“Third Annual Truth Magazine Lectures”
By Don Martin
When the Guardian of Truth Foundation lectures were still in their formative and tentative stage, some began to warn as to what was coming down the line: A human institution, with its board of directors and treasury serving as a corporate means for brethren to pool their resources to collectively preach the gospel through the institution other than the local church (I Tim. 3: 15). All is well, say its defenders because, “We are not taking monies from churches, but are functioning through individual and private financial support.” The point that they continue to miss is that God has assigned the work of preaching the gospel and edifying the saved to one institution, an entity that God has provided in which and through which Christians are to collectively work in executing this noble exercise (I Tim. 3: 15). God appointed overseers, not a president, vice president, and/or board of directors, are the overseers of God’s collectivity, disseminating the truth and saving souls. The treasury of the local church, God’s institution, that is effected by the free will offerings of the members is the financial means of the functionality of the local church, not the treasury of a human foundation, the Guardian of Truth Foundation.
These brethren declared their right to pursue their human institution substitute in their book, “We Have A Right.” Yes, they think they have a right, even pushing their views and practices to the point of division and then labeling those who cannot stomach the privately supported institution to preach the gospel mentality as divisive and trouble-makers.
Two annual lectures have come and gone and, yet, these brethren persist. A number, even some of their own rank, have openly challenged their practice and trend, but they move forward with greater apparent tenacity and celerity. I admit that they have printed some of the milder objections to their privately supported institutionalism in their magazine, but they have done thus in an admitted attempt to promote unity in diversity. These very brethren some of whom a few years ago were considered to be some of the most conservative among us have now become the purveyors of neo-institutionalism.
I examined today the appointments, both in terms of speakers and assigned subjects for the June 26-29, 2006, annual lectureships and I observed some interesting things. Some of the observations again smack of hypocrisy and both complicity and duplicity. More of the Guardian of Truth Foundation brand of ecumenicalism. One subject assignment that caught my attention was, “Causes of Divorce.” Stan Adams is the designated speaker. Please read carefully what I am about to say, I do not really know what Stan Adams is going to say in terms of “causes for divorce.” I know this, the scriptures only provide one cause for biblical divorce and that is the cause of fornication (Matt. 5: 32; 19: 9). I know of no other cause and to offer one, two, three, or whatever number, is to speak where God’s oracles do not speak (I Pet. 4: 11).
One objection that I have had to the new emerged Guardian of Truth Foundation, in addition to the fact that God has not authorized brethren forming institutions through which to preach the gospel, other than the local church, is that it would by its essential nature promote doctrinal compromise or the, “...let’s agree to play down our differences and accent areas of agreement; thus, continuing to work together.” A number of the men involved in the Guardian of Truth Foundation frame-work know the truth regarding biblical divorcement and preach one cause. They also know that to teach additional causes is to promote and effect fornication and immorality, a serious matter. They are aware that those who teach and defend multiple causes for divorce are injuriously affecting not only the one putting away for a cause other than fornication (such is within itself wrong, Matt. 5: 32, I Cor. 7: 2f.), but also the person put away, the one whom they will no doubt marry, children, family members of all concerned, and the local church where the putting away for a cause other than fornication will want to have fellowship. Again, I would like to believe Stan Adams will preach the truth on divorce, but even assuming he goes straight by the scriptures and shows only one cause, how about his fellowship and close working arrangement in preaching through an institution where its President, Mike Willis, holds and teaches multiple causes for divorce (Mike teaches at least seven or eight causes, in addition to the one Jesus taught, fornication)?
At first, fellows such as your writer were accused of misrepresenting brother Willis in his multiple cause position and teaching. After having to face tons of proof and even clear, overt teaching from Mike himself, I think all are now having to admit Mike’s multiple causes for divorce position (I have never accused Mike of saying one can immediately and directly marry another in the absence of divorce for fornication). Brethren, we are not talking about some “minor doctrinal difference,” which is more philosophic than practical in nature. One argument that is made is that, “...since the Guardian of Truth Foundation is not a local church, we can work together to preach the gospel, even in the situation of doctrinal error.” Herein is another sinful outgrowth of the G.O.T.F. that some of us have mentioned and predicted.
I have noticed that Ron Halbrook continues to be one of the primary promoters, defenders, and spokesmen for the new church, the Guardian of Truth Foundation. I have on repeated occasions politely challenged Ron to public debate, but Ron is too busy. Now he is busy with the gospel meeting or if you prefer, lectures of the foundation. Ron has taken the course that so many take when they have nothing of any substance to present to defend their teaching and practices, the course of, “Let’s not fuss and fight, but just accept and if you resist, we will label you as a bad boy.” Ron’s latest attempt, of which I am aware, came out in the June 15, 2006, issue of Truth Magazine, the publication of G.O.T.F. Beginning on page 374, under the caption of, “At Your Disposal: Letter to a Brother Wounded by Factionalism” Ron writes about allowing one another to, “...have differences in judgment about how to apply a passage or principle to a certain case.” Ron has long contended that the issue of a put away person (no fornication involved) being allowed some how to later put away (when fornication is present) involves simply the application of biblical principle and that we must allow tolerance.
Let me again be plain: I have heard Baptist, Methodists, etc. all make the same argument for over forty years. “It is just a difference in application,” say and reason they. For instance, the scriptures teach water baptism for the remission of sin; hence, the necessity of baptism (Mark 16: 16, Acts 2: 38, 22: 16). These scriptures are plain and decisive. After a similar fashion, the scriptures teach one cause for divorce and that is fornication (Matt. 5: 23, I Cor. 7: 2f.). Post fornication is irrelevant. To divorce for any other cause and to marry another without having put away a guilty mate, all things equal and understood, is sin. We are not talking about an inconsequential difference in application; we are talking about brethren, some of them having a history of doctrinal soundness, who are becoming institutionally yoked with false teachers in their G.O.T.F. affiliation and are now having to try to find ways to justify the arrangement and in so doing, are selling out to sin and the devil!
Yes, these brethren are going to have their “Third Annual Truth Magazine Lectures” notwithstanding any harm they are doing. They are not factionalists, oh no, those who teach that God’s only organization in which Christians collectively function to corporately preach the gospel is the local church, overseen by elders, it is they who are the factionalists. If they yell long enough and loudly enough, they will be heard.
I have now lived and preached long enough to observe first hand two forms of divisive institutionalism among us. First, there was institutionalism seen in the practice of the treasury of local churches being used to build and finance human organizations, such as orphanages, missionary societies, and foundations. The neo-institutionalism we now face is in some respects worse and potentially more debilitating. This new institutionalism, when carried out to its full application (hope Ron will allow me this application difference) competes with and will replace the local church. As one honest brother told me, “I believe our privately supported institutions with their board of directors can do a better job preaching the gospel than local churches with their elders!”