Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 10, 1958
NUMBER 10, PAGE 1,12-13a

A Master Stroke Of Deception

W. Curtis Porter, Monette, Arkansas

In the years I have lived I have seen, I think, many efforts made by false teachers to deceive the people in general concerning the positions occupied by said teachers. But, as it appears to me, one of the boldest efforts to accomplish such deception that I have ever seen recently appeared on the pages of the GOSPEL ADVOCATE. The article was given a front page position and then continued, as the front page was not large enough to contain all of it, to another page of the paper. The issue was May 8, 1958. The article was written by Bro. Guy N. Woods and given the title, "A MEETING OF MINDS." But after reading the article, it is my conclusion that a much better title, and one that would have been much more truthful, would have been, "A COLLISION OF CONCEPTS."

A short time ago Bro. Reuel Lemmons, editor of the FIRM FOUNDATION, set forth in an editorial some positions held by brethren today concerning the work of benevolence for churches. In that editorial he stated that the position held by some who are opposing the present day organizational type of benevolence might destroy the homes, but it would not destroy the church. But he said that the position, which is held by Bro. Woods and the GOSPEL ADVOCATE group, that the church cannot render care to the needy but must employ some outside organization to do it, could very easily destroy the church. His conclusion was that this latter position is the much more dangerous position of the two. Bro. Woods seemed to become seriously nettled by this editorial. For some one to charge his position as being more dangerous to the church than a position held by those whom he styles as forming a "hobby-ridden sect" was just too much for him, and he became deeply irritated about the matter. As a result he wrote two long articles in the GOSPEL ADVOCATE in reply to the brief editorial in the FIRM FOUNDATION by Bro. Lemmons. The FIRM FOUNDATION editor reviewed Woods' articles under the heading, "BRO. WOODS THROWS A TANTRUM." The spanking he gave Bro. Woods was well administered.

Then Bro. Woods changed his tactics. Instead of making a blistering attack upon him as he formerly had done for opposing the method of benevolence that Bro. Woods thinks is "the only Scriptural way," he decided to start throwing kisses, tossing bouquets, and playing up the idea of perfect unity and agreement between him and Lemmons and between the GOSPEL ADVOCATE and the FIRM FOUNDATION. Bro. Woods could not stand the idea that the ADVOCATE and FOUNDATION are divided on this question, and that the FOUNDATION editor had declared the GOSPEL ADVOCATE position to be much worse than the GOSPEL GUARDIAN position. He must not be allowed to get too near the bunch of "crack-pots" that publish the GUARDIAN. But since his recent effort to blast Lemmons out of his position had backfired on him and had actually made matters worse, Woods decided he would use more cunning means and would endeavor to prove to Bro. Lemmons and to all others that there is no basic difference between them — that they are in perfect agreement about the whole affair. So he made, what seems to me, his "master stroke of deception." Since he could not "fight him down," he would just "love him up" and condemn to everlasting perdition everyone who would dare to disagree. Bro. Lemmons had said the elders do not have to oversee everything they make a contribution to and under some circumstances Benevolent Organizations may have a right to exist. Taking these two points as a base Bro. Woods wildly leaped to the following conclusions:

"We kindly urge the Guardian to take due notice of the following significant facts:

(1) The Gospel Advocate and the Firm Foundation are fully agreed on the premise that money may be taken from church treasuries to provide for the needs of homeless children in Boles Home, and similar institutions operated by our brethren.

(2) The Gospel Advocate and the Firm Foundation repudiate the view that the church cannot contribute to any work which it does not oversee, manage, or otherwise control, through its elders.

(3) The Gospel Advocate and the Firm Foundation believe that 'a group of men can form a corporation, build and maintain a home which is not under the oversight of elders of a church and that many churches can cooperate in the upkeep of that home.'

(4) The allegation that these two great papers are opposed to each other, relative to the right of Boles, Tennessee, Childhaven, etc., to exist, and to receive money from the treasuries of co-operating congregations, is a figment of the imagination.

(5) Further usage of such phrases, by the Guardian and its writers, as 'the Gospel Advocate' position, and 'the Firm Foundation' position, based on the assumption that there is any basic difference between the two, will properly be attributed to a lack of information; or, deliberate disregard for facts.

(6) The Gospel Advocate position and the Firm Foundation position are precisely the same, relative to the right of Boles to exist, to receive funds from the churches of Christ." — From Gospel Advocate, May 8, 1958.

