Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 11, 1953

Unfounded Accusations Made By Brethren Tant, Cogdill And Dick Smith

Weldon B. Bennett, Frankfurt, Germany

In Brother Yater Tant's editorial (Gospel Guardian, March 19, 1953) he states: "Karlsruhe is seventy-five miles from Frankfurt; there is no reason at all why there should be any connection between the two works. But the long arm of 'centralized control' has reached out. If one does not go along harmoniously and quietly with everything being done at Frankfurt, then one must perforce be no longer acceptable to the 'sponsoring' churches."

It is strange that brethren Tant and Cogdill, 5000 miles away, who have not visited the work here or been in continual correspondence with us, are so quick to criticize a situation about which they hardly know anything. The accusation of the "long arm of 'centralized control' reaching out" is without foundation of fact. The brethren in Frankfurt have no more to say of what goes on in Karlsruhe than brethren Tant and Cogdill do of what goes on among the churches in New York or Illinois, (actually less, since these editors are 'controlling' the thoughts of many through their paper). The truth of the matter is, Brother Smith got himself into trouble with his congregation because of his unwillingness to cooperate with them, and not because anyone was trying to 'control' Karlsruhe. We challenge Brother Dick Smith to cite one single instance of an attempt from Lubbock or Frankfurt to 'control' his activities in Karlsruhe. Yet he makes that accusation repeatedly.

The chart which Brother Cogdill has drawn (Gospel Guardian, Vol. 4, No. 45, page 2) leaves the impression that the Lubbock elders through brethren Gatewood, Walker and me are acting as Bishops over all the congregations in Germany. The charge is untrue and unfair. Why did not brethren Tant and Cogdill write us and inquire what we actually do before rushing into print? Brother Cogdill states (Ibid.): "Thus the authority and control of the elders of the Broadway church in Lubbock is actually extended and exercised over not only all of the funds handled by them but the workers in Germany and the congregations in Germany are likewise subjected to their control or they will be refused any benefit from these funds." Brethren, that is a grave charge! Some who read it and who do not know the facts may get the impression that the charge is true. Just because we have two tents in the basement at Frankfurt which are used by all the evangelists (everyone has an equal right to their use); just because we print gospel literature to be used by all who wish it; just because we invite all evangelists to send any they deem proper to study God's word daily with us — this work is branded as an attempt to 'control the workers and congregations in Germany.' No worker has ever been refused access to this equipment. Brother Cogdill has made the charge that churches and workers are refused the benefit of funds from Lubbock if they fail to cooperate. They imply that such a conclusion is to be drawn from the letter written by Brother Paul Sherrod to various evangelists in Germany. We ask all unprejudiced readers to study the letter. In it one will find no such threat which these brethren suppose. Brother Sherrod is simply asking us to work together on those projects that involve the work in general. Anyone who is fair minded can see that there are some scriptural works which can be engaged in by congregations working together (whether these be one mile or seventy-five miles apart). But none of us here believes it is right to attempt to compel other congregations to cooperate. Before we knew of the Gospel Guardian issue carrying Dick's grievances, we asked him and Max Watson when they wanted to use the tent. They said they had decided not to have a tent meeting this summer. None of us had ill feelings about their decision. They still receive copies of our paper, "Neutestamentliches Christentum" and we receive several copies of their paper, "Der Herold."

Brethren, the main issue in our discussions with Brother Smith was not the "sponsoring church" question. It was rather the Christian training which we are doing in Frankfurt. Do brethren Tant and Cogdill agree with Dick in his extreme position on this matter? Have they too taken a public stand that a congregation cannot carry on a daily Bible training program and invite Christians from other congregations to attend? We want these brethren to state exactly their convictions on this matter, because that is Dick's chief grievance. Our differences with Dick have not been over our attempt to control Karlsruhe, (because we have not sought such control) but rather his criticisms of what we are doing in Frankfurt. None is opposed to his and Max's conducting a daily training work in Karlsruhe. Our intentions are not to take students from them. But we are convinced that we are giving training here that is impossible for Karlsruhe at the present time with limited personnel and equipment to do. It is merely for this reason that we have extended an invitation to them and other churches in Germany to send us students.

