Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 29, 1956
NUMBER 30, PAGE 4-5b

Modernism In Chicago

F. Y. T.

To show something of the inroads of modernism among brethren who were once considered faithful, we clip the following from one of the recent Chicago bulletins, "The Southwest Exhorter," weekly bulletin of the Blue Island congregation of Chicago:

"For several years, this congregation has been pleading with brethren in the Chicago area to wake up to the fact that something serious is happening to preaching brethren who come to the Chicago area. They attend at several "special" theological seminaries and also come under the influence of certain preachers who some brethren in this area insist on keeping around.

"Here is a good example: For several days reports had been circulated that Brother Ferrell Walters (for several years preacher for the Cornell Avenue Church) had started working with the First Christian Church of Harvey, Illinois. In order to verify this, a personal visit was made to their church office. The secretary at their church office told us that Brother Walters had come to them on July 8, 1956, and has assisted them in their service. In a conversation by telephone with their office on July 31, 1956, a gentleman who identified himself as their minister said that Ferrell Walters had placed membership with the First Christian Church and that he was planning to enter the ministry of the Christian Church.

"This now makes FOURTEEN preachers of the Chicago area in recent years who have taken the final step into denominationalism. (Reliable evidence is on record to substantiate this statement.)"

Well, we don't know who the fourteen are; but we can name some of them — Woodrow Wasson, Ralph Wilburn, J. P. Sanders, Don Anderson, Don Osborne, James Arthur Warren, and now Ferrell Walters. But the tragedy of this situation is that for every man who openly makes the break and leaves the church, there are a score or a hundred others infected with the same malignant disease, but who conceal their liberalism to a degree and remain "in the Church of Christ" where they can have positions of honor, preferment, and great influence — and where their deadly and insidious doctrinal weakness is leading multitudes into error.

Make no mistake about it, the glamorous "promotions," the fawning, simpering craze to cater to the world, to impress people with our "up-to-dateness," our great growth, our vision, our tremendous power, our "on the march" philosophy — these things stem right from the same cruel and carnal root that caused Ralph Wilburn to go to the Christian 'Church, J. P. Sanders and others to denounce the Lord's true church in terms of bitterness and reproach.

Modernism May Reveal Itself In A Number Of Ways.

The most obvious and familiar, of course, is in a rejection of the Bible as 'God's word and of Jesus Christ as being in any unique way God's Son. Less familiar, but no less deadly, is modernism's rejection of the church alone as sufficient and adequate for the accomplishment of the task God has given it. A well known Washington, D.C., clergyman said, "We liberal clergymen are no longer interested in the fundamental-modernist controversy. We do not believe we should even waste our time engaging in it. So far as we are concerned, it makes no difference whether Christ was born of a virgin or not. We don't even bother to formulate an opinion on the subject." An Arlington, Virginia, minister commented, "We have closed our minds to such trivial considerations as the question of the resurrection of Christ. If you fundamentalists wish to believe in that nonsense we have no objection, but we have more important things to preach about than the presence or absence of an empty tomb twenty centuries ago."

Another Virginia clergyman declared, "We are intertested in human life and human destiny on earth. We don't know or care whether there is a life beyond the grave. We presume there is a God, but we know that he will ever be a mystery to us. We do not know or care whether God possesses personality or not. He may be just an impersonal force.... We are moving in the direction of the elimination of prayer from our services entirely. We still include it, occasionally, to please those who are accustomed to it. Prayer is sort of a habit with folks. It takes time to educate them to a realization that it is a hangover from the superstitious past. We do not teach the Bible to our young people. Our youth program is centered around recreation."

These expressions are amazing and incredible to believing Christians; but they are expressions of their own convictions from modernistic preachers who are willing to be quoted. None of these men belongs to the church of the Lard. But there are those in the Lord's church who are clearly on the path that leads toward this ultimate and final rejection of faith. Chicago is symptomatic of an evil that is everywhere among us. Where the articulate modernist declares he will not "waste his time" in trying to discuss things like the virgin birth of 'Christ, or his resurrection, or even whether we have a life beyond the grave, the less advanced brother in the church, who certainly will not go to that extreme, nevertheless declares he will not "waste his time" in discussing HOW the Lord's work ought to be done but will get on with the task of doing it! Does that sound familiar?

One very interesting side-light on the Chicago tragedy is that the twelve or fourteen preachers who have gone wrong have NOT taken any appreciable number of Christians with them into their error. One who has lived in Chicago for years, and is thoroughly familiar with the situation there, tells us he cannot think of even one faithful Christian who followed Wilburn, Warren, Osborne, Sanders, and others into the Christian Church. The members were better taught than the preachers. But the real damage has been done in the weakening of the whole fabric of faith and conviction on the part of multitudes. Whereas there have been few, if any, who have followed these brethren into their heretical organizations, there have undoubtedly been scores of Christians who were weakened, discouraged, and perhaps irreparably wounded spiritually by the defection of men in whom they had confidence..

And what is the duty of all of us in such circumstances? It is perfectly clear. Let us continue to warn against, teach against, and "stop the mouth" of the gainsayer; and let us drive home into the hearts of our children and all those whom we may reach the bed-rock fundamentals of the gospel of Christ: the authority of God's word, the divinity of God's Son, the all-sufficiency of God's church. Once we surrender in any one of these areas, the final debacle may be delayed, but it is inevitable.