Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 17, 1952
NUMBER 49, PAGE 8,9b

I Don't Understand

W. W. Otey, Belle Plaine, Kansas

It has long been my conviction that public statements are public property. And that all writers and preachers should be willing to state frankly and plainly their positions on all questions relating to the church in general. Furthermore, I am convinced that interests of truth are far above interests of friendship, no matter how long and how deep have been such friendships.

No article that I have ever written has been more thoroughly and seriously considered than what follows in this writing. If I were not deeply convinced that the purity of the teaching and practice of the church of the Lord demand its publication, I certainly would not offer it at all. Frankly, I have tried to reason myself into the idea that it need not be published, but I could not do so.

Readers of the Firm Foundation will remember that quite some time ago, some exchange of articles appeared in the columns of that paper contributed by G. H. P. Showalter and W. W. Otey, concerning the work of certain congregations in soliciting, receiving, and disbursing large sums of money in foreign lands. Many months ago, I sent the Firm Foundation the following:

"Showalter And Otey Again"

"As I stated in my last article, At this date it matters but little whose memory serves the better — what matters now is whether there are not centralized agencies violating the word of the Lord.' Brother Showalter devotes ten lines to what is important, and more than a page to matters long past. But I will ask, for enlightenment, the following:

When did the scriptural cooperation end? When did the unscriptural Missionary Societies begin? Or, did the scriptural cooperation develop into the unscriptural Missionary Society? Plain answers will be of help.

Frankly, I deeply regret that brother Showalter said: "As for brother Otey's blustering challenge for debate — he is spoiling for debate." The words "blustering" and "spoiling" are words I did not expect to hear from him. It is not like his usual self. He says, "We can find someone to accommodate him." Why suggest someone else as we are in sharp disagreement?

As to the "loosely worded proposition," the wording was not intended for any purpose except to suggest a basis for a clear, definite form of proposition. Yes, I think we are the logical men to discuss the present issue.

Brother Showalter, do you claim (not to use the word affirm) that the work the Union Avenue Church is carrying on in soliciting, receiving, disbursing, and reporting the money for the work in Japan is the work the Lord has assigned to the elders as their work in their official capacity? That is the first question at issue. I am sure much will be cleared up by a positive yes or no — a definite answer.

The second question at issue is the work being carried on in Japan. That work consists in part of building schools of several kinds, such as a Bible college, a commercial school, nursery schools; community centers; athletic fields, and such like enterprises. I have no thought of offering more for the Firm Foundation on the questions involved, and sincerely desire and ask for direct, clear answers on these two questions. I truly wish to avoid misrepresenting any man, and most of all I desire to clearly understand your position on these questions — particularly whether you approve taking money from the church treasuries of many congregations and using it to build and support such institutions as those just mentioned. It has been generally believed that you strongly oppose taking money from the Lord's treasury to support Bible colleges, or any other human institution, in America. There are many, yes, many, wondering why you think (if you do) that it is wrong to support Bible colleges in America from the Lord's treasury, but entirely scriptural to support such human institutions in a distant land.

This is our first difference so far as I know in more than sixty years, and on my part it has grieved me the deepest of any difference I have ever had with any one. But somehow I cherish a hope that before we are called over there, we may be agreed."


The foregoing article was not published, nor was it ever answered by letter. After several months, I wrote the following letter:

October 9, 1951 Dear Brother Showalter:

I don't want to misunderstand any man, and especially you. Will you tell me plainly if you regard the work of Union Avenue Church in soliciting, disbursing, and reporting money from many congregations for the work in Japan as the official work of elders, assigned as such by the word of the Lord, or do these brethren constitute a voluntary agency?

Do you regard the work of building and maintaining a Bible college, a commercial college, nursing school, community center, cafeteria, and athletic field (such as is now being done in Japan) as the work that the Lord has assigned to the church? If you will give me in a letter your answers to these questions, I will know how much, if any, difference is between us. As indicated in my last article (which was not published) I have no thought of continuing this hit-and-run procedure in the Firm Foundation. I remain ready to deny a plain statement affirming on those questions, with any one who is competent to conduct an enlightening investigation.

W. W. Otey


No answer was ever received to this letter. I tried again:

January 21, 1952 Dear Brother Showalter:

It has been so long since I sent you my last very brief article on the present matters of controversy that it is really out of date. If you still have it, please return it to me.

I don't think any other two men in the church have been so closely associated for so many years, and never, so far as I know, with the least material difference until the present disturbance. How it has affected you I do not know. But to me it has been the most painful difference with any other man in more than sixty years. It has caused me many sleepless hours.

In view of our long past association, I want to ask you one question that has perplexed me. You unhesitatingly opposed supporting Bible colleges from the Lord's treasury in this country; but you have yourself defended the gathering of large sums from many congregations from church treasuries, which sums are being spent to build not only a Bible college, but commercial schools, nursing schools, sewing schools, community centers, cafeterias, in foreign countries. If you will give me a plain, unequivocal answer how you approve and justify so using the money from the Lord's treasury in Japan while opposing supporting schools in America from the Lord's treasury, I will have a better understanding of your position. Can you favor me with an early answer? In faith, hope, and love.

W. W. Otey


To the day this is being written (March 11, 1952) I have received not one word in answer. Why? Frankly, I do not understand. I regard G. H .P. Showalter as clean and devout a Christian as I have ever known. Our minds and hearts have been more closely tied, I think, for a longer period of time than any other two men in the church today — for more than sixty years. I have loved him as I never have loved any other man. And I still love him. These lines are typed through blinding tears, of which I am unashamed.