It is regrettable that Dick has to air his personal feelings to the brotherhood and it is for us no pleasant task to answer these charges and to let the brotherhood know what the real issue is. We feel Brother Smith will some day feel ashamed of himself for the harm his abortive letters have caused. In a mimeographed letter to us here in Germany he has admitted that he did not write his letters in a "dignified and kindly manner." Yes, he wrote when he was angry. He says, "I must admit that at the time I wasn't in the best letter-writing condition," and yet the Gospel Guardian welcomed the letters written in that spirit. In these letters the word "Brother" before Gatewood is conspicuous by its absence. For example, "The brethren at home shouldn't think that just because one is inside Germany he has to work with Gatewood."

Dick has done Brother Gatewood a gross injustice. For example, he says, "... it looks as if I have committed the unforgivable sin. I opposed Otis Gatewood himself." And just as unjustly, without investigating the facts, Brother Tant writes: "Apparently the only reason for his recall is that he has crossed swords with Brother Otis Gatewood!" (Thanks, Brother Tant, for putting the word 'Brother' before Otis' name.) The truth of the matter is that Brother Gatewood did not begin the Bible Training School. This function of the church here was begun by brethren Roy Palmer and Delmar Bunn. Brethren, we believe we are doing the work of the Lord as we teach God's word to young men and women each day. So it is not a matter of "crossing swords with Otis Gatewood." It is a matter of Brother Dick Smith in Karlsruhe criticizing this work in Frankfurt even to the point of refusing to conduct a meeting for the Westend church on those grounds. It may be that the Grove Avenue church was hasty in its decision to bring Dick home. It may be they should have tried to reason with Dick longer. But that is a matter between them and him. We had nothing to do with their decision. On the other hand, who can say they have no right to cease supporting a man whose views they feel are detrimental to the progress of the Lord's work? Brethren, a preacher does not have to teach false doctrine or be immoral in order to hinder the Lord's work. The Grove Avenue elders evidently felt that Dick's views would eventually lead to "discord among brethren." That eventuality they no doubt hoped to avoid.

Brother Tant thinks a distance of seventy-five miles makes it imperative that there "be no connection between the two works." Yet Brother Tant's paper, the "Gospel Guardian," goes into the homes of Christians at a distance of seventy-five miles from Lufkin. Is it right for him to give biblical instruction and help shape the thinking of Christians in different congregations by this means? But our relation to Karlsruhe is no more than his relation with Christians which he instructs and influences through the pages of the "Gospel Guardian." We publish the "Neutestamentliches Christentum" here in Frankfurt — a paper chiefly devoted to teaching non-Christians. At present 3,500 copies are published each month. Articles are welcomed from all evangelists in Germany, and often translations are made from "our" papers in the States. This is also a good work — and it is not interfering in the least with the autonomy of the Germany churches. On the other hand, we of the Niederrad-Saschsenhausen congregation in Frankfurt have ordered 125 regular copies of Brother Smith's small (one sheet) paper, "Der Herold." We send them money for the cost of publication. Is Dick interfering with the autonomy of our work in that he sends us this paper? We do not think so. But actually he is inconsistent. He opposes our school program on the grounds that each congregation should train its own members. By the same token, each congregation should conduct its "own publishing program." Verily, the legs of the lame are not equal. It is unfortunate that Dick has adopted the extreme view which he holds which has forced him to say he is now opposed to sending his children to any of our "Christian schools," whether it be Frankfurt, Harding, or Florida Christian College. We believe that brethren Tant and Cogdill themselves should help him reshape his thinking on these matters. As I view the whole thing I can see no difference in Brother Dick Smith's present views and those held by Daniel Sommer for years until he finally in his later years saw the folly of his opposing Christian education. Our prayer is that Dick will also soon see his mistake.