‘The Ups and Downs of a Pioneer Preacher’ by E.E. Shelhamer
5. Inconsistencies of No-Sects
After Three Years Absence Returns Home — Experience With The “No-Sects” — Their Inconsistencies and Destructive Work.
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world (1 Joh 4:1).
Every heresy is as old as the devil himself. It may take on new and various forms to keep up with the times, but the underlying principle is as old as the first delusion in the Garden of Eden.
Of late years, many have seen the formality of ecclesiasticism, and in their unwise efforts to correct it, they swing to the other extreme, and advocate the abolition of government, or anarchy in religion. The remedy has proven as bad as the disease, and thoughtful Christian people are looking for God’s original plan, which is found between these two extremes, yet as a safe distance from either.
This body that contra-distinguishes itself from the sectarian churches, has, in the few short years of its existence, been ruptured into over a dozen warring sects, each calling itself the “only true church.” While doing this, it has failed to recognize the fact that all who are saved from known sin and have the Spirit of Jesus are its members.
It has therefore, by excluding some of the Lord’s real people, made itself a sect in the strictest sense of the word, and by withholding recognition and fellowship from some who have the Spirit, because of their real or supposed lack of light, it has made its leaders ecclesiastics of the more unmerciful sort.
Though the Scriptures is declared to be of no private interpretation, yet the private interpretation of some passages of scripture, as given by the leaders, forms the discipline of these people; and that discipline has been so changeable, erratic and inconsistent, that division and Babylonish confusion of the worst sort have been the result.
Some factions of them use the common ordinances and declare that all who discard them will be damned; others discard all the ordinances and unchristianize all who use them. Still others add feed washing and assert that its omission is a sin punishable with eternal death, while the anti-feet washers declare the opposite.
Again the private interpretation of Scripture, used as discipline and government, has led to internal wars even among the members of the various factions.
As was said before, after nearly three years’ absence I returned home for a short stay. Of course, every one wanted to come out and hear “Ragged Elzie” preach. To their surprise, the Holy Ghost began to convict right and left until old, hardened sinners were at the altar crying to God for salvation. Deep things of long standing were unearthed, and confessions and restitution were made.
I noticed that several of my relatives who had in former years taken much active part in revival services, now absented themselves entirely, though they lived within hearing distance of the church. After inquiring, I found they had joined a faction of the “No-sects” (for there are a number of them) known as the “Saints,” the “Gospel Trumpet” being their official organ.
I called upon them, urging them to assist in the meetings as they did during the revival in which I was converted. But they turned upon me, saying they had received great light (“The evening light”) and that I must likewise walk in it and “come out of Babylon,” or be damned.
I asked “What do you mean by Babylon?” They replied, “Confusion.” “Well,” said I, “God bless you, there is no confusion in me; heaven is inside of me.” But, no, I could not persuade them to attend the revival, for they had heeded the command, “Come out of her” (meaning all forms of church organizations) and to go would be to encourage “man-made institutions.”
They carried on services during the same hour that we did and finally built a separate place of worship, within one rod of the church, so that the “confusion” they were seeking to avoid was doubly increased. They talked much about their great freedom and of how they did not belong to anything but Christ, but the fact was, they were in more bondage than we, for they dare not sanction or attend any other service than their own.
Later on, when invited to one of their big tent meetings in town, I went and preached for them, though I had to cancel an engagement at our own church to do so. The fact was, we practiced what they preached more than they themselves did. And should we not enter every open door in order to get the truth of God upon the people? I will preach for anything under the sun if I get a chance and they will take it.
Oh, the absurdities carried on in the name of freedom and religion! These deluded souls wanted to come to our services but dare not do it; they were interested in the salvation of their neighbors, but because one of their big preachers had prophesied that there would never be any good done in the old Shelhamer church and that it was forsaken of God, therefore they must never enter.
There was much Scripture quoted and misinterpreted to substantiate their views. Finally, they became so bitter they denounced me openly and declined to invite me into their homes lest they should be guilty of “bidding him Godspeed.” I succeeded, under God, in getting several to break loose from that spirit of bondage, which was equal to Catholicism or Seventh-day Adventism.
This angered and fortified the others, who actually warned me with tears, saying I had resisted the light, the blood of souls was upon me, and I had sealed unto myself damnation. Later on, one of their preachers gave me a couple columns of free advertisement by way of denunciation in “The Gospel Trumpet.”
I have noticed one general characteristic about this and similar delusions, viz., the adherents are ever ready to quote and argue Scripture, but oh, there is such a lamentable absence of holy joy and the spirit of prevailing prayer. They can talk or sing for hours with more relish than they can commune with God thirty minutes.
Contention and strife ran rampant in that community for several years until now there are no services and both places of worship are abandoned. I often thank God for calling me out, like Abraham, from my “kindred and father’s house,” and sending me west, only two weeks before this destructive element entered and ruined perhaps the most spiritual church in that part of the country.
Doubtless, in my zeal I should have gone with them, for their preachers at first confined themselves to salvation themes and “reserved the strong meat until the people could bear it.” This of course generally caught the zealous and innocent.
