Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 20, 1958
NUMBER 45, PAGE 9a-10a

The "Cold War"

C. G. Caldwell, Sr., Manchester, Tennessee

In a shooting war between nations, there are generally certain rules of warfare to be observed, or enforced by international law. In the present "cold war" between the Soviet Union, and the Western Powers, however, no such rules are in effect; hence, the Russians are left to their own dictates, to stoop to the lowest forms of treachery, ruthlessness, and cruelty in the pursuit of their sinister designs.

One of their favorite schemes is that of meddling into the affairs of other nations, fomenting strife and division among them, seeking to destroy their independence, deprive them of autonomy or self-government, and thus, under the guise of a protectorate, force them into their own orbit, while attempting to place the responsibility for these developments upon their chief adversary, the United States. Such base and ruthless tactics, even in world politics, are despicable, shameful and cruel, and merit the contempt and scorn of all decent, right-thinking people. Deplorable as it may seem, however, similar-tactics are sometimes employed by opposing groups in the Lord's church.

For sometime now, the brethren have been engaged in what might be called a "cold war." Divisions and strife are to be seen on every hand. A strong pressure element has developed in the church, which, apparently, seeks to bring under its control all the local churches throughout the land. To achieve this end, some very unethical and unscriptural methods are being followed. In an attempt to strengthen uncriptural positions, or to justify unscriptural practices, some brethren are resorting to methods similar to those employed by the Communists.

With little or no regard for truth, the peace and unity of the Lord's people for which He so earnestly prayed, or for the salvation of lost souls, they seem bent on following their own ways. Even at the cost of dividing the church (not "reducing it to a second rate, hobbyistic sect," as they charge is being done by those who are pleading for the "old paths"), but by trying to build it into a denominational or sectarian giant, comparable to, or even surpassing in worldly prominence and outward show, the more prominent sectarian organizations about us.

So anxious are they to achieve such prominence, and so determined, at whatever cost, to have their movements in that direction supported, financially, and otherwise, they meddle into the affairs of the various local churches, reaching into their treasuries, and high-pressuring them in various ways to support the powerful and far-reaching projects, which they, themselves, have initiated. If a congregation, desiring to follow the "old paths," is unwilling to surrender its God-given autonomy, and place itself under the centralized control of this pressure group, they immediately brand it as a "Sommerite" group, and attempt to place a quarantine upon it. When these pressure methods are exposed, and their human inventions and unscriptural procedures shown to be dividing the church, they cry "hobbyist," and hurl many other unkind, and uncomplimentary epithets at those who have the courage to oppose them. Then they try desperately to shift the responsibility for the resultant defections and divisions to those who are demanding scriptural authority for what is being done.

This transferring of our own blame to others is nothing new; it has ever marked the history of sin. It began with our first parents, Adam and Eve. Each tried to transfer their sinful act to the wrong cause. Adam blamed the woman, while Eve blamed the serpent. "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat," said Adam. (Gen. 3:12.) In his anxiety to escape responsibility, Adam actually blamed God: "You gave me this woman, and she tempted me to sin;" as if it were God's fault, and not his. Eve said, "The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat." (V. 13.) Each must have known that the act was the act of self; yet to escape the responsibility, which was theirs alone, they sought to place the blame on others — even on God.

Aaron made a molten calf for Israel to worship (Ex. 32.), then tried to blame the people for his sin. When reproved by Moses, for his foolish and cowardly act, he said, "Thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief." (V. 22.) He also tried to blame nature for his sin: "They gave it me: (the gold) then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf." (V. 24.) As if it were not his fault, but nature's. The implication was, "I tried to destroy it; they brought the gold to me, and I threw it into the fire." He says nothing about the mould that he made, or the graving tool with which he fashioned it — nature did it all! Hence, he denied all responsibility for having brought so great a sin upon his people.

King Saul blamed the people for his failure to obey God in destroying the Amalekites. (1 Sam. 15.) When he learned that his sin was known to Samuel, he said, the people did it; "The people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen," etc. (V. 21.) But verse 9 says, "Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen," etc.

