Letter From An Elder Statesman

May 20, 1987

Dear Charles:

It is rather late to write that your article in the March issue, "A Study of the 'Eldership" is so faithfully sound and scriptural it ought to convince any person who claims to take the Bible as his creed. But, of course, Church of Christ Churches follow tradition, not the Bible.

Your article recalled to mind Sentinel of Truth and your article "The Church of the Bible." I am still left wondering what impact Sentinel's seven years of hammer blows against the church power structure had. Did people forget or did their eyes respect the truth so boldly and ably stated?

Sentinel finally led me to write a 3-part series in Mission in 1973 entitled, "It Shall Not Be So Among You." After 14 years I still get letters requesting copies of that series.

You can imagine how that series went over here in Murfreesboro. I am not accepted by any church here to the extent that I could lead a prayer or speak. I have long been "silently excommunicated" by the big North Boulevard Church. Two years ago, one very able member turned in my name to be elder. The eldership instantly cut him off from every form of participation, and ordered him to give up the classes he was teaching.

Ultimately he was pushed out though a very admired man by the members. Elders use such things as signed "recommendations'' to identify dangerous (independent) members and mow them down. Apparently they had not suspected him prior to his "recommendation."

Our professional pastor system has been the evil among us in building up the eldership institution, and the church is now sealed off from any such teaching as your able March article. On the other hand, the growth of this vicious power circle is costing us dearly in two ways - loss of able men and women who are becoming turned off by the system; and the increasing immature pew of diapered Christians content to pay to have their religion done for them.

I know of only one choice, Charles, keep on, keep on, for you are right. - Norman L. Parks