Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 18, 1955
NUMBER 15, PAGE 4-6,9b

"Our" Propaganda Mills

James W. Adams, Beaumont, Texas

Our generation has witnessed the birth and development of a new type of agency, the propaganda mill. Fascist and Communist dictators have fashioned and employed these agencies with infinite skill in fastening upon the unsuspecting minds of countless millions their godless, immoral, virulent ideologies. The potency of the agency depends upon its ability (1) to feed to the masses such information as will lead them to full acceptance of the principle* of their system and enthusiastic action in its behalf and (2) to keep from them any information that would cause them even to question in the smallest degree the righteousness or worthiness of the system or its leaders. Catholicism has through the centuries developed such an agency to keep in a state of mental and spiritual slavery the countless millions of her devotees. The Catholic is taught that he must without question accept the scripture interpretations of the church, obey implicitly the laws of the church, and to read or hear only that approved by the church.

The "Restoration Movement" was born of the virile spirit of investigation, freedom of expression, and controversy. New Testament Christians for the past 100 years and more have plead for a return to the divine pattern of work and worship. They have challenged the world to point to any deviation from the word of God in their faith and practice. They have offered equal time or space on platform or in the press to every species of error. Out of this vigorous soil has grown the prosperity of the Lord's church in our day. A new day, however, has dawned upon us — the day of propaganda mills among the people of God. Gospel papers, college lectureships, pulpits, and even the lowly church bulletin have become propaganda agencies. Issues which confront the church are not freely discussed. The people are permitted to hear only one side of the matter. Acceptance of practices is not sought on the basis of reason and truth, but rather through calculated creation of prejudice and suppression of facts. A glaring example of the operation of "our" propaganda mills is seen in the recent treatment of Brother John T. Lewis of Birmingham, Alabama by two of "our" oldest and most popular gospel papers, the Gospel Advocate and the Firm Foundation.

Anent John T. Lewis

The name of John T. Lewis is almost a household word among New Testament Christians especially east of the Mississippi River. He has lived and labored in Birmingham, Alabama for almost half a century, and has seen the cause of Christ in that city grow from a handful of consecrated Christians meeting in the upper room of a lodge hall to 25 or 30 thriving congregations of respected and influential men and women. His name has always been synonymous with loyalty to New Testament principles. No breath of scandal has ever touched him. In moral character, he has been impeccable. He sat for a number of years in the old Nashville Bible School at the feet of David Lipscomb and imbibed deeply of his spirit. The list of the names of the pioneers of the past who have loved and respected John T. Lewis would read like an honor roll. Even today, he is perhaps the most influential preacher in the entire state of Alabama. Through half a century his writings have appeared upon the pages of the Gospel Advocate and other religious journals among the , brethren. Through all these years, though much that he wrote was controversial in character, he was accorded the respect due him of having the opportunity to be heard. Austin McGary, owner and editor of the Firm Foundation in days gone by, was a close personal friend of Brother Lewis, and though they disagreed sharply on some matters, Brother McGary never refused him the opportunity of being heard in the pages of the Firm Foundation. Such was the stature of our brethren in days past. Now, however, "our" propaganda mills propose to shut him out. They would relegate him to a class of unmentionables of their own creation and refuse him the right to speak his convictions to the hearts of the brethren.

"Old Faithful" Spurns Him

People east of the Mississippi who honor the memory of David Lipscomb, E. G. Sewell, E. A. Elam, Tolbert Fanning and others of like stature affectionately refer to the Gospel Advocate as "Old Faithful." For a hundred years she has been in the homes of their great grandfathers, grandfathers, and fathers. To them, she is like the family silver or the album. Many of these good people will be shocked to learn that she has spurned one of the most loyal and respected pioneer preachers now living. While conducting a meeting recently for one of the churches of Birmingham, the writer of these lines was given by Brother Lewis the material that is the basis for this article along with the permission to give it publicity in the Gospel Guardian. Four of Brother Lewis' own articles will appear consecutively beginning with the present issue. This article will but set forth the facts concerning their being rejected by "our" propaganda mills — one of which was "Old Faithful," the Gospel Advocate.

