Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 15, 1960

Headquarters In Heaven, Not Nashville

Irvin Himmel, St. Louis, Missouri

On my way out of the meeting house a few days ago I was met by a salesman. The gentleman thought he knew something about the church of Christ, and I guess he wanted to make a bit of conversation before discussing what he had to sell.

Seeing the sign "CHURCH OF CHRIST" in front of our building, he remarked, "This is the church that has headquarters down in Nashville, Tennessee, is it not?"

I replied, "No sir! Our headquarters are in heaven."

Acting as if he had never heard of the place, or else wasn't sure he had heard me correctly, the man asked, "Where?"

I repeated, "Our headquarters are in heaven. We have no central organization on earth."

"But isn't this the church that was started by Alexander Campbell?" he continued.

"No," I responded, "Jesus Christ was its founder...."

For several generations plain, unsectarian Christians have been charged in many places with following Campbell. That is because Campbell opposed denominationalism and advocated a restoration of first-century Christianity. All one needs to do to show that Campbell was not the founder of the church of Christ is to prove by the New Testament that it existed nearly 1800 years before Campbell began advocating the "old paths."

But what about this business of headquarters in Nashville? That is an idea much newer than the "Campbellite" notion. What do you suppose gave this man the thought that churches of Christ have headquarters in Nashville?

The following facts speak for themselves:

(1) Nashville is rapidly becoming the headquarters for many "Churches of Christ" that are growing, or else have already grown, into sectarianism. Proof: Many members of these churches will sooner follow the Gospel Advocate published in Nashville than to follow the Bible. With them if the Advocate takes a certain position, that is bound to be right. This writer believes the Advocate to be dead wrong on a number of fundamental points, and has no intention of accepting any authority other than the Scriptures. Of course, one could display a sectarian attitude toward any paper, but I know of no single publication that has such a firm hold on the minds of brethren so generally as does the Advocate. Many folks up and down the land are not clear on what Paul said about evangelism, or what Luke wrote about churches and benevolence, or what Peter said about elders and how far their authority extends, or exactly what James taught about the fatherless and widows, but one thing is clear — they know what the Gospel Advocate says, and there they stand!

(2) For several years the editor of the Advocate has allowed himself and his paper to be listed in The World Almanac in such a way that people are led to think that Nashville is headquarters. The Almanac is widely read and is regarded as a reliable source for statistics and other vital information. Under the heading, "Headquarters of Religious Denominations," the following appears: "Churches of Christ — No central organization. Gospel Advocate, B. C. Goodpasture, editor, 110 Seventh Ave., N., Nashville, Tenn." While the Almanac explains that churches of Christ have no central organization, it proceeds to give the name and address of the Nashville paper. If there are no earthly headquarters, why list anything? Does that mean that Nashville is nearest thing to headquarters? Most people outside the church who read the Almanac would think that Nashville is headquarters in some sense.

(3) The Advocate is launching an all-out campaign to smear, stigmatize, and destroy all brethren who disagree with its position. In this way it seeks to control the churches and thus, for practical purposes, firmly establish itself as headquarters.

The Bible came from heaven, not Nashville. It is still the guide of thousands of faithful men and women. The head of the church, Christ our Lord, still "quarters" in heaven, and that will remain headquarters for true churches of Christ. Many preachers tell folks to read the Advocate and learn about the issues disturbing the church; however, loyal gospel proclaimers are daily asking sincere people to read their Bibles and get their answers firsthand. Plain Bible study will knock the props from under institutionalism.