"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.V No.III Pg.1-3
October 1942

Who Has Departed From The Faith?

(Editorial) F.E.W. Jr.

The following excerpts from the virulent pens of men whose ability has had universal recognition in the church are inserted for a purpose. First of all, what they wrote is timely. Second, so far as I know they have not been convicted of being "reprobate," "diabolical" and "apostate" or of having "departed from the faith." Yet when the Bible Banner published a statement last March setting forth the same teaching a surge of wrath descended upon it and it has been called all of those things with extra adjectives thrown in for emphasis and good measure.

The extracts below cover the various phases of discussion and criticism on the government issue—civil government, military government, voting, the Sermon on the Mount and nonresistance, capital punishment, allegiance to the flag, and the attitude of members of the church toward war. McGarvey and Kurfees were ranking scholars in their day. McGarvey sets forth in his terse style the true purpose of the Sermon on the Mount as being a code of individual conduct and not a treatise on the functions of government. With the logical acumen that characterized all of his writing, M. C. Kurfees gave a full treatise on The Law of God and Capital Punishment," which appears on pages 12 to 15 in this issue. It should be read. The insertions from R. L. Whiteside on "War" and "Thou Shalt Not Kill" are just two of several statements that have appeared all along from his trenchment pen in the Gospel Advocate. The comments of C. R. Nichol on "Allegiance To The Flag" are taken from his articles in the Gospel Advocate exposing the seditions of Jehovah's Witnesses, but it is not all that he thinks or has had to say on the subject. The names of Nichol and Whiteside have been linked for a generation. They are both editors of the Gospel Advocate. They do not agree with the other editors of the Advocate on the question—but they have not been denounced for their articles, or their views. G. H. P. Showalter has been editor of the Firm Foundation for thirty years and has probably exerted more influence in the church during that period than any other editor. He has published his views on the "Relation To Government" more than once in the Firm Foundation. Asking you to read the expressions from these brethren, I will reserve further comments until you have done so.


"Resist not him that is evil" . . . This command which enjoins non-resistance, like most of the other precepts of this sermon, does not demand of us absolute, unqualified passivity at all times and under all circumstances. In fact, we may say generally of the whole sermon on the mount that it is not a code for slaves, but an assertion of principles which are to be interpreted and applied by the children of freedom. We are, to submit to evil for principle's sake and to accomplish spiritual victories, and not in an abject, servile spirit as blind followers of a harsh and exacting law. On the contrary, taking the principle, we judge when and how to apply it as best we can. Absolute nonresistance may so far encourage crime as to become a sin.... "Whosoever smiteth thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." This first example is taken from the realm of physical violence. The example given, a slap in the face, has been regarded as a gross insult in all ages, but it is not an assault which imperils life. We find this precept illustrated by the Master himself. He did not literally turn the other cheek to be smitten, but he breathed forth a mild and gentle reproof where he might have avenged himself by the sudden death of his adversary (Jno. 18: 22, 23). The example of Paul also is given, but it is not so perfect as that of the Master (Acts 33: 2-5). Self-preservation is a law of God giving rights which, under most circumstances, a Christian can claim. He may resist the robber, the assassin and all men of that ilk, and may protect his person and his possessions against the assaults of the violent and lawless (Acts 16: 35-39). But when the honor of Christ and the salvation of man demands it, he should observe this commandment even unto the very letter.... A man may strive for self-protection when life is threatened without any spirit of revenge. He may appeal to the law to protect his property without any bitterness toward the one who seeks to wrest it from him.-(J. W. McGarvey, in Fourfold Gospel.)

"It is a significant fact that when the Lord placed his own teaching in Matt. 5: 38, against the ancient law recorded in Ex. 21: 23-25, which required life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe; he confined his modification of that law to the point of personal resentment in returning evil for evil."-M. C. Kurfees, in "The Law of God on Capital Punishment."

Ii. Attitude Toward War

This from an Oklahoma brother: "Should not the Church of Christ come out openly against war?" In answering this question, several points are to be taken into consideration.

1. What is meant by the Church of Christ? Why spell

"church" with a capital C ? The church we read about in the New Testament, in its broad sense, includes all the children of God in the world. It is the family of God. Many of God's children have drifted into things they have no business to be in. It would be impossible to round up all of God's children so as to find out how they stand on any question. Each one would have to speak for himself, for no man or group of men has been authorized to speak for the whole family of God.

2. If we have in mind churches of Christ, local congregations, it is also evident that no man or group of men has been authorized to speak for them. Each congregation must speak for itself. Here also is another difficulty: no man or group of men in a congregation has been authorized to speak for all the members. It might be possible to get all the members to sign a statement declaring their opposition to war. But as a live congregation is continually adding new members, the statement would soon not represent all the members, unless each new member was required to sign the statement, or avow his allegiance to it. In that way only might we know how the whole church stood.

