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Vol.XI No.I Pg.2
March 1974

Pray For Jimmy!

Robert F. Turner

Pray for Jimmy Ledbetter! He is a young man of sixteen summers, Senior in Smith County Consolidated High School somewhere in Georgia, Arkansas or Oklahoma. He is going to preach his first sermon this coming Sunday.

Jimmy is a better-than-average student, slight of build, with a sensitive nature and a love for people. His parents are members of the Center Grove church, where Jimmy was baptized two years ago, and where he has been worshiping and taking part in a Training For Service class. He has the idealism of youth, scotched with honest emotions. His dress and, speech are on the mod side, but this is style in a moderately affluent home rather than a sign of rebellion. For Jimmy is a believer!!

He believes in his parents, in his country, and in his God— although he fails to realize it is in this order. He trusts his peers, and almost idolizes the preacher. To the extent of his youthful understanding he truly believes the world is filled with people just waiting to be told how to live for Jesus, and go home to heaven. And tomorrow he will believe his own voice, and the promises he makes in the name of Christ.

Pray for Jimmy Ledbetter!! For he faces empty praise— or silence from those who should encourage him. If he pursues his course he faces pressure to adjust to a professional status. His friends will tell him how to make the most (money) of his talents. His favorite preacher will prove to be something less than the Apostle Paul. He faces the cynic who scorns ideal ism, thinking every good del has a selfish motive. And General Unconcern will lead the opposition.

Pray for Jimmy, for he soon must face himself! As he forms and speaks his own thoughts he will differ with others, and with his own past. He will be surprised, perplexed, proud, and angered by those differences; and he will have to decide what to do about it. Pray for Jimmy Ledbetter, for his world of black and white is about to be shattered by grays. His faith is about to be torn and tested, and its center will swing wildly from teacher to God, to self, to light, to darkness. Pray for Jimmy Ledbetter!!

For a few Jimmys will settle their Faith upon God. A few will accept the divine standard as their ideal, and will convince others to reach for it. A few will believe they can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth, and on these Jimmys hang the future of the church, and the world.

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Vol.XI No.I Pg.3
March 1974

Sores Of Discord

Dan S. Shipley

Where two or three are gathered together there is apt to be trouble. Or, so it seems from the distressing reports we hear of the many churches currently engulfed in turmoil and strife. There is seemingly no end to this Satan-satisfying discord and division, not to mention the bitter affliction it brings and leaves among Gods people. Even apart from those problems that might be called doctrinal, many churches continue to suffer with some form of internal strife, often to the point of biting and devouring and division (Gal. 5:15). More often than not such problems will be traceable to trifles that have been inflated by pride and bad attitudes.

Consequently, the slightest disagreement between brethren, with a little nurturing, rehearsing, and advertising, can develop into a festering and sensitive congregational sore. Such things as hearsay remarks, imagined mistreatment or being crossed in the least way can easily become the germs for creating an epidemic of church troubles. As James writes concerning one aspect of such problems, Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! (Jas. 3:5). The best fire control is spark control. Related to people, this means self-control in the very beginning of real or imagined friction. Self-control is essentially keeping the heart, from whence are the issues of life (Prov. 4:23). It is here that potentially dangerous sparks such as evil surmisings and vain imaginations are snuffed out; from here the sparks of pride and tongue are easily extinguished. Ignoring the germs and sparks of people-problems almost insures worse. But, we knew all along what THEY needed and what THEY had done in walking disorderly! If we could just get THEM to see—thats the problem isnt it? NO! The problem is getting ME to see! —to see that the first application of gospel truth must be to SELF. Isnt it strange that neither side of most disputes ever entertain the idea that they might be in the wrong? —or even partly to blame? Truly, it is much easier to be critical than to be correct (Disraeli). Vision is no poorer than in the man who is blinded to his own weaknesses. We see such a man in the self-righteous Pharisee (Lk. 18:9-14); we see such a church at Laodicea (Rev. 3:17). No wonder God says, examine yourselves (2 Cor. 13:5). No honest man can examine another better than he can examine himself. And only as honest men recognize and confess their sins will the ends of truth be served.

However, even with my best efforts there is no guarantee that I will not be mistreated by others. What then? Do I complain loud and long and peddle my ill will? Quit? Go elsewhere? No, there is a better alternative; one suggested by Paul to other brethren who had been wronged: Why not rather take wrong? (1 Cor. 6:7) Doing so proves one to be like Christ and acceptable with God. (1 Pet. 2:20-23) It is the proof of genuine love —the kind that suffers long, does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not its own; the kind that is not provoked, bears and endures all things (1 Cor. 13) and which is the bond of perfectness (Col. 3:14). What better balm for the sores of discord? May God help ME to apply it.

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Vol.XI No.I Pg.4
March 1974

The Australian Trip (Part 4)

Robert F. Turner

The Feb. 74 issue of PLAIN TALK (available upon request) contained a partial report of a series of missions which bro. Harry Pickup, Jr. and I conducted in Australia the last three months of 73. This issue will conclude that report. It should be understood that I do not speak for bro. Pickup, but include his work as part of my view of the journey.

Following our break week, Harry went to Sydney for a mission with the Pt. Hacking church, and reports from there indicate good interest, with 18 first-time non-members in attendance. Bro. Jim Beech (U.S. preacher in Wagga Wagga, NSW) took me to the twin-cities of Albury, NEW and Wodonga, Vic., where I was joined by bro. Max Burgin. We batched in a trailer.

Bro. and sis. Simon Valk came to Australia from Holland, determined to establish a church wherever they settled. They met in a hall in Albury for many months before a single non-member could be interested. There were good days, when a dozen or more saints met with them, and they have witnessed some baptisms. But backslidings and moves have repeatedly discouraged them. Our one-week stay was woefully inadequate. I taught a home class, Max and I talked to weak saints far and near, and we rejoiced when the janitor of the hall and his wife visited with us. But we left Albury with heavy hearts. A full-time worker is needed in this growing community of 40,000 people.

On Saturday (travel day) Max took me to Melbourne, Vic., where I joined bro. Rolly McDowell for a transcontinental flight to Perth, W.A. I had an invitation from Dr. Harry Blackmore to visit his home, and I anticipated Bible studies there. I also hoped to break down some prejudices which U.S. liberal preachers had imported to Australia. (It was from Perth that Marvin Phillips (1967) had sent out his mimeographed attack on Antis in an effort to block conservative men.)

Bro. Blackmore and his family were very hospitable, but told us letters had been received warning brethren against us. However, a group of men had agreed to meet with me in a home, and ask questions. On Monday I rode to the place of meeting with an Australian preacher who admitted he had never heard or read anything I taught but declared he would not believe any thing I might say. I suggested he should at least get something first-hand so he would know what he was anti. Seventeen men gave me a going over that night — and the men were separated from the boys; the rabid anti-antis from fair-minded but by no means soft-hearted brethren.

