Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 2, 1970
NUMBER 47, PAGE 6-7a

More Ketchersidian Fallacies

Dale Smelser

Brother Carl Ketcherside regards an article by me dealing with some of his concepts a "direct attack." I naturally rather considered it an astute perceptive analysis. Though this difference of opinion is really not too important. I would like him to note that I do consider him a brother and can truthfully say that I love him. But this does not establish fellowship, albeit in Carl's concept such being fact would involve the elements necessitating its existence.

He can write of "frightened brethren" who are "narrow and factional," "bitter and sectarian in attitude," who have created a "legalistic monster," and are guilty of "partisan loyalties" and "party pride" practicing "hypocrisy" (Gospel Guardian, January 8, 1970), and still claim fellowship with them. This may satisfy a false sense of magnanimity, but can hardly be the communion or sharing in common designed by Christ for his disciples. If Carl cannot share such reprehensible behavior, where is fellowship? Or, how can he be in fellowship with that in which he can have no fellowship (sharing in common)? If his fellowship is claimed regardless of practice and only on the basis of mutual relation to Christ (which is his concept), that would suppose Christ in fellowship with all those terrible, persistent, and impenitent sinners. But if practicing those sins will separate one from Christ, and God's word says it does (Gal. 5:20-21), where is Carl's basis for fellowship but outside of Christ and the kingdom?

To justify fellowship in the absence of "agreement," he illogically says, "Harmony is a fruit of fellowship, not the seed of it" (Gospel Guardian, January 22, 1970). Illogically, because this is actually contrary to what he seeks to justify, that is, fellowship in disharmony. His aim is to allow the instrumentalist, the institutionalist, the innovationist, etc., respectively to abide as he is, and all enjoy fellowship. Consequently, what Carl is practicing and preaching will never bring harmony of obedience. Noting these facts and granting his premise that harmony is a fruit of fellowship, let us put it like this: Harmony (agreement) is not a fruit of what Carl is sowing. Harmony (agreement) is a fruit of scriptural fellowship. Therefore, scriptural fellowship is not what Carl is sowing.

Another fallacy is in his cause and effect concept of fellowship and harmony. While I can read of "peace" between Jew and Gentile being the effect of fellowship as one new man (Eph. 2:15), I can also read of harmony of faith and action being the cause of fellowship (Acts 2:41), and continued harmony circumscribed by the apostles' teaching sustaining it (Acts 2:42). Thus, instead of making one the cause and the other effect, the better conclusion is that harmony and fellowship are really interdependent.

But perhaps Brother Ketcherside's gravest error lies in his concept that he is to be in fellowship with all who constitute "the new humanity . . . born of water and of the Spirit." In his application of this he overlooks the fact that not all those born anew automatically remain the new humanity. As a consequence, in the apostles' time he would have been in fellowship with considerably more than they were; Hymenaeus and Philetus, for example, men who erred concerning the truth. Paul said their word ate as a gangrene, overthrowing the faith of others in their contention that the resurrection was past already (II Tim. 2:15-18). Contrast Paul's censure of this failure to handle aright the word of truth with Carl's relation to those who hold doctrinal error. Evincing nobility, he admits to "great rapport and fellowship" with such. Men today are not the first to purport nobility surpassing the apostles. There echoes from Corinth Paul's rebuke to like men: "We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ: we are weak, but ye are strong."

Carl's concept, as he now practices it, would have had him in fellowship with every apostate who claimed to receive "Christ Jesus as the hope of salvation," but who would not practice the obedience and subjection necessitated by such claim. There is a difference in saying this and doing it. Carl would have had to claim fellowship with the false teachers of Galatia who were "severed from Christ" (Gal. 5:4), who were influencing others in "so quickly removing from him that called" them (Gal. 1:6). Please observe that such separation from Christ did not involve overt repudiation of the lordship of Christ, but was on the doctrinal grounds of misapplying the law. Here Carl's concept vividly contrasts with scripture. In his concept, fellowship is not broken on merely doctrinal grounds. To him such are not problems of fellowship, but in the fellowship. He says, "The problem of instrumental music has nothing to do with fellowship," while he admits that the instrument is "contrary" to the "Father's design for us." For Carl's concept to be valid, all the aforementioned false teachers would have to have continued to share Christ. The scriptures are explicit in denying they did. When men depart sufficiently from the word of Christ today they are likewise severed from Christ, and thus no longer in fellowship either with him or his saints.

Carl claims that all baptized believers share "a common life which is in the fellowship of the Spirit." However, one may love the fellowship of the Spirit, and hence fellowship with those who retain it, for one may be a "partaker of the Holy Spirit" and then "fall away" (Heb. 6:4-6). He is no longer a partaker of the Holy Spirit. Not only may he lose this fellowship on moral grounds, but also on doctrinal grounds as we have seen. God has not broken down disobedience into moral disobedience, which separates from Christ, and doctrinal disobedience, which is inconsequential. To disobey any of God's will, whether moral or doctrinal, is to violate the whole (Jas. 2:10). For an illustration of the seriousness of disobedience to a non-moral precept, consider Adam's sin and consequent separation from God.

Though these are simple and evident truths, there is a reason Carl missed them. He has become a victim of compartmentalized, or boxed in, thinking. A man begins with a human concept that so enthralls him that it boxes him in. He is so dominated by it that he sees and interprets everything only according to what is inside his conceptual box. He becomes oblivious to relevant truths outside the box so that they go unnoticed and unheeded. Such conceptualism blinds its captive to inconsistencies; such as vehemently rebuking factionalism while tolerating the practices which precipitate it.

Carl claims to have changed. He hasn't. He has just changed boxes. He is now in one suited to today's prevalent attitudes and thus wherein he enjoys more widely spread acclaim and acceptance. That much is different. But look at his quotations in the second paragraph of this article. He yet has the same attitude that he exhibited years ago toward those who disagree with whatever currently infatuates him. But he can still be charming in person, as he always could.

Is this an attack on Carl? If so, it is without personal hostility. If he would cease advocating fellowship with those in error, clearly uphold all that is the will of Christ, renounce all that is contrary to it, and then could still work in love to bring estranged brethren together in that outlined as the "unity of the Spirit" (Eph. 4:3-6), rather than a humanistic fellowship, then one could only say, God speed. He is reacting to some sorry attitudes indeed, but his new conclusions are no more edifying.

— P. O. Box 95, Zion, Illinois 60099