[color=#000000" size="3" face="times]In 1968, Joe South wrote and published the song, "The Games People Play." It was a commentary on the hypocrisy of many in modern society. Being a student and observer of the change movement that is currently troubling the Church of Christ, I have discovered the following games to be common among the leaders of that movement.
Let's Pretend: When a change agent first appears in a congregation of conservative Christians, he will pretend to be one with them. They who are quite happy to worship and serve God as they have long done will thus accept him in their midst, perhaps as their minister, or as a teacher, a deacon, or even an elder. Only after he is firmly established and secure in his position will he reveal his real faith and intention to implement innovative changes to their faith and worship.
A change agent can mingle with conservative preachers and elders at meetings and forums and never let his true faith and convictions be known. He will use all the right words to leave the impression that he is one with them. Even if he is asked to speak, the average preacher or elder might not detect that the man really pities or even despises their conservative views. Only when the winds are favorable will he reveal his true nature.
When interviewing for a position with a congregation, a shrewd change agent can answer all the questions that a concerned eldership might ask, leaving the impression that he is as conservative and loyal to Christ and his Word as they. A few months later, they discover that he has quietly recruited enough of their members to begin pushing for unscriptural changes.
When asked about his views on instrumental music in worship he might respond, "I love our a cappella congregation singing." Or, "We have a wonderful tradition of singing that I fully support." Or, "I believe it's wrong to divide the church over instrumental music." But he did not answer the actual question about using instruments in worship. To him, if they can be introduced without causing a division, he would not object; in fact, he would likely promote the idea.
The same tactic is sometimes used when answering questions about baptism's role in salvation. The change agent might say, "I believe in baptism." But he does not believe that, without it, a believing penitent would be lost. He really believes the sinner is saved by grace through faith and is then baptized to declare his salvation. When asked about the nature of the church, he will declare that he believes in the one church of the Bible, etc. But he really means one mystical, universal church which includes the many denominational churches. He thinks the Church of Christ is only one of those denominations.
In the world of politics, this slippery manipulation of words is described as "spinning" the facts or truth. In scriptural terms, it is the black art of deception, calling evil good and good evil (Is. 5:20).
A second game, closely akin to Pretend, is Catch Me If You Can. In this, the change agent dodges and deflects questions and pretends to be wounded that anyone would doubt his loyalty to the Lord and his church. He operates on the basis that "you can fool most of the people most of the time." All the while he is working to convert members to his errant views, he pretends not to understand why you would doubt his intentions. He is hurt that you question his soundness. Yet he continues to attend all the gatherings of change agents. He reads their books and papers. He shuns those of conservative brethren. He is invited to speak for liberal churches, and they love his message. He leaves the impression that he is on their team. But when the news gets home to his congregation, he dances and dodges, hoping to hold on to his job until he can capture the congregation or, failing that, find a church that does share his views. Only when he is cornered and caught will he finally admit what had long been suspected.
Given the effectiveness of these false teachers, Paul's warning is most timely. "Let no man beguile thee." (II Thess. 2:3).[/color]
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now