"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.IX No.I Pg.4-8
July 1946

The New Davidson Movement - Part 1

The past decade, more than any other since the church has had existence on this continent, has been characterized by the constant effort of certain groups of men to change the church. A few men among us are determined to change it. Periodically their efforts come into the open. When repulsed they retreat, only to await the opportunity to renew the attack and repeat the attempt. When ominous clouds on the horizon portend imminent movements, the eyes of all apparently turn toward the Bible Banner. Those who want to protect the church against these movements look to it as the only medium available through which to combat offensively and defensively the invasions and aggressions of these groups of men. Even some who criticize the Bible Banner for what they term its "personalities" and the editor for what they call his "methods" are among those who always maneuver to get the Bible Banner to do and say certain things which they want done and said but which for personal reasons they will not themselves do or say. We have frequently received pages of typewritten matter marked "good material for the Bible Banner" from one who would not permit the matter to appear in an article over or under his own signature. Such men want certain things said, done and published, but they want the Bible Banner to "take the rap" for it. Very well—if it needs to be said or done, we will say it and do it, not for any man's sake but for the sake of Christ and his Cause.

On page 18 of this issue the reader will find letters from Norman Davidson of Chicago, to Leon B. McQuiddy, owner and publisher of the Gospel Advocate, Nashville, Tennessee. These letters are printed and published herein from copies sent to me by a prominent man in the church, with the clear implication that the matter deserves Bible Banner attention and treatment. We think so too, and though we do not believe that he would say over his own signature the things necessary to be said, we believe they should be said and if we must be "used" to say things that some others ought to be willing to say, let us be used, not blindly at all, but knowingly and willingly for and of the Lord.


This new millennial movement stems from Chicago, but it is the same old thing. For months rumblings from the direction of the Windy City have been heard, with the clanking of maneuvers where they have been drilling for the new offensive against the church. It is the old Premillennial Propaganda Party in a new rehearsal and dress parade, sponsored by the same old premillennial personnel but headed ostensibly by a new leader, Norman Davidson, as a front. Doubtless Norman has been deceived, deluded and duped. We predict that he will retreat from the field under fire and exposure, somewhat disillusioned. I have known Norman Davidson a long time. I regret to see him take up the Clinton Davidson campaign of calumny as he is evidently doing in his initial attacks on me and others. I knew him when he also went broke in Nashville, when he confided to me his financial and personal frustration to the point of despair. He left Nashville to recover his losses and retrieve his fortune. By way of California and Chicago he succeeded and came once more into "big money." It is bad grace for him now to attempt to discredit another man because of financial misfortune, in order to aid the Boll party. During the time of his absence and obscurity the church hardly knew of him or heard from him. His wife quit the church and joined the Moody Institute, a group of out-and-out premillennial sectarians in Chicago. Having regained his fortune, Norman now returns breathing out threatenings against faithful gospel preachers who were preaching the gospel all the time he was absorbed in making money, and waving his greenback currency in our faces he vows to spend fifty thousand dollars of it to vindicate R. H. Boll and the leaders of the premillennial movement, forcing them and their premillennial doctrines bodily on the church.

True to form, he is writing letters. He makes appointments with elders of churches for an interview, then writes letters all over the country telling what these elders said. Already his letters to various brethren have been sent to me, recently from Florida, with the information that the elders of the Central church in Miami have denied his version of what they said and accuse him of misrepresentation. This should serve as a warning to elders everywhere, in all the churches. Norman Davidson has become just another meddler and a divisionist. Anything elders or preachers tell him will be twisted and perverted into a misrepresentation and will be misused. The proper thing for elders to do is to refuse his appointments, send him and his Bollism back to Chicago, where his scheme was hatched.

Another letter from Norman written to a party in Florida is in my possession. In it he states that he knows certain editors of papers "who do not like Foy," and he thinks he can get the mailing list of their subscribers to circularize their readers. That again runs true to form—Clinton Davidson used mailing lists of other papers to propagandize the subscribers. Yet they talk of "fairness" and "ethics"! But remember this, brethren—if you receive letters from Norman Davidson, or printed matter from him through the mail, he will be getting to you through a paper to which you are a subscriber. Do you think it is "ethical" and "fair" for the editor of that paper to so use his list? Ask him about it.

