Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 8, 1951
NUMBER 43, PAGE 4-5b

Protestant Preachers And Proselytism

In this age of union meetings, good fellowship, interdenominational organizations, "church of your choice" psychology, it is difficult, if not impossible, to understand how bitter and how uncompromising were the cleavages that divided Protestantism a century ago. It was this very bitterness, this denominational emphasis, that first gave impetus to the Restoration movement. Earnest and sincere men in these warring, sectarian groups recognized how utterly foreign to the spirit of Christianity was the whole atmosphere of tension and prejudice; they believed that the hatreds and animosities of denominationalism were a scandal that might well destroy the whole of Christendom. And they set to work in dead earnest to seek some way out of the jungle.

In our age, the pendulum has swung to the opposite extreme. Almost nobody cares anything at all about denominational lines, denominational doctrines, denominational shibboleths. Even the preachers themselves, committed to an upholding of the denominational peculiarities, are, for the most part, either uninformed or indifferent about much of their traditional teaching. On the contrary, the unforgivable heresy now is to do or teach anything that is distinctive. The whole emphasis in current denominational thought is on those broad general principles and ideals which nobody can question; preachers preach platitudes that even the Jew and the Mohammedan would sanction.

So generally has this "brotherly" attitude been accepted that about the only thing that seems important to many denominational preachers, and about the only thing they can become concerned about, is the preaching of a plain, uncompromising gospel by some humble preacher of Christ. The denominations no longer fight one another; but they will unite to oppose and seek to silence one who preaches the distinctive faith of the New Testament church. And undoubtedly one reason for their opposition is this gospel preacher's willingness (even eagerness) to "proselyte" their members. That, to them, is the unpardonable sin. They can and will unite to oppose such a man and such teaching.

But the gospel preacher has no choice in the matter. He is committed by his convictions to a full preaching of the gospel of Christ. That gospel, preached, heard, understood, believed, will invariably lead people out of denominationalism and into the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus. The gospel preacher couldn't avoid such a sequence even if he would; and he certainly wouldn't, even if he could. For that is the thing desired; that is the end sought; that is the goal most sincerely before him. He has no choice in the matter. He knows that the errors of human teaching cannot save; he knows too that thousands of sincere and honest people have been deceived by denominational teaching, and are headed straight for eternal ruin. Only the truth of the gospel can save them. Under such circumstances a man would be unworthy of his master, and unworthy of the calling he has espoused, did he not do everything within his power to teach, persuade, and win people from their error to the truth.

We certainly have no love for Catholicism. But in this one particular we can respect the Catholic attitude far more than we respect that of Protestant pastors. The Catholic Church is consistent and unyielding in her demands of submission to the Pope. She has conviction (however mistaken) that such submission is essential to salvation. And she will not permit herself to be drawn into any alliance or federation that will compromise or destroy that basic belief. Protestants, on the contrary, seem to have little conviction about anything. Their pastors join every kind of organization, participate in activities of united religious endeavor that belittle and minimize the traditional bulwarks of their faith, and generally give every evidence of having no convictions about anything.

One cannot read the New Testament without catching a sense of the undying, unyielding, uncompromising firmness and fidelity with which these early disciples held to their beliefs. It was not a matter of indifference to them!' no "church of your choice" psychology would have been welcome in their thinking for one single moment. It was Christ—or nothing; they had made a TOTAL COMMITMENT to him. Anything that was opposed to Christ must be removed or overcome; there could be no compromise. There was a divine and holy intolerance of error and sin.

One that suspects that much of the "good fellowship" of modern Protestantism is nothing more nor less than an absence of conviction or concern. Pastors do not get worked up over differences simply because they have no convictions of any strength on any subject. That includes faith in Jesus Christ. They will not debate with a Jew on the divinity of Christ. They don't believe in debates. They had much rather "get along" with everybody.

As believers in Christ, our duty is clear; our course is set. There shall be no compromise with error. Whenever a man can be baptized into Christ, there is rejoicing over his obedience, regardless of whether he was an atheist, a Mohammedan, or a Methodist prior to his obedience. His previous state is of little moment. If he has not been baptized into Christ, he is a subject of the gospel invitation. And no true gospel preacher will hesitate for one moment to do everything within his power to win him to Christ.

— F. Y. T.