"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.XI No.I Pg.13-15
January 1949

W. L. Totty Changes His Position On The Church Supporting The College

Charles M Campbell

During the current controversy regarding the church being imposed upon by the college for financial support, W. L. Totty who preaches for the Garfield Heights church in Indianapolis, Indiana, has constantly charged some of us who have opposed this modern heresy, with changing our attitude toward the anti-college brethren and the system commonly referred to as Sommerism. However, the truth is, as the facts will positively prove, no man ever more completely reversed himself on any proposition than he has on the question of the church supporting the college. For example, while Brother Totty has been writing to the aged Brother W. W. Otey and defiantly challenging him to deny in public debate that, "The New Testament law of expediency permits a church of Christ to contribute to a Bible College and orphans home." I have hid in my possession his statement over his signature which contradicts specifically and emphatically the idea that the church can support a "Bible College." Under date of May 22, 1947, Brother Totty wrote:

"I have held three of the only four debates on the college question that I know of in the North since Daniel Sommer returned from his trip to the South and West. Wallace said debates. That will necessarily include me, and I know well that I never tried to "justify" churches supporting the colleges. I "justified" individuals supporting the colleges, and will continue to do so."

If Brother Totty had abided by the express conviction as thus stated, he would have continued to stand with those of us who are still standing where we have always stood with regard to the opposition to the schools as such. This he has not done, but has attempted to defend his new position, first by denying that he had committed himself to such a position as that stated above, and finally, by proposing an explanation of the obvious and undeniable contradiction involved. However, the explanation does not explain, and the denial was disposed of in correspondence by the citation of the above quotation and which produced the "explanation". Under date of April 6, 1948, Brother Tatty wrote:

"Your reference to my change since last May is a gross error. You said you quoted that from memory, and your memory must have slipped a cog. With as much respect as I have for you, and that is a lot, I will have to see that statement in print before I can believe that I made it; and then if I see it with my name to it, I will be compelled to say I made a mistake, for I have not changed my position; and I, have abundant proof here in this congregation that I taught the same thing five years ago as I am teaching now."

Well, Brother Totty has seen "that statement in print" and with the convincing evidence that it has his "name to it," and so, he will just have to admit that he "made a mistake" But to confess that he has changed his position in regard to the church supporting the college would be more impressive and effective. Nevertheless, it is altogether fitting and proper that the "explanation" be submitted for the consideration of all concerned. Under date of June 23, 1948, Brother Totty wrote:

"I shall not attempt to answer your letter only to say that the quotation from my letter of May 22, 1947, is correct; but your under standing of it is wrong. I gave you that quotation merely to show you that Foy Wallace had misrepresented me in those debates. We were debating the right for a college to exist as a Bible college, and not the support of a Bible College. I did not contend for churches supporting Bible colleges, but I did not believe it was wrong for them to do it. You misunderstood the quotation."

I have been understanding Brother Totty in both conversation and correspondence for more than twenty years, and therefore, it is reasonable to conclude, and I believe, that I understood his statement of May 22, 1947. I understood him to say:

"I know well that I never tried to justify churches supporting the colleges, I justified individuals supporting the colleges, and will continue to do so."

Now, no matter what the proposition for debate was, neither what Brother Totty was affirming nor denying, the fact remains that he "never tried to justify churches supporting the colleges. He justified individuals supporting the colleges, and will continue to do so."

If, therefore, Brother Tatty had remained where he proposed to originally stand concerning the church and the "Bible college," no issue could possibly exist between him and those of us who have, been charged by him both privately and publicly with changing, and capitulating to the Sommerites. And, I think we know who has committed the caprice with which we are charged and why. There is reciprocity in championing this new heresy, the schools can benefit from it financially, and Brother Totty can realize the ambition of a decade; to be recognized as the defender of the faith against hobbyism. Notwithstanding, he has allowed himself to be exploited to the point of becoming a dogmatist as confirmed in his defense of an indefensible position as the anti-college element ever dared to be in theirs. A few years ago Brother N. B. Hardeman told Brother Totty; "Why, I could preach for the Sommerites, Brother Will." And, Brother Totty was considerably chagrined over it. Now, they are in perfect accord in believing that "the New Testament law of expediency permits a church of Christ to contribute to a Bible college," and some of us who labored faithfully in opposing the anti-college element in Indianapolis and assisted Brother Totty and the old Southside church in every way possible in securing a church house with even "an air conditioned auditorium" in which to propose debates with us, are charged with changing.

