Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 15, 1955
NUMBER 19, PAGE 1,10-13a

Present Day Creed-Makers

Roy E. Cogdill

The unique and distinctive position of the "Churches of Christ" from the beginning has been their undenominational and non-sectarian character. They have had no human name to wear, no human creed to bind them, and no human organization to support. These are denominational characteristics. When any congregation adopts a human name, a human creed, or a human organization, it denominationalizes itself and surrenders its New Testament identity. There are many congregations over the land today that are in eminent danger of doing just that.

It has always been a struggle to prevent such apostasy on the part of God's people. Departure has usually begun in the corruption of the organization or government of the people of God. Following that has come the introduction of the "doctrines and commandments of men" and the injection of human innovations into Christian worship.

Satan created dissatisfaction among God's people, Israel, in the Old Testament day and caused them to want a king so as to be like the nations around them. In demanding a king, they rejected God as their king and all of their troubles began in their dissatisfaction with God's arrangement. God later said, "I gave you a king in my anger and took him away in my wrath." They became so determined to have an earthly king that their nation might be led to great power and glory that they made an "idol" of that desire and it led them ultimately to reject Christ when he refused to be an earthly king. This, of course, meant their complete destruction as a nation.

History repeated itself in the story of the early church. Even before Paul left this earth the "spirit of iniquity" was already at work. By the Spirit of God Paul warned the people of God against impending apostasy. He warned that it would grow out of a dissatisfaction with God's ways and God's Word. To Timothy he wrote, "the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine but having itching ears will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts." (II Tim. 4.) He told the elders of Ephesus that from among their own number men would arise speaking perverse things and drawing away disciples after them. Again he prophesied the revealing of the "man of sin, the son of perdition," who would sit in the "temple of God, as God." This prophecypointed forward to the corruption of the government of God's people and the apostasy of the church. It came about in precisely the same way that it had before. Satan created dissatisfaction with God's ways and God's Word. The churches departed from the simplicity of God's plan for the government of His people. A distinction arose between bishops and elders. The bishop extended his influence over more than one congregation. The metropolitan bishop grew into a patriarch and the patriarchs began to hold their religious conventions or councils and pass their laws. In 606 A.D. the first universal bishop was chosen and the departure was complete. Apostasy was full grown. It did not come overnight and was not purposeful or intended.

The same story exactly is the history of what we commonly call the "Restoration Movement" on this continent. The church was prospering. Satan was unhappy and he planted in the hearts of God's people dissatisfaction with God's ways. They began to try to enlarge and improve upon them. "Cooperatives" were formed among the congregations of a district. Those "cooperatives" grew into statewide organizations and then merged into the "American Christian Missionary Society." Before long human innovations in worship and human doctrines and commandments in teaching made their appearance Ad soon apostasy was complete and the "Christian" or "disciples" church movement fully emerged.

Object lessons are hard to learn. We profit little from studying history though we should profit much. Brethren go, generation after generation, making the same mistakes, following the same pattern of apostasy and departure. We are witnessing the same old attitudes and problems in our generation as known in the past.

There is manifest dissatisfaction with God's ways in the church today. Big promotions within the churches of Christ are the order of the day. We must be like our neighbors about us with our "church schools and theological seminaries," our "benevolent societies" to make a big display before the world, and since there is the "Lutheran Hour," the "Catholic Hour," the "Baptist Hour" we must have the "Church of Christ Hour" and hence the combination known as the "Herald of Truth. Then, too, the local churches can never evangelize the world without some sort of federated, centralized medium through which to work, so we will function in the work of evangelization through "sponsoring churches" and then our work will be effective and we will be recognized like other religious bodies. We are busy on every hand building us a "tower of Babel" to make a name for ourselves and God is confusing our speech so as to bring all of our big efforts to naught.

