The following represents various articles in the 1960s published in The Gospel Guardian as they relate to the Civil Rights Movement, race and ethnic relations in society and the church, and documentation of previous history in the Restoration Movement. Additionally, the articles from Volume 22 in 1970 and 1971 which catalyzed Bryan Vinson, Sr., to write “The Racial Problem in America” are reproduced in full. These articles are posted for historical interest and do not necessarily represent my views.
Civil Rights and Civil Disobedience (J. David Tant)
The news media of the nation constantly focus our attention on the “Civil Rights” issue now being debated before Congress, fought over in the courts, and demonstrated about in the streets. While it is not the purpose of the writer to engage in political controversy on this matter, we believe there are certain aspects of the matter which it would be well for Christians and others to consider.
The first aspect is that of “Civil Disobedience.” Throughout the land various leaders of the movement are encouraging both black and white to disobey civil authorities in order to bring the rights problem to the forefront. They encourage picketing of businesses and public buildings and demonstrations which clearly violate laws and regulations. It is ludicrous to observe so-called “religious leaders” urge their followers to deliberately disregard law and order.
Of course, the Bible does not teach that we are to obey man if such obedience conflicts with our spiritual obligations, but otherwise we are subject to civil authorities! It could not be plainer: “Let every soul be in subjection to the higher powers: for there is no power but of God; and the powers that be are ordained of God. Therefore he that resisteth the power, withstandeth the ordinance of God…” (Rom. 13: 1-2.) Nor it is up to someone to prove that “anti-trespass” ordinances and such like contradict our spiritual obligations. It cannot be done! There may be laws we do not like, and laws that work a hardship on us, but God did not give us the privilege of obeying only that which we have “taken a liking to.”
Let those encouraging illegal actions beware: there is a law which they must respect — the law of sowing and reaping. If they expect to sow disobedience and irresponsibility and reap obedient and responsible citizens they have another think coming. As Hosea said, “for they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind…” (Hos. 8:7) “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Gal. 6:7).
The second aspect is that concerning the “Golden Rule.” Christ said “all things therefore whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them… (Matt. 7:12) Now when a person prevents customers from entering a place of business, or creates a disturbance, or uses his car to block traffic, is he complying with what Christ taught? Most Surely Not! True, the negro is discriminated against, is abused, and is taken advantage of, but Christ even more! Again the Bible says: “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom. 12:21) and surely Christ is the best example.
Do not misunderstand. I am as sympathetic to the unfortunate position of the Negro and other minority groups as the next person, but two wrongs do not make a right, and I believe more good and progress can be accomplished in anything by following the simple precepts of Christ. The Lord has not promised social, political, or economic equality to every person, only equality spiritually to those in Christ. (Gal. 3:28-28).
It ill behooves anyone to exploit another, but neither is it right for the one exploited to return evil for evil. I am in favor of full citizenship and equality for white, red, and black, but as in everything else, I am in favor of doing whatever is done in God’s way.
— 2394 Wesley Chapel Rd , Decatur, Georgia
(From the Gospel Guardian, Volume 16, Number 9, July 9, 1964, as recorded in The Gospel Guardian archive here.)
Marching for Morality (Wendle Scott)
Powerful economic pressures have been applied against this writer and against seven ministerial students who joined a march seeking fair wages for Latin-American farm workers.
In defense of compassion (strange that such should be necessary) let me tell you some of the reasons why I, personally and individually, participated. First are the members of the church where I minister (I would say “preach” except that the elders of the English-speaking church which owns the building have forbidden me to preach in their property.) who have worked in the fields for as little as $2.00 and $3.00 per day.
Another reason is the woman, baptized by me, who silently suffered suggestive remarks from, and gave a kick-back to a packing-shed foreman so she could keep the job on which she and her three children depended for their livelihood.
I also remembered the fine old Christian gentleman who, after 25 years of service to his employer (maximum salary $4.17 per day), was unable to draw social security when he reached 65 because his employer had illegally failed to report him as an employee. After he had lost two or three years’ social security benefits the employer finally reported him —as an employee of one year. This man suffers this injustice for fear of losing his job. His age and infirmities would make it impossible for him to find another job. Legal punishment of his employer wouldn’t put food on his table.
I considered my Latin-American wife and our five children who will live and work as Latin-Americans. Should I do nothing to improve THEIR future? Would my conscience permit me to cloister myself in my study and pretend that injustice and moral evils do not exist? To me it was not “Should I get involved?” but rather “Woe is me if I too pass by on the other side!”
