Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 4, 1967

"The Roaring Flood"


Somewhere in his writings Shakespeare said something about "the inaudible and noiseless foot of time." But Carlyle hit nearer the target (at least for this writer) when he exclaimed, "And the roaring flood of existence rushes on forever similar, forever changing." For a full eighteen years now we have tried to hold down the chief editorial chair (hot seat would probably be a more apt description) of the Gospel Guardian. With this issue we start Volume Nineteen. The years have been hectic and sometimes harrowing. The division within the Lord's body within these two decades has become open and irreversible. It has happened to our generation as it happened to our fathers --- and for the same reason. The "roaring flood" is indeed forever similar, and the changes can sometimes be basic.

But similarity does not mean identity; and the changes can in time alter the entire course of history. Indeed, they do. Take a case in point: the Restoration Movement. There are many similarities also between the roaring flood of Campbell's day and our day, as there are similarities also between the "roaring division" of seventy-five years ago and the division now taking place. But there are also fundamental differences. One of the most obvious of which is the spirit and attitude of the Conservatives of today as contrasted with the spirit and attitude of our forefathers of two generations ago. When the ultimate "point of no return" had been reached and accepted seventy-five years ago, and the tragic division was made final, the true church of the Lord was broken, beaten, and badly demoralized. All over the nation people who had been members of active, enthusiastic congregations of a hundred to a thousand members were driven from their buildings, shunted off into the side streets and back alleys, and were held up to scorn and ridicule as the "do nothing antis"! David Lipscomb, editor of the Gospel Advocate was caricatured in the journals of the progressives as an old woman with a broom trying to sweep back the tides of the ocean! So futile and so silly was the opposition against "progress!"

A miasma of gloom hung like a thick pall over the whole body of the Conservatives. Defeated, discouraged, and sick at heart they fell to quarreling among themselves about a score of less important issues -- membership in' fraternal orders; whether to use "one cup" or more in the Lord's supper; whether to divide the congregation into "classes" for teaching purposes; whether or not a woman could teach in such classes; the use of literature and "helps" in the teaching program; whether a Christian had the right to vote and hold public office --- and a score of other distracting and distressing bones of contention. The total result was virtual stagnation. The enthusiastic, all-conquering "progressives" swept on in triumph, ridiculing the "antis" at times, but generally ignoring them as being too insignificant even for contempt.

But what a difference today! It is the Conservatives who are now surging forward on every front, building new congregations, reaching into new fields carrying on aggressive and productive endeavors it reaching the lost. While the liberals are increasingly finding themselves engulfed in a veritable nightmare of false teachings, unscriptural practices, and growing internal tensions. All their "don't rock the boat' pleas coupled with desperation efforts to pretend that all is well cannot conceal the fact that they are headed for trouble, trouble, TROUBLE! It may come it their "college in the church budgets" promotion; considerable element are chafing and resentful uncle] the restraint forced upon them by those who oppose such a development. Or it may come in the exciting "new" discoveries of glossalalia (the tongue-speaking craze) which our liberal brethren have lately stumbled upon. It may develop over the "New Look" in the Church of Christ so triumphantly hailed by Leroy Garret and the Broadway Church in Lubbock; or it may be in the growing opposition of such men as W. L Totty to the "Campaigns for Christ" super-colossal spectacles which are now the "in" gambit.

But however it comes, and in whatever guises it reveals itself, "the roaring flood" seems destined to take off the vast majority of our liberal brethren and congregations into the chaotic wilderness of denominationalism. The course has been set; there will be no change of direction.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives seem to be weathering their problems with little damage done to the general cause of truth. There have been differences, of course, and some sharp exchanges between brethren on various points of doctrine. But these have done little to disrupt the peace and general onward progress of the forces of Christ. Local troubles are usually kept local; and "brotherhood projects" simply do not exist. This is as it ought to be. This was the practice and procedure of the apostolic church. It worked for that generation; it is working for this. Herein lies peace, progress, and prosperity for the Lord's people.

-F. Y. T.