Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 6, 1951

Digressive Activity In Bell County, Texas, 1947 (Part I)

Murray Marshall, Frederick, Oklahoma

Killeen, Texas, where Ft. Hood is situated (just west), lies some 27 miles west of Temple. The congregation in Killeen is one of the largest and oldest in Bell county. While I preached there the Digressives made plans to establish a church. Their first move was a letter dated August 30, 1947, to a Killeen newspaper and printed on the front page a few days later as a news item. Under the heading "Plan To Organize A Christian Church Here," the letter stated the intention of "a group of members of the Christian (Disciples of Christ) Churches of Bell county" to conduct "a religious canvas" to discover the number of their members at Killeen and Hood Village. If the results of the survey justified, they stated, they would set about to establish one or more congregations.

Tying the coattail of their recent slow growth to the kite of the rapid growth of the churches of Christ, they made the claim: "The Christian Church is the most rapidly growing native religious work in the country..."! Without including us, they cannot prove this claim! The letter further mentioned their "developed missionary work" under an "organized program" and said their church "SEEKS TO FIND and offer a 'platform' upon which the whole church can become united." (Capitals mine, MOM.)

The letter closed with this paragraph: "The church offers no creed but Christ; no discipline but the New Testament, and no name but the Divine. Its plea is for unity of all the people of God upon the Bible and the Bible alone." And was signed by "Pres. Bell Co. Convention of Christian Churches, Charles D. Poston."

On September 5 of that year I addressed to C. D. Poston a letter calling his hand on the claims made in the letter. I asked why they did not encourage their members to work in our fellowship? And I stated that a congregation dedicated to restoring New Testament Christianity, advocating the principles of the Restoration Movement, and upholding in deed as well as word the points in his last paragraph ALREADY existed in Killeen. I reminded him that congregations of the digressives in the north central states had been making overtures in the name of unity to the churches of Christ in that section!

My letter charged that their attempt to set up a church in Killeen meant that they did NOT want nor favor unity with us, despite their claim of seeking such. Also I charged that their oft-repeated claim that we, not they, prevent any fellowship, fell down upon their intentions to organize a digressive congregation in Killeen, thus demonstrating that they will not worship without the instrument (although some of them say they COULD) nor work without their human societies and aids. Nor was the church of Christ in Killeen lacking in a "missionary program" for that month a new annual budget had been set for $10,400 with some $1,000 planned for "missionary work" without any missionary society involved.

His claims about rapid growth were challenged. "We call for figures," I wrote, "that do not include us, your non-progressive' brethren" with our estimated one million members and rapid recent growth. 'We call for proof that you represent the 'most rapidly growing native religious work in the country.' Do you include your growing 'non-progressive' brethren, whom you will not fellowship, in this claim"? Manifestly, he did!

Concerning his last paragraph he was asked to "please cite the passage for your faith (creed) concerning the use of mechanical instruments in worship ... human aids such as missionary societies, rummage sales, pie suppers, etc., and the passage stating the name Christian Church' is divine! How can you plead for unity on the Bible alone when your group left that platform years ago when their introduction of innovations . . . caused them to DRIFT away from that scriptural ground occupied THEN ... in COMMON with . . . us ... which same ground we occupy today... "

My closing paragraph pleaded: "For the sake of the cause of Christ, I beg you to desist in this unscriptural activity ... There are enough denominationalists here, but we could use some more working, zealous New Testament Christians PRACTICING together real undenominational Christianity."

Next time: "The Digressive Reply, and Our Ad, 'Correcting A False Report' "!