September 20, 1968
Dear Brother Ralph:
Greetings in the precious Name of our wonderful Lord. Upon our return from Pennsylvania I found some of our people deeply disturbed over the manner in which you expressed yourself during your recent visit on matters pertaining to ecclesiastical separation and to the testimony of the local church. At our recent council meeting it was recommended that I secure from you a clarification of your position in relation to several questions that were raised. Since some of the members of the council, including myself, were not present at the time of the discussion, we would not wish to form any final judgment without giving you an opportunity to speak for yourself.
It would appear from what I have heard that you whole-heartedly endorse the policy of inclusivism in ecclesiastical relationships. In other words, you could without compunction of conscience identify yourself in worship and witness with churches and denominations whose leadership and organizational character is apostate, raising no voice of protest against such apostasy as long as you were permitted to preach "a positive gospel." This, of course, has been the practice of the National Association of Evangelicals from its inception. Instead of drawing the line of separation as the Word of God commands, dual membership is permitted. One can be identified with the N.A.E. and at the same time hold membership in a church or denomination belonging to the apostate National and World Councils of Churches. It is this kind of compromise pursued as a matter of policy through more than twenty-five years, that has produced the New Evangelicalism so prevalent today, of which Billy Graham in his ecumenical evangelism has become the symbol. Within the past few years the influence of the N.A.E. has been projected internationally, particularly in Africa through the formation of the E.F.M.A., with which most of the old Faith Missions are now identified. Would I be correct in assuming that the North Africa Mission is a cooperating member of the E.F.M.A.? I am not sure that it is, but am inclined to think so since it is a part of the I.F.M.A.. If so, it is a cooperative enterprise to which we as a local church could not by conviction give our support.
I am told that you object to my exposure of Modernism, Masonry, and other forms of doctrinal error from the pulpit. I make no apology for doing so as this type of ministry is Scripturally required of every faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Cf. Isaiah 58:1; Jeremiah 1:7-10; Ezekiel 2:1-3:12; II Timothy 4:1-8. In the commission received by Jeremiah, four out of the six things he was commanded to do (1:10) --two-thirds of his ministry -- involved a negative emphasis. The same thing was true in the solemn charge given to Timothy (II Timothy 4:2). And in each instance the negative preceded the positive. The proclamation of an all-positive, non-negative piety which refuses to expose doctrinal error and the sin of apostasy is a compromised message capable only of producing a compromised Christianity, a superficial, spurious form of Christianity, totally devoid of genuine discernment in the truth. In this age of easy believe-ism we need to wake perfectly clear not only what genuine faith in Christ involves, but what it excludes. It is sin of the most serious sort for one who professes faith in Christ to identify himself in worship, witness, and fellowship with pagan idolatry, I Corinthians 10:16-22. If identification with idolatrous worship in a pagan temple involved the Corinthians in fellowship with demons, are not they who name the Name of Christ today guilty of the same sin - fellowship with demons - when they identify themselves with the idolatrous worship of modernism? I would no more worship in a church or denomination having its representation in the National and World Councils of Churches than I would at a Shinto shrine. It is for this same reason that we expose Masonry as utterly inconsistent with Christian testimony. Surely it is wrong for any person who professes faith in Christ to belong to an organization so un-Christian in character as that of Masonry, and which in the ultimate involves the taking of an oath in the name of "Allah, the god of our fathers, whose prophet is Mohammed." As you know, our church constitution excludes from membership in the local testimony any who are members of secret oath-bound organizations. It becomes necessary from time to time, as the situation requires, to explain the reason why, since many professing Christians say they see nothing wrong with such organizations.
We love you Ralph. I am sure you know this. And we would not want for one moment to circumscribe your liberty in the conduct of your ministry. But we must know that you are in sympathy with, and can give whole-hearted endorsement to, the testimony of the local fellowship if we are to continue your support. For this reason, if you are at liberty to do so, we would like to have a statement in writing clarifying your position on the matters mentioned above. I think too that it would be well if you could plan to meet with the members of the Council personally so that we can have a clear understanding in the matter. You may let me know when you can come to Orlando at your convenience, and any expense involved we will be happy to meet.
May God bless you and every member of your precious family. Our prayer for you - Numbers 6:24-26. Love from all of us to all of you,
In Jesus, Precious Name,
September 24, 1968
Dear Brother Hayes:
Greetings in the Savior's Name. After the discussion that took place on August 18, I expected to hear from you but I was not prepared for the tenor of the letter I received. I have before me a copy of the church bulletin with its clear-cut statement of doctrine. Lest there be any doubt where I stand on this let me say that I still heartily endorse every item on it as I have done for the past fifteen years. This, to me is the basis on which we have fellowship in the Lord.
I realize that we don't see eye to eye on every single point of practice and interpretation, but I do not regard this as a hindrance to our fellowship in our Blessed Lord. Seldom, if ever, have I found anyone who believed every single detail as I do. It never occured to me that the price of fellowship with another child of God would be the surrender of my own conscience and convictions and a rubber stamp acceptance of the views and convictions of another. Yet in the conversation of last August 18, I discovered that with some of the brethren involved, this was just about what was expected of me. This I could not and do not accept, nor do I believe this is your position or that of the church. You and others in the church have known me for many years; you know what I stand for, what I teach and preach. If you had found any fault with my doctrine, I an sure you would have brought it to my attention, yet I have always been most warmly received on every occasion when I spoke at the church.
I confess that I tried to avoid the discussion last month when I saw the trend it was taking, knowing we differ on some of these points and that further discussion would not be helpful. Until that time, though, I had no idea how very strongly some of my brethren felt. They did not leave any doubt in my mind, however, before the conversation was over. That is why I am not surprised at hearing from you for I could see that the discussion would be fully reported to you.
You have asked me to clarify in writing certain of the points on which I am called to defend myself. I do not know exactly what was told you but it is inaccurate in the extreme to represent me as wholeheartedly endorsing the policy of inclusivism in ecclesiastical relationships and without compunction or conscience identifying myself with apostates. As best as I can make out, this is the interpretation of my unwillingness to roundly and soundly condemn anyone who ever has any contact with denominations or modernists or anyone connected in the remotest way with the National Council of Churches.
I am still keenly aware of the elements of that conversation and the dismay evoked by certain statements I made so it would be well for me to fill you in as well as possible on the points that disturbed my brethren.
I stated that I would not take it upon myself to insist that any given individual Christian who is a member of a denominational church absolutely must get out; that this, and this alone is the will of God for every believer. I still stand by that statement. I am not the Holy Spirit of God to give such directions that are not explicitly laid down in Scripture. They felt that II Corinthians 6:14-18 was explicit enough for this; I do not. Christ, Himself, and His Apostles did not abandon the temple and synagogue and those in it even though its leadership was so corrupt and despised the Lord and His teachings so much they eventually bribed a traitor and false witnesses to convict Him and put Him to death.
I stated that I would accept an invitation to preach the gospel in any place as long as I was given complete liberty to preach the Word of God as I understand it. This is still my position and I make no apology for it. I was told, however, that to go into a denominational church for the purpose of preaching the Gospel would be sinning against the Lord. I have to reject this position for several reasons:
Christ commanded us to preach the Gospel to every creature. If the lost people in denominational churches or modernistic ones do not fit in this category, I do not know where they do fit. I am afraid I cannot exchange the command of the Lord for the opinion of any man, no matter how sincere his conviction, or how pure his motive. In the discussion that followed it turned out that some folk seem to feel that a member of a denominational church is a special kind of sinner who has, by his association with such a group, forfeited any right to hear the Gospel. I disagree. In the first place all denominational churches are not modernistic. In the second place I am convinced that the majority of individuals even in modernistic churches are not apostate, but are led astray by false leaders. If we refuse to preach the Gospel to them, WHO WILL? What chance do they have? Or do we simply wash our hands of any responsibility to them and blithely consign them to Hell just because they have the misfortune to be led astray by false leaders? Where would any of us be if our Lord had taken this attitude? Rather, He saw the multitude (who were likewise deceived by corrupt religious leaders) as sheep without a shepherd. He had compassion on them and ministered to them wherever He found them. I stand on the example of the Lord in this for I find more than thirty places in the Gospels which tell me that He ministered and taught in the synagogues and the temple, and this in spite of the fact that the religious leadership of those places was a self-seeking, jealous, hypocritical lot who rejected Him and opposed Him constantly, even throwing His followers out of the synagogue (John 9:22,34; 12:42; 16:2).
In addition I find more than a dozen different references where the Apostles followed the example of the Lord in preaching and teaching in the synagogue and temple. To be sure, the Lord and His Apostles did much preaching outside the synagogue also but they did not desert those within the established religious institutions although those institutions were, according to our Lord's own words, under the leadership of men who hated and opposed Him. I know we would not for one second suggest that His presence in those places was evidence that He wholeheartedly endorsed them and all they stood for.
I stated that I reject the contention that the only possible justification I could have for going to a denominational group would be for the sole purpose of denouncing them for their "apostasy". To this I would repeat the command of the Lord to preach the Gospel to every creature and I believe Paul pretty well defines the basic elements of the Gospel in Romans 1:1-6 and I Corinthians 15:1-4.
Of course there is need to rebuke apostasy and false doctrine but I am committed to the belief that the Word of God is sufficient for this. I cannot improve on the Word of God, for it is His Word alone that is quick and powerful and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the hearts (Heb. 4:12). I feel I can preach what the Word of God has to say and leave it to the Holy Spirit to empower and apply His Word, convicting men of sin. That is the ministry of the Holy Spirit as described by the Lord (John 16:7-11).
I was quoted as objecting to your exposure of Modernism, Masonry, and other doctrinal error from the pulpit. First let me apologize for making a direct reference to you and your ministry. This was a serious breach of ethics and I am very sorry. I ask you to forgive me for this. In fact I apologized to my hearers at the time and earnestly requested that they not repeat it. I am sorry they felt it was necessary. To set the record straight, this is what was said. I simply made a reference to this practice in passing to illustrate a point I was trying to make about the danger of forfeiting the opportunity to witness to some individuals for I do know personally of some who have been turned away by this, never to return. I was not, as seems to be implied, making an unqualified objection to the practice of dealing with error from the pulpit. I simply said I felt there was a right time for it. We refer to the Sunday morning service as the Worship Service. To me this is the time when we should be fed on the Word of God and worship Him, in fellowship with our brethren. I feel that the cataloging of the sins of the apostates, modernists, and masons, however well documented, while informative and sometimes helpful, is no substitute for this.
I refused to concur in the blanket, unqualified condemnation of Billy Graham and all his works, including the assertion that all, or nearly all those converted under his ministry are false and will not last. This latter I have found to be grossly unfair and untrue for I know personally many who have been saved under his ministry. However I am not the judge of Billy Graham or of any other man for that matter. Paul says in Romans 14, "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. So then everyone of us shall give an account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way." (Romans 14: 4, 10, 12, 13). Thank God He has been too wise to commit judgment to me for I know I am utterly unworthy. As far as Billy Graham is concerned, I have heard many messages by him and I have yet to find any fault with his presentation of the Gospel. He condemns sin and evil, calls for repentance, preaches Christ as the only Savior and Lord and bases all his preaching solidly on the Word of God. Some critics said, "Yes, but he leaves out so much." In reply to this I can only refer to Romans 12:3-8; I Cor. 12:12-30; and Eph. 4:7-13 where the Apostle Paul takes great pains to explain that we do not all have the same ministry; rather God has given us widely different gifts and ministries. Billy Graham is an evangelist, not a Bible teacher or learned theological scholar. His ministry is to the unsaved primarily, not to solid Christians. How can we expect men who have not the Spirit of God to be taught the deep things of God's Word. I Corinthians 2:14 shows us the fallacy of this.
There were other criticisms that I won't take time to list but let it suffice to say that I realize that Billy Graham is not perfect; neither am I and I know of no one who is. What I do know is that the Word of God strictly warns me not to judge others (Matt. 7:1-2; Luke 6:37; I Cor. 4:1-7; Jas. 4:11-12). We are fallible and limited in knowledge and unfit to judge others. I recall that even Michael, the Archangel of God, in all his perfection, dared not bring a railing judgment against Satan, the arch enemy of God, but left this to God (Jude 9).
Finally, let me say this once again: I am thoroughly opposed to Modernism, apostasy, secret societies and other forms of error. I do not say there is no place for condemnation of these or that no one should have this as his ministry, perhaps his primary one. I am simply saying that I cannot accept the assertion that this MUST be done by EVERYONE on ALL occasions.
I think I should make it clear that I draw a sharp distinction between ministering the Word on occasion to a group and entering binding relationships and alliances with them, involving membership in their groups and support of their programs. I feel that Laura and I amply demonstrated our position here when we withdrew years ago from a group which we saw was departing from the truth. I simply cannot accept the contention that my physical presence on occasion with a given group makes me one with them and a party to all their beliefs and deeds. If this is true then we would do well to follow the example of the monks and withdraw behind the walls of a monastery where we could preserve our purity without fear of contamination.
One more point in answer to your query about my mission. No, the North Africa Mission is not a member of the E.F.M.A.
This has been a long letter I know but you asked that I clarify my position on those matters and that is difficult to do briefly. I hope this will be of help to you in making a decision. Still I agree that we need to meet together face to face where we can have a full understanding. I am sorry I will not be able to come before next week. I will be out of the State for a few days but will contact you about a definite date when I return.
I am very sorry that you seem to have been given the impression that I was finding fault with the witness of the local ministry, for such is not the case. I have repeatedly expressed publicly my deep appreciation for your firm and faithful witness to the Lord and His Word. However I never felt this had to mean that I concurred with every single thing that was ever said or done. I feel that mature brethren can agree to disagree on some points without breaking fellowship and I certainly trust you all feel the same way.
I cannot close this letter without once again expressing to you and the church how greatly we appreciate the faithful support in prayer and giving we have received from you all these years. Your fellowship in the Gospel has been most sweet and precious and I do not want you to feel that we take it lightly. I cannot begin to tell you what an encouragement you have been to us through the years of our ministry. I do earnestly hope there has not been, nor will be any trace of bitterness over the above matters and that we shall be able to meet together in Christian love as brothers should, and especially that our discussion may be conducted in an atmosphere of love and understanding.
Phil. 1:2-5 In the Bonds of Calvary,
Ralph V. Burns
P.S. I am enclosing a couple of extra copies that you may wish to give to council members to study before I come over. I already sent a copy to Harry Wimberly but I don't know who the others are. I thought this might save some time.
November 8, 1968
Dear Brother Ralph:
Greetings in the precious Name of our wonderful Lord. It was good to see you a few weeks ago during your brief visit, I am sorry that it has taken me this length of time to reply to your letter. One thing and another has prevented my getting to it, and this is the first opportunity I have had since you were here.
As I sought to explain when we talked together, if the tone of my letter to you seemed severe, it is because of the evident concern on the part of those involved in the discussion as also those who overheard some of the statements you made. It is not your personal belief in the evangelical doctrines of Scripture that is in question. Nor is it your motive, which we believe to be perfectly sincere. It is rather the method to which you adhere in the conduct of your ministry which causes concern. No matter how orthodox the message, nor how pure the motive, it is possible for both to be compromised through the use of an unscriptural method. It is this that we are seeking to ascertain. If, after having examined your position, we should be convinced that the method you are using is unscriptural, it would then of course be necessary to discontinue our support. "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3) It is not merely how we talk, but how we walk that counts with God (III John 4). Nor should this be construed as an attempt to rubber stamp your convictions. I made it very clear in my previous letter that we are not in any sense of the word seeking to interfere with your personal liberty in the conduct of your ministry. We will compare our positions as brethren, and then we will prayerfully seek to win you to the position we believe to be Scriptural. If after a reasonable period of time you are not convinced, you will be free to go your way, and we ours. Fair enough?
We believe that the Word of God commands and requires absolute separation from every form of apostate ecclesiasticism, and from those who compromise therewith. Just as surely as God commanded Israel in the Old Testament to have nothing to do with Baal, just so surely He commands His people today to come out from churches and denominations that are identified with the apostate, anti-christ program of the National and World Councils of Churches. Is there any doubt in your mind, brother Ralph, that these organizations are apostate? It is inconceivable that anyone professing love and loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ should be identified with, and thus give support to, the building of the harlot bride of the Antichrist. To do so is sin of the most serious sort, for it is in direct disobedience to the clear command of God's Word - II Corinthians 6:14-7:1; Romans 16:17-18.; Ephesians 5:11; II Timothy 3:1-5; II John 6-11; Revelation 18:4. When God's Word says, "Come out from among them, and be ye separate," it means just that. When it says "touch not the unclean thing," it means just that. When it commands us to label those who err doctrinally and avoid them, it means just that. When it commands us to have no fellowship with, but rather reprove the works of darkness, it means just that. The authority of the Word is the authority of the Holy Spirit, for He is the Author of the Book. To excuse one's disobedience to the clear command of Scripture by pleading dependence upon the Holy Spirit for further leading is an insult to the Holy Spirit. It is a form of pious mysticism that has no foundation in the Word of God. It is indeed the sin of Balaam, who prayed for further leading after God had clearly revealed His will, Numbers 22:12ff. It is one of the sinful subtleties of neo-orthodoxy, to the impact of which the neo-evangelical element is yielding - the dissociation of the Holy Spirit from the authority of the Word of God. The fact remains that those who stay in and support religious Babylon are partakers of her sins, no matter how well intentioned they may be. The place for true believers is outside the camp of apostate ecclesiasticism, Hebrews 13:12-13. Having taken our place with Christ outside the camp, we challenge those within to come out and stand with us, just as does the writer of Hebrews.
This is the position of the American Council of Christian Churches with which our local fellowship has been identified through the years of its existence. We firmly believe that the line must be as clearly drawn today as it was by Moses in his day, Exodus 32:26-29. There was blood in the camp that day, and plenty of it. Those who were true to the Lord and took their stand with Moses were commanded to take a sword and run it through every one on the other side of the line, including their own flesh and blood. It wasn't an easy thing to do, but the Levites did it and were rewarded of the Lord, Deuteronomy 33: 8-11. We don't hear very much of this kind of consecration today (Exodus 32:29)! The sword we use today is not a literal sword, but the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.
And we are expected to use it just as effectively as did they in exposing and condemning the sinful idolatry of those on the other side of the line. Either they cross the line and come to the Lord's side, or they must get the sword. There was no area of neutrality in the camp of Israel that day. Nor should there be today. And yet there is, for, as I explained in my previous letter, the National Association of Evangelicals permits and practices the policy of dual membership. One can be identified with the N.A.E. and at the same time hold membership in a church or denomination belonging to the apostate National and World Councils of Churches. This is not permitted by the A.C.C.C. If you are in the N.C.C., you cannot be a member of the A.C.C.C. This position is consistent, whereas the position of the N.A.E. is one of compromise. Inclusivism is the policy of the N.A.E. The New Evangelicals believe that it is possible for them to maintain an evangelical witness within the framework of the N.C.C. and the W.C.C. Without compunction of conscience, they identify themselves in worship and witness with churches and denominations whose leadership and organizational character is apostate, raising no voice of protest against such apostasy as long as they are permitted to preach 'a positive gospel.' You will understand that it was this practice of the N.A.E. to which I made reference in my previous letter, since it seemed that some of the things you were reported to have said reflected that pattern. Perhaps unconsciously, some of the arguments set forth in your letter to me are very similar to the arguments used by New Evangelicals.
