Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 24, 1961

Another Disturbing Trend

Eldred Stevens, Fort Worth, Texas

Because of personally falling so far short of the ideal as a preacher, this writer is somewhat reluctant to undertake this particular critique. However, the need for these remarks is so great that such reluctance must be pushed aside. Much is being said in present times concerning dangerous trends that are developing in the church. There is the trend toward institutionalism, the trend toward worldliness, the trend toward modernism, the trend toward ecclesiastical regimentation, the trend toward breakdown of congregational independence, the trend toward anti-ism and legalism, etc.

One of the most disturbing of all trends today is found in the fact that so many of our present generation of preachers do not preach sermons that ring with the old Jerusalem gospel. In their desire to be "original," and in their determination not to "parrot" such preachers as Benjamin Franklin, David Lipscomb, H. Leo Boles, Foy E. Wallace, etc., they turn out a product that doesn't resemble a gospel sermon as much as it resembles a moral or philosophic lecture by Harry Emerson Fosdick, Clovis Chappell, or Norman Vincent Peale.

Recently a preacher told me of the last three meetings through which he had sat, conducted by three of our best-known preachers of the twentieth century. He said that there had not been as much gospel in all forty-five sermons as most of our older preachers used to put in one. Of the last one of the three, he said that the preaching was witty, original, morally uplifting, entertaining, but that there was not a single sermon presented that could not have been enthusiastically delivered word for word by a sectarian evangelist! Preachers nowadays are being taught somewhere to avoid very carefully any references to the "plan" of salvation, to preach "commitment to Christ" rather than New Testament conversion. They are being educated out of the mistaken legalism of the preceding generations! They know now that we cannot stoutly maintain that Jesus has only one church, and that there are not Christians in all denominations! The whole approach seems to be that we are a little closer to being right than most of the other religious groups.

As stated above, no one is more conscious of his own short-comings than this writer, but I have had too many people say to me, after hearing an "old-fashioned" sermon on the conditions of salvation or the unity or identity of the church, "I haven't heard a sermon like that since I was a child!" Or, "Why don't we have preaching like that any more?"

Those of us who preach need to crucify some of our pride and our originality and dust off some volumes of the "legalistic" and "fundamentalistic" works of the pioneers whose influences have brought us where we are. The us of them in the preparation of our sermons will instill in them a power not to be found in the pretty new volumes issuing from Chicago University and Harvard!

Commendation For Cooperation

Wm. E. Wallace, Poteau, Okla.

While the liberals are promoting human devices, we are building churches. It is highly encouraging to see sound brethren and sound churches cooperating to preach the gospel in new areas. New congregations are being created. Our fight against centralization of authority in certain cooperative projects has not led us to neglect New Testament work and New Testament cooperation.

All the instances of present day New Testament cooperation are too numerous for mention in this article. But we will tell of a few in which I have had some part in order to illustrate what is going on, in order to encourage more of the same, and in order to commend all who believe in and practice scriptural cooperation.

Recently a faithful preacher lost the financial support of some liberal elders who were obligated to him. Through a period of about three months when he was without support, a number of churches and individuals responded to our calls for financial assistance. The brother was able to carry on his work and he is now preaching for a sound, loyal group.

In July we participated in an effort to establish a church in a coastal city of North Carolina where no congregation of the Lord's people has ever existed. Several preachers joined efforts in this mission. They were supported by several congregations and individuals. A church was established in the city and the prospects for growth are excellent.

A few years ago we worked in a similar effort in the tide-water region of North Carolina. A church was established. Congregations responded to our requests for support of a preacher and now the group is enjoying growth in a building completely paid for.

These are three instances. Through the past 10 or 12 years I have participated in several such efforts. I have made appeals on behalf of needy churches and on behalf of needy gospel workers. Brethren have responded well. In sending directly to the place or man in need they have followed the New Testament pattern.

Elders are burdened with appeals from many workers. They receive requests from many weak churches. They cannot respond to every call. It has been my experience that when congregations are able they will respond to the appeals of worthy brethren and needy churches.

It does me good to see sound churches doing more and more in cooperating with brethren in need. Sound brethren are working; they are cooperating. The cause is prospering. While the liberals build church institutions and centralize authority, we build churches and cooperate scripturally. Let us not grow weary in well-doing.