The week was filled with Bible and more Bible study. Not all agreed, but I preached to a house filled with good people on Friday, and we parted friends — including the anti-anti preacher. This was one of the most profitable weeks of the trip; due largely to bro. Blackmores great heart, and the wonderful assistance of Rolly McDowell from Bundy.

Isnt it sad that U.S. brethren, are so unwilling (or unable?) to get together for a calm Bible study of differences?

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Vol.XI No.I Pg.5
March 1974

The Australian Trip (Part 5)

Robert F. Turner

While we were in Perth, Harry was in a mission with Jim Beech, at Wagga Wagga. Now, we met at the Melbourne airport, and Harry and I began a one week. mission with the Heidelberg church. American influence has broken and rolled over this church like surf of the sea. Campaign converts have come and gone, U. S. preachers have split the church when they couldnt have their way, personal feuds have taken their toll. Credit should be given Bill Hall (now in Birmingham) for working among these folk without trying to Americanize them. But I saw a church of loose ends that must somehow be pulled together if it is to accomplish much. We preached, and talked —and felt a little like the very thing we did not want to be, i.e. another wave, that would soon flatten out and be gone. Of course waves have a way of changing coast-lines. Hmmm!

One Sunday, Harry made a 90 mile trip to preach at Geelong; and I rode across town to preach at Footscray, Boronia, and then at Heidelberg— a full day. There are five small conservative groups meeting in Melbourne (2,500,000) plus one liberal church; but the work is scarcely begun in so large a place. Bob Wickham and his bride (former Susan Dow, daughter of the late Alf Dow, preacher) are awake to the needs; and there are several live workers in Boronia with my friend and helper, Max Burgin.

For our last full week, I flew to Tasmania; while Harry had a two-day debate in Wagga (Holy Spirit), then had a short meeting in Boronia before joining me in Tassy. I really like Launceston, and enjoyed preaching for the wonderful little church there. My days were taken in study and preparation of charts for a public debate on institutionalism, with U.S. Jim Waldron. Launceston brethren arranged this, intending a study with formal and informal sessions of questions, audience participation, etc., but Jim insisted on formal debate. As I had only negative speeches, I had to plan a counter-affirmative, hoping to let the people see what I really taught, and this made for a crammed study. So much useless quibbling and sectarian spirit could be avoided if brethren would try to understand one-anothers position, and calmly discuss it. Poor Jim thought I opposed several churches sending aid to a needy church or support to an evangelist. Oh me!!

Phil Morr and family were in Tassy on a short vacation, and when Harry and Max Burgin came for the debate we had a regular reunion. John Grimditch, Barry Huine, Max Hillier, Harry Martin, —these are names to be long remembered, for they and their families made us feel at home on that far-away island. But— Harry and I forced ourselves to board a jet, come Dec. 18, and headed for Sydney, Fiji, Hawaii, and smog-filtered sun-kissed L.A. (I asked Harry to refrain from kissing the ground— just pat it lovingly.)

Australia is a mature, English-speaking country, with sound money, a stable government, and immense natural resources. Closely tied to America and England, it may well be the mixture of the best of both. A nucleus of sound churches exist, giving us open doors. Will God forgive if we neglect this clarion call??

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Vol.XI No.I Pg.6
March 1974

Heart In Tune With Lips

Robert F. Turner

Each first Wednesday the Oaks-West church has a singing: training our song leaders, learning more about praising God in song. We also ask one of our young men to make a short talk. Lynn Fleming made this fine talk, and I wanted you to read it. Lynn is 16 years old, still a first-year saint.

I believe that many people do not realize that singing is just as much a part of worship as a sermon from the preacher. Singing has always had a place in the Christians worship and always will, Singing involves much more than reading lines of words on a sheet of paper and putting them to music. In Eph. 5:l9 it says, Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.

It is a terrible thing in divine worship to draw close to God with the lips while the heart is far from Him. It is often that in public worship people are carried off from the meaning of the words because they allow their minds to stray to worldly matters. Your heart should always be in tune with your lips. When we sing songs we are singing them to God: praising him for everything we have and giving him thanks for the many blessings that have been bestowed upon us. So when we sing to God we should sing in a manner that brings glory unto him. In Heb. 13:l5 it says, By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name.

Sometimes people are hesitant about singing. They are worried about whether or not they can sing well enough to participate in the song. There are those who do not even bother to open a hymnal. To those who are worried about how well they can sing, all you have to do is realize that you are not singing to please man, you are singing to please God. In Col. 3:16 it says, Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. To those who do not even bother to open a hymnal, either you know the song by heart, or you are not doing what you should to please God.

Picture yourself as a visitor our church; what would be your opinion of our singing? I am not talking about the quality; I am talking about how much participation there is, and how happy we are to be singing praise to the Lord. Suppose a visitor was here tonight— and there is. How much stronger in the faith would he grow by attending tonights service?

Have you ever skipped a singing service maybe because you thought, since tonight is practice night I do not need to attend? Well, if you have. you skipped much more than a practice. You skipped a chance to worship God,

You might ask yourself a question If everyone sang as I sang tonight, how much more or Jesus would we have glorified God. In Psm. 95:1 it says, O come let us sing unto the Lord, let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. (Lynn Fleming)

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Vol.XI No.I Pg.7
March 1974

You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Dear bro. Turner:

Should there be any difference in the wording of a private prayer and a prayer led publicly? HA

Reply:

When Jesus condemned praying to be seen of men (Matt. 6:5) he used as contrast, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret—. But this intimate, private, direct prayer to God was not a prohibition of public prayer, properly done. Nor did He say that privacy necessarily eliminates hypocrisy or self-centeredness. Note the Pharisees prayer with himself— Lu. 18:10-f. There is much more to acceptable prayer than certain externals so often emphasized.

Private prayer may be repetitious without being vain (Matt. 6:7). Jesus prayed three times, saying the same words. (Matt. 26:44) In His earnestness his sweat was as it were great drops of blood, (Lu. 22:44). On a more joyous occasion Jesus rejoiced in spirit (Greek signifies exhulted) saying, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth,—(Lu. 10:21). As would be expected, our private prayers are less formal, more moved by emotions, and may be made acceptable by virtue of Gods insight into our hearts (Rom. 8:26-27), even when we know not what we should pray for as we ought.

But public prayer must be understandable to those people who hear it. In 1 Cor. 14: Paul reproved those who overlooked the listener, saying, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? (vs. 16). When one leads in prayer in our public assemblings, he is not to forget all others. In effect, he is speaking for them; although only those who follow the prayer and mentally make the same petition, really pray to God.

It may shock some to realize that Jesus prayed to be heard of men in a sense. Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. (Jn. 11:41-42) And the early church quoted scripture in public prayer, saying Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven and earth and the sea and all that in them is; Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage— etc. (Acts 4:24-30; see Psm. 2:1-3).

