Carl Allen

For the first time since the fifties and sixties, an effort is being made to destroy the Church of Christ. The "liberals" have referred to a movement among them, and those who are directing the movement, as "Change Artists." In a very real sense, we have many among the conservative cause who are also "Change Artists."

"Institutionalism" moved many of our brethren out. "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they all are not of us" (1 John 2:19). This caused a split in the Lord's church.

Following that conflict, it has been advocated: (1) "Accentuate the positive, and eliminate the negative," (2) "Preach the man and not the plan," (3) "Preach Christ, and not the church." All of these efforts were for the purpose of erecting a "straw man," so they would not have to deal with the arguments against the issue.

Also, during this period, we have had to deal with the problem of "Preaching the Gospel and not Doctrine," and "Unity in Diversity." The end result was, "You do your thing and we will do our thing: even though we do not agree, we can unify upon the fact of Jesus being the Son of God." Needless to say, this makes most of the New Testament non-essential!

Faithful brethren have been called "Legalists," "Pharisees, ""Keepers of Orthodoxy," and "anti's." Such names are used for the purpose of making the men occupying the conservative position look bad. According to those terms, conservative people are bad people! It is interesting that calling people bad names makes it unnecessary to answer valid arguments. Now we have the motive for such actions. Through calling names, the person is attacked and there is no need to answer Biblical arguments or Biblical charges.

The reason for such manifestation of conduct is: they are advocating and practicing something different! Always, when divisive actions are used, one should ask himself, "What do they believe that they do not want to discuss?"

The years past have revealed such evasion as we have fought (1) the Social Gospel, (2) Humanism, (3) Perverted Organization in Evangelism, (4) and Perverted Organization in Benevolence. But this, my brethren, has been only the beginning.

Today, we look at a movement which has produced gyms, fellowship halls, hospitals, pre-school and other secular education levels, Boy Scout troops, special programs for entertainment, women preachers, women elders, women deacons, instruments of music, taking the Lord's supper on any day of the week, acceptance of denominational baptism, and yes, even acceptance of denominationalism itself. Many other things could be named, but you get the point. When one departs from Bible truth, one loses his identity and becomes like the world. When God's people of old requested, "Give us a king," (1 Samuel 8:5, 19), it was because they wanted to be like the nations about them. This is what they became. It you want to be like the world, you will become worldly.

A few years ago, we became involved in a discussion on the subject of Calvinism. There were preachers among us who were not accepting all of the five points of Calvinism, yet they believed and taught certain points associated with classic Calvinism. Thus evolved the name: "Neo-Calvinism." "Neo" (new) was given to the movement because it was a form of Calvinism peculiar to our brethren. The battle flag was raised and swords were crossed, opposing the introduction of "Neo-Calvinism:" imputed righteousness, election, inherited sin, law keeping, grace, legalism, Pharisaism, etc.

Ed Fudge, Darwin Chandler, Arnold Hardin, George Jones, Bruce Edwards, Lanier Stevens, Rick Ross, Leroy Garrett and Carl Ketcherside (among others), advocated many of these principles. It is interesting to observe that the arguments were never on those subjects; rather, a focus was directed toward mud-slinging toward those who opposed the errors. At that time, accusations were made that faithful men (1) did not believe in God's grace, (2) were "law keepers," (3) legalists, (4) Pharisees and (5) button counters.

Again, all of these charges were to erect a "straw man" so they could dodge the real issue or arguments. It is easier to discredit the man than to deal with the argument. This approach is unethical, base, and contrary to every known form of logic. If one can destroy a reputation by calling him names, one will build a wall and none will listen to that man. These are the tactics of the world, and the Bible says, "The whole world lieth in the evil one" (1 John 5:19). The honest, honorable and Christian attitude will declare: "Let's discuss this and learn what the truth is."

The conclusion of such a belief is the acceptance of denominationalism! Darwin Chandler became a Pentecostal preacher. Leroy Garret will not only worship with the denominations but has stated his ability to worship with the homosexuals. Ed Fudge left the conservatives, wrote a book on Hell and taught that there is no punishment for the wicked. Carl Ketcherside advocated that a distinction must be made between the person of Christ and the doctrine of Christ. According to him, we need to leave doctrine alone: we can never agree on these things (including baptism), so just preach the person of Christ. (It is interesting that the world cannot agree on that either!) George Jones, along with others, has become involved by publishing a paper in which he has a steady diet of Neo-Calvinism.

