Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 7, 1953

Letters To Brother Nichols


On another page in this issue we publish two letters which were written last year to Brother Gus Nichols of Jasper, Alabama. The letters are largely self-explanatory.

No response of any kind has been received to either letter.

Brother Gus Nichols is the spiritual "godfather" of Childhaven in Alabama. But for his backing and promotion and enthusiastic support it is generally conceded that the mammoth institutional home would never have gotten to first base. The cause of Christ in Alabama (and through the whole South) has been dealt a serious blow by this undertaking; congregations have been disturbed, peace has been destroyed, brethren have been alienated from one another, and the century old fight with advocates of the Missionary Societies has been irreparably compromised.

And what has been the gain at this terrific price? We believe there is not one orphan child being cared for in Childhaven who could not be given a Christian home within thirty days. If Brother Nichols or Brother Barney Brock (superintendent of Childhaven) should be inclined to challenge this, just put it to the test. Let them pick out the most undesirable and most unwanted child in this group, and let us see if we cannot find a Christian family in Alabama who will take that youngster and give him a Christian home! We believe it can be done! And within a month's time.

For a quarter of a century Brother Gus Nichols has stood for the truth in Alabama. Like a stonewall he has stood against the false teachings of denominationalists. In debates, in gospel meetings, through his writings, he has been the champion of truth and righteousness. And he won the hearts and commanded the respect of all those who stand for "thus saith the Lord" in matters of religion. Under the influence and by the encouragement of John T. Lewis, patriarch of gospel preachers in Alabama, Brother Nichols made a tremendous contribution to the cause of Christ in his state.

And now he seems to have turned his back on the principles for which he has fought so valiantly for so many years. For whatever reasons, (and doubtless they seemed sufficient for him) he has departed from the standard of "thus saith the Lord" in the matter of the benevolent work of the church, and has embarked on a plan of human arrangement and human wisdom. By his action he is denying the adequacy and all sufficiency of God's plan; his promotion of a human institution to care for the benevolent work of the church shows that he feels the church, as the church, is not adequate for the job.

That Brother Nichols is not truly at ease in his own mind and conscience over this matter is too obvious to need comment. It is commonly known in Alabama that he is uneasy over his advocacy of Childhaven; that he is increasingly shy of defending it; and that he is reluctant to enter into any kind of discussion about it. That our letters to him were not answered is not surprising in view of that attitude. We did, however, expect the courtesy of an acknowledgment. That he could fail in so simple and normal a course of ordinary good manners reveals how disturbed is his own mind over these problems.

But being disturbed is not enough. There are many who are disturbed. This "institutional" problem has wrought trouble among the churches for several years. It was no problem at all for the first centuries of the Christian era; but has periodically plagued the church since then. The growth of Roman Catholicism on the one hand and the digressions of the Christian Church on the other hand show that there can be no stopping of the "institutional" fungus. Once it fastens itself on a body, it can be neither controlled nor contained. And Brother Nichols has made himself the champion of this error in Alabama.

There are those (including many gospel preachers who have worked with him through the years) who feel that Gus Nichols may yet see what is happening, and withdraw himself from his advocacy of Childhaven. It is difficult for them to believe that one who has stood so firmly for truth in fighting against denominationalism will not be able to extricate himself from the errors into which "institutionalism" has enmeshed him. They still have confidence in Brother Nichol's integrity; and they are hopeful as to the future. Others have about given up hope.

But we shall watch with interest and prayerful concern as the loyal and faithful preachers of the gospel in Alabama (and at present they are considerably in the majority in that state) fight with firmness and with fervor to save the church of God in her purity and organization. There is no argument to be made for an arrangement like Childhaven which cannot be made with equal justice for the Missionary Societies. The two institutional arrangements must stand or fall together. There is a precise, undeniable, and deadly parallel between them.

— F. Y. T.