How We Escaped – By Elmer Shelhamer

Chapter 8

A Strange Doctrine

But how did I escape? Others fell into error while it seemed God had a special care over me. Only two weeks after I left home for College certain preachers came into that community and began preaching a strange doctrine. At first they taught the essentials, but reserved the “strong meat until the people could digest it. Then they became harsh and denunciatory toward those who did not readily receive it. The chief members of the church accepted it and the result was a “division” and “schism,” the very thing they were denouncing.

They sent me their literature and later my own cousin came all the way west to “convert Elzie.” I listened attentively, but the new doctrine did not appeal to me — to “come out of all sects and at the same time form a more sectarian sect. Their members did not feel free to attend other services, except to “let their light shine.” They could argue Scripture for hours, but took little interest in helping at the altar, unless it meant a new proselyte. It seemed to me that God’s method was to take the narrow, sectarian spirit out of as, and make us lovable toward all of His saints, rather than take us out of a Holiness organization to form another, with a few tenants added. God in mercy did not let me return home until I could meet their arguments. When I did, a great revival broke out, but I had no cooperation from my former friends. They wept over me, they denounced me, and finally declared that I had rejected the “evening light” and had sinned against the Holy Ghost. They warned the people not to hear me, that I would have no more revivals; but after these many years, all their prophecies have failed. The thing that God hates in your church or mine, is sin and bigotry. The same accursed thing manifested itself in the disciples when they said, “Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy name and we forbade him, because he followeth not us.” Friend, you may be saved up to the point that you do not openly oppose those who are not of your little crowd, but you must go farther and bid him God’s speed, if he is getting men genuinely converted. I fear few are saved to this extent.