The Occasion For The Lewis Articles

In the fall of 1954, the Gospel Advocate published a series of articles by Guy N. Woods entitled, "Orphanages and Homes for the Aged." (These articles have been reviewed in the Gospel Guardian by the writer of this article — January, February, March issues 1955.) Brother Lewis considered many of the positions advanced by Brother Woods completely untenable and unscriptural, hence reviewed them in a series of four articles which he mailed to the Gospel Advocate. A long time passed and they were not published. In the February 3, 1955 issue of the Gospel Advocate, there appeared from the pen of Brother Guy N. Woods a pseudo challenge for debate made contingent upon an impossible endorsement of disputant and propositions. In the challenge, Brother Woods contemptuously linked together, in his demand for endorsement, "Tant of the GUARDIAN, Ketcherside of the MESSENGER, Garrett of BIBLE TALK, and John T. Lewis." Upon reading the disrespectful and contemptible bluster of Brother Woods, Brother Lewis penned the following letter to the editor of the Gospel Advocate, a friend of many years standing:

1604 - 30th Street, Ens.

Birmingham, Alabama February 11, 1955

Mr. B. C. Goodpasture Gospel Advocate,

Nashville, Tennessee.

Dear Brother Goodpasture:

In the Gospel Advocate of Feb. 3, 1955, page 96, Brother Guy N. Woods says: "Therefore, let Tant of the GUARDIAN, Ketcherside of the MESSENGER, and Garrett of BIBLE TALK, along with Brother Lewis agree on some affirmative proposition touching church cooperation in the care of the fatherless, the widows and destitute, select a man whom they can endorse to represent them, AND WE'LL DEBATE THE QUESTION WITH THEIR REPRESENTATIVE IN THE PAGES OF THE GOSPEL ADVOCATE!" I think it is fine for Brother Woods to be willing to debate this "question" in the Gospel Advocate, especially, since he says: "This proposition has the approval and endorsement of B. C. Goodpasture, editor of the GOSPEL ADVOCATE and may, therefore, be regarded as a bonafide offer."

I have been preaching the gospel for more than fifty years, and I have never yet called upon any editor or paper to either endorse or defend my teaching. I will attend to that myself. Therefore I will submit the following propositions to Brother Woods, and in his words: "We shall now see who desires a discussion." The propositions:

First: The scriptures teach that churches or congregations should care for the needy among them, and if not financially able call upon other churches to help them.

Aff. John T. Lewis Neg. Guy N. Woods Second proposition: The scriptures teach that churches should build "Orphanages and Homes for the Aged."

Aff. Guy N. Woods Neg. John T. Lewis Brother Woods may decide on the length and number of articles that shall appear on each subject. I will not ask Brother Woods to get Brother G. C. Brewer, Brother Gayle Oler, or any other editor to agree with, or defend his teaching.

Fraternally, John T. Lewis

Almost two months passed and no reply was received by Brother Lewis relative to his articles or to his reply to Woods' challenge ( ?), nor were his articles published. Finally, Brother Lewis wrote the editor of the Gospel Advocate the following:

Birmingham 8, Ala., April 1, 1955

Nashville, Tennessee.

Mr. B. C. Goodpasture, Dear Brother Goodpasture:

The four articles I sent you have been there long enough to grow long, gray whiskers, and evidently the old fellows are not welcome in your "institution" ( ?). Therefore I am sending postage for their return.

Soon after I mailed the articles to you, your champion got to pawing the dirt so high I thought I might get into the pen with him for a few butts, so I wrote out two propositions setting forth our positions in our language; but I have heard nothing from you. Evidently you have decided to keep your champion in a pen to himself, and I don't know, you may be right about it. So you will please return my propositions with my articles.

With kind personal regards, I am Fraternally yours, John T. Lewis.

