Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 9, 1956

Quarantined And Branded Without A Hearing

Voyd N. Ballard, Bakersville, California

It has always been my understanding that people in the church of Christ believed in open honest investigation of all religious principles. I have always thought that we were willing to give a reason for everything that we teach and believe. We have plead with our religious neighbors to give a "thus saith the Lord" for their teaching and practice, or else give up that teaching. In our plea for open investigation we have said, "We are willing to hear and examine any teaching, and will test it by the teaching of the Bible." I am persuaded that this is the right attitude.

It seems now that some few brethren no longer have this attitude, especially when it comes to the problems of institutionalism and centralized control. Those who favor these schemes seem determined to quarantine every preacher who' has the courage to speak out against their practices, and they brand that preacher as a false teacher and a divider of churches. This attitude has been demonstrated at least three times within recent months here in Kern, County, California. These demonstrations have been public, hence we deem it wise to say something publicly about these happenings.

On the 21st of last April, the elders of the church in Taft, California began a gospel meeting with Brother R. L. (Dick) Morrison doing the preaching. Brother Morrison preached a series of sermons on the work and organization of the church. According to reports, these lessons were timely and to the point; in fact so much so that a pressure group within the Taft congregation, led by the local preacher, Ross McGinnis, demanded that the elders stop the meeting. The meeting was closed out three nights before it was scheduled to end. This group simply BRANDED Dick Morrison as a false teacher, and because the elders would not go along with them in this branding, they rebelled against the elders and took over the church property, forcing the elders and those who stand for the New Testament church organization to either get out or engage in a legal battle. They elected to do the former, and are now meeting as a separate congregation. The pressure group continues to brand Morrison and the elders as false teachers, and have circulated a letter in which they audaciously quote Romans 16:17 and try to make it apply to the elders and brethren who stand for the truth and against centralized control. When McGinnis was told that he was branding Morrison without giving him a hearing or chance to defend himself, he said, "We know what Morrison is, and so far as I am concerned I am not interested in hearing him any further!"

On the 3rd Sunday night in August I preached a sermon on institutionalism in Shafter, California, where I have labored for the past two years. In this sermon I outlined the difference between the teaching of he New Testament, and such things as the Herald of Truth and Institutional Orphan Homes. The following Wednesday evening a mass business meeting was called to take the place of the regular mid-week service. In this meeting they informed me that they thought a change of preachers was in order, though they said no doctrinal issues were involved. I submitted to their wishes in the matter, and it was understood that at the close of two months I would end my work as their preacher. Two weeks later I was informed that they had decided to let me go at once, and paid me for the remainder of the two months.

The most recent and boldest attempt to quarantine and brand has recently happened here in the city of Bakersfield. The congregation in East Bakersfield had for some time planned a gospel meeting to be conducted by Brother Lloyd Moyer of Richmond, California. This meeting was scheduled to run from the 18th through the 30th of September.

Just a few days before the meeting was to begin, J. D. Bothwell, preacher for the Central church in Bakersfield, started a campaign to block Brother Moyer's meeting. Bothwell branded Brother Moyer as a hobbyist and false teacher, and spread the rumor around that the churches in the Richmond area were all torn up over Moyer's teaching on centralized control. This rumor he spread even though he had agreed earlier in a preacher's meeting in Fresno, that the fellowship among Bay Area churches was good. Bothwell and the Central elders put pressure on the East Bakersfield elders, trying their best to get East Bakersfield to cancel Moyer's meeting. When the East Bakersfield elders met with the Central elders and let them know that they had no intentions of canceling the meeting, the Central elders refused to have anything to do with the meeting, or to even announce it. Despite all this, the meeting was conducted on schedule and was one of he best meetings ever held in East Bakersfield. Many visiting brethren were in attendance every evening, including a goodly number from the Central congregation.

On the last Tuesday night of the meeting, Brother Moyer, at the request of the East Bakersfield elders, preached a sermon on "Congregational Cooperation in Preaching and Benevolence," in which he did a masterful job of upholding the truth and pointing out the errors and dangers connected with centralized control. The building was packed for this service. At the close of the service the elders read a statement in which they endorsed the sermon, and informed the congregation that they had studied the question and were convinced of the truth of the scriptures, and were therefore stopping their support of unscriptural organizations. A like statement from Brother Randy Dickson, East Bakersfield preacher, was also read to the church.

East Bakersfield elders and their preacher are to be commended for their stand for the truth. If elders and preachers who know and love the truth will take a like stand, it will put a stop to much of the quarantining and branding without a hearing.