Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 16, 1949

When Brethren Differ


R. L. Whiteside, Denton, Texas

Recently I had an experience that I do not remember ever having before. It was so unusual and pleasant that I mention it as the basis for some remarks that need to be made.

My article in the March issue of the Bible Banner stirred one brother to write me a rather ugly letter. That was not at all unusual, for I had received a number of such letters, some of them much more abusive; but here is the unusual and pleasant part of this recent experience: Within a few days after I received this uncomplimentary letter, the brother wrote me a gracious apology for writing the uncomplimentary letter. And that should be a pattern for some other men and some editors who have written or published false and slanderous things about some other men. But will they follow the pattern? Will they make any effort to undo the wrong they have done? Can they not recognize that they have ruined their own characters in trying to ruin a brother's good reputation? Are they so hardened that they cannot realize that they have done a great injury to the church which Jesus purchased with his own blood. Do they think they can get forgiveness in their impenitence? If so, how mistaken they are! We cannot fool God—"God is not mocked." And no amount of flattery by men will, in the least degree, enhance a man's standing with God; but it may confirm the man in his wrong doing, and involve the flatterer in his guilt. A man's professed friends sometimes do him more harm than do men he regards as his enemies.

Concerning The Conscience

It has been said that the government allows the conscientious objectors the liberty of conscience, and I've been asked if I do likewise. I find no fault with any man's conscience, but I do sometimes deplore the bad judgment of some. I do not know how I could deny any man the liberty of conscience. It seems to me that only the individual himself can deny the liberty of his conscience; he can do this by smothering it, or by disregarding it till it ceases to operate. A man may sear his conscience as with a hot iron (1 Tim. 4:2). A man's conscience can operate even in jail, or in a concentration camp. Every one should cultivate a tender, though not a morbid, conscience. It would save a lot of loose talk if people knew the difference between conscience and moral judgment. I do not know that a man's conscience is ever wrong, unless he abuses it till it ceases to operate.

One peculiar thing about this whole matter is that those who condemn taking part in government affairs seem to take it for granted that they are the only ones that have any conscience in the matter. Why do they assume such lofty airs? They make what they consider an ironclad argument on Matthew 5:39; and then some of them grossly violate the spirit of the point for which they argue. If you smite them with an argument they cannot answer, some of them will slash back at you with false charges and ugly names, even though you were trying to do good for them and the church.

Railing Accusations

A man should never write a letter to any one when angry with him; and he should never write anything for publication while he is angry. It is even better not to become angry. "He that is soon angry will deal foolishly' (Prov. 14:17). "e;Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? There is more hope of a fool than of him" (Pm 29:20). An angry man is likely to do a lot of railing at the object of his anger. Notice the class of sins railing associated with (Mark 7:21-23). "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and railing, be put away from you, with all malice and be ye kind one to another tenderhearted, forgiving each other, even as God also Christ forgave you." (Eph. 4:31, 32). Brethren, we who preach the word, do we heed its commands and exhortations? "Or think ye that the scripture speaketh in vain! Harsh judgments and railing accusations may injure another's reputation, but giving away to a spirit that prompts such talk rots the character of the man who manifests such venom, and shuts the door of heave against him. Even Michael the archangel "durst no bring 'against" the devil "a railing judgment," and yet h was disputing with the devil!

No, I am not angry with anyone. Anger is not the feeling that ugly letters stir \up in me; neither have as some brother thought, been persecuted—just pesters a little. I am too near the end of my journey to entertain anger, or to harbor hate and malice; and I would rejoin to see some who have manifested such a high degree o such feelings make their peace with both God and mat Will they do it? If they believe God, they will try to do e Lipscomb and Taylor But why all this bitterness ? For several years after began to preach publicly, I held to the idea that Christian should have no part in the affairs of govern ment. But I did not believe those who differed with me had no conscience in the matter, or that they were honest in handling the scriptures, nor did I believe i calling others ugly names. I had none of the bitterness o this new crop of conscientious objectors. Soon after began preaching I heard G. G. Taylor and David Lip: comb—two great men—discuss the government question at the Nashville Bible School. Brother Taylor was there by invitation to deliver some lectures on the Christian's relation to civil government. Each night he took Brother Lipscomb's "Civil Government" to the rostrum, read extracts, and made such comments as he thought necessary. After all his lectures were delivered, Brother Lipscomb made a speech or two in reply. No ill feelings were generated, no harsh words were used, no ugly name calling, and there were no accusations of dishonesty. I still regard David Lipscomb as the greatest man I ever knew and G. G. Taylor as one of the clearest thinkers I ever knew.

Two or three years before that discussion I had talked with Brother Taylor on the subject; but even after hearing the discussion, I still held to Lipscomb's position. Some years later I re-examined my position in the light of God's word, and as a result, here I stand. It might do some others good to re-examine their position, especially the spirit in which they have been writing.

Till this new crop of agitators came along I never heard of any trouble among brethren over the question. They began to call us warmongers, murderers, etc., and naturally with such ideas of us they drew the line against us. Not all of them were so radical. Some of the conscientious objectors were and still are my good friends. And if the radicals knew the meaning of the word monger', they would see the folly of calling us warmongers.