Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 5, 1951

"Dots And Dashes"

Thornton Crews, Rusk, Texas

Maybe I should head the above as "Crews' cruises on the sea of humanity and revelation," but the terms are ambiguous. Therefore, since I want to be understood, I have selected two very simple words and my use of them shall be just as simple as the terms themselves. I shall select some dot of truth or of human expression or experience, and shall dash off after the New Testament principles that seem to this scribe to bring them into practical and scriptural use.

A few years ago, we heard much about the pious unimmersed in the religious realm. Our own brethren seemed to like to roll the words around in their own mouths and kindly water them with a lot of piety. We are hearing a good deal of the same kind of prattle now. Would it not have been a fine thing in those days, and would it not be fine now, if we could see a real pious effort on the part of truth lovers, to get the pious unimmersed to come to God and render acceptable obedience to his word rather than to spend so much time, trying to get God to save them in their unimmersed condition? It has always been strange to me that men who claim to love the Lord, will spend so much time trying to get God who is willing to save all who come to him through Christ, to save the man who has not obeyed the Lord; rather than trying to get man to do what the Lord requires. God said he would not change, but has repeatedly asked man to turn (change) and come to him.

We hear a lot about liberalism in the world today. In fact there is a good deal said about the subject here and there among my brethren. Did you ever try to understand the "liberal?" He is great in spending what belongs to the other fellow. He is outstanding in sacrificing what is not his own. His convictions, if any, are indeed sacred to him, but the other fellow either does not have anything or any principles, or if having such, should let him—the liberal—kick them around just as he pleases. Maybe this is another way of saying, "It depends on whose ox is gored." But I notice in the Forum that brother Beam is very free to spend the other man's money and more than free with his convictions, but the story is entirely different, when Ernest's money and convictions are under consideration. He is quick to say, "Woodman spare that tree," when dealing with his very own, but is also very quick to say, "Cut her down," when dealing with that that is another's. Funny isn't it. All liberals are just alike. They may mean well, but truly the legs of the lame are unequal. Maybe we all have a little liberalism in us at times. But I prefer to be a "standpatter." I want to stand pat on God's word. All whom God fellowships are good enough for me, but I am dreadfully afraid of those whom he will not fellowship. There are false teachers in the world and in the church, because Jesus, Paul and Peter said there would be. And God said he hated every false way.

It seems that there are many among us today, who just cannot understand what some brethren are trying to say. At first, I was inclined to think it was simply a matter of somebody not being able to say what he wanted to say in clear unmistakable terms. Then I decided that a lot of people were just obtuse and others were just plain ignorant of what was going on in the world and in the church. Anyway, I think it can all be summed up in two very clear New Testament statements. Paul said, "For if the trumpet given an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for battle." I Cor. 14:8. Maybe some have not sounded a very clear note, but I know a lot of fellows who have certainly put a lot of vinegar into their trumpets when talking about some issues. Then I know some who have only flats when their pet projects are under discussion. I recently wrote a letter to a brother in which I asked him several pointed questions. His reply was so evasive that I am almost sure that he has something hidden in his hunting shirt. If it is not "Centralized Control," I know it must be something else that he ought not to have lying around in the church of Christ. Let every man either give forth a sound that cannot be misunderstood, or keep silent. Anything else will result in confusion. On the other side of this controversy is another statement of our Lord, "Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?" Mark 8:18. In other words, the blindest man on earth is the man who has eyes, but will not see. There were many in those days who were so wedded to the traditions of the past, or to the opinions of men, who could not see anything but evil in anyone who would dare to question their ideas and ideals. (And I Might add, idols.) As there were people in the days of Christ, who intended to live and die by certain principles that had been defined to them by the scribes and teachers and environments of the day: we have many among us who aer determined to live and die by the Firm Foundation, Gospel Advocate, David Lipscomb College, and Abilene Christian College, or other schools, or papers, or preachers, or teachers who are well known. There is not a man on earth who is free from mistakes. There is not a school that is free from error, and there is not a paper that is absolutely right on all points. Christ and the Bible are our only safe guide. Any man who is not willing for his word and teaching and writing to be weighed and tried, is one that you might well turn away from. Any congregation refusing to weigh criticism of its conduct has proven that it is dealing with or living in the realm of doubt. Who wants to stop or hinder any real New Testament work? But, it has always been possible and probable that men are wrong when they rely on human judgment. We may not feed quite as many poor people when we stick studiously to the Book, and we may not see quite as many additions to the church when we leave off the questionable, but I believe safety is the better course. Faith will lead men right. Human wisdom sooner or later will lead men wrong. Let us stay with the Word of God.