Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 21, 1961
NUMBER 20, PAGE 5,13a

"The Gus Nichols Story"

Thomas G. O'neal, Jasper, Ala.

With the March 2, 1961, issue of the Gospel Advocate the story of another preacher's life is given. This story of Nichols is the second in such a series, the first being that of N. B. Hardeman. I believe that none would be opposed to a biography of these preachers being printed. However, there is more to these articles than just what concerns their life.

For several years, brethren have cried out against the human bodies formed to do the work that Christ has given to his blood bought body. (Acts 20:28) Book, chapter, and verse have been called for in support of these human institutions attaching themselves to the church through church contributions. In an effort to offset the effect of our pleas for a "thus saith the Lord," the Gospel Advocate institutional combine has tried to belittle faithful gospel preachers and to discount their ability as servants of Christ, while at the same time attempting to show the wisdom and superior ability of those who are in favor of these human agencies! These articles that are currently appearing in the pages of the "Old" UN "reliable," are but an effort to show the ability and wisdom of those favoring these human arrangements.

Also, the name of Hardeman, Nichols, and others will have great weight with that class of brethren that do not take the time to study the question for themselves, but say brother Hardeman or Nichols believes thus and so is right, and you just know they can't be wrong. The desire of Goodpasture and others is to use the name of these men to ride their institutional horse as far as possible. This is the very attitude of those promoting the Missionary Society a century ago. The name then used was that of A. Campbell. "The magic name of Alexander Campbell behind any idea usually was enough to discourage any opposition from becoming too effective. On the other hand, his name frequently caused too ready acquiescence from many." (Earl West, The Search For The Ancient Order, Vol. I, Page 167) This is what these advocates of institutional hope to accomplish with the names of living men.

In this series of articles it is our desire to look at the story of Gus Nichols of Jasper, Alabama. We will not look into the life of Nichols. We are concerned with the purpose of these articles in the Gospel Advocate.

Commenting on his morning radio program, Nichols says, "We come on the air with some good recorded singing and follow that by ten or fifteen minutes of news during which time we announce free of charge for all people, regardless of religious affiliation, births, illnesses, hospitalizations, deaths, funerals, injuries, or anything else which would be in keeping with the nature of a gospel broadcast." Nichols fails to tell about announcing lost and found items, finding someone a housekeeper, transportation from Jasper to some other point, etc. This program is paid for by the church for which Nichols preaches, from her funds and from funds received from some churches in the county. Now what do the things mentioned have to do with a "gospel broadcast?" I am aware that deaths, funerals, etc., of members of the church might well be announced on a program of this kind; but why is it necessary to take time paid for by brethren to advertize for the sectarians? Many of them turn on to get the announcements and when they are given turn the radio off. Also, this business of announcing almost everything is unnecessary since prior to the program on the same station are programs of such nature that one can have any of the announcements made that are made by Nichols on his program. I fail to see why it is necessary for brethren to spend their money for a "news program" when many of the businesses of the town are glad to put on a program of this kind.

A question is asked Nichols by the interviewer of these articles, Paul Hunton, Vice-President of the Gospel Press, concerning the meeting house. (Willard Collins wrote these articles from the material gathered by Hunton.) We are told that the building is "A new two-story building with about twenty rooms in a basement, level with the parking lot entrance, and an auditorium on the second floor practically level with the front street entrance. We have a large foyer, and our auditorium seats about seven hundred. The building cost about $215,000." I have seen the building and must say that it is quite impressive if one is impressed with beautiful buildings.

Hunton next asks Nichols, "What do you consider the four greatest dangers now facing the church?" There you have the purpose of these articles. I know these brethren wouldn't be asking such questions if they were going to get answers that they didn't want. Nichols replies by saying they are as follows: (1) Modernism and liberalism on one hand, (2) anti-ism, (3) materialistic and surface religion which salves the conscience and lulls the church into a twilight sleep and complacency which are evidenced in a lack of real zeal which is known to exist everywhere, (4) the tendencies toward factions and divisions in the church contrary to our Lord's prayer for unity.