John the Baptist became deeply involved in the moral-political question of Herod’s incest. Jesus led a march that ended in the temple. The injustices he saw there led him to become deeply involved with the unjust merchants. Matthew 21:6-13. The apostle Paul felt himself involved. “Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not?” 2 Corinthians 11:29. The apostle James sacrificed peace for principle when he dared condemn the rich men of his day who fraudulently kept back “the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields.” James 5:4. How could any words be more appropriate than these to describe the farm workers’ plight in the Rio Grande Valley.
Naturally, the advocates of “Peace, peace, when there is no peace” in the First Century condemned them for “turning the world upside down,” but true men of God have always “obeyed God rather than men.” How could a 20th Century servant of God do less?
Our training school for Mexican preachers has suffered severe economic reprisals. We have lost support for 6 students, as well as our dormitory and classrooms. Despite this, we plan to continue because of the desperate need for Spanish-speaking preachers. Perhaps even more important is the urgent need to correct the false impression left before the world by these elders’ actions, i.e., that the Church of Christ is INDIFFERENT and even ANTAGONISTIC to the Latin-American people’s efforts to obtain economic justice.
The falsity of this impression can best be shown by churches and Christians taking up the support of the 6 students who have lost their support for participating in the march. It costs only $65.00 per month to keep a student in the school.
-918 North 17th McAllen, Texas 78501
(From the Gospel Guardian, Volume 18, Number 22, October 6, 1966, as recorded in The Gospel Guardian archive here. Fanning Yater Tant added an editorial comment on the article as The Church and Demonstrations, in which he said, “We think every Christian will sympathize with the plight of the Latin-Americans whom Brother Scott describes. Let it be remembered, however, that these Latin-Americans are fabulously “rich” in comparison with their blood brothers across the Rio Grande, that their present standard of living is the highest any of them have ever known. And, more important than either of these, when the church becomes involved in these pressure tactics (or political and legislative actions) to re-make society, she has lost sight of her God-given mission, and is spending her time and her strength in ways which should not concern her!”)
A Mexican Jesus? (Charles F. House)
Recently in a national publication, Senator Robert Kennedy, a very devout Roman Catholic, who had been visiting Africa, asked the question: “What if God was black?” This statement caused this writer to meditate on and ponder Kennedy’s statement. Just suppose when we all get to heaven, when we face the judgment seat of Christ, that we observed that God the Father was black, or that the Holy Spirit was an Indian, and that Jesus Christ, the son, was actually a Mexican. How surprised some of us would be. Actually in the Church of the Lord there are no Mexicans, no North Americans, no Indians, only Christians. (Acts 11:26). Thus, we can see the fallacy and the foolishness of the matter in thinking that God might be black, the Holy Spirit might be an Indian, or that Jesus might be a Mexican. But sometimes one wonders if some of us don’t think God, The Holy Spirit, Jesus and His Judgment seat, as a tribunal of whites only, where dark skins are not wanted, and where they are already condemned before their trial just because their skins were not white. Could it be possible that some of us might have rendered bad judgment because of ignorance of all of the facts, or because we are content in our own self righteousness? If such is the case beloved, we had better prayerfully examine the Master’s teaching. He said in Matthew 5:20 “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven”. Again He said in Matthew 23:28…. “Even so ye outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” Thus, if some of us have the idea that we are going to heaven without being concerned for those more unfortunate, we are mistaken. If we do not love God first, and secondly, our neighbor as ourselves, we will not make it. Have we forgotten what Jesus said in Matt. 25:35-36? Lets read it together, prayerfully: “For I was hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: etc.”
Let me illustrate the point: Brother Gabriel Ortiz, 416 West Los Angeles Drive, Vista, California-92083, a faithful bi-lingual Gospel preacher, a Mexican-American (born in Fort Worth, Texas), and a brother in Christ, has been desperately trying to raise support as he begins the work among the Spanish speaking of Vista, California. (See the GOSPEL GUARDIAN, page 251, Volume 18, dated August 25, 1966.) His appeals, as he visits nearby churches, in part, have fallen on deaf ears, because not enough nearby congregations have come to his aid. Was this the same thing experienced by Brother Walter Bunnell, formerly of National City, California, who returned to secular work, and who wanted so badly to go to South America to preach in Spanish? Brother Phil Morgan of Santiago, Chile has made appeals from time to time. Have his appeals fallen on deaf ears? (See GOSPEL GUARDIAN, page 233, Vol. 18, dated August 18, 1966) WHY don’t churches care enough for the souls of Spanish speaking people to support Gospel preachers who are working in Spanish fields in their own backyards? Must the answer wait and be revealed only at the judgment?
