Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 18, 1952

Husband Of One Wife

Herbert E. Winkler, Nashville, Tennessee

I have read, with intense interest, the articles from brethren Cecil B. Douthitt and Ralph Edmunson on the above caption. Having preached and written extensively on the eldership, or organization of the church, for the past thirty-two years, such articles are extremely interesting to me. I suppose that a close study of the question takes first place in the need, or importance, of New Testament subjects.

The churches, many of them, have done no better than only flounder along for many years as a result of a poor, or no, organization in which constitutional authority was vested. Also, in many congregations where elders had been appointed, the lack of knowledge on the part of the members resulting in a lack of respect or esteem for the elders, together with the neglect of duty on the part of the elders lowered the eldership, or organization, of the church to such a level that it is not respected by many members nor by the outsider.

In many instances preachers have usurped the authority of the eldership and by popular applause led the membership away from the scriptural order of the organization of the church.

In discussing the qualification of the elder and deacon often a misunderstanding of the teaching gives rise to erroneous argumentation which supplants reason and the exegete goes far afield in forming conclusions. The conclusion that an elder or a deacon must be a married man is not reached from sound reasoning and often involves the disputant in an entanglement of absurdity. There are many things connected with the redemption of the race of man through Christ which human reason cannot ferret out; but no position, upon the scriptures, can be true which human reason can reduce to an absurdity.

The position taken by brother Douthitt, the arguments used and the conclusion reached, that the New Testament does not teach that an elder must be a married man, are sound, logical and scriptural. That position as advanced and argued from many angles in my book THE ELDERSHIP has been criticized by a few and commended by many of those who have the book. I, like brother Douthitt, was criticized, to my face, for even quoting David Lipscomb. Not as proof of the teaching; but to show that Winkler is not the only crazy man on this teaching. I covet these criticisms and especially the one brother Edmunson offered on brother Douthitt's article for they give us the chance to contrast the truth with error and severer the test the brighter will shine the truth.

I highly commend the spirit in which brother Edmunson offered his criticism of brother Douthitt's article.

Most often when the qualification of elders and deacons comes up for discussion there are some three or four points which take precedence over all the rest. Viz., 1) Is he a married man? 2) Does he have children? 3) Are his children members of the church? 4) And if he has not been a member of the church for many years he is labeled a NOVICE. Although not having the time nor space just here to give the full argument I wish to make these observations: They are not mere assertions. 1) The New Testament does not teach that the elder or deacon must he a married man. 2 The New Testament does not teach that the elder or deacon, if married, must have children. 3) The New Testament does not teach that the children of the elder or deacon must be members of the church. 4) The New Testament does not teach that one recently baptized is, on account of the recency of his baptism, a novice.

The arguments most frequently made on these points are erroneous and are magnified to the neglect of the main spiritual thought of fitness of character which renders one "blameless" or "without reproach." And the magnification of these erroneous ideas leads one to ignore and fail to see that the one and only thing the Holy Spirit was seeking to establish is BLAMELESSNESS or simply CHARACTER.

What do you say, that we have a thorough going through the whole problem of elders, deacons and deaconesses? But I am not trying to take the reins from brother Douthitt. He is a good man in the harness. Draw him out on the items I have listed in this writing.

If all the difference among us should be discussed simply on a basis of their merit or solely from the standpoint of scriptural teaching and leave out all name calling and personalities as brethren Douthitt and Edmunson have done we would go places in narrowing the breaches among us and "love one for another" would be cultivated until that badge of discipleship would come into its own again as Jesus said: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." Jno. 13:35.