Methinks That Thou Art Prejudiced
Prejudice often magnifies small things; it can lead to many glaring inconsistencies. In the June 1st issue, the editor of the Gospel Guardian stated his personal dislike for people using "you" in prayer rather than "thee" and "thou." I have no objection to one holding such an opinion, but in the same journal, July 20th, a writer echoes this same prejudice in much stronger
terms. He lists it with other things as "pertinent examples" and "evidence" of "contamination." He says:
"Some people cannot even use 'thee' and 'thou' correctly in their prayers, because they have not read enough from the pages of the Bible to know how to use them. They compromise by breaking over into the familiar style, 'you', as if God were their poolroom companion."
While familiarity with the Bible translations which retain the Old English phraseology should make the use of "thee" and "thou" more natural, I cannot see that it is presumptive or compromising" for one to use "you" in talking to God. I have heard some fine young men (and some not so young), who are at least average Bible students, pray some very sincere prayers using the pronoun, "you". Is God so far from each one of us that we have to use a different vocabulary when praying to Him ?
What about "thee" and "thou"? When the King James translation was made, "thee" and "thou" were common words that were spoken on the street, in the barber shop, or even in the poolroom." Long after this phraseology has passed from use in everyday life and literature, it is still to be found in the most popular translations of the Bible. Therefore, circumstances and custom have preserved "thee" and "thou". The argument that one who does not abide by the custom is "compromising" and showing lack of reverence is based purely upon prejudice rather than reason. If the above argument were correct, I suppose that back in the days of King James the people had to use "you" in praying rather than the familiar style, "Thee" and "Thou". It should be noted also that the translations that retain the Old English pronouns do not limit their use to addressing Deity. For example, "Peter said, THY silver perish with THEE, because THOU hast thought to obtain the gift of God with money." (Acts 8:20) The Bible makes no distinction in the pronouns used in addressing Deity and in addressing men.
Prejudice is a deceitful power. The sad thing is that it does not limit itself to small things such as discussed above. On major issues, prejudice can make one see ridicule as reason, and fanatic position as feasible. On the other hand, TRUTH may appear absurd to one who is prejudiced in an opposite view. Biased minds will follow some men as if they were bound to be right in everything; while with other brethren they automatically take issue as if they were invariably wrong. Thus factions are built up and Christian loyalty is measured by the "band wagon" in which one rides. Sometimes we allow ourselves to become prejudiced against certain congregations or institutions. As a result, individuals coming from such are not given a fair evaluation by us. Prejudice only asks such questions as: "Is this the way it has always been done?" "What stand does brother 'Loyal' take, or what stand does the Judicious Journal take." Reason asks, "Is this the best way, the way that God would have us meet this particular situation?" "Just what is the truth on this matter?" Reason welcomes criticism and evaluates it honestly. Prejudice never sees the other side. Prejudice is a poor substitute for thinking.
Sometimes good men throw their influence against some worthy undertaking, rightly administered, because of personal prejudices against some individual or congregation involved. On the other hand, sometimes good men engaged in great tasks, prompted by righteous motives, fail to heed just, constructive criticism because of their prejudice toward the source of criticism.
We will all have some personal tastes and prejudices. Such is permissible, provided they do not retard the growth of the church or violate God's word, and provided we do not unjustly criticize others because they do not share our personal "opinions." Let us take heed to ourselves, lest we allow our personal prejudices to legislate where God has not legislated. "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." (1 Thess. 5:21)
H. H. Dunn, Huntington, Ark., November 8: "Eight were baptized at Powell, Mo. Am now at Washburn, Mo. Good interest."