Now as to the contact we are to have with those in churches and denominations that are identified with apostasy, the only justification according to Scripture for ministering on the ground of apostasy is to expose and condemn the sin of apostasy. We have a classic illustration of this principle in I Kings 13:1ff. Immediately after Jeroboam has instituted the idolatry described in the latter part of Chapter Twelve, God commissioned an unnamed prophet, a man of God from Judah, to go up to Bethel (near the borderline between the Northern and Southern Kingdoms) for the explicit purpose of protesting Jeroboam's apostasy and pronouncing Divine judgment upon it. His ministry was an effective ministry, accompanied by an immediate sign and a prediction which found fulfillment approximately three and a half centuries later - an indication that apostasy has both an immediate effect and long range consequences. He was forbidden to eat bread or drink water, he was not to have fellowship with anyone, as long as he was in the place of apostasy. Please note the emphasis upon the expression, "in this place." (13:8,16). His return to Judah was to be by a way other than that by which he had come. He was to take every precaution to avoid forming any kind of an entangling alliance while on the ground of apostasy. After having successfully resisted the invitation of the king, he succumbed to the pious testimony of the old prophet. In so doing he was disobedient to the Word of God, and his disobedience cost him his life. He had compromised the message he had so faithfully proclaimed, and was no longer serviceable to the Lord.
We have here all the elements of the problem facing us today. When Jeroboam instituted his apostasy, those who determined to be true to the Lord left their homes and their possessions in the Northern Kingdom and came down into Judah, thus identifying themselves with the true worship of Jehovah, II Chronicles 11:13-17. And this is what the Lord's people need to do, and ought to do today. Instead of staying in and supporting the apostasy of Jeroboam, those who know the Lord should leave the area of organized apostasy and thus strengthen the kingdom of Judah! Instead of staying in churches and denominations whose leadership is apostate, those who name the Name of Christ should withdraw their support from synagogues of Satan by leaving them, and identify themselves with independent Bible testimonies that are seeking to be true to the Lord and His Word. Modernists speak the truth when they say that denominational loyalty insures the success of the liberal movement. It was so in Jeremiah's day (Jeremiah 5:30-31), and it is so today. The liberal movement would have collapsed long ago if the Lord's people had refused to give it their support. Yes, brother Ralph, those who remain in the area of apostasy do become a special kind of sinners - sinners against light. Because of their disobedience to the clear command of God's Word, a process of judicial blindness and hardening of the heart sets in so that in time they come to the place where they no longer know the difference between truth and error, between right and wrong. They become brain-washed in a way of thinking that is contrary to Scripture, and thus become impervious to the truth. Cf. Romans 11:7-8. That is what happened to Israel through the centuries, and that is what is happening in apostate Christendom today. Cf. Matthew 13:13-15; Acts 28:25-27. Read also Jeremiah, Chapters Fourteen and Fifteen. Several times in this passage Jeremiah prays for revival, and each time the Lord admonishes him to "pray not for this people for their good." (14:11; 15:1) Even though Moses and Samuel, two of the greatest intercessors in Israel's history, were to pray, God could not change His mind and send revival. Why? Because the people of that day had passed the point of no return. Repentance was impossible because they could no longer tell the difference between right and wrong. The Lord rebuked Jeremiah for being overly sympathetic with the viewpoint of the people and commanded him "let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them." (15:18-20 ) Raise the standard, Jeremiah, and let the people come to you, but don't you go back and identify yourself with them! Our Lord said the same thing to the disciples concerning the Pharisees who were offended at His exposure of their hypocrisy, Matthew 15:12-14. "Let them alone ..." Not only the blind leaders, but those who are identified with their blind leadership, come under the judgment of God. "Both shall fall into the ditch."
You do not reach such people by going into the area of apostasy and preaching a purely "positive gospel." The man of God from Judah was commissioned to go to Bethel, deliver a message of judgment (a purely negative message), and return to Judah as fast as His transportation could carry him, avoiding all possible entanglements while in the place of apostasy. His ministry was a witness "against, " not "with." Had he accepted the invitation of the king and entered into fellowship with Jeroboam, he would have acknowledged the king's sponsorship, compromised his message, and identified himself with apostasy. This is what Billy Graham does with modernists, and he is dead wrong in so doing. The first stop toward the prophet's downfall came when he sat down under the oak tree, I Kings 13:14. He ought to have gone back to Judah as quickly as possible, but he didn't. He relaxed before he got across the border, and the old prophet caught up with him. There is a lesson for us here. Eternal vigilance is the price we must pay for the purity of our testimony. Earnest contending for the Faith permits of no relaxation in the unending warfare between truth and error. Who was the old prophet? He was one of those "special kind of sinners" who, instead of going down into Judah, as he ought to have done, with the rest who determined to be true to the Lord, stayed in the place of apostasy. He apparently decided that he could "use his Christian influence" and "serve the Lord to better advantage" by remaining in "the denomination," despite the wicked apostasy of Jeroboam. In this capacity he served to be nothing more than a stumbling block to the younger prophet. And this is exactly the role that is filled by evangelical pastors who claim that they can serve the Lord better by staying in denominations whose leadership is apostate, instead of separating from them. Such men through their compromise are causing confusion in the issue between truth and error, and thus become a stumbling blocks to others. The conscience of the old prophet had become so warped through compromise that he was capable of lying. Piously proclaiming a "revelation from Heaven" (13:18), he enticed the man of God from Judah to go back home with him and have a little fellowship with him. In so doing, the younger prophet compromised the message he had so faithfully and fearlessly delivered. And that is exactly what happens when evangelicals enter into fellowship with those who are in the camp of apostate ecclesiasticism today. Their message is rendered meaningless and they are no longer serviceable to the Lord. I firmly believe that Billy Graham and those who follow his example are just as dead to genuine service for the Lord because of their compromise with modernists as was the man of God from Judah who was slain by the lion. His sin was the sin of disobedience to the Word of God. The only justification for his going on to the ground of apostasy, for his being at Bethel, was to expose and condemn that apostasy. But he had no right to fellowship with and give brotherly recognition to those whose apostasy he condemned. His ministry was a witness "to," not "with."
So it was with Christ and the apostles in their relation to the temple and the synagogues. They did not conduct their ministry under the sponsorship of the religious rogues of that day (as do Billy Graham and the New Evangelicals today), and their ministry was a constant, continual challenge to the apostasy of the religious leaders who were in control. From beginning to end, Christ's ministry in relation to the temple produced controversy (it was certainly not characterized by fellowship and cooperation!) which reached its ultimate climax in His utter rejection and crucifixion. Cf. John 2:13ff; 8:12-59; 7:11-52; 10:19-39; Mark 11:15-18; Matthew 21:23-46; 22:15-46; 23:1-24:2. Continuous controversy, and particularly during the last days of His life upon earth! Twice He cleansed the temple. His authority rivalled their authority at every point. The establishment of His claims and His kingdom meant the destruction of theirs. In no uncertain terms He told them that they belonged to the Devil's family, and was ever a diatribe delivered such as that which He levelled against these religious rascals in Matthew Twenty-Three? He thoroughly exposed their sin and pronounced judgment upon them. Their house was left unto them desolate when He stopped over the temple threshold for the last time, Matthew 24:1-2. And though the structure itself stood for forty more years, from that time henceforth it was a house with the judgment of God upon it. The eyes of Christ saw it levelled to the ground. Certainly no one could accuse Christ of entering into fellowship and cooperation with the false religious leadership of that day. His ministry was a ministry of exposure, and rebuke, and condemnation of the whole religious hierarchy. We have no objection to going into an N.C.C. church or denomination on occasion as the Lord may lead, if the purpose of such a ministry is to follow the pattern of our blessed Lord in exposing apostasy, condemning the apostates, and challenging the people to come out of it. But we do object to the compromise of Billy Graham and other New Evangelicals who identify themselves with such churches and denominations, regarding modernists as friends and giving them recognition as "Christian brethren" and ministers in whom people can have confidence, instead of rebuking their sin of unbelief and exposing them as wolves in sheep's clothing. To enter into the area of apostasy and identify oneself through fellowship and cooperation with these in the place of apostasy for the purpose of preaching a purely "positive gospel is treason to the Truth. Such a ministry is a ministry of compromise which leaves people complacent in their sin. To be sure, the simple elements of the Gospel message must be preached, but not at the expense of the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). To be sure, the Word of God empowered by the Holy Spirit is sufficient to produce conviction, but this does not relieve the messenger of the responsibility of applying the principles of Scripture to forms of sin that are prevalent today. To "preach the Word" involves reproof, rebuke, and exhortation with all long-suffering and doctrine (II Timothy 4:2) - a ministry which would be impossible without application. Nathan was certainly making application when he said to David, "Thou art the man!" (II Samuel 12:7) Paul was certainly making application when he publicly confronted Peter and exposed his hypocrisy, Galatians 2:11-14. Our Lord was certainly making an application all the way through Matthew 23, as He did indeed throughout His entire ministry. He made the application so forceful that the Pharisees were never left in any doubt as to whom He was talking about, Matthew 15:12; 21:45. He told the false religious leaders to their faces that they were hypocrites. Stephen, in Acts 7:51ff, made an application of the truth to the hearers who stood before him. Indeed it is difficult to find any faithful messenger in Scripture whose ministry did not include the making of an application to the truth.
It is the application that usually gets one into trouble, as it did Stephen, and our blessed Lord, and other faithful servants. It is the application that pricks the conscience and causes people either to repent (as did David, II Samuel 12:13), or turn away from the truth because they cannot stand the light. Cf. John 3:19-21. You make reference in your letter to "the danger of forfeiting the opportunity to witness to some individuals ...who have been turned away" by the documentation of error pertaining to Modernism and Masonry. If the truth be proclaimed, and the people turn away from it, where does the responsibility lie? With the messenger? Certainly not. If people turn away from the truth, never to return, it is their own responsibility. There were these who turned away from Christ, never to return to Him. John 6:66. Was this the fault of the Son of God? Would you say that He had "forfeited the opportunity to witness to them" because He told them the truth so plainly that they walked away? It was not He who forfeited the opportunity to witness to them - He had taken full advantage of that. It was they who forfeited the right to further light by turning away from the light they had. What you seem to fail to see is that these who turn away from the truth at any point will turn away from it at all points. Truth is indivisible. You cannot logically divide truth up into parts, and accept one part while rejecting another. People who turn away from the truth at one point, forfeit their right to further light, and consequently turn away from the truth at every point. They do so because their deeds are evil, and they do not want them exposed to the light. These who love the truth welcome the light at every point. They want all they can get of it! It is a rather strange argument to say that the documentation of doctrinal error is out of place in a morning worship service. I know of no better way to emphasize sound doctrine than by exposing the error that is opposed to it. And I know of no better time to do it than when you have your largest hearing. I do not know, brother Ralph, where you get your concept of a Sunday morning worship service, but I do not find it in the Bible. I am persuaded that it is this very concept of an all-positive, non-negative piety which leaves people complacent and comfortable in their sins, that is the underlying cause of the present day apostasy. The people were put to sleep in the pew through the "beauty of worship," and while men slept the Devil's agents infiltrated the pulpits.
Genuine worship is worship that is energized by the Holy Spirit and in accord with Divine truth, John 4:24. It is God's Word that is truth, and therefore it is God's Word that needs to be kept before the people continually. It is the Word that is to be the center of our worship if our worship is to be acceptable in the sight of God. For what purpose was the Scripture given? It is "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" in order that the Lord's people might be all that He wants them to be, II Timothy 3:16-17. All of these elements then, enter into a worship service. That is why Paul so solemnly charged Timothy to "Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine," (11 Timothy 4:1-2) Where this is faithfully done, true worship prevails -- even though some people walk out the back door. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine." (II Timothy 4:3) They will take the social "gospel" of the modernists, the grace-plus-works "gospel" of the Arminian, the watered down doctrine of the New Evangelicals the crowd that is "making the gospel relevant to this present age" but when it comes to sound doctrine they will walk out the back door. Are we to be surprised at this? We ought rather to be surprised if some don't turn away. There were more who turned away from the Lord than turned to Him. There were more who turned away from the apostle Paul than turned to him. It is the "many" that are on the broad road to destruction, and only the few who are on the narrow way to life, Matthew 7:13-14. Let's face it, the majority of people do not want sound doctrine. They want their ears tickled, so they turn away to a mere comfortable form of Christianity. Incidentally, the Greek word for "sound" is the word from which we get our English word "hygiene." They turn away from the very doctrine that would produce sound spiritual health. Shall we water down our message to please people and hold the crowd? God forbid! Cf. II Corinthians 2:14-17; Galatians 1:10.
Now bless your heart, Ralph, let me assure you that no personal apology is necessary to me for anything you may have said in my absence. I am not above criticism, and if the occasion presented itself for you to speak your opinion, I fully respect your right to do so. While we differ in judgment, I am sure that it would not be from an ulterior motive.
With reference to Billy Graham, I will enclose a copy of my correspondence with Mr. Paton of Back to the Bible Broadcast. If you will read it carefully, it will help you to understand my position more thoroughly. What we object to, of course, is his compromise of the Gospel he professes to preach through fellowship and cooperation with modernists. You cannot deny that he does this, for the evidence is much too abundant. It would appear that this is one of your difficulties, Ralph. In our brief conversation together you stated that you had no time for the Christian Beacon, thus indicating an unwillingness on your part to entertain and examine the evidence. The Beacon is not the only source of information, of course, but had you taken time to read it, you would surely be better informed on the progress of apostasy. The Lord doesn't want us to stick our heads in the sand, ostrich-like, and ignore the evidence. He wants us to lift up our eyes and see what is going on, Read Ezekiel 8:5 - 9:11. Ezekiel was told to lift up his eyes and see the abominations that were being committed in the temple of God, 8:5, 6, 9-10, 12-13, 15, 17-18. Every time he turned around he saw greater abominations. God wanted him to see the sin of apostasy in all of its vivid detail as God sees it, so that he would not question the severity of God's judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem. In 9:8, the prophet apparently felt that God was being too hard and that His judgment was too severe. In verses 9-10, the Lord assures him that the severity of the judgment is required by the seriousness of the sin. Examination of the evidence is absolutely necessary to the formation of proper judgment. And I firmly believe that it is the responsibility of every faithful servant of the Lord to be aware of the progress of apostasy, and to denounce it as God denounces it. While it is true that in the sphere of service (Romans 12:3-8; I Corinthians 12:12-30; Ephesians 4:7-13) each child of God has his own peculiar gift and particular function, in the sphere of truth versus error, there are no double standards. It is the responsibility of every faithful servant of the Lord, be he pastor, evangelist, or missionary, to oppose error wherever he finds it. It is indeed the responsibility of every child of God to earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints, Jude 3-4.
The passages you quote with reference to the matter of judging forbid the passing of judgment in certain areas, but certainly not in all. In matters of indifference, where no doctrinal or moral issue is involved (Romans 14:lff), it is not the prerogative of one to judge another. No man has the right to judge the motive of another, or to engage in prejudicial judgment without evidence, or to sit in judgment on another if there be known sin in his own life (Matthew 7:1-5). A heart with an unforgiving attitude disqualifies one from passing judgment (Luke 6:36-37). So far as the hidden counsels of the heart are concerned, or the ultimate evaluation of another man's ministry, God alone is the Judge. Christ alone is Lord of the individual conscience (I Corinthians 4:1-7). In the more than quarter of a century that I have been privileged by the grace of God to be engaged in the ministry of the Word, I have never sat in judgment upon the motive of another. But with an open Bible before me, I do have a definite responsibility before God to judge the position and practice of any man who in the conduct of his ministry walks contrary to the Word of God. And so do you, dear brother. Cf. I Corinthians 2:15-16. Constructive criticism for the purpose of clarifying the issue between truth and error is not speaking "evil one of another" (James 4:11-12). Was Paul speaking "evil" of Peter when he saw that he was not walking "uprightly according to the truth of the Gospel" and passed judgment upon him publicly (Galatians 2:11-14)? Certainly not. It is one thing to "preach the Gospel," but it is another thing entirely to walk "uprightly according to the truth of the Gospel." And when Peter's walk went contrary to his talk, Paul called him for it, charging him with hypocrisy. In the area of doctrine, in the area of truth versus error, in the area of right versus wrong, we are not only permitted to pass judgment but are responsible for doing so. Cf. Matthew 7:15; Ephesians 5:11-13; Romans 16:17-18; I John 4:1-6. We are to beware of false prophets; mark them out, label them, and avoid them; have no fellowship with them, but rebuke them; we are to put them to the test of God's Word - all of which involves the exercise of Judgment. Cf. Isaiah 8:20. It is impossible to fulfill these Scriptural requirements without passing judgment. We are responsible for trying the "spirits" - he doesn't say "the preachers," but the "spirits" - and thus recognize that those who conduct themselves contrary to the Word are energized and motivated by a "spirit" other than the Holy Spirit. Every modernist, every minister who proclaims a "gospel" other than the true Gospel is an agent of Satan (II Corinthians 11:13-15; Galatians 1:6-9). And it is not blasphemy against the Holy Spirit to say so on the authority of the Word of God! Pray tell me, by whom was Peter activated, under whose control was he when he mouthed the speech of Matthew 16:22? For whom was he speaking? Was our Lord "speaking evil" of Peter when He said that he was a spokesman for Satan? (Matthew 16:23) He was surely passing judgment. True, no human being with finite limitations is possessed of perfect knowledge. None of us, in and of ourselves, are qualified to judge. The judgment we are called upon to exercise is not a subjective judgment, but an objective judgment based upon the revelation of God's holy Word. It is the Word that does the judging, and we simply recognize the judgment of the Word. Cf. John 12:43. The Word of God is our only safeguard against the error of the modernist, the cultist, and the compromising evangelical.
Surely you do not infer from Jude 9 that Michael was not exercising any kind of judgment with reference to Satan? The very fact that he was contending and disputing with the Devil indicates that there was difference between them, that Michael recognized it, and was exercising an objective judgment in the matter. What he did not do was "speak evil" (Jude 8c) of a dignity. He simply committed the final judgment and disposition of Satan to the Lord, to whom vengeance belongs. To infer from this that we are not to pass judgment, objective judgment, upon the inconsistent practice of other Christians is to misunderstand the passage. It is certainly not our prerogative to exercise vengeance against such, not to speak evil of them in the process of criticizing them, but it is our prerogative to exercise judgment with regard to their inconsistent practice. It was not wrong for Michael to bring judgment against Satan. This he did when he said "The Lord rebuke thee." It would have been wrong for him to bring a "railing" Judgment.
You say that Billy Graham "bases all his preaching solidly on the Word of God" and that you "have yet to find fault with his presentation of the Gospel." Are you aware of the fact that he has in writing stated that he does not believe that the, inerrance of the Scriptures is the basis of Christian fellowship and cooperation? He thus removes the evangelical doctrines from the firm foundation of absolute truth and places them on a relative foundation of shifting sand. Do you agree with him in this? Have you read the, message he presented at Union Seminary in New York? Those he has delivered at N.C.C. gatherings? His own headquarters have publicly acknowledged that he does not emphasize the, preaching of the blood of Christ in his messages -- he leaves that to the pastors! Are you aware of the, fact that he stood in Pike's pulpit, addressed an N.C.C. meeting, and that at Pike's installation commended this blaspheming bishop as a Christian minister in whom the people could have confidence? He has given his blessing to Bishop Gerald Kennedy of the Methodist Church, a man who rejects the absolute Deity of Christ and the authority of the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. If he really believes the evangelical doctrines, as he professes to do, why does he fellowship and cooperate with Bible-denying Christ-rejecting men who do not? Surely he brings upon himself the judgment pronounced upon Jehoshaphat in his alliance with Ahab -- "Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord." (11 Chronicles 19:2) So must it be with every evangelical who says to an ungodly Ahab, "I am as thou art, and my people as thy people; and we will be with thee in the war." (II Chronicles 18:3) It was William Jennings Bryan who said: ''When a man tells me that he believes in the Virgin Birth, the resurrection of Christ, and His atonement, and then adds, 'But I can fellowship with those who do not' -- I tell him I do not believe he believes what he professes to believe." And to this I say "Amen!" By entering into fellowship and cooperation with Christ-rejecters, Billy Graham becomes a partaker of their evil deeds, II John 7-11. And those who support Billy Graham become, in turn, partakers of his evil deeds, which are the evil deeds of the modernist and thus forfeit their reward at the judgment seat of Christ. It is for this reason that I warn people not to support Billy Graham in his ministry of disobedience and compromise, I have no respect for any man who, though he mouths the Gospel, contradicts it in his conduct.
