Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 30, 1959

Closing The Tenth Year


With this issue we close the tenth year in the editorial chair of the Gospel Guardian. Not many of those years have been as hard — or as rewarding spiritually and emotionally — as this tenth year. The battle for the truth of Christianity during these last twelve months has taken a decidedly favorable turn. We are tremendously heartened and encouraged by the ever increasing evidences that thousands of sincere Christians are awakening more and more to the liberalistic flood which has swept through the churches; and are stiffening in their resistance to the encroaching menace. Our rapid increase in subscriptions (with a corresponding dramatic drop in the circulation of the chief "promoting" journal among us) gives some evidence of the change in sentiment which is taking place.

As we start the eleventh year next week we can only say "thank you" to the thousands of faithful readers who continue to subscribe for the paper, and who are recommending it to their friends. The battle will be a long and bitter one; the forces of modernism and liberalism will unquestionably sweep many congregations and many individuals into their destructive current. But the number will not be nearly so large as many have thought. And the church which will emerge from the ordeal will be a church purified and cleansed, and stronger than ever before "in the Lord and in the power of his might."

— F. Y. T.

I Thank You

As so many sweet cards and letters have come to me on my 87th birthday, I just wish I were able to answer each one separately, to express my appreciation for all.

But as some of you already know, and as others of you may live to learn, when one passes that 87th milestone the things one can and the things one would like to do are not always the same. So I am using this space in the Guardian to say "thank you", one and all, for your every expression of love and for your many kind words.

Most of you I have never met, but let us hope and try to so live that by God's love and mercy we may meet where we can live and love each other through eternity.


"Mother Tant"

(Mrs. J. D. Tant)

May I also say "thank you" for the more than 200 friends who wrote to my mother, telling her of their enjoyment in reading "J. D. Tant — Texas Preacher", and wishing her a happy birthday. Your letters have gladdened her heart, and brightened her days immensely. She is well, and happy, and very, very busy. And she hopes, and we all pray, that the last day of her life, whenever it comes, will find her with a desk piled high with unfinished work, and with death serving only to change her job from one over here to one "over there."

— Yater Tant A Dash Of Ice Water

For more than a decade now we have been deluged with "statistics" from "on the march brethren" blowing and boasting as to how the church is growing. Figures appeared as if by magic, out of the thin air, claiming 1,000,000 members for the Churches of Christ, and 12,000 congregations. Then in less than two years time that figure had jumped to 1,500,000 members and 15,000 congregations. And last year, we saw confident reports suggesting that an estimate of 2,000,000 members was not over optimistic and 18,000 congregations was quite within the realm of possibility.

Brethren everywhere were getting drunk on their own "figures", heady with the feeling of bursting seams and irresistible growth. We were hailing ourselves as "the fastest growing religious body in America" and the "on the march" philosophy seemed to be taking the day.

The wild-eyed optimists (whose trouble apparently was caused by misty optics) must have caught their breath in dismayed disbelief when (and if) they happened to see this brief statement in the Christian Chronicle editorial of March 24, 1959:

"We are under the firm conviction that it is a very liberal estimate when we say there are 10,000 congregations in our land; and if there are as many as a million members of the Lord's church, we will be most pleasantly surprised. Since 1951 we have had a part in compiling list after list of congregations in our nation. We have taken every list available (published and unpublished lists) and after the duplications and errors were corrected through several mailings, there has never been a list that numbered more than 8,500. We are sure that we do not have all of the congregations, but we do believe that 80 to 85 percent are on these lists.

"Then as to the number of members, the average membership per congregation in our land will probably be less than 100. There is no question but that there are congregations that number well in excess of 1,000; but the great bulk of our congregations number from 10 to 50 in membership."

This is heresy! This editorial must have come like a dash of ice water into the faces of our blowing brethren. And from the Christian Chronicle, of all places! This journal has been one of the biggest braggarts in the publication field, boasting, vaunting, and swaggering with fantastic claims as to "how fast we are growing"!

We hope this bit of realism will serve as a check (however slight and fleeting) on the wild spirit of braggadocio which has made many of our brethren so odious in the eyes of thoughtful people. Maybe it will help us all a bit in our efforts to convert people by the simple gospel of Christ rather than to overwhelm them with a "get on the bandwagon" psychology.

— F. Y. T.