Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 25, 1954
NUMBER 41, PAGE 6,13b

Prayer At A Football Game? Was It "McCarthyism"?

C. It. Mansfield. Ranger. Texas

Brother Bill Carmack of Waynoka, Oklahoma, wrote an article, "McCarthyism In the Church," Gospel Guardian, January 28, 1954, in which he states that in my article, "Fellowshipping the Ungodly," Gospel Guardian, December 24, 1953, he failed to find anything that would better him as a Christian. This I deeply regret. May I try again? Before the readers give attention to me I want to request that all read the excellent article of Brother J. L. Moyer, "Some Difficulties of Honest Investigation," Gospel Guardian, January 28, 1954. Brother Moyer says, "When we reach the point that we cannot question a practice without everyone thinking we are questioning the integrity of the participants, we stand on extremely dangerous ground." I am fearful we are dangerously close to that point.

There is no reason for my envying another preacher. I glory in their "handling aright the word of God." Only the warped mind could reason that ruin of another helps their own elevation. I regret that Brother Carmack was so affected by what I wrote that upon what "seemed" to him to be an "assumption," he thinks I used "sophistic devices" to cast suspicion upon another. If guilty, I know I must repent, confess my wrong, and pray God or be lost. If I falsely reported and used the lie to hurt another, I am guilty. If I used the truth from wrong purpose, I shall have to repent of evil attitudes and desires. If what I condemned is approved of God, I am in rebellion against God. These things weigh heavily upon one who teaches, rebukes, and exhorts by the authority of God's word. Please read again the last paragraph of my article. I wrote: "Certainly, this is not written to give some occasion to 'ruin' him." Whether some think that just a "sophistic device," I meant it from the bottom of my heart. Though the facts are grievous, I expressed both hope and concern for the one involved.

To use "sophistic devices" one must first be insincere, dishonest, one who would use fallacious argument to deceive. I pray that if ever I accuse another of such, I shall KNOW it, personally, to be true. If ever I so accuse one whom, by my own admission, I do not even know and know nothing of any incident involving him, I pray that God will give me opportunity to reverse my course before it is too late.

Everyone who has attempted much "personal evangelism" among sectarians knows that they catalog many scriptural teachings as "general" principles. These do not include what they refer to as "specific" or "technical." They consider the "doctrinal" tenets, over which there is controversy (baptism, Lord's Supper, name, music, etc.) as specific, technical, that agreement in these is of no importance for (they say) these are "non-essentials." Their plea is that all "unite" on the basis of the "general principles," things all agree upon, allowing all preference of denomination according to background, doctrinal beliefs, etc. Thus, they say, shall be eliminated the undesirable features of denominationalism yet retaining the denominations intact. They agree all can receive God's blessing upon the basis of observing the "general principles of righteousness." As we study, remember this.

In the sense Brother Carmack used the word "general" (that the principles contained in the gospel are applicable to all in every age since its beginning), of course that is true. This is GENERAL APPLICATION of the principles. The principles remain specific. I protest the right of anyone to label the teachings of Christ as abstract generalizations. They are real, must be concretely applied when applicable in the gospel era.

When sectarians decide that "prayer" shall be included in a public event, in which all religions and those of no religious beliefs are mutually involved, injected as a religious element to invoke God's blessing upon the event, they are reciprocal as being in "mutual relationship" with God. There is not the slightest resemblance between such a gathering and a gospel meeting conducted by the church of Christ. It was the associating of ourselves with them in mutual relationship to God that I contended to be "contrary to the doctrine." The leader of the "prayer" described most surely actively commits himself to the principle of reciprocation with them in the matter of mutual relationship to God, and use of the pronoun "we" emphasizes it. Remember, in the conscience of sectarians it is the "general principles of righteousness" as they conceive them, that forms the basis upon which all enjoy mutual relationship pleasing to God; that "doctrinal" principles are non-essential to such relationship. Should I accept their invitation to join them in such, or to lead in it, I could not do so without knowing that they intended my action to be in mutual relationship with them to God. I was so invited, but declined.

Does the conscience of the other fellow determine what I should do in such a case? Read 1st Corinthians 10:28,29. Here is a principle directly applicable and the instruction is definite and clear. In such a circumstance, if I should lead the "prayer," saying, "We pray Thee, Heavenly Father, that by the application of the general principles of righteousness we may honor Thee," I would have to surrender all such specific principles of righteousness as: necessity of baptism to salvation, one body, etc. Should I do this the sectarians would praise me as being more "broad-minded" than other "church of Christ" preachers, and I would gain greater opportunity to propel the church into "prominence" in the community.

The practice being wrong, it represents the results of "drifting" from, and is contrary to, the doctrine of Christ. Can such come about in the presence of proper love of the Truth and respect for the authority of Christ and the gospel? Who would support it, the taught or the untaught? Brother Carmack's interest, he said, was not in "the wisdom of leading such prayers." Had he interested himself in whether it is scripturally RIGHT, he would have thought less of searching for "multiplied inferences and judgments." The practice of leading such a prayer being wrong, it is not the integrity of a preacher that is attacked, but the wrong. Should the error be corrected, his value is increased. For this we pray.

Yes, Paul "labored among churches with all sorts of moral and doctrinal error." Let the student of the New Testament find where Paul encouraged them to wink at such error, and live as God's children WITH it! Paul was not deterred from charging them to "rid" themselves of it by fear of being classified as "Pharisee." Surely, none must accuse Paul of fellowship with the ungodly. Cornelius was a man who could have been saved, according to the sectarians, by his observance of the "general principles." Does any mean to teach that Peter did or would, with the spirit of "mutual relationship to God" predominating, join Cornelius in prayer to God before his conversion?

Had I used an imaginary incident to prove error in another, I would have been guilty of the worst sophistry. This I did not do. Therefore, I fail to understand WHY I should be accused of using "sophistic devices," or that what I attempted to do should be referred to as the evil such as is meant by some when they say "McCarthyism."