As for his converts, who can say to whom they belong? You are familiar, I am sure, with the contents of Genesis, Chapter Twenty. How much respect do you have for Abraham at this point who was willing to permit his wife to be taken and used by another man? Frankly, I have none. 0h yes, he told the truth! When he said, "She is my sister," he was telling the truth. But like the New Evangelicals today, he preached only the positive and left out the negative. Had he been any kind of a man, he would have told Abimelech that Sarah was his wife and that Abimelech had no right to lay his hands on her. It takes the negative to accentuate the positive, and thus put it in proper perspective. If Abimelech had taken Sarah to wife, whose would the child have been? Conceivably it might have been Abraham's; conceivably it might have been Abimelech's. Only God would have known to whom the child belonged. No one in this wide world could possibly have known. God providentially intervened and kept Sarah from being taken by Abimelech so that when the child was born, all would know that the child belonged to Abraham in fulfilment of the promise God had given. God's Word and God's honor were at stake. It didn't matter much to Abraham, but it mattered much to God. He wanted the testimony for the truthfulness of His Word to be kept clear and clean. Now the same thing happens when you put an evangelical on the same platform with a modernist. When modernists and evangelicals are identified in the same program in the area of Gospel witness and testimony, who can say to whom the converts belong? Only God knows. I have no doubt that some are saved through believing the Word of God, for the simple reason that God honors His Word oft times in spite of the one who proclaims it, not because of him. Jonah is a case in point. I have also no doubt that a compromised ministry also produces many illegitimate offspring. How about the multitudes he has turned back to modernistic churches and denominations after they have come forward in his campaigns? I have a picture in my files of people who went to the altar in Billy Graham's New York campaign, and then with his endorsement were sent back to the Riverside Drive Church from which they had come. It is the church that was built by John D. Rockefeller for the infidel Fosdick, in which he preached for many years. Robert J. MacCracken is Fosdick's successor - Graham called on him to lead in prayer in one of the meetings. Now if his converts can go back to this kind of church and be satisfied with the ministry of a man like MacCracken, is there any evidence that they were genuinely saved? Absolutely none. Continuance in the Word is the evidence of a genuine work of grace, and of saving faith - John 8:30-31. Of one thing I am sure, that compromise produces a counterfeit Christianity, a superficial and spurious form of Christianity that is sending many souls to hell in the Name of Christ. There is absolutely no excuse for Billy Graham, or any other evangelical, sharing his platform and his program with Bible-denying, Christ-rejecting infidels. God wants the testimony for the truth to be kept clear and clean so that when converts are made, there will be no doubt as to whom they belong.
Incidentally, I Corinthians 2:14 does not mean that unregenerate men cannot apprehend the facts of the Gospel; this they do under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit in His convicting work. The verse indicates that they cannot comprehend, that is, understand the spiritual significance of these facts in relation to God's glorious purpose in saving grace until they open their hearts and receive the testimony of the Holy Spirit to the truth. Unregenerate men cannot discern the truth because they will not believe the Word. If they believed the Word, which is the testimony of the Holy Spirit, they would understand. The point of the entire passage, I Corinthians 2:9-16, is that the deep things of God have been revealed so that men can know and understand them if they will only believe the Word. The force of this passage certainly could not be used to excuse an evangelist from proclaiming the whole counsel of God. All parts of Divine truth can be understood if they are simply believed. It is faith, a receptive attitude toward the truth, that produces spiritual understanding and discernment.
I am aware, of course, that you have no organizational alliance with any church or denomination in the N.C.C. and W.C.C., having left the Methodist denomination many years ago. I am grateful, too, for your statement to the effect that the North African Mission is not in the E.F.M.A. I have always believed that you are personally opposed to Modernism and apostasy - otherwise we could not in good conscience have supported you through the years. We pray for you daily and deeply appreciate the fellowship we have been privileged to enjoy with you and your precious family. I trust the position and the underlying principles set forth in this letter will serve as an encouragement to you to more actively and earnestly contend for the Faith against the compromise of the New Evangelicalism. We do not require that you concur with every single thing we say or do, but we do believe that you should be fully aware of the peril of the New Evangelical movement (of which Billy Graham is the champion and symbol) and actively oppose it, rather than assuming a position of neutrality, and even showing signs of sympathy with it. It is not for me to prescribe for you or any one else a rigid and detailed course of conduct for the execution of your ministry - far be it from me to think such a thing! If you are led to go to a group of questionable involvement for the purpose of "witnessing" to them, it is not my prerogative to sit in judgment upon you. But I would point out with emphasis that in so doing you should be very careful not to give the impression that you are "witnessing with," and that you should make it very clear that you are against that which is questionable - as did the man of God from Judah; as did our Lord and His apostles in relation to the temple and the synagogues. The important thing is that we do not identify ourselves with any form of apostasy, or compromise with apostasy, in order to further our witness.
Association is one thing, and identification is another. It is my privilege to associate with all kinds of people for the purpose of witnessing to them. A true separatist is anything but a monk in a monastery! I meet people every day from all walks of life, from all kinds of backgrounds, religious and otherwise. It is the joy of my life to meet people and associate with them for the purpose of witnessing to them about my wonderful Lord. But I am not to identify myself with the purpose, practice, or programs of any who are not of like precious faith. The distinction between association and identification is made clear in I Corinthians 5:9-13. In the area of Christian fellowship and testimony we are not to be identified with any whose conduct is contrary to the Word of God. It has been my privilege to challenge every modernist minister of prominent position in Orlando through the past seventeen years, as well as compromisers of the Gospel. On two occasions I have challenged every Methodist minister in the Orlando- Winter Park area. I have made myself available to any and every one who will sit down with me personally and discuss the issues at hands with an open Bible before us. But you will never find me on the same Gospel platform with any man who is a modernist, or who compromises with modernists. Nor does this mean that we "hate" those who differ with us or are unfriendly to them, or discourteous toward them. Within the week after we had arrived in Mount Carmel, Illinois, I sought an interview with the pastor of the Methodist Church, ascertained his position, and refused to cooperate with him in any Gospel program as long as we were in that area. Yet whenever I met him on the street, we treated each other in a friendly and courteous manner. If we met in a public park, we'd pitch a game of horseshoes - but you'd never find us on the same platform in a Gospel enterprise together. A few years ago one of the most radical ministers in this area was the pastor of the First Methodist Church in Winter Park. He and I were personal friends outside of the pulpit. But never would you find me identified with him in the area of Christian witness and testimony. I challenged him publicly, and warned the members of his church against his influence, yet our relationship was always on a friendly and courteous basis. The current pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Orlando is a personal friend of mine. We are diametrically opposed to each other in doctrine and position, and you would certainly never find me identified with him in the area of witness and testimony, in any kind of "cooperative" program. I am constantly warning people under his influence of the Satanic, soul-seducing error of Seventh Day Adventism. Yet he and I are personal friends. I mention these things to illustrate the difference between association and identification, and to show that as Bible-believing separatists we do not "hate" or shun people, or treat them in an unfriendly manner. We do not have to become one with them and go into their churches in order to "preach the Gospel." To do so would render negative the message we preach. There is plenty of opportunity to reach people on the outside and witness to them faithfully and warn them of the danger of their false ecclesiastical relationships.
Along with the correspondence to Back to the Bible, I will enclose Dr. Ashbrook's New Neutralism, and several other items regarding Billy Graham and the new Evangelicalism. I earnestly pray that it will help you to understand our position more fully. Take plenty of time to study the material, and when you have done so I would be interested in having you write me your reaction to the position, principles, and evidence set forth herein. I feel that it will be best for us to have as clear a mutual understanding as possible of our positions before you meet with the members of the council. After having examined the evidence, would you take part in, support, or identify yourself in any way with the ecumenical evangelism of Billy Graham if the occasion or opportunity presented itself?
You mentioned that Linda was now attending Wheaton College. It is not my purpose to interfere with your choice of schools, but I would not be a faithful pastor if I did not point out that Wheaton is today a citadel of the New Evangelicalism. A book entitled Steps Toward Apostasy at Wheaton College may be obtained from the author, Wilhelm E . Schmitt, P.O. Box 712, Wheaton, Ill. The author was graduated from Wheaton in 1954.
After many, many interruptions I think I have finally reached the point of bringing this letter to its close. I trust you will not be wearied with its length. But I do feel that it is necessary to analyze the statements of your letter fully. As I said above, take your time - I will await a reply at your convenience.
May the Lord abundantly bless you and every member of your precious family. Love from all of us,
In Jesus' Precious Name.
/s/ Hayes Minnick Phil. 1:20-21
April 10, 1969
Dear Brother Ralph:
Greetings in the precious Name of our wonderful Lord! Approximately five months ago I sent you a rather lengthy letter in reply to your letter to me over the issues raised during your ministry here last August, along with additional material pertaining to the New Evangelical compromise. I stated that you should take plenty of time to study the material before formulating a reply. We are wondering as to what progress you are making in this direction, and thought it might be well to have some kind of an expression from you within the six-month period.
We trust that this finds you and the members of your precious family in good health. We had a very blessed Resurrection Day, and trust that you all did too, I Peter 1:3. Love from all of us to all of you.
In Jesus' precious Name,/s/ H. K. M. Phil. 1:20-21
3998 56th Avenue north
St. Petersburg, Florida 33714
May 15, 1969
Rev. Hayes Minnick
Orlando Bible Church
P. 0. Box 6301
Orlando, Florida 32803
Dear Brother Hayes,
Greetings in the Saviour's Name. I am sorry it has taken this long for me to answer your letter but I want you to know it is not because I have simply neglected it. You must admit that you gave me quite a bit of material to study and I have tried to give it careful consideration.
First of all I might say that on the one hand there seems to be little room for discussion since your letter makes it plain that the only acceptable outcome is for me to be won over completely to your own position. I realize of course that it is good for one to be sure of his convictions but at the same time it seems to me that we, as mature Christians, should realize that perhaps we as individuals do not have a complete corner on the truth and everyone who differs with us must be wrong. For example in the entire thirteen pages of your letter you have not once admitted the remotest possibility that you could be wrong at any point but must be one hundred percent correct. On the other hand you have told me repeatedly in the letter that I have misunderstood or misinterpreted the scriptures to which I made reference. Nevertheless I feel I must make one more attempt to clarify my position and give some reasons why I differ with you on certain positions you present.
For one thing I must strongly disagree with the assertion that those who "remain in the area of apostasy become a special kind of sinner" as applied to all who are in denominational churches. One might possibly say this about some of the apostate leadership but certainly not of all the misled sheep. In Matt. 9:35-38 we have the record of the Lord teaching in the synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing diseases. We are told that He was moved with compassion on the multitude because they were as sheep having no shepherd. He didn't say they HAD no shepherd, for they did have, but were as having no shepherd. Their shepherds were false and were loading them down with burdens they could not bear, leading them astray. But notice that Jesus refers to this multitude as the ripened harvest and commanded His disciples to pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into this harvest. Those were Jews, following Judaism under the apostate leadership that condemned and crucified Christ, yet He did not consider them special kinds of sinners.
It happens that Laura and I were among those who were in a denomination that had gone apostate in many respects but we did not know it. We didn't even know the meaning of the word at that time, didn't know what apostasy was. We were sincerely doing what we felt was right. According to your interpretation, we were some of those special kind of sinners who diserved nothing but condemnation and judgment; certainly not deserving of further light. You may say, "Yes, but you got out of it," to which I must reply that we did not get out until after we had begun to study God's Word and got our eyes opened. It was the testimony of men like Dr. Charles Soidonspinnor who preached in that church on occasion; and also the insistent invitations of a friend with whom I worked, to go with him to a Bible class in the First Baptist Church, that were initially responsible for getting us into the study of the Word and ultimately getting us out of the church. Without such a witness, where would we be today? If we had had to depend on an ACCC member to bring us the light, we would likely still be there. These people came to us where we were and gave us the Word of God and this created a hunger for more. Had they come to denounce us for our apostasy I have no doubt we would have, rejected them. Do you not believe there is a proper time for certain teachings, even of God's Word, that there is truth that some are not yet ready for? Christ Himself told His own disciples that He had many things to tell them but they were not yet able to bear them.
You insist that, "Truth is indivisible. You cannot logically divide truth into parts, and accept one part while rejecting another. People who turn away from the truth at one point forfeit their right to further light, etc." I quote this from your letter because I feel there is in your statement some faulty reasoning that should be examined. In the first place I do not know from where you get the authority for the assertion that one who turns from the truth at one point forfeits the right to further light. As I understand the scriptures, and the Gospel in particular, none of us has any right whatever to anything but God's judgment; this is all we deserve. It is God's free, unmerited grace, to which no one has a right, that saves us. Further, as I study the Word, I see how God continually holds out the hand of grace and mercy to us; again and again giving opportunities for repentance and restoration. Just look at His dealing with apostate Israel, how many chances He gave them. Truly I feel it is a gross oversimplification of truth and an evasion of our responsibility, to assert that after we have exposed people to a certain area of "truth" and they have not responded, they have forfeited their right to further light. How many Christians do you know who responded to the first presentation of the Gospel? Or the second, or the third? Did you? I do not know what your early background was, perhaps you were raised, in a fundamental church, but many of us were not. But did we all immediately respond the first time we received the truth? I think you know the answer to that. I know that Laura and I "turned away" from "truth" as presented in the Christian Beacon and the Sword of the Lord, but were won by the simple straightforward teaching of God's Word.
Further, in stating that "Truth is indivisible", etc., what do you mean by truth? Do you mean the Word of God, or do you mean all that is true. I ask this because if you recall, it was not the preaching of the Word to which I objected, but rather the detailed cataloging of the sins and errors of certain groups, in this one case the Masons. If all this information about their deeds, teachings and practices are included in your definition of truth, then I would have, to differ with you about your position on the indivisibility of truth. All truth in this sense is certainly not appropriate at all times, and some of this kind of truth is seldom if ever appropriate. For example, I know a lot that is true about the horrible, vile practices of certain people but I certainly would never present detailed accounts of such to an audience in order to document my statements about their degeneracy. Yet it is all true.
Once again let me say that I am not opposed to the practice of exposing error from the pulpit but I still feel there is a time and a place for it as well as a right and wrong way to do it. I have in mind a certain day when we came to the worship service to meet the Lord and have our souls fed. But we did not see the Lord, His beauty, virtues, and blessings were not uplifted to draw us to Him in adoration and praise. Rather our ears were filled with all the vile corruption practiced by the Masons. We left the worship service feeling almost unclean. I contrast this to the communion services we have been privileged to share with you there in the Bible Church. I have never experienced such blessings in a communion service as I have there under your ministry. I can still recall your standing before the congregation and quoting from memory many passages of the Word as communion was being served. I always left these times refreshed and with a renewed dedication to the Lord and I am sure it was because we were saturated with the Word of God. This to me is true worship. I mention this because I have to admit that we were very saddened on certain occasions when after succeeding in getting someone from the Methodist church to attend the Sunday morning service, we saw them turned away as needy as they came because what they heard was simply a denunciation of their own church. They were unprepared for this; this was truth they were yet unable to bear for they had no foundation for it.
In your letter you made reference to my unwillingness to read such publications as the Christian Beacon and other "evidence" of the progress of apostasy. Perhaps I have been a bit critical of such publications but let me tell you why this is so. I used to receive certain of these and have read quite a few but I became distressed at certain tendencies and attitudes. Let me mention a few.
There is usually the use of such excessive language, overstatements, inaccuracies and name calling, together with an unabashed indictment of the motives of others. For example, in the paper you sent me, "The Voice of Truth", in the article on Billy Graham there are such extremely excessive statements that one tends to discount the whole thing. To say that the gospel Billy Graham preaches is a "blinding delusion that has led millions astray" most certainly is not only a ridiculous overstatement, but in my opinion borders on blasphemy. Billy Graham's associations are sometimes questionable, many of them definitely wrong, many of his practices are open to question, but certainly not the gospel he preaches. To refer to Billy Graham as a horribly wicked man who is deceiving millions is most certainly extreme and unscriptural. Even Lot, that self-seeking compromiser who chose to live and identify himself with that vile city of Sodom, is referred to in II Pet. 2:7-8 as "that righteous man" and "Just Lot". I am sure that God will hold the editor of that paper responsible for such gross statements.
Then he throws in a lot of totally unsupported statements about people being "100% communist", claims that all delegates to the "phony congress" on evangelism who came from the communist-ruled countries were communist agents. In the whole article he doesn't really offer one bit of solid fact but rather his own strongly held opinions; and these he calls "incontrovertible facts". In another article he quotes statistics which show the decline in church members' active participation, and also Biblical illiteracy of Americans then attributes the whole thing to the new evangelicalism as though it were the sole cause of such a state. This is the type of naive oversimplification that causes many to give little credence to such writers and their publications.
Another factor that disturbs me even more is the tendency to stoop to dishonesty in order to make a point. This may shock you but I really have found many misleading statements and distorted facts in a number of articles. This shows itself in misquoting others, or quoting them entirely out of context. For example, in the booklet you sent me on the New Neutralism, the author criticized the book, Missions in Crises by Fife and Glasser, giving several quotes. One quote he lifts from page 117 and it reads as follows: "There are outstanding men in this movement. They have sought to sense the need of the church as they know it throughout the world and to do something about it." This he criticizes as throwing sops in the direction of the ecumenical movement. What Ashbrook fails to tell us is that in the very same paragraph, Fife and Glasser go on to state that the Ecumenical movement poses the gravest of problems, then begins to deal at length with those. In another quote on page 127, Ashbrook picks out one sentence at the end of a paragraph which states, "But now there appears to be the possibility of a great stimulus in evangelistic outreach by the whole church throughout the whole world." He finds fault with this as making complimentary remarks about the missionary efforts of the WCC. He does not mention, however that in the very next paragraph the authors state, "the great unresolved theological problems remain. It is here that the enlightened evangelical holds grave misgivings", and that the WCC is "moving steadily away from the historic evangelical position." Again he quotes from page 136, "The Ecumenical movement is thoroughly Biblical when it affirms that Christians are members of One Body, even Christ's very own, and that Christians share a common fellowship with Christ in His Church". Ashbrook's comment is that he fails to see that the Ecumenical Movement is Biblical in any of its basic concepts. Yet the statement is true, no matter who said it. Even Satan quoted scripture but that did not change the truth of scripture. Ashbrook does not tell us that just across the page on page 137, Fife and Glasser state, "And yet, the Scriptures are unequivocal in their insistence that there be agreement on essential truths." and on page 138, "While one laments the scandal and shame of the disunity of the Church, he is also obliged to confess that an even greater scandal and shame is the disloyalty of the Church to Jesus Christ and His Word." Then follows a contrast of the Ecumenical movement to the Scriptural position on purity of doctrine. But again in another quote from page 140, Ashbrook leaves out the middle of a sentence, then skips on to Page 142 just picking out those words totally out of context to make it appear that Fife and Glasser are opposed to the principle of separation. At the risk of wearying you, I am going to give you Ashbrook's quote from his book and then the actual context from the book by Fife and Glasser. Ashbrook says, "Following the typical Neutralist line on 'love' and 'Positiveness', the authors (Fife and Glasser) declare: 'Unfortunately, in our day among evangelicals there have been such violations of much that Scripture says regarding the Law of Love ...and such unnecessary divisions within the visible church - all in the name of 'separation' - that the underlying Biblical truth of this matter has been largely discredited and ignored...To be positive, evangelicals today should affirm their concern for the disunity existing among the Lord's people? pp 140,142." That is the way Ashbrook quoted it. Now let me quote for you exactly what the authors said and you will notice what Ashbrook has carefully omitted. Quoting from page 140: "In order that His own might overcome, God has decreed the principle of separation. It is unfolded from Genesis to Revelation. To cite texts is almost superfluous, they are so extensive in number and pointed in meaning (II Corinthians 6:14,15; Galatians 1:8; II Thessalonians 3:6; I Timothy 6:3-5; II Timothy 3:5; II John 9-11, drawn from the New Testament alone). There are rival Gods, separate from them. There are rival Christs, separate from them. There are false gospels, separate from them. "Let us go forth therefore unto him (Christ) without the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come" (Hebrews 1 3:1 3,1 4).