There is good reason to voice, in public prayer, some things understood and not consciously framed in private petition. In Christs Name is not a verbal formula — something which makes prayer acceptable by the saying. One need not utter in the name of Lord Jesus in order to do acceptable deeds. (Col. 3:17) But we should, with good reason, express in public prayer what we are doing. Likewise, our praise of God may take a form publicly which we would not necessarily express privately. Objectively note the wording of prayers cited above. Do you honestly see a formula there?

Finally, unless our prayer is the pure cry of a contrite heart, neither word nor posture can wend it to God.

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Vol.XI No.I Pg.8
March 1974

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

Do you believe in singing with the spirit and the understanding? Well of course you do! So you will be vitally interested in having a correct understanding of the phrase, fine-tooth comb. You know — in that song: Remember that rainy evening I drove you out, With nothing but a fine-tooth comb. Its part of Come Home Bill Bailey.

Through the years I sang that song thinking that she threatened to pull his hair or scratch out his eyes with a fine-tooth comb. Didnt seem likely she could beat him over the head with it. Then, while delving into some of the deeper things, it occurred to me that this might be allegorical language— a treasure in a trope, so to speak. Yes, we should first consider all passages in the most obvious literal sense. The Greek is of little help in this case, there being (to my knowledge) no Greek manuscript; and if there were, the context has to determine figurative usage. But here I believe the context favors an allegorical interpretation. Hear me out!

Bill Bailey was a man. She moaned for him; promised to cook, pay the rent, etc., if he would return. No man could be run away from something like that with a fine-tooth comb used as a literal weapon. And notice she says, I know I done you wrong. We must try to reconstruct the scene and apply real interpretive talent.

Considering the fine-tooth comb figuratively, we have an instrument that represents nit-picking— searching endlessly for very small object to criticize. Her confession of wrong doing also leads me to believe that these small things were not actual errors, worthy of criticism-- (these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Matt. 23:23) but they were evidence of her overly critical nature— doubtful disputations about matters of opinion, (See Rom. 14:). In modern speech or amplified versions it might read, I drove you out of my life by continually pick-picking, nag-nagging, about many things of no real consequence. (RFT)

Now that fine-tooth comb has driven many a man from his home, man a church-member from the assembling with saints, many a preacher to selling insurance, even though the latter end may be worse than the beginning.

There are some powerful lessons a right understanding of what we sing.

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Vol.XI No.II Pg.1
April 1974

"Be Not Anxious"

Robert F. Turner

In Matt. 6: (sermon on mount) Jesus teaches, Be not anxious—. Do not worry about food, clothing, or tomorrow. And we, who claim to be followers of Christ, go right on worrying about food, clothes and tomorrow. Is this a deliberate rebellion against the Lords will, or are we unable to control our fretting?

Just in case you choose the latter (like who wouldnt?) perhaps we need to examine the context of the be not anxious passages, and see the basis upon which Jesus expects this difficult and seemingly impossible spirit.

Beginning with vs. 19, He tells us to make heaven our goal and count spiritual gains our treasure rather than the silver and gold of earth. He says Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. We will think:, and be concerned about, that which is most dear to us.

Then He says, No man can serve two masters;... Ye cannot serve God and mammon. A divided allegiance is impossible — and that could explain why it is impossible for us to stop our worrying. There is no way for me to be not anxious about material things if my heart is centered upon material things. The Lord of our life is either material or spiritual; it cannot be both.

Be not anxious for the morrow: (vs. 34), for those who seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness are confident that all needful things shall be added unto them. It is when we are not too sure about God that we become not too sure about tomorrow: O ye of little faith! (v.30)

And the greatest anxiety of all (though this is a subconscious feeling for many) is the guilt complex. If I could not believe in the Lords promise of forgiveness my life would be miserable. But here too there is obligation. I must obey Him (Acts 2:38) and I must forgive others (vs. 12-15). The blessings are there, if we will but appropriate them unto ourselves in keeping with His will.

Freedom from anxiety is impossible only for those who have not really learned to put their trust in God.

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Vol.XI No.II Pg.2
April 1974

Social Reaction

Robert F. Turner

Twenty years ago, as the social functions of churches increased and brethren began to tap the treasury for fun and frolic, some sounded a justified cry of alarm. History students were seeing a repeat of the steps in digression apparent in the past century. I remember attending a class at the ACC lectures and hearing a teacher say that the church had an obligation to develop saints spiritually, mentally, physically and socially. I asked for Bible authority, and was cited Lu. 2:52 — which tells how Jesus grew, and has nothing to do with the function of the organized church. Social fellowship was called Christian fellowship— and the church treasury was used to buy softballs.

In 57 I wrote some articles on the Social Gospel— tracing the historic background of this philosophy, and showing its evolution into churches through our educational efforts. Others wrote and preached about the social gospel and pointed to general welfare institutions as examples of emphasis upon this world welfare that was slowly replacing the proper emphasis upon eternal benefits. But as the battle spread it was easier to shock people with examples of church fishing camps and greased pig races than to dig out the fundamental error of the social gospel concept. Many churches were building kitchens and having parties, so this was fuel too.

And soon the very mention that brethren were getting together socially was proof to some that they had swallowed the social gospel. The liberal opposition — not noted for getting issues straight anyhow— were soon saying that we objected to eating in the church building; and poor Willie, the Water Cooler articles abounded. One San Antonio preacher was astonished to learn that I didnt object to his having a cup of coffee in his study.

Under these, or any circumstances it is unwise for a church to use its property in such a way as to lend support or encouragement to those who pervert the spiritual purpose of this divine institution. Our course should be determined, however, by sound Bible principles, and not simply in reaction to gossip and quibbles. We can not separate a social aspect from the gathering for worship; and we do not believe the building is sacred. Also, the issue: authorized purpose and function of the organized church must not keep us from encouraging all saints individually or severally— the church in its distributive sense-from practicing and enjoying a live, daily social relationship. Carefully read Shipleys LETS GET TOGETHER!

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Vol.XI No.II Pg.3
April 1974

Let's Get Together

Dan S. Shipley

Maybe its the fast pace of twentieth century living; maybe its too much TV, or it may be just plain indifference, but whatever the reason, it occurs to me that most Christians are not having enough personal contact with each other. Many rarely see their brethren except at Bible classes or worship. Surely we owe one another something more in this area--something more than our customary vestibule visiting and exchanging of parking-lot pleasantries; something more than a sort of in-passing relationship that is mainly church-building oriented. Must we become old, infirmed or unfaithful to warrant a visit from our brethren? Man is a social creature, ever subject to the influence of those about him. As evil companionships corrupt (1 Cor. 15:33), keeping good company can be profitable for all (1 Pet. 2:l2; 3:1; Matt. 5:6) — especially for Christians who will be what they ought to be to each other. And that simply means, In love of the brethren be tenderly affectioned one to another; in honor preferring one another... (Rom. 12:10)

Such love involves more than passive and partisan feelings toward other Christians. Christ alludes to deeper dimensions when he says, even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (Jn. 13:34) His love for the disciples was made apparent it could be seen in what He did! So must ours. Such love is the mark of discipleship; its presence is observable and influential (Jn. 13:35). Therefore, the fullest expression of sincere and fervent love (1 Pet. 1:22) is impossible apart from some form of personal contact and association.

