Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 24, 1953

"That The World May Believe That Thou Hast Sent Me"

Pryde E. Hinton. Dora, Alabama

According to John 17, Jesus prayed that all who believe on Him through the word of the apostles may be one, "that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." If this is a great factor in the conversion of the world, and it is, "the church of Christ" is miserably and sinfully failing. Four or five papers come to me. Some are sent, to me by some unknown persons. Not one of these papers ever mentions the others without bitterness, or at least an attempt to show them up as false teachers. Some stoop to the very depth of sarcasm and virulence. In politics men brand others by words which are formed by appending "ism" to men's names, like "Trumanism," or "McCarthyism." But these religious writers (and sometimes speakers) are just as malignant and sometimes as unjust as the politicians. If we can make a man look as if he agrees with the Sommer brethren, we have no hesitancy in calling him a "Sommerite." And the same goes for "Bollism" or even "Modernism." If we can make such a stigma stick, we have ruined his influence with many good people.

One paper has associate editors who disagree, or would bitterly disagree, among themselves on certain issues. One brother criticizes, makes fun of, ridicules, and even casts insinuations relative to another brother's morals, in criticizing a book which he has authored. Yet in many other controverted issues he will heartily agree with this man. While those who agree with him relative to the book in question will just as bitterly disagree with him on the other issue. If we can find where a brother has written something twenty or fifty years ago that disagrees with what he now teaches, we press that for all it's worth — insinuating that he is obviously dishonest. Will such things written up in the papers cause the world to see that oneness that will make them believe in our Savior? Instead of giving out such papers to my unconverted friends, I will go to a great deal of trouble and expense to keep them out of his hands. Go ahead, call me soft, call me names, say I am against discussion of issues — you will prove nothing that way, except that what I've written in the foregoing is true. Why can't we disagree with a brother without accusing him of insincerity, dishonesty, or calling him uncomplimentary names?

I think that 1 Corinthians 1:10, etc., sets forth an ideal. There are no two thinking, growing brethren who have this perfect harmony between them. This ideal will remain an unattained goal before us as long as we live, because for one thing we do not all possess the same degree of knowledge of God's word. I cannot agree with you perfectly on things which I have not thoroughly studied; to do so would be dishonest to me. And then I always think of 1 Corinthians 8:2. That's the first passage every young preacher, every young Christian should memorize, I think. How then may we have unity? Ephesians 4:1-3 clearly teaches how this may be done. We make it near impossible to confess our own errors by so stoutly affirming that we know that we are right, since we are all human. Did you ever hear a preacher of the church of Christ admit to another with whom he has been debating that he was wrong in his teaching ? Well, somebody is wrong when two brethren disagree, perhaps, both of them. Humility is about the most sorely needed characteristic among Christians, it seems. If we KNOW a brother is wrong on an issue, can we not forbear him in love, while we try to convert him from the error of his way? No, we seem to think the way to do it is to ridicule him, make him feel little, twist his words, make him look inconsistent and weak, and insinuate that his motives are sinful. Will this make it easy for him to love us? If we don't love him, or he doesn't love us, we shall go to hell, shall we not? (1 John 3:11-23) If I am overdrawing this picture, please show me my error. I appeal for Christian courtesy even pity, among ourselves. Those who truly obey the truth, do it unto unfeigned love of the brethren: 1 Peter 1:22. Did your obedience to the gospel accomplish that in your life? "Finally, be all of one mind, sympathizing, lovers of the brethren, tender-hearted, courteous — not returning evil for evil, or railing for railing; but, on the contrary bless; knowing that to this you were called, that you might inherit the blessing." (1 Peter 3:8-9 — Living Oracles Trans.) There is not a brother's position, or reputation which I covet or of which I am envious; for over thirty years there has always been more work for me than I could do. God bless and help all who are faithfully teaching and preaching the "gospel of the grace of God."