IF THEY ARE FOR IT, I’M AGAINST IT!
T. PIERCE BROWN
Back when what is commonly called “the anti movement” was the current hot issue, I began to notice a phenomenon of which I had not previously been aware. Today it probably would be called “a syndrome.” Sadly, I noted it in persons on both sides of the issue. Possibly I was more sympathetic with some in the “anti” camp than many others who opposed them because of my personal respect and high regard for their scholarship, devotion and ability. I started preaching partly because of the influence of Brother Jim Cope. Then there was no “anti” movement, and he was a young preacher at Lipscomb. While I was at ACC, I heard brother Homer Hailey, and was impressed with the depth of his insight and ability. When such men spoke (and we could name many others), I listened carefully because I respected them, and still do. The fact that I disagreed with them on that issue did not lessen my respect for them in their stand for “the old paths” and their insistence for a “thus saith the Lord” for any doctrine or practice. I still agree with that principle, although sometimes I disagreed with their application of it.
My respect for many brethren whom I opposed may be one reason I was so concerned with the attitude of some of those who agreed with my position on the issue. It seemed to be, “If they are for it, I am against it, for they are `antis’ and I cannot have fellowship with them.” My position was (and is): “I do not have fellowship with them in their binding where God did not bind, but I still use and recommend Homer Hailey’s book, LET’S GO FISHING FOR MEN, and any other book he has written of which I am aware. If that is fellowship with false doctrine and causes me to be marked and avoided by other brothers whom I love and respect, so be it.”
The opposite syndrome is as bad, or worse. “If they are against it, I am for it.” That may result from a backlash against the unsound reasoning of those they think are “radical conservatives.” I do not know which is the most dangerous, but both are repulsive and hurtful to the cause of Christ.
Let me give some examples of one or both of those bad responses. In 1944, I was inEnglandand took a correspondence Bible course offered by theLawrenceAvenueChurchinNashville. I do not know whether they had a “liberal,” “conservative,” or “middle of the road” attitude, but I took the course because by it I learned more about God’s word. Whatever their attitude might be, I did not consider myself in fellowship with any false position they might have since the material I received was correct and scriptural. I later took a course in Seventh Day Adventist doctrine. It was not correct and scriptural. That did not make me in fellowship with their false doctrines any more than my attending a Methodist Theological Seminary meant that I was in fellowship with their false doctrine.
Because of that Correspondence Course, I saw the value of Bible Correspondence Courses and began encouraging the congregations where I preached to conduct them at every possible opportunity, both local and worldwide. Since the first church inAfricain this century of which we know was started by a man who was converted by the same course I took, I had a special concern for African work and have encouraged others to do likewise for the last 45 years. I was disturbed when I discovered that Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists and the Christian Church seemed to be making more progress in their efforts there than we were. I also discovered that those we call “anti-Bible class” and “one cup” groups were active, as well as some brethren I considered too liberal in their theology.
If I had followed the philosophy of some I read about today, I would have stopped trying to teach the truth. The philosophy seems an outgrowth of the idea, “If they do it, I am against it.” The idea expressed is, “False teachers are using Correspondence Bible studies to spread their false doctrine. If you are involved in that, you are having fellowship with false teachers. So `back away from it’ and stop all such efforts.” If that is either sensible or scriptural, then I confess I lack ability in both.
The truth of the matter is that the solution to the problems of false doctrines being taught either by “liberals,” “antis,” or denominations is to double our efforts to teach the truth. I would urge some of my brethren who claim that I am having fellowship with false brethren and displeasing God by teaching 2500 students inAfricato write a few simple paragraphs explaining when and why it became wrong for me to teach those lost sinners the truth. Did it become wrong when I began it about 1947? Did it become wrong when denominations began using that method? Did it become wrong when the Christian Church got involved? If a group of Baptists start teaching that baptism is for remission of sins, do I have to stop because I would now be teaching “Baptist doctrine?” Does the philosophy, “They do it, so I am against it” make any sense?
As many of you know, I wrote one of the first articles in the brotherhood entitled “Cultism in the Church” exposing the “Crossroads Philosophy.” Suppose I discover that Crossroads andBostonare involved in Correspondence Bible study work inAfrica. Am I supposed to throw up my hands in unholy horror and stop teaching 2500 students the truth because that would by some perverted reasoning be having fellowship with Crossroads? The very idea seems so ridiculous to me that I need to be gently guided to a better understanding of reality before I will cease the kind of thing I have been doing by the authority of my Lord for the past half century. Maybe I am getting “old-timer’s” disease or some “syndrome” of one sort or another.
Is this perhaps the reason I stopped local work and devoted two years of my life and thousands of dollars to encourage getting the gospel to every home in the nation? I thought it was because I loved the Lord and believe that every sound gospel preacher should support the preaching of the gospel to every person in the world. Should I withdraw from such an effort simply because some churches influenced by Crossroads or the Christian Church may try to use the effort to build up their systems? Is the way to overcome a false doctrine to withdraw from the field and cease to teach it, allowing “liberals” and false teachers of every sort to be in charge of all such evangelistic work? Or is the way to overcome it to teach the truth to as many as possible, encouraging others to do the same?
Does it make sense to reason, “Since the anti-class and `one-cup’ brethren uphold teaching the plan of salvation properly, then I must stop teaching it or I will be having fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness?” Let me repeat, “If that has anything about it that resembles sense or scriptural exegesis, then I need some tender loving care in many ways, even if I am not yet in a nursing home.” Feel free to let me hear from you if you think you can help me any.