Horace Greeley, a great newspaper editor many years ago, made this statement: "An editor's effectiveness is determined not only by those who swear by him, but also by those who swear AT him:" Jesus made a similar statement: "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets" (Matt. 6:26). False prophets were spoken well of because they catered to people in order to make "merchandise" of them. Jesus thus warned us that when all men speak well of us that we had better take note of that fact for that is proof that we are NOT following Him faithfully. Persecution in itself is NOT proof that one is following Jesus; but the lack of persecution certainly seems to be proof that one is NOT following Jesus.
In other places He taught His disciples that if they follow Him they can count on being falsely accused of evil; and that they would be persecuted. Jesus made enemies, even vicious enemies, who ultimately succeeded in getting Him crucified. These enemies were the religious leaders, the clergy, of that day. He PUBLICLY exposed their false teaching in plain language and He exposed them for what they really were in their persons, false teachers and hypocrites. They kept the people in religious slavery. They used and abused the people, and even took away from them the "key of knowledge." They kept them out of the kingdom. These religious leaders had to destroy Jesus to protect their vested interests, and to maintain the blind following of the frightened, ignorant people. It has always been that way. Persecution, death, and affliction were what happened to all the apostles and many of the early saints. Why? Simply because they faithfully followed their Master.
The principle of cause and effect needs to be understood here. They followed Jesus, teaching and preaching the word, turning people from darkness to light with the good news about the Messiah and Savior who came by God's grace, love and mercy. They plainly told people WHAT THEY MUST DO TO BE SAVED from their sins and become His disciples. That ACTION caused the REACTION. That was the CAUSE. What was the EFFECT the reaction? The same as was true of Jesus. His followers were persecuted, imprisoned, driven from their homes and country, and even put to death unless they renounced this Jesus as Lord and returned to Judaism or confessed Caesar as Lord.
Look at the situation today. Here we are in this good land, where we have been so richly blessed materially and with the "freedom of religion," and there is no persecution, imprisonment, suffering for righteousness sake, or death! Why? Echo answers, "Why?"
How is it with you? Have you weighted your faithfulness to Christ by your persecution, men reviling you, and saying all kinds of evil against YOU falsely on account of Jesus? Paul put it rather bluntly: "ALL (observe that inclusive term) who desire to live GODLY in Christ Jesus WILL BE PERSECUTED" (2 Tim. 3:12). Apparently there are no exceptions to this. It appears that to live godly has the direct result of being persecuted. Or, do you imagine that such a result only applied to that day and age? Maybe disciples of this age are wiser than Jesus and His apostles and we have figured out how to "follow Him" without such dire results.
Where are the persecuted saints in this country? More and more the disciples of today live and teach so that indeed "all men will speak well" of them. They do not disturb people in their sins and certainly do not speak out forcefully against sin and error, if, indeed, they believe that there is such in the religious world. The idea is growing that people can be saved within the denomination of their choice, believing whatever they please, just as long as they profess some belief in Jesus, even if only that He was a good man, but NOT the Son of the Living God. More and more disciples are advocating the idea that the heathen, who have never even heard of God, much less the Christ, will somehow be saved by the mercy of God. If that is true, then for the sake of their eternal well-being LEAVE THEM ALONE IN THEIR IGNORANCE; don't bother them with the gospel which they might reject and thus be condemned! Get all the "missionaries" back over here and let them talk to us who have had the "misfortune" of having heard of God and His Christ. Only the taught or "preached to" can be eternally condemned if they reject. So stop teaching those who "know not the gospel," because they are secure in their total ignorance, so it appears. I have heard the saying that "ignorance is bliss," and this anti-scriptural teaching certainly means this.
But back to the subject. I don't have many people, if any, who "swear by" me, but through the years there have been a few who did "swear at" me; and even today there are those of this kind of heart. Certainly "all men" (nor all women), even who claim to be Christians, do not "speak well" of me. Most of the time it has been preachers, even of the C of C church variety. Jesus warned us: "Blessed are you when men revile you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.. .for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
OBSERVATION: Christians, especially those who are mature, should be able to recognize that there is a vast difference between judging or condemning the PERSON and in judging and condemning some doctrine or practice of the person. The expression "false teacher" or "false prophet," often flung around by preachers regarding other preachers, is usually used as a judgment of the PERSON, meaning that the person is false, that he is a willful deceiver for his own personal profit or glory.
