I subscribe to the Gospel Advocate. I just like keeping up with the more conservative wing of the Churches of Christ, and the Gospel Advocate is pretty typical of the “mainstream” conservative Churches.
In a very interesting turn, the July 2014 issue includes a reprint of a 1968 article by Batsell Barrett Baxter. Baxter was the face of the Churches of Christ in the “Herald of Truth” TV broadcasts of the 1960s and chairman of the Lipscomb Bible department. That is, he was as prominent as one could get in Church of Christ circles.
At the top of the page, this text is quoted in a large font–
Real liberalism is a denial of the existence of God or the denial of the inspiration of the authority of the Bible.
Near the end, Baxter writes,
To label anybody with whom we differ in our brotherhood as “a liberal” hinders the fight against real liberalism. By being patently untrue, it actually pushes the thoughtful, faithful Christian toward the position of real liberals and hurts the cause of sound Christian doctrine and practice.
Amen. For far too long, we’ve tolerated the abuse of language in an effort to marginalize our opponents through slander — as though the ends might justify the means. And yet, ultimately, it’s the slanderer whose cause is most hurt.
The Churches of Christ have a long history of labeling our internal opponents as non-Christians. We shout “Liberal!” “Situation Ethics!” “Secular Humanism!” “New Hermeneutic!” “Postmodern!’ and on and on it goes, when rarely do these terms actually apply to our Church of Christ opponents.
In fact, the issues that divide our Churches are about what the Bible says, not whether the Bible is true. It’s about interpretation, not inspiration.
And I’m thrilled that the editors of the Gospel Advocate have deemed Bro. Baxter’s article worthy of reprinting. It’s an important reminder and an important step toward a better, more production conversation about what the Bible really says.