Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 2, 1954
NUMBER 17, PAGE 3,14b

Along The Road: A Review

Hoyt H. Houchen, San Antonio, Texas

In the May 18, 1954 issue of the Firm Foundation, Brother Urie T. Poisall makes some observations "along the road." Our brother writes:

"I have observed the King James-only group, lay the contribution on the table group, premillennialists, non-class, non-literature, non-woman teacher, non-bobbed hair, non-salaried preacher, non-elder, non-college, non-orphan home, non-benevolent, and non-cooperative. This last I have thought of as 'Isolationists,' but now they have chosen a name for themselves. A large orange colored card came to my desk a few days ago, advertising a new broadcast over XELO, containing this line, 'Exclusively Presented and Supported By.' So now we have the Exclusive Brethren! Well, they are scriptural, that is, I read about them in the scripture, thus, 'certain who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and set all others at nought.' (Luke 18:9.) Very 'Exclusive' indeed."

I have quoted brother Poisall's observation in full so that the readers may have exactly what he said. There is one thing upon which I can agree with this brother and that is that we are divided. This no one denies. It is very obvious that he is taking a "dig" at those of us who are opposed to the church doing its work through sponsoring churches and human institutions. He is irked by the orange colored card that he received, advertising a broadcast over XELO. What bothers our observing brother is the line, "Exclusively Presented and Supported By." Now I am quite sure that Brother Poisall knew very well, perhaps too well, what that line means. Since I am laboring with the Highland Church in San Antonio which is responsible for sending out these cards, I feel that I am in a position to tell him exactly what we mean by the line: "Exclusively Presented and Supported By." For his information and any others who may be in doubt, we mean that the Highland Church in San Antonio alone is presenting and supporting this broadcast. It means that we are not setting up ourselves as a sponsoring church and asking other congregations to do their work through us. Since it is the work of the Highland Church, we are doing this work ourselves without calling upon the brotherhood to support it. Brother Poisall seems quite surprised to find brethren doing this. I admit that amidst the maze of sponsoring church programs and "big brotherhood" projects, it is rather unusual to find a congregation doing its own work. However, if our surprised brother will look about him, he will observe "along the road" that a few other churches have not been swayed by the hysteria of ecclesiasticism. Not only that, but if our disturbed brother would examine his New Testament he would find that the practice of churches doing their own work is not as new as he would think.

Brother Poisall calls those of us who are opposed to congregations doing their work through centralized setups "non-cooperative." !Since he accuses brethren who do not believe in working through sponsoring churches as "non-cooperative," then he must mean that brethren cannot cooperate unless they do their work through sponsoring churches. If that is not what he means, then what does he mean? Now Brother Poisall, since you believe that churches doing their work through a sponsoring church is the only way that they can cooperate, then suppose you point us to the scripture that authorizes that kind of cooperation. That is all that we are asking for, just book, chapter and verse. Since you were so free in making your observation, may we just observe here that we have scripture for what we are doing and you do not.

But too, just because our disgusted brother labels us as "non-cooperative" does not mean that we are. The New Testament teaches that congregations helped other congregations in emergency relief. (Acts 11:29, 30; 1 Cor. 16:1-4.) The Philippians sent aid to Paul. (Phil. 4:15.) Obviously these churches sent to other churches and individuals where the need was and not through some centralized agency. Were these brethren "non-cooperative"? The Highland Church here in San Antonio sends aid to churches and individuals who are in need as do other congregations which do not subscribe to the sponsoring campaigns. Our brother is both unkind and unfair in branding us as Pharisees. He should be ashamed of himself and he ought to be more careful and thoughtful before he makes his observations.

Brother Poisall classes us along with the "King James — only group, lay the contribution on the table group, Premillennialists, non-class, non-literature, non-woman teacher," et cetera groups. We resent being placed in that category, but I am not at all surprised at our brother's classification because I recall that only a few years ago, Ernest Beam was classing the "non-instrument" brethren among the aforementioned groups. Ernest Beam is now affiliated with the digressives. Would Brother Poisall approve of Ernest Beam's classification? But there is no scriptural authority for the church working through ecclesiastical arrangements, but as there is the authority for each congregation doing its own work, what would make Ernest Beam's observation any different in principle from Brother Poisall's? Brother Beam's road led him to digression. Brother Poisall and other brethren who are upholding the centralization and human institution arrangement for the church to do its work are also headed for the same place, digression, and they do not realize it! Our observing brother can see why instruments of music are objected to but has he and others given consideration that the same objections in principle are made to the church doing its work through centralized control and human institutions? Brethren who contend for the scripturalness of the present centralized arrangement of preaching and benevolence have been challenged to tell us what is wrong with the Missionary Society and to this day they have remained as "silent as the tomb." Perhaps we have a new champion in Brother Poisall? Will he propose to tell us what is wrong with it? What about it, Brother Poisall?

Before making his observations "along the road," our brother remarks that he is passing his sixtieth milestone. While I respect his age, it is lamentable that he has not been able to make better observations in those sixty years. Brother W. W. Otey was in the thick of the battle over the Missionary Society and he is able to observe that such arrangements as "The Herald of Truth" and other such brotherhood projects are the same things in principle that split us before. Brother Otey is eighty-seven years of age, twenty-seven years older than Brother Poisall, and he too has made some observations "along the road." To Brother James W. Adams, Brother Otey wrote: "Unless these movements are abandoned, or unless those who are warning against such movements yield to the pressure, only a separation can result .... The controversy in my opinion, will last fully twenty-five years. It will require all the faith of which men are capable to stand for the New Testament order of things. Many, yes, very many, will just move along with the current." (Gospel Guardian, April 15, 1954.)

It is not always pleasant to have to differ with a brother, but lest someone might be influenced by Brother Poisall's observations, duty compels me to review his loose statements.