Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 26, 1960

.... And The Things That Go Along"

(Editor's Note: This Article Had No Name On It; The Envelope In Which It Came Has Long Since Been Lost. It Is A Good Article, And We Wish We Could Credit It To The Right Man, But Can'T. Please Be Sure To Put Your Name On Any Article You Send In To Us.)

Some time ago, we received notice from a church in Iowa to the effect that it had withdrawn from a brother who had been preaching for them, because of his opposition to "church co-operation" and church support of orphan homes, "and the things that go along with this." They made sure to declare their belief in the "care of orphans" (as though their withdrawn-from brother opposed it) and "co — operation" with other churches. It seems to be a rapidly coming order of the day for both churches and preachers to make a special point of being sure that every one knows they favor church co-operation and support of orphan homes. These practices are widely defended as methods, but they are coming to be the most essential and exclusive methods that brethren have ever witnessed. Indeed, they are being made the very earmark and substance of "the faith" once delivered to the saints. To oppose these "methods" is to be judged a heretic, apostate, or any other designation that will locate such one in the very bottomless pit of brotherhood condemnation. It has been often demonstrated that promoters of brotherhood projects will show more favor and charity, much more, toward influential brethren whose doctrinal soundness is under question, who tolerate the world in the church, and who even deny the inspiration and divine authority of the Bible and leave the church, than they will toward those who oppose their "methods."

But I am particularly concerned right now with our title, which was linked together, in the above mentioned notice, with co-operation and orphan homes. I do not know what the brethren in the above church meant by this phrase, or what they included, but I do know that many things are uniformly "going along with this." Innovations in the church do not continue long before something else "goes along with them." Differences between churches of Christ and the Christian church were not long restricted to instrumental music and societies. Other things eventually "went along with them." I can even remember when members of the Christian church thought these were the only differences, and one had to "comb the record" to find other things that went along with them. As a matter of fact, the alarming realization is that the "things that go along" have arrived much earlier with us in the present conflict than they did in the one over instrumental music and societies. And more than that, they are moving rapidly into new fields.

It is usually the nature of people who are converted to Christ in new fields to be unfavorably disposed toward any practice that is without divine authority, or that is questionable, or that even smacks of sectarianism. This is probably true because they have literally had to fight their way out of error, and also incur the wrath and contempt of their loved ones in the flesh and close friends. We scarcely have a family in the church here of whom this is not true, and I know it to be often the case in other similar places. This builds deep and strong conviction, intensifies the quality of courage, and inclines one to consider first and always above other thoughts, "What does the Bible teach?" Yet, babes in Christ can be led to believe and practice whatever their teacher wishes, with a little aggression and persistency on his part. Right here in Iowa, for example, a church arranged for the use of a skating rink, and issued a general public invitation for surrounding churches of Christ to attend. Is this one of those "things that go along?" I know it is "going along" even in our area where one would not expect so much of it this early in the controversy. A gospel preacher for another Iowa church said the following in his bulletin, "Our picnic Sunday . . . is designed to benefit the gospel meeting. . . . I have always felt that we had as much responsibility to support a church picnic with our presence and enthusiasm as we had to support any activity of the congregation . . ." Then he continues at length, using this as an example of "putting the kingdom first." I have never seen a clearer or more emphatic statement from any one, declaring the place of entertainment and material things in the work of the church. No longer can such brethren point to sectarian people with criticism for their church socials and entertainment programs — "we" are just as bad as they in some quarters. These brethren are not merely defending their right to each practice — they are binding it as a Christian duty. And right here I want to repeat what I said in a former article: there are three steps in establishing innovations of human wisdom in the church — their general practice on presumption, their defense against opposition, and their being bound on brethren as essentials. I don't know of any major innovation, past or present, that has not followed this pattern. Every institutional project or sponsoring system of the present day, when it reached influential proportions, has had its representatives who have been zealously disposed to bind it on all who could be either deceived by its enticements, or intimidated by its threats; all others were rejected in contempt as hobbyists and apostates from "the faith." If any think this is an exaggeration, just read the editorials in some of the "other papers" for a few weeks and judge for yourself.

For the most at least, all this can also be said of still other "things that go along" such as majority rule, the prominence of women in the public work of the church, church camps, youth rallies youth worship services, etc. These things have one by one, degree, by degree, quietly and gradually moved into the work and worship of the church and into our acceptance before we realized the hold they were having on us, then presto! — we have it, we have "always" (?) had it, and we'll continue to have it! So when a brother seems to be "against everything" when we want to try some little "harmless" something, at least give him credit for making an honest effort to work in the interest of the peace and purity of the cause of Christ. It may be that he is a little more discerning and can see further ahead than others can.

There has always been the tendency on the part of some worldly minded clique in the church with more personality "push" and "drive" than spirituality to try to drum up interest and enthusiasm among the members by starting some secular program more parties, picnics, entertainment, etc. that has more drawing power among the "unconverted churched" than Christ "lifted up from the earth", John 12:32. The greatest need and truly the real need of the church today is more faithful and consistent gospel preaching, direct from the Bible and to the people, and more genuine consecration and intensive love for the church and the cause of righteousness, manifested in a willingness to actively personally minister to the needy and teach the word of God to the lost. And I mean this to apply to every single member of the church. Then the church will grow; it will, if you please, be "on the march" as the Lord wants it to be.

"No Hobbies"

It is now a growing practice for churches and preachers to "advertise" for each other, including the words "on hobbies in their "ad." So far as they are concerned, this covers the field completely. But with the shades and degrees of "hobbyism" that are continually on the increase, we may well wonder if someone is not often disappointed as a result of this kind of contact, or if both churches and preachers are just repudiating their conscience and restraining their convictions on "lesser issues."

If a brother opposes churches contributing to colleges, is he a hobbyist? Suppose he is against church ball teams, boy scout troops, or church socials? If a preacher claims to be no hobbyist, and turns up in his "new pulpit" opposing any of these things, he may be guilty of false advertising! But there is a growing aversion even among brethren to opposition to anything, so it may not be long before this will cease to be a problem, and these "ads" will adequately and accurately cover the situation. But before such a time comes, we are going to discover many hobbyists among the professed "anti-hobbyists", and there will be so many vital and live issues growing out of the current "lesser issues" under bitter and heated discussion that many on both sides of the present controversy will forget it as of further worthy attention. Yes brethren, we are "in a mess" and headed for a bigger one. There are even now brethren who are leading the fight for institutionalism who are not so zealous for "the things that go along", but are seething under the pressure of those who are. Some will surrender to this pressure as a few already have, but the more courageous with deeper convictions will be distinguished in controversy when "the things that go along" come to the surface for a showdown.

So with this prospective outlook in the forecast from prevailing conditions that ought to be obvious to anyone, regardless of his present position, caution and moderation ought to be the order of the day in our attitude toward each other. For there will be a number of zealous promoters who will rebel against "the things that go along" and their end will be to suffer the sting of contempt and ostracism they are presently heaping upon faithful brethren who will not "go along" with them. Yes, it will surely come as it did to J. B. Briny.