Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 18, 1971
NUMBER 44, PAGE 1-3,4b

Thrust At Abilene

Robert L. Mc Donald

During the second week of January, a "Preacher's Workshop" was conducted at Abilene Christian College to allow "preachers to meet in fellowship and to discuss issues vital to the church today."Of the eleven issues to be discussed, this writer heard all but one (the last was not attended due to the necessity to begin travel for home) and the effect on this reporter is most difficult to explain. It is as though I have been awakened from a terrible dream. The positions advocated seemed almost unreal. Even though many of us (preachers) have stated that nothing is surprising today, I must confess that I was not only surprised but shocked at the philosophies propagated.

I feel that I can appraise this meeting without bias, for most of the preachers were unknown to me. Further, I have been out of touch with almost all of those associated with the "liberal wing" of the church and so have not had the opportunity to evaluate their continued change in doctrine and practice other than a few of the reports made in some of the papers published by our brethren. I was not sympathetic to any of the speakers (with two exceptions) so cannot be considered as a "party man" in reporting. As the report of this "Workshop" is made, I shall notice the points which I feel were the most liberal, anti-scriptural, ungodly positions advanced by the speakers.

Before I go further, I should point out that the positions advanced during these sessions were not necessarily embraced by the majority of those present. It was my understanding that conflicting positions were to be advanced to allow those present to hear first-hand reports of the positions. Further, there were no recordings made of this "Workshop" — recording equipment was forbidden! No official publication will be made! Only those who delivered speeches can arrange for the publication of their own speeches and after hearing the absurd positions advanced and the acknowledged practices in some instances, I can understand why these preachers would not want recordings or publications made of these speeches.

Church Organizations

The first issue discussed was that of the church and organizations. Brother James W. Adams, after he showed the distinction between the meaning of organization as a method of accomplishing a work — and — organization as a self-governed body, such as the local church, he proceeded to establish the truth of the scriptural organization of the local church. Brother Adams delivered a fine speech and was more than once publicly acknowledged to have delivered it in the finest manner.

J. D. Thomas responded to brother Adams by saying he didn't agree! He endeavored to confuse the audience (and probably did — judging by the reaction of the audience to later speeches) by saying the institutional orphan homes and the sponsoring church were nothing but organizations within the contributing church. (The consequence of his position can be illustrated: When a congregation in Houston, Texas sends monetary contribution to Boles Home, (that makes Boles Home an organization within the framework of the contributing church at Houston!) The next day, this writer asked the superintendent of Boles Home (Allen Sowders) if he took the position advanced by J. D. Thomas. He hedged for a few moments but eventually said he could not! You see, reader friend, if Boles Home was nothing but an organization (method, systematic arrangement) of a contributing church, the contributing church would have the right to hire and fire employees at Boles Home. Neither the board of directors of Boles Home (or any other benevolent society) nor the elders of a sponsoring church are willing to adopt such a practice.

Arguments by Thomas have been similarly made through the years and was not surprising to the course followed. The arguments of J. D. Thomas were shallow and had they been introduced in a public debate, he would have had to give them up or suffer a terrible defeat.

Church In Welfare Programs

Carrol Pitts of Pepperdine College emphasized a greater welfare program among churches of Christ for the poor. Even though he did not state specifically, the position advanced would necessitate an involvement of the Lord's church in a program similar to the Salvation Army. Pitts was the first of the speakers to raise the racial issue implying the colored races, especially the blacks, have been ignored by the brotherhood and a greater attention should be given to the poor in welfare programs.

Those who believe the truth of the gospel understand the Christian's relationship to other races and regard all Christians as brethren, regardless of the color of their skin, and are concerned for their needs. (Gal. 3:28; 6:10) Further, Bible students understand there is divine authority for the local congregation to provide physical relief to certain destitute, but such relief is limited to the poor among the saints. (Rom. 15:15-16; 2 Cor. 9:1, 12, et al). Pitts' implication that Negros have been ignored by the white brethren is folly and I feel the majority of the brethren know this is not true. There may be cases where Negro brethren have been abused and neglected (I personally do not know of any), but such is not the rule. And, for Pitts to indict every congregation throughout the world promoting his social-gospel-ism, using the Negro (even though Pitts is a Negro) as an example is repugnant to me.