Whatever sectarian bodies at large are doing, we must do. The end is not yet. Catholic organizations are running large display advertisements in our popular magazines and so a number of our brethren have formed a corporation, non-profit in its nature, of which James Walter Nichols is a director, to advertise the "Churches of Christ." Thousands of dollars are being solicited to spend in this direction. Though such a corporation and such solicitation of contributions were condemned by these very "Herald of Truth" promoters in the Lufkin debate. Surely the "legs of the lame are not equal."

No longer is a congregation respectable when it does its own work under its own elders. That plan is outmoded by these modem movements. Giant promotions organized among churches and within churches have taken over the benevolent and evangelistic work of the congregations. All the congregations have left to do is worship and raise money to support these human arrangements through which their work is being done. The equality of New Testament churches is about to be forgotten. It is to be expected that their autonomy and independence will soon disappear. Autonomy cannot exist long without independence and equality. Human arrangements like the "Herald of Truth" are already dictating the hiring and firing of preachers who will not line up. They will increase their domination of churches as time goes on. It is history repeating itself as all who will open their eyes can see.

Giant combinations and propaganda machines have taken hold of the brethren and are seeking to control the churches. In many instances they are doing it too. The Gospel Advocate "spearheads" the movement and the now impotent "Firm Foundation" plays "second fiddle" to their tune. The institutions among us all line up and the presidents of the various colleges send in their commendations and all of the superintendents of the orphan homes and other benevolent institutions add their voices to the chorus. They want all the independence of the preachers as well as that of the congregations to be surrendered to them so that there will be no dissenting voice against their promotions. They need "millions of dollars" and are beginning anew their campaigns to get it, and along with their financial power and independence will come complete unfaithfulness to the cause which they profess to espouse. That is history too but many of the brethren will not heed its lessons. No religious school has ever remained faithful to the "faith" that established it when it gained financial independence. They won't in the future. We shall see! By all of this combined influence the churches are being stampeded into denominationalism at headlong speed. One has to stick his head in the sand to keep from seeing it.

Itching ears must be scratched and sound doctrine cannot be endured. So the line is being drawn rapidly. Congregations are formulating their creeds to bind it upon those whom they fellowship and division in the body of Christ is being hastened by the human institutions and those who have made them their "idols." Very few, if any of them, are bold enough to say that support for such human institutions and arrangements are essential to the salvation of our souls or the identity of the church. Not yet! About the nearest to that is the bold assertion of Athens Clay Pullias when he declared publicly at Nashville that the "support of the expansion program of David Lipscomb College is essential to faith in the Great Commission." But many others are willing to make support for these human arrangements a test of fellowship or at least they draw the line of fellowship against those who oppose them. They would force those who oppose them to either acquiesce in them and violate their consciences even in doing so or be "quarantined" or "disfellowshipped."

This is not an imaginary situation on our part. We give you the picture as it is developing all over the country:

The Central Church in Amarillo fired Hoyt Houchen some two years ago because he dared preach against worldliness, dancing, and human institutions doing the work of the church. When the elders all resigned and the church went into the hands of "receiver," Robert C. Jones, it is reliably reported that a good brother was told by him that he would not be considered for the eldership because he was opposed to "Herald of Truth." That not only put upon the preacher the demand that he abide by their creed or he couldn't preach, but it made support for "Herald of Truth" a qualification for the eldership.

As a sequel to this Central situation, the Southside Church through her preacher wrote Brother Lloyd Moyer a questionnaire about what he believed and preached relative to "brotherhood elders" running "brotherhood orphan homes" and "brotherhood projects" like the "Herald of Truth." We give you the letter and Brother Moyer's reply:

Mr. Lloyd Moyer Church of Christ 309 - 36th Street Richmond, California

Dear Brother Moyer:

At Business Meeting last evening it was suggested that you held convictions against the principles upon which the Herald of Truth is defended, along with such homes at Tipton — where the work is under a local eldership.

The brethren desire to know the truth upon this question and felt the Christian way to learn the answer was simply to write and ask you. This they ask me to do.