The above conclusions comprise abundant evidence, to one who does not think for himself, I suppose, that the GOSPEL ADVOCATE and the FIRM FOUNDATION are perfectly agreed in their positions regarding the work of benevolence; but if any man will do a little study for himself, they will likely be seen as about the most fallacious conclusions that any man ever drew. The editor of the CHRISTIAN WORKER recently said: "Progress is being made in the right direction in many ways today. When men like Reuel Lemmons and Guy N. Woods get together after having held different position — the hearts of those who deeply loved — these men are made to rejoice!' I suppose the WORKER editor was convinced by Woods' fallacious conclusions. Without these conclusions no one would ever have learned that these men "got together." If they formerly "held different positions" but are now "together," someone must have changed his position. I wonder who did it. Certainly not Guy N. Woods — the man who never changes. Reuel Lemmons must be the man that has changed. I suggest that someone write to Bro. Lemmons to see if he has discovered the fact that he has changed to Woods' position. Surely Bro. Lemmons has learned it by now — if he read Bro. Woods' article, and I feel sure he did.

But if the article of Woods proves that the GOSPEL ADVOCATE position and the FIRM FOUNDATION position are precisely the same, with no basic difference between them, it also proves that the GOSPEL ADVOCATE position and the GOSPEL GUARDIAN position are precisely the same, and that throws Bro. Woods into a bunch of "hobby-riding crack-pots." The very things that Bro. Lemmons said, which Bro. Woods used to prove their sameness of position, have often been said by the writers of the GOSPEL GUARDIAN. So if it proves it in one case, it proves it in the other. To get this before the reader I wish to parallel statements from two editors. In one column I shall place the statement made by Bro. Lemmons, editor of Firm Foundation, that Bro. Woods used in an effort to prove that the Advocate and Foundation positions are the same. Then parallel to it in another column I wish to place a statement made by the editor of the Gospel Guardian. Then you will see that Bro. Woods has proven the position of all three papers to be "precisely the same."

Statement By Reuel Lemmons, Editor Of Firm Foundation:

"We Have No Objection Whatever To Any Privately Owned And Operated Home, Nor Do We Think For A Moment That Such Do Not Have A Right To Exist. Bro. Woods Accused Us Of Believing That 'Boles Home And Homes Under Boards Should Be Terminated.' This Is More Political Palaver For The Consumption Of The People Who Do Not Know Us. We No More Believe That Homes Under A Board Should Be Terminated Than We Believe That David Lipscomb College Under A Board Should Be Terminated.

"We are in perfect accord with the position of Bro. Gayle Oler, Superintendent of Boles Home, when some years ago lie went to considerable length to explain that that home, under a board, was a private business with services for sale. He urged, and we perfectly agree, that congregations in need of these services that are for sale should purchase them, just as they would purchase the services of David Lipscomb College to educate a young minister.

The church is not FORCED to contribute to any institution outside the framework of the church in order to practice pure and undefiled religion. On this point we must continue to differ with Bro. Woods for we sincerely believe that he is wrong — and the ultimate end of the position he now occupies will allow the establishment of any and all kinds of private institutions and agencies such as colleges, societies, etc., which will look to the church treasury for support. We see no reason why we cannot have both; the church arrangements supported by the church, and the services of private homes purchased as needed." — Editorial in Firm Foundation, April 29, 1958.

Statement By Yater Tant, Editor, Of Gospel Guardian

"It is my conviction that those orphan homes in the land which are operated under a board of directors, as 'service institutions' have every scriptural right to exist as private, independent, non-church business enterprises. * * * There was a time when the Christian colleges were seeking church support; for the most part they have now abandoned and renounced the practice. The colleges have fared far better financially, and the churches have not been disturbed and divided over the question. Why should not these 'under a board' homes operate on the same basis?

"If a congregation has a child that needs such care, or one for whom no suitable home is immediately available, then let the elders of the congregation put that child in one of these private. independent, non-church-supported homes and pay the bill for his keep.

"The half-dozen or so homes 'under a board' which are among us could well serve a great and useful purpose and receive the endorsement and support, I believe of every Christian in the land for such work if they would follow the example of Christian Colleges and cut themselves loose from church support. Let them continue to operate in general terms as they are now, except for a clear-cut, adamant policy of refusing either to solicit or to accept contributions from churches. They could (and should) continue to operate their farms, dairies, oil leases, hatcheries, lease their apartment houses .and make all the money they can in every right and lawful means. Let them pay dividends to their stockholders, if such they desire; or else let them operate as non-profit corporations. But in either event, let them be private, independent, non-church-supported or connected, 'service institutions'." — Published in Firm Foundation, April 1, 1958, and now appearing in Gospel Guardian.

