Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 17, 1950

Round Or Square

Cleon Lyles. Little Rock, Arkansas

This is an old joke I am about to tell, but I would appreciate at least a slight grin. Back when people first began to argue that the world was round a certain church, or its elders, had their own convictions regarding the matter, and were careful to employ preachers who believed as they did. While "trying out" one preacher they asked him if he believed the world was round or square. He said he could preach it either way. If you grinned, thanks.

This is no joke. You cannot always tell where real convictions are. The fact that some men preach one way in one place does not mean they will do so in the next place. One man, and I suppose there could be found more than one, is strong as anyone can be in certain localities, but issues can easily be forgotten when it is to his advantage to forget them. While writing churches asking them to allow him to preach in a meeting, he promised to say nothing about certain issues. He had much to say in this same city about those issues years before. But the church where he desired to preach in a meeting was friendly toward the institution he had been fighting. At least some of the leaders were. So he promised to say nothing about such during the meeting. He lived up to his promise. Some began to wonder about his convictions in the first place. Others had stopped wondering some time before. It all reminds us of the fellow who moved into a city where an institution was located, which he had often criticized. Questions arose regarding such institutions and their place in or out of the budget. He had nothing to say. Someone wrote him asking why he had nothing to say. He said it was not an issue there. Years before when he was having a lot to say about a certain "ism" he would have thought anyone a traitor who would make such a statement. In fact he tried to brand a church as unsound because the elders took that position while he was there in a meeting. The truth is he was living right where the issue concerning schools in budgets was born, yet nothing said. In the same place a lecture was delivered. Some who heard said he had many opportunities to say something about an "ism" he once fought, but that he would move up to it, then back off. Nothing said. He could preach it round or square.

This is one man's opinion so you can accept it or reject it, but it is my firm conviction that the greatest contribution to another apostasy, if one comes, will be through this attitude. I do not mean that I believe such men have enough influence to lead a group away, but that such will disgust enough who may refuse to listen to any truth. When I say I do not believe those who would compromise the truth have enough influence, I mean that those they try to defend fully realize that they cannot be trusted. Hence they will miss the ride on the band wagon they are trying to climb on. Such try to climb on any wagon that comes along knowing full well that sensible people know why. It must be a pleasant ride.

Any issue that confronts the church is the business of every member. It is the business of those capable of teaching to care for the matter. We cannot afford to assume a "hands off" attitude if the cause of Christ is to prosper. The idea that brotherhood issues are not my business is the same reasoning that says the sins of the other fellow are not my business. It just is not so. The welfare of the Lord's church is in the hands of every member to the extent of his ability and influence. He should always be sure that he uses such for the right purpose.