Part And Start
None who have kept abreast of the present issues among brethren can deny that the church is passing through difficult days. Many heartaches have been made and affections alienated. Many things have been said and written which should never have issued from the tongues and pens of men professing kinship to the lowly Son of God. Certainly, it is timely to remind ourselves that each of us will soon disappear from the stage of time and be ushered in before "The judge of all the earth" to give an accounting for all our words and deeds.
Under the above caption there appeared an article in the September 15th issue of the Bible Herald, written by brother Fred E. Dennis. This article was called to my attention by one of our readers, and I consider its message to be sufficiently timely to pass it on to you here. We heartily commend it to your thoughtful consideration.
"I have been preaching in this section of the country for forty years. I have witnessed several divisions. I do not at the time recall a one that could not have been prevented by a little sober judgement on the part of all who may have been involved. When some trouble arises in the local congregation division is not the solution. Then you have added another trouble. It is a serious thing to divide the body of Christ. Paul did not recommend that at Corinth. They were certainly in a bad way. They had taken the Lord's supper and made a bacchanalian feast out of it. Some were eating to gluttony and drinking to drunkenness. They were calling this the Lord's supper. Brother would go to law against brother before the unbeliever. One of the brethren had married his father's wife. Many preachers today, or at least some preachers today, would have strongly advised division, and would have soon been meeting down the street or down the road at a different place. The inspired Paul did not advise this. He told the brethren to all speak the same thing and have no divisions among the m. ( I Cor. I : 10) He did not tell them to start another congregation because they had a man among them who had married his father's wife, but to put him away.
"Preachers will go into a place and find some conditions which are not right or at least that they do not like, and the first thing that happens there is division. Had the preacher preached the word kindly and advised wisely and not taken "sides" nine times out of ten the division would have been nipped in the bud.
"These divisions come and then the congregations run along for a few years, and after while there is 'reconciliation', and everything is fine, but very little repentance has taken place. I am afraid of such procedures. No, I hold no brief for hypocrisy, departures from the faith, etc. but let us use common sense and good judgement. I have known elders to hire a preacher and in a little time he was trying to fire the elders. Slow down, brother. Those elders may not be qualified, but did it ever occur to you that you might not be 'fully qualified' as a gospel preacher. Maybe you can help them to grow, and even teach them that if they do not approximate the qualifications of elders that they should quietly step out of that 'office', you might be able in conjunction with right thinking brethren to bring this about without division and without much fanfare and to the glory of God and the salvation of many precious souls. Remember when division comes souls will be lost.
"It is time we grew up and put away childish things. Oftentimes children won't play unless they can have their way about most everything. Brethren should be above such things. We ought to get to the place that we could discuss differences, and still be brethren. We may not see eye to eye on the 'issues' that are prevalent in the brotherhood. One wants to support orphan homes out of the church treasury; others who are just as sincere and intelligent think it is wrong. Let us be careful and go slow. One wants to support a Bible college out of the treasury, and others are bitterly opposed to such (I think rightfully so), but let us reason and use sober judgement. One thinks the Herald of Truth is a great thing, and that all churches ought to support and others think it is a departure from the truth. One thinks The Gospel Press is all right, and others oppose. And let us remember the 'brains are not all on one side'.
"Brother, be sure you were not the cause of the open division. Be slow to lend your influence to any such thing. There are such rank departures from the faith that division between truth and error will naturally come, but I am writing about the things that are of lesser moment. I have seen too many 'molehills' become 'mountains'.
" 'Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.' (Heb. 12:14) Better be careful. We might not see the Lord. We all want to see him. 'And be at peace among yourselves.' ( I Thess. 5:13) - Fred E Dennis. 514 Cutler St., Marietta, Ohio.
Truth Magazine III:2, pp. 13-14