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Remove Not the Ancient Landmarks | Ostis B. Wilson, Jr.

The Propagation of Apostasy

But let us get down to the point in all of this. It is believed by many that the rift which came about in this Evening Light Reformation movement in about 1910 to 1914 was all brought about by the necktie issue and the idea of causing a rift or split in the movement over such a little thing as a necktie is hooted at as an extremely ridiculous thing by many. If that were the truth of the matter and if that were the real issue and the only issue, it would be an extremely ridiculous thing. I agree with you that it would be. But, as already observed, all spiritual declines and apostasy begins with very small things and move on to greater things as they progress. The apostasy of this Evening Light Reformation was no exception to this rule. But let us face it squarely as the history of the developments confirm it to be. The innovation of the necktie was definitely the removing of one of the landmarks of our fathers, and when one landmark is removed or destroyed, it throws all related things out of proper focus.

It is evident beyond question that the necktie has served as a mouth stopper in the hands of Satan. He who wears a tie has no right to speak against a string of pearls that a woman wears around her neck. Anything and everything that could be said for or against either of these could also apply to the other in the same way. Likewise the woman who wears the string of pearl beads around her neck would have no right to speak about the person who wore some other kind of jewelry. And this person who wears the jewelry, of whatever kind it is, would have no right to speak about the person who wore make-up, etc. And so on and on it goes, one thing after another, while the minister is helpless to prevent it. They have forfeited their right to speak.

“Oh,” but you may say, “I know ministers who really preach it straight and cry out against those kind of things.” Yes. But is there any authority back of it? Is it effectual that they do? Do not these things continue to increase, among those who profess to be the Church of God of this day, and also many other lines of worldliness, without letup? We all know this to be true, and it is for no other cause than that the ministers in this movement who cry out against these things have forfeited their right to do so and consequently all their crying out is weak and ineffectual. The fact that these things are cried out against by some and yet increases only adds weight to my argument at this point.

I am sure there are some still alive today who can remember when this and other innovations were first introduced among the saints. Many were afraid of them at that time but were consoled by the promise of the brethren who were endorsing them that it would just be these few minor changes to give us more influence with the better class of people of the world so we can reach more of them and we will go no farther. But was that the case? History up to now and the present conditions of worldliness of every kind flooding the professed Church of God shouts in deafening tones, “NO!”

Now I would not dare to say that these brethren willfully misrepresented the facts in the case and their honest intentions. No doubt, they spoke as they felt and did not intend for things to happen as they did. They could not possibly have foreseen all that has happened anyway. They certainly did not plan all of this in their own minds and hearts. But what did happen was that when they conceded to these things they lost control and forfeited their right to speak out against other kinds of worldliness, and the devil, who promoted the whole thing, just kept pushing in one thing after another that they had not seen or thought of before. A clearly established landmark had been removed, and it threw everything related to it out of kilter, and there were no fixed landmarks to go by in this area; instead of the dearly defined land line of demarcation and total abstinence from all things of a worldly nature, which had characterized the church and the teaching up to this point, it now became a question of what types of worldly things would be permitted. If any worldly things at all were permitted, then how would other worldly things compare with them, and if one accepted or practiced one thing of a worldly nature, what right then did he have to condemn or criticize another who practiced some other thing of a worldly nature? And so on and on it went.

It was like the story of the leak in the Holland dike. First there was just a little seepage of water that dampened the earth. But the water had found a way through and soon it was a little trickle of water coming through, then a larger trickle growing into a stream, and then, in spite of all the efforts of all the men in the area to stop it, it broke on through the dike, a mighty, gushing, uncontrollable flow of water which flooded all the low land areas, destroying many homes and many lives and much property. This story fairly represents what happened in this Evening Light Reformation movement.

I read Charles E. Brown’s book, When the Trumpet Sounded. At one place in it, he was discussing the time when the question of the tie was first introduced. It was in regard to brethren being required by their employers to wear a tie as a part of their uniform while on duty. That was granted, and Brother Brown said—and said significantly—that “Anyone who understands human nature would know that when such a concession was made that henceforth there would be no standard on that point.” That is certainly true, but it is also true that when a standard on any point is destroyed, that standards on relative points are affected, and they in turn affect standards on other points related to them, until it passes through the entire system, and the result is the whole standard in general is affected and eventually destroyed. This has happened to a great extent by now in the liberal wing of the Evening Light Reformation movement, but I prophesy that Satan is not through with it yet. It will get worse yet than what it is now. Let us not forget that neither an extreme nor compromise spirit can ever be satisfied but will demand more and more and more and yet more as it progresses.

When I was a boy, I loved the game of football. I loved to play it and to watch it being played. But I learned that the man carrying the ball was not the only important man on the team. The blockers are very important men, too. Their job is to keep the opposing players out until the play is successfully executed. With good, effective blocking, the players handling the ball can successfully execute the play and make good gains. But in many cases where blocking is ineffectual, the opposing players break through the defense line and break up the play in progress with the result that ground is lost instead of gained.

That is something in the light that I see these first, innocent-looking, ineffectual, inconsequential, little innovations that were introduced into the Evening Light Reformation movement. They were the mouth-stoppers, and their acceptance made all protest against other things weak and ineffectual, because the minister’s right to speak had been forfeited. In other words, these things served as blockers and ran the interference for the devil against any and all opposition, while he pushed through one thing after another and scored touchdown after touchdown against the church. But let us not make the mistake of looking way off yonder and thinking only of what has happened to other folks and to what extent they have gone. Let us realize that the same thing can happen to us if we allow it, and it will happen to us if we do not keep solidly anchored to our moorings and adhere strictly to the old landmarks and follow the land lines laid out for us in ancient times by our fathers. Let us take a good, close-up look at the things which are hammering at our own gates today, and let us realize that if these things are accepted they will constitute a removing of the ancient landmarks and an altering of the ancient land lines and the result of such a thing could only be confusion and chaos.

Now this is the light in which we view these things and we see from the experiences of others the extreme hazard of cutting loose from our moorings and beginning to drift. When one does this, the ocean is large and there is no imagining where one will wind up when drifting.

I read an article in a magazine once, the title of which was, “A Fortune in a Bottle.” It was about a fellow strolling along the ocean beach on one of our coasts and finding a bottle containing the will of a woman in Scotland who had willed all her fortune to the finder. She had thrown the bottle in the ocean over there in Scotland, and a lawyer investigating the case charted the course the bottle would have to follow to reach where it was found and estimated it would take approximately twelve years for it to make the trip. That was in keeping with the date of the will, and it furnishes a fair example of drifting. No one ever knows where a thing will go when it is cut loose to drift. Therefore, let us not think of taking the first step toward compromise.