Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 19, 1951
NUMBER 11, PAGE 4,5c

Letter From A Catholic Reader


On another page in this issue we publish "A Letter To Mr. Cogdill.' We are delighted to get such a letter; for it shows the paper is being read: The "book" to which reference is made is "The Origin and Claims of Roman Catholicism," by Roy E. Cogdill, which was originally published in this paper before being put into tract form. The booklet has had a tremendous circulation, and is per. haps the most popular short treatment of the subject in use. It has brought more than one Catholic to the truth.

Far from being perturbed or distressed by such a letter as Mr. Fenno has written, we are pleased. There is some heat in the letter, of course. But we can understand that, and excuse it. No man can see the very foundations of his life-long religion being overthrown by truth without being upset emotionally. But the thing that pleases us, and which we believe to be highly significant, is the constant appeal to the scriptures made by Mr. Fenno. All students of Catholicism, and of Catholic attitudes, recognize that this is most unusual, and is a definite departure from standard Catholic practice. For Catholics are taught from infancy not to appeal to the scriptures as authoritative, but rather to accept the word of "the church" as being the final and highest authority in all matters of religion—it is obvious, therefore, that in spite of the vehemence of his protestations, our good friend has been influenced more than he realizes by what he has read. The truth is having effect even in spite of his previous teachings and normal bias!

The Power Of Truth

If we can get people to read the truth, sooner or later truth will do its work. It may take a long, long time, and a man may get angry and disturbed, but if the reading is continued, the result is fairly certain and predictable. It is for this reason that we have never held too much to the "sweet-spirited, don't-rock-the-boat' type of journalism. We try to be absolutely fair, and certainly we make every effort to avoid useless and senseless antagonizing of our readers. But there is an "antagonism" and there is a "wounding" which is not only helpful, but at times seems indispensable if people are to be taught the truth! Error and truth are incompatible. When error is firmly entrenched, and fully and firmly held by its victim, the truth will antagonize. It cannot be otherwise. Before one will accept truth, he is likely to be "cut to the heart" as were the Pentecostians to whom Peter preached.

Certainly, we make no claim to infallibility either in teaching or in judgment. On the contrary, we have made mistakes in both. And shall probably make several other mistakes in both. And shall probably make several others before we leave this vale of tears. The editor has more than once been humiliated by reading a sermon he had written twenty years or so ago. (We recommend the practice of writing—and preserving—sermons, particularly in the early years of one's ministry: Nothing is quite so calculated to keep a man humble in his later years as to go back and read some of these "masterpieces" of his youth, it will be painful, but profitable). And we have seen more than one article in this journal which we would have given much to be able to change, particularly in the manner and expression of presentation. For any needless antagonism of any reader, we are regretful of course.

But for the plain, earnest statement of truth we have no apology, and for it we feel no regret. Letters like this from Mr. Fenno show that the journal is being read. And that is our main concern. We do not want to print such articles as will offend our readers to the point of their ceasing to read; neither do we want to fill our pages with such insipidly "sweet" material that the reader is neither challenged, nor interested, nor set to thinking at all. No matter how much one may write, if what he writes is not read, he has written in vain. There is no point in publishing such a paper.

So, we say to our readers: stay with us; continue to read the things that are written. You will not always agree with everything you read. And that is a healthy sign; for it shows you are thinking. Weigh the statements; test them by God's word; read every scripture reference that is cited. And then, in the light of God's truth, make up your own mind as to what is to be received and what rejected. Feel free to write us at any time concerning anything that may be in the paper, either by way of question, criticism, commendation, or amplification on any point. We get a liberal supply of letters, both commendatory and critical. We need the critical letters, for they are the ones that keep us constantly studying and working. Especially do we appreciate a letter like this from Mr. Fenno—a letter that shows an earnest soul, going again and again to the scriptures for authority for what he does. This is RIGHT, no matter how badly we may think this particular writer is in the use he makes of the passages cited. We appreciate the fact that Mr. Fenno has convictions, and that he is going to the right authority (the Bible, not the Catholic Church) in an effort to sustain them: More power to him! and to thousands of others who read this journal, and who are members of various denominational bodies. Defend your doctrines; search the scriptures; read and refute (if you can) the argument that are made in opposition to your beliefs: This is a spiritually healthy state for you—and if continued in sincerity, it will certainly lead you to a better understanding of God's word, and to a more acceptable service in His sight.