3. Some churches have formulated and published articles declaring their opposition to going to war. But this brings up another question: If a church, in order to let the world know where it stands on war, formulates and publishes one article of its faith, why not enlarge the creed so as to let the world know where it stands on all other matters of faith and practice? In principle, what is the difference between a one-article creed and a twenty-five-article creed? Suppose we apply to this war article the reasoning often used by brethren against human creeds: If this formulated and published article of faith against war contains more against war than does the New Testament, it contains too much; if it contains less, it does not contain enough; if it says exactly what the New Testament says, why have it at all? Is not what the New Testament says on war a sufficient declaration of your faith?

4. Those who formulate their creed on the subject of war should add another article, declaring their belief that a Christian should not vote or hold office, for no man who votes and takes active part in the affairs of government can consistently oppose all wars. He may, of course, oppose wars of conquest, but not of defense. You elect a man to office, and he takes oath that he will defend and protect the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, both foreign and domestic; and then you profess to believe that it is not right to help him do what you elected him to do! Our government is now waging war against domestic enemies—enemies within the government—and these enemies are well armed. It is war—an armed conflict. Is it wrong for the government to engage in this war? If so, why did you elect men to carry it on? Or did you elect men to do a thing that you think would be wrong for you to do? Would it be any different if a foreign government should undertake to murder and rob our people?

5. War is horrible, but no government can stand without using force against its enemies, both foreign and domestic. If force is not back of the vote, the vote is worthless. No effort is here made to prove that you should vote or that you should not vote.-R. L. Whiteside, in Gospel Advocate, June, 1942.

Iii. Relation To Government

"It must be remembered that the relation of the Christian to earthly governments are not altered or changed because the government is at war. Whatever service we render the government, whether in money, chattels or labor, we render for the general support of the government. In times of peace the government punishes lawbreakers, executes criminals, and we support the government in this, by performing the service the government imposes. There is no difference in war. All earthly governments are established through war and bloodshed. Also the rights of people and nations are defined and defended by the sword. When a nation commits depredations on another nation and on organized society, and the great nations of the earth impose punishment on the offending nation, it is, in no special sense different from the punishment that the nations are continually imposing on lawbreakers and criminals who are imprisoned or executed for their crimes committed. If we support the one, we should be willing to support the other. If one is right, why is not the other? Where did the apostle make any distinction in supporting the government in war, and supporting the government in times of peace? A Christian might not want to serve as a sheriff, and might conscientiously decline such service. So he might conscientiously decline to serve as a combatant in war, but it is certainly a poorly educated conscience, so far as the scriptures are concerned, that would cause any professed Christian to decline to serve the government as a non-combatant. The apostle requires it, and specially at a time when so much is involved—when the rights, liberties, and happiness of so many millions of humanity are being tried in the balances—does it to me appear of the greatest solemnity and of the highest importance. For my part I think that every Christian should the more carefully discharge his duty as a citizen now. In time of war more than ordinary service is required. We should be impressed with the solemnity of the sacrifice that is being made by others, and should by no means lend our encouragement to those whose influence would cripple or hamper the efforts of our rulers and the generals of our country's armies, upon whose action at the present time, so much depends in connection with the common good of humanity.

War is by no means an ideal condition. Neither is it an ideal condition when a nation's criminals are numerous, and executions are frequent. However, we must remember that God still lives, and that God rules in the affairs of men, that so far as human governments are concerned, "the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of man, and giveth it to whomsoever he will," and that through human governments God executes vengeance on evil doers. In an enlightened nation, such as the great nation in which we live, we should be very thankful that we are given the privilege so that we may worship God without interference, and we should not only be willing and ready to assume the service exacted by the government, but should do so cheerfully, and in the fear of God. Our relation to civil government in times of peace, is the same as in times of war, the war simply portraying the function of human government on a larger scale. A law-defying nation must be policed, as well as a criminally disposed section of a great city. Let us think on these things. There has never been a time in the history of the present generation, when Christians have been privileged to reflect more brilliantly the character of our Lord, and to show in a better light their loyalty to the government. It was the boast of the church in the apostolic age, that their members were law-abiding, loyal, and faithful citizens, and that they might be depended upon to support the government under which they lived. We should not be less faithful to God and to our fellowmen.-G. H. P. Showalter, in Firm Foundation.

Iv. "Thou Shalt Not Kill"

The command, "Thou shalt not kill," was one of the Ten Commandments, and was a prohibition against murder. It applied to individuals, and not to governments. And while the Ten Commandments were in force, the individual was allowed, under certain circumstances, to take human life. If the thief be found breaking in, and be smitten so that he dieth, there shall be no blood guiltiness for him." (Ex. 22: 2.) Such taking of human life is not a violation of the command, "Thou shalt not kill." God does not give a law and then license a man to violate it. The command, "Thou shalt not kill," has been used as an argument against capital punishment, and yet under that law the authorities were required to punish by death many sorts of criminals. And under that law, the Lord required his people to make war on certain nations. In doing so, they were not violating the command, "Thou shalt not kill." The way some preachers, and others, argue it would seem that they never read any of the Old Testament excepting the command, "Thou shalt not kill."

But I do not read anywhere that the Lord ever permitted any man to commit adultery for his own protection, or that a nation was required to commit adultery! It is plain that individuals are prohibited from doing some things that governments are required to do.-R. L. Whiteside, in Gospel Advocate.