Consider, for instance, the admoni- tion to bear ye one another s burdens (Gal. 6:2). How does one bear who is not there? We may pray and sympathize from afar, but fulfilling the law of Christ in this area usually requires both heart and hand. Keeping in touch helps brethren to know when a helping hand is needed. But more than that, being together more means better communication between us; the kind in which we can confess our sins to one another (Jas. 5:16); the kind in which we can admonish, edify and exhort each other (Rom. 15:14; 14:19; Heb. 3:13). When the weak need to be encouraged (1 Thss. 5:14); when the sorrowed need to be comforted (1 Thss. 4:18), we need to be there. And even when there is no particular need evident, our being there may mean more than we know. We see the need for the elders to keep in close touch with the flock of their oversight. Without it they could not watch in behalf of the souls for which they shall give account (Heb. 13:17). But we also must see our personal opportunities to serve the King by serving even the least among our brethren (Matt. 25:40) for we too must give account. Others cannot represent us in such service, we must be there.

Even if we cannot have the day by day association enjoyed by many of the early disciples, we can and ought to have more time for each other. So, lets get together!— for a home Bible study, for a meal, for a pot-luck, for coffee or for just an old-fashion visit. For the sake of every benefit and blessing that can be given or received by kin in Christ being together, lets get together!

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Vol.XI No.II Pg.4
April 1974

What Is Man?

Robert F. Turner

Who Am I? What Is Man? However one states it, the question of self-identification is the first abstract question of life. It begins with the infants discovery of his hands, his feet, etc.; Then it may be forgotten for awhile as the child searched for his place socially; but the late teenager probes anew for the answer. The problem becomes so acute for the thinking adult that some, lacking faith in a divine answer and finding no satisfactory human answer, are driven to drugs and an overwhelming despair. This quest is a crucial one.

A Readers Digest article (Joes Brain; Apr. 74) has the brain say, I am Joe — his personality, his reactions, his mental capacity. But all people have dendrites, axons and brain cells. My brain provides the mechanics for my personality, etc., but ! am something distinct — I am something more than the fleshly cells by which I function. And so is Joe!!

Gen. 2:7 says God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Now soul may refer only to a living creature (see Gen. 1:30), but man is more than a bag of wind. His spirit retains identity, conscious existence, and the characteristics of id after it is separated from the body by death. The difference in man and animal life generally is given in the creation record. God created man in his own image— (Gen. 1:27). This is said of no other life, and it forms the real basis for identifying man.

Consider 2 Cor. 12:1-f. where Paul describes a conscious experience and recognizes moral responsibility (it is not lawful for a man to utter) at a time when he did not know if he was in the body or out of the body. He, the real Paul, was something more than his body, and certainly more than the breath of life. Again, he recognized the need, following the loss of his earthly body, to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven lest he be naked (2 Cor. 5:2-3). Lest who be naked?? Paul, the real Paul! Like Bible examples abound. After death the rich man (Lu. 16:19-f) was conscious, in torment, concerned, and capable of reasoning. The real Dives (so called) lived on.

Made in the image of God man is a rational, self-conscious, self-determining creature. (I.S.B.E.) He is the crowning glory of creation, intended by his Creator for fellowship with Himself. He is but little lower than one who has a divine nature, and is crowned with glory and honor, and given dominion, over the remainder of Gods creation. (Psm. 8: Heb. 2:5-f.)

In my home state of Kentucky we use the word proud when we mean to have self-respect; and in that sense I believe we should teach man to lift himself — to expect great things of himself — to recognize the potential of one made in Gods image. We were intended to accomplish great things and we should be ashamed of the degrading depths to which we have fallen. Only human should not be our excuse for sin; it should and must be our incentive to be more like what our Maker intended us to be, and made possible for us to be — in Christ.

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Vol.XI No.II Pg.5
April 1974

Do Not Cancel!!

Robert F. Turner

In this part of the country there are thousands of sincere religious folk who stoutly affirm that one must follow Jesus, go by the Bible, or worship scripturally—who then cancel out all they have said. They are not hypocrites, they are not trying to deceive anyone. Unwittingly they have deceived themselves, but it is not easy to convince them of this for the deception is inherent in their social and religious background. Feelings, emotions, and even superstitions have become so prominent in their way of thinking that it is very difficult for them to be objective.

On several occasions I have heard someone say, Just follow Jesus, and all will be well! And I ask, Where? How? What does Jesus want of me? It soon becomes apparent that they know very little of what Jesus teaches— had scarcely realized this is so essential to follow Jesus. Their statement becomes an empty slogan.

It is standard procedure for most sects and cults to claim that they go by the Bible, when actually they go by their experience or feelings. Moving testimonials can be documented for everything from the most fundamental (?) snake-handler in east Tennessee, to Christian Science (?) in Boston— and prove nothing of God. The man who tells you his experience and expects you to see by it that he has a direct line to heaven, will reject the same sort of testimony which you may offer for something contrary to his doctrine. Surely thinking folk can see something is amiss. But I know how I feel, he insists. Certainly you do— you just do not know that God made you feel that way. Gods will is revealed in the completed Scriptures. (2 Tim. 3:15-17; 2 Pet. 3:15-16;1:3 Jn. 16:12-13)

In our country the people I am writing about do not have to be convinced the Bible is from God. Many of them believe it is complete, and our service to God must be scriptural. But they cancel this with a reservation, felt if not uttered. It must be spiritually discerned. They will tell you they mean the Holy Spirit, but they mean as He discerns it for them, not necessarily as you read it, nor even as Paul or Peter wrote it. This boils down to spiritually discerned by their own spirit. If any scripture is cited for this concept of interpretation it is 1 Cor. 2:14. They agree the natural man trusts the wisdom of this world but fail to see that the opposite in context are the inspired apostles and prophets by whom Gods will was revealed. When we hear and accept what Paul wrote — because of the divine source of his information, then our faith is in the power of God rather than in our own wisdom. (Vs. 1-5, Eph. 3:l-5) God has already seen to it that the message is understandable (Eph. 3:4).

And the old dodge it doesnt say not to do so and so, denies the completeness of the Bible. When you send your child to the store for crackers and cheese do you have to add, Now dont get flour, beans, milk, — and name all the other items there?? No, you consider your order complete when you say what to do. And so does God!!

Dont cancel heavens invitation!!

