Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 13, 1950

Religious Snipers

J. A. McNutt, Paragould, Arkansas

In the recent conflict with Japan in the islands of the Pacific and in the sultry jungles of the tropics, our soldiers were often fired upon by snipers, who concealed themselves in the foliage of trees or hid in the tropical under-growth. These snipers used long-range rifles with telescopic sights. Such tactics never won a battle, and the marksmanship was often inaccurate and ineffective, but they aroused the wrath of the opposing army.

The soldiers who were fired upon by snipers resorted to various plans to cause the hidden gunmen to reveal themselves and expose their hiding places. Once such a blunder had been made and the keen eye of some watchful soldier had detected the spot, the sniping business was likely to have a sudden end.

Old Testament Snipers

There are some interesting comparisons which we can make in the religious field. Open your Bibles at the fourth chapter of Nehemiah and consider the scriptural account of the opposition encountered by Nehemiah when he began to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. His enemies did not come out into the open to fight his rebuilding program, but first of all, they tried to cause trouble by falsely accusing Nehemiah and the Jews of rebelling against the king. (Neh. 3:31.) Then Nehemiah and his followers were compelled to overcome the mockery of Sanballat, (Neh. 4:1), the ridicule of Tobiah (Neh. 4:3), the threat of a combined attack from all their enemies (Neh. 4:8), and then an investigation to negotiate a compromise which would have stopped all the work that they were doing. (Neh. 6:1, 2.) Never did Nehemiah's enemies face him openly. All of their work was undercover as they sought to fire their volleys of falsehood, mockery, ridicule, threats, and compromise at Nehemiah and his followers.

The secret of Nehemiah's triumph over these deceitful snipers is found in the simple declaration, "Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them." (Neh. 4:9.)

Modern Religious Snipers

There are certain preachers who are bold exponents of their particular brand of teaching behind their pulpits, or over the radio, or in other places where an answer is impossible. But they cannot be persuaded to come out and defend their unscriptural assertions. They resort to sly insinuations and mis-statements of the issues which they propose to discuss, and then hide behind the immunity furnished by their own pulpits or behind the code of ethics used by the radio stations which will not permit a man's being called by name when his falsehoods are being exposed. They hide themselves in the foliage of error and do a little religious sniping from the jungles of ignorance and prejudice, but refuse to be drawn into the open field of honorable discussion. They are unwilling to have their logic (?) tested by men, being content to argue with women and children, and to conduct a whispering campaign of opposition to the truth.

It is safer always for such preachers to cry, "baptismal regeneration," "water salvation," or "salvation by works of human merit" than to act like honorable men and face the real issue. They choose rather to parrot their slogans—slogans which no one accepts or ever did believe.

The Contrasts

Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." (Mark 16:16.) Men say, "He that believeth and is not baptized shall be saved," or "He that believeth is saved, and can be baptized if he wants to be."

Peter said, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." (Acts 2:38.) Men say, "Repent and be baptized because your sins have already been forgiven."

Peter said, "Baptism doth also now save us." (I Pet. 3:21.) Men say, "Baptism does not save anybody, is not necessary, is wholly non-essential"

These contrasts might be continued indefinitely, as, for example, in the matter of the name, of the action of baptism, of the organization of the church, etc., etc.; but these examples suffice to show the kind of opposition and competition the truth must encounter.

The real issue in this matter is not difficult to see. The religious snipers have simply been trying to do their undercover work under the protection afforded them by their pulpits and radios. But we tell them all that any time they want to change their sniping tactics and their talking under the immunity of their pulpits, we promise them a fair and honorable discussion of the questions at issue. We shall deal at "close quarters" with these false teachings, for the truth has nothing to fear and nothing to lose by any fair and open discussion of disputed questions.