Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 3, 1955
NUMBER 38, PAGE 1,9b-11a

Brother Woods Past And Present

James W. Adams, Beaumont, Texas

(No. 2 in a review of Brother Guy N. Woods recent articles in the Gospel Advocate on "Orphanages and Homes for the Aged.")

One of the noblest attributes which one can possess is the courage to change unhesitatingly from error to truth when he perceives that he has embraced that which is false. In religion where eternal verities are involved such a disposition becomes sublime. Whether or not one possesses this attitude will certainly determine whether or not he spends eternity with God. Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32.) Paul went a step further saying, "That they all might be damned who believed not the truth — ." (2 Thess. 2:12.) The most laudable of the heroes of the Bible are those individuals who made the greatest changes. This is true of those of God's children who had fallen into error as well as those outside of covenant relationship with Him.

No criticism is made against Brother Woods, therefore, simply because he has "changed." There is, however, an old proverb that our brother should ponder well to the effect that "the pot should not call the kettle black." Too, there is the amazing phenomenon of a brilliant, intellectual man who reverses himself and knows it not. The reader is urged to obtain Brother Woods' seven articles from the Gospel Advocate of recent dates and read or reread them carefully. After having studied carefully the positions which our brother therein sets forth with reference to human institutions and the relation of the church of God thereunto, read the excerpts which shall follow from the pen of Brother Woods beginning with 1939 and continuing through 1954.

It should be noted first that Brother Woods is unusually upset by some who, he supposes, have made great "changes." He cannot refrain from consigning them by implication to the ranks of "recognized hobby riders" and "eccentrics and cranks." He seeks to prejudice his readers before presenting a shred of evidence either of fact or of law by the use of the terms "hobby riders, hobby-ism, eccentrics, and cranks" and by sarcastic allusions to the age and ability of those who entertain views contrary to his own. He advises us, however, that he will present his views in "the most impersonal fashion" inasmuch as "personalities becloud the issue, divert the mind, and disgust the reader." It appears that Brother Woods not only can undergo radical changes without being conscious that such has transpired, but that he also has the peculiar habit of laying down a rule of action and immediately violating it in his own practice or argument. This will be called to your attention again as our review develops.

Let it be observed from Brother Woods' own words that he is disturbed over imagined changes in others to the extent of coming out of a long period of pacifistic silence clad in all the accoutrements of total war against "hobbyists." Hear him:

"Orphanages and Homes for the Aged"

Guy N. Woods

"An event of the most exceptional nature and absolutely unparalleled in this writer's observation has occurred among us in the recent past. Until less than five years ago, there was virtually a universal endorsement of, and hearty support for, the benevolent activities among us. Prior to that time, the objections which were raised to this sort of activity — and they were of the most isolated nature — originated either among recognized hobby riders traditionally against every positive function of the church, or were given expression by eccentrics and cranks. - - - - - - -"

"Recently, however, opposition has become vocal and allegations are offered that the orphan homes and homes for the old and infirm are unscriptural; they encroach on the functions of the 'one body' — the church; they parallel in organization the missionary societies. We do not believe this now; and we think that as recently as ten years ago, ninety nine percent of the preachers regarded as faithful among us would have resented deeply such an allegation, and would have unhesitatingly rallied to the defense of our practice in this respect."

"Now, however, the case is different; some of the brethren have radically suffered a change in attitude toward this work; attacks have been launched and insinuations made that those of us who still adhere to practices once universally accepted are now in digression!"

"The grounds upon which we rested our convictions from their earliest conception are, in our opinion, as substantial now as then; and we see less reason for changing them than ever before... We shall, in this series, set out the reasons why we do not abandon the position which, in all substantial particulars, we have always adhered to, and present numerous facts which, from a personal investigation, we have uncovered regarding the benevolent organizations among us." (Gospel Advocate, Oct. 14, 1954.)

