"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.IV No.III Pg.8-10,16b
October 1941

By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them

Jno. T. Lewis

The "Progressives" And The "Antis" In The "Lowlands And Highlands"

In Matthew 7: 15-20, Jesus Christ says: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. By their fruits ye shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but the corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Therefore by their fruits ye shall know them." Thus in these few verses, from the sermon on the Mount, Jesus twice declares that "by their fruits ye shall know them." Therefore a tree judges itself by the fruit it bears, and when you are commenting on the fruit you are not judging the tree. This also is true of religious teachers. In fact Jesus Christ was only using the example of the corrupt tree and its fruit, as a warning against false teachers.

A few years ago James DeForest Murch and Claud F. Witty began to father what they called "unity meetings" between some of the Christian Churches and some of the churches of Christ. A few gospel preachers like S. H. Hall, H. H. Adamson, and F. L. Rowe, who evidently thought good would come out of such meetings, became the chief actors in the meetings. A host of neutrals became interested spectators, whose sympathies were with the actors and their efforts. There were other gospel preachers, who were neither prophets, nor sons of prophets, yet judging the future by the past raised their voices against all such meetings, believing they would only tend to amalgamate the two elements without correcting the evils that brought about the separation. They also knew that no gathering of preachers could speak for either church, but that all unity in Christ would have to be based upon individual acts, or acts of the individual, and not through synods, conferences, committees, nor unity (?) meetings.

Foy E. Wallace, Jr., publisher and editor of the Bible Banner, the paper in which the fight was made against the Murch-Witty farcical unity (?) meetings, has been consigned to oblivion, by the well wishers of the Witty fiasco. However the delivery has not been accomplished yet, and the job now seems to hinge upon finding "some small town printer" who may be induced, by the "filthy lucre" of some unnamed Quisling in Detroit, to take over the task. In the meantime we will examine some of the fruit produced by the Murch-Witty unity (?) meetings. Read the following illuminating report from the Christian Standard of August 16, 1941. It is both interesting and significant.

Lowlands And Highlands

By S. S. Lappin

I could have chosen as a title, "Progressives and Antis." But I submit that "Lowlands and Highlands" is better, though its significance is remote. Leatherwood Church, in Lawrence County, Ind., now 111 years old, was located in the lowlands, on Leatherwood Creek. Highland Church, its significance is remote. Lawrence County, Ind., now 111 years old, was located in the lowlands, on Leatherwood in Louisville, has a splendid location on Bardstown Road in a good residence district. I have just closed a two-week revival meeting with Highland Church-E. L. Jorgenson, minister. Leatherwood is a "Christian Church" and Highland is a "Church of Christ;" yet Leatherwood, come to think of it, is a church of Christ, since Christ is its Head and it is the same as Highland Church of Christ in every single fundamental feature; and Highland Church is a Christian church because its membership is made up of Christians, and Christians only. I am moved to say, however, that I think Highland has the better of Leatherwood in respect to the name. Personally, I prefer "Church of Christ" with a geographical prefix. No fault can be found with that name.

I assume, of course, that I will be pilloried and pierced through by some of my brethren as having "gone over to the antis," just as I was laid out by certain others when, some time back, I dared to work for the Pension Fund a few months. And Brother Jorgensen will be arraigned and subjected to trial in the controversial press for having "sold out to the progressives." But we two are agreed that "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." We are both free men and neither of us has or will sacrifice one single iota of what he deems vital to the faith once delivered.

I met Brother Jorgenson at one of the unity conferences. I had seen and commended his "Great Songs" hymnal as the best since the "Hymn and Tune Book,"

I thought, and he thought, it would be a good thing to crisscross a little in the very vital work of evangelism. That's how I came to go to Highland Church: I met with most cordial welcome and had such generous reception in the homes of the people that I have said to Jorgensen, facetiously, of course, "Almost thou persuadest me to be an anti." The word "Campbellite" passed when we began to make joke of it; maybe "anti" and progressive" will if we get to know each other well enough to enter into brotherly fellowship in service.