There you have statements from the editors of both the Firm Foundation and the Gospel Guardian. Both of them state that such homes should not receive contributions from churches, but should operate simply as service institutions, just as Christian Colleges or Hospitals, and sell their services to those who need such. Such an arrangement for a home, they claim, would have the same right to exist as a college, a hospital or any other private enterprise. Brother Woods takes the statement of Bro. Lemmons and immediately declares that the Firm Foundation position is precisely the same as the Gospel Advocate position. If so, then both of them are "precisely the same" as the position of the Gospel Guardian. The fact, of course, is that neither the Firm Foundation nor the Gospel Guardian holds the position held by the Gospel Advocate, and this effort made by Brother Woods to deceive the reader is about the boldest, I think, that I have ever seen.

Briefly, Let Us Take A Look At Them.

No. 1. Bro. Woods says that the Advocate and Foundation are "fully agreed on the premise that money may be taken from church treasuries to provide the needs of homeless children in Boles Home," etc. Here Woods labors efficiently to deceive the reader. How do they agree that funds may be taken from church treasuries for such? Bro. Woods and the Gospel Advocate say that churches may contribute their funds for such work. But Bro. Lemmons and the Firm Foundation say that churches cannot contribute to such homes, but can only "buy services" just as they would buy services for a student in a college or a patient in a hospital. There is a vast difference between paying a bill for a sick man in a hospital and making a contribution to the hospital. So there is a vast difference between Lemmons and Woods.

No. 2. Bro. Woods says that both the Advocate and Foundation "repudiate the view" that a church cannot contribute to anything it cannot control. But the same can be said of the Guardian. In my debate with Woods at Paragould I definitely repudiated that view and said a church could render aid to a needy family without controlling the family.

No. 3. The Advocate and the Foundation, Bro. Woods tells us, believe that a "group of men can form a corporation" and build and maintain a home not under the elders and that many "churches can cooperate in the upkeep of that home." Again he hopes to deceive the reader. How do they agree that churches can cooperate in such a matter? Woods says by sending contributions to them, but Lemmons says they can buy services only. If that is perfect agreement on cooperation, then the Gospel Guardian must be accepted into the bond of union, for Bro. Tant said the very same thing that Bro. Lemmons said. But Woods and the Advocate do not agree with this at all.

No. 4. Here Woods tells us it is "a figment of the imagination" to "allege" that these "two great papers" are "opposed to each other, relative to the right of Boles, Tennessee, Childhaven, etc., to receive money from churches." But it is not a "figment of the imagination" that the Foundation editor says the way these homes can "receive money" from the churches is exactly the same way the American Bible Society, the Methodist Publishing House or the American Baptist Publication Society "receives money" from churches when they sell Bibles to said churches. There is a vast difference between buying a Bible from one of the Publishing Societies and contributing the money from the treasury of the churches to such organizations. So there is complete disagreement between Lemmons and Woods as to how such homes can "receive money" from churches.

No. 5. In this conclusion Bro. Woods warns all Gospel Guardian writers that if they make any further statement that "there is any basic difference between" the position of the Advocate and the Foundation, that they are simple ignoramuses or deliberate liars. Yet nobody knows any better than Guy Woods that there is a very basic difference between the two. I wonder if his statement is to be charged to a "lack of information or a deliberate disregard of facts."

No. 6. Here he repeats that the position of the two papers are "precisely the same, relative to the right of Boles to exist, to receive funds from churches of Christ." But Woods says such homes have the right to exist upon the contribution of churches and to receive funds as gifts from churches. But Lemmons says they have a right to exist only as private enterprises, just as any other private business, and that churches cannot contribute to them. The only way they can send money to them is like they send money to a hospital to pay for the service rendered to a patient. They are no more "precisely the same" than white is "precisely the same" as black.

If what Bro. Woods has argued in his article is true, it is amazing how ignorant some men can be. The position of Bro. Lemmons is the same as the position of Bro. Roy Lanier. But Woods says this position — which is the position of the Foundation — is "precisely the same" as the position of the Gospel Advocate. Think how ignorant Bro. B. C. Goodpasture was! He refused to print the articles written by Bro. Lanier relative to these homes upon the basis that such articles were contrary to the doctrinal teaching of the Advocate. Yet the articles he rejected, Woods would have to say, were "precisely the same" as Goodpasture's position. And if Goodpasture should make any suggestion otherwise, he would be either an ignoramus or a liar. And if they were "precisely the same" Bro. Roy Lanier did not know it, for he refused to remain connected with the Advocate when his articles were refused. Is it not strange that everybody has been so ignorant concerning the, position of the two papers till Guy N. Woods recently discovered that their position is "precisely the same"?