By Connie W. Adams
In the August 1, 1996 Guardian of Truth, I had an article entitled “To My Brethren in the Philippines.” In that article I referred to some speeches made by Jerry F. Bassett in the Philippines, as indicated in his report concerning his work there.
In these speeches, he made use of an article I wrote years ago entitled “Let My Conscience Be Your Guide.” A letter from brother Bassett indicates he feels that I have misrepresented him on the following matters:
(1) He denies that he preached his convictions on the subject of marriage, divorce, and remarriage but rather reacted to speeches others had made that were critical of his position. He says that the speeches he made were designed to focus on how brethren could work together while disagreed over these and other matters.
(2) He states also that he has never applied Romans 14 to the issue of how brethren can maintain fellowship while disagreeing on marriage, divorce, and remarriage. He states that he believes Romans 14 deals with matters that are indifferent with God.
The purpose of my article was to distance myself from the position which brother Bassett holds on the marriage question which position is well known from his book and from two public debates on the subject. It was not my intention to misrepresent him in any respect.
Some Training Needed
It is evident that some brethren, preachers included, need to learn how to dismiss a congregation in prayer at the end of a service. Usually the congregation has been standing during an invitation, closing remarks, and a final song. Or it may be that there was some public response to the invitation and the service was happily lengthened for that reason. That is not the time to hold the congregation with a marathon prayer that repeats everything from former prayers in the meeting. It is no time for an oration. Webster defines the word “dismiss”: “1. to permit or cause to leave.” It does not mean to hold on or delay. Good judgment ought to have some part in this. It is often hard on older people to stand that long. It is also difficult for parents struggling with small children. There is something to be said for prayer which serves the needs of the occasion. Giving thanks for the bread or the fruit of the vine should be just that. Dismissal ought to be dismissal. Don’t brethren have training classes anymore?
In a recent meeting at the El Bethel congregation near Shelbyville, Tennessee where Donnie V. Rader preaches, there were two young men who told me matter-of-factly that they intend to be gospel preachers. I was told there were others there who have made the same determination. It used to be commonplace to find one or two young men in nearly every congregation who had set their sights on preaching. That has become a very rare thing. How refreshing to hear bright, young men confidently state that they have that as their goal. “Preach the word … in season and out of season” (2 Tim. 4:2).
That Rock from Mars
A small rock which has been judged by some to be a part of a meteor from Mars created a great deal of excitement in the scientific community and in the press. It is suggested that the rock contained possible traces of sub-stances that are necessary to the origin of life. One newspaper editor in Texas said this discovery had “rocked” the religious world with its belief in a divine creation. Well now, let’s suppose that rock did fall from Mars. And let’s suppose there is evidence from it that life exists on Mars, or at least did so at one time. If we grant all of that, I have a question. Where did that life come from? Did it evolve or was it created? That puts us right back where we have been for a long time. Was it “in the beginning God” or “in the beginning Nothing”?
Paul had something to say about this sort of thing: “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Rom. 1:22).
To Our Critics
If any of the writers for this paper are teaching error, please be kind enough to point that out for our good and for the good of all. Calling us a bunch of rascals will notget the job done. I cannot speak for any other writer but myself, but I can tell you that as long as God lets me live and maintain the strength necessary for the task, I intend to teach what I confidently believe to be the truth and to oppose what I confidently believe to be error regardless of who teaches it, or how unpopular such opposition might be. I have never thought of conducting a poll, or “feeling the pulse of the brethren” before doing so. If we falsely charge the motives of some brother, then please point that out. But please don’t make such a charge when it is not so. There have been numerous emotional speeches, and some articles decrying the evil treatment administered to an “aged warrior.” Some of those who parrot that don’t know any better. They have acted with confidence in those who told them so. But there are some men still repeating this lie who know better. It is one thing to challenge what a brother is teaching in a public forum whether he is young or old, and quite another to question his integrity. Those of you who are still spreading this falsehood, please take note of the fact that I and others who write for this pa-per (and a number of others who do not write for this paper) have challenged the teaching of a well respected and venerable brother on the subject of marriage, divorce, and remarriage, but we have not ever questioned his integrity. It would lessen tensions considerably if that simple distinction would be made and if those who have made such charges would have the kindness to apologize for it. While they are at it, they could also consider ceasing to indict the character and integrity of those of us who write for this publication. Then there are those who know all about it but say they have not read the paper for years. Amazing!
Guardian of Truth XL: No. 24, p. 3-4
December 19, 1996