Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 23, 1950
NUMBER 29, PAGE 1,13b

Criticizing Our Manners

Cled E. Wallace

One side of the current discussion has taken a rather ridiculous turn. No scriptural justification for the present rash of "centralized control and oversight" has been established. The advocates and apologists for the practice are diverting attention from the issue, or trying to, by criticizing our bad manners. In the absence of scriptural authority, it may be that they can prove their practice right by out meanness, but I doubt it. A few texts of scripture properly applied would be much more effective. There was a lot of evangelistic work going on when the apostles were alive. Personal zeal and congregational activity were outstanding. Just one example of several churches working through the elders of one sponsoring: church" in spreading the gospel might even improve our manners. Brother Srygley got the right idea from reading his New Testament.

An individual can send his means directly to the preacher who is on the field preaching the gospel; and so can a church, provided it sends it directly to the preacher. If two or more churches put it into the hands of any kind of a board, though the board may be made up of the elders of one of the churches, we have a very nice beginning for a missionary society to try to take charge of the churches: Much of the missionary machinery of this country started exactly that way.

This is precisely our position in this matter. Some of the brethren did not like brother Srygley's style either and approved of him about like Emily Post would a man shoving peas up under his mustache with a knife, but brother Srygley was telling the truth. According to brother Brewer he must have been, among that number who are "small enough to engage in the quibbling that some men have troubled us with in the last few years." Brother Brewer cannot meet an issue so he talks about "quibbling" and "small" men. He is so agitated that he could not write a congratulatory message to brother Showalter on his 80th birthday without crying a little about it. "These things are usually based upon some personal animus or prejudice." I do not think that brother Srygley "based" his remarks, on anything of that kind. He sounded to me like he had been reading the New Testament. That is the way my book reads. His book left this impression on him.

Churches should never be tied together, even in as good a work as preaching the gospel to the heathens. Elders of one church should not try to get hold of the money that has been contributed by others to direct for them in foreign fields or other places.

That sounds both scriptural and sensible to me. If the brethren can find anything contrary to that in the New Testament, they have not produced it. All that brother Brewer has produced sounds like it was "based upon some personal animus or prejudice" rather than on what the New Testament teaches on the question.

Brother E. A. Elam was not a "small" man, and he was not "quibbling" when he said in the Gospel Advocate of 1897, page 358:

One church sent directly to the missionaries and directly to the poor independently of all other churches.

Ignoring that scriptural practice led to the full organization of missionary societies in the past. What will it lead to among us now ? -The chances are that history will repeat itself if it is not stopped. The advocates of "organized effort" in the past threw the book of invective at such men as David Lipscomb and the Srygley's, calling them "small" men, "quibblers," and charging them with utmost poverty in kindness and the love of God.

U. M. Browder was an able preacher along about the time the Firm Foundation was born and started its fight for the "ancient order of things." In one of his sermons in "Browder's Pulpit," page 151, I ran across this:

It is an easy matter for persons now to talk flippantly about the Campbells, Johnson, Stone and other grand reformers; about the "Bible and the Bible alone;" to boast of their loyalty to the "ancient order of things," then turn around on their loyal heel and inaugurate a war on the use of the organ in the churches, and pursue it till the cause of Jesus Christ is made to bleed at every pore and sectarianism is established upon its ruins. Are there any marks of loyalty in this course of conduct? ...This is simply an attempt to excuse disloyalty to Christ now by avowing loyalty to great and good men in the past.

Sounds up to date does it not? Of course, brother Browder gave no scriptural authority for the use of organs in worship. There was none and is none. He could pour scorn on those who insisted on "the ancient order of things."

I am mildly amused at the way some have forsaken or ignored the issue we have raised; or rather they have raised in the name of missionary zeal, and criticized us for our bad manners. I am not defending our manners at the moment, but what "is sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander." Brother Hall goes into the peculiar sort of raptures he is subject to, over brother Showalter's editorial on "What Is It All About?" in the Firm Foundation, and has the editor of the Gospel Advocate reprint the editorial. He thinks it ought to settle the issue and all of us at the same time. Well, as I recall, brother Showalter agreed with us, if what we are fighting exists, but he has not seen what we see He does not know that any such thing exists. Brother Hall, whose eyes also seem to have grown dim, thinks "there is a lot of false accusing going on, and certainly it is not to promote the spreading of the gospel of Christ:" He quotes 'a passage obviously directed at us, which clearly implies that he thinks we belong to the crowd that preaches the gospel "even of envy and strife... of contention, not sincerely." That does not sound quite like the "courteous and friendly treatment" brother Showalter says, "we are also entitled to." He ought to set us a better example than that.

As for the Firm Foundation, I have been reading it just about ever since I got out of the First Reader. I wrote for it regularly for a number of years, and about the meanest things I have ever said to or about anybody were published in the Firm Foundation. And about the meanest things that have ever been said to, or about me, have been said in the Firm Foundation. Why, within the last three years, the pages of the Firm Foundation were open for character, and I mean character attacks on some of us. Within the year there was "Chunking, Chuckling, Cled," rushed in six days after it was written, while the article from brother Paisley that aroused brother Brewer's ire, and drained a lot of ugliness out of him on to the pages of the Firm Foundation, lay in the office from 1947 to 1950, three years before it saw the light. It seems that the editor of, the Firm Foundation forgot "that the Bible requires kindness and courtesy of those who belong to the church" etc., and that "they are under serious condemnation unless they proceed patiently, kindly and courteously." In fact nearly everybody knows that everybody who wanted to has said about everything he wanted to about everybody else in the Firm Foundation for years on end. Sometimes I think it is a pity, that the editor did not get converted to his present position sooner. Maybe it would have helped some of the rest of us earlier. At this late date I do not propose to be run over and run off of an issue by anybody putting on lofty airs of kindness and courtesy, when about all the evidence points to the fact that they are not any better than. I am. There is plenty of room for improvement all around as I see it. The editor of the Firm Foundation says things sometimes that actually make me want to be good. But if I never improve, the New Testament still teaches that "one church sent directly to the missionaries and directly to the poor independently of all other churches."