Jesus calls us to join Him in HIS church.
A VIEWPOINT from Olan Hicks, revised 10/25/2004
Here’s a volume control for the music...

News & Notes
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Date sent: Sat, 27 Nov 1999
From: Olan Hicks
Subject: News update

(This note following was sent with news to Ray Downen, who says you also shouldn’t miss reading the article below on Diotrephes!)

Ray; Thanks for the reports on your web page to help us reach out to more people. We appreciate that very much.

This has been a very good year for our divorce-recovery ministry and we anticipate that the year 2000 will be the best yet. I have been invited to present material on this subject in two classes on the Pepperdine lectures next spring. This is the first major lectureship among us to do that and we think it is the start of something big.

More and more people are learning about us and our materials through such outlets as your web page and some others. Also several Bible language professors in our brotherhood universities are recommending my book to folks who ask them about the subject. All this helps us find a lot of people, all around the world, who need this information so desperately.

Our efforts have also reached out into the area of helping to restore unity between Independent Christian Churches and non-instrument churches of Christ. We are attending a couple of annual encampments sponsored by Christian churches and are starting to participate more. As you know, this cause was a life long passion for Don DeWelt and I was pleased to affiliate with him in that in the latter years of his life. I see a lot of progress being made on that front right now.

I recently had a skin cancer removed from my nose and we have been building a large addition on to our little house. Both projects are shaping up real well and we are getting prepared to enter the “new millenium,” Y2K ready or not.

Thanks for helping us boost things along. I enjoy your e-mail send outs, although I do not get time to participate much in the discussions. I hope to do a little better on that in the next month. May God bless your continuing efforts! -- With brotherly love; -- Olan Hicks

October 1998 -- Please contact us by e-mail! We don’t yet have a web site, just e-mail, this page, and internet access. Being unacquainted with this field, we decided to go on line and just look around for a while and then decide whether a web page is practical. We’ve already found that it’s a whole new world of communication that does literally go around the world.

While preparing for our last trip, in a matter of minutes and with no postage charges, we were able to contact some of the folks we would soon be visiting. We’ve already made several new acquaintances in several states via e-mail, and have learned of people who needed our material and counsel. The internet is a great source of information as well, with access to encyclopedias, libraries, and even the web sites of many churches. I don’t know yet where it will all end up. But we want to make use of every available avenue of communication. Being out on the road so much is a disadvantage to this end of things, but it still nets out to a big step forward.

The Fields Are White -- We’re winning, but it isn’t over. Before we tell you about our travels and experiences, I need to say this -- The traditional view on divorce and remarriage became the dominant view in the brotherhood because about 50 years ago some zealous advocates began pushing it that way. Several noted leaders disagreed with the theory that divorce is an unforgiveable sin, but the “traditionalists” were the more agressive and persistent. Tradition prevailed. Brethren of a more scriptural viewpoint stood back and the brotherhood ended up in a real mess.

About 20 years ago we reopened the battle for truth, at a point when it was all but dead. In the past decade or two the people who have received the truth on this and been helped by it would number in the thousands. Marriages have been saved, and a huge number who a few years ago would have left the church on account of a divorce situation have not done so. The churches which have been helped similarly number into the hundreds.

This ministry has been fruitful because of God’s leading and His help. We are not real skilled, but we are persistent. And God has blessed us. Now we are again at the point where truth is at least being considered, nationwide. But make no mistake, we must not quit this time. The opposition is not quitting. In the past years some of our financial supporters have had to drop out, and we understand that. A few new supporters have come aboard, but only a few. Some very special friends have given special gifts, and we are still afloat. We receive social security, but the checks are very small, and have long ago been put into the work. We need a little more help. Any who can, please help us as you are able. Look over your situation. Is there a financial source you could divert to this work?

We thank God every day for the health and strength He provides, and we try to take care of ourselves as best we can. But to be realistic, we see the truth of what Jesus said, “We must work while it is day for the night comes when no man can work.” There is so much to do and so little time. But let us thank God that He gives us the opportunities and then gives the increase when we make use of them.

How different is the focus of brethren whose commitment is to seek and to save, from the focus of brethren who are committed to judging and condemning. It’s sad to see so many, wearing the name of Christ, so bent upon the latter. Some of these judges are young men. We also try to go to brethren of that spirit when we get an opportunity. That is another phase of our work. Many are sincere who think judgmentally. I know. I was there myself three decades ago. But the Gospel is God’s power. It does work. Let’s pull together on its behalf!

... For several years now I have had no hesitancy to speak in “Christian Churches” when invited. I am aware that many in our Church of Christ fellowship see instrumental music in worship as a sin so grievous that we cannot have fellowship with those who use it. I saw it that way myself twenty years ago. But in further study I learned that our “law of silence” did not come from the Bible but from Daniel Sommer. In fact, I found Jesus rejecting a LAW of silence in Matthew 12:3,4 and again in Matthew 15:24-28.

The Bible teaches a principle of exclusion based on silence, and Jesus observed it. But an absolute law of exclusion based on silence is wrong, and has been the cause of division after division among us. I also found Jesus ordering us to withhold judgment of each other, and Paul pleading for us to “forbear one another in love” in our differences. So I refuse to add another law to God’s word, which admittedly is not stated (that is, the law of silence is not found IN the Bible). Brethren may practice division over matters of opinion if they choose to do so. I am not willing to disregard the scriptures to that extent.

