Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 30, 1960
NUMBER 9, PAGE 1,10-11b

Trends Toward Apostasy --- No. II.

Bill Cavender, Port Arthur, Texas

In a previous article we set forth the course which apostasies have ever followed. This is the same course the present apostasy in the church of Christ is taking. The course of apostasy has three ingredients: (1) Lack of knowledge of and a disrespect for the will of God; (2) Exaltation of human leaders and human wisdom; (3) time. We gave the examples of the apostasy of Israel, the apostasy of the early church which resulted in Roman Catholicism, and the apostasy of the church of Christ beginning over a century ago which resulted in the Christian Church, as illustrations of these facts.

In our generation the signs are all too pronounced that another such apostasy has begun and is rapidly developing. Many are the evidences that can be presented to prove this. We shall deal in this article with the tendency of many brethren toward denominationalism — a compromising attitude toward the denominations and associations with the denominations. The examples given are not by any means all that can be produced from the limited knowledge of this writer, but these are sufficient to show a definite trend toward acceptance of denominationalism by many brethren.

In a Livingston, Texas, paper of November, 1958, we read: "The ministerial alliance of Livingston met, by invitation of the First National Bank, in the coffee room of the bank, a place of every convenience for such a meeting. All members were present but two, Rev. Wade Hopkin, who sent his regrets because he was on his way to his state convention in San Antonio; and Rev. H. H. Hunter, who sent his regrets for his absence on account of a dental appointment. Two new members attended and joined the association; Rev. Johnson, pastor of the Onalaska Baptist Church, and James Eubank, pastor of the church of Christ. Details of the community Thanksgiving services to be held in the high school auditorium were worked out for Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27, at 7:00 A. M. The Aratorio Society will bring the special vocal numbers; the high school band, we hope, can participate with special Thanksgiving music, and Rev. Charles Hall will be the preacher for the occasion. The fellowship and spirit was truly wonderful with everyone ready to he cooperative, truly Christian, and happy in the work to which Christ, Our Lord, has called us."

The Pentecostal Evangel, the weekly voice of the Assemblies of God, in the Sept. 20, 1959, issue, shows two pictures of our eructative brother, Gayle Oler. Oler was in Hot Springs, Ark., to give "practical help and information to the house parents at the National Children's Home during a recent training program." One picture shows him sitting around the table at mealtime with various of the Pentecostal divines and he looks quite happy in his denominational environment. He was with his denominational friends, lecturing to them and associating with them for four days. This, it seems to me, puts Oler in a quandary. He says that caring for homeless children is the responsibility of the church of Christ by their contributions to such homes as Boles Home. But here he is teaching the Pentecostals how to do some of the work. Since Oler gets his salary from contributions of churches and individuals to Boles Home, brethren are therefore paying Oler to help the Pentecostal church in its work. Or, I wonder if Oler took money from the Pentecostals for his services rendered them? And since to Oler the National Children's Home is a restored home, we wonder if he would be opposed to churches of Christ sending contributions to this Pentecostal restored home? He helped a denominational church in its work of teaching and rearing children in error which will damn their souls.

On Monday, Oct. 5, 1959, brother Wyatt Sawyer, preacher of the very liberal Proctor St. church in Port Arthur, was on a television program called "Religious Kaleidoscope" as a fellow panelist with a Baptist preacher and a Methodist preacher. This program is under the auspices of the Port Arthur Ministerial Alliance. Sawyer is not a bona fide member of the alliance but participates with them in some activities. On this program he looked like the other preachers, talked like them, answered questions like them, and any uninformed person would have concluded that he was a member for it was announced that the program was presented by the Port Arthur Ministerial Alliance. No statement was made that Sawyer was not a member.

During the course of the program the following occurred: (1) Sawyer was referred to six times as Reverend" Sawyer and no word of correction or contradiction came from him at any time; (2) When asked what one must do to be saved, the Baptist and Methodist preachers taught faith only by their mis-use of Eph. 2:8-9. Sawyer quoted I Cor. 1:21 as the plan of salvation when he was asked. He did not contradict the errors of the other preachers and by his mis-use of the above passage he taught the same error — faith only; (3) The other two preachers made the statements that their human churches were New Testament churches. Our brother opened not his mouth; (4) The other preachers made the statements that the church has nothing to do with our salvation. Our brother was as silent as the tomb. These errors have been pointed out to Sawyer and the Proctor St. members by this writer and others. Almost all of them, some five to six hundred members, defend Sawyer in his compromises and advise us to preach Christ and him crucified and to leave others alone and quit picking at minor points!

Our erstwhile brother Pat Hardeman has openly made a break with the Lord's church, has announced his apostasy and shipwreck of faith, and now is a Unitarian preacher. During the time of his slipping and changing he was encouraged in his denominational leanings by the powerful liberal paper, the Gospel Advocate, while faithful men were trying to bring Hardeman back to the faith. The Advocate no longer advocates more than a few things peculiar to the gospel. It has become a haven for every foul doctrine and practice. Hardeman was encouraged by the Advocate even after the editor of that journal had been told that Hardeman was endorsing mixed swimming, dancing, moderate drinking, and was hobnobbing with sectarians before he finally joined them openly. Then the Advocate editor tried to hide his ungodly actions, shame, and guilt by trying to shift the blame for Hardeman's defection to the faithful men who had for a good while been earnestly striving to bring him back to the truth!

