"But Men"

Peter McPherson
Bancroft, Ontario, CANADA

'Twas the Negro, I believe, that first coined the phrases "Hello, man" and "How are you today, man?" The Pseudo Street "hard rock" and the Cassius Clay group think of themselves as "the men," and they want everyone to know it. To make a lad of fifteen or so years feel ten feet tall, say to him sometime "Hello, man" and then watch his buttons pop. It seems that the word "man" has come to mean more to some people than just to distinguish the male from the female. It has come to mean, when spoken in the manner mentioned above, the "he-man", tough-guy type. Actually this attitude is more widespread than we might like to think. Have not the nations of men come to think of themselves as the invincible beings, the proud, haughty, independent, self-righteous, and stiff-necked "know-it-all'ers." At least to my thinking, there is plenty of evidence of such.

However, whenever one begins to think of himself as something he is not (i.e. a big shot) he will one day have someone pull his bluff, exposing the very thing that he was trying so desperately to cover. When this occurs, it usually is the best thing that could have happened, for now perhaps this man will accept himself for what he is. By forgetting the false front, he may live a happy life without the fear of being exposed again.


Many times throughout the history of mankind, man has had to be taken down a notch or two and put in his place for his own benefit. The history of the Israelite nation, as well as the Babylonian empire and others, is filled with documentable evidence of nations trusting in "self," becoming independent, and being put in their place as a result.

Recorded in the book of Psalms and directed to all the nations of the earth (the proud, "high and mighty" human race) is the greatest "slap in the face" justly given to the sons of men and recorded in so few words. Here it is' "Put them in fear, O Lord: that the nations may know themselves to he but men" (Psa. 9:20).

The nations had forgotten God (v. 17) and had become independent, trusting in themselves. Therefore, David cried, "Put then in fear, O Lord that the nations may know themselves to be---but men." This statement projected to the ones addressed a feeling of embarrassment comparable to the embarrassment of a "he-man" who had been slapped in the face by his lover in front of his friends. It should make man feel like a puppy dog caught in mischief that puts its tail between its legs and cringes on its back begging for mercy. This verse strongly implies that there is someone greater than man, above and higher than puny man with much more intelligence than man. It should bring man to the realization that he is but the workmanship of the Almighty, the created of the Creator, and the clay of the Great Potter.


Today, as always, there is a great need for the nations to realize that they are but men. We could apply this need to the nations of the world that are trusting in their own might and power to win any war, stop any attack, and take care of themselves by themselves. It could he applied to the scientists who present or invent an hypothesis, such as evolution, and teach it as fact in an attempt to remove any Being higher than themselves to which man should render obeisance. We could apply it to the Pope of Rome--the one who is supposed to be infallible. It would be applicable to those who have built churches of men with their human names and doctrines, exalting themselves above the church of our Lord.


But there is also a need for many of "the brethren" to awaken to the fact that they are nothing more than "but men." It seems that we can plainly see when the nations trust in themselves, when the pseudo men of science teach a theory as a fact, when a man claims infallibility, and when men start human churches that they are "filling the bill" for a little more than "but men." However, it seems hard for many to see that when a preacher, fresh from the assembly line of Church of Christ schools of preaching, or from a "Christian College," sets himself up as "The Man" to decide on what, where, and how the money of the Lord is to be spent, that this preacher is acting without authority from heaven and thus, is also "filling the bill" for a little more than just "a man."

A recent Bulletin from North Bay, Ontario regretted that there were not sufficient church funds to give to a request made by a benevolent organization, and therefore stated that the request was being placed on the bulletin board so that anyone interested could help as an individual. This enthusiastic preacher has already led one of the biggest "Campaigns" in Canada which called for thousands of dollars and the usual behind-the-scenes machinery that makes the whole thing wrong (it is not just the name).

After succeeding in blinding the minds of the brethren with all this publicity and pomp, he apparently feels that he has control of the show and could even engage the church funds in such human charity organizations as the Red Cross. Recent news from the "on the march" (run) Toronto brethren relates this same condition, with no indication of where or when they are going to stop before they reach the port of Rome.

The "Big Men" have sown the seed or opened the doors, and where does it end? Some, trying to stem the tide, say "this far only brethren and no further," but to no avail. Why? Because they themselves have accepted unscriptural methods and means of doing things, so what good is their word? It is like a denominational preacher debating with a Catholic, for it is all to no avail because each has gone beyond the scriptures and therefore, has virtually no argument.


When a great Canadian preacher of some years said in the May 1967 issue of the GOSPEL HERALD, "If we use another congregation as we might use a post office, or a bank, have we violated the will of God?" (and when one stops to think that this necessarily infers that thousands of congregations can send to one church to do a brotherhood work), one begins to wonder whether or not the great J. C. Bailey is acting in the capacity of "more than a man" or if he has come to an early second childhood (spiritually speaking). Really this deduction is the "most"--an experienced preacher confusing custom (travel) with the gospel.

One of the first lessons that we learn is that custom may change (i.e. travel, clothing, etc.) but the gospel never changes. Jesus said in the great commission, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." We can "go" as we please, and as custom changes we can change from walking to riding on a boat or in a car but whenever we get to where we are going, we are to preach "the gospel."

In our civilization the post office has replaced the messenger, but it does not change a thing. The congregational autonomy remains the same; the senders remain the same in principle as also do the receivers. The receiver is the elders in a benevolent need (Acts 11:28-30) and the preacher when money is sent for evangelism (2 Cor. 11:8; Phil. 4:15-16.)

The messenger and the post office are parallel but the messenger and the sponsoring church are not parallel, for when the money is sent to the sponsoring church it has not reached its intended destination as it has when it is sent by messenger or by the post office. Can't we see that a messenger of a post office is a way of getting one thing from one place to another but a sponsoring church is not, for even after the sponsoring church receives the money it must use the post office or a messenger to get it to the place intended ? Therefore, it is acting as a mediator--an unscriptural, unauthorized, unneeded mediator between two parties. It becomes the "Mother Church" for all the little churches to use to get done what they should be doing themselves.

All the new "fandangled" arrangements that the brethren are promoting and sponsoring are as unlike the New Testament pattern as black is from white. It seems to me that I have heard that statement before and so have all the other personal workers who use the Jules Miller film series. In fact, once in every five times that a cottage meeting is conducted, the speaker mentions that the innovations brought in by the Roman Catholic Church are as unlike God's N. T. pattern as black is from white. The film strip also makes the following statement that is apparently falling on deaf ears: "Usually departure is so slow that no one generation gets very excited about it. Little changes take place, one by one, and the people are unconscious of how serious the changes are and how displeased God becomes" (emphasis mine---PM). Someone has said, "Let history and the Bible be our guide."


If only we all will have the attitude of Jesus (the only real MAN) which is characterized by these words--- "My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me" (John 7:16), we will never be anything "but men," and our glory will be "in the Lord" (1 Cor. 1:27-31).

Put then in fear O Lord: that the nations, the men of science, the Pope of Rome, the churches of men, and the brethren (all of us) may know themselves to be "but men."


December 11, 1969