Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 22, 1951

More Worried Than Ever

Thomas L. Campbell, Fort Worth, Texas

In the Christian Forum of January 1, 1951, brother Ernest Beam published an article entitled, "Fort Worth, Texas, Brother Is Worried." He was talking about the writer of this piece. Brother Beam reviewed in part the article in the Gospel Guardian of December 7, 1950 under the heading of "Christian Church Overtures." Herein I stated that several brethren along with myself were interviewed by Colby D. Hall, chairman of the Program Committee for the Christian Church convention to be held in Dallas next April. Dr. Hall asked that the churches of Christ send a "fraternal greeting ... voiced by one of your elders." We stated that we were unable to accept such an invitation—that there was no organization in heaven or on earth that could accept such an invitation in the name of the churches of Christ. I further proposed that this invitation had "some elements of alarm in it." Why did Dr. Hall conclude that now was a good time to make such offers... Would he have dared to make such a proposal if he did not think that he has some excellent chances for success? What made him think we would be receptive to his plans? Are we drifting? What worries me is that very likely an outside observer can better see the direction we are going than most of us on the "inside." So, on the basis of those words I am "the worrier."

On the basis of Paul's injunction, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith" (II Cor. 13:5), it always seems appropriate to check on oneself and the direction he is going. Nothing brother Beam has written has eased my apprehension, but added a little fuel to the flame. I am worried more than ever. I am not worried so much about the kingdom of Christ, for it cannot be shaken —it will stand whether I fight for it or against it. I am not overly worried about my soul, for it cleaves to the Lord and to the Lord's church, the Lord's word, and the Lord's things. But I am worried about brother Beam. What can I say, what can I do to save him from his error? I am not interested in belittling, ridiculing, or gaining the ascendancy over brother Beam. I am interested only in saving him from the "error of his way" and thus cover "a multitude of sins." Men more gifted than I have tried and failed, but let me try.

First of all brother Beam's eye is far too much on men and not enough on God. His whole paper and line of reasoning are on man and the benefits to man. He worries about fellowship with men instead of the principles of faith, hope, and love toward God. The faith referred to here is the faith that obeys without question. The hope is the passionate desire to live with God in the resurrection. The love referred to is that which compels a man to keep God's commandments.

Second, he has too much emphasis on baptism as a basis of brotherhood rather than faith and penitence. Everyone knows that one must be immersed for the remission of sins to be in Christ, but brother Beam unintentionally ignores the essentiality of faith and penitence. He is anxious for fellowship with all who are baptized with immersion, but is not seemly anxious at all about "bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." This is what we mean and do when we confess that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God." Faith is the recognition of Christ as King, High-Priest, and Divine Prophet, and is the surrendering of our wills, hearts, minds to Christ's will. Perhaps, brother Beam assumes this in his reasoning—that is, that those who are immersed have that soul-surrendering faith, but if he does, he assumes too much. Here he "misses the mark"—sins. He perhaps reasons that he cannot see faith (like he can baptism) to judge it, therefore we are judging when we say a man has not proper faith. But James says that we know a man's faith by his works. (James 2:18-24) I am not then judging erroneously when I see a man who claims to have faith deny the necessity of keeping one or more of God's commandments. I know there is something wrong with his faith. Beam ignores an element of human nature which tampers and seeks to "improve" divine things. Man is a restless soul that "rushes in where angels fear to tread." Man must be disciplined. Baptism is one line of discipline, but of equal importance is faith which accepts the Lord with all the heart and repentance which demands the rejections of human perverseness and pride. If baptism is made the line of demarcation for the saint of God, then this will not decrease the "sectarianism" in "our" ranks, but multiply it. Two cannot walk together except they be agreed.

Third, brother Beam has vastly overemphasized the unity of brethren to the unity with God. This spirit made the Christian Church aimless, wasted and modernist. This was one of the first things that dismayed me when I attended the seminary at Texas Christian University. The Word of God as a guide in religious matters was disregarded and minimized, but UNITY WITH BRETHREN was praised to the skies. Their aim is unity with anyone who believes in a divine being at all. Restoration is ridiculed as impossible and worthless. Further, they denied the virgin birth of Christ, the "God-directly-inspired" Scriptures, the miracles and the literal resurrection of Christ. Even Dr. Hall who made the proposal of "fraternal greetings" in that Fort Worth meeting is reputed to disbelieve in the virgin birth, and I heard him personally in class ridicule his old professor, J. W. McGarvey, when he warned the preacher students at Lexington to stay clear of the critical writings of the modernists. Whether brother Beam knows it or not he is headed in the same direction. I would spare brother Beam that error. I know that he would not have me extend fellowship to these "unbelieving" Christian Church folk simply on the basis that both of us went through a similar form of baptism.

