Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
Arpil 26, 1962
NUMBER 50, PAGE 3,14

Current Comments

James W. Adams, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma


Found! at last — a man who is in complete agreement with Brother J. D. Thomas, author of "We Be Brethren," concerning the alleged dependence of proper interpretation of Scripture, hence of unity among brethren, on "trained thinkers," — "schoolmen." Recently, on the editorial page of the Oklahoma Times, in an article by Sidney J. Harris, the following statements were made:

The ironic and saddening thing about doctrinal differences between people of different faiths is that the sharpest differences exist on the lowest level, where the people least understand what they believe in.

What I mean by that complicated sentence is that a Catholic philosopher such as Jacques Maritain, a Protestant philosopher such as Reinhold Neibuhr and a Jewish philosopher such as Martin Buber have a great deal more in common with each other than any of them do with the rank-and-file members of their faith.

ALL DOCTRINES become flattened, coarsened, vulgarized and emotionalized as they pass from minds that are acute and sensitive to minds that are merely receptive and unreflecting.

Mr. Harris obviously believes that the success of the modern ecumenical movement among the churches will be dependent on the churches permitting such "philosophers" in the realm of religious thought as Maritain, Buber, and Neibuhr to arrange the doctrinal basis of unity which is sought. Their "acute and sensitive minds" which roam with such reckless abandon in the "higher levels" of theological speculation on Bible teaching can so much more easily find a basis for religious unity than can the minds of men whq simply want to believe and do exactly what the word of God says. This may be true since such philosophers through thee ages have made such a muddle of Bible teaching In their respective speculative human creeds, and !have thus so terribly confused the common mind. One wonders, however, what kind of a basis the Maritains, Bubers, and Neibuhrs of religious thought would forge for the unity of the professed servants of the God of the Bible. Just what would such unity be worth?

We think Brother Thomas exhibits a like attitude toward unity among brethren in the churches of Christ. He would like for us to turn over the working out of an acceptable basis of unity to the "schoolmen, the trained thinkers" among the churches. Consider the fact that, excepting James D. Bales of Harding College, there is hardly a man in the entire number of those who would make up the group Brother Thomas would regard as "trained thinkers" in the church who has enough knowledge of New Testament teaching or ability as a teacher of the Word to meet a men of the stature of D. N. Jaskson, Baptist debater. The idea, therefore, of such a group of men resolving all controversial questions and working out an infallible system of Scripture interpretation is worse than laughable. Most of the learning of these men has been obtained in sectarian seminaries and/or at the feet of modernistic, infidel scholars to whom apostolic faith and practice is as strange and outmoded as an ox-cart would be in the field of modern transportation. We certainly agree that there has been worked out among most of our learned Doctors of Philosophy an acceptable basis of unity for them, But what would such unity be worth? What has become of our contention through the years that the Bible as God gave it is adapted to man as God made him? What has become of our contention that the Bible and the Bible alone is the basis of unity and that men can understand the Bible? Since when have the teaching and practice of Jesus and the Apostles become so abstruse as to require the "higher level" thinking of "theological philosophers" or even "schoolmen" to interpret them for the masses? In this connection, we are reminded of the prophet Hosea's chiding of apostatizing and putrefying Israel. He said: "Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies' because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men." (Hosea 10:13)

Two Rounds Of Applause

"There were two rounds of applause at the last chamber of commerce meeting. One was for the announcement of a federal grant for a local project, the other for a resolution against government spending." (Nuggets)

Man's inconsistency is often amazing if not downright ludicrous. This reminds us of the brethren and their "Amens." They will in the same service heartily amen a sermon on the "Authority of Christ," or "The All-Sufficiency of the Church," then even more heartily amen a rousing speech in support of projects among the churches for which there is not an iota of authority in the word of Christ, or they will amen a speech in support of human institutions designed to fulfill the mission with which God has charged his church, They will amen a sermon against missionary societies and just as heartily amen one in favor of a sponsoring church arrangement for world evangelism. They will amen a sermon against a choir and amen a speech in favor of a chorus. They will amen a sermon against church dividers, and as loudly amen one in favor of "quarantining" all brethren who do not go along with projects which according to their own analysis are "matters of opinion." Yes, we fight socialism and build bridges with federal money. We oppose federal aid to Roman Catholic schools and send a brother to Hong Kong to influence the British government to give money to the brethren to build and operate a school in which religious instruction will be given, We abhor apostasy and practice digression.

Arrogance Of Prosperity

Plato is said to have refused to help the Cyrenians enact laws and set up their government saying that it was a hard matter to give them law while they enjoyed so much prosperity, since nothing is so fierce, arrogant, and untamable, as a man that thinks himself to be in a happy condition. (Ency. of Prose Illus.)

Contained in the song of Moses, which was uttered just before the death of Moses, is a statement concerning Israel in her relationship to God to the effect that, "Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked." (Deut. 32:15) This figure is full of meaning to any person who has ever tried to ride or work beasts of burden. A grass-fat team has often run away and destroyed a wagon when placed in harness. Saddle horses often throw their riders after having waxed fat at the feed trough. God's blessings had brought Israel from a state of terrible bondage and want to a state of peace and plenty. In her state of plenty she had lifted up her heart against God and gone after' the gods of the heathen.

Every major apostasy among God's people, either under the Old Testament or the New, has occurred during periods of great prosperity. Surely Plato was correct in his analysis of men in times of prosperity. Times of great prosperity develop within men a sense of self-sufficiency which is not amenable to instruction, admonition, or rebuke. David took notice of this tendency of prosperous men, when he said, "And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved." (Psalms 30:6) God's people have almost invariably responded well to adversity, but prosperity has ever been their ruin.

The early church met with courage and patience the persecutions of the Jews land the fierce and destructive opposition of mad Nero, but languished under the favor and friendship of Constantine. The Reformation grew and flourished under the hateful and terrible persecution of Papal Rome, but divided and died in a maze of sects in its hour of glory. The Restoration Movement swept our nation as no other religious movement in the face of denominational rage, but faltered, and all but then, in its hour of prosperity. A handful of faithful men, unwilling that the cause of restoration should fail, caught the falling standard and slowly but surely lifted it on high. Now, the churches of Christ have entered upon a period of great prosperity. This is the zero hour, and once again, having "waxed fat," we "kick."

Enamored of their newborn glory, churches of Christ are utterly oblivious even to the possibility that all might not be well in Zion. Those who predict apostasy are "lugubrious howlers." Those who demand a "thus saith the Lord" are "legalistic casuists." Those who oppose digressive tendencies are "non-progressive antis." Our brethren, like young calves in a clover patch, are cavorting over the fields of denominational foolishness. In their new-found freedom, they are utterly unretractable. Their prosperity has given birth to an arrogance that is amenable to nothing.