Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 5, 1967
NUMBER 22, PAGE 7b-8a

Anent Sentinel Of Truth

Jere E. Frost

Sentinel of Truth is a religious periodical edited by a personal and personable friend, Charles A. Holt. But the Sentinel does not sound, in content or spirit, like the friend with whom association has been so pleasant and profitable in times past, and its course may best be described as a misadventure in journalism. It assails churches of Christ per se, and heaps ridicule and scorn on gospel preachers who maintain that the church of Christ is patterned after the New Testament order in organization, work and worship. It is without parallel in our generation insofar as its belligerence, surliness and readiness to voice objections to its own ideas, is concerned. It bitterly and recklessly lashes out against the Scriptures themselves, saying that present English translations do not lead people to Christ, but actually lead people away from God. It's incredible editorial policy denies responsibility for its own content, or for the truthfulness of its own pages.

These serious charges are not quickly or thoughtlessly made; the Sentinel is now in its third year. It commenced with a denial that bishops are officers, that there are any officers in the church, or that elders have any rule. These ideas have been developed in subsequent issues and, even though the full course has not yet been run, the Sentinel has already put the church out of business (out of existence) in its arguments. Harold Spurlock, one of its original and regular writers, wrote on the inside back cover of the July issue (1967):

"If... You can organize it (not systematic arrangement , but bring into corporate existence), give it a distinctive name by which it is commonly known, join it, hold membership in it, be excluded from it, install officers to exercise authority over it, and its affairs, form a treasury into part of its corporate existence, make contributions to it, be an employee of it; NO MATTER WHAT IT IS, YOU WILL NEVER READ ABOUT IT IN THE SCRIPTURES. "

The erratic journal has "said a whole heap." Utterance number one was that the church is not an organization, entity or body politic. It does not organically exist! So it's out of business already, and the rest of the paragraph's pronouncements would prevent the church's going back into operation. (2) It cannot have a distinctive name, so if by chance it should come into organic existence no one can identify it by name or refer to it by a distinctive, scriptural name. (3) No one can hold membership in it (that does away with it regardless of whether it's an organization or simply a "systematic arrangement," for it has no members either way!) (4) It cannot exclude anyone; of course, we should have known, because if the church had no members in the first place, it is elementary that it could not disfellowship any of those members it did not have anyway. (5) The church has no officers; we should have known this too, since officers would have to be members and there are no members. That would be like having Indian chiefs who were not Indians to run tribes that were not there. (6) It cannot have a treasury, (7) it cannot receive contributions, and (8) it cannot have an employee for any purpose. Yes, the church is out of business. In the words of another Sentinel writer, shouting with all-caps in the same issue (page 5); "THERE IS NO SUCH THING IN TRUE CHRISTIANITY AS A CHURCH OF ANY KIND..."

The Bible receives only slightly better treatment. Read the following self-contradictory statement with its shouted and alarming conclusion about all of our English translations of the Scriptures:

"The translators (uninspired) translated these words into English language as best they could... It is true we can learn of the God of Heaven and His will by studying carefully these faulty translations. However, IT IS AN ESTABLISHED FACT THAT MORE PEOPLE ARE BEING LED AWAY FROM THE GOD OF HEAVEN BY OUR PRESENT TRANSLATIONS THAN TOWARD GOD. Who can doubt it? ... But no. We have held this book aloft and shouted to the world "This is the Word of God." And, in spite of these known discrepancies we have convinced ourselves that it is so. May the Lord have pity on our simple-mindedness." (July, 1967, page 4.)

These are the words of the financial power behind the Sentinel, J. D. Hall, Jr. This attack upon God's word is inexcusable, irresponsible, and unfounded, but was repeated in the August issue. And what was the point? Its purpose was to show that the Bible leads us away from God since the English versions have the word "church" and "THERE IS NO SUCH THING IN TRUE CHRISTIANITY AS A CHURCH OF ANY KIND." That quote is from the summary of the same article! In order to get rid of the church, he (quite erroneously) charges mis-translation and recklessly charges the Bible itself with leading people away from God. Or was it a sincere fancy about the Greek word ecclesia and disgruntlement with the church prompted the attack on God's word? Oh well, either way, the results are equally tragic and pitiable.

The editorial policy is as incredible as the paper's positions are radical. In the August, 1967, issue, the editor writes (page 28):

"There have been many ideas and positions set forth through this medium with which I disagree; even radically with some. Yet I do not feel obligated or compelled to review or answer any of these; or even state the fact that I disagree. Why should I? What difference would it make if I do agree or not? I am not infallible..."

Just what positions brother Holt radically disagrees with, I do not know, for he supplies a continuing medium for the repetition and promotion of the ideas we have noted, and also has written his personal grievances of a similar nature against the church, its nature and organic existence. But the whole thing is incredible. Radical false doctrines are being taught, our brother selects articles promoting said doctrines, sends them out to readers who likely have confidence in him and many of whom are doubtlessly weak and in need of sound doctrine, and then refuses to oppose those errors by saying. "Why should I?" For a start, how about because they are false doctrines? Oppose them because they can deceive people. And why should not an editor feel as much responsibility for telling people the truth as he does for providing space for others to tell people spiritual lies? "Why should I?" Indeed! Our brother denies that there is an office of elders, but claims that he is an elder. Now, forgetting the "office" part, a bishop must be one who is "holding fast the faithful word" to the end that he may be able "by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers." (Titus 1:9)

The avowed editorial policy of the Sentinel is void of a feeling of responsibility toward the proclamation of truth, the refutation of error, and of helping people to distinguish the right. "Why should I?" The words, and their context, get sadder each time I hear or think of them, and their spirit has launched and given reckless, radical and irresponsible direction to Sentinel of Truth, a modern misadventure in journalism.