Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 19, 1949

"Thirty—seven Years A Gospel Preacher"

Will M. Thompson, Pampa, Texas

As I write these lines my memory drifts back to the days when I began to preach the gospel thirty-seven years ago. In those days we were fighting for every inch of the ground we occupied. The church in those thirty-seven years has made a wonderful progress in many ways. But while we have grown in numbers, in nice buildings, etc., I cannot help wondering at times. Some interpret numbers as growth; sometimes it is a mere swelling.

My first debate occurred when, I was three months old as a gospel preacher. It was either fight (debate) or run. I chose to fight. I believed I had the truth and could defend it. I studied frantically for five weeks under the lamented J. W. Crumley. Brother Crumley and Joe H. Blue were by my side when the debate took place. My opponent, W. J. Pinkerton, had been preaching Baptist doctrine for twenty years. But in this debate he acknowledged that he could not prove the Baptist position on the establishment of the church. Two years after this debate, I met him a second time; and after that debate he obeyed the gospel and became a preacher of the truth.

My preparation for debating and for preaching was not made in college, but by private instruction. While many fine and faithful gospel preachers have received their training in the schools, when I hear men say that the college is the only place to train preachers, it is disgusting indeed. I do not say it boastingly, but I do not feel that the truth has suffered in my hands when I have met the false teachers in debate. In all sincerity I declare that the men who have borne the heat and brunt of the fight against false teachers have been for the most part men who were trained outside our so-called Christian colleges. I know of few men, either faculty or students, in our Christian colleges today who could defend the truth against men like Ben M. Bogard, I. W. Yandell, A.. N. Dugger, Claud Casey and others I could name. I do not say there are none; but I do say their number is few.

I have three sons who are faithfully preaching the word, and are able to defend the truth. These boys of mine went to the Christian colleges, but they tell me they learned more about the Bible away from the college than they did in the college. They give credit for whatever they may know of the truth to faithful gospel preachers like Foy E. Wallace Jr., Roy E. Cogdill, J. Early Arceneaux, and, if I do say so myself, their own father.

There is a general tendency today toward softness and compromise both in the pulpit and in the pew. This attitude seems to be everywhere in the brotherhood, in schools, papers, and churches. Not long ago a man who was once a faithful and loyal elder in a church where had preached told me that he honestly thinks the "Dale Carnegie" method is now the best way to preach the gospel. Twenty-five years ago this man would not have yielded one inch in his stand for the truth; today he would compromise on nearly anything.

The policies of our gospel papers today is far from what we found a quarter of a century ago. I've read the Firm Foundation all my life. My father became a subscriber to it in the days of A. McGary. At that time the battle was fiercely raging over the baptism question. Or, as some called it, the "re-baptism" question. The Gospel Advocate took the position that many, if not most, sectarians who had been immersed had been scripturally baptized. McGary and a host of faithful gospel preachers fought this issue to a standstill. They showed that one could not "accidentally" obey God; that he must have an understanding of what he is doing. My father dropped his subscription to the Advocate, and took the Firm Foundation for as long as he lived. In those days such men as A. J. McCarty, J. W. Denton, John S. Durst, J. D. Tant, C. R. Nichol, J. W. Chism, John T. Hinds, and many others were giving us strong meat to digest. I cherish the memory of these great servants of God.

But today what a contrast! Imagine my surprise, only recently, to learn that the Firm Foundation is now handling the Jorgenson premillennial song-book. I'm reliably informed that Jorgenson made the statement in the presence of some elders and preachers in California that anywhere he could place his song-book he, himself, Would get in sooner or later. And now the Firm Foundation is helping him to place the book! This is the same E. L. Jorgenson who is the administrator of the Don Carlos Janes' will which set aside $40,000.00 for the spread of premillennial propaganda among the churches of Christ. Much of this money was obtained from innocent brethren. I've kept the Jorgenson book out of many congregations, and have been the cause of a number of them laying it aside to buy books from the Firm Foundation and the Gospel Advocate. I shall continue to follow this practice, and urge churches not to buy this premillennial book.

Temporarily it seems we have the colleges stopped from their efforts to place the schools in the church budget. But be not deceived; they are stopped for a time. When they think the time is ripe, they will try it again. At least, this is my own personal view in the matter. But when they do, I'm confident they will get no further than they did this time. There will be plenty of faithful warriors among our younger preachers, as well as among the veterans of the cross, who will gird on the Christian armour and meet the errorists in fierce and unyielding battle. I'm glad to believe that there are many thousands who have not, and will not, bow the knee to Baal. They will be firm and steadfast in their preaching of the gospel as ever their fathers were before them. It is a comforting thought.