V. Allegiance To The Flag

Give attention to the following teaching of "Jehovah's Witnesses": They declare that Christ returned to earth in 1874, and then began establishing his kingdom; that he has been on the earth all the time since that date, though invisible; that in the earth now are legal representatives of the kingdom who have been resurrected. The kingdom is to exist on the earth for one thousand years. They declare that since Jesus Christ is now on earth, on his throne as King, any other government on earth is that of usurpers; that the present form of government of the American republic has no more right to exist in America than does "Hitlerism." With them is the persuasion that no man elected by the people of our country as President has any right to serve as such; that the state and national government formed by men has no right to exist, and has not since 1874; that the Lord has returned to earth, has been seated on his throne on earth, though invisible, they declare, and is the one and only authority on earth. The "Jehovah's Witnesses" declare they will not salute the flag of the United States of America, because the Lord Jesus Christ has established his kingdom here, is here in person as the King, and that to salute the flag of the United States of America would be the act of a rebel against their King (Christ). They are rebels against the government of our land. They seek to lead men to refuse to obey the laws of the land—to recognize no civil authority on earth today. It is their view that the government of the United States now has no right to exist. It is their view that the sheriff has no right to arrest, the judge no right to pass sentence, executors no right to be enforcers of the law. In short, they believe that the officers of the United States government have no more right to enforce laws on our statute books than Hitler has to land on our shores and force his program on our people. With them is the positive teaching that Christ is now reigning King, and his law only, his law alone, should be observed.-C. R. Nichol, in Gospel Advocate.

When these and other statements of similar import were made by these brethren, nobody inveighed against them with ominous invectives. But when the Bible Banner printed an editorial last March setting forth precisely the same principles, lo, it was at once anathematized and challenged to forensic duels from "the least to the greatest" in Alabama, Tennessee, and Texas!

To me there is something strange about the bitterness and the vituperation that periodically breaks out against the Bible Banner. It makes me glad to know that it penetrates so deeply when and where it is read—which is almost everywhere by everybody. But it makes me sad to learn that some men can stoop to some levels of vindictive opposition.

The question, as ably pointed out in the above extracts, is not primarily a war issue. War, as such, is not the central point of discussion. The issue is one of government. It is not a question of "shooting a Jap" or "killing a German," or of anyone wanting to "kill other people." When the sheriff executes the functions of his office, it is not because he wants to kill anybody or to injure the person of anybody—It becomes a matter of law enforcement. The question of war likewise is only collateral to the question of government. By begging the question, and talking about killing people, prejudices can be excited, but the same procedure can be used against all, municipal, state and national law enforcement agencies. So why argue over the war itself when the fundamental issue lies back of it. As stated before, the war views of others are controlled by the David Lipscomb theory of civil government which bars a member of the church from any participation in government, voting or holding office. This theory says that a member of the church can have nothing to do with civil government itself—save to pay taxes. Yet Paul said in Rom. 13 "for this cause ye pay tribute also." If the relation to government included only the paying of taxes—what did the also of the verse include? Back of the whole issue is relation to government. The Lipscomb theory must be either accepted or rejected. If it is accepted then—a member of the church cannot participate in government at all, civil or military. But if a member of the church can participate in civil government, he can on the same principle participate in the military. The civil government cannot exist without the military to enforce it, whether it be local or national government. Local law enforcement is domestic war, as has been ably pointed out by others; civil and military government must therefore stand or fall together.

It must be apparent to all that those who are clamoring for a debate with me on the subject must first debate with themselves to decide the issue. When they have done that my opinion is there will be no need for further debating. But the Bible Banner would not be the logical medium for such a discussion. Take the Gospel Advocate for instance. B. C. Goodpasture and H. Leo Boles are on one side of the question; C. R. Nichol and R. L. Whiteside are on the other side of it. They are editors on the same paper. Why not keep the discussion in the family? If they decline to debate the issue between themselves their reasons should be sufficient for me to decline to debate it with them. Why make the Bible Banner the goat?

As the issue stands, between combatant and non-combatant service, it appears to be just a matter of whether one can engage in the war effort a little or a lot. But there can be no difference in principle.

When the editorial appeared in the March Bible Banner, it was our intention to simply state the position set forth and let it stop at that. The Gospel Advocate had stated their position more than once. Nobody kicked up a fuss over it when they did it. We felt that the same liberty could be claimed by us in simply stating the issue as we believe it to exist—then came the furor from certain quarters. They were evidently waiting for an opportunity to seize upon something to wage a war against the Bible Banner. But they are not getting anywhere. Everybody knows that there is no agreement among them—they could not get together on the issue if their lives depended on it. So while they rant and rage, the brethren will do some thinking.

As for me, I beg to say once more that I do not regard my person as anything, and my fortunes, weal or woe, are insignificant. But principles are important; so is human conduct, and the regrettable thing is that the malice that is being manifested may cause someone to be lost. That is a matter that can be left only to the individual and God. As for me, I aim to just keep on keeping on.