Authority, Misunderstood Today?


     I have now lived and preached long enough to fully understand the saying that, "...what goes around, comes around."  It is a fact that most things are cyclical in nature (cp. Eccl. 1: 10).  From the standpoint of history, the ongoing and assiduous real battle has always been Bible authority.  In the full scale, the "new hermeneutic" has long ago been introduced and most of these progressive brethren have now gone the way of the Community Church, grace only, and you name it, movements.  We are now witnessing the "next generation" perform their apostasy and, you guessed it, it involves Bible authority and a basic misunderstanding or, rather, denial of fundamental principles.

     "The scriptures do not say, 'don't do it,' therefore, we have a liberty and may practice it if we desire!," is the long heard rationale.  We are now hearing once well respected brethren say such, notwithstanding the instance of specific teaching being supplied by the Holy Spirit.

     In this vain, please consider Hebrews 7: 14:

"13: For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. 14: For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah; of which tribe Moses space nothing concerning priesthood" (Heb. 7).

     In the case of the priesthood and its attendant requirements, even regarding those eligible to serve, the scriptures were specific (cp. Ex. 28).  The tribe of Judah was not the specified tribe; therefore, it was understood as excluded (Heb. 7: 14).  This is the simple dialectic deduction and inference exemplified in Hebrews 7: 14.

     It was common and to be expected to hear, especially those occupying our pulpits, "...if the scriptures specify in a matter, we are not then at liberty to elect what we want, ignoring the specification and/or adding to the action."  Case in point:  The scriptures specify relative to the kind of music to be used in worship and the kind is vocal music (Eph. 5: 19). The specified instrument is the "heart," hence, the harp, piano, organ, etc. are excluded.  Also, the specific teaching does not allow for the specified to be practiced and in addition, something else. Consider the teaching and its specific nature:

"19: Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord" (Eph. 5: 19).

     If we, then, introduce mechanical music into worship, we are adding to what the scriptures teach and ignoring and/or rejecting what is taught. Simple enough, right?

     Well, what used to be simple and the rallying cry of a number of our preachers is no longer so simple and has now become the source of division.  Let me explain.  Just as the scriptures specify pertaining to the kind of music to be used in worship, the scriptures in like fashion inform us as to the organization in and through which Christians are to collectively preach the gospel.  Consider Paul's instructions to Timothy:

"15: But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (I Tim. 3).

     The local church (context) is the collectivity, having organization, oversight (eldership), and a treasury through and in which Christians collectively function in proclaiming the gospel.  In fact, it is the only organization observed to perform the work of preaching the gospel (see addendum).  I, therefore, have no right or authority for starting a missionary society to preach the gospel, having its own oversight (president, vise president), structure, charter, and treasury, even if it does not involve or accept monies from local churches.  I must conclude this based on the principle of authority set forth and applied, the principle enunciated in Hebrews 7: 14.

     Notwithstanding the above simple and absolutely established truth, some brethren continue to promote, push, and gloat over their human organization to preach the gospel, I am referring to the Guardian of Truth Foundation. This entity has organization, oversight, and a treasury and has now begun to conduct gospel meetings (changing the phraseology to "lectureships" does not change what they are doing).  Even though their error has been many times exposed, they shamelessly persist. In fact, it is now time for the "Fourth Annual Guardian of Truth Foundation Lectureship."  These foundation men, some of whom were once warriors for the cause of Christ, challenging and debating error, now suddenly do not believe in debating.  They continue, though, to pridefully work through
their human foundation to collectively do the work God has assigned to his only collectivity, the local church and they persist in their unity-in-diversity spirit and denominational concept of "fellowship."

     Additional erroneous teaching is now coming from these men and, I predict, more will come, as they seek to find ways to justify playing church in their foundation.  "We are simply performing individual action though and in the setting of a collectivity," they are saying.  I cut my teeth debating rank institutionalism in some churches of Christ back in the sixties regarding their similar justification.   The very idea of "performing individual action though and in the setting of a collectivity" is an insult to any thinking and concerned Christian.  When individuals come together in an entity arrangement such as the Guardian of Truth Foundation, having structure, mission statement, oversight, and treasury, to perform a work, it is not simply the individual, but the entity in action; hence, a collective work.

     Ignoring basic Bible authority in the matter of when God specifies, man does not have the right to elect another; practicing denominational fellowship; and arguing for individual action in the collective setting are just the beginning.  These brethren have all entered the ship of apostasy and it is now sailing away to foreign waters.  "Why  want they debate you?," some of us are asked almost every week.  I am not sure that I have the full answer. However, how can they defend their unscriptural concepts and practices? Some of them will write about "divisive brethren who ride their hobbies" (obviously referring to those who teach against what they are doing) and "Bullies" (again those who challenge them), but do not expect these men to straightforwardly engage in honorable controversy.

     Well, how about their "Fourth Annual Guardian of Truth Lectureship?"  I am sure it will happen and that many of the promoters of such will write how successful it was.  As far as I am concerned, such is flaunting spiritual rebellion and contumacy!  The Guardian of Truth Foundation is a current example of authority being misunderstood today.  Remember, when God's word specifies (local church), we are not left with the option to introduce another to either replace or serve in addition (foundations, etc. to preach the gospel).

Addendum:  To argue that those who oppose the Guardian of Truth Foundation conducting gospel meetings are simply against a publishing company or Christians being involved in a service production for profit situation is outright slander.  It should be obvious to every thinking person that the Guardian of Truth Foundation is more than simply a book publishing company or a business providing a service for profit.