"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.VIII No.I Pg.68-70
June 1945

XIII. What Chaplains Can Preach

T. B. Wilkinson

In a series of articles in the Firm Foundation R. O. Kenley recently wrote about "pistol packing preachers," as he calls them; there are a number of rash statements which deserves a further consideration. Among them I find one which I consider a reflection upon the sincerity of the many fine preachers we now have serving as chaplains in the army. I quote, "Christians are not needed as chaplains in the army. If an army chaplain preached the truth to soldiers he would be shot as a saboteur. Happy for the armies of civil government that the chaplains do not preach the truth. I have as much faith in an army chaplain saving a soul as I have in a catholic priest praying one out of purgatory."

We have many fine young gospel preachers serving as chaplains in the army, and they are preaching to soldiers what they conceive to be the truth, and many soldiers are accepting what they preach, and believe they are saved when they obey it. They were preaching the gospel before they became army chaplains, and sinners were saved under their preaching, even R. O. Kenley will admit this, I think. They could preach it then without being shot as saboteurs, and Brother Kenley can preach it now and not be shot. Now, if there is some secret truth, which soldiers need, but which other sinners do not need, Brother Kenley should let it out. He must know what it is since he writes so boldly about it.

We don't want our young preachers shot as saboteurs, and he should point out this truth to them, lest they should let it slip out, and be shot. If there is some secret truth which soldier must hear before the gospel will save them, and the ordinary gospel sermon is not enough, I don't see how that proves that Christians are not needed in the army to preach it, as he affirms. Unless he means to say that our soldiers in the army are entirely beyond the reach of salvation, I think they would need the gospel above all men, including this secret truth which chaplains cannot preach without being shot. Let them be shot if that is the price they must pay for preaching the truth. Paul was beheaded for preaching it, and Peter was crucified, and Stephen was stoned to death for preaching the gospel. I don't know as either of them ever preached this secret truth Brother Kenley hints about but does not drag out into the open, but they preached the gospel. And they did not refuse to preach it under the threat of death, why should Brother Kenley?

We go to the record of the preaching of these apostles to find out what sinners must do to be saved. Peter on Pentecost, and at the house of Cornelius, Paul in the Philippian Jail, Phillip in Samaria, and to the Eunuch, and others and we find out what they preached to sinners. Now, suppose we take all of these sermons of record in the New Testament, and sum all that we find in all of them, what do we find that an army chaplain may not preach to soldiers today without being shot as a saboteur? Does he claim that these are not fair examples for the thing he is talking about? Then where will he go to find a fair example? Some of these men were soldiers, and one of them was a captain.

Then there was that devout soldier that Cornelius sent down to bring Peter to him. We know that Cornelius, and this devout soldier, needed to hear some word from Peter before they could be saved, and Peter was the man the Lord sent to speak the words. Luke is the man who tells us what Peter preached when he got there, and what they did about it. The Lord and Peter must have thought the words Peter did preach would save Cornelius and his whole house if they accepted it, and Luke tells us they did accept it and were baptized. But what did Peter preach to Cornelius that any chaplain may not preach to soldiers today without being shot? But they tell me that Luke does not record all Peter preached. Too bad, indeed, that Luke left out the very thing that Brother Kenley thinks is the one essential to a soldier.

Peter says we were furnished to all things which pertain to life and godliness in the Scriptures, and Brother Kenley's remarks seems to me to be a reflection on both Peter and Luke—Peter for not preaching this essential truth to this Roman soldier, or if he did preach it, Luke for suppressing it, like Brother Kenley does in his article. At least Brother Kenley did not tell us what the essential truth is that chaplains would be shot for preaching.

As there was some truth which Cornelius needed to hear before he could be saved, we naturally suppose it was the very things Peter preached to him, It was not a question of morals with Cornelius, even though he was soldier, and a good one, for only good soldiers can become captains. And though this statement by our brother indicates he thinks salvation is not for soldiers at all, since he said we do not need Christians as chaplains in the army, it does seem that salvation was possible for Cornelius and his soldiers. It was not piety, prayer, devotion, or the kind of life he was living. He was a devout man, feared God with all of his house, and gave much alms to the people.

