Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 12, 1955

What Is A Hobby Rider?

Earl Dale, McAlester, Oklahoma

It is "amoozin" as well as "confoozin" to read the "ads" which appear in the religious periodicals of churches seeking preachers and preachers seeking churches. I have read "ads" of churches seeking preachers where a long list of qualifications were demanded at the end of which appeared — "No hobby riders wanted." Such "ads" prompted me to pen the following:

Our Ministah Must Be

Not too young, not too old, Not too timid, not too bold;

Not too fat, not too lean, Not too good — just "in-between."

Not too shabby, not too neat, Just so his appearance is mild and sweet;

Not too loud, not too quiet, Never the kind that likes to fight.

Not the kind who talks too long, You know, the kind that pleases the throng;

One who goes over with the public well, You know, there are other subjects than Hell.

One who can prove he is a good mixer, But concerning brethren's sins, not a Mr. "Fixer";

No, we don't mind his sipping a little cider, But one thing sure — We don't want a Hobby Rider.

This is a wonderful work for the "right man,"

So, if you meet the qualifications, write us your plan; And send us a recording whereon is your voice, So that, shuffled with others, we can make a wise choice.

Then, too, there is the "ad" of the preacher. One appeared recently like this: "I am not a hobby rider on any of the isms that face the church today."

Now, it is impossible, not knowing the brother, to determine just what our good brother meant. Does he mean that he refrains from referring frequently to the dangers of the "isms" that face the church, such as: Modernism, Institutionalism, Premillennialism, etc.? Or, does he mean that he believes these "isms" but does not refer to them? To say which one, would be to impugn his motives.

It is all but impossible to determine what different brethren mean when they call another a "hobby rider" unless you know both brethren well and also know upon what they agree and disagree. With many the definition of a "hobby rider" is: "Anyone who preaches something which I do not believe, but whose arguments I cannot answer." They figure that the best thing to do is to throw mud in his face and brand him as a "hobby rider" to cover up their defeat.

An enlightening study is to go to the dictionary to determine the meaning of the term "hobby rider" and "hobby." Then one can become all the more confused concerning which meaning brethren have in mind when they use the term.

"Hobby" defined. "1. Something in which one takes an absorbing interest. 2. A hobby home. 3. An ambling nag. An absorbing pursuit." — Funk & Wagnalls Desk Standard Dictionary. "1. An ambling nag or pacing horse. 2. An engrossing topic, plan, etc., to which one constantly reverts." — Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. Let us consider these definitions: "Something in which one takes an absorbing interest." "An engrossing topic, plan, etc., to which one constantly reverts." Well, according to this definition, I must confess that I am a "Hobby Rider." I try to take an "absorbing interest" in all my preaching and teaching. Seldom do I preach a sermon unless I "revert" to "baptism for the remission of sins." And, notwithstanding the opinion of some of my brethren to the contrary, I believe I have "an engrossing topic, plan, etc.," every time I preach. I also take "an absorbing interest" in the "isms that face the church," such as: Modernism, Institutionalism — such as one church setting up a brotherhood project paid for and supported by the brotherhood so that the one church can do the work of the other churches, whether it be radio preaching, "mission" work, benevolent work, etc. Yes, I take "an absorbing interest" in these "isms" and try to point out the dangers of their departure in organization from the divine pattern.

Another definition of "hobby" or "Hobby Horse" is: "an ambling or pacing nag." I am not this kind of a "Hobby Rider." There are too many of that kind in the brotherhood today. While others "take an absorbing interest" in fighting the "isms" that threaten the church, they choose to "amble" around and "pace" along with the tide- having their eyes closed to the dangers. They are not only content to travel that lazy gait — they assure the brethren who subscribe to these departures that, providing they will let them preach for them, they will refrain from mentioning these departures.

Then there is the definition of "Hobby Horse": "A stick, often with a horse's head or figure on which boys pretend to ride" — Webster. This definition fits all the hybrid plans and unscriptural methods of preaching the gospel and doing benevolent work being used by many of the churches of Christ today. Maybe the brother who advertised: "I am not a hobby rider on any of the isms that face the church today" meant that he is not in favor of such "stick horses" — departures from the original pattern.

Maybe our good brother Teddlie could tell us. But every time he writes, he just adds to his "confusion." He was only "confused," but when I read such "ads" I am, with "Lil Abner," "Amoozed as well as confoozed." Ulp!