The Charge of “Hobby Riding” by the Error-Siding!
(A Response to “The Hobby Riders – Continue to Ride!”)
By Jeff Belknap
In Truth Magazine, Vol. XLVIII, No. 1, January 1, 2004, Raymond E. Harris (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote an article entitled “The Hobby Riders – Continue to Ride!” Within the article, I noticed several lines that conveyed the same idea articulated in brother Harris’ following quote: “When we are directed to web sights featuring countless articles on one subject, it is obvious we have another one issue, hobby rider out to rescue the brotherhood.”
Since, to my knowledge, there are no other brethren with websites that are devoted to a single topic, I called brother Harris on the telephone (1-16-04) to inquire if he had my efforts in mind when he wrote his article. To my disappointment, he would not directly answer the question. While hedging, he repeatedly stated that his article was “broad enough” to include many who send him e-mails.
[Unfortunately, it is becoming the order of the day for those who are put on the defensive, to cower from open, honorable and direct dialogues. Articles are being written in “broad enough” terms that it is difficult to pin down the target and deal with what is or is not being said!]
After brother Harris refused to answer my first question, my second inquiry was as to whether I was included among those whom his article aimed to rebuke. Nevertheless, he continued to dodge the question.
When I asked him about his comments of “overly zealous young ‘gun slingers’” who were “ripping, biting, and gouging seasoned brethren who have spent a lifetime in the trenches holding the line against premillennialism, institutionalism, denominationalism, and sin of every kind,” brother Harris admitted that he thought such was being done – but by whom, he would not say.
How strongly convicted can someone be when they stress that “it is obvious we have another one issue, hobby rider (singular, jhb) out to rescue the brotherhood” who is among those “overly zealous young ‘gun slingers’” who are “ripping, biting, and gouging seasoned brethren who have spent a lifetime in the trenches” – when they refuse to name who this specific, sinfully cruel soul is (and the broad list of others who are guilty of the same)? Where in scripture do we find where anyone is righteously condemned of sin in public, when their accuser refused to say who he’s condemning? Such is childishness.
I also asked brother Harris about Homer Hailey who was a “seasoned” brother who “spent a lifetime in the trenches holding the line against premillennialism, institutionalism, denominationalism, and sin of every kind.” He stated that brother Hailey taught error on marriage, divorce and remarriage and “a line” had to be “drawn in the sand”, to which I agreed.
And there is the crux of the matter. When one deems an issue to be scripturally significant and truth imminently threatened, it matters not that the topic is addressed numerous times, for in his mind, such repetition is necessary, not “hobby riding.” [When errorists continue to assault the integrity of God’s word with false teaching, those who would be soldiers of Christ are called upon to continue to defend His truth (Philippians 1:7, 17). Faithful soldiers of the cross do not lay down their swords until the opposition has been silenced (II Corinthians 10:3-5). We must not grow weary in well-doing (Galatians 6:9)].
However, when one stands “on the other side” of an issue, he loathes the repeated exposure of his error (Proverbs 29:27; John 3:20-21; cf. Proverbs 17:15). This is true today as it was during the battle over institutionalism. Note the following quotes that give insight into the true views held by those who called non-institutional brethren “hobby riders:”
“Twenty years ago certain issues divided the church. Those sympathetic to the innovations referred to those opposed as ‘hobby riders,’ ‘antis,’ and ‘orphan-haters,’ to name but a few. None of these terms accurately describes the doctrine which caused these to be opposed to the innovation. Why did they use these terms? Simply because that to have attacked the doctrine itself was too formidable a task since it was, and is, the truth. So instead they attacked the personality of the adherents of the doctrine. What To Call It? Ronald V. Lehde, Truth Magazine, XVIII: 22, p. 13, April 4, 1974
“Today we got a letter. At one point it said, ‘We do not subscribe to any of the current hobbies such as opposition to orphan homes, and are anxious to cooperate with other congregations in good works.’ The writer labeled his opponents ‘hobbiests.’ (Sic.) He implied they opposed ‘cooperation.’ He labeled himself ‘for cooperation’ and ‘good works.’ In one word, he said his opponents were wrong, bigoted, and exceedingly active in publishing their views. Because they are his opposition and he believes in ‘cooperation' and ‘good works,’ they must not. Has he been fair? Or has he libeled with the labels, ‘hobbies’, ‘cooperation’ and ‘good works?’ You be the judge.” Libel by Label, Dick Dewhirst, Truth Magazine VII: 9, pp. 12-13, June 1963
Truth Magazine, once known for its open door policy to controversial issues, has now closed the door of discussion to two subjects: 1) Mike Willis’ numerous causes for “authorized” divorce [exposed in Gospel Truths, Volume XV, Number I January 2004 (pp. 9-10), See also: Willis on Biblical Putting Away ], and 2) The mental divorce doctrine, which ironically, several of Truth Magazine’s staff writers are presently advocating and/or defending fellowship with.