In further proof that Brother Totty has not always held to the doctrine which he now advocates, I quote from a book which he gave me a. few years ago, and in which he stated his convictions by necessary inference by writing on the edge of the page upon which an argument was being presented by Brother Daniel Sommer and which Brother Totty was examining. The book is, A Report of Skirmishes, and on page 30, Brother Sommer said: "here are the headings of the tract: Concerning the unscripturalness of establishing religio-secular schools with the Lords money. Not concerning the establishment of such schools, —I did not stop there, —but I said with the Lords money! And the entire bearing of the first part of the tract is on that question." Brother Totty had underscored the emphasized words, "with the Lords money!" with a red pencil and drawn an arrow pointing to the words. Also, he had drawn another arrow pointing to the paragraph quoted above and written the word, "Notice." Then followed his comments and convictions. He had written:

"Where is that done? If he means church money."

Brother Totty knows now where it is done, for he now invites brethren to "come over to the church office and examine our books where we have contributed to the college." And, it is a commonly known fact that Garfield Heights gave seven hundred and fifty dollars to Freed Hardeman college with which to do some building.

Of course there are multitudes in Indianapolis who have never heard the pure gospel and there are numerous churches within a reasonable radius of the city which could justifiably receive financial aid, but since Brother Totty has been persuaded that "The New Testament law of expediency permits a church of Christ to contribute to a Bible college." he can satisfy himself that he is doing all that is necessary by teaching the church to "contribute to a Bible college," and then he no longer has to wonder "Where is that done ?" "If he means church money." Surely it is "church money" when it is contributed by the church and expended through the church, and the records are kept on the church books.

Then recently to further augment and expedite the efforts of his colleagues in the plan to insinuate the college into the treasury of the churches, Brother Totty published a booklet, Miscellaneous Discussions of the Bible College, and it further reveals his change. It is no longer a fight against the anti-college group, but a deliberate effort to reflect upon those who have opposed and are opposing the very error which Brother Totty formerly proposed to fight against, namely, imposing the college upon the church, and the absurd idea that individuals cannot support a school in which the Bible is taught.

As to the title of the booklet, I think it rather appropriate, for one of the definitions of "e;Miscellaneous is: "consisting of several kinds mixed together," and in the light of its contents, the booklet most assuredly will qualify on these terms. There is one side, however, which the author studiously avoided, and that was the side of the opposition to the nefarious scheme of these propagandists. In the introduction the author declares, "Our purpose in publishing this booklet is that it may clarify the issue in the minds of many good brethren."

Behold, what a reflection upon the intelligence of "the minds of many good brethren"! All of the articles in the booklet and the unanswerable replies made to them were printed in the Bible Banner, and with the exception of a few letters written by Brother Totty to Brother Roy Cogdill, the contents of the booklet without the answers, were printed in the Advocate. The "many good brethren" had access to these periodicals. Why, then, should Brother Totty, or the author of the booklet, whoever he was, attempt to "clarify the issue in the minds of many good brethren"? And, while asking questions, let me inquire just how the printing of one side of an issue could possibly "clarify the issue in the minds of many good brethren?" The booklet reminds me of the fiasco published by Frank Norris as the "Norris-Wallace Debate," and I am persuaded that it was published and propagated with the identical objective. For example, the author of the booklet says:

"I am sure that there was nothing in my letter that would exceed the bitterness that he had manifested in some articles: therefore, we would be compelled to eliminate that point as the reason for Brother Wallaces not answering my letter. Could it have been that I had known for several years that Brother Wallace was exceeding friendly with the Sommers of Indianapolis? Some of his best friends had been alarmed over the way he had sympathized with the Sommerites in their work in the North. I would rather think that perhaps that was the reason for Brother Wallaces silence concerning the questions that I had asked him. Predictions had been made for several months before he took up the college fight that he would eventually go to the Sommerites. Maybe these predictions were somewhat far-fetched, but at least he did take up the old banner of Sommerism and fight their battles through the Banner."

