An Open Letter to Brother Wilhite
Dear Brother Wilhite:
This is written in response to your article, "Concerning Current Issues," which is a review of my article which appeared in the January issue of Truth. I appreciate the attention you gave to it and I am happy that you "enjoyed" it and consider it a "fine article." It is apparent from your comments that you agree with the "facts" which I set forth there in, viz., (1) There is division; (2) Brethren are sincere ; and (3 ) Consciences are involved. Hence, we are in accord so far as our recognition of the problem which confronts the church is concerned. But there is more common ground between us. We both desire peace! You stated: "The first part of the article mentioned spoke much of peace in the church of our Lord. I give a hearty 'Amen' to the fact that we need peace among us." Again you said, "So I agree perfectly with the brother who wishes peace so very badly." Therefore, we both recognize the problem and we both desire peace. Wherein, then, do we differ? You answer this when you say: "On this he and I may not agree perfectly just HOW to get perfect peace in the church - The HOW is the main difference, as I see it." The difference then is the how or the means by which we obtain peace.
In my article, after setting forth the above mentioned facts, I suggested on the basis of those facts a solution to the problem, or a method through which peace might be secured. I hesitate not to avow that in the light of those facts I conceive the solution suggested in my former article to be the only solution capable of securing a true and pure peace. My reasons for this conviction will be forthcoming. But, Brother Wilhite, you do not like my suggestion, because it would require that you and those who feel as you do give up some things which you admit are unnecessary. In other words, these unnecessary things are dearer to you than your brethren with whom you differ. I affirmed in my first article that "when both positions are not matters of faith, the ones who only consider the issues matters of opinion thereby have the responsibility of ceasing to do that which causes others either to violate their conscience or to separate themselves from part of their brethren. An expedient should never be pressed to the dividing of the body of Christ!" Then I cited I Cor. 8:13 to sustain this. Brother Wilhite, do you believe the New Testament teaches this or not? I suggested that which I believe to be a scriptural solution to such problems and you chose to ignore this altogether! I say this is the Bible solution!
But what was the solution(?) which you suggested? Hear it: "He acknowledges that we were at peace up till: 'This controversy has been in an active state for sorne five years.' Then who caused the trouble, sir? Five years ago would make the division start about 1952, granting he wrote his article last year, possibly in December, Still I hear and read of them saying they are just as they have been for years and years. Why this brother sees a change about 5 years ago, and how right he is, sincere too. Near the close of his fine article he says, 'I'm pleading, brethren, that we will follow the path that makes for peace, and since we had peace up to about five years ago, let's all go back to where we were five years ago, and have peace! Peace is what I am after, and peace is what Brother Vinson is after, and since we had peace until some objectors started forcing incidentals on others, let's all drop that which has been brought in within the last five years. Wouldn't that make for peace? (Emp. mine, F.W.V.) Brother Wilhite, do you realize what you're asking for? If I understand you, you are saying in effect: "You brethren who believe these things to be wrong should cease all opposition to them in order that we might have peace." In making this request you are ignoring two of the facts which you have already admitted, (1) that brethren are sincere, and (2) that their consciences are involved. Does not our responsibility in "contending for the faith" include condemning that which we believe to be error? A man may violate his conscience by silence as well as by a practice of that which he believes to be wrong. You also make a play on the time element. You seem to think that since these practices existed before the opposition did, and in some cases for quite a period of time prior to such opposition, that therefore it is uncalled for or out of place. Such, however, is not the case. Brother Ben Franklin who for years edited the American Christian Review, was perhaps in his day the outstanding opponent of the Missionary Society. Yet, for years he publicly defended it and even served as its corresponding secretary. When through study he was convinced of its unscripturalness, he began to openly oppose it. Then he was charged with causing division and was told that he ought to go back like he was several years before and that would bring about peace. You and I know, however, that that was not the solution! Yet today you are saying the same thing to your brethren who differ with you on these issues!
Brother Wilhite, in closing I want to present a situation to you and ask how you would handle it. Suppose you were in a congregation where a majority of the members were in favor of the instrument. There were many others, however, who were convicted it was unscriptural, and who would either have to stultify their consciences if it were brought in, or cease to worship with their other brethren. The ones who were in favor of the instrument, however, did not feel it was necessary, and only considered it an expedient. After you had endeavored to show these brethren that their instrument was without authority and had failed to convince them, they still thinking it was only an "incidental," would you make any final appeal to them in an effort to preserve the unity of that church ? And if so, what would that appeal be? If you will examine my suggested solution again, you will find that it is the same appeal that our brethren made during the instrument controversy. I believe their appeal was founded on scriptural truth, and I likewise believe mine to be.
Yours for the unity of the faith,
Foy W. Vinson
Truth Magazine II:6, pp. 16, 19