It is worthy of note and considerable emphasis that Brother Woods positively affirms he has made no change in his convictions on benevolent organizations from the very earliest convictions that he formed on such matters. This means that his statements in the articles which are the subject of this review represent his sentiments from the very beginning of his preaching ministry. When these statements from the pen of our brother first came to our attention, we were shocked beyond measure. He is too intellectual — his powers of discernment and discrimination are too acute — for him not to know that his views are radically different on these matters from those which have characterized him through the years. What his trouble is we do not profess to know certainly, but we do know that his affirmation concerning the consistency of his views on benevolent organizations is not true. Our readers are urged to read carefully and meditate seriously upon the quotations from the pen of our brother which follow:

Abilene Christian College Lectureship 1939

"1. THE TENDENCY TOWARD INSTITUTIONALISM. The ship of Zion has floundered more than once on the sandbar of institutionalism. The tendency to organize is a characteristic of the age. On the theory that the end justifies the means, brethren have not scrupled to form organizations in the church to do the work the church itself was designed to do. All such organizations usurp the work of the church, and are unnecessary and sinful. The veteran John S. Sweeney well said, 'Christians do not need to spend time and means organizing and fostering such societies. The church of God is spiritual house enough for us to live in. temple enough for for us to worship in, vineyard enough for us to work in, husbandry enough for us to tend, building enough for us to work on, army enough for us to march, drill and fight in. People who are contending, as they say, for primitive Christianity, for New Testament Christianity, should stand for the church of the New Testament, and leave others to spend their time and money on human societies, if they cannot be persuaded to do better.' This writer has ever been unable to appreciate the logic of those who affect to see grave danger in Missionary Societies. but scruple not to form a similar organization for the purpose of caring for orphans and teaching young men to be gospel preachers.. Of course it is right for the church to care for the 'fatherless and widows in their affliction,' but this work should be done by and through the church, with the elders having the oversight thereof, and not through boards and, conclaves unknown to the New Testament. In this connection it is a pleasure to commend to the brotherhood Tipton's Orphans Home, Tipton, Oklahoma. The work there is entirely scriptural, being managed and conducted by the elders of the church in Tipton, Oklahoma. The work there is entirely scriptural, aided by funds sent to them by the elders of other congregations round about. We here and now declare our protest against any other method or arrangement for accomplishing this work." (A.C.C. Lectures, 1939.)

Having established by means of the above quotation the precise position of Brother Woods in 1939 relative to the, question of benevolent organizations and colleges among the brethren, let us now 'lift the curtain on 1942, three years later, and avail ourselves of the enlightenment provided by the "scholarly pen" of our brother on the question of the support of colleges by the church as such.

"Brother Brewer's Book" - 1942

By Guy N. Woods

"Contending For the Faith," by G. C. Brewer.

"The section on colleges and Missionary Societies in which the author attempts to prove that it is scriptural for the churches, as such to contribute from their treasuries funds for the support of Christian colleges, falls, in this writer's opinion, far short of the mark. Brother Brewer insists that there is a difference in sending funds to a Christian college, a human institution, and in doing the same with reference to a Missionary Society. Through long dreary pages this is argued at length; all of which, to this writer, is a sea of mud! Perhaps it is our own denseness; and if Brother Brewer and those who profess to see such a difference wish to consider our inability so to do a manifest mark of immaturity, they are at liberty to do so. We can write only as the matter appears to us at present. We are frank to confess that we lack the inner wisdom or whatever it is that enables one to accept without question the theory that it violates no principle of reason or revelation to support a human institution designed to educate young men for the 'ministry,' and yet insist that it is subversive of both reason and revelation to support an institution similarly organized to keep these young men in foreign fields preaching the gospel they 'learned in the college! In our view brethren surrender their contention against the Missionary Society when they espouse such a view of the colleges." (Firm Foundation, Feb. 2, 1942.)

This gem from the pen of our brother reads like a page from the Gospel Guardian 1955. Should our brother express such sentiments today indiscriminately, he would jeopardize his position as a staff writer of the Gospel Advocate. It is extremely unlikely that such sentiments from his pen would be allowed to appear on the pages of that paper, but if they were allowed to see the light of day, consistency would require its suave and talented editor to stigmatize his own staff writer as a "Johnny come-lately Sommerite." As Riley would say, "What a revoltin' development." Has or has not Brother Woods changed? We will simply allow an "enlightened brotherhood" to judge for itself.

