Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 15, 1962
NUMBER 44, PAGE 2,14c

The Danger Of Extremes

A. M. Plyler, Parrish, Alabama

I wish someone could and would say the things that I think ought to be said about the danger of extremes. I wish these things could be said in words strong and loud enough that my brethren throughout the land would listen, and ponder the awful plight that we have come to by the tactics that we have employed.

There is much truth in the old saying that man is like a pendulum, ever swinging from one extreme to another. I am sure that God in his purpose in the creation of man never intended that he waste his life and energy swinging back and forth, first running to one extreme and creating a crisis, then swinging back to another extreme to counteract and destroy the evil effects of the crises that a former position had helped to create and bring about.

One of the evils of every age, I suppose, is the disposition on the part of the people of God to follow a leader without studying and thinking for themselves. It is so easy to idolize to a certain extent certain leaders among us and follow them without restraint. We trust them to do our Bible studying for us, and then tell us what to do about certain things. There are entirely too many of us who look to and consider what some leader says as the final word on what the word of God says. We follow these leaders blindly, never considering that they may be leading us down a blind alley to eternal destruction. To my knowledge some leaders among us have gone and are still going to the utmost extremes. These extreme positions being fostered by these leaders are greatly responsible for the terrible plight that now is distressing the fold of God's people.

Several years ago, one leader among us, in writing one of his books, made the following statement: "There is no place for charitable organizations in the work of the New Testament church. It is the only charitable organization that the Lord authorizes or that is needed to do the work the Lord expects his people to do." If this statement is true, there are no circumstances under which two or more brethren may band themselves together to do a work of charity. I believe that but few men among us have ever gone to that extreme; indeed, I am sure that I have never held to that extreme position. I believe that brethren as individuals have certain rights and responsibilities that do not apply to the church. But if the above statement is true, two or more brethren could not band together to care for a family or families in need in the community. But now the scribe who penned the above statement has shifted to another extreme, in which he presently contends that the church cannot do this charitable work; that the work of caring for the poor and destitute is a work of the home and the church cannot take over this work. And while the church cannot do the work, it must supply the funds for some other institution to do the work.

Both the above positions are dangerous extremes; neither of them is the whole truth; either of them held to and pursued, will do tremendous harm to the plain truth of God.

Several years ago I was attending a lecture program held by one of our Christian colleges. One brother appeared on the program for a lecture and spoke for about forty minutes before he even mentioned his subject. He leaned way out of his way to fight and ridicule, with all the verbosity that he was capable of, an orphan home operated by a board of directors, separate and apart from a local congregation. His persistence in this course was so intense, that this writer was led to wonder if the speaker had slipped mentally and was entirely beside himself. But, finally, after he seemingly had exhausted every word of ridicule and reproach in his vocabulary, he turned and said, "That is all free and without charge; I will now get on with my subject."

About three years after the above mentioned speech, this writer heard the same speaker make another speech on the same subject. But this time the speaker had shifted over to the other side. Much of his speech was thin, and without reason. This speech was just as far afield, and as filled with sarcasm, sophistry, and ridicule as the former had been, except he had now shifted positions and was fighting a different group, those that he called "anti" brethren. And with all his might he sought to show that the church has both a flight and a responsibility to support and maintain the institutions that he had so valiantly fought to destroy! With all the emphasis of which he was capable, he declared that God has three divine institutions: the Church, the Home, and the State. And that these three institutions, being all divine, can each cooperate with, support, and maintain the other. Such duplicity. I had never heard declared before nor since by any member of the Lord's church. This would place the church and the state in cahoots, just as the Catholics have contended, for lo, these many years. Such extremes as this brother advocated are dangerous and costly to the peace and prosperity of the Church of our Lord. And it is still hard to tell whether or not the speaker has had a mental slip.

Some twenty years ago a group of young preachers sat in a homiletics class; the teacher passed out to the class three sermon outlines, one of which was on the Lord's Supper. These outlines were all the making of this preacher and teacher. The outline on the Lord's Supper included the material the table was made of and in bold capital letters, and in these words: "NO MARBLE TOP." Now where did God or any of the apostles ever tell us anything about what the table on which the Lord's Supper is set should or should not be made of? And I ask, is not that kind of teaching, if persisted in, a dangerous extreme? But now the same congregation where that preacher was preaching then, and still preaches, has built a new house of worship and the whole end of the building next to the pulpit is covered with marble, including both the baptistry and the Lord's Table. In all there are several hundred square feet of marble. This writer has never seen anything just like it.

These are some of the extremes that some of our leaders are running to, and sad it is they never think that they are extremists, or that they have changed. And yet, they talk a lot about other brethren having changed. Their conduct reminds one of the fellow who was arrested for getting drunk. When he awoke next morning in jail, he looked around and said, "This don't look like my house; everything sho' has changed; this don't feel like my bed." Then he looked out the window and saw the rising sun and shouted. "Yes, I mean things have really changed, the sun is coming up in the west!"

While these brethren are always denying that they have changed, they still are breathing out ridicule, slander, epithets against those who do not keep up with them in the changes that they make. They shout "hobby rider," "crank," or "anti" against other good brethren for no reason at all except they do not go along with them in their extremes.

If this writer has learned anything from reading the Bible, God wants his children to be sober, well balanced and firm. (I Thess. 5, 6) "Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober." (verse 8) "But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for an helmet, the hope of salvation." (1 Tim. 3:2) " A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach." (I Pet. 1:13) "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." (Chapter 5:8) "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion walketh about seeking whom he may devour."

May God and the word of his grace, build us up to a better and holier way of life.