"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.VII No.I Pg.6-7
Septermber 1944

Jumping Through The Wall

W. Curtis Porter

In the latest issue of the Christian Unity Quarterly, of which James DeForest Murch of the Christian Church and Claud F. Witty of the Church of Christ are joint-editors, we have a solution of the problem of division between the two bodies suggested by Ernest Beam of Long Beach, California. Bro. Beam read a report in the Christian Evangelist that there "was not the least sign of those using the instruments surrendering the use of them nor of those opposing the instrument abandoning the opposition to them." So it is evident that some Christian Church preacher is able to see that no headway had been made toward actual unity between the two bodies, even though a number of years have been spent in the effort. Anybody can read the Unity Quarterly and see that those who use the instrument in the worship have no intention of giving it up. Every expression made by them is a bold declaration of this fact. Yet some of our own brethren are so gullible as to be led away with the idea that unity is about to be accomplished. And Judge Beam himself thinks that "a victory has already been achieved and now needs but to be maintained." A victory for whom? If any victory has been achieved, it has been a victory for the Christian Church, for not one inch have they given of their ground of innovations. All you need to do to know that this is true is just to read the Unity Quarterly.

What is to be done where there is strong conviction on both sides of the instrumental music question? Bro. Beam has found the answer. And here it is:

"How often I have heard my preaching brethren use the illustration; `If'n God say to jump through that wall it's my business to jump. It's his business to get me through.' Well, the Lord wants this wall that separates brethren penetrated and broken down. It's our business to jump; it's his to get us through."

A few years ago Claud Witty solved the problem by suggesting some wire-walking, and now Ernest Beam has it worked out by a process of wall-jumping. The wall that separates the Christian Church and the Church of Christ and that has destroyed the fellowship between them is the wall of innovations--instrumental music, missionary societies and many other human inventions in the work and worship of the church. Fellowship cannot be restored as long as this wall is between them. So what is to be done about it? Bro. Beam says to jump through it--"it's our business to jump; it's the Lord's business to get us through." Notice that he says: "it's our business to jump." I wonder whom he means by "our." Evidently he included himself, and the brethren who stand on the same side of the wall with him must be meant. He didn't say that it is "their" business to jump, but it is "our" business to jump. Well, if we jump, and the Lord puts us through, we will be on the same side of the wall with the innovationists. We will stand right where they stand. And that is exactly what they want. Unity can be secured that way, no doubt, but it will not be the unity the Lord wants, for then all of us would be on the wrong side of the wall. Do we stand on the right side of the instrumental music wall? If we do, then why is it "our business" to jump through to the other side? I think Judge Beam has a very poor conception of what "our business" really is. As long as I am on the right side of that wall I am not even going to try to jump, and I know hundreds of other brethren who feel the same way about it, for I don't believe the Lord would have anything to do with putting me through. I might get through but it would be without the Lord's help or sanction. If Bro. Beam thinks it is his business to make an effort to jump through that wall, let him go to it. Then he can notify us where he stands after the jump is completed. The Christian Church built the wall between us and destroyed the fellowship. Do they want to restore that fellowship? Then let them remove the wall or do the jumping through. They are on the wrong side of it--"it is their business to jump." And when they jump through and stand with us on Scriptural ground fellowship can be had and unity will be achieved. But if they expect that unity to be reached as a result of our jumping, I am afraid they will be disappointed, for there are many of us who consider it "our business" to stand on apostolic ground. However, I would not be greatly surprised to hear that Witty, Beam, Wm. Wayne Allen, John Richard Pack, Jimmie Lovell, and a number of others, including all the premillennial group, had actually jumped and made it through. And if that is their intention, the quicker they jump the better. Then brethren who are in doubt will know where to place them.

I have thought for a long time that there is no reason why this "unity movement" should be limited to the Christian Church--why not start a similar one with many of the denominations. If brethren can give up their defense of the truth against the encroachments of human authority in the Christian Church and just "love it out," why not do the same with other religious bodies, and now I would not be greatly shocked to see a movement of that kind started, for Ernest Beam further says:

Such meetings should be extended to include similar arrangements for and with all those who profess to take the Bible alone as the only rule of faith and practice."

