Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 6, 1955
NUMBER 34, PAGE 5b-6

A Letter From Guy Woods

Yater Tant

We give herewith a letter from Brother Guy N. Woods, together with our response. As we stated when we published the article from Garrett, we do NOT endorse Garrett's false teaching relative to the hobby he has espoused. But in the article we published from him, he wrote, truth not falsehood. We published it exactly as we would publish material from a Catholic, a Jew, or anybody else who said something we thought worthy of passing along. No sensible person thinks such constitutes an endorsement of the errors of the one quoted. We have seen articles and quotations in the Gospel Advocate in time past from various denominational writers (and bearing the usual editorial "kite-tail" commendation), which we did not take at all as being an endorsement by that paper of the error these men taught. But here are the letters:

3584 Galloway Avenue Memphis, Tennessee November 20, 1954

Dear Yater:

I note with interest your publication of Leroy Garrett's review of an article of mine, and your exceedingly lame excuse that your use of the article from Garrett constitutes no more of an endorsement of Garrett than the publication of Brother Harper's articles is an endorsement of Harper. Perhaps you are hopeful that your readers will disregard the fact that you published the Harper articles because you DISAGREED with them; the Garrett criticism because you AGREE with Garrett. Truly, war, politics and Sommerism make strange bed-fellows.

The statement to which exception by Garrett (and you in your "Overflow") is made is as follows: "To represent Alexander Campbell, David Lipscomb or any other editor now dead as advocating the view that it is the proper function of a gospel periodical to publish error because it publishes truth is to present them in a light which they would be the first to deny and repudiate."

I am not accustomed to making statements in debate or otherwise which I cannot prove. I therefore direct the attention of you and Garrett to the following statements, the first from David Lipscomb, the second from Alexander Campbell: "We are sometimes blamed for refusing to permit endless controversies over such questions in the Gospel Advocate. We have always given room for the fair statement of what a brother thinks is right, with his reasons. We have objected to continued repetition of the same impracticable and divisive thoughts. My conscience has hurt me much more for what I have admitted than for what I have excluded on these questions." (Questions and. Answers by David Lipscomb, pp. 146.) "This subject has for some months occupied a prominent place in the Apostolic Advocate. I regret to see the matter agitated at this time, and on a view of all Christendom so revolting to our feelings. Closing our volume for 1835, and for other reasons, we have not as yet complied with the request of Brother Thomas, as to the republishing his pieces on that question .... Let it be for the time being attributed to my cowardice, or to any other cause as probable, which the brethren please; but in my judgment, this is not the time nor the place for such a discussion, nor is this the work to which we are at present called." (Millennial Harbinger, 1835, p. 619.)

Those who followed our review of Garrett are aware that, as Brother Lipscomb suggested should be done, we gave room for a fair statement in "Bible Talk" editor's own words for every position we reviewed from him. Nothing was suppressed that would have presented him in a light other than that which is true.

It follows, therefore, that one of two things is true. Garrett and you were aware of these statements from brethren Campbell and Lipscomb, or you were not. If you were, you deliberately sought to perpetrate a fraud on your readers; the effort was designed to be deceptive. If you did not know of these matters, you betray a lack of information of restoration literature which should have prompted more study before the publication of the article. I do not impute to you fraud; I do not believe that it was your design to deceive. I hence conclude that the action on the part of both Garrett and yourself was taken without proper discernment.

It is pathetic, Brother Tant, that just as the battle was being won against Sommerism in the south you should lead out in a movement which constitutes a capitulation to that hobby in some of its most salient features. Until the comparatively recent past, you would have stood with me (as your illustrious and beloved father did) on these matters. My position remains the same. Who, may I ask, surrendered without a shot?

In view of your well-known policy of publishing ALL SIDES of an issue, you will of course allow your "Overflow" readers to see this statement from me! Of course, you will! Of course!

With kindest personal regards, Faithfully yours, Guy N. Woods

December 20, 1954 Dear Guy:

Pursuant to your request in the last paragraph of your letter of November 20, I am making room for that letter, together with this reply, in an early issue of the Gospel Guardian.

