Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 21, 1964
NUMBER 3, PAGE 4,11c

Those California "Special Meetings"


Elsewhere in this issue we carry an article by Brother Roy E. Cogdill, written originally for the local church bulletin of the Winnetka Avenue congregation in Canoga Park, and announcing a "special meeting" in the El Cajon City congregation. We presume that meeting took place as scheduled, and that the same friendly spirit prevailed there which has been the rule in other meetings of this nature in the state of California. These meetings have been going on now for a year or more, and have made a significant contribution toward the development of a friendlier atmosphere, the relaxation of tensions, and, best of all, toward a better understanding of Bible truth.

A reading of Brother Cogdill's short article will reveal the nature of the "special meetings." They are not debates in the formal and usual understanding of that word, but rather are sessions of "mutual study." Some subjects are selected on which honest and sincere brethren differ; a simple statement setting forth the theme is formulated; then each man speaks on that subject, developing what he believes the Bible to teach. At the conclusion of the speeches each speaker answers questions that members of the audience may put to him. We attended one such day last summer in one of the Long Beach congregations, and were greatly impressed with the friendly, relaxed atmosphere, the brotherly spirit, the intense searching questions which members of the audience put to both speakers. At the noon hour the entire assembly went out to one of the nearby parks for a "dinner on the grounds," and came back in the afternoon session to continue the study. It was indeed heartening and refreshing to see such intense study — and such a brotherly spirit on the part of all.

We hope that this kind of study can become widely accepted not only in California, but in all parts of the nation. We feel that such a development may be in the making, and may come to be one of the best ways yet found for promoting unity and harmony. Such meetings may be especially helpful if the fight over "church support of the colleges" warms up into serious proportions. For this controversy will be of such character as to make impossible any effort on the part of either side to "ignore" the other.... (which has been the usual and accepted practice on the part of many brethren and congregations anent the "orphan home" and "Herald of Truth" controversies.) Brother Cogdill's article points out the obligation resting upon all to continue and encourage such studies, and the cynicism and selfish prejudice of those who would refuse to participate in such endeavors.

Now that a serious rift has developed (and is growing) over the "school in the church budget" problem, we sense a somewhat better spirit developing between the "antis" of that field and the "antis" of the orphan home - Herald of Truth controversy. It may be that the two groups of "antis" (the anti-church support of colleges and the anti-Herald of Truth, institutional orphan homes) will find they have much more in common than they had previously thought. We do not know what the Herald of Truth organization will do about Brother Baxter's booklet. Since he has been for some years the chief speaker for the Herald of Truth, and has become in a very real sense "the voice of the Herald of Truth," it may be that that organization will feel some necessity, for policy's sake, to repudiate his booklet. But it is certainly true that many of the strongest backers and promoters of Herald of Truth (including many of the officials) are one hundred percent in sympathy with Baxter's contention. So any repudiation of it, or of him, would be for policy's sake rather than from conviction.

But meetings such as that conducted at El Cajon City can be tremendously helpful in clarifying the issues, in defining both areas of agreement and areas of disagreement, and in promoting a better atmosphere for study. There are some sections, of course, in which prejudice is so strongly entrenched that any sort of communication or exchange is virtually impossible. But many other areas are still open-minded enough to entertain such meetings. We hope to see a significant increase in these "study sessions" as the months go by.

Brother Baxter's Illness

With sorrow and regret we learn of the serious illness of brother Batsell Baxter, whose booklet "Questions and Issues of the Day" is being reviewed in a series of articles by brother James W. Adams. The review was well under way, with four articles completed before brother Baxter's illness became known. Brother Baxter's booklet has been given national circulation for several months now, and has been widely accepted by brethren who are anxious to promote church support of the colleges. Because the interest of truth demands it (and because we believe brother Baxter would desire it to be so) we shall continue brother Adam's searching review without change or modification, joining our prayers with those of many others, meanwhile, that brother Baxter may soon be restored to normal health. The prognosis is hopeful.