Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 20, 1958
NUMBER 45, PAGE 6-7a

Brethren, We Are Not Drifting Now

Leslie Diestelkamp, Cicero, Illinois

Perhaps I should explain that the title of this article may not be perfectly accurate. It is possible that we may be drifting in a few places and under a few circumstances. However, it is my contention that, with regard to the body of Christ as a whole and with regard to conduct of brethren in general, the old man's statement, "Brethren, we are drifting" is not true today.

Just a few years ago that old man (Brother J. D. Tant) issued the warning again and again that "we are drifting." Time has borne out the truth of his statement and the significance of his warning. Of course, at that time some of us who were a lot younger than he, and younger than we are now, were so full of zeal that it was difficult to see any dangers. We looked so intently upon the horizon that we could not see the things we were about to stumble over. The Lord's church was moving forward significantly and we were so intoxicated with success that any criticism or warning seemed like opposition to God.

The dictionary defines "to drift" as: to be carried along by the current or the wind; to deviate from the proper course, being driven by winds, etc. No doubt when Brother Tant said, "We are drifting," he meant we were being carried into sectarian practices by the devices of denominationalism, and that we were being driven from the true gospel course by the decisions, delusions and doctrines produced by human reasoning as contrasted with divine wisdom revealed in the word. His words were to warn us of the subtle cunning of Satan and of the slow, gradual, step-by-step process by which we were being carried out into the open sea of apostasy.

But I contend Brother Tant's words would not describe what is happening to the Lord's people today. We have quit drifting, and have begun plunging, leaping, diving into uncertain courses and unauthorized activities. To describe today's conditions as "a drift" is to minimize it exceedingly.

Not Just A Step

Gospel preachers, elders and other Christians in many instances today are not simply stepping out of the ranks of those who stand for truth and righteousness, but they are actually rushing madly in the opposite direction! That which is happening among brethren today is not as though we looked with pleasure upon the hog wallowing in the mud and were spattered by his actions, but it is rather as though we gleefully climbed into the pig-pen and joined the hog in messy wallowing. It is not, today, as though a boat were floating slowly down the river toward the waterfall, but it is as though the boat is being propelled by a powerful motor, with throttle open, rushing blindly toward doom.

Matters regarding which brethren were once almost completely united are now items of common debate. Practices that were once almost unknown among churches of the Lord are becoming so popular now that an objector is considered a freak. Those things that were once considered matters of principle are now often brushed aside as matters of liberty, expedience or human will.

The College In The Budget

Until recent years it seems only a few believed that the church, from its treasury, could support secular schools. A few did advocate it, and some few practiced it, but opposition to such was always vigorous and plentiful. One brother, whose attitude was quite characteristic, stated frankly that he would as soon bring premillennialism into the church as to slip the college into the church. He said; "I would as soon have premillennialism as church supported schools." But today that same preacher defends the practice of the church contributing from its treasury to a college. Another preacher recently reported activities and work of a local church, and listed a contribution from the treasury to a college along with other things. He said: "A few things we have done the past year: we have helped support five preachers in the mission field; helped the Herald of Truth; helped four orphan homes; sent the colored college one hundred dollars . . . ." A treasurer of a Chicago-land church also admitted that one hundred dollars went from their treasury to this same college. Many preachers can now be found who will uphold such practice, and among those who won't openly endorse it, about the strongest statement many others will make is that "I prefer individual contributions to colleges."

The significance of the seriousness of this situation is seen in the absence of statements by those who run the colleges. A few years ago it was considered good policy to state that a school did not receive funds from church treasuries, for by so stating the school would avoid criticism and would receive more private gifts. Evidently this is no longer true, for such statements are seldom made. In fact, preachers have insisted to me that even among the more conservative schools, many directors favor church support and therefore nothing is said publicly about it. It seems that to criticize church support of the school now would minimize contributions to the school instead of helping it as was formerly the case.

Respect For The Bible

We are told that those scholars who copied the scriptures before the days of the printing press wiped their pen each time they wrote the word "God" and that they washed their bodies each time before they wrote "Jehovah." Thus they demonstrated great respect for God's word. In the last one hundred years brethren in Christ have been known far and wide as a Bible believing and Bible loving people. Preachers carried, used and respected God's book. Whatever the preacher tried to prove, he used the Bible as his standard. It was indeed, as Paul described it, "the sword of the Spirit," and Christians everywhere manifested a respect for it and won the friendship of all who were sincerely seeking truth, and likewise won the enmity of all who would not surrender to the will of Christ.

But attitudes manifested today demonstrate the fact that many have plunged far over the precipice of human liberty. It is not uncommon to hear someone say, "You don't need Bible authority for that." To many the Bible is a nice book, containing a great set of ideals, and we should never disobey its commands. But these same people fail to recognize the Bible as the complete will of the Lord for us, and as his full, infallible revelation to us. They do not believe we are limited as well as authorized by its commands and examples. It is easy to remember when preachers would put a circle on the blackboard and demand of any critic that he puts a verse of scripture in the circle which authorized any certain practice of teaching. If a positive law or example was not produced, the practice was considered sinful. Today we find preachers putting a circle on the blackboard and demanding that someone write in the verse "which forbids it." It is argued that if no scripture specifically forbids a thing, then it can be practiced.

Now, of course, if such arguments become completely common; and if they are not opposed and exposed thoroughly, a few more years will find many churches using mechanical music — at least in classes and youth activities; and practicing mid-week communion — at least at the "seasons" when denominations do so. Another indication of the way that the positive word is minimized is in that churches are using other ways than giving as a means of raising money. One church builds a residence, uses the basement for a meeting place and rents the first floor out for revenue. Other churches engage in various enterprises from farming to commerce.

Is The Bible A Water Pistol?

Recently between 200 and 300 people heard a gospel preacher who was engaged in debate call the New Testament his water pistol. He had been criticized for not bringing a "sword" (See Eph. 6:17.) into the pulpit with him, and finally responded by bringing a New Testament and, holding it before the crowd, declared that he had brought his "Water Pistol." Think of it! I am sure many hearts were made sad when we were made to realize that the Bible had come to seem so cheap to an able proclaimer of the gospel. But no doubt this man thinks he respects the Bible as highly as anyone does. That is one more reason this thing is so dangerous — it is so subtle. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh," and such language, used in describing the Bible, can only mean that those attitudes of the heart have crept out into the open, and that the real trouble is not "word trouble" but "heart trouble."

"Drifting" is bad, for the Christian should always proceed under power — the power of the word, which is indeed to him "a light unto his pathway." Bad as it is, though, drifting can be stopped. Also, bad as drifting is, today's plunging is so much worse! Let every Christian resolve to seek, find and follow the old-fashioned way of the Lord. "Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein . . . ." (Jer. 6:16.) In our wild enthusiasm about "Twentieth Century Christianity" let us pause long enough to recognize that if anything is Christianity at all, it is also First Century Christianity. If we have departed from the principles of the first century, we have departed from the truth and are not free at all, but are caught in the grasping clutch of modernism, denominationalism and sectarianism. If we have failed to do that which the Bible authorizes we are condemned by the words of Jesus who said, "Why call ye me Lord, Lord and do not the things which I say;" but if we have failed to stop where Bible authority stops, we are condemned by the words of the Holy Spirit, penned by Paul when he wrote, "That ye might learn not to go beyond what is written." Let us honestly and sincerely "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good."