Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 20, 1950
NUMBER 49, PAGE 2,4b

Not Alone -- We Hope


Does the Gospel Guardian stand alone among the papers in the "brotherhood" in questioning the scripturalness of one church's becoming the equivalent of a "missionary board" through which all the other churches may operate on the foreign mission fields? This is a question that has been coming to us with increasing frequency these past few weeks. Thoughtful men all over the country, men who are usually well informed as to "brotherhood happenings," have been asking us that both by word of mouth and in letters. One of them asks, "Is it to be the case once again that the Gospel Guardian will have to wage the battle virtually alone (as she did with premillennialism), and then when apostasy has been turned back, have the other papers join the chorus with a "me too"?"

It might appear to some, at first glance, that there is cause for apprehension in the matter. There seem to be grounds for justifiable uncertainty concerning the attitude of the other papers. The Gospel Advocate, for example, has been unceasingly critical of the Guardian and her writers (in an oblique sort of way) since brother Cled Wallace first exploded the subject of "our foreign work" to "brotherhood" notice. Scarcely a week has passed without some derogatory reference in that journal to the "lesser lights" among us who dared to question the basis on which some of the foreign work is being done. The Firm Foundation, in a somewhat more timid fashion, has shown the same attitude. Both papers have given editorial space to brother Jack Meyer's article which brother Cogdill considers in this issue.

We acknowledge that these are disturbing indications. They give cause for concern to all lovers of the truth. But while there is reason for some concern about it, we believe the attitude of these papers is not yet definitely committed to a support of the "little missionary societies" which are in danger of developing within the church. We doubt that either paper is willing to affirm that: It is scripturally right for one church to become the controlling and directing agency through which all the other churches may operate in discharging their responsibility in preaching the gospel in a foreign field.

Well, someone may enquire, if these journals do no c favor such an idea, and are aware of the "brotherhood" trend in that direction, why have they not said so? Why do they not clarify their position? And why are they constantly sniping at the Gospel Guardian for her efforts to awaken the brethren to the latent possibilities (some of them now becoming patent) in the present missionary set-up?

We cannot answer for others, of course, nor shall we try to. But it is our belief that the present attitude of our two sister journals is due almost wholly to a lack of understanding of what is threatening and developing within the churches. We brush aside as trivial and relatively unimportant their eagerness to be critical of us; that is a human weakness, and we are understanding of it. But we are not yet willing to believe that that desire, strong though it may be, is great enough to cause either editor to get on the wrong side of this issue just for the sake of opposing us. Rather we believe their present attitude grows out of a misunderstanding of the nature of the threat, and a general desire not to rock the boat when things are going well.

Both the Firm Foundation and the Gospel Advocate are riding the crest of a wave of popularity. The latter, particularly enjoys the highest circulation in her history, and each week points rather pridefully to her growing subscription list. Under such conditions it would be strange indeed for a journal to be willing to believe that anything was wrong. The very fact of her popularity would tend to blind her eyes to the dangers ahead. That is human nature; and the Advocate is not exempt from such a failing.

But when the issue is fairly drawn and clearly stated, we have hope that both papers will awaken out of their lethargy and accept their responsibility. It will not be easy for them. When their silence (and even occasional encouragement) has helped in the development of the trend, it will not be easy for them to do a sudden about face and begin to condemn and warn against and oppose the popular tide. But whether it is just wishful thinking on our part (as some tell us) or not, we still have hope. Time will tell.

Keep The Issue Straight

Meanwhile, let no one confuse the issue. The issue is not whether the gospel shall be preached in foreign countries. We take it for certain that no one has any misunderstanding on that score. The record of the Gospel Guardian (and Bible Banner) will speak for itself. Back files of the paper are filled with warnings against one man "missionary" societies, doctrinally unsound "missionaries", compromises with sectarians on the foreign field, premillennial control of the "missionary" work generally, and the unscriptural basis on which much of the work was being undertaken. But there is not one word in any of these papers that can justly be said to be opposed to preaching the gospel anywhere in the world. We are as fully and firmly committed to the great commission as anybody. And those who charge us otherwise are confusing the issue, not meeting it.

As the discussion develops, and as the dangers of the present situation are pointed out, we believe there will be a general awakening among the churches to what is happening. And it is our earnest hope that all the churches will be able to work together in heading off and preventing any hurtful development, and in spreading the gospel in every nation under heaven. But if our hopes prove vain, and if willful and determined men arise who are set on leading the church into apostasy, let no one mistake our desire for peace for softness. The battle "for the defense of New Testament Christianity" will be waged without restraint. If there is to be no other way for the church than the agony of a new digression and division, then our course is set; we shall not be moved. God being our helper, we have no choice. — F. Y. T