Now, do not some brethren resort to the same false reasoning today? When confronted with the truth regarding the present obvious trend in the church toward institutionalism, modernism, etc., and the cause and effect of these departures are pointed out, they disclaim all responsibility for such, and even deny that these conditions exist. They cannot deny that there is division in the church, but they say, "We are not responsible for it; we are simply doing our duty, carrying out the great commission, and practicing pure and undefiled religion,' as enjoined upon the church in James one, twenty seven." What in reality they are actually saying by their actions is: "We do not believe in the all-sufficiency of the church; we think the church, in itself, is not a sufficient institution through which all of the work of evangelism, and benevolence, which God has imposed upon it can be successfully accomplished. We believe that the addition of some human institutions, other than the church, is essentially and vitally necessary to the carrying out of God's plan. Furthermore, this deficiency in the divine arrangement is not our fault, but the Lord's. Those who are opposing our methods and plans are the ones who are causing the division in the church. They are so narrow, and so non-progressive as to demand scriptural authority for what we are doing, and the way we are doing it. They are responsible for all the trouble.

Now I am confident that no honest person, who is reasonably well informed on the issues now disturbing the church, one who is familiar with some of the arguments ( ?) offered by institutional brethren in support of their digressive tendencies, will deny that these, in substance, are the very reasonings (?) to which they resort in an attempt to justify their course in departing from the truth. I think, too, the unbiased and unprejudiced mind can readily see a marked similarity between these attempts at self-justification, and those found in the biblical examples cited above.

Surely, men who once stood for the truth, stood as "stone walls" as it were, against the forces of error; men who by a wise and skillful use of the "Sword of the Spirit" have met and defeated many champions of digression and error, should be able to see the unenviable position into which they have allowed themselves to drift. And surely they can see that it is not only futile, but wholly dishonorable, to attempt to escape responsibility for the incalculable injuries being inflicted upon the body of Christ, by trying to place the blame on others — on those who are pleading for a "thus saith the Lord;" pleading for scriptural authority in all matters pertaining to the work and worship of the church.

The Divine Rule

In all matters, spiritual in nature, there is a divine rule by which God's people are required to walk: Namely, follow only those things revealed by Inspiration, without addition, subtraction or modification — never going beyond that which is written. This rule, which confines us to a "thus saith the Lord" in all that we do or teach, is substantially given in many passages, but is clearly and fully stated in the following: Duet. 29:29; 2 Tim. 4:1, 2; Rev. 22:18, 19. Those who fail to follow this rule will suffer the wrath of heaven. (Gal. 1:7-9.) It is also true, that whenever and wherever this divine rule is followed by God's people, there is no division among them; but whenever and wherever this rule is not followed, there is division and strife.

It is a lamentable fact, that there is division, serious division in the Lord's church today. This division would not, it could not exist if this divine rule was respected and obeyed by all. The responsibility for the division, therefore, unquestionably rests upon those who have transgressed God's law by going beyond that which is written(See 2 Dm 9,10.) The differences over which the church is being divided can, and will be resolved, only when all departures from the divine plan and pattern cease. Every soul opposing these departures will cease their opposition, and every voice being raised against them will be silenced, the very moment that even one scripture is cited that will authorize or justify them. Thus far no such passage has been forthcoming from any source. When, and if, a single passage is found and pointed out, justifying church support for the benevolent institutions among us, the various brotherhood projects now in operation, and the centralized control being exercised over local churches and their treasuries, with the resultant destruction or surrender of local church autonomy, the division will be corrected, and the painful breach already existing between brethren will be healed. If such a passage is to be found, let someone point it out, and there will be no further need or occasion for reproof, or accusations one against another.

May God help us to follow the divine plan, follow the divine rule, respecting always the silence of God's word, to the end that peace among brethren may be restored, and that "brotherly love" may continue and abound.