Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 29, 1951

More About The Old Gospel Preacher

A. H. Porterfield, Poplar Bluff, Mo.

The many cards, letters and personal comments that have come to us as a result of the article, "The Old Gospel Preacher," published in the Gospel Guardian February 1, are both heartening and sad. Many of them brought much encouragement, while others brought tears, especially a few from some old gospel preachers. We would love to publish everything the brethren have written us, but it would require entirely too much space. But we would love to let our readers know how at least one elder feels about the matter. By request we are withholding his name. The letter follows:

Dear Brother Porterfield:

Your article, "The Old Gospel Preacher," appearing in the Gospel Guardian was well done. It brought joy and gladness to my humble heart, yet it brought tears to my eyes. I don't see how the facts could have been any better stated. You have certainly presented a scriptural solution to this perplexing problem—one that has been shamefully overlooked.

As an elder of a local congregation for more than thirty years I have watched these sad conditions unfold right before our eyes; but I confess that I have never known what to do or say to correct them. You said "preachers had much rather others would take the lead in this matter." Why, brother Porterfield? Isn't it your duty to teach the brethren the whole truth? I realize that some may misunderstand you, and even accuse you of complaining, and possibly misrepresent you, but isn't the same thing true when you preach on "baptism?" Your short article has helped me to understand some things. The truth is, the brethren misunderstand the old preacher as the matter now stands. They don't understand their predicament, and why it's that way; and preachers are largely to blame for it. They have shunned these touchy problems. God's people are the best people on earth, and I refuse to believe that the majority of them deliberately overlook these or any other important matters. We do what we are taught to do when we are convinced that it is the right thing to do, and there is no doubt in my mind but that your suggestions are right.

It does seem at times that a few of our dear brethren refuse to have anything to do with any important work of the Lord unless there is a lot of publicity attached to it, and your plans do not call for publicity, therefore, there may be but little done about it, unless you keep the matter before the brethren long enough for them to see the facts. Why not enlist the help of other preachers—old or young —to get these facts before the brethren?

Remember that many of us elders over the land need more real Bible truths grounded into our hearts. We, too, are human. The following statement from an elder after reading your article will prove that fact. He was trying to explain to me why so many old preachers are being laid on the shelf when he said, "we must use younger men to try to draw the young people back to the church—they are getting away from us." Such concept of things hurts everybody and everything concerned. Suppose the young people are getting away from us. Why blame the man who has done more for us and our young people than others would dare to do? Must we blame these old men of God for our miserable failures? Isn't it a fact that they have "ceased not to warn everyone night and day with tears" of these unfolding conditions? Haven't they earnestly begged and pled with us to correct these evils? It may be true that not all old gospel preachers are true to the gospel, but most of them are, and what a pathetic shame to blame them for these tragic conditions.

But, if possible, we cast even a worse reflection on the young preacher. We insinuate that there is something about his person—his physical appearance—that will draw the young people. Draw them to what? To the preacher or to Christ? No true gospel preacher—young or old—seeks to draw others to himself, and it is nothing short of an insult to God, and an ugly reflection on us and the preacher if we try to use him for any other purpose than to draw souls to Christ. God has but one drawing power —the gospel of Christ. What preacher wants to be a drawing card anyway? Any man that would attempt such a thing should stay out of the pulpit.

Have you ever thought of this? Whether we intend to do it or not, we are placing the young preacher in exactly the same spot that the Christian church folk are placing the instrument of music—an attraction for the young people, as well as for others who are seeking attractions. Let us hope that our fine young preachers will rise up against these ugly reflections. How we need to be taught and made to believe the plain, simple truth of the gospel!

One more point for the old preacher that many brethren do not understand. If he raises a family, which he has a right to do, about the time his children are old enough to need money for schooling and other necessary things to start them off in life, father is usually getting less of it than ever before. That makes it impossible for him to do for his children what they justly deserve. The children just can't understand, and sometimes the preacher's wife can't understand, why he should be laid on the shelf when he is needed most. These things have come under my observation and I know them to be true in some cases, but how few brethren do know these things!

So until the brethren have been taught their duty along this line, I would advise any young preacher, no matter how busy he seems to be in his early life as a preacher, not to fail to take along something to fall back on when he is dropped from the pulpit. He may think because he is busy in his early life that it will always be that way; but not until we are taught better.

Brother Porterfield, if you should use this letter in any public way please withhold my name and thanks.

Your brother in Christ