Our Level of Discussion

Bryan Vinson, Jr.
Aurora, Ill.

The body of Jesus is faced with many problems. There are problems within and problems without. The problems without are by nature destructive. These problems are tucked neatly within the framework of Satan's teaching and identified by a misnomer, namely "Christianity". These problems, presented by the proclamation of "another gospel" -- a false report -- are menaces to the Christian's work. They blind the alien. He cannot see the "light of the world". They have been bred in the mind of Satan and propagnated by the world of denominationalism. Their result has been the devastation of the souls of men. How terrible they be!

But the greatest problems are those that we find within. The Baptists, with their "theory" concerning the impossibility of apostasy, the Presbyterians, with their doctrine of predestination, and the Catholics, with their "infallibilty" assertons - no one can deny their influences have gained many for Satan. But the brethren, with desires for division (conscious or otherwise), self-exaltation, and wide recognitionwe, beloved brethern, have created the greatest of all problems. Division abounds. "Camps" have been formed. The majestic army of the Lord has divided its ranks in preparation for the most injurious of fights. Have we reached the "point of no return"? God forbid! Let us, as disciples indeed, be moved by love for Jesus and the hope within us to study more and discuss freely our differences. If such discussion is to benefit, we must elevate our level of discussion.

The Emotional Level

Most of us have had occasion to instruct those who were taught, from their youth up, the way of error. We are forced to conclude their denominational affiliation is a result of ancestry, not of study. In discussion with such people we are often amazed at their apparent "inability" to understand verses such as Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, Rom. 6, etc. Their "inability" to arrive at the "truth, as it is in Christ" can ,Actually be attributed to their level of discussion. It is the emotional level. They have "justified" themselves on the basis of "it was good enough for mother so its good enough for me", or "it does so much good", or, simply, "I like it". This level of discussion is polluted by prejudice and fed by a desire to justify pre-conceived ideas and theories. Discussion on this level oftentimes results in mob violence, and, more often, enables a man like Billy Graham to "sway" multitudes of people. It is the level of discussion for the denominations of the world. It is the only level which gives them "peace of mind". But just as the desire for a king crept into Israel from the nations around them, so has discussion on the emotional level infiltrated the conversation of the children of the Most High. We have ceased our searth for truth; we now seek first an inner feeling which we derive from our discussion on the emotional level. When we discuss the problem of whether or not the church can support institutional orphan homes, or homes for the aged, (as they are now operated) -- are we truly seeking the truth, or has our discussion been reduced to the pane of "certainly it is good to give those poor little helpless children a home" (which no one would deny), or "it makes no difference what the Bible says, this is a good work". I've heard these and other statements used to justify such organization. Discussion on the emotional level attempts to "justify" the "Herald of Truth" type of sponsorship on the contention that the amount of good accomplished justifies whatever means are employed. This is the age-old contention of the digressives -- the end justifies the means. It is most effective on the emotional level.

The Proper Level of Discussion

May God def eat me in any attempt to sap from the precious gospel it's appeal to the emotions of man. The story of the life of the King of Kings, the persecution he endured, the cruel hours preceding his death, and the crufixion: these thoughts should arouse the emotions of all people. But such excitement and sentiment should never be allowed to blind a man's understanding of God's law. The story of Jesus has been told with tears in order to teach "faith only" and make void the true plan of salvation. Emotionalism must be the end of proper discussion; not the standard by which we reach conclusions.

What then shall be our level of discussion? It must be the philosophical level. Our controversy must be characterized by calmness and self-control. It must be based on an appeal to the statements and principles of the rule of faith and practice -- the Bible. It cannot be used as a proving ground for our pet theories and quibbles. It must not be used to satisfy our emotional appetites. Our discussin must be kept pure!

Truth is eternal. It has been revealed by God. It does not vary with the climate or the stock averages. It changes not. Truth constitutes the only basis for an acceptable life. Man must conform: if possible, with pleasure, - if not, with pain. Our likes and dislikes, customs and traditions, feelings and emotions - these must not become principles by which we seek for justification. Institutions cannot pe justified on the plea that they have been accepted in former generations, or they do so much good. It is a question of God's plan f or organization, oversight, administration, etc. Such questions can be solved only by discussion on the philosophical level.

Let us, brethren discard our personal feelings and opinions. Let us look objectively on the questions that do trouble us. Let us be no longer babes ". . . tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine . . . "; rather let us seek truth, find truth, and hold truth as supreme as long as God shall grant us life.

Truth Magazine I:6, pp. 2-3
March 1957