Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 1, 1951

Gentle Pebbles For The "Bantam Cockfight"

James W. Adams, Longview, Texas

An "easy-going" brother from "out where the west begins" has succumbed to the urge to let a few pebbles fly (gentle pebbles mind you) at a brotherhood, "Bantam Cockfight." Some way or another his figures get mixed, or his aim is faulty, and he concludes that the "howling dog will know when he is hit." Now, I had rather be a rooster than a dog. I know about cockfights too, and being one of brother Tant's writers for the Gospel Guardian, rather resent that "Bantam business." If a rooster I must be, please, let me be other than a Bantam! This article deals with our "easy-going" brother's verbal, pebble barrage, not because its author is a "hit, howling dog" or even a ruffled rooster, but because the editor of the Gospel Guardian has requested him to edit a page dealing with Present Problems confronting the churches of Christ. Our brother's letter which follows was relayed to me for an answer in the Gospel Guardian, and be I rooster or dog, answer it I shall.

Dear Editor:

Ordinarily, I am rather an easy-going man, but thought I would take up this much of your time and space to just pass along some advice.

Why is it that the "biggest preachers," some of God's most talented men, have to waste away their time bickering with each other, and calling names, and fighting like a couple of Bantam roosters. Don't they know (and certainly they should) that they have a far more important work to do, and such a short time to do it in? I don't know whether the name-calling is carried on in a good-natured way, or not, but I do know that it certainly doesn't sound that way, and that they could spend their time a lot more profitably. Of course, I realize the importance of debate, because it helps bring out truth, but why not appeal through your editorial for your own writers to stop this eternal bickering, and get down to work, and start doing something, and I could mention names too, but I think the howling dog will know when he is hit.

We, as members of the N. T. Church, seem to have less spirituality than practically any denomination. It seems as if backbiting, bickering, discord, etc., is condemned in the N. T., so why must our preachers be guilty of such a charge? Why do we not take A. Campbell's advice on this, and then I think that the whole church could dwell together in unity. His advice is in matters of unity. In matters of opinion, keep them to yourself.

We are just marking time with all the bickering, etc., and if we all united together in a common cause in the salvation of the human race; instead of trying to send them all (including our own brethren) where we don't want them to go, then I am sure that we will take the world for Christ. Until then, we just might as well give up and go home. Anyway, there will be a minimum of progress in carrying out the Lord's command to Preach the gospel to every creature.

B. E. Tate, Sta. A., Box 583,

Abilene, Texas

For an "easy-going man," brother Tate does a pretty good job of pebbling. His gentle disposition must have been considerably riled to turn what started out as a simple pebble-tossing into a full scale "rock fight" at times. Seriously speaking, brother Tate's letter merits attention because it is characteristic of a confused attitude that is quite common in the church today. Brother Tate prides himself that he writes objectively. He has made himself believe that he—deplores only an un-Christian attitude that he thinks he sees in the literary efforts of Gospel Guardian writers. He recognizes no issues that would affect the faith, only "opinions." He, therefore, stamps himself as one who endorses as scriptural and proper every activity among the churches which the Gospel Guardian has opposed. The question of church-supported institutions is to him an "opinion." The question of "centralized control and oversight" is to him an "opinion." I suppose that Modernism in a college controlled and operated by our brethren is with him "an opinion." The fellowship of Premillennialists on the foreign mission a field is only "an opinion." Brother Tate proposes to give fatherly "advice" without the essential qualifications of an advisor. Knowledge and experience are requisites if one is to counsel. Brother Tate evidences a lack of both with reference to the matters with which his letter deals. No, brother Tate, you deceive yourself. The thing to which you really object is the stand that Gospel Guardian writers have taken on these issues. Has our brother written the colleges and other institutions, the sponsoring churches, the other periodicals concerning the pressing of these "opinions" to the disruption of the peace of the churches? Remember, brother Tate, you said, "In matters of opinion, keep them to yourself." Guardian Writers believe that these matters are issues that have vital connection with the faith of Christ. Brother Tate thinks that they are "opinions." There are two courses only that you can consistently pursue, brother Tate. Either, you should show that these matters are opinions only and should be dealt with on that basis, or you should change your advice.

Here And There In Brother Tate's Letter

"Biggest preachers fight like Bantam roosters, why?" Brother Tate assumes that these preachers are animated in their efforts by personal animosity. Again he ignores issues. Read your New Testament, brother. Some pretty important men and churches were severely taken to task for their conduct. So long as our brother is unable to see an issue where an issue exists, he will be utterly unable to understand the controversy that may rage because of them. It will continue to be only "bickering."

