WHY DO THE LIBERALS AMONG US STAY?
If the church of Christ is just another denomination beset with as many sins, shortcomings, failures, and uninformed views as the leftist/progressive members of it say that it is why do they not leave it for “a different denomination,” a better and more perfect one, or at least one that is more in keeping with their views?
If loyal churches of Christ are behind the times because they refuse to adopt instrumental music in the worship of the church, utilize women preachers, admit to being a denomination, or accept as members those who have not been immersed for the remission of sins (or some biblically synonymous reason), etc. why do the leftists stay?
If the church is out of step on matters pertaining to race (though I cannot name a single congregation anywhere that does not welcome people of all races, with many of them having a racially integrated leadership of elders, deacons, and ministers), is out of step with reference to the Old Testament and its relation to the New Testament, is out of step concerning marriage, divorce, and remarriage, is out of step regarding sexual identity and same-sex relationships, etc. why do the progressives stay?
I will tell you why they stay. They have succeeded in capturing some of the larger, more affluent congregations in various parts of the country. They have succeeded in capturing several of the once faithful Christian universities. They will not be satisfied until they have shipwrecked the faith (I Timothy 1:18-20) of as many other Christians, congregations, and colleges as they can.
They stay because they see themselves as the “saviors” of the church of Christ. They see the church as narrow and sectarian and they are out to reform it. Some of the preachers among them can write of nothing other than why the churches ought to have instrumental music and women preachers, why they should stop insisting on the necessity of immersion for the remission of sins, and why they should acknowledge that the church is a denomination! They are ashamed of the church in its allegiance to the simple New Testament way, and they desire to change it to make it more in step with the culture around it and the denominational churches that men have established.
They contend that all who believe in Jesus, regardless of whether they have been immersed for the remission of sin and regardless of doctrinal differences and worship practice differences, are members of the one body of Christ. They seem to think that no false doctrines or practices have arisen since the close of the New Testament, and that the New Testament in its first century context does not address any false doctrines or unscriptural practices that may possibly exist today. They seem to think that the Bible should not be used to address and refute any doctrine or practice that may be considered contrary to the Scriptures. One of their number, in responding to another who was giving book, chapter, and verse in refutation of a particular doctrine, condescendingly asked, “Are you reading the Bible or just quoting verses?” They do not like book, chapter, and verse preaching, and often charge those who do that kind of preaching with “proof-texting.” They think that they and they alone know how to correctly read the Bible!
Their view of how the Scriptures are to be handled allows for wide doctrinal differences and beliefs and for great variety of worship practices. They “read” the Bible in such a way as for all who profess faith in Christ (regardless of doctrine and practice) to be acceptable to God, and foolishly assert that all who believe in Jesus are already united in Him, in spite of their many obvious differences! And these are only some of the more “visible” issues that the progressives are championing.
Their doctrine is contrary to the sound doctrine of the New Testament. The “faith” they espouse is not the “one faith” of the New Testament for which loyal Christians are to earnestly contend (Ephesians 4:5; Philippians 1:27-28; Jude 3). As one highly respected leader among God’s faithful people said to me not long ago (speaking of the liberals among us), “Their ‘faith’ is a different faith than ours.” They parade as churches of Christ but they are not churches of the New Testament faith and order. The sooner the rest of us recognize them for who they are the better off we will be (see Romans 16:17-18). Most informed brethren have already done so.
To the credit and integrity of progressives and liberals of the past, they went to the digressive Christian Church or left to join the Disciples of Christ, the Methodists, the Episcopalians, the Catholics, or various other denominational churches. I have a whole lot more respect for them than I do for the lack of integrity characteristic of those who now stay, “worm” their way into congregations, gatherings of preachers, Bible departments of Christian schools and universities, and other venues, and corrupt the faith of others, “beguiling unstable souls” (II Peter 2:14). The liberals and leftists in the church today do not have the kind of integrity that will permit them to leave.
Hugh Fulford, September 17, 2019
- September 22: Neely’s Bend Church of Christ, Madison, TN
- September 29: Mission Church of Christ, Smyrna, TN