Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 23, 1961
NUMBER 41, PAGE 6,10a

From A Preacher's Note-Book

James W. Adams, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Anent "The Gospel Press"

In the Gospel Visitor, October 27, 1960 issue, we printed two letters relative to the "Gospel Press". One was an appeal from prominent Oklahoma Christians for contributions to "Gospel Press." The other was an appeal from its Nashville, Tennessee Vice-President, appealing to churches for contributions for "Gospel Press." We said in the article. "When it (G. P.) saw the light of day, considerable emphasis was given to the fact that it would make no appeal to churches for their support. The publicity implied even that no contributions from churches would be accepted." When we wrote these lines, we depended solely on memory, hence we were unwilling to make a stronger statement than the above concerning the publicity that was given regarding the acceptance of contributions from churches. Since writing the article it has been called to our attention that there was published a definite statement on this point by officials of the organization. We have gone to our files and found the statement. We pass it on to you that you might see and thus appreciate the subtle workings, hence the danger, of institutionalism. The following quotations are from an article entitled. "Another Door of Opportunity Is Open Before Us." It was written by John H. Bannister and M. Norvel Young, officials of Gospel Press, and was published in the Gospel Advocate, September 15, 1955, page 817.

"The following men have agreed to direct the affairs of the Gospel Press: T. E. Milholland, President; R. G. Meggs, Vice-President (Paul S. Hunton has since been selected to serve in this capacity also. JWA); Truman Peek, Secretary-Treasurer; Paul Sherrod, Dr. John G. Young, Harry Lemmons, H. E. Acklin, P. S. Kendrick, Sr., Homer Putnam Reeves, John H. Bannister and M. Norvel Young (emphasis mine. JWA), others will be added."

"The Gospel Press will not infringe upon the work of the church, but is simply trying to do the same thing other gospel papers are doing. Instead of trying to publish our own paper, we will publish the articles in large national magazines which already have their circulation built up into the millions. Contributions will be solicited from individual Christians only. They will not be accepted from churches. Of course, churches may want to buy reprints or tracts as they buy other literature from publishing companies."

There it is brethren, and right "from the horse's mouth." Old Dobbin, however is talking out of the other side of his mouth now. Here is a perfect example of the utter unreliability of the pronouncements of our "institutionally-minded, promoting brethren." Here is the perfect picture of the evolution of institutionalism in religion. Brother Guy N. Woods in debate with brother Roy E. Cogdill at Birmingham, Alabama would not take the position that it would be scriptural to have the same sort of organization characteristic of institutional, orphan "homes" through which the churches might "cooperate" in the field of evangelism.

He kept reiterating like a broken record, "The church is its own missionary society, but it is not its own orphan home." Hundreds of preachers have sung the same tune ever since. We should like much to know what these brethren are going to do now that Gospel Press has evolved into this very sort of creature in all essential particulars. Is there really anything they will oppose in the realm of institutionalism? We shall see! (J. W. A.)

Goodness Vs Greatness

Proper "leadership" is a thing badly needed in every congregation. A church of Christ may exist without "overseers" — "elders" — but it cannot attain the perfection and maturity required of God without them. Some men selected as elders "rule well" and some do not. There are many good elders but few great elders just as there are many good preachers but few great preachers. In the October issue of Nuggets, we ran across the following which had been copied from Management Review: "A good leader inspires others with confidence in him; a great leader inspires them with confidence in themselves."

We would not discharge the necessity for members of the church to have confidence in the elders of the church. We would, however, emphasize the importance of elders inspiring the congregation with confidence in itself. You will remember that when the Israelites came to Kadesh Barnea they selected twelve men, one from each tribe, to go into the land of promise and spy it out. They went and returned. Ten of these leaders of Israel returned with an evil report concerning the land. They said that it was a good land but Israel could not take it. Two of the leaders sought to inspire confidence in the people through an appeal to their faith in God, but to no avail. The confidence of the people was greater in their human leaders than in themselves or in the promises of their God. As a result, they provoked the anger of the Lord and wandered for forty years in the wilderness. All the grown men save two died and were buried in the wilderness on account of their error. Joshua and Caleb, the faithful spies, were the only men who were grown at this time who were allowed to enter the promised land. (Numbers 14) These men were truly great leaders.

Many congregations fail because they have the "grasshopper" complex of the ten unfaithful spies. They said, "And there we saw giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so were we in their sight." (Numbers 13:33) Too many of us present the truth and God's church defensively. We are apologetic and antagonistic rather than militant and confident. So long as we believe, practice and teach the truth, God is on our side; we do not fight alone. So long as God is on our side, we can be supremely, confident and optimistic. Enemies of the truth are not likely to think more highly of us and our ability than we think of ourselves and our ability. Happy is the church with leadership that not only merits and enjoys the confidence of the congregation, but also has the ability to inspire the congregation with confidence in itself. (J. W. A.)

"Make Me A Friend"

One often hears members of the church complaining against their brethren in Christ because they have not been "friendly" to them. This has become such a common complaint that one sees signs advertising certain congregations as "friendly churches." Who has not seen the sign reading "The Friendly Church?" Another one reads, "Where everybody is somebody!"

One of the designations of the Lord's people in the New Testament is "friends." "But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name." (3 John 14) Since Christians are designated "friends," by all means they should be "friendly" to one another. However, it is often the case that the complainer against the "friends" for not being "friendly" is himself the least "friendly" of the "friends." He sits on the back seat after failing to attend Bible classes on Sunday morning, comes in late to the worship, and rushes out when the last "Amen" is said as though he were pursued looking neither to the right nor left. On the face is a grim, unapproachable expression that defies one to be "friendly" to him. The elders and the preacher almost have to resort to a flying tackle to meet him. Then he has the unmitigated audacity to complain because someone is not friendly to him. The following poem should be thought provoking to such an individual and to any of the rest of us who may be careless in our relationship to our brethren:

"Make Me A Friend"

Here's to the kindly hearts of Earth

That make this good old world worthwhile;

Here's to the lips with tender words,

That bring the caressing smile;

And, I ask my soul this question,

When my goodly gifts I see:

Am I a friend to as many friends

As have been good friends to me?

When friends speak a word of praise,

My wavering will to aid,

I ask, if ever their long, long ways,

My words, their pathways have brighter made;

Then to my heart I speak again, This eager, earnest plea —

Make me a friend to as many friends

As have been good friends to me.


What have I done lately to make the rough road of life easier and happier for my brother in the Lord? So many kind words have been said to me; so many pleasant wishes have been made for my welfare; so many thoughtful and helpful things have been done by so many to make life easier for me. To how many and how much have I done this? These are pertinent questions. Someone has well said, "He who would have friends must make himself friendly I" (J. W. A.)