The false teacher is a hypocrite, pretending to be what he is not. This is the "wolf in sheep's clothing" of which Jesus told us to "Beware:' A person is NOT a "false teacher" or hypocrite simply because he may teach something, or even practice some things, you believe to be false. The teaching or doctrine may indeed be false, but that does not mean that the PERSON is false, a hypocrite, or intentional deceiver for his own personal gain. We must be very careful when we start applying the term "false teacher" to any brother or sister in the Lord. The adjective "false" modifies or describes the teacher himself, NOT what he may teach. Just like in "false doctrine, the word "false" describes the "doctrine." One may be a "false teacher" and teach the truth! The teaching is true, but the teacher is false a hypocrite. The Pharisees were like that. Jesus acknowledged that they "sat in Moses seat" and when they did and taught what Moses said, that "therefore all that they tell you, do and observe..."(!'1att. 23:3). Yet Jesus said that they were hypocrites.
I may condemn as error some teaching or practice of some preacher, but I am very slow to brand a preacher as a "false prophet." Yes, by "their fruit you shall know (identify) them," but that has reference to more than just teaching something that is false. Honest people can - and do - teach some serious error and by such they are teaching "false doctrine," but that does NOT make the person a false person or hypocrite. Can't you see this distinction? I hope so.
In my lifetime I have strongly taught and defended as the truth of God some things that I now believe to be unscriptural and some anti-scriptural.
In public debate with a Baptist preacher, I once affirmed the proposition that "Salvation for all responsible people of this age is in the church of Christ only." (Note carefully that I spelled "church" with a small "c" so I would not be defending a denomination!!) I was as sincere in that as I could be; but I was wrong. I was not a "false teacher" when I did that. Appollos was not a false teacher even though he was in error (Acts 18:24-28). Even though the erroneous idea is growing that salvation is in the Church of Christ church, it is utterly wrong, if not blasphemous. Salvation is found only in Christ alone. Those who teach that "Salvation is in the Church of Christ" church are teaching a grievous error, but I suspect most are not false teachers, but they are teaching false doctrine. Do you suppose there is one among them anywhere who will affirm such in public discussion?
Let me give you a few examples of rather recent "swearing at" me:
1) "CHARLES HOLT CONTINUES TO DECEIVE THE SAINTS," is the heading for a little piece in TORCH, November 88. J. T. Smith is the editor and writer of this:
"Brother B. J. Thomas.. .who years ago moderated for Charles Holt in a number of debates, recently said to me, 'Charles Holt is one of the most dangerous threats to the church of our Lord that exists today!"'
J. T. Smith agreed. Smith wrote:
"It seems an amazing thing that men who have known the truth in times past can be led away by the DRIVEL that Charles Holt espouses." Then Smith declares his judgment that Holt is a "false prophet."
Their official judgment against me as a person is thus publicly delivered. They have acted as judge and jury on me as a person. In their judgment I am a "false" person, a hypocrite, a knowing deceiver of people for my own personal gain. May God have mercy on them for they know not what they do.
2) J. WILEY ADAMS writes under the heading:
BEWARE OF FALSE PROPHETS, quoting Matt. 7:15 and 1 John 4:1:
"There is no more notorious false prophet among churches of Christ today than Charles A. Holt, the editor of a publication known as THE EXAMINER."
Bless his heart, Wiley is trying to sell his followers on his idea that I am a "false prophet," even one of whom no other is "more notorious" than I am. I am flattered. I rank right up there with the best of the "false prophets" a' ding this judge. He is afraid and thinks that by bran~ me, it will help protect him and keep his blind followers from reading The Examiner or listening to anything Holt may teach. Sadly, that is the case with the majority of the institutional church members, it seems.
I looked up the word "notorious" and find it means: "Known widely and regarded unfavorably; infamous. Generally known as discussed." He over-rates me, I am sure. I am not "known widely:' It does seem that with some, especially the preacher/clergy like Wiley, I am "regarded unfavorably." Wouldn't you agree that what Wiley says about me is a little on the "unfavorable" side? "Infamous," well, maybe, but if I can't be famous, that is better than no rating at all. "Generally known and discussed:' Here I must admit that more and more I am being "discussed" by some of the preachers. I protest! I am not deserving of that kind of attention and discussion.
Wiley says he is "disappointed in men...for allowing themselves to be duped by such a man as Charles Holt:' Isn't that an ugly judgment to make about everyone who happens to agree with me? They are all "duped" or just plain dopes! If they were half as smart as Wiley thinks that he is they would not have any of the same beliefs that I do. See how "nice" Wiley is? He is moved by fear for his own position as the hired employee - Pulpit Minister - of the local Church of Christ church institution. His livelihood is at stake. I have both empathy and sympathy for him in that regard.