As of August 25, 1966, nearby churches were supporting Brother Ortiz $300 per month. (GOSPEL GUARDIAN, page 251, Vol. 18, dated August 25, 1966) On September 13, 1966 one church notified him that they will no longer be supporting him $110 per month after December 31, 1966. The emergency has become so urgent that this appeal is being made to the brotherhood as a whole, and to those brethren who love the souls of Spanish speaking people. Brother Ortiz is asking both emergency benevolence (to help him pay a huge hospital bill), plus regular support as a Gospel preacher. On at least two occasions that I know of, one of the faithful nearby churches responded to his need by bringing food and canned goods into his home. The local members of the Vista Spanish church itself have been doing what they could; bringing in food, plus having the Ortiz family to eat with them. If his present emergency is not met in a hurry, the brotherhood is in danger of losing this man also to full time secular work. It is hoped this can be averted by appealing directly to the whole brotherhood. It is not right that any group of individuals or churches in any given locality should cut themselves off from the Spanish work without a Scriptural reason, because of racial prejudice, or whatever the reason might be, when there is such a great need. Actually, this could be a black mark against them.
Bro. Ortiz, who has two teen-age children at home, is asking $540 per month (to pay bills and to live on), plus $110 per month house allowance. In view of the fact that the church meets in his home, this amount is not unreasonable. We who know him and love him, respectfully petition you that he be invited to your congregation, or that you phone or write him for further details of his plans, with the end in view of supporting him. He will gladly recieve any amount from $1 per month to the full amount that he needs. (Phil. 4:17). How many churches in the brotherhood can not really afford $5 or $10 per month to have fellowship with him? Communicate directly with Gabriel Ortiz, 416 West Los Angeles Drive, Vista, California-92083, telephone code (714) 724-6319. This man is worthy and is qualified.
Do you think after this great battle of life is all over that at the judgment you will encounter a Mexican Jesus? Think on these things.
-P. O. Box 641 San Luis, Arizona USA 85349
(From the Gospel Guardian, Volume 18, Number 25, October 27, 1966, as recorded in The Gospel Guardian archive here.)
Dr. B. F. Hall and the Civil War (Earl Kimbrough)
When Confederate batteries opened fire on Fort Sumpter that fateful April morning in 1861, it launched one of the bloodiest civil wars in the history of man. The deep-seated social and political conflicts that gave rise to hostilities between North and South had a pronounced effect upon the churches of the land, and the churches of Christ were not spared. While many gospel preachers strongly opposed Christians participating in carnal warfare, there were others who fervently supported the war on one side or the other. Some even wore the uniform of either the Gray or the Blue and took an active part in the fighting.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin Hall was living in Texas when the war broke out. At the time he was one of the leading evangelists in the movement to restore New Testament Christianity, having pioneered the cause in several states of the South. He had been instrumental in establishing the first church patterned after the apostolic order in North Carolina, at Edenton in 1833, and the first like church in Arkansas, at Little Rock the year before. There is also reason to believe that he was the first man to preach the gospel plan of salvation in Alabama, where he traveled for two years beginning in the fall of 1826. However, Kentucky seems to have been the main field of his labor prior to his removal to Texas a few years before the war.
A dentist by profession, Dr. Hall supported his family in that occupation as he evangelized from place to place. A Baptist paper in Alabama referred to him as “a tooth doctor peregrinating the country and peddling heresies.” In the middle 1830’s he was co-editor with John T. Johnson of the original Gospel Advocate and the Gospel Panoplist. He was a co-laborer at times with many of the leading lights among the restoration preachers, including Thomas and Alexander Campbell, Barton Stone, and Tolbert Fanning. He was also an able singer and the editor of a hymn book.
Dr. Hall was so moved by the Southern cause that he became one of the Confederacy’s rankest partisans. When the Sixth Texas Cavalry was activated for war, he joined its ranks as a regimental chaplain. With his six-foot stature and impressive manner of dress, he evidently made a handsome soldier, as “he rode a fine mule” and “carried a splendid rifle,” but he made a poor chaplain. He was one of those preachers in uniform who, “instead of attempting to mitigate in any degree the horrors of war, and to soothe the fierce passions that had been aroused, rather strove to increase the one and inflame still further the other.”