Would you be kind enough to advise if you do have convictions that such undertakings violate the principles by which the Lord's work should be guided? An early reply, of course, will be greatly appreciated.

Fraternally yours, Jack L. Mackey, preacher.

(Brother Moyer's Reply)

Southside Church of Christ

40th and Lipscomb

Amarillo, Texas

Dear Brethren

In response to your letter of May 4, 1955, in which you inquire if I hold "convictions against the principles upon which the Herald of Truth is defended, along with such homes as Tipton — where the work is under a local eldership."

Yes, I do hold such convictions.

You ask, "Would you be kind enough to advise if you have convictions that such undertakings violate the principles by which the Lord's work should be guided."

Again, I must say, yes, I do. It is my conviction that an eldership can have the oversight of, and control only the work of the congregation where they are elders. I feel that it is a step toward "Rome" to center the power and control of a "brotherhood" work in ONE headquarters. I mean by "brotherhood" work, a work to which all congregations are equally related. Much more could be said, however, I think this is enough to answer your inquiry.

Since the brethren are divided over the "war question," "marriage question," "college question," "eldership" and many others; should I advise you of my convictions on these things? Or, as your letter indicates, is it possible that you make a test of fellowship only on the Herald of Truth and Orphan Homes?

Would you be kind enough to advise on this matter? An early reply, of course, will be greatly appreciated.

Fraternally, Lloyd Moyer.

In His Reply, Brother Moyer Raised A Pertinent Issue:

What other provisions will your creed include and stipulate? What do you demand of a preacher on other questions about which there is a difference? Is it possible that only Herald of Truth and Orphan Homes are worthy of such an important place on the spiritual agenda?

Following is another letter from another "Church of Christ" which is not supposed to have a human creed, cancelling a meeting which they had invited a faithful gospel preacher to hold because he did not subscribe to their creed. These two issues drew the line of fellowship and this is being repeated many times all over the country.

Box 307 Vega, Texas

April 22, 1955

Mr. Hoyt Houchen

Highland Church of Christ San Antonio, Texas

Dear Brother Houchen:

By unanimous consent in our business meeting, we decided to cancel our meeting with you in September of 1955.

We think it advisable that you not come because of your attitude toward the Orphan Homes and the Herald of Truth radio program.

Yours in the Spirit of Christ, Vega Church of Christ

By Doyle Chapin.

Of course such an attitude is always "fraternal" and "in the spirit of Christ" but it amounts to disfellowshiping just the same and draws a line down through the body of Christ that means division. Churches that have been strong in years past cannot invite certain preachers to speak for them because they have a political fence straddling preacher who is afraid that recognizing and extending fellowship to a preacher opposed to these human arrangements will identify him and he doesn't want that because it might injure his "usefulness." The brethren do not want him embarrassed.

The Arlington, Texas, church recently fired Brother Paul Foutz for preaching on New Testament principles that applied to these problems. He hadn't even mentioned the specific organizations by name. They demanded that he not preach on them. He refused to give in to their effort to dictate what he could preach and subscribe to their creed and they unceremoniously fired him. I understand one of the elders (?) declared that before they hired another preacher he would sign a written statement that he would not preach against these things. James Willeford held a meeting immediately following that incident for this congregation and spent about an hour one night trying to justify the Herald of Truth. The most of his proof (?) was misrepresentations of what someone else had done. Many of these things so misrepresented were matters concerning which he knew better. But such is in accordance with their "idol" and in harmony with their creed.

When Brother George Jones was convinced of the truth during the Lufkin debate and went back home to Midland Boulevard Church at Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he was preaching and told the elders about it and asked them to study the question with him, they at first agreed to do so. Then "Herald of Truth" advocates (including a former preacher) began to exert pressure and influence on the elders. Jones was fired. They gave him three weeks notice, I believe, which was a very bighearted way to treat a man with a family. I don't know but they probably signed the last check, "In the spirit of Christ." One of the elders refused to go along with the action and resigned. We understand Brother George had a rather threatening letter from Earnest Highers who had formerly preached there and evidently felt that he still should help to run it. After George was fired, James Walter Nichols held a meeting there and the Midland Boulevard Church hired Gordon Clements, fair-haired "Herald of Truth" disciple, to preach for them. He will scratch their ears. And moreover, he can expertly operate their mimeograph and teach them how to hang up their trousers at night. So goes the creed making. This means that Midland cannot fellowship the other congregation in that city or the preacher that preaches for them. Thus the Cause of Christ is divided and it is happening all over the land.

