Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 20, 1958
NUMBER 41, PAGE 1,5b-6

Cogdill-Woods Debate -- No. 4

James W. Adams, Nacogdoches, Texas

A Final Word On The First Three Nights Of The Debate

One of the difficult tasks in reviewing a debate is the selection from the great mass of material of that which is most significant and interesting. It is our firm conviction that Brother Cogdill, in masterful style, thoroughly refuted every argument introduced by Brother Woods. We only hope that our review does justice to the outstanding work that was done that thousands may thus be encouraged to purchase and read the discussion for themselves.

Near the close of the third night of the discussion, Brother Woods, in an emotional appeal to the audience for benevolent organizations established and maintained by the churches, called attention to the fact that there are 19 of these organizations rendering assistance to 1400 people. He expressed the conviction that but for the opposition of Cogdill and others like him there would be 199 such organizations caring for 14,000 people.

In an effort to belittle this opposition, Brother Woods, all over the nation, affirms that it consists of 10% of the preachers and 5% of the congregations. In the light of these two statements, it would appear that Brother Woods has a very low opinion of the ability and generosity of those with whom he stands identified, and a most exalted opinion of the ability and generosity of those who stand opposed to him. According to Woods, 95% of the churches and 90% of the preachers have succeeded in establishing only 19 benevolent organizations and in caring for only 1400 people at the present time, but if the other 5% of the churches and 10% of the preachers were converted to his views there would be 199 organizations caring for 14,000 people. The application of some simple arithmetic to Woods' statements will show that he believes 5% of the total number of churches of Christ (and they filled with people who are blatant "hobby-riders opposed to every positive function of the church") and 10% of the preachers ("Johnny-come-lately Sommerites") possess the ability and generosity to establish 180 benevolent organizations in which 12,600 people would be ministered to — ten times that which is now done by 90% of the preachers and 95% of the churches. We thank Brother Woods for the compliment, but wonder how self-contradictory and ridiculous a man can become?

This was in the last speech on the first proposition and Brother Cogdill had no opportunity to reply, but Brother Woods' emotional appeals in general like his arguments were met and exposed. Brother Cogdill called the attention of the audience to the fact that such appeals would justify the missionary society as well as the organizations which Woods' defended, and that just such appeals were made in the defense of the society by J. B. Briney and others.

"The Herald Of Truth"

The three last nights of the discussion were spent discussing the following proposition:

"It is in harmony with the Scriptures for churches of Christ to contribute funds from their treasuries in support of the Herald of Truth radio program, conducted by the Highland church of Christ, Abilene, Texas, as a means of cooperating in accomplishing the mission of the church of the Lord."

Affirmative: Guy N. Woods Negative: Roy E. Cogdill

Brother Woods has not desired to debate anything relative to institutionalism except the so-called, "orphan home" question. It was with great reluctance that he did so in the Birmingham debate and under protest that he affirmed in relation to the Herald of Truth. After hearing him debate the matter, we now understand his reluctance. His work on this proposition was pitiably weak. He attempted in defining his proposition to gain his audience by a misrepresentation of the issue through oversimplification. He stated that the issue was: "May one church help another church do its work."

Basic Argument

Brother Woods actually made only one argument for such cooperatives as The Herald of Truth. All else that he said by way of argument related to it. His argument was as follows:

(1) It is the obligation of the church to preach the gospel to the whole world — every nation, every city in every nation, every person in every city in every nation in all of the world. (Mk. 16:15,16.)

(2) No one congregation could discharge this obligation, in fact, it would take the resources of the federal government to do it. (It was done, Col. 1:23, and the early church did not have the resources of the federal government. JWA)

(3) The early church did preach the gospel to the entire world. (Col. 1:23.)

(4) Therefore, it follows that the churches of New Testament times cooperated with one another. It was impossible for the commission to be carried out without some cooperative effort.