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Vol.XI No.II Pg.6
April 1974

Fatal "Rally Points"

Robert F. Turner

In 1966, when Dr. Edwin Harrell published his book, Quest For A Christian America, a footnote) page 9) was widely copied and discussed. In the minds of many conservative men it was a thrust at institutionalism, and a blue-print of what was taking place as liberals rallied about Herald of Truth and other institutional movements, to the dividing of brethren. The comparison is valid— but we must not fail to note that gospel papers were also mentioned as rally points. Maybe we should read Ed Harrell again —with a closer look at ourselves.

The ingredients necessary for actual division at the local level were the development of some basic issues which were clear enough and important enough for congregations and individuals to break fellowship— to cease to recognize one another as true churches of Christ— and the development of institutions to act as brotherhood-wide propagators of the divergent views and to serve as tangible power concentrations for the factions to unite around. In short, what constituted division among the Disciples of Christ was simply the rupturing of the tenuous union which existed a union which consisted of fellowship and common institutional loyalties.

In the Disciples-Church of Christ division the support of or opposition to the use of instrumental music in worship and organized missionary societies supplied the major issues. In the absence of extra-congregational organization, the factions developed a nebulous sort of group consciousness by identifying with the outstanding institutions supporting their position. The antis were Advocate men while the progressives were society men or Standard men. The process of division took place at the local level where congregations, parts of congregations, and individuals eventually drifted into the orbit of one of the power concentrations.

Actually the schism of the nineteenth century was not a clear-cut halving. There remained for several decades a strong middle-of-the-road: group which refused to disfellowship either of the two factions. Although these moderates eventually accepted: the liberal position on the issues, they remained a conservative complex within the Disciples which in the twentieth century generated a new division with new issues and new power concentrations. Within the Churches of Christ today the same complex theological and sociological partitioning is slowly becoming clear. Antis, liberals, and middle-of the-roaders are slowly dividing the local congregations into three distinct factions which are definable only in terms of issues and institutional loyalties.

Brethren may rally about well-known (and therefore influential) gospel preachers or congregations. We may rationalize that since they teach truth, to support them is to support truth. But even Paul was one step removed from the true center for loyalty, Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). We must not allow school, paper, or even preacher loyalties to sever us from Christ, brethren, and heaven.

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Vol.XI No.II Pg.7
April 1974

You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Dear bro. Turner:

Does the word kingdom sometimes mean the rule and reign of Christ in the heart of a person as seems to be inferred by Luke 17:21? D.S.

Reply:

It is my understanding that the word basileia (kingdom) always refers to rule and only by extension does it refer to the citizens, the territory or dominion — realm, such as is contemplated when we say the church is Christs kingdom.

Moulton and Milligan (Vocabulary of the Greek Testament) say, As kingship, or sovereignty in the abstract is necessarily the root meaning of this word, it is easy to see how the passage into the concrete could either be on the lines of our dominion (cf. our Sovereign and his dominions), or follow the outward and visible signs of royalty.

When we see the word kingdom we should think rule. Then, after the idea of rule is firmly planted in our mind, we may examine the context to see if, in this case, the word is extended to designate the realm of that rule, the people ruled, the nature of that rule (physical or spiritual), or some other extended use. We do ourselves, and our readers or hearers, a grave injustice when we say the church and the kingdom are the same without adequate explanation. The erroneous institutional concept of church that is so prevalent only complicates and compounds the error. R. L. Whiteside put it well when he wrote: In its broadest sense the church is that body of people who have been called out of sin into the service of Christ. As Jesus rules over this body of people, it is his kingdom. (Kingdom of Promise and Prophecy; p.177.) (See P.T., V.4, No. 5)

Bro. Turner

In Matt. 13:41 .to what does his kingdom refer; the church or world??

Reply:

FIRST— note that the servants are angels (vs. 27-30,39-41) and the reaping or gathering out refers to final judgement, with no reference at all to discipline administered by the saints in an effort to save a brother.

The field is the world (vs. 38), so both the good seed and the tares are in the world (though saints are not of the world) so it is to the world that the angels shall be sent in the end of this world (vs. 40) to dispose of the wicked ones. I have no problem in considering the world as his kingdom (vs. 41) in the sense that God rules (has authority over) the world and all things. I believe we err in supposing that a figure like kingdom must always be used in the same sense, everywhere.

However, as both the saints and sinners must face a final judgement, some prefer to interpret Matt. 13:41 as a reference to the final disposition of citizens (church members) who offend and do iniquity. They thus preserve a more-or-less traditional concept of church— but at the cost of the basic idea in kingdom. Better, I think, to keep the basic idea of kingdom (see above) and let each context adjust its application.

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Vol.XI No.II Pg.8
April 1974

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

Pity the economic prognosticators, the news analysts, sports writers, and the World of Tomorrow radio prophets — who live in the city. They are too far removed from a small town barber shop to know the score.

Take, for example, the announcement that old man is going to have a garage sale. Will there be any bargains there? Ive knowd that family fer three generations, and they aint never yet give nothin away. The matter is settled, and no one had to leave his chair to spit.

Will the powers in Washington work hard to combat our problems? If Ias a bettin man Id bet ever last one of em rode a cotton sack til heas old enough to git into politics. All nod gravely. You cant expect a leopard to change his spots.

Time out for less serious matters, like sports. Th other day an eagle grabbed one of Bakers fightin cocks and tried to fly off with it. That cock put up such a battle the eagle had to land on a flat rock across the creek, where they fought it out. Well sir, the cock whipped that eagle to a stand-still, and then made him bring him back across that creek. Hmmmm. By listening carefully I learned that money is going to get tighter to squeeze out the little man who has to operate on credit— thats big business for you; or, its going to get looser but prices will keep rising to cancel out the advantages. Interest will get higher for them that has to borrow, but not high enough for them that has to live on retirement funds. (Dont blame me, I just tell it like I hear it— and I listen real good.)

The country is going to fall — we just cant go on like this— although we never had it so good as now, or at least up to this energy crisis. (At this we look at one-another and grin, nodding toward who is a local oil company consignee. We dont really blame him for the gasoline rationing, but it makes a good local joke.) Inflation will wipe us all out.

And you know, I think my barber shop friends are right — well, maybe not on everything, but—. Dont the Bible say a mans a fool to build bigger barns — Ive read it somewhere. What is more certain than death, and the end of all things material? Why do we talk less about, and do less about, the only permanent thing we possess— i.e., our immortal soul??

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Vol.XI No.III Pg.1
May 1974

Now Is A Good Time

Robert F. Turner

The be not anxious section of the sermon on the mount (Matt. 6:25-f) closes with these words: Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. It seems Jesus has given two cures for anxiety (1) make his kingdom and his righteousness your first goal; and (2) live one day at the time. In our emphasis upon the first, I believe we tend to overlook the importance of the second.