''Much of the Old Testament is taken up with the melancholy record of the consequences that come to individuals and nations when they disobey the Word of God by failing to separate themselves unto the Lord and from the world. Unfortunately, in our day among evangelicals there have been such violations of much that Scripture says regarding the Law of Love and the sacredness of truth, such uncrucified pride, and such unnecessary divisions within the visible Church - all in the name of 'separation'- that the underlying Biblical truth of this matter has been largely discredited and ignored. Certainly, "an enemy hath done this."
"Church history likewise is replete with multiple evidence of the validity of this great principle. But the Ecumenical Movement, by its very inclusivist nature, makes loyalty in this area not only suspect, but virtually impossible. This disregard for the hard lessons of Scripture, reinforced by the awful confirmations of Church history, is sufficient to give the reflective evangelical some sorrowful moments as he watches the onward march of this movement." Then skipping to page 142 and the paragraph Ashbrook quoted, here is what it says, "To be positive, evangelicals today should affirm their concern for the disunity existing among the Lord's people. Concurrently they should guard against any easy optimism that sees the whole matter of unity realized through the erection of a finely balanced organization to which all groupings, church and mission, are pressed to join." In this you can certainly see how the author, Ashbrook, has given a distorted picture, carefully selecting a sentence here and there but totally ignoring the context from which they were taken and carefully ommiting anything that would weaken his argument. It is interesting to note that out of all 261 pages of the book, Missions in Crisis, he has taken scattered quotations from five pages and these themselves are all from one chapter containing 33 Pages. Yet anyone who read his book would judge the book on the basis of his distorted reporting, unless they took the trouble to secure the book and read it for themselves, and most people will not do this as you well know. They simply accept what authors like him-say because they trust him as a fundamental, Bible-believing Christian. But how can I trust a writer like this? I simply cannot. I don't care how fundamental he is - distortion of this sort is nothing short of lying and I know what the Scripture says about that. If I can't trust an author to tell the truth at one point how can I trust him at any point? How do I know when he is giving accurate information or just his own biased opinions and prejudiced appraisal?
This is not the only one either, but it is one of those which you sent me and wish me to accept and believe. I simply cannot. When I was on the East coast a year or so ago, my host gave me two booklets which soundly and roundly castigated the RSV Bible and asked me to read them. (He thoroughly approved of them, incidentally). I had never used the RSV for years because I accepted the writings of fundamentalists who tore it to shreds in their booklets. However I have reference editions so I agreed to read the booklets and compare them with the RSV. When I did so, I was absolutely astounded at the way these two men had dealt with the problem. I carefully checked all their statements, quotations, etc. using the RSV and many different versions and translations, including the French and Arabic Bibles which we use in Morocco and France. I found to my utter surprise that nearly all the allegations against the RSV were totally unfounded, that most of the changes objected to so strenuously were in agreement with older translations that have already been accepted for years as well as some newer ones. But these same changes from the KJV rendering were confidently attributed to the desire of the translators of the RSV to corrupt the Scriptures.
But again what troubled me more was the dishonest way in which quotations were handled, and this by fundamental Christians! Time and space will not permit my listing these, but they were numerous. This sort of thing is what has eroded my confidence in the type of publication under discussion. I simply do not feel I can trust statements made, they are made with such bias and are colored so much by the feelings of the writer. Do not misunderstand me; I am not here arguing the pros and cons of the RSV itself (although I must admit that those very authors have given more confidence in it than I would ever have had before reading their booklets). What I am pointing out is that I have found those authors to be incapable of an objective, honest evaluation. I am afraid they become so obsessed with heresy hunting that they search for something to criticize. I examine some of the passages to which those critics object and I am totally unable to find the point they are so excited about and it becomes obvious they have simply read into the text what they imagined the author had in mind, then they go on to describe in detail all the base, ungodly motives that prompted the translator to translate as he did. This sort of thing I simply cannot accept. It is an insult to the intelligence and it is despicable when such distortion comes from Christian men whose motives I assume are good. However the highest motives do not justify the use of such methods. I will give respectful attention and consideration to the arguments of men who are able to present solid fact in an unexcited objective manner, letting the facts speak for themselves. If the case one seeks to present is so weak it needs to be supported by a lot of misquotes, misrepresentations, and excited comment, then it is no case at all and does not merit our attention. I am sorry to have spent so much time on this, but your letter made it plain that you did not think I had bothered to even consider any solid "evidence" as represented in these publications, but was merely closing my eyes to the truth. I felt I had to explain at length why I feel as I do.
In the matter of positivism versus negativism, the question always recurs in my mind, why is it that fundamental Christianity is often slow to do anything besides criticize what others are doing? For example, there are several different groups who came into being for the purpose of reaching youth for the Lord and have a ministry aimed specifically at this age group. Some of those are Youth for Christ, Young Life, Campus Crusade for Christ, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. Without exception these are under attack by fundamentalists. Yet what is being offered in their place? Evangelism in depth is another example. It has the burden of involving every Christian in the ministry of witnessing for Christ. It is most heartily criticized. Yet what is being offered in its place? Take the matter of Bible revision for example. We of course love the good old King James Version; we were raised on it. But if we are honest we will have to admit that a good revision has been needed for a long time. God never intended that His message to man should be obscured by language that is outdated any more than He intended that it should remain forever in the Hebrew and Greek and never be translated. As long ago as 1937, plans were laid for a revision that would be known as the Revised Standard Version. Since this version has appeared it has known nothing but the bitterest of opposition from fundamentalists, being utterly condemned and rejected by them, mainly because it was done under the sponsorship of the National Council of Churches. The point I am trying to make is this: after more than thirty years since work on the RSV began, why have those who are so violently opposed to the NCC and the RSV not done anything toward producing a good, solid, fundamental reliable version that would be acceptable? During all this time why had there been nothing but criticism to offer? Why have we fundamentalists sat back and left the work of revision to the liberals? Even the Berkeley Bible which appeared in 1959 as a sort of answer to the RSV has not been accepted. As I said before it is difficult to escape the impression that some folk are not interested in producing, but only in carefully examining and criticising what others are attempting to produce. Some time ago I wrote to the ACCC and asked for a listing of Missions and missionaries whom they are prepared to endorse. From the information they sent me, I gather that of the 257 boards not in the NCC or the WCC they are prepared to endorse only about 35. Those 35 mission boards account for only around 2000 missionaries. The other 222 boards account for around 25000. To me this is carrying "separation" too far.
I do not wish to sound harsh because I certainly do not feel that way. Rather I am deeply distressed that my brethren who are true to the doctrines of God's Word seem to be content to limit themselves to a ministry of almost total negativism and opposition. I consider myself a fundamentalist - perhaps you will disagree - but I stand firmly on the fundamental doctrines of our faith as expressed in your own doctrinal statement. I do not fellowship with those who deny those doctrines. I am absolutely opposed to modernism, apostasy and secret societies such as Masonry. However I am not prepared to subscribe to the position of separation that seems to be expected of me, a separation that I can only describe as second, third and even fourth stage separation. I most certainly am not going to share the platform with a Christ denying modernist and treat him as a follow Christian minister. Nor am I going to give my support to a group that is apostate. But my concept of Biblical separation does not hold that I must have no fellowship with a brother in Christ who belongs to a church which is in a denomination, some of whose members are involved in the NCC and WCC. This kind of separation is what produced the situation above where the ACCC can apparently endorse the ministry of about 2000 of those 25000 missionaries who are not in the NCC or WCC, but belong to evangelical boards. Someone may quote the old cliche about God being more interested in quality than quantity, but I cannot be convinced that God is glorified by our insistent emphasis on how very few there are who are true. Elijah made this mistake and God had to remind him that he was not the only one but that He had seven thousand in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal. I am afraid there is a danger of our being more true to our convictions than we are to the Lord Himself. Peter manifested this attitude in Acts 10. He was so rigidly committed to what he understood to be God's will that he was prepared to disobey the direct command from the Lord with the words, "not so, Lord". By contrast, Abraham, who must surely have known that his God did not approve human sacrifice, and certainly know that Isaac was the son of God's promise, still did exactly as God commanded him in offering Isaac, trusting in God to take care of the consequences of his obedience. We need to be careful that our commitment is to the Lord and His Word rather than to our particular interpretation of that Word. What I am trying to say is that we need to recognize the fact that our understanding and interpretation of the Word of God is not the only one and that anyone who sees things differently is not necessarily being unscriptural. You may feel that this is evading the issue and I realize that this kind of argument could be used by some to avoid taking any kind of stand or position. This is extreme, but so is the position that insists that my understanding of Scripture is the correct interpretation and all else is error. It is not that simple; there are always two sides to a question. Let me illustrate from the passages you mentioned.
The lesson you draw from I Kings 13 regarding the man of God from Judah is a very good one and it quite well illustrates the point you made. However there are two things I would like to mention in this connection. 1) What God commanded for one of His prophets is not necessarily what He commands for them all. This prophet quite obviously went directly contrary to the Word of God that he had received directly from the Lord and he paid for his sin. But what are we to believe about Elijah and Elisha, both of whom remained in the "place of apostasy" as you put it, and conducted their ministry there? To be sure, Elijah's ministry was one of rebuke and condemnation. But Elisha is quite different. He made his home in the Northern Kingdom and his ministry was of a more positive nature. In addition he seems to have been in charge of a large group of the sons of the prophets who also made their home in the Northern Kingdom. Surely you would not class these two great prophets in the same category as the old prophet in I Kings 13, whom you say served only as a stumbling block by remaining in Israel. Again we find in I Kings 20:13,22,28 three instances where a prophet of God came to wicked Ahab to counsel him, not with words of condemnation but with words of help and encouragement. To me it seems quite obvious that in the case of Elijah and Elisha, as well as this unnamed man of God, God's pattern of ministry for His servants differs widely from that of the man of God in I Kings 13.
2) The second thing I would like to mention with regard to this passage has to do with these faithful ones you mentioned who left all they had in the Northern Kingdom and went to Judah to identify themselves with the true worship of Jehovah. This is all very good but if we read on we find that immediately following this, Rehoboam forsook the law of God and all Israel with him (II Chronicles 12:1) and we find the full extent of the apostasy spelled out in I Kings 14:22-24, "And Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed above all that their fathers had done. 23 For they also built them high places and images, and groves, on every high hill and under every green tree. 24 And there were also Sodomites in the land; and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord cast out before the children of Israel." This is JUDAH, not the Northern Kingdom which these folk left because of its apostasy. What did they do then? Where did they go from Judah? One might also mention the "great woman" of Shunem which is in the midst of the Northern Kingdom. She not only dwelt there, but made a prophet's chamber for Elisha and he dwelt with them from time to time. What are we to say to this?
Certainly the man of God in I Kings 13 was wrong in disobeying God's direct command to him; the old prophet who lied was also wrong, terribly so, but can we honestly say that this was because he chose to remain in the Northern Kingdom, the area of apostasy? So did Elijah and Elisha and others and I do not see how we can possibly say about them all that you have said about the lying old prophet. To me it seems clear that here we have a graphic illustration of the fact that God does not give exactly the same ministry or exactly the same commands to all His servants. The one He sent from Judah into Samaria with a message and strictly told him not to abide but to return to Judah. Others He obviously left in Israel as His witnesses there. I do not see how we can possibly get around this.
Turning to the New Testament and the ministry of our Blessed Lord, I see things a bit differently than you do. You stated that the pattern of the Lord's ministry in the synagogue and temple was to expose apostasy and challenge the people to come out of it. I have taken the trouble to examine all the references to the Lord's relation to the synagogue and temple and I do not find this to be the pattern at all. To begin with I fail to find any place where the Lord ever challenged the people to come out of the synagogue or temple. He said on occasion that their righteousness must exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees and He warned the people not to follow their bad example in making a public show of their observances but He did not tell them to abandon the synagogue or temple. In fact on one occasion He actually told then to obey the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23:1-3).
In the Gospel accounts I find 20 references to Christ's teaching in the synagogue or temple, 9 that mention His being in them, 2 which state he was preaching there, and 4 sections that deal with His cleansing the temple. Of these 35 references there are 12 that make no mention at all of the religious leadership. Of the 19 that do mention them, 13 are clearly instances where He was openly challenged by them, and made answer to their questions and charges. I find only 6 passages that indicate He may have attacked or rebuked them without being first challenged by them, and 4 of those are the parallel accounts of His cleansing of the temple. Of the other two, one is His teaching on the Bread of Life in John 6, which brought strong reaction. The other is in Luke 4:16ff where His message infuriated the people to the point they were ready to kill Him. But even here His words to them came only after they were "offended at Him" because He was a "prophet in His own country" and they supposed they knew His background and parentage. In these thirty-five references to His ministry in the synagogue and temple I do not find evidence that He ever went there simply for the purpose of denouncing the religious leadership. It is clear that He never abandoned the synagogue and temple for He Himself said that He taught daily in them (Matt. 26:55; Mark 14:49; Luke 22:53; John 18:20).
In this same connection there were many occasions of His direct dealing with the religious leaders and many of these did not take place in the synagogue or temple. But here again I find that in these cases He did not go about berating them and bringing charges against them. Out of twenty-eight references to the Lord's dealing with the Scribes and Pharisees, twenty-six are clearly cases where they sought Him out and challenged or questioned Him in an effort to trip Him in His words, and He answers or rebukes them. In only two places do I find a record of His speaking against them without being directly challenged by them. One of those is in Luke 7:30 where Jesus, speaking to the people, exposes the unbelief of the Pharisees who rejected John's testimony and baptism. They apparently were not present at the time. The other is Luke 18:9-14 which is the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican Praying. Even in the long passage in Matthew 23, in which He thoroughly denounced the Scribes and the Pharisees, you will notice that this followed on the heels of a long series of their attempts to test Him, doing their best to try to discredit Him, beginning all the way back in Matthew 21:23.
The point I would make is this: I am not opposed to the ministry of actively opposing apostasy as you seem to think I am. The Lord obviously did this as did the prophets and apostles. But I contend that it was not something they did on every occasion. I simply do not find this to be the case as presented in the Scriptures.
This has been a long letter and I have been a long time writing it. In the process I have become convinced that our views on certain things are much more widely separated than I realized. I do not expect that what I have said will change your views at all and it was not for this purpose that I have written. Rather I have written at length to try to show that there can be more than one legitimate position on some things, and that I am not taking my own position simply because it is expedient and convenient. On the contrary, it would be far more convenient for me to simply say I agree with you and thus avoid any misunderstanding. But this I cannot do and you would not want me to. I want you to realize that I am not just trying to accommodate myself to the modernism and apostasy in the world and in the church. I sincerely believe that you, in your emphasis on separation, have neglected other teachings in the Word that have perhaps spoken to me more than to you. We simply hold two different viewpoints. The upshot of the whole matter is that as you have said, "How can two walk together except they be agreed."
It is with real sadness that I realize we have come to the parting of ways as far as ministry is concerned for I am sure you will not wish to continue your part in our ministry from now on. Be assured that we will not in any sense hold this against you, because I realize you must be true to your convictions as I to mine. I only wish they were the same. Upon reflection, I do not see that any real purpose would be served by my coming over for a meeting with the board. Your position has been clearly stated in your letter and I feel I have amply stated mine in this letter which you may freely share with the board or with the entire church membership if you wish, for they also have a right to know where we stand. I would emphasize once again how much we appreciate the wonderful faithfulness of you brethren in standing behind us in prayer and giving all these years. I just trust that you will not feel we have betrayed you by taking a position that differs from yours. I would reiterate that until last summer I had no idea we did differ as we do on some of those matters. I have no wish to condemn your position any more than I wish you to condemn mine. I merely wish to have the freedom to choose my own way as I see it from my understanding of God's holy Word.
May the Lord's rich blessing be upon you and your family as well as upon all the precious brethren in the church.
In His Name,
Dear Brother Hayes,
Greetings in the name of our wonderful Lord. It has been a good while since I last wrote and although I have had no answer yet, I thought perhaps I should write and ascertain where things stand now officially, Since our support from the church has stopped coming, I assumed that action had been taken to remove us from the missionary roster. However it also occured to me that possibly you were still considering my letter and support had been suspended pending a decision. At any rate my mission would like me to let them have an official answer so they will know exactly where our support stands now.
If the church has decided to remove us from the missionary roster, I suppose you would also wish to be removed from our mailing list. In this connection there are a number of the brethren of the church who receive our prayer letter, and would not wish to continue. We have quite a few addresses in Orlando and I am not sure about some of them so it would be helpful if you could ask those members of the church who are on our list and would like to be removed to please let us know.
One other thing I wanted to ask you about. I believe Laura and I are members of the church as of 1953. We wondered if action had been taken to remove us from the church rolls or are we still considered members?
We are a bit uncertain about these matters so I thought it best to write and ask so we would know just what our status is at present.
Brother Hayes, I want to say that I am so very sorry we have had this difference come between us, but I want to assure you once again that my feeling for you and the precious brethren in the church is not changed. Our fellowship in the Gospel has been long and sweet and it grieves me deeply to have it broken. We will always be indebted and grateful to you all for your wonderful faithfulness through the years. With warmest personal regards to you and the family.
P.S. It just occured to me that I am at present preparing to send out our October prayer letter. If there are those in the congregation who do not wish to continue to receive it, they could let us know by simply marking the envelope "Return to Sender," and thus indicate their desire to be removed from the mailing list.
Dear Brother Ralph:
Greetings in the precious Name of the Lord Jesus! And thank you for your gracious letter of October 21. The reason you have not heard from me is that I am still in process of making reply to your letter of May 14. I am sorry that it has taken me this long and hope that it has not caused you any great inconvenience. As you mentioned in your letter to me, there is plenty of ground to be covered. I was not able to even begin to write until about a month after receiving your letter; twice I have been away; and with the press of so many responsibilities upon me, I've been able to get to it only now and then for a brief time with interruptions sometimes of a week or more. I hope to have it finished shortly, but will send this reply in answer to your immediate questions.
At the first council meeting after the receipt of your letter it was voted to withdraw the support of the church from your ministry. This would include the removal of your names from the membership record since the tone of your letter appeared to be final. No one is more deeply grieved than I, brother Ralph, that this should have become necessary. But we believe that we should give our missionary support to those who are able and willing to answer clearly and unequivocably the questions we raise pertaining to the principles, practice, and policies of the New Evangelicalism. At our recent congregational meeting a week and a half ago we were led to assume the support of a missionary couple in Hawaii under Gospel Fellowship Missions (Bob Jones University) who have declared themselves to be in full sympathy with the position of the local testimony.
We have no objection to the sending of your prayer letters to the members of our congregation, nor do we seek to restrict the liberty of any who may wish individually to give to your support.
