Vol.III No.VIII Pg.5
September 1966

Faithful To---What?

Robert F. Turner

I believe Christians may "depart from the faith," "fall away from grace," even "deny the Lord that bought them" (1 Tim. 4:1; Gal. 5:4; 2 Pet. 2:1) for the scriptures clearly teach this. Our Baptist friends err when they apply 1 Jn. 2:19a to "all" (note 19b) who fully backslide.

But "we" err in thinking that all who are baptized, and are "faithful" in their home-town, are truly converted to Christ.

It is a common cry in California, Arizona---and I suspect in the northeastern industrial areas---that many "faithful Christians" from Tennessee, Oklahoma or Texas, come there to work, and "never darken the church doors." Friends write that they were "faithful to the church" back home.

And that is it---exactly. They were indeed "faithful to the church" (apparently) but were not faithful to the Lord. Many "grew up in the church" without really knowing, in a direct and personal way, the truth. They may have been drilled in "the right answers" concerning baptism, the Lord's Supper, instrumental music, etc., yet never have committed themselves to honest Bible study--never have given themselves whole-heartedly to Christ.

"Back home" their parents---and later, their friends---expected them to "be faithful" (meaning, attend the "services") and they did so. But away from home, separated from home-town pressures to conform, their lack of genuine ties to Christ is apparent. It was not "worldly California" that drew them away---although I offer no rose to materialism in California or Tennessee. They simply were not bound by the love of God in the first place. Much of our lament about the young people who "quit the church" is equally misdirected. "Area-wide" socials, "church skating parties" and other "fellowship hall" activities do not bind the youth to Christ. They actually increase the rate of apostasy when these young people leave home and are thrown into an environment that calls for spiritual strength. We have fed hungry souls with hamburgers. We have deprived them of training for the church-world, light-darkness battles they must meet in an adult life.

Is "churchanity" responsible for much of the weak spritual fiber seen in those who go astray? I believe it is---and have, for twenty years or more, been preaching the evils of "party line" religion. But God forbid that I should deny the existence of the divinely authorized local church, or the organized functions of its members. Sectarianism arises among God's people--- whether they call themselves "church" or "group"---when they regard themselves as the standard for "soundness." "No church" may be as much a party line as any "church-of-Christer" ever preached.

The church doesn't need another saviour; we (the church distributively) simply need to be faithful to the Saviour we have. By this example, and by objective, non-sectarian appraisal of our practices in the light of the word of God, we may be able to teach the next generation to turn to the Lord, and cleave to Him. (Acts 11:20f)