Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 28, 1970

The Mutation Of A Concept

Jimmy Tuten, Jr.

A mutation has been defined as a "process of changing, alteration, or modification" (The New Webster Dictionary, P. 555). Back in the fifties the editor of Mission Messenger was in his zenith of vocal opposition to the "located preacher" position, claiming that it was a practice resulting in apostasy from the New Testament order. His whole position rested on the assumption that the gospel could not be preached to the church. He reasoned somewhat like this: — the "gospel" literally means "good news," and since good news is no longer news once it is heard, it can't be preached to the church. The preacher (or evangelist) is one who preaches the gospel and since it is impossible to preach the gospel to the church, the preacher must go where the gospel has never been preached. — He was met on the issue and successfully defeated almost with a single passage. That passage was Romans 1:1-15, where in one section Paul says that he is addressing the epistle to "all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints" V. 7). About fourteen times following this verse, the words, "ye" and "your" appear, and in the fifteenth verse Paul used the expression "you" when he says, "I am ready to preach the gospel to you also that are in Rome." Context and grammatical construction (or exegetical principle) require that this "you" of Romans 1:15 refer to the church. It was successfully demonstrated then and is still true, the gospel can be preached to the church. They must continue to stand in it, and keep it in memory, or else their faith is vain (1 Cor. 15:1-2).

While brother Ketcherside freely admits that he was an extremist during this time, refusing to have fellowship with any who practiced the "located preacher" concept, he has, in my estimation, become an extremist in the other direction. As a brother, I like him. But I consider him a threat to the church. By his own admission he fellowships "every person who has been immersed upon the basis of his sincere faith in Jesus as God's Son and His Lord" (Defender, Vol. 11, No. 11, January 26, 1969). He will fellowship therefore any such person currently in "the Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, or some other religious organization" (Mission Messenger, February 1960, Pp. 3-9). Whereas he refused to fellowship those who happen to disagree with his segment of disciple-hood at one time, he now wants to include in fellowship any baptized believer regardless of differences in doctrine and practice (his basic overtures are directed toward the Disciples of Christ, Christian Churches, Liberal minded brethren, etc.)

While he has gone all out to apply ecumenism to the church, his current distinction between "gospel" and "doctrine" is but a mutation of his old concept imbibed in the fifties. To him the gospel is still no more than facts establishing the deity of Jesus and therefore only seed by which the unsaved are begotten. Only doctrine he says, applies to the church. But notice where his alteration or mutation enters in: He now avows that doctrine is optional and not a part of the New Testament. This concept is essential to his current war against the need for authority. Less anyone think I am misrepresenting brother Ketcherside, please read carefully the following quotation from Mission Messenger (edited by brother Ketcherside), Volume 30, Number 10, October 1968:

"Then what are apostolic epistles? . . . They are letters written to covenant people. . . They are no part of the New Testament. ... They are doctrinal, intended for the children of God. The gospel is for the world, the apostolic doctrine for the saints."

A little later in the same issue he said, "there is as much difference between the gospel and doctrine as there is between a daily newspaper and a marriage guide. . . ."

Brethren, the New Testament does not make this distinction! Brother Ketcherside is in contradiction to the Bible, and those who follow him will ultimately be corrupted Biblically. We who pride ourselves in being conservative, have lamented the "revolt against old time sound doctrine" taking place within "liberal" churches. But we had better clean around our own back door! To my knowledge my pulse has never been taken by any editor or any conservative paper among us (and I couldn't care less as I am more concerned with what the Bible says, than what brethren think); but I am one of those who is greatly concerned with the drift "away from the mooring which have sheltered" us from "denominational currents and intellectual theology." A recent article appearing in the Gospel Guardian (Vol. 21, Number 44), entitled: "Truth, Error, and The Grace of God," sustains that fear. The entire article with a few exceptions, is but a restatement of Ketcherside's recent position expressed through pages of Mission Messenger. The St. Louis preacher who wrote the article has only one more step to go, and that is to argue that it is a lack of love that divides us, not improper attitudes toward authority. Maybe then conservative brethren will wake up and see the effect Ketcherside is having among us. If his writing (of the writer referred to above) are any indication of the direction in which he is going, and unless he makes an abrupt about face, he will be doing that before too long! How much damage are we going to let Ketcherside do before we speak out?

How appropriate indeed are the words of Paul, who if he were still living would no doubt be called a "keeper of orthodoxy" by self acclaimed intellectuals.

"Preach the word. . . . for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (2 Tim. 4:2-4).

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