Charging God Foolishly
Some of our brethren have gotten quite "worked-up" while writing on the race relation issue. A few brethren have shown intense prejudice, and some others have written about as wildly as the most radical black militant. It is not the intent of this article or of this journal to make a defense for or an excuse for race prejudice, whether that prejudice be whites against blacks, or blacks against whites-and prejudice does run in both directions.
A few of our black brethren have written as though they were black revolutionists, and if anyone doubts this to be the case, I will be glad to document the charge. No doubt there also is sinful prejudice in the hearts of some white brethren toward blacks, and this prejudice is to be deplored.
From its origin, Mission magazine, an arm of the ultra-liberal group among the liberal brethren, has devoted much space to the discussion of social issues. They published not long ago the manuscript of a fire-brand black preacher which was a speech that was supposed to have been delivered on the Harding College lecture program. It is not very often that I get the privilege of agreeing with Harding College, but I certainly thought they made the right decision in deleting this black brother with his black-militant racist speech from the Harding College lectureship. But Mission was apparently glad to permit him to use their medium to vent his black militant sympathies.
In the February, 1971 issue of Mission there appeared an absurd article by "Dr." James Robert Ross, "campus minister at Eastern Illinois University." I do not know if Brother Ross is black or white (and it does not make me a bit of difference which he is). But in this article "Dr. Ross" "charged God foolishly." Suffering Job is commended in the scripture in these terms: "In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly" (Job. 1:22).
"Dr. Ross" did not avoid the sin of "charging God foolishly," as I shall soon show. Our brother appropriates a differentiation from Martin Luther, and thus makes a distinction between what he calls "the proper work of God" and "the strange work of God."
"The Strange Work of God"
"Dr. Ross" says, "I see the hand of God in at least four phenomena of the black revolution." If you thought it was the lawless hands of black militants and juvenile thugs who burn down homes and businesses during one of our racial conflicts, you are wrong! "Dr. Ross" sees in these burnings and thefts "the strange work of God."
Our deluded brother says further: "The opposition of God to that which opposes his love is what Luther called God's strange work. Thus the fiery judgment of God against all unrighteousness of men is truly the work of God, and although it appears strange or foreign to God, who is love, it is a necessary manifestation of his character when his love for man is threatened by the evil designs of certain rebellious creatures. It is in this way that we can see how much of the apparent evil in the black revolution, for example, the hatred and destruction in riots, is God's strange work of judgment upon a racist society."
According to this brother, the fire-bomber is merely an instrument in God's hand. The "hatred" of certain black people toward white people, according to him, is merely what God uses for punishment of white people who have threatened God's love by not loving black people as they should have. The wanton thieves who have smashed windows of businesses and rushed in like ants to pack out the merchandise are merely doing "the strange work of God." Brother, if God has anything to do at all with such criminals, other than to punish them for their crimes, it certainly would deserve to be called "the strange work of God."
Our misguided brother, "Dr. Ross," even asserts "the black militant may be God's Nathan... sent to the church, his insensitive and sinful David." Did you realize heretofore that the criminals who burn down our nation's cities and our citizens' homes and businesses are actually prophets of God sent on a divine preaching mission? Aw, Tommy-rot! Such a charge against God is merely a camouflage to make the rebellionists and two-bit thugs in our nation appear as servants of God. Arsonists and pilferers ought to be labeled just what they are . . . common criminals who should be punished commensurately with their crimes. And it should not matter whether the criminal's face is black or white, or whether he is an illiterate or has his Doctor's degree, crime should be punished! And arsonry and theft are crimes, regardless of what some preacher says to try to make them appear to be the "strange work of God." If that is the work of God, we all ought to join them in their nightmares of crime.
I cannot imagine what kind of a church would pay a so-called gospel preacher to proclaim such palpable error, but "Dr. James Robert Ross" is "a campus minister" at Eastern Illinois University. Wouldn't you like to have him instructing your son or daughter? He might teach them how to make fire-bombs, and encourage them to become involved in this "strange work of God." After (356)
all, he even paraphrases a passage pertaining to I those who would spread the good tidings of Christ, and appropriates it to these common criminals. "Dr. Ross" said, "How beautiful, then, are the black feet which bring us the hard but healthy news of our blindness and coldness of heart."
I do not know "Dr." James Robert Ross. He may indeed think that the arsonist, thief, sniper, and their ilk who mouth obscenities, are prophets of God with beautiful feet. But I should think that men associated with Mission (like Roy Bowen Ward, Ray F. Chester, Tom Olbricht, Dwain Evans, Don Mc Gauhey, Frank Pack, J. W. Roberts, David Stewart, etc.) would hasten to disassociate themselves from such men who would defend common criminals under the blasphemous guise of their being God's prophets engaged in doing a work of God.
Until now, those guiding the Mission magazine have impressed me as being men who would print anything! But this last article just about "takes the cake." The men who guide Mission may be proud to present such blasphemy to their reading public, but I am equally proud to let our readers know that I and those connected with Truth Magazine consider black revolutionary arsonists and thieves to be no better than white arsonists and thieves. And we certainly would not try to make them appear like black Messiahs sent to save a sinful world by burning and pillaging cities and homes.
And between you and me, I have very little more use for a defender and glorifier of arsonists and thieves than I do for the criminals themselves. And to have a brother call such outlaws prophets of God just about turns my stomach. And to assert that such evil doers are doing "the work of God" is to "charge God foolishly." It is said of Job that he "sinned not," because he did not charge God foolishly; as much cannot be said of our brother, "Dr." James Robert Ross.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 23, pp. 3-5