Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 14, 1971

Tumbleweed Doctrines

Jack Cole

Have you ever been driving in the western part of our nation and seen what appeared to be a dried-up bush rolling across the highway in front of you? To those of you who have, that was a tumbleweed. On the other hand, to those of you who haven't witnessed such a scene as the one just described, let me give you the formal definition of a tumbleweed. Webster says a tumbleweed is, "a plant that breaks away from its roots in the autumn and is driven about by the wind as a light rolling mass." In other words, which ever way the wind blows that will be the direction the tumbleweed will go.

In a similiar fashion, have you ever been on a trip and stopped to worship God, and after services were over felt like you had been somewhere other than among God's people? The reason being that the preacher's sermon seemed strange and unreal. Furthermore, he never used one scripture from the Bible; in fact, he never even took a Bible to the lectern. Brother, chances are you just heard a discourse from some "tumbleweed doctrine."

Do you know what a tumbleweed doctrine is? You don't. Well, we used Webster's definition of a tumbleweed at the beginning; now, let's use what I believe would be Jesus' definition of a tumbleweed doctrine. A tumbleweed doctrine is, ". . . teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Matt. 15:9)

In the preceding verse of the same book and chapter, Jesus describes the actions of those people who worship him according to tumbleweed doctrines: "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me." (Matt. 15:8)

Brethren, now you know what a tumbleweed doctrine is. Hence, let me give you the foundation or first principles upon which various tumbleweed doctrines are built. Incidentally, these first principles might be found in the page of any tumbleweed doctrine. Here they are: "Love must prevail, therefore let's fellowship our brother who is living in sin;" "Hunger knows pain, therefore feed the physical body and you might get the chance to teach the spiritual;" "It's a good work, therefore let's do it;" "I know the Bible doesn't say we can do this, but it doesn't say we can't;" "I don't care what the Bible says, I'm going to do it anyway." Of course, these are just a few to say the least. There are numerous other so-called principles.

At this point, the question might be asked, how do these doctrines get started and what keeps them going? Beloved friend, a tumbleweed begins to roll at the slightest wind and continues to roll as long as there is wind to blow it. How far the tumbleweed will roll depends on how long and hard the wind blows.

Similarly, tumbleweed doctrines get their start by the slightest wind of opinions and emotions which are substituted for the doctrine of Christ. Moreover, the possibility of how long these different doctrines will continue and how far they will go is great. As a matter of fact, the potential is very high because there are several winds blowing in and around the brotherhood today. Furthermore, there are several big preachers who are capable of keeping these winds blowing for a long time because they are very long winded when it comes to receiving a feather in their caps or fattening their wallets.

Therefore, brethren, let us always keep in our minds the words of Paul: "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the slight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive." (Eph. 4:14)

— 1142 Lake Sequoyah Drive, Fayetteville, Arkansas