The Baptists And The Social Gospel
Mr. A. L. Patterson, of the American Baptist Association, has written a tract entitled, "Why Have An American Baptist Association." Apparently some members of the Southern Baptist Convention have objected to the A.B.A. on the grounds that it overlaps their territory. It may be that they feel they have "exclusive" rights to whatever work they may "assume." Since the Baptist conception of organized cooperation through "Associations," and our own brethren's idea of the "Sponsoring church" are based upon the same type a reasoning, we should not be surprised to see a spawn of similar problems.
Mr. Patterson's opposition to the Southern Baptist Convention also brings to light the all-to-familiar false charge and misrepresentation. I quote:
"One indignant writer expressed his ire by saying they of their particular Baptist group believe in concerted, co-operative action, and that everybody should get in line and support such action. We of the American Baptist Association believe in co-operation also, and we would do well to practice more of that spirit than we do many times; however, we believe that it makes a lot of difference what we co-operate with. Some people called Baptist seem to think that anything is all right if a BIG show is being made and a lot is being accomplished, regardless of whether what is being accomplished is in keeping with the truth of God's Word or not." Well put, Mr. Patterson.
But now we come to the core of the little tract under review — statements relative to the Social Gospel. For some reason or other, our brethren seem blind to the accelerated swing toward the Social Gospel in our own ranks. Many are so in love with this life, and with their "brakes-off" plunge into "progress," that they view with suspicion any efforts to get them to think. Quarantine policies of some big papers and preachers have likewise closed the eyes of many, and made warnings of any nature most unpopular. (May God have mercy on those who, to protect their own schemes, have made the church so vulnerable at this critical time.) Perhaps this statement of a Baptist preacher, about conditions in the Southern Baptist Convention, will awaken some of my brethren to our own dangers. Read the following carefully:
"I have observed one very definite reason why churches of the American Baptist Assosiation should not support the co-operative program of the Southern Baptist Convention that has not been dealt with extensively. This particular reason is that I am thoroughly convinced that the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention have completely sold out to the SOCIAL GOSPEL. This is not to say there are not ministers in the convention who still have their goal to win souls for Christ in the only way that it can be done, by preaching the gospel of Christ ..."
"The churches of the American Baptist Association believe the commission given to the church is to preach the gospel that disciples may be made for Christ; that is the sum total of mission work. Social uplift is a byproduct of Christianity. These churches recognize that the church has a social responsibility; however, that obligation is to the household of faith first, then as we have opportunity we should do good to all men. The Scriptures do not justify a world-wide social uplift program to cover the heathen nations of the world."
"The Southern Baptist Convention proposes to have a threefold commission; viz., teaching, preaching and healing. Under teaching, they try to justify their institutions of learning which they designate as Christian education. In these schools, however, are found professors who do not believe in the virgin birth of Christ, who deny the divine inspiration of the Scripture and subscribe to the theory of evolution along with many other equally heretical ideas. Let us admit, for argument's sake, that their preaching is as it should be. They say that as Jesus went about healing the sick, we are under obligations to render physical aid to all in the world who may need such aid, hence there are cases on record of medical doctors who have been supported as MISSIONARIES whose only qualifications were their knowledge of medicine and their ability to relieve physical suffering and restore physical health. If they are to do as Jesus did at this point, they should join the divine healing cult and promote the idea of miraculous healing as that is the type of healing Christ did. In every case, Christ did healing not for the sake of the sufferer, but for the sake of those who would see His mighty works and believe that He is the Son of God. When the Bible was completed, those powers of miraculous healing were needed no longer, as we had the testimony of God concerning His Son. This fits in with their social uplift program to form the social gospel so popular in the world today."
"I was driven to the conclusion that the leaders of the convention have sold out to the social gospel by actual observation of these leaders in action on the floors of their conventions. In the Arkansas state convention which convened in Texarkana recently, I listened to an executive of the foreign mission board who spoke fluently for forty-five minutes telling a large congregation of delegates about the social and economic conditions of the China field and urging that Southern Baptist MUST raise vast millions of dollars for relief of these terrible physical conditions; which were, no doubt, not overdrawn. But the striking part of his discourse was that during the forty-five minutes, he made NOT A SINGLE REFERENCE to a soul lost and doomed to hell, not a single reference to the urgent need to carry the gospel to these people in an effort to save them for eternity. All his burden was for their condition IN THIS WORLD.
"Verifying this conclusion was my observation for eighteen hours spent on the convention floors in the Memphis meeting where I heard the most fluent volley of oratory I ever heard by men from Southern Baptist pulpits. During the entire eighteen hours, which was not the entire meeting of the Convention but merely the part I attended. I heard NOT A SINGLE REFERENCE to the eternal destiny of a human soul; not a single reference to hell as an eternal place of doom for the incorrigible wicked, but all these hours of oratory were directed to arousing Southern Baptists to support the SOCIAL PROGRAM of the Southern Baptist Convention to the tune of many millions of dollars to be spent in restoring the war-torn millions of foreign fields to a high standard of living HERE ON THIS EARTH."
" ' Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.' I am forced to believe that people who speak so much of this world and so little of the world to come have little in their hearts of the world to come or they would be talking more of the world to come. 'If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above.' "
Several years ago a reprint of the above article might have been placed in papers published by our brethren, and used as a "club" against the Baptists. We would thus warn of the SOCIAL GOSPEL among the sects, and point with pride to our own purity from such "modern" developments. Preachers would clip such articles, and read them from the pulpit, to demonstrate the conditions in denominationalism. But now — it is a SHAMEFUL, SHAMEFUL fact that such an article must be regarded as a "left-handed" means of pointing up our own movement toward the Social Gospel. Who will publish such an article today? Who will warn of Social Gospel developments from the pulpit? You can be sure it will not be the promoters of our own institutional Social Gospel program.
Must we have eyes that see not? Can we not be awakened to our own dangerous drift before it is too late? May God help us!