Any system of religion that leaves such havoc in its wake is certainly not the kind that Christ instituted, notwithstanding all they may say and quote about “unity” and “oneness.” (In our book on “False Doctrines and Fanaticism Exposed,” this and many other latter-day heresies are handled at length, without gloves.)
The Ups and Downs of a Pioneer Preacher
Generally, when the sayings and doings of an individual are published, it is because, in reality or fancy, he was an extraordinary person. Be it far from the author of this volume to pose as such. No! No! And it is his earnest prayer that those who may chance to read these pages will not see the subject, but rather the God who is ever waiting to make something out of nothing, and to use the “weak things of the world to confound the mighty.”
It seems to be God’s way, either to choose material from the most unlikely, through which to show His supernatural workings, or when choosing the more efficient, first to take them through ta process of grinding and humiliation to the intent that “no flesh should glory in His presence.”
That no one should “glory” in his flesh, the author has deviated from all other books of like character and inserted “Part II,” “Some of My Mistakes and What They Have Taught Me.” Though we trust the reader has never fallen into any of these errors, yet it may stimulate faith and reveal pitfalls to read some of the general mistakes into which most Christians fall.
For the purpose of encouraging those who have meager gifts and limited opportunities, and to help them master their environments, is this unpretentious volume sent forth.
1. A Start in Life
2. Struggle for an Education
3. Incidents of First Revival
4. Notable Happenings
5. Inconsistencies of No-Sects
6. Five Months’ Revival
7. Demons Cast Out
8. Divine Healing
9. Shallow Revivals
10. Seeking Heart Purity
11. New Experiences
12. “In Persecutions Oft”
13. A Great Battle
14. The Tide Turns
15. Value of Confession
16. God Supplies Expenses
17. Self-forgetfulness Pays
18. Discretion toward Women
19. Honoring God in Little Things
20. What It Cost to Break the Sabbath
21. Omnipotent Faith
22. How I Came to Be a Publisher
23. Under for Fifteen Years
24. Downed But Not Defeated
25. Outliving Opposition
26. Time Must Explain Some Things
27. Old-time Persecutions — (Facsimile of License for Preaching)
28. God Loved Me Too Well
29. Peculiar Covenants
30. Demotion and Promotion
31. Marvelous Grace
32. The Brooklyn Convention
33. Victory over Losses
34. Why Your Children Are Unsaved
35. What I Might Have Been
36. Saved from Sectarianism
37. How to Perpetuate the Honeymoon
38. Out of Divine Order
39. Confessions of Broken Hearts
PART II — SOME OF MY MISTAKES AND WHAT THEY HAVE TAUGHT
40. Zeal without Knowledge
41. Too Secluded and Unsociable
42. Too Confidential
43. Getting Ahead of the Spirit
44. Dealing with Fanaticism
45. Defeating Our Own Object
46. Creature Comfort
47. Doing Right Things in a Wrong Way
48. A Commercial Turn of Mind
49. Stressing Minor Issues
50. Too Busy
51. Too Plain and Personal
52. Some of Shelhamer’s Sayings
53. Another Thorn, Also a Rose
54. Canceling Calls
55. The Backward Glance
56. Thorns a By-product
57. A New Pleasure
58. A Thorn with Several Roses
60. On the Death of Our Daughter, Evangeline
61. The Uncertainty of Life
62. Words of Her Mother, Spoken at the Funeral
63. Evangeline (Poetry)
64. From Her Brother — To Evangeline in Heaven
65. Visit from an Angel
66. A Rare Jewel-by Her Husband
You can read online Sixty Years of Thorns and Roses by E.E. Shelhamer which is very similar to the above book. The above list of chapters is from the “Sixty Years of Thorns and Roses”. “The Ups and Downs of a Pioneer Preacher” book leaves out parts 3 and 4 and has a few less chapters and some changed chapters in the first two parts.
The reason I used the text from “The Ups and Downs of a Pioneer Preacher” instead of the text from the “Sixty Years of Thorns and Roses” for the above 5th chapter is that in the “Sixty Years of Thorns and Roses” states that the person that denounced Shelhamer later “cut his throat and died”. If my memory serves me right, the person that denounced Shelhamer in the original Gospel Trumpet was D.S. Warner, and he didn’t die from cutting his throat.
Currently I don’t have the reprinted Gospel Trumpets that are in my personal library, so I can’t check this out; therefore I used the text from the “The Ups and Downs of a Pioneer Preacher” which, from what I can see, was published later than the “Sixty Years of Thorns and Roses”.
The swartzentrover.com site has a good number of Holiness Books and Free Methodist Books that may be of interest to you. They also have seven of Shelhamer Books Online.
Holiness Data Ministry which is run by Duane & Dorothea Maxey offer via email or postal mail the ‘The Ups and Downs of a Pioneer Preacher’ in PDF and TXT format.
Holiness Data Ministry also offers a large number of other holiness books you can have mailed to you via DVD. You can view the Authors and Titles of these books on their site.