Name Calling and Horn Blowing

by James P. Needham

September 13, 2000

     Name calling in controversy is like trying to undo a traffic jam by blowing oneís horn. It is useless and irritating to those around one. In the present controversy over FC and Genesis one, the names or labels have been flying, and getting worse as time goes on. There is no way this is going to solve our problem. It will only make it worse.

     Name calling is an old trick in controversy. The sectarians have called us "Campbellites" when they couldnít answer scriptural arguments. Those of us who went through the institutional struggle were called everything the liberals could dream up: "antis," "orphan haters," "brotherhood regulators," etc. In the present controversy those defending the error on Genesis one have called the opposition "Pharisees," "Power seekers," "creed writers," "sectarians," and this latest "gem" from Hill Roberts, "fools."

     I would like to know how they think this helps. What good has been accomplished by this tactic? Name calling is what people do when they have nothing else to do. It is the enactment of the philosophy that says if you canít defeat the argument, defeat the person who makes it by reflecting upon his motives and/or character. This generates prejudice against the person, and therefore against what he says. I think it is safe to say that name callers are not truth seekers. The strength of oneís position is known by the quality its defense.

     I want to examine some of the names or labels that are being cast about and show how absurd and unfair they really are.

     (1) "Pharisees." What point are they trying to make by calling people Pharisees? If sticking close to the word of God is Phariseeism, then I plead guilty. The person doesnít live who can show where Christ ever condemned the Pharisees for sticking close to Godís word. In fact, He commended them for that in Matthew 23:1-3. He condemned them for their hypocrisy, saying and doing not. He condemned them for making laws were God made none, and for emphasizing the tithing of "mint, anise and cumin, and leaving off the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith"(Mat. 23:23). How are the signers of the open letter like the Pharisees? Either those who make this charge donít know what a Pharisee is or they are deliberately misusing the term. I prefer to believe the former.

     (2) "Power seekers." Floyd Chappelear says those who are associated with the open letter are just seeking power. Is that an established fact, or is this just Floydís judgment? He recently became irate when someone judged his motives, and within the same week he judges the motives of everyone connected with the open letter. Here is that old double standard at work again! Floyd has made a charge that he couldnít prove to save his life and he needs to pay attention to Paulís admonition to the Corinthians: (1 Cor 4:5) "Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts." He would also do well to note Paulís statement (1 Cor 2:11) "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?"

     I signed the letter, and I request that Floyd tell me what power I was seeking in so doing. If he knows I was seeking power, then he must know what power I was seeking and what I plan to do with it. I admit that I was seeking power, the power of divine truth (Rom. 1:16), but nothing else. What personal power could I possibly seek to gain by signing the letter, and what would I do with it if I gained it? If I was seeking personal or political power, I was totally unaware of it and wouldnít know what do with it if I gained it.

     (3) "Creed writers." I devoted most of the previous issue of this little publication to this charge, so I wonít repeat it here. Suffice it to say, like the other charges, it is an appeal to prejudice, and does nothing toward dealing with the issue at hand and has a negative effect on any possible solution.

     A law professor advised his students: "If you have evidence, pound on the evidence. If you have witnesses, pound on the witnesses. If you have neither, pound on the table." Some of our good brethren are "pounding on the table."

     (4) "Seekers of division." This is an outrageous charge. It is amazing how a sincere effort to effect unity can be characterized as seeking division. Division is the last thing on the minds of those who wrote and signed the letter, and this is a slanderous charge. Those who introduce false doctrines and seek to push them on the brethren and those who defend them are the ones who cause division.

     (5) "Sectarian." The open letter has been haracterized as "sectarian." Webster says a sectarian is "an adherent of a sect, a narrow or bigoted sectarian. He also says, "limited in character or scope: parochial." Now if the open letter was "sectarian," those who signed it are sectarians. What sect are we adherents of? Name it, and tell us the conditions of membership in it. Are we sectarians because we all agree that the days of Genesis one are literal 24-hour contiguous solar days? Is agreeing on a given point the making of sectarianism? I think those who are defending the Genesis one error agree, does that make them sectarians? They also agree that Jesus is the Son of God, that He was born of the virgin Mary, and that baptism is for the remission of sins. Does that make them sectarian? If not, why not? When they answer this question, they will have negated their charge of sectarianism.

     (6) "Fools": In his reply to the "open letter" brother Hill Roberts called the framers and signers of it "fools." I singed the letter and I am not ashamed to have done so, and I resent being called a fool when all I hoped for was a brotherly discussion of the issues involved and a scriptural settlement of the matter. I find it hard to believe that Colly, Ferrell and others will rejoice in Hillís diatribe. Jesus said, "But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, hall be in danger of hell fire."(Matt. 5:22). Iím sure brother Roberts has read this passage, he just decided in a fit of anger to ignore it. In my humble judgment, he owes an apology and needs to repent. I pray such will be forthcoming as he contemplates his bitterness of soul.

     I have pleaded for unity on this matter, and have proposed a possible way to attempt to achieve it, but with no positive response so far. I am still hoping and praying. The longer the present course is pursued, the wider will grow the gap between us. The more libelous names that are invented and hurled about, the more likely division will occur. Political power plays will not settle scriptural issues. The promoters and defenders of the Genesis one error need to observe the law of holes; when you see you are in one, stop digging!

     Those who are defending or tolerating the Genesis one error are good brethren whom we love and cherish, but that cannot mitigate our responsibility to try to bring about correction when they are wrong. Our kind and loving efforts do not deserve the response they have received, but "it ainít over till itís over." I am living in hope. Paulís words seem appropriate here:

     (1 Cor 4:10) "We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised."

     (1 Cor 3:19) "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness."

     (1 Tim 6:20-21) "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: {21} Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen."

     (Mat 5:22) "But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca [ stupid, empty headed jpn], shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire."

James P. Needham
1600 Oneco Ave.
Winter Park, FL 32789
Phone and FAX (407)628-2995

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