Brother Jorgensen, a well-schooled musician and a song leader of parts, had charge of the singing. Of course, no instrument was used; and none was used at Leatherwood when he went to supply for me. Mrs. Lappin was with me through the series, not as soloist, but as my companion, and was used repeatedly by Brother Jorgensen in special songs. She and I are agreed that in no engagement during our two years together have we had more royal and loyal co-operation and response than at Highland. Not once in homes, in private or in public has any controversial note been sounded. I have preached the same sermons I have used in Christian churches for years and without a word of alteration. Brother Jorgensen and I and Don Carlos Janes, who is a member at Highland, have gone over every point at issue between Christian Churches" and "Churches of Christ" (judging by the squirm of my conscience when I write it thus, it must be a sin; I trust I may be forgiven; one has to make himself understood in Babylon) ; and all our converse has been to stress agreements and emphasize the weighty things of the Kingdom-righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Highland Church of Christ and her sister churches of the same faith and fellowship are anti-anti-sin, anti-sectarianism, anti-Satan. Thus far—and farther—do I go with them. I maintain that the local church of the New Testament is free; it appears to me that certain leaders have been in error in that they would dictate to the local church in matters about which there is no word of guidance in the New Testament. That, and not the use or nonuse of instrumental music or missionary societies, seems to me to be the point of departure. But this is not to argue the question; it is to introduce what I wish to say of the same abuses in another quarter. Bitter and unhappy as have been the differences over these matters, I regard with even greater apprehension the invasion of that same field of church freedom by those who would build a denominational "overhead" and make each Christian church a collection station and each preacher a collecting agent for sundry unwarranted treasuries about which the great mass of our people know little and care less. There is this to be said in the favor of the conservative side: They believe and emphasize the fundamentals of the Restoration movement, while it is doubtful whether many in the other constituency even know them with clearness and appreciation. I would take my chances with the conservative side, were I compelled to choose; which I am not. I stand with those who refuse to become entangled with either yoke of bondage. Let me make this abundantly clear; if I am asked to choose between sleeping with the prickly porcupine of unfeeling legalism or the slimy eel of modernism, I shall choose the bathtub instead of either. But I need not choose between the two; the great and influential mass of our careful, conservative brethren are not legalists; and the great mass of those less conservative are not modernists. I stand with these two groups—or, if I might say it thus, this one great group loyal to God and His Word and not entangled with either. And, God being my helper, I shall work as called by either, whatever friend or critic may say, preaching the same gospel I have always preached and praying that we may all be one.

Now a few observations that I have made during this very happy season of labor with my princely brother, E. L. Jorgensen, and his good church. In addition to what I have written above I would add a few brief paragraphs touching the state of things as I see them now:

  1. One good man, able to think with clearness, said to me, "I believe it is wrong to use musical instruments in worship; I will not disfellowship my brethren nor- absent myself from God's house on this account, but I will not sing when the instrument is used."
  2. Another said, "I am opposed to the use of instruments in the worship on grounds of expediency alone; I believe voices can be better developed and a better service of praise enjoyed without it." Were I to judge wholly by Highland music, I think I could agree with him.
  3. A layman said, "I love Highland Church; I am happy to worship and work there and to accept the policy in vogue; but I have had no quarrel with my brethren about instruments or societies when it has been more convenient to worship for months or years where these are in use."
  4. A discerning layman and a good giver said, "I believe in the co-operative principle in missionary work; I believe there should be some way of having proper business oversight, and of integrating the work so it would not be shown wholly haphazard as it is with us of the conservative way; but, when I consider the abuses that have risen where churches have tried to follow the lead of the denominations in this matter, I would shun that, too. I have wondered whether there is not a way suited to churches of Christ that avoids the defects of both."
  5. There is need of clear thinking in these matters. In the Highland homes, when lunch was over, we assembled about the piano, Brother Jorgensen playing and leading; we sang joyously, even hilariously, the great songs of Zion. We used an amplifier in the tent each night so that preaching and singing were sustained until they could be heard by those passing in cars and busses. A member of Highland Church chuckled and wished me to ask Brother Jorgensen whether that was not an instrument, too. I did not ask him; we were evangelizing, not arguing; Highland Church and her preacher have a right to attend to their own business without any meddling from without.
  6. But there is need of charity more than of logic. When legalism gets a foothold, it is like the pestiferous green myrtle or ivy that gets started in graveyards; it soon covers the whole surface and kills out the grass. I find here talk of two-cuppers and one-cuppers and individual communion cups; I hear of rebaptism with the exact formula said, as a fetish, "for the remission of sins." I find as great chasm in the fellowship of my conservative brethren, and often much more of antipathy, than exists between them and those of us known as Christian churches. God pity us; we are all poor creatures!
  7. I would not have ventured the above paragraph had I not had this one in the back of my mind as I wrote. The animosities stirred among "Christian Churches" over missionary methods and the competition of "Independent" and "Regular" agencies are as vicious as these I have been mentioning. We have "Independent" churches and "United Society" churches. It is much to be free alike from extreme conservatism and from any degree of modernism—to be free to work where called and let God give the increase as He wills.

