Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 22, 1951

Narrow Or Broad?

W. L. Wharton, Jr., Houston, Texas

Following are some quotations from an article written by Dr. W. Kenneth Pope, appearing in the Houston Post for Monday, February 19, 1951, under the caption of

"Brotherhood: Narrowness is a Menace." In connection with the Brotherhood Week a Protestant, a Jew, and a Catholic wrote their views on the subject of Brotherhood.

Dr. Pope states:

"When a man dies, he doesn't die as a Catholic, a Jew, or a Protestant. He lives as a man and dies as a man. We're too threatened these days with the death of civilization to forget our own common destiny."

"A narrow Catholic, a narrow Jew, a narrow Protestant is a dangerous person in a modern world . . ."

"Nobody has a monopoly on God. He is certainly interested in a lot of people besides us. Brotherhood for a long time has been a nice thing, a polite thing with many people, but that is no longer true. It is a question now of clinging to each other's hands for survival."

"As long as a Catholic or a Jew will allow me to claim him, I intend to hold to him as my brother. The unity of the race is the basis of all decent living."

"Never has there been such a promiscuous use of words to describe a person or a faith and with such a lack of obligation for defining what those words mean."

"The meaning of brotherhood, then, is being active in keeping the world together. I cast my vote on that side. I cast my vote on being busy, trying to keep the world together."

I have no way of knowing the reaction of the reading public to this sort of editorial tripe. I do know that it represents a point of view for which many are contending.

Just a few days ago I had a gospel preacher argue the point that it is right to call all religious people "brother" because we are brethren in Adam! He did this in defense of his fellow preacher, with whom he labors in the same congregation, for calling a Methodist judge "brother" at a church function.

Let's have a look at the good doctor's reasoning. First, there is this matter of dying. In saying that "a man does not die a Catholic, a Jew, or a Protestant" the doctor misses the very point of his analogy. If he had said a man does not die a Negro, Indian, or Chinaman, I believe we would have agreed. Death is common to all men and racial differences end at the tomb. A man does not choose his race; he is not responsible for the racial extraction he represents and cannot change such matter. But Catholicism, Judaism, and Protestantism are matters of religious systems adopted by men and for which they are accountable to God. God made the differences in the races of men but man has introduced the differences in religion. The religion we espouse concerns our relation with God both in time and for eternity. Death does not wipe out religious lines. Those who die in Christ are still in Him and rest from their labors. The man who lives in a wrong relation with God does not after death come into a right one. God holds us accountable for our views and actions. Death does not change facts!

The doctor fears for the death of civilization if we do not all compromise with one another. It does not seem to worry him any that such course would make men be untrue to their own convictions. He would sacrifice upon the altar of human prejudice any principal of religion merely to preserve civilization. It ought to be pointed out here that should Catholics, Jews and Protestants scrap their religious convictions for some political Utopia they would only be united by the deceitful and uncertain ties of compromise. Let every human religion be scrapped in order that all men may be one in Christ. This is God's plan. Political matters of unity, important though they may be in their place, are palled in comparison with the importance of being right with God. To give up our conviction for mere compromise to walk with men is to serve man rather than God. We believe the doctor is confused about tolerance and compromise. We tolerate people. Tolerance is a principal that concerns our judgment of our fellowman. This is of human order and that with it the weaknesses that go with our fallen state. Truth is from God. We cannot be tolerant with truth; we can only accept it or reject it by compromise or disobedience. Intolerance should characterize our treatment of everything that would encroach upon the authority or place of God. We ought to be intolerant with error and principals of wrong but tolerant toward people. When a man gets tolerant with the truth he compromises it! When he gets intolerant with people he is a bigot! Jesus Christ was tolerant with men but intolerant with error. There is a vast difference in the two matters.

He speaks of "a narrow Catholic, a narrow Jew, and a narrow Protestant," and says they are "a dangerous person." How could a man be in any of these systems and not be narrow? Catholicism, Judaism, and Protestantism are definite things and exclusive to themselves. The very fact that a man is a Catholic at all makes him narrow in that he is separate in that respect from all who are not of that faith. So with the others. The only ones that could be broad would be CATHOLICS that are NOT CATHOLICS; JEWS that are NOT JEWS; PROTESTANTS that are NOT PROTESTANT! They most certainly cannot be both at once! Christianity is neither Roman Catholic, Jewish or Protestant. It is narrow in that it excludes everything that is not of Jesus Christ. Its narrowness is a threat to every "ism" for it lays the axe at the root of the tree and that tree must either conform to Christ and God or be destroyed by Him. Conformation in this is Christianity; non-conformity is eternal separation from God.

The doctor next observes that "nobody has a monopoly on God!" To have a monopoly on a thing would be to have it to your exclusive use or hold it as your exclusive property. Truth is universal. Every man can have it, and having it does not take from it or lessen the amount of it available to the balance of mankind. In exactly the way truth is available to one, it is available to all. One man doesn't have all the water in the world; but all men must have water or perish. Water is not changed by the race of the man who drinks it; neither is truth changed by the races who believe it. Truth is truth, and while no man can have the monopoly of it, whatever truth he has he will have it in common with all others who have the truth. Truth never changes! Shall the man who does not love the truth and will not accept it complain against the man who both loves and accepts it, as being uncharitable. Is it lack of love on the part of one or the lack of appropriation on the part of the other that accounts for the differences of the two men? Must I give up the truth I have simply to get along with a man who will not have it and who complains at me for holding it? According to the doctor, I reckon I must. Instead of following his example and holding to the hands of the Catholic and the Jew in order to survive, I will continue to hold the hand of my Lord and cleave to his fellowship.

The doctor says that unity of the race is the basis of all decent living. Whatever he may have in mind I do know that Christ is the basis of all unity and that unity is the basis of life in Christ. For his faith in that way of life a man may die; his earthly life may be roughened up by hardships and perils; but that is really living—that is finding your life even by losing it. If, to make a momentary path through life a bit smoother, we give up our conviction in truth this is to really die. Such are dead while they live and will die after death!

He also thinks religious parlance should be worked over. I have thought that for a long time, in common with all gospel preachers. He deplores the "promiscuous use of words to describe a person or faith." Are such expressions as "Jew," "Catholic" and "Protestant" in this category? With the exception of "Jew" they didn't come from the Bible and I would agree that they are promiscuous. Nevertheless, they are definite. If a Roman Catholic doesn't believe in the universal nature of that faith he ought to quit using the term. Catholics do so believe the word at least explains their claims. I believe the term "Jew" pretty well describes the people who wear the term. The weak member of this team is the "Protestant." That is a complete misnomer in most instances. Protestants no longer protest against anything except protesting itself. Witness the doctor trying to hold on to the hand of the Jew and Catholic all the while he is "Protesting!" I am identified with none of the aforementioned classes. I try to be a Christian. The term "pacifist" fits the doctor better than "Protestant." He ought to be simply a Christian and speak as the oracles of God. (I Peter 4:11) This would correct all our wrong speaking and poor verbage.

To him, brotherhood is in keeping the world together. Christ has given the only plan whereby we can realize such objective. In His plan all men can come and "all are one in Christ." I have never expected all men to be "one" anywhere else or on anything else. His method would drop all lines between right and wrong; light and darkness; truth and error, and be engulfed in our own ignorance and wickedness. The doctor places the emphasis on being together while God places it on being right. Christ and the world are in deadly conflict. So also are those who walk in light with those who walk in darkness (even if it is religious darkness.) We can either strive to bring all men to Christ and in so doing bear the jeers of those who will not come, or give up our faith in Christ and join the ranks of the disobedient and await with terror the coming of our Lord.