And so it goes, on and on, for many other instances of such could be given. The Broadway elders in Lubbock so control the other churches in Lubbock, directly or indirectly, that a preacher who is not in harmony with Broadway practices and ideas cannot preach for them. If a preacher dares to take issue with what Broadway is doing, he does not last long. Recently that has been demonstrated very clearly.

Recently this writer spoke one night in Fort Worth at the Castleberry Church and was told that the Berry Street Church in the same city did not announce the service though they were duly notified of it. If it had been Otis Gatewood or a "Herald of Truth" promoter, they would have been enthusiastic in their support of it. That means the line of fellowship is drawn. This was repeated in Tulsa. We spoke at Fifteenth and Delaware and the Tenth and Rockford and the Eastside Church did not announce the service. Just a failure to announce it would not be serious. They have the right to leave off any announcement they wish and make those they wish but when they refuse to announce a service at a sister congregation because they differ over the "Herald of Truth" and do not agree on how the church is to do its benevolent work, then they are drawing the line of fellowship. I have preached at both Tenth and Rockford and Eastside in years past in gospel meetings, but I am out of fellowship with them now because I am not willing to subscribe to their human creeds.

Don't misunderstand me, I am not complaining. All of this has affected me but little. I haven't had a meeting cancelled since the Sixth and Izzard Church in Little Rock set their course along this line and Cleon Lyles, their preacher, wrote me not to come for a meeting scheduled for this year. That was almost two years ago. Of course, they said they were "making a change in their plans" but I knew what was at work behind the scenes. If I had not preached the "all-sufficiency of the church" and condemned all of these modern efforts to improve on God's ways, I could have continued to be popular. But my convictions are not for sale. They have never been. For that reason the churches that were not willing for the truth to be preached on these issues have quit inviting me to preach for them. I found out several years ago that when you oppose these "church institutions" like David Lipscomb College you will be cut off. That is a sad state of affairs but it is true. "Institutionalists" have a creed, it may not be written, but it is a creed none the less. Preachers who will not subscribe to it will be "quarantined." They are bringing every bit of the pressure to bear through these tactics that they can exercise. But, thank God, there are "seven thousand" that have not bowed the knee to "Baal" yet and who will not. There are also many congregations throughout the land that are determined to maintain their undenominational characteristics. May their tribe increase.

Brethren, are you ready to abandon the ground, "We will speak where the Bible speaks and we will be silent where it is silent"? Are you ready for the elders of the church to formulate a human standard of fellowship, make for you a human creed? Are you ready for human church institutions to disrupt the fellowship of the body of Christ? Are you ready for human arrangements that do not have "precept, approved example, or necessary inference" in the scriptures to be made the test of Christian fellowship? If you are, you are well on your way to complete apostasy from the New Testament church. It will not be long till other departures will come. In fact, they are already coming. Witness the announcement by the Central Church in Amarillo that they have decided that all matters of expediency or judgment will be referred to the congregation to decide by majority vote. There is no place to stop when New Testament ground has once been surrendered. The flood tide will sweep you away completely. There is time now to awaken. These issues can be fully and freely discussed and the truth can be determined in such discussion. When the truth is known by the people of God, most of them will accept it. An "iron curtain" is not the answer to the problem. That means totalitarianism and not Christianity. Only the truth can turn the minds of even the people of God away from the "god of big things" and institutional promotions that corrupt the government of God's people, and cause them to be satisfied with the "simplicity that is in Christ." May God help us that it may be so!