We have a committee, created inside the so-called "International Convention of Disciples of Christ," and assigned the task of somehow harmonizing diverse elements in our "brotherhood," whatever that is; another committee, originating in some other way, has set itself to promote harmony between "Churches of Christ" and "Christian Churches" (excuse it, please) by unity conferences. These two committees would undo the harm wrought by the two arch "opinionists" of the past generation. I have been informed that the first-named committee has met and talked and met again and talked some more, but got I know not where; then other, in which James DeForest Murch and Claud Witty are active, has done something, at least; they are responsible for this fine meeting we have had at Highland Church in Louisville; in which the old Jerusalem gospel has been preached, in which glorious music has been enjoyed without an instrument and to which preachers as well as elders and deacons of both "Churches of Christ" and "Christian Churches" (if I were a Catholic I would cross myself) have come to rejoice together and repent of former unbrotherliness. I hope the fraternal gesture may be oft repeated.

Brethren you now have the well matured fruit of the "Murch-Witty" unity (?) meetings dangling before your eyes, and Jesus Christ, says: "By their fruits ye shall know them." Therefore in commenting on this fruit I hope I may not be accused of judging the unity (?) meetings they have judged themselves. It was "at one of the unity conferences" that Brethren Jorgenson and Lappin met, and Brother Lappin having already commended Brother Jorgenson's song book, they thought it "a good thing to crisscross a little in the very vital work of evangelism." That is how the Highlands' unity meeting came about. The churches of Christ in many places are using Brother Jorgenson's song books, and if the preachers for these Churches would commend, through "our" papers, Brother Jorgenson's books as the best since the "Hymn and Tune Book," may be they would get an invitation "to criss-cross a little" with Brother Jorgenson and the Highlands church. Brother' Lappin says: "Mrs. Lappin was with me through the series, not as soloist, but as my companion, and was used repeatedly by Brother Jorgenson in special songs." It is certainly something "new under the sun," for the local preachers in the churches of Christ to use the visiting preachers' wives "repeatedly in special songs" or otherwise in their meetings. Surely the "Murch-Witty" unity (?) meetings are producing some rare performers among "us!" To show what "royal and loyal co-operation and response" he and his wife received "at Highland," Brother Lappin says: "Not once in homes, in private or in public has any controversial note been sounded." Shades of the Pioneers! In March 1864, Moses E. Lard wrote:

"As a people we have from the first and continually to the present proclaimed that the New Testament and that alone is our only full and perfect rule of faith and practice. We have declared a thousand times and more that whatever it does not teach we must not hold, and whatever it does not sanction we must not practice. He who ignores or repudiates these principles, whether he be preacher or layman, has by the act become an apostate from our ranks; and the sooner he lifts his hands high, avows the fact, and goes out from amongst us the better, yes, verily, the better for us.

"Now in the light of the foregoing principles what defense can be urged for the introduction into some of our congregations of instrumental music. The answer which thunders into my ear from every page of the New Testament is, none. Did Christ ever appoint it? Did the apostles ever sanction it or did any one of the primitive churches ever use it? Never. In what light then must we view him who attempts to introduce it into the churches of Christ of the present day? I answer, as an insulter of the authority of Christ, and as a defiant and impious innovator on the simplicity and purity of the ancient worship. In no other light can we view him, in no other light should he be viewed.' (Lord's Quarterly Vol. 1, pages 330, 331.)