The anxious mind races ahead to troubles that may never happen, or sink morbidly in the mire of yesterday. It wallows in despair; is crippled and ineffective in lifes most crucial moment of truth — the awesome. tingling, wonderful NOW.

NOW IS A GOOD TIME! That motto is attached to my study clock, but it is more than a warning against procrastination. It affirms ones trust in Almighty God — the kind of trust that makes a happy soul here and hereafter. Genuine Christians do not abdicate today for a heavenly existence; they live today — with assurance. To all who walk by faith NOW is opportunity: full of challenge, meaning and hope.

TODAY is a jewel, contrasting boldly with the yesterday that has been so effectively blotted out by the forgiveness that is in Christ (Heb. 10:17) and brilliantly illuminated with His promise of tomorrow. (Jn. 14:1-6). But it is ephemeral, delicately set in the effervescence of time. It must be used NOW, or it is lost forever.

When we ask, What is a Christian? we use the present tense. Not was, nor may be tomorrow— but NOW, what IS he? In a real sense, I am a follower of Christ to the extent that I use TODAY for Him. Forgetting the past, confident of the future, I press, (Phil. 3:13-15). Press is a NOW term, a TODAY word. The atmosphere, the clime in which a Christian lives is sparkling with NOW!! It is sweet urgency, too rich to be called frantic, too wonderful for leisure, it must be eaten while it is hot.

And where, in this kind of life, is there room for anxiety? This malady of emotions is rooted in a yesterday that we cannot believe forgiven, or in a tomorrow that we will not trust. It is not of God.

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Vol.XI No.III Pg.2
May 1974

Plain Talk And Stuff

Robert F. Turner

PLAIN TALK is a monthly paper sent free of charge to all who request it. Most of the material is written by the editor, although bro. Dan Shipley is responsible for page three, and produces some fine material. Occasional material from other writers is always designated.

The paper is published by the Oaks-West Church of Christ, Burnet, Texas, as a part of their teaching program. Bro. Bob Craig (Dixie Printers) is our printer; and volunteer workers of the Oaks-West church staple, address, and tend to the big job of putting about 5,600 papers per month in the mail. We go to nearly every state in the U.S.A. and to other countries.

As stated in our first issue, we have nothing to hide, and operate on the principle that truth is best served by unhampered, open investigation. We do not believe ourselves infallible. We may make many mistakes in content and manner of presentation but we do pledge honesty of intent and purpose. We freely offer one-half of any one issue for an equal-space discussion of any religious point on which any reader may differ with us. Further space may be offered if the case seems to justify it. Final judgment of worthiness, should such arise, will be left to our elders.

We deeply appreciate the many letters received, with questions, comments and constructive criticisms. We urge those who contemplate moving to send us a change of address, as we will not continue paper unless such notification is received from reader.

Tell Your Friends To Read Plain Talk!

That Fine-Tooth Comb

This issues Stuff About Things will be unintelligible (more so than usual) to new readers — and to those who do not dig the style. It is a mock reply (by bro. Jeffery Kingry of Glen Burnie, Md.) to a previously published mock article in which I poked a bit of fun at the stuffed-shin type of exegesis which allegorizes and interprets so-called deep material out of nothing.

Such may be a waste of space to some, but I intend it as an effort to maintain balance — a bit of therapy for those who take themselves too seriously. (This is either an apology or an explanation — be charitable.) Pray Let me think neither too little nor too much of myself. Anyhow, we have dozens of serious writers who bend our ears with wails and woes.. How many make the necessary research to inform you that, according to an early Pearl Bailey record (or was it Sammy Davis?) old Bill Bailey was really a bald-headed man.

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Vol.XI No.III Pg.3
May 1974

Starving Children

Dan S. Shipley

Recently the news media informed us of a Texas mother who allowed her child to starve to death. We are almost sickened speechless to hear of such inexcusable neglect, not to mention its deplorable consequences. We who love our children would never dream of depriving them of their life-sustaining food. In fact, most of us worry for fear they dont eat enough. When it comes to providing our boys and girls with such necessities as medical care and education, we want the best— even if we cant really afford it. But even beyond that, we shower them with toys and spending money, the likes of which most of us never had as children. It is only right and natural for concerned parents to want to give them everything essential to their welfare, and more too.

However, even the most concerned parents sometimes lose sight of what is essential; or at least, what is most essential for their children. Consequently, multitudes of young people are being neglected in their most urgent need: the need to learn the word of God which is able to make them wise unto salvation (2 Tim. 3:l5). Without the word of God, spiritual life and growth are impossible (Jas. 1:21; 1 Pet. 2:2). In it, and it alone, is found nourishment for the soul (1 Tim. 4:6). How many untold thousands of children are being starved spiritually simply because their parents have failed to provide them with opportunities to taste the good word of God! Have our spiritual senses become so dulled and our priorities so perverted that we are incensed at the thought of little starving bodies but indifferent to the more precious starving souls? — even those of our own children? Is it enough to do no more than what any godless heathen would do in providing the physical needs of his own? Is it enough that we fill the childs stomach with food and his pockets with money while neglecting that part which is eternal?; that part which Christ says is of more value than the whole world (Matt. 16:26)? How is it that professed God-fearing parents have come to conclude that school subjects are more important for their children than are Bible subjects? Why is the lesser made imperative and the greater made almost optional? It is not too difficult to understand why some young people come to decide that getting along in the world is more important than getting along with God. Little wonder so many of them seem to leave the Lord when they leave home. No mother or daddy has any right to expect their child to have spiritual health and strength when they have failed to provide the very things that would give it— when they have starved the childs soul!

God has never intended that any, whether old or young, should live by bread alone, but by His word (Matt. 4:4). Children are as dependent on the parent to provide the Word as much as the bread. As the bread, the Word is needful continually and in good measure if it is to have its intended effect. Most youth have eager appetites for spiritual food, which, if not satisfied, will wane and cease. Lets not allow our children to go hungry or to starve spiritually! Let us not pass any opportunity to nourish their souls!

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Vol.XI No.III Pg.4
May 1974

Church Buildings (1)

Robert F. Turner

Then how is a "church building" justified? The scriptures offer very little information on the subject other than the principle of collective support of things purposed and done by divine approval. The church is to "sound out the word" (1 Thess. 1:8) so the church at Philippi "communicated" with Paul (Phil. 4:15). Paul asked churches to assist the poor saints at Jerusalem (Rom. 14:25-f), to which end he instructed them re. a "gathering" and its use. (1 Cor. 16:1-f) As saints are authorized to assemble (Heb. 10:25; 1 Cor. 14:23) and worship (1 Cor. 11:20; Acts 20:7) we believe it is in keeping with the above principle for them to pool funds to provide a place and accompaniments for this and all other assigned works.