Brethren, when one accepts the Neo-Calvinist theory, his days among faithful brethren are numbered and he is headed for destruction. Those who, in the past, have been involved in such things are living testimonies! There is a reason for this. We have had a lot of preaching brethren sitting at the feet of sectarian scholars. They have read and studied Charles Swindoll, Max Lucado, David W. Chadwell, Charles Spurgeon, and many others of like faith. The truth of the matter is, they have spent more time with these fellows than they have spent with the inspired writers of the Bible! If one reads such material, one's mind will be influenced and one's preaching will reflect what is accepted. As Paul said, "I believe, therefore shall I speak" (2 Corinthians 4:13).

In the middle 80's, a group of brethren started a publication named "Christianity Magazine" in which has been advocated "Positive Christianity." This sounds good, but it does have its ultimate end. When one "eliminates the negative," any doctrine can be taught and no one will oppose them. Herein, we have the "Change Artist." This is an effort to change the Church of Christ without opposition!

Ed Harrell has written extensively encouraging fellowship with those in marriage and divorce error. Dee Bowman is on record as advocating the same thing. In this movement, Bob Owen has come to the front championing the cause of fellowship with marriage and divorce through his use of Romans 14. But if one can put marriage and divorce in Romans 14, what will keep someone else from putting other ungodly things in the same chapter? Should we accept the marriage and divorce problem? Then what about the sponsoring church type of arrangement? What about Neo-Calvinism? What about denominationalism? In the city where I live, Rick Ross (a liberal preacher) has accepted the doctrine of Neo-Calvinism and has accepted anyone on their what-ever baptism. There has been an acceptance of people with their Baptist baptism, Methodist baptism, etc. Lanier Stevens (a liberal preacher in Madisonville, TX) has accepted Neo-Calvinism and has joined the denominations in Easter services, change of pulpits with denominational preachers, and has accepted denominationalism, the people, as his brothers. Brethren, wake up to what is happening among us!

Consider what some of the signs are that manifest this movement.

  1. If one opposes them, they charge the objector with violating local autonomy. They do not want anyone opposing them; the objector is always wrong! They wilfully forget that Paul wrote letters to churches in which he did not have membership: Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, etc. Did he violate "local autonomy?" Certainly not. This is just a dodge.

  2. All of those who oppose are said to be like Pharisees. But the truth about Pharisees is that they had a doctrine of man that they taught and obeyed (Matthew 15:8-9).

  3. According to them, the denominational argument on Matthew 7:1-5 is valid: "Judge not that ye be not judged." They never realize that the passage is really telling us to judge, but just make sure that our own lives are clear first, "and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." Remember what Jesus said in John 7:24: "Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment."

  4. We are accused of "leaving undone the weightier matters of the law, justice, mercy, and faith." However, note that in the passage, the Lord said, "but these ye ought to have done, and not to have left the other undone" (Matthew 23:23). All of the law was to be done. It is interesting that the Lord in this instance is teaching "legalism" and that is not what these fellows want - nothing to be left undone!

  5. Yet we are referred to as being "legalists." To be legal is to hold to the teaching of the law (James 1:25). The opposite of this is to be a "law breaker." That is what these fellows are: law breakers. If one were to insist that baptism is essential and that we must be baptized, would they cry, "Legalism?" If some insisted that we partake of the Lord's supper only on Sunday, would they cry "Legalism?" If there were those who would demand that we believe Jesus to be the Christ, would these fellows cry, "Legalism?" The truth of the matters is, we are called legalists because they want to do more or less than the Word of Christ, Law of the Lord, demands, and if we insist upon obedience to all of the commandments of the Lord, then we are legalists! [This is an argument to have to obey all of the commands of the Lord, and still be pleasing unto the Lord!]

  6. "And if thy brother sin against thee, go, show him his fault between thee and him alone" (Matthew18:15). This verse is used to show that the one who makes a charge is really the one who has sinned. This is a turn of events. The innocent is made to be the guilty one! This is a neat trick to take attention away from the one who is charged with a sin, and the sin is placed on the other fellow. Does this make the first charge false? Certainly not. A false teacher must be exposed at any time or place: "Them that sin, reprove in the sight of all, that the rest also may be in fear" (1 Tim. 5:20).

Now, it does not take long for one to see the "Change Artist" at work. There is an effort being made to change the Church of Christ, and make it what the Lord did not intend it to be. Once these fellows have their hold, the end is in sight: apostasy!

Unity in diversity has to be considered in the midst of all this. Has the idea crossed one's mind as to why these brethren can be so loving and kind, yet, when it comes to the "Guardian crowd," they can be so hateful and spiteful? The reason is, we do not believe in "Unity in Diversity" and will not accept them. It is like the denominational world. They will accept anything and anybody, but let a member of the Church of Christ oppose them and they become wild with spite. They just cannot stand someone opposing them and telling them they are wrong. This is the reason for the words "Pharisee," "legalist," "keepers of orthodoxy," and many other offensive terms. They just cannot stand someone telling them they are wrong!

