Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 12, 1951
NUMBER 10, PAGE 1,5b

"Thy Speech Betrayeth Thee"

Rufus Clifford, Old Hickory, Tennessee

The modernists among us object to fixed rules, models or patterns. They say the soul must be life "free,' and not bound or limited by any inflexible rules and requirements.

In man's redemption there can be no "musts." For example, in the Chicago Christian (church bulletin of the Cornell Avenue Church of Christ) of May 7, 1950, we have the following:

"The reality of historical processes means that human life is not static. Decisions are never made once and for all; each generation must agonizingly find its own way.'

Is not the brother implying that the decisions of the Holy Spirit, given through the inspired writers, are not enough for today, but that we must "agonizingly' find our own way? It seems so to me.

Again, he says in the same bulletin:

"The values created by our fathers may be altogether irrelevant in our time, or else can maintain their relevance only by undergoing modification or transmutation, or the forms under which they find expression must be changed . . . We should strike out on an unfamiliar trail or even blaze a completely new trail.'

Or again,

"Our ministers have college degrees and graduate degrees. The noise of sectarian strife is dying away; many people in all churches are praying and working for unity. A new interest in the redeeming grace of God is promising to revitalize American Protestantism. We are faced with new issues, new problems, new decisions. The Restoration pioneers cans help us but little. We are on our own . . . Shall we shift to new emphases in our preaching and thinking, or shall we continue to repeat in unlettered form what our frontiersmen-fathers set forth as the full gospel?'

Our modernist brethren are unalterably opposed to "forms," "models,' and "patterns.' The advanced wing of the liberal Digressives, and, of course, sectarians in general, have been denying all along that there is a model church, or any definite pattern, or any unalterable "form' revealed in the scriptures. Now our own modernistic brethren are joining with them in this outcry against "traditional preaching.' One brother said to me in obvious disgust, "Oh, you fellows preach all alike; if you hear one, you have heard all." I reminded him of the preaching of the apostles and the first evangelists, that they all preached alike, for they all preached that same "gospel of Christ' which is God's power to save. But that made no impression on him. The general attitude of the modernists among us may be gathered from the statement one of them made to me that, "Some of the educated men of the church ought to write out the doctrine of the church so the theologians can study it.' When I reminded him that the doctrine was already written out, and that any ten-cent New Testament would contain it, he replied, "Oh, you just don't understand.'

Modernistic Speech

The modernists may be distinguished by their speech. Their conversations, writings, and se' coons abound in phrases that betray them. In a recent article (Gospel Advocate, July 6, 1950) brother James D. Bales reviewed an article by brother Ralph Wilburn who has been teaching in the school that is advertised in both the Gospel Advocate and the Firm Foundation as having a "Christian environment.' The purpose of brother Wilburn's article, as stated by him, was as follows: "I herewith submit a statement of twenty basic theological principles of the Christian gospel out of which we believe an adequate faith for modern man can be fashioned, because it is a faith which provides for man's fullest creative response to the challenge of life, calling for the fulfillment of his spiritual possibilities. By such a faith we, therefore, believe that our civilization may be saved from the destruction which to many of our most thoughtful and sensitive minds seems at times to be almost imminent.'

Brother Wilburn throughout the "statement' uses such terms as "the event called 'Jesus Christ',' or "the Christ-ideal,' or "Jesus.' One is struck by the fact, as brother Bales points out in his review so clearly, that nowhere in the article does the writer indicate that Jesus Christ is God's Son. There is no emphasis on salvation from eternal damnation. Nothing is said about the blood of Christ, nor the atonement for our sins. The divinity of Christ is ignored! And brother Wilburn was setting forth the "basic principles" of Christianity.

One of the Chicago preachers who had been in brother Wilburn's classes, wrote an article on "My Idea of the Kingdom of God,' in which he said that "the church is the visible manifestation of the kingdom." After reading this article in his presence, I quoted from God's word to show that the group composed of God's children is designated as the "kingdom,' "body," "church,' "house," "family,' etc.; and that these different terms set forth different aspects or views of the people of God. He replied, "Oh, that's Hardeman's view of the matter, and I don't accept it.' He went on to refer to this as "traditional preaching." I reminded him that I had not mentioned Hardeman, had not mentioned preaching of any kind, but had only quoted the Bible! This same brother said to me in the living room of his home, "I think a man can be a gospel preacher and not believe in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.'

It was also this brother who told me on another occasion that, "You can't prove from the New Testament that the Lord's Supper should be observed weekly.' Other statements indicating his type of thinking were, "It looks like I will have to leave the church of Christ, because my views are out of line with preachers in general, and they will mark me." "The instructions Paul gave in Acts 20:28 mean that the elders are to HEED the church; the elders have no authority to set aside the will of the church." "The book of Daniel was written about 150 B. C."

I have a letter from a loyal gospel preacher who attended George Pepperdine College, and he tells of writing an article for one of his classes in which he set forth the steps to Salvation: Faith, Repentance, Confession, and Baptism.' He declared that the man who had not taken these steps was not a child of God. Brother Wilburn wrote in red pencil on his paper, "THIS IS CREEDALISTIC!' The student preacher took the paper to brother W. B. West, who told him he'd like to keep the paper, as he might be able to use it. Brother West told him that his paper was exactly right, and that that was the way he (West) preached it. The student never saw his paper again.

Many, many other examples could be given to show how the "liberals' among us betray themselves by their speech, their writings, and their sermons. But these will suffice for the present.


Joseph H. Cox, 1044 Lotus Ave., Louisville, Ky., June 17: "The work at Preston Highway continues to move forward. The elders announced last Sunday morning that our building permit has been obtained and that construction of a commodious auditorium is in the making. It is planned to be in our new building by this fall. Three were baptized here last Sunday, making a total of ten baptized and two restored since last report. We are temporarily meeting in Prestonia School auditorium at Preston Highway and Kentucky Ave. until our new building will be erected a few blocks south of this location. Our weekly broadcast on local station WLOU, 8:30 to 9:00 a.m. each Sunday, is bringing encouraging results. When in Louisville worship with us.'