Now, the closed-door Truth Magazine has become the vehicle whereby aspersion is cast upon others via the same charges that have historically been hurled against them – in the days when they did not live in glass houses, and thus, were willing to throw The Rock of Ages. See: An Excerpt from Commendation of Gospel Truths’ Open Door Policy (by Ron Halbrook).
More recently, who were the brethren that called Truth Magazine associates “hobby riders?” It was none other than those who opposed their teaching regarding the misapplication of Romans 14 to the MDR error that was sparked by brother Hailey’s teaching.
So, brethren, be not deceived: when you hear the term “hobby rider” within the midst of a raging controversy, chances are that it is coming from the lips (or pen) of one who opposes the position that the “hobby rider” takes. It does not come from one who believes that the “hobby riding” issue involves “error on marriage, divorce and remarriage.”
Sure enough, when I inquired about brother Harris’ assessment of the mental divorce doctrine that is presently being pressed, he argued against the ability of “Caesar” (civil law) to determine when a divorce has transpired. This argument has become the trademark of diversion among those who advocate post-divorce “putting away” for post-divorce fornication.
Nevertheless, the error which the mental divorce website so “hobby riding(ly)” seeks to expose leads to what Jesus clearly called “adultery” (Matthew 5:32b; 19:9b; Luke 16:18b). Obviously, adultery is a matter of vital importance to those living in it (and who will die in their immorality, if unrepented of). Additionally, it is a matter of crucial significance to all members of the Lord’s church, as I Corinthians 5 clearly condemns the continuation of fellowship with those involved in adultery (cf. II John 9-11; Revelation 2:14, 20).
If this error weren’t being propagated (present tense) by some “seasoned” brethren who have influence over many, there would be no need to expose it (Ephesians 5:11, 13; II Peter 2:1-2). But where the plain truth of God’s word is being attacked, The Sword must be drawn by those who are called to defend it.
Moreover, it is important to point out that a significant portion of the Mental Divorce website articles (which all condemn the second “putting away”) were written by other “seasoned” brethren, who have likewise “spent a lifetime in the trenches holding the line against premillennialism, institutionalism, denominationalism, and sin of every kind.” Men (“young gun slingers”?) such as J. T. Smith, Gene Frost, Maurice Barnett, Willie Ramsey, H. E. Phillips, Connie W. Adams, Donnie V. Rader, Carrol R. Sutton, P. J. Casebolt, A. C. Grider, Jim Deason, Greg Gwin, Don Martin, and John Humphries, have been instrumental in the defense of truth for as many (if not more) years than these other “seasoned” brethren whose erroneous doctrines are being exposed.
The righteous will hold up the hands of all men who are “holding the line against…sin of every kind.” Nevertheless, faithful brethren will refuse to defend those who may have held (past tense) the divinely-drawn lines on other matters, but who cross them on current issues.
It’s interesting that although Truth Magazine is still writing up Homer Hailey and those who sought to defend fellowship with him (after 15 plus years), others are “hobby riding” and out to “make a name” for themselves because they are exposing the things that are currently boiling over. See: Is It Time To Move On? and When Silence Is Not Golden
Vague, personal attacks against those who document error (and its source) are nothing but a smokescreen to hide the real problem! The current, injurious charges such as, “out to make a name for himself,” and “the hobby riders continue to ride” by those who seek to defend the advocates of error do not serve to clarify the issue. Instead, they provoke prejudice against a position that is too scripturally formidable for them to tackle straight-up.