Your attempt to make it appear that Brother Lipscomb and Brother Campbell had the same "closed" policy relative to controversial matters that the Gospel Advocate now follows is a slander against those godly men which I can not appreciate. While it may not be your "custom" to make statements you cannot prove, your current effort is a notable exception. The very quotation you give from Lipscomb, for example, gives the lie to what you are saying. Certainly any editor would very wisely shut his columns to "endless controversies" and " continued repetition of the same impracticable and divisive thoughts." But in that very quotation Lipscomb also said, "We have always given room for the fair statement of what a brother thinks is right, with his reasons." Again, in the Gospel Advocate of January 12, 1910, Lipscomb said:

"I have been near the end of my earthly journey for some time. I have by good brethren and sisters been complimented for the good I have done them and others. This good has come from holding the Gospel Advocate open to discuss the evils of introducing into the church things not required by God. Evil has seemed to grow out of this by the failure to treat the subject as God directs. If these evils are not discussed, we disobey God and leave evil to run riot in the churches. Evil will grow up in the churches, and the failure to expose it is to invite the evil. The brethren at Dallas, Texas, started the Gospel Guide to keep out of the paper all contentions and strife. This was a good motive. In a short time a misrepresentation of me or my teaching was made. The matter was unimportant; I forgot what it was; but if called up, the truth ought to have been told. They declined to publish my article, and published an explanation of their own. This is the exact equivalent of two persons going into court in a lawsuit or into a church trial and one of them insisting he shall tell both sides, and the other's mouth be stopped. A man who adopts this policy cannot be fair and just... I am recognizing in all these things the purest and best of motives — Warlick, Sommer, and all — the effort to keep the church free from wrangles and fusses. We kindly tell them that in doing this they are violating the most sacred principles of fairness and right approved by both God and man, and must make themselves appear unfair and unjust to those so treated. I would like to see all of us get along pleasantly and harmoniously in obeying the commands of God. But if the Gospel Advocate were to adopt this policy of criticizing others and refusing to let them reply, I would cease to read it."

That the Gospel Advocate has done precisely the thing Lipscomb condemned and abhorred is a fact evident to every fair-minded man among us. It is not even a debatable question. Without a moment's reflection I can name you a dozen faithful gospel preachers who have been misrepresented in the columns of the Gospel Advocate, who have sought space to correct the misrepresentation, and who have been brusquely denied. Some of them have even been denied the right to buy space at regular advertising rates to correct what they considered vicious misrepresentations. I myself have had that experience. I might also mention W. W. Otey, Hugo McCord, Earl West, Kenneth Fielder; and could add to that list almost indefinitely.

You recently reviewed Leroy Garrett's position in a series of articles in the Gospel Advocate. Garrett thought you misrepresented him, taking quotations from him out of context, cutting some of them off in the middle of a statement, etc. He asked space in the Gospel Advocate not to set forth his false teaching, but to correct what he considered your misrepresentation of what he does teach. He was refused. Can anybody believe that Lipscomb would have refused him the space? Certainly Lipscomb would not have permitted an "endless controversy," nor would he have permitted Garrett unlimited space for "continued repetition of the same impracticable and divisive thoughts" in advocating his false teachings. But if you think he would have refused him any hearing, you simply do not know either Lipscomb's spirit or the policy he maintained in publishing the Gospel Advocate. (If you have not already read it — and apparently you haven't — I heartily commend to you the recent fine biography of Lipscomb "Life and Times of David Lipscomb" by Earl West.)

Your attempt to brand me and all the faithful gospel preachers who oppose church support of the colleges as "Sommerites" is unworthy of you. So far as I know those you thus abuse all hold exactly the convictions YOU held and so ably defended a few years ago on this question. You were not a Sommerite when you believed it wrong for the churches to make contributions to the colleges; neither are the brethren who still hold those convictions "Sommerites." This is the sort of malicious misrepresentation brethren have come to expect in recent years from the Gospel Advocate; it is NOT the sort of thing we would have expected from the Guy N. Woods we have known and respected through many years. You are unfair to yourself in making the charge; to make such an accusation, which you know to be false, is beneath the standard of conduct of the faithful servant of Christ so many of us have considered you to be. Indeed, the arrogant, not to say insolent, tone of your letter throughout seems out of character. It is beneath your usual dignity.

Since you are apparently fully committed to the idea that a man being reviewed should have no access at all to the columns of the paper reviewing him, you will naturally neither seek nor desire any space to respond to James W. Adams' forthcoming review of some of the unscriptural positions you advanced in your recent series on benevolence. Brother Adams will give a "fair statement in (your) own words of every position" he reviews from you, just as you say you did with Garrett. In spite, however, of your attitude in the matter, I voluntarily offer you all the space you may desire to offer a reply to Adams just so long as he is accorded a like courtesy in the Gospel Advocate. That is a fair proposition, and one that, as all know, the Gospel Advocate has not made to anybody, and would not make. But my ideas of fairness in journalism are not the same as your editor's; and I gladly offer you the space.

With every good wish, I remain, Sincerely yours in Christ, Yater Tant