Mighty Oaks from Little Acorns
by Sewell Hall
“Therefore, we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that were heard, lest haply we drift away from them” (Hebrews 2:1, ASV).
The word ‘drifting’ aptly describes the process of apostasy. It is seldom accomplished by giant leaps; rather it is the result of short steps. The steps appear to be only the slightest variation from the accepted truth and altogether innocent, but each one is used as justification for the next one until truth has been left completely, even by individuals who would never have dreamed it possible.
We have known of congregations where a piano was first allowed in the basement to teach children how to sing. But having learned with it, the children continued to need it in their Bible classes. Once this was allowed, someone asked the difference in young folks and adults — the difference in Wednesday night and Sunday night. No logical difference could be shown so it was allowed at those times.
Then someone had only to point out the inconsistency in using it Sunday night and refusing it Sunday morning, and from then on it was used at all services, a thing that would have been opposed when the piano was first moved into the basement.
A group of Americans preaching in Africa said they were strongly opposed to churches of Christ operating a hospital in the United States. But they thought churches could and should support a nurse in Nigeria to treat wounds and minor illnesses. But once the nurse was supported, a hospital was proposed. Anyone who objected would be asked, “If you can support a nurse and clinic, why not a doctor and hospital?” No logical difference could be shown, so the hospital was built. Now often heard is a proposal for a Church of Christ Hospital in the United States. The argument: “If we can do it in Nigeria, why not here?” Granted that premise, no sound reason can be given. It all started with letting a church support a nurse.
A church we know has a kitchen. They defend it on the grounds that it costs the church nothing. The kitchen and equipment were in the building when it was purchased and they have a minimum electric and water bill each month, anyway. But a generation will arise that is accustomed to the kitchen. They will want to build a new building and they will want a kitchen. Their argument will be “We’ve always had a kitchen. If we could have it in the old building, why not in the new?” There will be no chance of keeping it out.
In our town, a kindergarten is beginning in the meetinghouse of one of the churches. In a news item, it is stated, “The kindergarten will be at the church, but will not be operated by the church.” This will satisfy the minds of many who would object to the church operating or supporting a school of any kind.
But one of these days another step will be proposed. It may be opening a first grade. If someone objects, the question will be raised, “But what is the difference in a first grade and kindergarten?” There is no difference, so the opposition will be silenced and the way will be clear for second grade, third grade, etc., etc.
But some day the school will need to be subsidized. Those opposed to support of education will rise up to object. But someone will say, “It’s true we haven’t been contributing from the treasury, but we have been providing a place for the school and it has been using the name of the church. Now if we can contribute facilities and influence, why not money?” That question will be hard to answer, for there is no difference and the opposition will then be silenced.
From this, the next logical step will be to send money to a college, for, after all, what is the difference between contributing to our own school and contributing to one operated by someone else? And it all began with a kindergarten, which “will be at the church, but will not be operated by the church.”
Truly, “Mighty Oaks from little acorns grow.” The mistake is ever allowing an acorn to get mixed with the seed of the kingdom. Every innovation, regardless of how small, must be rejected, not only for its own sake, but also for the sake of attendant corruptions that will surely follow in its train.
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