Just as soon as I am able, I will complete my letter and forward it to you. You will always have a place in my heart. We earnestly commend you and every member of your precious family to the grace of God through the love of our Lord Jesus Christ. Love from all of us to all of you - Numbers 6:24-26.
In Jesus' Precious Name,
November 8, 1969
Dear Brother Ralph:
Greetings in the precious Name of the Lord Jesus. This is the first opportunity I have had to make reply to your letter of May 15, though I did make acknowledgment of its receipt at that time. It arrived just before our leaving for Greenville, S.C., where we spent some time with our married children. Since our return, I have been very busy making up for the time that we were away. I heartily appreciate your taking the time and interest to write at length as you have done, and assure you (as you have assured me) that the difference which exists is purely a matter of position and not personal. We love you and every member of your precious family, and have prayed for you daily through many years. It grieves me deeply that I must now write this letter advising you that at our most recent church council meeting it was voted to withdraw our support from your ministry since it is apparent that you have chosen a course consistent with the pattern of the New Evangelicalism. We have no other alternative since you feel that no reconciliation of position is possible.
No, brother Ralph, I was not attempting to assume infallibility in my previous letter to you, nor do I presume to think that I know all that there is to know about the truth of God. I am finite and fallible, as is any human being. The purpose of my previous letter, as I tried to make clear to you, was simply to present the position we believe to be Scriptural so that you might have a clear understanding of it in comparison with yours. Surely there is no ulterior motive involved in our prayerfully seeking to win you to our position if we believe it to be right. I would assume that you were prayerfully seeking to win us to yours, were you not? I would surely expect you to if your convictions are worth anything to you. Nor would I infer that you were being arbitrary or assuming infallibility in so doing. If in the presentation of my position I have spoken with the utmost conviction, I have no apology to make for so speaking until shown to be wrong. Had I written a hundred pages, I trust that I should have written with the same sincerity, earnestness and conviction. You may not agree with what I have to say, and that of course is your prerogative. I am not attempting in any sense of the word to bind you to my conscience, or to impose myself upon you. On the other hand, if I believe you are wrong I will say so. And in saying so, I will say it with what I believe to be the utmost authority of the Word of God,
Now, brother Ralph, if you will re-read my letter and pay very close attention to the statement from which you quoted at the bottom of page three, you will observe, that you omitted three tremendously important words at the, very end of the sentence, the three words -- "sinners against light." You will see that I said that it is sin against light that constitutes those who remain in the area of apostasy a special kind of sinners.
Obviously, no one can sin against light until first of all he has received light. It was for the purpose of giving light to a sin-darkened world that the Lord Jesus came to earth, John 1:4,9; 8:12; 12:46. It was for the purpose of giving light to the people of His own generation that He ministered to the multitudes, an example of which you mentioned in Matthew 9:35-38. The message He proclaimed was the gospel of the kingdom. The miracles He wrought were His credentials through which He supported His claim to kingship over the nation of Israel. And why should He not carry His claims into the temple and synagogues? Why should He not challenge the religious rascals who were misleading the sheep in the very citadel of their authority and influence? Neither the temple nor the synagogues belonged to these pious rogues. They had no right to them. They were usurpers. They were false shepherds. They were wolves in sheep's clothing (Matthew 7:15-23), and our Lord gave a forthright warning against them! The entire thrust of His teaching ministry, whether in the synagogues or outside of them, was in support of His claims against theirs. His authority rivalled their authority at every point. The establishment of His claims meant the destruction of theirs. And they knew it! See Matthew 9:34, the verse that immediately precedes the, section you cited. It is not to be supposed for one moment that His teaching ministry in the synagogues was conducted under the auspices and sponsorship of these false religious leaders, or that He was there in fellowship and cooperation with them, or that He was identified with them in worship and witness. He never sought nor received the endorsement of the ministerial council at Jerusalem, or anywhere else.
What did the generation of that day do with the light that was given them? They rejected it, John 1:5. 11:3:19-21; 12:35-46. The nation as a whole, in support of its religious leaders, refused His claims. They nailed Him to an old rugged cross. Their apostasy had reached its climax, and the light was withdrawn. Having sinned against light, they were left in a state of spiritual blindness. When those who are given light receive not the love of the truth, God sends them a strong delusion that they should believe a lie, 11 Thessalonians 2:10-12. Sin against light constitutes them; a special kind of sinners for whom there is left but ultimate condemnation. Surely this is a valid principle of Scripture! The passage to which you called my attention in Matthew 9:35-38 is a reference to the earlier ministry of our Lord. He had compassion on the misled sheep and sent His disciples forth to reap the whitened harvest. The very next chapter (Matthew 10) describes the mission on which they were sent, presenting the message of the kingdom and the credentials of the King, seeking through the presentation of His claims to win for Him an acceptance among the lost sheep of the house of Israel, while at the same time leading them out from under the influence of the false shepherds. Despite the impact of their ministry, the major portion of the lost sheep turned out to be veritable wolves! Cf. 16. Having received the light, and having rejected it, the lost sheep of the house of Israel became doubly lost -- they became blind followers of blind leaders, and both, said the Lord Jesus, would fall into the ditch (Matthew 15:12-14, at a later period in His ministry). This is what I meant by a special kind of sinner. I was, of course, using a term which you yourself had coined in your original letter to me.
I have the utmost sympathy for misled sheep. That is why I challenge every modernist minister, and every propagator of false doctrine, with whom I come in contact. That is why I seek to warn the unsuspecting victims of these professional poison peddlers whenever I have opportunity to do so. That is why in the conduct of my ministry I challenge men, not only to come to Christ for salvation, but also to leave the apostate churches and denominations of which they are a part in obedience to the command of God's Word. I do not want to see the misled sheep stay misled. I want to see those who receive Christ brought out from under the deadly influence of professional pulpiteers who are promoting the Devil's program, so that those who are truly born again may grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus. As a faithful servant of Christ I seek to enlighten those who do not know any better so that they need not remain in ignorance of the issue that confronts us in these perilous days of apostasy. You have placed a wholly wrong construction on "my interpretation" when you assume that I regard folk such as yourself and your dear wife as not deserving of further light when you were in a modernistic denomination and didn't know any better. I would be the first one to see that you got light, and so would every ACCC member who is worthy of the position he professes. This is the very kind of people we seek to reach, without, of course, identifying ourselves with the apostate leadership of such churches and denominations. When light is received it becomes the individual's responsibility as to what he does with it. It is only when light is refused and rejected that he forfeits the right to further light and places himself in the category of a special kind of sinner. And this is exactly what happens to those who stay in the camp of apostasy when they know that they ought to come out. Do you ask for Scripture in support of this principle? See Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-31. See also the verses used at the top of page four in my previous letter to you, i.e., the letter of November 8. Our Lord made it unmistakably clear that those who identified themselves with the false religious leaders and their influence were made two-fold more the children of hell than the religious leaders themselves! Cf. Matthew 23:15. I would say that they had become a special kind of sinners, wouldn't you?
I was never privileged to know Dr. Scidenspinner personally, and since I know neither the man nor his motive for ministering in a Methodist church, it is certainly not my prerogative to pass any form of final judgment upon him in the conduct of his ministry. In my letter to you I sought to make clear the Scriptural distinction between witnessing "to" and witnessing "with." I have a friend who was invited to minister in a Presbyterian church in Chester, Penna. It was a church that belonged to the Northern Presbyterian denomination, a denomination apostate in its leadership and having its representation in the NCC. He accepted the invitation, and through the simple straightforward teaching of God's Word he won the people to the truth as it is in Christ, expose and opposed the apostasy in that particular denomination and in the NCC, and in three weeks time led the entire congregation out of the Northern Presbyterian Church to establish an independent fundamental Bible testimony. Had he gone into that church and identified himself in worship and witness with its apostate leadership, preaching only a positive message, he might have "blessed" a few saints and some might have even been made hungry enough to come out on their own at some later time. But what about the rest of the misled sheep who would have stayed in the camp of apostasy had he not challenged them to come out? What about the utter sin in such a ministry of disobedience that would have left the unsuspecting sheep a prey to the religious wolves had he not warned them of their peril? What about the complete confusion wrought through compromise in the minds of the people had he not made clear to them that his appearance in that church was in no sense of the word to be considered an identification with its apostate leadership? In proclaiming the whole counsel of God he fulfilled a faithful ministry (Acts 20:26-27), delivered his own soul from their blood, and was honored of God in his effort. In this case a whole congregation of misled sheep was rescued from the ravening religious wolves. Yet even if none had responded to the challenge (as in the case of Stephen, Acts 7:51-60), his faithful, forth-right ministry of the Word, negative as well as positive, was a ministry of obedience to the will of God. And it is this that is of the utmost importance. For a period of three years, night and day with tears, Paul labored incessantly among the saints at Ephesus, Acts 20:29-31. And what was the burden of his ministry? It was a constant, continual, unceasing ministry of warning against wolves from without and heretics from within. Why should such a ministry be considered anything but beneficial to the saints? Why should such a ministry be resented except by those who do not love the Lord and His Word to begin with??? Surely such a ministry is safe for the saints! It is resented only by those who are professing sheep and not genuine.
Now just what is there about truth that even a babe in Christ cannot understand if he is but willing to receive it? Very obviously the Lord Jesus could not impart further truth to His disciples (John 16:12) for the simple reason that they did not believe what He had already told them. The context makes this very clear, verses 16-33. He had told them repeatedly that He must go to Jerusalem, that He must die, and that He must rise again. But they did not believe Him. Hence the confusion that existed in their minds, verses 17-18. It was a confusion deeply rooted in unbelief, for even after further explanation when they thought they understood, our Lord challenged them with the incisive question of verse 31, "Do ye now believe?" He relates their lack of understanding to their unwillingness to believe. Had they believed, they would have understood. It is simple faith that produces understanding (Hebrews 11:1-3,6.)
An unwillingness to believe, on the other hand, impedes spiritual progress and renders further discernment impossible until the truth already possessed is acknowledged. And this is just another way of saying that if a man refuses light at any point, he will not be given further light unless and until he is willing to embrace that which he already has. The principle involved here is summed up beautifully in words from the pen of George Mueller: "My beloved brother, the Lord has given you much light, and will hold you responsible for its use. If you obey Him and walk in the light, you will have more; if not, the light will be withdrawn." Do you ask where I get the authority for the assertion of this principle? If you will re-read the very paragraph from which you lifted my statement concerning the indivisibility of truth, you will see the reference to John 3:19-21. What better authority could you want? See also Ephesians 5:11-17; I John 1:7. It is a very simply understood principle, iterated and reiterated over and over again in Scripture. "Whatsoever doth make manifest is light.'' When light is given to a man, he either walks in it or he doesn't. If he doesn't. he will not receive more light until he does. And the danger in turning away from light at any point is that he may never return at all. It was in this context (John 6:66), if you will recall, that I placed emphasis upon the indivisibility of truth. If you will permit me to say so, this conclusion was not reached through a process of faulty reasoning. I rather think that it was a faulty inference on your part that would enable you to entertain the absurd idea that I do not believe God gives men more than one opportunity to be saved.
Truth is indivisible, not because I insist upon it, but simply because it is. It is indivisible because of its very nature. The integration of truth (another name for indivisibility) lies at the very foundation of any sound system of epistemology. Truth is related in all its parts. Truth is what is true, and what is true is truth. You cannot separate attributes from their substance, nor substance from its attributes. I have no time for philosophical idealism which regards truth as subjective and relative rather than objective and absolute. It is this cursed philosophy that underlies Barthian theology, Neo-orthodoxy, and the compromise that is corrupting the New Evangelical camp. It is the philosophy of the double standard (dialectic) and double talk (dialogue). It is the philosophy of dishonesty and deceit. It is the philosophy that enables a man to say that he is a Christian when he isn't. It is the philosophy that enables a man to say that he believes the Bible when he doesn't. It is the philosophy that enables one to think that he can be a good Christian and stay in a modernistic denomination. It is the philosophy that enables one to think that a man can be a good Christian and a good Mason at the same time. It is the philosophy that says we should preach against sin without cataloguing sins. It is the philosophy that says we should be against modernism without exposing and denouncing the evil deeds and doctrines of the modernists. It is the philosophy of the "and -- and." whereas truth is "either -- or." One can no more walk in truth while rejecting it at any point, than a man can walk in light while at the some time turning his back upon it.
Truth is that which is inherent in the nature of God, and which is revealed in His Word and in His works. It involves conformity to fact or reality. It is that which is right as opposed to that which is wrong. It is absolute, and thus intolerant of error. The primary meaning of the Greek word for truth (aletheia) is openness; what is not concealed. And this is exactly what the apostle Paul had in mind in Ephesians 5:13 when he said, "All things that are reproved are made manifest by the light." The unfruitful works of darkness, the shameful things done in secret must be brought out into the light and exposed, Ephesians 5:11-12. The manner in which they are brought out into the light and exposed is through reproof. Error must be rebuked so that the saints may understand what the will of the Lord is, and thus walk circumspectly, redeeming the time, Ephesians 5:14-17. This is the clear command of Scripture. Now to whom shall I listen? To a well-intentioned friend who advises me not to catalogue sins because such a practice "is seldom if ever appropriate" and makes people feel unclean? Or shall I obey the Word of God which commands me to be instant in season and out of season (11 Timothy 4:2) reproving and rebuking error so that the Lord's people may know what the will of the Lord is? Of course I must obey God, and not man. Nor have I ever exposed the evils of Modernism and Masonry without relating the error of these wicked systems to the corresponding truth of God's Word to which that error stands opposed. If the vile corruption of Masonry be brought out into the light, it is to show that this wicked system which tramples under foot the blood of Christ and teaches salvation by works cannot possibly be reconciled with the glorious Bible doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in the shed blood of the Son of God. There are professing Christians, you know, who say that what the Bible teaches and what Masonry teaches are one and the same! If the menace of Modernism be exposed, it is to warn those who profess the Name of Christ to get out from under its Bible-denying, Christ-rejecting influence and identify themselves with a Bible-believing, Christ-honoring fellowship and testimony. If the friends who came with you on the occasions mentioned had any desire to know the Word and will of God, they would have received a foundation for knowing the difference between truth and error though they may never have had it before. They would never know unless they were told.
Were not the statements made on those occasions true? Were they not in complete conformity with fact? I have no apology to make for speaking the truth. I was simply seeking to perform a faithful ministry under the constraint of the Holy Spirit in obedience to the authority of the Word of God. There is nothing in truth that even a babe in Christ cannot understand if he has but the heart to receive it. Indeed, spiritual truth is more readily discerned by babes than by sophisticated saints. The capacity for spiritual discernment is determined by simple faith and obedience to the Word and will of God. Within the past two months we have had dear folk come into our fellowship, having moved here from Bonita Springs. When I asked them how they learned about the church, they mentioned the names of a dear man and his wife whom I had the privilege of leading to the Lord some eleven years ago. This couple, whose home was in Michigan at that time, was visiting his cousin across the street from the Norrises. Anita invited them to our Bible study fellowship which was being held in her home that week. As we met them for the first time that evening we learned that they were members of a Methodist church back in Michigan; he was a Mason, and she was in the Eastern Star; both were chain smokers, and just prior to their visit to Orlando they had come under Seventh Day Adventist influence. They did not know the first thing about God's wonderful plan of salvation. That night we dealt with them directly, devoting the entire study to the book of Galatians, and by the grace of God they were wonderfully saved. At their request I spent an entire afternoon teaching them further in the Word of God, warning them against Modernism, Masonry, Seventh Day Adventism, the use of tobacco, etc., on the basis of documented evidence. When they went back to Michigan a week later, they went back delivered by the grace of God from every one of these evil influences to which they had been in blindness and bondage less than a week before. The change in their hearts and lives was immediate and complete. They went back to their home with absolute assurance of salvation, and the first thing they did was leave the modernist Methodist church to which they had belonged. It took them a while until they were able to find a Bible church where Christ was honored, but they would not settle for less. He renounced Masonry, and she the Eastern Star. In a few weeks time we began receiving letters telling how they had been used of the Lord to lead many of their own family and relatives to a saving knowledge of Christ. What a joy now, eleven years later, to learn that these precious people (now making their home in Bonita Springs) are still on fire for the Lord, presenting a clear-cut testimony for the truth as it is in Christ!
Just suppose, now, that I had not told them the truth concerning these evil things with which they were identified, in that moment of opportunity that was given me to deal with their souls. Suppose that I had reasoned with myself that since they were merely new-born babes in Christ they would not be able to bear the truth concerning Modernism, Masonry, and Seventh Day Adventism since heretofore they had had no foundation for it. Suppose that I had withheld from them the documentation of evidence for fear that they might resent it and turn away from this type of truth. Suppose that after having led them to an assurance of salvation I had excused myself from any further responsibility by saying that the Holy Spirit at some later time would give them personal leading with reference to these matters. I dread to think of the censure that would have been mine at the judgment seat of Christ had I withheld from them the whole counsel of God and thus hindered their spiritual growth! Of one thing I am sure, they would not have had the clear-cut testimony for Christ that they have had through the past eleven years, and have today, had this type of truth been withheld from them. The character of one's Christian testimony is determined by the mold into which he has been poured. Surely there is nothing in truth, tested by the standard of God's Word, that a heart opened by the Spirit of God will resent. These dear folk received it, welcomed it, and rejoiced in it. In five days time they experienced growth in discernment and spiritual maturity to a degree that some professing Christians haven't reached in five years. What is the secret? Simple obedience to the revealed will of God. And what if some turn away from this type of truth, as many do? Whose responsibility is that? Certainly not of the one who faithfully proclaims the whole counsel of God. If you object to the cataloguing of sins, I imagine that you would have had very little appreciation for the ministry of Ezekiel as described in 8: 5:-9; 11 or Stephen, Acts 7:2-60; or our Lord Himself, Matthew 23:1-24; 2. A major portion of the Old Testament prophets deals with the cataloguing of sins. Romans 1:18-32 would probably leave you feeling a little unclean. Indeed, you would not have much of the Bible left if you were to eliminate those portions which deal with the cataloguing of sins.
Have you read the copy of my correspondence with Mr. Paton of Back to the Bible Broadcast? If so, you will have had sufficient documentation and evidence to enable you to understand my reasons for believing that the message Billy Graham preaches is not the true Gospel, and that his deliberate disobedience to the Word and will of God constitutes his ministry a ministry of wickedness in the sight of God, Yes, Billy Graham is a wicked man. The dictionary defines wicked as being evil in principle or practice; doing evil." The principle upon which he operates is the wicked principle of doing evil that good may come. It is the Devil's own philosophy, and it has the condemnation of God upon it, Romans 3:8. His sin is the most serious sin that a man can commit. It is far more serious than the sin of Lot who, like David, succumbed to sins of the flesh. The sin of Billy Graham is comparable to the sin of Saul, whose sin was a sin of the spirit, I Samuel 15:22-23. Partial obedience is no obedience at all. When a man deliberately disregards the authority of the Word of God, lightly setting it aside whenever it suits him, that man is rejected by the Lord as being unserviceable to the Lord. That man is a stubborn, self-willed man. The sin of such an one is the sin of rebellion against the will of God. And this, in turn, is the equivalent of witchcraft, iniquity, and idolatry. How else could sin of such proportion be described other than that of horrible wickedness? Since 1949, a period of twenty years now, I have been exposing the compromise of Billy Graham, sounding forth a warning that in the ultimate such compromise would produce a superficial, spurious exceedingly shallow, counterfeit form of Christianity which in its very essence would become a blinding delusion to all who are brought under its influence. By his very example he has caused the entire concept of truth to pass through a process of change in the thinking of evangelical people to the point where they no longer know the difference between truth and error, right and wrong. He says he believes in the inerrancy of the Bible, but not as a basis of Christian fellowship. He says he believes in the virgin birth of Christ, but that belief in it is not necessary to salvation. He says be believes in the blood of Christ but no longer emphasizes it in his preaching ministry. What kind of "gospel" is this? To believe in the evangelical doctrines merely as relative concepts, merely as a matter of viewpoint, is logically just as complete a rejection of Gospel as though it were repudiated in an outright manner. There is little difference between Graham's kind of "gospel" and the "gospel" of the Neo-orthodox liberal. Once one places himself on relative ground, it is only a matter of degree. I do not believe that Dr. Garland's statements in his Voice of Truth concerning Billy Graham were excessive or inaccurate. And I believe that God will honor this dear man for his faithful and forthright exposure of the exceedingly dangerous and harmful influence of Billy Graham's compromise. Incidentally, the description of Lot as "righteous," "just," and "godly," (II Peter 2:7-9) is a reference to the righteousness imputed to him by faith, certainly not to his conduct. He did some very wicked things in the pages of Genesis.
