Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 19, 1957

"Line Up Or Get Out"

Bill Fling, Long Beach, California

The following appeared in the May 19 bulletin of the Twelfth and Hoover Church in Los Angeles. Since they give no author, but credit it to the Boles Home News, I assume the editor of that paper, Brother Gayle Oler, is the writer. Here is the article:

I Know Where You Are

A prominent politician visited a state mental hospital and went to the telephone to make an important call. He had difficulty getting his connection, and in his exasperation, he shouted to the operator: "Look here, do you know who I am?"

"No," came the calm reply, "but I know where you are."

Sometimes a preacher sees fit to "hob-nob" with a group of factionists and church splitters, picks up their peculiar jargon, and is found using his influence to have members of such a clan preaching where he lives. And when most people over the land begin to classify him with such a group he is hurt, astounded, and surprised that people know him as an "anti."

Whether this is or is not an accurate criterion of what a person is or believes, the fact remains that people draw their conclusions by "Where You Are."

There may not be too much accuracy in the old familiar statements: "Birds of a feather flock together," and "You can tell a man who boozes by the company he chooses," but one must not pass over lightly Paul's statement: "Evil companions corrupt good morals."

"Walk with the lame and you will limp."

What is the purpose of such an article? What does the author want to accomplish? Anyone who is even faintly acquainted with brotherhood problems can see the design of such a piece. It is the final warning to preachers who have not submitted: Line up or get out! Notice what this article is:

It is a plea for division. If it is not attempting to get preachers to divide themselves up, what is it? The author says "most people" will "classify" you by those with whom you associate. And woe is unto the preacher who winds up with an "anti" classification.

It is a threat. If you "hob-nob" with certain servants of Christ, faithful gospel preachers, you will be sorry. You will be branded as a "factionist" and an 'anti." You will be "hurt" when other brethren isolate you and apply the quarantine to you.

Brethren, I know not what course others will choose, but I refuse to be intimidated. My heart is always responsive to the overtures of truth, love, kindness, and humility. But, God being my helper, I will never be "persuaded" by fright, force, boycott, quarantine, or coercion of "big preachers." If I need to be corrected, one greater than us has said that "scripture" is profitable for that. (II Tim. 3:16,17.) Show me by the scripture that I or my brethren deserve the epithet of "anti" Christ, or that my "peculiar jargon" is not according to the "oracles of God," and I am ready to change. But, please, brethren, do not try to frighten me, or threaten me with reprisals just because I do not pronounce "Shibboleth" with your institutional lisp and accent. "But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment." (I Cor. 4:3.)

It sets a very wicked tendency. Notice that not one word is said about "obeying the truth rather than men." This article was intended especially for young preachers. "Unless you want your professional career hurt, line up with us," is in effect its admonition. Let me say a word to you "young preacher." If these brethren are going to make you be "classified" with one group of brethren or the other, DON'T! Furthermore, if forced by them to be "lined up," do NOT make your choice on the basis of which side will give you the most popularity or worldly acclaim. Make your decision solely on the basis of a "thus saith the Lord." "Buy the truth and sell it not." (Prov. 23:23.) "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed." (II Tim. 2:15.)

If "birds of a feather flock together," be sure you pick out birds with scriptural feathers.

It rules out love. Give a brother the label of "factionist" or "church splitter" (whatever that is) and that is apparently all that is needed to pressure brethren into a quarantine against him. They will not "hob-nob" with that man any more! Is alienating children of God from each other the test of orthodoxy? "For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another." (I John 3:11.) According to the article under review, you can be quarantined for just associating with a brother who has received the "anathema" of the "great ones" among us. If that is not guilt by association, then there never has been any.

In conclusion, let me appeal to the scriptures: "Let all things be done decently and in order." (I Cor. 14:40.) While we have problems and controversy among us, let us be decent and orderly. God has not established a "brotherhood discipline board" to keep the brotherhood in line. Neither should we. Let each congregation discipline its own wayward members, including preachers; and may God help us all to "fellowship" all who walk in the light. (I John 1:7.)