Wiley confesses that "It aroused my indignation to know that he is invading the area around:' Then he pays me a high compliment with this "praise:" "everywhere his blasphemous teachings have gone.. .he has left a path of destruction among the churches that would put the recent hurricane Gilbert in the shade." Wow! Modesty forbids me to accept such accolades and credit. I'm just not that good. His fear has caused him to have spells of delusion and exaggeration. Certainly my power and force does not exceed hurricane Gilbert! But preachers like him, in their desire to protect their own self-interest, sometimes use a lot of hyperbole!
For a long time Wiley has had in his hands several propositions for a public discussion on some of these vital matters, but in his fear he refuses to respond. He just keeps his distance and "shoots me in the back" with his wild and reckless charges. He quotes 1 John 4:1 that required disciples to "try the spirits whether they are of God..:' I am willing for him to "try" me in honorable public discussion. Will he do it? Indeed not, but he claims that he is going to rise up and oppose Holt and The Examiner to stop the disciples from reading the paper and being "duped." It is not difficult to see how these preachers regard the people in the pew!
3) Let me cite one more example of the many others I could use. There is DON C. TRUEX, the hired employee
- Pulpit Minister - of the Southside C of C church, Pasadena, TX. He is an emboldened young man stirred up by what is happening among the saints in his area of East Texas; and indeed many of the saints are reading The Examiner and meeting with others for fellowship and to study these matters in the light of God's word. Probably some of his church members have dared to read the paper, meet with others and do their own thinking.
When subservient "members" (slaves) who "belong to the church" decide to accept their individual responsibility for their own study to determine truth, this makes the preacher/clergy very nervous and they along with the Elders/Lords/Rulers of that local church organization, try to stop this. Sometimes with even drastic, unrighteous ways. Remember that the members are to be "in subjection" to this body of local "lords," who in most cases grant neither voice nor vote to the subjected members.
The role of the members can be summed up in three terms: 1) BE TAUGHT, which means swallow without question whatever is set forth from the Pulpit and approved as "right doctrine" by the local ruling body. The Minister/clergyman and the Eldership decide what is right and wrong and the members are to accept such without question.
2) OBEY! That is, obey the Elders and hired preacher's declarations without question or opposition. The lowly members are REQUIRED by these men to report in at the appointed place, at the appointed times, to do the appointed things, in the appointed way; that is to engage in the "five acts of worship:' This is an ordinance of men, NOT God. Are there really only "five" acts of worship?
3) PAY! Here is the most important obligation. They can get by without your presence and without the other things you may do, but your money, your every-Sunday contribution is most important. MONEY is what makes the local church institutional wheels turn. It takes money, sometimes lot's of money, to operate the local C of C church. Hence, to obligate the members to "pay the tab" the preacher/clergy have devised the "five acts of worship" requirement, telling you that it is from the Lord Jesus. Hence, contributing into the local church treasury is a divinely-required "act of worship" that must be done every Sunday.
Also, since preachers hired by the church have a vested interest in this money collection, they pound away at the members for more and more money. Yet some of these preachers have the monumental gall, audacity and nerve to scathe me for asking saints to help financially underwrite the cost of THE EXAMINER. It does NOT go for my salary! I do not receive one dime for my personal use. I have not been "hired" as an employee to publish and edit The Examiner. It is a work of faith and a labor of love, and many other saints have determined to help with it. Disciples of Jesus are commanded to "Be ready unto every good work:' and if they decide that financially helping The Examiner is a good work, that is their decision. I praise God that many of them have done this and the paper is going out to thousands all over this nation.
Now let me show you a little of how DON TRUEX writes (and likely speaks even worse in the security of his pulpit and classroom) about me. He writes:
"I have never met Charles A. Holt. But I have read his bi-monthly magazine, The Examiner. If his paper is a proper reflection of his attitudes, his demeanor, his spirit, then, quite honestly, I do not care to meet him."
In the next paragraph he claims to know that:
"Charles Holt is a mirror image of the false prophet of whom Peter warned in 2 Peter 2:1-3. I assure you, I do not make that charge lightly. Brother Holt is boldly advancing his false teaching, and leaving in his wake a trail of destruction among the people of God. The insidious falsehoods he is peddling among Christians is amazing...
