Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 19, 1957

An Exchange Of Letters

L. L. Estes

(Editor's note: The following exchange of letters was made available to us with the suggestion that it might be worthy of publication. It shows the "pressure tactics" being so widely used by pro-institutional brethren to bring about a "quarantine," and to isolate all brethren who do not agree with them in supporting the institutions. Robert M. Alexander preaches for a congregation in McAlester, Oklahoma. He will be remembered as the man who tried to spear-head the ill-starred movement to "Put Abilene Christian College in the church budget" of all congregations throughout the Southwest. L. B. Clayton and L. L. Estes are two of the four elders in the Tenth and Francis Church in Oklahoma City.)

McAlester, Oklahoma October 8, 1957 Mr. L. B. Clayton

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Dear Brother Clayton:

I receive your weekly church Bulletin and in this week's Bulletin is announced the meeting which is soon to be held by Geo. Jones. I am surprised and somewhat shocked to know that he is to conduct your meeting since he is a known follower of the Gospel Guardian in its church wrecking campaign and he has only recently participated in a church split in Kilgore, Texas.

Now you know that I have known and loved you and Bro. Estes for many years. Of course I know that both of you sympathize with the Guardian position with respect to how to do mission work but I do not think that you go along with them in their rabid church-splitting program. Always we have felt that brethren may hold to differing theories about things but that there should be leniency towards one another so as not to divide the body of Christ and so ruin the fellowship of brethren.

From your Bulletin I see that you still support Orphan Homes and that you do Mission work. I also know that you have two fine sons in the Mission field. How can you encourage men who divide churches over this issue?

It is essential to "visit the widows and orphans." It is essential to do mission work. It is essential to keep the unity of the brethren. But there is nothing essential about how to do any of these things. Why destroy the essential of unity for a non-essential?

If you are not in sympathy with this church dividing program which is going on all over the country by the Guardian group, you and brother Estes may be in position to help stop this sinful and ruinous movement.

Up until five or six years ago no one ever heard of anti-Orphan Home preaching and I know that both you and L. L. Estes and I worked hard to get the Home in Tipton. I still think we did right and can see no sin in it. If it was not sin then it is not sin now. If it is not sin to support the homes it is sin to divide churches over the matter. Either you and I have sinned in supporting the orphans or Geo. Jones has sinned in dividing churches over the issue. If you and I have sinned in supporting the Homes we should make a public acknowledgement of the sin. I will the minute I am convinced that I have sinned.

I know that you and L. L. are good Christian men of sound judgment and though we may differ as to how to serve the Lord in doing mission work and caring for the Orphans, can't we still love one another and encourage Christian Unity? I believe we can. I am appealing to you in the name of Him who died for us all that we make an effort to stop these destructive forces which are at work among us which are creating hatred instead of love and are destroying the church instead of building it. Besides it is elsewhere as it is in this community, many people have become discouraged because of the division and have quit the church. Brethren cannot we preach the Gospel in love and use our efforts towards peace and understanding instead of division and confusion?

Yours in Christ Robert M. Alexander

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma October 22, 1957 Mr. Robert Alexander

McAlester, Oklahoma Dear Brother Alexander:

After our meeting closed Sunday night with George T. Jones doing the preaching, Brother Clayton gave me your letter, with the statement that the reason he had not handed it to me earlier was that he did not want me to be disturbed by a so foolish letter. I assure you in the first place that I have always held a very high regard for you, but when you try to enlist me in a boycott campaign against brethren who have done nothing more than stand fast for those principles of truth that they feel are so very vital to the continued purity of the church, I am not interested.

Had you thought about the fact that Brother George Jones formerly occupied the same position that you do, and when he had further studied the question, he gave up those theories as unscriptural, and in giving them up he was fully aware that it would probably result in his being forced to resign, or stultify his conscience and refuse to stand fast for principles of truth? Would you condemn one for such firmness of convictions?

