A Truce in Zion?
There are many manifestations of a changing spirit or attitude toward almost all of life's difficulties and controversies. Indeed no controversy or difficulty can arise so long as men dumbly follow the popular view under the leadership of ambitious men who guide the masses. However, we live in a time when men are more prone to think for themselves and they are therefore, finding themselves opposed to each other. Socially and politically this is seen on almost every hand. Hard feelings and severance of associations seem to be the general, natural result.
Religion Not Exempt
Religion has not escaped the effect of this spirit. Many are thinking for themselves and building strong convictions on the foundations of their conclusions. When these forces come face to face, it is not too unusual to see ties of friendship, fellowship and cooperation broken. To see two friends suddenly become virtual enemies is a most unpleasant sight to behold. Thus, into this no man's land, well meaning, mutual friends often step in the hope of offering a solution to problems that will enable a beautiful friendship to continue. Theirs is a noble motive but their solutions are apt to be as dangerous to the destiny of the soul as the hatred that grows in the hearts of men in controversy.
Their solutions to these religious differences might be: (a) take a vote to determine the majority opinion, (but when has the majority of men been found faithfully adhering to the path of righteousness? Matt. 7:1314); (b) draw up a resolution to which all foes may yield, (and whose voice will be heard in this resolution, that of the Lord or of men? Matt. 17:5); or (c) make any and every sacrifice necessary out of a love for union, (then how can we be saved for we have forsaken the truth that makes men free? Jno. 8:32).
The Inevitable Result
Picture the result of such solutions. Men of courage and strong conviction concerning matters of truth and righteousness are led to acquiesce and sacrifice these noble traits on the merit of a vote or a resolution drawn up by fallible men, mostly because they abhor division and love union and unity. In substance, the cause of their difference is completely expelled because they have followed the counsel of men who know not nor respect the law of the Lord. This is the keynote of the present ecumenical movement. Will we remain numbers of warring sects, or will we take a vote, adopt a resolution, and if need be, sacrifice truth for the sake of union??
From the book, ORGANON OF SCRIPTURE, by J. S. Lamar, comes this powerfully truthful exhortation: "Sincere convictions cannot be corrected by a vote, nor made to yield to a resolution, nor be sacrificed to a love for union. The cause of our differences must be ascertained and removed' and then the evil will correct itself" (p. 28, copyright, 1859).
Will We Pay the Price?
No unity can be perfected unless all causes of difference and divisions have been determined and removed. The thoughts of all men to the contrary, notwithstanding! This applies to the ecumenical movement AS WELL AS TO MATTERS OF CONTROVERSY AMONG BRETHREN IN CHRIST. The strife and animosity among brethren today is despicable. Such should not be and every lover of Christ will leave no stone unturned in his search to find a solution to the problem. We can talk long and loud about getting together again and of how wonderful such would be. But, may it never come except first we have cast out the causes for the ungodly rupture in the body of Christ. May we never take a popular vote, adopt a resolution or sacrifice truth in order that we might hold up a flag of truce in Zion. To the eyes of all, a flag of truce would be a most welcome sight. Yet, if throwing truth and holiness to the winds is the price we must pay, we dare not pay it. Nothing would sooner destroy the cause we love. And if any would submit to solutions discussed in the foregoing text, their problem is without question, A LACK OF "SINCERE CONVICTION." It appears that controversy must come to those of strong convictions. Therefore, may God give us strength and courage as we "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3).
TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 5, pp. 20-21 February 1966