Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 23, 1967

On The Banks Of The Rubicon


"Crossing the Rubicon." For two thousand years those words have denoted the taking of an irrevocable step, committing oneself, one's business, or one's nation to a course of action from which there can be no turning back. The idiomatic expression grew out of Julius Caesar's leading his army across the small Rubicon river (between Italy and cisalpine Gaul) in open defiance of government orders. He had been victorious in Gaul and in the west, and now had committed himself to a battle to the death with the legions of Pompey and the Roman senate. "Crossing the Rubicon" could have no alternative except victory or death. There could be no stopping place, no turning back, no middle ground.

As we enter the final third of the twentieth century there can be little question that this fateful year finds the church of Jesus Christ in a most precarious position: many thousands of the disciples have indeed already "crossed their Rubicon," and are firmly committed to a course which can end only in full and final apostasy from the apostolic pattern. For them there is no turning back, and, although they certainly do not realize it at this time, there can be no stopping place -- no middle ground. The leaders of this segment of the body of Christ are flushed with the heady feeling of triumph; they think they can sniff "victory" in the air, and are rejoicing that after more than a century and a half of isolation and exclusiveness the "Church of Christ" is at long last about ready to take its place in modern denominationalism as a sister church. Leaders of the "New Look Church of Christ," such as Carl Ketcherside, Robert Meyers and Leroy Garrett find themselves in the delightful position of knowing that a great number of the faculties of the Christian colleges are in full sympathy with their views and objectives, and are only awaiting an "opportune time" to come out openly in favor of denominational status for the church.

But this special issue of the Gospel Guardian is going into the homes of many thousands of sincere Christians who have NOT YET crossed the Rubicon --- but who are poised fearfully on the banks of that ill-omened stream. For them the die is not yet cast, the "point of no return" has not yet arrived. But it is coming. And swiftly! For let there be no mistaking the choices, and the consequences. The "Campaigns for Christ" promotions go hand in hand with Church of Christ Hospitals, Youth Camps, Homes for Unwed Mothers, Church contributions to colleges, Church of Christ Hobby Shops, Church lodges, swimming pools, youth retreats, Service Centers, "Inner City Missions"' and a veritable avalanche of projects, promotions, and programs involving social gospel overtones, centralization of church resources and power, and a galloping denominational concept.

"Campaigns for Christ" is not an isolated or independent development. It grows right out of the postwar (World War II) mania to get the Church of Christ "On the March". It is part and parcel of an almost pathological desire on the part of some brethren to change the "image" of the Church of Christ from a small, rural, isolated, lower-middle class people to a powerful, successful, aggressive, sophisticated society which is rapidly forging to the front as the leading non-Catholic church of America!

But, even at this late hour, there are thousands of humble people (even in some of the most liberal congregations!) who are sorely troubled and perplexed by the things that are happening. They are uneasy and filed with anxiety and apprehension at the liberalism they see about to overwhelm the congregations of which they are a part. A good example is seen right in Oklahoma City, where the "Campaigns for Christ" has its headquarters (Twenty-Fifth and Geraldine Church of Christ.) Has anyone wondered why that congregation has never undertaken a "Campaign" in its own home city? Why do they find it easier to put on "Campaigns" in Philadelphia or Indianapolis or Dallas than in Oklahoma City? The answer perhaps lies in the fact that even in Oklahoma City (indeed, in the Geraldine church itself!) there is a strong under-current of opposition and resistance to these efforts to "denominationalize" the Church of Christ! Honest and humble people, desiring only to serve God according to his word, find themselves caught up into a veritable whirlwind of "go, go, go -- blow, blow, blow - brag, brag, brag!", and without their quite knowing how it happened the ongregation is "promoted" into somebody's pet project ---campaigns, hospitals, recreation centers, ad infinitum.

This issue of the Gospel Guardian is being sent to many thousands of Christians with the fervent prayer that they will read, ponder, study carefully the things presented, pray for God's guidance --- and turn their backs once and forever on the enticing, exciting, and deadly! country that lies across the Rubicon, the country of "denominational Christianity." To all such troubled souls we send the reminder that many thousands of their brethren have already firmly committed themselves to an undying opposition to the trends they fear; there are some thousands of conservative congregations over the nation which have taken an adamant stand for truth, and who will be neither persuaded nor pressured by the "promoters". To them the service of God is a far greater thing than the plaudits of men or the popularity of the age.

And if one wants a fair and objective look at what is actually happening among the churches, we strongly recommend a new little booklet only published this year, entitled "Emergence of the Church of Christ Denomination," and written by Brother David Edwin Harrell of the Department of History, University of Oklahoma. (See advertisement elsewhere in this issue.)

Let no one be deceived or lulled into a feeling of false security. Your very soul is at stake. You owe it to yourself, and to your God to ponder the issues involved in these "Campaigns for Christ, "and to take your stand with the people of God in full and faithful support of the apostolic pattern in all matters pertaining to our service of the Lord.

-F. Y. T.