In the same letter Davidson refers to the Bible Banner publishing only one side. To this we repeat the proposition which R. H. Boll has repeatedly turned down: We will publish both sides of any correspondence, articles or discussion which R. H. Boll will publish in his own paper. Is that fair? or do they want the other fellow to furnish all the space?

It is also significant that, like Clinton Davidson, in his letters Norman makes it a point to drag in "the financial record" of "Foy Wallace." He says he "KNOWS," and puts it in capitals. Well, what of that? Everybody else knows, for we have put it in the paper more than once. He does not know anything that is true that I have not myself already told. Assuming a deep spirituality, he deplores personalities but begins his campaign, like Clinton Davidson, with personal attacks and mudslinging. He blames the defeat of leaders of premillennialism and Bollism on the Bible Banner, and in an effort to contrast conditions before and after he uses the abbreviation B. W., then explains in parenthesis that it means "BEFORE WALLACE" (capitals his). So the brother is against personalities, but he casts his whole campaign on a personal plane. He pleads for spirituality and love, but deals in bitterness and hate. He argues against brethren "fighting each other" but he serves notice on us all that he is ready for a "real fight." So he wants to fight, well, he can have it, if he insists. We are veterans in that line. Clinton Davidson undertook to subdue us by intimidation.

He made threats to expose us and to sue us. He proposed to revolutionize journalism and dictate the policies of all the papers and to control them by methods of force, money and intimidation. He claimed to have polled the brotherhood with a straw-ballot in the form of questionnaires and advertised 95% on his side. He circulated questionnaires over the brotherhood like circulars at a country carnival, and the evidence is strong enough to believe that he was the promoter and circulator of the anonymous letters that shocked the moral and spiritual sense of everybody who has any sense of honor or common decency. He went so far as to consult his "eminent legal counsel" and made numerous threats to sue us into submission. We sent the brother word that we would meet him and his "eminent legal counsel." whenever he wished to make an appointment with us and gave him the number of our post office box and domicile as well. Somebody gave him some good advice and he dropped his legal ideas, changed the expression on his face, and began to talk deeply spiritual. He traveled over the brotherhood, was banqueted by the schools and bragged on by men, even in Texas, who ought to have known better. Contrary to his pious pretensions and spiritual sentimentalism, he privately left behind him everywhere he went a sluice of slime, in gossiping about certain men whom he had marked for destruction, causing brethren who would have otherwise received him with a measure of grace to turn away from him.

Copyright Clinton Davidson did not know the church. He was ill advised by some who thought they did. His schemes did not work. And now his name is "a hiss and a byword" over all the brotherhood. When this high-pressure, super salesman of insurance realized that his schemes and methods to give the church a general house cleaning job, modernize it, reorganize it, reform it, even if he had to prove that we are grand rascals, and sue us to do it, would not work in churches of Christ, he decided to abandon this "negative" work, settle down to something more "constructive," stay in his own front yard, and attend to his own business. Where is Clinton Davidson now? He came in like a lion and went out like a lamb. Suppose the Bible Banner had not waged the fight on Clinton Davidson's schemes? Suppose he had been left to his promotions? What if his hand had not been called on every move he made? Everybody knows that he would have delivered the church to Premillennialism and to the men who promote it.

And now Norman Davidson begins his crusade for the vindication of R. H. Boll in the same way. Frankly, I am disappointed in him. He is acting more like Clinton Davidson than—Norman Davidson. He dons the uniform and adopts the nomenclature of the other Davidson

His voice may be the voice of Jacob, but his skin is that of Esau. He talks of money and influence, of intimidations and power. He threatens preachers who stand in his way, and attacks their character. It is a significant fact that the course of action of the two Davidsons is identical.


Before launching his assault Davidson decided to go to Louisville and interview J. F. Kurfees, the very worthy brother of the lamented and illustrious M, C. Kurfees. Out of this interview came his decision to "by-pass" such men as Kurfees and all the preachers who have opposed the Boll party. Still he seeks a "settlement"—so he says. He proposes a "settlement" of the issue by just leaving out men who are by his own admissions major parties to the controversy. Besides the impossibility of doing such a thing, it would not be a settlement of the controversy if he did. It would only be a shifting of vantage points and positions.

