The Pruett & Lobit Streets Lectures On:
THE APOSTLES' DOCTRINE AND FELLOWSHIP
A Brotherhood Watershed
by Tom M. Roberts
During the week of November 18, 19 and 20, 1994, the elders at the Pruett and Lobit Streets church of Christ in Baytown, Texas invited five preachers to address the growing problem of a misuse of Romans 14:1-15:7 which encouraged broadened fellowship with brethren even if they believed and taught matters of “doctrinal and moral error.” The five men, in order of their presentations, were Tom Roberts (Recognizing God’s Children), Larry Ray Hafley (The Elastic Gospel), Harry Osborne (Error, the Local Church, and Preaching), Ron Halbrook (Divine Definitions of Fellowship and Factionalism) and Jerry Fite (Brotherhood Watchdogs: Troublers of Israel?).
This lectureship was precipitated by the fact that prominent brethren by personal preaching and brotherhood publications were promoting fellowship with brethren who admittedly taught error. Since some who taught error were respected as “old soldiers of the cross,” who honestly believed the error or whose exegesis of Romans 14 allowed inclusion of moral and doctrinal sins. One advocate of broadened fellowship introduced a chart of 100 things which he felt were allowed to be “received” (Romans 14:1). Included within the chart were diverse subjects, some inconsequential items of non-importance, but others egregiously wrong: abortion, bar-tending, dancing, etc. Historically, some believed that “unity and diversity” was the only path to follow. Especially included in the discussion was whether those who taught error concerning marriage, divorce and remarriage could teach that error and remain in fellowship.
While this lectureship happened decades ago, the issue remains relevant today. Shall we “receive in fellowship” those who teach and/or practice moral and doctrinal error? Truly, if this error remains unchallenged, it has the power to open the doors to many errors. If one sin is allowed into our fellowship, where is the stopping place? Error must never be permitted to remain unchallenged by the word of God.