"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.VIII No.I Pg.34-35
June 1945

Compromise, Digression And Unity

Ted W. Mcelroy

I. E. G. Couch And Manhattan Digression

Brother Couch one time evidenced a love for the defense of the truth; but now the evidence shows that he has left his first love, and that his second love is not for the truth nor its defense but for the digressives and compromise. Brother Couch evinced that he loved the truth back in the late 30s, when Doctors Benson and Sears were unsuccessfully trying to remove the "stigma of premillennialism" from Harding College without removing the "premillennialism." The college sent forth a flood of enigmatic bulletins beclouding the issue and denying the taint of the millennial heresy. In 1938 Brother E. G. Couch secured and made public an unequivocal statement from the late Brother Armstrong, which avowed Armstrong's belief in premillennialism and belied the bulletins of Benson and Sears. Brother Couch thus did the cause of truth a great service and we counted him a fellow-worker in the defense of the gospel. But now it is apparent, from the undenied report which follows, that he has left his first love and is wasting his affections on the digressives. My plea to Brother Couch is that he remember and return to his first love, by renouncing compromise and unity with the digressives.

In the early part of this year, one of our boys (parents are members of the church in Del Rio) in the armed forces was stationed in the East; he was baptized and began worshipping with the Manhattan church, which made known to us, through him, their need of some money to furnish bed rooms for service men when they had to be in New York City over night in order to be there for worship. We sent the money ($85) to furnish one room.

The Witty-Murch publication "Christian Unity Quarterly" issue of April, May, June, 1944, page 22, contained the following item about the Manhattan church, quote

"Recently E. G. Couch, pastor of the Manhattan Church of Christ, arranged a four-day conference at his church on East 80th Street, Manhattan, New York City. One of the sessions was a discussion of Christian Unity; confining the discussion to those of the restoration' point of view. Prof. Sanders, of David Lipscomb College, Nashville, Tenn., who had taken a leading part in the four-day session, spoke for the church of Christ group. M. S. Kitchen, pastor of the Grove Street Church in East Orange, was asked to express the point of view of the Disciples of Christ' who do not support the missionary interests, which are directed by the United Christian Missionary Society. Hugh D. Darsie was asked to express the point of view of the liberal groups of the Disciples.' It was an interesting afternoon. Christian. Church' pastors who were present, besides Mr. Kitchen and Mr. Darsie, included Glenn Rockwell, new pastor of the Second Church in the Bronx, and J. Lindale Lewis, pastor of the Greenpoint Church in Brooklyn. We do not have a complete list of the Church of Christ' ministers present."

Under date of Oct. 6, I addressed a letter to Brother Couch and requested that "Since you graciously accepted our gift, fairness demands that you just as graciously explain your activity and state your position on this vital matter." When the contribution was sent I received a prompt and gracious reply, but I have heard nothing since the questions about the Unity Meeting were submitted—I guess contributions and questions are horses of different colors, at least the response is different. Since I received no correction or denial of the published report of the 'Manhattan Unity Meeting, I and the public must accept that report as substantially correct.

Note then, what is said in this undenied report, "Recently E. G. Couch., pastor of the Manhattan Church of Christ, arranged a four-day conference at his church on 80th Street, Manhattan, New York City." This Unity Movement, of which the New York conference was a part, is a few years old and has notoriously received censure and repudiation from sound brethren by the score. The arguments showing the error of the Unity Movement, which would be more truly designated "Compromise Movement," are too well-known to need restatement in this article in the Bible Banner and other publications of the brotherhood they have been presented repeatedly. Typical of the statements is one by C. A. Norred, quote, "In all humility I must say that it is my conviction that anyone encouraging and abetting the Murch-Witty enterprise advertises his unsafeness as a religious teacher and leader." So Brother Couch put himself in a pretty bad light when he "arranged" the Unity Conference in New York City.

Noteworthy among the articles exposing the Unity Movement is one by W. W. Otey, in the Firm Foundation, Nov. 30, 1943, entitled, "The Tie That Binds." Among many other good things, Brother Otey said, "The real tie that binds' Witty and associates with Murch and associates... that tie undoubtedly is the disturbing doctrine of premillennialism. It is my firm conviction after observing this Unity Movement from its beginning that everyone associated with Witty and usually counted with the church of Christ, is a full fledged Premillennialist." This shows that when Brother Couch "arranged" the Unity conference, he left his first love of defending the church against premillennialism, and got over on the other side of the fence and made love to the Premillennialists working under the banner of Unity Movement.

An article from Brother E. R. Harper of Little Rock, Ark., was published in the Firm Foundation in the early part of this year, in which innovations and their promoters were exposed. Copyright Davidson, of the Manhattan Church, was named and correctly marked. The article was followed shortly, by a statement from the Manhattan Church exonerating Davidson of the charge of heresy; and Brother Showalter disclaimed responsibility for and about half-repudiated the Harper article. Brother Showalter said, "I have not heard of his (Davidson's) bringing in, or trying to bring in, any innovation." Brother Showalter has been as powerful in exposing the Unity Movement as an innovation as anybody. So Brother Showalter, if you will, just listen, you will hear of Davidson, Couch, and the Manhattan church taking up with the Unity Movement which you have exposed as an innovation.