There you have his judgment and condemnation of me; and you read it right here in The Examiner! He has never met me or heard me in person, but reading this paper (which he "borrows" from someone, he is not on the mailing list) he has been able to form his severe judgmental indictments, his condemnation of me as such a bad or wicked person that he has no desire to meet me. Please note that he is not merely condemning some things I teach; his condemnation is of me as a person! There is a vast difference between the two.
I do not receive his bulletin now, but if he is going to write me up and condemn me so viciously, it seems he owes me the brotherly concern to have sent me a copy so that I might read and learn. Several people who do get it, sent me copies and I thank them for doing so.
I am sorry that Don doesn't "care to meet me:' I do not feel that way about him. He is my brother in Christ and I would like to know him, even though we may disagree. Maybe he could take me aside and explain to me the "way of the Lord more perfectly" (cf. Acts 18:24-26). I am willing for him to do that. It would be nice if we could send The Examiner to everyone there at Southside so that they could read the truth about what I believe rather than Don's distorted presentations of it. (Many years ago, I "held a meeting" there at Southside. Perhaps the next time I am in East Texas I should attend one of their "worship services" so Don could meet me - if he would do so).
One thing seems to upset Don the most and brings on his bitter charges. He says: "Brother Holt contemptuously refers to gospel preachers as 'paid professionals' and 'hirelings"' In my discussions of this subject I must have really "rung his bell." If he is not guilty as charged, why does he protest so violently? If he is NOT a "paid professional" preacher, then let him tell his readers: 1) Is he paid for his services by the Southside C of C church? That institution, through its corporate managers, hired, or employed, him and that same Board of Directors can fire him - and he well knows that! If he was hired to do a job or perform certain tasks for that corporate church, then he is a "hireling," what he does is done for PAY! When the pay stops, he stops doing what he is doing, what he was hired to do. Of course, that role is the role or work of a hireling! Get honest, preachers, and stop denying and trying to sidestep what is obvious to all.
2) Is he an employee of that church institution? On his income tax return does he report that his employer is the Southside C of C? Certainly he does and that organization probably pays his Social Security like other organizations do for their employees.
3) Is he denying that he is a "professional" in what he does? Is the role and work of the hired preacher/minister NOT a profession? Of course it is and everyone admits it but professional preachers! Why do they deny so vehemently what everyone knows is the truth. His indignation is a facade; or, else he refuses to admit the facts and the truth.
I admit that I am perhaps "contemptuous" of the practice and teaching regarding the hiring of an church employee called "The Minister" or some other like title,
and claiming that such is scriptural, even authorized by the Lord Jesus. It is an absurd claim. This teaching and practice was borrowed from the denominations and has only been around in C of C churches about 50-60 years! It started with L. S. White in Denton, TX, if my memory is correct. He was the first hired-to-preach, full-time, professional Pulpit Minister among the Churches of Christ; and the opposition to such was almost total rejection. But gradually it spread as C of C churches grew larger in number and wealth. They hired someone to preach to and for them. There is absolutely nothing like this in Scripture and certainly no instruction for such a practice.
Yes, I am "contemptuous" of the practice and the foolish attempts to justify such as approved by the Lord, but I am NOT "contemptuous" of the thousands of good men who are caught up and trapped in the system. I was there myself for more than twenty years and I know that I was honest in believing it was God's will and way. I was a hired, paid professional preacher, and employee of a C of C church. In fact, I was so sure of the rightness of it, that I engaged in at least three public discussions in defense of the practice. However, I insisted upon describing it in my terms; and would not defend most of what was then taught and practiced by the churches. I will admit that those discussions taught me that I had a very weak case to defend.
Perhaps someday I should tell you about all of this. In those days W. Carl Ketcherside and Leroy Garrett were strongly opposing this practice. I read what they had to say, first disagreeing in part, and then recognizing that they were right. This is what all the preachers of the previous generations believed and taught.
It is wholly inconsistent to condemn the hired position and role of the Baptist Church Pastor, the Methodist Church bishop, and try to defend the same thing practiced by C of C churches, but just called by another name. Most segments of the C of C church have their schools, colleges, and university seminaries to train and produce men for this professional hired position in the local C of C church institutions.
This has gone on much too long, as you will probably agree if you have read to this point, but in the next issue I want to discuss Treux's lowest and most vicious attack under this heading of CHARLES HOLT AND THE CULT OF SECRECY That young man is really upset and fearful, but he tries to put on a bold front. Bless his heart, he's my brother and I love him; and I hope that he will back off from his personal attacks so he can at least correctly understand what we are teaching. May God open his eyes and his heart - CAH