Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 6, 1952

Douglas Lawyer's Shiloh Affair

Frank Driver, Tatum, New Mexico

In the "Overflow" of the last August 14 issue, a correction was made of Brother Lawyer's part in a religious meeting conducted in the Shiloh Baptist Church building in his area. This was supposed to have corrected some false implications of an earlier report. He wants it understood that he was invited by the Cemetery Association, not the Baptist Church, and that it was not a Baptist service, though instrumental music was used.

When a gospel preacher enters any religious exercise with the sectarians, acting under their supervision, and on equality with them, he will receive criticism from his brethren, and will find himself making excuses and explanations. The reason why this criticism invariably comes, is that there is a general conviction among Christian people that having been born of God, they are His children, and their obedience to the gospel distinguishes them, sets them off from all who have not so obeyed. And that one's conviction in this fundamental gospel truth must in all cases and under all circumstances, find its expression in his rejection of any opportunity or occasion to show favor or extend fellowship to teachers or disciples of false doctrine. And the reason why he makes excuses and explanations is that he thinks he sees a middle of the road solution to the problem of pleasing men, pacifying his brethren, and salving his conscience.

Brother Lawyer wants it understood that his invitation came from the Cemetery Association and not from the Baptist Church. Well, if it is just a matter of setting the facts straight, that is good; but as far as justifying his action is concerned, what difference does it make, and what has he gained by making the explanation? Would its being a Baptist service make it any worse than it was? It was a sectarian service anyway, conducted in sectarian fashion by sectarian people. As principal speaker, he could well have brought the entire worship service into keeping with New Testament practice.

From the first paragraph of this report, one would think Brother Lawyer is just sort of afraid of Baptists or Baptist services, but he tells us that he also made two previous speeches for the Baptist and the Methodist churches in Waldo, Arkansas, where he lives and preaches for the church. It is very rare a gospel preacher gets such an invitation, in fact so rare, that brethren naturally suspect something is wrong with him when he does. No, of course it is not wrong to preach anywhere, but we know the narrowness of sectarianism well enough to know that a gospel preacher who is well known in the community to deal straightforwardly with the issues before the religious world, is not going to have the Methodist, Baptist, or any other sect running the risk of giving him a chance to preach in their building.

It is only proper and just to ask the question, why would any sect ask a gospel preacher to preach in their building, or why would one find any pleasure in such an opportunity? Who knows of any accomplishment for good in such an action? Would the heathens have invited Paul to preach in their temples? The Bible record shows that no imagination is required on this point. Brethren who feel disposed to argue the point if they will, but I declare it as an established and confirmed fact, that the act of any sectarian organization's request for a gospel preacher's services in one of their meetings is proof positive that he and the church are not making the impression on the community, in behalf of the gospel, that they should, and that the Lord expects of them.

The great commission of Christ to the apostles was to preach the gospel to all the world. And when preachers get an opportunity to preach, that is what they ought to preach — a dogmatic, a distinctive gospel. Preaching only a part of the gospel that everybody agrees with, is not preaching the gospel as Christ commanded and as the apostles preached. They preached a lot of truth that the Jews and heathens agreed with, but they never did stop there. The real meat of their preaching was in the points of difference, and every student of the Bible knows this is true. If Paul and others could preach as they did in the synagogues of the Jews when they were invited to speak, then we can preach the plain, straightforward, dogmatic, and distinctive gospel in the buildings of the Methodists and Baptists when we are invited. But such a preacher is not likely to get repeated invitations to speak, as Brother Lawyer did. If he does, he'll very soon either convert the town or turn it upside down.

Brother Lawyer says faithful brethren were present to hear him on these occasions. Well, what else could we expect him to think of them than that they were faithful, if they approved what he was doing? That is sort of like some of these "ads" from preachers wanting jobs, who makes the marvelous declaration that they are sound in the faith and free from hobbies! Well, if a preacher wants a job badly enough, could you expect him to do otherwise than speak well of himself, if he is going to speak on the subject at all? Of course Brother Lawyer thought they were faithful brethren! They agree with him!

The fact that this report under review was a correction makes it even more an accurate statement of the facts. The report is now before the public, and is of public interest. I challenge Brother Lawyer to show wherein the corrected report put him in any better light than the original report, other than that he did reject the title "Reverend." I also challenge him to show any permanent, worthwhile good that can come in the interest of the cause of Christ, by such participation with these people of perdition, and to give any Bible principle or example that can justify such an action.