You talk a great deal in your letter about the church dividing program of the Guardian group. Of course this is an easy statement to make, as it does not require any proof. Do you mean to imply Brother Alexander, that under no circumstances must one stand firm for the truth if it might result in a cleavage in a church by the stand? You and I did not live during the time of the great cleavage in the church over the so-called music and missionary society questions, but I am wondering that had you been in the church then, would you have branded Brother Lipscomb, Otey, and many others as the "Advocate group," and make no effort to prove their position unscriptural. Such have always been the tactics of men when they can't refute with scripture the position of another.

I shall not devote much time to a defense of Brother Jones. I do not think he needs my defense. His firm stand and very effective preaching for the truths of the gospel are everywhere recognized where he has been. I do not believe that you or any other man could refute any position he took in his meeting with us on the work of the church. In fact, none of you even try to disprove their teachings; you just brand them with unsupported charges for prejudicial purpose's. You only mentioned one church and I suppose I know as much about that situation at Kilgore as you do; and I am of the very firm conviction that one must stand for his convictions on matters of truth even though it does cause cleavage. The apostle Paul did. So I feel one could be in good company by so doing; but I will say that the causes of division at Kilgore were there before Jones went there. Even the elders were divided equally in number on these and other issues. Then, factually, the actual division came there after Jones was invited to San Antonio and had accepted the invitation.

When you say that "there is nothing essential about how to do these things, but it is essential to do mission work," you fall into the same groove of error that has characterized practically all of those brethren who are committed to these programs, and that is, that it is only a matter of methods. Basically, this is the very same line of argument made by Brother Briney and others when they were organizing the Missionary Societies among the churches. Many lived to see that it was not a matter of "methods," but rather that it was a creation of "organizations" over and beyond the local church, which was God's plan of missionary work. Brother Otey tried to warn Brother Briney that he was helping create an unscriptural organization that would grow into a monstrosity that would envelop and control local churches everywhere, to which Brother Briney was himself opposed, and which he asserted that he was sure this would not happen. You know how true was Brother Otey's prophecy. But now again, you brethren say "only a method," which is not true at all. It is clearly an organization in which local churches are completely losing their autonomy.

Other things you say in your letter are so irrelevant that I will spend very little time in noticing them. I might say that you plead for leniency toward one another, but then you ask us to join the boycott movement against all preachers that have convictions against these movements which are clearly dividing the church; and you are so very concerned about division but nowhere do you suggest that such movements as Herald of Truth, which is a primary cause of this division, should be stopped. You are again in step with Brother Briney in that you deplore division and you say there is nothing essential about these things. Since there is nothing essential about them, then who in reality is causing the division? It would be of necessity those that are promoting them.

I will freely admit that I have made mistakes in judgment in helping promote such things as Tipton Orphan Home. Have not you made some mistakes that you admit. I will say, however, that I never dreamed when I was helping work out Tipton Home that I was helping create the situation as it is now. I thought then that it was to be for a genuine orphanage. I also thought that when opportunities came to place these children in good Christian homes that we would do so; but instead there is the policy of filling the home completely, with some not even orphans, and thus make it impossible by these two policies to accept worthy children into the home. We have in effect created a big static institution that is not serving even the purpose for which it was created. It might be news to you, Brother Alexander, that many years ago I was asked to come there as superintendent, and I stated then that I was not in agreement with all their policies. I was also asked to take the superintendency of Boles Home when it was at that time under the direction of the Greenville Eldership, and at which time I was looking for a job. I again declined for the same basic reasons. I will just add that Tenth and Francis in coming definitely to the position of caring for our own here, where possible, but if not possible, we will employ some one or ones to take care of them just as we are doing with a boy at Tipton now. With reference to mission work that we are assisting in, it does not pertain to, or in any way resemble, what you brethren are contending for. We are committed to a genuine, scriptural missionary program, but on a scriptural basis, and one which has never been challenged. Our plan will not divide churches. Yours is dividing churches; and I challenge you or anyone else to show any scriptural command, example, or necessary inference, to support the Herald of Truth program. This being true, I am, in conclusion, reminding you that division is being caused by these movements which you admit in your letter are not essential. So, in all kindness, Brother Alexander, who are they that are causing this division?

Fraternally, L. L. Estes