“VISITING OTHER CHURCHES”

Raymond Elliott

The title of this article was the heading of a brother’s writing on his Blog page.  A portion of the paragraph reads as follows:

“I like to visit other churches when I’m on vacation.  This week I visited three differentchurches.  Wednesday night I worshiped at the First Baptist Church in Proctorville.

Sunday morning I went to Christ Temple in Huntington and tonight I worshiped with the Jefferson Avenue Church of God…It was a great experience and I enjoyed worshiping at all these churches.”  You should also know that this brother is a preacher, having been a member of the church for several years.  However he states that “My view of the church has changed.  I used to think that a true church was one that baptized people for the remission of sins, never used an instrument in worship, observed communion every Sunday, had a plurality of elders and deacons (and refused to call the preacher “pastor”), rejected all five points of Calvinism, and taught a millennial eschatology…”  He now considers his prior convictions as being “very sectarian and exclusive.” 

 I should first of all state that it is not inherently wrong to visit the assemblies of other religious groups.  The apostle Paul often spoke on such occasions and at different gatherings.  A gospel preacher can speak the truth in kindness wherever he might have the opportunity.  Because our religious friends are invited to attend our gospel meetings, it might be expedient to attend their ‘revivals’ when invited.  Our presence would not necessarily condone any false teaching or unscriptural practice.  But please observe that this brother attended the assemblies of various denominations at the same time our brethren were conducting Bible classes and worship assemblies on Wednesday night and on Sunday. This action would infer his loose attitude towards the necessity of observing the Lord’s supper on the first day of the week as well as making sure that one is to worship God in truth (John 4:24). How is it that a preacher/brother has come this far in his actions as to willfully neglect the assemblies of our brethren to meet with different denominational bodies?  I don’t believe such a decision was made impulsively.  Rather, this liberal attitude was formed over time and after much deliberation following various influences exerted upon one’s thinking by the teaching and writing of influential men in our brotherhood and in the denominational world.  I realize that there are usually exceptions to every rule but here are some of the contributing factors, in my opinion, that have led many members of the church to be more inclusive in their attitudes and actions.

  1. In the case of a preacher, mark it down, where he obtained his education in one of our Christian colleges/universities will determine greatly his attitude toward the Word of God and what constitutes the authority in religious matters. Also, his respect and understanding of the church of Jesus Christ will be influenced by his various instructors. If he is taught that there were errors in the original manuscripts of the Holy Scriptures, his attitude toward the Bible will be forever damaged. If his teachers believed that the church of Christ had its beginning in the early part of the 19th century, he will view the church as being just another denomination among countless others. Usually there is a real sense of loyalty to one’s alma mater. When a Christian university conducts a lectureship, the speakers are generally chosen who represent the philosophy of that school. So, when he attends the lectures year after year and listens to influential men who have liberal views in their theology, he will have the tendency to accept their teaching on various biblical subjects. There are cases wherein teachers of certain Christians universities who were once faithful in their teaching/preaching but over a period of time have drifted away from sound doctrine and no longer view the scriptures as they once did. And in so doing, they continue to influence their former students who have a high regard for them to be led away from the plea to restore New Testament Christianity in its purity and simplicity.
  2. What a person reads makes a definite impression on one’s thought process. Jesus said, “Take heed what you hear…” It could also be said, “Take heed what you read.” What we ingest by reading, we often become. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he; and what we think is often determined by what we read. The writings of Greek philosophers, German rationalists, atheists, agnostics, modernists as well as the Word of God have influenced men and women over the centuries. One ‘Youth Minister’ gave his recommendation of books on his blog page that have influenced him over the years. Of the 14 books mentioned, 13 were written by leaders of the Community Church Movement and other denominational authors. Only one book was written by two brothers in Christ and that book was “The Jesus Proposal”. It is not surprising that the articles he writes are tainted with liberal views and a gross misunderstanding of the church of Jesus Christ. Sad to say, that this is the general rule and not an exception. Our younger men are not acquainted with the writings of J. W. McGarvey, Gus Nichols, Rex A. Turner, Earl West, Guy N. Woods, William Woodson, Moses E. Lard and a host of other scholarly writers who were/are faithful members of the body of Christ. Furthermore, these same brethren do not subscribe to reliable publications such as the Gospel Advocate, the Firm Foundation, the Gospel Gazette (on line), the Spiritual Sword, etc. They would prefer reading Wineskins and other liberal papers among us.
  3. Preachers who possess a powerful personality and who are extremely influential are in touch with hundreds and even thousands of members of the church over the internet. One can read their articles/remarks on their blog page almost every day. One brother in Texas has perhaps the largest number of readers and he is one who thinks that the church is simply a denomination among thousands of others. It is alarming at the number of favorable comments he receives when he writes his criticism of the church of our Lord. And what can be said about the influence exerted by this brother via the internet can be repeated many times. Our young men and women listen to what these well known preachers/educators are saying concerning the church, worship and a host of other subjects.

Of course there are other factors contributing to the present apostasy but the three that I have listed are among the leading ones, in my opinion. Lest I should sound too negative, I am very thankful for scores of young gospel preachers who have not bowed their knees to Baal. They are balanced in their understanding of the Word of God and in their proclamation of the gospel of Christ and in doing so; they are avoiding extremism that is dividing our precious brotherhood. May their number increase.