Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 12, 1970
NUMBER 40, PAGE 4-5a

It's Worse Than We Thought


A few weeks ago we printed a couple or three articles from Carl Ketcherside, militant advocate of the "we ought to fellowship all baptized believers" movement. We thought everybody (and certainly every regular reader of the Gospel Guardian) would understand we were running the articles for their "shock effect," to awaken and arouse a lot of complacent brethren who were simply incredulous that such a thing could be happening "among us."

Well, the "shock effect" took place all right — but not as we had intended. It worked in reverse — the editor got the shock!! We got indignant letters from some brethren who wondered what on earth we meant in promoting and advocating and publicizing Carl Ketcherside's heresies. And we got some from a few brethren who thought it was just WONDERFUL that Carl was promoting such a loving, brotherly doctrine — and who do we think we are making all those nasty cracks about him!

For some years now we have been warning against the encroaching liberalism and doctrinal sickness that would inevitably follow the victory of the "institutional" brethren in sweeping so many congregations into their centralized promotions and projects. We were anathematized as a "prophet of doom," an "anti" who was always against any progressive, constructive approach to the great task of evangelizing the world. The Gospel Advocate carried an article suggesting that the only proper way to handle the "antis" was to quarantine them, isolate them, shut them off from whatever chance they might have of exerting any influence against the promotions.

Our warnings that the "promoting brethren" were heading into absolute catastrophe so far as New Testament Christianity were concerned were derided as the ravings of a fanatic. Then when we began to point out that men like Carl Ketcherside, Leroy Garrett, Robert Meyer, and others were capitalizing on this "softened" posture of the brotherhood and were going much, much farther than the original institutional promoters had ever dared dream they would, we were charged with accusing them falsely. Brethren in the institutional churches simply were unwilling to believe that any such wild and liberal teachings could EVER happen "among us."

So we published some of their articles — Leroy Garrett's "New Look In the Church of Christ," for example, and Ketcherside's articles on love and fellowship. We did it for the shock effect," as we said.

And, brother, has it been effective!! The editor got the shock!

The very fact that ANY reader of this journal could for one single minute credit the idea that we were PROMOTING Ketcherside's brand of liberalism sort of left us gasping. But, even more shocking, were the letters (only two or three of them, fortunately) which supported Ketcherside's idea as a sound and worthy approach to the problem of "fellowship."

We live and learn. We were surprised, of course, to have ANY letter from Gospel Guardian readers endorsing the Ketcherside philosophy; but, at the same time, we would opine the publication of his articles in the Gospel Advocate and Firm Foundation and Christian Chronicle would bring a flood of commendatory letters. Readers of those journals have been conditioned to be receptive to such a plea. Their respect for Bible authority has been weakened; their willingness to abide strictly in the apostolic doctrine has been undermined. They are ripe for heresy! And Ketcherside comes along with a wholly plausible and attractive plea, a plea that is but a very brief extension of what they have already been conditioned to accept. So why should they not embrace it? Ketcherside is a most skillful advocate of his philosophy: he makes it seem so reasonable and simple. To people who have been encouraged to accept the idea that "we may do many things for which we have no authority" it is altogether logical and fitting that such historic bones of contention as instrumental music and the missionary societies should be swept under the rug. Why get all hot and bothered about those items, when we, the non-instrument, non-society group have accepted and do support many other things for which we have "no Bible authority" — such as institutional orphan homes, church supported hospitals, schools, recreation centers, etc.?

We think we have pretty well made our point so far as Garrett's and Ketcherside's teachings are concerned. And we do hope the publications of their writings will awaken SOME brethren (who are now sleeping) to the fact that it CAN happen to "us." The only safeguard against apostasy is a clear and continuing adherence to a "thus saith the Lord." Departing from that standard, there is no stopping place.

— F. Y. T. —