Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 6, 1966
NUMBER 22, PAGE 4-5a

The Church And Demonstrations


We call attention particularly to two articles in this issue; the one by Brother Roy E. Cogdill, and the other by Brother Wendle Scott. This second article was sent us by Brother Scott with a request for publication that he might tell his reasons for participating in the July 4 demonstration march of striking Mexican-American farm workers in the Rio Grande Valley to dramatize demands for union recognition and a pay raise. Following Scott's march he was summarily fired by his "sponsoring church", the Harvey Drive Church of Christ in McAllen, Texas, and was ordered to vacate the church property which he had been using as a school room in which he trained Mexican evangelists.

Readers of this paper know that we have consistently taught against the unscriptural "sponsoring church" type of congregational activity in which the Harvey Drive Church was involved; and, quite apart from the right of a Christian to participate in any kind of "civil disobedience" or rioting, we think the demonstrations, whether Negro, Mexican, Communist, or Nazi, are offensive and repugnant to most Americans. But we publish Scott's article, and Cogdill's, to illustrate so perfectly the course of digression.

In Ed Harrell's "Quest For A Christian America" we have this analysis of the attitude of the Christians a century ago toward the "social gospel":

"From the beginning there had been little agreement among the leaders of the church about the means of Christianizing America. Some, probably most during the early years, insisted that the only religious duty of the Christian was to convert sinners --- social improvement would follow. A middle group believed that the Christian was obligated to actively participate in social reform, but only in his capacity as a compassionate Christian individual. By the 1850's, however, a growing group within the movement became committed to a philosophy of active church participation in social regeneration. The social salvation of society was a Christian end in itself --spiritual benefits would follow." (p. 223)

Brother Cogdill's article shows what developed out of the promotions and pressures of this "social gospel" influence. And Brother Scott's article shows that our liberal brethren in the "non-instrument Church of Christ" are as spiritually blind as their true fathers were a century ago.

But we must say this for Scott: he is consistent. And we sympathize with him in the unfair and unjust treatment he has received from his brethren, Scott has simply carried their "gospel" one step beyond their orphan homes, summer camps, unwed mothers' homes, House of the Carpenter utopias, cows for Korea, and hospitals for Africa. All of this comes under the head of social action; and it comes with mighty poor grace from brethren who accept and promote all the other social projects to fire Scott for his attempt to help the down-trodden Mexican laborers to better themselves.

We think every Christian will sympathize with the plight of the Latin-Americans whom Brother Scott describes. Let it be remembered, however, that these Latin-Americans are fabulously "rich" in comparison with their blood brothers across the Rio Grande, that their present standard of living is the highest any of them have ever known. And, more important than either of these, when the church becomes involved in these pressure tactics (or political and legislative actions) to re-make society, she has lost sight of her God-given mission, and is spending her time and her strength in ways which should not concern her!

We predict that Brother Scott will not for long be without some "sponsoring" church; nor will he be lacking for funds wherewith to carry on his work. It is likely that "the establishment" (meaning the papers, colleges, Herald of Truth, etc.) will oppose him; but his course is so completely in harmony with the accepted and approved direction of our more liberally minded congregations that we believe he will not long be isolated. This is one time the pressures of the establishment will fail. At least that is the opinion of this writer. Anyhow, it will be an interesting development to follow.

Meanwhile, hundreds of faithful congregations and thousands of humble Christians will continue the even tenor of their course, preaching the eternal gospel to a lost and dying world, edifying the saints, and caring tenderly for their needy. And these same concerned and compassionate Christians will extend themselves sacrificially and with unstinted love to do everything within their power to relieve the misery and despair of their fellow-creatures, whether Mexican, Negro, Chinese, or Russian,

- F. Y. T.