Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 8, 1971
NUMBER 47, PAGE 1-3,5a-7a

The New Face Of The Church

Glenn L. Wallace

(Delivered At Pepperdine Lectures, April 20, 1970)

A recent issue of U. S. News and World Report has an article titled: "The Churches are Worried." The author reveals that membership in Protestant churches is declining and that the financial programs are in trouble. His conclusion is pointed out in these words:

"At the present time the liberal bodies are functioning as way stations for those who are moving away from orthodoxy" (March 23, 1970).

It is no secret that the churches of Christ, we of the restoration heritage, are also in trouble. We are facing serious problems and the drop-outs are numerous. We must, with courage, look at the problems and seek a solution.

We have had our problems in the past over many questions. Our differences have been over cups, literature, colleges, classes, located preachers and cooperation. Always in the past we have faced one another with an open Bible and we have sought the answer from the Scriptures. Each group was willing to open the Bible and study. There is hope for a people who will do this.

Today we live in a psychedelic world of emotionalism, existentialism, private interpretation and individual direction. In this time of emphasis upon the emotions of man we are finding it increasingly difficult to communicate with one another. We have a generation who have forgotten the motto: "Speak where the Bible speaks — silent where the Bible is silent." We have a growing number of theologians who care little for what the Bible says and they are making it clear that they believe that the early Christians were simply a misguided sect and the founders of a mere denomination.

We have a loose, compromising attitude toward the Bible. With some it is only a partial rejection; with others, an effort is being made to cut us away from all Biblical authority. It is an effort to downgrade the Scriptures and make them a set of broad guide lines that can become relevant and adaptable to a changing world. Situations are not the same, they say, so 'situation ethics' has found a place among us.

We are faced with a spirit of ecumenism. The Pope's council has had more effect than many of us wish to admit. We are found equating the Church that Jesus built with any and all denominations. We are accepting the error of fellowship with endorsement.

There is a definite move among us to revamp and restructure the church. The Church is being called "the establishment," and other terms of derision. Even force and violent protests are being advocated to reach such ends. The doctrine of the pulpit is under fire. The worship program is being attacked; the Lord's Supper is set up as a "smorgasbord" — come and get it as you feel like it. The organization of the Church is being endangered by powerful extra organizations that are privately financed.

This new move among us finds it strength in those who downgrade the church and ignore and ridicule the pioneers who brought the Truth to us out of the theological confusion of the past. We have those who urge us to turn our faces "toward Antioch and not Jerusalem." We are swamped with the schemes of those who would bury the "faith once delivered" in the dust of modern thought and present day religious fads.

The move has been, for a time, underground. It has worked in cell groups; home Bible classes, fellowship hours and private meetings where the seeds of unrest have been planted. It has its leading theologians, many of whom have never preached under ordinary circumstances, having come from graduate school into a field where they can see nothing but reform. Some are but hangers-on. These hope to change the direction of the rebels and lead them back into the fold.

The movement has several voices. One, a magazine called Mission, gives literary and intellectual assent to the reconstruction of the entire brotherhood.

In 1967, Leroy Garrett of the extreme radical left wing of the brotherhood, reported on a meeting of Campus Evangelism in Dallas, Texas, at the Baker hotel. He wrote:

"More than 300 church of Christ young people were there and my immediate impression was that I was beholding the New Face Of The Church Of Christ. The old church of Christ orthodoxy is dying — a new brotherhood is emerging. The daring young princes among us have crossed their Rubicon — they have set their faces toward Antioch rather than Jerusalem." (Restoration Review, Jan. 1967)

The article written in 1967 seems now almost like a prophecy of what we are looking upon in 1970. The New Face of the Church is being sketched in many places and in many ways. Some are knowingly contributing to the destruction of Truth, others are ignorant of that which really faces the brotherhood in the decade of the seventies.

We Are Giving Our Blessing To Permissiveness In Morals

Immorality is being overlooked and more and more sin is being toned down to a mere whisper against the offenders. Ugly, sly and sarcastic techniques are being used to upgrade the new morality. Slurs and innuendoes are hurled in youth meetings and some of the modern "love feasts." If some knew what was really taking place in some of the youth meetings they would stop them immediately. Samples of this type of propaganda are offered below.

