Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 26, 1956


Gene Frost, Las Cruces, New Mexico

One fact that continues to impress me in the present controversy over inter-congregational societies is the repetition of arguments favoring these societies as were used to favor the societies of a half-century ago. To read the Otey-Briney Debate is like reading a discussion of the controversy today. In reasoning with brethren, we continue to wonder at the similarity in attitude as provoked advocates of society-ism of the past. I often have the feeling that I am witnessing the drama of the past that gave birth to a wholesale division in the church ... I would that it were a dream!

Upon reading the article by Brother David Lipscomb in the May 24th Gospel Guardian in which he answers the "opinion" argument of the digressives, I was forcefully reminded of an argument submitted to me only a few days prior. In applying the "quarantine," the elders of a congregation in Arizona explained why they were cancelling my meeting. Objecting to the writer's article on "Speaking as the Oracles of God" (April 7, 1955, Gospel Guardian) and his stand for truth regarding the work of the church, they say, "We feel also that the 'how to' care of orphans and the idea of congregational cooperation are in realms of opinion and must be left there."

Congregational Cooperation In The "Realms Of Opinion"

Webster's New International Dictionary, second edition, says, "An opinion, in ordinary usage, is what one thinks or believes about something; the word does not imply the definiteness or weight of judgment or the assurance or certainty of a conviction." That this is the usage of the word by these elders is evident by this statement: "We do not want a preacher, whoever he might be, to come here and, by preaching something as doctrine that is opinion, possibly cause contention among brethren."

The argument is that congregational cooperation and the care of orphans is a matter of opinion and not the doctrine of Christ! Thus, admittedly, these elders have made a practice of the church and a test of fellowship what they call "opinion." They do not want anybody to contradict their opinion! This opinion is held by others and their concerted action is to quarantine every brother who questions their opinion!!!

We Live By Faith

Since when has opinion become the rule of conduct? The Bible declares,.. "But the righteous shall live by faith." (Rom. 1:17.) Since, then, faith comes by the word of God (Rom. 10:17), the just are directed by what the Book declares. To live by "opinion" is to violate this principle!

In seeking to correct division, Paul wrote the Corinthians, "Now I beseech you, brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment." When brethren are true to the Word of God, and "speak as the oracles of God," (1 Peter 4:11) there will be unity.

Men who are motivated by their opinions, however, have but little respect for the Word. They deride the idea of holding "the pattern of sound words." (2 Tim. 1:13.) New concepts (of their opinions) necessitate new vehicles of expression. To speak as the Bible speaks, to call Bible things by Bible names, does not permit these concepts nor promote their opinions. Thusly their speech betrays them. Bible words are rejected in favor of sectarian terms, scriptural terms are prostituted to represent unscriptural practices. These truly are the sowers of division! To speak the same thing promotes unity.... to reject sound words in favor of sectarian language to foster opinion promotes confusion.

What should be our course? to hold tenaciously to our opinions and sectarian language, and quarantine all who oppose these opinions? or "live by faith," holding fast "the pattern of sound words"? The answer is obvious!

Shall History Repeat Itself?

Fifty years ago men contended for their "opinions" to the dividing of the church. Once again brethren are contending for unscriptural practices, using the same arguments. Shall the contention resolve in division? God forbid.