Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 16, 1969
NUMBER 24, PAGE 4-5a

Query Department


We are pleased to announce a new feature will soon be inaugurated on the pages of the Gospel Guardian, a "questions and answers" section. Brother Eugene Britnell has agreed to undertake this task, and his column will appear regularly, although not necessarily weekly. Brother Britnell is a highly qualified man to handle such an assignment, and all of us can look forward with pleasure to this new item in the paper. He will have absolute freedom in answering whatever questions he desires to answer, and in whatever way he thinks best. Send all correspondence and questions to: Eugene Britnell, 1506 Arch Street, or P. O. Box 3012, Little Rock, Arkansas.

"We Live In Different Worlds"

Those were his exact words — "we live in different worlds." It happened a month 'or so ago, when we were in the Chicago area in a gospel meeting. Almost an entire afternoon had been spent in a friendly, relaxed, and brotherly discussion with one of our "liberal" preachers. His young helper had come with him, a student from York College (York, Nebraska) whose long, shaggy hair covered his ears and turned up in uneven curls over his shirt collar. The lad, however, was clean, neat, and obviously dedicated. Frankly, he was both pathetic and appealing.

A graduate of David Lipscomb College, the liberal brother was sincere, serious, and (to use his own words) would probably be accurately described as "a liberal of the liberals." We had a most interesting discussion as to the nature and mission of the church, particularly as to its place in modern society. It was this writer's contention that the primary mission of the church is to prepare men for heaven; its goal is to save men out of the world "as brands plucked from the burning." Whatever "social" mission the church has, as such, is purely incidental, secondary, and casual. The real impact of Christianity on a pagan and secular world is to be seen in the influence, work, and example of dedicated Christian individuals as they seek to exhibit in their own lives the principles and teachings of Christ. It is not to be found in any organized, systematic effort on the part of the churches, as such, to change society by developing and promoting social uplift projects (youth camps, rehabilitation centers, hobby shops, homes for unwed mothers, benevolent institutions, recreation centers, job training clinics, etc.) Our liberal brother indicated that his disagreement from that position could not have been more opposite and more complete! It was diametrically opposed, and that in full measure.

Then we got to talking about the "fellowship" as proposed by brethren Garrett, Ketcherside, et al who, for instance, believe there should be total fellowship between the non-instrument churches of Christ and those who use instruments of music on the basis of "each congregation making its own decision as to whether it will, or will not, employ the instrument." Our brother was in complete sympathy with this point of view, and expressed the fervent hope that such fellowship could be soon achieved. He was quite willing to fellowship the "antis" (he was far too considerate to use the term in any opprobrious sense) on the same basis, and indeed desired to do so. Of course, this sounds reasonable, but it is utterly impossible and impractical. For many reasons. The chief one being it would require a stultification of conscience on the part of all non-instrument brethren and all anti-church institutional brethren. Either that, or the instrumental brethren and the institutional brethren would be willing to let us speak freely and openly what we believe the Bible teaches on both subjects. And that isn't about to happen!

Anyhow, it was both an enlightening and a depressing afternoon. We are more than ever convinced that our "liberal" brethren are headed for an irreversible split. The ultra-liberals and the "conservative-liberals" among them are on a collision course; there will be no reconciliation of their positions. They, too, "live in different worlds." Indeed, there seems to this writer to be far more common ground between the "conservative-liberals" and the "anti-church institution" people than there is between the "conservative-liberals" and the ultra liberals. Yet the split, as of now, is in the wrong direction, and for the wrong reasons. We believe there is going to be a readjustment of those lines within the next ten or fifteen years.

The afternoon was depressing in that we were much taken with both of our visitors (they came to the writer's motel room to spend the afternoon). They were obviously good men, sincere and dedicated — but, oh, so hopelessly at variance with the fundamentals of New Testament teaching! Mark says that when Jesus looked upon the rich young ruler he "loved him." We felt much the same emotion as we talked with these brethren, for there is much we saw in them which is truly noble and attractive, their earnestness, their dedication, their utter selflessness. But, even so, they spoke the melancholy truth when they said, "We live in different worlds."

F. Y. T.