Do you not believe the testimony of men such as Richard Wurmbrand who came from behind the Iron Curtain, who suffered personally at the hands of the Communists who knows first-hand how they operate, and who testifies to the fact that all of the delegates who came to the Berlin Congress from Communist-controlled countries would be Communist agents? It was for this reason, and because he would not be permitted to expose them, that he refused to attend. Have you never read the testimony of Yuri Rastvorev before the United States Senate Internal Security Subcommittee? As a former lieutenant colonel in the Soviet Secret Police (MVD) he testified to the fact that the Communists exercise complete control over the churches. Section VI of the Subcommittee's report begins with the statement: "Communist governments are utilizing their control over religious institutions to transform these institutions into tools of subversion. In view of the international ties maintained by religious denominations, Communist influence has thus been enabled to penetrate the United States. The process has been described before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee by witnesses representing various nationalities now under the Iron Curtain and various religious denominations. This section of the report concludes: "The supreme tragedy of it all lies not only in the ruthless extermination of the churches behind the Iron Curtain, but also in the spectacle of the acceptance of the officials responsible, by recognized church groups in the United States, who have accorded them both prestige and huge audiences." In 1956 Metropolitan Nicolai was very piously paraded through the United States as a guest of the NCC. Three years later he was identified by Petr S. Deriabian, a former major of the NKVD, as an agent of the Soviet Secret Police with whom Deriabian had worked prior to his defection. Deriabian's testimony before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee corroborated that of Rastverev. He said in the course of his testimony: "It is impossible in the Soviet Union to serve God without serving the state security." Time and space forbid the enumeration of further sources of evidence. They are abundantly available for any one who will take the time to examine them. In every cultural exchange group that comes into this country from Russia there is at least one secret agent. I imagine that Dr. Garland may have had some of this material in mind when he made reference to incontrovertible facts.
To be sure, the New Evangelicalism is not the only cause of Biblical illiteracy among Americans, yet I have no doubt that it has made, and will continue to make, a considerable contribution toward this end. Any movement that encourages people to set aside the absolute authority of the Word of God is bound to promote the neglect of solid Bible study. I have just read an excellent booklet by Marvin Fieldhouse, a missionary to Japan for the past nineteen years, in which he calls attention to the fact that only 1% of all graduates from all Bible schools and seminaries are of solid, biblical and fundamental persuasion today, while 55% are of the New Evangelical approach. The other 44% are of liberal or Catholic persuasion. The Lord Himself alone can foresee the tragic consequence of this significant shift away from a sound fundamental emphasis should He tarry long. I enclose a copy of the above mentioned booklet, on page 18 of which the author states: "The Billy Graham Movement is significant in that it is sweeping before it nearly the entire Bible-ignorant public." This dear brother sees the situation as exceedingly serious; so does Dr. Garland; and so do I; and so does everyone who is worthy of the name fundamentalist.
I thank you for taking the time to quote at length from the book by Fife and Glasser. Though I may disagree with you, as I certainly do in your evaluation of Mr. Ashbrook's use of the material, you will never weary me with a presentation of what you believe to be an honest conviction. Of your sincerity I have no doubt. But I do believe that you are wrong in your judgment. Do you really think that it is necessary to charge Dr. Ashbrook with deliberate dishonesty (as you have done) simply because he expresses a viewpoint that differs from yours? You have practically called him a liar and have accused him of downright deceit. Are you not now overstating yourself and making an "unabashed indictment" in the area of motive? Is it not just possible that the man may have had some other motive in mind than that which you attribute to him? And have you not done the same thing to him that you accuse him of doing in his criticism of Fife and Glasser? He stated very clearly that "this is a thought-provoking book and contains many worthwhile, things that are worthy of serious note by those who support faith missions" and that there are "many good things in the book." Yet in your letter to me you make no attempt to even intimate that he has made such concessions, but rather infer that his reporting is a complete distortion. Shall I now accuse you of dishonesty, distortion, and deceit because you failed to mention these things? Surely not, I simply recognize the fact that you were intent on making a certain point and that you made reference only to that which you felt necessary to your purpose. Earlier in this letter I called your attention to an omission of three words in a quotation you made from my letter to you, an omission which in my judgment was tremendously significant since it changed the meaning completely from that which I intended to convey. Shall I ascribe some ulterior motive to you for so doing? Shall I think of you as attempting to be dishonest for making such an omission? No, certainly not. You missed the point I was trying to make, but I surely would have no ground for attributing to you dishonesty or deceit even though you did distort my meaning in the omission of the three words.
If one should know the doctrine of separation, it is Art Glasser. I have known him personally for the past twenty-eight years since the days when we were fellow-seminarians. We were trained under men who had paid a great price for their obedience to the Scriptural command to separate from apostasy. They had practised what they were preaching. Surely, no one, including Dr. Ashbrook, calls in question the lip service Fife and Glasser give to the principle of separation. It is the inconsistencies of their position, practice, and pronouncements that cause grave concern. What possible value can be attributed to their statement on separation when both of these men, holding positions of responsibility (Fife with Intervarsity; Glasser with the China Inland Mission), in actual practice not only permit but encourage fellowship and cooperation with denominational mission boards in the National and World Councils of Churches? What kind of separation is this? Many C.I.M. missionaries are identified in membership with these apostate organizations. And the same thing is true of many of the members of Intervarsity. Just what good is their talk if their walk is contrary to their talk? Art Glasser has even gone so far as to rejoice in the possibility of dialogue with non-Christian religions. And have you read his tribute to Martin Luther King, the professional rabble-rouser? It is one of the most nauseating things I have ever laid eyes on. You may not be prepared to see it, but surely these inconsistencies are reflected in the statements which Dr. Ashbrook lifts from their book for criticism. In so doing he addresses himself only to those points which it is his purpose to emphasize. I am in thorough agreement with his judgment when he assesses their remarks as being entirely too complimentary to the Ecumenical Movement. Who, for instance, are the outstanding men (according to Fife and Glasser) in this movement? Name just one. How in the name of all that is holy can any man be considered outstanding who doesn't have enough sense to know that the Ecumenical Movement is the Devil's own program and is under the judgment of God? How can this diabolic enterprise be considered in any sense of the word a channel for evangelistic outreach? Are we to suppose for one moment that "the great unresolved theological problems" inherent in the N.C.C. can ever be resolved in such a way so as to bring the movement under the blessing of God and make it worthy of the confidence of evangelicals? God forbid. The theological character of the Ecumenical Movement is such that it has had the stamp of the Antichrist upon it from its very inception, and should cause Bible-believing people to shun it as they would shun the Devil himself. There is something radically wrong with the discernment of those who can look upon it and merely have "grave misgivings" about it. The fallacy of the position held by Fife and Glasser is indicated in their statement as quoted in your letter that the W.C.C. is "moving steadily away from the historic evangelical position." The assumption here is that the W.C.C. is now leaving a position which it once maintained. The fact of the matter is that the W.C.C. has never held the historical evangelical position. It has been an apostate organization from its very beginning. To equate the precious doctrine of the spiritual unity of the true Church, the Body of Christ, with the wholly false and unscriptural notion of organizational unity in the professing Church (as do Fife and Glasser with your approval), and then declare it to be a Biblical concept, is nothing short of blasphemous. The Devil is a great counterfeiter, and his counterfeit is usually so close to the real thing that those who lack Biblical discernment will be fooled by it. It is the disloyalty of the nominal Church to Jesus Christ and His Word that constitutes the professing Church and its program an apostate form of Christianity. The even greater scandal and shame is that men like Fife and Glasser, who know what the W.C.C. is, will compliment it, make concessions to it, and cooperate with it whenever it suits their fancy and is doomed expedient by them to do so. Incidentally, may I remind you that when the old Devil quoted Scripture he did not speak the truth. He misquoted it, changing the meaning completely.
I have known Dr. Ashbrook personally for more than twenty-five years. He is an honest man. He needs no defense from me as to his integrity. Having himself lived in obedience to the command of Scripture to separate from apostasy for many years, he is all the more sensitive to the hypocrisy of those who hide behind the "Law of Love" to excuse their own disobedience to the Word of God. The great confusion so prevalent in evangelical ranks today regarding the doctrine of separation is not because of a lack of love, or a disregard for the sacredness of truth, or uncrucified pride on the part of those who practice separation. Such confusion is the direct result of disobedience to the command of Scripture on the part of popular evangelical leaders like Graham, Fife, Glasser, etc., who, while they give lip service to the principle of separation, fail to practice it. Confusion is the direct and inevitable consequence of compromise, and it is the neutralism of the New Evangelicals that is producing it. Dr. Charles Woodbridge warned Billy Graham personally that if he continue in the course of compromise which he has chosen, he would go down in church history as the greatest divider of the church of Christ in the twentieth century. This is where the trouble lies. It is the disobedience of those who should know better that is disrupting the unity of the Body of Christ. And when you come to see this you will understand why neither Dr. Ashbrook, nor I, nor any fundamentalist worthy of the name, can possibly consider Fife and Glasser's assessment of the Ecumenical Movement in any sense of the word satisfactory. If this Movement is inclusivist in nature, as they openly acknowledge that it is, why do they say that loyalty "in this area" is "virtually" impossible? Why "virtually"? Why do they not come right out and say that it is impossible without qualification? And are we to suppose that if loyalty is impossible "in this area" that there may be other areas in which it might be possible? The character and course of the Ecumenical Movement is such that born-again, Bible-believing people ought to separate from it, shun it, and have absolutely nothing to do with it, instead of merely having some sorrowful moments over it. We need to guard against more than a mere "easy optimism" relative to the organizational unity of the W.C.C. We need to guard against touching the hem of the harlot at any point! This is what "evangelicals" ought to be concerned about instead of seeking areas of fellowship and cooperation, in the name of unity, with an apostate program which the Word of God forbids and condemns. Yes, it is clear that your viewpoint differs from ours, and we respect your right to differ. But surely there is no need to ascribe an ulterior motive to Dr. Ashbrook in the brief analysis he has made of Missions in Crisis. Even if 99% of the book were satisfactory, it would be perfectly proper to offer criticism of the 1% he felt to be objectionable.
I am not familiar with the booklet, nor do I know the men to whom you refer in your comments about the RSV. Suffice it to say that I too have seen in print irresponsible statements and arguments advanced which hinder the cause of truth rather than help it. It is done largely by pastors who have not had theological training and are consequently unfamiliar with the original languages and the principles of textual criticism. This, however, in nowise invalidates the objective evidence and sound arguments against the RSV. It is an untrustworthy translation and is not worthy of the confidence of the Lord's people. The booklet to which you refer was not one that I sent you, hence I cannot accept any responsibility for it. The material that was sent to you, I am responsible for. When we talked together last October you told me that you were not familiar with New-Evangelicalism. That is why I sent you the material. I had no intention of imposing it upon you. One could only wish that you were more fully disposed to seriously consider the evidence, instead of brushing it aside so lightly under the plea of "biased opinions" and "prejudiced appraisal." I, for one, am in thorough disagreement with certain emphases found in the Sword, Beacon, etc., yet I read them with profit rather than prejudice. I have respect for men who are forthright and fearless in the expression of their convictions, and am deeply grateful to the Lord for their faithfulness in exposing the apostasy so prevalent today. This the editors of these papers and periodicals have done. And though one may not always agree with every point of analysis, none can deny the validity of the evidence - documented evidence - produced over a period of many years. Had you taken the time to read the Sword and the Beacon, you would certainly be better informed on the progress of apostasy. It is indeed a serious issue and cannot lightly be brushed aside.
Why do fundamentalists criticize Youth for Christ, Young Life, Campus Crusade, Intervarsity, etc.? Why are we so strongly opposed to Evangelism in Depth? Obviously because of the inclusivistic nature, the doctrinal latitude, the shallow, superficial, unscriptural methods which characterize these compromising movements. Enclosed with this letter is a copy of my correspondence with Eddie Waxer of Campus Crusade earlier this year. It will reveal some of the reasons as to why I cannot endorse this movement. The last representative of Young Life that I met was wearing a skirt some three to four inches above her knees. Just what kind of influence do you think she would have in winning youth to Christ? Would I want that kind of influence in our local fellowship? God forbid. Like Youth For Christ, according to one of its slogans, most of these movements are "geared to the times." It is the gearing to the times that I don't like. Certainly such compromise ought to be criticized, ought it not?
What are fundamentalists doing of a positive nature? Seeking by the grace of God to build sound, separated, local, independent Bible fellowships with a world-wide missionary vision, that will be true in their witness for the Word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ!" (Revelation 1:9) This is the pattern of the Scripture. It is the local church that is the pillar and ground of the truth, I Timothy 3:15. Organizations such as the above-mentioned movements may serve as a supplement to a sound local church testimony, but they are not to become a substitute for it. The failure of such movements lies in the fact that they usually lower their standards, permit doctrinal inclusivism, assume a cosmopolitan character, and thus sabotage and supplant the discipline of the local church testimony. No fundamentalist objects to cooperative effort on the part of Bible-believing people who are sound in the faith. What we object to is the inclusion of all kinds of false elements in such a program. How can such an effort win souls to the truth as it is in Christ? This is the fallacy of Evangelism in Depth, as also all other such movements which practice the policy of inclusivism. Even if you had no medicine at all to give to a sick man, you would surely not be justified in handing him a cup containing poison. The answer to the prevailing apostasy, including the neutralism of the New Evangelicals, is the building of independent fundamental churches with a testimony true to the Lord and His Word. If all who name the name of Christ were to separate themselves from apostate churches and denominations and identify themselves with sound Bible-believing testimonies, the hands of those who are doing the building would be greatly strengthened. And we wouldn't have to do nearly so much criticizing.
A good, solid, reliable revision of the Scriptures in modern day language is certainly desirable. You are aware, I am sure, that such an undertaking would be nothing short of a colossal task. The King James Version was the climax of nearly a century of Bible translation, and its value lies in the fact that it cumulatively represented the efforts of many consecrated scholars. It was the work of no single man and of no single school. Fifty-four men were appointed to the task. They were the finest Hebrew and Greek scholars of that day. Divided into six-groups, they met separately. Each scholar first made his own translation, then passed it on to be reviewed by the other members of his group. When each section had completed a book of the Bible, it was sent to the other five groups for their independent criticism. In this way each book went through the hands of the entire body of translators. The entire revision was thus the deliberate, thorough work of a large body of trained men. Now just where in this shallow superficial age, will you find a body of consecrated scholars capable of performing such a task with such thoroughness? Certainly not in the ranks of the modernists. Neither will they be found in the camp of the New Evangelicals, whose attack upon the authority of the Bible as the inerrant Word of God is far more insidious than even that of the Neo-orthodox liberals. The tragic truth is that the forces of fundamentalism have been sabotaged. The institutions, schools, colleges and seminaries founded by fundamentalists have been infiltrated and taken over by the advocates of academic freedom, and are consequently no longer capable of producing either the consecration or the scholarship so necessary to a reliable revision of the Scriptures. There are very few seminaries today that require the study of Hebrew and Greek for the training of ministers. It is no longer considered important. While a good, reliable revision would certainly be desirable, it is not an absolute necessity. The King James Version is a safe translation. In the hands of consecrated pastors, trained in the use of the original languages and in the principles of textual criticism, the literal meaning of words can be given and outdated expressions explained very simply so that the people in the pews are able to understand. This was the method of ministry used in Ezra's day (Nehemiah 8:8) when personal and private copies of the Scripture were not available to the people. God honored this method then, and will certainly honor it now in a day when fundamentalists are again engaged in rebuilding walls that have been broken down.
And this, dear brother, is what fundamentalists are doing. I do not know where you got the idea that solid separatists are a people who never produce anything, but sit around criticizing what others are attempting to produce. With a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other, like Nehemiah of old, fundamentalists are busily engaged in the rebuilding of broken-down walls, seeking by the grace of God to redeem the testimony of the Lord from reproach. Worship without walls is a reproach to the Lord. New Evangelicals are content to worship while the walls lie in ruin. Fundamentalists believe that standards must be raised and walls must be built. We believe in building them high as a safeguard to the worship that would honor God. And ought we not be critical of the Sanballats, the Tobiahs, and Geshems who are the enemies of the truth of God? Ought we not draw the line and refuse cooperation with those wicked unbelievers in doing the work of the Lord? Cf. Nehemiah 2:20. New Evangelicals would not be so critical. They would adopt the "love" approach. They would "try to reach these nice men for the Lord" by being cooperative, by sitting down in dialogue at a conference table to try to come to an understanding. Not so with fundamentalists! They are too busy building to allow themselves to be drawn away from their separated position, Nehemiah 6:1-9. They have no time for dialogue with the Devil's agents. The very work that they are doing involves them in a ministry of total and continuous negativism and opposition in relation to the forces of evil. Again, and again, and again they have to keep saying no, no, no, not only to the Sanballats, Tobiahs, and Geshems (Nehemiah 6:4-8), but also to the friendly "conservative" Shemaiahs who "stand for evangelical truth," but who collaborate and conspire with the enemy to ensnare the Nehemiahs and draw them away from their consecration to the Lord and His work, Nehemiah 6:10-14. I suppose that the total negativism of Nehemiah somewhat irked the all-positive piety of Shemaiah and that is why he sold himself out to this nefarious scheme. Nehemiah's total negativism was a safeguard against the subtle, sinister, seductive scheming of those who believed in the concept of "degree" separation, who professed to practice the principle of separation in its "primary" aspect, but not in its second, third, and fourth stages.
