Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 13, 1969
NUMBER 40, PAGE 12b-13

"First Century Christian", Late But Welcome

Wm. E. Wallace

Roy J. Hearn, an editor of First Century Christian remarks that they "are far behind schedule in our opposition to such trends as will cut us loose from our moorings of truth and set us adrift again upon the sea of denominationalism." (August 1968 editorial). You are right, brother Hearn. I do not say this sarcastically or facetiously. You are right. You are indeed far behind schedule.

First Century Christian, published from Memphis, Tennessee since its beginning in July of 1967, is carrying on a worthy battle against some of the trends which are calculated to "cut us loose from our moorings of truth and set us adrift again upon the sea of denominationalism." We are pleased with their efforts and cheerfully wish them Godspeed.

Brother Hearn observes again, "It is later than we think and it is not time to remain quiet about some of the goings-on in the church. The future of the church is at stake." (November 1968 editorial). It has been "later than you think" for a long time now. The Gospel Guardian has been singing this song for twenty years.

Twenty years ago The Gospel Guardian was created to fight "a wrong attitude toward the Bible," to use the words of Franklin Camp (September 1968 issue of First Century Christian). The wrong attitude toward the Bible which The Gospel Guardian fought, and continued to fight, is one which carries congregations into unauthorized functions, which in turn sets the stage for the condition about which First Century Christian is worried. Camp observes, "The fatal folly of denominationalism that has carried it so far into the ranks of liberalism and modernism was a wrong attitude toward the Bible. This same attitude is creeping into the church of our Lord." It is easy for Camp to recognize the inroads of bad attitudes toward the Bible as involved in theological modernism or classical liberalism. But has he been able to see the same bad attitudes toward the function of the church? The Gospel Guardian, along with other such papers as The Preceptor, Searching The Scriptures, and Truth Magazine, has opposed such ideas and sentiments as they were expressed like this: "It makes no difference how you do it so long as you get it done." "The Bible says do it, but doesn't say how, so we'll do like we want." "If it is a good work the church can support it." "There is no pattern for congregational cooperation." "We don't have to have Bible authority for what we are doing — it is a good work." The larger portion of the church fell victim to these sentiments and the stage was set for the theological liberalism and the modernism which First Century Christian now battles.

You see, when brethren became accustomed to thinking loosely about Bible authority regarding the function of the church, they became susceptible to the sentiments which Franklin Camp now seeks to offset. He observes, "There needs to be a revival of the phrases, 'It is not what I think that is right, but what the Bible teaches, it is not what I feel that is right, but what the Bible teaches; it is not what some preacher says is right, but what the Bible teaches."' (First Century Christian, September 1968) For twenty years we have been trying to get brethren to see that it is not what they think is right about church function, but what the Bible teaches; it is not what they feel is right about the work of the church but what the Bible teaches, it is not what some preachers say is right, but what the Bible teaches.

If Roy J. Hearn, Glenn Wallace, Franklin Camp and others who are now resisting some of the seeds of apostasy had resisted comparable seeds with us twenty years ago and since, they wouldn't be troubled quite so severely with modernism today. Modernism would not have become so prominent in the church of Christ in its present forms if the battle against looseness in the area of the function of the church had been joined by men like Hearn, Wallace and Camp.

As one of looks over the pages of The Gospel Guardian of yesteryear, he sees the same weapons now employed by First Century Christian well deployed then by men like J. Early Arceneaux, Roy E. Cogdill, James W. Adams, Pat Hardeman, Cled. Wallace, R. L. Whiteside, Yater Tant and even Foy E. Wallace, Jr.

For an example, Glenn L. "Wallace is presently, shooting at the R. B. Sweet literature, the new series. Reading through some old Guardians I find the same kind of fight waged years ago by Guardian writers against the Sewell literature.

What we are saying is this: First Century Christian is a Johnny-Come-Lately enterprise, but we are glad it has come! 'You brethren just keep right on fighting what you are fighting. I suspect when you get down to the rock bottom of things you'll find that the source of your problems is related to the looseness that found its way into the thinking" of brethren via the church support of institutions and sponsoring church routes. Of course you will be inclined to blame it on those who fell victim to liberalism in the universities and seminaries. But we insist that they were made fertile ground for that which overcame them, by the loose attitudes which came out of the institutional and sponsoring church controversies.

It is a tragedy that a number of good brethren turned away from The Gospel Guardian when it stood almost alone in the journalistic field as a weapon against certain "goings on in the church. Some good brethren, in turning from The Gospel Guardian accepted the exaggerations and false accusations. Of disgruntled and bitter brethren without even considering a hearing from the other side of the story. The Guardian's fight was hurt by the betrayals and slander of a few brethren who thought more of some personal vendetta than they did of the protecting of the church against trends which were bound to lead to what First Century Christian now fights.

But yes, we are pleased to see First Century Christian wage the battle against forces which would destroy the church. They are fighting a "new liberalism" which is an old liberalism in a new dress. As a new born journal they are set up to guard the church against movements today which were once trends we could have nipped in the bud had we all stayed together twenty years ago.