Brother Woods' Article
We call your attention to two articles in this issue, "An Open Letter To Yater Tant And Brother Robert Welch" by Guy N. Woods and "Woods And Gospel Advocate Modernism" by Robert C. Welch.
We received the article from brother Woods some weeks ago, along with a letter saying, "If I do not have a reply from you by July 1, informing me that this reply will be run at the earliest possible date in the Guardian, I shall carry the matter to the pages of the Gospel Advocate." We responded immediately telling brother Woods we would be delighted to print his article, and would furnish him the same space in the Gospel Guardian to discuss these matters that the Gospel Advocate would furnish to Welch and James W. Adams. A curt note a few days later requested that we return Woods' article to him. Apparently the Gospel Advocate was not willing to furnish any space to either Welch or Adams.
The Human Element
The heart of the controversy between Woods sand Welch revolves around the place of human experience in divine revelation. The position assumed by brother Woods in his literature (and reiterated in his "Open Letter") is that the divine writers wrote certain things because of their human experiences. This is the usual contention of modernistic writers. Welch, on the other hand, takes the traditional and conservative point of view that the Holy Spirit moved them to write concerning some of their experiences.
Undoubtedly Paul and other inspired writers had many personal experiences which they did NOT relate in their writings. Why did they relate some, and omit others? Welch would contend that the Holy Spirit made the choice for them, telling them specifically what to write, and giving them the words in which to relate it. The modernistic writers ridicule this as preposterous, and contend that (in the words of brother Woods) it was "intense personal feelings which prompted the apostle to write" certain things he penned. This is the very center of the problem. Did Paul write because of "intense personal feelings" (as Woods avers), or did the Holy Spirit move him to relate certain of his "intense personal feelings" as Welch contends?
When Paul was a prisoner in Rome, he undoubtedly suffered from the rigors of the Italian winter. At this season the Holy Spirit moved him to write a letter to Timothy. In the very process of writing the letter he may have been shivering with cold. Suddenly he remembers that he has left a cloak with Carpus in Troas, and that Timothy will soon be coming to Rome. How nice it would be if Timothy could bring the cloak with him when he comes! So he writes, "The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, bring when thou comest."
Question: Did Paul insert that request on his own responsibility, at his own discretion and common-sense desire "to protect his shivering frame from the wintery blasts"; or did the Holy Spirit, seeing his need, tell him to write and ask Timothy to bring the cloak? Woods (in harmony with modernistic scholars generally) unhesitatingly affirms the former, and ridicules Welch for contending the latter, saying:
"Just how simple is it possible for one to be? In your evil efforts to destroy the Advocate and all associated with it, you have abandoned reason and rendered yourselves ridiculous."
Welch believes (with conservative scholars everywhere) that the Holy Spirit moved Paul to ask for the cloak, and gave him the very words in which to make the request.
Brother Woods emphasizes his "scholarship" while suggesting that Welch is an ignoramus. As a matter of simple scholastic training, Welch has had considerably more of it than has Woods. Brother Woods is a self-educated scholar, and as is sometimes the case in such instances tends to hold in contempt the man who received his training from college or university. One mark of a true scholar is humility — a quality signally absent from Brother Woods' writing. Just as a case in point, turn to his article and read again his contemptuous references to Welch in the matter of the "mystic symbol" the four consonants JHVH which are used in the place of the name of God. In the very act of castigating Welch for his "ignorance" on this matter, brother Woods revealed that he did not even recognize the Greek significance of the word he used! The word is "Tetragrammaton"; brother Woods called it "Tetragammaton". It is quite the same as if someone would speak of "English grammar" instead of "English gammar". (It was not a type-setter's error, either: for the same misspelling which appeared in the Gospel Advocate article appears also in the original manuscript which was sent to our office.)
And, while we are on the subject, it is this writer's persuasion that right here — careless and inadequate scholarship — lies the true explanation for the modernism in the Gospel Advocate literature. An insufficient training in the field has left brother Woods unprepared to recognize modernism in its subtler forms even when he sees it. Copying copiously from modernistic authors (and without giving them credit for what he copies) has led him to include many statements which to one familiar with modernistic expressions light up like a neon sign-board. Brother Woods failure to realize the modernistic implications of his quotations even now that such have been pointed out to him is but added evidence of his unfamiliarity with the field, and his inability to cope with these matters.
The explanation that one is an "editor" rather than an "author", hence under the cloak of "editorship" can steal at liberty from the "author" is intriguing to say the least. If that is truly an ethical and legal procedure, then why does not brother Woods pick out some highly popular book, change a few words here and there in it, remove the author's name from it, and publish it and sell it under his own name as "editor"? In spite of his vast experience in controversy, and his exhaustive research as to the legal questions involved, in spite of his scholarship and learning, we opine our brother would find himself hauled into court in short order as a common thief — a plagiarist, if you please.
That considerable portions of the Gospel Advocate literature have been plagiarized from modernistic authors is too obvious to be a debatable question. It is simple fact. Explanations, excuses, apologies can be made from here on out; the undeniable facts speak for themselves. And as the capable, cultured, and conscientious editor of the Gospel Advocate has often reminded us "Facts are stubborn things!"
Fifteen or eighteen years ago when Guy N. Woods wrote some false teaching on the marriage question (contending that the only reason for a scriptural divorce was illicit sexual relations before marriage) he was quickly exposed and corrected in the Firm Foundation. (Wasn't Roy Lanier the man who did it?) Brother Woods then had the courage and true Christian humility to make public correction of his false teaching. He was honored and respected for doing so.