Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 5, 1950
NUMBER 22, PAGE 8-12b

We're Making Progress

F. Y. T.

To many over sensitive and untaught brethren the fight being waged through these columns the past few months may have appeared pointless and unnecessary. Some of them have expressed that opinion to the editor in language too caustic to appear on our pages. We have read their letters, but have not because of them diminished zeal in the battle. We have declared with vigor and frequency that there is neither precept nor precedent in the New Testament for any one church becoming the "controlling and overseeing agency" through which other congregations operated in a field foreign to them all.

Those who have kept abreast of the controversy know that our point was strongly challenged. A number of writers took issue with us in both the Gospel Guardian and the Firm Foundation, as well as in innumerable church bulletins which the brethren publish. We were cited to the example of the Antioch church and the Jerusalem churches as being cases in point. Several brethren submitted articles to us for our own use, (and we published them in the Gospel Guardian) which attempted to set forth scriptural justification for the thing we opposed. One very able brother was charitable enough to suggest of us that "these brethren are not vicious! They are just mistaken about the facts." Others were considerably less kindly disposed, describing us as "factionists" and "self-righteous snobs."

The Change

But within the space of six short months of this controversy we are beginning to notice a very decided shift in the position of those who have been writing on the opposite side of the issue from us. More and more now the articles being written on the question are tending to agree with the Guardian's doctrinal contention (there is no justification in scriptures for "centralized control and oversight"); but many are now contending that the brethren are not doing the things they have been reported as doing. Thus, we see a definite change from an attempt to justify the practices by scripture (a few months ago) to an attempt to deny the existence of the practices (as of now).

Brother Cogdill's article last week posed some very pertinent questions along this line. If you have not read it, go back and do so. For certainly nobody wants to be taking issue with a straw man. If the practices which we have thought were developing have had no existence except in the perfervid imaginations of our own "petrified brains", then we will offer apologies to the whole brotherhood and plead guilty to being just about everything we've been described as being. But if the facts are what they appear to be (pointed up by the ten questions Cogdill asked about them), then somebody owes it to the Lord and his church to bring the practices of several congregations into harmony with what nearly all of us now agree is the doctrinal teaching of the New Testament.

Our Respondents

Readers of the Guardian will know that we have taken sharp issue with certain positions some of the brethren occupied. And we certainly have not spared any effort to point out the dangers, inconsistencies, and misapplications of scripture which we detected in various writings. In this very issue brother Cogdill makes short work of one of brother James Bales' "syllogisms." But may we remind some of our readers (the majority of them of course need no such reminder) that so far as the Guardian force is concerned we have considered these men who wrote on the opposite side from us as brethren. We have not regarded them as "factionists"; but have held them in respect. Most of them have reciprocated that feeling, but a few have been unable to restrain themselves, manifesting an anger and an excited spirit wholly at variance with what ought to characterize Christian controversy. Such emotionally unstable brethren should leave the discussion of these issues to those who are better balanced, and who can write with force and vigor but without heat. Less heat and more light would be in order. If we cannot discuss issues before us as brethren, then we'd better leave the discussion to those who can.

The Future Turn

It would appear to be the case now that our six-month controversy has had a most helpful and worthy progress. For through much study and through the exchange of many, many articles we are at last coming to an agreement on the doctrine—not one syllable of scriptural authority for "centralized control and oversight."

That clears the way for a discussion of the second question: have the things being done by some of the congregations had a tendency toward "centralized control and oversight"? The Guardian is prepared to enter into that phase of the, discussion. We will definitely affirm the existence of such a trend or tendency. And if interested brethren want to deny it, we are prepared to produce what appears to us to be overwhelming evidence. An apostasy does not spring forth full grown; it begins in trivial and apparently innocent ways. And we are certain that some of the apparently innocuous and harmless practices which are becoming common now have in them the seeds of an inevitable apostasy. Will anybody deny it? Well, whether it is denied or not, the Guardian will continue to sound warnings against such things. We could not be true to our mission nor to our Lord if we did not do so.