Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 21, 1954

Concerning Discussions And Issues: "Whose Side Are You On?"

Oscar Ellison, Springfield, Missouri

The attitude suggested by this question seems to be the order of the day among churches of the Lord generally and preachers of the gospel in particular. There seems to be the attitude in many quarters — and it is spreading rapidly — that if you are friendly toward one man, or movement, or work, you cannot be toward another: if you believe and teach what one man or group teaches, you thereby become the personal enemy of another man or group: if you write an article published in one religious journal, you are then and there identified with that publication and thus denied space in other publications. No thinking person will deny that this is the growing tendency in the church today, indeed, crystal clear as a policy already formed in many. And, such an attitude extends to many other things than those mentioned above. One cannot criticize the manner of carrying on a "Christian College" without being immediately classified by those who support and operate such institutions as "against Christian education." They do not stop to think that a man can oppose the 'abuse' of a thing without opposing the thing itself. One who points out the dangers of institutional "Orphan Homes" is immediately classified as opposing the care of orphan children. Oppose the "combines of churches" and you are against preaching the gospel to the lost, opposed to missionary work, they say.

No doubt this is why many gospel preachers do not declare themselves and their convictions on these things that are now so vital to the peace and purity of the church of tomorrow. It narrows the field of activity for any preacher who does it. But, a firm stand for the truth in all things has always had that effect. Truth is more precious than place to one who loves it. "Buy the truth, and sell it not," is the divine directive.

In reality, here is the picture today. Concerning men: are you a Roy Cogdillite — or a Foy Wallaceite — or a G. C. Brewerite — or a B. C. Goodpastureite — or a Yater Tantite — etc. Concerning practice: are you a Christian collegite — or an orphan homeite — or a Herald of Truthite — etc. Concerning publications: are you a Gospel Guardianite-- or a Gospel Advocateite — etc. To be for one is to be against the other, or so many think. To point out abuse or danger in one is to be against the other, that is the spirit. So appears the sad picture. We may ignore it as some try to do — or try to minimize it, as others try to do, but it is there. Like the poor it seems to be "always with us."

But folks insist, this sectarian spirit has them in its grasp, they want to know: what about you? Where do you stand? And, I'm glad to answer. It seems to me that any man who refuses to express his convictions either has none or is a timeserver, pure and simple. In the midst of all, I still believe in the perfection, and completeness, and finality, yes in the all-sufficiency of the New Testament revelation. I believe it in its application to all things being done in or out of the church. "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God." I believe and endorse all that any man teaches that is the teaching of that inspired volume. I do not believe what any man teaches if it is not upheld by the plain word of that book. Give me a direct command, approved example, necessary inference from the New Testament to establish the right of what you are doing and I will accept and endorse it. If you can't do it, it is not right and no amount of argument can make it right.

A man is not the criterion of right. A paper is not the criterion of right. A college is not the criterion of right. An orphan home is not the criterion of right. Pioneer preachers of the past are not the criterion of right. The church — even a church of Christ — the biggest one on earth — one that oversees the work or a part of it of a thousand churches — is not the criterion of right. THE WORD OF GOD IS, HAS ALWAYS BEEN, AND WILL EVER BE, THE ONLY STANDARD AND CRITERION OF RIGHT IN ALL THE WORLD. I rejoice when ANY man teaches the truth of that book. I am sad when it is perverted and misused to satisfy man's own ambitions and aims.

The occasional articles that I write appear in the Guardian. The answer to the question WHY? is simple. They will print it. Articles sent to the Advocate and Chronicle in recent months have never appeared. They evidently were considered worthy of the "waste basket" treatment. Requests for their return were ignored. Repeated letters to one editor did not even receive the courtesy of a reply. So, that my efforts may not go for naught, I send them to the Guardian. You do not have to be in a particular "fold" of the church to be heard.

Classify me anywhere you want to — put me with anyone you please — just so long as I am on the Lord's side. We preach against prejudice and the party spirit. Let's be against it in action by putting it into practice in our own lives. I intend to continue to "speak out" against all that I believe is wrong: to teach all that I believe that is right. Paul said, on the basis of the fact that he had not "shunned to declare all the counsel of God," that he was free from the blood of all men. On no other basis could he be free. The same is true of us. But, I'm still willing to listen to you and believe you are as honest as I am. And, I believe you ought to be heard. It is a sad day for the church (yes anywhere) when open, free, frank, and kindly discussion of issues that deal with and in part determine eternal welfare and destinies cannot be carried on.

Brethren, we need to think, to pray, to study. And, above all, in our thinking and prayer and study, we need HONEST AND GOOD HEARTS. May the Lord help us.