The extent to which Dr. Hall “went wild on the war question” is revealed in an incident that took place just antecedent to the Battle of Pea Ridge, which was fought a few miles north of Fayetteville, Arkansas, in March, 1862. William Baxter and Robert Graham, gospel preachers, were then living in Fayetteville and had been operating a college there. When they learned that Dr. Hall was camped nearby, they paid their brother a visit, but they were completely surprised at what they found. Baxter recounted this visit in his book Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove, saying:
I had known him in former years and was not prepared for the change, which a few hours’ intercourse was sufficient to convince me had taken place. He boasted of his trusty rifle, of the accuracy of his aim, and doubted not that the weapon, with which he claimed to have killed deer at two hundred yards, would be quite as effectual when a Yankee was the mark….I ventured to ask what were his views concerning his brethren with and for whom he had labored in other years in the North and West. He replied that they were no brethren of his, that the religionists on the other side of the line were all infidel, and that true religion was now only to be found in the South…. Once during the evening he wished that the people of the North were upon one vast platform, with a magazine of powder beneath, and that he might have the pleasure of applying the match to hurl them all into eternity. (As quoted in Quest for a Christian America, pp. 155, 156.)
Dr. B. F. Hall was neither the first nor the last gospel preacher to accomplish much good in his earlier life, only to ruin his influence for truth and right by foolish actions in later years. What a heart-rending sight it always is but be that as it may, the good the doctor did prior to the war could not be changed by his ungodly attitude during the war. In reality men do not undo the good they have done. Paul could have become a castaway after having saved others, but that does not mean they too would be castaways. Regardless of Dr. Hall’s actions during the war, or other indiscretions that mar his record, he deserves to be remembered for the important roll he played in pioneering the restoration plea across his beloved Southland.
We should never allow our disappointment in men to warp our evaluation of and appreciation for what they did in happier times. Nor should we allow our faith in God’s truth to be shaken when good men forsake it or act contrary to it. Men are weak and frail creatures of dust, but the truth abides forever. Our attitude toward those who forsake the truth might well be that which W. C. Rogers took regarding Dr. Hall. “Without winking at one known or acknowledged sin of the Doctor’s, I prefer awaiting the decision of Mary’s Son and Israel’s King in that day when all shall stand before the great white throne, and shall be judged out of the books then opened, and according to the things done in the body.” (Recollections of Men and Faith)
(Reprinted in the Gospel Guardian, Volume 18, Number 49, April 20, 1967, as recorded in The Gospel Guardian archive here. Such represents bro. Kimbrough’s historical research, and is presented here as a case study of what took place in the days of the Civil War.)
Race Prejudice (David Lipscomb)
We see in the Christian Preacher, a notice of the fact that a colored man presented himself for membership into a congregation of disciples worshiping at McKinney, Texas, and that some of the brethren objected to receiving him. We are not told how the church acted in the case, but it has been in our mind for some time to say a few things on this subject and we make this the occasion.
A principle lying at the foundation of all true service to God and discipleship to our Lord Jesus Christ, is that we must accept God’s law, provisions and institutions just as He gave them to us. To induce men to do this has been the aim of all His dealings with and lessons to humanity. Humanity learns this lesson slowly. It seems to have learned it sometimes and to be willing to apply it in some particulars and at some points, when in another particular or at another point, the same individuals will recklessly and presumptuously ignore the lessons and trample the principle under foot.
Now many who have learned the lesson in reference to an entrance into the church, and strenuously insist that God will punish any one who rejects the law of Christ in all its parts, just in the order in which God has laid it down, will yet freely and presumptuously set aside His law in other things just as suits their whims or prejudices. In this matter of church membership they frequently do these things. Nothing is more clearly taught in the Bible than that Christ came into the world to break down middle walls, family prejudices, natural animosities, race antipathies, and to unite the different kindred, tongues and tribes into one undivided and indivisible brotherhood.
Prejudice In New Testament Days
The race prejudices in the days of the Savior and of the apostles were just as strong as they are today. The Jews regarded the Gentiles as “Gentile dogs;” they had no dealings with those of other nations. The feeling of prejudice was so strong that a miracle was wrought to induce Peter to go out and preach Christ to the Gentiles. Another miracle was requisite to convince the six Jewish brethren who accompanied him that the Gentiles ought to be received into the church.
This prejudice was so strong that Peter after this dissembled, and for fear of the prejudices of the Jewish brethren refused to eat with the Gentile Christians, to whom he had opened the door of the kingdom under the guidance of God’s Spirit.
The race prejudice was as strong with them as with us. Did Christ or the Holy Spirit tolerate those who objected to association with the Gentiles who believed? Not once. All were accepted by Christ as brethren, and were required so to live. There was nothing of having two congregations in the same community for the distinct races. Such a course would have defeated the very ends of Christ’s mission, to make of twain, one new man. So making peace.
We believe it sinful to have two congregations in the same community for persons of separate and distinct races now. The race prejudice would cause trouble in the churches we know. It did this in apostolic days. Not once did the apostles suggest that they should form separate congregations for the different races. But they always admonished them to unity, forbearance, love and brotherhood in Christ Jesus.
