Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 4, 1956
NUMBER 22, PAGE 6-1b

"A Million For Manhattan"

Charles A. Holt, Franklin, Tennessee

The above is the slogan of the big promoters among us as the brotherhood is beleaguered to pour one million dollars into the Manhattan church in New York City. They are not the least timid or modest in their expectations and demands. They are just seeking for the paltry sum of one million dollars! This money is to come from others and be given to the Manhattan church! If I am not mistaken, this church has been begging for years. She has been on the receiving end for nearly forty years and still is not self-supporting! Why? Would one million dollars put the church there on its feet? If the past is to serve as a criterion for the future, then we must conclude that such will not do it. Perhaps the church there has so long been kept up by others that she is now a permanent dependent!

Now under the leadership of Burton Coffman, a promoter par-excellent, some astronomical plans have been made for Manhattan. If the brotherhood will only furnish the one million dollars necessary, Coffman and the overly-ambitious elders of the Manhattan church will really do great things. They are using every means available to them to beg this money and make the churches think it is a great investment in soul-saving. Nearly all the promoting papers among us are carrying their high-powered advertising. Coffman and others are going over the nation conducting mass meetings to raise this money. Recently a big area-wide mass meeting was conducted in Washington, D.C. It was highly advertised and it featured the nationally famous, "Rock and Roll" night club entertainer, Pat Boone! He flew to Washington to direct the singing. His presence really drew the "rock and roll" fans! In such fashion does Coffman use every attraction at his disposal to accomplish his purpose.

The Christian Leader recently gave one whole issue to this vast project. This issue was sent all over the nation. Coffman is the editor of this paper. It tells that "they have contracted to purchase the southeast corner of Madison Avenue and East Eightieth Street for $190,000 . . . . " This is the first step in their plan and they are trying to raise the funds to pay this off. The way they talk about how valuable this property is and what an asset it will be, one would almost conclude that upon getting this building alone depends the destiny of the church and the salvation of a million souls! It is not the lack of adequate property that has hindered the Cause in New York City. Nor will supplying for them such property give to Manhattan what is really needed. The Cause of Christ and the salvation of souls have never been dependent upon material things — even in the "Capital of the World."

In the advertising they brazenly set their project forth as "A National Challenge." They aver that "there is no doubt that Manhattan is high on God's priority list. All who love 'God are concerned with the challenge outlined herein." Did you know that God had a "priority list"? Wonder how they found out about it and who is high or low on it? If you are not "concerned with the challenge" (and that means if you do not help them get this one million dollars!), then you do not love God! They know how to apply the pressure and appeal to the gullible.

Here is anther 'boastful claim: "Hundreds of the best Christian minds in the nation have appraised the Manhattan situation . . . . The action of the elders of Manhattan is based upon recommendations made by the best minds in the brotherhood ...." 'So we can see that no one should object to this project nor can they dare refuse help because "the best minds in the brotherhood" endorse and back their stupendous undertaking — so they claim. Now if that doesn't sweep you off your feet and cause you to lend your support then nothing will. They arranged for several of the influential brethren to recommend the program. Among those doing so are such men as B. C. Goodpasture, E. W. McMillan, Reuel Lemmons and James Walter Nichols. Now can there be any doubting Thomas among us as to Manhattan being "high on God's priority list"? The Gospel Advocate, Firm Foundation, and now bankrupt Christian Chronicle have given wide publicity to the effort. So enthralled are they in their own grandiose plans, and so encouraged by the support of these "best minds in the brotherhood" that they assert: "The brotherhood is backing this great effort... The whole church seems to desire the success of this mighty effort." To them the backing of these "best minds" all but assures them the support (to the tune of one million dollars!) of the brotherhood!

Here is an acknowledgment that should receive serious consideration from those who intend to support this "mighty effort":

"At first, due to the extreme weakness of Manhattan congregation in the latter part of 1954, it was felt that some of the outside money sent to Manhattan would be needed for ordinary running expense of the church. However, the strength of Manhattan congregation has improved so rapidly, that practically all of the money sent in from outside the congregation this year will be available for use on the down payment of $20,000.00 on the Madison Avenue corner."

This congregation has been ravaged by modernism and gross liberalism through the years. Much of this trouble has been due to weak preaching and a compromising attitude toward this evil. So weak is the church that she is not able to carry on the "ordinary running expense of the church." What a shame after forty years of work and the thousands of dollars put into the cause there. We are assured that Manhattan is now "Standing Against Modernism." Also, it is averred that the "Elders of Manhattan are continuing the fight and believe the best way to do this is to build a strong church in New York." This is true if by "strong church" they have the conception of a church firmly and positively taught and grounded in the truth. Buying a $190,000 lot for a meeting place is not necessary to a "strong church," nor will it necessarily help make one. There remains a big question in the minds (though no vain claim is made as to these being the "best minds in the brotherhood") as to the security of the church and as to the value of the gigantic plan of "One Million for Manhattan." If a preacher of unquestioned conviction, one who really stands solidly for the truth and against all error, were working with the Manhattan church, rather than the doubtful and questionable Burton Coffman, perhaps then there might be more hope for the Cause there. If the elders and the church would try standing on their own feet and quit begging the brotherhood to support their "mighty effort," and concentrate on a program of aggressive and positive Bible teaching, then indeed they could build a "strong church."

While I think I love God and am interested in His Cause, this "mighty effort" appears to me to be sadly lacking in the qualities that deserve the support of the brotherhood and one million dollars! Brethren need to wake up and think.