Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 8, 1971


Kenneth Green

William Buckley, Jr., in a recent editorial, hit upon a principle that finds application in religion as well as in business and society. The article was addressed to the controversial question of "the social responsibility of business."

The question is this: Do publicly owned corporations have a right to make philanthropic contributions using the stockholders' money?

Mr. Buckley calmly points out that while this is in reality an economic issue, it has become an ethical (therefore an emotional) issue. Thus people are not able to discuss the real question in a rational and clinical manner.

When Prof. Milton Friedman demonstrated in The New York Times Magazine that the practice constitutes theft; that the real question is: Whose money is it?; and that since the money belongs to the stockholders, it is up to them to decide "whether to patronize this YMCA or that chapter of the Red Cross," he was denounced by one professional management magazine as being unconcerned about his community.

The article continued, "Prof. Willmoore Kendall used to point out, when discussions of this nature got too heavily emotionalized, that a successful surgeon does not approach the patient's appendix, scalpel in hand, declaiming: "I'll get you, you *!!&$."

Now what does all this have to do with our religion? For one thing, that many Christians do not have the potential for being successful surgeons. It's hard for everyone, and almost impossible for most, to look dispassionately at an issue which has emotional implications. This, in a capsule, is why institutional brethren can refuse to enter into discussion with us on matters of difference and feel justified in their refusal. Would you care to waste your time discussing religion with a fanatic who despises orphans, turns a deaf ear to the dire circumstances of outsiders, and doesn't believe in preaching the gospel on the radio?

But let us not overlook the fact that a large percentage of conservative brethren are emotionalized too. Many articles have been published which indicate that institutional care is harmful for children. Scenes of little Oliver Twist and the parish work house are visualized in the minds of many as directors of "orphan asylums" are described as ogres who get their kicks by regimenting helpless children.

There is undoubtedly some profit in balancing the scales and illustrating that a case for emotionalism can be stated on both sides of the spectrum. This is sometimes the only way to get attention. But it should be made clear that if one makes an emotional leap on a reasonable issue and happens to land on his feet, he's little better off than another who chooses wrong. They're both in the dark.

We should keep reminding ourselves that many who "have the truth" are just as far away from the truth in their attitude toward Bible authority as many who have been emotionalized in another direction. We should gear our teaching accordingly.

— 4001 Taylor Blvd. Louisville, Ky. 40215