We believe it sinful to do otherwise now. To reject the Negro from association in the congregations of the white, is to deprive him of the instruction and of the influence for good of which he stands so greatly in need. It is to drive him off into ignorance, superstition and degradation. For the whites to reject the Negro is to make the whites self-righteous, self-sufficient, exclusive and unchristian in spirit.
The Nature Of The Gospel
Again, Christ commanded His gospel to be preached among all nations, to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. And the Lord added the saved to the church. Now the Lord saved them through their hearing His word, and obeying that word. He added them to the church by directing them to meet with, to engage in the worship with the disciples. He does the same thing now. Under His direction the gospel is preached to the nations. Every one who hears His law of order and submits to it, God saves from his sins. God saves the Negro equally with the white man when he believes in Christ and puts Him on by being buried with Him in baptism.
When a Negro, or an Indian, or a Chinaman, or an Englishman, or an Irishman, or a German hears the gospel, believes in that gospel, testifies his faith in Christ and demands baptism, where is the man or the woman who does call her or himself a Christian and objects? I had as soon think of the worst blasphemer in the land, steeped in the vilest of crimes being saved as a man or woman who would stand between that individual and his obedience to God. He sets at defiance God’s law, assumes to be greater than God, and is guilty of a presumptuous sin in the sight of God, for which we can hardly believe pardon can be found.
God saves the believing Negro or White through his obedience; and can one claiming to be a child of God say no? But often the individual has been saved by God. God proposes to add him to the church or assembly of His people, by requiring him to worship and serve Him. And men, claiming to be followers of God, presumes to say, “No, God, you cannot add this child to your family.” That is the meaning of it. He simply says God cannot add those whom He has saved to his own. How dare any man assume such power and authority? How dare a church tolerate such blasphemous assumption of power in one professing to be a Christian?
The individual who assumes such a position shows a total unfitness for membership in the church of God. A church that will tolerate the persistent exhibition of such a spirit certainly forfeits its claims to be a church of God. It permits in doing it, a poor man full of wicked self-conceit to set at defiance the will of God, and itself is governed by a very wicked spirited man instead of by Christ.
We mean simply this, a church which cannot bring an individual to see his rebellion against God in such a course, ought to withdraw from that individual as one who with a heart full of pride, bitterness and treason fights against God. For our part, we would much prefer membership with an humble and despised band of ignorant Negroes, than with a congregation of the aristocratic and refined Whites in the land, cherishing such a spirit of defiance of God and His law, and all the principles of His holy religion.
But it is never those of gentle blood, refined feelings, cultured hearts or educated minds; never those who have imbibed the spirit of Christ that object to God’s adding those whom He saves of all nations to His church, even if they are the most degraded. It is the unrefined, narrow-minded, low-born and ill-bred whose coarse prejudices and unrestrained passions rule them, that feel a kind of consciousness that if they come in contact with the degraded themselves will be contaminated by the contact.
The well-bred man or woman or the cultured Christian never feels that his standing depends upon such grounds as mere outward association. The gentle-blooded man or woman, the cultured gentleman and lady, the refined Christian, feels that he has inherent, intrinsic merit, on which his or her claims to respect rest, and that it is rather heightened than lowered by efforts to raise the downcast, and lift up the helpless and fallen, the poor and the sinning. “What God hath cleansed let no man call unclean;” let not man dare to reject what God accepts.
God has not given man the right to decide who shall or who shall not come into His church. The man or woman who objects to the fellowship of the humblest, the vilest outcast of God’s creatures who comes in accordance with God’s will, through Christ, only proves thereby his own unfitness for membership in God’s kingdom or fellowship with His Spirit or brotherhood in His family. The best man that lives is a child of hell until saved by grace, the grace of God as manifested through our Lord Jesus Christ. He is no better in the sight of God than the humblest sinner he scorns. Christ came to save the lost, enlighten the ignorant, to lift up the down-trodden, the off-cast, the outcast, and unless we have His Spirit we are none of His.
The church was established to help the lowly, the fallen, the sinning, the outcast and the degraded. They have the first and most sacred right in the aid of that church. He who would prevent their enjoying this right is an enemy of man and is guilty of treason against God. The viler the sinner the greater the claims he has upon the help, the aid, and the friendly offices and tender regard of every servant of Christ.
Our treatment of the Negro at best, is that of criminal indifference and neglect. To discourage and repel him when despite that cruel neglect on our part he seeks membership in the church of God, is an outrage that ought not for a moment to be tolerated.
Gospel Advocate, XX (February 21, 1878), 120-121.
(Reprinted the Gospel Guardian, Volume 22, Number 2, May 14, 1970, as recorded in The Gospel Guardian archive here.)
