Concerning Current Issues

J. Porter Wilhite
Houston, Texas

In the current issue of Truth magazine (January, 1957), appeared in article which I enjoyed, especially the first part of it. It was titled, "Some Facts Concerning Current Issues" and written by Foy W. Vinson, Elgin, Illinois.

No doubt all preachers, and many others of the church of Christ know something about the current issues, because many papers keep it foremost on their pages. With me, it is peace first, then incidentals. So in what I have written on the subject I have stressed the importance of peace in the church for which the "Prince of Peace" died. 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.

Brother Vinson says, "There is a division in the ranks of God's people over current issues - is an indisputable fact." In defining "division" he says "I mean that there are open ruptures in the body of Christ." Sad indeed! What a shame, after Jesus prayed that we all be ONE (John, 17: 20, 21), and Paul preached that we should be of the same mind and judgment (1 Cor. 1:10), and for us to "mark them which cause division and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them" (Rom. 16:17) ; besides the wise man said the God of heaven HATES "he that soweth discord among brethren" (Prov. 6:16-19). Surely all my brethren will agree peace is what the church needs at this time.

But this picture is painted even worse bv this man when he tells us that the present DIVISION, has already caused "open ruptures in the body of Christ." "He that despised Moses law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of Grace?" (Heb. 10: 28, 29.) Then to think some of mv brethren will flay alive the spiritual body of Christ for which Jesus swapped his physical body - dying on the cross for the church, the spiritual body. We think it was awful for men to pierce, slash, and kill that physical body, but Jesus loves the church (Spiritual body) more, therefore he who divided it is worse, than they.

So I agree perfectly with the brother who wishes peace so very badly. On this he and I may not agree perfectly just HOW to get perfect peace in the church, just as those who are divided as he says, do not agree perfectly on the HOW some of these things should be done. The HOW is the main difference, as I see it. Granting that the brethren on both sides are sincere and honest, yet they are not at peace. Brother Vinson thinks there could be peace, and I say there could be. But how?

He acknowledges that we were at peace up till "This controversy has been in an active state for some 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, possible 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 it change about 5 years ago, and how right he is, sincere too. Near t he 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, so, since we had peace until some objectors started forcing incidentals on others, we had peace, let's all drop that which has been brought in within the last five years. Wouldn't that make for peace? If not show me what we had prior to your five years agol Peace is uppermost in my mind. You say it is uppermost in your mind, so let's just get back where we were when we had peace, and quit agitating the things which cause trouble.

But our friend tells us that those who he rather prefers, of course without so stating, but otherwise proving, as he thus speaks: "The brethren who oppose the sponsoring-church type of cooperation and the benevolent institutions which are attached to the church do not do so on the grounds that these things are just expedient or unwise. Thev believe them to he UNLAWFUL." No doubt the man is right, else they would not be so contentions about them. But since we are seeking grounds for peace, why not, brother Vinson tell us from a Scriptural standpoint, just HOW to do church cooperation, and church benevolence. That is a thing I have never been able to get one of them to explain. Oh, I have had them to tell me to take them into your own home. But where did you ever read of such in the New Testament? I am after a BIBLE way. If you can't find it, then it is an incidental and/or an expediency, even if you do not believe it to be. While on this thought, why not tell me how many orphans vou have in your home, or others who believe like you do. I have know of some attempting such, but soon see that it will not do to mix two families. But you say James speaks to individual Christians when he savs care for the widows and orphans, which is pure and undefiled religion (Jas. 1:27), but since James mentions widows as well is orphans, and Paul shows us that to care for widows is a duty of the church, that would also include orphans. If not why not? Paul's statement is in 1. Tim. 5:16. Besides if James is talking to individuals only, then individuals only do religion, and religion is not a church act at all. In fact it would be sinful for a church to do what is prohibited and given only to individuals. Can't you brethren see that?

Why consciences are involved, says brother Vinson, and to go against your conscience is a sin, and argues it is not a matter of conscience with his opposing brethren. They can surrender without hurting a thing, even a conscience. Now let me ask you, did they organize an institution within the church, another institution in Jerusalem when the apostles advised the people to select seven men to act on a "business," which resulted in perfect satisfaction among them and "the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem GREATLY; and a great company of priests were obedient to the faith," by as you would naturally say, something "attached to the church." (Acts, 6: 1-7.) Was that an INSTITUTION attached to the Jerusalem church?

There is no more reason for a division on this subject than the war, or women's covering. Up to your "five vears ago" there was no sign of such a division, and such men as (names deleted, editor) and many others did not advocate the things which divide. You surely know that brother Vinson. I do. Neither are any forced to send money to a home of any kind, not even a preacher's home. Each one can do as he pleases about it. If he doesn't wish to care for orphans he doesn't have to. He doesn't have to obey the Lord in other matters. So the division is agitated by those who have raised this issue in the last "five years." I join you in "pleading that we will follow the path that makes for peace." Will you do as You ask others to do? SHOW BIBLE FOR A CERTAIN WAY, PLEASE.

Truth Magazine II:6, pp. 14-15
March 1958

Vinson's Reply to Whilhite