Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 29, 1962
NUMBER 46, PAGE 3,10-11

"Snatching Them Out Of The Fire"

James W. Adams, Oklahoma City, Okla.

The Destiny Of Liars

Lying is an abominable sin in the sight of God. "Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds." (Col. 3:9) "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." (Rev. 21:8) "And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life." (Rev. 21:27) The destiny of liars is quite evidently eternal separation from God. If, therefore, we can save some of our "liberal" brethren from becoming liars in addition to their already considerable sin of perverting the organization and work of the church, we will have done them a service, hence this article. We trust that the information it contains may enlighten some of the "brotherhood" information peddlers and enable them to tell the truth rather than the misrepresentations and downright falsehoods they have been so busy spreading here and there. Jude admonished Christians of his day to "save" certain brethren by "snatching them out of the fire." (Jude 24) It is our hope that, by preventing some of our accusing brethren from continuing to make liars of themselves, we may to this extent at least "snatch" them out of the eternal hell of fire.

The Subject Of The Misrepresentations

The situation which has occasioned our careless brethren thus to sin is the situation which developed at the 10th and Francis congregation in Oklahoma City some four years ago. During the past four years every conceivable kind of falsehood and misrepresentation has been peddled throughout the country, and even the world, concerning the matter, by the "liberal" element among churches of Christ. The author of this article has been charged with moving here and `splitting' the church. The elders have been maligned as '"dictators and popes?' The congregation has been represented as "about to fold up," its building represented as having become a "ghost house," and its personnel or membership as being opposed to the care of orphans, world evangelism, and church cooperation. The congregation has been held up by the proponents of digression in public debate as an example of "what anti-ism can do to a church" by picturing the church as tottering on the brink of oblivion. If these brethren and others are not totally depraved, as their conduct would indicate at times, we may be able to help them by giving them the facts concerning what really occurred at 10th and Francis, and the present condition of the work.

The Facts In The Case

In presenting the facts about this matter, we shall be as brief as possible, yet we shall strive to be thorough. Be it understood, however, that the presentation of these facts is not to be construed as an attempt on our part to defend ourselves. We are under no obligation to defend ourselves to any man, church, or human institution relative to our actions unless there is an open, formal challenge of their scripturalness. Let it be observed that the brethren who have been doing all of the talking have made their charges to our backs, not to our faces. The liberal preachers and churches of Oklahoma City have talked much in this manner, but not one of them has offered to meet us on these matters under circumstances in which we would have an opportunity to reply and to examine before their people the scripturalness of their position.

Tenth and Francis has always been a conservative congregation, in almost all matters, in its teaching and practice. The congregation has always opposed the church support — of the colleges. She was and is militant against premillennialism. She has always opposed the majority rule and other such perversions of the government of the church. Her preachers, for the most part, have been men known for their militant stand against denominational error. She has always believed in doing her own work and attending to her own business. She has never aspired to become a "sponsoring church." She refused from the beginning to support The Herald of Truth. She did, however, support from her treasury the orphan home at Tipton, Oklahoma and perhaps others on occasion. Also, she had a a kitchen in her basement and did permit certain types of social functions on the premises, but on a very limited and regulated basis. She has always opposed the "youth movement" tendencies among the churches. To the best of our knowledge, this about sums up the stand of this congregation through the years. We might add, however, that she has ever been devoted to the proclamation of the gospel in virgin fields both at home and abroad. I doubt that any church in the country has a better record than she in this regard. Furthermore, she has been outstanding in looking after the "needs of the "poor saints" in the congregation and out of it.

Like all congregations of comparable age, 10th and Francis has not always sailed on calm seas. There have been stormy seasons on more than one occasion. Several times during her history people have gone out from her to worship elsewhere because of their dissatisfaction with the situation then and prevailing at 10th Francis. There are hundreds of these kinds of people scattered among practically all the congregations in the city. Many of them yet harbor in their hearts peelings of ill will toward the congregation. We do not "judge these people when we so affirm. Their speech and actions demonstrate the truth of our allegation.