It is here that your own identification with the genius of the New Evangelicalism becomes most clearly evident. In his biography of the late Henry Parsons Crowell, Breakfast Table Autocrat, Richard Ellsworth Day presents a chapter entitled "The Leaven of the Saducees," revealing how clearly Mr. Crowell discerned the issue involving the matter of Scriptural separation. His biography says: "He realized that not only must Faith be careful to select workers and leaders who are Bible believers; but those workers and leaders themselves must be intolerant of unbelievers in office! If they were tolerant it would bring defeat just as effectively as if they themselves were infidels. Therefore, 'FAITH MUST NOT SUPPORT MEN IN AUTHORITY WHO, THOUGH THEY ARE THEMSELVES BIBLE BELIEVERS, ARE TOLERANT OF OTHERS IN POSITIONS OF TRUST AND AUTHORITY WHO DO NOT SO BELIEVE! (pp. 268-269). Mr. Crowell saw that the battle against the leaven of the Sadducees was being lost in Christendom today by reason of tolerance toward believers who were tolerant toward unbelievers." This is a sound, solid, Scriptural principle, yet you would call it "second, third, and even fourth stage separation." The fact of the matter is that the Bible knows absolutely nothing of this "degree" concept of separation. It draws the line as Moses drew it (Exodus 32:26), and each must take his place on one side or the other. There was no neutralism in the camp of Israel that day. Nor was there any practice of "degree" separation permitted. It was all or nothing, one side of the line or the other. And all who remained on the other side got the sword, even though they were flesh and blood, Exodus 32:27-29; Deuteronomy 33:8-10. What a spirit of intolerance prevailed in the camp that day! So the New Evangelicals would say. But Moses calls it consecration, without which the blessing of the Lord could not be restored, Exodus 32:29. Yes, and it did somewhat reduce the quantity in the interest of preserving quality - by 3,000. An old cliche? No, this is Scripture. It was quality rather than quantity that God was interested in in the days of Gideon, was it not? Judges 7:1-7. Did He not get glory to His Name by His "insistent emphasis" upon bringing deliverance through the few who were true? This is not to say that the 31,700 were not Israelites. Surely they were numbered among the people of the Lord, but they were not fit for His service. As for the 7,000 neutralists in the days of Elijah, where were they when the showdown took place upon the top of Mount Carmel? Yes, there were seven thousand of them, for the Lord tells us so. But no one would have ever known it that day when the people stood tongue in cheek as Elijah issued his challenge, I Kings 18:21-22. What a golden opportunity to declare themselves! Elijah's mistake was in becoming discouraged because he could not find them. There is no excuse for any servant of the Lord to be discouraged no matter how lonely he may feel. His mistake was in feeling that he was the only one left. The fact of the matter is that he was the only one to take a stand.
It is the drawing of the line and the building of walls that preserves quality at the expense of quantity. Nowhere in the Word of God do you find a premium placed upon numerical strength. It is always upon loyalty and obedience to the Lord and His Word. And that is where the A.C.C.C. places it. And that is why it endorses only a limited number of missionary agencies. Surely it is not to be expected that Bible-believing people who have paid the price in separating themselves from apostate churches, denominations, and organizations in obedience to the Word of God would retain confidence in and support mission boards, though evangelical, that permit their missionaries to continue membership in these very same apostate churches, denominations, and organizations. Such a practice would defeat the very purpose for which we came out. It would be the sin of sympathy with unbelief, the sin of tolerance toward believers who are tolerant toward unbelievers, as pointed out so clearly in the above-quoted portion of Mr. Crowell's biography. Call it second, third, and fourth stage separation if you will; there is no quicker way to obliterate lines and tear down walls and ruin testimony than for evangelicals to manifest tolerance toward other evangelicals who are in turn tolerant toward unbelievers and unbelief. Such fellowship is a fellowship of iniquity for it involves participation in the evil deeds of those who reject the truth, II John 10-11. If you wish to see the fruit of such fellowship, read the description of the recent congress on evangelism in the U.S., sponsored by Billy Graham and his cohorts in compromise. It was a complete sell-out to the social group! What produced it? The tolerance of evangelicals toward other evangelicals who are tolerant toward unbelievers and unbelief. I read recently of a situation that developed on the mission field. Commencement exercises were held at a school sponsored by about a half-dozen evangelical mission boards none of which are in the N.C.C. or W.C.C., and some of which were I.F.M.A. The speaker was a Methodist missionary who holds membership in a denomination identified with both the N.C.C. and W.C.C.. He turned out to be so radical that an estimate of 99% of those present reacted strongly against what he had to say. Some said they wished that they had walked out, but they didn't. What produced such a situation as this? How could it ever possibly have developed in a school run by evangelical mission boards? Obviously, because of the tolerance of an evangelical leadership that doesn't believe in second, third, and fourth stage separation. They ended up with a radical liberal on the platform. Nor is this uncommon. It is happening all the time. It is the logical consequence of compromise. Such a situation is not very likely to develop in those missions endorsed by the ACCC.
Though you may not be prepared to endorse the position of absolute separation, you will at least recognize its consistency. Beside being thoroughly Scriptural, it involves good common sense. If it is wrong for me to hold membership in a National or World Council church or denomination because of apostasy, it is equally wrong for me to identify myself in the area of worship, witness, and testimony with those who stay in, no matter how evangelical they profess to be. Otherwise I might just as well have stayed in myself. What would be the point in coming out? Did I leave merely as a matter of expedience? God forbid! I left the camp of apostasy by conviction in obedience to the clear command of the Word of God. If then there is sufficient reason for me to come out, there is sufficient reason for me to stay out. I am not even to touch the unclean thing! II Corinthians 6:17. God's Word commands separation, not only from apostasy, but from those who compromise with apostasy, from those who as professed brethren walk in disobedience to the Word of God, II Thessalonians 3:14-15. This is where Scripture draws the line between the fundamentalist and the new evangelical. The unity of the Spirit can only be maintained where there is a full recognition of the authority of the Word of God and a manifest obedience thereto.
You come dangerously close to being a relativist when you propound an argument for the possibility of two conflicting interpretations being correct. I think you realize this in the semi-apology you make for using it. Of contradictory propositions, one must be true and one must be false. This is simple logic. The issue between us is that of absolute separation from apostasy. I believe that Scripture requires absolute separation from apostasy, and you do not believe that it does. You believe in the concept of degree separation. Now it is not only obvious that both positions cannot be correct, but that one must be right and one must be wrong. Let us disagree as to position if we must, and let us love one another in our disagreement as I am sure we do, but let us not say that both are Scriptural. This kind of reasoning would be an argument for the double standard, so characteristic of the equivocating relativism of Neo-Orthodoxy and Neo-Evangelicalism. While in the sphere of service the will of God may differ for each individual Christian (John 21:20-22), in the sphere of truth versus error there is no double standard. What is right for one is right for all, and what is wrong for one is wrong for all. And it is never right to do wrong to do right - never!
Whatever Peter's problem involved it was certainly not that of obstinate rebellion against the Word of God. Momentary reluctance at the acceptance of an additional revelation of the Divine will, yes, but not a deliberate setting aside of the authority of the Word. I believe that those commentators who say that Jewish tradition caused Peter to become prejudiced against the Gentiles, even to the keeping of salvation from them, are mistaken. He was telling the truth when he said in Acts 10:28 that it was unlawful for a Jew to have social intercourse with Gentiles. You say that "he was so rigidly committed to what he understood to be God's will that he was prepared to disobey the direct command from the Lord with the words, 'Not so, Lord.'" If you will permit me the liberty of saying it, I believe this to be a completely false assumption. What he understood to be God's will was God's will up to this point in the prophetic program. Prior to this point in the Divine plan and purpose it would have been wrong for him to do what he did in Acts 10. The ministry of the disciples in the proclamation of the kingdom message was a limited ministry (Matthew 10:5-7), as was also the ministry of our Lord Himself, Matthew 15:24. It was a message and ministry clearly confined to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Why? Was it because of any lack of love or pity on the part of our Lord for the Gentiles? Certainly not. His public ministry was a limited ministry simply because He was conducting that ministry according to the Divine plan and purpose as set forth in the prophetic program of the Old Testament Scriptures. Israel must first be reached and given an opportunity to receive her promised king; then, through a redeemed Israel, blessing would come upon the Gentiles. It was not until after His death and resurrection that our Lord commissioned His disciples to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all nations (Matthew 28:18-20), and even then He had the prophetic program in mind for He commanded them to begin at Jerusalem, then extend their ministry to Judaea, then to Samaria, and then to the uttermost part of the earth, Acts 1:8. It was still the Divine plan to win Israel first, now to the message of the crucified and risen Christ, and then through Israel to reach the rest of the nations. Had Israel received the message of the apostles, Christ would have returned immediately to establish His kingdom upon earth. Though her period of probation lasted approximately forty years, unto 70 A.D., the stoning of Stephen was an indication that the nation as a whole would finally reject the claims of the risen Christ even as they had rejected His claim to kingship during His earthly ministry. All of which means that the establishment of the Kingdom would be postponed, the prophetic program set aside, as the wholly new dispensation of grace was ushered in. It was at this point in the transition that Peter was specially directed to open the door of faith to the Gentiles. Prior to the martyrdom of Stephen the ministry of the apostles had not gone beyond Jerusalem. After his death the Gospel was carried to the second and third spheres of evangelization as outlined by our Lord (Acts 8:1-5). The stage is now set for the dramatic event recorded in Acts 10. As an official representative of the Jerusalem apostalate, Peter was used of the Lord to prepare the way for the ministry of Paul the apostle of the Gentiles (whose conversion as one born out of due time is recorded in the previous chapter) and the revelation of the dispensation of grace. Thus the transition from one dispensation to another was effected in perfect harmony. And Peter was the key to the transition. True, he was momentarily reluctant as most of us tend to be when called to a new sphere of service. But it would be completely unfair to charge him with disobedience on the ground that he was placing loyalty to a purely personal and private conviction above loyalty to the Lord Himself. Up to this point Peter had been in perfect harmony with the revealed will of God, not in conflict with it, and the Lord was simply giving him an additional revelation.
In your reference to Abraham it seems that you are laboring under the impression that the command to sacrifice Isaac was contrary to a previous revelation of the Divine will. Scripture clearly forbids (1) wanton shedding of human blood and (2) human sacrifice to false gods, but nowhere in the Word of God is human sacrifice forbidden to the true and living God. If this were so, Calvary itself would be immoral, for it was there that God offered His own Son as a sacrifice upon the cross. The offering up of Isaac is symbolic of the sacrifice of Calvary. While such a sacrifice as that required of Abraham would only be performed by a very special Divine decree, there was nothing at all inherently wrong in the command itself. In issuing such a command God was most certainly not contradicting Himself or any previous revelation He had made. The exercise of Abraham's faith is remarkable, not in that he complied with a command to do something that was wrong in order that he might trust God to bring right out of it, but in that he yielded implicit obedience to an additional revelation of the Divine will in a trial of faith so severe that only one man in all of sacred history was subject to it.
In neither the example of Peter, nor in that of Abraham, do I see any argument for the double standard. Neither do I see it in the ministries of Elijah and Elisha. While it is obvious that the circumstances surrounding the ministry of one man are never the same identical circumstances as those which surround the ministry of another, the underlying principles upon which each conducts his ministry are the same. There is no double standard. Throughout the Scriptures the manner in which God deals with the first instance of any typical situation is of the utmost significance. At the institution of the priesthood Nadab and Abihu were slain on the spot when they offered strange fire before the Lord (Leviticus 10:1-7). The severity of the judgment indicates the severity of the sin. And while it is obvious that God does not visit immediate judgment upon all who commit the same sin, it happened once at the very beginning of the priesthood to indicate for all time the Divine displeasure and judgment against all who commit the same kind of sin. The same is true of Ananias and Sapphira in the New Testament (Acts 5:1-11). How many saints would drop dead on the spot were the Lord to visit immediate judgment upon all who commit the sin of Hypocrisy! It happened only once at the very beginning of the history of the church to indicate the Divine displeasure and judgment against all who commit the same kind of sin. It is a lesson for all time. The same thing is true of the example cited in I Kings 13. The incident occurred at the very institution of Jeroboam's idolatry. Both the man of God from Judah and the old Prophet are unnamed. They are representative men. And while again it is obvious that God does not visit immediate judgment upon all who commit the same sins, as these men committed, the incident involves a lesson for all time making manifest the judgment of God upon the sin of idolatry and compromise therewith. Those who commit the same sin as the man of God from Judah are under the same judgment. And those who choose to dwell at Bethel, making their home in the place of apostasy instead of separating from it, become stumbling-blocks to others just as surely as did the old prophet who occasioned the death of the young prophet.
Were not those who separated themselves from Jeroboam's apostasy doing right in the sight of God? Most certainly they were. Why did they do what they did? Because they "set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel." (II Chronicles 11:16) It is obvious, is it not, that the old prophet was not numbered among those who had a heart for God or he would have done the same thing they did. Surely you do not mean to infer that his choosing to remain at Bethel in the place of apostasy was by Divine constraint, or that it had Divine approval. Pray tell me, just what kind of witness did he have by remaining at Bethel? What protest did he make against the wickedness of Jeroboam? Absolutely none. And when his sons relayed to him the message of judgment pronounced by the young prophet against the altar at Bethel, it must have stung him to the very quick. It must have smitten him to the very core of his conscience. What a rebuke to be found at home in the place upon which God pronounced so serious and solemn a judgment! Nor is this merely my own private opinion. I quote from The Pulpit Commentary, Volume 11, page 295 "It is quite clear that the virtual ex-communication which the man of God had pronounced had made as great an impression as the signs which he had showed. The interdict was a matter which came home to the Bethelites, as an affront to the whole community." (v. 11) On verse 12 it has this to say: "The question shows that the old prophet thoroughly understood the import of those 'words,' and that his first thought was that the interdict must be removed at any cost." The comment on verse 13 is: "This prompt and seemingly abrupt command - though we cannot be sure that all the conversation is here reported - shows his instant resolve to follow. Those are the words of one who had made up his mind, coute que coute, to bring the man of God back." And for what purpose did he wish to bring him back? Very obviously, to nullify the message of judgment by seducing him into a situation of compromise. Yes, I think we can honestly say that this nefarious scheme devised by the old prophet was the direct consequence of his own compromise in the choice he made to continue his residence at Bethel, the place of apostasy. One thing certain, he would not have been there to become a stumbling-block to the young prophet had he gone down into Judah with the rest who had a heart for God.
What shall we say about Elijah and Elisha? The first thing to be said is that they did not come upon the scene until some sixty years after the institution of Jeroboam's idolatry, and therefore had no immediate responsibility in relation to the Bethel incident. Each generation is responsible in its own generation and in its own peculiar circumstances for doing what is right in the sight of God. The fruit of apostasy does not ripen over night, or do all of the consequences of compromise become immediately apparent in their effect. As it is today, so it was in that far off day. There were doubtless many in the Northern Kingdom who, though they had not the courage to pay the price of separation by leaving their homes and moving down into Judah (as did those described in II Chronicles 11:13-17), chose a less extreme course. They adopted the expedient retaining their residence in Israel, yet continued to go to Jerusalem to worship. Loyalty to the Lord did not die out immediately. Nor did God abandon them to final judgment immediately. The course they had chosen was not a safe course however, for as time went on the number became fewer and fewer, and their loyalty less and less. It is indeed remarkable that on the very eve of the destruction of the Northern Kingdom there were still some who responded to the invitation of Hezekiah, II Chronicles 30:1-11. They were just a few, for after two hundred long years of ever deepening apostasy by far the majority rejected the message and ridiculed the messengers.
It was into a nation and among a people in an advanced stage of apostasy that Elijah was thus born. He was not responsible for that, since this was a factor not of his choosing. From the very moment he is introduced to us he stands out as a strict separationist. Of the inhabitants of Gilead, he was literally a stranger, an immigrant, living on the other side of the Jordan - just about as far away from the center of apostasy as he could be. As was his antitype, John the Baptist, so Elijah was a son of the deserts and forests of a rugged and unsettled region. He was not a product of the cities; he was not a city-dweller. His appearance before Ahab is abrupt, and is in conjunction with the establishment of Baal worship as the official religion of Israel, I Kings 16:31-33. As the man of God from Judah was sent to protest the idolatry of Jeroboam at Bethel, so now the Lord sends Elijah to protest and judge the establishment of Baal worship in Israel. The very first mention we have of him is in a direct confrontation with the ungodly Ahab. In no sense of the word could it be said that his appearance in the court of Israel was with Ahab's endorsement, under his sponsorship, or with his cooperation! His witness was a witness to, not with. His ministry was surely a ministry of judgment against the wickedness of Ahab. No sooner had he delivered his message of judgment than he was sent by the command of God to Cherith. The name Cherith comes from a Hebrew root which means "to cut off." How is that for separation! He was cut off from the rest of the nation and was so separated that for the next three and a half years old Ahab could not find him, though he searched diligently throughout his kingdom and in the surrounding kingdoms. While the exact location of Cherith cannot be determined, it is said to be before Jordan, i.e., east of Jordan, on the side where he lived and from whence he had come. When the brook ran dry, the Lord sent him clear beyond the border of Israel to Zarephath. Nothing could be more obvious than that he was completely set apart and not at all identified with the witness and worship of apostate Israel. He was not numbered among the prophets who were fed at Jezebel's table!
To be sure, his ministry was a ministry of rebuke and condemnation from beginning to end. What a climax it reached in the showdown on Mount Carmel! The real troublemaker in Israel was not Elijah, the fundamentalist, but ungodly Ahab, the modernist (I Kings 18:17-18). As for the "new evangelical" compromisers, they weren't making a bit of trouble for Ahab. They were "showing love" by keeping the peace. They were good "betweenites" (I Kings 18:21), standing firm in their neutrality! There were seven thousand of them somewhere around, completely conspicuous by their silence. Out-numbered by the modernistic ministerial association, four hundred and fifty to one, Elijah, standing alone (you couldn't tell the "new evangelicals" from the rest of the crowd) for God, threw down the gauntlet, issuing a challenge that would ultimately rid Baal worship from Israel. He seems to have had very little love for the Baalites, for he mocked them and had a good time doing it (I Kings 18:27). In spite of all of his negativism, he did do something positive. He was a good fundamentalist. He repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down (I Kings 18:30). And when God Almighty honored His faithful servant, giving vindication to his testimony (I Kings 18:36-39), the people fell on their faces and acknowledged that Jehovah was the true and living God. Their hearts were turned back to the Lord. Nor was victory complete until every last prophet of Baal was slain, I Kings 18:40. Then, and only then, could God give rain upon Israel, I Kings 13:41. You will understand, of course, that Elijah's use of a literal sword was thoroughly justified since in Israel as a theocracy "church" and "state" were one. Today church and state are separate. The sword we use is not a literal sword, but the sword of God's Word. The peddlers and propagators of false doctrine must be exposed and "slain" by the faithful use of the sharp two-edged sword of the Word in order that the principle and position of absolute separation may be maintained.
Now about Elisha. May I suggest to you that we would never have heard of him, nor the Shunammite woman, nor the prophets who came to encourage Ahab, if it had not been for the prior ministry of Elijah. Elisha would never have been able to conduct his more positive ministry in the Northern Kingdom had it not been for the great God-given victory won by Elijah at Mount Carmel. It was only after the hearts of the people had been turned back to the Lord (I Kings 18:37) that a ministry such as that of Elisha's could have taken place in Israel. God honors any move in the right direction, and when the hearts of the people turned back to the Lord, He gave them every encouragement through the "more positive" ministry of Elisha. It was on this same principle that He encouraged Ahab through the ministry of unnamed prophets in I Kings 20:13, 22, 28. Even after the message of ultimate doom had been pronounced upon Ahab and his house, God honored even the temporary repentance of this wicked man (I Kings 21:27-29), giving every encouragement to a move made in the right direction. No, I certainly would not class Elijah and Elisha in the same category as the old prophet in I Kings 13, who served as a stumbling-block by remaining at Bethel. We have absolutely no objection to anyone going into a place of apostasy if when he gets there he conducts himself as did Elijah in his confrontation with Ahab and the prophets of Baal. And while the ministry of Elisha was more positive in some respects, it should be remembered that both were of the same spirit (though doubled to Elisha), and that Elisha's more positive ministry was made possible by the Baal-destroying ministry of Elijah. The rather lengthy record of Elisha's ministry indicates that it was a ministry of confirmation to the work of Elijah and an encouragement to continue in the direction begun. Thus it was that Elisha identified himself with the sons of the prophets, accepted the hospitality of the Shunammite woman, ministered during the reign of successive kings, until judgment upon the house of Ahab had been brought to completion. While under the ministry of Elijah and of Elisha Baal-worship was exterminated from Israel and a temporary move made in the right direction, the Northern Kingdom never did recover from the idolatrous practice instituted by Jeroboam and ultimately passed under the judgment of God from which she never returned, II Kings 17:7-23. About fifty years before the end came the Lord took a farmer by the name of Amos, made him a prophet, and sent from Judah up to Bethel to deliver a further warning of judgment and impending doom, Amos 7:10-17. We do not object to anyone being in the place of apostasy if they will do what Amos did when he got there.