Now in regard to Professor Sanders and his part in the Unity Conference. The undenied report says, "Professor Sanders, of David Lipscomb College, Nashville, Tenn., who had taken a leading part in the four-day conference, spoke for the church of Christ group." In time past the digressives compared the beloved David Lipscomb's opposition to their innovations to a "desperate old woman who tried to sweep back the tide of the ocean with a broom." Brother Lipscoa7b, to the digressives' discomfort, did a pretty good job

with his sweeping. From the undenied report it appears that if Brother Lipscomb could come back to Nashville, he would have some innovation sweeping to do in the College that so proudly bears his name. We cannot keep confidence in schools whose professors show signs of compromise and court the favor of the digressives.

II. S. S. Lappin And Digressive Freedom

I read papers of various stripes and do not intend my subscription to a paper to be interpreted as sanction of its peculiar tenets; I take the Christian Standard and read some of what the digressives write. Their speech betrays them. Jesus said, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh," (Mt. 12:34) ; again, "This people honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men." (Mt. 15:8-9) What the digressives say reveals their trouble to be in the heart, and is a lack of respect for the authority of the Lord.

S. S. Lappin, the digressive preacher, who in 1941 held the meeting in the premillennial Highland church in Louisville for E. L. Jorgenson, writes an article in the Christian Standard of April 22, 1944 entitled "Full Freedom in Christ Jesus." In this article he manifests a looseness and lack of conviction that is characteristic of digressives everywhere, a quality they have in common with the premillennialists among us—maybe that is the tie that binds and attracts them to each other.

Mr. Lappin has the wrong idea of freedom, he apparently thinks it is license to disregard what the Lord says and do as one pleases. He reminds me of the lady who thought when she was granted a driver's license, she was privileged to run over anything that could not get out of her way; Mr. Lappin seems to think that his freedom entitles him to run over the commandments of the Lord as he chooses. Christians are made free in Christ: free from sin- (Rom. 6:18); free from the law of Moses (Rom. 8:2); free from human authority (Gal. 2:4-5); but no where can you find a scripture which teaches that anyone is made free from the authority of Christ, but on the contrary we are taught that we are under law to Christ (1 Cor. 9:21). The apostle Peter prohibited Mr. Lappin's use of freedom in these words, "As free, and not using your freedom as a cloak of wickedness, but as bondservants of God" (1 Pet. 2:16). The Greek word "kakias" here translated wickedness sometimes means maliciousness, but it also signifies wickedness in general and that is the idea here. Wresting the scriptures is one form of wickedness (2 Pet. 3:16-17). Mr. Lappin claims freedom as the cloak for his broad tolerance and flagrant disregard of the will of the Lord on missionary agencies and instrumental music. He talks about "opinions" as though they were all we have to guide us in religious matters; but the standard of Christianity is not opinions but the New Testament, and religion is not a question of opinion but it is a question of "What saith the Lord?".

Mr. Lappin had a lot to say about denominations and he classified various kinds: "journalistic denominations," "organ and non-organ denominations," "missionary denominations," and convention denominations." He seemed to reach his point with this sentence, Most of us have figured it out that it is not the reading of this or that paper that makes a denomination; not the use or non-use of instruments in worship; not the giving or withholding of offerings to missionary and benevolent enterprise; not attendance upon this or that gathering of convention folk-none of these, but the disposition to become intolerant of, the opinions and practices of others, to disfellowship those of another way of thinking." The Bible does not sustain Mr. Lappin's definition. The word "denomination" does not appear in the Bible, but the words "sect" and "heresy" are used and are about equivalent to the word denomination. The scriptures fix the definition of a sect or denomination as something contrary to the doctrine and practice of the New Testament (2 Pet. 2:1; Tit. 3:10; 2 Jno. 9-11). Tolerance and intolerance is not the standard to determine whether a person or doctrine is denominational or not; the standard is the New Testament and anything not specifically authorized in it is denominational, sectarian, and heresy. Mr. Lappin's instrumental music and missionary societies put him in this class. Until he can find a New Testament scripture authorizing his innovations or until he repudiates them, he will be a denominationalist in heart and practice notwithstanding his denials. So in spite of his bold disclaimer, Mr. Lappin, according to the Bible, is the man that is sectarian and denominational because he tolerates, fellowships, and practices things not authorized in the New Testament.

Digressives go to the "wailing wall" over broken fellowship, but seldom do they love fellowship enough to give up their innovations that breached the fellowship and disturbed the peace. They have an inclination to want to fellowship everything; and they just about do, The idea to fellowship everything does not come from the Bible. The Bible commands fellowship, and it tells what and who to fellowship, and it forbids forming fellowship with some things. Note these scriptures: "For what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity" (2 Cor. 6:14); "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them that are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine which ye learned: and turn away from them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Christ, but their own belly; and by their smooth and fair speech they beguile the hearts of the innocent" (Rom. 16:17-18). So the kind of fellowship that Mr. Lappin practices and finds such joy in, is forbidden the Christian who wants to follow the Lord. One absolutely cannot please the Lord and fellowship innovations contrary to the doctrine of Christ. There is a danger pointed out in the Bible that many apparently have not seen, that is of getting one's fellowship too broad. It behooves us to regulate our freedom by the law of Christ, let the New Testament be the standard of our religion, and to restrict our fellowship to those things that are approved of God.