The Military Chaplain: The Framework within Which He Serves -- By: Donald F. Carter

Journal: Grace Journal
Volume: GJ 10:2 (Spring 1969)
Article: The Military Chaplain: The Framework within Which He Serves
Author: Donald F. Carter

The Military Chaplain:
The Framework within Which He Serves

Colonel Donald F. Carter

Chaplain, United States Army (Retired)

[This paper was first delivered at Grace Theological Seminary on January 29, 1969, as part of the Louis S. Bauman Memorial Lectures.]

We find in the Apostle Paul a strange and interesting anomaly. To us of a strongly conservative, Biblical background, with our strict adherence to the Word of God there is apt to be found a somewhat rigid, unbending attitude toward worldly people and worldly institutions. This attitude causes us to feel that we should not be contaminated with evil. We are thus unable, sometimes, to open our hearts in true love to those who need us most. As we consider Paul, in the light of this scripture, we realize that in great natures we sometimes meet with a remarkable combination of firmness and yielding. To do a great work in the world a man needs a powerful will, a resolution not easily moved. At the same time that same man here displays a flexibility of disposition and a readiness to adapt himself to different characters and changing circumstances. Without the determination that approaches obstinacy, he will not keep the one aim before him. Without the pliancy needed in dealing with men, he will not be able to secure the aim.

Now here is the anomaly: the same Apostle Paul who said, “this one thing I do” (Phil 3:13), is here found professing that it was his principle and his practice to “become all things to all men” (1 Cor 9:22). Accustomed in his varied life to dealing with rabbis and philosophers, Paul also delighted in ministering to the rudest barbarian! Note with me three instances of his pliancy: (1) To the Jew he was as a Jew. He openly honored the divine law given to Moses. Upon occasion he acted within that law as when he circumcised Timothy and when he sheared his hair in fulfilling a vow. (2) To those outside the law, the heathen world, Paul became as one of them, indifferent to the many customary observances of his national background. Hear him preaching at the Areopagus at Athens, “And the times of this ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: because he hath appointed a day” (Acts 17:30, 31). (3) To the weak he became as weak, as attested by his statement, “If meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh” (1 Cor 8:13).

Though entirely free, with a great liberty Paul made himself a slave for the sake of those whose welfare he sought. He became “all things to all men in order that he m...

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