"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.VIII No.I Pg.70-72
June 1945

XIV. Herod And Pilate Are Made Friends

T. B. Wilkinson

"And in that same day Herod and Pilate were made friends, for before this they were enemies." Sometimes we find strange bed fellows, but in every case it will be found that they are united as one in some peculiar theory which they consider the hub around which the gospel revolves. The hob-nobbing of the premillennial members of the church with J. Frank Norris at the Wallace-Norris, debate is a good example. To them premillennialism is the hub around which the gospel revolves, and all other things are nonessentials.

I was made to remember this incident in the trial of Jesus when I received a clipping in a letter from a brother with strong Russellite leanings who since his apostasy from the faith holds a morbid hatred for the church, and for all preachers of the gospel who refuse to follow his apostasy into Russellism. This Brother is a Russellite of the ancient order, the kind invented by Russell in person, and he spends all of his waking hours reading our papers and hunting for something to criticize in the writings of our preachers. Then he writes them personal letters containing his criticism, inviting them to measure arms with him, and seeking a point in which he can slip in his Russellism. He even criticized my short article on "Is Sprinkling And Pouring Baptism," published in the Banner a short time ago, and proceeded to show me that though I am right, I am still wrong. You can well imagine his delight when he saw an article by one of the "unmentionables" criticizing my recent article in the Firm Foundation on "Who can speak for the church on the war question," from a man supposed to be a brother preacher of the church of Christ. Like Hitler in the war he never overlooks an opportunity to drive a wedge between his enemies. So he sends me a copy of the article and a personal letter, and his letter is meant to drive the wedge home, and prove we are hopelessly divided.

I do not know the brother nor the paper in which the criticism appeared, but suppose he is a conscientious objector, and among those who have been making so much noise since the war began. I would have been glad to receive the article in a proper manner, and more so if the spirit of the criticism had been more fair, but it was neither fair or constructive. He misrepresents my article in the Firm Foundation and slanders every preacher who differs from him on the question, calls them carnal, and says they drive wedges of hatred and distrust into the body of Christ, not only on this question, but all others on which their carnal natures stimulates a battle.

He resurrected the "pistol packing preacher" slogan of Brother Kenley, suin' lawyer," and thinks it should be published in the paper that published his criticism of me. He then calls especial attention to my article on "Who can speak for the church", misrepresents it to readers who never saw my article, laments the fact that we do not do a little investigating before we take up pen to write, calls us "war-minded preachers" who turn out reams of paper in a time of paper shortage to justify ourselves as recruiting officers without portfolio, and says that in our conception of our ability to appeal to the majority we show our indifference to the teaching of the New Testament, and show open defiance to the principles of the Sermon on the Mount. He calls us "saintly scribes," who will not face them in debate, but says our inward spirit urges us to burn the midnight oil to drive a wedge of hatred and distrust into the body of Christ, not only on this question, but on any other question our carnal natures stimulate us to battle, and concludes, "a chronic mental bellicose I would call it."

This is the supposed argument in a nutshell, and if it were even true, the spirit in which it was delivered would destroy its value. I learned long ago that the best way to make an opponent in debate angry and desperate is to make an argument he cannot meet, then the fireworks begin. I am sure if these preachers could meet the arguments on this question they would make an honest effort to do it instead of venting their spleen in name calling, making false charges, and misrepresenting the position of those they consider their enemies.

I do not know the age of the brother but believe I can assure him that I spent more years in investigating this subject before I ever wrote a word on it than he has been living in the world. I may be as ignorant as he seems to think I am, but I still think I have forgotten more on the subject than he has ever been able to learn, and still know more than he will ever learn, unless he is willing to approach the matter in a more reverent manner, and with a better spirit. I want to be right on the subject because I considered it one of great importance, and I listened to both sides for around forty years with an open mind, and my mind is as clear on what the Bible teaches on this subject as any other.

Now a few words about this Russellite bed fellow of the brother (J. R. Lynn, of Arkansas) who sent me the clipping. He pasted it on the left side of a sheet of paper, and wrote his letter on the right side, and this suggested the idea of good bed fellows to me. Two of a kind, a "conscientious objector" preacher, and a Russellite, and we might include Jehovah Witnesses and the Mennonites with them.

I quote from the letter: "You claim the church of Christ is the angel which is in process of binding Satan so he cannot deceive the nations. Yet you urge body members of Christ whose citizenship is in heaven to take up a carnal sword in warfare to perpetuate war among non-Christian nations who are fighting and killing for the sole purpose of factional supremacy of material power. The supremacy of the church is not the issue in this war among nations."

I don't think I ever read so short a paragraph which contains so much that is false, and so little that is true. In no article have I ever advised a Christian as such to take up arms. But I have advised them to obey them who have the rule over them, to submit themselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, to be in submission to the powers that be, and to render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things which are God's. The reason I teach this is because Jesus and the apostles taught it, and if this requires them as citizens of the government to bear arms for all God-ordained purposes, I leave it there.

But unfortunately for my critics I have proved that God gave the carnal sword to civil government, and made them admit it. They also admit that civil government is God's minister to execute wrath upon evildoers, and His minister for good to the righteous, and that Jesus commanded his followers to render it the things which belong to it. Peter said do it for the Lord's sake, and Paul said render to all their dues, which includes civil government. One of the ordinances Peter said submit to might be to bear arms for a God-ordained purpose, and all I ever advised anyone to do is obey these commands of Jesus and his apostles.

But this Russellite brother assumes that citizenship in heaven cancels our citizenship in the civil government. This is foolish and absurd, and Paul shows it is not true. He said he was a Roman citizen, and this was absolutely false if this assumption is true. He makes Paul out a hypocrite and a falsifier, who claimed a citizenship he had forsaken when he entered the church. If Paul was still a Roman citizen I am still an American citizen. If I am not an American citizen as a Christian, then Paul spake falsely when he said he was a Roman citizen.

