Can We Understand: the Bible Alike?

Ralph Edmunson
Searcy, Arkansas

There is a wide variation in the teaching and practice among churches of Christ on the "war question." This goes from the position of unrestricted participation on the part of Christians in both the military and the police to the opposite extreme of complete aloofness from any participation in government. Some say that a Christian should not even vote, and that it would be wrong for a Christian to be an elected official; others urge that there ought to be more Christians in politics and in positions of authority. Some will teach that capital punishment ought to be abolished on the supposition that it is against God's win; others argue that God requires capital punishment and the one administering it are carrying out God's will; while still others concede that capital punishment is "ordained of God," but that Christians are not scripturally authorized to administer it.

Some, who would "turn the other cheek" in personal disputes will argue that unless freedom is upheld-militarily, if necessary then our right to be Christian win be jeopardized; others demand that Christians not fight for freedom.

This question has been discussed as far back as the days of the Campbells. It was a controversy before, during, and after the civil war. "Great" men have been in defense of both sides.

The general attitude of the "brotherhood" is and has been that it is regrettable that there is a difference of "opinion" on this subject, but that no harm is done as, long as no one presses his "opinion" to the point of dividing the brotherhood. In effect, we have said that it does not make any difference what one believes as long as he is sincere and doe's not try to convert any one else to his position; that, since it is a "controversial" subject, let each one believe and practice what he conceives the Bible to say to him, but, do not advocate his beliefs publicly, lest he "split the church."

We have advocated that there must be unity in "matters of faith." But it seems that we have discovered another realm -- "opinion" -- and several Bible passages are wrested and perverted in attempts to make it appear that the Lord bestows his blessings on division (couched in the statement that each one has the right to his own "opinion" on "indifferent" matters).

Can We Understand The Bible Alike?

We are fond of Preaching sermons based on the question: "Can we all understand the Bible alike?" We challenge denominational adherents to "search the' scriptures." We rightly point out that we could be united if we would "just take what the Bible says" On baptism, one church, music in worship, Lord's Supper, et al.

Why have we never thought to apply this same principle to oar own items of disunity? If we "just take what the Bible says" on the "war question," wouldn't we be united on this subject? If not, why not? Is the teaching of the Bible on the relationship of Christians' to the civil government so vague and unclear that Christians "cannot all understand it alike"? Does the mine Bible teach one Christian to kill and another not to?

Proposed Intensive Study

We are proposing a monthly publication devoted exclusively to investigating and discussing this particular question in all its phases. There have been occasional short periods of discussion, but nothing extensive and intensive enough to really examine all the arguments in depth. We propose this publication to continue this exhaustive investigation until we "all speak the same thing"; until "there be no divisions among us"; and until we "be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment."

We want to hear from all who would like to see such a discussion. If we can obtain at least 1000 commitments to subscribe, we will proceed with our plans. Send your name and address, and when we obtain enough commitments, we will produce the first number.

In the meantime, we want writers to send in articles on both sides and on all phases of the controversy. It is our purpose to produce a balanced publication-not favoring one side or the other-in order to examine all the evidence so as to arrive at the truth. Send your articles and commitment to subscribe to Ralph Edmunson, 900 W. McRae, Searcy, Ark. 72143.

Let us hear from you.

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 44, pp. 38-39
September 16, 1971