Vol.XX No.VIII Pg.2
October 1983

Dying In Reverse

Robert F. Turner

While in a recent meeting in southern Kentucky someone pointed out that fifteen years ago there were but four (4) churches in that section standing openly and unashamedly against church support of "churchhood" institutions, "fellowship halls" with their "fun and frolic," and like modern developments. Now, in that same section, we counted twenty-five (25) such churches. The so-called "dying antis" seem to be "dying" in reverse. But I am persuaded that being against something is not enough to lead these churches through the coming years to strength and stability. In fact, I see now the strongest of those churches have combined positive factors with their stand against error.

It is encouraging to note growth of the cause of Christ, and we must thank God for it. But we must not allow ourselves to glory in the flesh. As "fun and frolic" and churchhood promotions put large crowds in some churches the "public image" grew; but fewer God-serving saints were being added to the work force, and congregations lost their spiritual character. The only way we can maintain solid long-term growth is to make greater sacrifices of time, money and effort; and concentrate on deeper commitment to spiritual development.

Many (institutionally) "sound" brethren are still undeveloped doctrinally. They may oppose churchhood projects, but be unable to present positive arguments for congregational independence. More recently, they may be hyper-suspicious of the word "grace" while being unable to give a Bible explanation of the subject.

I believe much of the organizational problems of my generation grew out of the fact that many brethren opposed the "missionary society" without knowing why it was wrong — could not present positive scriptural reasons for operating independently. If we continue to promote only reaction to the growing number of "issues" that will always hound us, we are doomed to a purely negative role.

The solution is courageous positive teaching — a setting of right beside wrong, so that it instructs in a positive way while it corrects. The solution is a positive program of personal work — taking the gospel to our neighbors, here and abroad: doing rightly what we criticize others for doing wrongly. The solution is closer genuine "fellowship" — concern for members who are weak, showing true love for their souls — so that "disfellowship" takes on new meaning. Unless we grow in the Lord our growth is meaningless, and we join the ranks of other "anti" sects.