Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 24, 1954


Arthur W. Atkinson. Jr.. Dayton Ohio

On the nights of May 4, 5 and 6, Charles A. Holt of Franklin, Tennessee delivered lessons concerning institutionalism at the Haynes and Parrott Streets church of Christ, Dayton 10, Ohio. The three nights lessons were divided in this way: May 4, Brother Holt spoke on "Primary Principles Concerning the Church." This lesson had to do with the establishment of the church, the divine pattern given by God, and its divine purpose for existing. The lesson on this night laid the groundwork for the next two lessons. May 5, Brother Holt spoke on "Evangelism and Edification." This lesson covered the ways and means of scriptural mission work, the Herald of Truth, the place of the colleges, schools and recreational facilities. May 6, Brother Holt spoke on "The Benevolent Work of the Church." This lesson showed just how the church in the first century took care of the needy and met the different emergencies that arose. This night's discussion included a study of the orphan homes and old folks' homes that are in existence.

After each lesson there was a period set aside when anyone in the audience could ask any question that he desired pertaining to that night's subject. This period proved to be almost as interesting as the lessons that Brother Holt presented. For the most part the brethren who attended manifested a good spirit and seemed to be seeking information on this subject.

Brother Holt's spirit was excellent throughout the three night discussion. He set forth very forcefully but kindly the scriptural teaching on these subjects and made it clear to all that he was willing and ready to discuss these issues in the light of God's Word. He brought out that he was not an authority on these things and that he was not setting up laws that others had to abide by. He was simply present to lead in the discussion of these matters and to present what he believed to be the truth on these matters.

The elders, as well as myself and other members, were very well satisfied with Brother Holt's attitude, his presentation, his forbearance, his soundness and his humility. We can well recommend him to anyone and everyone to have a part in leading in other discussions such as this one held in Dayton.

Brethren attended these meetings from as far away as Cleveland and Indianapolis, Indiana. There were over 14 preachers present at one time or another during the lessons. There were over 20 different congregations represented.

The purpose of the Haynes Street Church in having Brother Holt was to acquaint the brethren in this area with the truths of the Bible concerning these things that are causing concern in the brotherhood. We feel that honorable discussion is to be desired and we are always ready to open our building to an open and free discussion of any and all issues, whether among brethren or between us and the sectarians. Honorable and brotherly discussions such as these are good for the church and help to bring out the truth. If such discussions as these had been held 100 years ago on the United Christian Missionary Society and Instrumental Music there would not have been so many to desert the ranks of true Christianity for the Christian Church.

I would like to recommend to the brethren everywhere that they open their meeting houses to just such discussions as we had at Dayton. I know that nothing but good can come from them if they are conducted in the right manner. For some brethren to say that they do harm is to actually impeach the wisdom of our Lord and His ambassadors. Christ and the apostles often participated in such discussions. In the fifteenth chapter of Acts we find the early Christians meeting to discuss the issue of whether or not the Gentile converts should be made to be circumcised and keep the law of Moses. Acts 15:8 reads: "And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter." From verses 12 to 22 we learn that the whole church had a part in this discussion. Certainly it is desirable for congregations today to have discussions conducted in the same honorable way as the one mentioned in Acts 15. While we do not have the power to hand down a divine mandate at the conclusion of any such discussion, yet we have scriptural right and example for such discussions being held on a congregational level for the purpose of enlightenment and better understanding among brethren.

The church has always been faced with dangers and this is certainly true at this time. Perhaps one of the greatest dangers we have to face is the reluctance of brethren to discuss issues over which they differ. One cannot stifle discussion and have truth. May there be more such discussions as we had at Dayton all over the brotherhood.