But "time marches on" and events unfold. Let the curtain now, go up on 1946. Through these years Brother Woods was "vocal" indeed on the problems that now vex the church. Hear him:

"Annual Lesson Commentary - 1946"

(Published by Gospel Advocate Co., Guy N. Woods author.)


"The scriptures teach the autonomy of the church and its right to function independently of any other body on earth. For this reason churches of Christ recognize no ecclesiastical head on earth, nor do they delegate their rights to any council, synod, or conference. There is no higher organization on earth than the local church. The church with its elders to oversee it, the deacons to serve, and the evangelist to proclaim the word is an independent entity and answerable only to Christ."


"The self-sufficiency of the church in organization, work, worship, and every function required of it by the Lord should be emphasized. This lesson is much needed today. Religious secular organizations are always trying to encroach on the function of the New Testament church, interfere with its obligations, and attempt to discharge some of its functions. The church is the only organization authorized to discharge the responsibilities of the Lord's people. When brethren form organizations independently of the church to do the work of the church. however worthy their aims and right their designs, they are engaged in that which is sinful.

"II. Providing Things Honest In The Sight Of All Men" (2 Cor. 8:18-21.)

"In line with the fact that our lesson today deals with the autonomy of the church, we point out that the contribution here alluded to was raised wholly without the high pressure organizational methods characteristic of today. There was no organization at all: the churches in their own capacity, raised the funds, and they were gathered by brethren specially appointed for the purpose. This is the Lord's method of raising money, and it will suffice in any case. There is no place for charitable organizations in the work of the New Testament church. It is the only charitable organization that the Lord authorizes or that is needed to do the work the Lord expects his people to do."

"Generosity Of The Philippian Church" (Phil. 4:15,16.)

"Here too, we see the simple manner in which the church in Philippi joined with Paul in the work of preaching the gospel. There was `no missionary society' in evidence. and none was needed; the brethren simply raised the money and sent it directly to Paul. This is the way it should be done today. No organization is needed to accomplish the work the Lord has authorized the church to do. When men become dissatisfied with God's arrangement and set up one of their own, they have already crossed the threshold to apostasy. Let us be satisfied with the Lord's manner of doing things." (Annual Lesson Commentary, Gospel Advocate Co., Lesson XI, Dec. 15, 1946.)

As we were saying, this, reads like a page out of the Gospel Guardian in 1955. 'Why has Brother Woods forsaken us? Our brother has undergone a radical change in the principles to which he subscribes. The sad truth is, too, that he has exchanged sound principles of Divine truth for "digressive" propaganda worn threadbare for the past 100 years. Hear him further:

" For it hath been the good pleasure of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints that are at Jerusalem.' (Rom. 15:26.) Paul labored at length in the provinces of Macedonia and Achaia. (See Lessons X and XII, Third Quarter.) When these brethren heard of the distress that was occasioned in Judea because of a famine in those parts, they determined to send relief. There were many poor saints in Jerusalem at this time. The brethren there had undergone many persecutions and had likely been spoiled of their goods. The Gentile churches had profited by the fact that the Jews had brought the gospel to them, and they determined to repay in part this obligation by sending to their needs in a financial way. Paul explains it thus: 'It hath been their good pleasure; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, they owe it to them also to minister unto them in carnal things." (Rom. 15:27.) Concerning this contribution see 1 Cor. 16:1, 2; 2 Cor. 8:1, and 9:2. For another such contribution for the poor in Jerusalem, see Acts 11:27-30. It should be noted that there was no elaborate organization for the discharge of these charitable functions. The contributions were sent directly to the elders by the churches who raised the offering. This is the New Testament method of functioning. We should be highly suspicious of any scheme that requires the setting up of an organization independent of the church in order to accomplish its work." (Annual Lesson Commentary, 1946, Pages 337, 338.)

Now, in 1954, Brother Woods sings another tune. He unequivocally supports the benevolent organizations among the brethren making no distinction whatever between them. Furthermore, he stigmatizes as hobby riders, cranks, and eccentrics those who now espouse the views he once entertained and taught — as recently as 1946. Yet, he maintains that he occupies the same position today he occupied at the very beginning of his efforts as a preacher. Here is an anomaly extraordinary which fact Suggests our topic for the next article: "The Unconscious Metamorphosis of a Self-Indicted Hobbyist." Look for it.