Assessing Our Situation</font>
<font color=indigo size=3 face=times new roman>Carl Ketcherside and Leroy Garrett sowed the tares of the change movement from 1950 to 1985. For those 35 years, the seed lay quietly in the soil, germinating. Occasionally a sprout would appear, but it found no welcome among our churches and was quickly rooted out. But in the decade of the 80s, as the leadership of the old guard began to die off and a new generation of young scholars and preachers began to reach important positions of leadership, the seed began to sprout up across the brotherhood. Rubel Shelly, a strong conservative the first 20 years of his preaching career, suddenly revealed that he had changed his views. He began a bold proclamation of a new approach to Christianity. His book, I Just Want to Be a Christian, was his coming out statement. Suddenly, from a thousand places, voices were heard praising him. 21st Century Christian publishing company in Nashville published everything he wrote, and he flooded the market with his books. At first, David Lipscomb University and churches in Nashville shunned Bro. Shelly, but Abilene Christian and Pepperdine universities feted him. Others took courage from his bold stand, and the first stones of the avalanche began to roll down the mountain side. It is my unscientific guess that some 200 congregations have openly embraced the change agenda. Virtually all of these are large, wealthy, and worldly city churches. Several hundred additional congregations are teetering on the brink. Many of them will likely be lost. Of our schools, Lipscomb, Abilene, Pepperdine, and Rochester College are firmly in the grip of the change agents. Pockets of change agents are ensconced in several of our other schools, but they do not yet have control.
This evil occurred while most brethren were sleeping. Part of our mission has been to awaken brethren to the danger of this change movement and stir them to action. When the progressive element of our brethren went their separate way in the last quarter of the 19th century, the same thing happened. Before our conservative brethren realized the danger, the damage was done and the losses were catastrophic. We lost 85 percent to the Disciples and Christian Churches. Of the 15 percent that were left, 5 percent were under the influence of Daniel Sommer who was a rabid legalist. He was the father of the various anti movements that have hindered us over the last century.
Bro. David Lipscomb, James A. Harding, and a handful of faithful men stood firm against the digressives. They challenged the remnant to take courage and rebuild the damaged kingdom. Within 50 years, the conservatives had recovered and outnumbered those who had left.
Our challenge, now as then, is that while we resist the efforts of unfaithful brethren, we do not allow them to consume us. With one hand, we must wield the sword of the Spirit. With the other, we must wield the hammer and the trowel as we build or rebuild the walls of Zion, as the case may be. We must not allow the unfaithfulness of some to discourage us. There have always been those who turn back (John 6:66-67); those like Demas who loved the evil world (II Tim. 4:10); those like Judas who betrayed our Master. Paul must be our inspiration. The man who allows himself to become consumed by the unfaithfulness of others can easily become negative, bitter, disillusioned, legalistic. Worse still, he can turn away from the church altogether. In either case, Satan wins.
Lets do all the good we can in the few days we yet have to serve. Lets always be faithful (Rev. 2:10) and strive to help others be the same. Heaven will surely be worth it all.</font>
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now