Brother Beam is wrong when he says that; "it seems the Christian Churches extended an invitation to elders and members of churches of Christ in Fort Worth to recognize oneness in Christ by baptism into Him and of common desire to go by the Word of God. This is not true, because from personal knowledge in seminary classes along with Christian Church preachers the Word of God is rejected as divinely inspired. Certainly then, they had no desire (common or otherwise) to go by the Word of God. Not only that but Dr. Hall said that on the Thursday that he wanted one of "our" elders to extend "fraternal greetings" they would partake of the Lord's Supper "that night," and we could take it with them if we wished. When brother Dillard Thurman challenged him for his scriptural authority for such an observance on Thursday night, he replied that it was instituted on that night! Is this not loose thinking? Brother Beam is gradually falling more and more into that kind of logic which will be the death of New Covenant authority.

Brother Beam makes me more worried than ever when he makes such statements as "anyone who knows our history knows we set out to work for unity among all believers and to end the old sectarianism." This is not strictly so, for the primary plea was the restoration of New Testament Christianity by the slogan, "Where the Bible speaks, we speak; and where the Bible is silent let us be silent." Unity was a by-product. True, this is the only true ground of unity among all believers, but that is because men are united to God first of all.

Brother Beam is wrong and makes me worried in his behalf when he makes such statements as, "I would not affirm the Bible gives us an instrument, or missionary organizations. What must be granted is: Involved in all these practices and views are believers sincerely immersed into Jesus Christ, and desiring to follow the Word of God in all matters of faith." Brother Beam "grants" too much. First, he "grants" that all believers are immersed SINCERELY. Both of us have immersed believers who were insincere as later proved by their actions—they were never converted. Second, many of those immersed do not desire to follow the Word of God in all matters of faith. This cannot be "granted." His proposition as stated is "idealistic" and not facing facts of the situation. Like the Adventist he assumes too much, then pushes with boldness and forces arguments built upon his assumption. Every cult exists and thrives under these assumptions. If each man were sincerely immersed and sincerely desiring to follow the Word of God in all matters of faith, there would be no instruments used in worship or missionary societies in the church's work.

Brother Beam cites the "errors and differences" which existed among the infant church as evidences that we should receive into fellowship in the adult church of today those with stains of doctrinal error. Does brother Beam think we should talk in tongues and strive for miracles today? They did then, why not now? He knows that with the coming of the Word of God in its fullness that these would cease. Until the final Word was penned the early saints were not face-to-face with the "unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness etc." (Eph. 4:13-16) The officers with their miraculous gifts were insufficient to stem the whole tide of error, but Paul predicts the Word will. Further, the "erroneous clinging to circumcision and the law of Moses, and engaging in religious practices no part of the New Testament at all" which are cited by brother Beam were performed by an immature body of people—babes in Christ. They cannot be used as an example of fellowship in a body capable of knowing fully the will of God.

Finally, I am sorry that brother Beam thinks that the previous article in the Gospel Guardian was the effort of myself and others to "rush into print to assure the preacher organizations, I do not want you to think I am slipping. I cannot help it if these people come to me for one body and presume I might be interested'!" I am not interested in defending myself of this unkind charge, but do want to state that the Christian Church representative did not come to us for "one body" for that was the thing we were interested in. They wanted us to condone them in extending "fraternal greetings" which, if we could comply, would be only hollow hypocrisy or a compromise of principles. They ask for something which we can't do in the name of "the churches of Christ." Not even Ernest Beam himself can do that. We preferred instead a proposal that we get together where we will discuss our differences frankly, and strive for a unity in the light of the Word of God. In this we were interested, and believed that brethren in general would be interested. Certainly we expect them to give up everything we find anti-scriptural in such discussions, and they have a right to do so with us if they can find where in we are not following God's Word.

No, the churches of Christ in Fort Worth will meet more than half way any group who want to "try to do something for oneness in the light of the Bible." But other than in "the light of the Bible" we must not be interested!

Brother Beam with his notions of baptism and unity is truly creating a sect, but not a new one. His kind of sectarianism began working before the apostles were dead. All innovations which Rome borrowed from the pagans was condemned in the light of "Christian baptism" and Unity. The great schism of nearly a century ago developed from an overemphasis of these two excellent doctrines when in their proper place. May brother Beam see this and return before pride for a position fills his heart.