Sometime after thus writing Brother Goodpasture, Brother Lewis received without comment or note of any kind his articles and his propositions. Thus curtly and contemptuously did "Old Faithful" spurn one of her long time friends and supporters and deny to one of the brotherhoods' best known and best qualified pioneers the right to be heard on live issues of the day simply because he did not grind out her brand of propaganda.

Firm Foundation's Ditto

"Our" propaganda mills may call their product by a different name but they follow the same formula. Considerable emphasis is being placed in some quarters on the fact that "our major institutions, colleges, orphan homes, homes for the aged, and papers" are joining hands in fighting those who oppose encroaching "institutionalism" on the church of our Lord. This is not at all strange, for such is but history repeating itself. They did the same thing a hundred years ago when the societies and the music crowd swept the church into digression.

Brother Lewis had never been refused space in the Apostolic Times by Brother James A. Allen its editor and to this paper his articles would have gone had it not been that it had ceased publication. The Firm Foundation had assumed its subscription list, so it occurred to Brother Lewis that the Firm Foundation might publish his material. Brother Marshall E. Patton one of the faithful preachers of the Birmingham area and a personal friend of the editor of the Firm Foundation, Brother Reuel Lemmons, suggested to Brother Lewis that he would mail his articles to that journal and request their publication. Brother Patton's letter and Brother Lemmons reply follow:

Birmingham 7, Alabama May 12, 1955

Mr. Reuel Lemmons, Editor, Firm Foundation, Box 77,

Austin, Texas.

Dear Reuel Shortly after the appearance of Brother Guy N. Woods' articles on "Orphanages and Homes for the Aged" in the Gospel Advocate, Brother John T. Lewis of this city prepared a series of lessons in reply. These were sent to the Advocate and there they remained until recently when by request they were returned to him. This request was made only after it became obvious that they were not going to be printed in the Advocate.

Reuel, it is my conviction that these articles contain information that ought to be considered in connection with a study of the present day issues before brethren. Brother Lewis, as you know, is a veteran writer, debater, and gospel preacher. Heretofore, his writings have been given a ready hearing in all of "our papers" It seems a shame to me that the voice of pioneers like Brother Lewis and others is now being silenced by some by a refusal to allow their articles to see the light of print. Many in this section are anxious to know just what is your attitude toward such matters — will you allow the voice of such men to be heard?

For this reason I am enclosing the articles of Brother Lewis for your examination with the hope that you will print them in the Firm Foundation. As yet, they have not been sent to any other paper.

I am also enclosing Brother Lewis' propositions accepting Brother Woods' challenge for debate. These, too, have been in the Advocate office for several months. The position of Brother Lewis has been misrepresented. It is clearly stated in the propositions. Brethren should know such facts.

Enclosed please find my cheek for three dollars ($3.00) for which please renew my subscription to the Firm Foundation.

Best personal regards to you and yours.

Fraternally M. E. Patton P.S. If for any reason you cannot print them in the F.F. postage will be furnished for their return.


Austin 61, Texas May .17, 1955 M. E. Patton, Minister

North Birmingham Church of Christ, 3315 North 25th St., Birmingham, Alabama.

Dear Marshall:

I appreciate your letter of April 12 concerning the printing in the Firm Foundation of Brother Lewis' articles in answer to Brother Guy Woods.

I will not be able to use them in the Firm Foundation for several reasons and therefore am returning them to you.

I do not doubt that they contain information that ought to be considered in a study of the issue before brethren, but this is a thing that came up in the Gospel Advocate and about which Brother Woods and the Gospel Advocate made the promises referred to in Brother Lewis' letter. This is an affair between him and them in which I do not wish to inject the Firm Foundation.

In the second place, I do not believe, for a minute, the position occupied by Brother Lewis and others relative to the right of the church to build and maintain under the direction of its elders a home devoted to the care of orphan children. I believe that the Bible teaches that a congregation has that right. As, "many in that section are anxious to know what my attitude towards such matters are," I have tried to make it plain.

