Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 9, 1970

Editorial Notes


The "war" question. We have printed recently some short articles by Brethren Ralph Edmunson, Kenneth Green, Robert Wayne LaCoste, and Randy Dickson on the general subject of a Christian's participation in carnal warfare. That it is a "live" subject is evident by a whole mail-box full of articles (pro and con) that have come in. It is certainly an agonizing question with which many a fine and devoted young Christian man has had to wrestle through the years. And we are very certain that many a young man has given his life on the field of battle with the question still unresolved deep in his heart.

That a Christian may die for his country is not the question. There are many causes for which a man might gladly and willingly lay down his life. But to take the life of another, that is where the problem faces reality. And has a Christian the moral right to enjoy all the benefits and blessings of our nation and not bear any share of the responsibility for protecting and defending those rights?

Fortunately, by God's grace, young men of our great nation are spared the necessity of making a choice on this matter. For our government has provided ways, highly useful and humanitarian ways, by which young men can serve their country and not bear arms. Many thousands of these young men have gone into non-combat activities, sharing all the dangers and hardships of the soldiers at the front, laying their lives on the line with the other boys — but not putting themselves in the position where they will be called upon to kill another human being. One of these young men (medics) two or three years ago was awarded the highest honor our nation can award, the Congressional Medal of Honor, for his bravery and gallantry "above and beyond the call of duty" in treating wounded men (both friend and foe) while the battle roared around him.

Admittedly, this is a compromise. It still does not face up to the question as to whether a Christian can, with God's approval, take the life of another human being. But it does provide a solution of sorts for the patriotic youth who loves his country, and is willing to sacrifice his life for it, but who cannot conscientiously bear arms in combat which might mean taking another's life. We suggest this avenue as an acceptable alternative to the young Christian who is called to military service.

But back to the articles. We are printing only one of them (the one by Brother Arnold Hardin), for it seems to say, in essence, what all of them are saying. We were particularly impressed by the articles from Brother George Johnson of Beamsville, Ontario, John J. Miller, Jr., of Bremerton, Washington, Bernie Parsons of Flat-woods, Kentucky, Marshall Norman of Belen, New Mexico, and Mike T. Rogacs of Fort Smith, Arkansas. But since this is a question which could be discussed endlessly, and for which it is rather obvious we will find no generally acceptable solution, we plan to terminate the discussion with Brother Hardin's article. A bit later we may want to ask two faithful brethren of opposing views to write more at length on the subject.

Meanwhile, our thanks to all the brethren who sent in articles. We are grateful for your response.

The "fellowship" question. Another problem which is of perennial interest is that of fellowship. What is "fellowship"? And does fellowship mean endorsement, or does it simply mean the recognition of certain areas of agreement? Members of the New Testament church are in agreement with denominational people on many, many points of doctrine (one God; Jesus as his Son; the Bible as a revelation from God; the necessity of a moral life; etc.). Are they then "in fellowship" with such people? And if so, are they also "in fellowship" with Catholics, Muslims, Mormons, Buddhists, and a great range of others with whom many points of agreement can be found?

Since this question is going to be the area of study in the Gospel Guardian Special Issue, we will leave the discussion up to those who are preparing material for that particular project. But it is an intensely vital and pressing question, and every congregation would be well advised to order a sufficient number of copies of the "Special Issue" to provide one for every family in the congregation.

The "communications" question. Related to the fellowship question, but deserving of study on its own merit, is the "communications" question. We carry two articles in this issue which pertain to this. The front page article by Edward Fudge is an honest and sincere attempt to "communicate" with Baptists; to get across to them in an acceptable manner certain thoughts and ideas which it is believed will be helpful. Whether they accept those ideas or not is a different matter. But Brother Fudge is attempting to write in such a spirit and manner as will encourage Baptist people to give thought and study to what is said rather than rejecting it out of hand because of some triggering of a negative or hostile reaction.

We also publish an editorial by Ralph Sweet which appeared in a recent issue of the Christian Chronicle. It speaks for itself, and speaks on a subject that is most difficult. For so many of us have accepted names and titles and descriptive terms (as applied to others) so casually and naively that it does not even occur to us that they may prejudice our efforts to reach these people. We are certain that the late President Kennedy meant no slur or offense at all when he talked of "Cuber" and "Africar." That was simply the way his Bostonian ancestors and associates had taught him to pronounce Cuba and Africa. Neither does the average Southerner mean any disrespect when he speaks of "a colored man" or a "nigra," even though such words seem to create a violent and hostile reaction on the part of some people.

Anyhow, we think Ralph Sweet's editorial is excellent — even though it did appear in a "liberal," "modernist," "radical" "anti-anti" publication!

— F. Y. T.