"Are you going to church more and enjoying it less?" This is a bit of humorous sarcasm against "the establishment" or the Church as we have known it. "A funny thing happened to me on the way to heaven." Here we have many people and many divine commands held up to ridicule. A prize was offered in "GO" the voice of Campus Evangelism, for the best article on "the establishment." This was to ridicule the Church as we have known it. A recent issue of Mission Messenger wrote off our forefathers and the restoration movement in these words:

"In a frontier culture, uneducated and illiterate, possessed of quick tempers and touchy pride, the traditions of our brotherhood were set." (Mission Messenger Jan. 8, 1970)

In 1933 Eleanor Roosevelt urged young American youth to learn how to drink properly. The National Council of Churches has the philosophy that each should make up his own mind as to what is right in each situation. BUT, in 1970, a gospel preacher among us urges us: "Learn not to judge those who drink — as long as they know when to stop."

The term sickness is more and more being applied to all sinners. Alcoholics are sick, they tell us, not sinners. Homosexuals are sick and not sinners. Easy divorce, permissiveness in all morals leaves us with sin being merely a dirty word.

We Are Faced With A Move To Debunk The Bible

The modern Holy Spirit issue among us is not of real concern to many of the more liberal element. They couldn't care less about the Holy Spirit. To them the theory is a way to be free from the authority of the Scriptures. They hate the idea of being fenced in by the Bible. A speaker at a college lectureship a few years ago said:

"We must not lapse again into the error of putting the Bible ahead of Christ." (A.C. Lectures, 1966, page 16) Another shouted: "Our religion is not a religion of the book." (A.C. Lectures, 1966, page 14)

These men find in the seclusion of the direct operation of the Holy Spirit doctrine, that they can completely reject Biblical authority. Each man has the voice of God in himself.

Many efforts to downgrade the Bible are in evidence today. The most glaring ones have come in some of the Campus Evangelism meetings. Campus Evangelism as an organization has been largely aided by college teachers. In a Los Angeles meeting, at a home gathering in the yard of a prominent Hollywood entertainer, a young man gave his testimony. He told how that when he talked, God was talking through him. He reminded his audience that when God told him to hush God would close his mouth. Just as expected, in the middle of his infantile talking about how much he loved Jesus, he closed his mouth and stared up at the heavens. A hush fell over the audience and many were amazed at how God can use men (?). You see, they felt God spoke through him and closed his mouth.

We have watered down the Bible and made it difficult to offer proof of anything by our cheap and vulgar translations of the Scriptures. Two modern translations are responsible for much of the confusion among our youth. The T.E.V. makes Paul teach the doctrine of faith only in Rom. 1:16-17; 3:28. Only Martin Luther was so bold as this latter day reformer. Phillips, who is widely read, has Paul saying that "tongues are a sign of God's power to those who already believe." All know that Paul said the very opposite. Phillips says Paul must have had a slip of the pen. Most of us know whose pen slipped. Is it any wonder that you have tongue talking, spiritual sances, and holy roller episodes? Give people Phillips and they are on the way to Pentecostalism.

We Face Today, An Emotional And Hypnotic Type Of Religious Experience:

We have our disciples of the existentialist way of life — God in each man and each man can find God in his own experience. We have people who are reaching for the "turn on valve." Weird experiences are being produced. Hand-holding, lights out, a flickering candle, a burning cross, a constant chant or loud singing; all this will finally send one into a state of self-hypnosis in which one can and does see and do strange things. Shouting, whirling and pounding in the name of religion takes the participants on a "trip."

LSD and other related drugs can send one on a similar trip. These spiritual sances of handclapping, crying, praying under weird circumstances can produce what psychologists have long known and Pentecostals have long capitalized upon.

John Banks of Fresno, California tells in his book on the Holy Spirit about such experiences among the Indians of the Crow tribe. They hang suspended in agony until they get their "manna." The Comanche rubs cow dung into new wounds in his chest and with a self induced fever, he prays until he gets his "manna." The Methodists in their early history in America worked on this self-hypnosis trip and later the Holy Rollers came to bat. We are a little late in this game. (John Banks, Holy Spirit Lessons)

We Are Trying To Move Our People Into The Social Gospel Arena

We are being challenged to enter the poverty struggle and go where the action is. We have been found in "halfway houses" and the attempts to rebuild the slums. We are being thrust into the Civil Rights battle and are asked to move our people into the field of social legislation.

"The Church Of Christ Starts To Change Racial Policies." This was a headline in the Los Angeles Times. The author is quoted: "If we continue to be the citadel of the status quo, we have troubles." (Los Angeles Times, July 20, 1968) The author was Prentice Meador, a San Fernando minister.

At the 1969 lectureship at Pepperdine College, several speakers warned us of impending trouble.

"Churches of Christ are sitting on a powder keg" said one man and another warned: "We have created and maintained black churches by paternalistic actions."

As we view the calm and sacrificial work of such men as A.M. Burton who gave thousands of dollars to bring the gospel to black people, we are made to think that we need more "paternalistic actions." Such greats as Marshall Keeble are being called Uncle Toms by the revolutionary speakers, both black and white. God give us more Uncle Toms.

