Most of my readers will be aware of the Contending for the Faith lectures hosted by the Spring, Texas church of Christ. The most recent event was titled “Profiles in Apostasy #1”. I watched several of the lectures. One by one speakers were introduced and they would then systematically condemn some of the best and brightest men ever to grace church of Christ pulpits or write books. The “Apostates” they chose to expose were:
Alan Hughes, Todd Deaver, Al Maxey, Cecil Hook, Bill Love, Olan Hicks, James Bales, John Mark Hicks, Leroy Garrett, Carl Ketcherside, Jimmy Allen, Marvin Phillips, Lynn Anderson, Lenard Allen, Mike Cope, Rubel Shelly, Jeff Walling, Edward Fudge, Carol Osborn, K.C. Moser, and F. Legard Smith.
What offence did these men commit that got them branded as “Apostates”? Everyone of them teaches or taught salvation by grace as a free gift. It is about that simple. I know and have had talks with a few of these men and have read most of the others. They are, or were, good men, devoted to Jesus and lovers of His people.
The accusers of the brothers were:
David Brown, Terry Hightower, Lester Kamp, Lynn Parker, Skip Francis, Danny Douglas, Bruce Stulting, Johnny Oxendine, Ken Chumbley, Paul Vaughn, John West, Danial Coe, Gene Hill, Doug Post, Wayne Blake, Michael Hatcher, Daniel Denham, John Rose, Jimmy Gribble, Lee Moses, Gary Summers, Jess Whitlock, and Dub McClish.
I don’t know any of these men personally, and know little about them. My hope is that they are just brothers who are in error and that somehow they will come to the knowledge of the truth. However, after listening to a few of them (likely a fair sampling of the whole) I question if they are brothers.
What is shockingly clear is that at least some of them teach what Paul would call “another gospel”. I heard mentioned more than once a reference to “Obeying the plan of salvation” and that “plan” was spelled out. It was also clear that they believe that they alone are saved and stay saved, not because of what Jesus accomplished for them but that they are in the right church, believe the right doctrine, and worship according to the supposed “pattern”.
(One name I left off in the list of people attacked was Dave Miller of Apologetics Press. He was roundly condemned as an apostate because of a sermon he preached on the reaffirmation of elders years ago. Miller is a perfect example of a legalist, but even one of their own is condemned to hell if he offends in any way.)
What you will see if you care to watch the lectures is a “Parade of Pharisees“. They are no different than those in Jesus day. They teach that you must trust Christ and do this and this and this to be saved. And, you must believe this and do this and this and this to stay saved, and that they and those who adhere to their teachings are the only ones saved. Their contempt was not only for modern day grace men but they attacked Alexander Campbell and other Restoration Movement founders as well. In their view, anyone who even hints that anyone other than conservative church of Christ people are saved is wrong and deserves to be openly condemned.
Why should anyone believe these men are saved? Because they have been baptized? Because they are church of Christ preachers? Because they are “faithful” or “sound”? Not everyone who claims Christ belongs to Him. Not all that glitters is gold.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:15-23)
It may well be the case that our greatest mission field is in our own churches. Men much more learned than I estimate that roughly one half of Churches of Christ are “conservative”. Likely, most of those people believe every word these false teachers say.
These facts call for Christ centered teaching, love expressed in patience, and praying that the Holy Spirit will prick hard hearts and that God will grant repentance bring the lost to himself.
The worst enemy of the Christian faith has always been religion. It is still true today. The most dangerous enemy in a war is the one who marches with our own, under our flag. We must remember though that our enemy in not flesh and blood but the god of this world who is the master counterfeiter.
God help us.