Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 30, 1969

"Wolf! Wolf!


All of us are familiar with the story of the shepherd boy who thought to have some fun and excitement to relieve the dull tedium of his task, so amused himself several times by crying out, "Wolf! wolf!" thus bringing the villagers out in hasty alarm to deal with the marauder. But there was no wolf. And when, on one sad day, the vicious wolf did in truth appear, the alarming cry of the shepherd boy went unheeded and unanswered. By crying out the alarm when there was no danger, he had prepared the way for disaster when danger did actually come.

For a good many years now the Gospel Guardian has been pictured to the brotherhood as in the guise of the shepherd boy; we were constantly crying, "wolf! wolf!" and there was no wolf. What we thought we saw by way of dangerous compromise was simply the unhealthy hallucinations of our own small and negative minds. The Churches of Christ were "on the march" to a glorious and magnificent tomorrow, and the frightened cries of a bunch of 'grasshopper complex' antis could not be allowed to stand in the way.

Well, it is time now for some sober reappraisal of the situation. For the signs of apostasy multiply with accelerating frequency. And many good people who had been lulled into a feeling of euphoria by the swelling reports of growth and progress in our gospel papers are now facing the harsh reality of apostasy — bleak, barren, and undeniable. It turns out, after all, that the long-fanged wolf was truly lurking in the back-ground all the time. Perhaps the "anti" brethren did not actually see him, and maybe their hair-trigger uneasiness was all uncalled for. Indeed, perhaps the fact that they warned for so many long years before he actually did reveal himself may be in some way partly responsible for the slowness of the brethren to react when the actual wolf appeared on the scene. Maybe they were hoping to dismiss the ugly fellow as simply another of those "anti myths" they had been hearing for so many years.

The facts are stubborn things. And one of the latest FACTS to come to our attention appeared in bold headlines on the front page of the Nashville Tennessean one day a few weeks ago. It read like this:

Otter Creek Minister Quits In 'Tongues' Dispute

Otter Creek in the story is the Otter Creek Church of Christ, near Nashville. The minister referred to is John Robert McRay, one of the teachers at David Lipscomb College, and the 'tongues dispute' was a hassle within the congregation over an out-break of "tongue-speaking" within the membership, and the unwillingness of the elders to make any effort to correct the aberration. Here is the newspaper's report of the situation:

"Several worshipers at Otter Creek, most of them younger members and some of the students (at DLD?) have been meeting in recent months in private homes in Bible study and prayer groups."

"During these meetings there was Bible study prayer, an occasional observance of the Lord's Supper — and speaking in tongues. Such meetings were being held in the home of Dr. Ogle Hall, whose father, Dr. Fred Hall, is one of the elders of Otter Creek Church." In his letter of resignation McRay wrote:

"It has become clear to me from observation and personal consultation with the elders. . . . that this practice will be allowed to continue in spite of its detrimental effect on the life and work of the majority of the congregation.

The newspaper reported that "there is nowhere near unanimity of opinion among the Otter Creek membership about the doctrine of speaking in tongues."

This, of course, is only one incident. As an isolated occurrence it would be relatively unimportant. But, beyond all peradventure of doubt, such incidents are going to increase among the Churches of Christ. And it all stems back to the initial mistake of the belittling of the necessity of Bible authority! Over and over, we have tried to stress the "package deal" nature of the modern departures within the church. These things are not isolated and unrelated. Building of huge missionary combines, church benevolent institutions, church supported secular educational institutions, social gospel adventures in recreational and related areas — all these things go together; and along with them goes a lessened respect for the authority of God's word, and a growing disposition to seek immediate, direct guidance from God via the 'tongue-speaking' miraculous, Holy-Spirit guidance lines.

When we cried, "Wolf!! Wolf!" so many years ago, we honestly did not then foresee the tongue-speaking phenomenon as a part of the danger. We doubt that any of us, even in our wildest alarm, would have ever supposed the Lord's churches would be led that far astray. But now that it has happened, we are not surprised. It is only one symptom, one aspect, of the basic illness. That illness is a diminished respect for the authority of God's word. Once again we make our appeal, not to the big, influential congregations, for congregations, as such, will not be moved; but we seriously implore those concerned and conservative Christians In all these congregations to "Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way: and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls."

— F. Y. T.