In the April 1988 issue of Contending For The Faith (CFTF) magazine (Edited by Ira Rice, Jr.), Steve Gibson wrote under the above heading. He plainly states:
"Purpose: To document the reality of the present division among the churches and show why a more 'official' recognition of it would be advantageous to the cause of Christ"
He further writes:
"Dividing the faithful from the hardened apostate is necessary and beneficial.."
Now let's keep in mind that he is urging the dividing and separating of CHURCH INSTITUTIONS; and the establishing of another sect that may be correctly described as "the NEW Conservative ("anti") Church of Christ churches;" which will be the formal birth of a new denomination.
This new sect will be made up of church institutions which more or less center around these religious journals and institutions, along with the editors and preachers: CFTF, the Firm Foundation, THE SPIRITUAL SWORD, The Restorer, Defender, a few preacher training schools, and a few other journals. There are a number of these professional preachers (clergymen) who have banned together to pull off this big division and slice off (for themselves?) a new denomination; which they will then proclaim as the Lord's one and only faithful group of true Church of Christ Churches! These preachers apparently control these church institutions; at least, no one seems to question or challenge what they are doing. Yet they loudly proclaim in speeches and writings that THE ELDERSHIP rules and controls in each of these Church institutions. Closer examination of the situation shows where the power lies, and it is not with the Eldership. The preachers are the power brokers, the movers and shakers in such activities and control.
PREACHERS are doing this dividing up of these church institutions; it is NOT Elders or The Elderships! In most cases, the Eldership is NOT directly involved and in some cases it is likely that the Elders don't even realize what is really going on. They are often only the figure-heads, manipulated and controlled by these hired employees (Pulpit Ministers) through their pulpit performance, influence, teaching, intimidation and ability. In practice, the Pulpit Minister is usually the official spokesman for his church.
Thus, these clergymen dominate and "rule" these Church institutions, just as the clergymen do in most other denominations. The poor, uninformed Church members, for the most part, have no idea what is happening to them, even though decisions are made for them that have eternal consequences. The Church members "belong to" that local Church institution and blindly submit to the control of The Eldership and the Pulpit Minister.
Did you see the big ad that appeared in several brotherhood journals some months ago under the heading: WE ARE CONCERNED? Did you note that it was signed by around 200 PREACHERS? They were concerned about Abilene Christian University and what they called "Liberalism" They thought that they had "discovered" a "speck" of it there, and THEY (these preacher/clergy) felt that they should officially warn everyone about this grave danger at ACU. Note that it was NOT Elders nor an Eldership doing this; but it was a number of hired, professional preachers. My point is, that it is the professional preachers, the hired clergy, who are the "shakers and movers" in these Church institutions, not the Eldership.
Look and see who it is that attends all of these so-called UNITY MEETINGS! The speakers and conferees are the clergy in both the Church of Christ churches (C of C C) and the Independent Christian Church churches (ICCC). These professional Pulpit Ministers SPEAK AND ACT for their respective Churches, even if they do claim it is in an "unofficial" capacity. They carry the weight and exercise the influence, which means that they largely control the results. It is apparent that it is NOT the Elders, nor an Eldership, that is involved in any of these efforts to accomplish Unity with another denomination, line up all the Church institutions with some particular faction of Churches, and make the doctrinal creed to which all the Church institutions must submit to be acceptable to THEM!
Like the Pastors/Clergymen in the Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian and other denominations, the C of CC Pulpit Ministers "run the show" in most cases. The facts speak for themselves. If you are "awake," you know that this is the way things operate.
Now, let me give you the reasons cited by our brother that prove that there should be an "official" division established within the C of C churches, and that THEY should make the division "official." Be aware that they are advocating, promoting, and attempting to justify DIVISION! That is not an insignificant matter. Keep in mind that it is the MINISTERS who are proposing and doing this. Here is a rather large segment of these professional preachers who are openly declaring that they are seeking to divide and alienate some of the churches from other churches! Do YOU understand this highly significant fact, with all of its consequences?
You had better wake up to what is going on because some of you will likely become a "victim" of this division. When these Pulpit Ministers divide up and align all these Church Institutions, YOU will be drug along because of your Church Institution "membership," with neither voice or vote; and probably without ever knowing that it happened! What a mess Institutional Religion creates as it ENSLAVES the people.
