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ANTI-ISM

Keven Walker

December 24, 2017

 

 

“Anti-ism” has reference to the man - made doctrines that oppose that which God authorizes in expedient matters.

 

Anti - a prefix in English that means to oppose, to be against that is to forbid.

 

“Anti-ism” thus treats certain matters of option and human judgment as matters of Scriptural law and obligation.

 

In Matthew 15:7-9, God says: “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

 

One of the key difficulties with religion is that many have a zeal that is not according to knowledge (Romans 10:2).

 

When this happens, we begin to establish our own righteousness and are not satisfied with God’s righteousness.

 

In essence, this is a failure to respect God’s authority over our lives.

 

For example to teach that the Lord’s supper can be observed at any other day besides Sunday.

 

This kind of thinking ignores a binding example of the first century church (Acts 20:7).

 

Often it is easy to recognize fallen churches of Christ who are liberal in thinking as they often try to imitate strategies of Pentecostal denominations in order to gain numbers and in their worship they will have instrumental music, women who lead by teaching, praise teams, dancing, etc.

 

Or, we will start to put heavy burdens on others and disallow things that God has allowed.

 

We sometimes refer to them as “antis.”

 

An illustration of “anti-ism” would be to forbid the observance of the Lord’s supper before the sermon on the Lord’s day or to demand that it come afterward.

 

The Pharisees were one anti group who placed burdens on others that they should not have.

 

In our text in Matthew 15, they condemned the disciples for not washing their hands before they ate.

 

This was a transgression of the elders’ traditions.

 

Jesus pointed out that their own traditions nullified the word of God.

 

The result was that their worship to God was empty because they regarded the traditions of men as more important than God’s word.

 

They also taught in Acts 15:1 “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”

 

However, God had not bound circumcision as a religious act under the new covenant (v. 24).

 

Therefore, those who were binding it were attempting to bind a law on the brethren that God had

not bound.

 

They were, in fact, adding another condition to the Lord’s plan of salvation.

 

Diotrephes was guilty of the same “anti” error by refusing to extend fellowship to those who were in fellowship with God and by forbidding others to fellowship faithful brethren (3 John 9–10).

 

Paul also warned of a coming apostasy in which men would forbid others to marry and to eat meat (1 Tim. 4:3), but these were things which God allowed (Hebrews 13:4; 1 Timothy 4:3–4).

 

The anti’s Paul described were making laws which God had not made.

 

All of the “anti” movements make the same basic arguments and the same basic mistakes in Biblical interpretation:

 

(1) They allege that they have found an “exclusive pattern” for their way of doing things when there is none;

 

(2) They elevate incidental matters to the level of essential matters.

Here is a little bit of modern day history of this movement.

 

Late in the 19th century many of the faithful brethren were fighting growing innovations in the church, mainly the use of mechanical instruments in worship and the establishment of the Missionary society.

 

In an attempt to denounce these innovations, some brethren who were extreme in thinking started to question activities of the church that were considered acceptable and biblical at the time.

 

Issues such as Sunday Schools, order of worship (should the Lord’s supper come first or after the sermon), having fulltime or located preachers, bible colleges, printing of tracts for evangelism were being questioned because brethren of such inclination believed that there is no biblical authority to support these activities in the church.

 

Anything that they found no biblical example was deemed sinful and wrong.

 

Beginning in the 1920’s the word “anti” was used by brethren to label those who were holding to these positions, at this period, major issues of contention were anti multiple cups for the Lord’s supper and anti baptistery in the church building (only flowing or river water was acceptable to them as there was no authority for baptistery in church buildings they claimed).

 

The problems continued in the 1940s over support of Christian colleges and an effort to evangelize Germany after World War 2 that was started by the Broadway church in Lubbock, Texas. 

 

Churches began to fund them, several other similar mission efforts shortly began, and arguments ensued.

 

Controversies soon included support of orphan homes and of non-members.

 

Then a nation-wide radio program was begun by the 5th and Highland church in Abilene, TX in 1952 called “Herald of Truth” that soon grew into a TV program.

 

Thus differences in beliefs about how churches could support such grew rapidly.

 

Articles, books, lectures, and debates raged through the 1950s.

 

Many of those who supported ant-ism doctrine disfellowshipped brethren in the church as they believed it was sinful to use church funds to help the needy that are outside the church.

 

By the middle of the 1960s two distinct groups were now separated, and the anti’s refused any fellowship.

 

Soon, worldwide directories recognized the two separate brotherhoods as Institutional (which is what the mainline churches of Christ were labeled) and Non-Institutional (Anti’s).