Members of the N. T. Church have less spirituality than practically any denomination." Brother Tate has a very low conception of his brethren. He must be a wonderfully spiritual man to feel justified in making such an accusation. It just is not true. Not one word of it is true! Brother Tate is guilty of falsely maligning his brethren in Christ. With all of our faults, our brethren are the purest, the best, and the most spiritual people on this old sin-cursed earth. I will affirm that anywhere with anybody. Brother Tate, just what is "spirituality?" Do you know? Indeed! Backbitings, bickering, and discord are condemned in the New Testament, but I would not be willing to risk brother Tate's judgment concerning who, when, and where such is done. Furthermore, the man who introduces the practice that is the cause of strife when such cannot be sustained with the word of the Lord is the party who is guilty of "sowing discord among brethren." "Follow A. Campbell's advice." For brother Tate's information, the quotation he gives is not as A. Campbell would have put it. He would have said, "In matters of faith, unity; in matters of opinion, liberty; in all things, charity." Our brother also overlooks the fact that A. Campbell was one of the most controversial writers ever connected with the Restoration Movement. If brother Tate would but read some in the Christian Baptist and Millennial Harbinger, he might conclude that A. Campbell was a full-fledged game-rooster beside whom our moderns are Bantams indeed! On the occasion of the withdrawal of the Brush Run Church from the Redstone Association, A. Campbell made the following statement (brother Tate will please note):

"We have always sought peace, but not peace at war with truth. We are under no necessity to crouch, to beg for favor, friendship or protection. Our progress ' is onward, upward and resistless. With the fear of God before our eyes, with the example of the renowned worthies of all ages to stimulate our exertions, with love to God and man working in our bosoms, and immortality in prospect, we have nothing to fear, and nothing to lose that is worth possessing."

A. Campbell never recommended peace at the expense of truth. The only acceptable basis for unity among brethren is the word of the Lord. The way to settle all issues and bring peace and unity is by an appeal to the New Testament.

"Close up and go home." Brother Tate wants to close up and go home until we can get all of the brethren seeing alike on everything. I fear that our brother is not thinking! Where would he be today if David Lipscomb, Tolbert Fanning, F. D. Srygley, E. G. Sewell, E. A. Elam and others along with the pitiable few who stood with them had folded their tents and gone home when the waves of controversy swept and shook the church over the Missionary Society and Instrumental music? Where would the church in Texas be if Elijah Hansbrough, John S. Durst, J. W. Jackson, "Jack" McCarty, Austin McGary, and following them Joe S. Warlick, Foy E. Wallace, Sr., J. D. Tant, John W. Denton and a host of others had closed up and gone home because of the controversy over digression in Texas? Though all other members of the church everywhere turn their backs upon God, religion being individual and personal, I can live in harmony with God's will and thus enjoy His favor here and eternal life in the world to come. Close up and go home. Never!!

A Final Word

This article has stretched itself beyond the limits that its author had planned, but a final word is in order. Every right thinking man in the church today desires the unity of God's people, the growth and progress of the Lord's Church, and the evangelization of every nook and cranny of old Mother Earth. No preacher in the brotherhood knows so little as to suppose that a heart filled with hatred for his brethren or a lying, backbiting tongue is pleasing in the sight of God. All recognize the great, unreaped harvest fields that lie white before us and the scarcity of laborers therein. Yet, none of these matters are sufficiently important alone or combined to justify departures from the divine order. The fact is that such departures are subversive of everything that contributes to growth, progress, unity, evangelization or peace.

Not long ago, I heard one of the prominent gospel preachers of this state, a man whom I have always loved and for whom I have ever had the greatest admiration, make an appeal for unity over the dead body of a friend and brother-preacher. The appeal was most dramatic and, under the circumstances, fired the emotions of all. The amazing thing to me, however, was the assumption that all of our troubles stem from the fact that we do not love one another as we should. All issues were ignored and by implication denied, and the whole matter charged to a lack of brotherly love. This is not the truth. I cannot speak for other Guardian writers, but I know my own heart and am completely honest when I say that no article or sermon of mine on any of the issues now confronting the church, or any other for that matter, has ever been motivated by personal animosity toward a brother in Christ. Gospel Guardian writers have attacked practices that are considered departures from the Truth regardless of the persons involved, but the motives or sincerity of no man has been impugned. On the other hand, the promoters of such practices have hurled every invective at their command, have freely charged us with insincerity and wrong motivation, and have stigmatized us freely with every kind of epithet. Despite this, to whom do our pious brethren write complaining about the spirit of the writing? Why to the Gospel Guardian, of course! Surely, a blind man can see that it is not the spirit of the articles that is opposed but the stand taken on the issues involved. Brethren, the issues that confront us are real and fraught with possibilities that fill the soul with sadness. Let us not ignore them!