"Holy Worldliness"

In discussing the issue: "Relevancy of the church," Ray Chester of Austin, Texas denied the church of the first century could deal with the social ills of the twentieth. He claimed that brethren were going to have to adapt the church of this century to the surroundings of the world. In doing this, brethren are going to have to involve themselves in the same worldliness as found around them. Chester referred to this as, "holy worldliness."

To attract the youth, especially the hippy crowd, Chester said the church should adopt hippy-type music in the church. Evidently, the song, "Jesus Is A Soul-Man" could be sung in the worship of God!! Such a concept in the public worship would demand a restructure of the worship to appeal to the hippies with psychedelic lights, burning of incense (possibly a little pot smoking) and associated background of rock music!

I have known Ray Chester for almost twenty years, though never closely associated. I have known for a long time that he was liberally minded but was not prepared for the extremity of his liberalism. Can you imagine what his philosophy would allow? To convert the adulterer or drunkard, the Christian (?) must become familiar with their sin of adultery or drunkenness in order to reach them! This, Ray Chester referred to as "holy worldliness." And, to adopt the hippy-type-music in the worship is absurd! But, this is the course of liberalism in the church today!

Inspiration Of The Bible

In the exchange between Tom Warren (of Freed Hardeman College) and Roy Bowen Ward (teacher of the New Testament at Rice University) there was one of the most eye-opening positions this preacher has ever heard espoused in public by a person claiming to be a member of the church of Christ.

First of all, Tom Warren publicly challenged Roy Ward to a public debate on the inspiration of the Bible. This is the same Tom Warren who has been challenged over and over again for the past fifteen years to debate the church-support of human institutions! Tom Warren has invariably refused these challenges since he met brother Cecil Douthitt back in the middle 50's, and we feel certain Warren would have met other men in debate on these issues had he held a scriptural position. But here was Tom Warren (fifteen years later), issuing a challenge to this soft-spoken, mild-mannered, professor-appearing person, complete with long hair and heavy sideburns down to his lower jaw. With the audience, professor Warren scored a zero — even among the middle-of-the-road-preachers!

When Roy Ward responded to Tom Warren's speech, he denied the Bible to be the revealed truth of God! If we grant that Roy Ward believed that some part of the Bible is inspired of God (and I have no reason to suppose that he does, judging from what he said publicly), he did deny the Bible as a whole is the inspired Word of God. Of course, the position denies the Genesis account of creation (which he did in private discussion following the speeches), the virgin birth of our Lord, miracles and other supernatural events as recorded in the Bible. Here is a teacher of the New Testament at Rice University, claiming to be a member of the church of Christ and all along denying the Bible is verbally inspired of God! Here is one of the "lights" among the liberals in the church today.


In the exchange of Frank Pack (of Pepperdine College) and Dwain Evans, preacher at West Islip, N.Y., the "Question of Tongues" was an issue to become most enlightening. I say enlightening, not in the sense of coming to a better knowledge of the truth, but to the extent of exposing the liberalism embraced by those who are regarded as members of the Lord's church.

In Frank Pack's speech, it must be acknowledged that he presented a fine speech and successfully presented the truth with reference to the spiritual gift of tongues in the first century. His arguments were plain and clear and such that Dwain Evans was unable to give good reply to any of them.

