Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 8, 1951

Ernest Beam On Circumcision, Idols, And Morals

James R. Cope, Tampa, Florida

In the first issue of The Christian Forum Editor Ernest Beam takes the editors of the Gospel Advocate and Firm Foundation and the "brethren of our Christian schools" to task and claims they are primarily responsible for causing and perpetuating "disfellowship" of the Christian church and the premillennialists. Editor Beam wants everybody baptized into Christ to fellowship him and he wants to fellowship everybody regardless of what he teaches and practices following baptism. At least this is what I gathered from Issue I of his paper.

I wrote a reply for myself only and Editor Beam did not like it because I did not give The Christian Forum exclusive right to publish it. I sent my reply to the Gospel Advocate, Firm Foundation, and Gospel Guardian. The Gospel Guardian published it (The Firm Foundation later did) and Editor Beam forthwith mailed me a letter telling me I had violated the Golden Rule, begged me to sign a statement to confine my replies to him to his paper, and told me in no unmistakable terms that the columns of The Christian Forum would be closed to me unless I complied with his ultimatum. I replied to Editor Beam's letter in a former article, "An Open Letter to Ernest Beam." To date I do not know whether I have been "disfellowshipped" by the editor but if his ultimatum is carried out he has "disfellowshipped" my writing from The Christian Forum.

The foregoing attitude Editor Beam assumes toward my replying through channels other than his own paper proves the very thing I said to him and about him in my original "An Open Reply to An Open Letter;" viz., "You criticize those who criticize and would fellowship those who force the breaking of fellowship. If your designation of those who do not agree, with your views as characterized by 'sectarianism, legalism, Phariseeism, and bickering spirit' is not the language of partyism I admit I fail to grasp the meaning of the term and I cannot see where such an attitude can help the state you so weepingly deplore."

Not only has Editor Beam convicted himself of rank sectarianism but his demand that I either confine my writings concerning him to his paper or guarantee him a voice in papers over which I have no control coupled with his edict of "disfellowshipping" my writing in event I failed to comply is a pretty fair sample of how much tolerance to expect of those who for the sake of tolerance oppose New Testament teaching in discipline.

Ernest Beam is long on love and light on labeling. Love is indeed a trait of Godlike character, but Editor Beam's concept of love would make this coveted grace a namby-pamby mushy characteristic rather than a trait demanding a consistent course of action born of respect for divine authority. His primary error lies in his confusing things indifferent with things essential—matters of no importance with matters of faith. For example, he cites II John 7-11 and then says: "The above text never authorized any Jewish Christian to reject a Gentile Christian who had not yet learned the truth about idols and morals; nor a Gentile Christian to reject the Jewish Christian who had not yet learned the truth about circumcision and the law... This text does declare... that those who do in sincerity own this Jesus Christ ARE owned of the Father and the Son." Of II John 9 "the doctrines of Christ"—the Editor says it "is that CHRIST IS THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD—THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD—THE MESSIAH WHO WAS TO COME" and to give it any other meaning is "to twist and to pervert the word of God."

A number of errors are apparent in this position. I here mention two.

(1) Apostolic teaching concerning circumcision is clear and it is just as clear from a few passages that Editor Beam has missed the Holy Spirit's teaching on this matter as he missed it on II John 7-11. The apostles never rejected circumcision as a Jewish rite but they unmistakably made false teaching on it a test of fellowship and labeled those who sought to bind it upon Gentile Christians. See Acts 15:1-29; Gal. 2:148; 5:6; 6:15; 5:12; I Cor. 7:19. Circumcision was strictly a matter of indifference until somebody endeavored to make it a part of the gospel. For Editor Beam to parallel apostolic teaching on circumcision with his position on fellow-shipping digressives and premillennialists is "to twist and to pervert the word of God." Such a parallel would make instrumental music in worship strictly an indifferent matter and the present reign of Christ nothing to concern a Christian. Believe it, who can? Answer: Ernest Beam. And this is the same man who will receive digressives and premillennialists but who rejects one who doesn't agree to write just to suit the Editor of The Christian Forum.

(2) Apostolic teaching on idols and morals is equally as clear as that concerning circumcision. When the Editor declares that II John 7-11 "never authorized any Jewish Christian to reject a Gentile Christian who had not yet learned the truth about idols and morals," what in heaven's name does he mean? If he means idolatry was not pointedly rejected and the highest type morality demanded he is woefully ignorant of God's word. (See Acts 17:30, 31; I Cor. 5:1-8) If he means that "idols and morals" were indifferent matters, he doth "twist" and "pervert" the word of God. There is not a syllable in the New Testament which indicates God tolerated idolatry and immorality in his church whereas a multitude of passages speak with unmistakable clarity against both. Does the Editor mean to say the idolater could be baptized into Christ and continue his idolatry while growing in grace? Does he mean an adulterer—adultery is a moral issue—can be baptized and fellowshipped while he continues his Christian education all the while continuing his unlawful acts? If by "idols and morals" Editor Beam means eating "meat offered to idols," he must quit his refusal to discuss specific issues and attempt to prove that instrumental music and premillennialists are parallel to "eating of meats." May God spare the church from the influence of such a teacher and teaching!


Kenneth Shehi, 1312 East Edison Ave., Sunnyside, Wash., Jan. 24: "Three responses to the invitation at Sunnyside since last report. One was baptized who had previously been a Baptist. My work will end here March 15. Interest at the services is splendid."