Surely modernism and liberalism are dangers before the church that no informed person would deny. Materialistic and surface religion is a danger facing the church, also. Divisions have been a danger since the time Paul penned 1 Corinthians. Note though that one of Nichol's dangers is "anti-ism." Anti-ism, anti-ism what? When you say someone is anti, you need to stop and say anti what? Is this the anti-ism Nichols is talking about: "anti-sprinkling for baptism, anti-salvation by faith only, anti-salvation by grace only, anti-total depravity, anti-direct operation of the Spirit, anti-pope, anti-dancing, anti-gambling, anti-liquor drinking, anti-modernism, anti-infidelity, anti-lying, anti-slander, anti-back-biting, anti-Catholic Church, anti-denominationalism, anti-instrumental music in worship, anti-women preachers, anti-church associations, anti-church associations, anti-church conventions, anti-a whole host of other things." (Chas. Holt, Gospel Guardian, Vol. IX, page 644.). Is Nichols anti anything? If so, what is it? Nichols has a hobby of being anti-those whom he calls anti.

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The anti-ism that Nichols has in mind is anti-human inciety {sic}, before Cogdill and Tant were born. Who was restitutions. There are a host of brethren who are anti-human institutions doing the work of the church. Gus Nichols can cause them to cease from being anti on this question by just supplying that which is lacking, the divine authority for the church doing her work through human institutions.

Nichols has the answer for who is responsible for the division in the church. They are, according to Gus Nichols, Roy Cogdill and Yater Tant. Who was guilty for the division over human corporations doing the work of the Lord's church before Cogdill and Tant were born? Brethren opposed these organizations, like the Missionary Sosponsible for such? Gus Nichols is the one, one of the ones, who is responsible for the division in the church because it was through his efforts that human institutions to do the work of the church were formed or given birth. Before the introduction of Nichol's human institution there was no question, no division. The human bodies were introduced and division came. Do away with the human bodies and unity can be restored! Is Nichols interested in Bible unity?

The charge that Tant and Cogdill are opposed to orphan home and cooperative radio programs is just not true. It is true that these brethren are opposed to a church-supported human corporation providing a home for an orphan and to a radio program like the Herald of Truth radio program, but this is far from being opposed to an orphan having a home or churches cooperating in putting on a radio program!

Nichols says, "some blame rests upon those of us holding the truth concerning such matters because we remained silent for years until they had sown the field down with their seeds of discord, before we really began teaching the truth on these issues." Can you picture a gospel preacher who has the opportunity to refute error and didn't do it? Nichols says that which was error was being taught and he was among the number that "remained silent for years?' The N. T. teaches that the servant of the Lord must not strive, (2 Tim. 2:24) but at the same time he is to rebuke sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, (Tit. 1:13) to contend for the faith, (Jude 3) to preach the word, being instant in season. (2 Tim. 4:2) If I had sat silently by when that which I believed with all of my heart to be error was being taught, I would be ashamed to admit it as a servant of the Lord! This is the admission of Gus Nichols. Brethren, can you count on a man like that to defend the faith once delivered to the saints?

Nichols says that the present problems "reminds us of the fight on premillennialism in which they got a twenty-year start on us before it was effectively opposed and put down by such men as C. R. Nichol and Foy E. Wallace, Jr." Nichols is held up by the institutional advocates as a great defender of the faith. Where was Nichols during these twenty years? In 1930, Gus Nichols was 38 years old and had been a member of the body of Christ for 20 years. At the age of 38 and a Christian for 20 years didn't know how to "effectively oppose and put down" premillennialism?

Do C. R. Nichol and Foy E. Wallace, Jr., hold the same convictions on the question of institutionalism that Gus Nichols does? Neither C. R. Nichol nor Foy E. Wallace, Jr., would be permitted to preach at the church where Gus Nichols preaches on the problems of institutionalism. I believe that as a general rule, those who led the battle against premillennialism are also opposed to institutionalism!