Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 19, 1970
NUMBER 28, PAGE 4-5a

Love? Yes; Unity? Not Necessarily So


I've been reading from Carl Ketcherside. I do every month. Almost. But it's pretty much the same. We'd like for him to put another bean in the soup pot from time to time. His thing is love--love for everybody; love for everything; love for God and man; love for the beasts of the field, the leaves on the trees, the flowers in the field. He loves the sun and moon, the stars in their courses, the drifting clouds in the skies. He is so overflowing with this noble trait he might even warm up to the devil a bit (no pun there). He loves B. C. Goodpasture, Reuel Lemmons, J. D. Thomas, Roy Cogdill, Cecil Willis, William Wallace---and me. He said so. (Mission Messenger, October, 1970, page 150.)

There is one thing, however, that gets shortchanged in this floodtide of affection and good will. At least so it seems to this beloved (of Carl) scribe. I'm talking about the Bible, the word of God, the gospel of Christ, the writings of inspired men. It seems to me the sacred writings get a rather perfunctory and apathetic nod of respect. In fact, almost a monumental indifference. It is love (not the written word) by which all disputes are to be settled, all problems between brethren solved. Did Paul say something about "marking them that are causing the division and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine which ye learned: and turn away from them?" Forget it! If you love them enough, you will realize that they are God's children the same as you are. And any effort on your part to follow Paul's instruction will show a bitter and sectarian spirit. Let God judge them, not you. He will straighten things out in the final day; meanwhile let everybody realize that we can never, never, NEVER! have that utopian dream world about which Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "Now I beseech you, brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment." If Paul had only had two thousand years of Christian history behind him when he wrote, he would never have penned such fatuous nonsense. He would have realized that men can NOT agree on what God has written----never have; do not now; and never will----therefore, we must have love, charity, good will, and make no serious effort to reach agreement on what the Bible actually teaches.

For a long time Carl did give at least token respect to the Bible teaching on baptism by immersion. He felt that this teaching was so clear, so positive, and so important that he could regard no man as his "brother in Christ" who had not been immersed; he considered himself in fellowship only with the immersed — all the immersed, regardless of how many other things "contrary to the doctrine" might be in their lives and in their teachings. His current conviction on that particular subject may be a matter of conjecture, but it would seem preposterous to think Carl would gladly accept immersed Baptists, immersed Methodists, immersed Presbyterians, immersed Catholics as "brethren in Christ", but would stand aloof from those Baptists, Methodists, and others who had been sprinkled rather than immersed:

All of which I am saying is simply this: Love is great; I've heard it makes the world go around. I would no more think of opposing Love than I would oppose motherhood or apple pie. But love is not the only factor in achieving unity. I love many people who are NOT "my brethren in Christ." I think particularly of one of my old school-mates. He is a Presbyterian preacher. I love him. I know he loves me. But he is not "my brother in Christ." He has never been baptized into Christ. And there is no other way to get "into" Christ except by being "buried with him through baptism."

Carl is my brother in Christ. I love him as a brother----an apostate brother. "I count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother." I love him enough to tell him publicly (and privately if I ever get the chance) that he is "causing divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine." That being so, my duty is clear. And love, or no love, we can never be "one in Christ" except on the basis of truth — God's revealed truth. Love? yes! Therefore, unity? "It ain't necessarily so !!"

F. Y. T.