Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 9, 1955
NUMBER 6, PAGE 1,10b

"Let's Not Be Narrow"

Roy E. Cogdill

One of the most dreadful things many people can imagine is that they will be accused of "narrow mindedness" in religion. That literally scares them to death; the very thought that they might be considered narrow drives them completely away from the truth. Yet it should not. Truth is narrow. There is nothing liberal or generous about truth; it all narrows down to just one fact. The proper answer to the mathematical summation of two plus two is four. There just isn't any other answer on earth that is right save that one. Out of all the infinite number of answers that might be given, only one is right. Every other is necessarily false. The answer is not "five"; neither is it "three." Two plus two gives "four" — no more and no less.

At what temperature does water freeze? If we use the Fahrenheit scale, it begins to freeze at 32 degrees at sea level. Of all the answers that might be given to this question, one is right; every other is wrong, just as wrong as wrong can be. What direction is Dallas, Texas, from Lufkin? If you wanted to be exact, you could take a compass and determine exactly and precisely how many degrees west of north the one city is from the other. There is only one correct answer to that question.

Suppose somebody wants to argue the question as to the temperature at which water freezes, or wants to dispute the geographical relationship between Dallas and Lufkin? Is it "narrow mindedness" to insist that there is only one right answer to each of these questions? If someone should prefer to believe that water will freeze at 34 degrees, or 36, or even 33, and should accuse me of being "narrow minded" because I insist on 32 degrees, would not everybody know that truth has no alternative save to be "narrow"? It seems like many people go almost stone blind, and lose all the good judgment they ever had, when it comes to the subject of religious truth. They will accept principles in religion which they would laugh to scorn in any other area of life.

The very same man who has no difficulty at all in understanding why there can be only one right answer in scientific, or mathematical, or geographical problems, glibly assures everybody that there can be a hundred right answers to religious questions — and those answers can contradict one another in the most open and obvious fashion possible. He says, "You answer the question your way; I'll answer it mine, and we'll be brethren, and everything will be all right for both of us."

If that be the case, truth does not matter. Why have a Bible? Why not let each one believe what he wants to believe, throw the Bible away and forget all about the word of God. Why all of the preaching? If men are perfectly right in believing and following a multitude of contradictory doctrines, then why should any man want to teach anybody anything that is in the New Testament?

Does Jesus teach contradictory doctrines? Can one take the New Testament and find one page of it teaching that a child is born in sin, another page teaching that he is born in Christ "safe in the arms of Jesus"? One human creed teaches that baptism is by immersion only; another teaches that it is also by sprinkling and pouring, according to the preference of the candidate. Both creeds make their appeal to the Bible for substantiation of their doctrines. But does the Bible give any such contradictory teaching? If so, who can believe for a single minute that the Bible is of divine origin? The Lord does not teach a thing two ways, or a hundred different ways. Somebody is bound to be wrong!

Is it all a matter of "interpretation"? That is the claim that has been made. While people are talking about such a thing as interpretation, they ought not to forget that there can be also misinterpretation. Somebody has misinterpreted the truth. The Lord does not teach immersion only on one page, then turn right around and teach sprinkling and pouring on the next page. If anybody actually thinks he can read such in the Bible, he simply believes that God is not trustworthy, and His word is not reliable or dependable. No one could have any confidence in a man who would talk "out of both sides" of his mouth; neither can man have any confidence in a God who would do such.

Just as certainly as there is religious division in the land, just that certain it is that someone has taught something which is not in God's book. The Lord does not teach, and did not teach, contradictory, doctrines. Christ is not divided in the message he gives. When all men speak "as the oracles of God," they will "be of the same mind, and speak the same things." Suppose we could get all the preachers in a certain city to agree that for one year not a one of them would preach anything save that which is clearly set forth in the Bible. They would lay aside their respective creeds, distinctive doctrines, and peculiar names, and all of them preach only that which they can find in the Bible. Is it not obvious to all that there would soon be complete unity and harmony prevailing among all ? The Bible reads alike to all of us; it does not tell you one thing, and tell me something different. If all of us will determine to speak only that which the Bible speaks, leaving out all human tradition, we will soon find the believers completely united. There can be no other alternative.

When preachers and teachers are content to confine their preaching to those things for which they can furnish a "thus saith the Lord," religious division quickly disappears. It would be so in any city in this nation where it might be tried. Christ is not divided in message. The different "messages" that are taught in the name of Christ are not truly messages of the will of Christ. For his will is contained for us in his word. When we have his word, and understand what it says, we will soon overcome the turmoil and division which have disgraced the religious world for these many centuries.