Two ministers are sitting together on a fine winter afternoon in the parsonage of a church in a mid-western town. They are ministers of two different church denominations. The one pastor is making a call at the home of the other. At several occasions these two men had met during the past year. Not only had they met on the street at the Post Office of the little town, but they had met at other occasions, such as the meeting of the parents interested in giving their children a Christian training. They would often discuss the problems of Christian living, the life of faith, and not seldomly this would lead them into the fundamental questions of Reformed Theology.
What we wished to state is that these two ministers are no strangers.
But what has brought them together; what caused the one of them to pay a call at the home of the other?
Briefly stated, the reason for this call is still: just the week before a “field-man”, or “contact-man” presenting himself as representing the “Church of Christ” had paid a call to each of the ministers of the five churches in that town. He sought to induce all the ministers of these various churches to sponsor a meeting where a popular speaker, “preacher” if you will, would inform the gathering of the terrible evil and growing menace of the sale and use of intoxicating liquors, and of all of its attending evils for the individual, the family and the community.
And this “field-man”, although he had not met with complete success, had nevertheless met with quite a good deal of success. He had been promised such an evening, and this meeting was being announced in the local papers as sponsored by the various churches.
There was, however, one minister, who definitely was opposed to such a gathering and had raised his voice against “this gathering. It is this minister that we find on the aforementioned winter afternoon in the home of the very preacher in whose church this public gathering would be held.
As might be expected, the conversation between these two ministers is relative to the correctness of sponsoring, yes, even of attending such a meeting; the rightness of asking such a speaker to come and inform the meeting was very seriously challenged by the dissenting pastor. For it stands to reason that the dissenting pastor questioned whether it was right in the light of the Word of God and the nature of the office of the Shepherd of Christ’s sheep to have a stranger thus come to inform the people of God of the awful sin of the use of strong liquor; to inform the people that their God-given duty would be to be “teetotalers”, that is, those who would make it a point never to drink a drop of any kind of intoxicating liquors, yea, even to institute the use of grape juice at the Lord’s table instead of wine.
Such was the nature of the conversation at this winter afternoon meeting at the parsonage of this mid-western town between these two ministers.
The minister, who advocated “temperance-preaching” we shall call Rev. Fundamentalist. He indeed subscribes to the cardinal points of doctrine such as: creation, the fall, the Virgin- conception, vicarious atonement, the return of Christ. However, in his life-and-world-view he is not Reformed-Calvinistic. And the lack of this latter is very detrimental. On the other hand, the minister, who advocates that we must not have “temperance-preaching”, we shall call Rev. Reformed-Calvinist. For the sake of brevity we shall call them Rev. F. and Rev. Ref. C., respectively.
The Rev. F. thinks that it simply is wonderful to have such a “temperance- preacher” to speak. Such an evening is merely beneficial to the people of the various churches “represented”, but, added to this, it is doing the “interested public” a good turn by enlightening them as to the evils of intoxicating drinks. It is really killing two birds with one stone.
Besides this, the Rev. F. thinks it may be a way to gain “others” for Christ. If the matter is only one of “social reforming” at least that is more Christian than drunkenness. Surely “the church” is interested in that sort of thing too. Must not the church set its stamp upon the life of the community? And, who knows but what the cessation of the use of intoxicating liquors, may be the “stepping stone” to gain men and women for Christ.
According to Rev. F. this last point is not the least important. For is not, thus Rev. F., salvation in Christ also salvation from being a slave to intoxicating liquor and all manner of drunkenness?
In fact, Rev. F. strongly condemns the stand of Rev. Reformed-Calvinist, in that he is opposed to having this temperance-preacher in his church. He finds it utterly strange and really unaccountable before God.
But the Rev. Reformed-Calvinist simply shakes his head in deep earnestness and in rock-bottom conviction. He simply cannot see eye to eye with Rev. Fundamentalist in whose home he is now seated. And he has rather clearly defined reasons—reasons taken from the Holy Scriptures themselves.
In the first place, he insists that he as yet knows next to nothing of this “great, success-universally acclaimed preacher”. And that is surely necessary. No business firm would simply thus hire a man without a personal interview and without references of commendation from trustworthy organizations. But what does Rev. Fundamentalist and Rev. Reformed-Calvinist know of this man? They know next to nothing concerning the fundamental position of this man as to the Christ of the Scriptures. The only man that has been contacted is the “field-man” and he knew next to nothing about the issues involved when interrogated. Now one may not be too concerned about the well-being of the “general- public”, but Rev. Ref. C., feels that the truth remains that no shepherd of Christ’s sheep will let a man of such unknown quantity, who might be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, at the sheep.
Then too the Rev. Ref. C. insists that there are but two possibilities. And that on either count he will not have this particular “preacher” address the sheep entrusted to his care. The first is that the “temperance” taught by this globetrotting “preacher” is not at all that of the Scriptures. In this case he may not address the flock of Christ. And this flock must not be sacrificed on the altar of the “public-benefit”. The other is that this speaker indeed preaches the temperance of Scripture, but then it is not necessary for him to speak. His flock receives this preaching from him as their God-sent preacher. He will tell them the truth as it is in Jesus.
Rev. Reformed Calvinist is against this man’s speaking in either case.
The Rev. Reformed-Calvinist has also basic reasons against the so-called “temperance-preaching”. Also these objections he brings to the attention of Rev. Fundamentalist.
These reasons we shall report to you in next month’s installment.