“A Lesson From J. W. McGarvey”

David D. Bonner

J. W. McGarvey died in 1911 at the age of 82. He was a scholar who taught Bible in a college for years. Many today believe he had no equal for scholarship during his time. He lived in a critical time for the people of God. The churches of Christ were dividing everywhere. Listen to him. This is what he said:


“You are on the right road, and whatever you do, don’t let anyone persuade you that you can successfully combat error by fellowshipping it and going along with it. I have tried. I believed at the start that was the only way to do it. I’ve never held membership in a congregation that used instrumental music. I have, however, accepted invitations to preach without distinctions between churches that used it and churches that didn’t. I’ve gone along with their papers and magazines and things of that sort. During all these years I have taught the truth as the New Testament teaches it to every young preacher who passed through the College of the Bible. Yet, I do not know of more than six of them who are preaching the truth today. It won’t work.”

Those who will not listen to history are destined to repeat its mistakes. In the days of McGarvey, churches were being divided over the missionary society and instrumental music in worship. Today, churches are being divided over CHURCH-DONATIONS to hospitals, youth camps, colleges, kindergartens, orphan homes, old folks homes, Bible RECREATIONAL chairs, church ball teams, unwed mother homes, and every conceivable scheme and project the mind can imagine. Also, church kitchens, church social halls, pool tables, ping pong tables, etc. in buildings owned and operated by churches, churches refusing to defend what they teach and practice, etc. etc. etc. When unscriptural practices are urged upon the churches by those devoid of Bible principle, what choice do sincere brethren who want to follow the Bible in all things instead of become like the denominations, have? TAKE A LESSON FROM McGARVEY. Why go along? THINK! Why not – John 14:15.