There you have it. These meetings should be extended beyond the confines of the Christian Church. Let "similar arrangements" be made with all other groups who claim the Bible as their only rule of faith and practice. This will take in the Holiness groups of various kinds, the Assembly of God and other groups of Pentecostals, the Nazarenes and even the Baptist Church, for while Baptists do have their manuals they even "profess" in those manuals to take the Bible as their only rule of faith and practice, for they claim the manuals to be based upon the Bible. So it should not be long now till Beam will be telling us it is "our business" to "jump through the walls" of modern tongue speaking, miraculous healing, the mourner's bench system of getting religion, total depravity, the direct work of the Spirit and close communion. All of these are held by people who claim the Bible as their only rule of faith and practice, and since we should, according to Beam, "extend these meetings" to include them, why should we not "extend this jumping" to reach them. I would just as soon jump and expect the Lord to get me through one of these walls as I would the wall of instrumental music. This article is being written in Indianapolis, Indiana, where I am engaged in a meeting with the Garfield Heights church. We have had in attendance at our services Bro. E. C. Koltenbah, who was formerly a preacher in the Christian Church. He is now in full fellowship and unity with us, but such was not accomplished by our jumping through the wall to him. He saw his mistake; he saw he was on the wrong side of the wall and he moved over to where we stood-on Scriptural ground. When others of the Christian Church have the same courage and take the same steps he did, there will be unity with them; but until they do that, the wall will still separate us--and we refuse to jump.

But Christian Church preachers who are taking part in the "unity movement" have no intention of doing that. They are expecting us to jump through the wall to them. And as long as fellows like Ernest Beam keep saying that it is "our business" to do so, they will keep looking for it to happen. Why do not these Church of Christ preachers, mixed up in the movement, tell them upon what grounds they can have fellowship? Is it because they are really preparing to "jump through the wall" to the other side?

A few quotations from some of the writers to the Unity Quarterly will show that they are expecting us to do the jumping. James DeForest Murch, co-author with Witty of the unity movement, says: "While they do not actually ask candidates for church membership. Do you believe in Christ and hate instrumental music?' it must be admitted that unwritten man-made creeds are made essential to our Christian fellowship." It is evident from this that he believes the opposition to instrumental music in the worship is an "unwritten man-made creed." And if we expect them to give it up in order to have fellowship with us, we are making a man-made creed essential to that fellowship. That he does not intend to do so is shown by his next sentence: "This dangerous practice is responsible for much of our trouble today" The use of the instrument in the worship, according to Murch, is not the cause of the trouble, but it is the opposition to instruments that is causing he trouble. And certainly he is not going to follow what he thinks is a "dangerous practice," and he thus serves notice on Bro. Witty and all the rest of the compromising preachers who stand with him that he has no idea or intention of giving up instrumental music. Calvin H. Smith, another Christian Church preacher, insists that "we should by all means come together now." And in order to get us all together now he lists the old slogan: "In Essentials-Unity; In Non-essentials-Liberty; in All Things-Love." Then he goes on to say:

"It is my honest and humble opinion that if Christ neither commanded nor forbade it, it must be classed as non-essential, for in this so great salvation surely God has revealed all the essentials in the Book. Now in this case the use of instrumental music must be left entirely up to the individual or local congregation. If a congregation cannot conscientiously have an organ, let them omit it. On the other hand, if a congregation has in the past and does yet use the organ in worship, and believes in it, then let them use it and in each case recognize the other as a sister Church of Christ."

How does that sound for progress toward unity? He could have just as well said the same thing about sprinkling for baptism, infant baptism, the burning of incense, animal sacrifice, prayer to the Virgin Mary, and cake and ice cream on the Lord's table. If "Christ neither commanded nor forbade" them they "must be classed as non-essentials." So it should be left entirely to the individual or local congregation. If a congregation cannot conscientiously practice these things, let them omit them. But "on the other hand" if a congregation has in the past practiced sprinkling for baptism, and has baptized babies, or burned incense in the worship, or has offered animal sacrifice, or prayed to the Virgin Mary, or has used cake and ice cream on the Lord's table, and they still believe in such, let them go ahead and use such things, but in each case recognize the other as a sister Church of Christ." What is the difference between this and the course suggested with respect to instrumental music? None whatever. All of them are forbidden in exactly the same manner. So this is the ground upon which Calvin Smith looks for unity. The matter of instrumental music "must be left entirely to the individual or local congregation." It is not to be determined by the teaching of the New Testament, but must be decided by human wisdom and desires. This agrees perfectly with what Ernest Beam thinks is "our business"-they are expecting us to jump through the wall to them. They want us to fellowship them in their unscriptural practices. If we do not want to use the instrument, they will not object; but if they do want to use it-which they do-we must fellowship them as "a sister Church of Christ." Upon this ground unity and fellowship could have always existed between the two bodies, but, thank God, there were men of faith and loyalty who refused to have fellowship with their unscriptural practices. And there are many men today who have the same faith and loyalty. If they expect fellowship with us, let them come back to the original ground revealed in the New Testament. Until they do that the unity movement is nothing but a colossal failure for the Church of Christ and an outstanding victory for the Digressives the Christian Church with all of its innovations. Let them remember that they are the ones who moved away from Scriptural ground and built the wall between us. If the wall is to be penetrated, they are the ones who will have to jump through. And if they will jump the right direction, the Lord will put them through, but he will never assist any one who tries to jump through to the wrong side.