The Christian and Racial Problems (Leo Rogol)
We are living in turbulent times. Social chaos and upheavals are all around us daily and with much alarm we wonder about the future of our society. We often describe it as a “sick society” because of the lack of respect for law and order. Racial disturbances are erupting daily, taking their disastrous toll and leaving a wreckage of a weakened and divided people.
And so we seek a scapegoat upon whom we all seek to place the blame. Once we can pin-point the source of trouble we think we can remedy the situation. There is the Adam Clayton Powell, the Martin Luther King, H. Rap Brown, the Black Panthers, etc. These leaders in racial demonstrations are blamed for the unhealthy social climate in which we live. I seriously believe that much of this disturbance may well be the product of our own making (the white society), the results of our shortsightedness, our lack of moral perceptiveness in this generation as well as that of generations past. We are simply alarmed over the symptoms, or results, without giving due consideration to the cause or origin of these problems.
Jesus said, “Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh!” (Matt. 18:7). I believe we can apply this principle to this matter under consideration. We may view all the racial disturbances as an “offense,” but we need to know that the ones who are the cause of it come under condemnation also. Think of the poor, unfortunate, Negro who was forced into slavery. Think of the “Emancipation Proclamation” that was to set him free, but in reality made his plight as miserable, if not more so, than when he was enslaved. Think of the shame, abuse, humiliation and hardships the Negro suffered from the hands of a white society for generations after the Civil War. And he still suffers. He was denied his rights and privileges as a free citizen of our society. Isn’t it rather easy for us, who are more fortunate, who haven’t tasted of the Negro’s misery, who live in the affluent mainstream of our society, to criticize the Negro for his rebellion against the injuries inflicted upon him?
Now, I do not wish to become involved in civil rights issues or in any political issues arising as a result of such problems. I am writing this to appeal to the sense of respect among Christians to the foundation principle of obedience to God’s laws, and that is, Love. As Paul said, “If there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:9-10). God did not limit this exercise of love to any one nation, race, or color, for God’s love reached out and broke the barriers of color or race when Jesus “redeemed us to God by (his) blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nations” (Rev. 5:9).
I have heard sermons and read articles in which preachers criticized the Negroes’ involvement in racial strife and disorder. Now these occurrences are the ways of the world and we do not follow after them. And neither do I wish to leave the impression that I am in favor of such. But on the other hand, let those brethren who speak out against this social injustice be reminded that such expressions of outrage are the effects of the injustice inflicted upon the black race. Let it be known that the Negro himself is the victim of and suffered because of a violation of civil laws by the white society. Laws of our nation, of our free society, should guarantee the peace and tranquility of all people without respect of nationality, class, or color. Then those who have violated the rights of any class protected by law, are as guilty as those Negroes they accuse of such behavior in their retaliation against this abuse.
Why do I say this? To champion the cause of the civil rights in this racial issues? Not exactly so. I do not deny that some, or perhaps even many, Negroes are abusive toward the very progress they seek to make. But this does not justify a Christian abusing the rights and privileges belonging to the Negroes. I am saying this to point out to these brethren who teach against racial disturbances that they also put the brethren “in remembrance” of their proper attitude and conduct toward the Negro as fellowman. While I often hear and read of matters pertaining to the guilt of the Negro in these perplexing matters, I seldom read or hear of any admonition to the white brethren with regard to their attitude and conduct toward the black race. And I fear that much of the spirit of racial intolerance in the world continues among some brethren in the church!
The religion of Christ does more to exalt the dignity and lofty state of the human soul without distinction of color than any other religion or anything else. Consequently, any act on the part of Christians to degrade the value placed upon the human soul by God is contrary to His Word. Communism defines man as a “mechanical contraption,” without any distinguishing characteristic that sets him apart from the animal kingdom. In fact, to the communist’s way of thinking, man’s fore-father at one time was an ape, and going back even further, he finds his origin in inorganic matter. Idolatrous religions of paganism defile and degrade the moral and spiritual worth of man and, in many instances, makes his behavior more degraded than the brute beast of the field. But one whose religious foundation is Christ, whose authority is the word of God, readily recognizes the worth, value, and dignity of the human soul, for the Founder of that religion deemed it so valuable that He gave His own life to redeem it from eternal destruction. Why? Because it was made in the image of God! And, as Paul wrote, God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17: 26). Our physical ancestry goes all the way back to Adam — all mankind. But the spiritual entity of man is of a higher origin; it was made in the image of man’s Creator. Hence, racial prejudice and intolerance has no place in the mind and disposition of the Christian, for such desecrates the most glorious handiwork of God’s creation, the one thing that alone was made in the image of the Divine Creator. I well realize that sin has put a stain on the life and soul of man, yet this blight knows no barrier of race, nationality, or color. It afflicts the white, yellow, and black — all mankind — alike. Hence, to the Christian there is no superior race set above all others. “All the world may become guilty before God” (Rom. 3:19). Therefore, “the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men” (Tit. 2:11). For this reason the Christian cannot harbor ill will, prejudice, or intolerance toward any group or race of people — and that includes the Negro race.
