Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 24, 1958
NUMBER 12, PAGE 2,3b

Evangelism, Benevolence, And Who Knows What All?

Kenneth Marrs, Denver, Colorado

Evangelism and benevolence have long been recognized and extolled as the sole works which the Lord has placed upon the church. They are proclaimed, consequently, as the only works which may be placed upon the church with authority. There is a longing among some, however, to now extend the churches' activities into other fields.

Recently the congregations of Denver were exhorted to broaden their view, and to think on a wider scope; to increase the area or type of their work and service. Our attention was called to the great number of broken homes, divorces, and the suffering of innocent children from such conditions. We were reminded of the numerous mental cases of the country, and of the problem of alcoholism. What a vast field for the church! Specifically, Brother Otis Gatewood, the speaker of the occasion, urged the churches to educate and provide offices for a staff of psychiatrists.

As a preacher of one of the Denver congregations, I do not feel it out of line with what is usually expected of us to present my views of Brother Gatewood's proposal. This certainly does not involve anything personal toward anybody, and particularly nothing personal toward Brother Gatewood.

But, brethren, such thinking as our brother advanced is pure liberalism. Liberalism is defined as "a movement in contemporary Protestantism, emphasizing intellectual liberty and the spiritual and ethical content of Christianity" (Webster). It can begin, or be expressed, in a myriad of ways. It can be prevented in only one way: simple faith. Faith does not permit us to think, or act, or plan on any wider scope than "that which is revealed."

Liberalism is not always easy to recognize. The unsuspecting seldom see it. The unlearned never sees it. Even the cautious and informed sometimes fail at first to recognize it. Its recognition is made especially hard when the same person both decries and proclaims it! Charity would demand that we regard such a person as not fully aware of the import of his words. Yet, you and I may know for a certainty that any time a man exercises the "intellectual liberty" to place upon the church more than God placed upon it, liberalism is present.

Liberalism is diametrically opposed to faith. It exalts intellect and reason to the point of laying aside the Bible. If a matter is "of faith", it is neither liberalistic nor legalistic. The intellectual liberty of liberalism goes beyond revelation, hence beyond faith, and, therefore, it essentially opposes faith. It lays down the "spirit and ethics" of Christianity as the terms of salvation. It is moralism religionized! Modern psychiatry would even destroy the morals of liberalism.

Liberalism has no end. Where one road is thought to end, another wider one always begins. If the church should go to work in the field of psychiatry, who knows where the end would he? Politics? Recreation? First aid? Social enterprises of all kinds? Brethren, the departure we must all be very concerned about is the first one. If we can prevent that first departure, others cannot follow; but if that first one takes place, anything can happen.

I wonder if many people are really aware of the basic theories and principles upon which modern psychiatry is based. If we wanted to completely demoralize and unspiritualize the church, restore heathenism, and blast faith off the earth, there are few ways better calculated to accomplish that end than to have the church "educate and office psychiatrists" as a part of its work. But, allowing for the fact that not all psychiatrists are skeptics or atheists (most are), and supposing that every young person educated at the expense of the church to become a psychiatrist would hold (to say nothing of improving) his faith, morals, and spiritual values intact through the education" process, would it be in harmony with God's word for the churches to "educate and office" such men and enter into the field of psychiatry?

My answer is an emphatic "NO" — for several reasons:

1. Such action is unauthorized — we have no scripture for it.

2. It completely confuses church (congregational) works with individual activity.

3. It would inherently deny the all sufficiency of the Word and of the church as revealed in the New Testament.

4. It would lay aside the Word for mans will and wisdom.

5. It would prostitute the church from her God-given use.

6. It would add to the church a work which God did not give it.

7. It would be without faith.

8. It would be presumptuous.

9. It would be an act of "zeal without knowledge."

10. It would be certain to cause division.

11. It would create further division by reviving aspects of the "church-college" question which is in general now resolved.

12. The door by which it entered would be one whereby unlimited philanthropic endeavors (and who knows what all?) might follow and be laid upon the church.

13. Denying faith from the first, it could only destroy faith at the last.

Brethren, I can see only one good thing that might come out of some congregations beginning such new work. That is that such manifest, undeniable, bold, and brazen departure from the faith once delivered to the saints might cause many brethren to suddenly or finally realize and face the fact that "WE ARE DRIFTING", and thus many congregations and souls might be shocked awake.

But why must any die for the rest to know what will kill? Just the fact of such a devious proposal being suggested by Brother Gatewood ought to be as revealing of drift and error as the departure itself! Do we not know that, we "cannot go beyond the commandment of the Lord, to do either good or bad of mine own mind; but what the Lord says, that will I speak." (Num. 24:13.)

To some perhaps I shall be as a fool for challenging this Goliathal proposal. This moves me not: David's foolishness in challenging Goliath finally was shown to be all in the other fellow's head. Through faith the victory for the Lord was and is won. These things, however, do cause a young preacher, contemplating the years ahead, to wonder what they hold. He does not wonder how he can serve, or whether he will be "used". He does not have to worry about what he will stand against. He needs only to know what he stands for. He need not worry about whether he will make matters worse; only let him speak the truth and he may make them better. There is no defense, however, and he will offer nothing if he remains silent Just as the years of other men (once before, now behind) were filled with both their bright and their dark hour, the young preacher may also expect his to be. But if he, like Ezra of old, has "prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgements," (Ezra 7:10) then he can serve the Lord and be "used" by him — whether he is by his brethren or not. Faith is the victory!