Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 27, 1958
NUMBER 42, PAGE 1,9-10a

Cogdill-Woods Debate No. 5

James W. Adams, Nacogdoches, Texas

We come to the concluding article of this review with the feeling that our effort has very inadequately described the triumph of truth over institutional error that characterized the Birmingham debate. Let it be everywhere broadcast that those who oppose present day benevolent ' societies and cooperatives such as the Herald of Truth are completely satisfied with the issue of the Birmingham debate and would endorse, welcome, and rejoice in its being repeated in every major city in the land. A wonderful place for the next would be in Nashville, Tennessee, Dallas, Texas, or Fort Worth, Texas. What about it Brethren Goodpasture and Warren? Surely you would like to see the brethren of these cities have the opportunity to hear and witness another of your champion's glorious victories (?). Why not cease your hollow boasting and prove your faith by your works? Your unwillingness to do so will speak louder than all of your glowing tributes to Brother Woods!

Guy N. Woods Vs. E. R. Harper

Brother Harper in the Lufkin and Abilene debates with Brother Yater Tant made his defense on the basis of the contention that Herald of Truth is Highland Avenue's own work. Too, in a highly inflammatory speech in the building of the Homewood congregation (the congregation supporting Brother Woods in the Birmingham debate), Brother Harper took the same position. Brother Woods affirmed in the Birmingham debate that the Herald of Truth is the work of all the participating churches, that in contributing to it they are fulfilling the great commission. He argued that it is a cooperative work of many churches with one church taking care of the details. Brother Cogdill pressed Woods on the matter pointing out the obvious contradiction between him and Brother Harper. Woods insisted that they meant the same thing. It was obvious, however, that both Harper and Woods could not be correct.

Centralization Involved In The Herald Of Truth Exposed

Brother Cogdill did some exceedingly effective work in exposing the centralization characteristic of the Herald of Truth. He showed beyond question that the elders of the church in Abilene, Texas (Fifth and Highland) function in the arrangement as a brotherhood eldership, that they usurp the functions of the elders of the participating churches, and that every participating church subordinates itself, with reference to this particular work, to the oversight of the elders at Fifth and Highland. He demonstrated from the Scriptures that the support of the gospel throughout the world in New Testament times was direct, from church to preacher, and that no third party such as the eldership of a "sponsoring church" intervened to form a bridge between the church and the work being done.--Several charts were presented to demonstrate this truth and to expose the centralization of control and oversight in the Abilene congregation.

Thomas B. Warren's misrepresentation: Since the debate, Brother Thomas B. Warren, Woods' moderator, has been having much to say about it. It seems, however, that he wants to argue with Brother Cogdill rather than give an account of what actually took place. Do we detect some dissatisfaction on his part with the work done by Brother Woods? Does he think he could have done a better job? He and Brother Roy Deaver are quite exercised. They have in the throes of their excitement given birth to a new paper, "The Spiritual Sword," dedicated primarily to the annihilation of the opposition to benevolent societies and brotherhood cooperatives. Right here, let us page Brother W. L. Totty of Indianapolis, Indiana. In his debate with Brother Charles A. Holt several years ago, he almost had convulsions over the fact that The Gospel Guardian is called "THE Gospel Guardian. What about "THE Spiritual Sword," Brother Totty?

Brother Warren, both in his bulletin and The Spiritual Sword, tells his readers that Brother Cogdill took the position at Birmingham that a church may send to another church only to help that congregation care for the physical needs (food clothing shelter etc.) of her own indigent members. This is a misrepresentation. Whether it was willful or not remains to be seen. Will Warren correct and apologize? We shall see. Warren is attributing to Cogdill his own deductions from that which Cogdill said. This is not only unfair, but dishonest. Thus, in the very first issue of "The Spiritual Sword," does its editor violate its professed lofty aims and worthy policy. Cogdill said that there is no scriptural authority for one church sending to another church unless that church is destitute — in need. He did not take the position ascribed to him by Warren. Warren who talks so much about logic should know that it is neither logical, fair, nor honest to attribute to another one's own deductions from that which the other has said.

Cogdill showed that Fifth and Highland in Abilene, Texas is not a church in need, hence that she does not fit the pattern of one church giving funds to another church in the New Testament. He further showed that the work involved — preaching the gospel to the whole world — is not the exclusive work of one church, but of all the churches, therefore that it is utterly impossible for the Highland church to be in "need" — scripturally speaking — with reference to the Herald of Truth which involves the preaching of the gospel to the entire world. This was Cogdill's position in the debate. Woods did not and cannot meet it, nor can Thomas B. Warren, hence his chagrin has given birth to his gross misrepresentation. Such misrepresentation is an auspicious beginning for a religious journal which has for its name usurped one of the inspired titles of God's own revealed word — "The Spiritual Sword." "The spiritual sword" according to Paul is "the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God." (Eph. 6:17.) We can think of more appropriate names for Brethren Warren and Deaver's new paper!

