination which is worth-while that could not have been found in the Lord's church? How have they bettered themselves? Where is the article (we searched for it in vain) in the entire collection which cites a single verse of Scripture and says: "I had to make the change because God, in this passage, required it of me?"

2. The second thing so very obvious to this reader was that there is a great element of TRUTH in the charges these good people level against the "Church of Christ"----that is the "Church of Christ" as they knew it! The "Church of Christ" these people knew, and from which they rebelled, is indeed nearly everything they say of it --- tradition-bound, legalistic, dominated by political considerations, woefully lacking in any spirit of compassion or humility, fanatically intolerant of any who would raise a question or any point of opposition to "our traditional practice," and both intellectually and spiritually stultifying.

These are strong charges. We do not make them carelessly or thoughtlessly. But in our own experience, and in the experiences of thousands of others these past fifteen years, we have seen indeed how powerful and ruthless can be the leading lights of the "Church of Christ" denomination when they are crossed. As that group of people have moved more and more into a denominational posture, and as their younger and more vigorous leaders have increasingly shown a willingness to accept denominational status, the conflicts have been intense and inevitable.

A most discerning Disciples of Christ leader, talking not long ago to some conservative gospel preachers commented: "It seems to me Brother Goodpasture and his 'Church of Christ' are in a wholly untenable position: they desire YOUR preaching and OUR practice!" What he meant was that these brethren would like to continue the same kind of preaching done by faithful preachers since the days of the Campbells, demanding 'Bible authority' for all that is done in the name of religion, respecting 'the silence of the scriptures', contending for the 'all-sufficiency' of the church to do all God wants it to do

and at the same time they are attempting to develop all the institutions, organizations, and promotional projects which the Disciples of Christ have been using all the time. They want to preach it one way, and practice another!

Under such diverse and opposing forces, a whole generation of younger (and some older) brethren have become hopelessly confused. They have seen that preaching and practice do not go together - hence the charges of legalism and hypocrisy with which "Voices of Concern" is replete. They have put their finger on a fatal weakness of the modern institutional "Church of Christ," the only church of Christ most of them have ever known or had any dealing with. We opine that this book, "Voices of Concern" will have a vastly disturbing effect for hundreds of sincere (and untaught) members in the institutional, denominational "Church of Christ" against which the writers of these articles rebelled. We do not think the book will even cause a ripple in the ranks of those faithful brethren and churches which have long since recognized many of the weaknesses and inconsistencies pointed out, and have set themselves the task of "walking by faith" in every act of worship and work. For those who "walk by faith" the book will have little impact; for those who "do many things for which we have no authority," the repercussions may be profound. We shall have more to say about this later.

F. Y. T.