Was not the worship of Jehovah centered at Jerusalem? Did He not promise to place His Name there? And did He not require that every Israelite male should appear before Him three times a year? Cf. Deuteronomy 16:5-17. Even in exile, long after Judah had been carried into Babylonian captivity when the temple itself was in ruins and it was utterly impossible for him to worship at Jerusalem, the prophet Daniel looked in the direction of Jerusalem when he prayed, Daniel 10. The hopes and aspirations of every pious Jew, even when in captivity, was centered in Jerusalem, Psalm 137:1-9. If God honored the faith of Daniel and others like him even when out of the land, surely He would honor the faith and obedience of those who separated themselves from the Northern Kingdom and went down into Judah for the purpose of identifying themselves with the worship of the Lord at Jerusalem, even though Judah herself was bent to backsliding. I quote from the Pulpit Commentary, Volume 14, p. 134: "Sin, and a grievous tale of it, were the woe of even Judah; but its core was never quite unsound, and its perpetuity was never broken; while rottenness was the very core of Israel, and Jeroboam and their staff was to be broken absolutely." There was no "lamp" left in Israel. It was in Jerusalem that God, according to the Davidic covenant, established and maintained a "lamp" even though the nation itself was in a backslidden condition, I Kings 15-5; I Kings 11:36. There were a number of revivals in Judah, yet even after the elimination of Baal worship through the ministries of Elijah and Elisha, when it appeared as though the nation might be headed in the direction of a genuine revival, the Northern Kingdom never did recover to the point of renouncing the idolatry of Jeroboam. By going down into Judah, those who did so were doing the right thing. They were in the right place, the place where they could honor God, and where God would honor them. The place where one worships is important to God.
It is utterly inconceivable to me how you can possibly see any endorsement of the Scribes and Pharisees and their ministry by our Lord in Matthew 23:1-3. The very purpose of this passage is actually to divorce the authority of the Law from the authority of the hypocrites who were teaching it. Dr. Scofield has an excellent note at this point which reads: "Jesus' disciples were to honour the law, but not the hypocritical teachers of it." Had He not already warned His disciples against the evil leavening influence of the diabolic doctrine of both the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matthew 16:6-12)? How then could He now possibly be conceived of as endorsing their pernicious doctrines developed through the tradition of men (Matthew 15: 1-9)? Did He not tell His disciples to let them alone (Matthew 15: 12-14)? You say Christ never abandoned the synagogue and the temple, nor challenged the people to come out of them. Just what do you think He was doing in Matthew 11:20-30? After pronouncing judgment upon certain cities, which would certainly include their synagogues, He issues an invitation to individuals to come unto Him and find rest of soul. Just what do you think He was doing in Matthew 23:37-24:2? Though the destruction of the temple did not take place until 70 A.D., it was a desolate house from the very moment that Christ stepped over the threshold for the last time. While His disciples, undiscerning as they were, beheld it as a thing of beauty and splendor, the Lord Jesus saw it as a symbol of an apostate ecclesiasticism with the judgment of God upon it. The eyes of Christ saw it levelled to the ground.
To be sure, He did not abandon these institutions until the apostasy of that generation had reached its climax in their rejection of His claims and ministry. But just what do you think it was that produced that climax, that brought about His final rejection? Was it not His very teaching ministry in the presentation of His claims? What matters the number of Scripture references of which you seem to make so much a point? The entire thrust of His teaching ministry, whether in the temple, synagogues, or outside of them, was in support of His claims against those of the religious leaders. His authority rivalled their authority at every point. The establishment of His claims meant the destruction of theirs. And they knew it! His very ministry in their midst was a constant rebuke to their sin (John 15:22-24) and a continual condemnation of their conduct (John 3:19). If He was openly challenged by them, it was because He had forced the issue and drawn that challenge by the very things that He taught and the manner in which He conducted Himself. His ministry, as also that of the apostles, was designed to ripen that generation for judgment, Matthew 23: 29-36. Surely it was not necessary for Him to berate these religious rascals and bring charges against them on every occasion in order to make it clear that His ministry was dedicated to exposing and opposing their hypocrisy. Berate and bring charges He did when necessary. But a word of warning (Matthew 7:15) or a pointed parable (Matthew 21: 45) would, under ordinary circumstances, serve His purpose just as effectively. One thing is certain: He made it sufficiently clear from the beginning to the end of His ministry that He was not to be identified with them, nor they with Him. There was an eternity-wide gulf between them. The climax was Calvary.
I have before me the listing of Christ's temple visits as found in A.T. Robertson's harmony of the Gospels. While it is sometimes difficult to determine on other occasions if Christ was in the temple or not, those tabulated certainly give a sufficient picture of the case. In every instance in relation to His public ministry, save one - the incident of the widow's mite, there is controversy. At the very beginning of His ministry and again at the very end, He cleansed the temple, claiming it for God. The first act of cleansing was symbolic in that it conditioned the tone and tenor of His relationship to the temple from that point onward. He had thrown down the gauntlet, and every future appearance in the temple was conditioned upon that initial challenge. The final act of cleansing was consequent upon His public entrance into Jerusalem and the official presentation of His claims as King. In response to the acclamation of the multitude He entered the temple to take control, only to be challenged by the religious leaders, Matthew 21:9-17. The cursing of the fig tree the following morning is not without significance. It was symbolic of the judgment pronounced upon a nation that had not borne fruit. Throughout the rest of that week His temple appearances produced nothing but continuous controversy. And before the week was over they crucified Him.
His first synagogue visit at the very beginning of His public ministry also created quite a stir (Luke 4:16-30). I am again making reference to the harmony of the Gospels by A.T. Robertson, in which he lists those visits which are described in some detail. While His preliminary popularity doubtless occasioned the crisis in the synagogue at Nazareth (Luke 4:14-15, 23-24), it was His rebuke of their unbelief through a direct challenge that precipitated it. It was He who forced the issue. What really infuriated them was His reference to the widow at Sarepta and Naaman, two foreigners who through the exercise of faith had experienced the grace of God. The repeated visits of Christ into the synagogues were characterized by a continually heightening controversy which time after time saw Him publicly rebuking those who objected to His ministry and rejected His claims. It was His actions and words that caused the reactions of unbelief and hatred in those who opposed him. The healing and casting out of demons on the sabbath especially incurred the wrath of the hypocritical Pharisees. The antagonism between Christ and these religious reprobates who had assumed authority over the synagogues continually grew more bitter and acrimonious until, in the period of His later Judean ministry, anyone who confessed Jesus as the Christ was excommunicated, John 9:22,34; 12:42-43. And yet you say that the Lord never challenged people to come out of the synagogue or temple! Do you not see that the very act of identification with Christ demanded and involved separation from those citadels of apostate ecclesiasticism? It was absolutely impossible to demonstrate love and loyalty to Christ while remaining in fellowship with them, John 12:42-43. Every invitation recorded in the Gospels was in reality a challenge to the people of that generation to come out from under the influence of the ruling religious hierarchy and thus identify themselves with Christ, even to the taking up of the cross, Mark 8:27-33. Was ever separation from apostate ecclesiasticism more evident than when Christ was hanging upon the cross? This is exactly what is involved in cross-bearing for those who would manifest love and loyalty to Christ. To remain within the synagogue fellowship involved a rejection of Himself and of His words, John 12:42-48.
It is not in the more enumeration of Scripture references that the pattern of our Lord's ministry is portrayed, but in the manner in which He conducted Himself in the presence of the opposition. Again, and again, and again He forced the issue. There were doubtless instances in His early synagogue ministry in which no opposition was manifest, Luke 4:14-15. We would not expect to find Him rebuking apostasy before it had manifested itself! The point of apostasy was reached only after His claims were rejected, and not before. But whenever and wherever He detected the rebellion of unbelief, He forced the issue to a climax. He could, for instance, have refrained from healing on the sabbath day in order to conciliate the Pharisees and avoid offending them, but He didn't. He forced the issue by deliberate design, flaunting His authority in their very faces, Mark 3:1-6; Luke 13:10-17; John 5:8-47; 9:14. At the moment when He might have been made king by popular acclaim, He turned His back upon the offer, refused the allegiance of superficial discipleship, and delivered a deliberate insult to the Jews in the synagogue at Capernaum that causes a multitude of professed disciples to turn away and follow Him no more, John 6:51-66. Had He not forced the issue, they would not have turned away. It would have been far better for Judas Iscariot had he turned back at this time also and our Lord gave him the opportunity, John 6:67-71. He forced the issue again in John 7:14-53, creating a division, and again in chapter eight. He refused to acknowledge the profession of faith of those of whom it is said that they believed on Him (John 8:30) and precipitated a crisis that led to His calling them children of the Devil and an attempt on their part to stone Him, John 8:13-59. He created a division again in chapter nine (9:16); in 10:19-39; in 11:46-57. In the face of this decree (11:57), He rode into Jerusalem (John 12:12-19) in acceptance of their challenge and thus precipitated the final crisis that led to His crucifixion, John 12:23-48. The traitor was a man who had made a deal with the religious rogues, and the Lord Jesus forced his hand in John 13:10-11, 21-30. The characteristic theme of the entire Gospel of John is division - a division produced by the claims of Christ in the conduct of His ministry. Some believed, but the nation for the most part (under the influence of the religious leaders) believed not. The keynote is struck in John 1:11-12 and continues throughout until it reaches its climax at Calvary. As the ministry of Elijah prepared the way for the ministry of Elisha so the ministry of John the Baptist prepared the way for the ministry of the Messiah, John 1:19-34. The axe was laid to the root of the trees by John who ministered in the spirit and power of Elijah, Luke 1:17; 3:2-20. With the rejection of John's ministry (Luke 7:30), it was a foregone conclusion that the ministry of the Messiah would also be rejected. Both came preaching the message of repentance, a word which in itself forced the issue every time it was uttered.
The final apostasy of Israel as a nation did not take place until after their rejection of the message of the risen Christ during the forty year period from 30-70 A.D. Wherever they went the apostles carried the message to the Jew first, making contact in the synagogues. When their message was rejected, they shook the dust off their feet and turned to the Gentiles (Acts 13:14-51). The temple was still standing when the words of Hebrews 13:10-13 were written - a clear call to separation from the temple worship and the apostate ecclesiasticism of which it was the symbol!
Now to the conclusion of the matter: yes, brother Ralph, we differ very definitely in the positions that we hold. I believe that the Word of God commands and requires absolute separation from every form of apostate ecclesiasticism, and from those who compromise therewith; you do not. You believe in the "degree" concept of separation. I believe that the National and World Councils of Churches are apostate organizations, and that membership in a church or denomination identified with these Bible-denying, Christ-rejecting organizations is serious sin in the sight of God; you do not. You believe that this is a matter that is optional. I believe that to be identified with such churches and denominations in worship and witness (apart from actual membership is direct disobedience to the authority of the Word of God; you do not. You seem to feel that the Holy Spirit by some special leading will permit some folk to do that which He has expressly forbidden in His holy Word. I believe that the com- promising principles and practice of the New Evangelicalism, of which Billy Graham is the champion and the symbol, is the most serious threat to the Gospel of God's redeeming grace that Satan in his subtilty has ever launched upon the face of this earth; you do not. You seem to feel that as long as Billy Graham preaches Gospel words God will overlook and excuse his wicked sin of compromise in the interest of "the good that he is doing." I believe that such treachery to the truth and those who are identified with it should be exposed and rebuked, and that the Lord's people should be solemnly warned to have nothing to do with it; you do not. You prefer to remain neutral on the Graham issue, refusing to pass judgment. In a former letter I asked whether you would "take part in, support, or identify yourself in any way with the ecumenical evangelism of Billy Graham if the occasion or opportunity presented itself." To this question you gave no direct answer. I believe that the issue which divides us demands an "either...or" conclusion, and that one of us is right and one of us is wrong; you do not. You believe that the positions are equally tenable according to Scripture; I do not. I believe that the position you hold reflects a solid sympathy for the principles and practice of the New Evangelicalism and that it is therefore unscriptural and dangerous. As for the freedom to choose your own course, that I have recognized and granted throughout. I would never interfere with the personal liberty of any man in the conduct of his ministry. It is purely a matter of position. Yet since our positions are so deeply divergent we are brought to the logical conclusion: "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3) And the answer, of course, is no.
A long time ago, while sitting with me in my home, you expressed your appreciation for the lecture you had recently heard by Dr. Charles Woodbridge on the subject of the New Evangelicalism. You said something to the effect that you had somewhat of a confession to make. Prior to that time you had felt that my position with reference to Billy Graham was very narrow, but after having heard Dr. Woodbridge's lecture you said that you had come to understand why I hold that position, and why I could hold no other. Your statement seemed to me then a definite indication that you were headed in the right direction. The position I maintained then is the position I maintain now; and the position I maintain now is the position I maintained then. It has been consistent throughout. Recently, in fact within the past two months, Dr. Woodbridge's book entitled The New Evangelicalism was published by the Bob Jones University press. I should like to quote at some length from the concluding remarks that he made in his book pages 60-62: "A basic question must still be answered. What shall Bible believers do about supporting local churches, educational institutions, periodicals and missionary or evangelistic groups which are enmeshed in the New Evangelicalism? There are still many churches and organizations around the world which are standing true to the Word of God and which are entirely worthy of support. Search out those groups. Throw your weight behind them. Encourage them in the things of the Lord. If you are not sure which organizations to support, ask advice of some man of God who continues loyal to the Scriptures. But what about the compromisers? May I share with my readers the course of procedure which I follow? A few 'real life' examples will suffice.
"I have before me as I write these words, a copy of the Los Angeles Times. In it I read that ecumenical, compromising evangelism is soon to invade Southern California again. A preparatory institute is being set up. What local churches are involved? I study the list carefully. I find that the names of several well known churches - churches which in the past have been considered evangelical - are included in the list. I conclude that the pastors of those churches, no matter how eloquent preachers they may be, are willing to compromise with error. From now on, unless the pastors have a change of heart, I cannot in good conscience worship in their churches any more than I can conscientiously worship in churches which are in the National Council of Churches. When I learn that a Christian college invites as its Bible Conference speaker a man who is known widely as friendly to the New Evangelicalism, and that the president of the college, instead of repenting of the error, is reported to have said that his hands were tied because he did not want to 'offend his constituency," I lose confidence in that college, I look around for colleges which take a firm stand. When I discover that the president of a theological seminary is a member of a board which is promoting the New Evangelicalism on college campuses; that he writes letters in defense of New Evangelicalism and castigates defenders of the faith; that a large percentage of the seminary board and faculty seems to evince sympathy towards the New Evangelicalism, then I no longer recommend the seminary, And when I learn that a new seminary, true to the Word, is about to be organized, I am delighted and gladly offer my services to the emerging institution.
"When I read that a young people's group, instead of using the evangelistic approach so clearly outlined in the Book of Acts, stoops to folk songs and 'hootenannies' and shoulder-shaking, guitar-strumming antics, on the theory that to reach young people for Christ one must sugarcoat the gospel with worldly arts, then I lose interest in that testimony and seek out other young people's groups which are not compromising. When I discover that the leaders of an organization of Bible study classes for women are taking no stand whatever in the current theological struggle but that instead they have no compunctions about remaining as members of an apostate church, I cannot in good conscience encourage women to join the Bible study classes, For although peripheral spiritual victories might here and there be wrought, the center and core of the movement are tainted, When I read page after page of advertisements in evangelical magazines promoting new evangelical causes, I lay the magazines down and search for others which are true to the Scriptures. I know that good articles may appear even in compromising magazines. But when I am ill and need a doctor, I do not choose a physician who usually prescribes good medicine and occasionally advocates deadly poison for measles! And when we read a Christian journal which purports to espouse orthodoxy and poses as a champion of the Faith but which at the same time denounces those who refuse to condone the deadly compromises of ecumenical evangelism, we lay the magazine down with sorrow. And we sigh, 'Another Christian testimony has succumbed to the wiles of the New Evangelicalism!'"
"When word comes that a missionary agency is practicing ecumenical evangelism on the field, or 'evangelism in depth,' or that its leaders are involved in the new evangelical approach, I cease my support of the agency and look for other missionary Groups which are remaining steadfast. To some this course of conduct may appear to be unnecessary 'pessimism.' Certainly it does not reflect a desire to be swimming in the popular current of compromise: But from the standpoint of the Word of God it is the only procedure which, in a day of-increasing apostasy, is consonant with the revealed will of God." This, brother Ralph, is my position exactly with reference to the New Evangelicalism. It is the position of the old-fashioned fundamentalist of forty to fifty years ago when the line was clearly drawn between truth and error and black was black and white was white, and there were no areas of gray. It was the position of J. Greshem Machen and other stalwarts of the faith under whom Dr. Woodbridge received his training, and under whose successors I received my own. It is not a position arrived at, as you have supposed, through the neglect of certain teachings of the Word in the interest of a false emphasis upon separation, but a position thoroughly consistent with Scripture, and indeed, as Dr. Woodbridge has so clearly and forcefully stated: the only position consonant with the will of God as revealed in His holy Word. It is a position fortified by the doctrine I was taught by godly parents in my home many years ago.
You have asked about my early background. As a boy, like yourself, I was brought up in a Methodist church. Both of my parents taught Sunday School classes, and I was privileged to have my father as my Sunday School teacher. As long as I can remember my home was a sanctuary in which the family altar was observed, the Word of God was honored, and Christ was given His rightful place. The standards I learned then are the standards by which, through the grace of God, I love today. When a modernist preacher came to that Methodist church it posed a problem for my parents. As a boy of eleven years I came home from prayer meeting one night and startled my parents with the
question: "Mother, Daddy, did Jesus ever make a mistake?" I had heard the pastor in the prayer meeting that night say that Jesus made a mistake when He chose Judas Iscariot to be a disciple. But the Jesus I had been taught to believe in didn't make mistakes. He was the sinless Son of God who was absolutely perfect in every way. Through this incident my parents were stirred to the point where, in obedience to the Word of God, they left that Methodist church after informing the pastor as to the reason why and with their family identified themselves with another church in that community where the Word of God was honored and Christ was exalted. They lost many friends in the process, but I thank God to this day for parents who placed loyalty to the Lord above loyalty to a denomination and who refused to permit their children to be brainwashed by the piously poisonous propaganda of a modernistic minister.
It is not at all strange then that this should be the pattern of my own ministry, having had so clear-cut an example to follow. There is a great burden on my heart for the multitudes who sit in denominational churches week after week, who are made to think that they are Christians when in reality they are being subjected to poisonous propaganda in the form of a Christless Christianity which is sending their souls to hell. And shall I stand idly by? Shall I not issue a constant and continual warning to souls in so great peril? By the grace of God, as long as there is breath in my body, I will oppose and expose apostasy wherever I find it and challenge all who are under its influence to separate themselves from it in obedience to the Word of God, I Thessalonians 2:4. Some fifteen years ago the pastor of the very church of which you and your dear wife were once members sat it my home and in response to a question I had asked stated bluntly that he did not believe that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for sin upon the cross or that it ever would be paid. How in the name of all that is holy and true can you possibly justify worship in such a church or denomination when it permits men in the ministry who deny the substitutionary nature of the death of Christ?
I am deeply grateful to the Lord for the fellowship we have enjoyed with you and your dear family through many years. Our love for you remains the same. It grieves me greatly that the situation is such that we are no longer at liberty to continue your support. We earnestly commend you and every member of your precious family to the grace of God through the love of our Lord Jesus Christ - Numbers 6:24-26.
In Jesus' Precious Name,