In making the above argument, Brother Woods ignored the fact that no one has argued that the great commission was to be carried out by one congregation. He failed to take notice of the fact that independent, equal, autonomous congregations each performing to the limit of its ability the duty of proclaiming the gospel to the whole world plus the consecrated efforts of thousands of individual Christians could and did in New Testament times fulfill the great commission. He assumed without a shred of evidence that churches had to pool their resources under a single authority and thus act through a single agency — like the Herald of Truth — in order to carry out the great commission. Brother Cogdill pointed out to him that he did not produce a single passage of scripture to establish the fact that churches did act in this fashion in New Testament times.

Having made the argument mentioned above, Brother Woods tried to unload the burden of proof on the negative, Brother Cogdill, by affirming that there is no exclusive pattern of church cooperation revealed in the New Testament. He asserted that "when one method only is revealed, it is exclusive." He further alleged that when there are several methods or types revealed, there is no exclusive pattern. He then undertook to establish that there are several types of church cooperation revealed in the New Testament. The reader will be amused to note his proof (?). The following in Woods' list of the different types of church cooperation:

(1) Cooperation between individuals — 2 Tim. 4:9.

(2) Cooperation between one individual and several others — Rom. 16:1,2.

(3) Cooperation between a Christian family and needy individuals — 1 Cor. 16:15.

(4) Cooperation between disciples and elders — Acts 11:27-30.

(5) Cooperation between churches and needy saints — 2 Cor. 8,9.

(6) Cooperation between a church and churches. — Acts 15:1-32.

Based on these statements, Brother Woods presented a syllogism as the basic proof of his proposition. He said:

Major Premise: All radio programs involving cooperation of churches which violate no fundamental, scriptural principle of cooperation are radio programs which are scriptural. (These are not verbatim quotations as time forbids our going to the tape for them, but they correctly represent the matter as stated by Brother Woods. JWA)

Minor Premise: The Herald of Truth radio program violates no fundamental, scriptural principle of church cooperation.

Conclusion: Therefore, the Herald of Truth radio program is a radio program that is scriptural.

Having done this, Brother Woods observed that the proof of his proposition demanded two things; namely, that (1) he establish what kind of program the Herald of Truth is; (2) he establish that it is in harmony with at least one kind of New Testament cooperation. In seeking to prove what kind of program the Herald of Truth is, he introduced a number of letters from churches that support it in which the elders stated what their "feeling" was with reference to the program, and he introduced also a letter from the elders of Highland church which sponsors the program stating what their "feeling" was with reference to the program. In seeking to establish that the Herald of Truth radio program is in harmony with one method of New Testament cooperation, Brother Woods introduced Acts 11:27-30. He stated: that (1) it could not be a pattern because it did not say "church," but "disciples;" (2) he would concede that it did refer to the church; (3) the Herald of Truth was precisely the same kind of cooperation — the only difference being that Acts 11:27-30 is an example of meeting a physical need and the Herald of Truth of meeting a spiritual need. In anticipation of what Brother Cogdill might say concerning the difference in evangelism and benevolence as involved in the two, Brother Woods introduced 1 Cor. 16:1,2. He suggested that Cogdill believed both benevolence and evangelism should be supported by the Lord's day contribution, and since the passage says nothing concerning evangelism, but mentions only benevolence, then Cogdill could not object to the argument on Acts 11:27-30.

An Appeal To The Traditional Practices Of Churches

Following his basic argument, Woods appealed to the traditional practice of the churches of our generation, the past practice of the Birmingham churches and of the North Birmingham church (the congregation supporting Brother Cogdill in the debate) in particular, the past practice of Brother Cogdill himself, and a statement of Brother John T. Lewis concerning Dr. Carroll Kendrick and the missionary society. This was done to prove that opposition to such cooperation as characterizes the Herald of Truth is a new thing, that such has been the general practice of the brethren. In this connection, such things as the Hardeman Tabernacle Meetings, the Music Hall Meeting, Cuban work, Birmingham radio program and newspaper ads, etc. were mentioned.

This about compliments Woods' opening address, and his material for the entire three nights. He introduced nothing else of any importance whatsoever with reference to proving the Herald of Truth to be scriptural. The major portion of his time was spent in an effort to create prejudice in charges of changing, inconsistency with one another, etc. etc.

