Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 1, 1958

A Realistic Look At Brother Gardner's Optimism

Weldon Warnock, New Martinsville, W. Va.

In the February 27th issue of the Gospel Advocate there appeared an article by Bro. E. Claude Gardner entitled "I Am Optimistic." I do not know Bro. Gardner, therefore, my remarks are not aimed from a personal angle, but rather they are a sincere consideration of the contents of his article.

Bro. Gardner's attitude suggests that there is no further need to debate the current issues troubling the church, but punish the foes who oppose institutionalizing the church by giving them the silent, non-fellowship treatment. He implies that anyway "the storm is over," "the battles fought" and "the crisis conquered." The issues are crystallized, the truth is clear — except to a few who seemingly want to be cranky and contentious.

He implies it would be just a waste of time as the fallacious reasoning has already been exposed by such men as brethren Harper, Woods and Warren. It seems to me that these brethren need to get together and work out some of their fallacious reasoning. Bro. Gardner states, "Now that a number of debates have been held, it occurs to me that others are pointless." Let's quit debating the Baptists, Holiness, Christian church and etc. then, because a number of debates have been held with them, and other debates, according to Bro. Gardner's reasoning, would be pointless. The only thing I can see pointless about the Advocate brethren debating present issues is for the same reason the sectarians have seen debates to be pointless — they don't have any scriptural points.

He inferred that the opposition to Herald of Truth and the church subsidizing brethren's benevolent business enterprises is just a few splinters in the woods. In his words, "I predicted that the controversy would result in a splinter group." You put all of the splinters together and they would make a pretty good pile of wood. The splinters seem to be sticking a lot of those who are obsessed with the poison of institutionalism, pride, ego and worldliness.

Bro. Gardner implied that the Advocate group is the one who really cares for the welfare of the church. He says, "The hallelujah part to brethren who love the church is that it seems now that there will be no major disruption in the church." But after reading the Advocate, I think many of its adherents have more love for benevolent societies, youth camps, colleges and "fellowship" dinners than they do for the church.

Again, Bro. Gardner leaves the impression that there are just a few churches and preachers left in the woods who need to be led out by the great and "infallible" writers of the Advocate. He states, "There are some congregations that yet have trouble and there are still some preachers riding their hobby, but by and large it would seem this is the small minority." Notice, it just seems to be a small minority. This is just hopeful optimism. I believe there are many more who are fighting innovations than he would have us believe. These are not "wet-behind-the-ears-crackpots" either. Many are known for their stature, integrity and soberness. However, truth isn't determined by majority OR minority. A century ago only a few stood against the missionary society and they were called antis, cranks, hobbyists and etc. But did that make the missionary society right? Not at all. Truth is determined by the Scriptures. It is easy to shout hobbyist, crank, anti, radical, but that doesn't answer anything, except to those who love to hear a lot of ballyhoo.

He accuses those who believe in the all-sufficiency of the church as being the trouble-makers, church-splitters and eventually drawing the line of fellowship. That doesn't bother me though as I have gotten used to it from the Christian church brethren. They have been calling us that for years. The humorous thing about this accusation is that he draws the line of fellowship before he gets through with the article, and exhorts elders to do the same. Now, who is drawing the line of fellowship? Notice his statement, "The sooner elders become firm in their warnings to the hobbyist the sooner the church will be rid of their blight."

As to orphan homes and the Herald of Truth, Bro. Gardner claims they will continue. They probably will, just as the missionary society stayed and helped to split the church. But remember that the adherents of the missionary society were the guilty ones who drove the wedge of division in the body of Christ.

Bro. Goodpasture was praised for the wisdom he manifested in handling the situation. I think I see the wisdom. He put on a drive to get the Advocate to as many brethren as possible and then just printed one side of the story, even if it meant getting rid of one of the staff writers. By all means, nothing was to be printed that was different from the views of the editor. The honorable thing to have done was to have let representative men discuss the issues in the paper so the subscribers could have read both sides. But this wasn't permitted, and the writers for the Advocate built their own straw men and then endeavored to tear them down. Consequently, the readers got a distorted view. He also praised the Advocate for standing in the "old paths." What old paths? Certainly not Bible paths.

Finally, Bro. Gardner said that good brethren are changing their positions and are no longer negative. In his words, "Good brethren are courageously stating they have changed positions and no longer oppose the good works in the church. Other brethren through sundry means are beginning to try to get across the idea that they are no longer negative." The implications are if you don't line up with the Advocate's views, and become "positive," you are not a good brother. Pshaw! The reason the church in many places is in such a bad shape now is because of those "good," positive brethren.

My heart's desire is for peace and unity in the church, but not at the price of compromising the truth. I am thankful to God for the hundreds of preachers who aren't afraid of being branded, ostracized or labeled a hobbyist in the fight for truth. What some church, preacher or religious journal thinks or says should be of little concern. Paul said, "But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment . . . ." (I Cor. 4:3).