Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 18, 1949

Dawn Of A New Era?


We keep hearing a great deal of talk about a "new era" in the church. It seems that quite a few people (mostly on the West Coast) are convinced that the church needs to revamp and readjust her whole attitude and outlook to fit her new and improved status economically and socially. Since the church has moved out from "across the tracks," and has become a large and respected member of the fraternity of churches, she must shed that backwoodsy and provincial mannerisms and accept the obligations of her new position.

For one thing, it is being urged that all this "personalized" preaching be relegated to the past. We cannot hope to command the respect we ought to have from our Methodist and Baptist neighbors, we are told, if we continually call their names from our pulpits and try to show that "they're wrong, and we're right." We must preach a positive gospel, simply emphasizing the truths of the New Testament without any reference whatever to those who differ from us. People will soon enough see the beauty of true Christianity, and will turn from the husks of error to accept it.

Sounds pretty, doesn't it?

The only trouble is, it simply isn't so. People will not turn from error till they are convinced that it is error; they will not turn to the truth until they are convinced that it is truth. And the only way under heaven to bring that conviction to their hearts is to let them see the two side by side—error contrasted with truth. Otherwise the churches will become filled up with people who are not converted, not converted to the Lord, that is. They will have joined the church (literally) because it is a nice and respectable denomination, and not because of any overwhelming conviction that they are doomed to an everlasting hell outside the Lord's church. They will make little or no effort to win their friends and loved ones away from Lutheran and Presbyterian and Catholic churches. Why should they? For unless they have been taught that these churches are false, they will inevitably hold to the popular idea that "one church is as good as another."

This "new" liberalism in the church, which seems strongest on the West Coast, but is by no means confined to that area, is neither new nor liberal It is the old, old heresy that the apostate Disciples' church fell into when they abandoned the militant aggressiveness of the early restoration years. The result was that the digressive church became honey-combed with unconverted people. It is made up of people largely without religious conviction, people who have married out of their own church, and have compromised on the Christian church. Because of this general absence of doctrinal depth the digressives have hit the toboggan slide toward total and irretrievable apostasy. Isaac Erret himself would be shocked and horrified into speechlessness (and that would be some shock for Errett!) if he knew of the present day practices of his followers. The idea of a distinctive gospel has long since disappeared from the pulpits of the Disciples' churches.

Let the exponents of the "new era" in the church just remember that for the most part the very churches in which they preach and of which they are members were hewn out of denominational strongholds by uncompromising men who believed that the church of Christ is the true and only church, and that every other church on this earth is false and counterfeit. Not only did they believe this, but they boldly proclaimed it—from the pulpit as well as in their daily conversation. They loved their sectarian neighbors, loved them so earnestly and sincerely that they dared not let them go complacently unwarned into the final judgment.

Yes, we believe the churches today do need a readjustment of their attitude toward denominationalism. For already the leaven of error has begun to have its effect There is an apparent and growing cynicism toward people, a cancerous attitude that simply must be eradicated, For the advocates of the "new era" are contemptuous of denominational people. They believe that these people are shallow and insincere—that their religion is so trivial and meaningless to them that they will become offended when they are shown the error of their teachings!

What the church needs is a return to the idea of our fathers of a generation ago, the conviction that there are probably millions of people in denominational churches who are earnest and sincere in their desire to serve God, To them their religion is the most serious thing in life; and they are wholly willing to accept the truth and forsake their human churches once the truth is made known to them, and the error is fully exposed. Our forefathers, loving the souls of men, worked on that principle and baptized countless thousands of pious and honest men into Christ. They held forth the teachings of Christ in bold contrast with the errors of men. In love and humility they refused to give one small crumb of comfort to the advocates of error.

Apropos of this discussion, we notice that the Dean of Pepperdine College, Dr. E. V. Pullias, was recently the featured speaker in a series of meetings put on by a denominational church. We do not know what Dean Pullias said, or on what terms he spoke; but we do know what any faithful gospel preacher would have done had he been tendered such an invitation. If he could have the opportunity of contrasting the truth with error, he would gladly have accepted the invitation. If he had not been free to use the time to lead the souls of men out of error into truth, he would not have spoken.

We wonder if anybody became a member of the Lord's church, leaving denominational false teaching, as a result of Dean Pullias' work in this campaign? We wonder—but we don't wonder very much. —F. Y. T.