Who Is My Brother? -- By: John A. Witmer

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 126:502 (Apr 1969)
Article: Who Is My Brother?
Author: John A. Witmer

Who Is My Brother?

John A. Witmer

[John A. Witmer, Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology, Librarian, Dallas Theological Seminary.]

Approximately 150 years ago as a result of the slow communications of that era the bloody battle of New Orleans was fought two weeks after the Treaty of Ghent ended the War of 1812. Today by way of contrast events occurring halfway around the world are not only headlines in tomorrow morning’s newspaper and bulletins on tonight’s newscast, but also are documentary specials via satellite on television in living color as they happen. Instantaneous mass communications and jet-speed transportation have reduced the world to a neighborhood—ecclesiastical parlance would say a parish—and have underscored the validity of John Donne’s words, “No man is an island, entire of itself.” In the days when a nation could be decimated by famine or plague or war and half the world would never learn of it, the unity of the human race was not so obvious; but when starving children from Biafra and street fighting and jungle ambushes in Vietnam appear on television screens in American living rooms, it is a reality that cannot be denied. The fact of the matter is that every human being alive is a passenger in a spaceship called Earth, and no one is able to escape the common lot by saying, “Stop the world. I want to get off.” This generation understands as no previous one could the fact that, to quote Donne again: “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.”

The Answer of Religious Liberalism

While the fact of the unity of the human race is undeniable today, the issue at hand is the nature of this unity. For almost a century modern religious liberalism has interpreted this unity as being spiritual in nature. This concept has become crystalized in the familiar slogan, “The Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man.” R. J. Campbell, for example,

spoke of “the fundamental unity of the whole human family,”1 which unity to him was found in the spirit of man. This he identified as “the deathless Divine within us.”2 His concept was really pantheistic, for he later said, “My God is my deeper Self, and yours too; He is the Self of the universe.”3 In the light of such a doctrine of man and the unity of the human family it is not surprising that Campbell conceived of the ministry of the church as “trying to win men to the realization of the great ideal of a universal fellowship of love based on a common relationship to the God and Father of us all.”You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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