RAY’S NOTE: It was my intention to update this page with news from Olan and Barbara as it became available. Other projects have prevented my doing so, for which I am very sorry. Their news is good news. I get to see them each Spring at Tulsa’s International Soul-Winning Workshops. I hope you’ll join us there.

The spirit of Diotrephes lives on in Florida, especially at Lakeland. And in Memphis Tennessee, in Karns, and in many other places. He and his friends edit papers -- the Spiritual Sword, Firm Foundation, Contending for (about) the Faith, and others. These who follow Diotrephes wear the name, “church of Christ,” but are to the church today exactly what Diotrephes was to the church in John’s time -- an opponent from within. They are against apostolic teaching, and are accusers of the brethren. They presume they can exercise authority over the church, to cast out those who refuse to submit to their dictates (See 3rd John verse 10).

     That this kind of thing has been going on among us has been especially evident in the past three decades. What should we do about it? What modern Diotrephes have been doing to me is not important. What they are doing to Christ’s church matters a great deal. They say their aim is to protect and cleanse it. Is their aim true? This matters a great deal to all of us who love Jesus.

     Did the 1st-century Diotrephes refute the apostles with solid Scriptural proof in a fair circumstance? No, that’s not the way he operates. He probably claimed to (may have aimed to), but what the apostle John said Diotrephes did was, “...prating against us with malicious words, and (not content with that) he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.”

     How about the 20th-century Diotrephes? They contradict every statement the apostles gave on the subject of divorce and remarriage, as well as everything Jesus said about it, and also reject other things taught by inspiration. Is their rejection based on rightly handling the Word of truth? No. The procedure is the same as it was in John’s time -- malicious words, misrepresentations, and efforts of all kinds to poison minds against persons and facts. They demand that brethren take their word for the truth of what they claim, not even speaking to those they accuse.

     A church in Florida wanted to study the subject of divorce -- not convinced either way, they wanted a study taught by me of what the Bible said on the subject. A member of the church who had been a student at Lakeland’s School of Preaching told a nearby preacher who had graduated from Lakeland of the planned study. The nearby preacher called the Belleville preacher, threatening that the church would be disfellowshipped if they had the study led by me.

     To keep peace, the church rescheduled the study to the home of a member. Both the nearby preacher and the church member who had reported to him that the study would be held were expressly invited to be present. They chose to not be there.

     Diotrephes used to hold forth as a pretty strong element in church of Christ colleges. But the quality of scholarship in these institutions over a period of time was such that the spirit of Diotrephes did not remain strong there. Absurd and unBiblical ideas could not prevail. So those whose ideas didn’t impress open-minded brethren at the major schools turned against those schools and now condemns those schools as being “liberal.”

     But ignorance found fertile fields in some smaller Schools of Preaching. In my opinion, the idea of having schools of preaching was a very good one. The plan was to take men from other careers (family men for the most part), give them a two-year cram course in Bible and make preachers of them. Churches felt the need for more preachers than were available. And in some cases, this has worked well. Some of our best preachers were trained at a school of preaching.

     But the system has an inherent weakness -- a susceptibility to hobbies and fanaticisms of small-minded men. In universities this is balanced by the weight of other faculty. When the faculty is quite small, they may more easily be swayed by persuasive personalities. A “power structure” develops around each school, especially when their graduates are hired in many neighboring congregations. Then a Diotrephes attempts to impose his decisions on all who are willing to be led by him (or them).

     In Florida, preachers influenced at Lakeland attempt to impose on all the churches what they were taught to believe and practice in the school. The two men who prevented my preaching at Belleville have never, so far as I know, met or heard me. Someone told them I was not “faithful” and they believed it.

     A strong authority structure has developed in some churches of Christ (not just in Florida) to seriously corrupt our churches. Leaders from some schools go out all over the country and speak to spread poison rather than gospel good news. This is a problem brethren need to face and overcome.

     Note, please, that I do NOT suggest we should take a stand for any position on a subject before we have thoroughly studied it fully so that we’re sure of what God really teaches. It’s our right TO study that’s in jeopardy when some want to do all the thinking for everyone. Many, in the southeast U.S. and everywhere, know that the practice of forbidding folks to hear both (or all) of the sides of an issue is wrong. Such flagrant disregard for congregational and personal autonomy is unscriptural and is an unhealthy situation in every way.

     Many know that I teach the Bible texts on divorce and remarriage. But every Christian has the responsibility to determine whether my teaching is right by his/her own study of the Word. To oppose searching the scriptures for oneself reflects on the opposer’s (or opposers’) honesty. To forbid it is dictatorial. Many are torn between the obligation to stand for the truth and our equal obligation to try to keep peace among brethren. Consider this before you submit to such outside control:

  1. If the right to local autonomy is sacrified (you submit to a prohibition against looking at any issue for yourself), you are submitting to what most denominations have -- an authority structure larger than the local congregation. Whether you call it a conference, a state- or other area- organization, or whatever it’s called, this is an unscriptural man-made arrangement.

  2. John could not make peace with Diotrephes. Nor can we do so and still hold on to our freedom in Christ.

  3. The divorce-remarriage subject is not one that will wait. We face urgent decisions about it every week. Everyone in each of our congregations has either had a divorce or has a friend or family member who has done so. It’s not next year that we must face the problem. It’s now. People you want to win to Christ want answers as to what position your church will take on this matter.

Other churches where I’ve been scheduled to speak have been similarly threatened. Some have told Diotrephes to find the nearest lake and jump in it. I suggest that we all get back to the business of the gospel of grace and let Diotrephes exclude himself if he will.


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