Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 7, 1951
NUMBER 6, PAGE 12,15c

A Letter To Dean Colby D. Hall

Webb W. Freeman, Commerce, Texas

(Editor's Note: Some months ago some tentative efforts were made by our Christian Church brethren to get preachers from the Churches of Christ to attend certain of their meetings. Brother W. W. Freeman of Commerce, Texas, received a letter from Colby D. Hall, Dean Emeritus of Texas Christian University, asking if he had any suggestions about the proposed meetings. Brother Freeman made the following reply, to which, up to the present, no response has been made. If Dean Hall should desire to make a reply, we will be glad to publish it.)

April 5, 1951 Colby D. Hall Dean Emeritus Texas Christian University Fort Worth, Texas Dear Brother Hall:

From the current papers I see announcements of your coming annual meeting of the State Missionary Society. For some months I have waited to reply to your letter of last summer, since the date of this meeting was then so far away.

In some paper I saw part of an article dragging you over the coals about inviting conservative preachers to attend the meeting. You asked me for suggestions. If I had any thought worthwhile, I likely would have sent them in right away.

First, it seems hardly fair to invite a Jew to share a friendly visit in some convenient place just when you are planning to serve sausages, pigs' feet, backbones, spare ribs, and giblets! That is like calling for surrender after your opposition has been invited to come with a view of fraternizing. Or it is like having a Methodist invite you to fill his pulpit on Easter Sunday, when you, as a token of appreciation, are to sprinkle a few babies. At least you should go, say the prayers, and perhaps hold the font. This would, you know, manifest a sweet Christian spirit and show you are liberal minded. You see there is no reason for you to expect conservatives to attend a meeting of your missionary society in which they have no faith. They maintain that the control should be in the hands of the local churches, and to surrender this view would stultify their consciences. It seems to me some conservatives might attend simply as visitors of the occasion no more.

The idea of a fellowship meeting, it seems to me, calls for some sort of joint effort to look for a solution of the differences that cause division. In such a "coroner's inquiry' neither side would be committed as sharing in something that is supposed to be unauthorized by divine command. In such a meeting the weak brother should have the charitable consideration of the stronger brother. This means that nothing should be introduced into the activities of the assembly that violates anybody's conscience. It is not one's views or opinions or understandings that are primarily concerned; it is the shared activities carried on at the time "in the name of the Lord.' Such implications from those not there put the attendant in a false light, and besides, "it is good neither to eat food, nor to drink wine, nor to do anything else whereby thy brother is offended...Destroy not with thy meat thy brother for whom Christ died.' This is the call of love for Christ's sake and for the brother with weak conscience. It is forbearance. It may be discussed and debated, but it cannot be forced in practice upon anybody who respects this law of fellowship. (Rom. 14:5)

The above suggestions about "eating meat... or anything else whereby thy brother is offended' certainly do not place all the differences among brethren upon this simple matter of being weak; some of the differences are not harmless in themselves but are very serious; but for the liberals such differences may appear optional, and on the level of "eating meats.' There is a widening bread; that long ago should have been eliminated by sensible men on both sides.

The conservatives stand on the restoration bases of Christian fellowship, instruction, and practice; the liberals have seen fit, in spite of themselves in most instances (I think), to share with Unitarians, pedo-baptists, and the Humanists rather than with their conservative brethren standing where all the leaders up to Errett stood. In every town one finds young preachers, and some older ones, ready to cooperate with anybody in a series of meetings except with conservatives. Is it because they know the conservatives are right and can give a "thus saith the Lord' for whatever they do or ask others to do? Until liberals are ready to walk up to the Book and try to show authority for their various practices, they lack the loyalty to the Restoration Plea shown even by many Baptists and many other people still trusting in modern "revelations."

The practices, the slavery to modern philosophies, and the unwillingness to stand definitely for anything other than that always changing "liberalism' lead me to despair of seeing any general movement for fellowship between us. If the New Testament is not to be honored as a revelation from Jesus Christ, then he is not raised, was a bastard, lived a paranoiac, and died in vain. If we must be "apostolic' to please him, then it is not right to turn away from what has been left us as his last will and testament.

But apart from the issues between groups there is opportunity for individuals to share in discussion of these differences. This should be done and should be for those having sincere desires to foster unity in the faith and life of all who profess to be Christians. Luther was consistent, but he started the "faith only' in his creed that has been copied until now. How was he consistent? Why, he rejected the book of James as "an epistle of straw,' unworthy to stand in the Bible along with Romans and Galatians. Men today with his view are not consistent. Our Methodist friends need to know more about Wesley and to start following the way Wesley sought to travel; they would have great success. But what do they do? They follow Asbury, the ambitious leader who ensnared them with the episcopal system, and at a time when Tories were unpopular and not a man could be found in this land of the free to administer the ordinances! Apart from Asbury they would have been called "Christians' and would have taken the Bible only as their religious authority. The Scotch system also wrecked the movement of Stone and Campbell by appealing to the creeds of men, when they should have known better, and perhaps did in most cases. "My brethren, be not ye many teachers, knowing you shall receive the great condemnation.' This seems to fit those cold-blooded, Calvinistic reactionaries unwilling to take the Bible rather than human authority. The Catholics? Well in their zeal to maintain the status quo they omitted the second commandment of the decalogue and continue till now to leave it out of their catechism and to practice the adoration of images—to change the Bible rather than to change their heathen practices. Individuals should ponder such things and avoid catastrophe by standing upon common ground that is beyond question or cavil.

But, after all, it is the local congregation that is the unit, and with peace and progress here in the Christian faith and life we must be content. I have tried in a hurried half hour to suggest things that occurred to me.

Fraternally W. W. Freeman