Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 23, 1949

"Don't Criticize", They Cry


Luther Blackmon, Rusk, Texas

Digression and apostasy, like everything else, spring from seeds. Men with false ideals and a perverted sense of values sow the seeds of worldliness, softness, and compromise in the church. Succeeding generations of untaught and undisciplined partisans, begotten by such teaching, will promote and defend these false notions with as much zeal as if they were bed-rock truth.

We are witnessing an intensity of effort among the churches of Christ hitherto unseen, I suppose, by anyone now living. This effort is in the direction of "missionary work". For every sincere and scriptural effort we thank God; but we feel that much that is being done today is occasion for grief rather than thanksgiving. It is fraught with danger; the seeds of digression are being sown.

"Don't Criticize"

Important among the unhealthy signs of the present is the "don't criticize anyone" complex. Shades of denominationalism! Time was when even Methodist preachers would debate, and Baptists would fight at the drop of your hat. But they have learned better. With few exceptions denominational preachers are far too "cultured" and "broadminded" to engage in a public discussion of religious doctrine. They find it more convenient to hide behind a wall of maudlin sentiment that "it's wrong to argue about the Bible". But whether right or wrong, they have fortified themselves and sold the world on the idea that we must smile on every religious endeavor—never criticize anything. The Catholic Church is capitalizing on this sentimentality to cram their totalitarian theology down the throats of an unsuspecting American people in the name of religious tolerance.

And now certain ambitious preachers and misguided zealots are doing much to spread this same "sweet-spirited" philosophy among the churches of the Lord. There is evidence of it on every hand. "Don't criticize" is the watch-word of this modern cult.


Another unhealthy sign is the ever increasing trend toward centralization. A few large congregations are becoming increasingly prominent in their role as "sponsoring" churches. Their desire to preach the gospel is commendable, certainly, but why can't it be done more in harmony with the New Testament pattern?

What is wrong, you ask, with smaller churches sending money and supplies to larger churches to send on to the preacher in the field? Sounds innocent enough, doesn't it? But glance backward for a moment. How did the apostasy begin which led to the development of the Roman hierarchy? Was it not the assumption of authority by "centralized elderships"? Remember, the Christian church was not built in a day, nor born over night. It was a gradual departure along lines that seemed, to many, at the beginning, innocent enough. But the result was a new, modern, full-fledged denomination.

If a Missionary Society sprang up among us, how do you suppose it would begin? What would be the first step? We are told that those who criticize are not interested in preaching to the heathen. That isn't so, but suppose it were. What has that to do with the truth and scripturalness of a method being used on the part of those who are doing it. That is much the same as if the Holiness should charge that we are not interested in the sick simply because we are not in sympathy with his fanatical notions about miraculous cures. I have personally urged churches to send assistance to some of the men who are laboring in foreign fields; but I have urge them to send it to the preachers in the field and not to the "Sponsoring" church. Straining at a gnat, you say Very well, but just watch that gnat grow . . . just stick around and watch!


Down in Houston is a church that is doing big things and new things. They have a "fellowship Hall (whatever that is) which serves as a recreation hall amusement parlor. In this they have ping pong tables and domino tables which they proudly offer to those who would amuse themselves and engage in some recreation.

Anything wrong in playing a game of dominoes. Not necessarily. But who authorized the church to go into the entertaining business? If the church can spend a few thousand dollars extra to put an amusement hall in the church building, why not go into the thing on a bigger scale? Why not hire an amusement hall uptown, hire some "Christian chaperones" to run it and hang out sign: Church of Christ Domino Parlor? I think it is perfectly all right for a Christian to go bird hunting in season, but I raise my voice in emphatic protest again, any church that wants to keep a pack of bird dogs an "sponsor" a hunting club. A Christian might with propriety go bowling for recreation, but the congregation where he worships has no business running a bowling alley.

This same Houston church has over the baptistery picture of Christ being baptized by John in Jordan. Anything wrong with that? Perhaps a quotation from church history can answer that question, "The public building and pagan temples which were sometimes obtained through the munificence of the emperors and we slightly remodeled for the uses of Christian worship added much to the magnificence of church architecture... They were consecrated with great solemnity, an thenceforth a peculiar sanctity attached to them. More care was given to the decoration of the interior. The cross which was universally used in daily life, and at earlier date had found its way into places of worship, we splendidly ornamented with precious stones. Pictures, especially those representing Bible scenes and ideas, Daniel in the lions den or Christ under the image of the Good Shepherd, came into general use, and to some extent, in the minds of the half-converted heathen, too the place of the artistic decorations of their abandoned temples.

Churches built in memory of martyrs were oft adorned with painting portraying their sufferings. This movement toward sensuous expression in Christian worship did not come so much from the clergy as from the mass of Christians and the Christian princes... The evils to which this desire might lead were pointed out to the more enlightened bishops, such as Eusebius of Caesarea. They especially resisted attempts to introduce representations of Christ, urging people rather to strive to be like him in their lives." (Fisher: History of The Christian Church - page 117)

Even the historian, who was not a member the Lord's church, knew that such wrong was productive of far-reaching and evil consequences. If some the things that are being taught and practiced in some congregations today do not lead to complete apostasy then it is certain that seed will not "bear after its kind.