Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 30, 1958
NUMBER 38, PAGE 7,10b

Yater Tant Honored

James A. Allen, Nashville, Tennessee

When a man's work in pleading for the apostolic order becomes so effective that innovators can no longer contemptuously ignore him but begin to slander and denounce, he can know assuredly that the cause he pleads is gaining ground.

Brother Price Billingsley, in the Gospel Advocate of December 12, 1957, after recounting the great and long-continued assistance and help he received from that great and powerful gospel preacher, J. D. Tant, who took him in, fed him and sheltered him, and helped him to get started to preaching, strangely shows his utter ingratitude by cruelly and falsely misrepresenting "Tant's boy, Yater."

He says, "I have a right to speak up against his disturbing the church with a false issue and a silly contention, tearing down and destroying what his father spent his life-time to build." What a bombastic and egotistic slander on both the father and the son! Think of it! "Disturbing the church with a false issue and a silly contention!" What is that "false issue and silly contention?" Yes, what is it that the great J. D. Tant, "if he were here, would sorely rebuke Yater for?"

This "false issue and silly contention," for which Yater has so ingloriously disgraced himself, is simply that it is unscriptural and sinful for ambitious and y presumptuous men to organize any institution, other than the church, to do any good work that God instituted, and ordained each local church to do in its own neighborhood, under its own elders and deacons. What a bombastic and incongruous advertisement of ones own recklessness to talk about "having no doubt that if Jeff Davis were here, he would sorely rebuke Yater." I wonder what he would say to Price Billingsley.

All the good things Brother Billingsley says of J. D. Tant are true. It is regrettable that he does not properly represent Brother Tant's attitude towards human institutions to do the work of the church.

Brother Tant favored orphan homes just like all the rest of us did when such a system was first sprung on us. We all had a deep and heart-felt sympathy for the orphans and wanted to do anything in our power for them.

W. T. Boaz, who recently passed away, was the father of the present-day orphan home. The Fanning Orphan School, and possibly one or more such institutions were not in this class and did not raise the issue that is now tearing asunder the church of the Lord because of human ambition and the love of money.

In going through the back-volumes of the Gospel Advocate things are found that were written by Tant, Lipscomb, Srygley, Smith, myself and many others trying to help the little orphan children. It was a new question and we did not comprehend it. In studying the Bible continually I began to see that a general institution to provide for the orphans of thousands of churches would destroy the autonomy of each local church and prevent each local church from doing its own work in its own neighborhood as both the precept and the precedent from the apostles and the New Testament churches, so clearly command and require.

Brother Tant wrote, not 200 letters, as Brother Billingsley so inaccurately says, but one form letter of whichthere were 200 copies, when Brother John W. Fry was in control. Brother Fry did not believe that a child should be brought up in an orphan home but that the orphan home should be merely a clearing house to properly locate the child. See quotation from Bro. Fry in "Reprints and Excerpts," published by Jere Frost.

All who understand the care of children know that the institutionlizied child is a pitiful child. Instead of hauling the little victim off to a far-away institution where, like a convict entering the penitentiary, it becomes merely a number in every thing but the name only — I say ,instead of this, the deacons of the local church are commanded to make ample provision for its care and welfare, in its own community, where every member of the local church, directed by the deacons, can join in ministering to it, and where the elders can watch for its soul. The local church, when properly taught, and when not put to sleep by denominational dope, put out by ambitious and preoumptous men who promote general institutions to do the work of thousands of local churches, has the power of God in it.

In addition to being presumptuous and sinful, without precept or precedent from the apostles, these big, general institutions are flat failures and are impotent and powerless to do the work that the thousands of local churches can do in their own communities.

The only way to form an opinion of what a man would do, if he were living today is by what he did when living. The powerful preaching of J. D. Tant in repudiating and warning against all institutions and organizations, other than the church, is an unerring indication that if he were with us today, instead of rebuking "Tant's son, Yater," he would give him every encouragement and rejoice to know that he had a son with the conviction and courage to stand up against the ambition and wealth of presumptuous men, who have already carried many of the churches into the beginning of an apostasy.

I can but wonder what caused the change in Brother Billingsley. He was very much opposed to the change in the policy of the Gospel Advocate. He published an Open Letter to Brother L. B. McQuiddy, entitled, "Betrayal Plus Bad Business." In addition to his publishing this "open letter" in leaflet form. I also published it in The Apostolic Times. Brother Billingsley then visited Brother F. B. Srygley, who was one of the Staff Writers, at his home one Sunday afternoon and they both agreed in bemoaning and deploring the fact that the new policy of the Gospel Advocate is unscriptural and sinful and that it would ship-wreck the churches the Gospel Advocate influences.

Brother Billingsley then wrote an "Open Letter" to Brother Srygley, telling of their private conference and itemizing the points on which they had agreed, and calling on Brother Srygley to remove himself from the pay-roll in an effort to bring Brother L. B. McQuiddy to a realization of what he had done. He wanted me to publish this second "open letter" in The Apostolic Times. I am a "hobbyist" on honor and fair-dealing and it seems underhanded to me to visit a man at his home and then publish a private agreement without his consent.

When I did not publish this second "open letter," Brother Billingsley sent me the following telegram: "James A. Allen, Editor and Publisher, The Apostolic Times, 425 Commerce Street, — Take down your sign and shut up shop if you can't break the shackles. — Price Billingsley."

Brother Tant, Brother Srygley, and all of us were caught with a new question sprung on us. No one believed it right to set up a human institution, without precept or example from the Word of God, to do any part of the work of the church, but we did not realize that what Brother W. T. Boaz had sprung on us was just that. When Brother Srygley and I visited an "all-day meeting of The Tennessee Orphan Home at Columbia, Brother B. F. Harding, Superintendent, who was acting as master of ceremonies, saw us in the audience and publicly attacked us, Brother Srygley spoke out and said to him, "No, I do not believe in Orphan Homes." Does Brother Billingsley think that Brother Srygley raised "a false issue and a silly contention," as he so bombastically charges against "Tant's son, Yater?" The cause of truth would be better off if there were more Yater's. He has just won a great and high honor that can be won only by men of conviction and courage.