These brethren have found a refuge in Romans 14. One wants to put "Marriage and Divorce" in Romans 14. Another want to put "Neo-Calvinism" in Romans 14. Another wants to put "Institutionalism, Sponsoring Church type of arrangement" in Romans 14. Another wants to put all kinds of "Worldliness" in Romans 14. And still another wants to put "Denominationalism" in Romans 14. Now, brethren, tell me where the stopping place will be. Anything and everything will be put in Romans 14. A refuge has been found for those who are in error, and, according to them, we should fellowship them and not opposed to those who practice such things that are known to be unscriptural.

When one opens the door to the doctrine of "Unity in Diversity," there is no stopping place. If we can do this in "Marriage and Divorce," why not in the "Sponsoring Church" type of arrangement? This is the reason for many of the liberals accepting denominational people on their denominational baptism. When you accept Neo-Calvinism, the next step is Unity in Diversity. It is only time that will keep one from accepting what he wants because, once the principle is laid, the conclusion is inevitable.

This, my friends, is why there are so many of us who are preachers of the Gospel of Christ who are alarmed about what is happening today in the Church of Christ. We are being destroyed from within!

We have had some of our brethren accept the idea of "Subjective Truth," a term that has been assigned to truth coming from within a person, i.e., men's wisdom and men's knowledge. This is the type of knowledge that the denominational world has by which anything they want to do, if they think it is alright, then it is alright. It is a knowledge and a wisdom, not from God but from men.

"Objective Truth" is that body of truth that is from without. This is the truth that is from God and accepts the fact of the Bible as being a revelation from God (1 Timothy 3:16-17). We still have some who do not believe in the inspiration of the Bible, and that it is the final word from God to man. This objective truth, however, is the knowledge that will guide us home (Acts 20:32).

We have too many preachers and brethren who think there is nothing that can be established as truth! So, according to them, everything is in a "gray area." They do not want you to teach anything to be concrete. Whether it is social drinking, dancing, marriage and divorce, or any other moral principle, one should recognize that these things are in the "gray area" and the Christian should not be "judgmental." According to this, Jesus and a belief in Him would be in the gray area! The same way one would establish Jesus to be the Son of God, one also has the same information to determine what is (and is not) to be done in the realm of morals. But, you see, this is just a ploy to get folks not to believe in the all sufficiency of the Bible!

May I suggest to you that this is nothing new? Consider what brother Connie W. Adams wrote in Truth Magazine, Feb. 1, 1973 (Vol. XVII, No. 13, pp. 10-11). The title of the article is: "Old Song, New Singers!"

Please consider the fact that in every apostasy of God's people we have had the innovators of error manifesting similar characteristics. Ask yourself the question, "Do the preachers I know manifest the characteristics outlined in this material?"

We have the "Change Artists" among us who are making every effort possible to destroy the truth of God's word. Some of these are Neo-Calvinists, some of them are wrong on the Marriage and Divorce question, some of them are wrong on the Fellowship question. But they all have some things in common. They do not want you to oppose them, they do not want their names called, they do not want you to deal with their arguments, and they will do everything possible to discredit the person standing for the truth.

When one accepts error, there is a laxity on morals; they just do not preach on them as they should. Since they want others to fellowship them, then they have to fellowship others. Now comes the great pitch: "Let's be more tolerant!" "Let's not be so judgmental!" "We are all sinners and thus are in the same boat; so, let's manifest love, mercy, and kindness to others and try to save their soul!" Of course, while all of this is going on they are tolerating and fellowshipping error - manifesting "Unity in Diversity."

The places where I am conducting meetings, I am continually being told, "That is the kind of preaching I used to hear!" My friend, do you not know where there are a lot of brethren who will say, "This is the kind of preaching I used to hear?" The reason is that many of the preachers among us are not preaching the "Old Time Gospel." They have removed the "Ancient Land Marks" and are not preaching "according to the pattern."

These are the "Change Artists" among us, and whether we like it or not, they will have to be dealt with. So, my judgment is: we need to take out our Bibles, roll up our sleeves, and get to work answering the arguments presented by the "Change Artists." We do not have to be unkind; but we do need to be bold and straight forward. We need to stand for truth, and let the world, and the Lord, know the position we occupy. Here, my friends, is the truth. Give my scriptural authority for what you believe and we will reason together. May the Lord richly bless us in our efforts to STAND FOR TRUTH.

"So then am I become your enemy, by telling you the truth" (Galatians 4:16)?

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