Voices from the Past
A Letter from a Sponsoring Congregation
Saul Paul, Evangelist
Dear Brother Paul,
The "Blazon of Gospel," our nationwide program of work made possible by the cooperation of many congregations has suffered as the result of your outspoken opposition. Many congregations have ceased supporting this work--they seem to be so shallow in their thinking as to believe it is wrong for churches to cooperate. Who are you to set the pattern of congregational cooperation for all time?
It shall be our policy to be as frank and open minded as possible with you in this matter. We have made an exhaustive survey of your history and we feel it necessary for the good of the "Blazon of Gospel" to expose you. We are surprised that you have been able to hoodwink so many congregations.
At Antioch for example, we learn you opposed Brother Simon Peter, an esteemed preacher of the gospel, and actually rebuked him publicly. You stirred up so much trouble at Antioch that a special meeting of apostles and elders had to be convened in Jerusalem. Who can condone such conduct?
Do you think it seemly for a missionary to do part-time secular work? We hear that you are making tents on the side. In a letter to the church at Philippi you admitted that they were the only church supporting you. We wonder why? We also wonder if the church contributes to your tent-making enterprise.
Is it true that you have a jail record? Certain brethren report that you did two years in the penitentiary at Caesarea and were also imprisoned at Rome. You made so much trouble for the business men at Ephesus that they refer to you as "the man who turned the world upside down." We also deplore the lurid "over-the-wall-in-a-basket" episode at Damascus.
We are appalled at your obvious lack of tact and the indiscretion in your writings. Diplomatic men are not stoned and dragged out of the city gate, or assaulted by furious mobs. Have you ever suspected that gentle words gain more friends? I enclose a copy of Daius Carnegus' book, "How to Win Jews and Influence Greeks," and commend it to your careful study.
You have caused trouble everywhere you have gone. You opposed the honorable Greek women at Berea and the leaders of your own nationality in Jerusalem. If a man cannot get along with his own people, how can he convert sinners?
You admit that while you were serving time at Rome, "all forsook" you. Good men are not left friendless. Three fine brothers, Diotrephes, Demas, and Alexander the coppersmith, have notarized affidavits to the effect that it is impossible for them to cooperate with either you or your program.
We know you had a bitter quarrel with a fellow-missionary, Barnabas. Harsh words do not further God's work.
You have written many letters to churches where you have formerly worked. In one of these letters you accused a certain brother of living with his father's wife, and caused the whole church to suffer humiliation. You seem to have the habit of going off half-cocked with wild rumors and accusations against your brethren.
You spend too much time talking about the "Second Coming of Christ." Your letters to the people at Thessalonica were almost entirely devoted to this theme. Put first things first from now on.
Your ministry has been far to flighty to be successful. First, Asia Minor, then Macedonia, then Greece, then Italy and now you are talking about a wild goose chase to Spain. Concentration is more important than dissipation of one's power.
In a recent sermon you said, "God forbid that I should glory in anything save the cross of Christ." It seems to us that you also ought to glory in our nationwide program which caries the message of the cross to so many millions. This is the church at work.
Your sermons are much too long at times. At one place, you talked until after midnight, and a young man was so asleep that he fell out the window from the third story and was taken up dead.
Brother Luke reports that you are a thin little man, bald, frequently sick and always so agitated over "departures and innovations" that you sleep very poorly. You are so fearful of "trends" and "dangers" that you do nothing at all.
It hurts me to have to bring all this to your attention, Brother Paul, but I do this in defense of the "Blazon of Gospel." Frankly I hope you will not continue your opposition to the "Blazon of Gospel"--if you do, it may be necessary to quarantine you along with some other rank characters of the "Guardian Angel" brand. We know what you are and if you persist in this opposition it will be necessary for us to publicize your life story.
J. Flavius Fluffyhead
The article above was written during a time of heated discussion on the issues of the sponsoring church, human benevolent institutions, and the social gospel. It will serve to show us a couple of things about how brethren deal with issues and with those who plainly proclaim the truth.
First, we note that during the 1950's, when the digression of institutional liberalism began to increase and foment open division, men who were striving to teach the truth were writing article after article on the subject. You will hardly find an issue of The Gospel Guardian in which there are not at least three or four articles addressing the issues of the day. This is similar to what Paul, Peter, and others did in the first century. In the book of Acts we see time and again that the apostles and prophets taught that Jesus was "both Lord and Christ" (Act 2:36; 3:26; 4:9-12; 5:30-31, 42; 7:52; 8:12, 35; 9:20, 27; 10:36-43; etc.). Was the Lordship of Jesus taught to the exclusion of other matters? No. They also taught about benevolence, circumcision, eating of blood, the passing of the old law, the daily conduct of a Christian, and many other things (Acts 11:27-30; 15:1-29; Gal. 3; Eph. 4:1-3). However, when looking into and reflecting upon the book of Acts, we realize the issue of the day was that the Christ had come and men needed to believe in Him. Many Jews were still awaiting the Messiah, and the Gentiles had not heard of such. The Jew and Gentile alike needed to be taught about a Savior who was crucified for them. While we must still teach on this issue, never forgetting the One who died for us, many people in our society (America) do not need to be convinced that Jesus is Lord and Christ. Those in the denominational world need to be taught about the true plan of salvation, true worship, true service to God, the one true church, and the true organization for that church--according to the teaching authorized by Jesus, the New Testament. Brethren who are in error need to be taught the truth on their point(s) of error, whether it be institutional liberalism, the social gospel, recreational activities sponsored by the church, fellowship, or divorce and remarriage. Therefore, from time to time, it is wise to concentrate on a specific subject and teach repeatedly upon it from different angles.
Second, notice that the man of God is held in the lowest esteem. Ahab called Elijah the "troubler of Israel," and "my enemy" (1 Kgs. 18:17; 21:20). He said of Micaiah, "I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil" (1 Kgs. 22:8). The Jews said of Stephen, "This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words..." (Acts 6:13). Men such as these and Paul, John the Immerser, and Peter would not be allowed in many pulpits today. Though the word of God highly commends them, many, including some brethren, would reject them and their teaching from God. Yes, in times past and present, those who strive to uphold the right ways of the Lord are demonized and maligned so as to prejudice others against them.
When controversy arises, our advice is search "the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things" are so (Acts 17:11). Study, see what the Bible says, and then hold on to it (Prov. 23:23).
e-mail this feature editor at SFDeaton@compuserve.com
Return to Watchman Front Page