A meeting of evangelicals was jolted by the charges of a New York College teacher who warned the people of the churches to stay out of social gospel crusading. The professor of social philosophy was quoted:

"Christian ministers must stick to their business of preaching the gospel of salvation from sin instead of dissipating their energies at tasks in which they have no business or special abilities." (Christianity Today, July 7, 1967)

Many of us have been sowing the seeds of hate and division in matters of racial problems by our delving into social matters, economic and political problems. We would do well to leave these things to politicians.

The Church Is Ceasing To Be The Church And Becoming A Sideline

Campus Evangelism, along with other nationwide projects, is a prime example of the church being sidetracked. This college group moves from one eldership to another with ease and grace of people who know where they are going. It has its own public relations man who recently in a left wing radical political paper in Texas, made a vicious attack upon one of our Christian Colleges. It has a private source of income from a private foundation. It publishes its own paper, called "GO." It fosters unrest, and plants the seeds of rebellion, operating in cell groups and refuses in many places to even acknowledge the name of Christ's church." A sample of the revolutionary philosophy accepted by this organization is recorded in a recent issue of that paper, "GO."

"Fundamental Christian honesty and our own evaluation compel us to believe that Christian colleges have little choice but to become responsive to the urgent needs that relate to students. Time honored concepts need immediate study." Those mentioned included: "in loco-parentis; attendance at a private college is a privilege not a right; (how does this hit those who have given your money to provide a Christian privilege?) students have the right to participate in the policies and rules; (here comes Berkley and Santa Barbara right out of Campus Evangelism) and inter-racial dating is a matter that needs administrative attention. (So, the social life of your child is to be directed by this policy.)

"Students can make constructive contributions in re-examination of the role of a Christian College; the value and forms of long standing religious traditions; (what are they?) all rules and regulations; ways for providing for constructivism on the campus." We are then told: "they (the youth) are impatient with our hypocrisy, injustice, and their growing concern is with organized religion. OFTEN WILLING to work within the structure, they are willing to demand, demonstrate and force concessions when necessary." (Prentice Meador and Jennings Davis Jr., "GO", 1969).

We have a call for force, demands, demonstrations to bring about the change of the college structure and in the end what they call religious traditions of our brethren. Revolution is coming to our campuses and to our pews and it is being aided by Campus Evangelism.

Campus Evangelism in Santa Barbara and at the Irvine Campus in California, operated under the name "Campus Evangelism" They say that youth would be repelled by the name of Christ or the idea of a church. These groups are independent of the church; they have their own boards and yet they solicit money from congregations for their support. A speaker at a Campus Evangelism rally told the audience of youth: "We must recruit, train, establish cells, and infiltrate society?' (See "GO", Dec. 1969) Here we have an outside organization, seeking only money from that which it seeks to destroy, crying out for students to infiltrate and divide the body of Christ.

We Have A Pulpit That Presents A Faceless Christ Of Uncertainty

Carl Ketcherside, of the left wing radicals, writes in Mission Messenger under the heading of "The Fading Fear." He says certain ones of us have come to terms with the Christian Church that the instrument will not be a test of fellowship. He charged that the Administration at Pepperdine College had made such an agreement. He says there are teachers at A.C.C. who dare not speak out on this issue of the instrument. They are in a difficult position, their money and jobs are at stake. We would hope this is not true but if I were a teacher in any place I would let my voice be heard so that even Carl Ketcherside could hear it. This widely circulated charge should be answered by Christian schools. (See Mission Messenger Nov. 1969)

Evidence of a sad state of affairs among us is seen in a report from a left wing magazine that reads:

"The east Maple Street church of Christ, Hartford, Ill., held a forum drawing front rank men from the Disciples, Christian Church and churches of Christ. The 1969 forum had five sessions. Subjects discussed: Is the gift of tongues available today? Affirmative, Paul Logue, elder of the Central church of Christ, St. Louis, Mo. The negative was by a Christian Church preacher. Is the theory of evolution incompatible with the Bible? Defending evolution, Neal Buffaloe, elder in a Conway, Ark. church of Christ and the negative was by a Christian church preacher. (Mission Messenger, Dec. 1969)

Mission magazine, edited by Dr. Roy Bowen Ward, gave the award for the outstanding article of the year, to Dr. Neal Buffaloe, Conway, Ark., for his article defending evolution as opposed to the Genesis record.

A report in Christianity Today tells us of the way the wind blows in Texas. Ron Durham, a recent graduate of A.C.C. reports on the lectureship at the college. He is placed under the heading, "Rainbow Over Abilene."