What kind of "settlement" does Norman propose? Here it is. I quote from a letter written by J. F. Kurfees, relating details of Davidson's interview with him. Brother Kurfees says: "In conversation with Brother Davidson about his work in trying to settle the trouble, he said he would never ask or expect Boll to make any change in his teaching—that should Boll make any change, he would lose confidence in him. So that's that."

And that's it. By his so-called "settlement" of the "Boll trouble," Norman Davidson does not ask and does not expect Boll and Jorgenson to quit teaching premillennialism—he would even "lose confidence in" them if they did! So he is merely attempting to create a favorable condition in the church for them to teach their false doctrine. That is some settlement!

In the letters on page 18 repeated reference by Norman to what he calls the "ungodly mess," the "ungodly condition," and the "ungodly issue" will be found. He has the word "ungodly" on his mind or else his vocabulary is so limited that he talks in terms of near profanity to express his "ungodly" feelings. As to the "mess" —what mess and whose mess? There is nothing wrong with the church—it is all right. Because a few men in Louisville find themselves in a mess is no reason for trying to scatter the mess over the church. It is their own mess. Let them clean it up and fumigate and deodorize their own surroundings.

When there is poison in the body, doctors "localize" it to prevent its spread. The premillennial poison in the church has been localized to "penthouse" confinement, in Louisville, and seeing the "mess" they are in Norman wants to spread it over the body by lifting the quarantine, and letting these premillennialisms out, giving them freedom to enter every church at their will to teach the "ungodly" doctrine of premillennialism.

If the situation were reversed—if Boll had made a success—and those of us who have opposed premillennialism were isolated as Boll and his party are, would Norman and Clinton Davidson be concerned about it? Would they be trying to get a "settlement"? O, no! It would be settled just as they want it. Despite all pretensions of piety there is one thing these men have never been able to do—namely, to conceal the partisan fact that their sole effort is to vindicate R. H. Boll and make it possible for him to teach his premillennialism in the churches, it will be observed that the whole tenor of Norman's letters is the use of force through the pressure of money and influence. Norman proposes to "force" a settlement. How? By spending fifty thousand dollars of his money, and all of his time if necessary, in putting on the pressure. He is determined to have a "settlement." Before what tribunal? Delirious already over visions of the "ecclesiasticism" and "hierarchy" and "intimidation" he finds in "our brotherhood," he is forming another hierarchy to "settle" the issue for "our brotherhood." With money and threats he seeks to intimidate us into submission and warns everybody, including the president of David Lipscomb College and the editor of the Gospel Advocate against "opposition to me." Opposition to him! Who is he? Upon what meat has Norman been feeding that he has grown so great? I knew him when he sat on a bench out in a campus park, and wept on my shoulder over losing his money, when his brain was fighting the suggestions of the river bridge. Now, regaining his money, forgetting his own humiliation, he speaks unkindly of another's misfortune and talks of "opposition to me"! Better that he had remained broken in purse that he might be humble in heart and contrite in spirit. His money threats will have no effect at all—the other Davidson tried it and failed. We are not afraid of their money nor their scandal. We have no money of our own and want none of his—but we have the truth, and it is more powerful than their silver and gold, their stocks and bonds. Let them have their money—it is but filthy rags give me the precious truth.


It will further be noted that the Bell Telephone Company and Western Union have already picked up business from the Davidson fund to force R. H. Boll on the church. The wires were hot between Chicago and Louisville until the interview with J. F, Kurfees cooled them off. Then says Norman, he had a "long" telephone conversation with G. H. P. Showalter from Chicago to Austin. Plenty of money can do things like that.

But he says Brother Showalter agreed with him, promised to furnish him a medium and that Brother Showalter had volunteered to say that those who have opposed Boll have done so for notoriety and personal gain. We have no evidence other than Davidson's report, that he said it. And since he misrepresented elders in Miami, he may have misrepresented Brother Showalter. It would have been better for Norman to let Brother Showalter do his own talking. The other Davidson placed Brother Showalter in an embarrassing position. The whole millennial party from Boll down to Jorgenson and Janes have used him and now Norman is at it. We hope the veteran editor of the Firm Foundation will scorn the further flattery of this element, and put a stop to the use that is being made of him, his name and his paper. It is time to do it—and this is the opportunity to do it. The cause demands it. Several hundred of his friends will be gratified if he does and disappointed if he does not. On this point a letter from Yater Tant to Brother Showalter is timely and impressive. I pass it on.