Some fourteen or fifteen years ago, there was a very serious time of trouble involving the elders of the congregation. This was before and during the tenure of service of Jack Meyer, Sr., as the evangelist of the congregation. Two of the elders were removed, one of them one of the most influential men of the church, and others replaced them. It is not our desire to inquire into the merits of this trouble one way or another. We mention it only to say, at that time, a number of people left the congregation in anger and were received with open arms in other churches of the city. Some stayed at 10th and Francis, but continued to be very unhappy over the turn of events. From that time until four years ago, there were certain problems in the congregation having their roots in the previous difficulty. Too, in these years, the congregation had received into her membership many people who were not altogether happy with the conservative character of the church. This made it easy for them to leave when the latest difficulty arose.

This brings us to the situation that prevailed four years ago and to how many people went out from the congregation and why they did so. Many wild stogies surround the answer to these questions. The church has been represented as dropping from 1000 members to a handful and from 600 or 700 in Bible classes to 150. We think it well at this point to give some statistics taken from the published records of the congregation.

"Figures Don't Lie"

Too many loose-tongued people, in practice, say, "Don't confuse me with the facts." People who want to tell the truth, however, are interested in facts and figures. The following statistics and observations are directed to such people.

Year Members Ave. Bible School Attendance Ave. Contribution
1948 - 757 374 $ 545.00
1949 - 749 415 721.28
1950 - 712 437 769.94
1951 - 673 399 800.10
1952 - 608 349 783.29
1953 - 640 386 889.76
1954 - 604 420 1058.43
1955 - 614 433 1155.50
1956 - 606 418 1250.32
1957 - 558 397 1276.55
September 28,
1958 - 529 382 1208.23
1959 - 307 208 728.39
1960 - 300 222 789.11
1961 - 306 228 807.42

In these years, Oklahoma City has grown tremendously. 'Whereas there were 12 to 15 congregations at the beginning of this period, there are now some 30 or thereabout. Tenth and Francis is now on the edge of the downtown area. Suburban residential areas have claimed large numbers of the people who used to live in reach of our location. New churches and new residences, as the figures above show, along with other influences, produced a loss in membership from 1948 to September 28, 1958 (The last Sunday before the present preacher arrived in OKC) of 228 persons. This was an average of 22.8 per year. Had this trend continued during the next three years and three months, there would have been a natural loss of 70 persons. Subtract this number from 529 (the membership as of Sept. 28, 1958) and the membership would have normally stood at 459. Too, soon after our coming to OKC, we reworked the membership list and dropped some 30 persons' names which had been carried for years, but who have not attended the services in all those years. This would have reduced the number to 429. Now subtract the average membership in 1961 from that figure and the loss will be 123. We had 306 members at the end of 1961. Had the trouble not occurred, the number, following the regular pattern of 10 years and the deletion of non-active persons, would have been 429. It would appear, therefore, that the trouble of four years ago actually resulted in the loss of only 123 in net membership. We should like much for Guy N. Woods to take a good, long look at this figure and blush if he is capable of shame! Too, let all who think we are dying on the vine observe that we have reversed the trend of losses established by ten years of history.

Why The People Left Us

First, we should like to emphasize the fact that the great majority who left did so before the present preacher arrived in the city. Those who did not leave then did so within a few weeks. The good brethren who tell that James A. Adams was the occasion of the losses sustained here should take note of this fact and stop jeopardizing the salvation of their souls by falsifying. Most of you are known to me and certainly to the Lord. Now, the people to whom you have told these things will know WHAT you are! If any should point to copies of the Gospel Visitor in the early days of our ministry at 10th and Francis and observe that numbers of names appeared as removals, let this explanation clear the matter for them: so many people left in a period of two or three weeks that it was thought best to publish only a reasonable number of them in each issue so as not to consume too much of the limited space. Practically all of those people left prior to our coming.

