Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 20, 1952
NUMBER 45, PAGE 4-5a

Attitudes And Consequences


About four or five years ago, brother Homer Hailey wrote a book entitled "Attitudes and Consequences" which set forth the thesis that the whole digressive movement, by which the Disciples Church split off from the Church of Christ, was a "consequence" of an "attitude" toward the scriptures.

Today we are engaged in a similar situation. It has by no means progressed to the point of a division, or even any serious threat of one; but that a dangerous "attitude" toward the scriptures is developing among us is too obvious for the careful observer to ignore. We ask you to read, in connection with this editorial, three other articles in this issue, "Fulminating Factionists" (front page), "A Preacher Resigns," and "Commerce Church Makes an Announcement." These last two articles tell the sad story of brother Bryne Shofner, former preacher for the Commerce church, who has made ship-wreck of the faith. The front page article has to do with an "attitude" toward the scriptures of which brother Shofner's action is but a "consequence."


So far as we have heard, brother Shofner is the only preacher among us who has dared openly and frankly to advocate the contention of Ernest Beam, the California apostate who stands withdrawn from by his home congregation and whose Long Beach faction recently lost a court suit they had entered against the church that withdrew from him. If you will give a careful reading to Shofner's article, we believe you will have an accurate understanding of what "Beam-ism" is. Apparently Beam himself feels that Shofner understands his position, for he printed the Shofner article in his paper "Christian Forum" with a highly commendatory editorial note.

Briefly, it seems to be Beam's belief that our forefathers made a most grievous mistake when they waged their battle over instrumental music and the missionary societies. Beam contends that these are but "methods" and "means" of securing spiritual singing and evangelizing the world. The main thing, in his estimation, is to secure the spiritual singing (whether by assistance of song leader, song books, or pipe organ is merely incidental), and to evangelize the world (the missionary societies being but a "means" or a "method" by which the church works in doing that). He contends that we are arguing and wrangling and caviling over "means" and "methods" and "incidentals" when we ought to be out getting the job done! Beam himself fully fellowships, fraternizes with, and affiliates with the apostate Christian Churches. Like Ralph Wilburn and E. V. Pullias he preaches often in Christian Churches, where instrumental music is used, with never a word or a hint that he thinks such music unscriptural.

The Beam "Attitude"

While Beam himself is completely discredited (standing withdrawn from by his home congregation), the tragic truth is that Beam's attitude and philosophy are rather wide-spread in the church. There is a sickening and chilling similarity, for instance, between Beam's contention and the arguments we are hearing increasingly made by some of the brethren who defend the institutional orphan home and the "college in the church budget" idea. The very heart and center of "Beam-ism" is a belittling attitude toward "method" as being incidental, and an overwhelming emphasis on the end and objective (which is always a worthy one).

Notice in Shofner's article how he repeatedly refers to our differing on "method," but pleads that such differences must not cause us to neglect the thing commanded — whether singing, preaching, the Lord's Supper, or any other "faith requirement." And now compare this Beam-Shofner attitude with the following quotation from the recent Harding College speech by brother G. C. Brewer:

"Especially we cannot see how honest men can nullify the whole teaching of God's word by caviling about methods of execution; quibbling about incidentals of operation."

So! There you have it! Brewer, Shofner, and Beam are running on the same track in this "method" question — they aren't even "parallel"; they're identical! All of them ignore and deny the fact that "method" has any importance; so far as they are concerned the important thing is the end objective, not the "method of execution" or the "incidental of operation" by which that objective is reached.

Beam and Shofner simply take Brewer's contention to its logical and inevitable conclusion. He throws "method" out the window when it comes to the benevolent work of the church; they follow suit in throwing "method" in the evangelistic work of the church and the worship of the church. Can not all of them see that "method" is of the very essence of the command? Will any of them argue that we are "caviling about methods of execution; quibbling about incidentals of operation" when we insist on IMMERSION? Do they not realize that the Methodists and Presbyterians dismiss the whole thing with an airy gesture, declaring that they have no time to waste in senseless bickerings over the "method" of baptism — whether by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion?

And now come Beam, Shofner, and Brewer applying the same old worn-out argument to the benevolence, preaching, and worship of the Lord's churches!

May we borrow a line from one whose voice and pen are stilled, but whose warning cry should not go unheeded:

"Brethren, we are drifting!"

— F. Y. T.