Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 24, 1953

Seeking Popularity, Fellowshipping The Ungodly

C. R. Mansfield, Ranger, Texas

There is an old saying, "One error leads to another." Just as true it is that one departure from simple New Testament teaching leads to another. The great apostasy that resulted in the hierarchy of Rome clearly exposes this fact. The apostasy of the past century which has resulted in the same of the Christian Church followed the same pattern. Again, in these days, history of the same cause and result is being rapidly written. When a Christian, or a group of Christians depart from New Testament authority, that departure persisted in will compel further departures.

Recently, I was at a high school football game. It is becoming increasingly popular (the sectarians love it and use it) to have a local minister (pastor) lead the spectators and contestants in prayer (?) just before the "kickoff' of the game. At this game a local preacher (he was introduced as "reverend" of a local "church of Christ" was given the "honor" (?) of leading this prayer. Had not his name been announced and the name of the church with which he is associated you would have been utterly unable to determine either by the "prayer" he led! The collective pronoun "we" was much in evidence designating the subjects petitioning God in that prayer. Now, the "we" included all present of the Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Holiness, Nazarenes, Catholics, Jews, disbelievers in general, adulterers, fornicators, gamblers, liars, and others who are the enemies of the gospel of Christ. All faithful preachers of the gospel of Christ will say that all these "do evil" in the sight of God. Peter said, "For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil." (1 Peter 3:12)

There is absolutely no precept, no example, no clear and necessary inference in the New Testament that allows the child of God to fellowship such an assemblage of "evildoers" in petition to God. However we may associate with the unconverted in the course of human affairs (and we must or "go out of the world"), we are "contrary to the doctrine" when we associate in fellowship with them in mutual relationship to God. To do so is to destroy every mark of distinction that sets the body of Christ aside from human institutions. I accurately report hearing these words in the prayer led by this preacher, "WE pray thee, Heavenly Father, that by the application of the GENERAL PRINCIPLES of righteousness WE may honor thee." (Caps mine — CRM.) The only "principles of righteousness" I find in the Bible are the COMMANDS of God. They are NOT general. They ARE specific. Previous departures are evidenced for it takes much "drifting" to get down to that! Every one present had every right to consider themselves a part of the "WE" who were being led in "prayer" by Brother So and So of the church of Christ. There is no difference between engaging in such practice and calling upon a "visiting" preacher (pastor) of some sectarian church to lead a "prayer" or "dismiss" the services on a Sunday night or during a "revival" in the church of Christ. I have heard of that also!

There is no point in calling attention to such as this unless we try to learn WHY a preacher will allow himself to become involved in this manner. We know that the only weapon we have, as faithful followers of Christ, to use to convert the lost from death unto life is the gospel of Christ.

It must be used in our living, our teaching and our preaching. Too many untaught (are they unconverted, also?) members of the local churches look about them and see the Great Show of denominationalism and, for lack of faith in the power (gospel) of God, see no way of competing with it without engaging in like practices, hoping to be able to propel "the church" to a prominent "place" in the community. These are willing to pay well the preacher who will "cooperate." The error, then, is a fundamental one. It is a lack of love for the truth; a lack of respect for the authority of Christ and the gospel. A preacher, in order to satisfy the wishes of these must avail himself of every opportunity to be "prominent" in the community. In a small city, such an opportunity as "leading" the prayer at the game helps greatly if the "prayer" led is a "smooth" one that leaves the impression that "this" "church of Christ preacher" has overcome the "objectionable features" of previous ones who were too "bigoted" to enter into the "religious life" of the community.

I confess that one time the same evil bug "bit" me. I rationalized that I would be better able to "influence" the leading men of this town. I soon discovered that my "giving thanks" at the meal each meeting time was unsatisfactory. You see, I didn't fellowship the ungodly in them and it was, necessarily, obvious. I gave it up. I learned that if I remained faithful I would only create more hostility towards the church of the Lord and the gospel of Christ. I have repented of so allowing myself to get into such a position where compromise with error is almost, if not altogether, impossible to avoid, and have prayed earnestly to my God to forgive me. I shall not be guilty again.

It is not of great importance at the present who the preacher was, or is, who so compromised with Satan in joining his forces in a mockery of prayer. He has much time in which to repent of all such wrong attitude towards the authority of God's word if he should enjoy most of the average span of life. He may have already. Certainly, this is not written to give some occasion to try to "ruin" him. Evidently he has much ability which, if turned to proper application, would serve well our Master. This is written to show, again, to what extent our lack of proper attitude towards the word of God will lead us into further errors. Brethren, unless the trend is reversed we shall find ourselves lost in a maze of errors, based on ignorance, and disrespect of God's word, that shall finally expose itself as the most hurtful apostasy of all. We must return to faith in God's wisdom and do it quickly.