I have now preached long enough and had enough experience to know one thing when it comes to many issues: As a rule, it is not the complexity of a given issue that precipitates silence and confusion, it is politics, even among too many preachers and elders. In fact, I am sometimes asked what do I believe to be the paramount driving force behind so many brotherhood church problems and my answer and unequivocal answer is: "Politics." I recall a church where I was doing local work asking me if I would work with a younger preacher should they secure one. There were several requirements made by the church of the young man and one was that he would meet with me for about three hours each week day from about 6: 00 until about 9: 00 A. M. for structured study periods. In regards to preparing him to preach full-time, I elected to study in the classes one week the subject of politics. I knew that I had my work cut out when he asked, "Brother Martin, what is politics?" Since we all with the presidential election have seen an abundance of politics, all sorts of maneuvers, positioning, egos, the numbers game, and compromise, I would like to share with you an email that I received a while back. I receive many emails and, frankly, I do not even recall who sent the below. Please read it and then go back and read it again (it was in response to some material on marriage, divorce, and marriage to another that I had had published).
I really appreciated the article. I was recently told by a dear brother and fellow evangelist that he has been questioned about my position on MDR. He did not offer to tell me who it was and I did not ask. He suggested, as a friend, that I 'cool it' on this particular subject, in view of the fact that I find myself in need of increasing my outside support.
I believe, however, and tried to communicate to him, that one can either support error on MDR by remaining silent or support biblical truth on the subject by speaking forth. I see no viable alternative, in view of Eph. 5:11.
It is so disturbing that so many have departed from the simple truth of Matt. 19:9. It is also disturbing that so many brethren prefer the "head-in-the-sand" approach. I appreciate the stand that you, Jeff Belknap and others have taken in this area.
Thanks, again, for your courage in speaking out.
Your brother in Christ"
Did you re-read the email?
Notice the reference this man's "friend" makes to "cooling it" relative to MDR. His appeal to "cool it" is based on the possible threat of support. Consider also how his "friend" had been questioned, apparently regarding his friendship to this preacher who was teaching the truth on MDR.
Brethren, I am here to tell you with all certainty that many positions or lack thereof are determined by politics within the church not what the scriptures teach. I know that some preachers will respond with, "I have never seen such." Well, I have!
As a younger preacher, I watched some fellow preachers gravitate toward error. At first, they simply refused to plainly teach the truth on various matters that at given times constituted issues (such itself is sin, Acts 20: 27). After a few years, they then became openly identified with known errorists. I was close to some of these preachers and I took the liberty to ask them what doctrinal argument moved them off their previous positions. "Don, you learn as you grow older that a man must do things with which he really does not agree. He must do things due to his family and his ability to hold meetings and secure a local work." In my youthful impetuosity (I have not changed), my reply would be, "So, you sold out to error due to personal selfishness and politics!" All of these years later, I continue to see the same game of politics played too often.
There is not a preacher who is worth a particle in the Kingdom who has not been repeatedly faced with the serious possibility, often threat, of having his income severed if he preaches on certain subjects. I recall my first work. When I traveled to meet the brethren and preach for them on a Sunday in regards to working with them, they asked me to meet with them after the P.M. service. "Young man, we want you to move here. In fact, this is the first time all the men of this church have ever agreed one hundred percent on any matter." They continued, "The only condition is, you must not preach on the issues." The "issues" in that circumstance was the Herald of Truth and what we call institutionalism (an issue involving how the treasury is used). My simple reply was, "If I move here, I promise you that I shall preach on all issues, including autonomy and the Herald of Truth!" I then thought it was time to get personal. I started with the man at the further end of one of the tables and asked him what he thought about what I had just said and where he stood. Each man was urged to speak, at the protest of a number. I moved there and for every business meeting for one year, there was an organized effort to fire me. I stayed there for seven years and there is no doubt where that church now stands regarding the Herald of Truth and such matters.
Brethren and concerned readers, let me become frank: There is no place in the Kingdom for backslapping, truth compromising politicians, who care not a scintilla about the truth and God's people. The Lord calls such men "hirelings" (John 10: 12). Rather than honorably defend their error, they slander, backslap, and politic. Oh, they are the "good ole boys." All who oppose them are contentious and trouble-makers, say they. They make their deals in private and circulate in their political circles. I had one younger preacher tell me, a man whom one such political group had just recruited, "They told me that if I did not join them, they would see to it that I would not be able to hold meetings and that I would not even be able to do local work." As I younger preacher, I was also told that by more than one such brotherhood clique. These men will not debate their cause, but elect to hide behind others and expend their energies campaigning and thus securing their votes (brotherhood backing).
I am so ashamed of a number of older preachers who have sold out to different political groups within churches of Christ. "Don, you will understand one day, when you grow older." Well, I have now grown older and, no, I do not understand!
I do not hear a whole lot from the leaders of various groups, anymore. Yet, some younger preachers continue to confide in me. Politics are sickening to me, but politics in the church are even more repulsive and reprehensible. Yes, once you oppose and expose such men, they will do all they can to destroy your influence and even stop you from doing local work (I have been the recipient of many such efforts, even begging and then demanding the local elders to fire me). Such men are cowards and a disgrace to the name "Christian." I recall one younger preacher telling me, "Don, I did not know at the time why you took the opportunity to take me aside and warn me about politics in preaching. Now I know and I thank you!" Such still brings tears to my eyes as I type.
Paul certainly dealt with his share of politicians in the church (2 Cor. 10: 10ff.). Notwithstanding, it was Paul who cogently wrote:
"And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me" (Gal. 2).
"Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men" Paul stated, "For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God" (Acts 20: 27). Paul explained to the young preacher Timothy, "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived" (2 Tim. 3: 13). May God grant strength to all men of conviction and love of the truth to boldly preach the plain truth on all subjects, including marriage, divorce, and marriage to another regardless of any posed or actual threat.
By Don Martin
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