Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 26, 1956
NUMBER 37, PAGE 10-11a

Cartoons Versus Scripture

Bill H. Reeves, Harlingen, Texas

The October 5, 1955 edition of the Christian Chronicle has an editorial (presumably by Brother James W. Nichols, the editor) entitled "Why Are Ye Fearful?" Accompanying the editorial is a cartoon by Brother Joe Malone, in which a man labeled "hobbyist" is carrying before himself as a disguise a halloween pumpkin and sheet, and behind which he is yelling "Boo!" thus scaring off a friendly little dog.

The obvious point being made is typical of the caliber of argumentation presented by many brethren nowadays, in defense of their human arrangements. The point is that those of us who are opposing their unscriptural programs of work are simply trying to scare someone with much shouting and commotion, but that in reality we have nothing scriptural, nothing solid by way of opposition. Therefore, according to the implication of the cartoon, and the editorial, some are trying to scare the brethren out of doing good, scriptural works, but that we shouldn't be made afraid by them. They are simply hobbyists, with a pumpkin on their heads! (This is not Brother Malone's first attempt to distract readers from the real issue by the use of cartoons in the Christian Chronicle.)

In the first place the very text quoted at the offset of the editorial is sadly misapplied. The text is Matthew 8:26, "Why are ye fearful, 0 ye of little faith." Brother Nichols assumes that anybody knows that "we" are in the right in all we're doing, and therefore, as Christ would say: "Don't let any hobbyist scare you out of doing your good works." Is this your point, Brother Nichols? In Matthew 8 we find that the disciples were WITH THE LORD, and therefore any fear was without justification. Are you with the Lord, my brother, as concerns the issue presently before the church and to which your editorial and the cartoon at least in part, or in principle, refer? This is not to be assumed!

Why didn't you quote Hebrews 4:1, "Let us fear therefore," and then make your point? Or maybe Hebrews 12:21, "I exceedingly fear and quake." Of course these texts would put your editorial in reverse! There are texts which tell us to fear, and texts which tell us NOT to fear. You arbitrarily chose one which says NOT TO FEAR, isolated it from its context and misapplied it, wholly because in it you found a play on words! Instead of answering the opposition and making your defense with scripture, you have chosen rather to resort to cartoons, misapplication of scripture and play on words in order to keep your readers from paying any attention to those who oppose your projects. Were Brother Nichols challenged by a sectarian preacher on some point of practice, he would make a much better defense — he would rely upon a "thus saith the Lord."

He continues, stating that one of Satan's tricks is to "get a man to go off on some tangent and get only some portion of the truth, then direct all his energies and teaching to that incomplete, often faulty conception of God's truth." Well, what does all this mean? Go off on what tangent, Brother Nichols? Do you mean that any time anyone calls in question what brethren are doing that such is "going off on a tangent?" Really what you're trying to say is that a lot of preaching and teach-ing is going on in reference to the brotherhood projects which you condone and defend, which in turn is causing lots of brethren to study, and you just wish that some wouldn't "direct so much energy and teaching" to the matter. Your vague, veiled language, and generalizations, are typical of so many defenders of the brotherhood projects in operation today. Wouldn't it be better for us all if you would re-write your editorial, state just WHERE some have gone off on a tangent, just WHAT portion of truth they have and WHAT portion they have left off, and then complete and correct their incomplete and faulty conception of God's truth? This indeed would help matters. As it stands, it looks like you're bemoaning the fact that 'so much restudy and reappraisal is resulting from "the energy and teaching" of those you have had labeled "hobbyists." Instead of asking your readers, Why are you fearful? you might try again and ask, Who has got you to studying and wondering about all these mighty works that we've got started?

Oh, if the Christian Church had only had this little cartoon years ago when the battle over the missionary societies was raging! Then they could have gotten the point over better: Let's not be afraid of the anti-missionary brethren who have gone off on a tangent, who have only a portion of the truth and direct all their energies and teaching to their incomplete and often faulty conception of God's truth! Don't be afraid of them, brethren. The Lord said so! They are just hobbyists!