* * * *

June 3, 1946

Dear Brother Showalter:

I have seen recently a copy of a letter written by Brother Norman Davidson of Chicago which I feel does you a serious injustice. Brother Davidson refers to a telephone conversation he had with you, and quotes you as making statements which I feel confident you did not intend, as he is using them. In his intense desire to gain recognition for Brother Boll, it is understandable that he would read into whatever statement you might have made a meaning and an interpretation that was never intended. In doing so, I fear he is putting you before the brotherhood in a light that will certainly subject you to an avalanche of criticism.

Referring to his telephone conversation with you concerning the premillennial fight, Brother Davidson says, " ... he (Showalter) said he thought the thing never should have been an issue; that it had always been a matter of personalities, and not of convictions; that numerous preachers had made capital for their own gain, thereof ... that before the issue was started in the G. A. office, numerous outstanding preachers whom he mentioned by name, had all held this (Boll's) position; but that they were not disfellowshiped nor was there any "marking" until the Advocate "took the thing up."

Of course this is exactly the line that Brother Boll and his followers have taken for the last quarter of a century. They have always contended that everyone who taught against premillennialism could not possibly have any conviction against it, but was only trying to gain a little notoriety at Brother Boll's expense! The humble gospel preacher who taught that Christ was now reigning on David's throne and tried to expose the errors and fallacies of the premillennial contention never really believed what he preached at all! His opposition to Brother Boll's theories was never truly sincere; he preached only with an eye to "make capital for his own gain." I have had more than one follower of Brother Boll tell me that "no honest student who really believed the Bible could oppose the premillennial position." Simple, isn't it? Therefore, every preacher who opposes the Boll teaching is one who does not believe the Bible, and necessarily his opposition to Brother Boll's teaching is a "matter of personalities, and not of convictions"!

Such a statement is an insult to the memory of a great host of godly men now dead— such men as Kurfees, Smith, Boles, Calhoun, Lipscomb, and my own father, J. D. Tant. Indeed, it dishonors every gospel preacher who has ever spoken out against the vagaries of premillennialism. Even your own numerous writings on the establishment of the kingdom, the reign of Christ, and every other subject in which you opposed some of Brother Boll's theories would be regarded by Brother Boll's followers as merely an effort on your part to "make capital" out of your opposition to Brother Boll, and not as arising out of any conviction whatsoever.

It is because I am confident you did not make the statements Brother Davidson is ascribing to you in any such light as he is presenting them that I write to you. He told me last summer that the remainder of his life was going to be dedicated to the removing of the "ban" against Brother Boll and "showing up" the "high-handed popery" which led to his being disfellowshiped all these years. He said all the opposition to Boll through the years had arisen out of preacher jealousy ...

If Brother Norman can persuade Brother Boll to cease and desist from his teaching of theories "contrary to the doctrine," and can lead him to a genuine repentance for the incalculable injury his speculations have done to the church, then fellowship will be restored— and that exactly as the scriptures teach. But I fear his present course can only serve in stirring up and agitating the church over an old wound which should be allowed to heal. I have told Brother Davidson so on more than one occasion. Any attempt to restore peace to the church on the assumption that the whole controversy arose merely over a "matter of personalities, and not of convictions" will be a flaming challenge to the integrity and sincerity of every gospel preacher, living and dead, who has ever spoken one word against premillennialism.

Surely anyone can see what terrific consequences will result throughout the whole brotherhood when any such flagrant challenge is laid down!

Because I believe your name is being used in a way contrary to your known position and convictions, I write you this letter. With every good wish to you and to the Firm Foundation in the long, long struggle that has been made to maintain the purity of New Testament teaching, I remain

Sincerely yours, Yater Tant.

* * * *

To this very fine letter Brother Tant received no answer.

There are hundreds of faithful gospel preachers, old and young, who feel, as Brother Tant does, that Brother Showalter cannot afford to let himself and the Firm Foundation be used for the sympathy and aid of this seditious element in the church.

As to the reference to personal gain-what have we gained in our opposition to premillennialism? The answer is, abuse and malediction from many, broken confidences and severed ties from others, and a feeling of animosity, if not the actual enmity of some whose friendship we have both coveted and cultivated. But now is the time and the opportunity for us all to unite in putting down once for all the threat of premillennialism to the church and "personalities" should not keep us from doing so.


