Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 27, 1954

Then And Now

W. W. Otey, Winfield, Kansas

Defenders of the gospel and the church have always been ready to affirm scriptural authority for their positions, and to defend them in open discussion.

Opposers of the truth have rarely been willing to affirm and defend their position.

More than sixty-five years ago (Brother Showalter says since 1886 — sixty-eight years ago), I began my battle against the unscriptural practices of men. Here is the course which the innovators have followed:

Until 1908 no man among them would talk about an open investigation of matters of controversy. Even then the digressives forced their opponents to affirm a negative — otherwise there would be no debate. (How striking the similarity today! Brethren who are pressing matters of controversy refuse to affirm scriptural authority for what they practice, and demand that those who oppose them show "where it is wrong.")

In that fight of yester-year the digressives confused tuning-forks, song-books, religious journals, and meeting houses with instrumental music and the societies. They attacked the character of the men who opposed them; they hated every man and publication who dared speak a word against what they were doing. Many of them openly declared that the "Review" should not come into their homes. (I was not acquainted with the south in those years, but am sure the Gospel Advocate received the same kind of treatment.)

And now comes a preacher and writer of note who says that if his wife gets hold of the Gospel Guardian before he does, she burns it. Another brother says that when he gets the Gospel Guardian he has to go to the door and spit!! Many others manifest the same unreasoning hatred for every man or every obstacle placed in their way. And once again, as of old, they charge the opposers of innovations with being responsible for all the trouble. It reminds me of the time when a certain king of Israel charged a prophet of God with being the cause of all the trouble in Israel. But the prophet was vindicated by the results that followed his message. Opposers of the innovations have in all ages been charged with being fault finders and causing division.

Will young men now living see another division? They certainly will see a division unless one of two courses takes place. Will those who oppose unscriptural institutions and unscriptural methods surrender to the backward movement? Or, will those who introduce and press these things not taught in the word of the Lord give up their advocacy of the innovations?

I know of no case in which men of faith and conviction have surrendered their honest convictions. On the contrary they have often suffered martyrdom rather than do so.

Again, I know of no case where those who started on a course of innovation ever yielded for the sake of peace and unity. I wish I could express some hope that the worst will not come. But I have little on which to base such a hope. More than sixty years ago, men of faith begged the innovationists to give up the things which they themselves said were mere matters of opinion and thus save the church from ruin. I have no recollection of even one man who did so; but actually they jeered and laughed at the brethren who entreated them.

The thing now troubling the church is the same thing that troubled the church then — INSTITUTIONALISM. That grows out of trying to make the church function universally. Our digressive brethren reached their full-grown institutional status only after many, many years of development. They now have their UCMS and a complete and close-knit ecclesiasticism. In 1896 there were fewer than 300 faithful gospel preachers left in the nation. All the rest had "gone with the crowd." Today I have letters from several times that small number who have pledged themselves to stand true till the end. "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this zeal. The Lord knoweth them that are his." He who writes these lines has only one thing in life that he is satisfied with: an unswerving loyalty to the gospel of Christ. I have never taught, practiced, encouraged, or tolerated anything that even looked like it might lead away from the New Testament truth. Brother E. R. Harper says the "Guardian Boys" have changed too much on too many issues. I ask him to produce from the record any change in my position on these fundamental Bible truths.