 

The Wikipedia article states: The label "non-institutional" refers to a distinct fellowship within the Churches of Christ who do not agree with the support of parachurch organizations (colleges, orphans' homes, organized mission efforts, etc.) by local congregations. They contend that the New Testament includes no authority for churches' support of such institutions. Instead they feel that it is a responsibility and duty of the individual members to assist those in need. Similarly, non-institutional congregations also oppose the use of church facilities for non-church activities (such as fellowship dinners or recreation); as such, they oppose the construction of "fellowship halls", gymnasiums, and similar structures. The belief is that, although such activities may be beneficial, they are not a proper function of a local congregation.

 

This division has remained to our current time.

 

The average member of these churches may know very little about the doctrinal points that have caused division.

 

They have just been conditioned to believe that we are “liberal” or “institutional.”

 

They are warned not to worship or work with us.

 

In dealing with them, understand that they believe you (or the generations before you) to be the persecutors.

 

They have been subjected to revised, rewritten history. 

 

They have been convinced that the majority of church splits were forced or affected by our brethren which is not true.

 

We have an example of this in scripture (1 Kings 18).

 

Ahab called Elijah “O troubler of Israel” (v. 17).

 

Yet the real troubler in Israel was Ahab for Elijah answered him in verse 18: “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father's house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and have followed the Baals.”

 

Restrictions on our privileges have been bound in regards to the use of contributions by members to the Lord’s church.

 

"No" is a keyword of anti-ism and many anti prohibitions involve more conserving money than conservative biblical interpretation.

 

How does the bible authorize?

 

The bible authorizes through: Commands, Examples, and Necessary Inferences (Just remember the acronym - CENI).

 

This approach holds that there are three different ways that scripture authoritatively communicates the will of God.

 

First, there are commands “Repent and be baptized…” Acts 2:38.

 

Second, there are examples “So when they had appointed elders in every church” Acts 14:23.

 

Third, there are necessary inferences “On the first day of the week, let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come” 1 Corinthians 16:1. Therefore, there must have been an assembly every first day of the week.

 

And we are required to do the same.

 

The same authority mechanism by which a church can purchase a building (which is not explicitly even mentioned in the New Testament) is the same authority mechanism by which a church may have a kitchen in that building.

 

After one justifies by biblical authority the ownership of a church building in which to assemble, he may have justified by the same biblical authority the existence of a kitchen (as well as restrooms and a water fountain) in that building.

 

If not careful, strenuous protests against some things associated with a building may effectively disallow the building, too.

Weekly assembly of Christians is authorized by direct statement (Hebrews 10:25), by example (Acts 20:8) and by implication (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).

 

The church did not own property for the first 200 years after the establishment of the Lord’s church; the church assembled in public places (Acts 5:12-14) and in private homes (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19).

 

Nevertheless, for the church to assemble, there must be a designated place or site for it to assemble.

 

The authorization to worship implies a place at which or in which to worship; brethren have inferred, then, that purchasing a building to assemble fulfills this requirement.

 

The mission of the church, according to Scripture is three-fold:

 

1. Evangelism (Mark 16:15-16),

 

2. Edification (1 Corinthians 14:12) and

 

3. Benevolence (Galatians 6:10).

 

It is not accurate to represent evangelism as the sole area in which the church ought to spend the Lord’s money.

 

Church property that includes kitchens and appliances can be used for benevolence as well as socialization, and often individual members purchase or donate appliances to help placate troubled minds.

 

Further, usually fellowship halls serve the dual purpose of providing additional classroom space.

 

It is truly incredible how many of these anti doctrines have developed over the years.

 

Here are some examples of anti-ism among believers in Christ:

 

1. Anti Bible classes — This teaching declares that dividing into classes divides the assembly and is not authorized by God’s word. This is heresy — setting up a law that small groups of Christians cannot come together and study the Bible (Bible study). Paul taught both publicly and from house to house (Acts 20:20). We learn by example that brethren in the first century met together on the first day of the week to worship (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 14) and from that example we learn we must assemble together for worship also. However, in addition to worshiping together, it is also appropriate that we study the Bible in smaller groups (cf. 2 Timothy 2:15). Who would declare that it is sinful for brethren to study the Bible together?

 

2. Anti women teachers — This doctrine says that women cannot teach children or other women. For the answer to this false doctrine see Titus 2:3-4.