Cogdill's Reply To Woods

Cogdill's reply to Woods' appeal to the traditional practices of the churches and brethren of recent times was that Woods should go back 1900 years and give some scripture on the practices of the churches and brethren then. He pointed out that when Jesus came he found many traditional practices based on the teachings of the elders that he condemned as making the word of God void. (Mt. 15.) Cogdill challenged Woods to show from the word of God where one church ever sent funds to another church unless the receiving church was destitute. He categorically denied that there is such an example and clearly stated that he repudiated the practice and teaching of any person or church past or present (even if it included himself, the Gospel Guardian, or any of its writers) that violated the principle. it is hardly necessary to say that Woods never produced the scripture showing that one church ever gave funds to another church which was not destitute.

With reference to Woods' types of cooperation mentioned in the New Testament, Brother Cogdill effectively showed that the first three of them had nothing to do with church cooperation at all. The fourth and fifth, he showed to be, not examples of different types of cooperation, but precisely the same type of cooperation — all conforming to the same pattern; namely, one church sending funds to another church which was destitute. The sixth, Brother Cogdill showed to he not an example of church cooperation at all, but rather a matter of divine revelation. (Acts 15:1-32.) The decree which went out in the form of a letter to the Gentile churches was from the Apostles inspired and directed by the Holy Spirit. it was a matter of revelation and not cooperation. Despite this fact, Cogdill showed that the letter was sent to meet a need of those to whom it was sent and challenged Woods to deny it, hence that it conformed to the "pattern."

Concerning Woods' contention that Acts 11:27-30 could not be a pattern because it said, "disciples" and not "church," Cogdill pointed out that Woods accepts Acts 20:7 as an exclusive pattern for the time of observance by the churches of the Lord's supper, and it says "disciples" not "church." If Woods ever made a reply to this, we do not recall hearing it — a reference, yes; a reply, no! To Woods' use of it as a pattern on the basis of his concession that it was the church and his making it parallel to the Herald of Truth, Cogdill pointed out that contributions to the Herald of Truth are not for the purpose of helping that church to feed the hungry souls of its members, hence not to help that church fulfill a spiritual need of that particular congregation, therefore, not at all parallel to Acts 11:27-30. Cogdill showed that Highland is a large, wealthy congregation, not destitute or in need. The Judean churches were destitute — in need, hence no parallel.

With regard to Woods' play upon 1 Cor. 16:1, 2, Brother Cogdill did some of his finest work. He showed that Woods took the Adventist position on the matter if he tried to restrict the contribution on the Lord's day to benevolence. He showed further that he, Cogdill, was in no sense inconsistent in using the Lord's day contribution with which to preach the gospel and at the same time denying that Acts 11:27-30 is parallel to the Herald of Truth. Here is Cogdill's explanation of the New Testament pattern for the cooperation of churches:

(1) 1 Cor. 16:1,2 is the pattern for how the churches raised their money. No other pattern for this is found in the New Testament. It is not an exclusive pattern as to how the churches spent their money. There are other examples to show that churches spent their money for preaching the gospel as well as benevolence.

(2) Acts 11:27-30 is a pattern of how churches received money from other churches when in need; namely, it was received by the elders.

(3) 2 Cor. 8 and 9 is a pattern of how churches sent money to a destitute church. Each congregation made its own contribution directly to the church in need sending it by the hands of a messenger chosen by the church doing the sending. Brother Cogdill further showed in the case of Paul and the Philippian church that money was sent directly to Paul, the preacher, by the church doing the sending. (Phil. 4:15,16.)

Brother Woods did nothing whatsoever with this pattern. It seemed to confuse him. Evidently, it was startlingly new to him. He did a great deal of talking about it, but did nothing to overthrow Cogdill's contention. This was Woods' Waterloo in the judgement of this writer.

In our concluding article in this series, we shall show how Woods utterly repudiated Brother E. R. Harper's defense of the Herald of Truth, Cogdill's exposure of the centralization involved in Herald of Truth, the exchange on the Gospel Advocate position, Cogdill's powerful summation in the last speech, the misrepresentation of Brother John T. Lewis, and Cogdill's open and frank admission of a change in the application of Bible principles as contrasted with Woods' adamant denial of any change at all.

(More to follow)