At this point we pause, to bow our head, as Norman Davidson attempts to, use the name and influence for his scheme of one so recently dead—the name and reputation of H. Leo Boles. After all, Brother Showalter is living to tell us what he said to Norman Davidson, but Brother Boles is not. We do not know what Brother Boles said to Norman Davidson, and we will never know. We do not know what Norman told Brother Boles with reference to his "plans" to elicit anything that Brother Boles may have told him. But we know what Brother Boles said before he died. The following statement is taken from an article by him in the Gospel Guardian, October 1935, entitled "The Issue Now and Then" in which he refers to R. H. Boll by name and says that Rom. 16:17 should be applied to him and to the leaders of his party. Fortunately, we are not left to depend on what Norman Davidson "feels" that Brother Boles attitude would be. Brother Boles left his words on record.

"Conditions have changed in the brotherhood generally since this discussion, (Boll-Boles Discussion), due to the extremes to which the leaders of this movement have gone. They have gone beyond the boundary not only of truth, but of reason and brotherly love. They have exalted these theories to a level with the word of God. They have gone out from the faithful brethren in the Lord. Some of them have gone to the extreme of fellowshipping the denominations and affiliating with denominational preachers who blaspheme the church of our Lord. It is not fair to the present situation to quote me in 1927 from the book "Unfulfilled Prophecy," which expressed the attitude then and apply these quotations to the extremities to which these brethren who have so far departed from the faith, have gone in exalting their theories.

The language used in that book could perhaps be applied to some of these brethren now, who do not press these theories to the division of the church and who are not aligned with the contingency doing so, but it cannot apply to those who are wedded like Ephraim of old to their idols and who have suffered division to come rather than recede from their theories. A discussion of these questions now, must, as a matter of fact, be held in light of the issue now—not then. Later developments reveal the character of the movement even from incipiency and justifies the attitude of such men as F. W. Smith and M. C. Kurfees, who were criticized for their attitude on the issue.

The New Testament teaches clearly and emphatically how to regard those who have departed from the faith or those who have corrupted the teachings of Christ. "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them that are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine which ye learned; and turn away from them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Christ, but their own belly; and by their smooth and fair speech, they beguile the hearts of the innocent." (Rom. 16: 17, 18). This is not difficult to understand. It belongs to every child of God and every Christian should help to carry out this injunction of the Holy Spirit. The peace and harmony of the church of our Lord demand that this Scripture be obeyed by every child of God."

Now, that is clear enough for anybody to understand, and if Brother Boles said anything to the contrary in private to Norman Davidson on his sick bed, it could be accounted for only on the basis of one of two things: First, that Davidson misrepresented matters and deceived him as to both his plans and the Boll "statement," or else because of the weakened mind of a man whose body death had already seized. The effort of Norman Davidson and his premillennial friends to capitalize on the purported statements of a sick man, and to make him a posthumous witness for their cause, comes with exceedingly poor grace. But some of us have by experience learned, and therefore know, that there is nothing too small and unethical for these men to do to add the prestige of names to their party and to bolster a failing cause. The honor of several good men of the past is involved in this controversy whose testimony was published in the special issue of the Gospel Guardian January 1936. It may become necessary to reprint that important edition.


We are informed by the Norman Davidson letters that we would all be "amazed" to know how many preachers have indorsed his scheme. But that is not a new story. His brother in perpetration, Clinton Davidson, attempted the same hoax. We all remember his boasted "questionnaires" and "surveys" in which he claimed 95% of the preachers, but it turned out to be only 95% of the ones who answered his questionnaire, and it was revealed that actually less than one percent of the preachers even answered his questionnaires!

Let Norman give us the names of the preachers he claims. They should not object, unless they are of that "bunch of cravens" he mentioned. We will gladly open the columns of the Bible Banner to the preachers to say if they have indorsed Norman Davidson's schemes. This issue of the Bible Banner goes to about 5,000 preachers. If they should answer on a postcard, I opine that Norman would be as much "amazed" as Clinton was "dazed" with the results. Since Norman is boasting of his own bravery—not being a "craven" who can be "intimidated" he should be willing to bring this amazing army of preachers he has enlisted out into the open and let us take a look at them.