Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 15, 1951

Ernest Beam And His Proof Text

James R. Cope, Tampa, Florida

In his efforts to get brethren to fellowship the users of instrumental music and adherents of the premillennial theory Ernest Beam has appealed to Romans 15:7 as the basis of his persuasion. The passage reads: "Wherefore receive ye one another even as Christ also received you, to the glory of God." Editor Beam says, "Christ did not receive anyone without error, nor have any been without error any of the time. He thinks that this passage means Christians ought to tolerate the practice of instrumental and the teaching of premillennialism. The editor a does not use the instrument or believe the premillennial theory of the two nor their exponents was their teaching. Beam says these are but "husks" and "peripheral matters" and declares he is not "about to enter into a discussion" of these issues. He wants to talk about "fellowship" all the while ignoring the very basis upon which the fellowship of I John 1:7 can exist. Editor Beam's disposition toward ignoring plain Bible teaching on vital issues reminds one of the ostrich as he seeks refuge from all reality by sticking his head in the ground. Crying for fellowship while by-passing the fundamental causes of disfellowship he seeks refuge in a passage not remotely connected with the real cause of trouble.

Did Christ Receive Any With Error?

Editor Beam thinks the Lord "did not receive anyone without error, nor have any without error any of the time." According to Beam's thinking, every person Christ ever received had error when Christ received him. This conclusion denies the gospel—its purpose, its power, its scope, and its author. When a sinner obeyed the gospel, then, he really wasn't saved from all his sins (errors) but just part of them. An idolater could continue his idolatry and Christ received him anyway. A polygamist could continue his polygamy and still be owned by Christ. A Jew could bind his circumcision on Gentiles and still be fellowshipped by Christ. Anybody who knows anything knows the absurdity of such, yet Ernest Beam's thinking logically leads him to these conclusions.

One had as well try to come to God with an idol in his heart as to attempt to please God while holding to sin of any kind. This does not mean that one is spiritually grown the moment he is born again; it does mean that he cannot espouse error all the while he is being accepted. A sinner must forsake his sins when he obeys the gospel. This is one thing. For the newborn babe in Christ to hold conscientious scruples concerning indifferent matters is something else. Editor Beam needs to find a passage that declares Christ received a man in baptism who denied anything involved in Christ's claim to "all authority." This he has not done. This we shall anxiously await.

What Does Romans 15:7 Teach?

Romans 14 deals at length with matters indifferent and the attitude the "weak" should have toward the "strong" and the "strong" toward the "weak" in these things. Nowhere does Romans 14 indicate that things indifferent are ever to be made tests of fellowship unless an indifferent matter is made binding to the injury of a weak brother. In the latter event, the regular course of church discipline would be followed.

Romans 15 continues the general line of thought begun in chapter 14 giving specific applications of the principles announced in the former chapter. In verse 7 of which Editor Beam makes wholesale use and application, Paul says, "Wherefore receive ye one another, even as Christ also received you, to the glory of God." Whatever else the verse teaches it declares Christians are to receive each other "EVEN AS" Christ "received" (past tense) them. If Christ received them in error, Christians are to do even AS Christ did. If Christ received them without error Christians are to do even AS the Savior did. If refusing to eat meat offered to idols was sinful, Christ received them in their sin. In one event we would find Christ condoning sin, in the other event, contradicting Editor Beam. In neither event is Ernest Beam's position sustained. The truth is: Romans 15:7 teaches that Christ received men both weak and strong in indifferent matters —all of which brings us back to the issue. Are instrumental music and premillennialism indifferent matters?

Beam says that since these things are indifferent matters he will affirm that Christians are wrong in disfellowshipping those who hold them. I deny that they are indifferent matters, and am willing to affirm that they are errors "of faith," yet Beam steadfastly refuses to discuss the real difference between us. IF Beam can prove that these are matters of expediency the fellowship issue immediately resolves itself. But as long as he hides behind the "editorial walls" of his paper and the "protection" of his self-established "fellowship" barrier, all discussions of Christian fellowship are as useless as they are senseless.