Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 27, 1952
NUMBER 46, PAGE 11b,12b

Why I Am Not Accepting Work With Another Congregation

Byrne A. Shofner

(Editor's note: This is a letter sent by brother Shofner to all the members of the Commerce, Texas, congregation on his leaving the work there. He left at the elders' request.)

Briefly and pointedly while the reasons are several in number it is chiefly because of TOO MANY CONTENTIOUS PEOPLE who will NOT hear as constructive teaching as I see that the church needs. In other words, I am unwilling to either preach, practice, or concur, in anything for which I am not permitted to freely speak forth my definite convictions based upon New Testament teaching, sentiment, and texture.

I am thoroughly convinced that the word is being "mishandled" by too many...both from the pulpit, over the radio, and in religious journals where a CONTINUOUS CONTROVERSY prevails. Such is resulting not only in the mammoth sin of "reviling" (listed in scripture along with adultery, murder, etc. I Cor. 6:9,10), but also in what I have experienced is a very little opportunity to present grace and truth. To be more specific, my experience is that my public hearers (those who will consent to listen) are limited to something like four groups, as follows:

  1. Those children or young people who have been reared in homes whose parents are members. (So many of these turn away once they are out from under their parents' thumbs.)
  2. Those who have married a member. (Very limited).
  3. Those who have only a limited amount of cultural training, or...
  4. Those who are of a contentious, fanatical, or quibbling nature.

Naturally this is very discouraging, and shows that our teaching as a whole is "lop-sided" and very inadequate. As I see it, soundness in doctrine among us has become too largely a "technical matter," and which is too often not accompanied by godliness in life and manner.

My desire is to be FREE of any FEE whatsoever, in order that whatever is necessary to teach the religious world in general the proper basis for understanding and applying God's word so that Mark 16:15, 16 may be truly understood, obeyed, and the world saved for Christ. Just as Jesus became to the Jews a "stumbling block," and to the Gentiles "foolishness" (I Cor. 1:23), so has Mark 16: 15,16 become such to the religious world today..."We" stumbling over the "how", "method" or "means" of carrying the gospel to all the world, and hence not doing it; and most other religious people from the standpoint of baptism are saying "foolishness."

My prayer is that God will use me to properly clarify his will to the "people" (not spend my life arguing with preachers) so that there may result just the church, a unified body of believers the world over...full of faith, hope, love, and good works.

My desire and that for which I shall work is just the CHURCH...not denominationalized by any definite handle as we have done with the name "Church of Christ" stuck up on signs all over the country, and others have done with "This" church or "That" church (Baptist, Presbyterian, etc.) but all will be ONE in Christ, "Christians", glorify God in this name (I Pet. 4:16; Acts 4:12); and will be known the world over in such terms as merely the church; the body of Christ; the building of God; the kingdom of God; the house, or household of God; the pillar and ground of the truth; the general assembly or church of the first born; the kingdom of heaven; the household of faith; the flock; the temple of God; the church of God; the kingdom of his dear Son; the vineyard of the Lord; and as spoken of collectively...the churches of Christ, or the churches of God.

So, with the view of helping every good Christian in this congregation, and other untold thousands like you, I writings chiefly, to give my final thoughts of life.