Next, Brother Nichols attempts to line up the opposition with the Pharisees, hoping the universal feeling of contempt for Pharisaism will keep his readers from giving too much attention to the opposition.

We quote him: "The `hobbyist' is zealous to keep God's word. So were the Pharisees!" Were they really, Brother Nichols? Christ said they made void the word of God, so zealous were they for the traditions of the elders. (Matt. 15:2, 6.) No, they weren't zealous for God's word. The editor then tries again, telling us that the Judaizers were zealous for the law. (Acts 15.) But that law for which they were zealous had passed away; so their zeal wasn't for the Word of God (New Testament). So the Judaizers fail as an example of your so-called hobbyists.

You remind the readers that the Pharisees tithed mint and anise and omitted the weightier things of the law. What's your point? Do you mean that the "hobbyists" are directing all their energies and teaching to questioning your practices (this being the tithing of mint and anise), and should rather leave you alone and get busy preaching on something else which would not question your practices (this being the weightier things)? If not, what meaning has your use of that scripture?

Another paragraph says, "There is still much land that must be possessed. The Lord still has much work to be done in His vineyard. So don't be frightened by the 'boo!' of the hobbyists. The old Adversary would fain keep us in doubt, fear, hesitation, for we can do little for the church while we are doubting, fearing, hesitating."

This is the core of Brother Nichol's appeal to his readers! This is his real effort! What is it? Why, simply telling the readers, as one would say in common diction, "Forget about it! We've got lots to do. We've got to possess lots of land (with out brotherhood projects). All these other brethren are simply hobbyists trying to stir up doubt and make you afraid. They are working for the old Adversary. Don't listen to them; they're just trying to scare somebody."

Brother Nichol's editorial is true to the "party line," or policy, of the "promoting" brethren: So discredit the opposition that "our" brethren won't even want to consider what they have to say. His editorial is very much in vogue with those who are putting the quarantine into action! I'm not surprised, therefore, to find that individual members of many of the congregations supporting brotherhood projects are actually astonished to learn that there is really a grave issue before the church today concerning such projects and programs. They had only heard that some few "hobbyists" and "Pharisees" were stirring up some discontentment!

I think that Paul's exhortation is more in line than Brother Nichols'. Paul tells us: Prove all things; hold fast that which is good! Brother Nichols says: Keep right on supporting what we have promoted and don't pay any attention to a few little hobbyists who are trying to scare you. Of course I'm not charging Brother Nichols with these words, or expressions, but they do express the point that he's advocating.

He says further, "If you and I are in doubt about obscure points on which there is little scriptural teaching or none, but much contention, there are two ways for us to resolve our doubts: search the scriptures to see whether these things are so (Acts 17:11), and seek the counsel of the elders whom God has set to be overseers, to feed the church of God." (Acts 20:28.) It sounds like he has read Brother Reuel Lemmons' editorial entitled, "They Watch For Your Souls." Both editors give the powers of legislation to a local eldership! "Turn your souls over to them. They watch for your souls. If they say it's all right, then it must be." Since when have we turned to elderships to determine what's right and wrong? I thought all along that the New Testament was our final appeal for authority! If some point comes up where there is "little scriptural teaching," then let's find out what that little bit of teaching says, AND DO IT. What difference does it make what some elders might say! Anyway, WHICH elders would decide? The "Metropolitan" elders? If a point arises on which there is no scriptural teaching, then why "search the scriptures?" Why go to the elders? They are authorized to feed the church ONLY WHAT IS SCRIPTURE. Feeding the church doesn't mean legislating!

In public debate a Christian Church preacher had to admit that the use of beer and cake for the Lord's Supper would be permissible if the elders authorized it! At least he was consistent with his argument, which is the same as Brother Nichols' and Brother Lemmons' which goes as follows: if the elders of a local church decide to use such for the Lord's Supper (Christian Church preacher), or support one of the brotherhood projects (Nichols and Lemmons), then it's right to do so, for they "feed the flock," "they watch for your souls." IT MATTERS LITTLE whether the project is scriptural or not. This the editors discount as unworthy of consideration. To them, the all-important thing is: do the elders want to support it.