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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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IS THE CHURCH GOING TO STAY THE CHURCH?

During my forty-five years of preaching the gospel, a number of issues have faced the people of God. Back in 1966-1969, when Annette and I were privileged to preach near Birmingham, Alabama, I got to be in brother Franklin Camp's classes at Shades Mountain on "Romans" on Mondays, and I got to be in brother Gus Nichols' classes on Friday afternoon and evenings. Those two men (one of whom believed that the Holy Spirit indwells the Christian only through the Word, and the other of whom believed that the Spirit personally indwells the Christian, brother Camp and brother Nichols respectively) both were in clear opposition to a "direct operation" of the Holy Spirit upon either sinner or saint. Both of those great Bible scholars had debated Holiness preachers and were keenly aware of the implications of that false doctrine.

In Alabama Christian High School and College, I had been privileged from 1957-1962, to sit at the feet of brethren Eris B. Benson, Rex A. Turner, Sr., and others. They drilled into our minds that the Holy Spirit works only through the Word, not alongside the Word. Professor Benson would often take his hands and say, "Let my left hand represent man's spirit, and let my right hand represent the Holy Spirit." Putting both hands together, he would say, "The Holy Spirit never works directly on man's spirit." Then, picking up his Bible in his right hand and touching his left hand with his Bible between his hands, brother Benson would say, "The Holy Spirit always works only through the medium of the Word upon the human heart, whether sinner or saint." An admirer of brother Nichols, he often told me he took the same position which brother Nichols took.

In his excellent work, Systematic Theology, brother Rex A. Turner, Sr., with whom I served as a school administrator/professor for over a decade, and my "second father" and mentor (and who knew Calvinism like the "back of his hand"), wrote, “A third proposition is that the Holy Spirit as a person dwells in the physical body of a Christian in varying intensities and that a Christian experiences through the Spirit's indwelling a relationship which transcends the printed page.” Those who subscribe to this proposition hold that through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit the Christian is given additional power and incentive to overcome sin in a manner and to a degree that is not provided though the medium of the word. Those who hold this proposition also allow for sensuous and inner-conscious leadings or communications of the Holy Spirit—though such leadings and communications, they aver, cannot be and will not be contrary to the word. Those who subscribe to this proposition do not, therefore, hold that the word of God is the only standard, the highest and only source of revelation, in all matters of religion.

Brethren, the milk of the coconut is; if the heretical doctrine of the direct operation and baptism of the Holy Spirit is allowed unopposed and unexposed to have free-course among the brethren, the church in many places is going to become just a second-rate Holiness sect.

Curtis A. Cates, Yokevellow, A Publication of the Memphis School of Preaching, February, 2004