Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 19, 1950
NUMBER 36, PAGE 3,6a

Defending The Gospel Or Placating The Germans, Which?

James W. Adams

"First Public Opposition Comes To The Work In Frankfurt, Germany" is the arresting title of an interesting article by Otis Gatewood in the Firm Foundation of November 1, 1949. The article sets forth in considerable detail the particulars of a discussion between our brethren in Germany and some Lutheran preachers at Frankfurt. In delineating the salient features of the affair, Brother Gatewood states that Delmar Bunn was selected by the group as the speaker of the occasion. Hear him, "We were ready with our answer and had chosen Delmar Bunn as our speaker." I understand from the statement that Brother Gatewood and the others concur in the positions taken by Brother Bunn in the discussion. Inasmuch as Brother Gatewood's article was written after the discussion, hence not impulsively nor in the heat of some great emotion, it becomes certain that Brother Bunn's statements represent the views of the entire group. Another thing that should be noted is the fact that Brother Bunn, in the eyes of his audience, was the official representative not only of his immediate group, but also of the churches of Christ in America. Therefore, being the defender of their cause, whether he desired it to be so or not, he committed the churches of Christ to every position which he took on that occasion. That Brother Gatewood and his co-workers so regarded Brother Bunn's effort is revealed in the following statement from Brother Gatewood's pen: "We thank the Lord for our privilege of being permitted to defend his church before so many people who are interested." With these facts before us, it should be apparent that one position taken by Brother Bunn is to be viewed with concern.

Christians Did Not Drop Bombs

It was charged by the Lutherans, according to Brother Gatewood's article, that American bombers had destroyed their organ, hence made it impossible for them to use instrumental music in their worship. For some unknown reason (the circumstances did not require it), Brother Bunn felt called upon to make an apology for the destruction of the Lutheran organ that the smoldering resentment of manifestly unrepentant Germans might be placated. Aside from the absurd position taken by Brother Bunn in his rejoinder, the very fact that he felt compulsion to apologize is a gross insult to the sacred memory of every American mother's son whose body rests beneath the chilly sod of an alien land or beneath the bosom of the mighty deep and whose life was sacrificed to save the world from the unholy ambitions and vicious aspirations of those very Germans and their idolized leader, that beastly caricature of a man, sadistic fiend, and godless reprobate, Adolph Hitler.

Brother Bunn's apologetic answer to this prejudicial quibble was, according to Brother Gatewood, that "He was sorry that their organ had been bombed out of their church, but that that was not done by Christians." (Emphasis Mine. J. W. A.) "He explained that many of them boys who were members of the church spent their time in in conscientious objectors' camps rather than fight."
Since Brother Bunn does not know who flew the plane or dropped the bombs which destroyed the organ in question, his position taken on this occasion is simply that no boy who flew a plane, dropped a bomb, performed combat service, or for that matter who even performed non-combat duty in uniform was a Christian. According to Brother Bunn's explanation, only the boys in the conscientious objectors' camps were Christians. To this belief, Brother Bunn committed himself, his co-workers in Germany, and the churches of Christ in America. In doing this, our brother is guilty of an egregious blunder. It will be a specter that will haunt the efforts to preach the truth in Germany, and ultimately, may well become a factor in undermining the entire effort. The possible consequences of Brother Bunn's commitment combine with the fallacious character of his position to make his action the object of grave concern.

Fallacious Character And Possible Consequences

First: It is not true that every soldier of World War II was not a Christian. Some of the best Christian boys in the church, as devout as any worker on the German field today, served in the armed forces of the United States. Many of whom, we say it weeping, lie dead today in soldier's graves all over the world. I am shocked beyond measure that a gospel preacher should affirm before a German audience of seven hundred people that they were not Christians. Would he dare say it before an audience of seven hundred American Christians anywhere in the United States?

Second: Brother Bunn knew (and I say this after due consideration and as kindly as I know how to say it) when he made the statement in question that it did not correctly represent the views of the great majority of the members of the church in America. Only an insignificant number of the thousands of Christian boys in the United States subject to the selective Service Act spent the war in conscientious objector's camps. I have no hesitancy in venturing the affirmation that there is not a single church "sponsoring" any phase of the German work, the majority of whose members endorse the position taken by Brother Bunn. I am perfectly safe in going further than that and saying that there is not a church in the United States which has ever given anything to the German work, the majority of whose members would concur in the position of Brother Bunn. Our brother, therefore, committed the churches of Christ in America to a belief which they do not hold nor endorse. In doing so, he became guilty of unwarranted license, to say nothing of unmitigated presumption.

The Broadway Church, at Lubbock, Texas, itself, though prominently associated with the German work, I hesitate not to say, does not endorse the position of Brother Bunn. At least one of the elders of that church lost a son in the late war. Does Brother Bunn believe that this Christian boy who gave everything that a man can give and whose published letters establish his consecration to Christ and his cause was not in fact a Christian?

Third: Brother Bunn is now placed in a most embarrassing position. When the German people learn, as in time they will, that the brethren generally do not hold the position to which Brother Bunn has committed them, he will be convicted of deceit in their eyes. What will he tell them? Or, is the German work to be launched upon the extreme conscientious objector's platform? Is it not supremely ridiculous for these brethren, who have accepted so much from and depend so greatly upon the civil and military powers of our government in Germany, to commit themselves to the position maintained with reference to civil government by the extreme conscientious objector?

Brethren, do we render service either to God or the Germans when we thus appease their prejudice? Is it ethical or honorable to commit the churches of Christ to a belief which they do not hold? Is the cause of the Master served or truth defended in assuming the position that all men who served in the armed forces of our country were not in fact Christians? To Brother Bunn, we freely accord the right to speak his convictions, but to him we do not accord the right of committing the churches of Christ in America to a position they do not endorse. Churches who support the German work should give serious consideration to the question: Do we want German prejudice engendered by a war of their own making in which they were the losers mollified through an appeal to the radical conscientious objector's position?