Brother Thomas Cook, preacher of the Riverdale church in Dayton, Ohio, had the following report in the G. A. of Oct. 16, 1958: "Riverdale church has just concluded one of the most successful meetings with Batsell Barrett Baxter as the preacher. Our attendance each evening was to overflowing. We had arranged for closed television circuit viewing in the basement auditorium. One evening was set aside as 'minister's night.' There were more than thirty denominational preachers present for that service. Several of those came again to the other services of the meeting. "The Riverdale church bulletin stated that "Tuesday night had been set aside as 'Minister's Night' when all the denominational preachers of the greater Dayton area were personally invited to attend." All the ministers were sent a "Minister's Night Reservation" which they were to send in. Brother Cook describes Baxter's sermon thus: "The sermon was magnificently done — all of it the truth of God — but presented in a manner that none could fail to be moved — yet without a single negative thought." This is the kind of preaching that leases most of the brethren and all the denominations.

Brother Cook used to believe the truth but found it highly convenient and profitable to change his convictions after he began full-time preaching. In April of 1955, he gave this writer a book entitled "Ancient Faith In Conflict" by bro. Jim Cope, which is a compilation of the Florida Christian College lectures of 1955. Twenty of the twenty-eight lectures in this book deal with the problems, institutionalism, modernism, liberalism, etc., and Cook endorsed this in giving me a copy. On the- flyleaf, he wrote: "In appreciation to Bill Cavender from Thomas Cook, 1955." In October of 1955, bro. Cook wrote me a letter in which he said, "I understand that Jim Cope really had a fine meeting in Murfreesboro. There were 12 baptisms. Evidently he preached a good bit on institutionalism, especially orphanages . . . I certainly am not anti-orphanage, but I am against the church owning and operating them. I believe that Christians can own any kind of institution that is honorable, and that the church can purchase the services of these institutions as they may need. What a problem this is going to be in the coming years. I become so despondent over the coming battle at times." In a letter to me of July 29, 1958, brother Cook admits his change but can give no scriptural reason for such. He now has more in common with denominational preachers than with me. He will no longer have any fellowship with me because I still stand where he used to stand and I see no scriptural reason for changing as has he.

In The Contender of October, 1959, the following is quoted by bro. Wright Randolph, evidently the original source being the bulletin of the University church of Christ in Austin, Texas: "LADIES BIBLE CLASS — On Tuesday morning, June 23rd, the ladies of the congregation will have the privilege of hearing Rabbi Samuel Zakuto. Rabbi Zakuto, who will be accompanied by his wife, is associated with the local Jewish Orthodox church. A period of fellowship and refreshments will follow the chapel service in order that ladies might have an opportunity to get better acquainted with Rabbi and Mrs. Zakuto."

In the October, 1959, issue of Truth Magazine, bro. Jack Frost, Jr., says the following in an article entitled "Something Is Wrong!!" "The Lubbock Baptist Association's March report showed a contribution of 667.50 for the month of February to one of their missions from an elder of the Parkway Drive Church of Christ." "The Sunset Church of Christ in Lubbock called in Baptists to help dedicate their new 'more-than-a-thousand-seat auditorium' according to an article in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Sunday. March 15." "When elders, Bible teachers, and other members of the Lord's church are on the 'Citizen's Sponsor Committee' to help raise $149.000.00 to construct a new building for the Salvation Army, something is wrong. This has already happened in Lubbock. Two of the elders, a Bible class teacher, and some members of the Broadway congregation, and one member of the Sunset Church of Christ are listed by the Salvation Army as being on 'The Citizen's Sponsor Committee' to help raise funds for the Salvation Army." "When prospective elders and deacons are afraid they will not be selected because they are members of the Masonic Lodge, something is wrong. This has happened time and time again and is reported to have happened here in Cleburne more than once just recently." "When elders and other members of the church become officers in the Red Cross and the Community Chest (United Fund) and help solicit money that will be used for the major part in promoting Catholic benevolent institutions and other religious organizations such as the Salvation Army, then indeed something is wrong. This has happened in Cleburne and many other places."

Many other examples could be mentioned, and this writer is by no means aware of even a small percentage of all such happenings. But no person with open spiritual eyes can help but see the definite trend toward fraternization with the sects by many brethren. This is a trend toward apostasy.

Denominationalism implies division among people and deviation from God's will. it could not exist if this were not true. The denominational attitude is one of toleration of error, no exposure of error, and compromise of convictions with error. The church of Christ is overflowing with people with this denominational attitude. The errors of denominationalism are scarcely dealt with any more by preachers. Denominational names are rarely mentioned, their false doctrines go unexposed, their preachers go unchallenged, and most of our brethren love to have it so. Many members of the church place membership with the denominations and many denominational people (this includes the Christian Church) place membership with some church of Christ (?). The people of God cannot have a sectarian and denominational attitude without becoming a sectarian and denominational body of people. But the majority have definitely pitched their tents toward the Sodom and Gomorrah of sectarianism, and are traveling the broad and popular route that leads directly to apostasy.