But, he says that I urge the body members of Christ to bear the sword to perpetuate war among non-Christian nations. This is false because the sword I urge citizens to bear is not to perpetuate war, but to end evil wars when Satan has begun them. This the only sword I ever advise anyone to use, and his charge is therefore untrue. I think I have made this distinction in the two uses of the sword in most every article I have written, and not one of my critics has attempted to meet the issue fairly. The object of the sword God gave civil government is not to create evil, it is the devil's sword that creates it. God's sword is to execute wrath upon Satan's evil, bring his wars to an end, and restore peace to the earth. The sword our country is using in this war is God's sword. This is the same sword Joshua and Gideon used, and Abraham, and for the same purpose. Hitler's sword, and Japan's sword, are the swords of conquest and murder, and the devil ordained that use of the sword. They were raised against the peace and liberty of mankind, and God's sword will put them down.

The third falsehood is where he says we are fighting and killing in this war for the sole purpose of factional supremacy of material power among non-Christian nations. We are fighting in this war because we were made the subject of a felonious attack by the devil through Japan and Germany. This statement from this critic smacks strongly of disloyalty to the government which gives him protection, and is an insult to the integrity of the American soldiers who are giving their blood to preserve this man's liberty and life. It is back snipers of this kind which makes those boys almost feel that their sacrifice has been in vain, and I am glad to defend them against the charges of such sordid motives.

I have never said that this war is being fought for the supremacy of the church. I do say that it is being fought to preserve our lives, liberty, and civilization, the very liberty which my critic now enjoys to spout his Russellism through the mails. Without civilization how long would the church last in the world? Without civil government how long would civilization last? How long did civilization last in the three-fifths of the civilized world over which the sword of Mahomet swept like a cloud of doom? After more than a thousand years how many churches can be found in the very cradle of Christianity blighted by that sword. That sword of Satan swept civilization from that part of the world, and the church went with it.

If our country should cowardly lay down the sword God has given it in the face of the heathen gods of Japan and Germany, our fate would be the same as theirs. Whether the supremacy of the church is the issue in this war, the church will perish with civilization before the invading sword of Japan and Germany unless our country uses the sword God gave it to oppose them. If our country were foolish enough to listen to Jehovah's Witnesses, Russellites, Mennonites, conscientious objectors, and such like, and follow their advice civilization would soon perish from this land, and the church would go with it. That is why God in his wisdom gave us the sword we have, and I thank God we have been able to make it a big sword in spite of all the obstructions they have been able to raise.

He asks me among other questions what effect it would have upon the ultimate outcome of this global war if every Christian refused to engage in carnal warfare. My answer is that it would have some effect, and whatever effect it did have would be on the side of the devil and the war he has raised. Whatever effect any obstructionist, or conscientious objector of any kind has in this war it goes to the benefit of the enemies of civilization, weakens the power of the sword God gave us, and strengthens the sword of Satan, makes the war last just that much longer, and costs the lives of just that many American soldiers. There is no neutral ground for these fellows to occupy, they either help our war effort or they hinder it, and by so doing help our country's enemies.

He winds up his letter by advising me to "crack down on him," and burn him up in some other paper friendly to my unsupported human reasoning, which will not grant him the privilege of defending himself in the same medium of publicity. He always complains bitterly that the editors of our gospel papers will not furnish him space in which to air and advertise his version of Russellism, and thinks they are all afraid of him. In my office I have numbers of articles from him, some of them running to eighteen and twenty thousand words, and each of them a repetition of the one which went before it, and all of it devoted to a single end, the advocacy of old time Russellism.

From this last letter I quote to show how he bends everything to that one single end, "In defense of your teaching, e.g.; this carnal warfare teaching, based upon your transfer of title of land promise, your baptist doctrinal teaching pertaining to becoming sons of God through John's baptism prior to Pentecost, and your sins rolled forward teaching that saves all who lived and died under the law to heavenly award and glory, et al."

This is his Russellistic manner of ridiculing the methods the Lord provided for the salvation of souls who lived before the cross. He claims God had no such methods, and no salvation was ever offered people before the cross, nor was any salvation possible for them at that time, not even Abraham the father of the faithful, Job, Daniel, Moses, or any one else. No—salvation to "heavenly award and glory" was reserved for only those who have lived since Pentecost, and then only for the "little flock" of which himself and fellow Russellites are samples in the latter days, and they will get all of "the heavenly award and glory."

When this "little flock" is gathered out then old Abraham, Moses, Job, and all others who lived before the cross from Adam down will be resurrected, and the "little flock;" headed of course by "Uncle Charley" Russell, and his followers, will forego their "heavenly award and glory" long enough to come down to the earth and offer these sinners, who never had any salvation offered them, a second-grade salvation which promises them only an earthly award, and they can take it or leave it. If they take it, such old saints as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses, can go back to their sheep and goats, plant them some vineyards, build houses, live in tents, till the soil, and they will be permitted to live as long as they are faithful. The little flock, still headed by old Uncle Charley, will then take its flight back to the heavenly mansions, and their "heavenly award and glory," but will leave God down here to live with them—drink milk from their goats, and wine from their vineyards.

I don't know how the brother will like this Russellite who has crawled into bed with him, but I imagine they will soon be fighting over the "kiver," and pulling each others hair. Strange bedfellows, indeed, these two! Again Herod and Pilate have been made friends for the day. I don't like this hair-pulling, name-calling manner of discussing religious questions, but nothing else seems to satisfy the appetites of these riders of hobbies. I think they are just angry because they cannot meet the arguments.