Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 20, 1964

The Baxter Booklet

Hoyt H, Houchen Abilene, Texas

Batsell Barrett Baxter, preacher of the Hillsboro church of Christ in Nashville, Tennessee, and featured speaker on the Herald of Truth, is the author of a booklet entitled 'The Questions and Issues of the Day." It is a series of sermons preached at Hillsboro in Nashville during the months of November and December of 1963, giving attention to such issues as churches giving monetary support to benevolent institutions, hospitals, schools, recreation and sponsoring or centralized control arrangements.

Some of the liberals have been making an effort for a long time to put the colleges in the budget of the churches and this has been no secret to many of us. The college in the budget issue was well focused to public view in the late forties and even though the controversy subsided for a while, we have not been so naive as to believe that it was all over, never to be dealt with again. In fact, the issue of the college in the budget simply lay dormant while the orphan home issue became the center of attention. In their strategy to put the colleges in the budget, these brethren shifted to the orphan home issue because of the sentiment involved, knowing full well that if one human institution could be supported out of the treasury of the churches consistency would demand that another could be so supported. These strategists remind us of the sleight of hand artist who draws the attention of his audience to "the rabbit" as a decoy while the real trick is being executed unnoticed. Now, however, brother Baxter has courageously brought their views into the open, both in oral sermons and in the booklet, so that all may see. Only the fear of brotherhood resentment to such views has suppressed this open avowal until now. Evidently brother Baxter and the Hillsboro church in Nashville were ready to publicly advocate these matters as a test case or "feeler" as to whether now is the time to again bring the issue of the schools and hospitals in the budget of the churches out into the open. Anyway, in a series of two editorials in the Firm Foundation, brother Reuel Lemmons gave these brethren a sample reaction with two devastating attacks upon the church support of colleges and hospitals and the church support of orphan homes under institutional boards. In these editorials, brother Lemmons charged that if division results from these matters, brother Baxter will be responsible for it.

A few of us listened to a speech given by brother, Lemmons at the Abilene Christian College lectures. It was reliably reported to us that brother Lemmons had promised to "junk" his manuscript and deal with these issues in his lecture. While deep down all of us had doubts that he would do so, as one brother expressed it, if he did we wanted to be "eye ball" witnesses to it. Brother Lemmons lived up to your expectation as he was as silent as the tomb upon the matters that he reportedly planned to expose and refute. The truth is that brother Lemmons might as well have gone ahead with his plan because as far as his opposition to the things advocated in the Baxter booklet are concerned (although brother Lemmons does not oppose some other practices that we do) he is already marked as an "anti" unless he repudiates his editorials which are now a matter of record. Why did not brother Lemmons pursue his intention? Was he silenced by someone or some group? Has the Baxter booklet been withdrawn from circulation with the promise that its contents will not be pushed at the present?

Brother Lemmons avers in his editorials that he and others will oppose the church support of schools and church supported orphan homes under institutional boards. Will any more be written by brother Lemmons in opposition to them, or has he been silenced? In an effort to avoid an open split in the camp of the liberals upon these questions, has an agreement to drop the matter been reached? Oh yes, and what is the position of brother E. R. Harper and the elders of the Highland church in Abilene with reference to the views of Batsell Barrett Baxter on the church support of schools and hospitals? Since brother Baxter is featured as one of the Herald of Truth speakers it will be interesting to know if they are in agreement with him on his position. What is your position on the church support of hospitals and schools, brother Harper? Are the Highland elders willing to state their position? Brother Lemmons declares that these issues are matters of faith. Of courses in view of the fact that the. Highland elders have not published a detailed financial report which will openly reveal the specific salaries of each employee of the Herald of Truth, we can hardly expect a reply from them to the above questions, but we shall see.

Brother Baxter affirms in his booklet that the church support of schools and orphan homes stand or fall together and in this correct. We have been saying that if a church or churches can financially support one human institution they can support another; if they can support a benevolent institution they can support a school. While we maintain that a church or churches are not authorized by the scriptures to support either or any human institution, brother Baxter is at least more consistent than brother Lemmons because although brother Lemmons opposes the church support of schools, he at the same time contends for the church support of homes under elders. It is our guess that most of the liberals will ride the Gospel Advocate band wagon of the church support of schools and hospitals. Is the issue now coming to a head among the liberals? It will be interesting to watch.