Second, a congregation had been established in a section of the city where many of the then members of 10th and Francis lived. There was no doubt that it was to be among the more liberal and fashionable churches of the city. The liberal and worldly-minded element at 10th and Francis found it easy to make a change to a congregation more in keeping with their temperament, hence jumped at the first opportunity that would give them what they and others would consider a reason for a change. How do we know this? Jesus said, "By their fruits ye shall know them." This particular congregation absorbed the greater part of those who left.

Third, the elders at 10th and Francis had been studying for a long while the issues involved in institutionalism and centralized control and oversight. Some of them had attended the Harper-Tant Debate in Abilene, Texas, and the Cogdill-Woods Debate in Birmingham, Alabama. Brother Foy E. Wallace was called to Oklahoma City and spoke five nights at 10th and Francis on the issues. This was before the Birmingham, Ala., debate.

After the Birmingham debate, it was decided by the elders that they would take a stand for the truth on these issues. In the meantime, a situation had developed involving the evangelist at 10th and Francis which made it impossible to retain him longer in that capacity. Marital difficulties had developed in his home and were becoming more or less public knowledge. After leaving 10th and Francis, within a period of three years, this brother and h is wife labored with three different congregations, and their mairriage finally ended in the divorce courts.

The elders at 10th and Francis decided at this point that they would engage a preacher who entertained like views as their own with reference to "church cooperation" and "institutionalism." Having met the writer of this article at the Birmingham debate, it was decided that he should be invited to the work. We were happily and profitably engaged in a good work with the Mound and Starr congregation in Nacogdoches, Texas and had no desire to move. We did so at the urgent request of the elders from the 10th and Francis and Brother O.T. Lowry, one of the deacons of the congregation who accompanied the elders to Nacogdoches to discuss the matter with us.

Following the dismissal of the evangelist, who has been previously mentioned, and the engaging of this writer to succeed him, the elders at 10th and Francis published a statement of their views and the policy that would in the future characterize the activities of the 10th and Francis congregation. The statement was published in the Gospel Visitor, weekly publication of the congregation. These moves on the part of the elders provoked a furor in the congregation.

The elders had not made known to the congregation the reason for the dismissal of the evangelist. This was done in order to protect the brother and his family but probably was a mistake. Advantage was taken of the generous attitude thus manifested by the elders, and numbers who had a high regard for the preacher in question were prejudiced against the elders by false representations of the actions taken. Too, liberal churches and preachers in the city immediately began to use what influence they could muster to further complicate the situation.

As a result of all these factors, a large exodus of people took place. The majority of those who departed were in the younger and middle-aged group. These classes are those who generally have families, hence the Bible school attendance suffered more than the membership. When we arrived in Oklahoma City in October of 1958, we found the congregation greatly reduced in size, but not to the extent which has been alleged.

Our Present Situation

During three and one half years of labor with the congregation, there have been normal losses, but also many gains. Many, who believe the truth on current issues, have come to us from liberal congregations. The spiritual state of the church is high. We have not had to cancel a single obligation. We continue to support the gospel at home and abroad and to carry on a full, active program of gospel work in every regard. Our critics are many. However, we do not permit this fact to embitter us nor to lead us into unbalanced emphasis of current problems to the neglect of a positive, spiritual, and aggressive program of scriptural teaching and activity. We are slowly growing — numerically, spiritually, and financially. A year ago, the church purchased a beautiful new residence to house the preacher and his family. A new combination heating and cooling system was installed in our auditorium. It is the heated and refrigerated water type containing 60 tons of refrigeration. In addition to three preachers which are being partially supported in the fields beyond, the local preacher conducts two or three "mission" meetings per year. Too, there will "be 3 local meetings in 1962 and a vacation Bible school. Regular help is extended when needed to "poor saints" of the congregation. None of this is to say that we are without problems, nor to imply that every member of the congregation endorses 100% the position of the elders on current issues. We are at peace; we are working; we are growing; our work is scriptural, and we believe the Lord is pleased.


In conclusion, may we say, it is our hope that our critics may henceforth correctly represent matters as they were and are at 10th and Francis. We hope likewise that the facts of this article may provide our friends with ammunition with which to meet the misrepresentations of our "enemies because of the truth." Submitted in the interest of truth and right.