"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.VI No.II Pg.14
September 1943

A Public Letter To Claud F. Witty

T. B. Wilkinson

Dear Sir and Brother: I have received a copy of your Quarterly, "Christian Unity," and have read it carefully in an effort to find if possible what you want me to do about unity. I include in this also the church of Christ of which I have been a member now for some sixty years. If there is something which we should do, which we have not done, to promote unity among the people of God, I for one would be glad to have it pointed out to me.

There is one way, of course, by which we could have unity of a sort: end all opposition to instrumental music in the worship, and the societies and human organization they have invented to supplant the church of the Lord and we would be united, but I cannot see my way clear to do this. I hardly think you want us to go that far. On the other hand, if they will abandon their instrumental music, and other human inventions, and join with us in New Testament worship as simple member of the body of Christ, we could be united. But I do not understand that you are asking them to go that far. Then just what do you propose?

I agree with you that God intended for all of his "true children" to have fellowship with each other. But I do not agree that he meant for them to fellowship all who "profess to be children of God," that would be taking in too Murch territory. I mean this to be Witty. Even the Holiness people claim to be true children, and the Methodist and Baptist profess to be, and even the Mohammedans, and the Mormons, and I never could agree to such broad principles.

I can also agree with your three realms which you say the Lord has set before the church, which you call the realm of faith, the realm of expediency, and the realm of vain worship. I also agree with you that in the realm of faith man has no choice, God commands and man must obey. I also agree that in the realm of expediency he has liberty, but should use judgment, and be considerate of others, and in the realm of vain worship he should touch not, taste not, and handle not the unclean thing, which may be putting it a little stronger than you expressed it.

But what you do not make plain to my mind is under which one of these heads you classify the church of Christ, instrumental music, and the societies. If the manner of worship common to the churches of Christ belongs in the realm of faith, we have no choice in the matter according to your own argument. We have to be just as we are, and do just as we are doing, because it belongs to faith. If I understand you, and I think I do, you do not question the ground occupied by the church of Christ on these points, we are standing upon solid ground.

Then under which head shall we classify the Christian church, instrumental music, and the societies? If you classify them under the head of expediency you will surrender the only grounds upon which the church of Christ can justify itself in the stand it has taken on these points, and forthwith become of the other party. That is the ground upon which those people have always tried to justify the use of these innovations in the worship. They are expediencies, they say; they work well, therefore, they are justified under the law of expediency.

I don't think you will go that far, unless you have drifted farther from the truth than I think you have. If they are mere expediencies, and actually do the very thing the Lord wants us to do, then we do wrong when we oppose them. We should even join in to help them out " with their expediencies which work well. Then we would be united, but united in what? We would all be digressives together, and the Christian church would swallow the church of Christ, and that might be called fellowship of a kind.

But I do not believe that is what you want, there is some intangible something you are working after, and that is what I am trying to find, since you have not made it plain.

The use of instrumental music in the worship, and the societies of various kinds are the sole cause of disunion between the two bodies of people, and a proper settlement of these points will bring about the fellowship you are working for. Either we must surrender our stand on these points and join them, or they must surrender and come over to our ground, otherwise the difference will always exist. But from all I can get from what you say, you are not asking either side to do this, and that is why it is so hard for me to understand what you propose.

'Expediency, as I understand the word as applied to the worship, is doing what the Lord requires in his worship in the most expedient manner. As applied to the song service it would mean the singing of spiritual songs with spirit and understanding, rendered in the most capable manner possible. But playing upon musical instruments is not singing, it is doing something else, something the Lord has not placed in his worship, therefore, it cannot come under the head of expediency. Then it must come under the head of things commanded by men, therefore, under the head of vain worship, which you say no church has a right to ask men to accept.

But I should not argue the rights or wrongs of instrumental music, and the societies with you, for I understand you oppose them the same as I do. You want to get me united with the fellows who use them, and prevail upon us to fellowship each other in some intangible way without disturbing the faith of either on these essential points, and just be brethren in spite of the differences. Brother Witty, it can't be done. There never will be unity between us until these points are settled, and settled right. And they cannot be settled by compromise, nor by sugar-coating, and covering them up. Compromise never settled anything since the world began. Our stand on these points are right or wrong. If right it would be a sin to surrender them, or compromise them. If wrong, it is a sin to oppose instrumental music and the societies.

If I understand your object it is to bring harmony between these two bodies of people, but I do not understand how you propose to do it. If you are asking me, and the brethren with whom I am identified to give up our stand on the societies, and instrumental music, and join the other side, and work with them in their societies and other human inventions, I could understand that, and can give you reasons why I cannot do it.

On the other hand if you would join with me in an humble effort to persuade these brethren to give up their unscriptural practices, and unite with us on the Bible, I could understand that. But since you mean neither of these, then you are too deep for me, and I think you are talking just to hear your head rattle. Since you do not mean either of the things I mentioned there is nothing you can mean, since you do not require either party to change. If you can work up fellowship and harmony on such a basis as this, you are a wonder, indeed and such a man might even find grounds upon which the Lord can unite with Satan.

Would it not be wonderful if you could only make friends between the Lord and the devil? It might be worth trying, Brother Witty. You know Satan did make some overtures to the Lord, and offered to join forces with him in subduing the kingdoms of the world to him. Compromise with error is all I can see in the things you propose.