But he was not a saved man, he needed to hear words of Peter whereby he and all of his house could be saved. Now, what were those words? Will our Brother say that first of all he must resign his commission and quit the army? Was that what he needed to hear from Peter? Luke tells us what he preached, or pretends to, and there is not one word about him resigning, or quitting the army. If faith, repentance, confession, and baptism, will save Cornelius and leave him in the discharge of his duties in the army of Rome, why will they not save our boys when they obey the same commands?

Peter expected some objections when he told those Gentiles to be baptized from his Jewish brethren, and was prepared to meet them. God had shown Peter by two miracles that Cornelius was the kind of man the gospel would save, and who was Peter to withstand God? Who is Brother Kenley to withstand God, and say that when our soldiers believe, repent, confess, and are baptized, that they can not also be saved? What would Brother Kenley have said if he had been among those Jewish brethren Peter had with him?

Would he have told him that he had as much faith in a Catholic priest praying a soul out of purgatory as he had in Peter saving a soldier in the Roman army? He would have served an ultimatum on Cornelius right there, the very one I suppose he would serve on soldiers in our army which he thinks would get him shot as a saboteur—resign from the army and lay down the sword or you cannot be saved. Had Peter been foolish enough to do a thing like that, he might have got shot as a saboteur right then, or his head snapped off with a sword. Certain it is that he would get into serious conflict with the Roman government if he had preached anything like that to Cornelius, or to any one else.

And it is no reply to this to say that he did get into trouble with the Roman government, and he did lose his life. It was not from anything Peter preached, or Paul, that caused their death, but a misunderstanding of what they preached, and what the church stood for in the world. Hear Paul on this very point, "Neither against the temple, nor the law of the Jews, nor yet against Caesar have I offended anything at all." (Acts 25:8). Hear also what Festus thought of this matter when he reported to King Agrippa, "They brought none accusation of such things as I had supposed. But had certain questions against him of their own superstitions, and of one Jesus which was dead, whom Paul affirmed was alive." Agrippa also heard the matter, and said Paul could have been at liberty if he had not appealed to Caesar, which proved that he had not offended the government.

But could he have claimed he had not offended it if he had been going about the country with Peter and the other apostles preaching a doctrine that would disband the Roman army, and leave the Emperor without soldiers? The Jews were searching for some excuse to accuse them to the Roman officials, and Brother Kenley admits this would have been sabotage, and they would have been shot. It would be sabotage for our army chaplains to preach it now, and I hope he does not mean to argue that our government is less generous than the Roman Caesars were.

If this is not the truth (?) which he says chaplains cannot preach to our soldiers without being shot as saboteurs, it would be interesting to hear him tell what that truth (?) is. What else can he mention that army chaplains cannot preach freely to our soldiers without being shot? I admit that if our chaplains preached Brother Kenleys theory to our soldiers they might get into trouble with the government. I don't think he would be shot in this country; dishonorably discharged from the army and sent home, perhaps, and he should be.

It is peculiar how a hobby when once espoused colors all of a man's thinking. Even the gospel loses all of its power to save in the absence of the hobby. It becomes one truth around which all other truth revolves, without it the gospel is powerless to save, but with it all other defects are cured. The premillennial hobby has that effect, and all others that I have known. With the hobby accepted other defects become harmless, but without it you are damned no matter what you do. They need them a catechism much longer than the one Phillip used with the Eunuch.

Brother Kenley could not preach to them if they were in the army fighting for their country. He would preach to them in a way that would get him shot as a saboteur,

otherwise he could not save them. Peter missed a fine opportunity to preach this truth (?) down at the house of Cornelius. We don't know whether it was cowardice on his part, or whether he just did not know about it like Brother Kenley does. Paul also missed a fine opportunity in the Philippian Jail to expound this truth (?) to a Roman official, and pull him out of a job that would damn him if he kept it up, and he left him in the position when he left him the next morning that he found him in.

