Los Angeles, California
June 4, 1936
Louis T. Talbot
558 S. Hope Street
Dear Brother Talbot:
As you have repeatedly stated in your broadcasts over KMPC this week, we have no right to judge a brother's motives when it comes to matters of belief and practice that are in the realm of "doubtful". As Scofield brings out: "The church has no authority to decide questions of personal liberty in things not expressly forbidden in Scripture." (Note on Rom. 14:I) You reminded us that at the time of the Roman epistle there were some "weak" saints at Rome who thought they should not eat certain things and there were "strong" saints there who knew they could eat because they knew "there is nothing unclean of itself" "for every creature of God is good and nothing to be refused ..." You did not tell us what these stronger Christians should do after they had received the weaker ones. On the contrary you stated twice that "Paul took the stronger ones aside and gave them ..." the subject matter of verses 14-23. You also quoted some from I Tim. 4 as proof that "those who were strong in the faith" could eat whatever they desired. Thus, you forced Paul to strengthen the strong and leave the weak in their weakness.
And that is exactly the policy that operates in this "interdenominational" fundamentalist program of today. You studiedly ignore these portions of Scripture that the Risen Christ has given to build up all of the saints so that there will be no more weak ones but all will become "rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith" that they may "stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel." Why didn't you tell your audience that after Paul had written to those same weak saints explaining to them that "there is nothing unclean of itself" and after his letters to Timothy and the Colossians and the Hebrews had fully explained how all of the "meats and drinks, holy days and Sabbaths, divers baptisms and carnal ordinances" had been fulfilled in and by Christ and were therefore done away with for all Christians; I say, why didn't you make it plain to your audience that God later gave full information on those "doubtful" subjects? You certainly must know that many Christians who are considered weak today and are accordingly regarded as honest and humble, though muddled, are really not "weak" at all but are deliberately wilful and "carnal" as were the careless Corinthians. While you gave some sweet things about Christians not playing cards or dancing "IF" it would hurt their influence and you probably emptied some tear sacs when you related about the bum who told you "a woman in the skies" started him on the downward slide, you carefully avoided saying anything about the almost universal mixture of Judaism with present-day evangelical teaching. You could work up no indignation against the "Brethren Church" with its triune immersion and foot-washing mixtures nor would you dare lose any of you So. Baptist supporters by boldly expressing yourself against their "close communion" which refuses to allow you to sit with them at "the Lord's table" but you did "boldly" say that those who teach that the physical ordinances are not for the "church which is Christ's body" are teaching "one of the devil's triplets" in false doctrine.
If I Were a Quaker or a big officer in the "Salvation Army" I could force you to make an explanation and an apology for we know that you did not mean to thus damn those two BIG and "reputable religious corporations" that do not practice water baptism or a physical supper. You were, of course, referring to those whose Biblical method in dealing with the question of the ordinances is unanswerable and logically destroys all necessity for religious corporations. You know full well that most earnest Christians are already perplexed and sadly divided about water baptism and the Lord's supper and you also know that they can never be straightened out and really settled by anything but the Word of God. You also know that I know what your policy in such things now is for you can hardly have forgotten that you told me in front of the Institute that you agreed with O’Hair on water baptism but you did not think he should teach it (that water baptism is not for us today) because it caused so much trouble. I probably talked "out of school" a few days later to two of "your" members for they later informed me that you folks had cancelled your invitation to Mr. O'Hair to come for a conference at the Open Door auditorium. Of course you have the legal right to invite or reject those whom you and the "board" desire but no Spirit-led Christian will have a part in programs that are so exactly described in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, sectarian gatherings where the preachers and teachers have been "heaped to" or hired by people who call their "leaders" instead of humbly receiving all who come in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. You know that Timothy got his orders from the Head of the Church as did Titus also.
If you and the "board" of the "Church of the Open Door" will allow me to speak in "your" building and will receive me in the manner you have so frequently insisted Christians should receive one another "regardless of differences in non-essentials," I shall be delighted to speak on some of the doctrines that you insist are not essential to salvation. You recall how you have been recently teaching from Romans 6th chapter and elsewhere that water baptism and the "Lord's supper" are not essential to salvation. You likewise iterated and reiterated that Christians should be tolerant on all matters that are not essential to salvation. Even though you did say that our teaching on certain of these "non-essentials" was "one of the devil's triplets" I am herein assuming that you are nevertheless tolerant toward us as you so fervently toil all of us to be toward others.
By the grace of God I shall receive you "but not to doubtful disputations" if you will come out to the little tent at 2721 E. Slauson Avenue in Huntington Park. You will be allowed all the time you desire to prove that the questions of water baptism and a physical supper are not in the realm of "doubtful disputations" but are for Spiritual Christians today and that teaching to the contrary is in the realm of the "devil's triplets". If I may not speak in your incorporated property and you do not care to come to the little tent, I shall be delighted to be personally responsible for eight nights over Radio KGER, you taking four thirty-minute periods and I taking the like time. I will speak the first night and you the next and so on throughout the eight nights or we will reverse the order according to your wish. You recall how Paul charged Timothy and Titus to stop the mouths of gainsayers by "sound speech that cannot be condemned" and to hold fast the form of sound words.
My dear Brother, you and I are going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ and answer for our conduct in these matters. The "courtesy of the clergy" and pulpit niceties will have no weight there, as you very well know, so let us deal now as ruggedly honest men of God and have done with this miserable Romish institutionalism. When you quote that last clause in Romans 14:23 ("whatsoever is not of faith is sin"), does it not arrest you at all in regard to your Presbyterian connections and your other un-Biblical (un-faithful) names and programs? Can you not see that it is you who are withdrawing yourself from other Christians and not they who are "separating themselves"? Just let me know when and where any of you "Fundamentalists" are meeting honestly and only in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and I will join you if it is. providentially possible. If you think my stand today is comforting to my flesh or is in any earthly way encouraging you are far more ignorant of the real powers of Babylonish religion than I have ever thought you to be.
Prayerfully trusting God to keep you from any "wounded dignity" or ecclesiastical disdain, I wait upon God.
Your Brother in Christ,
(Signed) MAURICE JOHNSON
Return to Navigation