Paul wrote against “foolish talking” and “jesting, which are not convenient” (Eph. 5:4). The word, “foolish,” means: “insipid, senseless, which is not fitted to instruct, edify, or profit; idle chit-chat.” Jesting is language that is “light, or trifling, and malignant.” I believe that many times Christian, sometimes even gospel preachers, are guilty of this sin. How often do we hear Christians refer to the Negro as “nigger?” It is spoken in ridicule and oft times in scorn and derision of the black man. It is entirely wrong to use such language that degrades and makes the Negro the object of contempt or disrespect.
I do not propose to have the answer to the social or racial problem of our day. Neither do I intend to become involved in the political issues facing our nation. But I do believe I have the Word of God to instruct and direct my words, conduct, and action with regard to my duty for, and relationship with, the fellow man of another color. I do know that a “racial problem” is not that of the colored man alone. It involves a “problem” of attitude and spirit on the part of the white man toward the Negro. I believe, that as a Christian, I can express no hatred, intolerance, or contempt and ridicule toward any race. And I must respect, therefore, the dignity of man regardless of the color of his skin.
That also means I cannot consider a Negro brother in Christ as a “third” or “fourth rate citizen” in the kingdom of Christ. A Negro brother is not simply to be “tolerated” out of a self-righteous and haughty spirit of benevolent endurance, but he must be considered with equal respect, without distinction or partiality. He is subjected to, is a servant of the same “king of kings and lord of lords” as also am I. All things being equal in our relationship to Christ, then by what right can I assume a spirit of superiority over him by reason of the color of my skin?
Rt. 4, Box 12-D, Greensburg, Kentucky 42743
(From the Gospel Guardian, Volume 22, Number 7, June 18, 1970, as recorded in The Gospel Guardian archive here.)
Why I Believe in Segregation of Races (R. Ervin Driskill)
It has been no secret to those who have known me that I believe in the segregation of the races. My reasons appear valid, to me, and nothing I have seen, on the subject, has convinced me otherwise.
1. I believe the white race owes its existence to God; God made the white man.
2. I believe the Negro race owes its existence to God; God made the Negro man.
3. I do not believe God made a “Mullato Race” (a mixture of white and black); there is no such “Mullato Race.”
4. When white marry white the off-spring is white, thus, perpetuating what God made.
5. When Negro marry Negro the off-spring is Negro, also perpetuating what God made.
6. When White marry Negro, or when Negro marries White, the off-spring is Mullato. This is a corruption or, perversion of what God made. It is my belief we should be satisfied with what God has done.
7. No one, I suppose, would condemn me for contending for something God has done — namely, maintaining God’s fixed order. That is all for which I contend.
8. Since God has made no “Mullato race,” I take it He didn’t want one. Since He has made a “White race” and a “Negro race,” I take it, it was because that’s what He wanted.
9. This does not mean the “White race” cannot be helpful and kind to the “Negro race” (and the poor unfortunate Mullato, as far as that is concerned) nor, does it mean the “Negro race” cannot be kind and helpful to the “White race,” but it does not require an integration of the two to do so.
10. The integration of the two results in a perversion of God’s arrangement.
For many years there was a complete segregation of the Negro and White and much kindness was shown and help given by both. Some years ago we lived in Meridian, Miss., and when a friend from Abilene, Texas, stopped for the night, and we were unable to find a place for her Negro helper to stay, we gave her a place to stay in our home. This was showing kindness to one of God’s creation but it was not a permanent arrangement.
Also, several years ago, we lived near Waco, Texas. R. N. Hogan (a Negro preacher) was in a tent meeting in Waco. Every night I drove thirty-eight miles round trip, and carried a car load of Negro people, to the meeting, in an effort to start a Negro congregation. One old man obeyed the gospel. Because we did not believe one man could worship God, by himself, and because there were no other Negro members in the town, we arranged for him to worship with us.
This, again, was showing helpfulness and kindness. With one more Negro Christian, in the town, I would have helped them start a Negro church.
This may be “racism” but I am not the least embarrassed at such terminology. The Communists have done everything to destroy this nation and for sometime have capitalized on the “Race issue.” It is unfortunate some Papers, Schools, churches and preachers are cooperating with them.
