"Errors of Every Shade
Shall Find a Home In It"
Originally published in Speak as the Oracles, May 1987, Vol. 1 Number 12

By Rod Ross

In the nineteenth century in order to check the progress of the Restoration Movement, or more
correctly, to check the spread of the doctrine of Christ, the Presbyterian Board of Publication in
Philadelphia issued a tract, “CAMPBELLISM: ITS RISE, PROGRESS, CHARACTER AND
INFLUENCE, BY REV. N.L. RICE.” Benjamin Franklin, the editor of THE AMERICAN CHRISTIAN
REVIEW, wrote an answer to the allegations of Mr. Rice. The following is an excerpt from his
answer:

“On page 8, the Doctor says: ‘The body possesses no unity, but errors of every shade find a
home in it.’ That is not only untrue in itself, but if contains one of the most malignant,
premeditated and willful misstatements ever contained in the same number of words. The true
state of the case is as precisely the opposite of this as language can express it. There is no
such unity among any body of people on this earth; nor is there any body of people in the world
among whom errors of every shade find so little repose, or are so far from finding a home.
Every preacher and writer is entirely free and untrammeled, with the most perfect liberty to
attack, assail, expose and refute every error of every shade that makes its appearance. Their
motto is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Every preacher is under the most
solemn obligation to ‘contend earnestly for the faith one delivered to the saints’ – ‘to preach the
word’ – ‘preach Christ’ – ‘to make known nothing but Christ and him crucified’ – ‘to glory in
nothing but the Cross’ – ‘to stop the mouths of gainsayers’ and ‘to put to silence the
foolishness of ignorant men.’ Not only so, but every private member has ‘the right of private
judgment,’ and the privilege to express it, even to a preacher, and this right is exercised.

“No man among the Disciples has any right, or privilege, to preach any doctrine but the
doctrine of Christ. The doctrine of Christ, the whole of it, and nothing else, is the length and
breadth, the height and depth, of the faith of a Christian. Every man among the Disciples that
oversteps the bounds of the doctrine of Christ, or steps short of it, is not only liable to be
assailed, but certain to be exposed, both publicly and privately, by both preachers and private
members, as far as he is deemed worthy of notice. If he is a popular and influential man, the
public journals lay their hand on him and his career is soon checked. This is not only the best
means of securing the truth to a religious body, but the only Divine means for keeping the faith
uncorrupted and pure to the day of Jesus Christ …”

Brother Franklin allowed that only when editors, preachers and individual members fulfill their
responsibilities before God in contending for the faith was it not true of a church that “errors of
every shade find a home in it.” When the editors of our journals fail to expose popular and
influential men who transgress and go beyond the doctrine of Christ, they leave the influence
for false doctrine an open door in the brotherhood (II JOHN 9-11; GALATIANS 1:6-10). When
preachers fail to reprove, rebuke and exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine those who
depart from sound doctrine, the give place to the acceptance of the doctrines of devils (II
TIMOTHY 4:1-5; TITUS 2:1, 15). When individual members fail to search the scriptures daily to
see that those things which they are taught are true and fail to anathematize those who bring a
contrary doctrine apostasy has been accomplished (ACTS 17:11; GALATIANS 1:6-10; II JOHN
9-11). When both publicly and privately, editors, preachers and individual members fail to
defend the gospel and to mark them who depart from it, “errors of every shade find a home in”
the church (ROMANS 16:17, 18). The purity of the church depends upon the actions of each
and every one of us. Let us fulfill our responsibility. Let all men know, that as was the apostle
Paul, “I am set for the defense of the gospel” (PHILIPPIANS 1:7).

“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for
me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was
once for all delivered unto the saints” (JUDE 3).
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