Seeking to Ruin a Reputation
by Floyd Chappelear
Sentry Magazine, December 1999
He had seen Jesus after the resurrection (Acts 9). He had been left dead and had seen things on the other side that it was not lawful to speak about (see Acts 14:19; II Corinthians 12:4). The man was powerful, influential beyond measure. His influence must be destroyed. What would his enemies do? They attacked him on the ground that he didn't accept wages from the Corinthian church (I Corinthians 9:1-14).
How times have changed. Tell a church today that the preacher will labor at no charge and some would want him in the worst way. Then, however, it was not received as well. But why attack him on this point since the Judaizers were more concerned about his doctrine than his income? Why, indeed. Because they sought the following of the brethren and were afraid that Paul might be getting it instead (Galatians 4:17). What about his doctrine?
It was unassailable. When one "searched the scriptures" to see if what he taught was so, one came away convinced that it was (see Acts 17). The only thing to do was assault the man's character. This is the way false teachers operate.
We are seeing this increasingly among brethren today. Assault's are made on a man's character rather than in dealing with the man's teaching. A gossip piece was recently carried on the internet charging a fine older gospel preacher with "fellowshipping" liberals because he had accepted an invitation to teach at a liberal church. I ask, would his detractors have gone to teach what God's word said about faithfulness in the minor prophets? I would go anywhere to preach, including the synagogues. Two others were attacked for joining him there when they, in fact, left after the class to attend a conservative congregation. That wasn't reported for it served no purpose (the intent to destroy reputations and character). Brethren, if we can answer false teaching let us do so, but let us not attack a man's reputation in the absence of the ability to deal with his teaching.
I get the impression that a lot of preachers who do not hesitate to rail against others do so because they have no confidence in their own teaching. If they had confidence in it they wouldn't assault others.
When Reputation Ruining Is Sought
It is interesting to note that the same Greek word that is translated as "blasphemy" when applied to God is sometimes translated as "speak evil" when applied to men (see Titus 3:2). This is more interesting when one recognizes a connection between our attitude toward man and God. The Lord asks us how we can claim to love God whom we have not seen when we do not love our fellow man whom we have seen (I John 4:20). Similarly, we might ask how we can blaspheme (slander/speak evil) man whom we have seen yet refrain from doing it to God who is less familiar with us. An interesting thought that should give us all pause.
Now, what is the point of this? There is a piece being circulated on the Internet concerning Homer Hailey and an article he wrote in 1948; before the institutional battles had become clearly defined and when brethren had not been identified, rightly or wrongly, as being on one side of the issue or the other. The article is "Keepers of Orthodoxy," which is really a pretty good little piece that raises some interesting questions which I find hard to believe would create a problem for any conservative brother today The article, however, is not the focus of the piece. The real problem is in the accompanying paragraph which reads, in part:
"The following is an article written by brother Homer Hailey and originally printed in Gospel Advocate in 1948 [p. 175]. The article was reprinted twice during the next decade: in 1952 [p. 399] & 1958 [pp. 737, 770]. See if you recognize the sentiments he expresses towards those standing for the truth. It is also noteworthy that brother Homer Hailey was in attendance at the University Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas (an ultra-liberal group supporting every innovation imaginable) and spoke in the class hour on July 4, 1999. One wonders which of the above-mentioned views he would repudiate and which he would still hold. Brethren Bob Owen and Ed Britt were in attendance for that class with the liberal congregation."
Now, why is it so important to know that Homer was at the University Church of Christ? Well, if one is in the reputation-damaging business then it is vitally important. If one is interested in building up the body of Christ -- it is of doubtful value. Additionally, if one is all that interested in Brother Hailey, did they bother to find out why Homer was there and what he spoke on? Well, the circulators of the piece had no such interest. I was interested.
He was visiting his son to celebrate his 96th birthday. He was asked to speak to the Bible class on the minor prophets. What a chance to preach about apostasy and the problems of not following God's will. Now, would you have spoken to such a group? I would have. The keepers of brotherhood fidelity and orthodoxy, however, would pass on this.
Furthermore, the piece made note of the presence of Bob Owen. Did the slanderers have any interest in checking this out? Well, I did. Bob Owen and Ed Britt attended the class and left immediately to go to the North Park Church of Christ to worship with them (a conservative congregation where I think Wayne Goforth is the preacher). The article didn't note that; for that wouldn't have been slanderous or damaging, the obvious intent of the circulated piece.
As I noted once before, those interested in confrontation and not truth, leave much to be desired. If I were you, I would delete the "keepers of orthodoxy" concerns and mark them down to those who want to keep house and not spread the word. My opinion.