Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 30, 1950

"Church Of Christ Encampment"

Cecil B. Douthitt, Brownwood, Texas

All publicans and sinners must keep out! They are not wanted. This place is not made for them. "We will make this for none but Christians." And I am not writing about heaven.

This place where sinners are not allowed is what Brother Claude McClung, in the Firm Foundation of December 13, calls "Church of Christ Encampment", "two and a half miles out from Granbury, 40 miles southwest of Ft. Worth, in the beautiful hills of Hood County."

These are his words: "I am glad to explain the above heading, and say to the church of Christ of the state, especially of North Texas, that the plans are now being made for a camping center, planned for Christians, and the things Christians like to enjoy. This camping ground will be made for Christians, and Christians only. It will be for the church of Christ people, and their camping pleasures."

And he repeats: "We will make this for none but Christians, and the environment will be all one could ask." Then with the vim of an experienced real estate salesman he offers lots for sale on this "Church of Christ Encampment" to "individuals, or congregations", who can qualify as Christian, for this thing is "for none but Christians," where there will be no "dust, ticks, and needlegrass," where "the Brazos is just one mile away," "and good catfishing is to be had there."

"Not a place like it in the whole state," says Brother McClung, and I believe him; I do not believe there is a place like it in the whole world, since the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem. Therefore, I should like to ask a few questions about this Utopia "now on the way to completion."

Before presenting my questions, through fairness to Brother McClung and the "trustees of this property," I insert this quotation from his article: "A large tabernacle is to be built, but the church building is now being used for classes." This "large tabernacle" possesses a wider sanctified area than the Jewish tabernacle. The publicans and sinners were not permitted to enter the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place, but publicans and sinners are not permitted anywhere on this "Church of Christ Encampment," according to Brother McClung's claims; this whole thing, camping ground, tabernacle and all, "will be made for Christians, and Christians only," if Brother McClung is stating the matter correctly.

Now for the questions: How will publicans and sinners be kept away from this "Church of Christ Encampment?" Will the "trustees of this property" nail a sign over the tabernacle door, saying: "FOR CHRISTIANS, AND CHRISTIANS ONLY?" How does anybody know that publicans and sinners will obey the sign?

How near will sinners be allowed to this "Church of Christ Encampment?" Will guards be employed to keep them away? Will they be armed? If so, with what? By what authority can publicans and sinners be kept from "cat-fishing" in the Brazos "just one mile away" at the very spot where the inmates of this "Church of Christ Encampment" want to "catfish."

If qualified purchasers, who buy lots with the definite agreement that this Utopia is "for Christians, and Christians only," should find some publicans down in the lower corner praying, "God, be thou merciful to me a sinner," and the "trustees of this property" should refuse to call out the guards and drive away said sinners, couldn't said qualified purchasers compel said trustees to refund the money paid for said property?

What assurance, except Brother McClung's word, do qualified purchasers have that publicans and sinners will not be permitted to enter that "large tabernacle" at the very hour of worship on Lord's Day morning? If the trustees permit publicans and sinners to sit right there in that "large tabernacle" during worship on Sunday morning, would they not be getting money under false pretense, if they sell these lots under the promise that the whole thing is "for Christians, and Christians only?"

Lydia and the women with her were not Christians when they went down by a river to pray. If women like Lydia and her friends were caught praying by the Brazos or "catfishing" in the Brazos, would they be driven away by the "trustees" of this "Church of Christ Encampment?" If not, why do they permit Brother McClung to advertise it "for none but Christians?"

Would a qualified lot-buyer be permitted to bring into this "Church of Christ Encampment" his fourteen year old son who is not a Christian, or would he be compelled to leave the boy across the road with the publicans and sinners? If this non-Christian son is permitted to camp right there in the same cabin with his Christian father, why advertise the thing "for Christians, and Christians only?" If this boy had any sense, would he feel welcome when he read Brother McClung's article?

If a Methodist family living next door to one of the "trustees of this property" should ask for permission to buy a lot and cabin in this "Church of Christ Encampment" in order to be able to attend the big meeting in the "large tabernacle," and the trustee gave them this privilege, what would that make Brother McClung who says, "This camping ground will be made for Christians, and Christians only?" If this trustee refused to grant this request to said Methodist family, what would that make the trustee in the eyes of the Lord who preferred the company of publicans and sinners to that of the Pharisees who "murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them?" (Luke 15:2.)

When application is made for entrance into this Thorp Spring Utopia, who will be the judge as to whether or not the applicant is a Christian? Will backsliders be admitted?

Church of Christ Encampment? What church of Christ? Local or general? What will somebody start next in the name; "Church of Christ?" When brethren set up an organization for the avowed purpose of "camping pleasures," and advertise the project as "Church of Christ Encampment" with "plenty of good hiking, swimming, fishing, and then quiet camp life," and sell lots with the understanding that it is "for Christians, and Christians only," we may get ready for anything. If this is what it is advertised to be—"Church of Christ Encampment"—will Brother McClung or the "trustees" please tell us what church of Christ has gone into the business of selling lots for "camping pleasures" to "the church of Christ people?"

Lest the brethren over in Arkansas conclude that the preachers in Texas have already established all the congregations this state needs, and there is nothing left for them to do, except organize "Church of Christ Encampments," I should like to tell them that Brother McClung has already said there is not another place "like it in the whole state," and some of us are hoping there will never be another place like it in the whole world, if the place is what he says it is.

It is not charitable to assume that Brother McClung did not tell the truth when he said the encampment is "for Christians, and Christians only," therefore I am assuming that he correctly stated the policy of the "trustees of this property," until they state to the contrary.

Will this "Church of Christ" pleasure society be more scriptural or less scriptural, if it changes its nature and becomes a missionary society?