Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 25, 1951
NUMBER 37, PAGE 1,13b

"Without Supporting Evidence"

Cled E. Wallace

Brother F. 0. Howell does some "pointing" in the direction of "the way to peace" in a long article in the Firm Foundation, to which the editor of that journal adds the following "remarks."

Brother Howell's observations merit calm consideration on the part of public teachers whether in the realm of writing or preaching. A personal dislike for some one should not be made the basis for widely publicized censures, and efforts at "exposure."

To undertake to make the impression that because some brethren and some churches are making sacrifices for the preaching of the gospel where Christ is not known, they are to be denounced, condemned, exposed, criticized, and challenge their motive by charging that they are vain and just want to do some "big" thing, and imagine that they have "trends" in the wrong direction and presume that they are bent in destroying congregational independence, and all without supporting evidence—to the extent of dividing churches and developing bitterness is extremely sinful in the sight of God."

I believe that the editor's "remarks" also "merit aim consideration" at least in "the realm of writing." I would like to be able to say, as the Editor of the Firm foundation said about "centralized control and oversight," if there is any such thing going on, I do not know it, but if there is I am against it. However, I have seen some articles in both the Gospel Advocate and the Firm foundation during the last few months, in which something was "made the basis for widely publicized censures, and efforts at 'exposure'." In same instances it carried the odor of "a personal dislike for some one." Of course the Editor is exactly right. This "should not be," and all who are practicing it should quit it. Personal likes and dislikes should have nothing to do with the discussion of issues. If a man who dislikes me is right on an issue, if I do not stand with him on it, I am too little to discuss it at all.

No church, "big" or "little," should be denounced, condemned, exposed, criticized and falsely charged because it is "making sacrifices for the preaching of the gospel where Christ is not known." Such a course would be extremely sinful in the sight of God." If the Editor is pointing that one at the men who have become alarmed over "trends," if not worse, toward the "centralized control and oversight" he is against, if it exists, then he is not a bright and shining example of the "kindness and love of God" he so urgently recommended to all the brethren in a recent editorial.

When I write, I usually speak for myself and voice my own sentiments and convictions. I do not charge that a few "big" churches "are bent on destroying congregational independence." I am not questioning the purity of their motives. The astute Editor of Torch, also described directly and in quotes as "canny," by way of variation, had somewhat to say recently on this point.

Possibly he was doing what the editor of the Firm Foundation so enthusiastically urged him to do awhile back—"Blow Torch, Blow!"

Even the brethren who have assayed to come to the defense of the central sponsors are now conceding that this cooperation thing may be carried to extremes. That being true, it really becomes their duty to point out when and how these churches may practice the extremes they concede to be a possibility. If they are not already doing so, I confess a loss to know how they could do so. If it has not already gone to an extreme when would it, and how could it? When the conceded extreme is named, and an attempt made at an argument on it, the conclusions will contradict the premises.

Does the influential and respected editor of the Firm Foundation think that the editor of Torch is also "denouncing, condemning, exposing, criticizing, and challenging" in a manner "extremely sinful in the sight of God" and doing it "all without supporting evidence?" He might do well to ponder well what the Editor of Torch further says.

When we criticize these deviations from New Testament principles in the organization and work of the church it does not mean that we oppose the work. All of the effort to foment feeling and plant prejudice against men who plead for adherence to "the stipulated conditions of the New Testament" by charges that we are anti-foreign-missionary, anti-Christian education, and anti-cooperation will not prevail in the end. Many sober minded brethren are already seeing the light on these issues, and many others will as we shall continue to set forth these principles. It is the same battle over the same issues that had to be fought fifty years ago.

If elders of a local church can function in a general administration of the affairs of many churches in one thing, what bars them from doing so in all things, benevolence, missions, discipline? That being the case Presbyterians, Methodists and Catholics can all justify their ecclesiastical forms of church government, and we will have surrendered the whole ground on the organization of the church of Christ.

Now here is some work for the editor of the Firm Foundation, if he is still in favor of discussing the issue and not berating the man.

Recent editorials in the Firm Foundation form an interesting study. The editor does not know that the Broadway church in Lubbock, or the Union Avenue church in Memphis, are doing anything akin to what they are charged with. "Then he tried to defend it citing certain scripture references which he did not quote. Why? He must have known that the great majority of readers would not turn and read them. I have. In this case they are what objecting lawyers in court call "incompetent," "irrelevant" and "immaterial." He might as well have quoted the Golden Rule. They simply do not furnish authority for what we object to in the Lubbock and Memphis set-up.

Then brother Otey raised his voice in protest in the Firm Foundation. He based his objections and voiced his fears. His personal examination of printed reports from the Memphis office "made the basis" for his conclusions. The editor knew better. He cited his readers to an explanation written by brother McMillan and published in the Firm Foundation in which brother McMillan explained it differently from what brother Otey saw in official reports. Brother McMillan is such a good man that he just could not be wrong about this! Now, I have known Ed McMillan ever since Hector was a pup, and I think he is a good man, and I think a lot of him, but his heart runs so far ahead of his head sometimes that he is too soft in spots, according to my lights, and he wouldn't know a danger signal in the field of church organization if it tooted as loud as, the last trump. He can't see anything dangerous until after he has been run over. If he is all that the editor has to lean on in this crisis, then he is almost "without supporting evidence." I think it will be safer to take our own look-see at what the churches are doing, as brother Otey has done, and measure it by the scriptures; and leave brother McMillan out of it, at least until he learns more. By the way, Ed, you still owe me that visit you promised me awhile back. You are nice to have around.

By the way, some years ago when the present editor of Torch became editor of the Gospel Advocate, the editor of the Firm Foundation was so curious to know how he would handle the Baptist baptism question that he challenged him to come out on it, and threatened to "smoke him out" if he didn't come out without it. The Advocate is blowing like a torch right now on that question. If he is not too afraid of "developing bitterness," he might do better in that field, where he can just use his Bible and not have to lean too heavily on brother McMillan.