"While lectureship space was allowed for hard-liners who left the impression that heaven is closed to those of different views, the biggest crowds went to hear younger men score the churches for that kind of thinking." (Christianity Today, March 27, 1970)

Many men warned that some of these younger men would advocate such a philosophy as this reporter says they did. We hope that those younger men who advocated a line of such liberal fellowship with all denominations, so long as men profess faith in Christ, who find the instrument a product of our illiterate frontier culture, that these men will not find such a lovely rainbow over Abilene when they return to the hill. There are those who would more aptly put it: a cloud hangs over Abilene.

Why Are We At This Place In Our History?

We are the products of our congregations. Dedicated elders should and must take things in hand even if it means the loss of some rabble-rousers. Yet, when we have self-appointed elders who depose elders, with young men in their 30's taking over, it is a sad day for many of us. We have too long sat by and been spoon fed a diet of denominational theories, sectarian youth programs, revolution, liberal philosophy and all the evils of the ecumenical movement until we are almost helpless to stop the revolt.

We are the products of what we read. The bookshelves of "our" Bible stores are lined with Elton Trueblood, a Quaker preacher and his philosophy. Keith Miller and his "Taste of New Wine" is even used in some youth meetings. "The Cross and the Switchblade" is offered in Bible classes as good reading matter. The latter is a story of a Holy Roller preacher and his work in the slums of a great city. And now, we will have one of our own to portray this story on the silver screen. If one can portray the life of a Holy Roller preacher on the screen, then could he as well portray the Pope, with his crown and purple robes? What is the difference? Even in the entertainment field, Christians should have a little respect for God.

The mails are flooded today with "Integrity" and "Mission" as well as the granddaddy of "Mission," the "Mission Messenger." Then there are "GO" and other revolutionary sheets that can be had for the asking.

A March issue of a magazine called Testimony, (Rosemead, Calif., Vol. 8, No. 2, 1970) published by the Pentecostals, is being freely circulated among some of us. It has the pictures of three men and their families, along with their testimony. It reveals how they have received the "baptism of the Holy Ghost and now speak in tongues." Pat Boone, who a few months appeared on Oral Roberts' show, says: "One year ago I received the baptism and now speak in tongues." Ben Franklin allows as how the church in Downey, Calif. once offered a $1,000.00 reward to Oral Roberts for proof of a genuine miracle, and now, he says, miracles are happening in the church of Christ.

I was in the Downey meeting when the reward was offered and Oral Roberts did not try to claim it. I now offer $2,000.00 to Ben Franklin for proof of a miracle, supported by the testimony of a qualified member of the medical society of San Diego, if he can prove a miracle. Maybe Ben can get what Oral Roberts could not have. We shall see.

We are the products of our preachers. Our colleges have a tremendous responsibility in this matter. We send them our youth in response to their call. They send their brightest boys to the centers of atheism and unbelief. Most of these young men have never preached and know but little of what it takes to build the church and defend the Truth. They return to us speaking a language not found in the New Testament. We love our Christian colleges, but when there are teachers who teach evolution; when they foster the ecumenical doctrine of fellowship; when they will not combat the evils of the Holy Spirit error — it is time for these teachers to answer to the men who send their sons and daughters. And they will answer. Dedicated parents will not send their children to places where they will be led to revolt against the church.

We have heard much about academic freedom and intellectual honesty. It is also true that a preacher or teacher who receives money from a group of people who expect that certain things shall be taught, and the receiver is unwilling to teach the position expected of him, this man is neither honest nor does he represent any kind of freedom. If he cannot comply, he should quit. Our colleges can assume their share of blame for the confusion, and the watered-down theology that is being proclaimed today, the apostles and not meant to be a rule of life. (Carl Ketcherside, Mission Messenger, April 1970)

Are we as Christians going to debunk the Bible, reject its authority and retreat into the dark ages? Must we shelve the apostolic authority and leadership and accept the theories of the ecumenical age? Are we going to lay down and play dead before the onrush of the revolutionaries among us? Or, will we stand up and fight and cast them out of the temple, back into the sectarian crowd from which they are getting their theories and experiences?

We have lived through persecution, denominational attacks, terror and atheism. Once more we are facing a battle and from within — "from among your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things — " (Acts 20:30). Give these men no place in our pulpits. Make no room for them in Christian journals and give them no greeting (2 John 10). I am persuaded that there are thousands who are not ready to surrender to the New Face of the Church. (Note: Some statements about Campus Evangelism are given in present tense, though this movement is supposed to be dead; but some feel it has merely gone underground and its promoters will make other moves to captivate young people's minds and restructure the church.)