Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 15, 1955
NUMBER 32, PAGE 2-3b

A Medley Of Matters

James P. Needham, Haynesville, Louisiana

From the pens of the prolific proponents of institutionalism in the church one reads some various and strange doctrines these days. I'm not very smart, but one doesn't have to be to detect the folly, and often the out-right absurdity in the writings of many who are taking part in the present controversy over the ways and means of accomplishing the work of the church. Its usually considered malpractice in controversy to attribute impure motives to one's opponent; but Jesus said, "A tree is known by its fruits," and the fruitage of some of the "trees" among us indicates that their motives have not been exactly what they should have been at all times, to say the least of it. Some things proposed by some of the brethren in recent weeks have been rather disappointing and one might say disgusting.

Blasting The Bulwarks

Recently we have seen writings from the pens of some brethren which made light of "defenders of the faith," and "guardians of the gospel." This wasn't expected, and it proved rather shocking to this writer, and I think I speak the sentiments of a host of other folks. Who would have thought a few years ago that we would live to hear and read such from brethren who are considered "sound and loyal"? In these brethren's zeal to make a point, or to write articles with a show of wisdom, they have made light of the apostles and inspired preachers of the New Testament; evidently they have overlooked or disregarded a few passages of scripture. Paul said to Timothy in 1 Tim. 6:20, "O Timothy, GUARD that which is committed unto thee. . ." What had been committed unto Timothy? The gospel, of course. Well, if Timothy was to guard something, and that something was the gospel, that would make him a "Guardian of the gospel" wouldn't it? Paul said in Phil. 1:17, ". . . I am set for the DEFENSE of the GOSPEL." All gospel preachers, and New Testament Christians will know that the terms "Gospel" and "The faith" are sometimes used synonymously; so, what do we have? Paul was "set for the DEFENSE of the GOSPEL," but "Gospel" means the system of faith revealed in the New Testament, therefore Paul said he was a "defender of the faith." I don't want to be cocky, but I'll say this, if anyone wants to put me in company with Paul and Timothy it will be all right with me, I'll not be insulted!

Impossibility Of Apostasy

I was always taught by my father, gospel preachers, and the word of God that the Calvinistic doctrine of the "impossibility of apostasy" is an invention of the devil, and contrary to the teachings of the Bible. Recently, however, I had to go back and check, and recheck to see if I had been misinformed, because some of the brethren intimated rather strongly that the doctrine might be scriptural after all. One such brother is editor of a paper among us which features "sophisticated, individual thinking" in its columns, the other is rather closely connected with an "old reliable."!!! Said one, "The New Testament has nothing to say about a second great apostasy." Another said, "And my confidence is that the sanctified common sense (whatever that is J.P.N.) of the majority of brethren today will safeguard the church against any such abuse of the good principle of cooperation." (Emphasis mine J.P.N.)

The words of the first brother demand the conclusion that there has been only one apostasy since New Testament days. According to him, if an apostasy were to come today (and he is convinced it won't) it would be the second apostasy. One of two things must be true, (1) he either miscounted apostasies, or (2) he does not consider that the Missionary Society and instrumental music were an apostasy. If he does he should have said, "The New Testament has nothing to say about a third great apostasy." This is from the same fellow who, a few months ago, placed the Missionary Society and Instrumental Music in the realm of expediency. Some of us have been thinking that some of our brethren don't consider that the Missionary Society was an apostasy for some time. Supporting evidence for our suspicion grows by the week.

The words of the second brother demand the conclusion that apostasy is impossible because the "safeguarding" influence of the "Sanctified common sense of the brethren will safeguard" the church from "abuse" on one point, why not on two if on two, why not on all? What is there about the "sanctified common sense" of the brethren that will enable it to "safeguard the church against any such abuse of the good principle of cooperation" but will disable it to "safeguard" the church from "abuse" on all other "good principles"?

Both of these quotations tend to leave the impression that we do not need to worry about apostasy — if not impossible, it's the next thing to it! With the Bible's saying nothing about a "second" apostasy, and the "sanctified common sense of the brethren" to "safeguard" us against "abuse," any fear of apostasy would not be well founded. Too, these statements make several passages of commanded ridiculous, particularly those in which we are commanded to watch, "take heed lest we fall" etc. I think these brethren should apologize to the Baptists for making so much fuss about the doctrine of the impossibility of apostasy, and resolve that they will not debate the subject with them any more. I'd hate to hear them in a debate with a Baptist preacher on apostasy who had read some of these writings I have quoted. He could say, "I teach that apostasy is impossible because of the power of God, you teach it is impossible because the Bible says nothing about it, and the 'safeguarding' influence of the `sanctified common sense of your brethren' and I have more Bible for my belief than you do for yours!!"

"Why Not Include Other Things?"

In an effort to destroy the New Testament pattern for congregational cooperation a brother recently asked why those who contend for the pattern don't include several things which are incidentals in the records that set the patterns, he wants to know why we don't "include other things"? We might ask this brother why he doesn't "include other things" in preaching the "pattern" for scriptural baptism. He has no doubt used that simple story of "Phillip and the Eunuch" as a record that sets the pattern for New Testament baptism; he no doubt showed that, according to this story, it is necessary to preach Christ to one before he can be scripturally baptized, and that one must confess etc. Well, "why not include other things"? Why not make it necessary for one to ride in a chariot, read the 53 chapter of Isaiah, be an Ethiopian, a eunuch and a treasurer for a queen before he can be scripturally baptized? Now, if you think this is ridiculous, you have the point I wanted to make!

Steaming Articles!!!

Now, I want to say a little about the temperature of some of the articles we are reading these days. When my temper used to get away from me as a child, my mother used to say, "Now son, act your age." I believe this would be good advice for some gospel preachers among us; they are acting like children instead of the mature, gentle, sweet spirited brethren they claim to he. In a recent article one of the older brethren who has been rather active in religious controversy in the past several years lost his balance, and his temper, and said a bunch of ugly things about brethren I think he is sorry of already; if he isn't, I think he ought to be! Some of the brethren need to write their articles then lay them up and let them "stew" awhile before publishing them. The present controversy would be a lot cleaner, and the pages of history much neater, had brethren practiced this simple little rule. Instead of being attempts to prove points, and present arguments, many of the articles appearing in the papers are simply displays of ill tempers and bad manners. Those who treat the public to such just turn the grind stone that sharpens the butcher knife that will eventually cut off their own heads!!! The ultimate outcome of the controversy for such brethren is well illustrated by this little poem:

"There was a young lady from Niger Who smilingly rode on a tiger,

They came back from the ride With the lady inside

And the smile on the face of the tiger."