Others have tried to make me say things on the orphan home issue that I do not believe and take positions which I do not hold. Therefore, I am glad to state that I do believe that congregations have a right under their own elders to build and maintain a home in which orphans are cared for.

I hate to see the feeling arising among us that the church does not have this right much less this responsibility. I do not want to carry in the Firm Foundation something that I do not believe to teach the truth, much less add fuel to a fire that is already burning too brightly. Since you are not in my shoes, I would hardly expect you to be able to understand the fairness of the position that I have taken, but I beg of you to consider it prayerfully, and I do believe that you will agree that my decision is a wise one.

Yours in the Faith, Reuel Lemmons By: E.R.

There are several interesting things about Brother Lemmons' reply. (1) If the Gospel Advocate turns down a reply to any material appearing in that journal, the editor of the Firm Foundation will not "inject" that paper into the matter by furnishing a medium through which a faithful gospel preacher may answer that which he deems to be error. (2) Nothing will appear in the Firm Foundation which its editor does not believe to be true. Hear him, "I do not want to carry in the Firm Foundation something that I do not believe to be the truth." If an article appears in the Firm Foundation, the readers will know that it has unreserved endorsement of her editor, and regardless of how erroneous it may be, no space will be supplied for an answer, for such would not be what the editor believes to be true. Shades of Elijah Hanbrough, J. W. Jackson, Austin McGary, John S. Durst, and even G.H.P. Showalter! May the smile of providence deliver us from such a one man propaganda mill. (3) Brother Lemmons avoids an answer to a question asked by Brother Patton by misunderstanding its import. Brother Patton asked, "Brother Lewis, as you know is a veteran writer, debater, and gospel preacher. Heretofore, his writings have been given a ready hearing in all of "our papers." It seems a shame to me that the voice of pioneers like Brother Lewis and others is now being silenced by some by a refusal to allow their articles to see the light of print. Many in this section are anxious to know just what is your attitude toward such matters — Will you allow the voice of such men to be heard?" The reader will note that Brother Patton wants to know what Brother Lemmons' attitude is toward allowing pioneers and others like Brother Lewis to be heard in the Firm Foundation. Brother Lemmons evades by telling Brother Patton what his attitude is toward orphan homes. Brother Patton was already aware of Lemmons' attitude toward the homes. What he and others in the Birmingham area wanted to know was simply: Is the Firm Foundation going to be a propaganda mill or a gospel paper? (4) Brother Lemmons misrepresents Brother Lewis and others when he charges that they do not believe in the right and deny the responsibility of elders to build a home devoted to the care of orphan children. Brother Lewis and others believe elders may and should use any righteous means of caring for orphan children who are the responsibility of the congregation in which they are overseers. They deny the right of elders to build and maintain a brotherhood orphanage. (5) Since Brother Lemmons allows in the Firm Foundation only that which he believes to be true and since his letter reveals that he does not endorse orphan homes under institutional boards like Boles Home, Tennessee Orphan Home, Childhaven, and possibly others, he will be obligated to close the columns of the Firm Foundation to them. Will he do it? We shall see. We shall see.

"Orphanages And Homes For The Aged"

Under this title look for Brother Lewis' articles in this and the following three issues of the Gospel Guardian. Brother Lewis has reached or approaches four score years, but his writings are pointed, plain, and pungent. He is as agile as one twenty years younger in body and his mental powers are as acute as a student in the middle years of life. He gives and asks no quarter in controversy. He believes what he believes and has the courage to say so. One might not agree with every position advanced by Brother Lewis on various themes, but no editor of a professed gospel paper should presume to deny the brotherhood the blessing of his knowledge, his faith, and his experience as it may be gleaned from that which he writes. Having genuine affection and respect for Brother Lewis personally and sincere admiration for his knowledge and ability, I take great pleasure in commending his articles to the readers of the Gospel Guardian.