No "criss-crossing" here between "Christian Churches" and the "Churches of Christ." I am sure that that `great host of neutrals among us today" would join Lappin in stigmatizing Moses E. Lard as an old 'prickly porcupine of unfeeling legalism," void of the spirit of Christ. It is true that there would be no Murch-Witty unity (?) meetings today, if it had not been for such "prickly porcupines of unfeeling legalism" (?) as Moses E. Lard, David Lipscomb, J. A. Harding, and others, because the whole Restoration movement would have been swept back into denominational swamps by the waves of digression, set in motion by Isaac Errett, and other "defiant and impious innovators on the simplicity and purity of the ancient worship," through the Christian Standard, founded by Isaac Errett in 1866, and edited today by his great-nephew, Edwin R. Errett, an editor, and a man of no mean ability, if he could only cut himself loose from the "insulters of the authority of Christ." and sweep the pages of the Christian Standard clean of digression. But I must get back to our religious Siamese twins, S. S. Lappin and E. L. Jorgenson. Brother Lappin listed seven observations he made "during this very happy season of labor with my princely brother E. L. Jorgenson and his good church." if Brother Lappin had been writing about cattle we would say that Brother Jorgenson had quite a mixed breed in his herd. But Brother Lappin's efforts were to poke fun at the system of worship prescribed by divine authority, which he termed "legalism." He says: "When legalism gets a foothold, it is like the pestiferous green myrtle or ivy that gets started in graveyards; it soon covers the whole surface and kills out the grass." This is a very apt illustration of the truth where it has free course. A third of a century ago; the digressives—Brother Lappin's people—had five churches, and five preachers, in the Birmingham, Ala., district. There was a small bunch of "pestiferous green ivy," in the third loft of a grocery store, on the corner of 19th Street and Fourth Ave. The digressives, in those days, contemptuously referred to that bunch of "ivy" as being dead. Finally a "prickly porcupine of unfeeling legalism" came along and began to root around in—that little bunch of "ivy." It took root and began to spread. It has since covered the Birmingham district with 14 white congregations, and two buttons—two congregations in prospect, with several colored congregations. That bunch of "ivy" was never one time watered by a unity (?) meeting of the "Murch-Witty" brand. Instead of just one "prickly porcupine of unfeeling legalism," in the Birmingham district today, there are about a dozen faithful gospel preachers scattering that "ivy"—the truth—that is so deadly to digression and denominationalism. On the other hand, the progressive brethren, who believe in doing things, with their fiddles, horns, vested choirs, and special music, have lost one congregation, so today, they have only four congregations, and four preachers, instead of the five congregations, and five preachers they had thirty years ago. If it was not odious to compare them with Brother Lappin's "grass in graveyards," I would say that that "pestiferous green myrtle or ivy" has about "covered the whole surface and killed the grass"—digression, ' in the Birmingham district. And at present there is not a ghost of a chance for a Murch-Witty unity (?) meeting to remedy the matter-too much "ivy."

The outstanding (?) work of the digressives during the last forty or fifty years, aided and abetted by "that great host of faithful disciples among us "who did not believe the introduction of missionary societies and instrumental music into the work and worship of the church was" divisive enough to cause disfellowship and alienation among brethren," has been to take over or steal the property bought and paid for by loyal brethren, as they did in Nashville, Tennessee, when they drove E. G. Sewell and a few others out of the Woodland Street meeting house and took over the property, paid for by David Lipscomb and others. But that old "pricly porcupine of unfeeling legalism," David Lipscomb, was not willing to give up the ship, so he began to advise the brethren, through the Gospel Advocate, to write a. restrictive clause in the deeds to their church property. The digressives knew that that was the beginning of the end of their taking over property bought and paid for by faithful brethren, so they began to howl, "creed in the deed," but their cry affected only a few spiritually (?) minded brethren and caused them to leave their church property open to seizure. However since it has become necessary for the Christian Standard brand of progressives to insert the "creed in the deed" to protect-their church property from the Christian-Evangelist brand of progressives, whom the Christian Standard stigmatizes "radicals," the "creed in the deed," has just become "a contract." The Christian Evangelist ought to look up some of the back numbers of the Christian Standard and show their readers what Brother Errett and his brethren used to call "a contract," that would keep them from taking over other people's property. If the Christian Evangelist would do this, it might let some of the gas out of Brother Errett's balloon, and he might have Murch and Witty invite Burris Jenkins and his open membership brethren into their unity meetings. If not, why not? In the language of W. W. Sikes, they would be trying to unite (?) three denominations instead of just two, and who knows but what the Christian Standard might bag all three of them. S. S. Lappin would make a good follow up man in either camp.