One other important item before I go on: NOTE carefully that these preacher/clergy are NOT directly' dividing up the "members," the saints, the disciples of Jesus. It is not dividing up the individuals, but a dividing up of the Church Institutions. Since YOU "belong to" a church institution and have promised to obey The Eldership, which controls the organization, you will just go along with whatever happens! The individual is taken for granted: he/she is not even considered. It is the corporate CHURCH that is important, not the lowly members, yet your future and fate are involved. YOU won't even be consulted and likely will never know that it has happened. Your local church alignment is determined for you by the OVERLORDS who rule and control the Institution! As a "faithful Church member" YOU are to OBEY the ruling body, The Eldership, which is usually directed by the Pulpit Minister. You have been enslaved in an institution which is controlled by men--NOT the Lord Jesus Christ!
REASONS GIVEN TO JUSTIFY THE OFFICIAL, DIVISION Here are the reasons given to justify "making the present division" "official:"
1) "There has been talk of division for several decades now" References to Rubel Shelly and Jon Jones are given to try to prove that such "talk" has taken place. The idea seems to be that since it has been talked about, it should, therefore, be made official. It has been taking place for several years and should now take final, official form.
2) "It is now admitted on all hands that a division has actually occurred." The "anti" ("Non-institutional") brethren and the Disciples of Christ have been "objective enough to admit it" so it is asserted.
3) "The Gospel Advocate, the oldest and perhaps most influential paper among brethren, was objective enough to admit it." It is asserted that Guy N. Woods conceded that division is in place ("So it is, we sadly concede" he is quoted as saying). It is alleged that this position of Guy Woods is what got him replaced as editor of the Gospel Advocate by Furman Kearly.
4) "Others on the CONSERVATIVE SIDE of the present division have admitted it" Gary Workman is quoted as writing: "My answer is that it has ALREADY divided...I know from the fact that where a definite stand is taken on these issues the pulpit is obviously closed to any from the other side." Johnny Ramsey is quoted: "Let us face the facts: division has already come and we will just have to take a stand;' He also used the words, "We do not think alike; we do not preach alike; we are not alike."
5) "Those on the liberal side of the present division have jointly admitted it" Some instances are cited to justify this claim.
6) "Even the general press has reported this new schism" Here is a public admission that these brethren are engaged in a deliberate "schism" or a division! This plain statement calling for an "official" division of the church institutions of this alignment from the so-called "Mainstream" church institutions, has been taking shape for several years. The alienation and doctrinal positions of the two segments are so set that an "official" separation of the two groups would probably be best for both. Then each faction could go its separate way; apparently each going in opposite directions, one becoming more and more "liberal" and the other becoming more and more "legalistic."
This is the way of human institutions and the denominations formed by men. If it only affected these institutional churches it would be bad enough, but the VICTIMS are the passive "church members" who have neither voice or vote in anything that is done. They just meekly and submissively go along where their "church" leads them. If it is "liberal" that's o.k.; or, if it is "legalistic" that is o.k.! Wherever the local church leads them they will go! They have been "institutionalized" and are controlled by the institution, falsely called "the local Church of CHRIST" The Lord Jesus Christ has no such institution! He is NOT the Head of an organizational entity or corporate body whatever its name may be.
Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, is the Head of the "one (and only ONE) BODY" which is constituted of each and every redeemed person on earth and in heaven. Dear brother and sister, He is YOUR Head, your Master, and your one and only Ruler and King. YOU belong to Him, not to some man-made and man-controlled INSTITUTION! Don't give yourself to be a slave of men in some human organization even if it does presume to call itself a "Church of Christ." His "body" is not an institution or an organization. His ekklesia (mistranslated "church") is His holy people, NOT some local church institution or even a universal church institution.
Churches or denominations are a curse, not a blessing. They divide and separate the people, even the people of God. Look again at the division that has been described above. It is a dividing up, separating and alienating of CHURCH INSTITUTIONS. The victimized people are drug along as the slaves of the local church and its rulers. Can't you see and understand this? This evil is of man, not of God. And the end is not yet! May God have mercy on his deluded people who have been deceived by institutional religion. Pure religion is individual and personal, NOT institutional. It is not what your church institution does that counts with the Lord, it is what YOU do of your own free will and decision in obeying Him.
"Therefore, BRETHREN, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing YOU; for as long as YOU practice these things, YOU will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to YOU" (2 Pet. 1:10-11). CAH