A church that is governed by divine authority does not build a basketball gymnasium, because basketball is not an authorized function of the church. This does not mean that the church has been "defiled" if someone bounces a ball in the parking lot. It does mean we should not purpose and finance unauthorized functions. If a visitor becomes ill and we put a "church" towel upon his head and lay him upon a pew until a doctor arrives, we have not agreed to a church-financed First-Aid Clinic. Incidental uses of church property do not invalidate the basic scriptural principle by which the church remains a spiritual institution to administer to spiritual needs. Further, what "we do" or "have done" justifies nothing. Many things about "buildings" are fruits of human judgement and are subject to revision. Better to be inconsistent than to deny God's rule.

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Vol.XI No.III Pg.5
May 1974

Church Buildings (2)

Robert F. Turner

A brother asks, "Are weddings and funerals authorized works of a local church?" No, they are social functions. Marriage is of God, but church "sanction" is neither required nor suggested in God's word. "Then," (you know what's coming) "may the church building be used for weddings and funerals?" Yes, No, and I'm not sure!

The incidental use of buildings and accompaniments, use not directly related to their intended purpose, is most subject to abuse, and has raised soul-searching questions among brethren. There are three classes of such usage: unavoidable, inadvertent, and deliberate: and all originate with man and should not be used as a base for further judgements, nor bound as matters of faith.

A temperature-controlled shelter provides certain physical benefits to all present; and it is impossible to avoid all social aspects of an assembly. Removing other "violations" will involve impracticalities. Shall we forbid children (50 yrs. or older) to sleep on the pews? Allow no personal phone calls? No use of the water fountain except as essential to worship? No social remarks while in the foyer? It would tax the Soviet police force!

Deliberate "unauthorized" use of church property may not be as diabolical as it sounds. In times of disaster (tornado, flood, etc.) a well-built, centrally located building may be the only shelter available to refugees. The use is temporary, and incidental; we did not build for that purpose; and I do not believe such use would "authorize" anything. When in Arizona, a young couple drove many miles

to a small town where I was in a meeting. Arriving at the close of services, they asked me to marry them. The church building was handy, and cool, so I invited them in and we tied the knot. In years-gone-by the building was the most suitable place in town for the funeral of some well-known and loved brother. Of course these examples prove nothing— but they may illustrate, I hope, common sense.

But judgement depends upon circumstances, and different circumstances warrant different conclusion. I do not believe the church should have to bear extra expenses for such things, nor should they be allowed to interfere with regular church functions. (They could not then be called "incidentals.") Some things are "unseemly," and some would compromise the efforts of the church to teach truth. Today, when many churches have embraced "fun and frolic" as "church work," it has seemed necessary to avoid anything that would give solace to such error. (Our reaction may have given solace, but we tried, and God sees our heart.) Too, a few seem to have a very erroneous (almost Roman Catholic) concept of the "sanctity" of "church wedding." I would not want to encourage this.

Some feel it is better to ban all incidental uses than to have to explain "why not" to the undesirable cases; but this seems a coward's way out, and unjust to worthy cases. This may be the time for a searching new look at our concepts of "church property", "marriage ceremonies", and all. But whatever your judgement, have patience and charity for your brother.

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Vol.XI No.III Pg.6
May 1974

"I'm Ok - You're Ok"

Robert F. Turner

The book, Im O.K.- Youre O.K. (by Dr. Thomas A. Harris) has been a best seller, and not without some justification. The author offers us a simplified and understandable form of transactional analysis— a means of self-examination, seeking the source of human response to situations in life with a view to improvement.

Parent-Adult-Child are given special meanings in the book. Our Parent (data fed into our computer-type system by external authorities) and our Child (data accumulated as a result of feelings about early experiences) must be reviewed by our Adult (the rational, thinking part of us) and we must learn to let the Adult rule — to measure transactions and reshape our lives according to the Adult. It sounds great, and should have practical value in (1) helping teen-agers find themselves, (2) immature grown-ups accept an adult course, and (3) suggesting techniques for helping self and others.

But the popular appeal and readability of the book makes me feel some warning is in order. (Parent speaking!!) With Dr. Harris, Jehovah God and His word are Parent— to be examined by the Adult and accepted only as subjectively approved by man. Objective faith in revelation of the Divine Will finds absolutely no place in this book. His idea of a moral idea is (not without merit) the importance of persons and even here he says, We have only the faith to believe they are, because of the greater difficulty of believing they are not. (What a pity he does not apply this logic to the acceptance of Gods). But even this moral idea is selfish, having as its rationale: others are important because without them I can not be important. (Page 257) How impossible it is for man to devise a philosophy higher than himself. Analyze, in that light, the following: There are no doctrinal absolutes except the evil of using persons as things. . Sexual intercourse without personal intimacy can only result in a loss of self-esteem.

Dr. Harris can not conceive of the Adult (thinking part of man) coming to believe in God. He says, Central to most religious practices is a Child acceptance of authoritarian dogma as an act of faith, with limited, if not absent, involvement of the Adult. Again, The truth is not something which has been brought to finality at an ecclesiastical summit meeting or bound in a black book. truth is a growing body of data what we observe to be true If Adult is involved in religious experience at all, it is (Dr. Harris thinks) to block out the Parent is order that the Natural Child may re-awaken to its own worth and beauty.

Dr. Harris also says, If Christianity were simply an intellect idea, it probably would not have survived, considering its fragile beginnings. It survived because its advent was an historical event.., we cannot, if we are honest, deny the reports of such experiences by reputable men through the centuries.

Well, thanks for the sop— and for worthwhile observations on what makes us, and Dr. Harris, tick.

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Vol.XI No.III Pg.7
May 1974

?You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

A letter from Pennsylvania asks if one must understand that baptism is for the remission of sins before he can scripturally baptized.

It was in 1823, eleven years after his baptism, that Alexander Campbell concluded that baptism was for the remission of sins. Austin McGary established the Firm Foundation in 1884 with the intention of discussing this subject. His firm "yes" caused many to think him an extremist; and he and D. Lipscomb (who answered with the then popular "No") engaged in journalistic cross-fire on the subject for several years (Search For Anc. Order, West; Vol. 2, p.405-f.). Which proves nothing scriptural, but may prompt a more objective look at matters.

Many denominations teach that somewhere along the line of hearing the gospel, learning, believing and obeying, we have remission of sins. Now ask, "At what point along the line?" and let the scriptures answer They affirm (it is not our purpose here to argue the case) it is at the point of baptism (ACT.2:38, 22:16). This is when forgiveness does take place, regardless of what Campbell, McGary or anyone else thought about it.

Must the candidate know that he must be baptized? Must implies submission to authority and suggests an adverse effect should we fail to comply. And the scriptures say the Lord is that authority — not some "church regulation" or accepted social practice. Frequently people equate the "doctrine of the church" with the teaching of the Lord — when in reality they may have little in common. If ones allegiance and hence ones submission is actually "to the church" — having little or no knowledge of the teaching of Christ -- I do not see how their baptism could be "to obey the Lord." (I am fully aware that many candidates have put their trust in a sectarian concept of "The Church of Christ" and I will repeat for emphasis, I do not see how their baptism could be "to obey the Lord.")