In his "observations" of the Lappin-Jorgenson union meeting, Brother Lappin tries to leave the impression that there is no difference in singing with an instrument in the home, and singing with it in the worship. Of course, Brother Jorgenson would not argue this question with him because they were "criss-crossing" in evangelism. He tries to leave the same illogical conclusion about the "amplifier" they used "so that the preaching and singing were sustained until they could be heard by those passing in cars and busses." He says: "A member of Highland church chuckled and wished me to ask Brother Jorgenson whether that was not an instrument, too. I did not ask him; we were evangelizing, not arguing; Highland Church and their preacher have a right to attend to their own business without any meddling from without." That was magnanimous indeed upon Brother Lappin's part; but I do not think he should have allowed his magnanimity to thus stultify himself before the thinking element among the readers of The Christian Standard. Of course the "amplifier" was an instrument, and it was doing for the preaching precisely what it was doing for the singing, "sustaining both until they could be heard by those passing in cars and busses." But what would the people, "passing in cars and busses," have thought if a musical "instrument," an organ, or a piano, had been going while Brother Lappin was preaching? Doubtless they would have "chuckled" too; but it would not have been a chuckle of ignorance.

Judging from what Don Carlos Janes said, in the Firm Foundation, Lappin is not only a spiritual minded man; but he is a man of intelligence, and therefore he should not have concluded that all his readers were idiots because he found "a member of Highland Church" that did not know the difference between an "amplifier" and a musical "instrument." Again, Brother Lappin says: 'I find here talk of two-cuppers and one-cuppers, and individual communion cups; I hear of rebaptism with the exact formula said, as a fetish, for the remission of sins. I find as great chasm in the fellowship of my conservative brethren, and often much more of antipathy, than exists between them and those of us known as Christian churches." I suppose Brother Lappin would offer the "Lowlands and Highlands" meeting as evidence of his last statement in the above and I will concede his point. And if he contends that Witty, and his unity brethren, in the `Murch-Witty union meetings, have about agreed that the "one-cuppers and two-cuppers" among the "conservative" brethren are about as bad as the "missionary societies, and musical instrument," in the work and worship of the church, among the "Christian Churches," I will concede that too; because I think that is about what they have done.

But let us look at the sophistry of this set-up. What would be wrong in using just one cup, or two cups, if only a few had come together to worship God? Would they be adding to or taking from the worship? Would they be offering to God something he had not commanded? What would be wrong in using several hundred "individual communion cups," where you had several hundred members? Would they be adding anything to the worship? So brethren, it makes no difference whether one cup or one hundred cups are used in the communion services you are not adding to, or taking from the worship. I know there are a few brethren who argue that you cannot use but one "cup" in the worship, and where you find one like that in the lead, one cup is about all they will need. The cause of Christ cannot grow under the leadership of cranks. If I were arguing with a "one-cupper," I would try to show him he was hindering the growth of the congregation; but I would not accuse him of adding to the worship. As to "the exact formula said, as a fetish, for the remission of sins'," used by some preachers in baptizing, I would list that along with a lot of unnecessary statements made by song leaders when leading songs in meetings. I certainly would not class either with instrumental music, which is definitely an addition to the worship.

We need some "clear thinking" here, Brother Lappin, and more "logic" than your kind of "charity." I will appreciate it, if you will pass this article, with any comments you may wish to make on to the readers of the Christian Standard. It will do them good.