— P. O. Box 55, Mt. Olive, Ala.
(From the Gospel Guardian, Volume 22, Number 11, July 23, 1970, as recorded in The Gospel Guardian archive here.)
A Response To — “Why I Believe in Segregation” (Leslie Diestelkamp)
In the July 23, 1970 issue of this magazine our beloved brother R. Ervin Driskill argued strongly for segregation of the races [see above, erl]. I regret that this emotion-packed controversy has thus been added to the issues troubling God’s people. It should have been possible for brethren to have held differing views on this question without causing it to become an open issue. However, in view of brother Driskill’s strong and provocative assertions, I must, for the sake of truth, respond. I have the very same obligation that Paul had when he said of his brother, Peter, “I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed” (Gal. 2:11). My conscience will not allow me to let this matter pass unanswered. With malice for none and with love for all I must reply as follows:
I. Brother Driskill asserts that God made the white race and that he made the black race. But he fails to quote even one verse of scripture as proof. Indeed, there is no such verse. The fact is that God’s creative work ended on the seventh day (Gen. 2:2) and he had then made one man and one woman, both of the same race (Gen. 2:21-23). No one knows whether they were white, black, red or yellow. All human beings who have lived since then have been a result of God’s law of reproduction — that every thing should reproduce “after his kind” (Gen. 1:24-28). Thus it is obvious that God did not make “kinds” of people — he did not create races. Since this is true, it is equally obvious that every distinguishing racial characteristic which we see today is the result of the reproductive process whereby various features are developed (such as stature, color of skin, etc.). Indeed, Paul said, God “hath made of one blood all nations…”
2. Brother Driskill says that he contends for the “fixed order” which God established. But again he cites no scripture at all to prove such a fixed order. In fact, if the color of the skin were a fixed matter, then we would all have the same color as Adam and Eve had. But we do not have the same color — we cannot have since there are various skin colors.
3. This does not mean that I am urging a mixture of races or that I even contend for a required integration. But I am contending earnestly that: (1) God did not create races (Gen. 11:1, 6 — they were all one people). (2) God does not regard races today (Ac. 10:34 — he is no respecter of persons). (3) God’s people must not regard any race or any individual as “second class,” which attitude is almost inevitable if one believes the things brother Driskill teaches.
4. Brother Driskill accuses those who oppose segregation of cooperating with the communists. The fact is that communism as we know it today is no more sympathetic to integration of races than is any other system. But a further fact is that Christians must oppose all injustice and inequality whether it be in communism, capitalism, Christianity or anywhere else. In our troubled world today I can have no sympathy for racism whether it manifests itself among the white or the black. Physically, the Christian needs to recognize that he is an absolute brother to every human being (Rom. 2:11). God “regardeth not persons” (Deut. 10:17). “There is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons” (2 Chron. 19:7). When we become more and more like God in whose image we are all made, then we will surely have the same attitude he has toward all men.
— 401 Woolf Court Rochelle, Illinois
(From the Gospel Guardian, Volume 22, Number 17, September 3, 1970, as recorded in The Gospel Guardian archive here.)
Excerpt: The Need for a “Social” Gospel (Floyd Chappelear)
Few Christians openly reject the teaching of Christ on the subject of proper treatment of one’s neighbors. But brethren, we need to know the same thing the first century disciple needed to know, principally, “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). If we be fair skinned, that Caucasian fellow, of course. But what about the black man? Is he not our neighbor? “Surely,” some say, “but let’s keep him on his side of town and we’ll stay on our side.” Those possessed by the Devil might be expected to have such views but certainly not those who live by the Spirit of God! In too many cases church buildings have been built by white men to accommodate one or two Negro families for no better reason than such men simply didn’t want to have to worship God with a black man sitting in the same building, or, perish the thought, right next to him on the same pew.
When such acts are perpetrated the good white brethren justify it on every sort of ground. “After all, they would rather meet with black than with white.” Or, “We won’t be able to influence the white people in the community if we have a black man worshipping with us.” Why not admit it? In many cases the church buildings erected by white men for black men are nothing more nor less than monuments to bigotry.
Paul had no confidence in the flesh (Racial origin, Phil. 3:2, 3), nor should we. Barriers built between brethren based on the color of a man’s skin or the cut of his clothes are as evil as they can possibly be (See; Jas. 1:1 ff). If Paul could see that we are all “one man in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26ff), why then cannot we see the same thing? We could if we were more like Paul (I Cor. 11:1).
(An excerpt from a larger article in the Gospel Guardian, Volume 22, Number 46, April 1, 1971, as recorded in The Gospel Guardian archive here.)