Donnie V. Rader
John, the apostle, has been called by some the apostle of love since he writes so much about it. Three of the five chapters of his first epistles have sections of verses devoted to loving our brethren. A quick summary of what those passages teach would be timely.
1 John 2:7-11. Here John’s point is that one cannot hate his brother and walk in the light at the same time. One who loves his bother abides in light, but he who hates his brother is in darkness.
1 John 3:10-18. Here we learn that love for brethren is evidence of our being sons of God (v. 14). One who hates his brother is a murder and cannot inherit eternal life (v. 15). We also learn that one of the reasons one may hate his brother is that his brother’s works are righteous and he own are evil (v. 12).
1 John 4:7-21. This is the fullest discussion of love in 1 John. One who truly loves his brother is born of God and knows God (v. 7). The love that God had for man in the sacrifice of his Son serves as an example of how we should love one another (vv. 9-11, 19). If we love our brother, God dwells in us (vv. 12-16). If we love God, we will love our brother also (vv. 20-21). Which means if there is a problem loving our brother, we have a problem loving God. He ends the section with a reminder that love is a command (v. 21).
As John uses the term "hate" in these passages it means a lack of love and not just to despise, detest, or abhor. Notice that what John calls "hate" in 1 John 3:15, is described as "does not love his brother" in the previous verse (v. 14). If that point is true, then one who does despise his brother is unquestionably wrong!
"Bitterness" is a word closely related to hatred. Paul instructed that all bitterness should be put away from us (Eph. 4:31). This word means "acridity (especially poison)" (Strongs #4088). Arndt and Gingrich includes the word "animosity"(A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature 657).
How far hatred can go is illustrated in the attitudes and actions of Joseph’s brothers. The text says, ". . . they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him" (Gen. 37:4).
I suppose that everyone reading this has those who hate him. Those who comprise the Guardian of Truth Foundation are no exception. I have known many of the men associated with the foundation and the magazine for many years. I began writing for the paper in 1993 at Mike’s invitation. I was invited to sit in on board meetings as an advisor about six years ago. I am now serving as a board member. I mention that to say, that since my association with the foundation I have been amused and amazed at the degree and the depth of the resentment toward these good men. I must confess that I don’t fully understand why so many love to hate as they do.
There are those who delight in anything that might contribute to the "downfall" of Truth Magazine and those associated with it. The disdain and ridicule among some for the magazine is openly manifest. The names of those connected with the magazine and board are belittled and maligned. Motives are impugned. There are those who seem to relish in embarrassment of this organization. Many seem to be ready to believe any tale told (whether true or not, whether verified or not) that paints the foundation in a bad light. It is my judgment that some of the recent criticism is based upon who it is. If the matters being criticized were to involve someone else, I have a hard time believing that the critics would be as critical.
Perhaps the reasons for such resentment is varied. I am not blind to what creates enemies. However, I fail to understand the reason for the degree of it. Why some "love to hate" Truth Magazine to the extent they do is beyond me.
I have heard the stories of the resentment of the Gospel Guardian (and the men associated with it) in the days of the institutional battles. Many who read these lines, like me, are not old enough to remember those days. Others, though, can never forget the bitterness they witnessed in those days.
The Guardian of Truth Foundation is not just a magazine and two bookstores. It is board of ten men. The board consist of Connie W. Adams, Andy Alexander, Dickey Cooper, Ron Halbrook, Dan King, Fred Pollock, Donnie V. Rader, Weldon E. Warnock, Mike Willis, and Steve Wolfgang. The men I serve with are honorable men. The animosity shown toward the foundation is animosity toward these honorable men!
To disagree with something one of these men has said or written is one thing. But this degree of resentment is another. To challenge some decision made is understandable. But loving to hate brethren and assume the worst of them is a different matter.
I hope this article will challenge every reader to examine his heart to see if there could be any malice, bitterness or hatred for brethren. This should be a warning to all of us, self included. We who comprise the board of directors of the Guardian of Truth Foundation, and the staff of the magazine must not let the actions of our critics cause us to hate them.