Vol.XI No.V Pg.5
July 1974

Two Ways To "Soundness"

Robert F. Turner

One way to have a sound church is to teach sound doctrine. Plan a well —rounded teaching program that is positive — that covers Old and New Testaments — in depth studies and kindergarten topical studies on faith and baptism, heaven and hell, the church and honesty, brotherly love and the sting of rebuke. It is all there in Gods word, and we can not have soundness without proper food. Take the initiative on subject matter rather than a steady diet of reaction to what someone else said or did.

Regarding reaction, be alert to social changes which may (and probably will) affect brethren. Get to the bottom of matters avoiding surface jabs at isolated cases of abuse. Be fair with the opposition. Maintain an open pulpit so that the search for revealed truth is never stifled. (There is no obligation to hear every mans opinion — judgement here must be based on the extent to which a contrary teaching contributes to or distracts from an objective consideration of Gods word as final truth.)

This way to have a sound church challenges each individual member. It disturbs brethren, keeps them studying — and they must either learn to respect and deal objectively with one another, or they will break into warring camps. Christ must be the unifying factor here, or there is no unity. (Read carefully, Phil. l:27-2:l-f.)

Another way (?) to have a sound church is to convince a few elders or leader that certain positions on current issues are right and that taking a stand here is equivalent to soundness in all parts. (Liberals who follow this course may make a token contribution to some institution.) One of the convinced elders may order a few tracts from his partys most popular publisher — a sort of status symbol for the tract rack.

But perhaps the most important of all, in order to soundness, is to get a preacher whose name is associated with the reputation you wish to establish. Obviously a church that is sound according to our first way will desire a preacher who teaches accordingly; but we refer here to the erroneous concept that the members are sound because the preacher presents a hard line. This second way to soundness builds its name on party loyalty rather than on individual understanding and conviction. A hard driving preacher, backed by a few determined leaders, may whip a congregation into line so that none dare buck the establishment.

Brethren, I write in all seriousness; I have known both liberal and conservative (by invitation) churches, that were little more than sectarian bodies, whipped into line, loyal to a party rather than to Christ. These are the churches that want no fair discussion of issues; that do their fighting with name-calling and threats. They are strong as horse-radish on the surface, and soft as mush at the individuals heart, where the real soundness must be measured.

Few if any churches will have 100% mature well-taught memberships. But we must improve on party loyalty or soundness becomes sounding brass.