Cogdill's Admission Of Change Vs. Woods' Denial Of Change

As on the first proposition, so on the last, Cogdill admitted a change in the application of Bible principles on his part in comparatively recent times. Brother Cogdill made it clear that he had changed on no Bible principle, but rather, on the application of such principles to such things as benevolent organizations, Music Hall meeting, etc. etc. Woods, on the other hand, steadfastly denied having made any change whatsoever in the fact of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

In this connection, Woods made a contemptible reference to Brother Foy E. Wallace Jr. He even included in it one of his cartoons — charts. He pictured Cogdill as running from the Music Hall Meeting and Wallace as saying, "I won't run." This was based on a misrepresentation of what Brother Foy E. Wallace said in a meeting in Oklahoma City. Cogdill replied by reminding Brother Woods that Foy E. Wallace was opposed to that which Woods defended in the debate, that he preached 'against such all over the United States, that he was abundantly able to take care of himself, and that he was being abused and misused by Brother Woods.

John T. Lewis And Carroll Kendrick

One of the most ridiculously unfair moves in the debate was Woods' effort to show that Brother John T. Lewis, who sat in the audience, had in his book, "The Voice of the Pioneers on Instrumental Music and the Societies," endorsed the "sponsoring church" as "the Lords plan for doing missionary work." Here is the way that Woods went about it: (1) He read a statement from the book written by Brother Lewis: "President Loos frequently spoke, in his pamphlet, of the part that Carroll Kendrick took in the convention, without stating the fact that Mr. Kendrick afterwards quit the society and went back to the Lord's plan of doing missionary work." (2) Brother Woods then took a book written by Carroll Kendrick, after he left the group who endorsed the society, in which Brother Kendrick gave endorsement to a cooperative arrangement similar to the Herald of Truth. (3) Brother Woods then attributed to Brother Lewis an endorsement of the arrangement which Kendrick endorsed as "the Lord's plan for doing missionary work."

Brother Cogdill completely exposed the character of Brother Woods' argument. He pointed out that Brother Lewis was referring to Kendrick's quitting the missionary society and returning to the divine organization, the church, for missionary purposes. He further showed that Woods did not know that Brother Lewis had ever seen the Kendrick statement or knew of Kendrick's views regarding the sponsoring church arrangement — Brother Lewis verified privately the fact that he knew nothing of Kendrick's views along this line — hence that it was utterly ridiculous and unfair to attribute such a position to Brother Lewis. Despite these developments, Woods insisted to the close of the debate that Lewis had endorsed the sponsoring church type of cooperative as the Lord's plan for doing missionary work. Brother Cogdill effectively impressed on the audience the fact that a man is hard pressed who will resort to such type of misrepresentation in order to establish his contention in a discussion.

Cogdill's Summation

Another highpoint of the debate was Brother Cogdill's brilliant summation in his last speech. In rapid fire order, he had flashed on the screen the major portion of Woods' multitude of charts to show that in not a single one did Woods offer scriptural proof of his proposition, but that Woods' appeal had been to human reason, prejudice, and the emotions. Brother Cogdill had grown slightly hoarse, but he had lost none of his power, and many consider this speech to have been one of his very best.

A Parting Word

The debate closed, as it had begun, on a high plane. There were no heated arguments, manifestations of anger, or open challenges pro and con in evidence about the auditorium. There was a pleasant and courteous attitude everywhere apparent and free association among people representing both points of view.

The writer of this review viewed with considerable apprehension the beginning of oral debates on these questions. It was his thought that the religious papers should be the medium through which such was discussed. Since, however, oral debates have begun, it is encouraging when one such as the Birmingham debate can be had. It is our feeling that an absolute minimum of harm and untold good has come and will continue to come from the Birmingham discussion. We do feel that general debating on the part of those who do not represent the best that can be presented on both sides of these issues is neither advisable nor desirable. This is no reference to any particular debate which has occurred, but the peace and unity of the Lord's churches are at stake. Discussions, therefore, should present the very best representation on both sides of the issues that confront us. May God help us not to allow the discussion of these issues to degenerate into senseless and useless wrangling. Our souls and the progress and prosperity of the Lord's churches literally hang in the balance. May all of us be sensible of our tremendous responsibilities, be actuated by only the highest motives, and in complete abandonment of self-interest and pride labor for that which will please God and bring us at last into that everlasting home of the soul.