 

3. Anti multiple cups in the Lord’s supper — This teaching demands that only one cup be used in partaking of the Lord’s supper. This heresy places emphasis on the word “cup” (singular) and fails to recognize that it is actually the contents of the cup that is being referred to. Paul quotes Jesus as saying, this cup is the New Testament in my blood (1 Corinthians 11:25) — an obvious reference to the contents rather than the cup. In the next verse, Paul refers to drinking the cup. This is a physical impossibility unless he is referring to the contents of the cup.

 

4. Anti located preachers — This teaching says it is a sin for a preacher to work with a congregation that has elders or to work with a congregation for an extended period of time. The obvious error of this is seen in Acts 20 when Paul declared to the Ephesian elders (v.17) that he had taught them publicly and from house to house (v.20), and that he had worked with them for three years.

 

5. Anti Bible colleges — This heresy teaches it is solely the work of the church to teach the truth (the scriptures) and that Bible colleges try to take over this work. Of course, Paul taught in a school in Ephesus for two years (Acts 19:9-10). If Paul taught in a school, it surely would have been proper for him to have a school and teach in his own school. And, why would it have been improper for him to invite some other faithful brethren to teach in his school also? However, while it is scriptural for a school to exist, there are at least two other concerns that need to be addressed. The first is whether or not church funds should be used to support a ‘Christian’ college. To say that a Christian college is scriptural in its existence is not to say that it is scriptural to support that work from the Lord’s treasury. A hot dog stand is scriptural in its existence, but it should not be supported by church funds. A place for young people to receive an education from Christian teachers in a Christian environment is a good concept. But it is no part of the work and mission of the church to give people a liberal arts education. Training preachers is the work of the church, but the liberal arts education of our children is not. The second issue of concern about Christian colleges is that in recent years, Christian colleges and universities have led many into the error of liberalism. They have been and continue to be the source of so much digression and apostasy today. This reminds us that the church cannot and must not count on any secular institution to do its job. Such schools are the work of the home, not the church. We should not blindly follow any man or school. The Lord’s church is not dependent upon the schools. We must remember that the Lord died for the church, not the schools! They could all close their doors and the church of our Lord would still be the beautiful bride of Christ. The church certainly is sufficient to do the work God designed it to do.

 

6. Anti Cooperation — This doctrine teaches that a church cannot take money from its treasury and assist another congregation in doing the Lord’s work. Taken to its logical conclusion, this doctrine asserts that one congregation could not use the baptistery of another congregation because it was paid for out of the church treasury. Furthermore, one church could not give another church song books or even Bibles! We find congregations cooperated with each other in the New Testament (Romans 15:26). Paul (by inspiration) wrote to the church in Corinth (as he taught other churches) and instructed Christians to give a weekly contribution into a treasury (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). A good portion of this money (if not all of it) was taken to the elders of the church in Jerusalem for distribution (Acts 11:30; see also 2 Corinthians 9:12-13). Furthermore, when Paul left Philippi, he traveled to Athens and then to Corinth (Acts 16-18). He later wrote the Philippians that no other church had supported him (communicated — giving and receiving) except the congregation in Philippi (Philippians 4:15). However, he wrote to the Corinthians that while he was with them, he robbed other churches (plural) in taking wages from them, but not from Corinth (2 Corinthians 11:8). If no one but Philippi communicated with him in giving and receiving, but he was getting wages from other churches, Philippi must have been receiving contributions from other congregations and forwarding them to Paul. This is a clear example of church cooperation.

 

7. Anti children’s homes. The argument is made that the responsibility to care for orphans (James 1:27) is the individual responsibility of each Christian, and therefore the church cannot be charged with such care. This is clearly wrong, for the same verse enjoins taking care of widows, and the church can be charged for widows (if they are widows indeed — 1 Timothy 5:9-16). If the church can be charged for the care of widows, then it can be charged for the care of needy children. There are too many different flavors and brands of this anti doctrine to explain during this sermon.

 

8. Anti aid to non-Christians. This doctrine says that the contributions made in the New Testament were for the saints (Christians) only. They conclude from this that it is wrong to take money from the church treasury to help those who are not Christians. But, Galatians 6:10 says, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” They argue that Galatians 6:10 commands individuals, not churches, to help all men, and that the contribution is for the saints. This too can easily be proven false. For one, the instructions given in Galatians was for the “churches of Galatia” (Galatians 1:2). And, two, the contribution commanded in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 was used for Christians and non-Christians. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 9:12 that the contributions had supplied the want of the saints and in verse 13 refers to the distribution unto them (saints), and unto all men (non-saints).

