The Authority Totem by W. Carl Ketcherside
The Authority Totem by W. Carl Ketcherside
I thought it might be interesting for some to see an article by a long gone church of Christ minister concerning the divisions and problems endemic within the churches of Christ. This is to remind that when I spoke to Sam Frost about splintering in the Reformed camp that I also mentioned the restoration Heritage. It really is of little matter because the Restorationist camp came out of the Reformed as well and all Protestants derive basically from the reformation time. My point being is that all manmade attempts to organize basically become corrupt after a generation if not before as that is the history of man’s attempts to foster separateness within the Body of Christ.
My main issue with Sam is on a desire to continue holding onto attempts at organizations having credibility for continued instruction when the history is tainted and theologically all over the board. The analysis is simple but the solutions are more problematic and each person and group are going to see things differently.
Here is a summary of Ketcherside”s article and the link to the full one which is 40 years old I believe.
We can never offer anything tangible to a world hungry for peace and serenity so long as we think that because men differ with us over music or the millennium, cups or classes, that they are disowned by the Father. Our fathers were wrong when they made the deductions of men on music a test of fellowship. I do not care how honest and earnest they were--they were wrong!
“And I was wrong when I followed their factional spirit and made tests of union and communion out of opinions about music, homes, colleges, and all of the rest of that motley horde of things which we turned into devil's wedges to splinter and divide the royal family into which we were adopted through grace. No man is wrong when he speaks out against that which he cannot condone in the family, but that man sins who destroys the family ties over matters of difference.
I refuse to continue in the wrongs of yesteryear and perpetuate the consummate folly of factionalism. I refuse to project the arrogant and silly position that we have a corner on "respect for the authority of the scriptures." I regard all of "our" editors in California and Florida as my brothers. I love all those who squat on our totem pole, even those who detest one another as brothers in error. But I go farther than that-- much farther. I receive and accept as my brothers and sisters all those upon this whole wide earth whom God regards as his children. It is not their attitude toward a restoration totem pole that makes the difference, but their attitude toward the blessed cross of Calvary. We carved out the totem pole but God drove the cross into the earth. I have brethren on earth who never heard of Alexander Campbell or Barton Warren Stone. So long as they come to Christ they need not come by any group of men. We are saved by the grace of God and not by the favor of the "Church of Christ."
Let us have done with the silly bickering which has negated our influence and made us the laughingstock of serious people in our generation. Let's remove the stigma of schism which manifests itself in six or seven divisions in some cities, with brethren hurling thunderbolts of wrath and indignation at one another over the air waves. Shall we perpetuate our shame and glory in it? I thank God that our younger men and women are seeing a vision that their fathers have not caught. It is with these that the hope of our future lies. They are sick of the rehashing of the outworn arguments and the dishing out of slanted interpretations which are dishonest and irrelevant.
I pray that our brethren will sing out for freedom and speak up for liberty in Christ Jesus. We can no longer be held down and held back by skeletal hands reaching out of partisan sepulchers. Do we esteem the praise of men in our own little segments as of more value than the praise of God? The fact is that the kingdom of heaven is greater than any of our factions or all of them put together. Let us find the way to unity of the Spirit by rising above the smoking ashes of our hopes, slain and burned by our unwritten creeds.
It is time for a new day to dawn. We have led in dividing, now let us lead in uniting. We have walked the dreary path of strife and left it strewn with the bloody corpses of our slain hopes, now let us resurrect the ideals which gave us birth and unfurl the flag of peace as the rallying standard for the Christians in all the sects. Now is the accepted time. Today is the day of our salvation! It is for such a time as this that we have come to the Kingdom. Let us not fail!”