Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 17, 1955
NUMBER 40, PAGE 6,12c

The Church In Chicago

Leslie Diestelkamp, Brookfield, Illinois

Those who are acquainted with it know that the cause of Christ is in very bad condition in the Chicago vicinity. Even though it is common knowledge that conditions are bad, perhaps few brethren actually grasp the extent of the trouble here. For instance, probably few brethren are aware of the fact that nine or ten men who have preached in churches of Christ in this area in recent years are now in denominations. But the gravity of this situation can only be realized when one finds out, as I have in the five months I have preached in this Chicago suburb, that leaders in most Chicago churches either uphold the men who have gone to the denominations, or else are passive about it and do not permit an exposure of them.

Characteristic of the beliefs of those who have cone to the denominations is the recent statement of Jam s P. Sanders, who went to the Disciples of Christ last fall (1954). The bulletin of the Great Falls, Montana "Christian Church" published the following statement from Sanders:

"I am leaving the church of Christ because I differ with its basic attitude and spirit. The following will illustrate:

"The church of Christ identifies itself as the only true church. It does not recognize those outside its membership as Christians and refuses fellowship and cooperation with other Christian bodies. Fellowship is, therefore, extended to those who are loyal to the sect and its interpretation rather than those who are loyal to Christ. This ultra-sectarianism comes of pride and results in the death of the Spirit.

"The church of Christ holds to a Pharisaic Biblical literalism that blinds its members to their mission in today's world and makes it impossible for them to meet modern problems in an effective way. The Bible becomes a blueprint with exact details for all work and procedures. Nothing can be done and no procedures used for which the 'blueprint' does not give an example or command. Such literalism not only stymies the activity of the church but leads to endless and futile quarrels about insignificant details and methods. The non-instrumental aspect of worship is one such result, but hundreds just as unimportant and irrelevant to the world's need could be listed.

"I am changing to the Disciples of Christ to find more freedom of life and work and to find more spiritual compatibility in Christian service."

Signed: James P. Sanders

Let the reader be reminded that the thoughts expressed above are characteristic of all who have gone to the denominations, and let everyone be warned that there are still several in Chicago-land, working in some congregations here, who hold similar views, but who have thus far not made the change of fellowship. Roy Key, who is presently preaching for the Maywood Church, and Henry Walderon, who preaches for the Kilburn Avenue Church in Rockford, hold views that are just as dangerous and destructive as those given by Sanders. Brother Key is the recognized spokesman of the liberal element. A few of his liberal beliefs are thus:

1. He denies that baptism is essential to salvation. In his book, the "Law of Christ," page 35, in a questionand-answer discussion of baptism and the Lord's Supper he is asked if he teaches their essentiality. His answer is:

"I do not. I do not find the New Testament talking of 'essentiality'."

2. He teaches that sprinkling may be acceptable baptism in the Lord's sight if the subject was honest and if he was ignorant of the real meaning of baptism. Quote: "The physical act of immersion is fulfilled in the planting by faith of the believer in Christ." ("Law of Christ," by Key, page 22.)

3. He teaches that baptism is not a real condition to salvation. He teaches that salvation is conditioned upon nothing but faith. Quote: Salvation is certainly unconditional in the sense that God does not require any condition before he will give salvation to the one who will receive it . . . . God is not seeking to make salvation conditional. He is seeking to make it as unconditional as possible .... For this reason it is conditioned on nothing but acceptance that it may be truly a gift .. . . Faith is the natural condition of righteousness or justification, not an arbitrary one . . . . God wants to give his forgiveness to men, but he cannot force it. It must be accepted. Therefore God conditions it on nothing but man's acceptance of it." ("The Righteousness of God," by Key, page 4.)

Brother Key also denies that baptism is essential to the new birth. He affirms that churches of Christ as listed by the U. S. Census Bureau form one denomination among denominations. He agrees that he can fellowship Ralph Wilburn, James Warren, James Sanders and others who have gone to the "Christian Church."

The purpose of this article is not to discuss the false doctrines Brother Key holds and teaches, but to enlighten brethren about conditions that do exist here by showing the basic liberal beliefs that eminate from pulpits and typewriters in this area.

To emphasize that liberalism is not just a disease among preachers in this area, we only need to suggest that James P. Sanders was the most popular preacher in this whole area even shortly before he left the church. Faithful brethren refused to be warned, and those who did warn of his ideas were considered cranks. Likewise many brethren in this area still defend and use Brother Key. Some deny that he is so liberal, others agree with him! Only a few have really taken an active stand against such false doctrines.

Yet all is not bad here. Probably most Christians here really want truth to prevail, and many are eager for a return to the old-fashioned ways and would gladly welcome true gospel preaching. Several churches are making changes in an effort to improve. Some mature preachers have been induced to move to this area to supplement the work that was already being done by a few who remained true to God's word. It is our hope that brethren everywhere will be constructive in their criticisms and fervent in their prayers in behalf of those who carry the load of upholding truth here. We pray that faithful and experienced gospel preachers will back up their criticisms and their prayers with a willingness to come here and help.

Christians moving to Chicago-land need not fear that they must fellowship modernism. There are congregations in every part of the city and in each suburban vicinity where any Christian would be able to work and worship acceptably, joyfully and usefully. Tomorrow's church in Chicago-land can be, and must be deserving of the confidence and fellowship of all faithful brethren. That is our purpose, our plea and our determination. We appeal especially to faithful brethren in this area, that we all, as a great and mighty army of God's servants may "contend earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints," and that we may "go forward" together in God's service, upholding all that is right, and with equal vigor opposing all that is wrong.