Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 28, 1968
NUMBER 46, PAGE 4-5a

More On That 'Unity Meeting'


Read carefully the article by Brother Wright Randolph which appears on the front page of this issue. Brother Randolph takes exception to our "Box in the Vestibule" suggestion, advanced on these pages some fifteen years ago, and now, as he says, "being resurrected once again." Readers of the Guardian will recognize, of course, that Brother Randolph is seriously questioning the things we proposed, as well as the worth of the "unity meeting" held in Arlington some weeks ago. We welcome his comments, as well as the writings of others who disagree with us. As responsible journalism we feel the publication of such diverse views is absolutely imperative. Indeed, it was the very failure to give voice to opposing and contrary convictions by the gospel journals among us which has been in a large degree responsible for the present sad state of affairs. The Arlington meeting was a cautious, carefully structured, exploratory effort in the direction of reversing this miserable attitude of "refusing to listen to the other side," and we are all for such! "Cloture" as a means of shutting off and stifling further discussion of some particular issue in the halls of Congress is a recognized and perhaps necessary procedure at times. It has no place in the life and practice of God's people so long as honest and sincere men seriously differ.

As we write on the subject let every word we pen be subjected to the most searching analysis and criticism. (There are no infallible editors!) Let every tract, article, book or booklet by any brother be given the same scrutiny. But let it be done with brotherly restraint, concern, and caution. That was what the Arlington meeting was all about — simply an effort to encourage an atmosphere in which brethren could "talk about their differences." We are certain that NOBODY in that meeting, on either "side" had or has the remotest thought of compromising any conviction yielding any point of "the faith" for the sake of unity. Conformity of practice might be achieved by a surrender of convictions, but the kind of unity God desires among his people could never come in this way.

Another thing needs to be stressed and that is that the depressing and difficult position in which God's people now find themselves is not going to be resolved or removed by any conference, congress, mass meeting of brethren, college lectureship, gospel journal, or other means or method, no matter how prestigious may be the men who compose the meeting. Unity will come (if it comes) when brethren who love the Lord and who love each other sit down and talk and study together. It will be sort of "grass roots" process of gradualism by which the ugly barriers are finally worn down. For that reason we would very much like to encourage brethren in every sector of the land to begin to make definite efforts at renewing old friendships and contacts. It might not even hurt for a "liberal" preacher and an "anti" preacher in the same town to have a game of golf together now and then (assuming, of course, that they are able to agree in the first place whether golf is, or is not, a sinful pastime. If it is, then maybe they can drink some coffee together instead of playing golf — assuming, of course, that they can agree on whether it is, or is not, a sin to drink coffee — ) Oh, forget it!

Anyhow, what we are pleading for is DISCUSSION, simply that and nothing more. IF the discussion reveals any possible basis for fellowship, acceptable to both men, and with no compromise of basic beliefs, then it will have been indeed profitable, And we are convinced that there ARE such grounds of fellowship and harmony. Our "box in the vestibule" was a tentative suggestion in that direction. It did NOT contemplate a "second contribution" of the church from which the opposing brethren would abstain — although, in effect, we can see where such might be charged against the plan. As of this date we would have some serious reservations about Brother Dudley Ross Spears' suggestion of a "second contribution" — and are perfectly willing to listen to anybody who wants to try to convince us of the rightness of such! But we think that is going too far too fast. In a measure it yields the very point under debate — church contributions. We envisaged our "box in the vestibule" as the very opposite of that — a clearly understood, announced, and emphasized arrangement for individuals to make a contribution to some project (whether college, Red Cross, or recreation center) which the church as such could not and would not support. Is that still unclear to anybody?

F. Y. T.