When Evans responded to Pack's speech, he perverted scripture when he said we today are to "forbid not to speak with tongues." (I Cor. 14:39). He contended that tongue-speaking should be practiced today and brethren should not oppose those who do speak in tongues. He stated there were some members of the West Islip (N.Y.) church who spoke in tongues — however, the elders requested they confine their tongue-speaking-experiences to their private devotionals in their homes. (Can you imagine the Holy Spirit, wanting to direct some to speak in tongues but prevented from doing so because not allowed by the elders of a congregation? I knew that elders in some congregations exercised greater authority than the Lord ever intended, but I never knew they could overrule the Holy Spirit!)

The same arguments made by the Pentecostals (and other tongue speakers today) were made by Dwain Evans. Of course, he would be unable to refute the positions taken by sectarians claiming to do the same thing that Evans' brethren at West Islip are doing. Unbelievable? It is shocking that some, considered to be influential preachers among the liberals (Pat Boone included), are taking the positions they have. But, it is true!

Social Responsibilities

Brother Harry Pickup, Jr. spoke on "Our Social Responsibilities." He showed there were social responsibilities of each before becoming Christians, but after obeying the gospel of Christ we are more cognizant of our duties in relationship to our fellowman. He then pointed out the difference between the work of charity by the Christian and that by the local church. However, the emphasis of his speech was the righteousness of God is to bring about a right relationship with God — that is, reconciliation of the alien sinner to God.


The great problem in the church today is not whether or not the local congregation is authorized to give monetary support to human institutions, but whether or not the Bible is inspired of God. If the events at the "Workshop" was any indicator (and I feel that they were), the ultraliberals are in the process of gaining effective control of the majority of the colleges (ACC, LCC, Pepperdine, Harding, DLC and OCC) and with time, complete control of the liberal churches. When large numbers (from an audience of 500 preachers) applaud such ultraliberals as Evans and Ward (as mentioned above), it appears to this writer they have just about gained control — lock, stock, and barrel! The problems among the liberals have grown to the point where they are arguing whether or not the Bible is sufficient to man's needs today and whether or not it is verbally inspired of God.

John Allen Chalk, preacher for the Fifty-Highland Church of Christ in Abilene (the Herald of Truth church) and former speaker on the Herald of Truth, denied the righteousness of God was to make man right with God. He said: "I do not believe the prima''; purpose of God's righteousness is to bring man into a right relationship with God, but a right relationship with man." Can you imagine the consequence of such a position? Jesus Christ died a horrible death on the cross, shedding his life blood, so a Jew and a Gentile might have a greater respect and love for each other? Pshaw! But, why would Chalk take such a position? Other parts of his speech revealed that he is a socialist-do-gooder. He made a big play on the racial problems troubling our nation in general. He is not only a liberal with reference to the Word of God, but is a liberal in civil affairs. This is the same John Allen Chalk who gave endorsement to the "X-rated" movie, "Midnight Cowboy" — the story of a lonely homosexual. In the quote as given in a newspaper interview (Abilene Reporter-News), Chalk was reported as saying that "Ratso," the homosexual, was a "Christ-like figure." This is the same John Allen Chalk to perform a wedding ceremony of a black male and white female — students at ACC.

The Thrust At Abilene was, as far as this writer observed, a victory for the liberal intellectuals. They were given the opportunity to be heard — and they were applauded! They are aggressive in their godless philosophy. Their speech is of Ashdod — employing a vocabulary of their own! They show little regard for the truth as it is revealed in the Bible — for they indicate no faith in its inspiration. They are not afraid to propagate their unscriptural philosophy, regardless of how absurd it may be! They plead, as did Dwain Evans, to be "silent, loving and kind," and at the same time will undermine the faith of the unlearned. The ultraliberals will not be stopped by the middle-of-the-roaders because the middle-of-the-roaders are not willing to make a real fight by positive identification so that brethren will know of whom they speak.

Will these ultraliberals have an effect upon congregations composed of conservative brethren? Probably not to any great degree in the immediate future. But, we must ever be watchful so that our faith will not be destroyed and our children will be thoroughly taught the truth of God for their obedience to the faith of our Lord.

— 1505 Narcille Baytown, Texas 77520