Hugh’s News & Views (Fence Straddlers)

FENCE STRADDLERS

The story is told of a civil war soldier who did not want to take sides but remain neutral and be accepted by both sides. He put on a pair of Confederate britches and donned a Union jacket. He was shot in the seat by a Yankee soldier and in the chest by a Rebel soldier and died of the injuries he incurred as a result of trying to be on both sides!

This reminds me of many professed soldiers in the Lord’s army today. One can never tell for sure which side they are on, though they will always piously profess that they are on the side of the Lord and scripture. They have a “talent” for speaking and writing in such a way as to try to never cause any objection from either side. They can speak and write in such a way that they never say that undenominational Christianity is not possible in the world today, but neither do they speak and write in such a forthright manner as to say that it is possible.

They can speak and write in such a way as to say that the church is not a denomination, and then turn around and use the most denominational terminology imaginable to refer to the church, leaving the impression that the church is just another denomination originating with men.

They can speak and write in such a way as to leave the impression that instrumental music in the worship of the church is not authorized, but then they can speak and write in such a way as to leave the impression that not having instrumental music in worship is only “our tradition” and that whether or not we have it is really not a “big deal.”

They can speak and write in such a way as to make people think they do not approve of women taking leading roles in the public worship and work of the church, and then they can speak and write in such a fashion as to leave open the possibility of women assuming leading roles in the work and worship of the church.

One professor in the Bible Department of one of our Christian universities has acknowledged to me (in writing) that he believes instrumental music in the worship of the church is scriptural, and also that women may do anything in the worship assembly that men may do – including preaching! At the same time he said, “I do not articulate my views when the leadership of a particular congregation thinks otherwise.” How is that for trying to wear “Confederate trousers and a Union coat” at the same time?! As a matter of fact, how is that for basic Christian integrity?

The retired Chairman of the Religious Division of one of our supposed Christian universities told me that he once wrote an article for the Gospel Advocate and received criticism from his liberal friends. Years earlier he had taken a leading role in the launch of a progressive/liberal journal, Mission, which has long since “bit the dust.” Later, in an apparent attempt to appease his conservative friends, he wrote an article for the Gospel Advocate, and drew criticism from his liberal friends! Some folks are too liberal for the conservatives and too conservative for the liberals. They want so badly to straddle the fence and try to please both sides!

In the long, long ago, an old prophet said to the people of God, “How long go ye limping between the two sides? If Jehovah be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered not a word” (I Kings 18:21, ASV). How sad! The effort to straddle the fence and offend no one but to have everybody’s approval was in vogue 3000 years ago!

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, said, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad” (Matthew 12:30).

Don’t be a fence straddler. It’s a fatal position to occupy spiritually. “Choose you this day whom ye will serve” (Joshua 24:15, KJV).

Hugh Fulford

March 14, 2017