Now the one difficulty with the above excerpt is; it does not correctly represent Sommerism and it maliciously misrepresents Brother Wallace. The following facts will make manifest the inexactness of the statement.

"Proposition—The Human Organization of a Bible College, such as David Lipscomb, Abilene Christian College, Freed-Hardeman College, established by Professed Christians to teach the Bible along with Secular branches,—is in harmony with the New Testament. Affirms, D. A. Sommers Denies."

Thus the "old banner of Sommerism," Spiritual Call, presents its position. Now hear Brother Wallace:

"Some who have not made proper discrimination have wrought confusion by associating the Bible college with the work of the church. Others have, therefore, opposed it on the ground that it is a church school, while others think it wrong and sinful to teach the Bible in the school. Such a conclusion should drive the Bible from our homes also and force the conclusion that it can be taught only in the meetinghouse on Sunday." (Bible Banner, January 1948, Gospel Advocate 1931)

As to Brother Wallace being "exceedingly friendly with the Sommerites in their work in the North," and the idea "that he would eventually go to the Sommerites" it is "somewhat far-fetched" indeed, but Brother Totty is the very one who originated the "far-fetched" prophecy. So, he answers himself on that point, providing of course, that he is the author of the booklet. And, a further answer is found in the fact that those who have allied themselves with Brother Totty in his campaign to impose the college upon the church may and do preach for the Sommerites without a word of criticism from him, but if a person so classified goes to hear Brother Wallace, then, "the Sommerites have always flocked to Wallace", according to Brother Totty.

You see, Boone Douthitt preached for the Belmont church in Muncie, Indiana, where it was stated in Brother Tottys presence: "We will have both kinds, the college, and the anti-college, preach for us", and Brother Douthitt just closed a meeting where Brother Totty preaches, but that does not make Boone a Sommerite, not in Tottys estimation. Moreover, a nephew of one of the elders of Garfield Heights received financial support from the church in Southbend, Indiana, while preaching for the church in Niles, Michigan, and that fact did not provoke Brother Totty to stigmatize him as "a Sommerite", but when Brother Wallace went to Southbend for a meeting he automatically and immediately became a "Sommerite satellite" or some such dignified personage. Also, when Brother N. B. Hardeman told Brother Totty that he "could preach for the Sommerites" it did not make him a Sommerite either. And, I am absolutely positive that Brother Totty cannot say that he has never preached to an audience where there were Sommerites, nor can any man who has done very much preaching north of the Mason and Dixon line.

As to the real identity of the author of the booklet which has been somewhat under review in this article, I am not sure. You see, Brother Totty told one party of undeniable veracity that another brother was going to write the booklet and he was going to sign it.

Well, Brother Totty did sign it, and in that respect it is distinguished from the anonymous refuse published by the premillennialist propagandists a few years ago, but in some aspects it is contaminated with all of the obnoxious obloquy that characterized the former; and is deserving of the same degree of disdain with which it was greeted by the sober minded in the church of the Lord.

In conclusion, let it be remembered that I have stood by Brother Totty for the greater part of his residence in Indianapolis and have aided him in every way possible in opposing and combating the errors of Sommerism, all of the time believing that his heart and hands were dedicated to the honorable task of defending the blood bought church of the living God against those who sow discord among brethren and impose a system of human invention irrespective of divine legislation, and never did suspicion that he entertained the slightest intention of allying himself with those who have compromised the cause for which we had contended and have deliberately and diligently sought to subject the church to the mercy of human institutionalism. Moreover for the duration of the recent controversy over the college being imposed upon the church, I have tried earnestly to dissuade him from the course to which he has now committed himself, and while I hold no personal bitterness toward him, and shall continue to hope for his return to the position which we formerly occupied, I cannot be true to my conscience and not point out the inconsistency of his present course for the good of the Cause of Christ and the good of his soul.