Try honestly considering the passages that would teach you that you must be baptized, and see if you can avoid the WHY? "Fulfill righteousness" lest you "reject the council of God" against yourself, "shall be saved" "make disciples, baptizing" "for the remission of sins" "wash away thy sins" etc. The details, the fine and technical points, might easily be missed — but by the time one learned that he must be baptized, I believe he would have learned enough of the reason to make baptism valid.

The point IS NOT that someone other than a gospel preacher "did the baptizing" or that "the right words" (whatever they are) were not uttered at the time of the baptizing; or that "it was not Church of Christ baptism" (whatever that is); or, etc.,etc. The matter hinges on — was the subject properly taught, so that he/she came to Christ, as a result of being taught, hearing and learning Christ This is the only valid way. (JOH.6:45)

The subjects understanding, not the preachers, is the key. Often the years dim or change ones concept of what his understanding was at the time of baptism, but he must face God with his conscience, not mine.

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Vol.XI No.III Pg.8
May 1974

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

It is with heavy heart and hesitant pen that I reply to Stuff About Things, Vol. 11, No. 1. It has never been a joy to be reactionary, nor to take my brethren to task, but when a good woman (Mz. Bailey) is so tragically misrepresented, I feel it is my Christian duty to reply.

Bro. Turners efforts to put all the blame for the Bailey Incident on the shoulders of poor Mz. Bailey is based upon his figurative exegetical analysis of Come Home Bill Bailey, l:2. The authorized version renders this:

Remember that rainy evening I drove you out, With nothing but a fine-tooth comb? Now bro. Turner and other of such ilk would have us believe that the fine-tooth comb was the instrument of division and conflict — an allegorical representation of nit-picking searching endlessly for very small objects to criticize. (Turner, Ibid.)

After carefully considering the context, and consulting all the leading authorities and commentaries in my library it is clear that the finetooth comb was an incidental possession of Bill Bailey. In the words of one scholar, The phrase signifies the inherent abandonment of this man. Considering the culture of the land in which this was written, the common wife of the time would have permitted her husband to leave with at least a toothbrush, P.J.s, or something! Being run out with but a fine-tooth comb on a rainy evening demonstrates the seriousness of the conflict, and the swiftness of its culmination.

Another commentator has written, The thought surely intended by the writer of the epistle is, If you must drive your spouse from the house at night when it is raining, see to it he has an umbrella or you may never see him again!

The new Amplified )Modern Good News For Maudlin Mommas version reads, Re-call that stormy night that I drove you from our home letting you take nothing but a comb of your own. Whatever it was that so enraged Mz. Bailey we shall never know, but one thing is sure: when it stopped raining Bill Bailey had something, albeit somewhat fine-tined, with which to comb wet hair from his eyes. Jeffery Kingry

(Assumes Mz. Bailey was good, and quotes (?) prejudicial authorities, — but are broad-shouldered.)

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Vol.XI No.IV Pg.1
June 1974

Wishing For Sin

Robert F. Turner

The wealthy have many friends (Pro. 19:4); and the bread of falsehood is sweet (20:17). We may get treasures by lying (21:6); and the rich rule over the poor (22:7). Sounds pretty good, doesnt it? Sometimes those who should know better are jealous of the apparent gains of sinners. When we notice such an attitude we feel it is time to lock the door and hide the sugar bowl. We can not consider a man very pious who looks longingly toward the advantages of the worldly. Solomon knew that there is a righteous man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his evil doing. (Eccl. 7:15 8:11-14) but he said this too was vanity. When we see the wicked prosper we face real temptations: (1) to consider our lesser fortune a sign of piety, and become self-righteous-- holier than thou; (2) to envy the wicked (Prov. 24:1); (3) to fail in our understanding of true values, distinguishing the meat that perisheth from that which endureth unto everlasting life; and (4) allowing the wish to become mother to the deeds.

James says a man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. (Jas. 1:14) A man who is happy with his wife doesnt go around saying, Why couldnt I have had a woman like that one over there. And one who is happy with Christ does not look longingly toward Satans realm. We envy the worldly man for one reason only— because we are worldly.

The friends of the wealthy are often shallow; and the sweet bread of deceit becomes gravel. The liars treasures are a vapor; and He that oppresseth the poor to increase his gain shall come to want. (Prov. 22:16) The proverbial wisdoms given here are backed not only by inspiration, but are repeatedly proven in life.

Then, we must recognize the necessity for reviewing our goals and the standards by which we hope to achieve them. Like Abraham, if we are forever mindful of that materialistic state from whence we came, we may have opportunity to return. But we desire a heavenly country; so God is not ashamed to be called our God: for he has prepared for us a city. (Heb. 11:15)

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Vol.XI No.IV Pg.2
June 1974

The Fruit Of "Systems"

Robert F. Turner

We (my preaching brethren and I) are not theologians. Such formal training as most of us have was literalistic Bible study, with some (not enough) effort made to see the Scheme of Redemption as a whole; and more time spent in topical studies, and textual studies needed to counter the current errors of our day. We do not consider our task that of system making or developing a philosophy concerning the plan of salvation. We have been rightly involved in teaching people what to do to be saved, and combating the surface errors of those who preach the fruits of traditional theological systems. I believe this is as it should be— searching the scriptures and reasoning inductively to sound Bible conclusions.

But current discussions on Grace, the Holy Spirit, and Fellowship have revealed a need for better understanding of systems. Some swallow fundamental errors of the system back of the exegesis they read in popular Calvin-steeped commentaries; and are now letting this influence their further studies, without really realizing what they have gotten into.

Many of our brethren, think a first principle sermon is one on faith, repentance, confession and baptism. They are ill-prepared to think of the sovereign nature of God, the free-agency of man, and the essential relations of the two in the promotion of Gods glory, as fundamentals on which all else depends. Foreordination, election, etc., are subjects we relate to by-gone days— no longer relevant some say. We are going to find that their principles are much a part of the current Grace and Holy Spirit controversy. Sometimes when we try to defend a certain fruit, we find ourselves driven back to a parent tree we scarcely knew existed.

For a practical look at Calvinistic doctrines as they apply to Gods plan of salvation, I recommend earlier chapters of The Gospel Plan of Salvation, by T.W. Brents. For those who wish to take a positive Bible course of action, burn some midnight oil on passages that deal with Adams sin, free-agency, the natural man of 1 Cor. 2:14, and Christ as Gods elect. (Warning!! Many commentaries show definite bias, favoring some form of Calvin philosophy. Whiteside, on Romans, makes a studied push in the opposite direction.)

Many past issues of P. T. have had articles on these matters; but I plan to go further in studies of human systems which influence todays thinking. We will try to keep it simple and direct. Bear with us!! (See p. 6.)

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