Had Brother Kenley been the preacher instead of Peter he would have had to refuse to go with that "devout soldier," down to that other soldier, on the ground that preachers are not needed to preach to soldiers. They could not save them any more than a Catholic priest could pray them out of purgatory, and if he preached them the truth (?) he would be shot as a saboteur. Therefore, Christians are not needed to preach to soldiers in the army.

Christians are not needed as chaplains in the army, affirms this brother. Why are they not needed? Does he mean that? He believes, as I do, that the gospel is the power could give him to be saved? No, I am sure he does not mean that. He believes as I do that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, and without it there can be no salvation. Then what else can he mean except that there is no salvation for men in the armed forces. Being soldiers alone closes the door of salvation to them, regardless of what else they do. They can believe, repent, confess Christ, and be baptized, but that will not save a soldier. Nevertheless that is all Cornelius was required to do, so far as the record goes.

I don't know just what reply Brother Kenley might make to this but one able Brother with whom I have discussed these points boldly asserts that Peter did require Cornelius, and all other soldiers who accepted the gospel, to resign right then, and lay down the sword for all time to come. Repentance, he said, demanded that they do this, just as it required the Jews on Pentecost to renounce Judaism. Nothing short of this would have been genuine repentance, he thinks, and he thinks Peter explained this to him in a part of his sermon which Luke failed to record. He is sure all of this took place though Luke is silent about it, and Peter was, too, so far as the record shows, and so was Paul down at Philippi. Yes, and Phillip, in his sermon to that Ethiopian official whom he baptized, was also silent on the point.

Their theory is proved by the silence of the Scriptures, and he said this silence proved as much for his side as it did for mine. I affirm that the apostles, preached every thing that is essential to salvation, and the inspired men who wrote it gave us all of the essential items. Not one essential item is left to the silence of the Scriptures, nor to guess work, or conjecture. Where the Bible speaks, we speak, and where it is silent, we are silent. But they spake where the Bible is silent, and say all will be damned who will not heed them.

One brother thinks this point belongs under the head of duty as Christians, and Peter taught them later they would have to resign from the army as a work of the flesh which they must put off. He even thought Cornelius should have forthwith become a preacher, even as he is, and devote all of his energies to the work of the ministry. And if Cornelius, then all other converts should do the same, and then who would pay the preacher for his work? The sisters, maybe, but unless they were widows they would all be preachers wives, or preachers children, and poor preachers at that, for their pay would sure be scanty.

Yes, it was a work of the flesh, or fleshly work, that Cornelius, and the jailer were doing, but so also is farming, carpentering, banking, and bakers, and candle stick makers, and even tent making. Paul made tents and that was a work of the flesh, which they say Christians must lay aside if they want to be saved. Paul labored with his hands that he might preach the gospel without charge to one church, not that it was right, for he said it was a wrong. And the members of that church no doubt had good jobs at which they worked, and could have paid him, but he did not even require this of them, much less require them all to become preachers.

All Christians are teachers, and should be, but they cannot all be preachers as this brother argued, for then they would all have the same office, and Paul asked, Where would the body be? While there is but one body there are many members, but all members do not have the same office, or gifts. Lots of preachers that I know could serve the Lord much better on a farm than they can in the pulpit, and do more good for the cause. In fact some of them do more harm than they do good, and the church would be better off without them in the pulpit.

Paul did not think all Christians should become preachers, hear him on the point, "Let every man abide in the calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant? Care not for it Brethren let every man wherein he is called therein abide with God." (1 Cor. 7:20-24). That would leave Cornelius and the Jailer in the same calling the apostles found them in, and if any differences are to be made in different callings the apostles would have told us. That was why the apostles left them right where they found them, much to the chagrin of these brethren.