[forthright] Growing Suspicion

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthright@...>
Date: Fri, 22 Jul 2005 14:41:47 -0500
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross


COLUMN: Heavenly Connections

Growing Suspicion
by Tim Hall

Terror has again struck in London. After deadly
bomb attacks on July 7 killed 56 and injured
scores of others, new attempts were made on
Thursday. In this latest strike, the explosions
(on subways and a bus -- again) were smaller and
no one was killed. But repercussions can be felt
as far away as New York City.

Security in London is tightening, understandably.
There is great fear that the same attempts will be
made in the United States. It was announced Friday
morning that passengers on subways in New York
City will be subjected to searches. A great
inconvenience, certainly, but the move is designed
to decrease the chances of another terror attack.

Suspicion is growing. As news is reported of
ordinary-looking neighbors turning out to be
terrorists, there is more scrutiny of anyone who
carries a package or who fits a certain profile.
And it's at this point that freedom-loving people
must be most careful. In our haste to stop those
who have evil intentions, we must be alert to the
danger of punishing those who are, in fact,
innocent.

It's happening in the Lord's church, too. In
recent years, attacks have been mounted on the
pure doctrine of Christ. Innovations have
flourished and past practices have been abandoned
by many. In some buildings where churches of
Christ have met, odd things now occur. Principles
once defended from pulpits are now scorned and
abandoned. The "progressive" approach to
Christianity has left many Christians stunned.

What should be our response? Without a doubt we
must "contend earnestly for the faith which was
once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3,
NKJV). We are aware that "the faith" does not
include opinions and customs originated by our
ancestors, but we also recognize that many of our
practices are based on God's word and not merely
on traditions. It is right that there should be
resistance to the attacks of those who wish to
change the face of New Testament Christianity. But
could this resistance movement go too far?

We must be careful to keep our suspicions within
reasonable limits. Rather than developing a
customized profile (creed) of what a Christian
should believe, we must remain content to let the
New Testament speak. Nothing more than the Bible,
and nothing less. And until we are shown that
Brother X teaches error, we must not speak of him
to others in whispers of concern.

The leaders of the church in the first century
faced a similar challenge. When Gentiles were
granted admission to the kingdom, some Christians
of Jewish background felt uneasy. They proposed
new rules which required becoming a Jew as well.
Only then would these suspicious brethren be
satisfied. But the apostles and elders concluded
differently. They wrote: "For it seemed good to
the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no
greater burden than these necessary things" (Acts
15:28). What has the Holy Spirit revealed in the
scriptures on the subject of being sound? Those
are the necessary things. Christians must refrain
from laying upon one another greater burdens than
these.

These are times of anxiety in London, New York
City, and in the church of our Lord. But we must
not allow our fears to overpower common sense and
strict adherence to the word of God.

"Therefore receive one another, just as Christ
also received us, to the glory of God" (Romans
15:7).

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