 

9. Another anti group is opposed to food and drink being consumed in the church building. They use 1 Corinthians 11:22, 34 as their proof text. They have a problem being consistent because they allow some eating and drinking in the church building. They allow a water fountain in their buildings and they also allow babies to be fed there as well. I understand that during the week, the preacher eats his lunch in the preacher’s office. Brethren, there is nothing wrong with babies eating in the building or preachers either for that matter. Nothing wrong with drinking water in the meeting house of the church.  Besides, the church is not “the building” where saints meet. The church is the people that meet in that building or house or whatever the structure is. When you eat in the building you are not eating in the church. And who says that the church cannot eat together? It is on the inspired record that the New Testament under the authority of the apostles ate meals together (Acts 2:46; 20:11). Sadly this issue still hinders the unity of the Lord’s church.

 

There are yet other anti groups that require a head covering for women inside the church building.

 

Others are opposed to the church having a kitchen in the church building.

 

I am sure we have not seen the end of them.

 

The devil has not retired.

 

Here are some consequences that follow from anti positions that the church cannot render assistance to another church in spiritual matters and help those who are needy outside the church:

 

1. One church cannot send a New Testament bible to another church.

 

2. A church can send money to a preacher who needs a church, but cannot send to a church which needs a preacher. They say if one church assists another church to pay its preacher this violates the autonomy of each church.

 

3. One church cannot lend chairs, song books, etc. to another church in connection with a gospel meeting.

 

4. One church cannot allow its preacher (while continuing his support) to assist another church in a bible course or teaching/preaching program.

 

5. One church could never help another church to build a church building. Exchange of money must be only for famine relief.

 

6. One church could never help another church carry on a radio program, prison ministry, etc.

 

7. The church cannot buy food for a hungry baby and an elderly person, but the church can spend money to buy fertilizer for the grass, toilet papers, air conditioning, tiles or carpets for a church building. Which one is more important?

 

Nearly all of the anti or prohibitive church laws among members of the churches of Christ revolve around money!

 

We are talking about the “Lord’s money,” yet, the degree of attachment to the Lord’s money speaks to a personal attachment that individual givers should have relinquished when they gave it as a gift to God.

 

Astonishingly, it has been the observation of preachers and elders that often the people who are the most outspoken about how the Lord’s money is spent give little and sometimes nothing to the Lord in the first place.

 

The apostle Paul warned us about the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10).

 

Apparently, the love of money is not restricted to personal circumstances, but extends to the Lord’s money.

 

Perhaps unintentionally, most of the "anti" issues effectively involve two things:

 

(1) Being more restrictive in Christianity than was the Lord or is the New Testament (Matthew 15:9; Revelation 22:18), and

 

(2) Demonstrating covetousness over money professedly given to the Lord but not really relinquished.

 

Half of the "anti" issues would be eradicated by developing a healthy and biblically correct attitude toward money, and the other half of "anti" issues would dissolve were these brethren content to abide in what the New Testament teaches without adding their own test-of-fellowship opinions.

 

The anti’s are trying to legislate for God and stand condemned (James 4:12a; Colossians 2:22-23).

 

The good and honest heart, with godly fear, submits to God’s authority and receives with meekness the implanted word which is able to convert and save (Psalm 19:7; James 1:21; Isaiah 66:2b; Hebrews 11:7). 

 

Remember: The devil seeks to take the word of God out of our hearts (Luke 8:12).

 

God and His people are in the business of putting the word of God into our hearts (Acts 11:14).

 

Living the Christian life is somewhat like driving an automobile down a narrow road.

 

The car must stay on the road to reach its destination.

 

Heaven is the church’s destination.

 

The way that leads to heaven is both strait and narrow.

 

Jesus said, “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:14).

 

If a driver does not focus upon the road he will veer in one of two directions (either to the left or to the right) and crash into one of the ditches.

 

Likewise, to stay in the narrow way, the Christian must abide in the doctrine of Christ.  (2 John 9).

 

Jesus spoke to spoke of the ditches and who would fall into them: “Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.” (Matthew 15:14).

 

Again in Luke 6:39 “And He spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch?”

 

According to Jesus, a person can be spiritually blinded, venture away from the truth, crash into a spiritual ditch and lose their soul.

 

There are four distinct options for every man and (or) every religious group:

 

1. Do only what the word of God says,

 

2. Add something to the word of God,

 

3. Subtract something from the word of God, or

 

4. Both add and subtract what the Bible says.

 

All of the options, except the first, are eternally fatal.

 

Notice the following warning: “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (Revelation 22:18-19).

 

Clearly, heaven is not a possibility to those that tamper with God’s word.