Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 23, 1964
NUMBER 11, PAGE 4,11b

Hypothetical Cases And The Word Of God


Cecil B. Douthitt Brother Wallace's Articles

With this issue we begin publication of a series of articles by Foy E. Wallace, Jr., on the general "issues" of the day. These articles, appearing originally in TORCH of August, September, and October of 1950 should be read in connection with a recent article appearing in various publications, entitled, "The Party Spirit and Pseudo-Issues." The articles we here publish constitute a devastating expos of "liberalism" and the devices of those who foster it, and should impress all who read them with the gravity of the problems now confronting the Lord's church.

The limit to which "social gospel" devotees and other sectarians will go in defense of their heresies is indeed appalling. When their efforts to prove their false doctrines by the Scriptures fall flat, they sometimes invent to themselves absurd, hypothetical cases as though they thought they could in that way make void the passages that stare them in the face, and that deal a death blow to their anti-scriptural theories.

In public discussion of the plan of salvation, when the "faith only" advocates are confronted with many passages which teach that baptism is essential to forgiveness of alien sins, and when they can find nothing in all the Bible in support of their "faith only" theory, they sometimes resort to the old hackneyed hypothetical case of the man on the way to the creek to be baptized and a limb fell on him and killed him before he reached the water. "What will become of that poor man's soul? Will he be saved?", they ask. They seem to think this imaginary case presents an insurmountable difficulty to all who stand for what the Bible teaches on the subject of baptism. Of course, this is no problem at all for teachers who know the truth on the subject; but what if it did totally stump every one who teaches that baptism is unto the remission of alien sins? Would that remove from the Bible the Great Commission, the examples of conversion in the Acts, and everything else the New Testament says about baptism and remission of sins?

Some of our brethren who have been swept off their feet by the social gospel heresy know that they cannot persuade the churches to donate money from their treasuries to man-made orphan asylums and other human eleemosynary institutions, unless they first convince them that general benevolence is an obligation of all churches of Christ. Of course, even if the New Testament taught that churches must take money from their treasuries and supply the physical needs of alien sinners as well as "saints," that would not justify their building and maintaining man-made institutions through which to do it; but a great many people do not seem to know that, Therefore, in order to uphold their "social gospel" doctrines of "general benevolence," they at first presented a few passages of Scripture, such as Gal. 6:10 and James 1:27. But when it was shown by the context that Gal. 6:10 has reference to working that which is good for the souls of all men, and the material needs of the body are not under consideration at all in this chapter, and that James 1:27 is addressed to the individual, and not to churches as such, they then turned to the "all" of II Cor. 9:13. But when it was pointed out that according to the context their false interpretation of the passage had rebellious alien sinners longing after the saints and making thanksgivings and supplications unto God for them, they dropped the passage like a hot potato; for this proved to be too much for any to swallow, except the most radical leaders among them.

Our liberal brethren have failed completely to find one passage that teaches the churches to take money from their treasuries for general benevolence among the ungodly men; nor can they remove from the pages of the New Testament the fact that all the passages that mention church benevolence specifically name "saints" as the objects of charity. Therefore, they have chosen to downgrade New Testament teaching on church benevolence, by employing the old sectarian practice of inventing an absurdly hypothetical case, and thereby make the New Testament pattern appear cruel, inhuman and impractical to people who seem to think their ways are better than God's way. So they present the following hypothesis:

"If you saw a little child injured by an accident and lying in the gutter in front of the meeting house, would you obtain water from the church property and wash the child, or would you let it remain dirty"?

Now, surely it does not take a sage to see that their purpose in presenting this hypothetical case is exactly the same as the sectarian who presented the case of the man who died by accident on the way to the creek to be baptized: one tries to make void God's teaching on baptism by making it appear cruel and impractical; the other tries to make void God's teaching on church benevolence by making it appear cruel and impractical. But they both fail miserably.

If I saw either an innocent little child or an adult reprobate wounded and lying in front of a meeting house or in front of a saloon, I would try to do my duty and follow the compassion of my heart by doing what all doctors and first aid workers advise, and God requires, and common sense dictates. I would get the injured to a doctor or a hospital the quickest way possible; and I certainly would not take the time to try to carry or drag the wounded across the yard to a water hydrant and try to give the injured a bath. That might kill the patient, and that would be cruel and inhuman, and God's way is never cruel or inhuman or impractical.

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